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Ethos Movie Reviews
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
4.0 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Moneyball (2011)
Topic: Drama


      As a big time baseball fan, I thoroughly enjoyed Moneyball. If I were not a fan, would have I appreciated it just the same? Probably not. It speaks a lot of baseball language, it gets into the nuances of baseball management, strategy, politics, etc., and it is utterly fascinating. A movie like this is a gift for baseball fans, but at the same time, it begs the question - would a non-baseball fan watch it? I can't imagine why...unless the viewer is a big Brad Pitt fan, or they take a liking to Jonah Hill (who is subtle, and reserved, and plays the part very well). In any case, I consider it a great movie - it has a bright even look to it, it probes the depths of its characters, it speaks a very clear, understandable baseball language, and it has incredible dialogue.

     As for the dialogue, I love hearing this movie talk. It is quick, and sharp. It comfortably speaks and conveys the complicated language of baseball and the art of negotiation, and it also makes the more emotionally heavy scenes believable as well. Nothing wooden, nothing phony, nothing corny or tacky - it is just a very well-written film.

     The journey of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane is a truly interesting one. The film uses the framework of baseball to explain the main characters thought process and motivation for his actions - so even a non-baseball person can appreciate the way things clash and mesh throughout his life. It's on that level, and many other levels, why I loved this movie.

     When Moneyball concluded, I ultimately felt that I could have seen more. Was there enough said? Sure. Was it too short? No. But the ride was so captivating, I did not want it to end. And that is the sign of a great movie. A great baseball movie, and a great movie.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 11:22 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:23 PM EDT
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Saturday, 17 March 2012
0.1 out of 5.0
Now Playing: ThanksKilling (2009)
Topic: Horror

     There are some movies out there that are so horrible, they are actually kind of fun to watch. So laughably bad that you get enjoyment out of its terrific dysfunction as a finished product. Unfortunately, Thankskilling doesn't even work on that level. It's a garish, crude, disgusting, vile, dispicable mess. It contributes nothing to society, and will only waste time of the viewer who got suckered into watching it. I was one of those said viewers, and I couldn't stomach finishing it. It's only 66 minutes long, and obviously was no way a major film release in theaters, but rather some indie-movie that clearly tried to be outrageous and crazy, but it's just not watchable.

     Is this the worst movie ever made then? No. Why? Because it can't really even be considered a movie. It's just gahbidge. From beginning to end. Even the horrid Plan 9 From Outer Space, the infamously awful Ed Wood "masterpiece" is better in so many ways. Thankskilling is just confusing...why was it made? Did anyone make any money off it at least? Because there couldn't have been any artistic satisfaction gained from making it!

     Stay away from this movie unless you like watching horrible movies. I warn you though, even horrible movies are better than this 66 minute exercise in time wasting.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 3:16 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2012 3:27 PM EDT
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Sunday, 23 October 2011
4.0 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Child's Play (1988)
Topic: Horror


     The concept of a killer doll had been around for a long time and was nothing new by the time Child's Play came out in 1988. It harkens back to the days of the original Twilight Zone series from the early 1960s, where they had episodes involving talking dummies with mal intent. Perhaps that's where Child's Play draws its inspiration because it certainly plays out, for at least the first half of the film, like a great episode of that famed spooky series.

     The original film in what became a progressively silly and more dark comedy sort of series, is a genuinely great horror film. It has all the suspense and tension that we've come accustomed to when watching horror flicks of this nature. It effectively builds the tension until its boiling point, and then it turns into more of a slasher film. By the time the great "secret" is revealed, I've already been so drawn into the film, that it didn't matter what happened next. Who cares if it evolved into a slasher film? It's a perfect Halloween movie! 

     The great "secret", and I suppose this isn't a major spoiler, is that the doll, Chucky, is alive! But it really isn't a surprise, as the opening of the film gives it away at the outset. A criminal on the run, who at near death, uses a voodoo spell to transfer his dying soul into the body of a doll. Obviously, this doll is possessed, and we know it. Somehow though, the build up to the moment is still a captivating one.

     The actors in the film definitely sell the concept well. Catherine Hicks plays the mother who bought the Chucky doll, and Alex Vincent is very convincing as the young boy who is tortured by it. Chris Sarandon is great as the cop who was hunting down the crazed criminal in the first place. And Chucky is voiced by none other than Brad Dourif, whose performance is fearless and manic as the famed horror icon. Chucky's dialogue is often menacing and sometimes his immensely foul mouth makes things hilarious.

     In retrospect, Child's Play contains an awful lot of exposition. There is a lot of explanation of the premise of the film, and one could argue that the opening sequence gives away the films biggest plot point instantly, but despite its flaws, it still makes for a memorable horror movie. It scares you, it draws you in, and gives you a little laugh here or there. It can sometimes be a little predictable, but overall, it is quite memorable. Like I said before, the first hour in particular is Twilight Zone-esque at its best. Naturally, this film inspired numerous sequels, but none really compared to the original.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 7:18 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 23 October 2011 7:20 PM EDT
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Sunday, 16 October 2011
2.2 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
Topic: Horror


      A match made in...Hell? Definitely. Freddy Vs. Jason has the grizzly fight scenes you've all been waiting for, it's just a shame theres tacky and poorly acted scenes in between them. This movie comes out a year after the horrible Jason X which took place in outer space, where Jason is....whatever! The plot is irrelevant. And the same goes for Freddy Vs. Jason, but at least it tries to put something coherent together, so I commend it for that at least.

     The story involves the diabolical Freddy up to his ususal dream haunting shananigans, and eventually he revives brutish hack and slasher Jason Voorhees and manipulates him to kill some teenagers. Jason doesn't like to be manipulated though and answers to know one, but he still manages to kill some teens before taking his rage out at Freddy. What the movie succeeds at is weaving in both the lore of the Nightmare on Elm Street films and the Friday the 13th franchises. It pays homage to both, but perhaps at times favors the Freddy angle; probably because the Elm Street plot line is a bit more dynamic than that of the Jason storyline. Either way, a lot of typical moments follow and you get exactly what you might expect. Lots of teens scream and frantically try to survive and stave off the impending doom by way of not trying to fall asleep, otherwise Freddy will come at them. But the real fun of the movie is when these two beasts clash.

     The vicious battles between two of some of the most enduring slasher baddies are great Halloween fare. They are bloody, gory, and utterly thrilling! You never know who is really going to win, as they both seem to have their own distinct abilities. With each character having a weakness and strength, the play between the two makes for a fun time.

     Obviously the only excuse for even making this movie was to have the two face off, but at least there is an attempt at story here. It's a much better movie than the last few Friday the 13th entries, and it should surely satisfy any horror movie fan, just as long as you don't mind sitting through the rest of it to get to the good stuff.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 10:28 PM EDT
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Sunday, 9 October 2011
3.5 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Topic: Action


     The third entry from Michael Bay's bombastic Transformers series is a significant improvement over its predecessor, but ultimately isn't quite as captivating as the original 2007 film. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a highly entertaining summer popcorn "flick" at its finest. It's full of explosive action, some light witty moments, and gripping enough drama to keep things interesting. There is nothing to genuninely dislike about this movie - it's fun to watch and it gets the job done. It may be a little lengthy with its running time (2 hours and 37 minutes), but generally things flow pretty well.

     Dark of the Moon has a fairly intriguing storyline involving the 1969 Moon landing and that how a good part of it contained what is now revealed as a major cover up - the government found a Autobot ship that had jettisonned from Cybertron (the Autobot's home planet) just before its destruction on the Earth's Moon. It all links back to reviving Sentinel Prime, the creator of much of the Autobot technology (and Optimus Primes' mentor). Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouf) is with a new girlfriend (played a bit stiffly by Victoria Secret supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) struggling to find a job in the ailing economic climate. The story works well enough even though it seems to labor before it gets its point across, but the end result is satisfying. Sam's character simply says, "I want to feel like I matter", and anyone in his age group, myself included, I'm sure feel the same way. His motivation seems to be real enough to propel him throughout.

     The visual effects are top notch as expected. The action sequences are sweeping and grandiose - sometimes preposterous when involving the human characters, but can never be too over the top for the robots. Speaking of which, gone are the borderline offensive stereotypes from the second movie and here we have a finely assembled group of robot characters. Anyway, the action is high octane, and the quieter parts of the movie are just as entertaining. Sam's silly parents are comical, John Tuturro returns in fine form as well. John Malkovich has an humorous role as well.

     Prior to Dark of the Moon's release, I had a good vibe about it. It just conveyed an image of a better put together movie that Revenge of the Fallen, and it certainly succeeds on that front. Dark of the Moon retains the charm of the original movie and is probably a close second when ranking the three.

     The only odd choice made by this movie is in its conclusion. It took 2 hours and 36 minutes to tell and elaborate its story, which can be considered long. And in the final minute, once the dust settles, the ending is so abrupt, it was jarring. You would have assumed a movie like this, that relished all of its big moments, just ends, and credits roll. Will there be a Transformers 4? I have no idea, I suppose I would not be surprised - and I would welcome it, since they are still fun to watch - because the trilogy did not end on a definitively conclusive note.

     Overall, if you are looking for a solid summer movie to watch, or now rent since it is recently out on DVD, then I would recommend it.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 12:46 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 9 October 2011 12:50 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 10 August 2010
4.8 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Inception (2010)
Topic: Sci-Fi

     If you are looking for the ultimate psychological thriller, then look no further than Christopher Nolan's newest masterpiece Inception. No other film in recent memory has embarked on such an ambitious journey as Noaln has here in his newest film. Probing into the deepest parts of the human mind and making it understandable and somehow plausible is a tremendous task - and it was indeed accomplished by this truly impressive film. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page, Inception is a film about a group of professional thieves who don't hack computers for information, but actual human minds by projecting themselves into the subconcious of their subjects. It's a fairly difficult concept to summarize into a brief plot synopsis, but regardless, it is a film that truly makes you think. And think deeply.

     At first, I was having a hard time following the plot of the movie as your perception of the goings-on on screen is often shook up numerous times - and that is just fine as the film is trying to build up its very precise concept. I felt that even a good 45 minutes into the film, Inception was still trying to build upon its complex idea of subconcious mind probing. Usually a film with this much exposition would seem tiresome, but not at all here. In fact, it is quite the opposite as the explanations of the films themes and plot elements are brilliantly executed and are completely gripping. I found myself utterly fascinated by what was going on and I was endlessly curious as to how this concept actually works.

     I'm glad the film didn't dwell on how the Inception device was created, because otherwise it would have gotten bogged down with unnecessary annoyances. The film quickly alludes to it being used as a military and/or corporate espionage technology, which only seems limited to the few brilliant people who actually go on to execute these complex missions. And once again, I am happy about that. The film just carries on with its ambition, and with that determination, this movie and the audience were all better off for it.

     While watching Inception I was completely swept in by the movie's concept. I was captivated in such a way, more so than any other film I've seen in recent memory. This is a movie that appeals to all of your senses, and to your sensory. It is such a superb piece of film-making. On a visual front, it is remarkably striking. Creating the depths of a mind is an incredibly difficult task, but it was done and often the events of the film felt dream-like. And the trick of a dream is to believe that everything is indeed real, and that little idea really plays out well here. The dream sequences, and dreams within dreams elements, all somehow feel real, but yet are so dream-like at the same time. There is careful attention to detail, and detail is another layer where this film excels.

     On an acting and dialogue front, Inception is a soaring success. DiCaprio shows once again that he is one of the most compelling actors of this new generation. There are some terrific and brilliant supporting roles here by Thomas Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cilian Murphy, and the very charming Tom Hardy - amongst several others. The dialogue is simply fantastic as it carefully balances this complicated idea but also elegantly places humor into the mix. Some lines are just so pinpoint in execution, that Inception even treads some genuine smiles and a laugh or two here and there. That isn't to say things are taken lightly, but they are smartly placed. The key word there is smartly.

     Inception is as of now, the best film of 2010. At first you may feel a bit lost in the films very specific concept, but in due time you will definitely see the point. You'll be so wrapped up in everything, you'll not want it to ever end. I would equate this movie as a great brain-teaser, but as the same place, and flawless piece of entertainment. From its striking visuals, to some of its Matrix-like fights, to its oddly gripping music, to the brilliant screenplay and acting performances, to its incredible depth, charm, and elegance, Inception is a modern day masterpiece. Christopher Nolan has orchestrated some of the most mind-blowing (pun intended!) films of this era. From the brilliant Memento, to Inception, and throw in some other fantastic films like Insomnia, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, Nolan is a wonder to behold. See Inception, and have your mind blown.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 9:37 AM EDT
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Sunday, 1 August 2010
Ethos Video Review
Now Playing: My Top 10 Favorite Movies
Topic: Documentary

     Just like the video My Top 10 Favorite Video Games before it, My Top 10 Favorite Movies follows the same vein. It's a video simply for fun, and to share my thoughts with you, the viewers. I discuss in depth my favorite movie picks of all time - and while some of these films you may not have seen, or even know, they are great to me. It's all in an effort to share my favorites with you, and to hear what your favorites are as well. I love the exchange of favorites between fans. So, please enjoy My Top 10 Favorite Movies, and feel free to share your comments.

     To watch the newest Ethos Video, click the link below and enjoy! Thanks for watching!

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 10:02 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 13 July 2010
3.9 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Independence Day (1996)
Topic: Sci-Fi


     Consider this film the ultimate popcorn movie. It is the quintessential summer blockbuster. Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day is an extremely watchable and highly entertaining film. It has all the high intensity explosions that will surely catch your eye. It features plenty of alien intrigue that will suffice for any sci-fi fan. It also boasts some incredibly catchy quotes like, "Welcome to Earth." Classic. It's a wild ride that never bores. It does precisely what a movie should do, and that is entertain us.

     I like this movie's attempts at creating some legitimate thrills and a cohesive progression. The film never deters from its conclusion, and everything wraps up pretty neatly. There are some sad moments, but they don't overshadow the bigger picture. You may consider this a spolier, but, for the most part, there is triumph, and I respect the decision. There certainly seems to be a real struggle and a very dour situation at hand, but the pull for perserverence is rather uplifting and keeps the audience engaged in the action. The characters are extremely likeable, well written and very well acted. After watching it again in its entirety from beginning to end, I felt that the characters were really so well portrayed, and boasted some impressive depth considering this is a big budget blockbuster movie.

     As I alluded to, the cast is terrific. Will Smith, who has a stellar resume of hugely successful films under his belt, is awesome all throughout the film. Jeff Goldblum is also superb as the quirky scientist - something he seems to play very well! I like when Goldblum explains things in a movie, it just all seems so plausible, does it not? Judd Hirsch has a great character role as Goldblum's father in the film. He plays a doting Jewish father who makes numerous wise-cracks, and cavetches with the best of them - it's great. Also, there is Bill Pullman as the President of the United States. Certainly Pullman's president is one of the better iterations of the Commander In Chief that I've seen in recent memory. There is also a pretty solid outing by Randy Quaid in the movie as well. To put it simply, the cast - either lead or supporting - is all around excellent.

     I really don't have many negatives things to say about Independence Day. What's there not to like really? It may not be the most thought-provoking, emotionally moving motion picture ever, but it doesn't need to be. I respect this movie for a lot of reasons, and one of the primary reasons is that it doesn't feel like your typical overloaded blockbuster. It has some depth, it has some tragic moments, but also numerous comical moments to lighten the tension. It wraps up everything rather neatly. It has some proposterous moments, but does that matter either? No. Watch this film and have a great time. You'll certainly enjoy it - from beginning to end.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 9:52 PM EDT
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Monday, 5 July 2010
5.0 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Toy Story 3 (2010)
Topic: Animated


     Pixar has arguably the most impressive film resume of any other studio of this generation. From monumental films like Toy Story and WALL-E, to other greats like Ratatouille and The Incredibles, you'll be hard pressed to find a bad movie in the bunch. Each film is brimming with humor and a wonderous charm that will have both kids and adults supremely entertained throughout the entirety of the finely crafted film. With Pixar's newest and latest effort in the Toy Story franchise - Toy Story 3 - we see the best of Pixar's efforts put into this one tremendous film.

     Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return to reprise their roles of Woody and Buzz Lightyear, respectively. To put it simply, the voice work is clearly top-notch with a very talented cast from top to bottom. Considering the previous entry, Toy Story 2, was made eleven years ago, it's great to see everyone return to the cast - except one. In the first two films, Slinky Dog was voiced by Jim Varney (of those Ernest Goes To... films). Unfortunately, he passed away in 2000, so in Toy Story 3, he was replaced by Blake Clarke, who was a frequent guest star in the TV show Boy Meets World. As a younger lad, I had always thought Clarke was the actual voice of Slinky Dog, since their voices are so similar, but I had been mistaken, until now. But I digress.

     In this newest film, the once young Andy is now 17 years old and getting ready to go to college, and his beloved toys are still in his toy chest - having gone unplayed for quite some time. Mistakenly, the toys are sent off to a child Daycare center as a bulk donation, only with Woody being intentionally placed in the box to come with Andy to college. However, Woody of course, one of sound moral character, is in close pursuit of his now-donated friends. Anyway, when they all arrive at the Daycare center, they meet up with Lotso the huggable bear, and the plot really moves from there. Not to spoil it in any way, I'll stop there.

     The storyline of the movie only acts as a vehicle for the films' larger and overarching messages. The vital bond of friendship is continuously echoed throughout. The preciousness in the concept of a child's toy is even more profound in the film. Often throughout the film I couldn't help but find myself reflecting upon my own youth and how I would often play with my own toys. Intense sentimentality will flow through you as you watch this film, and it is a welcome feeling. A certain type of nirvana as you watch this incredibly entertaining film.

     Aside from some thematic elements, the humor in the film is wonderful and genuinely funny. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the things I saw. Some hysterical sight gags will have you too yucking it up with genuine pleasure. Some of the funnier moments involve Mr. Potato Head and his wife, also, the new addition of Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton).

     The adventures of Woody and Buzz may have finally come to a close here with Toy Story 3, but you never know if a fourth entry will be released in the future. I would certainly welcome it, but would also be satisfied if it ended on this note. It was a brilliant film with timeless humor that had no age limit. It had spectacular visuals, tremendous voice-acting, and loveable, memorable characters. It was a great exercise in the sentimental, while not over-doing it. It caused you to reflect, but also laugh. And the lasting impression I got from this film, and certainly judging from the films' ending - that no matter what, you'll always be a kid at heart.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 9:43 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 5 July 2010 10:13 AM EDT
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4.7 out of 5.0
Now Playing: Jaws (1975)
Topic: Action

     Being a rather avid classic movie fan, it took me a long time to see Jaws - the 1975 classic Steven Spielsberg film. Based on the Peter Benchley novel (who makes a cameo in the film as a news reporter), Jaws was a blockbuster hit back in its day and remains one of Spielsberg's most famous and historically important films. The film is anchored by three terrific actors - Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw. Couple them with a young, brilliant director in Spielsberg, and you have the makings of a classic on your hands. Jaws is brimming with thrills and biting suspence (no pun intended!). I felt on edge watching this film hoping that the three protagonists would ultimately vanquish the mighty shark.

     From an artistic and historical standpoint, this film is rich in aesthetic and cultural content. All of the famous "wipe" transitions used on the daytime beach sequence with Scheider's character (Chief Brody) looking out at the water - has got to be one of the most famous movie scenes in the latter half of the 20th century. It seemed to be something out of Alfred Hitchcock's playbook, but ultimately Spielsberg makes it his own. There are also tons of famous lines in this film, including: "You're gonna need a bigger boat", and the humourous line "That's some bad hat, Harry." Some of other famous sequences is when the grizzled Quinn (expertly portrayed by Robert Shaw) makes his unique entrance by scratching his nails across a chalkboard.

     Jaws was a film that blended terrific thrills, with great acting and dialogue, and the implications of greedy business practices. In addition to that, the great Man Vs. Beast paradigm is at play full force here. What also makes it such a stunningly horrifying film is that the fear feels so real - as apparently this film scared audiences so much back in the day, that people were shying away from the water that summer. Fear can envelop in any way, whether it is Quinn describing his previous flirtations with death, or Brody trying to tackle his own phobia with water, or by seeing the intense fear in the eyes of Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) when his analytical brain gets a more vivid real life hands on exposure with this dangerous shark.

     It's a fine film to behold and to watch - if you've never seen it before, you owe it to yourself to see it as you'll be wholeheartedly entertained. It did indeed take me a while to see it, but I was totally swept up in it, and even though so much of Jaws has penetrated our mainstream culture (and deservedly so), the original film with all of its famous scenes and lines, will seem fresh and genuine. Once you hear that famous John Williams score, you'll be in for one wild ride. And then once you see the great shark for the first time, you'll definitely jump out of your seat.

-Kurt L.


Posted by ethosreviews at 9:22 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 5 July 2010 10:53 AM EDT
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