Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sausage Party

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I have to try. Everyone will die otherwise!" "Oh, yeah, that's a good point." That's part of a hilarious eye-opening conversation between Seth Rogen & Bill Hader in Sausage Party, the year's funniest & raunchiest film, & the funniest animated film ever made. Rogen voices Frank, a sausage in a package at a supermarket called Shopwell's, along with Carl (voiced by Jonah Hill), Barry (voiced by Michael Cera), a deformed sausage, & Troy (voiced by Anders Holm). All the food wants to do is be chosen by humans & sent into "The Great Beyond." Frank especially wants to be in The Great Beyond with his girlfriend, Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig), a hot dog bun. Both of their packages are chosen by a woman aptly named Camille Toh (voiced by Lauren Miller), who also chooses a Middle Eastern lavash named Kareem-Abdul Lavash (voiced by David Krumholtz), a Jewish bagel named Sammy Bagel Jr. (voiced by Edward Norton), & a douche simply named Douche (voiced by Nick Kroll), but not before a jar of Honey Mustard (voiced by Danny McBride) warns them that The Great Beyond is not what it seems. Eventually, in a cart collision, Frank, Brenda & Douche fall out of the cart, & Honey Mustard kills himself. Douche's nozzle is damaged, blaming Frank, & swearing revenge after being thrown away by Darren (voiced by Paul Rudd), a nerdy clerk.

Frank eventually learns the truth about The Great Beyond from Firewater (voiced by Bill Hader), a Native American bottle of liquor, & Mr. Grits (voiced by Craig Robinson), a box of grits. Frank learns that humans will eat them. Frank, Brenda, Kareem, & Sammy try to find their way back, encountering a lesbian taco named Teresa Del Taco (voiced by Salma Hayek) along the way, while trying to avoid Douche, while Barry encounters a Druggie (voiced by James Franco) & tries to make it back to Shopwell's, & Frank, now knowing the full truth, must tell everyone, even though no one will believe him.

The voice cast is excellent. The direction from Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan is great, along with the screenplay from Rogen, Hill, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir, which is also gleefully profane. But the last 10 minutes of the film are shockingly bizarre, & will either make you laugh, make you feel repulsed, or both. This is a delightfully profane parody of Disney & Pixar films.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Jason Bourne

★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I remember. I remember everything." That's a thrilling quote from Matt Damon in Jason Bourne, an excellent action-filled thriller that almost reaches the heights of the previous films. Damon reprises his role as Jason Bourne, who has recovered from his amnesia. He now takes part in illegal fighting rings. Nicky Parsons (played again by Julia Stiles) has been working with a hacktivist group in Reykjavík, trying to expose the CIA's black ops programs. After finding information about Bourne's recruitment into the CIA & his father's involvement, she travels to Greece to find him, but not before her hacking activities are discovered by CIA Director Thomas Dewey (played by Tommy Lee Jones) & CIA Cyber Ops head Heather Lee (played by Alicia Vikander).

The CIA then sends the Asset (played by Vincent Cassel) to go after Bourne & Parsons. After unforeseen circumstances, Bourne must travel alone to Berlin & London to find more information about why he was chosen & what his father's role in it was, eventually culminating in Las Vegas at a surveillance convention with Aaron Kalloor (played by Riz Ahmed), CEO of social media enterprise Deep Dream, which Dewey is using to create mass surveillance.

Damon, Jones, Vikander, Cassel & Stiles give great performances. The direction from Paul Greengrass is great, along with the screenplay by Greengrass & Christopher Rouse. The editing from Rouse is excellent. Although it does fall below the previous films (except for The Bourne Legacy, which is on par with this film), it is still a great take on the current era of government surveillance, & keeps you wanting more of the Bourne franchise.

Suicide Squad

★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Stay evil, doll-face." That's an awful quote from Will Smith in Suicide Squad, a deeply flawed superhero film that manages to be DC's worst film of 2016. Smith portrays Floyd Lawson, AKA Deadshot,  a hitman who is an excellent marksman, who is selected by intelligence operative Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) & Army Col. Rick Flag (played by Joel Kinnaman) to be part of Task Force X, a group of imprisoned dangerous criminals to be used in high-risk missions for our government.

Joining him are: Dr. Harley Quinn, AKA Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), a former psychiatrist turned bad by her lover, The Joker (played by Jared Leto); Chato Santana, AKA El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez), a former L.A. gang member who can shoot fire; George "Digger" Harkness, AKA Captain Boomerang (played by Jai Courtney), an Australian thief noted for his deadly boomerangs; Waylon Jones, AKA Killer Croc (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a villain with reptilian features; & Christopher Weiss, AKA Slipknot (played by Adam Beach), a mercenary known for his excellent grappling & scaling. Also joining them are: Col. Flag's girlfriend, Dr. June Moone, AKA Enchantress (played by Cara Delevingne), an archaeologist possessed by an ancient evil force that turns her into a great sorceress; & Tatsu Yamashiro, AKA Katana (played by Karen Fukuhara), a Japanese martial arts master. All of them, save for Flag, Moone & Yamashiro, have micro-bombs implanted in their necks, set to go off if they abandon the team. Eventually, Enchantress takes over complete control of Moone, & goes on a rampage, & it is up to the team to stop her.

The cast is a mixed bag; Smith & Robbie are great, while Leto is awful. The direction & screenplay from David Ayer are both mediocre. And the visual effects are terrible. Although it does have its moments, it somehow manages to be worse than the already awful Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates

★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"WE DON'T RILE EACH OTHER UP!" "WE NEVER GET RILED UP!" That's part of a hilarious conversation involving Zac Efron & Adam Devine in Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, one of the funniest films of the year. The film is based on the true story of Mike & Dave Stangle, who, in 2013, went to Craigslist to find dates for their sister's wedding, eventually landing them on The Wendy Williams Show. Efron & Devine portray Dave & Mike Stangle, respectively, who after screwing up countless family gatherings, are forced by their parents (played by Stephen Root & Stephanie Faracy) to find sensible dates for their sister Jeanie's (played by Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding in Hawaii. 

After finding no luck, Mike & Dave decide to go to Craigslist & post an ad seeking sensible women to bring as dates for an all-expenses paid trip, eventually leading to an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show. Alice (played by Anna Kendrick) & Tatiana (played by Aubrey Plaza), 2 best friends, see them being interviewed. Alice had been dumped at the altar some time before, still feels guilt for it. Tatiana decides that this will be the vacation they need. Problem is, Alice & Tatiana are absolute party girls. They desperately clean up their acts, & eventually become Mike & Dave's dates to the wedding, but the trip to Hawaii is definitely not as it seems.

The cast, especially Aubrey Plaza, is hilarious. The direction from Jake Szymanski is good, along with the screenplay from Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O'Brien. Although the film does fall apart somewhat in the final act, it is still one of the year's most hilarious films.

The Conjuring 2

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I had a premonition of your death. Something inhuman wants to kill you. If we keep doing this, you're going to die." That's a disturbingly scary quote from Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring 2, one of the best horror films ever made & one of the few sequels that lives up to the original. As was the case with the first film, this is based on the case files of husband-&-wife paranormal investigators, Ed & Lorraine Warren. Farmiga reprises her role as Lorraine Warren, who, in 1977, with her husband Ed (played by Patrick Wilson), have just finished with the infamous Amityville case. Lorraine has become increasingly concerned with Ed, having witnessed a vision of his death.

Meanwhile, in the London borough of Enfield, strange things have occured at the home of Peggy Hodgson (played by Frances O'Connor) & her 4 children. Her second-oldest daughter, Janet (played by Madison Wolfe), has been possessed by the spirit of Bill Wilkins, a man who previously owned the house & died in it. Fearing for their safety, Peggy & her children seek refuge at a neighbor's house, with the story eventually reaching the Warrens. Ed & Lorraine travel to Enfield to assist with the case, although Lorraine is reluctant, eventually seeing the vision again, & must now try to expel the demon possessing Janet.

Farmiga, Wilson, O'Connor & Wolfe's performances were terrifyingly spectacular. James Wan's direction was great, along with the screenplay by Wan, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes, & David Leslie Johnson. And the cinematography by Don Burgess is one of the best of the year, with such excellently bleak shots. This is a film that definitely terrifies, & doesn't pull any punches.

Finding Dory

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Sigourney Weaver is going to help us!" That's a hilarious quote from Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Dory, one of Pixar's best sequels & one of their best films. DeGeneres reprises her role as the forgetful Dory, & 1 year after teaming up with Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) to find his son, Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence), she is helping raise Nemo. One day, she remembers her parents: Jenny (voiced by Diane Keaton) & Charlie (voiced by Eugene Levy), eventually remembering that they lived at a marine institute in California. Now, Dory, Marlin & Nemo must travel across the Pacific to find Dory's parents, encountering old friends, such as Crush (voiced by Andrew Stanton) & Squirt (voiced by Bennett Dammann), & an octopus named Hank (voiced by Ed O'Neill) along the way.

DeGeneres, Brooks & O'Neill's voice talents were spectacular, & the marine institute cameo narration by Sigourney Weaver was one of the many highlights of the film. The direction from Andrew Stanton is spellbinding, along with the screenplay by Stanton & Victoria Strouse. The film score by the incomparable Thomas Newman was one of his absolute best, along with his scores to The Shawshank RedemptionAmerican BeautyIn the Bedroom, & Finding Nemo. And the animation, as it is with all Pixar movies, is astoundingly beautiful. This is one of the best animated films of the year so far.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

★★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Ever since I was born, I was dope." That's a legendary quote from Andy Samberg in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a hilarious satire of today's music industry. Samberg portrays Conner Friel, AKA Conner4Real & AKA Kid Conner, a rapper formerly of the boy band, The Style Boyz, along with Owen Bouchard, AKA Kid Contact (played by Jorma Taccone) & Lawrence Dunne, AKA Kid Brain (played by Akiva Schaffer). They were major influences on artists such as Usher, Nas, & Questlove, & their most famous song, Donkey Roll, was an extremely massive critical, commercial & cultural success. However, Conner overshadowed Owen & Lawrence, eventually leading to the band's breakup.

Eventually, Conner went solo Conner4Real, with Owen as his DJ; however, Lawrence left the music industry & became a farmer. Conner's first solo album, Thriller, Also, was a major success, however, his second & newest album, CONNquest, has been a critical & commercial failure, with Rolling Stone giving it a 💩 out of 4 stars, with the only positive-seeming review coming from the satirical website The Onion. In order to raise ticket sales for his tour, rapper Hunter, The Hungry (played by Chris Redd) is put on as his opening act, which fails miserably as well, forcing Conner to re-think his career, & his relationships.

Samberg, Taccone & Schaffer were hilarious, as well as the many cameos, namely Seal, Justin Timberlake, P!nk, Emma Stone & Joan Cusack. The screenplay from Samberg, Taccone & Schaffer is filled with many hilarious lines. Although the film does fall slightly short of comedic greatness, & does fall below their 2007 comedy classic Hot Rod, it is a hilarious satire of the music industry.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Lobster

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Because lobsters live for over 100 years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, & they stay fertile all their lives." That's a hilariously detailed quote from Colin Farrell in The Lobster, the best film of the year & certainly the weirdest film I've ever seen. Farrell plays David, a man whose wife has just left him. The thing is, in his society, he can't be single; in fact, no one can. Because he is now single, he is taken to a hotel, where he has 45 days to find a partner whom he shares a major characteristic with, or else, he will be turned into an animal. (I know, I was just as shocked as you are right now. It's definitely odd, am I right?) David has brought his brother with him, who was turned into a dog some years prior. The hotel has many odd rules: masturbation is banned (the punishment is having your hand put in a toaster), but sexual stimulation by the Maid (played by Ariane Labed) is mandatory, guests view events promoting relationships, & they also go on hunts led by the Hotel Manager (played by Olivia Colman) for the Loners that live in The Woods; every Loner tranquilized extends your stay by one day. David's choice of animal is a lobster, for they have a long life span, they're blue blooded, & they're always fertile.

While at the hotel, David meets a Lisping Man (played by John C. Reilly), a Limping Man (played by Ben Whishaw), a Nosebleed Woman (played by Jessica Barden), a Biscuit Woman (played by Ashley Jensen), & a Heartless Woman (played by Angeliki Papoulia), notorious for her cruelty & her ability to tranquilize many Loners. While the Lisping Man & the Nosebleed Woman fall in love, David decides to go after the Heartless Woman, but that falls apart quickly due to a horrific incident.

Fed up with the hotel, David escapes & goes to The Woods & becomes a Loner, & meets a Short-Sighted Woman (played by Rachel Weisz), & the Loner Leader (played by Léa Seydoux). The Loners have equally screwed-up rules, namely stating that all romantic & sexual relations are banned (the punishment is the Red Kiss, where your lips are cut off & you are forced to kiss. A Red Intercourse is also mentioned, but not described as what occurs, but you get the idea). Eventually, David & the Short-Sighted Woman fall in love, & they must find out how to work their relationship out, as they must become totally synchronized.

This film was weird, romantic, dark, hilarious, disturbing & excellent. The entire cast was excellent, especially Farrell & Weisz. The direction from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos was brilliant, considering that this is his first English-language film. The screenplay from Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou is brilliant as well, & is definitely the best original screenplay of the decade so far. The editing from Yorgos Mavropsaridis is excellent. The cinematography from Thimios Bakatakis is excellent as well. And the soundtrack, filled with classical music, is astounding.

This is definitely a major satire of the 21st-century dating sites, such as, e-Harmony, & Tinder, who all try to find the perfect match for us all. There definitely won't be a film like this ever again, & nothing will top this movie for the rest of the year. It truly is the best film of 2016. It was definitely the weirdest movie I've ever seen. The film felt like David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Wes Anderson & Stanley Kubrick teamed up & made a romantic sci-fi dark comedy. But did I enjoy all 118 minutes of it? Indubitably.

X-Men: Apocalypse

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Those with the greatest power protect those without. That's my message to the world." That is a brilliant quote from James McAvoy in X-Men: Apocalypse, the best X-Men film yet. McAvoy reprises his role as Professor Charles Xavier, who has the power to read minds, & still runs his mutant institute in New York in 1983. Raven Darkholme, AKA Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence), who has found a new recruit for Xavier in East German Kurt Wagner, AKA Nightcrawler (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who has the power of teleportation. Alex Summers, AKA Havok (played by Lucas Till), who has the ability to absorb energy & release it, has also found a new recruit in his younger brother, Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops (played by Tye Sheridan), who has the ability to shoot optic beams from his eyes. Scott takes a liking to fellow mutant Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner), who is fearful of her telekinetic & telepathic capabilities. Also with them are: Dr. Hank McCoy, AKA Beast (played by Nicholas Hoult), a mutant with superhuman abilites & lion-like attributes; Peter Maximoff, AKA Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters), who has the power of super-speed; & CIA Agent Moira McTaggart (played by Rose Byrne).

However, they must face an epic villain: the long-dormant En Sabah Nur, AKA Apocalypse (played by Oscar Isaac), & his Four Horsemen: Ororo Munroe, AKA Storm (played by Alexandra Shipp), who can control weather; Angel (played by Ben Hardy), a mutant whose wings can become razor-sharp projectiles; Psylocke (played by Olivia Munn), who also has telekinetic & telepathic abilities; & Erik Lehnsherr, AKA Magneto (played by Michael Fassbender), Xavier's former friend, who can control magnetic fields.

The cast, especially McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence & Turner, was excellent. Bryan Singer's direction was great, & the screenplay from Simon Kinberg was great as well. The editing from John Ottman & Michael Louis Hill was brilliant. And the visual effects were stunning, giving way to excellent fight scenes. This is definitely one of the best superhero movies of 2016, in a year where Marvel movies have truly reigned supreme.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"They are using their sexuality as a weapon!" That hilarious Seth Rogen quote is one of a few hilarious quotes in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, a hilarious sequel to 2014's Neighbors that almost reaches the first film's comedic heights. The film continues the story of Mac (played by Seth Rogen) & Kelly Radner (played by Rose Byrne), who are trying to sell their home, now that they are expecting another child, alongside their first child, Stella (played by Elise & Zoey Vergas). A young couple is looking to buy the home, & though Mac & Kelly are excited to buy a new home, they are told that they are in escrow for 30 days. Also, their once-again married friends Jimmy (played by Ike Barinholtz) & Paula (played by Carla Gallo) are expecting as well. Meanwhile, Teddy Sanders (played by Zac Efron) is living with Pete (played by Dave Franco) & Pete's boyfriend Darren (played by John Early). Pete & Darren are getting married, so Teddy has to move out. And also, college freshman Shelby (played by Chloë Grace Moretz), disillusioned with the fact that sororities can't throw parties, teams up with fellow college freshmen Beth (played by Kiersey Clemons) & Nora (played by Beanie Feldstein) & create a new sorority, Kappa Nu, &, with the help of Teddy, sets it up at the house next door to Mac & Kelly, the same house that Teddy's fraternity used to live in the first film. The girls' parties eventually become successful, much to the chagrin of Mac & Kelly, who try to complain to Dean Gladstone (played by Lisa Kudrow), who denies their complaint once again. Eventually, Teddy is voted out by the girls, & teams up with Mac, Kelly, Jimmy & Paula to take down Kappa Nu.

Rogen, Efron & Byrne are hilarious again, but Chloë Grace Moretz was by far the most hilarious in the film, along with Clemons & Feldstein. Nicholas Stoller's direction is solid, & the screenplay by Stoller, Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O'Brie is solid as well. It does fall short of Neighbors, but it certainly is one of the funniest films of the year so far.