Review: ‘The Woman in the Window’ pays homage to many other films you should probably watch instead

Woman in the Window

Imagine for a moment a film full of Oscar-winning actors you love, written by a Pulitzer prize winner whose work you adore, directed by a director with a solid track record, and that pays homage to some of the great mystery stories of all time. Now imagine that it isn’t very good.

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Review: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ premiere is a big tease for things to come

How do you follow in the footsteps of a giant? How do you live with the sins of your past? These are two of the questions at the heart of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the new series on Disney+ that follows Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, reprising their roles as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, respectively.

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Review: ‘Outside the Wire’ is a bit derivative but has some cool action

Outside the Wire

You have definitely seen this film before. Well, ok, not exactly this film, but if you’re a fan of science fiction and you’re presented with a story about a cocksure young recruit being paired with an android who can’t lie but clearly isn’t telling the whole truth, well, you’ve seen this movie before.

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Buy This: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is Now Available On iTunes!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Blu-Ray isn’t due until the 9th of September but if you’re down with digital copies you can watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier again right now. The Winter Soldier is one of the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date (top three by my reckoning!). It’s got action, it’s got adventure, it’s got an old fashioned spy movie plot, it’s got great actors giving great performances, and just enough tie in to the rest of the Marvel Universe that when the bad guys eventually flip the table, well, they really flip the table.

If you’ve already seen the movie you should probably add it to your collection. If you haven’t seen it you should see it! The best way to do that is legally and if you use the links below (you may have to turn off your ad blocker) then you’ll help us keep the lights on at Awesome Friday HQ.

Something for the Weekend: Pain & Gain

Pain & Gain

Say what you will about Michael Bay. His style is shallow. He focuses too much on style over substance. He’s rather choreograph an explosion than direct and actor. Much of this is likely true when he’s making action films. Turns out though that when you take his shallow, vapid style and apply it to a story about shallow, vapid people things crystallize in a way that I don’t ever remember them doing so for Michael Bay in the past.

Pain & Gain is the story of three body builders in Miami who kidnap and torture a local businessman until he signs over all of his assets to them. Mark Wahlberg plays the ringleader Danny, a sociopath who thinks he’s both a winner and a nice guy but is actually a despicable asshole, Dwayne Johnson plays Paul, the dumb but nice one who gave up cocaine in prison for Jesus but then found cocaine again once out of prison, and Anthony Mackie plays Adrian, the one with ‘rood rage who ends up liking beating up on Tony Shaloub’s Victor Kershaw, the victim. Ed Harris rounds out the cast as the private investigator who eventually cracks the case.

I want to tell you more about this movie but I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it. You can look up the actual events if you want to but I would do that after (the events in the movie are fictionalized). It’s really something to see Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson’s performances here clean, they’re both great as Wahlberg is fantastic and making terrible thing he does seem like he’s trying to do it from a good place and Johnson is hilarious as dumb and high for most of the movie.

Next week we’re all going to see Transformers: Age of Extinction and likely go back to not really liking Michael Bay so in the mean time you should check out Pain & Gain to remind yourself he’s capable of making… well maybe not great works of art but certainly films to which his voice and style is suited perfectly and if you use the links below you’ll help us keep the lights on here at our World Headquarters.

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Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Header

I have a lot that I want to tell you right now that I just can’t. I don’t want to spoil the movie, and to do a proper review I won’t technically be spoiling anything, but I’ll tell you now that you should just go see this movie. You want to know why? Because it’s great. Fantastic even.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Super Bowl Spot, Trailer #2 + New Poster: How Do You Tell Good Guys From Bad Guys?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Finally a decent look at Falcon and Black Widow and The Winter Soldier himself, or at least what they’re all capable of. Continue reading “Captain America: The Winter Soldier Super Bowl Spot, Trailer #2 + New Poster: How Do You Tell Good Guys From Bad Guys?”

Review: Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad

Ryan Gosling. Sean Penn. Josh Brolin. Emma Stone. Robert Patrick. Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Pena. Directed by Reuben Fleischer in a post World War II cops vs. Gangsters story. This is a movie I wanted to see from the moment I heard about it.

Set in Los Angeles and facing off against famed mob boss Mickey Cohen, the players form an elite and off the books squad of cops who at the behest of the Chief of Police (played by Nick Nolte) take the battle against organized crime right to the head honcho. They hit him hard and where it hurts.

Does this sound familiar? Yeah, it sounds a lot like The Untouchables. Too bad it’s nowhere near as good as The Untouchables.

Now hold up a moment, that’s not to say that this is a truly terrible movie, just that’s it’s also not a very good one. The problems are twofold, first there’s the issue of balance.

See, half the time it seems to be a serious cop drama complete with “are we doing the right thing?” moments and the rest of the time it seems like it’s trying to be Dick Tracy 2, complete with characters who are either stereotypes or caricatures (more on that in a moment).

Seriously. Sean Penn plays Cohen so over the top that he’s kind of hard to take seriously and Troy Garity is his main henchman who has a scar over his face that damaged his eye, and is credited as “One Eyed Assassin”. Meanwhile, Josh Brolin is the tough as nails, uncompromising lead detective and Ryan Gosling is the morally grey detective who needs to decide if he’s really in the game or not. The problem here is that the movie never commits to one tone. Is it light and fun or is it dark and serious? The answer is neither because it seems to try so hard to meet in the middle.

If any of this is starting to sound familiar again it’s because of the second problem: there’s pretty much literally nothing here you haven’t seen before. There’s two deaths on the squad and normally I’d consider that spoilery, but if you can’t tell which ones it’s going to be after each of their first scenes (and what the immediate follow-up is going to be) then you’re probably watching a different movie than I was.

The film has other problems as well. A one liner here and there is good, several one liners during every sequence is silly. The rest of the dialogue is pretty bad too, even the lines that sounded cool in the trailer fall flat in the movie itself and they’re trying so hard to be cool that no one gets any real development. Everyone ends up just being a pastiche of others you’ve seen before. The Hard Ass, the cowboy, the tech guy, the minorities struggling for acceptance, and the old man police chief.

Worse yet, none of the actors really have any chemistry together. Sure, Josh Brolin and Mireille Enos has some, but the home story is a sub plot and Josh Brolin talking to almost anyone else feels forced. Even Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone don’t really seem to connect despite having done so in other films.

There’s a lot to like here in the small details. The movie looks amazing, from the sets to the costumes to the hair and makeup, everything looks pretty spectacular actually. The story itself isn’t bad, and we all know Reuben Fleischer loves his slow motion shots. In the end though, the looks are just window dressing, the story is told with little nuance and terrible dialogue and the slow motion (and sped up) stuff just makes the pacing of the big final action sequence fall to pieces.

The scenes that do play well are the action scenes (not sped up or slowed down) but they almost feel like a different movie.

Gangster Squad was one of my most anticipated films of the year. Maybe because of that context I am being hard on it, but I don’t think I am. It seems to be a movie that was made to make a great trailer. Lots of one liners to choose from, beautiful people in beautiful clothes on beautiful sets, and lots of action (and it really does have a great couple of trailers). The problem is that they didn’t seem to be able to figure out what kind of movie they wanted to make or how they wanted to play it and the result is that the finished product is just a hot mess.