Friday, June 23, 2017

Movie review: Dave Chappelle

 Dave Chappelle is back in two new standup specials: The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas. In the first special, filmed in LA, Dave expounds on his own errors, Bill Cosby, and O.J. Simpson. In the second special he tackles celebrity scandals, being a father, and race issues.

While Dave is without question a good comic, he also feels quite narcissistic. This makes it obvious that Dave is his own best audience, finding humor at times that doesn't translate for the audience. And he definitely wants you to know he smokes pot.
Many of his topics, and even more so his views, will be challenging to many and flat out offensive to others. Yet, most will find themselves laughing heartily at some point.

Technical work was good, and Dave presents well.

With some foul language and sensitive topics, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 6.2.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Stand-up Comedy, TV Comedies, Comedies, TV Shows

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Movie review: Roger Corman's Death Race 2050

 The year is 2050 and due to overpopulation the government sponsors "Death Race" where competitors win points for killing people with their obnoxious vehicles. Follow along with the racers in a dystopian future that rewards murder and mayhem.

Manu Bennett (Frankenstein), Malcolm McDowell (Chairman), Marci Miller (Annie), Burt Grinstead (Perfectus), Folake Olowofoyeku (Minerva), Anessa Ramsey (Tammy), Yancy Butler (Alexis), Charlie Farrell (JB).

Roger Corman's Death Race 2050 is a tongue-in-cheek remake of the 1975 cult classic. This submission is much more focused on campy B-movie comedy than anything else, and it shows. The plot and storyline are really useless other than to support the comedy. While the film doesn't have much depth or mystery, there are a few chuckles. But only a few.

Acting was a hot mess in this one. Bennett was okay with decent delivery, as was McDowell in a smallish role. Ramsey was good, and funny, and fit her role nicely. Grinstead was hysterical in his role and managed it fairly well, as did the remainder of the cast. At the same time, acting felt rough around the edges with a lack of emotion and sincerity.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were good and fit the film well. Action scenes were over the top, obviously enhanced, and at times completely unrealistic feeling. Dialogue was campy, corny, and sparse on actual information. Sound and soundtrack were good.

Overall Roger Corman's Death Race 2050 is a mild comedy with rough technical work and serious lack of depth. Those who enjoy light campy comedies or dark humor may enjoy this one.

With pointless nudity, sexuality, violence, gore, and foul language, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 6.2.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, B-movies, Action & Adventure

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Monday, June 19, 2017

Movie review: American Experience: The Big Burn

 An incredible firestorm destroying forests in the northern Rockies in 1910 challenges the fledgling U.S. Forest Service. Shaping fire policy for the next 100 years, the fire propelled growth of the U.S. Forest Service and determination to stop each and every forest fire.

Oliver Platt (Narrator), James Hook (Pulaski), Jeffery Looney (Pulaski), Bryan Jennings, Nick Masciangelo.

In 1910 the U.S. Forest Service consisted of only a handful of men that could see the potential for destruction in forest fires. When a lightning storm ignited the drought stricken northern Rockies, the U.S.F.S recruited everyone they could and enlisted assistance from the military. The result was exponential growth, and public support, along with a policy to stop every forest fire for the next 100 years.
Though the policy of stopping all fires saved a lot of lives and trees, it has also caused National Forest's to become ridiculously overgrown and abundant with fuel, creating a scenario for immensely destructive and unstoppable forest fires. Thankfully this policy is changing to allow forests to mature, and die, naturally.

Narration by Platt was good, as were interviews.
Camera work was good, but much of the film relies on period photos and video, which fit perfectly and expressed the tone of the times well.
Sound and soundtrack were solid.

This is a well done history lesson on the U.S. Forest Service and forest fire policy that has shaped forest management for the last 100 years. Those unfamiliar with U.S. forest fire fighting policies should enjoy this one and probably learn something.

Nothing here to limit audience age.

Released: 2014
Reviewed: 6.2.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: TV shows, Documentaries, Historical Documentaries

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Movie review: Stake Land II: The Stakelander

 Some time after the first film, Martin experiences a tragedy which compels him to seek out Mister, his old mentor and famous vampire hunter, with hopes of eliminating the new leader of a vampire army.

Connor Paolo (Martin), Nick Damici (Mister), Laura Abramsen (Lady), A.C. Peterson (Bat), Steven Williams (Doc), Bonnie Dennison (Peggy).

Stake Land II begins by relating the storyline with the first film and showing us events that have happened since to provide continuity. With Martin now searching for Mister, depth of the storyline grows but so do the dramatic pauses which also provide some plot points. The result is jerky plot movement and dramatic scenes that feel contrived to setup the next action scene.

Acting was mediocre with Paolo doing a decent job. Damici was okay but felt like he was straining his skills at times. Abramsen did nicely, as did Peterson. Williams delivered and was enjoyable as always. The remainder of the supporting cast did fairly well.

Camera work and sets left a lot to be desired in this one. Lighting in much of the film was horrible and at times almost unwatchable. Action scenes were decent with good detail and nice CGI blending. Dialogue could have used some depth and better incorporation with some scenes and overall plot. Sound and soundtrack were good.

Overall Stake Land II: The Stakelander is a bit disappointing after the first film, lacking depth and attention to detail. Those who enjoyed the first film may be somewhat disappointed with this sequel.

With plenty of graphic violence, gore, some foul language, and potentially disturbing situations, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2016
Reviewed: 6.2.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Vampires, Horror, Sci-Fi Thriller, Thriller, Sci-Fi Horror

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie review: Sully

 In 2009 people around the world were astonished when airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger successfully ditched a fully loaded Airbus 320 on the Hudson River after losing both engines in a bird strike.

Tom Hanks (Sully), Aaron Eckhart (Jeff), Valerie Mahaffey (Diane), Delphi Harrington (Lucille), Mike O'Malley (Porter), Jamey Sheridan (Edwards), Anna Gunn (Elizabeth), Holt McCallany (Mike), Laura Linney (Lorrie).

Upon departure from La Guardia Airport, Flight 1549 experienced a catastrophic bird strike that destroyed both engines. With no time, an increasingly unresponsive plane, and no way to make it to an airport, pilot Sully realizes ditching in the Hudson will result in the least loss of life on the ground.
Successfully landing the plane on the river, Sully and his crew saved the lives of all 155 passengers on board in an unprecedented and heroic act. The film takes a look at Sully's life and the actions of everyone involved in the incredible landing of the plan on the Hudson river.

Acting was well done with Hanks and Eckhart both delivering perfectly and apparently working well together. I do not know if the NTSB investigation portrayed is realistic or not, but O'Malley played and aggressive NTSB investigator very well. Cusak, Hagan, Gabbert, and the remainder of the cast did very well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were very realistic and nicely done. The film doesn't appear to use much real footage, instead relying on CGI which is quite well done. Action scenes are nicely done and seem to represent what really happened. Dialogue was solid and well contained to relevant information. Sound and soundtrack were decent.

The story of Flight 1549 is incredible and quite well known. Sully is a very good retelling of the story with good setup, follow-up, and apparent accuracy. Those who enjoy intense drama or who have interest in knowing more about the events of Flight 1549 will likely enjoy Sully.

With some foul language and potentially disturbing adult situations, like the crash of a loaded airplane, save this one for mature teens and above.

Released: 2016
Reviewed: 6.2.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Biographies, Drama, True Stories

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

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