Reviewing the ‘Paranormal Activity’ Franchise

Reviewing the ‘Paranormal Activity’ Franchise

Reviews of ‘Paranormal Activity 1’, ‘Paranormal Activity 2’, ‘Paranormal Activity 3’, ‘Paranormal Activity 4’, ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’, thoughts on each film individually, as a whole, and the future of the franchise.

by Mitch Burns

Downloads27‘Paranormal Activity’ (2007 Limited / 2009 Wide Release)

Director: Oren Peli

Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat and Mark Fredrichs

The film that started not only the ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchise, but in a lot of ways, the hand-held camera craze. It also saw a trend of studios putting faith in smaller budget horror films, with a decent story and some originality, and reaping the rewards.

‘Paranormal Activity’ is about a young couple, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat), who move into a new home and begin to notice many strange things beginning to happen to them. Katie is convinced that they are being “Haunted”, so Micah begins recording their life, and the two of them while they sleep. The recordings capture something horrifying and things only start to worsen for the young couple.

On the surface, it’s very easy to see the issues with ‘Paranormal Activity’, The acting isn’t great, the characters are a bit one note, and in the case of Micah, slightly annoying. These issues aren’t entirely bothersome in the grand scheme of things, as the movie does so much with a reported $15,000 budget. ‘Paranormal Activity’ is freaky and creepy, I’m glad I didn’t see this in theaters as I can only imagine how much scarier it would have been amplified on the big screen.

The creators found a way to make something incredibly spine-tingling, on a small budget, avoiding a low-budget feel. I often found myself asking “How did they do that?”. The film creates a compelling mystery as well, one that has spanned 5 films, and I am still intrigued to learn more about. After making almost $200 million ‘Paranormal Activity’ has surpassed cult classic, and become a straight up classic, a notion that I know will be correct on even in 20-30 years.

Grade: A-

‘Paranormal Activity 2’ (2010)

Director: Tod Williams

Starring: Molly Ephraim, Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Seth Ginsberg, Vivis Cortez, Micah Sloat, and Katie Featherston

‘Paranormal Activity 2’ continues with the story established in the first of the series, instead of being a direct sequel, they decide to go the prequel route, which is an interesting premise. ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ centers on Kristi (Sprague Grayden), the sister of Katie (Katie Featherston), and Kristi’s family, her husband Dan (Brian Boland), their young son Hunter, and Dan’s daughter from another marriage Ali (Molly Ephraim).

Several weeks before the events of the first film, Katie’s sisters family has their house broken into and trashed, so Brian has security cameras installed throughout the entire property. The security cameras begin to catch some Paranormal Activity…

Unfortunately, ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ takes a major plummet in quality from the first film to the second. ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ has some issues, among those issues are terrible writing and bad dialogue and two terrible characters, Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and Dan (Brian Boland), who are not helped as the actors playing them give appalling performances.

If the film was as scary as the first I may have been able to overlook some of the problems the film has, but not only is the film lacking in scares, it can be dull in spots. I started to feel some fatigue with the product as well, as I found myself thinking that the film felt quite like “More of the same”, and ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ shouldn’t have these problems being only the second in a franchise.

The franchise overall may have a problem with this film (and the fourth, but more on that later), as there are questions raised in ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ that the creators may never be able to answer and will forever remain plot-holes. luckily, myself and most audiences won’t see this film as so bad because the last 20 minutes are shocking, interesting and leave you wanting more.

Grade: C-

‘Paranormal Activity 3’ (2011)

Director: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Starring: Chris Smith, Lauren Bittner, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Hallie Foote, Dustin Ingram, Sprague Grayden and Katie Featherston

‘Paranormal Activity 3’  is a prequel to a prequel, taking place in 1988, nearly 18 years before the events of ‘Paranormal Activity 1′ and 2. With a larger amount of story layered in, in order to weave the films together, and it makes ‘Paranormal Activity 3′ all the more interesting.

In ‘Paranormal Activity 2′  we were never shown that a box of video tapes were stolen from Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and Dan’s house in the robbery that resulted in them installing the security cameras. These video tapes belonged to Kristi and Katie’s (Katie Featherston) mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and boyfriend Dennis (Chris Smith). The tapes were made by Dennis, a wedding photographer, who began to notice some supernatural events surrounding a young Katie (Jessica Tyler Brown) and Kristi (Chloe Csengery), and began to film the house.

The decisions made actually feel necessary and interesting instead of forced like in ‘Paranormal Activity 2’, (and all of ‘Paranormal Activity 4’). Taking the film back to the beginning of the haunting’s surrounding Kristi and Katie, which were only hinted at in 1 and 2, actually answers some questions, creates a few new ones, and remains scary. ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ is probably the most well made film of the entire series, it has a larger budget, and  likeable characters, good acting, and it may take a bit to get moving it does have an interesting, multi-layered story.

‘Paranormal Activity 3’ falls victim to an irritating trend that besieges most horror films, and even the first two in some fashion, those moments when no one will believe anyone. It’s basically just common knowledge that if you are in a horror film, and you see a ghost or something creepy, nobody will believe you, no matter if it’s your significant other, parents, siblings or best friend, they won’t believe you, and it’s irritating.

Also, put the damn camera down if you’re being chased, you’re trying to save someones life, and it is a life or death situation. The first two didn’t have this problem, but 3, 4 and the spin-off do, and it is quite unbelievable that these people would still be holding a camera while running scared, and so well.

Grade: B-

‘Paranormal Activity 4’ (2012)

Director: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman 

Starring: Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Aiden Lovekamp, Brady Allen, Alexondra Lee, Stephen Dunham, and Katie Featherston

It’s now 2011, a young girl named Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her family, her Mom (Alexondra Lee), her Dad (Stephen Dunham) and her littler brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp), get some new neighbors across the street. One night, cops and ambulance’s surround the new neighbors house, and Alex and her friend Ben (Matt Shively), discover the child, Robbie (Brady Allen), who just moved in across the street in their treehouse.

After Alex’s mom discovers that Robbie’s mom is in the hospital, she decides to take him in to their home. Shortly after, mysterious things begin to happen and Alex, with the help of Ben, begin to film the house using webcams, phone cameras and more to capture what is going on.

The film immediately makes my blood boil as they treat the film’s star Kathryn Newton, who was 15 at the time of filming, as a sexual object. Her friend Ben (Matt Shively) is the most irritating character I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing on-screen and he is consistently trying to seduce the young Alex, trying to get her to show her boobs, talks about being cock-blocked and watches her sleep!

The film then begins to shit on any good reputation the first three films had already built up. The scares aren’t handled well in ‘Paranormal Activity 4’, while the first 3 developed a creep factor, and worked to scare you, here the imagination is completely turned off and they throw anything at the audience to try and make the jump. The film fails, miserably. and you won’t be scared at all, in fact you will definitely find yourself rooting for the evil to win.

I don’t know how the franchise is going to work themselves out of the hole ‘Paranormal Activity 4’ dug, the first 3 created a mystery, and the 4th screws it up, at least in my opinion. I don’t know what they have planned for future installments, but the logic flaws, plotholes and lack of information actually makes me angry.

I’m trying to remind myself why I went with a D- and not an F, I know I didn’t completely hate it, probably because it is in the ‘Paranormal Activity’ universe which I do like. Although, when you take all the issues I’ve stated above, it can only get worse when you add the typical bad acting (Matt Shively), underdeveloped characters (supposedly Alex’s parents are fighting?), the predictability (if you don’t see what’s coming, you’re an idiot), and no one puts the camera down even when they are being chased.

Grade: D-

‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ (2014)

Director: Christopher Landon

Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Welsh, Renee Victor, David Saucedo, Gloria Sandoval, Molly Ephraim, Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston

‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ is a spin-off according to creators, after having seen it, I would call it essential viewing if you are a fan of the franchise. The spin-off takes place in 2012, essentially after all four films, although (for all spoiler-free purposes) it doesn’t really connect to those first four films (but it does, but I didn’t tell you that).

The film is set in a small apartment complex, where new high school graduate Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) lives with his Grandmother (Renee Victor) and his father (David Saucedo). He has two close friends in Hector (Jorge Diaz) and Marisol (Gabrielle Welsh), they buy a camera from a pawn shop and begin to film their surroundings. When one evening Jesse’s neighbor below him, Ana (Gloria Sandoval), is murdered, he teams up with Hector and Marisol to figure out what is happening.

‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ takes a while to get going, and if it weren’t for the likeable characters, the beginning would be a complete bore. These characters are probably the most likeable characters since Katie in the first film, the film actually builds some good relationships, friendship and family. I applaud the franchise for adding some ethnicity into the series, while most films wouldn’t dare trying something like this, I think adding a Latino family adds something different and fresh.

While the film is interesting and actually funny at points, the first hour goes by without almost a single scare, which is very odd for a horror film, it leans more towards thriller or even mystery. I think at this point the franchise needs something to liven it up, this could have been it but it still wasn’t as scary as I would have liked it to be, but still a lot scarier than the fourth film. Again, I will decry the handheld camera portion as the last 20 minutes of the film are spent with a lot of running and screaming, and any sane person would discard the camera for certain.

Although, I enjoyed ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ for its differences, for its characters, and maybe because I had just come off ‘Paranormal Activity 4’ and anything is better than that. This is a direction the film should go towards, but amp up the scares and get the story moving a little faster please, some editing and cuts would make this a tighter, scarier thrill.

Grade: C

Thoughts on the entire Paranormal Franchise

It’s 2015 and I’m just watching the Paranormal franchise, so what are my thoughts? 1 and 3 are definitely the best, 2 and The Marked ones aren’t bad, and 4 is almost unwatchable.

Ranking: In order from my favorite to least favorite, although it’s probably pretty obvious by my grades.

#1- ‘Paranormal Activity’
#2- ‘Paranormal Activity 3’
#3- ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’
#4- ”Paranormal Activity 2′
#5- ‘Paranormal Activity 4’

Did I enjoy my time watching these films? Yes, it’s a fun little franchise, and there were many points that I had to turn the volume down or almost closed my eyes. They’ve tapped into something scary, using the handheld camera style makes the horror seem real and tangible.

Am I looking forward to more? Yes! The mystery the franchise has built up intrigues me, I’m hoping they can wrap it up in one or two more films, but these movies make so much money that I could see why they would continue forever.

The Future of the Paranormal Franchise

Seeing as I am now excited about the Paranormal Franchise and where it is going, I’ve looked into it a bit. Christopher B. Landon, who helped write all but the first film, has said that there is an end planned, and that it will take a few more films to see that out. If fatigue doesn’t hit the franchise at all, I could see that being 2, maybe 3, more films.

The next film in the franchise is titled ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’, a title that suggests a link to events that happened in ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ , which should be interesting. It is also being seen as the fifth film in the ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchise, as  ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ was a spin-off. The film is due in theaters October 23, 2015, but after having been delayed about three times already, and not knowing much else about the film, I’m a little worried if we will see it on that date. It will center on a family of four, with Katie Featherston reprising her role as Katie, the only actor to have been in every film so far.

Thanks for Reading!

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Why the 2011 Oscars stunk!!!

Stunk may be harsh, but at least it’s not “Why they sucked” or “The 2011 Oscars Blows”.

1. Watching Anne Hathaway and James Francos opening video, I got very excited, I love when actors and actresses put themselves in the movies and “poke fun” at them, like Billy Crystal did a few years back with Lord of the rings and Monster. This opening video made me laugh here and there but the amount of times I felt like I was supposed to be laughing, and wasn’t, made me lose a bit of hope for these young presenters. The best part of the opening video was when Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman made brief appearances, which had me wondering why Baldwin wasn’t performing again.
Then Hathaway and Franco came out to give their opening monologue and, well, it wasn’t very funny. Franco seemed bored and un-entertained, and actually brought his co-host down, Hathaway who wasn’t that bad and somewhat funny, and always perky and excited. I wonder what the Oscars would have been like if just Anne had taken on the hosting duties… as long as she leaves out the lesbian jokes.

2. Presenters that should have been great, inspirational, or funny, fizzled. Poor Tom Hanks, One of our generations greatest actors presenting the first award was boring, talking about Gone with the Wind. occasionally through out the broadcast they pay homage to previous winners, and that just doesn’t make any sense. Every person there, and at home watching, really only cares about the movies nominated that night. If we want to re-live the classic that is “Gone With The Wind”, we will buy it on blu-ray.
Justin Timberlake, Oprah, jennifer Hudson, Hilary Swank, Josh Brolin, Halle Berry, Matthew McConaughay, and Scarlet Johansson were all boring and unfunny presenters while Kirk Douglas, Jeff Bridges, Robert downey Jr., Rusell Brand, Helen Mirren, and Sandra Bullock were either funny or entertaining.

3. The upsets that a lot of us were hoping for never came, like Hailee Stenfeld beating out Melissa Leo, Banksy getting the Oscar or David Fincher getting best director. Instead, the biggest surprise was Tom Hooper winning best director for the kings speech, and the rest of the night the oscars went to everyone we could have guessed before hand, Christian Bale, The Kings speech, Melissa Leo, Colin Firth and Natalie Portman.
last year Mo’nique gave an amazing speech after winning best supporting actress, and everyone knew she would win. This year, the front runner Melissa Leo won, and gave one of the most painful speeches ever. She pretended to be shocked, she rambled on and on, and stole Kirk Douglas’ cane. so annoying. It’s really very sad (and obvious) when the best speeches of the night were given by writers Aaron Sorkin and David Seidler.

4. They. were. boring. The oscars will always have there clunky and long parts, but there was nothing in the entire broadcast that seemed to be able to save it from being boring and long. Except maybe Billy Crystal.

Sorry Academy Awards, maybe you will win us over next year.

Mitch’s 2011 Oscar Picks

These are my picks for the Academy Awards. I give my self ONE point if I get “Who Will Win” right, and I get a 1/2 a point if I get “Who Should win” right.

I would love to see Annette benning win best actress, but she won’t, and Natalie Portman did do a lot for the part and has not won before. I guess I just wasn’t a huge Black Swan fan. I loved the King’s Speech, and it seems like the front runner, I really liked The Social Network but I am not sure it deserves the Oscar for best picture, but it was really good.

Mitchell’s Oscar picks

Leading Actor:

Who Will Win: Colin Firth – The Kings Speech

Who Should Win: Colin Firth – The Kings Speech

Supporting Actor:

Who Will Win: Geoffrey Rush – The Kings Speech

Who Should Win: Geoffrey Rush – The Kings Speech

Leading Actress:

Who Will Win: Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Who Should Win: Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Supporting Actress:

Who Will Win: Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit

Who Should win: Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit

Animated Feature:

Who Will Win: Toy Story 3

Who Should Win: Toy Story 3

Art Direction:

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Who Should Win: Inception


Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Who Should Win: Inception

Costume Design:

Who Will Win: The Kings Speech

Who Should Win: The Kings Speech


Who Will Win: Darren aranofsky – Black Swan

Who Should Win: David Fincher – The Social Network

Who (really) should Win: Christopher Nolan – Inception

Documentary Feature:

Who Will Win: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Who Should Win: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Documentary Short:

Who Will Win: Killing In The Name

Who Should Win: Strangers No More

Film Editing:

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Who Should Win: The Social Network

Foreign Language Film:

Who Will Win: Biutiful

Who Should Win: Incendies


Who Will Win: Barney’s Version

Who Should Win: The Wolfman

Original Score:

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Who Should Win: Inception

Original Song:

Who Will Win: “We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3

Who Should Win: “Coming Home” – Country Strong

Animated Short Film:

Who Will Win: Day & Night

Who Should Win: Day & Night

Live Action Short:

Who Will Win: God Of Love

Who Should Win: The Confession

Sound Editing:

Who Will Win: Inception

Who Should Win: Inception

Sound Mixing:

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Who Should Win: Inception

Visual Effects:

Who Will Win: Inception

Who Should Win: Inception

Adapted Screenplay:

Who Will Win: The Social Network

Who Should Win: True Grit

Original Screenplay:

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Who Should Win: Inception

Best Picture:

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Who Should Win: Inception

Review: True Grit, Winter’s Bone, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Blue Valentine + The Oscar’s!!!

So the 2010 Oscar nominations were announced yesterday, and if haven’t heard these are the ten films nominated for best picture….

• “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
• “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
• “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
• “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
• “The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
• “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
• “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
• “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
• “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
• “Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Now I when the nominations were announced I had only seen seven of the ten nominations, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3 and True Grit. Since they were announced I have finished the list, watching 127 Hours, Winter’s Bone, and The King’s Speech.

I have given Reviews on Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, and Toy Story. I am going to give some short reviews on the other five movies I haven’t reviewed yet, plus a bonus review on Blue Valentine, which I just watched today.

True Grit – ***** (out of five stars)

I saw True Grit with my father, the original True Grit was released in theatres 1969 and it was the first movie he ever saw in theatres. I have never seen the original, or not all of it anyways, so I can’t really do a comparison like most reviewers are.
Only the Coen Brothers can remake a western, receive 10 Oscar nominations and make it one of my favorite movies of the year. Jeff Bridges is wonderful, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin play their parts well and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld steals the show and definitely deserved her Oscar nomination (same goes for Jeff Bridges who is slowly becoming my favorite actor). The movie is great, action packed, thrilling, I thought it might be (for lack of a better word) grittier, but it worked. My dad said, walking out of the theatre, “the best movie I have seen since 1969”.

127 Hours – ****1/2 (out of five)

You have probably heard much about 127 Hours, and you probably even know how it ends, but it is still completely worth watching. It is about 90 minutes long, and he gets trapped under that boulder pretty darn quick, but that is when the story really gets rolling. With hallucinations, video recordings, flashbacks and lots of talking to himself there is a lot to keep us entertained. It is very emotional, and the last 25 minutes are so emotional, and wonderful. If Colin Firth weren’t in the lead actor category at the Oscars this year, James Franco would have the award hands down.

The King’s Speech- ****1/2 (out of five)

I was supposed to see the Kings Speech like two weeks ago, right after I saw Black Swan, but my lovely fiancé said she couldn’t stand to sit through a movie about a king in 1936 with a speech impediment. In a way, I kind of agreed with Ashley at the time, and we skipped out on seeing it. Last night I ended up watching it, when I saw how long it was at the beginning I was so worried I was in for a bore fest, but it was not. Not only is it a story about King George’s stammer and how he treats it, it also tells the story of how he got to the thrown and from his Fathers death, to his brothers short reign as king, and so on. It really is a marvelous movie, and I was actually quite entertained.
Colin Firth is just amazing, and deserves the Oscar. I don’t see how he could play this role, there were lines where he was stammering, and I assume he just wanted to yell it all out. I am glad that Colin Firth did such a wonderful job, because Geoffrey Rush almost steals the show. I have hardly seen Geoffrey Rush in anything but the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, but he was amazing. So is Helena Bonham Carter for the small time she is in it. You may not know these actors when written but they have all been in many movies, Colin Firth (Bridget Jones Diaries, Mamma Mia), Geoffrey Rush (Pirates) and Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange in harry Potter and also married to Tim Burton).

Winter’s Bone – **** (out of five stars)

Winter’s Bone is about a 17 year old girl who lives in the boonies (and I mean the dirty boonies), with her little sister and brother and her mama who Is pretty much brain dead. She is pretty much raising her siblings because her father is a meth addict and being chased by the law. When a police officer tells her that if her father isn’t found she (and her family) will be kicked out of their home. So the girl literally goes door to door, and all around the most dangerous and scary town know to man to try and track down her father.
Jennifer Lawrence does a wonderful job in her break out role, in one of the grittiest movies all year. At first I wasn’t sure what to think about this movie, but now that I take some time and think about it, it really was wonderful, and insightful. I loved it, unfortunately Jennifer Lawrence and her co-star John Hawkes, who were both nominated for acting Oscars, are up against to many big contenders to actually will.

Blue Valentine – ** (out of five stars)

Michelle Williams is up for lead actress, and her costar Ryan Gosling has been nominated for many awards also, because this is one of those movies where their acting is SO good, that it’s hard to tell they are really acting. It’s like your watching a story unfold in front of your eyes, it’s like these are actually people going through this.
Unfortunately, they are acting in a movie that is so boring, dreary and unentertaining that I just couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story. By the end of the movie I almost didn’t care what happened to the characters, except for the couples adorable daughter. People may say I am not a good critic if I didn’t like this movie, it seems as if every other critic did (with a 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but I just didn’t like this movie and you would have to pay me to see it again.

That is all, I hopefully am going to try and see a few more nominated movies before the Oscars, like Biutiful (Javier Bardem, best actor), Animal Kingdom (Jackie Weaver, best actress) and Rabbit Hole (Nicole Kidman, Best Actress). If I do see these movies I will post a review, and the day before the Oscars I will post my picks of who I think will win.

Thanks for reading ☺

Mitchell Burns

My Top Ten Movies of 2010

10. Easy A -Hilarious, well acted by one of my favourite newcomers, Emma Stone, and so down to earth and real. A very surprising movie.

9. The Kids are Alright – Who knew a story about to lesbian mothers could be one of my favourite movies of 2010!

8. The Crazies – A movie that is not on the typical critics list, The Crazies blew me away with it’s tense storyline, and robust characters

7. Splice – A summer movie, that was in no way a summer movie. A Scary, creepy, and intelligent “monster movie”.

6. The Fighter – Christian Bale is awesome in this Fighting movie, unlike any boxing movie I have seen in a long time.

5. The Town – Ben Affleck’s second directorial debut, after the amazing Gone Baby Gone, is almost just as amazing.

4. Toy Story 3 – Almost better than the first 2 Toy story movies, need I say more?

3. The Social Network – Who knew a movie about facebook could be so entertaining.

2. True Grit – Thrilling, funny, and well acted by Jeff Bridges and his young costar Hailee Steinfeld. My dad calls it “The best movie he has seen since 1969”

1. Inception – Very smart and intellectual, but also the most thrilling movie of the year. Maybe of the decade.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Despicable Me
How To Train Your Dragon
Shutter Island
Robin Hood
Get Him To The Greek
Piranha 3D
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Black Swan

Review: The Town

Ben Affleck is amazing. Not the Gigli Ben Affleck, the new Ben Affleck. 3 years ago I rented Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck’s first debut into full feature directing, and I loved it. It is now one of my favourite movies. I felt like the town would be the same. Based on the Chuck Hogan novel “Prince Of Thieves”, The Town is set in the small neighbourhood of Charlestown in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the story of four long time friends who, on their spare time, rob banks, and they do it well.

The Town starts out with the four friends Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), James “Jem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Albert “Gloansy” Magloan (Slaine), and Desmond “Dez” Elden (Owen Burke), robbing a Cambridge bank and taking a young girl hostage (Rebecca Hall). Some time after they free the hostage, one things leads to another and Doug MacRay (Affleck) ends up starting a relationship with the hostage, Claire. She doesn’t know who he is, obviously, but he knows who she is. so far this sounds like a weird romantic comedy, but thank god it’s not.

Thats not the only problem, Doug (Affleck), does not want to rob banks anymore, but the people in his life don’t want him to stop. Jem (Jeremy Renner) is a hostile, crazy man who see’s Doug as a brother like figure, especially since Doug used to date his Oxycotin/Alcohol/sex crazed hooker of a sister (Blake Lively). Throw in Jon Hamm and The Man in Black (from Lost lol), as two FBI agents, and Pete Postlethwaite as Doug’s boss who informs him he either continues robbing banks, or dies.

The Town is beautiful, and I am a huge fan of these films set in Boston Ma, such as Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, The Departed, Shutter Island,etc. The Town is thrilling, and fun with a a great romantic story intertwined.

Now the acting, Every actor in this movie does a spectacular job, even the way better than expected Blake Lively. Jeremy Renner in the first movie I have seen him in since the Hurt Locker, plays a perfect ass. For the small time Chris Cooper is in it, it just reminds me how awesome he is. Sadly Pete Postlethwaite isn’t in the movie long, but he’s great, in his Second last movie before his death. Rebecca Hall and Ben Affleck make a romance that may not have been believable, real.

Ben Affleck’s proves that he can write, act and direct and not cause any part of a movie to lack, in a film that should seriously be considered for an Oscar.

Review: Black Swan

*I can’t exactly Review Black Swan without giving too much away; I will make sure I don’t spoil anything to major, but this movie has such an intricate story that it is hard to tell what is a spoiler, and what is not.

The movie is about (if you don’t already know) a young Ballerina named Nina, (Natalie Portman) and her struggling story to become a respected, accomplished Dancer. She lives with her overbearing, ex-Ballerina mother (Barbara Hershey) who calls her cell if she is running a few moments late, and insists on being allowed to enter her room whenever. The movie isn’t really about this story, but it is a good backdrop, and helps many scenes along.

Nina (Portman) is vying for the lead role in the play “Swan Lake” at her dance school, but the lead role will go to someone who can portray both the White Swan and the Black Swan in the play. Nina eventually does get the lead role as the swan, even though the abusive Ballet Director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), feels like Nina is better at portraying the White swan.

A new ballerina arrives at the school named Lily (Mila Kunis), and even though Nina sees her as competition, she doesn’t resent her, at first. The Ballerina director at one point in the movie tells Nina that Lily is a better Black Swan than she is, and that drives Nina (among other things) to become better.

In many descriptions you may read for this movie, the reviewer will say it is about Natalie Portman’s character finding Mila Kunis’ character a threat to her Role in Swan Lake. Even though it is one of the main story lines, I found the main story to be about Nina’s transformation into the Black swan.

Think of the White swan as someone who is innocent and nice. Now, think of the Black Swan as someone who is un-pure, loose, and basically the complete opposite of the White Swan. When Nina gets the role of the White/Black swan she is a White Swan, and everyone around her (besides her mom) is telling her she needs to become the Black Swan, and she does anything and everything to do just that.

Black Swan is a very sexual/sensual movie. I had heard some things before going to see it, but I didn’t realize how Sexual it was going to be. Besides Porn, Black Swan is probably one of the more sexual movies of the year, and it barely has nudity. Nina’s Ballet Director and Mila Kunis’ character basically flood Nina’s mind with sex, and this pushes Nina to becoming a bit more of a “Black Swan”

Nina also suffers from hallucinations, and this is where the movie gets a little confusing. I still am not 100% certain as to which sequences in the movie were hallucinations, and which were truthful. I find this to be somewhat of a flaw, and the director (Darren Aronofsky) should have been a bit clearer on this. The more Nina delves deeper into the White Swans opposite, the more Delusions she has. The Hallucinations are the best part, and the most thought provoking. They make they movie even quite scary sometimes, and relatively tense, when I left the theatre my shoulders were even tense.

I am going to say; many people will find this movie creepy, and disturbing. Even though Black Swan is full of amazing dancing, this isn’t a dance movie per se, if you want a dance movie rent Step Up 3D (actually, don’t). I really liked Black swan, but I wonder if I would have liked it more if I hadn’t heard so much about it. I had such high expectations of Black Swan, and I wasn’t entirely blown away by the movie, up until the last 45 minutes. I found the first half of the movie to be somewhat (I mean just a little bit) slow, and unexciting. For me the last 25 minutes made me realize that this movie was one of the best of the year, but isn’t that a little long to wait.

The movie is about Nina; it is about her entirely and never strays from her perspective. We are placed into the life of Nina, and we feel as an audience everything she is feeling while going through this melodramatic stage in her life. Sometimes that can be boring, but not when the beautiful Natalie Portman plays the main character. Portman did such an amazing, wonderful, haunting job in this role, and she definitely steals the show. She deserves to win every award this season, and even though I loved Annette Benning in “The kids Are All Right”, Portman was better. Sorry. Portman’s supporting cast was wickedly awesome as well, whether it be “That 70’s Show” alum Mila Kunis, to Vincent Cassel and even the short cameo from Winona Ryder.

To sum it up in a few words, Black swan starts of slow, but when it picks up it turns into a tense, sexual, horrifying portrayal of one dancer, who will stop at nothing to make it to the top.

Review: The Fighter

The Fighter is a boxing movie (based on a true story) with a lot of the same aspects like many other boxing movies, Cinderella man comes to mind. What makes David O. Russell’s boxing movie award worthy is the limitless family drama. Mark Whalberg‘s character Mickey Ward is not only fighting in the ring through out the movie, but he is also fighting a battle out of the ring, with his entire family.

Mickey Ward’s (Whalberg) older half brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) is being filmed by HBO, and his family and the entire town thinks they are filming his “comeback”. It is not till later do we figure out that HBO is actually documenting his Crack addiction and how it has affected him.

The movie starts out with Mickey trying to become an established boxer, but he has lost the last 3 matches and his future isn’t looking so bright, he needs a change. That change comes when he meets an attractive, young bartender Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams). With the help of her, Mickey starts realizing the harm his overbearing family has on him and his career.

The movie is set and filmed in the small town of Lowell Massachusetts, and many viewers may be surprised at how gritty of a feel the movie has. Whether it’s the apartment building where Dicky goes to do Crack, or the Mickey and dicky’s 7 very ugly sisters, who all live at home with there mother and step father. Even Amy Adams character is a little bit of a tramp, but for someone who has played a Disney Princess, she did well.

The best actor of the whole movie though is Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Terminator: Salvation) . I have never really thought of Bale as a serious actor, but when I first saw him in this movie it took me a second to realize that it was him. He portrays this crack addict Brother so well, I was astounded. Mark Whalberg did a wonderful job, but was slightly overshadowed his cast mates. The entire cast is great, including Amy Adams and Melissa Leo who portrays the brothers mother with a huge personality. Last year we had Sandra Bullock who took the gold playing an intimidating mother, this year we have Melissa Leo. Also the actor who plays Mickey’s trainer, was his real life trainer, and he did a good job.

The only problem is that the movie is a bit predictable, but it didn’t bug me and it won’t bug you either

So whats my final say on this wonderful movie? well here is a few things tagline’s they could put in the commercial lol

“Nearly perfect”

“Christian Bale is breathtaking”

“The entire cast is terrific, and amazingly casted”

“4 and a half stars” (out of 5)

“haven’t seen a boxing movie this good since Raging Bull”

Mitchell’s Top 20 Favorite Movies*

These are my top 20 favourite movies of all time, in order of first to last, with their posters. Enjoy.

1. Crash

2. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

3. Jurrasic Park

4. Into The Wild

5. Inglorious Basterds

6. Gone Baby Gone

7. Children of Men

8. Inception

9. The Silence Of The Lambs

10. The Departed

11. Saving Private Ryan

12. No Country For Old Men

13. Fargo

14. Gladiator

15. An Unfinished life

16. The Muppet Movie

17. Seven

18. Alien (1-4)

19. Mystic River

20. The Abyss

*Technically, this list looks like a list of 25, because I have all three Lord of the rings movies and all 4 alien movies, but I usually always group them together. If you must know though, my favorite Alien movie is Aliens, and My favourite LOTR is The Return Of The King.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

I just saw Harry Potter last night, at the 10 PM showing, I have seen all the movies in theatres, and have read all the books more than once. We arrived 2 hours early and were the second group of people in line. As soon as we arrived and were settled in line people started pouring in, The line was out the door, My friends and I would consistently look back and laugh, we had our tickets pre-booked 2 weeks before, and we had this plan in place since then. Are people so naive, that after almost ten years of Harry Potter movies and the craziness that surrounds The Boy Who Lived, they wouldn’t prepare a little more for the event.

The Movie Starts out by giving us a healthy dose of all our favourite characters, Hagrid, all the Weasley’s, Tonks, Mad Eye Moody, Lupin, The Malfoy’s, Bellatrix, Snape, Voldemort and of course our three man heroes, Harry, Hermione and Ron. Even with the Darkness that surrounds them, Molly Weasley and the rest Try to go on with life as usual. that is until Bill Weasley and his new wife Fleur’s wedding is interrupted by the death of the Minister of Magic, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forced to flee quickly.

one of the many amazing properties of the movie is how we are treated with beautiful scenery, Hermione and Ron are now allowed to apparate (teleport) anywhere around the world, as long as they have been there before. Part 1, plays out like the Journey it is, but thanks to apparition we are taken all over the map. Places we are familiar with, like 12 Grimmauld place, the former headquarters of The Order Of The Phoenix, and new places like Godric’s Hollow, the town in which Harry was born, where his parents were murdered, and where they are now buried.

Since a lot of this movie is played out with our three main characters, I was anxious to see how they could hold up the movie by themselves. Emma Watson’s acting is a lot better than her male co-stars but they all hold their own, and I was quite impressed. They have wonderful chemistry, and who wouldn’t after filming 8 movies together.

A lot of people will find this instalment to be not enough, and when it ultimately ends, somewhere in the middle of the whole story, there will be groans and complains. I personally would not have it any other way, if they had not done this movie in two parts it would have felt rushed, and probably would have been a terrible movie. Watching part one makes me realize how much of a story has to be told, and I keep thinking of every story line that needs to be re-lived and finished in Part 2.

Deathly Hallows part one hits the mark exactly, and it is everything it needs to be. We are reminded in the first 10 minutes of part 1 that this is the end, with harry packing his bags, and saying goodbye to the Dursley house with one final goodbye to his old bedroom, the room under the Stairs. Part one is a sweeping epic, with wonderful cinematography. Something people need to know/remember is that there is a lot to tell, Deathly Hallows has a huge story to tell for everyone to understand The end. For example everyone needs to find put exactly what the “Deathly Hallows” are, so when characters in the movie (mostly Hermione) are explaining something, you better listen.

Deathly Hallows has it’s fill of scares, sexual tension, romance, and Sadness. One scene at the beginning, and One of the final scenes Shows the rise and fall of two of the most beloved Harry Potter characters of all time, and neither are human characters. One scene at the end was so brilliant and heartbreaking that there was not a dry eye in the theatre.

I was very very pleased with this movie. I am so excited for Part 2, which has a July 15th due date. Part two should wrap up every storyline, and re-unite us with almost all our favourite Harry Potter character. I am excited.