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Movie Review: Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part I

Mike Finkelstein wants to sparkle in the sunlight. He also thinks that marrying a vampire probably isn’t the best idea…Here is his review of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I”



Mike Finkelstein wants to sparkle in the sunlight.  He also thinks that marrying a vampire probably isn’t the best idea…Here is his review of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I”

PLOT: Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) are finally getting married, yet during what was supposed to be the Honeymoon of their dreams, all hell (and demons, for that matter) breaks loose.  Bella falls pregnant with a vampire baby that is slowly killing her from the inside out, and it is up to Edward and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) to keep her safe and alive from all sides.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: I have to preface this review with the fact that I am not a TWILIGHT fan and have never seen any films nor read any books.  So when I was invited to witness the event that is BREAKING DAWN PART I, I did my research and walked though those theater doors with a well informed and open mind.

Turns out TWILIGHT was, by far, the best two hours I have spent in a movie theater this year.  No, not because it was a good movie, but because the movie was so ridiculously bad, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.

First, let’s begin with the story and its underlying messages, which are completely insulting to anyone with half a brain.  Stephen King has a quotation, “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.” 100% true.   And what’s even more hysterical is that Edward is the worst example for a boyfriend…ever.  Bella is okay with leaving her entire family and life to become the ‘undead’, makes excuses for her fiancé brutally murdering people (they must have deserved it), and begs for sex like it’s the Holy Grail even though Edward doesn’t want to ‘hurt’ her.  As you can guess, our supposed protagonist is a complete joke, void of any original thought.

But it isn’t over yet…despite the fact that Bella is pregnant with a ‘demon baby’ killing her from the inside, she will not give it up because it’s a ‘miracle’.  Add on to that Edward telling her the demon baby likes her voice and loves them both, and you have every reason why shows like “Sixteen and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” exist.  This is supposed to be a role model for teen girls?  Stephanie Meyer is basically telling them it’s okay to forget who you are and just find an (abusive) boy to latch onto and dedicate yourself completely to him.  It’s horrible.  I just pray that real teens aren’t stupid enough to drink blood from a Styrofoam cup…

Let’s move onto the acting.  Robert Pattinson is the only one of the three main actors I respect, and he does a decent job here, but Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner are ten steps behind.  Stewart, while good in THE RUNAWAYS and ADVENTURELAND, has absolutely no emotion when she speaks.  If she does, it seems completely offset from what is actually happening.  (“Aww!  She’s walking down the aisle and looks nauseous!)  As for Lautner, the kid’s ripped torso (shown yet again for no reason, but only in a single scene this time) doesn’t excuse the fact that he is completely overacting (“You’ll KILL her!!!”  RAWR!!!).  After a while, it’s like we’re watching a ridiculous soap opera or “Degrassi” episode, something that’s really sad when you think about all the great actors you have supporting you, including Anna Kendrick, Michael Sheen, and Billy Burke.  Add to all of the above some horrible werewolf special effects, a slow pace, and insanities that include delivering a baby with teeth and falling in love with a newborn, and you have BREAKING DAWN PART I.

With all that, there is one tiny upside.  From a movie lover’s point of view, I really can’t blame Bill Condon.  He is an excellent director, who has given us KINSEY, DREAMGIRLS, and CHICAGO, and here, yet again, is a beautifully shot film.  The source material is just absolutely tragic, and didn’t help the man for anything.  I don’t know why he did this film, and I’m not going to ask (payday…?).  I’ll just sigh, grin, and say that we should all move on.

TWILIGHT is absolutely insane.  After about five minutes of watching, I had to throw away any serous thought about it making logical sense, and spend the rest of the time laughing my ass off.  Why?  If I didn’t, I’d probably want to beat myself over the head with my armrest…  Yes, I could understand why teen girls are so hooked on it (choose your team wisely), and if you like the other three films, then you’ll like this one too.  For me, however, it was just a waste of time, and for Stephenie Meyer, a complete waste of a chance to tell young, impressionable teens something worthwhile.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) ABSOLUTELY HYSTERICAL IN ALL THE WRONG WAYS: I can’t even being to go into all the wrong details: demon baby, drinking blood from a Styrofoam cup, eating out (literally), imprinting, morals, and one really jealous ex.  And that’s not even scratching the surface.  I couldn’t stop laughing.


1) WORST MESSAGE EVER FOR YOUNG GIRLS: I think this book being published was the equivalent of making a BATTLESHIP movie. “We know it’s crap, but it’s about mystical vampires, so maybe we could make a bit of a profit  before anyone realizes it…”

2) OVERACTING:  Oh, Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart…tisk tisk…


1) Stephenie Meyer has a cameo role as a wedding guest. She can be seen as Bella walks down the aisle.

2) Robert Pattinson said he tried not to laugh multiple times during the birth scene.  (According to my theater, he wasn’t alone)

3) Exactly:


REVIEW: “Sing Street” Will Put a Song in Your Heart… and Your iPod



“I have just seen an instant classic.”

That’s what I said to myself as I left the theater, with the music and adrenaline of “Sing Street” still coursing through my veins.

It’s the kind of movie you want to turn around and see again, immediately. Right after you download the soundtrack. Yes, it’s that good.

Haven’t heard anything about it? I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have known about this film either, except that my Regal Crown Club card finally paid off in the form of free tickets to an advanced screening. (Never mind the $25 popcorn.) Anyway, let’s watch!

Hooked yet? You will be.

Irish writer/director John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”) has conjured a nearly perfect coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Dublin. Think “The Commitments meets “Sixteen Candles meets “Footloose,” but all in one glorious package that manages to be both fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Drawing from his own teenage years at the real Synge Street school, Carney avoids the trap of creating a pure fluff piece by infusing the story with real heart.

A large part of that is due to the breakout talent and hero of Sing Street,” 16-year-old Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. As “Connor Lalor” navigates the tricky currents of a new school, family drama, and first love, Walsh-Peelo is heartbreakingly earnest, predictably awkward, and unexpectedly optimistic. Everything about his performance rings true. No small feat, considering that this is his acting debut.

Thanks to Carney’s non-actor, open casting approach, Walsh-Peelo is also joined by some equally promising new faces. Lucy Boynton is luminous as his love interest, “Raphina,” and Mark McKenna is quietly compelling as Conor’s songwriting partner, “Eamon.”

One of the most satisfying pairings, though, is anchored by the more experienced Jack Reynor (“Transformers:Age of Extinction”).  He shines as Conor’s older brother, “Brendan.”  Dealing with the angst of his own stalled dreams, Brendan tackles his brotherly mentoring role with gusto. Conor soaks up the advice like a ruddy-cheeked sponge, then begins to find his own way as his confidence grows.  Rarely do we see the underlying affection between two brothers played so simply and honestly,  so the relationship between Conor and Brendan is a lovely surprise.

The other undeniable star of “Sing Street” is the music.  While the story could have easily been told with the band only performing covers of ’80s hits,  Carney had a bigger vision for the film.  He collaborated with Scottish songwriter Gary Clark to craft 8 original tunes that not only add layers of light and shade to the storyline, but could be stand-alone chart toppers today.  From the gleefully retro “The Riddle of the Model,” to the Cure-tastic “Beautiful Sea,”  to the EMO ballad “To Find You,”  there’s something for everyone. Welcome to your summer soundtrack, people.

There are few darker notes to the plot, and the ending feels slightly of place, but in general “Sing Street” will leave you feeling as light and fizzy as a packet of Pop Rocks.

The movie poster reads: “Boy Meets Girl. Girl Unimpressed. Boy Starts Band.”  That’s it in a nutshell, of course, but happily, this film is so much more.

SING STREET opens in New York April 15th, and is in theaters nationwide on April 29th.






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Celebrate The Fourth With Our Picks For Great American Movies!

What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?



What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?

It’s impossible to list them all… this is just a handfull! Scroll down and tell us what your favorites are!!!

Let’s start at the beginning!

Do you have what it takes to watch a black and white classic? (Don’t break my heart by replying if the answer is no.) Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 classic starring James Cagney – telling the story of the great entertainer George M Cohan. He’s the man behind the songs “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”  A true classic with distinctly American music and showmanship. Watch the trailer!

There’s something about the fifties and sixties that still plucks at the nostalgic heartstrings of America. And yet, two of the most iconic movies about that period were actually shot decades later, with a heartfelt look back at those times.

Both American Graffiti and Grease come to mind. While American Graffiti can take bragging rights for bringing us more breakout stars, (and being written and directed by George Lucas), Grease seems to enjoy more clout as a family friendly favorite.

1986 was a  good year for Tom Cruise, and a good year for movies. Top Gun starred Tom Cruise stars as a student at Top Gun Naval Academy. It sparked a sense of patriotism, and the continued ascent of Cruise’s career. (If you’re watching with your kids, you might wanna skip ahead once you start hearing the song “Take My Breath Away.” Love scene ahead! Still, some might argue it’s pretty tame by today’s standards.)

Forrest Gump (1994) proved not only to be an excellent movie, but also an impromptu history lesson.
The story follows an unlikely hero (played by Tom Hanks) as he journeys through life, finding himself witnessing (and sometimes even influencing) a series of historic events, but is largely unaware of their significance. A true classic.

Before the luster of Mel Gibson had worn off, he portrayed Benjamin Martin, a man who becomes embroiled in the Revolutionary War. The late Heath Ledger plays his son, who fights in the Continental Army.

The most recent of patriotic classics is 2012’s Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis delivers a flawless performance as our 16th President under the directorial brilliance of Steven Spielberg. A new classic for the ages.


For more movies updates, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter!

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Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW- WORLD WAR Z Is a Messy, Relentless Zombie Horror Flick That Really Works

Check Out Steven’s review for one of the biggest surprises of 2013, the epic zombie flick WORLD WAR Z.



world-war-z-posterWORLD WAR Z

Paramount Pictures

Director- Marc Forster

Starring-Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale. Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, David Morse, David Andrews.

Steven’s Quick Review- Yes its production was messy, but WORLD WAR Z might be the biggest surprise of the summer movies in 2013. Thanks to relentless action, a number of good scares, and an on-target performance from Brad Pitt, WORLD WAR Z is an excellent zombie film. Even though it is barely based on its source material, Damon Lindelof’s rewritten third act will keep audiences guessing and add some scares to your summer movie slate.

Steven’s Review- Brad Pitt has become the kind of actor who now only does movies he truly wants to do, and only takes roles that challenge him. So when Pitt and his Plan B studios initially won the rights to Max Brooks bestselling novel WORLD WAR Z the options were endless. Yet from the start of production the movie had issues, between the initial script lacking invention, a director in Marc Forster (QUANTUM OF SOLACE) who was found it difficult to make important decisions and the very public spat between Pitt and Forster that nearly sidelined the film indefinitely.  There were also the on-set issues, besides the arguments between the actor and director, there were problems on set in Hungary when government officials stormed the set and removed live weapons. Also, forced re-shoots that moved WWZ from a winter release to a summer tentpole. It’s easy to assume WORLD WAR Z was doomed from the start. But something happened along the way, something that shocked plenty during our screening of the film in May. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Pitt, Forster, and crew actually made a darn good zombie flick. With help from Damon Lindelof (“Lost”, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) who came to the rescue and reworked an ending  after the studio deemed the initial conclusion was not good enough for release.  Following Lindelof’s changes and a massive marketing campaign Brad Pitt’s newest pet project was ready to show the world.

WORLD WAR Z the book takes place in a post zombie war setting, when a journalist and U.N investigator goes all over the globe talking to survivors and getting their stories.  The film adaptation written by Drew Goddard (CABIN IN THE WOODS), Matthew Michael Carnahan (STATE OF PLAY), J. Michael Straczynski (THOR) and Damon Lindelof  has little to nothing to do with Brooks acclaimed novel. We begin meeting Gerry Lane(Pitt) , a former UN investigator who lives with his family somewhere outside Philadelphia.  Within 5 minutes of the opening credits, we are thrown into a full on zombie invasion, with riots in super markets and speedy zombies chasing people down. WWZ Starts off with a bang. Gerry’s wife Karin(“The Killings” Mireille Enos), and his daughters Constance(Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) desperately leave the city and head towards New York, finding themselves in the streets of  Newark, New Jersey where they pick up supplies and await a helicopter pick-up thanks to Gerry’s old friends at the United Nations.

WORLD WAR Z is in no way a perfect movie; every now and then it finds itself deep into horror cliché, only to drag itself out with one big sequence after another. Pitt carries the film as he finds himself in worse situations every moment, but without being totally indestructible (meaning as an audience you never quite know whether Gerry Lane will make it out alive). Pitt’s performance feels dressed in reality, while he searches the globe for reasons why this zombie apocalypse is happening, worries for his safety and hopes to return to his family.

WORLD WAR Z is a suspenseful zombie flick that contains a few scares, but has the advantage of almost never slowing down.  The filmmakers found a way to protray a lot of violence and still receive a PG-13 rating – they show you enough death and destruction without maimed bodies and severed limbs. I enjoyed the fast paced nature of WWZ and the fact it never drags, it allows characters to develop and story to move forward without forsaking the zombie action fan in all of us.

As far as adaptations go, WORLD WAR Z could be considered one of the worst, it barely contains any connection to Max Brooks brilliant novel, other than a few characters names and one or two plot points. As far as summer surprises, WORLD WAR Z is a welcome break from comedies and super hero flicks that take up most of our time. But the pressure is on: it needs to bring in $500 million dollars to turn a profit for everyone involved. I enjoyed WORLD WAR Z and hope they can find a way to make some cash, so we can get more zombie action just like it.

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