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Movie Review: Men In Black III

Mike Finkelstein is part of a secret government organization that monitors extra-terrestrial life on planet Earth. He’s saved you all from countless alien attacks, invasions, and disturbances, and none of you will ever know. On that note, please look at the eye on the end of this device. *FLASH!* Mike Finkelstein is a film critic. Here is his review of “Men in Black III”.



Mike Finkelstein is part of a secret government organization that monitors extra-terrestrial life on planet Earth.  He’s saved you all from countless alien attacks, invasions, and disturbances, and none of you will ever know.  On that note, please look at the eye on the end of this device.  *FLASH!*  Mike Finkelstein is a film critic.  Here is his review of “Men in Black III”.

PLOT: When Boris The Terrible (Jemaine Clement) escapes his Moon prison and travels back in time to kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), it is up to Agent J (Will Smith) to save his partner’s life.  The only way to do that: travel back to 1969 and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to stop a massive invasion four decades in the making.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: When Columbia Pictures first announced that MEN IN BLACK III was in development, the entire movie-going public let out a collective “Why?”  It’s been ten years since MEN IN BLACK II stunk up theaters and blew up DVD players around the world, and to bring us an unwanted sequel after all that just reeked of desperation.  Yet somehow, despite all the odds (fan pushback, unnecessary 3D conversion, an unfinished script, etc), MEN IN BLACK III has given us a return to form for the franchise that we so desperately wanted, and did NOT expect to see.

This time around, Agent J and Agent K are facing Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), the last known survivor of a vicious alien race bent on destroying entire planets.  When Boris breaks out of his prison on the moon, he immediately travels back to 1969 to kill the man that put him there—Agent K.  Boris succeeds, and J, being the only one that remembers his partner, is forced to travel back to 1969 to help a younger K survive to save the day, both in the past and the present.

I walked into the theater ready to hate what I would be watching. I was terrified that we would be reliving MIB II, which to me was a mindless 88 minute blob with no purpose.  However, from the first pre-credits scene, it was apparent that Sonnenfeld and Co was back on the right track.  While the comedy was there, we were in darker territory, which meant no more overbearing storylines with Frank the Pug (although we had a nice laugh at his expense) or those damn bugs (MIB’s Jar Jar Binks).  Boris the Animal was ruthless, evil and most importantly, a real threat (a la Edgar in Part I), something made even more incredible by the fact that he’s played by Flight of the Conchords member Jermaine Clement, who is usually a subtle, sarcastic comedian.  Clement brought a real menace this time around…and I loved every minute he hit the screen.

With all that, the real winning point in this entry was definitely the younger Agent K.   Granted, it was a little strange to see Tommy Lee Jones for what can be thought of as a glorified cameo, especially since he is what we’ve come to know as the other half of the MIB.  But let’s be honest…we’ve seen K.  We know he’s irritable and crabby.  To finally get a glimpse of the character as a young man with a sense of humor, hormones and a personality was like a breath of fresh air, and a spot on impression by Josh Brolin, who steals the show, definitely doesn’t hurt the matter.

Wrapping all that up in a nice little bow is the element of time travel.  Granted, I’m a sucker for anything time travel related, but Etan Cohen created a nice little balance of cultural and technology jokes (“It wasn’t the best time for your people”/the biggest neuralyzer you’ll ever see), nostalgia (the space shuttle launch), and history (Andy Warhol).  Add on an absolutely adorable Michael Stuhlbarg as a loveable alien who could see different timelines, and we end the last half hour with a few sweet, sentimental notes that’ll make you smile.

Now, I’ve been praising MIB III so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect movie by any means.  Both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have their eh moments, with Smith still hamming it up at times like he’s a rookie—one of my biggest peeves from II—and Jones being just plain mean.   (You’d think that after 15 years, the two would possibly warm up to one another, no?)  Also, the exposition at times is so thick, you could taste it, and we are left with some questions that seemed to be pretty important to the story…until they disappear entirely.  But, hey, in comparison to its predecessor’s issues, these only read as minor scratches that can be overlooked.

I went into MEN IN BLACK III fearing the worst, and I left the theater very surprised.  With a nice mix of darkness, comedy, and nostalgia, MEN IN BLACK III has somehow redeemed a series that was left in the dust more than a decade ago.  And while the film is more of a standalone entry rather than a summation of a trilogy or a lead-in to a part four, if this were the end, Sonnenfeld and crew undeniably left us on a high, gratifying note.  And if Columbia does decide to throw us a part four, all I can say is “Let’s see what you got, fellas…”.    


Mike’s LIKES:

1) JOSH BROLIN: You have to give the man credit…he not only acts like the character, but does a perfect impression of Tommy Lee Jones.  Brolin added the much needed boost to this series, and if it were up to me, I’d make an entry where young K meets old K.  Now THAT’D be cool!

2) TIME TRAVEL: I’m a sucker for any time travel element.  It could have failed miserably, but I really enjoyed how they used the element of the time jump, and Sonnonfeld’s take on 1969.

3) JEMAINE CLEMENT: To go from the hiphopopopotamus to this blew me away.  Clement was evil, menacing, and a great villain, comparable to Edgar in the original MIB.   I didn’t know he was capable of such a thing!

4) SENTIMENTAL: During the last half hour, our two heroes are led into pretty sentimental territory.  It was refreshing, uplifting, and will leave a smile on your face.

5) MICHAEL STUHLBERG: Stuhlberg is absolutely adorable as the innocent alien who could see different timelines. He has most of the laughs and inspiring moments, and to go from “Boardwalk Empire” to A SERIOUS MAN to this earns a lot of respect from me.


1) MIB II PACING IN THE MIDDLE: There was a certain point where the film just seemed like it would be an elongated chase, and I had bad flashbacks to MIB II.  Granted, it didn’t last too long, and the rest of the movie was ten times better than part two could ever be, but even that little reminder of it was more than enough to jar me.

2) TOMMY LEE JONES IS JUST MEAN: K is mean, but I don’t remember him being this mean.  Seriously, it was just cruel.  I get that they were trying to emphasize how bad K is in his old age, but tone it down a little!  Let us like him at least a little bit!


1) Despite J traveling 43 years into the past, Josh Brolin is only 21 years and 5 months younger than Tommy Lee Jones.

2) The zip line escape system shown at the Apollo launch pad really did exist, installed for the Apollo program for any pre-launch emergency scenarios.


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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