<![CDATA[Next Level Podcast Network - Film Reviews]]>Tue, 16 Jan 2018 00:14:02 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[REVIEW: BABY DRIVER]]>Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:04:57 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-baby-driver
Buckle up, for a wild ride!  Baby Driver is original, imaginative, action packed and just plain fun!
In a time full of comic book movies, sequels and reboots, it’s refreshing to come across a film that’s original and engaging.  While elements like bank robbers, gangs and wild car chases are far from new, director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is able to spin those elements into something that has never been seen on the screen before.
​Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort (Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars) as Baby, a talented getaway driver who relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. After meeting the woman of his dreams (Lily James, Cinderella) he sees a chance to ditch his shady lifestyle and make a clean break. Coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey, Beyond the Sea), Baby must face the music as a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.  Featuring an all-star supporting cast with Jamie Foxx (White House Down), Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town), Eiza González (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series), and Jon Bernthal (Fury, Daredevil).
Baby Driver has been a passion project of Wright’s for many, many years and it shows on screen as I have never had an opportunity to see anything like this on screen before.  I am a fan of the director’s previous works including Shaun of the Dead (a personal favorite of mine), Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End (also affectionately known as The Cornetto Trilogy to fans) so I had high hopes for the film.  However, in a summer that has already had well-received blockbusters such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and Wonder Woman, I knew that the bar was already set pretty high.  And with Spider-Man: Homecoming on the horizon, Baby Driver was in league with some tough summer competition.  But after seeing the film I can easily say that it is already not only my favorite movie of the summer but my favorite movie of the year.  
​The action and car chases in Driver are top notch being well choreographed and thrilling taking the audience on an edge of your seat ride viewers won’t soon forget when it’s over.  On top of that, the cast is amazing all the way down to the supporting cast who all stand out on their own.  I can’t imagine how much fun it was for some of them to play characters against the kind we’re used to seeing them in.  Leads Ansel Elgort and Lily James have such a chemistry that shines on screen and Kevin Spacey adds to that incredibly.  But when it comes to the supporting cast, while everyone stands out and has their moment to blaze, the stand out is Jon Hamm for sure in my opinion.  His charismatic character is one you’ll both love and hate at the same time.  A breakout role for him for sure!
​While the action and cast are amazing, the true brilliance of Wright’s vision is the rhythm of the film.  Take the “Don’t Stop Me Know” zombie beating scene from Shaun of the Dead, stretch it to last the entire length of the film and throw in a top-notch soundtrack on par with Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol 1 and you’ll find what makes this film so original.  Similar to Guardians, Wright put together and developed the soundtrack before filming because the music is just as much a character to the film as the cast themselves.  Not only that, but imagine not only characters walking down the street to the rhythm of the music, but car chases and gun fights also set to the rhythm!  Combined with the action, thrills, cast and story, it’s what really makes the film stand out as one of the best movies of 2017 and one of the best films director Edgar Wright has ever brought to life.
While I’m excited for some other films this year, I honestly can’t wait to see and experience Baby Driver again and again and again.  It’s a must see for sure!





<![CDATA[review: fantastic beasts and where to find them]]>Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:59:27 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them
                                                             Written by Steve Richards

The Harry Potter movie franchise is the best one we’ve ever seen, in my opinion. Die-hard Star Wars fans will tell you to forget about three movies within their own franchise. The Hunger Games flamed out. James Bond’s adventures exceed Potter’s in length, but the film quality throughout the series gives a nod to The Boy Who Lived.

With great success comes great expectation, however. Questions asking if the quality can continue are justified as we jump back into a secret community of wizards and witches. (Liquid) Luckily, we’re off to a good start.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a solid opening to phase two of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, giving old school Harry Potter fans something to get excited about and new fans something to dive into.

First of all, if you’re coming in already a Harry Potter fan, good luck not cheesing as hard as you can possibly cheese at the opening sequence. Credit to director David Yates for throwing us back into the wizarding world without missing a beat. And credit to Warner Bros. for hiring the guy who directed the final four Harry Potter movies. Fantastic Beasts is an extension of the Harry Potter series in many ways -- despite the fact it takes place before Lily and James Potter were born, let alone Harry. You’ll gets plenty of callbacks, showcasing a cross between the two worlds.

The most obvious crossover is the movie title itself. We follow Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who writes a book in the 1920s that Harry reads 70 years later called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In the film we essentially see how the book is written, as Scamander is visiting New York City with a case full of fantastic beasts and some of them maybe, might have escaped a little.

Poor Eddie Redmayne auditioned for the original Potter movies and was booted after reading just one line. All is well now, however. The Oscar winner and Newt Scamander are a perfect match. I’m not even sure how much Redmayne is acting and how much he’s just being himself if he were a wizard, which is an indicator of how good he is in Fantastic Beasts. The viewer is left rooting for an endearing, personable hero a movie franchise can be built behind.

It should also be mentioned these fantastic beasts are great characters on their own. The Niffler could have his own spin-off movie and millions would go see it. The Bowtruckle is as charming as Redmayne. The Nundu makes a quick appearance, but might have the best look. No, I’m not speaking gibberish. I’m giving you an inside look at Newt Scamander’s suitcase.

This guy is a showstopper.
Obviously the key to all these magical creatures is the special effects. The entire Potter franchise has always been the best in this category, and Fantastic Beasts is no different.

Scamander is joined by a group of beast seekers along the way. Chief among them is a No-Maj (American for “Muggle”) he runs into named Jacob Kowalski. Kowalski (Dan Fogler) is the closest we’ll ever get to the wizarding world, as a person incapable of magic exposed to a community of spells, charms, and beasts. His reactions are funny, ambitious, and I assume exactly what mine would be in his situation.

The pursuit of capturing the beasts by Scamander is innocent enough, but at the same time a dark force is flying around and wreaking havoc on New York. This is where the brilliance of J.K. Rowling again shows itself. The two stories could get disjointed, but Rowling finds a way to tie it together in a way that makes sense.

Porpentia Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) has a much larger role in this storyline, as a demoted agent at the Magical Congress of the United States of America. She takes on the classic redemption role, sensing there is a much bigger threat for her to get to the bottom of.

Also in the middle of this mystery is Porpentia’s superior, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell). Graves is also an agent in the MCUSA, but goes about his business in a different manner.

Graves also develops an odd relationship with an orphaned boy named Credence (Ezra Miller). Redmayne is obviously the star of the film. And Fogler is good in his role. But Miller is scene-stealing excellent as an awkward teenager.

Who's Harry Potter? Why would I see Fantastic Beasts?

Not a fan of the original Harry Potter franchise? Here are some reasons why Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them makes a good night out for any moviegoer.

Looking for special effects? I already mentioned how impressive the visual effects are, and the sound effects are just as big. In fact, the theater I was in for Fantastic Beasts blew out a speaker thanks to the sound effects. Not ideal, but I was still able to enjoy the movie. Point is the FX come as a mix of Avatar visually and Jurassic World audibly.

Like a good plot twist? Fantastic Beasts twists and turns more than once. Some are bigger than others, but they will all keep you on your toes. Plus the biggest twist comes at the end, which is always good.

Admittedly, as a Harry Potter fan, I was nervous heading into Fantastic Beasts. I just wasn’t sure if it could live up to my (impossible) expectations. After seeing this rendition of cast, writing, directing, and effects come together I’m hopeful we have the next big movie franchise on our hands.

<![CDATA[Review: Arrival]]>Fri, 11 Nov 2016 19:52:31 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-arrival

                                                                  Written by Steve Richards

NEWS FLASH: The United States is a crossroads. The elected president didn’t receive the most votes and our streets are filled with race-inspired protest on a monthly basis. We can’t even decide if the color of a dress on social media is blue or black anymore.

Divisiveness is at the root of violent conflict and flat-out hate this country hasn’t seen in a long time. Admittedly the media can be the cause of this, but every now and then it also has the ability to speak loudly and open our eyes.

Whether done intentionally or not, Arrival comes with a message that is targeted, important, and relevant to today’s society.   

The film follows expert linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), as she is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications. Twelve alien pods have landed on Earth in different locations, and militaries from across the world make an attempt to learn why they are here. As the film progresses, Banks slowly but surely learns the alien language in an attempt to answer that question.

Banks is clearly the focal point of the movie, and Adams does a fine job carrying it. There are a lot of suspenseful scenes between her and the aliens as they attempt to communicate, and Adams does a nice job holding that emotion. Mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) is brought in as Banks’ colleague, and serves as a quality complement. Adams and Renner work well with each other and have solid on-screen chemistry. Forest Whitaker, who serves as their superior Colonel Weber, talks with an odd Boston-type accent I was never really able to get over.

Acting performances aside, the star of this movie is the writing. Arrival is based on the book Story of Your Life, and this adaptation has me wanting to read the novel. All credit to Eric Heisserer, who wrote the screenplay. I mentioned the tense scenes above, and as the story comes together there’s a twist that gives the viewer a solid “ah ha” moment.

The underlying message of “communicate” is what makes Arrival worth seeing, however. The fact Dr. Banks is a linguist makes this obvious, but the film also features a quick-to-react General Shang (Tzi Ma).  The Chinese general clearly enters his alien communication sessions with a closed mind, looking for any reason to fight rather than listen. As a result the entire world is on the verge of its own demise.

Sound familiar?

Maybe the current state of our country makes this theme more obvious. Whatever the reason the message is necessary – Shang and Dr. Banks have an exchange near the end of the film that goes untranslated, but whatever is said should be broadcast across the country as a sign of hope.

Communication is more important now than it ever has been. Give Arrival a chance, let its message sink in, and give that a chance as well.

<![CDATA[REVIEW: SAUSAGE PARTY]]>Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:54:32 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-sausage-party

Written by Steve Richards

I’d seen the trailer. I’d seen the promos. I know who Seth Rogen is. I thought I knew what I was getting when I went to see Sausage Party. I got what I expected, but the inappropriate dial was turned up to 11.

Sausage Party is a raunchy laugh fest that doesn’t hold back on any type or extent of joke, making it a one-of-a-kind enjoyment.
So the food talks. That much you could have gotten from the trailer. What you couldn’t have gotten is the food sings, the ethnic foods are stereotyped, and EVERY food is horny. We also learn food curses a lot, smokes weed, and can be resilient.

Obviously the fact Sausage Party is an animated film is key in making it unique. With that freedom anything you can think of, and draw, is possible. The film’s stable of writers, highlighted by Seth Rogen, took that strategy and ran as far and fast as they could with it. 
While a lot of the jokes are just cursing and potty humor (RIGHT UP MY ALLEY), there are also a bunch of jokes on the smarter side.

Alright. Maybe “smart” isn’t the perfect word to describe those jokes, but I would say not everyone in the theater will understand them. This pleasantly surprised me, mainly because I did understand them. The best example I can give you is an ethnically based running joke between two of the main characters in the film.

Speaking of ethnically based jokes, Sausage Party has no fear of going there. We’ve got tacos, tequila, grits, firewater, Ramen Noodles, Twinkies, and sauerkraut all featured – and they sound exactly what you would expect them to sound like in this type of film. This is certainly one of the reasons the movie is rated “R”, but I can respect it because it’s done in a playful way. And by that I mean a bunch of animated foods are making the jokes, so how the hell can I take it too seriously.
The voice cast is loaded. In addition to Rogen, Michael Cera, James Franco, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Nick Kroll, Danny McBride, Edward Norton, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd and Kristen Wiig all make appearances. The best compliment I can offer is you don’t really notice the actor because you’re busy laughing at their character.

I should mention I didn’t really like Nick Kroll’s character. I thought it was a little overbearing at times. But we’re talking about an animated comedy and the rest of the movie made me laugh so who cares.
I was talking to someone after the movie and the phrase “pay off” came up. There definitely is one at the end, and it’s about five minutes long, so you find yourself laughing hard from beginning to end. There’s also a speech near the end of the film that may actually translate as a message with real meaning, but a sausage gives it so good luck having it stick with you.

In all Sausage Party really is a good time and worth seeing in theaters, but you better have the right sense of humor going in. If so, get your fill.

<![CDATA[REVIEW: PETE'S DRAGON]]>Wed, 10 Aug 2016 03:58:56 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-petes-dragon

Written by Ben Beck

Take the original Pete's Dragon; remove the sing-a-longs, update the dragon and increase the emotion and you've got a new and updated take on the original Disney classic.  It's a wonderful update that will fill your hearts and have you believing in dragons. 
Pete's Dragon is a reimagining of the original 1977 Disney classic of the same name and is an adventure of a young boy left orphan in the woods of the Pacific Northwest but happens to make a new friend named Elliot along the way... who, oh yeah, is a large green dragon.  The film stars Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, The Help), Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games), Karl Urban (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings), Oscar winner Robert Redford (A River Runs Through It, Quiz Show) and Oakes Fegley (This is Where I Leave You) as Pete
I have to start by saying that the original Pete's Dragon is one of my all time favorite Disney live action films.  I grew up watching it, singing along and still remember the first time I ever saw that movie.  So the idea of a reboot of a film that is so beloved to me is a conflicting thought.  I love new movies and feel some movies rightfully deserve to be updated... but is this one of them?  Should I see it and if I do, will it ruin my memory of the original?  The answers....Yes, Yes and HELL NO!  If anything, seeing this recreation of the film caused me to relive the wonderment I had all over again.  If you were with me in theaters, you may have even seen a tear or two come out from under those 3D glasses, but I will swear that it was just someone cutting onions in the theater... hey that's my story and I'm sticking to it! 
The CGI creation of Elliot the dragon along with the star studded cast of this film great elements that really draw the audience into the theaters to see this film, but the movie as a whole really stands out, especially when it comes to the cinematography of the picture.  The setting of the Pacific Northwest wooded area is an area with breathtaking views when seen in person and the creators of the film really do a great job in capturing those views for the screen.  But the cast I just mentioned cannot be ignored.  Every member of the cast, from Howard's mother-like figure all the way to Urban and his protagonist ways, are very warm.  While some may seem a little underutilized at times, the ensemble plays very well together.  And Oakes Fegley, who is still a relative newcomer when it comes to acting in feature films, really sells the character of Pete and portrays very well the reactions of someone who is returning to civilization for the first time in years.  And yes, while we all know full well that Elliot isn't real (*sob*), his interactions with the lovable dragon really make you believe that he is.  My biggest fear going into this film however was Robert Redford taking the place of the Mickey Rooney-like character in the story.  Rooney portrayed that character so well in the original that it would be hard to replace him.  But much to my surprise, Redford was an absolute delight and with the exception of the two main characters of Pete and his dragon, provides a great amount of the heart that this film is bursting with. 
Do you have to have seen the original 1977 Pete's Dragon in order to enjoy this film?  Not at all (although I still recommend it) as this film definitely stands out on it's own.  The story is similar to the original purely as to pay it's respects, but the modern retelling with updates to the tale make complete sense and this film really stands out as a film that, while from a major studio like Disney, still has the heart and emotion of a smaller, independent film. 
Kids will love this film and I can almost guarantee that adults will too.  It's a Brazzle Dazzle retelling for all ages to enjoy and I highly recommend it! 
OFFICIAL RATING 8 out of 10 
<![CDATA[REVIEW: GHOSTBUSTERS]]>Sat, 16 Jul 2016 01:03:34 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-ghostbusters

Written by Ben Beck

After 30 years, Ghostbusters returns to the big screen rebooted with a fresh new cast, new story and new laughs.  Director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today -- Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. This summer, they're here to save the world! 

Now I will fully admit I was a skeptic… when the project of a Ghostbusters reboot was announced, I was not too happy with the idea.  It had nothing to do with the fact that the cast would be all women, but more so because the original film was and is such a classic.  I didn't want anyone to touch the franchise as to not risk tainting it.  Fast forward to the release of the first trailer and while not the greatest, my opinion startest to shift a bit.  Then the more and more trailers, TV spots and clips I saw, the more I grew to want to give the film a chance.  Now after finally getting to see the film, I'm excited to say that I'm glad I did!  

THE CAST:  While haters showed their sexist tendencies and complained about an all female cast, normal people who aren't internet trolls can't deny that the cast is a powerhouse of funny women.  While it may seem like an SNL reunion of women in Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon (with Melissa McCarthy in addition), these ladies certainly shine on screen.  Wiig shines thru as the brilliant comedianne that she is and while McCarthy tends to get typecast into the same kind of comedic roles, this film certainly gives her a chance to shake the slapstick-esc roles we're used to seeing her in.  That's not to say there aren't a few moments in the film that she falls back into it, but you can't fault the director and the writers for leaving her a moment or two to do what she's good at.  The real standouts in my opinion though are the newcomers breaking away from television, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.  Both women prove that they are a force to be reckoned with in comedy films and can hold their own side by side with the experienced Wiig and McCarthy.  Jones fits into her urban city worker role extremely well and McKinnon plays just the right kind of awkward that it is absolutely hysterical at time.  The surprise in all though is the stand out performance by Chris Helmsworth as the ladies male, and totally moronic, new secretary.  While he usually plays the heroic roles, he proved that he has got comedy in his blood as well.  Take this great cast and throw in some other supporting cast in addition and it proves to be a strong ensemble.  

THE STORY:  Putting four funny women in a movie is one thing, but the film is still nothing without strong and funny writing to support them, and Ghostbusters doesn't fail in providing that.  Within the first 2 minutes of the movie, I was already laughing and the laughs never seemed to stop.  Filled with everything from light chuckles to full on belly laughs, Ghostbusters really delivers on the comedy that is only enhanced by the cast.  And while there are a few small similarities to the original film from 1984, the story is a fresh new rebooted take on the tale.  However that's not to say that the movie doesn't pay homage to its predecessor.  In a number of small nods throughout the film, fans of the original will certainly be grinning with a huge smile when these instances come up.  Even members of the original cast (including a certain marshmallow man... maybe) play a part in adding to the nostalgia of the film.  But even with all the moments that take you back to the original, the story is a brand new story all of it's own. 

Bottom line, internet haters take heed... YOU WERE WRONG!!!  Ghostbusters is a fresh new take that gives new life to a classic franchise.  Don't believe the hate, form your own opinion and see the film for yourself.  Even if you've never seen the original Ghostbusters from the 80's, take comforting in knowing that you can still highly enjoy this film since the story is brand new.  I look forward to hearing the stories of how a whole new generation ain't afraid of no ghosts. 

7.5 out of 10
<![CDATA[REVIEW: THE NICE GUYS]]>Tue, 17 May 2016 17:02:48 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-the-nice-guys
Review written by Steve Richards

The “buddy cop” movie can be a fickle beast in Hollywood. The combination of a rapport between two stars, a touch of light-hearted humor, and an intriguing story must mesh perfectly to stand out among the rest. Succeed, and you have a Lethal Weapon franchise on your hands. Fail, and you have White Chicks.

“The Nice Guys” — which is the latest buddy cop rendition from writer and director Shane Black — brings together chemistry, comedy, and crime to create a fun night out for the audience. 

Ryan Gosling, who plays a troubled private investigator in 1970s Los Angeles named Holland March, is the standout star. March is originally hired to find adult film star Misty Mountains, but later changes his pursuit to a runaway teenager named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) as the clues lead him in that direction. 

Gosling plays what is almost a slapstick comedy character, and he does it so well I had to check his credits to see if he played the role before. The Gos is full of physical comedy and one-liners, keeping the audience laughing throughout the film.

Although it is for a very different reason, also searching for Amelia is Jackson Healy (played by Russell Crowe). Healy is more of an intimidating investigator, solving the case with his head rather than his instinct.

Crowe proves to be an excellent complement to Gosling, as the New Zealander delivers his humor in a much dryer way. He also carries the action scenes in a way that Gosling is unable to.

Healy plays the tough guy, while March plays the pretty boy. Both men get the job done in their own way, making a team that is easy for the audience to root for. That formula works in movies like these, and Shane Black is more than familiar with it. The writer of Lethal Weapon, Black proves this isn’t his first rodeo with both the script and direction. It would be understandable to have some expectations heading into the theater; the way I see it “The Nice Guys” at least meets those and leaves any fan of the genre walking away satisfied.

There are a ton of one-liners in the film, and certainly not all of them land the way they were intended when written. You’ll find yourself hard-pressed to not get at least a chuckle every few scenes however, and a few scenes are laugh-out-loud funny the whole way through. The story could be tighter, but the movie has a much bigger comedy tone than crime tone, so the writing was good enough to keep my interest. The action isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s mixed in well to keep the audience captivated.

The movie is rated “R,” and you’ll understand why from the very first scene. That’s the best way to make a comedy in my opinion, and I appreciate the fact none of the content is watered down. Makes for a better laugh.

In all “The Nice Guys” isn’t the best date night movie, but if you’re looking for a movie with some star power that also has a solid mix of laughs and action, I would recommend it. The end was also left open, and I mean wide open, for a sequel. Hopefully it can get made.

<![CDATA[REVIEW: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE]]>Thu, 24 Mar 2016 04:23:19 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice
For starters, I make no bones about the fact that I did not like Warner Brothers first film in the DC Cinematic Universe "Man of Steel".  I grew up on Superman but "Man of Steel" was very flawed and left a lot to be desired.  So I was skeptical about this next installment "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice".  With the announcement of all the characters that would be introduced as well as trailers showing Doomsday as the big baddy of the film, I had a lot of worry that this film would be too much too quickly as well as there being too much potential for things, such as Doomsday, to not be done properly.  But for the sake of being unbiased, I decided to leave my reservations outside the theater and go into this film fresh faced.

Sadly.... it didn't help....

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that this movie is not enjoyable at times, I just wish that the times were more frequent.  Visually, I have no complaints about this film.  The fight scenes are fun to watch actually pretty well done.  A film of this scale cannot avoid using CGI, but the CGI is not too overdone even when it comes to major villain Doomsday at the climax of the film.  Story-wise however, this film suffers from the same flaw as its predecessor in that it comes up short.  This is the first time that we are seeing these two characters, Batman (played by Ben Affleck) and Superman (reprised by Henry Cavill), on screen together in any live action capacity so there is tons of potential that unfortunately is not capitalized on.  With a running time of 2 hours and 31 minutes, you would expect to see more interaction between these two characters on screen but you are just left wanting more.  They share the screen for such a small fraction of the film that it's disappointing.  It's almost as if director Zack Snyder spent too much time focusing on the set up for the next film installment "Justice League" rather than spend the time building a story around what this film is actually called, "Batman v Superman"... should have been called "Batman Misunderstands Superman" at this point.

One of two large fears I had for this film was "too much, too fast".  With announcements coming out that we would see appearances from not only Batman, Lex Luthor (played by Jesse Eisenberg), and Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) in this movie, we would also be getting our first look at Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash.  As I've told a number of people this, too many ingredients can spoil the entree.  Less is more.  However I was happy to see after viewing the film that this is something this film actually does right.  The appearances of Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash are such a small part of the film that is doesn't take away anything from the movie.  The appearances are just enough to acknowledge their existence in this universe then it's on with the show.  While she plays a larger role in the film than the 3 previously mentioned, it was nice to see Wonder Woman properly portrayed in a DC property finally after many failed attempts by Warner Bros. in the past.  Gal Gadot is a great addition to the film and the universe.  Probably the biggest surprise of all though was Lex Luthor played by Jesse Eisenberg.  I was very surprised by that casting and could not picture Eisenberg doing that role justice, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  He plays the part masterfully.

What may come as a shock to some but did not to me was Ben Affleck joining the universe as the Dark Knight.  Many thought this was a poor casting choice but I was in the minority that believed he would kill it as Batman... and I say with pride that I was right.  Affleck's portrayal of both Bruce Wayne and Batman is the most stand out part of this film.  It is a version of Batman we have never seen before but the fans have deserved for a long time.  We are reminded in this film something that previous Batman installments tend to forget and that is Batman is a detective more than anything else.  He is more than just a billionaire vigilante with gadgets.  Dare I say it, this version of Batman played by Ben Affleck may be the best Batman we have seen so far... and I'm saying this as a massive Keaton fan.   If there is anything I would like to see come out of this, it's another stand alone Batman film with Affleck at the helm.

Overall, while enjoyable at times, this film falls short of all the massive hype it is getting.  It's fun at times but the build-up to get to those fun times seems to draw a lot of the breath out of this feature.  It's shades better than Man of Steel so DC is on the right track when it comes to their cinematic universe, but they still have a long way to go.  It's recommended to see in theaters once, but doesn't merit any additional viewings.
OFFICIAL RATING = 5.5 out of 10
<![CDATA[REVIEW: DEADPOOL]]>Sun, 07 Feb 2016 06:52:49 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-deadpool
(Jump to Bottom for NSFW Trailer)

Deadpool is childish, absurd, juvenile, vulgar… and is worth every brilliant second!!!

Directed by Tim Miller and based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool.  Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.  Also starring Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano and TJ Miller.

This Rated R (borderline NC-17) Marvel film is just what the comic book fans have been waiting to see, especially when it comes to a proper depiction of the character.  Ryan Reynolds (who also co-produces the film) has been waiting 10 years for a proper telling of this character’s origin and it was well worth the wait.  Also, the studio couldn’t have chosen a better person than Reynolds himself to play the role.  From the first 30 seconds of this movie’s opening, you are already laughing and the laughs just continue all the way thru to the end of the film.  However, that’s not to say that the film can’t find its moments of seriousness when it needs to.  It’s a great balance of humor, action, and story-telling, something many films tend to miss the mark on.  Also, when it comes to explaining the actual origin of the character, the film does a great job in making it easy to understand and comprehend that even viewers not familiar with the character will be able to easily follow and have fun. 

The R rating that this film was given is its saving grace.  While some may not like the vulgar and crude take on a comic book movie making it difficult to bring younger children to enjoy, the character of Deadpool in all of his true, childish glory would not have been able to shine properly on the screen without the rating that it was given.  While fun and hilarious, it is certainly not a movie for younger kids.   In fact, you can tell that Reynolds and Miller definitely pushed the limits of that R Rating by seeing just how much they could get away with.  I for one, feel that a more adult movie is just what comic book fans needed today.  While I enjoy the rest of the Marvel cinematic catalog, sometimes it’s easy to see that the films are catering to a younger demographic and I feel like Deadpool is a great change of pace. 

Lastly, you can’t forget the rest of the cast of characters this film has along for the ride.  From Morena Baccarin as Vanessa (the unconventional yet fitting love of Wade’s life) all the way to the villains played by Ed Skrein (who plays Ajax, the man responsible for Deadpool) and Gina Carano (Angel Dust, lieutenant to Ajax).  Helping Deadpool along the way we also find Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead- Coolest name EVER) and Stefan Kapicic (Colossus).  Lastly we can’t forget about TJ Miller (Weasel) who, next to Reynolds, provides most of the hysterical comic relief this movie has.

Bottom line… Deadpool is a great departure from the typical comic book movie and is worth seeing if not worth seeing multiple times.  Trust me, it may take those multiple times to catch all of the pop culture references and 4th wall breaks that this movie stuffs into it.  It’s vulgar, it’s violent and it’s just plain fun.  I know I’m someone who is easy to please when it comes to films but I’ve thought long and hard about it since seeing it and I can’t think of one negative thing I could throw at it.  Maybe that will change upon multiple viewings but for now that’s the case.  That being said I can only think of one rating I can give this movie…


<![CDATA[REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR]]>Fri, 07 Aug 2015 03:02:34 GMThttp://nextlevelradioonline.com/film-reviews/review-fantastic-four
Fantastic Four is the ‘Daredevil’ of this generation of Marvel and superhero movies… and we’re not talking the Netflix version.

We have had a year full of fun and exciting films, from Avengers: Age of Ultron to the most recent Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but unfortunately Fantastic Four wraps up the summer season with a weak attempt at a second chance.  Let’s face it, the earlier versions of the Fantastic Four series didn’t exactly set the bar very high to clear, yet even with the bar that low this current reboot still manages to trip on the bar and fall flat on its face. 

I seriously don’t even know where to begin with this review.  I had hoped that this film could make up for the bad taste we had in our mouths from the past versions but all this version does is make me want to watch the old ones again.  Let’s start with the cast…. There is no denying that the cast is a group of heavy hitters, from Miles Teller who just came off hit Oscar nominated film ‘Whiplash’ to Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Michael B Jordon (Fruitvale Station) who are also fan favorites.  But unfortunately a cast is only as good as what they have to work with…. which isn’t much at all. 

The story is weak at best.  It’s no secret that they steered away from the comic source material to put their own spin on an origin story, but where they got their ideas for that different spin, who the f*ck knows.  With a running time of around 106 minutes, almost 100 minutes of it makes up a convoluted, over-drawn character development that shows no development.  We get introduced to these character, find out how they get their new abilities (SPOILER ALERT: They’re drunk… what?!?), then we skip a whole year’s time NEVER even seeing how they focus on them, adjust to them and learn how to use them.  Um hello FOX, as comic book fans WE WANT TO SEE THAT! 

As far as action goes, this is probably the one Marvel movie that has the least amount of action, namely barely any.  The “climax” of the movie is barely that at all.  It builds up to a weak final battle that comes out of nowhere and is also the first real action we see all movie only to fizzle out with a lack-luster conclusion that isn’t even explained how it’s done or what the hell even happens. 

There is so much more to say about this film but I think I’ve gotten the point across.  Die hard comic fans will go to see this movie no matter what the reviews are and while some may enjoy it, most will leave extremely disappointed like myself… and I’m not hard to please (See my review on Pixels).  Bottom line, save your money and time and use it for something more entertaining… like watching grass grow or paint dry.

OFFICIAL REVIEW: 3 out of 10