The Purge: Election Year (2016) Review

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

Directed & Written by James DeMonaco

Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Raymond J. Barry, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Liza Colón-Zayas, David Aaron Baker, Christopher James Baker, Britanny Mirabile, Juani Feliz, Roman Blat, Jamal Peters, J. Jewels

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.

My Opinion:

I’ve really liked all three of these movies & they’ve even gone up in my estimation over time. After this final film, I can say that I think this has been a very solid trilogy overall. I wasn’t disappointed with this (final?) film and can confirm that we do get a conclusion of sorts. As much as I’ve enjoyed these, I hope they leave this as a trilogy instead of milking it to death the way they do with so many other movies nowadays. Learn when to stop, Hollywood! I think this trilogy will end up more respected in the future if they end it here.

I did quite long reviews/discussions of the first film (HERE) and the second, The Purge: Anarchy, (HERE). Both times I said that I absolutely love the overall concept but wish they could do a bit more with it. I’ve lost track of how far into the future these are meant to be set but know it’s not too far (I think the first one was about nine years into the future?). The future setting is completely unnecessary anyway as they don’t look much different from modern day America and this is especially true of Election Year, which I felt finally managed to get its point across slightly more than the first two films.

The idea of an annual “Purge”, in which all crime including murder is legal for one night, seemed somewhat far-fetched when the first film came out in 2013 so it’s scary that it no longer feels quite so unlikely just three years later. The idea behind these films is brilliant in that I know they’re meant to be a social commentary on the state of America & to almost be a warning of the way things feel they’re headed. Election Year comes the closest yet to making some sort of important statement & has come out at the perfect time but it still doesn’t quite manage to drive home the fact that people need to wake up & do something if they don’t want the dystopian future predicted in so many great works of fiction over the years. It’s becoming reality now. We’re seriously f*^ked.

Election Year is the strangest of the three in that I think I actually enjoyed it the most but, at times, it’s also the most ridiculous of the three. It tries to be entertaining as well as smart & the two don’t always work together. I’m anti-violence so am a fan of these because they’re trying to show that violence is wrong (while at the same time showing us extreme violence). This isn’t the first time this has been done but it’s very hard to do right (I felt that Natural Born Killers got this right, which I watched for the first time this year & thought was really good). The Purge movies feel like they’re a little too scared to get too serious & still aim to mainly please the horror-loving mainstream audience who won’t care about the message.

I still maintain the unpopular opinion that the first film is the “best” as it was such an original idea and didn’t feel the need to go over the top while the next two were more “fun” as they changed things up to appeal to a more mainstream audience. I do like that each film goes wider to show us the effects the Purge has had, which is what I was hoping for after the first film. They even threw a tiny bit into this one regarding other countries (murder tourists coming to America to join in on the annual Purge). But the baddies were such over the top caricatures in this film that it was too silly at times, which was a shame as I really liked everything else about the film.

I have to say that the main characters in Election Year (the good guys) are the best of all three films, though, making this movie the most enjoyable. Frank Grillo was great in the second one so I’m glad they chose to continue with him, linking these two and making the first one feel more like a stand alone film now. I always liked Elizabeth Mitchell in Lost & loved her in this (the only way I’d maybe want a sequel would be to hopefully see her hook up with Grillo’s character!). Can I vote for her NOW? She’s what real-life America needs & I totally agree with her politics. Then there are the three in the below photo: deli owner Mykelti Williamson, his employee Joseph Julian Soria, and kick-ass customer & friend Betty Gabriel. These three are so damn likable and, as I said, Betty Gabriel is totally kick-ass. My only complaint is that they’re almost too likable & their fate(s) extremely predictable. But, hell – I honestly don’t mind characters who are a bit cliché since it beats having a movie filled with main characters you hate. I’d happily be stuck with this group of people on Purge night.

This has admittedly been a very weak year for movies but I can honestly say that this is currently my third favorite film of 2016. I know I like this series more than most people seem to but I’m hoping these will gain more of a following (probably several years from now when these are likely to be even closer to reality & people realize how accurate they were). The characters are a bit too cliché to take too seriously but they were a lot of fun to watch & the story was probably the strongest overall of the three. It’s still not perfect but I appreciate the effort they’ve made with this series & its overall idea.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Miracle Mile (1988) Review

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Miracle Mile (1988)

Directed by Steve De Jarnatt

Starring:
Anthony Edwards
Mare Winningham
Denise Crosby
Mykelti Williamson
Kurt Fuller

Music by Tangerine Dream

Running time: 87 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes.

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My Opinion:

What’s this? An apocalyptic movie from my beloved 1980s with a Tangerine Dream score yet I’d not even HEARD of it let alone ever seen it?! How is this possible?!?! Well, I think UK Netflix is finally getting better as they’re starting to stick some slightly obscure 80s films on there, which is exactly what I want! I’m always on the lookout for lesser known movies from the 80s (and 70s) and Netflix has surprised me twice in the past month with this and then with one I watched a couple weeks ago (Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. I can’t wait to review that!).

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I’ll start by saying that Miracle Mile isn’t exactly a great movie & it’s obvious why it didn’t end up some mainstream hit at the time. However, I liked it because it’s my type of thing and I’ll probably end up giving it a higher rating than it may actually deserve. I think my positive reviews here are sometimes taken as recommendations but I’d only recommend this one to a select few people. I kind of attempted to explain my rating system in my recent Re-Rated post (HERE). For example, though I LOVE Hardware and gave it a really positive review, I’ve only actually recommended it to two people (who haven’t watched it) as I know it’s only for a certain type of person. So I take no responsibility for anyone hating this if they watch it! Make up your own mind & don’t get mad at me if you choose to watch this and then hate it like MovieRob did after I declared my love for Hardware. 😉

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Miracle Mile is an odd one. From the tiny bit I read when I discovered it on Netflix & from looking at some pictures, I thought it may be more of an “apocalyptic romance” and in a way it almost looked like it could be closer to an 80s teen film than a dreary nuclear war film (as in, it looked like it would be a little closer to WarGames than Threads but it ended up somewhere in between the two). There IS a romance that’s quite sweet but not in a bad or annoying way – I liked how it was fit in around the story of how the main character (Anthony Edwards) is going to get to safety in only 70 minutes after hearing a chance phone call telling him missiles are about to strike his city. He’s an awkward guy and he’s only just met a quirky girl who seems to be his perfect match (Mare Winningham). After missing their date due to his alarm clock not going off, he receives the phone call & then must track her down in order to save her. For anyone not into romance, they don’t exactly get a lot of screen time together but when they do I liked seeing their strange little relationship & Winningham’s innocent & almost childlike character (except when she says to Edwards “Third date, Harry, I’m gonna screw your eyes blue“).

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When I mentioned this movie, someone somewhere (sorry, I don’t remember who – it may have been on Twitter) said something about Mare Winningham being a second rate Lea Thompson but, really, we have a movie that stars Goose instead of Maverick so it was less likely to be a big blockbuster with Anthony Edwards in the lead. It also looks & feels pretty low budget (I have no idea if it was) and the acting from some of the supporting characters isn’t the greatest. But, hey – I liked the story and it went in a way I wasn’t really expecting. It’s nice to watch a movie that’s not 100% predictable for a change. Edwards meets a lot of different types of people in his 70 minutes of running around the Miracle Mile neighborhood of L.A. and it was fun seeing faces I recognize from other 80s films & TV shows.

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You of course have Edwards & Winningham in this who, although not often in leading roles, were in their fair share of big 80s movies (Top Gun, St. Elmo’s Fire, Revenge Of The Nerds, etc). You also have Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump), Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG & Pet Sematary – two things I loved way too much!), Kelly Jo Minter (Mask – an all-time favorite film of mine), O-Lan Jones (crazy lady in Edward Scissorhands), Jenette Goldstein (the woman who stabs the guy through the milk carton in Terminator 2 and who was Vasquez in Aliens, which is possibly the best movie ever!), Earl Boen (also in Terminator 1, 2 & 3!), and Brian Thompson (in The Terminator! what’s with all the Terminator people in this?! okay – looks like they’re from the same film company or something). I can’t find a good picture of Brian Thompson from Miracle Mile so here he is in The Terminator – he has a face that’s hard to forget!

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My favorite “Hey, it’s that guy” actor, though, is Kurt Fuller (Wayne’s World) & I was very happy to see him in this! Here’s Fuller in Miracle Mile – he probably has the most memorable scene of the whole movie.

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Summary:

Miracle Mile certainly wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I love that it managed to actually surprise me. It’s somewhat quirky & unpredictable. It won’t be for everyone but I enjoyed it and, as always, enjoyed seeing familiar faces from what’s probably my favorite era of movies. The Tangerine Dream score did help to give it that 80s feel I love although none of it was quite as good as the train sex music from Risky Business. There was one great totally Tangerine Dream-y scene which I’ll include a YouTube clip of at the end. Another scene like that really would have helped this strange little film I’d never before heard of but I did like it & am hoping to discover more movies like this that I somehow managed to miss when I was younger.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**This scene is safe to watch – it’s toward the beginning of the film & just shows how Edwards misses his date. It’s a great piece of music.**

Forrest Gump (1994) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. She’s already reviewed The Godfather: Part I (HERE) and Part II (HERE) as well as The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE) and Big Fish (HERE) and Snatch (HERE) and Dial M For Murder (HERE). Thanks once again for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about Forrest Gump, IMDB rank 19 out of 250.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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When Forrest Gump was still lingering on Miss Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 list of films that had yet to be picked, I thought it was a disgrace! I am a massive fan of Forrest Gump. As you (might) know, I watch it every year around Christmas time, and while I do not watch regular television, God forbid I sit down somewhere and Forrest is on, no matter where in the film. It means that I will be glued to my seat for the remainder of the film. I love it. Well, today I am going to talk about why I love Forrest Gump so much.

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“Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you’re gonna be?” – Jenny Curran

SYNOPSIS: A man with a low I.Q. has accomplished great things in his life and been present during significant historic events – in each case, far exceeding what anyone imagined he could do. Yet, despite all the things he has attained, his one true love eludes him. – via IMDB

I enjoy Hanks’s work, I really do. I think he is really good at what he does. His portrayal of Forrest is also one of my favourite roles of his of all time; he just nailed every aspect of Forrest. He is sweet, adorable; deeper than you would expect of him, loyal and pretty brave… or maybe that is just because stupid is as stupid does J Forrest is endearing, and had some wicked cool moments (the way he narrowed his eyes after insisting Jenny go home to Greenbow, Alabama, his overprotectiveness of Jenny, his love for his mom, his knowledge that he isn’t the brightest man in the world, his innocence, wonderful I tell you).

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The story set before you is a wonderful journey that you undertake with good old Forrest, Hanks truly making him shine, someone we can almost relate to. As fantastical as the tales are that he shares with us, he is so humble and plain and honest you cannot help but get roped into it all. Everything is possible when Forrest is around. Robin Wright’s depiction of Jenny was great, though she was not necessarily a likable character all the time, you could totally understand why Forrest would be in love with her. She was nice to him throughout, and understood he wasn’t always the sharpest tool of the shed, but loved him in her own way anyway.

I thought the friendship between Bubba and Forrest was awesome. They were so alike in so many ways, they did nothing but complement each other. Forrest Gump travels through some major conflicts in the United States, some big and iconic events, and somehow Forrest has a hand in them somewhere, or an appearance, and I enjoyed how they managed to pull it off, it was really nice. Also, the way Forrest seemed to have influenced many big things in history was exceptionally amusing for me too. Something that you also see a lot of in the film is assassinations – damn, America, you guys didn’t want a lot of people out there! I liked that it was so steeped in history, giving us markers throughout the film.

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Lieutenant Dan was also a character that grows on you, he is a bean son of a bitch, but he is pretty important to it all. There are also some truly heartrending moments throughout the film. Forrest Gump effortlessly manages to balance comedy and drama throughout the film, but when things get heavy, they get really heavy. I am just thinking of the things that Jenny in specific put Forrest through, and how that all worked out at the end. What a sweet, touching, amusing film!

Forrest Gump also had the best soundtrack, I absolutely adored it. Not to mention the fact that each and every song was used perfectly and fit for each and every scene, it stays with you. There are some tremendous songs on there, truly rounding out the flick superbly. I relish how infinitely quotable this movie is, and how it never gets old.

Wow, there is so much more to Forrest Gump than I can even mention, just know that it is a wonderful movie and a much watch. I know that there is (I simply cannot understand this) a pretty large group of haters out there over this, but even after all these years, I am still an admirer of it. That’s all I have to say about that.

Heat (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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For today’s IMDB Top 250 guest review, we have the Scottish (Scottish accents are the BEST!) Mark of the brilliant Marked Movies site. Mark has awesome hair (although he apparently no longer has that hairdo in his pic here) and has boat drinks (I still have no idea what that means) and writes wonderful movie reviews. He also has GREAT taste in movies (as in, we seem to like a lot of the same types of films and I have really cool taste). Well, he likes Raging Bull a hell of a lot more than I did… Anyway – he’s a popular blogger that everyone wants to have a drink with so check out his site if, for some odd reason, you haven’t already.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now onto Mark for his thoughts on the movie Heat, IMDB rank 119 out of 250…

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Director: Michael Mann.
Screenplay: Michael Mann.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Kevin Gage, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Danny Trejo, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Hank Azaria, Henry Rollins, Tone Loc, Jeremy Piven, Xander Berkeley, Martin Ferrero, Bud Cort.

When this was released in 1995, most people believed it to be an original idea. It wasn’t. It was actually a more fleshed out and elborate version of Michael Mann’s 80′s TV movie “L.A. Takedown“. He obviously didn’t have the budget or the actors, to realise his vision at this time, so with a second chance, Mann grabs it with both hands and both of the best actors in the business.

Professional and precise thief Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) lives by a strict code and doesn’t take chances. He has a tight-knit crew that takedown big jobs for big money but he ends up drawing the attention of determined and obsessive robbery/homicide cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). The two of them have more in common than one might think and as their worlds draw closer, they are led to an inevitable confrontation.

At it’s core, “Heat” can be viewed as an old fashioned cops-and-robbers tale but it’s done with such vastness and great attention to detail that it rises above most, if not all, of the genre. It not only focuses on the the lives of the two main characters – at opposite ends of the moral scale – but it pays attention to the city and environment in which they operate. What almost overshadowed the storyline, was the anticipation of seeing DeNiro and Pacino share the screen for the first time (They were both in “The Godfather part II” but never had any scenes together). Comparisons between their acting styles will obviously be made and without focusing too much on their different approaches, I found DeNiro’s more subtle, calculating delivery far more convincing than Pacino’s tendency to overact with random, explosive outbursts, bellowing at everyone he meets. There, I said it. However, the film is far more than just these two great actors. It’s a multi-layered character study and the supporting roles, particularly Sizemore and Kilmer (in a role originally intended for Keanu Reeves) are given a substantial amount of work and the female parts of Venora, Brenneman and Judd play a massive part in shaping the leads also. We are given a glimpse into their home lives and the struggle they all face in maintaining a ‘normal’ life – when it goes against their nature. The actors are all given roles to work with, allowing us to identify and care about them. It’s because of this, that when the action is delivered, it’s edge of your seat stuff. There are three great ‘Getaway’ scenes from movies that I found particularly powerful; Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” had Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze (on foot) running through suburban houses and backyards; The opening of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” had Ryan Gosling (in a car) careening and speeding through a darkened urban jungle and this… the major characters (with weapons) shooting it out through a busy congested Los Angeles street. As much as this isn’t just about the two leads, it’s not just about the action either. It’s more about the city itself and it’s inhabitants. The refined dialogue allows these inhabitants to come alive and Mann’s meticulous, hypnotic direction and ethereal choice of music breathes life into the city as well.

An exciting and methodical piece of work from a highly accomplished cast and director. A near masterpiece of modern cinema.

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Mark Walker

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