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REVIEW: “The Martian”


Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio:

Andy Weir sent his novel’s manuscript out, and was rejected by everybody.

So… he self-published his sci-fi novel.

TM1His book took off, and then the offers came in.  He was on NPR talking about how he turned down a seven-figure offer because he was making more money than that on his own.

Anyway, I read his debut novel The Martian, in three days.  I do not read fast.  Not even close.  But, I devoured The Martian, and told everybody they need to read this amazing book.  I found out on day two of reading that Ridley Scott was making it into a movie with Matt Damon as the hero, Mark Watney.

Call me stoked!  I followed the production closely, and couldn’t wait to see the finished product.

The Martian opens on Mars, where the Ares III team is forced to evacuate the planet due to a huge storm.  As the crew makes their way to their ship, Watney is struck by debris and assumed to have been killed.

Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) makes the tough decision to leave him behind.  All the sensors in his suit say he is dead, and the sandstorm makes locating his body impossible.

Of course, Watney does not die.  As the preview states, he is in a habitat designed to last for 31 Sols (a day on Mars which is slightly longer than that on Earth) with the remaining 13 sols of food for six.  He will have to grow food on a planet where nothing grows in order to stay alive for four years until Ares IV lands 3200km away.

Oh, and NASA doesn’t know he is alive.

Back on Earth, satellite analyst Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) deduces Watney is alive days later, and alerts Ares Mission Control Supervisor Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ekiofor) who then tells NASA head Teddy (Jeff Daniels).

Now, NASA and the engineers try to devise a way to contact Watney and let him know that they can see him and are trying to work out a plan to keep him alive.  Meanwhile, Watney uses science, and trial and error, to stay alive and devise a way to contact NASA.

As I mentioned, I loved, LOVED, the book.  As with every great book, there is some apprehension when seeing it as a movie.  But, it is great, in its own right.

Ridley Scott, who I had written off, is back in true form.  He proves he still has what it takes to make a compelling sci-fi film.  At first, I was not sure about Damon playing Watney, but thankfully, he proves me wrong.  Damon captures Weir’s hero to perfection.

All the supporting characters and actors are as great as they are numerous.

TM2Harry Gregson-Williams’s score stands out as well.  He is a veteran composer that does not stick out often, but I am glad he chose this film to start.

My only real beef with the cinematic The Martian stems from its focus.  Weir’s book is witty and hilarious at times.  It is told through the mission journal entries by Watney.  I laughed out loud at times while reading the book.

Drew Goddard’s screenplay downplays a lot of the humor to focus on the drama and the peril.  I get it, but some of the great humorous lines, including my favorite, are missing.

I loved the book.  Have I said that yet?

I got my mom, wife, mother-in-law, sister, and my brother (who hasn’t read a book in a decade) to read it.

I loved the film.

The Martian is Apollo 13 meets Cast Away, pulling the best aspects from these great films.  See this movie. Read this book.  Don’t pay for the lame pointless 3D. For those of you that have read the book, I leave you with this:

( . Y . )

RATING: 9/10


(Adam Collins ARCHIVES:

REVIEW: “The Age of Adaline”


Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio:

Few films of the past few years have been as overly sappy as The Odd Life of Timothy Green.  To be honest, I had completely forgotten about the 2012 Jennifer Garner/Joel Edgerton film until I was sitting in the darkened theater this week watching Lee Toland Krieger’s The Age of Adaline.  I really had no desire to see this film, as I am not a Blake Lively fan, and had not bothered to watch the trailer.  But, then I saw it directed by Krieger, who helmed 2012’s underseen Celeste & Jesse Forever.  So, I decided to give it a chance.

AgeD4-090.dngThe Age of Adaline is an entertaining film with many faults.  It follows the life of Adaline Bowman (Lively), as she is born in 1907, and through a freak accident, cannot age past 29 years.  She has a daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) before her accident, and Flemming ages normally.  This causes problems for Adaline, and she decides that she must keep moving every ten years or so, so as not to draw attention to herself.

Of course, this all goes to hell when she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman), a rich man that takes a fancy to her.  Taking her daughter’s advice, Adaline decides to give love and life a go with Ellis, only to discover that her past has finally caught up with her.

While the story is intriguing, the pacing and the tone of the film never settle into anything comfortable.  It tries to do too much in too little of time and many stories and characters are lost in shuffle.  There is an FBI story at the start, but it is quickly forgotten, as is Adaline’s blind friend Regan (Lynda Boyd).  Kikki (Amanda Crew) is Ellis’s sister, and she is a fight the power/against the man character.  Why?  That part must have been left on the cutting room floor with the rest of her scenes that make her relevant and necessary.  The potential is squandered.  The voiceover pops in and out, and serves only to try and make you laugh by telling you what is going on in a funny manner.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that The Age of Adaline was either too separate scripts that weren’t long enough individually, so they were smashed to make one film.  Or, it was a pilot for a television series that was not picked up, and the cut stuff out of the first four episodes to make one movie.  Either way, The Age of Adaline did not work as a whole, but it is better than it is bad.  There is just too much going on and not enough time devoted to each thing.

Blake Lively does a fair enough job playing a woman who is 108 years old, and has seen a century of change.  Harrison Ford plays the father of Michiel Huisman’s Ellis, and he steals the show once he enters the film.  It is nice to see him in a role that he has to work for, and not just growl and grumble.  The Age of Adaline would be best viewed from the comfort of your couch on Redbox, or even Netflix sometime at the end of the year.  It is just too over the top sappy and too blatant in its attempts to pull at your heart strings.

RATING: 6/10


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REVIEW: “Get Hard”


Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio:

“Hot and Cold”.

This term is befitting of the stars of this film, and the film itself.  Will Ferrell’s films tend to be box office hits or duds.  He rarely has an average film.  Kevin Hart is the same way.  He had Ride Along, but that followed The Grudge Match.

GH1Neither actor is a guaranteed bankable star.  Yet, both are comedic powerhouses.  Sometimes too much of a good thing….

Millionaire stockbroker James King (Ferrell) is convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin.  James swears he is innocent of these charges.  His fiancé/boss’s daughter Alissa (Allison Brie) leaves him.  His boss/ex-soon-to-be-father-in-law Martin (Craig T. Nelson) swears that he will have a private team looking into the fraudulent transactions.  Of course, Martin is the one who had James framed.

Anyway, James has thirty days before his incarceration.  So, he hires Darnell (Hart) to help prepare him for prison.  Why Darnell?  Because James assumes Darnell has been to prison because Darnell is black.  The next hour of the movie is Darnell, who has never been to prison, trying to prepare James via various gimmicks: fighting hugely buff guys, learning to talk shit, and when all else fails, giving head.

As you can imagine, Get Hard walks the line of being highly racist and offensive.  No one is safe.  Blacks, Mexicans, Gays, Rich White Guys, and Skinheads are all represented, or misrepresented.  There are so many stereotypes perpetuated, that I am not surprised of the recent backlash.  Then again, it is a movie, and you don’t have to see what you don’t want to.

Personally, I just didn’t think the movie was as funny as it should have been.  Don’t misunderstand me.  There are scenes that are gutbustingly hilarious.  Then, as is the problem with a lot of comedies these days, there are scenes and jokes that go on too long and become unfunny.  Some may even go too far.

In the end, the simplicity of the story is what left me wanting.  There is nothing else going on but this simple plot.  Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are funny, and work well with each other.  The side cast steal the show in their scenes, especially T.I and Erick Chavarria.  Sadly, you would be better off staying home this weekend watching the NCAA and giving Get Hard a rent in a few months.

RATING: 5/10


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Worst 3-Movies of 2014!


Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio:

Thinning the pack down to the worst three is never an easy feat.  That is compounded when multiple people are involved in multiple shitty movies.

WT1So… here it goes:

3. – Arnold Schwarzenegger – He makes this list twice for his terribleness in both Expendables 3 and Sabotage. Neither film was worth a damn. Actually, both would have made me walk out and ask for my money back.

Here’s to hoping “The Govenator” has a better 2015.

In Sabotgae, Schwarzenegger leads this cast of decent actors in one of the worst excuses for an action movie I have seen in years.  The atrocious story cannot be saved by any amount of action, and they tried.

After I heralded his The Last Stand as criminally under seen last year, I must admit, the paltry $10-million box office take is criminally too high.

As for Expendables 3, neither of the first two films of this franchise are anything too special, but they are at least watchable.  This latest entry is not.  The story is barely above the level of shit, but the rest of the movie is not even polished shit.

The cast didn’t even try other than Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas.  Rhonda Rousey might have a film career if she can get out of the shadow of this box office dud.  There is no reason to see this.  Stallone can blame the illegal leak all he wants, but if you make a subpar film, people aren’t going to want to watch it.

2. – Transformers: Age of Extinction
– On the other hand, Michael Bay can continue to make shitty films featuring robots fighting and destroying cities, and people will line up to see them.

A whole new cast led by Marky Mark cannot save this dying franchise from its massive suckage.  The domestic box office performance might be the worst of the franchise, but its worldwide take is second only to the terrible third installment.

I wanted to leave this movie so bad, but I didn’t drive.  And I paid extra for the D-Box experience. Both bad ideas.

1. – Luc Besson
– Wow, did he have a bad year. Three films that were all garbage.

WT2First off, Brick Mansions gets a place mainly for ruining the original District B13.  This is a shoddily made US remake of a great French action flick.  Even the so-so sequel is better than this remake.  It is sad that this was the late Paul Walker’s last full film role.

Next, 3 Days to Kill made me sad to think this was the worst movie of the year.  It was so bad, I didn’t even finish writing my review based on the theory “They didn’t try to make a film.  Why should I try to write a review?

It is so bad I wanted to get up and walkout.  Instead, I sat there and laughed at the stupidity on display in front of me.  No redeeming factor whatsoever.

And finally, the truly worst of cinema this year……………….. Lucy is by far the worst movie of 2014.  It tries to act like it is so smart, but it is so dumb.  It baffles you with bullshit, and makes you dumber for watching it.  If you did see this sorry excuse for a movie, I only ask, “Why?”


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Movie Review – “The Gambler”


Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio:

With fresh and new ideas running thin in Hollywood, they have once again looked to the past for inspiration.  This time, we get a remake of the 1974 James Caan and Paul Sorvino film, The Gambler.  This is not to be confused with the 1980 Kenny Rogers film based on his classic song.

The Gambler opens on Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) losing $10,000 at a Korean high stakes underground gambling establishment.  He then loses a game of cutting a deck to Baraka (Michael Kenneth Williams) before borrowing and losing $50,000 more.  That brings Bennett’s debt to $260,000 between what he owes Mr. Lee (Alvin Ing) and Baraka.  He is given one week to pay up.

TG1The next day, Bennett gives his literature lecture to his students.  One of these students is smitten for him, Amy (Brie Larson), while another one is a college basketball star looking to go pro, Lamar (Anthony Kelley).  During his lecture, Bennett inundates his students with life truths and harsh realities.  These life altering lines are drivel: You are not special.  You are not a genius.  Life is hard.  Blah.

So, as the days count down, Bennett confronts loan shark Frank (John Goodman), but refuses his terms.  He then turns to his rich mother Roberta (Jessica Lange).  He promptly goes and gambles all of that away, too.  Jim Bennett will gamble anytime, anywhere, and anything.  But, he maintains he is not a gambler.  As the debt increases, Bennett maintains his nonchalance about it despite the threats and physical violence.  After an odd 100 minutes, the film reaches its anti-climactic end.

The Gambler starts off great, but then just dies as it gets caught up in its own supposed greatness and philosophical genius.  Rupert Wyatt’s direction seems frantic.  The movie is a mess at every turn.  If it weren’t for the amazing villainous Frank, this would have been a complete and utter waste of time.  John Goodman was the best part; I just wish that he wore more than a towel in a majority of his scenes.

Many people around me liked the movie, but I just couldn’t get in to it.  The music choices were fun, but it was heavy handed.  The lines of dialog were just these overtly prophetic lines.  Half of Wahlberg’s lines were rushed through, as if Marky Mark had somewhere else to be.

Honestly, with all this suckage coming out around the holiday’s I can only suggest you take this time to catch up on the Oscar hopefuls, and enjoy your family.

RATING: 3/10


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Movie Review – “Wild”

Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio:

Last year, Jean-Marc Vallee directed Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscar glory in Dallas Buyers Club, based on the true life events of Ron Woodroof.  This year, he aims to do that for Reese Witherspoon in the real life tale of Cheryl Strayed in this weekend’s Wild.

Nick Hornby adapted the memoir book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail written by Strayed.  I read this book a few months back, as did The Wife, and we both loved it.  We waited anxiously for the release.

MR1Wild follows Cheryl’s (Witherspoon) 1000-mile hike up the Pacific Crest Trail through California.  During her trek, we learn of her life leading up to this point.

Her mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern), raised her and her brother Leif (Keene McRae) alone after leaving her abusive husband.  Her mother later died of pancreatic cancer.  This sends Cheryl on a spiral of self-destruction that ends her marriage to Paul (Thomas Sadoski).

Her best friend Aimee (Gaby Hoffman) helps her through another rough patch, and then, she sets her mind to hiking the trail.

During her journey to find herself, Cheryl quickly discovers that she has not properly prepared for the ruggers of her ambitious plan.  She meets many people, mostly nice ones, which help her and teach her.

I really liked Wild.  The book was fantastic, and the film is too.  I found a lot of what Hornby decided to cut and keep as interesting.  There is so much more in the book, and I feel that a lot of it was cut because it might have actually seemed untrue in the film.

Other things, I am not sure why they were cut. Despite all that was left out, the finished film does not violate the source material.  There are two scenes that I wish were kept, as both were absolutely gut-wrenching in the book.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s direction is fantastic.  He captures the expanse of the desert, and her loneliness.  This is achieved by both far wide shots showing no one else, and close-up shots trapping her in the frame.

You start to feel for Cheryl as she strives to find herself and set herself back on a good path in life.  Reese plays this role superbly.  She draws you in with her despair and her broken moral compass.

In the end, Wild left me wanting to leave everything behind, strap The Kid into the Ergo, and start the journey with The Wife.

Why?  More like, why not?

I recommend seeing this film, and reading the book.  Both are fantastic in their own right.


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