Category Archives: Movie Review

“The Martian” Review

Hey everyone! I know this review seems rather un-timely, but I’ve had a lot to deal with lately, as I’m getting married in November! It’s a crazy time for me, but I still want to get some content out. I will have another article out this week to make up for my absence. Love you all, and enjoy my review!

The Martian Launch One Sheet

Imagine you’ve become an astronaut. It helps me when I put a glass bowl over my head and make radio static noises with my mouth. Feel free to do this yourself.

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(Preferably with no pets inside of it…)

Imagine you get the opportunity to go on a mission to mars with a team of people who you’ve come to respect and admire. Imagine that a storm forms and makes you abandon said mission after months of space travel. Imagine a flying piece of debris knocks you out, and buries you in the red sand of Mars on your way to the escape ship…Then imagine that you survive, and find out your team has abandoned you on the planet. You’re alone, with limited supplies, in an environment devoid of life, as well as a source of oxygen; the base you have on the planet is built to last a finite length of time.

With my bowl on my head, I scream and curse. I imagine I would just live off the freeze-dried food selection I have until I run out and starve to death. Unless of course, my temporary base falls apart before then, and the atmosphere of the planet ends me first. I imagine I would hate my team for doing this to me. The situation seems so dire. How could I do anything except embrace the inevitable?

The Martian is such a masterpiece (Yes, masterpiece) because it provides you with a set-up that seems so hopeless, and gives you a character that’s inspiringly hopeful.

Matt Damon plays Mark Watney: An astronaut/botanist placed in the exact situation I described above. Most people would react to the situation as I would: I would hate my team and I would be gloomy. I would give up.
Watney blames no one for his situation. He’s aware of his chances but chooses to be hopeful anyways. He never gives up. The most inspiring moments in the movie, to me, and there are many, is when Watney will tell himself that he’s going to make it. It’s a simple statement that is emotionally potent, and perfectly epitomizes his character.
Damon was the perfect choice for this role. He’s likable, is believable when he delves into all the science-talk, and looks physically capable all the things he does.
The movie also stars Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Askel Hennie as the Mar’s crew. Matt Damon isn’t rivaled by anyone here, but that doesn’t mean that anyone did a bad job. Quite the contrary! Chastain is always a joy to see, and plays the captain of the team, which is a role that suits her well. Michael Peña is a riot as usual. He has some scenes of back-and-forth dialogue with Damon, and they play off each other well.

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Then there is Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover as some of the people on earth who are working hard to get Watney back home.
Every single one of them is excellent.
I hate lumping every one of these actors together and saying they did a good job, but this movie is so packed with talented people, that it would be a disservice to try to briefly describe them all. It would take an essay written by a person much smarter than I.

The directing is wonderfully done by Ridley Scott, who is very well-known in the science-fiction community. He directed some tiny films, like Alien and Blade Runner, that I guess have given him a tiny following.

Maybe he'll be big one day

Maybe he’ll be big one day…(sigh).

His experience with environments in space and stories about isolation really make him the perfect choice for this movie. He makes the barren Mars landscape look gorgeous, and he makes watching Watney perform mundane and repetitious tasks surprisingly captivating.
The entire movie’s ability to captivate is very impressive. A man using science to survive in a desolate location for months shouldn’t be this entertaining and accessible. Watney plants potatoes, sets up equipment, creates a source of water, and it’s all interesting to see. Damon’s embracing of the role and the writing really do wonders. The film has a runtime of 2 hours and 14 minutes, and it flies by. When the credits started to roll, only then did I notice how badly I needed to go to the restroom. A truly great movie will distract any bladder from doing it’s job. Don’t test this theory though. If you do and the dam breaks, well, maybe the movie you were watching wasn’t as good as you thought. Don’t blame me.

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“You lied to me, Jordan!” “Looks like you’re lying to yourself”

This is a hard movie to review, because I don’t have many things to talk about without going into spoilers. I don’t want to review it, I want to dote on it and talk about how good it was. It has flaws, like every film does, but they’re all so insignificant compared to what it’s accomplished as a whole. It’s directed brilliantly, it’s acted wonderfully, it’s visually and intellectually engrossing.I don’t have much more to say besides go see this movie! If you enjoy films at all, you’re in for a treat.
I don’t like rating movies on a star or number scale, so I’ll be rating them on a recommendation scale.

The Martian: Highly Recommended to everyone.

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“Jordan’s Take” – Movies are coming to Planet Stereo

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To whomever stopped searching the vastness of the internet, the glorious thing that holds endless entertainment possibilities, to lay your eyes on these words, my God, thank you!
My name’s Jordan, and what you’re currently reading is the first article to come out of “Jordan’s Take”; A new part of Planet Stereo that will have me tackling movie reviews, recommendations, opinion pieces, and various other things related to cinema.
I wanted to let everyone know a little bit about me and my love of movies, but I wanted to do something a little more than make a list of my favorite films, or just write some paragraphs on my life story. As great as my diaper years were, I wanted to tell you strictly about my experience with movies, which involves a bit of tragedy that has happened recently.
On August 30th, 2015, Wes Craven passed away.
I was informed by a friend of mine on Facebook.

dude did you hear? Wes Craven just passed away.”

I felt so strange about it. And sad.
Wes felt like that awesome family member that you only see during the holidays, who always gave you the best presents and the warmest hugs. And I had never even met the guy. Since I felt so fondly of him, the Facebook post seemed so casual.

“dude did you hear? one of the coolest people you never knew just passed away.”

I googled his name, and sure enough, news articles were starting to trickle in about his passing. He had lost his battle with brain cancer. I never even knew he had cancer, let alone how serious it had gotten.

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The attachment to a stranger might sound odd to you, so let me go back a couple of years and tell you why I feel as I do.
When I was younger, my Mom never allowed me to watch R rated films. My Dad would make exceptions for films like Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, as he held them in high regard, and wanted to share them with his son. Eventually, his leniency was ended by the understandable idea that he shouldn’t show his son violent and gory films, and I wound up completely restricted from the restricted rating.
I grew up watching Disney films, Star Wars (which are now one and the same), and everything else other kids did. I would watch The Phantom Menace with a foam baseball bat in hand, ready to reenact every light-saber battle. Not like every child my age, however, I had a side of myself that loved horror.
Aliens had given me a taste. I consider it mostly an action flick, and a kick-ass one at that, but it no doubt shows you some horrifying things. The most credit goes to the Goosebumps book series by R.L. Stine, which really kicked it off. That’s not a movie, I know, but Stine’s work was an important component to my upbringing. His writing style involved setting up tiny cliffhangers at the end of every chapter, so you’d never want to put the book down, in fear of the character’s fates. His stories were more classic horror, but like Aliens, he showed me that having characters you care about really makes a story the most suspenseful.
That constant tension was something I had never experienced with movies outside of the one xenomorph filled adventure, but I knew others existed.
My friends at school had watched films like Child’s Play and Hellraiser. I would ask them so many questions about these movies, and they answered them all. The stories they described were exactly what I was wanting in a movie, and yet, that R rating was there.
It was when I spent some weekends with my great-grandmother that everything changed for me. This is when I discovered Wes Craven.
Scream 3 was playing on TV. I knew it was rated R, and I was going to be a good kid who obeyed his parents and change it, but then something extraordinary happened. A character uttered an explicit term, and I couldn’t hear it. It was edited. The movie was edited!
This was my in. Almost like a loop-hole! And I was excited to exploit the hell out of it.
I continued watching the movie, and something was so different about it. The movie was thrilling, it had moments that made me jump, and it was funny! How could a filmmaker make a movie scary AND funny? Who does that? I never would have thought that the peanut butter and jelly of genres would have been horror and comedy. But it was. They might even be the peanut butter and chocolate. Yes, Scream 3 was the delicious Reese’s of cinema that I didn’t know I wanted.
I eventually felt guilty and told my Dad about watching the movie, but he didn’t mind if I watched movies on TV. He told me anything too foul would be edited out.
My guilt was stabbed in the face. Investigators later identified the killer as joy.
I looked at the channel guide over the next few weeks and learned when the other Scream films were playing. It took a while, but eventually I had watched all of them.
And I was blown away.
I loved the characters, I loved the suspense, I loved the mystery, I loved the idea of killers inspired by films. I thought it was genius, and I now see many critics thought the same. It was such an enlightening experience. I knew what films could do now. And I wanted to write films just like the Scream series.
I discovered later on Wes Craven was the creator and director, and I knew I wanted to follow this guy. I wanted to do what he did. I wanted to write, and I wanted to scare people with my writing. I wanted their knuckles to turn white and wanted them to feel frightened by something I had created. I wanted to tell people a good story that they would react to.
Wes became an inspiration, whether I realized it at the time or not.
When I got older, I discovered A Nightmare on Elm Street, and it solidified my love of Craven’s work. When are you more vulnerable than when you’re sleeping? You can’t escape sleep! It comes eventually, and Craven creating this monster, this horror icon, that can kill you when you sleep…
Amazing.
I own every Nightmare and Scream film. I’ve watched them all countless times and I will continue to watch them for inspiration,and to keep his memory alive.

My guilt was stabbed in the face. Investigators later identified the killer as joy.

The death of Wes Craven hit me so hard because he was an essential piece of my childhood. My adult life would not be the same without him. His work has shaped who I am, so I can’t help but feel sad that he’s gone. He’s a piece of me, and a piece of many, that will be missed.
It sounds like Wes just gave me a love for horror films, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He gave me a love for quality and creativity. He gave me a standard that I judge movies on. He gave me my first taste of good cinema, and that translates to every genre.
May he rest in peace.

Hopefully that gave you an idea of what I’m like when it comes to movies, and hopefully I gave a fitting tribute to one of the best filmmakers. I’m a big horror fan, but I love pretty much every genre, as you’ll see when I start doing some reviews, and I’m super excited about doing those reviews! I’m super excited to write for you all.

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MOVIE REVIEW: ‘We Are Your Friends’

we are your friends movieI’m going to be honest straight off the bat, I didn’t expect much from the new Zac Efron flick, We Are Your Friends. In fact, I just expected to watch a guy plug his mp3 into a stereo, take drugs, and call himself a DJ. But let me also, straight off the bat, say I was wrong.

Zac Efron plays Cole Carter, a twenty-three year old DJ who dreams of becoming world-famous. He spends his days and nights with his friends, promoting his performances, and working on the “one track” that he believes will launch him into stardom. Throughout the film, Cole finds himself torn between his ambition and possible romance, and his loyalty to his friends. Granted, many of the “plot twists” come from a mile away, but there’s something truly spectacular in the way that they are arranged that make them feel fresh. I feel as though Max Joseph (director) was striving to make this a statement of millennial circumstance, and while I don’t think it is necessarily the most profound film I’ve seen for this generation, I do see it becoming a bit of a coming-of-age cult classic for the modern times.

One thing I loved about this movie is that it didn’t center around a boy (Efron) meets girl (Emily Ratajkowski as the wonderfully flawed Sophie) plot line. It didn’t center around Cole’s relationship with his friends, Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), and Mason (Johnny Weston), either. Rather, the film focuses on Cole’s relationship with his friend and mentor James Reed (Wes Bentley).

The film features characters that aren’t quite what was expected going in. Not only that, but it will bring a new appreciation to the work behind being a DJ. As someone who works with musicians on a daily basis, I am ashamed to say I was actually perplexed as to why people pay so much money to see a person play on a computer attached to amplifiers, as opposed to just going and seeing an actual band. We Are Your Friends showed that for the DJs that reach out beyond the laptop, there’s a lot of work that goes in to crafting a great electronic song. I found myself fascinated at the process that the film showcased.

However, the film is very American in the sense that it focuses on getting that “one song” and that being the means to reaching your goals; the doorway to your dreams, if you will. That’s not to say Cole doesn’t hit some roadblocks, but it is really a epiphany-ensuing film of finding glory after struggle.

Efron actually plays an interesting role, and something that showed him not just as this overly-cliched heartthrob romantic lead, but as a human being with his own strengths and weaknesses. In short, he played an actual human, as opposed to a caricature of a frat boy, a singing basketball player, etc.

Bentley plays the character that you aren’t sure if you love or hate; he’s a successful, jaded DJ dependent on drugs and alcohol, with a mean streak that goes against more than hashtags. But he also has some of the most poignant lines in the film, such as, “You haven’t been alive long enough to know the meaning of the word irreparable. But at some point in your life there’ll be things that will finish you! And there won’t be a damn thing you can do about it!”

There’s a spectacular power to the relationship between Cole and James that leaves me feeling impressed at Max Joseph’s first attempt at directing a film. For the cinema nerds like me, can I please just take a moment to praise the cinematography of this film? There a some stunning shots throughout the movie, which beautifully frame the film’s showcase of the millennial struggles.

Unfortunately, this is the generation where it feels as though there is little innovation left, and if there is, it’s a rat race to get the idea out their first. College is no longer the avenue to success. And financial stability no longer means success or happiness, as we see when Cole and his friends land a job doing cold calls for the heartless Paige.

All in all, We Are Your Friends is a fresh presence in a world of car-chases, unlikely romances, and “of course there’s a happy ending!” films that we are surrounded by.

Check out the trailer below:

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