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RED DAWN remake review…  It’s not 1984 anymore

RED DAWN remake review… It’s not 1984 anymore

Posted on November 30th, 2012

by Coop Cooper

“Red Dawn”: In this remake of the 1984 action classic, North Korea hits America with an experimental superweapon that cripples the U.S. military. As the rogue country invades, teenagers in Spokane, WA escape to the wilderness and learn guerrilla warfare from an older sibling (Chris Hemsworth), a soldier on leave from the war in Afghanistan. Using techniques used against the U.S. military in Vietnam and the Middle East, the teens strike back against the invaders, while suffering sacrifices along the way.

If you recall my previous articles about this film, you’d know this remake was supposed to be released back in 2010, but was shelved after MGM went bankrupt. It was delayed even longer when the studio got cold feet about how the film market in China would react to being the villains of the film. After spending an extra million dollars to alter the footage to make North Korea the enemy, “Red Dawn” was quietly released over Thanksgiving. Was the million dollar makeover and the wait worth it?…

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FLIGHT review…  See the crash, leave the rest

FLIGHT review… See the crash, leave the rest

Posted on November 30th, 2012

by Coop Cooper

“Flight”: Commercial pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) pulls off a major miracle by crash-landing a badly damaged jetliner and saving the majority of its passengers. The following investigation reveals Whitaker was legally drunk at the time of the crash. Because of this, he is targeted by Federal investigators who seek to make him a scapegoat, but we soon learn that Whip’s substance abuse goes far beyond what the investigators suspect.

What started off as a tense, exciting plane crash drama suddenly becomes a long-winded substance abuse dramedy that reaches epic levels of sleaze and product-placement hypocrisy. I haven’t seen a movie about alcoholism and drug abuse this depressing since “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Requiem for a Dream.” While those films kept the tone consistent, “Flight” can’t decided what kind of movie it wants to be…






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TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN part 2…  Why the whole series was a big success

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN part 2… Why the whole series was a big success

Posted on November 23rd, 2012

by Coop Cooper

It’s difficult to do a review on the film adaptation of the final installment of a popular teen novel series, especially when you have no significant interest in it. No matter what you say about it, the target audience will still see it – and probably adore it – even if non-fans held captive in the theater would sooner watch paint dry. Since this is the case with “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2” I’ll forgo the traditional review and rating in favor of offering a theory of how the series became such a phenomenon both in young adult literature and in film.

For those counting, “Breaking Dawn Part 2” picks up after Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) near death experience while giving birth to her half-vampire daughter with the benevolent vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). In an effort to save her, Edward converts Bella into a vampire at the last moment, thus bringing her fully into the fold. Other vampires, especially the ancient and despotic Volturi Clan, see the child as a threat and conspire to destroy her. Bella, Edward and the child’s bound werewolf protector, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) attempt to assemble enough sympathizing vampires and wolves to defend the child from the imminent attack.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the above synopsis might sound absolutely ridiculous…






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SKYFALL review

SKYFALL review

Posted on November 16th, 2012

James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes underground when a judgement call by his superior, M (Judi Dench), leaves him abandoned and left for dead. Months later, after a terrorist attack on the British Intelligence MI6 complex massacres dozens of operatives and threatens to expose hundreds more, Bond returns to M and the service. Although his injuries and substance addiction leave him in poor shape to resume his duties, M decides Bond is her best bet against assassin and ex-MI6 agent, Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva, a master 00 operative and hacker, was driven mad by torture and disfigurement as a result of one of M’s more questionable decisions. While Silva executes the destruction of MI6 and attempts the assassination of M, Bond finds himself the sole protector to the boss who sanctioned his own death only months before.

Let it be known that MGM, after a long bankruptcy and resurrection, has successfully returned the Daniel Craig/James Bond franchise to greatness by completely ripping off Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight/Batman” trilogy. Here’s the catch: You can’t get upset about it because it works so well – especially in this case. Let’s break it down…






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Coop’s next short film GOD MAKER has 6 more days left to fund!

Coop’s next short film GOD MAKER has 6 more days left to fund!

Posted on November 13th, 2012


That’s right, I’m making another short film. At this second, we only have 6 days left on The Indiegogo campaign with only $900 out of $5000 left to go to shoot this one (filming in Dec. of 2012) in Clarksdale and Como, Mississippi.

This one is a blues music-themed horror film set in the Mississippi Delta. See that fetching actress in the teaser box? That’s Juliet Reeves, my lead actress and co-producer. Here’s a bit of the pitch…

Since I began filmmaking, I wanted to create a project that included some of the most outstanding aspects of Northwestern Mississippi where I grew up. I wanted it to include the culture, architecture, folklore and – most importantly – BLUES MUSIC.

Your contribution will help me, my actors and my crew to film my latest screenplay, “God Maker”. This film is my revisionist take on the Robert Johnson “sell your soul to the devil” legend. It will be our most ambitious film to date.

Check out our fundraising page for our teaser trailer and to help us spread the word!… Go here to see the GOD MAKER teaser and to contribute!






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THE BAY review

THE BAY review

Posted on November 9th, 2012

This mockumentary chronicles the gruesome decimation of a small town on Chesapeake Bay by a virulent parasite. Pieced together from interviews, security cameras and found footage shot by civilians, “The Bay” mimics classic environmental disaster films from the 1970’s which were known for predicting grim consequences for the planet due to human negligence. What separates “The Bay” from the classic environmental horror films are these elements: 1. Computer generated special effects 2. The “found footage” format which has become all the rage these days 3. A complete and utter lack of narrative.

Notice in the above paragraph that I didn’t mention a storyline or point out the main characters of the film. That’s because “The Bay” has none. The film eschews a main character for a series of vignettes and scenes set to a timeline and tied together by one of the worst narrators I have ever encountered in cinematic history…






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What I have learned after a year of film festivals…

What I have learned after a year of film festivals…

Posted on November 6th, 2012

It’s been one year since my short film “The Best Day” premiered and since then it has appeared in ten film festivals in Mississippi and across the country. Most of these festivals were small but I attended all of them and learned a lot about their functions. Each one has a unique style, method of operation and problems. Now that the festival run of my short is coming to a close, here is what I learned about film festivals (in general) over the course of one year…

Most smaller fests cater toward a niche. In most cases they appeal to local interests, showcasing work from local filmmakers, but they also survive by catering to particular genres such as horror or documentary. Without a niche, a small film fest is likely doomed.

The best fests do more than just show movies. They hold also panels featuring industry professionals giving advice on different aspects of filmmaking. They hold Q&As with filmmakers after screenings. They host parties and special events with musical entertainment. They hold awards ceremonies…






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ARGO review

ARGO review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

“Argo” takes place during the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979-1980. Unbeknownst to the Iranians, six U.S. diplomats escaped the initial attack on the U.S. Embassy and hid in the Canadian Ambassador’s home in Tehran until they could be rescued. While the rest of the world watched the larger, very public hostage crisis, the CIA was covertly formulating a plan to extract the six escapees that nobody knew about. CIA exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (director and star Ben Affleck) comes up with a radical plan to pose as a Canadian film producer, infiltrate Iran and have the escapees pose as a film crew for a fake sci-fi film named “Argo” in order to get them out of the country.

This true story is an extraordinary historical footnote which was begging to be made into a film. If this had been as tight and entertaining of a thriller as I was hoping, it could have been the best movie of the year but it had a few flaws that kept me from loving it…






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SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED review

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

How might you react if you saw an ad in the classifieds that read:

“*WANTED* Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

You might laugh your head off, then move on to read “Peanuts” in the comics section. What if I told you that this ad was really placed and some enterprising filmmaker decided to make a movie out of it? It happened, and the result is the indie comedy “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is a sarcastic, dark-humored intern at a high-profile Seattle magazine who struggles with money while waiting for her big break…






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TAKEN 2 review

TAKEN 2 review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) returns as the fastidious and obsessive freelance security expert who seems to have finally found an equilibrium between family and his dangerous work. Since rescuing his kidnapped daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), from Middle Eastern white slavers, Bryan continues to put all of his efforts into being a part of her life. Although he has been reconciling with his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), Kim is avoiding him to spend time with her new boyfriend. When a low-risk job in Istanbul gives him some free vacation time, he invites Lenore and Kim to join him so they can finally bond. Unbeknownst to Bryan, the crime family he massacred to rescue his daughter in the first movie wants revenge. Once they track down Bryan in Istanbul, he must use his unique skill set to save both his family, and himself.

While this is a far-above-average action thriller, it doesn’t add much to the phenomenon that the original “Taken” sparked when it released in 2008…






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LOOPER review

LOOPER review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

In 2042, organized crime has taken over the United States which is now a depression-plagued third world country. By 2070, time travel is invented and serves a special service for the mob: Since murder and corpse disposal is nearly impossible in this distant future, the mob sends live victims back to 2042 in order for “looper” assassins to cleanly eliminate all traces of them. When aging loopers become a liability in the distant future, they are sent back for their younger selves to dispose of, who in turn receive a massive payoff in exchange for a wealthy – but limited – lifespan. Failing to kill your older double leads to gruesome consequences.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young hotshot looper in urban Kansas with an aimless life. When his older self (Bruce Willis) suddenly appears for him to assassinate, Young Joe hesitates and Old Joe gets to drop on him and escapes. Young Joe desperately tracks his older self down to clean the slate while the mob searches for them both. However, older Joe also has a desperate mission to complete, one that could mean the difference between a dark or bright future for him and the entire world… and he doesn’t care who he has to hurt to get it.

Although this sounds like a simple, high-concept movie, “Looper” is one of the most complex and original sci-fi movies in years…






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END OF WATCH and DREDD reviews

END OF WATCH and DREDD reviews

Posted on November 6th, 2012

“End of Watch” – Two hero cops (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) working the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles stumble upon evidence that the brutal drug cartels from south of the border are committing unprecedented atrocities within the area. With reckless disregard for their own safety, they go out of their way to seek out cartel activity, causing them to become targets. All the while they keep the stress and danger they face on a day-to-day basis a secret from their loved ones.

This engaging film acts as a horror tale for prospective police officers. It puts its characters through the worst and most dangerous situations a cop can face and they soldier through them, often with a smile and a wink. The gangsters are as evil as evil can be…






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REVOLUTION and LAST RESORT…  TV pilot reviews

REVOLUTION and LAST RESORT… TV pilot reviews

Posted on November 6th, 2012

“Revolution” (now showing on NBC, Mondays at 9pm central) – In present day Chicago, an event that completely wipes out technology plunges the entire world into a new dark age. Fifteen years later, people live a simple, Spartan existence. Ben (Tim Guinee) knows the secret behind the power outage and may hold a clue to bring the lights back on. A ruthless militia posse lead by Capt. Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) tracks down Ben and kills him. Neville captures Ben’s teen son but allows Ben’s daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) to escape. Charlie’s only hope is to find her Uncle Miles (Billy Burke), an ex-soldier living in Old Chicago, who can help her save her brother. As it turns out, Miles may hold another key to the secret of the power outage.

A couple of annoying things about a technology-free future:






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PREMIUM RUSH review

PREMIUM RUSH review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

This exciting action flick surrounds the fast-paced, risky world of New York bicycle couriers. Former law student and daredevil messenger Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the fastest rider in the fleet. Low on cash and on the outs with his coworker girlfriend, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), he takes a last minute run to deliver a suspicious package to Chinatown. A dirty cop, Detective Monday (Michael Shannon), tries to hijack his parcel and pursues him across the city in an action-packed, no-brakes race to the finish line. On the way, Wilee attracts the unwanted attention of an overzealous bike cop, rival couriers and the Chinese mafia.

While the formulaic story seems simple and familiar, the title more than lives up to its promise. “Premium Rush” uses a stylistic, time-jumping approach to telling its story. In-between the action parts, the story flashes back to reveal the reasons behind the chase and how the various characters are interconnected…






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DARK SHADOWS review

DARK SHADOWS review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

Of all A-list directors, only Tim Burton chooses to remain almost entirely in the gothic genre. His passions of late have been either adaptations or remakes of dark material and the old vampire soap opera “Dark Shadows” seems right up his alley. The original 1966 TV soap was a bit before my time and the 12-episode 1991 revival series completely failed to capture my imagination. I have no personal stake (pun intended) in a feature-length remake of the series – nor did I feel one was called for – but with such low expectations, I found myself somewhat entertained.

Wealthy 19th century fishing industry tycoon Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) spurns the love of a witch (Eva Green) who murders his fiance and curses him into becoming a vampire. She rallies the townsfolk to capture and bury him alive-ish near his “Collinswood” mansion in Maine…






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RESSURRECT DEAD: THE MYSTERY OF THE TOYNBEE TILES documentary review

RESSURRECT DEAD: THE MYSTERY OF THE TOYNBEE TILES documentary review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

Feature documentaries usually fall under three categories: Biography, historical, nature and politics. For me, all four have limited appeal. I will watch them occasionally except for the ones with obvious/shrill political agendas. There is a fifth genre of documentary that is more rare but when done right, can be the most enjoyable to watch… the solvable mystery documentary.

In order to truly satisfy, these docs must satisfy a few criteria: 1. It must be based in reality and potentially solvable (no convoluted conspiracy theories, no Nostradamus/Ancient Aztec predictions and no phonies trying to fake a bigfoot/ghost/alien sighting) 2. It must not have been solved by police before the documentary was made and spoiled by the national news (no “Dateline: NBC” murder mysteries) 3. It must be a original mystery with the filmmakers actively working to solve it.

Not many – if any – of these types of films immediately spring to mind. A few fake documentaries or “mockumentaries” would certainly fit the bill if they were actually real.






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EXPENDABLES 2 review

EXPENDABLES 2 review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

Coming straight off of a successful mission in Asia, The Expendables mercenary team captained by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) returns to their home base of New Orleans only to find CIA spook Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) waiting for them. Barney owes Church 5 million dollars, so the team is strong-armed into a simple hijack mission which takes a bad turn when the villainous Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) intercepts them. Out for revenge, they track Vilain to a remote area of Russia where they learn he plans to sell a massive amount of plutonium on the black market.

For mercenaries, these guys are too darned nice. Over the course of the film, they risk their lives and lose a lot to save hundreds, maybe thousands of people, without really getting paid. Big-name characters show up out of nowhere to save their rear-ends on multiple occasions. The obligatory one-liners are cheesy, the action is out of control and the entire ridiculous movie is a larf… but it has to be seen to be believed…






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THE LORAX review

THE LORAX review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

Ted (Zac Efron) lives in a fantastical utopian society called Thneedville which is entirely made out of plastic. The citizens live in blissful ignorance, unaware of their resource consumption while they foolishly pay for fresh air provided as a utility by the wealthy entrepreneur, Mr. O’Hare. Ted has a crush on his friend Audrey (Taylor Swift) who is fascinated by stories of mythical trees which used to grow in the city. When Audrey expresses her wish to have a tree, Ted makes it his mission to find her one and exits the enclosed city. He locates an old hermit called Once-ler (Ed Helms) who knows the secret behind the disappearance of the forests. The Once-ler tells Ted his story about meeting a creature called the Lorax (Danny DeVito), the appointed guardian of the forest who does not take kindly to tree theft and pollution. It soon becomes clear to Ted that the remorseful Once-ler may have had something to do with the destruction of the trees…






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2012 Olympics court controversy, hurt film industry

2012 Olympics court controversy, hurt film industry

Posted on November 6th, 2012

Although I’m not a big fan of most of the sports in the Olympics I really admire the athletes and what the organization stands for. Sportsmanship, the competitive spirit, team camaraderie, solidarity among nations… all of it adds up to something special. This year, I’m afraid the media has ruined it for me and the negativity surrounding the event hints at dire consequences for the future of the Olympic games.

Instead of touting the triumph of the winners, here is what the national/international media is spending most of its time focusing on:

London apparently hasn’t handled the crowd or the events very well. Critics claim that much of the city is open to terror attacks (despite a plan to arm rooftops with guided missiles), the city is constantly gridlocked and for some reason there aren’t many fans in the seats of the arenas…






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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES review

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES review

Posted on November 6th, 2012

It’s not the Batman movie anyone was expecting but it is the Batman movie all fans deserve. It is the most revolutionary and mature comic book film to date. “The Dark Knight Rises” is a mishmash of Batman comic book stories revamped and retold as one of the greatest superhero movies ever made, eclipsing even its two prequels. It’s not an ending to the trilogy or franchise as indicated in the trailers and the media. Instead it does something no other superhero film has ever done… It expands and completes the origin of the hero.

Since Batman defeated the Joker, took the fall for Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent’s murder spree and disappeared, the iron-fisted police force has brought order to the city and ushered Gotham into a new golden age…






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