Tag Archives: Brian Taylor

Mom and Dad (2018) Review

Time: 83 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Brent Ryan
Selma Blair as Kendall Ryan
Anne Winters as Carly Ryan
Zackary Arthur as Josh Ryan
Robert T. Cunningham as Damon
Olivia Crocicchia as Riley
Brionne Davis as Tanner
Samantha Lemole as Jenna
Lance Henriksen as Mel Ryan
Director: Brian Taylor

Definitely something terrible is happening on in the peaceful suburban community as, one day to another, former loving and caring parents mysteriously turn into ravenous carriers of an unfathomable pandemic that targets their offspring. Suddenly, every son and daughter (not only in the neighborhood but also in the entire nation) must to run for their lives, as the rage-filled murderous intent is simply as unstoppable as it is inexplicable. Of course, Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall’s (Selma Blair) teenage children are no exception, and before long, the simmering but usual familial tensions will take a completely different meaning. Kids, stop hiding. Mum and Dad love you so much.

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I was interested in Mom and Dad, mainly because its Nicolas Cage going absolutely crazy in a movie where he tries to kill his children, directed by one of the directors of Crank. It sounded absolutely nuts and I was on board with it. I wasn’t really sure what the actual movie would be like, I just knew Cage would be nuts and I heard that the movie is actually pretty good for the movie that it is, and that’s pretty much the case. Mom and Dad is an weird, insane darkly comic horror movie, which is quite entertaining and surprisingly works. Its two lead performances however are what makes it really work.

The first 20 minutes of the movie are setting up things before the whole “everyone tries to kill their children” epidemic happens. While the writing and dialogue can feel a little iffy, most of this is to establish the similarities between this situation and the troubled relationships between parents and kids. After that 20 minute mark though, that’s when the children murdering epidemic starts, and it doesn’t let up after that. There isn’t any clear explanation for why parents are killing their children, theories are thrown around and that’s it. That really worked for me personally, doesn’t overcomplicate the plot. The movie keeps things reasonably straightforward, the plot isn’t convoluted and the characters are really simple. The writing itself is basic enough but it works. The Crank movies at times can have some bad writing but for the most part you don’t see that in Mom and Dad (with the exception of one supporting character which was pretty much written to be a stereotype). Now it is worth noting that this is a dark comedy, because so much of what happens is so violent and over the top that it does much more than just border on hilarity, the humour is a big part of the movie. It’s not a straight up scary horror movie. It doesn’t take things too seriously but there is some subtext with the parents’ frustrations even before the epidemic starts, especially with flashbacks with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. While most movies (especially bigger movies) would have the parents be loving and all that before their rampage, they already establish them as being very unstable and not having the best of relationships with the children, which I think works well and makes it more effective. Mom and Dad is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and that really worked, there’s enough time to set up the characters and everything up before the epidemic starts, and after that point it’s entertaining right till the end. I will say though that a disappointing aspect was the ending. While I understand why they wanted to end on the note that they do, its rather abrupt and I wanted something a little more.

Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair are a big part of why this movie works. Sure the story concept sounds entertaining enough but it requires really convincingly unhinged performances to make it work, and they really brought it. They play both very convincing frustrated parents before the epidemic, as well as completely psychopathic parents who want to kill their children during the epidemic. Of course Nicolas Cage particularly stand out (as he would being Nicolas Cage), from the very beginning he’s crazy and has the movie goes on he just gets more and more crazy, and sometimes it can lead to some hilarious moments. I’m not going to reveal most of his big moments, but one of his stand out moments is when he screams the hokey pokey song while destroying a pool table with a sledgehammer. 2018 seems to be a comeback for Cage, with both this and Mandy. With that said, Selma Blair’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked either because she’s great as well. While Cage has a mix of being scary and funny, Blair comes across as being convincingly scary and unhinged. The kids of Cage and Blair played by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur are okay, they serve their purposes well enough.

This movie is directed by Brian Taylor, who was involved with directing the Crank movies as well as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance alongside Mark Neveldine, and if you have seen these movies, you’ll definitely pick that up watching Mom and Dad. Now there aren’t crazy stunts being done or anything, but he does bring the style from his previous movies here, with the editing, cinematography and all that. Some of the crazy and wild camera movements might be a little too much for some people (here it’s a little incomprehensible at times), but for those who have seen the Crank movies, it’s much more tame in comparison. This movie does not hold back at all, especially with the violence. It is brutal, and really ballsy considering much of the movie’s violence shown is against children. With that said it’s not nearly as bloody as you’d think it would be, I can’t tell whether it should’ve been more bloody or if the less is more approach was better. The music used can get a little repetitive and annoying, especially during the intense and violent scenes.

Mom and Dad is a completely nuts, darkly comedic horror movie, that’s simple but effective. The unhinged performances by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair really make the movie work as well as it does. If you’re a big fan of Nicolas Cage, this is a must see movie. If you’re up for a darkly comic and over the top made by one of the directors of Crank, this might be right up your alley. Just know that if you are going to watch Mom and Dad, don’t take it too seriously.

Crank: High Voltage (2009) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sex scenes, drug use and offensive language
Cast:
Jason Statham as Chev Chelios
Amy Smart as Eve Lydon
Clifton Collins, Jr. as El Huron
Efren Ramirez as Venus
Geri Halliwell as Karen Chelios
Dwight Yoakam as Doc Miles
Art Hsu as Johnny Vang
Bai Ling as Ria
Reno Wilson as Orlando
David Carradine as Poon Dong
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

After surviving an incredible plunge to near-certain death, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is abducted by Chinese mobsters. Waking up three months later, Chev finds that his nearly indestructible heart has been replaced with a battery-operated device that requires regular jolts of electricity or it will fail. Chev escapes from his captors, reunites with his lover, Eve (Amy Smart), and sets out on a frantic chase through Los Angeles to get his real heart back.

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The first Crank was an enjoyable over the top action flick, it’s not by any means a great movie (I don’t even know if I’ll call it a good movie) but it was very entertaining for what it was trying to be. The sequel seemed to be something incredibly entertaining, with it being even more over the top than it’s predecessor (I mean Statham literally needs to charge up his heart with electricity this time). While the sequel is even more over the top (as expected), I don’t know if I can call it very entertaining, or even enjoyable at all. It feels forced in the worst possible way and gets very tiring very quickly. Such a step down from the first Crank, and the original film wasn’t even that great, so that’s saying a lot.

While at times the film is entertaining and funny, the jokes and sequences at times feel incredibly forced and random. It almost feels like a bunch of people (who aren’t the creators of the original) tried to do Crank 2 and recapture the original Crank and doing it poorly. The sad thing is that the same people did the sequel. The one thing I can guarantee is that it is absolutely insane, I guarantee you that you will be wondering what is going on at times. To a degree I’ll give credit to them for going all out. Aside from that there’s not much to really like. It goes too far at times with how crazy and offensive it could be, to the point where at times it felt downright unpleasant and painful to watch. Also there was sort of a mid-credits scene that was put into a movie for some reason and I have no idea why. With that said, a pointless mid credits scene is the least of High Voltage’s problems.

Jason Statham is effortless to watch. He definitely threw himself into this movie and had a lot of fun doing a lot of these insane things. He was really of the best part of the whole movie, if not the best part. Everyone else… not so much. Amy Smart has even less to do than in the previous movie and so her performance was even worse. The other supporting actors, I don’t really have much to say about them. Nobody else from the rest of the cast stand out, except that most of them were downright terrible and at times insufferable.

The direction style here returns from the original Crank and it does still work. It feels completely insane and frantic, especially during action sequences. There was a very bizarre visual sequence that involved Statham in a fight in the third act that is so strange that it was actually quite entertaining. I don’t really think that it was the direction of the scenes that was so wrong with this movie, it’s the actual content itself.

I can’t call Crank 2 a good movie at all. Its entertaining at times and seeing Jason Statham doing a bunch of insane and crazy things is fun but that’s it. It is way too forced, downright obnoxious at times and even at points felt a little unpleasant. If you didn’t like the original, you will absolutely hate the sequel. If you liked the original Crank, give High Voltage a shot, but its very possible that you may not like it.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) Review

The Ghost Rider in Columbia Pictures' GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE.

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider
Johnny Whitworth as Ray Carrigan/Blackout
Fergus Riordan as Danny
Ciarán Hinds as Roarke/Mephistopheles
Violante Placido as Nadya
Idris Elba as Moreau
Director Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor

Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), a man who made a deal with the Devil who called himself Roarke (Ciaran Hinds), is on the run trying to make sure no-one is harmed by his alter ego, The Ghost Rider. He is approached by a Monk named Moreau (Idris Elba) who tells him that he can help be him free of the Rider, but first he needs Johnny’s help to protect a boy, whom Roarke has plans for, to help him take human form.

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I always thought that the best way to create a Ghost Rider film is to not take it too seriously and seeing as the filmmakers of this film made Crank, it should be better than the original, which was too serious. In many ways this film is better and worse than the first film. On one hand it doesn’t take itself as seriously and Nicolas Cage actually seems to be crazier but on the other, there’s painful editing and the story has plenty of plot holes. In either case, Ghost Rider 2 is still a pretty bad movie.

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This movie’s script does have even more problems than the original film. First of all there’s absolutely no character depth or development for any of the characters, not even Johnny Blaze seems that different by the end. There are a lot of plot holes, for example there’s a moment when the devil gives a henchman the power of decay (however it only decays certain things if it’s convenient). The devil then sends the henchman to get the boy back even though it would be near impossible to do without toughing and therefore decaying and killing him. Also the way the Ghost Rider acts in the first film made a little more sense than here. In his first scene, he would just stand around before he goes up to a henchman and just stares at him, doing nothing for like a minute. There’s even a strange moment when Ghost Rider urinates fire, this goes in the complete opposite direction of being boring and becomes downright stupid and borderline bizarre instead.

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Nicolas Cage is more animated than in the previous movie, which I have to say is a big improvement over the original. In the previous film he seemed to be quite bored, which was the wrong performance in this sort of film. In this film there are plenty of over the top moments that he has. There is one scene in particular where he’s interrogating someone and he’s trying to keep the ghost rider spirit from coming out and it’s definitely one of his best freak out moments. Idris Elba is trying his best to give a good performance, despite being in a pretty bad movie. Ciaran Hinds gives a decent performance as the devil, being more of the manipulator sort but it would’ve work much better in another movie. In this movie he doesn’t do anything cool or threatening, which would be the more preferable type of devil in this sort of movie. The climax of the film is him driving a car. I didn’t think I’d say this but Blackheart in the previous film put up a better fight than him, that’s a bad sign.

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I don’t remember if I liked the editing of the Crank films but Ghost Rider 2’s editing is just awful. A lot of the action is filmed being quite shaky and incomprehensible. I will give credit that Ghost Rider does look cooler and some of the action scenes are quite creative, like Ghost Rider turning a crane into a giant flaming chainsaw but it ultimately most of it is hard to get into.

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Is Ghost Rider 2 worse than the previous film? When all things are considered, yes, it’s editing and cinematography can be quite annoying and the characters aren’t interesting at all. Despite this we have Nicolas Cage being his enjoyable insane self and some of the action is quite enjoyable. If you’re going to see this film, just know exactly what you are going in, it can be fun as a guilty pleasure.