JT’s Masterpieces

We jump into the DeLorean where we skim through the film library to come upon hidden gems, classics, and more from the 1940’s to the late 90’s.

The Expendables 2: Find them, track them, kill them


Thank you, Sylvester Stallone for re-introducing the great badness that was 80’s action nostalgia. Even though he was slightly over his head with the mindless thrill ride that was The Expendables. Stallone leaves the directorial duties to Simon West in The Expendables 2. Ironically, actually lives up to the cliche. “Better than the first.”

Stallone and his Expendables squad is back for another adventure bringing Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews back but also dives into the film library with the likes of Chuck Norris, Scott Adkins, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Not only that, but we get more Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzengger this time around. Christmas comes early.

The Expendables start off in a rescue mission to rescuing Trench (Schwarzenegger) and all it is an excuse to blow your mind or whatever is left with nonstop gun battles and explosions. Then we settle into the already thin as hell plot. Seriously, it has the thickness of a string of yarn. Mr. Church (Willis) orders them to get back kilos of plutonium. The newest member is a Church operative Maggie Chan who fits in and kicks a little ass as well. She’s played by Yu Nan but one of their own is senselessly killed off by Jean Villain (Van Damme) and there you have it, a cold blooded revenge story. Van Damme looks like he’s having a blast with his villainous role, no matter how bad his acting is. With all this posing towards Stallone, you know we are in for one epic fight between Rocky and Kickboxer. 

You can tell this had a bigger budget (100 million) with all the locations including Bulgaria, Hong Kong and New Orleans. With that, the film becomes more preposterous and more memorable. Especially when you see Chuck (expletive) Norris in this! Yes, his acting still is nonexistant, but who cares? He’s a good sport, teasing himself and even gets his taste of joining in on the already high body count Director Simon West’s expertise in elaborate action sequences shows big time especially when you see a motorcycle blow up a helicopter or Stallone using enemies as target practice. Damn, he’s fast with that gun. Stallone saves the best for last packing everyone into a 20 min epic sequence that turns into a opera of bullets and dead bodies. West gives everyone what they deserve including seeing Willis, Stallone, Schwarzenegger introduced together in slam bang fashion.

This has all the elements an 80’s action film. Thin plot, mediocre to bad acting, unforgettable action sequences and some awesome one-liners. This is the ultimate tough guy movie. The way this franchise is going, I hope they never become Expendable.

The Expendables 2 gets a B+


I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely at the Cinema.


The Dark Knight Rises: Thank you, Nolan!


Christopher Nolan has done a masterful job upon the Dark Knight series. While this threequel doesn’t reach the epic greatness of The Dark Knight, it’s still a spectacular finale! in fact it’s a candidate for the Best movie of 2012.

Fast forwarding, eight years after the death of Harvey Dent. The Caped Crusader became the vigilante only known as The Dark Knight. Christian Bale is back to throw on the cowl, cape for one last time. It’s going to be difficult as his alter ego, Bruce Wayne has been sheltered in his mansion and he’s physically struggling, attached to a cane and a beard reminiscent of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Bale’s performance makes him the best Batman yet and using that grizzled voice making it sound vengeful not annoying. He makes this character incredibly complex, slowly showing just how tortured his soul truly is. Gotham City has passed the Dent Act which is a law that’s cleaned up the streets of crime until we are introduced to a terrorist only known as Bane. Ironically, with a flawless mouth dropper of a beginning chroncling Bane’s escape begins to shape his goal upon Gotham. We’re also introduced Selina Kyle, an independent cat burglar played with incredible depth and manipulating charm by Anne Hathaway. Even can kick some serious ass. We understand that it’s Catwoman, but Nolan makes sure we never hear that name. Just let it play in the audience’s minds. Hathaway even gives us a sneak peek into what we are about to witness after recently stole something of importance to Wayne.

Bane wastes no time as he storms into town beginning a path of destruction, but Nolan makes sure that the audience doesn’t know what is key to Bane’s insanity and madness towards the city. Wayne sees it from his home and realizes it’s time that Batman be re-introduced to the city again. Nolan puts on a eye opening chase throughout the city with the Batmobile. This was just the start of the astonishing action set pieces intricately created by Nolan. Then comes the inevitable first battle between Bane and Batman which is a bone crunching scene with its authentic hand to hand fighting techniques. Batman using his martial arts that was established with his time in the LEAGUE of Shadows though it’s sloppy, while Bane uses his brawn and intelligence reading every move from Batman. As Bane breaks Batman’s back and sends him to a well to rot in his own torturous and damaged soul. This story line was clearly the strongest part of the story giving us the idea to how Batman can overcome this leading to soul searching that is engrossing and in its own, a seat clencher. Throughout the second half of the film, you are given reason to Bane’s madness, Wayne finding his true power inside, and why Selina Kyle, Commissioner Gordon are key elements to the story. Not only that, but we are introduced to another character that remained mysterious done with a simplistic subject. A Gotham City cop named John Blake brilliantly played by Joseph Gordon Levitt and as it draws to the ambiguous, satisfying conclusion. You can clearly see why Blake is played with such mystery bringing at times unsurprising conviction, compassion and bravery. Gordon Levitt was the perfect choice for this kind of character, I wouldn’t doubt if he gets some trophy hype, just saying.

Now to Bane, played by Tom Hardy. Hardy rises up to the challenge of following the iconic Joker played by the late Oscar winning Heath Ledger. Bane’s muscular stature is a true physical stunner. With his larnyx damaged, he must talk through a voice box that makes him sound like a garbled version of Sean Connery. However, it’s the reactions with his eyes and times when his voice heightens creating an occasionally scary tone that could have been played for laughs, but the reactionary detail of Hardy is what made him brooding and one frightening son of a gun. In his head, he believes that everything he’s doing is right or it could be for protecting a certain someone that was indeed a jaw dropper.

Finally, Gary Oldman as always lights up the screen with Commissioner Gordon showing his good intentions to the city, at the same time living with the blame that led to Dent’s death. Or wasn’t it Wayne’s fault? Michael Caine is always a delight and even brings up a gut wrenching monologue that will have you thinking. Morgan Freeman drops by as Lucius Fox and even wow, Marion Cotillard who doesn’t miss a beat or even feel unnecessary. There is even a surprising cameo. Trust me.  Okay, that’s it! I can’t say anymore.

Nolan and his brother, Jonathon crafted a marvelous script full of intrigue, intelligence, snappy dialogue, and an conclusion that as I mentioned before was satisfying. Nolan’s action sequences don’t disappoint, he doesn’t get crazy with the pyrotechnics or weapons, but we are introduced to the Bat. Haha, what a ride this is. Pittsburgh makes a great Gotham City, showing the blue collar spirit of the town. Uniformly excellent performances, an absorbing script, gritty action sequences and a strong conclusion makes The Dark Knight Rises, the best movie of the year so far…

I give The Dark Knight Rises an A+


I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely as you head to the Cinema.

Savages: God bless Oliver Stone!


In today’s reboot world of Hollywood. It’s always good to see a legendary filmmaker continue to crank out originality and controversy. Oliver Stone.

Lately, Stone has been tapping into his soft side with 2004’s World Trade Center,  2009’s W: the unauthorized George W. Bush story and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Now he’s taking on the New York Times best seller, Don Winslow’s Savages. Winslow also co-writes with Stone on the screenplay. When Stone writes, it’s full of wit, facts, and originality. Savages is no different. In fact, it’s one of the best of the year.

Welcome to Laguna Beach. Where the women are beautiful, the sun is always shining, and the waves always crashing against the hot sandy beaches and…where you can find the best marijuana in America. That’s right. Aaron Johnson plays Ben, a buddhist/idealist that seems like the brains of the operation wheeling and dealing business deals left and right. Taylor Kitsch plays Chon, an ex-Navy SEAL/entrepreneur who takes care of the brawny side. You double cross this business, you’re going to pay in bruises and eventually deliver the green. They have it all. A house right off the beach, BMW’s, convertibles, million dollar bank accounts and a relationship with a rich blonde named Ophelia but is known only as “O” to the guys. It’s a love triangle that only lives in a man’s dreams and for good reason too. Stone shows the physical and emotional sides of love in a rather candid and realistic fashion.

Chon and Ben have grown tired and are ready to retire but the Mexican Baja Drug Cartel has different ideas as they want the two entrepreneurs to continue making the herb for another three years. Ben “gracefully” says no and Chon says two words that become engraved in the leader of the drug cartel, Elena played by a scenery chewing Salma Hayek. Hayek takes Elena, brings depth and verbal brutality brought with grace. You’ll have to see it to believe it. Elena knows that their most important asset must be O. Gives the order to capture her to her right hand man, Lado played with a balance of suave sickness and brutal ferocity physically by Benacio Del Toro. Every time Del Toro is on the screen, you’re hooked and don’t want to miss a second because of his unpredictability. Also, Chon and Ben have an unscruplous friend on the inside. Dennis, a dirty DEA agent that keeps the two businessmen off the radar. Played by a thinly haired scene-stealing John Travolta who gained 25 lbs for the role. Finally, I want to give props to Kitsch for his best performance since Friday Night Lights. Bringing fierceness, aggression and a surprising sentimentality towards O and Johnson, shocking the audience in the last quarter of the film with his 180 degree flip on his character.

Stone taps back into his down and dirty side that is reminiscent of Natural Born Killers. The screenplay is witty, funny, and shocks you with a twist that satirizes today’s Hollywood and Winslow’s ending stays in as well. Dynamic action sequences, sizzling sex scenes and uniformly excellent performances across the board make this one of the best of 2012.

Savages gets an A!


I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely at the cinema.

Ted: Wahlberg, MacFarlane make Ted an instant classic!


Whoever thought that a story about a man and his Teddy bear would make me think this was the best comedy of the year. In fact, Ted is the best comedy I have seen in 5 years!

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane bring his hilarious but twisted mind to the big screen debut. Taking the cliche of a boy and his best friend but fast forwarding it to where the boy is a man and the Teddy bear is a pot smoking, foul mouthed, drinking and sexually active Teddy bear with a heart of gold. The best thing about Ted is whom is involved play the material straight faced.

Mark Wahlberg plays John Bennett, an lazy, pot smoking 35-ish man working a dead end job but has a beautiful girlfriend, Lori. She’s played by the gorgeously but fiery Mila Kunis. You know the independent guy dream girl. How John and Lori meet is amusingly funny but quite sweet too. However, the twist is Ted, his best friend and Teddy bear is living with John. That’s not cool with Lori who wants Ted to move out. Guys, we have all been there before. Trying to move on is a hard thing sometimes especially if it involves your best friend. MacFarlane lends his voice as Ted, who sounds like an boston-accented Peter Griffin. Wahlberg and MacFarlane make a great team making my sides split with…the Thunder song.

The best thing is how simplistic it is with its story. Ted is treated like a real person with feelings in the public’s eye. He can even fall in love as he does hilariously at his supermarket job, he can fight, he can run. The special effects are realistic. Here’s where it gets twisted, there is a over exuberent father, Donny. Giovanni Ribisi was darkly funny as this creeper that will stop at nothing to get that bear. He wants to make his overweight, spoiled son happy. Aww how sociopathic of you. We also great comedic insight into how far Ted and John’s friendship truly is and how much they need each other in their lives.

Ted is written, produced and directed by MacFarlane and his Family Guy collaborators. Including Walter Murphy doing the music and Professor X himself, Patrick Stewart hilariously narrating. He shows his gifted persona through sharp writing, nostalgic pop culture cameos including his fascination with Flash Gordon which will have you rolling in your seat with laughter. By the way, Family Guy fans. Let’s see if you can spot all the voices from the show and a surprise cameo that just by his silence is a gutbuster. I haven’t felt about a comedy like this since Wedding Crashers in 2005. Comedy is a lost art in Hollywood, but sometime in a blue moon. An original comedy with memorable lines and great balance come out and becomes a blockbuster.

Ted is one of the best films of the year.

Ted gets an A- image