Film Review: Pain & Gain


by Mark Smith

Score: 3/4

I used to be a fan of Michael Bay’s. I knew that his films weren't brilliant by any definition of the word but most of them knew exactly what they were and played to his strengths. (I am one of the few defenders of Bad Boys II and not only do I defend it, I honestly think it is Bay’s masterpiece.) I lost a lot of my faith in him after the last two Transformers films. They both seemed like they played to a boring and clichéd formula and it appeared that Bay was just going through the motions or better yet that he was sleepwalking while making them. So I was excited when he announced he would be returning to his Bad Boys roots by making a moderately budgeted, hard “R”, crime thriller called Pain & Gain.

Pain & Gain is based on a true story and it involves three bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie) at various stages in their lives, trying to achieve the American dream any way they can. Things predictably go horribly wrong for them after they kidnap a wealthy dirtbag businessman (Tony Shaloub) in an attempt to steal all of his assets.  That last sentence is probably an understatement as this movie gets so crazy that by the end of it I was questioning how “true” it really was. Continue reading

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Starfest 2013: Horror Movie Critics' Panel


This was the third year that we've put on the critics' horror movie panel at the Horrorfest part of Starfest.  It has become a tribute to carry on the legacy that Denver critic Reggie McDaniel ran with for so many years at the convention.  While I get great guests to be on the panel, Barry has really thrown himself into organizing it and put together an amazing show.  Previous guests include Tim Schultz from the Mile High Horror Film Festival, Keith Garcia from buy college research paper

“>The Denver Film Society and Christian Toto from Breitbart's Big Hollywood.

This year, I had the great honor of being on the panel with Brad McHargue from Mile High Cinema and Michael Felsher, owner of Red Shirt Pictures.  It's very easy to say that we all rocked the room and that we could have easily gone another hour, both points being true.  What made me really enjoy being on the panel, though, was the feeling like somehow I stumbled into the room and found myself with the best seat in the house.  Special thanks to Christopher Page from for the picture he took at the panel.

NOTE: This panel contains NSFW language.  You have been warned.

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