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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Monthly Archives: May 2010

Weekend!

Hey everybody as all of you know Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, and surprisingly some of you may not know this, but I actually do to other places, rather than just watching movies and reviewing them. Anyway, I will be gone for the weekend starting tonight till Monday, and if they had a computer I’d keep going at it, however, they don’t so I’m boned. While I’m gone read out and comment on my other reviews, some good stuff there! Also, make sure to get your tickets for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, or if you want a total v-fest, then check out Sex and the City 2. Judging by these trailers you can already tell their gonna be the shit.

Anyway that’s it for me everybody! I’m going out to the beach, going to get a tan, take a dip in the pool, and hopefully bring some ladies back to the crib ;). Have a great weekend everyone, I’ll see you guys soon.

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The Shining (1980)

In all honesty, who would take this job??!??!!?

On the wagon and out of lucrative work thanks to his alcoholism and family troubles, aspiring novelist Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) accepts a position as the off-season custodian at an elegant but eerie hotel so he can write undisturbed. But shortly after Jack, his wife (Shelley Duvall) and his young son (Danny Lloyd) settle in, the ominous hotel begins to wield its sinister power.

I have seen this film twice in my life, but only when I was like back in 6th grade, so I didn’t get the full effect of this, and also Stanley Kubrick is in the director’s chair, so I have reason to watch it again.

When it comes to creating a mood that corresponds with a setting, Stanley Kubrick can make it happen no matter what. Here, he shows that. Right from the beginning we get an over-head shot of the car going through the rocky mountains to the scary-ass huge hotel and we just get a sense that almost nothing is going to go right.

This is probably one of Kubrick’s best jobs at directing, and its because almost everything from the setting, to the steady-camera work (which was unheard for big budget movies then), and to the overall nothings right mood, it all works so well. I mean I have seen this twice but I was still on the edge of my seat, the whole time regardless. There are still some great aspects of this film including the scenes of little Danny going through the hallways, and you listen to the sounds change as hes moving around the hotel. Almost every scene that takes place in the hotel, is just chilling, cause these are the only people in the hotel, or so they think. Every time someone is in the hallway doing something the camera is following them the whole way, and the way the camera is used, with such a large scale, you can just see how big this place is for two people.

I have to give Kubrick more props cause he’s doing some inventive stuff with the horror genre here. Too many thing in horror are explained, and Kubrick feels as if maybe its more ambiguous, as if you don’t know what’s real, and what’s not real, all of it just adds more to a feeling of alienation but for a good reason. We see how as each and every day goes by, this family is self-destructing, and its not so much as a horror story about the ghosts and demons, but how much this sense of loneliness in such a big space, can make you go just go nuts one by one. I had a problem with only one aspect of this film and it was that I feel like Kubrick did too much irony in the first and second act. There are lines like, “isn’t this going to be just swell”, or “nothing wrong can happen”, we know some crazy shit is going to happen just telling by the trailer, but don’t shower us with all of the predictable lines from any horror movie.

Jack Nicholson, was actually born to play this role. I think without this performance, he would have never been able to pick up great villainous roles, in the future. He starts out as your normal average Joe, just looking for some relaxation, and just descends into the craziest person you have ever seen on film. By the end when he really starts to lose it, almost every scene is just great as your watching Nicholson rambling, yelling, and swinging around an ax, all in top form. Nobody can deliver this line quite like him.

Shelley Duvall, no lie, is a pretty crappy actress I have to say. The beginning she seems like shes just forcing out her lines left and right, however by the end her facial emotions, start to freak us out. She has got the biggest eyes I have ever seen on a woman, and the whitest face, so to see a chick in utter terror, with her huge eyes popping out, brings out some great scares in myself too.

Everything about this movie just builds and builds and builds, until the final 30 minutes which are really some of the best and most terrifying stuff ever. Also, there is plenty of subliminal messages, some you can pick out, others you can’t. However, if you just look at the big picture, it is still a freaky movie.

Consensus: The Shining is one of Kubrick’s most un-appreciated films of all-time, however is one of his best, showing great camera work, that works so well with the space and mood, along with a crazy Nicholson in top-form. Not to mention just a bunch of scenes that will freak you the hell out.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

A Home at the End of the World (2004)

I have gay friends, however, I have never really fallen in love with one of them, and neither have I with Robin Wright Penn (dammit!).

Boyhood pals Bobby (Colin Farrell) and Jonathan (Dallas Roberts) both love the same woman (Robin Wright Penn), but in different ways. (For one thing, Jonathan is gay). Yet, undaunted, they all try to make a life together — and even have a baby.

Now I have nothing against gay people. I have gay friends, and I do consider myself a pro-homosexual person. However, when it comes to films, they are kind of hit-or-miss with me, such as this one.

I’m not quite familiar with the original subject material, however I do know that is considered a great novel, and should be read by all. Gotta put that on the to-read list. But its just that this plot here could have been so much better, instead it just feels way too contrived. The writing in all honesty didn’t feel real, it seemed like these people were just acting by the way a film would have a character act out.

The film also has a huge problem with the fact that it doesn’t quite make its characters in any way, appealing to us. Farrell’s character, Bobby, throughout the whole film is basically the guy who’s just there at points, shows up, and is always just one-note, by always being depressed about god knows what. Also, Penn’s character, didn’t feel like a real person. This chick, in real life, is almost 15 years older than both of these guys, and she can’t choose one guy over the other. If that was happening to me, I would just say to hell with it, and then she can take the gay guy. Her character lacked the motivation, and we never know too much about her, other than her hair is pretty wild now and then.

I was almost actually won over by the performances in this movie. Farrell playing against type, or miscast, or whatever, came off as really stale and never really, if at all, changed during the movie. Robin Wright Penn is good as the wild, and crazy former stoner, and brings a lot to her character, even though not much is given. She’s came a long way since Jenny. The best in this film is Dallas Roberts who gives a great performance as this sad and lonely, gay man, who never really was understood by his parents at a young age so he is taking the pain now. Great performance, just wish this guy would get more material.

Consensus: Though the performances are good, there is way too many writing errors, when it comes to plot development, and characters.

3.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Sometimes I actually wish my sports teams were like this.

Walter Matthau stars as the grumbling, beer-guzzling Morris Buttermaker, a former minor-league pitcher roped into coaching a crass bunch of perpetually losing half-pint misfits. Desperate to win, Coach Morris brings in two ringers. One is his ex-girlfriend’s athletic daughter, Amanda (Tatum O’Neal), and the other the rebellious but talented Kelly (Jackie Earle Haley).

I have seen the 2005 remake, a number of numerous times, and that one’s fine. However, I just wish this one could have held up as well.

There’s a lot of inappropriate stuff in this movie that just totally sent people into rage when it came out back in 76. These kids are using racial slurs, drinking bear, fighting almost everyone, and basically put into harm’s way every time. However, I found some of the funnier moments come from when the kids were being asses. Its always funny to see a little kid say bad words, or cause havoc, so why should this be any different?

Its different cause there isn’t enough other funny stuff supporting the raunchy jokes. There is bits and pieces of drama in this, but it doesn’t work and just comes off as cheesy. Other jokes seem to exploited, and over-used, like the whole basis of the film is to just show these kids doing bad stuff, and hope to get a chuckle out of how absurd this is. That was hilarious in 76, now its kind of like something we see almost on TV.

I’m at least glad that the film does show some satire, and truth about “win-it” factor, that is so highly used in sports nowadays.

Walter Matthau probably plays one of his best known roles, and for good reason, he’s pretty funny. He plays this low-life drunk with plenty of reality, and shows some other dramatic sides to his character that we weren’t expecting. Its funny to see Jackie Earle Haley in this young kid role, as a total bad-ass, and his performance was good and funny, for all the wrong reasons.

Consensus: Bad News Bears isn’t as great as everybody says mostly due to the fact that it exploits its joke, and doesn’t hold up well today, but still features some funny moments, including a good performance from Matthau.

5/10=Rental!!!

Adaptation (2002)

One of the worst, and most confusing writer blocks ever…well…written.

Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is a Los Angeles screenwriter battling enormous feelings of insecurity and impotence as he struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief, a book by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), whose main character, John Laroche (Chris Cooper), is searching for love. Add to the mix Charlie’s twin brother, Donald (also played by Cage), and you have a surreal, Spike Jonze-directed gem about the search for passion.

When it comes to Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze, they literally are two great minds that just cannot be controlled without a doubt. Just by seeing this film you can tell that they should do more and more films together, no matter what the subject matter.

At first, the film may seem really confusing, and it may have you keep on wondering: whats fact or fiction? However, the film is structured in a way that it actually feels like your in Kaufman’s mind, with the over head narration, constant imagination shots, and the fact that his brother keeps on popping up.

The screenplay is what really works here, because it shows that writing about yourself sometimes works. Now take it for granted, this is a historical fiction piece, but some elements show the fact that Kaufman really did start getting nuts while writing this screenplay and we start to feel it. The blending of comedy and drama really works, cause the comedy at times is actually very very funny, something you wouldn’t expect, and also the drama in this film almost brings a tear to the eye sometimes, while providing a lot of info about life itself, something you wouldn’t expect. The film is alive, because it keeps on inventing itself as it goes along, surprising and challenging us, showing us something we weren’t expecting.

I had only one problem with this film and it was sort of obvious, and it was the sudden change of tone by the last act. I don’t want to give too much away, however, it just feels like the ending had a sort of Coen Brothers, thriller/comedy feel to it, and didn’t quite match with the rest of the film.

The best thing about this film, that really elevates it to the highest power, is the wonderful performance by Nic Cage. He plays both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, and it is just one of the greatest dual roles of all-time. There is no fancy-shmancy make-up done to either of these characters, nor do we get a huge announcement of who this is, we simply know by the way Cage acts each one out. Donald is funny, witty, and aspires to be something Charlie already is, while Charlie himself is nutty, smart, and also is going through some crazy stuff, but we can tell who each character is.

There is also a wonderful supporting cast here. Chris Cooper, plays his best role ever, as John Laroche, the free loving flower nut, who at first seems like a total dick, but somehow by the ends becomes our favorite character. I was glad he won the Oscar, because its just a type of character that have could have been played totally wrong, however gives us the feel and passion that lies within this great character. Meryl Streep also has a good supporting performance, although I somehow feel her scenes with Cage could have been better, if given more time on-screen. Also, Brian Cox is in this, need I say more.

Consensus: Adaptation seems confusing at first, but ends up turning into a superbly-acted, witty, and heart-felt realistic fiction, showing that sometimes writing about yourself is better in some cases.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

He’s Just Not That into You (2009)

Make note not to watch this when looking for relationship advice, read the book instead.

Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson lead an all-star ensemble cast of characters dealing with the pitfalls of love and human interaction in this big-screen adaptation of Greg Behrendt’s best-selling book. Set in Baltimore, director Ken Kwapis’s film moves swiftly between a host of storylines brought to life by a stellar lineup of actors that also includes Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Ginnifer Goodwin and Justin Long.

The film is based off a advice book on relationships, which get this, was written by a dude, Greg Behrendt. I never have read the book, and really have no inspiration to read it anyway, since I’am just so P.I.M.P. But after watching this, never will I read it.

I had a huge problem with this film cause I could just tell by the trailer, that every single romantic dramedy cliche was going to be used. At points, the film did grab me with a couple of good points about relationships, and dating, but they were just all taken down by the obvious, “these two live happily ever after ending.” Even though some, do end up with no one, but i can’t give too much away.

This film just proves that bigger, is not always better (non-sexually). The cast is filled with a lot of great attractive stars, however none of them feel real. Just watching half of these people interact with one another just felt like they were phoning in every second just to get the huge paycheck, that will have an even better payback, cause the box-office would be so high. Only a couple of exceptions of the acting would be Jennifer Aniston who gives one great emotional scene, and Jennifer Connelly, who once again, is breaking mirrors. The best here is Ginnifer Goodwin, who is very funny, and quirky, but not without being very true to the type of character that it looks like the script wants her to be.

There are funny moments too, its just not that their funny enough. There is a really dry spot in the middle, although it does hold your attention for about 1/3 of the movie, even though it drops it later.

Consensus: He’s Just Not That into You, could have been an important film about relationships, instead is dry, cliched beyond belief, and has some charming performances, but most seem wooden.

4/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!

Dance of the Dead (2008)

Suck it George Romero! Your not the only one who can do zombie films.

Filled with geekdom and gore, this tongue-in-cheek, teen creature feature centers on a high school prom at which the living dead await a crowd of unsuspecting students. Unfortunately for the promgoers, the only ones who can save them from zombiehood are the losers who couldn’t even get a prom date in the first place. Can the vastly different cliques band together long enough to defeat the living dead?

When the film first starts off, your watching all these teenagers in high school, going about their usual, every day, high school happenings. And you almost feel as if watching Heathers, or Clueless. But then when thing leads to another, and we got, Night of the Living Dead, with teenagers.

Its really a shame that this film didn’t get as much as exposure as it could have cause I watched this for free off of Fear.net, which in other words means, the horror films nobody cares for. However, there is so many good stuff here. The screenplay is written very well, and has a great blend of action and comedy. Its dialogue is snappy, with little jokes that come quick right by you sometimes. The humor is spot on and provides a nice mix of dark humor, awkward situations and slapstick.

I was also surprised by the level of fun, low-budget zombie violence in this film. I was expecting the cheesiest gore and blood, and that’s what I got, but it felt so fun. With the budget this film is given, it seems to match the zombies just right, even though they are pretty bad looking, but its always fun to see a zombie head just blow up.

I had a couple of problems with this film that actually came off as bad to me. The zombies in this movie were really random, because sometimes they would be walking, sometimes they would be power-walking, hell sometimes they would even be driving (which they really do), and others would be running straight at you. This confused me cause I had no idea what their style of pace was, and exactly what caused them to come alive once again. I understand it has something to do with the plantation but it just made no sense as to why they all come alive as full-fleshed eating zombies.

The variety of characters that come together was an entertaining mix of nerds, cheerleaders, brains and burnouts. Jared Kusnitz is good in this lead role, and comes off as a mixture between Jesse Eisenberg, but also a slight bit of Michael J. Fox, so yeah he’s good. I also liked how in the beginning they spent a lot of time with these characters in the beginning of the film, to actually have us care enough about them, but it doesn’t drag or get boring when your watching the characters be developed.

Consensus: A nice mix between Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, Dance of the Dead features great low-budget gore and violence, while still providing enough comedy for your enjoyment.

7.5/10=Rental!!!

Apollo 13 (1995)

Reasons why aliens aren’t the only thing we have to fear out there.

Technical troubles scuttle the Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1971, risking the lives of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and his crew in director Ron Howard’s chronicle of this true-life story, which turns a failed journey into a thrilling saga of heroism. Drifting more than 200,000 miles from Earth, the astronauts work furiously with the ground crew to avert tragedy. Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris also star.

I have always been interested in the idea of US landing on the moon. The whole idea, happening, people, everything just about it interests me a lot in such a weird way. So to finally see the one that couldn’t play out like it did, was really a treat.

Director Ron Howard probably gives the best directing job of his career with this one. Its not so much the story that’s so perfect as much as it is the special effects, and the use of sound in a film like this. There is a great scene of when the shuttle is on for liftoff, and you see how everything heats up and goes up in flames, and also some great scenes showing the outer world of space, all together great looking scenes. The scenes when they are also in the shuttle itself, and just floating around is something miraculous, to see it played out so well, and not as a humorous thing.

I had a problem with this film that actually did ruin the experience for me. The film acts almost as if it were a suspense thriller in space, when I think anybody that has had high-school history should know that these people lived. Hate to give you guys a spoiler alert, but if you don’t know that then, well get your head back into those history books.

There was also a problem when they focused on the wife of Hanks in the film, played by Kathleen Quinlan. It’s a good performance don’t get me wrong, but watching those scenes were not as effective as the ones when they were in space. They could have been better and I kind of do blame Howard for not hitting the marks he could have off the shuttle.

When it comes to playing almost the same guy in every movie, Tom Hanks does it the best. He is very good here showing off his usual heroic like appearance. Also, the chemistry between him, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton (who’s basically coughing throughout the whole movie), shows a lot of great scenes between each other. Although Ed Harris was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, the one who should have gotten nominated was Gary Sinise. Who brings a lot to his character who is actually left out to dry in the beginning and middle part of the film.

Consensus: Apollo 13 doesn’t work on its suspense level, and some of the scenes aren’t as effective, but is fun, emotional, great to look at, and wonderfully acted by the cast.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Il Postino (1995)

If poetry can get you laid like it did to this dude, I need to start brushing up on my skills.

Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi), the mailman on an Italian island, pines from afar for a beautiful waitress. But when exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) comes to live on the island, Ruoppolo delivers Neruda’s mail and picks up lessons on love, life and poetry.

This film is most noteworthy because just about a couple hours when filming was wrapped up, Massimo Troisi, had a fatal heart attack and died. Leaving the film without any showing of its lead man in real life. It sucks mostly cause the guy had great potential.

Troisi is great and likable in this performance, cause of the way his character is written. A sweet, but also kind of awkward guy, that wants nothing more to love, and be loved back, and Troisi really plays this character with enough enthusiasm to give him that quirky push. Philippe Noiret is also very good, providing this “superhero-like” figure that the film is actually going for, but we never see his real-human reactions come out by the end.

I know the film is all about the bittersweet romance it has featured in its plot. But underneath it all, is the heart-breaking story of the friendship that comes between these two. You see how these two build a bond over the one thing that they love the most, poetry. He aspires to be one, the other uses it to his advantage. It all comes together so well, with the great romance, and some witty lines as well.

The problem with this film that actually hurts it a lot, is the fact that it is kind of snooze fest in parts. It moves at a slow-pace and you feel like this film should have ended a lot earlier than it actually did. The last half of this movie, is pretty powerful, but still drags on, and if your looking to catch z’s watch this film.

Consensus: Though slow, Il Postino features great writing , about love, poetry, and the things that inspire us to write, as well as two great performances from the cast, as well as to a perfect farewell to an actor that never got his shot.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Finally I Made It!!

It has taken for over a year now, but I’ve made into the big game now, the Large Association of Movie Blogs. I’m finally so glad to have and, now know that everything on will always be a 100%. I’m stoked cause all this hard work is finally paying off. Hopefully, something bigger can come out of this, but for now, I’ll stay with what I got. Btw check it out, neeto site!

Babe (1995)

Just look at that pig! How can you not love this movie!!!??!

A piglet, who is won by Farmer Hoggett, is brought onto his farm to live and eventually get big and become dinner. However, Hoggett notices something special in Babe, and decides to enter him into the national sheep-dog competition, and Babe soon starts to think he is a dog himself.

Listen, I know I’m going to get a lot of crap for at least reviewing a movie like this, but this is a classic, make no ands, ifs, or bigggg buts about it.

A movie like Babe, doesn’t have zillions and millions of dollars for promotion and advertising behind it, but as family films go, its the perfect score. The script is written so well, mostly cause its almost like the animated film Up, and by that I mean it c0vers on everything possible so well: comedy aspect, family aspect, fun & adventure aspect, as well as being totally tearful.

I laughed and almost cried so many times during this film. Its a witty script that gives these animals, an almost human feel, by adding personalities to their characters, and realism. There is a lot of great themes about animal cruelty which I’am totally without a doubt against, prejudice, family, and overall life, and never backing down from the biggest odds. All themes hit so well in a film about a talking pig, when some others can’t do that right at all.

I will say that although this film filled my heart with a lot of sorrow, I did not cry. As I stated in my Top Ten Movie Facts!, I have only cried at three movies, and this came so darn close to pulling those heart strings just enough to shed a tear. But me being the big, machismo man that I’am, did not fall victim to the heart that is within Babe (Yes, I’am proud of this).

Also, there’s plenty of other good things to this film. The rural area that it’s filmed at is beautiful and totally makes for a great deal of great-looking scenes to add to the heart-warming appeal of the film itself. There is also another thing that this film touches well on, but never really wants to bring it out, and that is being a vegetarian. By showing these animals as more than just stupid, useless creatures that we eat, gets us thinking: maybe we shouldn’t be eating this meat after all? These are single-highhandedly the cutest things I have seen in films in a long time, so why would I want to get rid of them for food? Just after watching this and thinking about it, you never can fully look at a hamburger, or bacon the same way again.

Christine Cavanaugh voices Babe, and does one of the best jobs I heard in a long time. Having a chick voice a boy pig, is just great and adds a lot more innocence, and charm that is within his character. Also, let’s not forget to mention that James Cromwell gives off a great performance here as Farmer Hoggett. You wouldn’t look for a good performance by a human in a talking pig movie, but look what he’s playing against: nothing basically. He’s joyful, enthusiastic, and we capture his enthusiasm while watching him perform.

Consensus: Don’t be fooled, Babe is one of the best family fun adventures featuring, great performances and voicing, a screenplay that touches on the themes it wants to very well, and pulls a lot of heart string, while providing enough fun for the whole family.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!

Eagle Eye (2008)

I know I’ll catch a lot of heat for this, but this film isn’t as bad as everybody says.

Returning home to grieve after the shocking death of his overachieving twin brother, an aimless slacker named Jerry (Shia LaBeouf) finds himself inexplicably linked to a notorious terrorist cell and hotly pursued by federal authorities. With the nation’s law enforcement agencies hunting them down, Jerry and single mother Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) — who’s also been framed — must work around the clock to clear their names.

First of all let me focus on the negatives here. The plot is one of those big question raisers as to “can this actually happen?”. And the question to this is no, but that’s why we go to see films like this. But there are a lot of problems with this plot mostly cause it gets more insane by the second as it goes on. There is literally one scene where LaBeouf falls from a third story window, only to crash and fall on a subway railroad track, but have the strength to get up out of the trains way. Yeah, it’s very hard to believe anybody could actually do this in real-life.

Throughout the whole beginning and first hour of the film your wondering, who is actually doing all of this, and when they actually show you, you are still scratching your head. Like honestly, you could have put a dog in a high-chair and it would have been more plausible than what they had. The fact that this computer mind thingy, that actually quite resembles Hal 9000, just saying. The stuff that has to do with this computer doesn’t really entertain as much mostly due to the fact that the film doesn’t know what to say about it either. There is also a little political message like there is a “big brother” and their always watching you, didn’t really ring a huge bell for me since it just came off as stupid and unintelligent.

However, despite those negatives I still thoroughly enjoyed many other elements of the film. Director D.J. Caruso uses a lot of action to keep this story moving forward but it doesn’t feel like a Michael Bay film as its used by CGI or a computer, but it actually feels real, especially when the car crashes x6 happen. Even despite the action, the best scenes I think, are just the quiet, smooth scenes between LaBeouf and Monaghan, and actually bring a lot to the film.

I don’t care what people say about Shia LaBeouf being a pretty boy, but this boy can totally act. He’s got a lot of skill to bring out all the emotions necessary to keep his character believable. Michelle Monaghan is also great, and actually has a lot of great scenes where she is showing emotion for her son that she is trying to find. The two despite the general appeal they have, create this great chemistry together, and put a lot of heart into their scenes, as well as making you believe what is happening, is real.

The supporting cast is great with the likes of Rosario Dawson, Anthony Mackie, and Billy Bob Thornton, playing his usual smart-ass self that we all know and love him for.

Consensus: It may not be the smartest film out there, and has some very unbelievable occurrences, but Eagle Eye still entertains with its great knack for fast action, and great performances from the cast that add on a lot of heart to the story.

5/10=Rental!!

Braveheart (1995)

Just proof as to why you don’t mess with the Scottish, they will always beat your ass.

Enraged at the slaughter of Murron (Catherine McCormack) — his new bride and childhood love — legendary Scottish warrior William Wallace (Mel Gibson, who also directed the film) slays a platoon of the local English lord’s soldiers. This leads the village to revolt and, eventually, the entire country to rise up against English rule.

There’s a lot to be said about this film that hasn’t already been said before. It’s a great film, but its influence seems to be over-shadowed.

The influential thing about this film starts with its gritty look. Many epics before this film have either romanticized or cleaned up the look of 13th century locations. However, with this film, Gibson gives us a dirty, disgusting look, something that many back in 1995 haven’t seen before. The people in this movie are dirty (even though they have clear teeth), and the habitats they choose to live in are even worse looking them they are. Without this film we wouldn’t have been able to see the true disgusting side of the 13th century.

Another great thing about this film is that the great epic battle sequences are straight up in your face bloody. The best part of this film is obviously the awesome battle sequences that occur, but some seem to forget that these battles being so effin’ bloody, got other directors thinking, more blood the better. I mean look at any other epic battle film after 95: Gladiator, Troy, 300, hell even enough to say, Lord of the Rings, even though it isn’t as bloody as this. They all have a lot of bloody action, that brings out a lot of emotions by showing how brutal mid-evil times were.

Gibson as director, is spot on perfect here. He captures every single emotion there is to capture in a epic like this. The battle scenes are great mostly because of the way he films them showing every single detail of brutality. Another reason for it’s greatness is the message. The reality of freedom we live and enjoy started with a dream. A dream turned into reality by men with conviction like William Wallace.That comes with pain and sacrifice,and sometimes involves violence.

I did have some problems with this film though, as many others did when it won Best Picture. There is not much we know about William Wallace, a poem I think, but I couldn’t help myself to think that none of this actually happened. I remember quite faintly, that the big battle scene in the beginning, happened on a bridge in real history, and the primae noctis was never used by King Edward which starts the battles off in the beginning.

Mel Gibson possibly could be the greatest action star of all-time mostly thanks to this. Gibson creates this great character William Wallace, by backing him up with so much charisma, so much courage, and so much humanity, that it’s hard not to wish that he defeats the English. Wallace will be an icon in film for some time now, and when you scratch your head and wonder why, then check out this wonderful scene. Why Gibson wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, still baffles me.

Patrick McGoohan also does a great job at playing Edward Longshanks. He plays the villain the old-school way, but still shows us a great deal of depth, when he’s fighting against his son, demanding terrible orders, and overall being a total and complete jack-ass to everyone he knows. But hey, I hated him so it must have worked.

Consensus: Though it’s not completley accurate, Braveheart is still one of the best epics, with its great action sequences, influential gritty style, as well as a great directing job and acting job from one of the greats, Mel Gibson.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I’m getting annoyed of these sappy romantic period pieces.

Jane Austen’s classic tale of 19th-century etiquette and ethics chronicles the troubles and triumphs of the marriage-minded Dashwood sisters — sensible oldest sibling Elinor (Emma Thompson) and her romantic younger sister, Marianne (Kate Winslet). While Marianne deftly charms two suitors (Alan Rickman and Greg Wise), Elinor must weather a circuitous courtship with an aspiring clergyman (Hugh Grant) of considerable reserve.

The film is directed by Ang Lee, who has won of the craziest resumes ever. He goes from this, to The Hulk, to Brokeback Mountain, then to Taking Woodstock. I have to praise his direction here cause he isn’t familiar with this material, and tries his hardest to make it entertaining and fun to watch. However, he fails at doing so.

The one problem with this film is that it tries its hardest to be emotional, when its just boring. I will admit there are some funny moments in the film, but by the end of the film their all all thrown away. It got sappy, then sappier, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any sappier, well it does so, by getting even more sappier.

I think the main reason I didn’t like this film cause period pieces like this, unless interesting, just aren’t my cup of tea. I mean I enjoyed looking at the costumes and settings and thought that was well-done, but it just all seemed one emotion for me, sad. There are happy moments but they just feel put on to bring out some joy when in reality there is none cause I’m still watching this movie. I can see why so many others like it, but I just can’t put myself on that list.

The acting here is good, but most of the time I was brought down by the script so I payed less and less attention to the acting. Emma Thompson is as good as she is beautiful in this film, showing once again, she can play the strong female character like no other. But the best in this film has to be Kate Winslet, who shows so much promise with her performance, that you can see why she was nominated for an Oscar 4 times before actually winning the big one.

Consensus: Though it looks good, with some credible acting, Sense and Sensibility is not a very entertaining film, mostly due to its bleak screenplay, as well as its uninteresting twists it tries to put on its viewers.

4/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

Dark Blue (2003)

Still wondering what this had to do with Rodney King trials.

Director Ron Shelton’s thriller illustrates how deep corruption runs in the Los Angeles Police Department in April 1992, days before the acquittal of four white officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King. In this charged climate, brutal veteran Elden Perry (Kurt Russell) and others in Chief Holland’s (Ving Rhames) Special Investigations Squad are assigned a high-profile quadruple homicide — and their win-at-any-cost attitude must go.

I have seen so many cop dramas, that it’s really hard to say when one is fresh. They each have the same exact plot line mostly, and same out-come, but it all depends on how great those performances are that make the film fun and new, this is one of them with some new takes.

The best thing about this film worth mentioning is the randomly casted Kurt Russell. Out of all the actors working in the biz today, you would not expect Russell to be acting in such a role that demands so much, but even though its a surprise he’s cast as the lead, it’s an even bigger surprise that he’s totally believable with all of it. He plays this third generation cop, who has so much to live up to, and so much to give that it’s hard for him not to fold under pressure, so he does these terrible things to make him look better: kill innocents, plant evidence, etc. But he also goes from bad cop, to hate able cop, to completley evil cop that you want to see dead. He plays this character so well, that he’s not such a guy you hate so much, even though he does these evil things, but also, you feel sympathy for him, cause these things that he does do, are all because of the pressure he feels from supporting his line of work, that hiss family already succeeded with.

Scott Speedman is also pretty good, playing the rookie cop well, even though there’s only one real way you can play it. However, some other cast members were just bland. Ving Rhames is one-note the whole time, never barely showing emotion, and delivering his lines like he was just asking for the paycheck. Sadly, Brendan Gleeson, isn’t very exciting to watch, and his accent is still not believable, especially when he’s trying to sound like an American dude, when he just sounds like he got done from doing 28 Days Later, which he probably was.

The story by the end is interesting with its nice twists and turns, however, does have some problems it comes to being original. I have seen this story done many and many of times, and this shouldn’t have been any different. The last and final speech by Russell is well-acted, but comes off as too random and poetic for me. Mostly, cause it comes at a time when the Rodney King riots are happening, and its just such a coincidence.

Consensus: It’s a by-the-numbers, unsurprising film with a mediocre script, but Dark Blue still features a great performance from Russell that is still worth seeing.

5/10=Rental!!

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Why is Tony Starks such a total d-bag all of a sudden.

Wealthy inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — aka Iron Man — resists calls by the American government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has constructed his own miniaturized arc reactor, causing all kinds of problems for our superhero. Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson co-star in director Jon Favreau’s sequel based on Marvel comic book characters.

After seeing Iron Man, back in 2008, I was totally in love with Iron Man, and the series that was to be. However, I can’t say that I enjoyed this one as much.

First of all, the writing in this film is very top-notch compared to the first one. I can’t remember the last superhero movie that I actually laughed, or chuckled, the whole time through the film. There’s a huge deal of one-liners, that work, and some do not, but it was just better to get a not so serious superhero film.

I think the main problem with this movie is that it has the same thing all superhero films go through: sequelitis. Sequelitis is when a sequel to a very famous film, gets too over-powered with characters, run time, and overall too much story. The film starts off fine with good action here and there, but by the 1 hour mark gets totally dry beyond belief. For a long time, there just wasn’t anything happening, other than the fact that Starks was a total alcoholic (without the film really saying it), and some scenes with Rourke and Rockwell being bad boys. If you take away the sexy people, and big explosions, you really just have a film about one arrogant defense contractor, against another arrogant defense contractor.

Many elements to this story could have been better but instead were just dry. The villain Ivan Vanko is actually a good one surprisingly, mostly due to the fact that the film sets him up to be this totally intimidating guy, with lightning bolts for hands, and a Russian accent that would make Ivan Drago crap his pants. However, the films waters him down with not enough screen-time showing him doing nothing bad or villainous, and showing more evil from Rockwell’s character. The addition of Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson makes no sense what so ever, other than just trying to hype up the Avengers films, which are starting to get pretty annoying now. Listen, I understand that sometime in the future there may be an Avengers film, but in the mean time stop hyping it up to the point, of where there seems to be no use for a film to hype it up, rather than a film that’s just hyping another film up anyway. I know that last sentence was totally confusing, but its hard to explain.

I will admit however, the film does show great action when it does have it, and the actors are able to fill the shoes. Downey Jr. is perfect as this charming, sort of snobby millionaire Tony Starks, and you can really tell why he is a perfect choice for this type of super hero. Paltrow is doing what she does best, playing the strong female companion, with enough sense to be believable. Don Cheadle is also replacing Terrence Howard, and does well with picking up the scraps from Howard’s previous performance, but he just is not on the screen as much as I think he could have been. Sam Rockwell is the real star, and totally steals almost every scene he’s in, and shows how superhero villains are supposed to be played even without all the crazy action.

Consensus: Iron Man 2 has charming performances from the cast, good humor, and enough action to satisfy, however, hits a block in the middle of the film where it lags on, and starts to become a cheap, lame excuse for the Avengers movie.

7/10=Rental!!!

Ed Wood (1994)

One of the best films, about one of the worst directors of all-time.

Johnny Depp plays Ed Wood, a grinning goof with a sunny disposition who was heralded as the “worst director of all time” — and certainly made the movies to prove it. (He also loved to direct his epically bad films while dressed in women’s clothing.) Martin Landau turns in an Oscar-winning performance as aging horror icon Bela Lugosi, while Sarah Jessica Parker and Bill Murray co-star. Tim Burton directs.

I have never seen classic crap-fests like Plan 9 From Outer Space, or Bride of the Monster. However, seeing just how creative Ed Wood was, makes me want to go out there and find them.

The best thing about this film is that the direction from Burton is solid beyond belief. We understand this Ed Wood guy from his zany personality, his love for movies, and the art of everything in his movies being perfect, regardless of what others think. There is never a time in the film, where it seems like saying, “Ed Wood was terrible”, instead its more about how much the director took passion in his work rather than worry about the critics, something we never see in today’s world.The comedy in this film works so well with its main subject, because his movies were that bad, that they are liable to laugh at.

The performance here given by Depp is honestly one of his better earlier performances of his career, as he captures the zany character of Ed Wood, a director no matter how bad his films were viewed as, he never gave up in achieving his vision of his movies. The rest of the cast does well like Bill Murray who’s playing a gay man, Sarah Jessica Parker playing Sarah Jessica Parker, but none of them quite add up to the great Martin Landau. Landau probably gives one of the best supporting acts in a comedy in a long time with his act as the legendary, Bela Lugosi. I loved almost every time he was on-screen, capturing the real essence of what its like to be this old, cranky actor, who just doesn’t give a shit anymore.

The bond that Wood and Lugosi is where the real heart of this film lies. It feels genuine, because of the their great chemistry, but because in the film, they are put through situations where you can obviously tell they care for one another (no homo). However, I just feel like the film could have hit that more and more. Not necessarily the relationship between the two, but more of the dramatic elements to the life of Ed Wood, and also the repercussions he had for making these terrible movies. We just saw them talking about it, but never how it officially messed up his career, and the others around him.

Consensus: Ed Wood not only celebrates the life of the “worst director of all-time”, but also embraces the fact that he was one of the more important ones of our life time, with great performances from the cast, especially Landau, and a great script, or laughter, tragedy, and film-making.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Man Bites Dog (1993)

Without this, there would be no Blair Witch Project, or anything with hand-held cameras.

Spoofing reality television, a fascinated documentary crew follows a charismatic yet unrepentant serial killer (Benoit Poelvoorde) on his murder sprees. The crew attempts to objectively document the horror, but as the violence escalates, they ultimately get sucked into participating.

The film starts off with showing us a murder that this dude commits, and right away you get a sense of what this film is going to be all about: bloody, disturbing, mockumentary.

I’ll give most of the credit to this film for actually doing its best job, even at such a small budget. There is a lot of writing here that still sticks with us almost 17 years after the film was completed. The themes about how reality TV makes all these terrible people look like superstars, has us murdering the normal people in the world. Behind all of the grisly killings, there is actually a couple of good dark laughs, mostly like real life, where not everything is so damn serious.

I have to say that this movie is probably one of the most disturbing films I have seen in a long time. I know it’s not a real documentary, and this dude is made up, and these people aren’t actually murdered like this, but it all seemed so real and that’s why it was effective. Some of the killings are so random and disgusting, that you just have to turn your head. As the murders keep piling on, the viewer starts to feel what the “film crew” starts to feel, utter and total disbelief of whats going on, but still amazed at the same time.

I had a couple of problems with this film however, mostly being other people’s problems too. I feel like the killer’s motives were never ever really told. I mean we do eventually get a little montage of this guy talking about how much the world is a desecrating place cause of problems, yadda yadda yadda. But we never really fully understand as to why this guy kills so many freakin’ people at random. Also, it kinds of hard to believe that this guy wouldn’t at least once get caught with a murder. i mean sometimes his killings are so sloppy, and ill-prepared, that somebody had to have at least found out about him sometime.

Benoit Poelvoorde is not a very well-known actor to us Americans, because he’s always taking appearances in French films, and its a shame, cause here is some real talent. Just like Michael Rooker, from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, he starts out all charming and normal, but as soon as you see him commit these murders hes a totally different person.

Consensus: Man Bites Dog may have its problems with the motives of its main killer, but is so so brilliantly acted, directed, and written, that almost everything you see in this film, no matter how disturbing, all seems so real.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

The New World (2005)

It’s basically Pocahontas minus the animation, cheesy love songs, and furry talking animals.

Set in 1607 at the founding of the Jamestown Settlement, Terrence Malick’s epic adventure chronicles the extraordinary actions of explorer John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Native American princess Pocahontas (Q’Orianka Kilcher). As English settlers and Native Americans clash, Smith and Pocahontas find their worlds colliding and their hearts entwined, but ancestral loyalty may tear them apart. Christian Bale and Christopher Plummer co-star.

When it comes to being secretive, Terrence Malick, is the master at it. There is probably only about 6 pictures of this guy actually in film, and he has had only one public appearance his whole life. But with whatever he’s doing, it’s working, cause he still knows how to make great films.

First of all, with all of Malick’s films, every single shot is just beauty. I mean the style of Malick is here: following a character from the rear as the action is going, frequent camera cuts, and overall just beautiful images. I think this film, visually wise is so much better than his war great, The Thin Red Line, and mostly because of the setting its in. Its placed in the early 17th Century, basically in this unknown land, where you can see everything a mile away, and most scenes are just technically brilliant, and add a lot of emotion to the natural theme of the film itself.

I enjoyed the screenplay cause it takes away all those cliche that people have about the story of Pocahontas. We always kind of got this feeling that the English were total savages when they came on their land, and acted like they ran ish, when they didn’t, and to be brutally honest the Natives weren’t any better. We see how these two totally different types of lifestyles can’t get along, and actually end up in some great war scenes. It’s more than just a corny love story, which the trailer has you thinking, it’s also about the struggle between these two opposing forces, and the connection they can’t make.

The only problem that Malick can’t seem to get away from, is that this film’s narration is over-bearing at points. There are scenes that are just astonishing to look at, the problem is that, its just a scene like that, and somebody narrating gibberish. Honestly, the narration of this film kind of had nothing to do with the film itself. I mean it was boring at some points, although the visuals did hold my eyes, but times I was starting to snooze off. The film begins mostly being about the romance between Smith and Pocahontas, while mostly focusing on Smith, but when Smith suddenly goes to Canada, it becomes all about her. And then  they switch the romance over to Christian Bale, and the poor guy is never given the light of day in this film, and never able to show his true talents.

Colin Farrell is great here as John Smith, even though not even speaking for the first 20 minutes he’s on-screen. He has this great sense of smart about his character that has us cheer him on, it’s just kind of a pity, that we never really see him being all that great other than, a bangin’ lover. The film has it’s best performance come from, Q’Orianka Kilcher, who is surprisingly perfect in this role. She starts out as the playful, but smart Pocahontas, who easily falls in love with this dude, but is taken into this new world, where she has to make a transition of how she acts, talks, and feels. She does almost every scene to the best of her ability, and shows off great talent for the future.

Consensus: The New World’s narrative gets very jumbled, as well as not quite as entertaining, but Malick’s inspired direction, including beautifully astonishing visuals, and good performances, make this film worth the while.

8/10=Matinee!!!

A Civil Action (1998)

The ultimate stand-off: Vincent Vega vs. Boo Radley. I thought I’d never see the day.

In this drama based on a true story, John Travolta stars as a personal-injury lawyer who sues a major corporation when the drinking water in Woburn, Mass., is found to contain high levels of industrial solvents. Believing the contamination is responsible for the large number of leukemia deaths among the town’s children, the citizens — lead by a woman (Kathleen Quinlan) whose child has died — hire a lawyer to take on the corporate polluters (Robert Duvall).

I think the problem of why this film didn’t do as much for me as many other courtroom dramas, is just because the subject wasn’t as interesting or was lacking the appeal to the story. At least with classics like Anatomy of a Murder, or To Kill a Mockingbird, they touched on such topics as sex, and race that glued us onto the screen, this, well its about water pollution. I don’t find anything intriguing about that, especially not as intriguing for 115 minutes.

The film also doesn’t know how to characterize its main star especially. The film starts out difficult because it gives us this protagonist that is cocky, self-centered, and a person we cannot and do not want to sympathize with. So why would I want to watch a film, hoping that he wins the case? We consistently are wondering who we should cheer for in this film, cause at times it looks like it wants to pit Duvall against Travolta and have em go at it. Instead, it turns out into like a cheesy morality-play, that has no surreal meaning to a case about polluted water.

Despite all these negatives, there still was some good surprisingly to the film. I liked how the film showed us an in-depth look into how these court cases are actually shown. And it’s probably one of the first to actually to highlight the fact that big-ass cases like this, cost a huuuuuuuuuuge amount of money, and honey if you can’t pay that, well then, toodles to your case. Although, I didn’t like our protagonist as much, the film at least shows these two guys as being very big professionals. They never throw low-blows at one another (although I would have loved to see), instead they are just trying to itch out the other one in a game of wit, and smarts when it comes to handling a legal case.

John Travolta is good here, and although is playing a d-bagged kind of character, by the end we start to see his character go through a different set of emotions, such as frustration and guilt, and its all believable. The best here, and saving grace of the film is Robert Duvall. He is absolute great in every scene he has, cause he sometimes plays his character with the villainous traits, but then also, acts like a real human being, with the way he acts in every reaction to Travolta’s character.

Consensus: A Civil Action has problems giving me an interesting case in the beginning, as well as a likable protagonist, but still features some great elements about the case itself, and two great performances.

5/10=Rental!!

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