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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Makes even more a reason as to why I should go to Vegas. Hookers are everywhere!

Nicolas Cage stars as a suicidal alcoholic who has ended his personal and professional life to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. While there, he forms a relationship with a hardened prostitute, played by Elisabeth Shue.

When it comes to depressing films, this one takes the cake. However, depressing isn’t so bad when it comes to this film.

Director Mike Figgis did a near-perfect job here with telling this story in a straight way, with still adding enough style of his own to it without being too artsy fartsy with it. Figgis uses a super 16 mm film instead of a 35 mm film and it works so well because it shows the sleazy underground of Las Vegas and the scenes he films on the streets of Vegas just loom so perfect with all the beautiful colors everywhere and the whole area surrounding the story.

The one real attribute to this film that works so well is the story itself which will make more people involved than they’d like to think. The story is real simple and it shows how these were before they met each other, their problems with life, and how they live their lives, then when they meet it is really a beautiful thing. Figgis works against the usual cliches of a romance story and shows two troubled lives coming together and forming a very troubled but loving romance that isn’t about changing one another, it’s more about how they need each other’s companionship. It’s the dark side of love, but in a way, it’s love and still beautiful.

Many people will actually complain about how it’s also very dark and depressing but I still actually found it a bit up-beat and compelling to the point of where I cared what happened to these two people. The film pulls no punches away when it comes to showing alcoholism for what it is, sex, and a lot of violence that gets very gruesome and actually pretty disturbing as well but I still felt involved with this story and just how beautiful and unusual this romance really was.

My only problem with this film is that the plot doesn’t really go anywhere. This didn’t bother me in this film as much as it would have in another one, because I had more distractions here to keep me away from the non-moving plot, but I still was a little annoyed that this plot didn’t really do much except linger around their love. But what a love it truly is.

I have always stood behind Nicolas Cage in everything that he does and it’s just amazing to be able to watch him in his only Oscar-winning performance, and what a performance it truly is. Cage is perfect as Ben Sanderson, the unapologetic drunk that is hammered throughout the whole film but you still feel something for this guy. Ben is a sad character but at the same time he has this endearing sweetness about him that you can sort of actually stand behind and wish for everything wrong with him, to eventually get better. Cage plays Ben so well because he channels all the craziness that this character has and all of the sadness that lies behind all of the drinking he does day-after-day. A great performance from a great actor and I’m so glad that he got the Oscar for this.

Elisabeth Shue is also amazing here as Sera, the whore with a heart of gold, and as cliche as that sounds, I can assure you it’s not at all. Shue seems so natural in this film because she is very sexy and bad when she needs to be but she has that sadness to her character as well that shows she needs somebody in her life, as much as he does as well.

Their chemistry is perfect together and how they are with each other is something that’s almost in a way a bit heart-breaking because you know how great of a couple they could be, they just have so many problems in their lives. These two seem so natural and comfortable with one another that I believed just about everything that happened to them.

Consensus: The plot may not go anywhere, but Leaving Las Vegas is a perfectly performed, and well-directed romance that shows two very messed up people, who need each other more than anything but will never change each other and that’s what a beautiful love story is all about.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

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Splice (2010)

Basically a true sign of why Alien day-care wouldn’t quite work out.

Ignoring instructions from the pharmaceutical company that funds their research, groundbreaking genetic scientists Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrien Brody) continue with an unorthodox experiment to create a human-animal hybrid, a new life form they dub “Dren” (Delphine Chanéac). When they see their fantastical creation, Clive warns that it should be destroyed, but Elsa refuses — a decision she’ll regret when Dren makes deadly plans of her own.

In today’s day and age where we have stem-cell research, Dolly the sheep, and abortions happening all-over-the-place, it’s always good to get some science fiction that makes you think about all of that. Except, I only wished there was a better film to make me think.

Director Vincenzo Natali does a good job with this story giving it that mysterious feeling to it and having us wonder just how it is all going to end. I liked wondering just if this little human-alien was going to turn out more like E.T. or like Alien, because we get looks at both a kind alien and a dangerous alien.

The script is also pretty good when it sticks to the ideas of knowing what is right and what is wrong when it comes to scientific research. There are always science fiction films that show these experiments just being brutal but nobody ever saying what is acceptable and what is not. I thought this was pretty cool to see and hear considering we never get this in any of these shitty sci-fi horror films that come out every three times or more a year.

However, the script starts to really lose itself when it gets away from those ideas and more towards the plot, which in some cases is a good thing but here it really started to lose me. The film brings up things about Elsa’s mother, and how abusive she was towards her which kind of contributes to her way of living in the film but it is never really brought up again. The film also talks about how being a parent is tough, even if you’re kid is messed up. I didn’t care much about this because I was interested in Dren, and I think everybody else who watched this film was too so I have no idea why they bothered going down this direction.

Dren, however, is a very interesting character that I liked to watch and get to know more and more about as the film went on. I think she looks a little bit like Sinead O’Connor with a huge forehead tail and weird peg legs but that’s not much of a bad thing since the scenes with her are actually almost as interesting as any of the other ideas this film brings up. She doesn’t speak and only communicates through Scrabble letters which was pretty cool however, more could have actually been shown to describe her ways and actions.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are fine here as Dren’s “parents” but considering the huge amount of talent these two actually have (hell Brody has an Oscar) I was expecting something more from both of these stars instead of just delivering lines. I would have also liked to see more of the film focusing on these two and their relationship to give us more of a liking for these character’s which is something I feel like it could have had easily if it just played out better.

For the most part, the film kept me interested and my eyes glued to the screen, it was only until the last 30 minutes where it actually lost me and oh god, did it really lose me! I can’t give away any major plot happenings but what you will see happen will probably make you laugh your ass off in the most unintentional way ever, because it did for me. After this problem, the film is basically doomed for the remainder and as soon as it turns all cliche and predictable there’s no real turning back and you know that this one had so much more potential.

Consensus: Splice works well with some interesting ideas and a good central character but the problem is that it’s never truly thrilling or dedicated to one idea, which sort of takes away from the cool premise and makes the bizarre last 30 minutes seem even worse. Not terrible, just flawed.

4.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!

The Game (1997)

Who cares what Michael Douglas does on a regular basis anyway?

In honor of his birthday, San Francisco banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a financial genius and a coldhearted loner, receives an unusual present from his younger brother, Conrad (Sean Penn) — a gift certificate to play a unique kind of game. In nary a nanosecond, Nicholas finds himself consumed by a dangerous set of ever-changing rules, unable to distinguish where the charade ends and reality begins.

One night I was just hanging around when I found an old VHS of this and I have to say, I’m going to have to start watching my VHS’s from now on.

Director David Fincher is a great director as much of us know. He takes a lot of material and can make it incredibly more chilling, tense, and stylized like no other. He does not disappoint one bit here and just proves why he is one of the best mystery directors of all-time.

Fincher kept me guessing at every single scene just what was going to happen next, and what is real and what isn’t? I knew it was a game, because the title tells us that right from the get-go it was just so great to feel the claustrophobia from this film and being shocked at every single turn this film took. There’s a lot of twists and turns here that may confuse you, but Fincher makes it all seem pretty easy to follow. Also, Fincher uses this very bleak look to portray a lot of the emotions an ideas that are going through Nicholas’s head at certain points, and none of it ever feels too artsy-fartsy for my taking. Basically, Fincher is great, the story is where the problem lies.

I liked this plot and how it all came out on film, mainly because of Fincher but the problem with this story is that although it’s placed in the real world, it almost could never happen. Reason being that is because there are almost way too many co-incidences in this story to actually ring true. How do you know that somebody will get into this certain taxi cab? How do you know they will get into a room with a camera, where you will be seeing them all the time? How do you know that someone will be coming to the office at that exact moment? Also, how exactly do you know that someone will fall exactly off a roof, on the right side of the building, and not be killed? All of these questions and probably more will be raised when you’re watching the film and although I was along for the whole ride, I almost never thought that any of this could actually ever happen.

The ending also was pretty lame probably because I was expecting a big twist at the end, and I never got it. But saying that, I was disappointed that at the end of the film, we don’t learn anything or nothing really has changed about the character’s involved. I don’t want to give too much about this film away but I really did feel that we deserved a way better than what we got and some actual lessons learned at the end. Maybe it was just don’t be a little rich dickhead, and you’ll be fine. Well that’s at least what I took from it.

Although I don’t really like much of Michael Douglas in many films, here I actually kind of cared. This guy is such an asshole at times and when all this starts to happen, you start to see him actually lighten up about things because he doesn’t know what to do or who to trust, so I kind of actually stood behind him. He’s good in this role because he looks angry when he’s angry, he looks confused when he’s confused, and he always knows how to solve everything the right away. I think this is one of Douglas’s better performances mainly because Fincher directed him so well. Sean Penn is here as Conrad and is pretty good for what he does. Nothing special really, just sort of there I guess.

Consensus: Sparked by an incredibly dark and tense direction from David Fincher, The Game will have you guessing at every turn but as a whole the film seems too coincidental, and although by the end you feel a bit satisfied you never quite feel like you wanted to end on the note that it did.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Knight and Day (2010)

Too many reminders of Vanilla Sky.

Perpetually unlucky in love, June (Cameron Diaz) becomes intrigued by a mysterious man (Tom Cruise), who unexpectedly drags her into a whirlwind adventure involving devious enemies, life-threatening confrontations and a major discovery that may alter the future of humankind.

Already by seeing this plot, you know just exactly how it’s going to begin, continue, and then finally end. But usually, it doesn’t matter if it’s formula. It’s all about the ride itself.

Director James Mangold knows what he’s doing when it comes to creating some fun action. Mangold keeps the pace moving at a breezy movement with just enough hits of whimsy and action to keep anybody satisfied. The action sequences may go on too long, however, I still liked a lot of them and they actually made up for a lot of the weak parts of the story.

There are also some beautiful exotic locations here that Mangold takes us to such as Spain, Germany, and Austria. The story may go all-over-the-place but with a lot of these great spots that the film goes towards, you really can’t help yourself but gaze at the beautiful scenery itself.

For me, I didn’t think this film was really that funny and that it tried way too hard to get laughs out of the person watching. The film tries to be goofy and a romp on all those old spy-flick thrillers, but none of it really works since it just seems like they will take 5 minutes to actually get a joke out. Maybe I chuckled once or twice, but other than that, I was just annoyed by how annoying this film could be with it’s comedy, or lack thereof.

Although the action was good, I couldn’t help but be terribly annoyed by the fact that the CGI here was pretty blatant. I wish that a lot more of the action was just actual stunts and if they were going to use actual special effects, that they would look a lot better rather than just a bunch of crappy effects they used off of a DELL computer. You’ll be able to tell the special effects from the actual action happening here, but it’s a lot more of an annoyance than you would expect.

Tom Cruise is an actor that seems like at the beginning of every film he does, I’m going to be terribly annoyed by his character and I almost never am. His performance here as Roy Miller is pretty fun to watch because he’s got that cool charm, that mannish look, and that mysterious thing about him that just has you wondering what he’s going to do next. Cameron Diaz does that smile and laugh gig that she’s been doing forever, but it’s not so bad here and she’s pretty charming as well as June Havens. Their chemistry works as I would come to expect from these two pros and may actually get the film through some of it’s more rocky parts. The rest of the cast is good too such as Viola Davis, Peter Sarsgaard, the sexy Maggie Grace, and the always dorky Paul Dano.

Consensus: The comedy doesn’t work as well as the CGI, but the chemistry between Cruise and Diaz, the beautiful locations that are shown, and the fun action action make this an OK, action date movie.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Friends with Benefits (2011)

A better remake of that shit that came out 6 months ago.

This rom-com chronicles the relationship of two busy singles, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis), who agree to include sex in their friendship — minus the emotions and commitment. But things get complicated when Dylan (inevitably?) falls for his gal pal. Patricia Clarkson co-stars as Jaime’s hip mom and Woody Harrelson plays Dylan’s practical confidante, who advises him to man up when he pursues the newly dating Jamie.

After seeing No Strings Attached, I really knew that rom-coms have gone down the tubes pretty quickly and then when I heard they were basically doing the same premise to a different film I thought well it is probably better than that crap I just mentioned. But this is way better, way way better.

The best thing about this film is that this is some real funny stuff here that actually had me laughing more than I expected. The banter is all-over-the-place but the jokes and one-liners are quick, sharp, and fast and as raunchy as they may be at times, will still have you cracking up many times. I’m not saying you will be on the floor dying of laughter but a lot of LOL moments will happen.

You would also expect a film like this to be completley dumb and just tell silly jokes with a romantic subplot but director Will Gluck, who directed Easy A, knows how to keep a film going with a bunch of jokes, bunch of sex, and actual smart writing that fleshes out almost every character well. There’s a lot of raunchy sex stuff to be seen here but it’s balance with some sweetness that actually worked and has you smiling more.

The problem with this film is that the whole time it’s sort of starting to make fun of all of the rom-com cliches we all see just about every week, but it eventually falls victim to it’s own satire. I didn’t understand why they did that because what I thought was actually going to be a sort of different and smart rom-com just ended up playing out like I should have imagined in the first place.

Another problem with this film was the emotional weight this film tried to carry which seemed a little too far-fetched for me because it almost seemed like the script was relying to heavily on these emotional moments to show some more heart to these characters, when you can just have these two talk about their lives and understand them even more and actually keep you laughing rather than just feeling odd with these sappy moments.

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are the real show to watch here because I have to say without them, this film wouldn’t have been as believable. JT and Jackie…ehrrrr…I mean Mila seem like they are buds and have this instant chemistry that begins as soon as they meet each other and continues on and on throughout the whole thing. They play off one another so well that the banter between the two is just constant and adds so many more laughs to each of their scenes than I expected. Great performances from these two and the chemistry that they have together seems so perfectly-well executed.

The whole rest of this ensemble is just amazing as well. Patricia Clarkson is Jamie’s MILF mom that is sexy but funny as anything and takes over the screen every time she’s on, which it seems like something that she does so now often; Woody Harrelson is just downright gay but hilarious as Tommy; Jenna Elfman is pretty good here as Dylan’s cool sis; and Richard Jenkins could have been funnier as Dylan’s dad, but still adds a lot to his character. There’s a lot of other great faces that you’ll see here and there such as Emma Stone, Andy Samberg, and a very funny cameo from Shaun White of all people.

Consensus: Friends with Benefits is a funny, good-written, and well-acted rom-com that actually uses it’s two leads perfectly as their chemistry holds the whole film until the film itself succumbs to the cliches that lie within the genre. But in the end I guess it’s all about how the film gets from point A to point B is what really counts.

7/10=Rental!!

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

And if you don’t like him then you can just go to Russia!

Marvel launches another super franchise with this origin story, which follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he volunteers for a secret experiment during World War II. Transformed into a superhero named Captain America, Steve goes after the Axis. With his perfect physique and heightened reflexes — and his sidekick, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) — Steve battles the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a super soldier created by Italian fascists.

With The Avengers film coming closer and closer, it’s time we finally got a look at the one who basically started it all and is the most important of all of them. And he is played by Johnny Storm.

Director Joe Johnston knows what he’s doing with this material because he once made a 1940’s superhero flick back in the day called The Rocketeer, and it seems that he hasn’t lost that spark for making the 40’s seem awesome. To add to the awesome look this film has, is the action that this story brings out.

There’s nothing really much else like watching a dude dressed in all red, white, and blue hurling a shield almost the length of a football field, kicking the shit out of these super-Nazis, and seeing him shoot people right in the face without even caring one bit. After awhile, it starts to just become the same old stuff after awhile, but the action keeps on building and building itself up to the point of where the end is there and hell practically breaks loose.

The problem with this superhero film is that this is basically the same as every single, superhero film that has come out within the past 3 years ever since Iron Man. I was expecting this to be a lot different for this story since it needs to tell us more about just why everything happens for the reasons they do, but we never really get that. Just about three montages as well.

The story here is pretty much the usual good vs. evil premise we have all come to know by now but the writing is all so solid that it makes it all seem very different. I found myself actually laughing a couple of times with this film and actually a little bit of quoting after wards too which I guess can’t be said about too many superhero films in today’s world. There’s also a great deal of heart to be shown in this film which by the last 10 minutes will be somewhat moving.

Chris Evans has never really been much of an household name and is somewhat a poor mans Ryan Reynolds, but we now know who can play the better superhero. Evans keeps a little bit of that sarcastic comedy he has here but he also does a great job of making Steve Rogers seem someone to completely love and stand behind. He seems like a noble dude and a normal human-being who just has this superpower that he is incredibly strong and ready to kick ass at any second. Let’s also not forget that he totally looks the part with his buff and muscular body that actually had me believe this dude could perfectly defend our country. It was a little hard to get past the fact that he already played another Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, Evans was still a solid casting choice.

Hugo Weaving is OK as The Red Skull who looks really menacing with the scary look and slick-leather wardrobe but is nothing memorable. I never really hated him at all because he just wants to destroy the world and that’s pretty much it which I think is a problem with the script because as much as Weaving tries to look smug the whole time I knew what was going to happen, didn’t really care, and most of all just thought with better writing this villain could have been even more terribly menacing.

The rest of the cast is pretty bangin’ though. Tommy Lee Jones can practically play the one-liner, smart, old-timer role in his sleep now and his role as Col. Chester Phillips is no different; Newcomer Hayley Atwell does a pretty strong job keeping up with the boys here as Peggy Carter; and Stanley Tucci is also good as German scientist Abraham Erskine and shows just what a pro he really is. The rest of the ensemble cast is filled with the likes of Derek Luke, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, and Neal McDonough who is surprisingly not playing a villain this time around. I guess he’s just trying to build back up his career after that Street Fighter shit that came out two years ago.

Consensus: With a couple of writing brush-ups, Captain America: The First Avenger could have been even better, but instead works with awesome visuals, kick-ass action, and some very good performances that really add so much more to this film and get you even more pumped up for The Avengers film.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Kalifornia (1993)

Kaliforniaaaaaaaaa Lovveeeeee!!!

While researching a book on serial killings, writer Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) and his girlfriend, Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes), travel cross-country to the murder sites and unwittingly stumble upon strangers who know the subject firsthand. A pair of hitchhikers (Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis) offer to share expenses for the trip, but Kessler doesn’t realize just how close he is to his subject — even as bodies pile up behind them.

Watching early Brad Pitt is pretty cool because I got to see just how he was still the man, even when he was doing B-thrillers, like this one here.

This film starts off very well with you already knowing that these two “hicks” are basically murderers and as the awkward moments go on and on, you start to feel a great deal of tension throughout this film. I liked how the film worked up its suspense and kept me going the whole time just waiting and waiting for something really bad to happen.

The film also has something smart to say about violence and when you write about it as well. It’s one thing when you write about murder and what happens, but it’s a totally different other thing to actually be stuck in that situation where you are stuck with a killer and may actually have to resort to killing, yourself.

However, my main problem with this film is when that really bad thing actually happens and once again just like every other thriller, turns into another Straw Dogs situation where the straight-laced, sort of nerdy guy is pushed against his boundaries and becomes an animal himself. This was just a cheap way to end a very smart story and even after that is all over, the ending still kind of blew. We never really actually learn anything in this film, nor does any of the characters themselves. I thought this was a very cheap way to end the film since it just seemed like almost a waste of exercise in suspense.

The real saving grace this film has is it’s amazing cast, most importantly, Brad Pitt. Pitt plays a very crucial role here as Early Grayce because we know this guy is a killer and a little loose in the head, but we never fully know what he’s going to do next because we feel that he may actually turn good after all. Still, Pitt is very creepy and evil in this role and knocked down his comparisons to a new Robert Redford that he was getting so much at this time.

Juliette Lewis is also very good as Adele Corners and has a lot very strange and at times, sad scenes that she pulls off very well. David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes are also very good as these yuppies that are totally out of their comfort zone with these two, and each one plays it off so well, especially Forbes who gets more and more freaked out as the film goes on and it’s just great to see how many emotions she can show within her character.

Consensus: There’s plenty of suspense here, and a very good cast, but soon turns into your typical, and predictable revenge thriller that may have a lot to say but by the end, can’t tell you what you’ve learned or even what the characters themselves have learned either.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Cedar Rapids (2011)

Makes insurance companies actually look fun.

Terrified of leaving his tiny town for the first time, sheltered insurance salesman Tim (Ed Helms) nervously sets out for the bright lights of bustling Cedar Rapids, where he attends a chaotic insurance convention and learns how to survive in the real world.

This was one of those comedies that came out back in February (aka shit movie month) and actually got good reviews, but for some reason I never got around to seeing. Thank the lord I saw it just as the Summer (aka crazy movie time) began.

This premise is petty much your average fish-out-of-water kind of deal here but the way the script expands on that is what really makes this a delight to watch. Cedar Rapids, IA isn’t exactly the party land you would come to expect but watching all these grown-ass guys run around in just about nothing and having a great time in only a matter of four acts, really made me enjoy myself and remind me of a smaller and more adult version of The Hangover. This is kind of like the comedy I could see my mom and dad watching, which isn’t such a bad thing.

The screenplay is what really works here so well coming from first-time writer Phil Johnston. The one amazing thing here that Johnston does with this script is how he has all this R-rated raunch that’s down-right hilarious, but then he equally touches it up with a touch of sweetness to it.

In a lot of comedies where they try to get sweet with their material, it doesn’t work and feels forced, but here I actually cared about all of these characters and what was going on and kind of left me with a good feeling when it was over. Still, even though it is sweet, I still laughed my ass of with plenty of the things that happen here.

My only problem with this film is that I didn’t really get many surprises here with this film because it’s all pretty generic and all the laughs you would expect from this type of material come out. I could also see a lot of chicks not really liking this film that much either since it really is all about guys and how we all grow up and everything, but still be boys. So I could kind of see a couple of chicks watching this and not really liking it that much honestly.

Ed Helms is a pretty good pick if you’re looking for someone to play that innocent, and naive insurance salesman, since almost all of his roles that he takes nowadays are about the same, but it’s not a bad thing because he’s so good at those roles. The role as Tim Lippe is a pretty tough role for Helms and while it’s not necessarily a star-making performance, I really enjoyed him. Mainly because it’s hard to be the dough-eyed nerd and not be too annoying or innocent but he brings the heart when you need it the most and he wasn’t too dorky the rest of the time.

Most of the laughs this film has comes from none other than the always amazing John C. Reilly as Dean Ziegler. Reilly’s seemingly insane and crass remarks were expertly written and most of all, expertly executed by Reilly himself. If you look close enough, you could almost see a little of Bill Murray in this role but I have to say I didn’t mind since almost every time he opened up his mouth, I laughed my ass off. When he first comes on the screen you know it’s going to be a party, and when he isn’t on and you can totally feel all of the energy from this film, not there. This was jackass John C. Reilly at its finest.

The real heart of this film here is Anne Heche as Joan Ostrowski-Fox, Tim’s squeeze, well kind of. The guys are all running around playing these goofy characters but she actually has to ground of this with some sort of humanity and she pulls it off real well. Stephen Root is also good as Tim’s boss; Sigourney Weaver is just so sexy but also great as Tim’s former teacher and now eff buddy; Isiah Whitlock Jr. is good as Ronald Wilkes and has one scene that is just worth the price of admission alone; and it’s always nice to see Kurtwood Smith in a role that isn’t a Red Forman rip-off. Overall great cast and great characters to care about.

Consensus: Though it is generic as well as less and less surprising as it goes on, Cedar Rapids brings out a lot of raunchy laughs, mainly from it’s cast but also from it’s well-written script that has that R-rated comedy appeal as well as an endearing sweetness to it as well.

8/10=Matinee!!

Cloverfield (2008)

A gimmick used well.

A going-away party in Manhattan is interrupted when a mysterious monster of epic proportions launches an attack on New York City. With camcorder in hand, a small group of friends make their way out into the chaotic streets, scrambling to stay alive.

Producer J.J. Abrams probably saw Godzilla way back in the day and thought it was awesome, and then saw The Blair Witch Project in 1998 and thought that was awesome too. Never would I have imagined, such a combination of two.

People will complain about the gimmicky camera use and how it made people sick and throw-up, but for me I really did like this element. I felt like I was there through all of the mayhem, and what this film does so well with the camera use, is how it doesn’t show us everything that’s going on and doesn’t spoil too much for us so it keeps the juices flowing in our system.

Director Matt Reeves also does a great job of creating this claustrophobic atmosphere of where we feel trapped in the city but it also brings out some of the best scares in any horror film. The film focuses more on what’s going on off-screen, rather than on it and I thought that was what scared me the most. You’ll probably get a lot of jump scares out of this, but with no score music at all, you never know just when their going to happen.

My main problem with this film is that the script, and yes there is a script, just feels so fake and dumb. With a lot of  “found footage” films, the one thing that always does it for me is how realistic the acting and what they say is. Here, it doesn’t feel all that realistic. The script is terrible, and you can already tell from the first 20 minutes that this is just going to be corny line, after corny line and it totally just annoyed me at how these people would talk.

Without giving too much away in this film, they decide to go back for someone, and it was a completely stupid idea because they go right to the middle of Center City, where all of the havoc is. If that was me, I would be out of that city right away and no turning back. The acting is also pretty bad too but then again, I guess you have to realize that this film is all about the spectacle and less about the actual story and characters that inhabit it. I also noticed that a lot of these people are way too good looking for this material. This may sound like a dumb complaint, but you can’t tell me that any of these people actually look like you or me. Especially Odette Yustman. Now that is what I call sexy.

Consensus: Though it has problems with it’s script and the dumb things that usually are done by all characters in every single horror film, Cloverfield is well-filmed, scary, and at-times, clever gimmick. However, it’s a gimmick that works and makes you feel like you’re on a roller-coaster, including the nauseating side-effects.

7/10=Rental!!

Black Dynamite (2009)

If only Black Dynamite was real. Then there would be no smack on the streets at all. Oh no then I would be out of business. Never mind, glad he’s not real.

Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) is the only one strong enough and brave enough to take on the baddies who murdered his brother. What’s the former CIA agent to do? Expose a conspiracy that leads straight to the White House.

If you remember watching blaxploitation heroes like John Shaft or Pam Grier back in the day, then this is the film for you! And even if you don’t know who they are and just had to Wikipedia those two names, this still may be for you!

The real reason this film works so well is because this film knows what it is, and is not trying to be anything that it isn’t, which is always a joy. Writer/director Scott Sanders obviously has a love for all of these flicks that he has seen in the past and creates so many random moments of total absurdity that you just can’t help but laugh your ass off at. The film practically is making fun of itself but thus, creating more and more jokes and gags as the film goes along which kept me howling away.

Sanders also does a great job with paying an homage to the look of these “undercover brother” flicks. There are scenes that don’t seem meant to be in here, the grainy look, the corny porno-like music, the really cheesy lines that are delivered in such a cheesy way the actors themselves can’t even believe it, and the fact that everybody here is doing this all so seriously. That all adds to a lot of the fun and I wish I could say more about this film without giving too much away but I just can’t honestly.

My main problem with this film is that it does have good jokes but it runs on way too long, even with a time-limit of 1 hour and 24 minutes. As it went on, I didn’t really find myself laughing as much as I did before and the jokes sort of wear thin, but to say the least I laughed. Also, this may not be for everyone but I’m thinking already by looking at that poster, it’s a given.

Michael Jai White is freakin’ awesome as Black Dynamite, the coolest mutha…watch yo mouth! White is hamming it up here a lot as the coolest and most pimpest Black Man ever, but also looks the part because his fight scenes are well-choreographed and this dude just looks like he could kick your ass with his left nipple. He’s also a black-belt in real life so that’s why I’m going to just watch what I say, hoping he doesn’t find me. There’s also a bunch of random cameos from other black actors that you’ll notice but I can’t remember too much of them now.

Consensus: Black Dynamite may have jokes that run on too long, but the jokes are still hilarious, and work so well with this parody/homage to the 1970s blaxsploitation movies because it never takes itself too seriously and always is moving at a rapid pace.

8/10=Matinee!!

Jackass 3D (2010)

These dudes balls must be really done.

Johnny Knoxville — the original Jackass himself — returns after a long hiatus and subjects himself to all-new stunts involving wild animals, dangerous heights and other perils guaranteed to do him bodily harm. “Jackass” regulars Bam Margera and Steve-O also endure their share of punishment

It’s been four years since the Jackass guys last showed their dongs and destroyed their bodily functions, and it was nice to finally see these guys back in “action”. I only wished that this was the definitive swan song for these guys.

As far as the stunts are concerned, they are not as funny as I was expecting. There were a couple of bits that had me laughing, others chuckling, and many others where I just went: “ooowww”, but nothing else came after that. There were maybe only a couple of of stunts that actually had me howling in my seat, but very rarely did that actually happen which bummed me out because the first two had me laughing my ass off just about.

My problem with this film was that it didn’t seem like it was doing anything cool, or even new with these numerous gross-out stunts. Jackass 1 was hilarious but not death-defying; Jackass 2 was insane and many times I thought that these guys were going to die; Jackass 3 is a showcase for random shit and ball gags. I loved watching these guys do the usual shock humor that their so known for, and just grossing the hell out of their audiences, but everything here felt kind of forced or not as funny as it all once was.

It was great to see the whole crew back together in a way, except for Chris Raab, who is also my neighbor. That’s no joke there either. Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, Wee Man, and an incredibly charming Chris Pontius are all here but why would the hell are they still all doing this shit, if they have kids? It was fun watching all these young kids back in the early 21st century doing whatever it is they wanted to do because honestly, they didn’t care. But now, in their late 30’s, they all seem worn-out and more against getting hurt than they used to be. I think I could only watch Knoxville in a grand-pa outfit so many times, to the point where it just wasn’t funny anymore because they just are so old and this all seems childish and dumb. I liked how they sued 3-D for this film and it was kind of cool to see how everything looked, but I didn’t need it since seeing flying dildos and human feces in 3-D isn’t much different than 2-D.

Now, I’m not saying that I don’t like this type of comedy because I have always had a special place in my heart for these crazy son-of-a-bitches because they were always so willing to deform themselves for the sake of my enjoyment. I know I wouldn’t do half of the shit they do, just for entertainment but I can say that I appreciate these guys so much for that and I would watch their re-runs over any Jersey Shore marathon. However, these guys are getting old and it’s pretty obvious, which is a shame because I know they can get more creative ideas, but I think their time has past on.

Consensus: Jackass 3D isn’t meant for anyone who wants a “smart” comedy and even though it may have some funny stunts done here, just didn’t feel as new or inventive as the first two as these guys are starting to get older and older as the films go on by.

6/10=Rental!!

RIP Ryan Dunn

Panic Room (2002)

Home Alone 4: The Revenge

This thriller centers on a divorcée (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) who are caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with three burglars (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam) in their New York City brownstone, retreating to the vault-like safety of their aptly named panic room. As the intruders try to breach the room’s security, the embattled duo must stay one step ahead.

Out of all of David Fincher‘s films, this one is considered his weakest (that’s if you’re not including Aliens 3). However, this one isn’t so bad, considering it’s his most Hollywood-friendly film to date.

What Fincher does best here is make this pretty simple plot, and make it something that leaves you on the edge of your seat, the whole time. The dark style that Fincher uses works well for this film because it takes down the idea that your house is a beautiful little place, that no intruders can ever get into, and thinking about somebody breaking into our place is just unsettling to think about.

Fincher takes his dear old and sweet time with this pace which makes all of the suspense a lot more taut, and keeps you guessing even though you have a feeling you know what’s going to happen next. There’s a couple of cool camera-tricks that Fincher uses to fully get us knowing that we are in this one little house, with these people, and basically trapped with no way out. It’s crazy because Fincher really tools with our mind in all the right ways, and makes this film more than just your simple, average hostage-thriller.

The main problem with this film is not in Fincher’s directing as much as it is in the story itself. I liked the whole plot and thought it was simple enough to be thrilling but I did find myself guessing just what was going to happen next, and woolah, it did. The problem here is that three bad guys here just so happen to be a bunch of misfits that are pretty much psychopathic, or inexperienced with the exclusion of one person, who is pretty easy to figure out right away. In a way, I knew who was going to die, and who wasn’t (or in this case, who can’t) and what was going to happen in the end. However, I was still in suspense the whole time really.

From what I heard, Fincher was going to cast Nicole Kidman in the lead role but then she messed up her knee or something so she was put as a cameo here, and I have to say that I’m glad that they chose who they chose. Jodie Foster is really good in this role because she starts off all nerdy, and actually sad, but then turns into this vengeful, stop-at-nothing, crazy ladies who wants nothing but to get out of this situation alive. Foster is very good at driving all these emotions from her character just from her facial expressions, and although she almost rarely smiles in this film, she still is a delight to watch. Kristen Stewart does a good job in a very early role, and will probably stop any Twi-hard fans from having any boners over her after watching this. Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam are all good as the bad dudes, and each contribute great performances for three guys that you wouldn’t expect to actually be written well at all. Pretty small cast, for a relatively small film, but overall good job from the whole cast involved.

Consensus: Panic Room may suffer from it’s script, but David Fincher creates suspenseful tension and makes this simple plot, better than just your average-thriller.

8/10=Matinee!!

Disturbia (2007)

Lesson to all killers – CLOSE YOUR CURTAINS!

Kale (Shia LaBeouf), a troubled teen sentenced to house arrest, begins watching his neighbors out of boredom — only to discover evidence that a serial killer lives a stone’s throw from his home. As his suspicions of his neighbor (David Morse) grow, Kale enlists the aid of friends Ashley (Sarah Roemer) and Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) in his increasingly dangerous snooping.

Right away from just looking at the premise you know that this is going to be a rip-off of Rear Window. However, the film is not denying the fact that they are, and it works in their advantage much to my surprise.

Director D.J. Caruso takes this premise and actually makes a lot of it fun in a way. There is some nice suspense to the story because you never know what quite is going to happen at what exact moment and Caruso puts the camera to good use and cuts away every so often to gain further tension.

My main problem with this film is that it’s nothing spectacular and very forgettable, especially because of the last 20 minutes of the film suck. The whole film was all tense leading up to the last 20 minutes and then it just turns into another cliched slasher flick resolution. This disappointed me because Caruso actually kind of brought a whole subtle feel here to all of the action that happened here, and then these last 20 minutes came up and I thought I was watching a cheesy Halloween sequel. I knew there wasn’t going to be any actual real surprises here with this film but to say the least, I didn’t like how it all ended.

Shia LaBeouf is incredibly likable as Kale Brecht, and mostly carries this film the whole way through. Say what you will about this dude back from his days on Even Stevens, but Shia knows how to act and he can be very charismatic which is something I’ll give him a lot of credit for. Sarah Roemer is just here for a romantic love interest but a good one at least; David Morse is very good as the subtle but terrifying Robert Turner; and Carrie-Anne Moss is here as Shia’s mommy, and I’m guessing this is what happens to your career when you do two crappy sequels to The Matrix.

Then again, you have to think of the audience this film is made for….teens. Teen thrillers are PG-13 thrillers that have enough humor as well as thrilling moments to keep the crowd on the edge of their seat and have teenage girls screaming in their seats. This film does those elements put together nicely in a way that would seem more fun than irritating. However, if you were to look at this film in a more serious and serious way, you probably would be pissed off that you wasted your time. That was not me however.

Consensus: Though it’s last 20 minutes may be a bit of a bummer, Disturbia is an often entertaining teen thriller, that is good if you want some cheap laughs and cheap thrills, as well as see a very good performance from LaBeouf.

6/10=Rental!!

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Who wants to go on a camping trip now?

Brash student filmmakers Heather (Heather Donahue), Josh (Joshua Leonard) and Mike (Michael Williams) march into the woods near Burkittsville, Md., to make a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch, who’s credited with a string of heinous murders dating back 200 years. But the trio loses their way and soon find themselves surrounded by a malignant terror.

This is some brilliant marketing right here. Back in 1999 when this film was first being talked about, the filmmakers used the internet and word-of-mouth to actually make people think this was actually real. Although it wasn’t real, it’s still scary as anything.

The one real great thing about this film is from a technical stand-point its amazing. The use of camera-work is used so well because although it may be a little bit nauseating, especially when it’s moving all-over-the-place, you still feel like you’re right there with these three people, lost in the woods and trying desperately to find your way out. There is also no actual soundtrack, so the only real sounds are the sounds you would actually hear in the woods, which makes the scares equally as scary because everything here is all about noise. You hear the rustle of the trees, or the sounds of rocks hitting each other, and automatically the hair on your neck sticks right up.

Let’s also not forget to mention that this film is terrifying, without even showing anything. There is no violence, no blood, and no boogy man, or at least no boogy man that we actually see. This is what scared the most out of me because all the action that is happening, is happening off-screen and although we see nothing, our imagination is still running wild, which proves that sometimes what your mind makes up is even scarier than what you actually see. There was such a small budget here, or lack there of, but I still got more scared here by nothing, whereas many other Hollywood horror films do nothing to me. This just shows that showing nothing, can still work.

My only problem with this whole film is a little one, but still kind of took me away from the film. In the beginning of the film, Heather is talking about these books she read up on called “Surviving in the Woods”, but if she really read up on it, she would have known to just follow the way the water in the creek is going and eventually you would find land or something. This kind of took me away from the film since this seemed pretty reasonable, but then again, I still was involved with everything that was going on.

The acting from these three basically unknown actors is what makes this film work even more. Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams all do terrific jobs in their own parts because they all feel real. In a film that needed realistic acting, these three give that because all the scenes where they are talking, or walking, or just being scared shit less all seem real. Even though it may not be a “real story”, you still can’t help but admire how these three take their roles, and make it seem completely realistic.

Consensus: It may not be a true story, like the film suggests, but the scares here work because you see nothing, there is no big-budget special effects, and its all about feeling and atmosphere, which makes it all feel so realistic, and equally as terrifying.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Vanishing on 7th Street (2011)

I wonder if my night-light would save me.

No one can explain the mystery when residents of a vibrant urban center begin disappearing one by one. But it seems to have something to do with the shadowy figures they come into contact with right before they (Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo) vanish.

Director Brad Anderson has made some pretty intense and creepy stuff which is why I was looking forward to this so much. However, it’s such a shame when you’re disappointed by something that seems like it could have worked so well.

Anderson does a good job here with his direction and uses a lot of silence to create this atmospheric mood where you don’t know what’s going on and how is this all happening and what the real mystery behind all these disappearances are. The first 40 minutes of this are strong and kept me interested, but then after that, it begins to fall down.

Nothing much really happens after these first 40 minutes because all we watch is them trying to conserve light and run away from the darkness, and that’s just about it. The scares are fairly cheap and while you watch the film, you can’t help but wonder just when this film is actually going to take off.

Another one of my problems is that the script feels nothing more than a genre exercise. There’s a lot of homages and ideas taken from the films of George A. Romero and John Carpenter, but none of it actually morphs into a full-length film. Also, far too many holes in what the darkness could and couldn’t do, where did the people disappear to, why did they disappear, why were these people left behind? These questions were ones that were always brought up but never answered and I kind of felt ripped off. I liked the vagueness f the horror within the film but the darkness had no real allegory to it, it was just the darkness and I kind left this film feeling what was the point?

Hayden Christensen is pretty crappy actor but he does OK here as Luke. I mean he didn’t make me sigh or laugh at his performance so I guess it was OK. Thandie Newton is good as the insanely sad Rosemary; John Leguizamo is always great in anything he does, and his performance as Paul is no different; and the debut role of Jacob Latimore as James is very good too. Still, when it came down to the film, these performances just felt like second-nature.

Consensus: Director Brad Anderson may be inspired with this direction, somehow the screen gets mixed up in its mumbo jumbo of questions unanswered, bad scares, and nothing really exciting happening which just makes Vanishing on 7th Street feel like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone.

4/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

I never thought pirates could actually be considered sexy.

A young swain (Orlando Bloom) recruits rascally, charismatic pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to help rescue a maiden (Keira Knightley) from rival buccaneers. But Sparrow and his motley crew soon find that they’re up against firightening supernatural forces and an ancient curse.

I have actually been on the Disney ride that this film is based on, and to say the least, the ride sucks. Somehow, they actually managed to make this nothing like that ride, except maybe being two hours longer.

Director Gore Verbinski knows exactly what kind of film he’s dealing with here; pirates, camp, action, and adventure. He doesn’t try to make this anything more than just straight-up Hollywood entertainment, and it totally works. There’s a lot of beautiful set pieces, as well as awesome action to spare, and the visuals are amazing. In many films you can tell what looks real and what doesn’t and just how they got that to look like what it does, but here you can’t really tell and it’s amazing to see how Verbinski designs this film.

I also liked the fact that the screenplay was actually very witty and had some good comedy here and there, but also a good story to follow along with. I think I could just feel Verbinski’s ambition and energy when it came to him making this film and that is what lead on to me having a great time with this film, even after the fact that I’ve seen this movie about 7 times already. So congrats to Verbinski on making pirates cool again.

The only problem with this film that I have is that it does feel awfully long. I didn’t mind all the action, humor, and pirates but when it came to a running time of about 2 hours and 23 minutes, then that’s the big problem. It meanders for a little bit longer than it really should have and some will be annoyed by how long this actually is, but as long as I’m having fun, I say it doesn’t matter.

Now everybody’s favorite element about this film is the man with a plan, Johnny Depp as the iconic pirate, Jack Sparrow. Depp does an impersonation of the one and only Keith Richards in the most perfect way because he bumbles and moves around like a total lunatic the whole film, but not once did I get annoyed of his shtick. Depp brings a lot humor to Sparrow and almost makes him a larger-than-life persona that does not once back down from any problem that runs in his face, and I have to say that Depp really did create one of the best film characters of the past decade.

Everybody else involved with this film is pretty good too. Geoffrey Rush is a lot of campy fun as the villainous but amusing, Captain Barbossa, Keira Knightley is gorgeous but also fits well in this sausage-fest of a film as Elizabeth Swann, and Orlando Bloom is that straight-forward kid that seems so out-of-place, but fits so well as William Turner. Everybody here seems to be having a lot of fun playing their own characters, and even though Johnny Depp blows them all out of the water, they still are equally as memorable.

Consensus: The running time may make this film seem over-long, but Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black pearl is a fun, and great-looking swashbuckler that features fun for the whole family, and great performances from the whole cast, especially the always amazing Depp.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Horrible Bosses (2011)

If Jennifer Aniston wants to get it on with you, it’s not considered sexual harassment.

Disgruntled buddies Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) can’t leave their miserable jobs, so they cook up a creative strategy for eliminating each other’s micromanaging and maniacal employers (Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey) instead in this crackpot comedy. Peculiar advice from con artist Motherf**ker Jones (Jamie Foxx) gets the scheme in motion, but the pals can’t keep the wheels from flying off.

If you have ever had a job in your life, no matter how big nor small, there are just times when your boss pisses you off so much to the fact where you actually want to kill that person in order to make your work-place a happier palace for you. This film lives out that fantasy, but not exactly how I would have liked it too.

The thing with this film that works, and at the same time doesn’t work is it’s script. There are a lot of good jokes here and a lot of funny things that happen here. The script is at times because you rarely ever see murder, followed by a punch-line but I have to say where this film goes made me laugh.

The plot is solid and has plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. Also, just listening to these guys ramble on about whatever the hell there is to ramble about, made me laugh I must say even if it didn’t pee my pants.

However, the problem with this film is that when I saw the trailer and laughed at the jokes there, I realized that this was just another case of what was funny in the trailer, was the only really funny things here. Now, I can’t take away most of this film’s credit for most of the funniest jokes here being the ones from the trailer because there are an equal amount of other funny jokes here to keep you laughing as well, I just felt that they could have stopped relying less on lazy punch-lines, and more on the goofiness of the plot.

With any Judd Apatow film you have seen in the last decade, you notice that the comedy is all based on improv, conversations, and buddy chemistry. This one tries to do that too, but with less hilarity. The plot could have been funnier, and the idea of murder and comedy could have made me die in my seat, but this film just has too much of these guys going back and forth about whatever pops up in their minds. I mean if this film actually mastered the type of the almost effortless buddy-chemistry that Judd Apatow has so well, this could have really made a hurting to my stomach, but somehow it just doesn’t work as well as I expected it too. Don’t have any idea who’s problem that is, but could have been funnier.

I have to say that this is one of the better picked ensemble casts that I have seen this year, thus far. The three buddies are played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day who all have their own great deals of comedic timing that work in their own way here, and got me through the moments where it was just these guys playing off of each other. Bateman is likable; Sudeikis does that macho, toolish guy thing that always seems to work; and Day does that “speak with a high-pitched voice and very quickly” act, and surprisingly made me laugh a lot here.

The three bosses are played extremely well by each cast member and each deserve a great amount of praise for all being asshole-like in their own way. Kevin Spacey isn’t very funny as Bateman’s boss, but he is such an incredible dick and sort of plays a better Lex Luthor here, than he actually did while playing Lex Luthor is Superman Returns. If I ever had this dude as a boss, I would quit my job as soon as possible. Jennifer Aniston goes against type as Day’s boss and is just hilarious as she is this dirty, and sex-crazed monster that made me hot as well as laugh my ass off at her whole raunchy act. Surprised that it worked so well here, and hopefully she takes some more roles like this and no more of those shitty rom-coms. Colin Farrell is very funny as Sudeikis’ coke-addicted boss who is almost not noticeable at first, but you soon start to realize that this is Farrell playing his “bad-boy” image to his advantage here. I wish they showed more of his character in the film as much as they did with the other too, but Farrell still seems like he’s having fun.

The funniest of the whole film has to be Jamie Foxx as Motherf**ker Jones and even though he is only in the film for about 10 minutes, seems to be having the most fun out of the whole cast with his role. His comedic timing is on fire in a way that I haven’t seen from him since his days in Booty Call, and made me keep on laughing about his line with “Snow Falling on Cedars”. It sounds strange, but I kept going back to it when the film was over.

Consensus: The script’s laughs relies too much on weak punch-lines, conversational comedy, and a script that could have focused more on the solid premise, but much thanks to the great cast full of big-names and some funny laughs, Horrible Bosses is funnier than a lot of recent buddy-films that have come out. Also, totally relatable because who hasn’t ever had a horrible boss that they haven’t ever had wanting to kill?

7/10=Rental!!

Legends of the Fall (1994)

Talk about keepin’ it in the family. Woo-hoo!

The rugged Ludlow clan — father William (Anthony Hopkins) and brothers Alfred (Aidan Quinn), Tristan (Brad Pitt) and Samuel (Henry Thomas) — splinters when Sam goes off to fight in World War I despite his father’s opposition. To protect Sam, his siblings follow suit. But their efforts fall short, and tragedy ensues. Upon returning home, Alfred and Tristan face a new battle when both fall for Sam’s beautiful fiancée (Julia Ormond).

Looking at this film from a far, you can already tell that you’re going to get some schmaltzy stuff here. However, it isn’t as bad as people would have you expect it to be.

The main problem with this film and it’s story is that it is a little too hokey for some viewers. It feels like an epic film but then starts to turn into some deep levels of melodrama that just don’t work if you’re say, a dude. Some of the stuff they have here from the cheesy score, to the hot guys (not including Anthony Hopkins, although I think he is very sexy), and to the romantic love triangle will probably all appeal more to women looking to lay down and watch a nice little story while their having their Ben and Jerrys.

Although it does get a little too cheesy at times, this film still kept my interest because I actually did like this story and where it went. The story starts off pretty average, and then goes into places that I didn’t quite expect it to, but I’m glad it did because it kept the story alive, even if it doesn’t strike an emotional cord. The cinematography is also beautiful and some of the images here almost remind me ones reminiscent of a Terrence Malick picture. Nothing like the beautiful farmlands.

The cast is what really brought this film together and with good reason. Brad Pitt is amazing as the blue-eyed, crazy kid, Tristan. He’s sort of that one boy in the family who gets in all the trouble, causes most of the trouble he gets into, and at the end of the day, you still love more and more. Pitt carries this film from start to finish and there are scenes here that would seem hammy if it were another actor in the role, but I have to say that Pitt does a great job here and has you love Tristan right from the get-go. Anthony Hopkins is good as their father William, and brings that great father-like figure that still works 7 years later in films like Thor. Aiden Quinn probably has the toughest role because he has to make a bad guy, seem actually likable and pulls it off for the most part. Nothing really special, just a good performance from a good actor, it’s just a shame that Pitt totally blows him out of the water. Julia Ormond is great in this role as the romantically troubled, Susannah, who’s character is kind of a hoe, going to all of the brothers, but somehow Ormond allows us to stand behind her character and only hope for the best as the story goes on.

Consensus: Though it gets into some pretty hammy situations, and the story may not be as emotionally involving as it likes to think, Legends of the Fall is a beautifully-filmed, and well-acted love triangle, that will hold your interest even despite how cheesy it might get.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Shows that the dudes who clean the toilets in my school, aren’t as dumb as they seem.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) spends his days as a janitor at MIT, but the aimless young man is also a mathematical genius. So when his talents are discovered, a therapist (Robin Williams) helps Will confront the demons that have been holding him back.

Good Will Hunting is directed by Gus Van Sant and right away you can tell that there’s going to be a little quiet, and subtle indie-feel to this film, but since it’s not written by him, it doesn’t go in that direction it goes plenty of other places you wouldn’t expect.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon both wrote this screenplay, which actually won an Oscar, and it was their first script ever written! I like the script because there is a lot of great one-liners and quirks here that will have you laugh with this story and enough truth about life here as well that will open your eyes to a lot of what is being said here. My problem with this script and the film as well, is that it does get overly sentimental at times and gets too carried away with it’s dialogue.

It’s hard to describe but there are times here that a lot of the things that are said here, just feel like long speeches that just seem overlong and not needed. This is about over two hours and for that time limit I was entertained but I have to say that there were many times where some of this could have gotten knocked down, because there were just too many speeches that didn’t need to be used, mainly because they didn’t feel like it was actual conversation between these characters, it was more of just verbal diarrhea. But for a rookie job at writing a screenplay, these two kiddies do a great job of creating a story that keeps you glued in.

Many times with plenty of Van Sant’s films, I feel like his direction and style can sort of get in the way of his story, but here it’s different. He just lets the story tell itself off for once and provides beautiful images of Boston during the “falling leaf” season. Let’s not also forget to mention Elliot’s Smith’s amazing score/soundtrack that adds perfectly to the overall feel and nature of this film. If you’ve never heard of him before, watch this film and you’ll see why he’s a great musician.

The characters in this film are fleshed out so well here and the performances add a lot to that reason too. Matt Damon is perfect as Will, the troubled working class man who needs to address his creative genius and with almost every scene shows why he is the real reason why Will is so likable. Damon has that cocky and smart attitude that makes Will seem so witty but he also has that emotional depth within his acting that makes him so damn vulnerable as a character. Robin Williams won an Oscar for his performance as Sean and shows why he should just stick with dramatic roles. The scenes he has with Damon are just about perfect and fully add up to the whole drama effect that this film gives off. Ben Affleck is good as Wil’s best buddy, Chuckie, and Stellan Skarsgard ain’t that bad either as Will’s math professor at MIT, Lambeau. Minnie Driver is good here as Will’s main squeeze, Skylar, and although her accent isn’t that good, she’s still equally as likable as the rest of the dudes here.

Consensus: Some toning down was needed here and there, but Good Will Hunting is still an emotional and at times witty tale of being the best to your ability, anchored by great performances from the cast, as well as a great first-time script job from Damon and Affleck.

8/10=Matinee!!

X2: X-Men United (2003)

The freaks are back, and surprisingly a lot better this time around.

Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his team of genetically gifted superheroes face a rising tide of anti-mutant sentiment led by Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox). Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) must join their usual nemeses Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) to unhinge Stryker’s scheme to exterminate all mutants.

After watching the first X-Men film, I was bummed to say that it wasn’t as awesome as I once thought it was. Then, when I watched this, I realized just how awesome this one actually was.

Director Bryan Singer knows what he’s doing with this material here and takes the events of the first film and builds on them in such a way that when you see the credits you know that big things have happened. There is a lot of action here but there is also a deep story about being accepted in a world that won’t even look at you without judging you as well.

Singer knows how to balance a good story with some great action, and as the story kept getting deeper and deeper, the action kept on getting better and better, something I thought could never happen in a superhero film.

In the first one, I thought they focused too much on way too many characters, but here the movie is more focused on these characters throughout this moving story, and it doesn’t start dragging at all. This one actually felt more epic as well with its story and I guess that’s how all superhero films should be, but when you have something like Mutants vs. Army, you know you’re going to be in some pretty big shit.

The special effects are just plain awful (as in “awe full” – funny how a word can have two diametrically opposed meanings). Seamless integration with the live action, astounding in their inventiveness, so enticing that you want to be a mutant yourself. Exactly what special effects should be. They are worth the price of admission all on their own.

My problem with this film was that I did feel that there were some plot holes that I didn’t fully understand. Such as all these mutants can use their powers against a normal human-being and kill them right away, but when this young dude named Pyro throws fire balls at these people, nothing happens except a little sun burnt. These mofos should be dead! There were also some problems I thought that the plot had as it went along but I don’t want to give away too much here.

The cast from the first one is back, and better than ever actually. Hugh Jackman continues to be excellent as the angry and awesome Wolverine. The guy is not just dedicated, he’s frustrated but he never lets that stop him from finding the right thing to do, whether it’s protecting the weak or punishing the bad. Jackman totally improves his performance from the first one, and does a great job here as always. Patrick Stewart is also very good as Professor Xavier; the evil and maniacal Magneto, is played just so so well by Ian McKellen; and Brian Cox plays William Stryker, to the point as to where every time he was on screen, I just wanted somebody to beat his ass. All your other favourite mutants are also more interesting and more advanced than they were in the first film. Halle Berry’s Storm is sexier and more dangerous, while Famke Janssen manages to overcome Jean Grey’s hairdo (the worst I’ve seen on an actor in a long time) and really kick ass. The new mutant in this film is Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, who is a little strange but at the same time very innocent and there’s something about him that you just like. Everybody else does a great job here too, there’s just so many to talk about though and so little time.

Consensus: Despite some plot holes, X2 is a total improvement from the first showing a lot more action, special effects, and a more deeper and darker story-line that will take you by storm (pun intended) and won’t let you go until the credits are up.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

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