In today’s economy: anything is possible. Yes, even an alien-invasion.
The Barrett family is the stereotypical, 21st Century, suburban-living family that is struggling to make any ends meet. Lacy (Keri Russell) is a Realtor trying to sell a whole slew of houses; Daniel (Josh Hamilton) continues to look for a job as he was laid-off from his old one; Jesse (Dakota Goyo) is a teenager at that awkward age where girls, weed, and porn become front-and-center in the mind; and the youngest son, Sam (Kadan Rockett), is just a little tike that’s weird, but hey, who isn’t when they are 5? All of the problems that they seem to face with money, keeping the house, and having any type of credibility to their names whatsoever is put on the back-burner, once they realize that they may be under a the storm of an invasion from aliens. No, not the metaphorical aliens, but REAL ALIENS.
Dark Skies was one of those movies that nobody seemed to care about when it originally came out, not even the production company that released it did, because they didn’t even bother screening it for critics. And if they did screen it, they told all critics and publications to hold their reviews until the evening of Friday, once the movie already came out. Strange, right? Yeah, sort of is, but isn’t strange because they probably felt like they had a stinker and wanted people to stay away from talking bad shit on it. However, it seemed like such bad press for a movie that wasn’t all that terrible to begin with. Just shitty-marketing. That’s all.
In ways, I can see why the studio would want to hide this movie away from the mainstream audience, but at the same time; I just can’t because it seems like this movie is a tad bit different from what we are used to seeing with horror movies. Well, recent horror movies that is. Rather than just giving us some plot-lines for these characters, who they are, and what situation they are in, the movie takes a surprising turn and actually focuses more on them, with all of the spooky-shit showing up as the side-dish. Characters and relationships are front-and-center in this movie, and for the most part: it worked for me.
It worked for me because I felt myself rooting this family on, even when it seemed like they had every single odd stacked up against them. Yeah, they may be facing-off against aliens and may have little to no control over what happens to them, but at least they are going to fight their way against them. Watching as this family fell through hard times with their house, their jobs, and their money-saving, as well as the alien shit, was enough to make me care about them and this movie. It’s only until the latter-parts where we start to focus more on the “alien shit” is when things seem to get a tad bit out-of-hand.
Not too much, but a tad bit.
See, where this movie goes wrong is when it decides to focus in on the horror-aspect of the movie, but go a bit over-board as well. I don’t mind a horror movie trying to give me little BOO scares here and there, but this movie seemed to do too many of them, in such a short-span of time, when everything else that was sedated and laid-back seemed to work better. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t trying to scare us, it just didn’t work because it felt out-of-place with all else that was happening.
Even the aliens themselves are really corny to see. Granted, we don’t get too many glimpses of them, as they are pushed more to the background at times, but when they do show up; they made me laugh a couple of times just by how cheap they looked. I get it, the movie probably didn’t have the craziest budget to make these aliens look like the second-coming of those blue things from Avatar, but at least give me something better that doesn’t look like it was made for one of those programs that you could view on the History or SyFy channel, that talks about UFO sightings and whatnot. Even when the aliens didn’t show up, the movie still made me unintentionally laugh, just because it seems like the movie took melodramatic moments as clues and hints as to why everything’s happening. After about the 4th or 5th strange happening to this family, I just about had it and wish they went on, but nope; they just had to continue to pile on the happenings.
And not that type of happening either. Thank the high heavens for that.
But at the center of the movie, underneath all of the coating of sci-fi, aliens, and scares, the cast is what keeps this movie moving. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are good as a sympathetic married-couple, because they actually feel like one. They love, they fight, they argue, they bicker, they sleep together at night, they care for their children, they pay their mortgage (sort of), and they always stick together no matter what. Seeing them together felt realistic and worth watching, whereas most films of the same vein, probably would have made one of them have a huge secret that he/she didn’t decide to tell the other, and just a whole bunch of other spousal-disputes would occur. Thankfully, the movie keeps those aspects of the relationship, just like the characters, grounded to where it isn’t an over-abundance. It’s just right in the middle.
Dakota Goyo is good as the teen of the family that’s going through some problems of his own, the most important one of all: girl problems. Goyo is fine in this role because he feels like the type of awkward kid you’d meet on the street, and tell to just smile and be happy because he’s never going to have it again (ever), but all of his subplots did weigh-down the film. However, that’s just because they had to show him at “that age” where everything’s weird and doesn’t seem to make sense. Whatever. Just shut up and smile, kid.
The main cast is good, but why on Earth did the movie decide to waste the talents of J.K. Simmons. As we all know, the guy is amazing in just about everything that he does, which is why I was pretty damn upset when I saw him get a relatively-crappy role as some conspiracy-nut who shows up, talks to this family, and tells them what we all know. Really, that’s all his character was here for: to tell us that these aliens are bad and are going to do whatever it is that they can to take away one of their family members. That’s it. Nothing special about this role, and one that could have probably been played by you, me, or my dog laying right next to me. What a waste, man. What a waste.
Consensus: It’s the typical haunted-house flick, mixed with some aliens, that features clichés and melodramatic moments that feel as unneeded as a Keri Russell nude scene (but seriously, when the hell are we going to get that?!?!?), but Dark Skies still does well with making us care for it’s core characters, and at least have us waiting for something good to happen. It sort of does, and sort of doesn’t, but at least it’s not a total waste of your time.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Who’s being punished here: us or the criminals?
Former FBI agent Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) still has not been able to get over the murders of his family. Therefore, he takes his anger and revenge out onto the streets where he continues to tally-up a vigilante record that makes every cop in the state of New York, jealous and on the look-out for any suspicious activity. The latest leader in suspicious activity occurring in NYC is Jigsaw (Dominic West), who used to have a pretty face that all the ladies used to love, but is now ruined, all thanks to THE PUNISHER!!
After 3 movies, and no success whatsoever with the box office or the critics, it seems that the Punisher character may have to be put to rest and left in the comics. Why? Well it’s simple: the guy’s just too goofy of a comic book hero. Actually, scratch that. He isn’t even a “hero”. He’s just a dude that goes around, killing people, in the name of what he believes is right. Oh, and it’s always bloody, gory, and not for the faint of heart. That means that these types of movies, are usually made for the older, R-rated crowd, so fuck the little kiddies who want to see shizz like this and that. This is the real shit, men! If you don’t like it, then back off and take your snobbery elsewhere!
Some of you may be a bit confused as to where the hell I was going with those last couple of sentences right there, but don’t be alarmed: I am too. What I’m trying to say is that this character is hard to adapt to the screen successfully for the sole-reason that the character itself has such a fan base that is so divided, it’s hard to really get the name or product out there. That’s why when a film like this comes around, it isn’t made for the New York Film Society or any other group as prestigious as that; it’s made for the bumbling idiots that like when people get their heads smashed in just for the sake of it. No, not psychos. But people who like to see it played out on film where nobody is harmed. I hope at least.
That’s why seeing a movie like this is so hard because being a critic that has a standard built-up after all of these years, it’s so damn hard to just drop it all down, and let a completely dumb movie like this take over. After awhile, I got used to it and it did, but that’s REALLY saying something. To say that this movie is stupid, would be the equivalent to patting it on the back and giving it a cookie for being a good boy. THIS MOVIE IS FREAKIN’ IDIOTIC! I kid you not!
If you don’t know this within the first five minutes, you might just be screwed for the rest of the hour and a half because this is as low on the totem-pole as you are going to get. The script is almost non-existent by how utterly dunce-like this is and makes every piece of dialogue seem like each one of these actors (talented ones, mind you) are just stretching their inner-souls to make something useful come out. Whoever wrote this movie, I feel bad for you and your career because this is like an IQ level of 48 and lower. I kid you not. It’s freakin’ stupid. That’s if you haven’t been able to tell by now.
However, you don’t see a movie about a vigilante that goes around, “punishing” people for the sake of revenge for a well-written script, with perfectly-rounded characters, and an emotional-arch. You want to see blood, guts, guns, bullets, violence, necks snapped, explosions, heads smashed in (like I said before), and campy-as-hell people getting their insides taken out. That’s the type of stuff you want to see and if that’s it: you’re gonna have a field day with this one. Can’t say that I didn’t have fun either, it’s just that this is one of those flicks that is sometimes so hard to get by with all of the terrible qualities, that the positive qualities that make it fun and exciting, really seem to fade away.
But taking this type of movie in as it is, you could do worse. Actually, A LOT WORSE. With a movie like this, you can’t expect much and expect to get much out of it. You just go in, get ready to see some people shot, stabbed, hacked-up, or murdered in any type of way, and expect to smile or go “oooooooohhhhh” by the end of it. Those are the types of people that this movie is made for, and even though I can’t say I’m one of them, I still do appreciate a nice, mass-slaying every once and awhile. Not always, but when it’s done in a fun, unadulterated-way, then I’m rarely ever disappointed.
Even though I’m a huge fan of Thomas Jane as the Punisher and in general, I still have to give some kudos to Ray Stevenson for at least giving Castle some snarl and edge to him that you didn’t really see quite as well last time. Granted, that movie was more concerned with painting Castle as a human-being that still struggled with the reality that everybody he practically knew has been massacred, but that’s not what this movie, or this version of Castle is about. Even when the movie does try to tackle themes and ideas like that, it fails miserably. Thankfully, Stevenson keeps his head above the water and it’s a shame that this guy doesn’t get more leading-roles his way.
Then, on the other side of the coin, you have Dominic West as Jigsaw, and god is this guy chewing the scenery! I mean, every single second he is on-screen, he sounds so ridiculous with his over-the-top, New Yarrrrk accent, and has the goofiest-look that I couldn’t even take seriously after awhile. I get why the guy looks the way he does and I understand why the comics made him that way, but for everybody in this movie to just sit-around him, and act normal as if he doesn’t look like a freakin’ cheap-o, Halloween mask I’d get if I was in a total rush for one before I got sloshed at my dorm room party. West is okay, but this material for him just blows and makes me wonder if he lost a bet, or was just trying to stretch his wings out a bit and get some mainstream exposure. Whatever the predicament was, I feel bad for him and everybody else in this flick that actually took the bait to work with this screenplay. Screenplay, in the sense that it’s just a bunch of words, thrown-together on a page with a bunch of scenes labeled; “Bam! Boom! Bop! Crash! Bang!”
Consensus: If you want a movie that’s going to satisfy your dramatic, and emotionally-powerful needs; then Punisher: War Zone is nowhere close to doing that. But if you want action, blood, gore, and cheesy one-liners, then you’ll be in-store for a bat-shit crazy time.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
If you live in Salem, most likely weird shit will begin to happen.
Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a vulnerable radio DJ that spends her time working, keeping busy, and staying off the sauce. Everything is fine for her until she receives some weird recording from this band called “The Lords”, and begins to feel nauseous and strange every time she hears it. So does a local historian (Bruce Davidson), who not only tries to find Heidi and tell her of the danger that may await her, but also try to figure out just who these “Lords” really are. He lives in Salem, where this is all happening, so it might just have something to do with the past? Oh no!
Rob Zombie is a weird dude, but he does seem to love the horror genre. In a day and age where almost everybody seems to be giving up on it, there’s Zombie right there, to breath some everlasting love and light into it, even if it doesn’t always work for the dude. However, after he finally ditched the whole Halloween re-boot series (thank the high heavens), it seems like the guy has a chance to make a movie that comes from his mind, his soul, and his fingertips. That’s sort of the big problem there.
It isn’t that Zombie’s ambitions aren’t worth recommending, it’s just that they don’t work. Rather than chasing down a story where a bunch of people kill, sweat, and do dirty shit, all to the tuneage of Southern-rock, Zombie keeps his pace slow and melodic in a way, giving us a chance to focus more on characters, rather than the nutty stuff that’s about to happen to them. That’s why the first 30 minutes of this flick really worked for me; it was all character-development. Granted, it wasn’t anything memorable or special that I haven’t seen done a hundred times before in movies (especially horror ones), but it showed that Zombie could chill out when he felt the need be and could actually tell a story without diving into overly-dramatic theatrics.
Even when Zombie does dive into these said “overly-dramatic theatrics”, they surprisingly do work and feel freaky. Not scary, but freaky in the way that the inner-Catholic in me was a bit shocked by how purely-evil a movie could be and act. Not sure if Zombie actually does worship the devil in his spare-time, but if so: I wouldn’t be all that surprised with all of the devil-loving in this movie. Like I said about the first 30 minutes up top, not only does the character-development work, but so does the freaky stuff. After this though, things get a bit shaky. Actually, who am I kidding!?! They get really, freakin’ shaky.
One of Zombie’s biggest problems is that he does well when he wants to be funny, he just doesn’t transition well into full-out horror. Instead, most of the creepy shit like a baby being licked by witches, evil dead babies doing stuff (I honestly have no idea what the hell they were doing), and witches chanting and praising in the name of Satan, don’t really seem scary, as much as they just seem goofy. It seemed like Zombie was trying to harken back to the good old days of horror, by throwing in elements of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but instead, got something that reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut. Not exactly the type of movie I like to be thinking about when I putting up my “Top 10 for Horror Movies”, but that’s where this movie seems to go towards and it’s a wonder just what the image of where this story could go, actually was in Zombie’s head.
Was he trying to say anything about drug-addiction? Because as far-fetched as that may seem, there is plenty of references to that. For instance, Heidi is a former drug-addict trying to get over her old sensibilities and develop new, improved ones, yet, still finds her way of coming back to them. And that’s all thanks to that vinyl-record she listens to from that weird band, which may be another metaphor for the drugs in her life; past, present, and future. As the recording continues to play more and more, her old life of drugs and partying comes back, and it’s only a matter of time until it spirals out of control and her old friends need to come back into her life and help her. Maybe, just maybe am I diving into this a bit too much? Damn straight I probably am! But still, at least I’m trying to give some amount of credit to Zombie, because it doesn’t seem like any of this material (his, as a matter of fact) goes any further than Satan, dead babies, and witches. Oh, and some rock ‘n roll as well. Some.
If there was anything in this movie that was worth remembering or really blowing me away, it was Sheri Moon’s performance as Heidi. In the past, I’ve never really been too fond of Moon’s acting, as I felt like Zombie has always had the chance to just shoe-horn her in, anyway that he could, but here, she feels as if she belongs. She isn’t her to just get nakey (although she does and it’s awesome); she isn’t her to just act all weird and crazy (quite the contrary, actually); and she isn’t here just to allow her hubby, Zombie, to throw whatever it is he can at her. She’s actually here to act and acting is what she does well by giving Heidi the right amount of charm and sympathy, that makes us care for her more and more as the flick continues to enroll into some odd shite. Moon is obviously down for whatever comes her way, but the human-aspect of her character is probably what worked best for me, and it was interesting to see where her character went, how she got there, and when she was ever going to get out of it. By the way, I’m talking about her drug-addiction. In case you couldn’t tell.
Moon keeps the movie somewhat grounded in a real-sense of reality, whereas everybody else seems to just be losing their essence of cool. Bruce Davison was a big, old welcome-back as the scholar that’s interested in Heidi’s past and record she just received and shows why the guy has this likable sense of dignity to him, that never really waters down over time. It’s been awhile sine I’ve seen this dude do anything, let alone, anything good, so it was a nice, blast-from-the-past to have. Horror-queens Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn, all play the three witches as they ham it up furiously where they bitch, gnaw, and cackle their way through any scene they show up. Does it always work? Not really. More or less of it seems to be them trying really hard to be like the old days, but it’s entertaining enough to watch them try and remember what it used to be like, when they were young, fun, and blissful. And there’s probably a hundred-more cameos, side performances, and such by a bunch of other peoples that I forgot to mention but once you see them, you’ll recognize them.
Consensus: Zombie may have a clear-eye for ambition with The Lords of Salem, and while some of it does work and freak you out a bit, some of it may also have you laughing as if any of this is supposed to be taken seriously, or with a grain of salt. It’s neither: it’s REALLY serious.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
If you were a superhero that had a budget to go by, wouldn’t you be a bit sad too?
Les Franken (Michael Rapaport) is having problems with his emotions, his self-esteem, and the way he acts. Therefore, he begins to take these new pills for a scientific experiment in hopes that they will improve his life-style, but his way-of-thinking as well. However, thinks start to go weird for Les as he starts to realize that maybe there’s more to these pills than he initially expected.
Superhero films, no matter who the superhero is or what the superpower may be, are usually always fun and exciting to watch. Even the shittiest-superhero movies are at least entertaining to watch, especially around the Summer time when nobody gives a shit about what they see, but just want to get away from the hot sun, and chill out in a beautifully, air-conditioned movie theater. But what happens when it isn’t the Summa, Summa, Summatime anymo, and you expect some quality to your movies, let alone ones that involve superheroes? Also, what about those little superhero films, that are just waiting to get loved and noticed by everybody? What happens to them? Well, they get put on Netflix Instant streaming and watched by d-bags like me. Hey, may not sound like much but it’s sure as hell better than nothing.
Writing/directing-team Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore obviously have an intriguing story on their hands and start it off pretty well by showing us just how a person like Les would respond to the type of superpowers he ends up receiving with the consumption of these mysterious pills. Most people would have no idea what the hell is going on, while others would probably think of this as their time to shine, go out there, do good for the rest of the world, fight crime, and try their hardest to save others, from whatever danger may be lurking around the corner for them. This is obviously the road that Les goes down and for the most part, it’s pretty entertaining because you don’t know where this story is going to end up and you don’t exactly know what Les is going to do next. I liked that unpredictable-nature of this story but sadly, it went away real, real soon.
With a micro-budget like the one that have at their disposal here, Haberman and Passmore are able to do some lively and innovative things with the plot and the special-effects, but the plot itself suffers from that considering it’s tone is all over the place. At first, it starts off as a comedy where this lovable goof goes out trying to be a superhero and fight evil, but then it turns right into a dark drama that seems to do the same things over and over again. This wouldn’t have bothered me so much because I feel like this certain type of story needed a dark side to it, but the film gets very, very dark and almost a little too depressing for my liking. But it didn’t really feel like it had any reason to be that way in the first place. Yeah, this dude Les is a guy that’s easily picked on and made a fool of, but it’s never to the point of where I felt as if he’s going to go and jump-off of a bridge for that reason, nor did I feel like he was the type of dude that needed a new-direction in his life, as severe or life-changing as this. He’s just a little sad guy: that’s all. That’s why I had no clue why this flick continued to shove down our throats how sad and self-wallowing his life is.
Even at a lean, but not-so mean 82 minutes, the film does seem like it drags in certain parts which sucked even worse, mostly because I was totally on-board for this flick right from the start. There were some moments in this film that really touched me (like when Les and that girl from the market actually have a conversation), but they are only sprinkled throughout, as if they were the only parts of heart this flick had to offer, and the writers/directors decided to throw them in when they found it was necessary. Also, I know that the film was made with such a small budget that they couldn’t do as much as maybe Joss Whedon or Christopher Nolan has been able to do in the past, but I still feel like there could have been more action and violence to convey the sense of reality that Les found himself out of so much. It also would have been more exciting than just watching Les run away every time something bad would happen, because that’s all that he ever did.
The only real reason why I have to give this film any sort of recommendation is because of Michael Rapaport’s awesome lead performance as Les Franken. Rapaport has always been that one guy who stands-out in big ensembles like Cop Land or True Romance, but he’s never really been given his shot to just shine and strut his own stuff. Thankfully, he is given that shot here and nails it by making you feel something for this schlub of a guy. There’s a lot of goofy things going on with Les but you never once feel like he’s going to hurt anybody on-purpose or do it to anybody that doesn’t deserve it already. He’s just a regular guy that’s finally getting tired of putting up with all of the shit he suffers on a regular-basis from all of the people around him. Great performance from Rapaport and I honestly think that if the script and direction knew what to do with him here, he would have gotten noticed more and hopefully be moving his way up the ranks more and more. Also, be on the lookout for a very young Josh Peck as a nerdy stoner. Probably a better performance here, than the one he had in that shit-pile known as Red Dawn. Just saying.
Consensus: Special is nothing all that special (gedd it?) because of its constantly-shifting tone and micro-budget that keeps it away from doing anything miraculous, but at the center of it all, still has a great and dedicated rare lead performance from Michael Rapaport, that is worth seeing if you’ve always liked this guy in the random shite he shows up in.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Tom Cruise may not be able to dunk a basketball, but he can save the world, right?
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a lone soldier who lives in the clouds above a post-apocalyptic Earth after a war made the surface uninhabitable. He lives a steady life where all he does is repair drones, in hopes that they will stop any hostile aliens from taking over and destroying the world that Harper now knows and has come to terms with. But things take a turn for the worse once he encounters a crashed space pod with a mysterious woman survivor (Olga Kurylenko), who makes him question everything he knows.
You can’t help but feel pity for most of the sci-fi movies that come out nowadays. It seems as if they aren’t taking something from a piece of sci-fi literature that they read as a big-glassed, tike, they are taking something from another form of media, whether it be intentional or unintentional. That’s what makes so many sci-fi movies hard to follow along with and get wrapped up into because nine times out of ten: it’s been done before. That was my exact problem with Oblivion: been there, done that, 1,ooo times over.
The fact that this movie isn’t anything to scream about in the writing-department is in no way a hit against director Joseph Kosinski. If anything, it’s Kosinski who saves this movie with his inspired-vision and dedication to making every single scene pop-out at you, as if you’ve never seen anything like it, although you have. That’s where this film gets you, but that’s where Kosinski keeps his feet moving and at a steady-pace too. While the film looks beautiful and never seems to look at all fake (IMAX is pretty glorious), the story’s beginning is what really got me because it wasn’t what I was expecting from seeing the trailers, advertisements, and even the numerous posters.
Rather than making this a movie about Tom Cruise, going around, and shooting the hell out of aliens/unknowns that inhabit his dying-land, it’s more about the pace and the mood. It sets you into this cold, dark world where everything is beginning to die down and sooner than you know it; the Earth will be nothing more but it’s own worst enemy. By that, I mean that it will eventually dissolve into nothing. That’s the sad, but true reality that these two characters, Jack and Victoria, are left with and to see them come to terms with that made me feel as if I was watching a different movie than I was promised. Yes, there is Tom Cruise; there is CGI; there are robots; and yes, there are some weird creatures on Earth, but is this a drama I see? I thought so. That is, until I realized that I spoke a little too soon.
The first instance I knew where this movie had a problem was when it’s first batch of twists and turns came, and I had no idea what to think of them except for, “unoriginal.” That’s all it seemed like and without delving into spoiler-territory, the places this movie goes with it’s plot shenanigans don’t really add to anything, except more and more predictability. Once Jack gets to see these warrior humans, he finds out more about himself, his species, and what he was put on this Earth to really do, but none of it seems to make any sense, yet, have us care in the least bit.
I mean, I could go on and on about how none of this plot really seemed to make a lick of sense, but I don’t care too much about that. The story made fine enough sense to where I wasn’t scratching my head too much and to where I wasn’t looking around to see if anybody else was, neither. It was fine the way it was, but I just didn’t have any feeling with it at all. And that word, “feeling”, is exactly what this flick was building on. It tried to go into spots where we were supposed to feel compelled and hit back in our seats, but those moments never came. The movie just sort of went through the motions, gave us sci-fi movie convention after convention, and went on it’s way, like we expected it to from the trailers, advertisements, and posters.
See, the beginning really screwed the rest of this movie up because it makes you feel like you’re in for a somber-look at a dystopian future. But once it gets going, the movie dives into more action-y elements that are fun to watch, but feature no human-connection involved. When I see an action scene go down, I want to feel raw and terrifying emotion as if I was right there, cheering these characters on for fighting the good fight and hoping that they come out alive. However, that movie didn’t have that. It had alright-looking action scenes, but with nothing underneath it. All flair, but no substance. And that would have been fine, if the flair really kept itself going but after awhile; I stopped caring and just wanted more with my story. Now is that too much to ask?
But no matter how shitty the script can be (and definitely is), you got to give some credit to Tom Cruise for at least taking a step by deciding to take this material and make it his. Love him, or hate him, Cruise is a bonafide movie star, and an action one, at that. Cruise is good here as Jack because he gives him a lot of charm and likability that makes us feel like he’s one of those guys that knows it all, what to do, and how to do it, yet, is also just like us in where he doesn’t believe everything around him is really happening, and has the nice-enough soul to realize what’s right and what’s wrong. Of course the guy hits some holes on the way, but Cruise keeps him grounded in reality, where a film doesn’t seem to want that.
Playing the two gal pals of his this time around are Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko, who are both good with what they are asked on to do, but nothing more than that. Some scenes where they have to be more than the “romantic love-interest” are fine, but they aren’t called on to do many of those scenes, so it’s rather useless, really. What was really useless in a movie like this is not only having Morgan Freeman in a supporting role, but even going so far as to advertise him like he’s a big part of your movie, when in reality: the dude only gets about 15 minutes or so of screen-time. Yes, THAT Morgan Freeman! Don’t let me fool you into thinking Morgan isn’t good with what he’s called on to do here, because he is; but it just feels like a waste of a big name, for a role that serves no real purpose other than to be the bearer of good news (or bad, depending on the type of person you are). The rest of the cast isn’t really all that filled with many people, but that doesn’t matter because this isn’t the type of film that’s too concerned with that. They just want to show you shiny, futuristic thingy-majigs, blow up and blow other shit up in the process. Then again, it is a sci-fi movie so what else could you expect? But seriously, don’t answer that. Or else we’ll have another four paragraphs to go.
Consensus: Kosinski’s direction is beautiful and always a sight to gaze at, but the rest of Oblivion can’t sustain his look, and drops beneath his feet with a weak screenplay, no emotional connection to anything that’s happening, and a bucket-list of cliches and conventions I think I speak for everyone when I say; we are tired of seeing used, over and over again in sci-fi flicks.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Ash would have saved the day in no time. Oh, Bruce. How I miss you so.
Five twenty-something friends hole up in a remote cabin for a weekend filled of booze, drugs, sex, and a bunch of fun. Problems get in the way of their plans once when they discover a strange novel downstairs in the basement called the Book of the Dead. As they continue to read the book, they unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters to get killed-off, one by one, until only one is left intact to fight for survival.
Of course, there’s a little bit more than I let on with that synopsis. There’s more human-emotions going on this time around where family members quarrel, friends have arguments and a sister is trying to kick a drug habit. But however, the story is still the same and it’s not because that plot-line has been done already once by the original Evil Dead, but because it’s been used in almost every other camp-fire story ever told before the sands of time. We all know that whenever kids go out to a cabin in the woods, all they want to do is chill out, party, drink a little brew, have a little sex, and just get out of the real world, when in reality (or non-reality): the exact opposite happens to them. It was fine when it was done in the 80′s, and heck, it was even fine when it was done last year (Cabin in the Woods), but enough is enough with the simple, conventional horror stories, and most importantly: enough is enough with the goddamn, useless remakes. Yes, I am talking about this movie.
If there is any amount of credit I have to give to this film, it’s director Fede Alvarez who actually does some new and cool things with this already-known story. Not does he change certain things up a bit with the story and how people die, but he totally abandons the humor-aspect. In ways, this works, and in ways; it doesn’t. But what should be known is that for all that the guy does, at least he does it with energy and some amount of heart. “Some”, being the key word.
Alvarez starts this flick pretty interestingly, having us have to deal with characters pissing and moaning, but also watching as how they don’t really know what to expect. But that’s where the interesting-aspect begins to go away, and the conventionality of this movie begins. It isn’t that I don’t mind when a horror movie likes to have fun with itself, gross us out, and even give us a couple of shockers along the way (you know what I mean, pervs), but I at least want to see something new and original, almost as if I haven’t seen it done before, ever. Now, I know that’s hard when you take a genre like the horror genre, and try to spin it 100 ways it’s already been spun, but you at least got to add a new flavor, a new coding, or just a simple piece of the recipe that may spice things up a bit. The “simple piece of the recipe that may spice things up a bit”, is definitely Alvarez’s unapologetic use of gore, blood, and/or ketchup packets and blood-flavored corn syrup, but that can only go so far, when you have characters doing THE SAME DAMN THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
Movies like this bother me because they always want to please the audience into thinking that everything they are about to watch is going is to surprise the hell out of them and shock them in one way they weren’t expecting (once again, cut it out you pervs), but it just doesn’t. The least-important characters to the story usually get knocked-off from least-meaningful to the main character, almost as if it was your wedding invitations; characters still fall for the bone-headed tricks like a monster changing it’s face to sound like the human they have possessed; and characters not having the balls to pull the trigger on that possessed-human, even if they know already that they are fucked-up, and never coming back. Also, while I’m at it; why does every, single character in a horror movie have to act like they don’t know what’s going to happen next when they enter a room, because the person they were talking to didn’t answer them? Really! If the person didn’t answer when you called them the first 500 times, either they don’t want to talk to you or they’re dead. It’s either one or the other. That’s what I usually used to think with all of my ex’s, but when it came right down to it: it was more of the former, than the latter. My life: one big misery.
But some of you out there may be saying, “Well, the original was just like that” or “That’s just how most horror movies are.” If you were to say any of those two statements to me, online or in real-life, I would have to agree with you but then also have a nice, calmed, and relaxed discussion about how the original had all of those conventions, but at least had fun with them in a campy, small-budgeted way. Sam Raimi and friends didn’t give a crap if they were re-inventing the wheel or changing the way the world works, they just wanted to have some fun, splash some paint everywhere they could, and get a good laugh while they were at it. This movie is too concerned with being serious, trying to be scary, and doing all that it can in it’s might, to have us feel like, as the poster says, “The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience.” Raimi didn’t give a crap about that, but apparently Alvarez was in a total, and completely and different world when he realized that maybe the original could be better, if it was serious and more about it’s scares. Once again, it may or may not have been his thought-process when he saw that classic, but something tells me it what exactly that.
As usual, every character is a cliché we have all seen before, but at least the performances are okay, right? Ehh! Shiloh Fernandez has just about sucked nuts in about everything I’ve seen him in, but he’s fine here as the older, more wiser brother. He isn’t corny and he isn’t trying too hard. Good for him. Apparently there was a lot of talk about how the character of Ash wouldn’t be in this movie. But not just the name, mind you, the actual fact that an Ash-like character would pop-up in this movie, but as a (get ready for it)….WOMAN!! That’s right. Jane Levy plays the troubled-sister going all cold turkey on everybody’s asses and is fine for what she has to do, but is actually left to be possessed for the longest time. Eventually, she does get the chance to have her fun time, but it isn’t until a little, too late in the game, to where she doesn’t even seem to pose a threat to these monsters, witches, and bad-souls. These are the only two that are worth mentioning in this flick, and considering that the movie holds a main cast of only 5 or 6 people; it’s a bit of a bummer.
Consensus: For fans of the horror genre, no matter how obvious or predictable it may get at times, the remake of Evil Dead will please most gore-lovers out there, but there isn’t much else that will shock you, surprise you, or even scare you for that matter. In my opinion, just stay at home and check out the original Evil Dead, or the whole Army of Darkness trilogy and just be reminded of how awesome Raimi and Bruce Campbell were, when they worked together.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Of course now I feel bad for not paying a single-lick of attention in Science class.
Two scientists/best friends Aaron and Abe (Shane Carruth and David Sullivan) are always in their garage’s playing around and trying to create new machines that will benefit the rest of the world, and make them rich one day. However, when they decide to play around a little too much, somewhere, the realization of a time machine being built to perfection comes through to the both of them; but what should they do? Should they take advantage of it and allow all of their wildest dreams to come true? Or, should they just leave it be for the better good of themselves and mankind? You can probably which decision they choose to make. Damn sci-fi nerds.
I’m going to admit this now, before any of you decide to jump down my neck for the rest of this review: I am an idiot, that much is clear to me now than it has ever been to me in my entire-life. Going into this movie, I expected to be challenged, I expected to be pay attention, I expected to be screwed-with, and I expected to think for myself in ways I haven’t been able to pull-off since Inception (aka, a long, long time ago), but still, I found myself totally and utterly confused, way before it even was half-way through. Once it hits the thirty-minute mark, I thought, “Oh, well now I’m starting to get the hang of things and where this plot is going. Hopefully they keep on going down this route.” If there was ever a more perfect example of wishful thinking, I would really like to see it shown to me. Seriously, this movie fucked me over.
Now, that I got that out of the way, I just want to let you all know that no matter what type of shizz I may be saying about this movie from here on, don’t be fooled into thinking I hated this movie. In fact, I think I respected it more than I even liked it, which is really saying something because that almost never, ever happens. Some may be quick to call this “pretentious” and “pompous”, but I just can’t bring myself to utter those words. I can think of other words like “smart”, “imaginative”, and “detailed”, but that didn’t mean it added anything to my overall movie-watching experience.
Here’s the thing with this movie, the plot absolutely lost me about half-way through, almost to the point of where (I felt like giving up. I seriously did. I had my Wii mote handy and ready to change to see what else I had on my Netflix queue, but thankfully, I stayed true to my movie critic ways and kept on watching. But as much as I may have been totally mind-fucked by all of this, I still have to give writer/director/producer/magic man Shane Carruth all of the credit for stepping from out of nowhere, and giving me a sci-fi film that seemed actually possible. Not saying that any form of sci-fi can actually, and might just happen, but the way this dude presents the way these two guys build a time machine (without ever using that word), how they would take advantage of it, and just what sort of ways would they be able to maneuver themselves around it , was smart and something I did not think could happen with a movie like this. Once again, another instance where I felt like a total idiot since I can’t believe I ever doubted this guy, or his movie.
Also, the guy’s a pretty young director and it shows because the movie looks cheap, it looks gritty, and it looks like it was made from shit you’d sell on Craigslist, but that’s not an insult in the least bit. I actually liked that look to the movie, as it made me feel like I was watching a real story, with real characters, and some real fucked-up crazy shit going on that’s almost too hard for me to even think of as of right now. From an aspiring film maker perspective: the guy has talent and knew how to save money, the right way, in order for him to get this movie made, which seems to be on nickels and dimes. For that aspect alone, I give the guy mucho credit. But this is where the bad part begins. Be ready, because here we go.
The problem that I had with this movie is that I did not seem to get a single, fucking thing going on at all here. I get that these guys created a time machine, tried to find ways to manipulate it’s usage into making them filthy, stinkin’ rich, and eventually started to lose sight of their friendship and the life they once lived, but everything else in between, like a couple of plot twists and turns, just never came to me. I get that the movie isn’t trying to be like all of those lame, predictable sci-fi flicks that spells everything out for you and puts your mind at ease so they can tell you all that’s happening, but seriously; I needed my hand held here. I felt like I needed somebody to hold my hand, walk me through the street, and get me home on time, but instead, I just wanted to know what the fuck was going on.
Now, would I go so far as to say that this movie wasn’t made for me? Yes and no. The reason I say yes is because it’s heavy on it’s sci-fi jargon, in a way that’s almost comprehensible for a person who used to spend third-period Bio wondering what movie he was going to watch later that night. Also, the movie never gave me a second to let everything settle in, breathe, and catch myself up-to-place with all of the happenings and dialogue that seemed to come charging at me, almost a mile-a-minute. I felt totally winded, and that was at the 20-minute mark. I still had less than an hour to go, and I was scared-shitless of what may have happened to me next.
However, from the other deck of cards, I’d have to say no for one reason and one reason only: I usually love movies like this. Even though I see a crap-ton of popcorn fare (more than my little, fragile heart may be able handle), I still do appreciate the little, indie movies that allow you to think more than you would with something you could see at any local AMC theater. No matter what that movie may be, I always like to watch them, think for a bit, and come up with my own conclusions at the end. Sometimes they do lose me at points, but I am usually able to get myself back up and moving along with the pace, the story, and the characters that inhabit it.
But this is just one of those movies that made me re-think that idea of myself. It wasn’t that I realized I’m not able to think anymore, and whenever I do, I need somebody to write-out a freakin’ guide book on what everything means. No, in fact it was more that I realized that I have to look out for movies like these and be ready for them, even when I least expect them to come and slash me in the jugular. Did I hate this flick? No, not at all. But there is something that I could tell after viewing it and coming up with my own thoughts: a re-watch is definitely in the future and the re-review for that will definitely be up. As for right now, however, I’m sticking with this and just know that as much as this flick may have not been for me or my mood during the time that I viewed this (I was tired as hell from working-out, ALL. DAMN. DAY.), it still doesn’t mean it’s not worth your own trip to ride-along with, just as long as this cake you don’t mind taking a piece out of. If not, good luck my fellow friends. Good luck, indeed.
Consensus: Primer is a smart, hip-looking, and stylish sci-fi flick that could actually make a lot of sense in the grander scheme of things, but left me in the dark; WAY TOO MUCH. I get that the film wanted to lose it’s audience and see if we could keep up, but as for yours truly, I just wasn’t up the game just yet. Give me another year or so, then I might just be. But until then, I’m staying right where I am.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
I guess Public Enemy wasn’t correct when they said, “911 Is a Joke“.
Halle Berry is a very skilled 911 dispatcher who is good at her job, can ease any caller down, and seems to have her life on-track with her cop-boyf (Morris Chestnut). However, a call that lands the victim to be murdered, puts Halle on the side-lines as she feels as if she is not only a failure, but a person who was not able to do her job the right way. Several months later, she picks up a call from a young girl (Abigal Breslin) who has been kidnapped and trapped in a weirdo’s trunk. Halle feels as if this is her time to shine once again, and helps this young gal out in anyway she can.
Here’s a film that just never seemed to have interested me, but yet, I found myself viewing in the early days of Easter, just because I got out of The Host and felt myself less-than satisfied with what I saw. Therefore, what better way to spend the next 2 hours of my life then checking out Halle Berry, in a great ‘fro by the way, as she talks to some teenage girl about how to not get killed by this random psycho? None, I’ll tell ya! None!
Brad Anderson is a more than capable director when it comes to these types of thrillers, but this is probably his first step into the big boy, mainstream-land, and he seems to feel right at home going along with it. The premise is corny, the script is bad, and the character-development is little to nowhere to be found, but that isn’t what Anderson’s movie is all about. The guy pays more attention to the tension and the plot, rather than knocking us down with a bunch of crap we don’t care about. All we do care about is whether or not Halle Berry is going to be able to get this girl out alive, and whether or not they are ever going to be able to catch this psycho. The questions are raised very early on, and you never lose wonder as to what’s going to happen next.
That’s why this movie really surprised the hell out of me. It’s fun, quick, exciting, and the type of movie you want to see for a good time, maybe even a couple of chills that will really have you putting on some extra-pairs of clothing. There were only about 5 or 6 other peeps in the theater with me, but each and every person was either screaming, yelling, or absolutely curled-up in their seats as they watched to see what happened next. If that doesn’t show you what a successful thriller like this is supposed to do, then I have no clue just what the hell will. For me, I squirmed a couple of times and I sure as hell was very tense throughout, but the crowd loved the hell out of this, and I can’t fully blame them. That’s exactly what this type of movie is made for, and I think Anderson knows that, therefore, he has more fun with it all. Good for him.
The biggest problem I had with this movie was that as fine as it was doing just being an old-school, classic-like thriller that’s plain and ordinary, it still feels the need to change everything up and get stupid. Instead, of sticking with the whole dispatcher gimmick that made the movie work so damn well, it changes to where Halle Berry all of a sudden needs to leave her job, not perform so well anymore, and go out into the field because as we all know, the police aren’t capable of doing their jobs, especially when they’re in a Hollywood movie. Without going into spoiler-territory, the movie gets very dumb and becomes almost like a horror flick where the killer does some weird stuff and is supremely invincible whenever it seems as if he’s going to die next.
To put on top of that, the ending also gets rid of it’s “justice is what’s right” motto that seems be pretty put-upon the whole movie. Once again, not gonna get into spoiler-territory here, just know that the final-act is what brings this movie down a big-load. Sort of like me after I eat beans, 2 fiber bars, and some nice prune juice on the side. Okay, that was a bit dirty but you’re picking up what I’m throwing down. Without this final-act, the movie would have been a lot better rather than leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth. Thankfully, I washed it all down with ham, corn, and mashed potatoes. Nothing like a fancy, Easter dinner.
Even though this is material that may have some of you scratching your heads as to why the hell even Halle Berry decided to sign up for it, don’t be so surprised. In the past couple of years, Berry has starred and signed up in some real stinkers, but this is the movie that gets to show you that she’s still good, she can still act, and yes, she’s still charming. Let’s all just forget about Catwoman and move on now, shall we? Berry is mostly good in this role because she’s a very sympathetic character that you already know is a good person, but who just has such a hard job, it’s hard for her to stay close to her morals. When shit gets crazy for her, she does do the usual panic-episode that any sane person would do when they are thrown into a situation such as this, but at least she’s able to gain composure right back, and move on. For this, she’s a good character to root for and even better; Berry seems to really be on her A-game, despite a lackluster script. Still, a lot better than what we’ve seen from her lately (minus Cloud Atlas).
Abigail Breslin is the actress that will probably be known as Little Miss Sunshine forever and ever, but she shows that she can at least handle material that would be terrible in anybody else’s hands, but is slapped in her’s and done quite well. Throughout the movie, Breslin is practically in the pit of a trunk the whole time, however, she makes it work because she never seems like she’s over-doing the panic and the yelling, she’s just genuinely scared and you root for her as time goes on. Her and Berry actually create a good chemistry together, despite never actually being on-screen together. Shows you why they are more talented than some of their recent film choices may have you think otherwise. Can’t wait to see what Breslin pulls off next and can hopefully make me re-think dancing to Rick James. Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
Consensus: It’s obvious, a tad predictable, and really stupid towards the end, but The Call is surprisingly fun, tense, and exciting due to a solid director from Anderson, and good performances from the leads, Berry and Breslin.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Would it be safe to say that the Stations of the Cross was one of the first horror-stories ever told?
If you have never went to school in your life, took a religious course, or still consider yourself an “atheist” (word has totally lost it’s meaning by now, this is the story of Jesus (Jim Caviezel)’ last 12 hours of life. Not only was he betrayed by one of his most beloved followers (that damn Judas), but was also wrongfully-accused, put to death, and forced to be executed in front of everybody that couldn’t get enough bloodshed and gore for a day’s work. But, don’t feel so bad for Jesus, because he’s doing this for all of us, the decisions we make, the sins that we commit, and overall: for our lives.
This may be a surprise for some of you to hear (or see), but this movie caused quite the stir back in the early days of 2004 and with good reason. Not only is it one of the most famous and iconic stories of our day and age, but it’s one that so many people know by now, as well as the what, the who, the where, and the how. However, not everybody gets down to the nitty gritty details of just what sort of pain and agony our dear Jesus had to go through, just so us assholes on Earth could get away with having sex before marriage and robbing that liquor store last week. Don’t play dumb. You know exactly who it is that I’m talking about here.
That’s where Mel Gibson shows up, though, and makes us see this story for all that it was, without leaving any certain type of details that may (and definitely did) make Catholics, Jews, Priests, and the Vatican more pissed off than little Jimmy opening his mouth out about how Father McCarthy gave him extra sips of wine in the back of the Church. Then, of course, when you do re-enact a story like this, with all of the blood, the gore, and violence, you have to expect all of those “sacred people” to be up in arms and consider it a sacrilege, all because Jesus actually got his ass beat, before dying a very painful, agonizing death. Just to let you know, The Church; this shit actually did happen, so what the hell is so wrong with some dude showing it in all of it’s fame and glory.?!?!? Probably not the best choice of words, but you get my drift.
Anyway, aside from all of my religious beliefs (I have none, I think they are all just used as a conversation-stater for boring people), the movie still paints a portrait of Jesus and the Stations of the Cross, and not in the happiest-way either. However, that’s the point of the story and for that, I have to give Mel Gibson mucho credit for not backing down and allowing people to take away his image of what happened to Jesus during his last twelve hours. Everything we see, hear, and feel, is not pretty, but then again; what the hell do you really think Jesus went through when he was just doing this all for us and the sins we would definitely commit!?? Did you think they just handed him the cross and a fork-lift to get up on top of that hill, glue him to it, and just let him sit up there for a little while?!? Hell to the no!
What they did do was savagely beat the shit out of him, whip him until he was just about bones on the ground, and never let up, even when he couldn’t physically carry the cross no more. That is definitely not the type of gruesome story we get to hear when our religious-grandparents force us to go to Church, but that’s the story we all know and rarely ever see. That is until, Mel Gibson has a little something to say and absolutely holds no frills, or strings attached. He tells it as if the story most likely happened in real life, and never lets up when it seems like the violence is becoming too much for people. Even though the guy is a fucking nut behind-the-scenes and sometimes in front of, you have to give crazy Mel credit for having a vision in his head, sticking to it, and not allowing any person to stop him from showing it or skewer with it any way at all. In a way, I guess you could say he’s a lot like Jesus where he had a vision and a belief, and never let anybody stop him from telling it or showing it to the people around him.
Too much? Yeah, I kinda thought so. Anyway, moving on……
Although I can give credit where credit is due for Mr. Mel and having the balls to go forward with this story, I can’t give him credit for giving me a movie I want to see ever again. I mean that too: NEVER, EVER AGAIN! It wasn’t just that the blood, the violence, the gore, the torture, and the whipping became too much for me, because actually, by the 4th time actually seeing this, I think I’ve become more numb than ever before. But it wasn’t that, it was just that after all of this time the story still did nothing for me. It isn’t because I’m an atheist (I guess I am. I don’t know, and I don’t care, really), and it isn’t because I haven’t gone to Church in almost a year and counting, and it sure as hell isn’t because I usually cheated on every single one of religion tests they threw in front of me (loved sitting next to Lauren Baker 4th-8th grade), but it was just because the story and Gibson’s approach doesn’t offer us anything new, original, or thoughtful that we haven’t already heard or seen before.
We know exactly what happens in this story, and therefore, we expect to not get any surprises and in return; there aren’t any. The only type of surprises there could have been with this story was what Mel had to say about it, and we never get that. Instead, we just see Jesus get tortured, beaten within an inch of his life, his mommy crying, his followers act like pussies and back-stabbers, and at the end of the day, dying in total agony, discomfort, and excruciating pain. And oh, by the way, it’s all for 2 hours and 6 minutes which wouldn’t seem that bad if the movie continued to move along, but it doesn’t. It just keeps on getting slow, melodramatic, and a bit too obvious for it’s own good. I don’t know whether or not this is how the original story was framed (highly doubt it was), but something, somewhere, within Gibson’s direction was just not cooking well and just made this flick seem like it had to be seen, to be believed. That’s all fine and dandy, but don’t promise me boobs, when all I get is legs. That’s all I have to say about that.
As for the actors and actresses of this movie, they all do fine but most of their jobs are hard to pull-off considering all that they have to do is speak in a dead language, emote really hard, and pull off some nasty emotions. Overall, they all do fine but I can’t really say that anyone in particular is a revelation considering it’s mostly ordinary the same stuff around. Jim Caviezel is good as Jesus Christ because he is able to look as if he was near-beaten to death, pull it off without over-acting too much, and just seeming like a Saint-like creature, sort of like Jesus. This guy’s a good actor in most of the stuff he does, which is a shame because he will always and forever be remembered as “the guy who played Jesus in that one movie directed by that anti-Semite, Mel Gibson”. It’s a sad reality, but it’s the truth. Poor guy. And I’m talking about Jim, not that dick head named Mel.
Consensus: Passion of the Christ is the story we all know from the heart, feel the agony of, and in ways, learn something new from each and every time we hear it, but not this time. Nope, Mel Gibson has a the credit for at least achieving his vision and not backing down, but when it comes to giving us a movie that is worth watching for the whole sake of being enjoyed, learning something from, or being emotionally-driven; he does not succeed. Maybe that last aspect may work, all depending on how Holy that person is, but for yours truly: it didn’t much for me at all.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Not only do you stay the same age for the rest of your life, but you always stay sexy and gorgeous. Yay!
When Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is falsely accused of murder, he must figure out a way to bring down a system where time is money (no, literally) enabling the wealthy to live forever while the poor, like Will, have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through another day. Along with him, he takes Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of one of the wealthiest men alive, and they venture out to change the world, they once knew, and try to make it back to the way things once were before.
In today’s day and age, hearing the term “time is money” seems very relevant and places you in the world we live in where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and cash is getting harder and harder to acquire. It’s a mess of a world we live in and it’s another perfect opportunity for Andrew Niccol to capitalize on and make a great sci-fi future about, just like he did with Gattaca. However, comparing those two seems a bit mis-matched, as one plays out like an actual drama, where this is just guns, chases, women, sex, and money. Lots and lotsa money.
What I liked most about this flick was the set-up and premise from Niccol. He takes you into this future where everybody is practically living day-to-day, working their asses off just for another hour, and people don’t waste any time at all with what it is they do, so they just run just to keep up with time. It’s a pretty neat premise that Niccol shows and actually spends a butt-load of time developing it, showing us the perks, showing us the obvious cons, and also letting us know how people get by when they live in a world like this. It also looks gorgeous with some really lavish production designs and something about those cars that combine a futuristic look, with a 70′s grindhouse-car look and made them look so cool and retro, but something I’ve never seen before as well. Either way, this whole world that Niccol put me in was really cool but it only becomes a total shame when things started to change right in the middle, and not for the best, either.
The film changes it’s tempo from this dark, brooding drama about a messed-up future, to a slam-bang, action thriller where two Bonnie and Clyde-types are going around, shooting people, taking time, and trying to save their own time as well. You would think that with a good chunk of this film surrounding two people, running for their lives as their clock ticks and ticks away, there would be a lot more suspense and momentum to this flick, but I never felt it. The pace should have been more frantic, where you felt like these characters could have timed-out at any second and even though there were some parts where that feeling came over me (last 15 minutes were pretty damn tense), it sure as hell wasn’t enough especially when you take into consideration that the last hour is dedicated to it.
This film is also terribly silly, but not in a good way, either. There’s a lot of lame dialogue used here where characters use all of these dumb time puns and the usual corny, action bullshit where you have JT saying that he’s going “to take their time back”, and all that lame-o crap that we hear in every sci-fi, action film. But this time it’s different: because it’s all about time. Honestly, if I heard “cleaning one’s clock” ever used again when somebody said they were going to kill somebody, I was going to rip out all of the alarm clocks from my house, get a hammer, set them down, and smash every single one to pieces until I couldn’t hear a ticking noise! And yes, even the ones on the microwave and stove as well! Sounds dramatic, I know; but it gets so annoying after awhile. Just trust me on that and be ready to check-off every “time” pun you can find because I don’t think you’ll have any left by the time this is over. See what I did there? Okay, I’ll shut the hell up now.
But the idea of how these people actually lose and gain time was pretty silly as well, if not fully realized to its fullest. I’m not a big mofo when it comes to movies not making any sense or seeming illogical in terms of plot or character-development, but when a flick like this depends on it’s tools and methods, I have to expect a little something more in the plausibility department. Think about it: the only way to gain and lose time in this future is by touching arms together. That’s it. The way a person can save your life is by basically, taking your arm, saying how much time to give away, and holding it for about 5 seconds or so. That’s pretty much all there is to that idea and it would seem pretty easy to steal anybody’s time just by walking by somebody and taking their arms, regardless of if they want you to take their time or not. Maybe Niccol didn’t fully think this stuff through, just maybe.
If anything makes this film a lot better, it’s the action and the cast that this film has assembled. Since every character in this film has to look either 25 or younger, it seems like a very big stretch for this film to get people that look this age and I don’t think one person in this film was actually that age, but they all do fine jobs with it. Justin Timberlake is fine in one of his first starring roles, playing a very serious and heroic-like character as Will Salas. JT does his best with this material and even though a lot of the lines he’s given are terribly corny as hell (yes, I speak of the “time” puns), he still works through it and makes a realistic/sympathetic character that we can all stand behind easily. Amanda Seyfried begins, at first, by playing his damsel in distress that seems to just want to go home back to her rich mommy and daddy, and live the life she’s always wanted to, but that surprisingly changes when we soon start to see her and JT connect with each other, which is where her performance seems to get better. Their chemistry is very good together and I could actually buy them as love interests, as well as two bad-ass rebels that wanted to take down “the man”. It’s also surprising that I believed them as a couple because they rarely have any actual love scenes together, and even when they do, they are always rudely interrupted by the dickhead time-keeper; Mr. Cillian Murphy himself.
One of the more distracting aspects behind this flick is that 35-year old Cillian Murphy looks the oldest out of this whole cast, but other than that, is still pretty good as our “villain”, Raymond Leon. I use quotation marks around the word “villain” because the film never really seems to decide whether he’s a troubled, government worker that is just doing his job, or a guy that is truly a bad soul that just wants to make people’s lives miserable. That aspect of this character is never fully realized until the last couple minutes or so with him and it’s only because of how good Murphy is at playing him, that I can forgive the film for this mis-step. The actual villainous villain in this flick is played by Alex Pettyfer, and after seeing Magic Mike and loving him in that, I was really happy to see this kid here give a pretty good performance as a dude that goes around, killing people, and taking their times right before he does so. Such a baddie!
Consensus: The set-up and initial-pace from Andrew Niccol, has In Time start off with plenty of promise, but it soon falls down after about an hour or so, where the film goes from a thriller that features no real thrills, no real suspense, and a whole bunch of corny-dialogue that makes you feel like this film was supposed to be made way back in the 80′s, when these films made killings at the box-office. They still do now, but not as much as that lame decade.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Rabbit out of a hat? Boooooooooring.
Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have been life-long freinds that both share a love of magic, and have ruled the Vegas strip for the past two years. However, with the emergence of a more brutal type of magic, courtesy of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), they’ve fallen on hard times and break-up. Burt is left in Vegas without any type of job, any money, or any inspiration for magic anymore. That is, until he goes back to reclaim the roots that made him love magic in the first place.
Usually when I see a trailer for a comedy, I either laugh-out-loud, chuckle, or just sit there in total and utter boredom. Every, single time I saw the trailer for this movie, nothing ever came to me. It wasn’t that I hate Steve Carrell, it wasn’t that I hate magic, and it sure as hell wasn’t that I wasn’t looking forward to seeing more Jim Carrey, play Jim Carrey (more on him in a tad bit later), it was just that it wasn’t funny. I didn’t laugh and it almost seemed like all of the best parts were in the trailer. That’s really saying something.
Most comedies at least try to be funny, and succeed at times. This flick rarely has that happen to itself. Most of the time during this movie I was just sitting there, watching, and waiting for something to come by and totally take me by surprise by how funny it was, but it never came to me. Instead of actually being smart or even remotely funny, we just get a bunch of characters that are sort of dick-ish, and a bunch of jokes towards the likes of David Blaine and Criss Angel, which seems like they would have been better, had they been done when they actually relevant, almost a decade ago. Automatically, I knew I wasn’t going to like this flick just from the beginning, but much to my surprise, it does get better. Well, sort of.
Here’s the thing with this movie: when it tries to be funny, it feels painfully obvious and totally misses the mark. But, when it’s trying to be nothing but goofy and not even play-up for the laughs, then that’s where the flick really charmed it’s way into my soul. I don’t know if most of that credit is given to the cast, or the screenplay, but when I found myself laughing, it was long and hard, but only for a short while. After that said short while, then it just went back to boredom and I once again found myself sighing and eye-rolling my way through the rest of the duration of this flick. Most comedies try, but this one doesn’t even seem to and I still don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing.
Even magic lovers that go to see this, are going to be pretty disappointed since most of the magic is all CGI, special-effects, or played up to ridiculous laughs that could only happen if you watched a movie. Personally, I like the art of magic, what type of effort goes into it, and how it’s all done, which is why films like the Illusionist and the Prestige always do something for me, but this flick doesn’t even seem bothered with any of that. It’s almost like the flick just used the whole idea of having magicians battle one another, just for the sake of their being comedy and goofiness galore to occur. Nothing ever happens, and the magic never really sizzles or delights anyone. I even had a couple of magicians at my screening, and I felt like I wanted to give them a hug at the end of it. Not because it wasn’t funny (I’m sure they laughed their assess off like everybody else in the theater, with the exception of us high-level critics), but because there wasn’t much magic that felt natural or kosher to the story. It was just thrown in there to make us go, “Wow.” And you could say that’s what most magicians are supposed to make you go, but at least they’re stuff is real. This movie’s stuff wasn’t and it was a bummer for me, on both levels.
However, when you have a movie as bad as this, you can usually depend on the cast to save things and that’s what they do, for the most part. Steve Carell seems to be having fun as Burt Wonderstone, but here’s my main dilemma with Carell. Carell is hilarious when he isn’t trying too hard and just playing his own, natural-self. Usually, it’s when he’s playing the awkward-guy put into a real-life situation that he finds himself in (40 Year Old Virgin). But when he goes off and starts playing these obvious, electric characters that just seem to want your attention and praise; then, that’s when it seems that this guy is trying way, way too hard. Carell makes Wonderstone interesting, but that’s not saying much since this guy is a bigot, a dick, and just one of those dudes who acts like his shit don’t stank, all because he can do neat-o tricks that make people wonder how he did it all. I get that Wonderstone is supposed to start off as a deuche, and then progressively change into a better person as time goes on, but that didn’t matter to me because I didn’t really like this guy nor Carell playing it. Carell does what he can, but he is trying too hard here and almost made me feel like it would have been a hell of a lot better, had they casted somebody like Will Ferrell who is the man at making roles like these work. Wouldn’t have been the most original thing in the world to see, but at least it would have been more interesting and fun to watch.
It was great to see Steve Buscemi get a lead role in a movie for once, let alone one that’s a comedy, but even he feels wasted. And also, don’t let me forget to remind you that this guy shows up in almost every, single Adam Sandler comedy. If Buscemi is wasted in a flick like this, then that’s really saying something. Alan Arkin is fun as the old-school magician that every kid looked up to, Rance Holloway, and loves to just scream, shout, and be the old man that we all know and love him for. It helps that the guy was just nominated for an Oscar, but regardless, the guy’s a box of fun to watch. Also, Olivia Wilde is here as Jane, and really shows that she can play with the big-boys, even if she wasn’t as funny as we’ve seen her be in the past. Still, Wilde’s always charming and always easy-on-the-eyes. Rawr.
The real stand-out of this while movie definitely has to be Jim Carrey, as he’s the only one who really seems to be trying to make this movie and it’s comedy work, yet, does it so flawlessly that it doesn’t seem hard at all. Carrey likes playing strange characters like Steve Gray, and what only makes it better is that he isn’t at the fore-front of it all. Carrey actually allows others to take over the center-stage and wiggle their elbows a bit, only until he pops-up and starts having a ball. Carrey definitely provided the best moments of the movie for me and after awhile, was the only aspect of the whole thang that actually kept me watching. Sorry, Olivia. You’re hot and all, but come on. Jim’s still got it.
Consensus: If you like magic; you will be disappointed. If you like to laugh; you will be disappointed. If you like Jim Carrey; then you will probably be happy with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone for that reason, and that one reason only considering it’s rarely ever funny and tries hard while doing so.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Expected there to be more rapes with this one.
Two distraught and damaged people (Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace) who happen to live-across from one another, both feel the need for revenge. Her revenge is solely based on the man who got into a car accident with her and disfigured her face, whereas his revenge is solely based on the man who killed his wife and daughter. That man (Terrence Howard) just so happens to be the drug kingpin that Farrell’s character is working for, which automatically shows you that shit’s about to get whack. Well, sort of.
This was a very, very strange movie as it was nothing that I expected it to be from the trailer, and I’m still stuck racking my brain on what the hell it was all about. The actually, awesome trailer that came out awhile back provided us with a great look at a movie that could be a bunch of slam-bang, action fun that was all about chewing bullets, and spitting out explosives. That’s the type of movie I was promised and that’s the type of movie I only dreamed of seeing. However, that is not at all what I got and being that this is WWE Studios film; I should have only known.
The whole discussion of this movie comes down to one question: is it bad? For the answer to that, I would have to reply by saying yes and no. See, this isn’t one of those movies you can really ever take seriously, despite it being one of those flicks where they take the plot, it’s characters, and their motivations that way. You basically have to assume that the movie has an I.Q level that’s lower than yours, and just go with the flow of things. But even that’s where a problem with this film lies; it just isn’t that fun to begin with.
Director Niels Arden Oplev is making his English-language debut after making the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and shows that he has interest in keeping a story moving, with a nice deal of tension and details, but this movie is nowhere near that. He seems like he gets the story and where it’s going, but he never allows for it to have fun with itself or come alive in anyway. It’s sort of like the guy is going through the motions, hoping that people will become interested in what he finds interesting, but it never soils that way. Instead, we’re just left with a guy being all happy wappy about a bunch of material that he’s finally getting the chance to direct without subtitles, but to us, the viewer, that’s nothing special we need to watch.
Maybe I’ve been a bit spoiled these past couple of weeks with dumb, brainless exercises in fun that never seem to end, but when I go to a movie like this that promises guns, drugs, crooks, and dames, within the first 5-10 minutes, I expect to see a lot of that continue on throughout. That’s not what happens at all. The movie starts off with an exciting action-sequence that lasts about 10 minutes and has you all excited, wondering if this is going to be like everything you had hoped for. Then, people start talking, people start flirting, and worst of all, people start picking-up those dreaded cell phones. Yes, there is so much cell phone-usage here that I literally thought that the big surprise at the end was going to be that either Terrence Howard, Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell, or somebody had brain cancer. Then again, a twist like that wouldn’t seem so out-of-place in a crazy movie like this.
Basically, the whole movie is lead-up to the last 5-10 minutes where we get another action-sequence that’s fun and exciting, but in-between the beginning and the end; there’s not much else. Just a bunch of people talking on cell phones (like I alluded to earlier), moping around, poppin’ b’s over killing people, talking about how sad they are, what they want to do next, and some of the most awkward first dates I have ever witnessed in my life. And trust me, that is saying something. My problem with this movie is that it takes itself too seriously and never loosens up the gears to let go and be free, wild, and fun like it just could have been. Would have made the movie a whole lot more entertaining, rather than dragging on and on throughout the hour-and-50-minute time-limit.
Thankfully though, underneath it all, we got some peeps holding the fort down and that comes in the form of Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. Farrell is good as the brooding, but sad guy that wants to gain revenge on the guy who killed his familia. He plays the silent, stern type very well to where you see that the guy is as reserved as he is, for a reason and nothing more. I didn’t mind Farrell playing this character considering I believed him when he was upset, confused, or planning to kick somebody’s ass because he could pull it all off with a look in his eyes. The guy is THAT talented of an actor.
Noomi Rapace is also quite good as the girl that takes a liking to him, mainly because she shows that vulnerability that we all know and love her for. Rapace has a great look to her where she isn’t hot, but she isn’t gorgeous either. She’s right in the middle and feels like a real gal that’s damaged, depressed, and lonely in a world that doesn’t seem to give any two shits about her. Rapace does what she can with a role like this, and it’s more than enough than I expected from her so kudos to that chick. Let’s just hope she doesn’t go back to her ass-kicking ways.
What I liked the most about this movie is these two, and the chemistry they had between one another. Granted, this movie is less about their relationship and more about how they get off on killing people (or not), but whenever they are together and actually have to create some sort of magic between themselves; it actually works. Heck, some of this movie felt like it could have just been it’s own film, entirely, scrapped-off all of the action shit, and just left it with the drama of two, damaged people who end-up finding each other and falling in love. That would have been way, way better than sitting through all of these guns, weapons, and exposition, but at least we still got to see them together and see what they could do, with what limited-resources they have. I’m telling ya, if this was told a straight-up drama, Sundance would be falling to pieces by now.
Terrence Howard plays the powerful kingpin that yells, screams, hoots, hollers, and intimidates any man that walks his way, and is fine with that, but does get a little goofy by the end. Once he starts screaming, “Where the fuck ya’ll at”, then I started to lose a bit of my cool and needed a bit of a break from this black man screaming, for no reason. Dominic Cooper is also here as Farrell’s only, sympathetic drug-buddy, that just so happens to be on Howard’s side as well. Cooper is good and gives us something to hold onto with this character, but even he feels like he’s stretching for a bit more than he can pull-off. And sadly, Isabelle Huppert and F. Murray Abraham show up here, do nothing, seem out-of-place, and disappoint me to the high heavens. Poor people.
Consensus: Even if it does promise a bunch of crazy, action-y fun, Dead Man Down is more based on being a thriller that’s as complex as a monkey in a bikini. You see it for what it is, don’t think of anything more, and that’s about it. Okay, pretty strange comparison, but still. Just expect nothing, and you may just get that in-return. Maybe.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Now I know what the ‘B’ in Barcelona stands for now. Yeah, I’m a dirty boy.
Two American women named Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) spend a summer in Barcelona to re-connect with the lives they think they have, and hopefully be able to find inspiration in terms of love and life. When vacationing and trying to discover themselves in Barcelona, they meet an artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who is attracted to the both of them while still enamored of his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife María Elena (Penélope Cruz). Somehow, everybody starts boning one-another and it’s all deserved. Why? Because it’s Barcelona, that’s why!
Regardless of whomever the hell he prefers to go to bed with at night, Woody Allen is a film maker that knows his shit and knows how to do it right. He always has a knack for writing these stories that are so simple, so down-to-Earth, and so plain, that they make you feel as if you could have written the general-premise of half-of them when you were still drawing circles with your big crayons. That’s not to discredit Mr. Allen in any way, shape, or form, it just shows you that if you have the talent to make you writing witty and always fun, then you can do no wrong. Sadly, this is not the one movie where he exhibits his best work. Sorry, Midnight in Paris. Maybe we’ll get another like you, sooner or later.
The problem I think that Allen runs into with this flick, is that he’s more concerned with the look and feel of the whole movie, rather than what makes it so important in the first-place: the characters. This may come-off as a shock to you readers out there, but surprisingly, the characters in this movie aren’t as electric or thought-provoking as you’d think. The two female leads that this story practically breathes and dies by, Vicky and Cristina (hence the title), aren’t anything more than just a bunch of confused, American college students that just seem to be the types of people who think too much about the little shit in life, and don’t ever decide to wake-up, smell the cauliflower, and get the hell on with what’s in front of you at the time-being. There’s even this one scene where we see how much of “feeler” Vicky truly is by the way she listens to a Spanish dude play guitar, and practically cries about it once it’s over. Why? I don’t know, maybe because Woody Allen likes these types of characters that make more meaning to stuff than their really is in the first-place.
It may sound weird since I am talking about a Woody Allen movie, where the characters are mostly neurotic to the point of where they have to bring a freakin’ tranquilizer with them everywhere, but it just doesn’t work here as well as it does in other films. You could even go so far as to argue that maybe the same case with the characters being too neurotic and quirky are evident in mostly all of Allen’s work, but what separates the best, from the worst, is the way he’s able to cover it all up with witty and hilarious-dialogue that keeps you interested in seeing/hearing what these characters have to do or say next. I never really felt that with these characters and I sort of just wanted them to stop their damn talking, and get back to the whole love-makin’ idea. But without Javier Bardem in the mix. If you know what I mean?
If there is anything that Woody Allen can fall back on in this movie it’s that he is so determined and inspired to show Barcelona in it’s finest, and most extravagant form, that it actually works. Barcelona is a place I would always love to venture out to, but being 19, with no job, no wife (not that I know of, no kids (not that I know of), and no relation whatsoever to a billionaire, may never get the shot to. And if that is the depressing, but true case, then this is probably the closes I’ll ever get to that trip and I have to say it’s better than nothing because you really feel as if you are there in this setting, where the pharimones between these fellow-residents are just running-wild. Seriously, if this movie doesn’t get you hot at all, I don’t know what will. And I’m not just referring to watching this during the Summer-time, neither. If you know what I mean?
The other key-factor to making this movie work is the cast that, as usual with most of Allen’s flicks, is star-studded but shows everybody doing their best to make it all work out. For the most part, they succeed. Javier Bardem was just coming off of his Oscar-win as the bad-ass Anton from No Country for Old Men, and took a pretty risky, but big-move in his career gunning for a role that’s as suave and sexy as this. Thankfully, Bardem pulls it off like crazy and shows that the guy can play charming and cool, but also have you totally revved-up to go out there and tell babes to get in their plane for Barcelona in an hour. Thank you, Javier Bardem. You give hope to all men out there in the world, in the hopes that they will one day, find woman that are as desperate for sex as themselves. It’s sad, but true.
People get on Scarlett Johansson’s case for not being the greatest actress since the glory days of Elizabeth Taylor (or some royal beotches like that), but the girl’s got a look and style to her that works and have you feel something for her character, even if you can’t put your finger on what it is. She’s got this real sense of vulnerability and confusion within her act that makes you feel bad for her character when she gets a tad screwed-over from time-to-time, and makes you just want to give her a hug and possible smooch on-the-side. However, we all know that will never, ever happen unless you’re Ryan Reynolds or Sean Penn (present-day, mind you), so it’s all hopes and dreams from here. Rebecca Hall is always showing-up in heavy-duty dramas where she plays the straight-laced, serious gal that does her own thang and likes it, and her performance as Cristina is pretty much the same old song and dance for her, but with a bit of a lighter-feel this time. Hall is good at playing up-tight and shows how one girl can practically go from despising everything, to just wanting more out of her life of living, and life of lust. Hall is always great in what she does, but here, I saw that the girl could really handle comedy and make it work. Let’s just hope Hollywood takes notice of this and stop making her co-star as the female love-interest all movies seem to need.
The most-popular and noted aspect of this movie was probably Penélope Cruz, with her Oscar-winning role as the psycho, ex-girlfriend. It’s a role that suits our usually high-strung actress like a glove, but also doesn’t do much for the story or it’s meaning. The whole movie, you are constantly just waiting for Cruz to show up and light everything on fire and have her presence be known, but she shows up to the party a bit too late, and doesn’t really liven things up like I expected her too. It’s sort of like me that one time at my own Sweet 18th. All I wanted to do was get my ladies, my money, and my food, and I had to wait 3 hours for that crap! What the hell?!? Anyway, back to Cruz. As she usually is with anything she gets thrown at her (even you, Tom Cruise), she’s great with this role and definitely brought out the most laughs from the cast. Everybody was pretty damn serious up until she reared her beautiful self in, but still didn’t keep me as awake as I would have wished for and being that this was an Oscar-winning role: I was expecting a shit-load more from her. But then again, who doesn’t just love when Cruz breaks-out her native tongue? Huh? Huh? Am I right or what, fellas? Okay, I guess I’m the only perv around these parks. Thanks everybody!
Consensus: Allen’s writing in Vicky Cristina Barcelona isn’t as sharp or as entertaining as it has been in the past, but still, with a cast and setting like Barcelona, you could do a hell of a lot worse with a hell of a less expectations.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Hey, at least it’s not PG-13.
John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back and older than ever now. However, he still has a thing or two up his sleeve when it comes to blowing shit up, kicking ass, and saying everybody’s favorite line. You know what it is. Don’t even make me try to utter it. This time around, he’s facing-off against terrorists in Moscow and teaming-up with his estranged son (Jai Courtney) for double the action and double the kills, father-son style.
After I reviewed and posted my thoughts on Live Free or Die Hard, I got a lot of comments from people saying that, “it wasn’t like the original Die Hard“, “it didn’t feel like John McClane was a regular-person”, “Justin Long’s annoying”, and basically, “it wasn’t a Die Hard movie, and instead like another action-movie”. All are valid-points and I can totally see where they were coming from but trust me, when you see this, you’re going to get on all-fours, and kiss the feet of Len Wiseman and co. from that last movie. Seriously: the Die Hard lovers are going to riot over this one.
If you go into this expecting it to be a Die Hard movie, be ready to be disappointed. I can already tell you that without a stutter in my speech, but, if you go into it expecting an action-movie, you won’t come-out hate yourself, Bruce Willis, or director John Moore for that fact. Okay, maybe you’ll still hate John Moore but at least give the guy some credit: he makes the action “fun”, right? Being that this an action movie, you can expect there to be a huge amount of guns, deaths, blood, gore, f-bombs, explosions, bullets, and most importantly, cars that are totally destroyed. That’s the whole fun of an action movie and if there is anything that this movie does better than I expected, it’s that it gives us something fun to pay-attention when all else seems to be failing. If anything, you’ll have plenty of eye-candy to view and gaze at, but once you get down the bottom of it all, you’ll soon start to realize that there’s just nothing else other than exactly that: eye-candy. Everything is pure dullsville.
Okay, here is where the movie screws itself up on: it does not feel like a Die Hard movie. The look, the tone, the screenplay, the characters, and even the action, feel as if they could have come from any other action-movie in the world, but not a Die Hard movie. You know why? Because Die Hard is a special franchise that it’s crowd loves, it’s lovers still praise to this day, and humble critics like yours truly still rate as one of, if not, the best action movie of all-time. It was an action movie that didn’t just give us fun and entertaining set-pieces full of action, but it also gave us a real character that was easy to stand-behind, root for, and love just about everything he did. Here, everything feels like it was trying to re-create that glory once again, but lost all of the lovely charm of the original.
Instead, we just have a bunch of action, mixed together with something that’s supposed to be considered a story, something that’s supposed to be funny when it wants, something that’s supposed to be epic, and something that’s supposed to resemble John McClane. Everything I just mentioned, was supposed to be “something” from the original, but all of that gets lost in the wind. For instance, let’s focus on the screenplay. The story itself makes some sort of sense when it first begins, but after awhile, starts to go through twists, turns, and unexpected paths that don’t make a single-lick of sense, nor should they even be in the movie. The villains in this movie suck (more on that later), but what really has them stand-out like a sore thumb the most is that there’s a whole story-line to whatever the hell they are doing, why they’re doing, and who’s good, and who’s bad on their side. In all honesty: nobody fucking cares! All we care about is John McClane, the action, the quips, and everybody’s favorite line.
Hell, even when they do say the line in this movie, it’s so unepic, so lame, and so random, that only two people in my screening actually clapped-at and heard. Other than those two, nobody knew what the hell he said and even if they did hear it, nobody cared. That’s a real, fuckin’ shame. When you have an iconic franchise such as this, and you try to re-create the magic that was once there and fail at it: everybody’s going to notice. Don’t believe me, just ask George Lucas and Steven Spielberg when they tried to buy another house with that cash-grab Indiana Jones movie. Yup, it’s along the same lines as that, my friends. Be ready to be angry.
However, as much as I rag on all of the dumb things that this movie does, what they get wrong, what they mess-up on, and what type of magic they miss achieving once again, perhaps the biggest-sin this movie commits is making it’s main action-star, John McClane, the most annoying character out of the bunch. That’s right: John McClane is annoying in this movie. Bruce Willis is the type of guy you can trust with your movie because he’s got charm, he’s still got that coolness to him, and he still proves that it doesn’t matter how old you get, you can still light some motherfuckers up like it’s nobody’s business. However, he falls prey to this terrible script and it shows when McClane first appears on the screen, and you automatically want to punch him the face. By the way, everything you are reading is not a lie and some early-April Fool’s joke. You really do want to punch John McClane in the face.
It’s actually not that Willis is annoying as McClane, it’s more that the script makes McClane do dumb stuff that his character in the earlier-movies would have never, ever thought about doing. Ever. For an example, take the first-time McClane meets up with his boy in Russia: he shows up by yelling at him, standing in front of the car when he knows bad shit is going on, stopping his son from possibly being free, and even worse, totally draws attention by just hollering at his son like a complete jackass. To top off that, he’s trying to ask his son what’s he doing and why he’s doing it, all while his son obviously looks like he’s in desperate danger and needs to leave, pronto.
Then, it gets worse as McClane gets involved with some of the action, by driving in a car-chase that goes all throughout Moscow. John McClane knows a thing or two about driving a car through busy streets, never losing sight of where he has to go, catching all of the short-cuts, and at the end of the high-speed chase, still being able to get his man that he’s tailing so yeah, it can’t be that bad, can it? Well, lets take into account that as he goes on-and-on with this whole car-chase, and either kills or injures over 1,000 innocents. I’m not kidding, either. The car-chase that I’m talking about does some damage to Moscow, and that’s not certain buildings that were closed to renovations, or a headquarters for all of the bad-guys located in Moscow. No. These were actually innocent, harmless people that just so happened to be at the wrong place, the wrong time, and in the way of John McClane’s road rage. Now, let me ask you this: would the original John McClane from the first 3 movies, would he really go so far as to lose his shit and start killing a bunch of innocents? Yeah, you could probably say that he was just doing his job to kill the baddies, but think about it: his job is an NYC cop. I would automatically think that the guy not only knows a thing or two about getting his man, but being able to do so without killing a bunch of people that didn’t deserve it. Didn’t seem like the original John McClane I knew and loved, and if this is the new, and older John McClane; then he’s a total fuckin’ prick.
Okay, well, so far, the movie has not only fucked-up McClane’s intro, but his action-prowess as well. What’s left? Well, don’t forget that this movie does include his son and his daughter, which means there’s going to be plenty of bonding between the family members, right? WRONG!! When John McClane sees his son, not only does he totally fuck-up his plan to get out alive and well, but he constantly continues to get up his ass about doing something bad. Yes, any kid of yours that does something bad should be reprimanded, but to do it while the kid’s driving away from a bunch of angry Ruskies that are out to kill him and wear his skin as shoes? Ehh, I may have to take a rain-check on that one, pops. But don’t worry, it gets worse. Once McClane and his son actually do have some down-time to talk about what they’ve been up to, why they love each other, and why they should be a father-and-son once again, McClane is still yelling and still up his son’s ass, even though he’s supposed to be reaching-out to him. Listen here, whatever your daddy issues are, it doesn’t matter. If my daddy came-up to me after not seeing me for about 10 years, showed up in all of my shit, and started just bothering the fuck out of me by calling me names and telling me everything that I do is wrong, then I’m either going to kick his ass or just send him straight back to the nuthouse. Either way, I’m not going to put up with it because I’ll be a lot older and I don’t need him fucking my shit up. That’s exactly what John does to his son here, and even though I could suspect that from some other dads, in other movies, I could never, not for a second expect that from a guy who apparently knows what he’s doing when it comes to kicking-ass, and also wants to have the love of his son back. It’s stupid, makes no sense, and gets annoying by about the fourth or fifth time that John tells his son that he’s doing something. Okay, I bet you know what this all means by now:
STRIKE THREE!! GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!
Okay, well, now that we know John McClane is annoying-as-fuck, what about the rest of the cast of characters? Well, they’re not better than him nor are they worse. They’re just there and do what they can with a shit-script such as this. It was a pretty neat idea to add Jai Courtney in as John’s son (even though I never really remembering hearing anything about him existing until now, but okay, whatevs) and the guy does a solid-enough job to where he isn’t annoying, he isn’t a weak-link, and he doesn’t seem unlikable. He’s got a bit of a personality, he’s got the looks, he’s got some of the quips, and he’s got some of the ass-kicking skills as well. He’s not a bad character to have in a movie like this, and Courtney isn’t such a bad actor to portray him neither. Also, anybody expecting to see some more of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lucy; don’t get your hopes up too much. She rarely shows up here and even when she does, she just provides more hassle and annoyance for John McClane.
I’m still shocked that I didn’t like John McClane. Oh well, at least the villains are good, right?
HELL TO THE FUCKIN’ NO!! You would think since this is a Die Hard movie, since this does have John McClane on the good-side, and since this does have him facing-off against Russians, that this wouldn’t be one hell of a toe-to-toe battle between the two sides, but that’s where the thoughts are wrong. These villains blow and are as lame as you could expect. All of that back-story shit I alluded to earlier aside, these guys got nothing for them in terms of intimidation, smarts, or toughness. They seem like a bunch of clowns that decided to do something bad, and just so happened to stumble-upon John McClane “on his vacation”. If you don’t believe me, there’s actually a scene where one of the main villains dance in front of John and his son, only to show how intimidating and cool he can be. That’s right: HE DANCES! If Hans Gruber could come back alive and have a thing or change about these rusty Ruskies, he’d fucking shoot ‘em down, one-by-one, and help John back to safety. Or, being a true villain in his finest-form, he’d probably off those Ruskies, torture John’s son right in front of him, kill the son, and then kill John before he was half-way tortured to death. That’s just the sick bastard that Hans Gruber was and watching a bunch of bums like these in this movie; I missed the guy a shit-load.
I’m still in shock that I didn’t like John McClane.
Consensus: People going into A Good Day to Die Hard and expecting another fan-favorite of the franchise, are going to be more than disappointed: they’re going to be outright pissed-off. And to be honest, I don’t blame them. Everything that you would want from a Die Hard movie is barely here, except for a couple of quick-quips that are funny and action set-pieces that catch your eye, but that’s just about it. Be ready to be upset, people.
As a regular, action movie to see on a boring night or day: 5 / 10 = Rental!!
As a Die Hard movie: 0. 5 / 10 = Crapola!!
If this was released on 4/20, the box-office would explode.
Told in flashback with a reporter named Arnie (Paul Giamatti), this is the story of Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) who are two slackers who do nothing with their lives except act as if they kill monsters, all for the greater-good of society. They soon find themselves all caught up in a whirlwind of inter-dimensional activity after their exposure to a drug dubbed “soy sauce” that allows them to have unusual powers and wild visions.
The plot synopsis up-above may not be the best in the whole, entire world, mainly because this movie doesn’t really seem to follow a regular structure that most movies out there follow. That being said, you can probably already tell whether or not this is your type of movie by the look of the trailer, the poster, or even the first 5 minutes in which we get a random sequence of some dude talking about chopping a person’s head-off. It’s quick, witty, and really humorous and I knew if that’s how the rest of the film was going to play-out, then I was in for a total treat from beginning-to-end, no drugs required. However, by the 30-minute mark, it became quite apparent to me that drugs were going to need to be acquired. Damn my sobriety!
Writer/director Don Coscarelli is mostly known for his dip in cult-films that people either love, or absolutely positively despise. I guess it all depends on the type of person who’s viewing it and that’s why I may have been a bit shaky about seeing what he did with this material here. The thing is: it seems like this guy knows what he’s doing, how he wants to do it, and why he’s doing it, but the final-product doesn’t make it seem so. In the beginning of the movie, everything seemed so wacky, wild, and insane, but made absolute sense as to why, but by the latter-acts, things start to change and it almost becomes like a desperate-act for Coscarelli to keep things up-and-about, by throwing in random-sequence-after-random-sequence.
It makes sense why this movie feels like it is one, huge drug-ride from hell, because the truth is: it is one huge, drug-ride from hell. The main characters are constantly on drugs throughout the whole movie and it gives us a reason and explanation as to why everyone and everything is so incredibly strange, but there comes a point where it feels like we need more than just random, crazy shite. It almost feels like we need plot, reasoning, structure, emotions, characters, and most importantly: more fun.
That’s the weirdest-problem I had with this movie: just not enough fun. I’m not going to lie, there were times I really felt like I was having a ball with this material because I never, ever had a clue as to where it was going to go, and didn’t want to know until it finally showed-up on-screen and blasted my mind away. But then there were other times where I felt criminally-bored by the proceedings up on-screen, and that’s because the movie begins to focus on too much of it’s plot, without any of the “fun-element” going for it. It may sound strange having me complain about this movie focusing on too much of a plot, considering I said it needed more of that, but the complain I am centering more towards is that the shit just does not make sense, and whether or not it was supposed to, really, really goes over my head.
Having the interview with the journalist at least gives the film some sort of easy passage-way in having us understand what the hell is going on and what’s next to come, but that’s only good for about a-half-hour. Then, after that minute-mark, it all goes downhill and really seems to get lost in it’s own exposition, without ever being able to bring itself back-up to life. The idea of having soy sauce be your main drug of choice that fucks with these people’s minds and have them see a bunch of insane things makes sense and is good, that is until it starts to get out of control and make it seem like the soy sauce itself is more than just a drug that makes you imagine things, it actually has the ability to give you powers only Clark Kent could dream-of. It all gets to a point of where I couldn’t buy into it anymore and I just wish that Coscarelli decided to relax with the plot, and allow more fun to be had here. Is there such a problem with wanting that when you see a movie? Especially one with Paul Giammatti?
Speaking of Giamatti (the dude also produced), anybody going in and expecting him to do his own thing, left this material up from hell’s gate, and give it a sort of levity, are going to be very disappointed coming out. All he does here is play the journalist with a gullible sense of well-being, and sometimes, act a bit snarky like most journalists do. It’s nice to see Giamatti show-up in “different” material like this and really expand his comfort-zone, but when he’s given about 15-minutes of screen-time, it just feels like a total waste of an amazing and reliable actor that, in my eyes, can do no wrong. Yes, that even includes Lady in the Water.
Instead of giving the spot-light to an actor as talented as Giamatti, the movie instead focuses most of it’s attention on Chase Williamson, a new-comer that I think has a future of bigger, and brighter things. Apparently this was Williamson’s first, ever movie and for a virgin who’s just getting his cherry popped: the guy leaves a lasting-impression (sort of like the time I lost mine). The character he plays could have been one that is absolutely annoying and terribly one-note, but Williamson always seems to be one-step ahead of that and makes this guy into one of your typical, slacker/stoner characters you see in movies like this, but instead, give him more charm and wit. In somebody else’s hands, this role could have really been cringe-inducing to watch, but Williamson gives it his all and makes this flick his bitch. Not sure whether or not that’s a good thing, but for a first-time, major IMDB credit: it’s pretty damn impressive.
The same can’t quite be said for the other-half of the duo, Rob Mayes as the titular John. It’s not that Mayes is bad in this movie or anything, it’s just that his role is deuchy and stud-like, that he comes-off more like a frat-guy that likes to take hallucinogens, instead of a slacker-nerd that enjoys hunting monsters and solving strange problems. Together, they form a solid-duo that I could see kicking ass and taking names, the completely stoned-way, but when it’s just them hanging-out and doing their thing; Dave was a lot cooler and more interesting than that d-bag named John, who just so happened to have the movie named after him.
Consensus: In order to watch and actually enjoy John Dies at the End, I guess you need to have an acquired taste for the material as it is, but even if you are looking for a fun, wacky, and wild trip that is all about no-holds-barred entertainment, then you still may be wanting more. Who knows though! Go out, get stoned, and watch it. Just don’t say you heard that from me.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Wait till the Gingerbread Man comes around. There gon’ be some hell to pay.
Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton play the titular characters, who fifteen years after their gingerbread house incident, have turned into ruthless witch hunters. However, they run into a problem when an evil and powerful witch (played by Famke Janssen), finds her way into the town, taking all of the children, and bring back old memories that the two thought they had stored-away for years. Always count on Jean Grey to throw everybody a curve ball.
The fact that the trailers blew, was barely screened for any critics, and was actually supposed to come-out last year, I knew that there was going to be nothing all that amazing or great for me to watch, but then again, it’s January so what is? However, after seeing the train-wreck that was Movie 43, not too long before this, I thought to myself, “Nothing could be as bad as that. Nothing.” Thankfully, this movie didn’t prove me wrong but at the same time, still didn’t do much for me, either. Once again, just another lame-o day at the movies, people. Thankfully, the month of January is just about over. Woo-wee!
This was one of those films that I saw very recently that left me feeling very, very strange. I remember watching the movie, having an okay time, not hating myself for watching it, and not really caring what was going on with the movie. However, as soon as the credits rolled, I was out of there as quick as a banshee, got right into my car, drove home, jammed-out to some Nas (total white boy stuff), got home, sat-down, got ready to write this review, and yet: I couldn’t think of a single, damn thing I liked about it but also, couldn’t think of a single, damn thing I didn’t like about either. That may all sound very odd and strange to you all, but this movie did nothing to my mind, to my mood, or to my movie-viewing. It was literally there for me to kill time, have a watch at the movies, eat some popcorn (extra butter, too), drink some soda (Sprite to be exact), and enjoy myself, all while doing so. Maybe it’s weird because I feel more like a movie-audience member than I actually did a movie-critic, but the fact of the matter remains: nothing really happened to me while watching this movie.
Despite this strange problem that occurred to me after the movie, I still do recall having a nice-amount of fun with this movie, and not just in the, I’m-trying-to-get-over-a-really-really-bad-movie-I-just-saw-way, either. I actually enjoyed myself with this movie and I think that it’s because of the R-rating that allowed for itself to go the limits that it oh so rightfully needed. Because of the R-rating, we get more action, more gore, more nudity, more language, and more limbs and parts of the body, just flying-around. There’s a real, unadulterated sense-of-joy to this movie that is definitely contagious as you may find yourself paying more and more attention to the action and all of the other crazy shenanigans more than what really matters like plot, direction, characters, and script. The reason why it’s important you don’t pay attention to those elements, is because they sort of suck here in this movie.
Saying that everything in this movie, other than the action, just “sucks”, doesn’t seem right but it also seems suitable. The action may be able to keep you distracted for a little bit of time, but when it all goes away and you have to actually get involved with these characters, their tensions, their traits, and the story that they have to them: then the film starts to lose credibility, or any that it had going for itself in the first-place. The dialogue isn’t even that shitty, it’s just bland and dull, and makes me feel like if I was flashed $5,000 in front-of my face, I could have written it too. I probably wouldn’t have as been as witty to include the several F-bombs here and there, but still, it’s the type of script that features little to nothing new or refreshing you haven’t seen or heard done before. It’s just there to serve the action, the story, and the actors. And oh dear: the poor actors.
By saying, “the poor actors”, I don’t actually mean “poor” in the sense that they don’t have a dime to spend because I’m pretty sure that they are well-off wherever they may be residing now, but more or less that they are “poor”, because as much fun and delight as they may be having; it never fully comes onto us in-return. Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner are fine as Hansel and Gretel and definitely seem like they have a nice bro-sis chemistry that shines throughout the whole movie, but also feel like they deserve a whole lot more to their names. Maybe more to Renner, than to Arterton, but none the less, both deserve better scripts and better characters to work with and no matter how much charm they may bring to these characters, Hansel and Gretel still never feel like they have the type of personalities that win you over from the start. Other than some subplot about how their parents really died, we don’t get to know too much about them, what makes them tick, and who they really are, enough for us to feel like we know them and can totally root them on. They’re just the type of superheros that are there to kill witches, walk around from town-to-town, and say the F-word, whenever they feel is necessary. Well, them and the two-bit script.
Two, other actors that are here as villains that seem to be having fun are Peter Stormare and Famke Janssen, who are both character-actors that know what to do, how to do it, and make it look good. They both seem like they are having just as much fun as Arterton and Renner are, on the opposite-sides of the spectrum, but still never really pop-off the screen. Instead, they are just there to serve the plot, to show how bad and evil certain characters can be, and most of all, just chew scenery like nobody’s business. If that’s all they were called on for to do, then hey; good for them. But when it comes to giving me villains/characters I’m going to remember next month, or hell, in the next 10 minutes; nope, can’t say I’ll recall much. I guess that last statement could sort of be used to described this whole, damn movie. Oh well. It’s January.
Consensus: For an-hour-and-a-half movie, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters never seems to slow-down, nor does it ever really seem to bore the piss out of a person, but it doesn’t offer anything new, flashy, or memorable to the action-genre and will probably leave your brain, as quickly as the extra large soda of Coke (or in my case, Sprite) leaves your body.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Sing it loud and sing it proud, just don’t have a heart attack.
Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, and Billy Connolly are retired opera singers who annually put on a concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday, however the arrival of Jean (Maggie Smith) disrupts the equilibrium.
With the release of this flick and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2012 was the year for the oldies to go out to the movies, and have just as much fun as all us little pieces of craps did with our major blockbusters and swirling epics. However, seeing both movies now, I’ve come to realize that maybe the best way to treat our elders with respect, would be to give them better movies. I mean, after all, they deserve the best of the best, don’t they?
Movies like these, where the old-fellers take center-stage and act in all of their senior-glory just bother the hell out of me. It’s not that I don’t have love or respect for my elders, but it seems like all of these movies treat the subjects all of the same, and Dustin Hoffman is no different. This is Hoffman’s directorial debut and at age 75, the guy may seem a bit late to the game and it sort of shows. I’m glad that the guy took the back-seat in this movie and allowed his story to practically, tell-itself, but this to me felt like it just moved at the same, exact-pace that it’s subjects were: slow and tiring.
There’s nothing wrong with a movie that’s all about taking it’s darndest time to get it’s footing and tell it’s story, but this one just moved at such a slow-pace, I was actually falling asleep. Yeah, maybe the fact that it was a 10 a.m. screening and the fact that I had roughly around 5-hours of sleep may have nailed it in for me, but none the less, there was just nothing here in this movie that really kept me going. It’s just a bunch of old people, acting old, being old, and all being played to the tune of “cute”. I get that these older-peeps are a tad goofy in their later-days, but does every damn action they make or word that comes out of their mouth have to be so damn cute and practically played for laughs!!?!? I mean, hell, I’m 19-years-of-age and I can tell you, in all honesty, that half of the shit I say in life is as funny, if not more humorous than what any of these geezers have to say, but since I’m not older and losing my touch with reality, it just doesn’t quite hit the same marks as it does for them.
Not only does that fact pertain to this movie, but in real-life as well and it bothered me that the first-hour or so of this movie was just played for laughs, and rarely ever was there a serious sub-plot to come around. Actually, the film did seem like it was working on some sort of sub-plot where the old-folks home was running into a bit of problems of folding under, but they were scrapped as soon as Smith’s character rears her ugly head on in-here, and was a bit of a bummer. The idea of having a sub-plot where a bunch of old folks have to battle-it-out for their living-space to stay alive and well, may not be the newest or coolest thing on the street, but it probably would have added ten-times more interest to the whole movie. Or at least, more interest than Hoffman’s direction seemed to have.
Maybe getting on Hoffman’s case all this much is giving him a bad-rap because even though the guy doesn’t do anything revolutionary with this material, he still doesn’t do anything bad with it, either. It just feels like it could have been directed by anybody, myself included. I don’t know if that’s a hit on Hoffman’s direction or not, but if there was more of an effort on the dude’s part, I feel like this material would have been elevated a great deal and probably wouldn’t have been so boring. Maybe “boring” is a bit of a brutal word, and you could easily state that this just isn’t the type of material that was meant for my young, unappreciative mind, but still: I know what I like and I know what I appreciate with movies, and this movie just did not have that “it factor” to really keep me alive and well. I could easily make a joke about that relating to this movie, but I think I’ve bashed this movie a bit too much as it is.
If there is any type of silver lining located in this movie in any place, anywhere at all; it’s the marvelous cast that Hoffman has on-display here for our-eyes-only. Billy Connolly is a wild old man who constantly finds himself flirting with the fellow nurses, and even going so far as to ask the gardeners if they have any weed stashed-on them. If anybody in this flick has the right comedic-bone in the right part of their body, it’s Connolly as the guy continued to have me laugh, even if his character was a bit of a cliche to have in a movie like this. The old guy that still lives by his boner, is always a joy to watch in any movie, and Connolly actually makes the most out of it, especially with a script that seems to be relying on that aspect the most, just for comedy’s sake.
Tom Courtenay was great as the old man that still finds a way to keep in-touch with not just reality, but the current-society as well and finds many ways to obsess over both opera and hip-hop. Courtenay has a bit of an obvious character here, as well, but he’s very good at playing that type of older-man that’s more knowing of the world around him, what it is, what has passed him by, and how it is all changing, right in-front of his own eyes. He’s great in this role and easily the most likeable character of the whole bunch, especially when Maggie Smith comes into the story to wreck shit up in the old-folks home, as well as his insides.
Smith is, once again, playing that older, crankier-version of herself that is a fine-fit for an actress of her stature, but after awhile, it does get a tad old. That’s why it’s so great to see her as an actress when she turns the other cheek, and becomes a nicer-gal, even if the mean-streak is still there. I have to say, she didn’t have me laughing at her quite as much as I did in Hotel, but she still kept me happy with what she was doing on-screen and much like the rest of the cast here, had the script come alive. Pauline Collins is also a bunch of fun to watch as the more zanier lady of the home, and does whatever she can to get a laugh out of us, even if it just played-up because of her cuteness. However, in her case, I was willing to make an exception, mostly because she is a little bit of a cute, old lady. Nothing like my grams, though!
Consensus: The royal cast makes Quartet better as it trugs along, but it’s still slow, tired, dull, and pretty damn boring, especially if you’re a young d-bag like me that just wants life to move at a fast, quick pace where the party don’t stop, until everybody is passed-out. In this case, “passed-out”, usually means one thing: death.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Somebody, anybody, just please! Let there be light!
On the secluded isle of Jersey in the final days of World War II, a young woman waits for her beloved husband to return from the front. Grace (Nicole Kidman) has been raising her two young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), alone in a beautiful, cavernous, Victorian mansion, the one place she believes them to be safe. But they are not safe, or at least, not anymore.
I remember being a little tike and seeing all sorts of trailers and ads for this on TV, and being absolutely scared to death by everything I saw, and mainly, I’m talking about that “I am your daughter” scene that had everybody’s interest from day-one. Basically, it was a movie that was bound to scare the shit out of people and that’s why, even as a little guy, I really wanted to see it and possibly wet my Spider-Man undies (I was so cool back then, not much has changed actually). However, after all of these years of searching, looking around, and waiting for the right time to actually sit-down and enjoy this spook-fest for all that it is, I have to say: I’m pretty damn disappointed at the fact that my Spider-Man undies were not soiled at all, not even once. Oh, and I was disappointed that the movie sort of blew.
The film definitely starts off very promising and offers you a different-view and look at what we are usually used to seeing with haunted-house flicks. We get a lot of spooky, atmospheric stuff that makes you feel like you have no idea what’s going on, what’s in the other room, and just what the hell is making all of that noise, and that works exceptionally well here, because director Alejandro Amenábar, definitely seems like the type of guy that’s tired of all of these CGI-fueled, horror-trips. He wants to go back to being old-school where what you did not see, was the scariest thing of all and it continued to work for about, I would say, 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, however, things start to go really, really downhill from there.
Even though it’s apparent Amenábar doesn’t want this movie to be like all of the other haunted-house flicks that it so takes inspiration from, it ends-up being that, albeit, a very dull and boring one. We’ve seen and heard it all before: the floors creaking, the doors mysteriously closing, the spooky children, the weird elders, the lurking darkness, the sound of a piano being played with nobody there, and etc. All of these elements were being used as far as House on Haunted Hill and still, about 40 years later, not much has changed as they are still not scary or freaky, no matter how much of a big-budget you may or may not have. There were so many moments in this flick where I felt like I should have been scared, I should have been freaked-out, and I should have been floored to my seat, but really, I was just bored and as it all came-and-went along, I started to just continue to make more-and-more fun of this movie with my buddy. I get that it’s the type of flick that really scares the shit out of people if you don’t know what to expect next, but I did, and so did my bud, and it just became a bore.
And I hate to say it, but what added insult to injury was the non-stop repetitive motion that this flick seemed to go through. It seemed like every time Kidman’s character was pissed about the shades being opened, she would yell at her house keepers, who would then try to help-out the children, who would continuously bicker and banter with one another about “the ghosts” that they see, and then, get into a loud shouting match, that would ultimately start the whole cycle back-up again. Everybody’s always yelling, everybody’s always fighting, and everybody’s always looking spooky or looking spooked, and it just became tiring and annoying to see that this flick had nothing really cool to throw at us. There were a couple of cool moments where I really felt like Amenábar had a sense of style and detail that he wanted to kick our asses with, but somehow, it just ended-up kicking our asses out of the seats we were in, and into the bathroom as we downed 5 Coca-Cola’s in a row, just to stay-awake for the whole thing, and that was a pretty good choice on our parts, because trust me, the ending is something that you want to stay around for.
Hell, it’s the best part of the whole movie and sure to change your left-over thoughts and opinions about the whole movie. I don’t want to go into anymore detail about this twist and the ending, but it’s very smart, very thought-provoking, and very intelligent with how it constructs itself and the whole flick, in and of itself. However, I still just wish that the rest of the flick was like that and at least tried to keep me wondering and guessing, almost as much as this twist did. Trust me, it’s good enough to make me want to give this thang a positive-rating and that is really, really saying something.
Maybe I’m not giving enough credit to Nicole Kidman cause despite her seeming like she is way-above the material she is given here, she actually brings a lot to the table and makes her character seem more than just an angry, bitch-of-a-mother that can’t seem to keep her kiddies away from the sunlight. Kidman does all that she can with a script that doesn’t really seem to know what to do with her talents, other than have her running-around, yelling, and looking terrified, but you know what? Kidman milks it all for what it is and in-return, made this movie a tad bit more enjoyable and entertaining than I expected after the first 10-minutes of realizing that this chick was not a happy-camper, and sure as hell not one I would want as my mommy. That’s fo damn sho. Although, maybe a girlfriend instead would be nice? Definitely would.
The two that play her kids, Alakina Mann and James Bentley, are fine and aren’t as unbearable to watch as kid actors because they know what to do, how to do it, and still look creepy and innocent at the same time, while doing it. It’s a pretty rare-achievement to see in kiddie-roles, especially the kid actors/actresses themselves. Also, Christopher Eccleston shows up in this flick and as good as that bloke may be in everything else in the world that he has done, he’s pretty lame here and brings nothing to the table other than more agony and boredom for a bunch of stiffs like me and my pal. However, we come very close to seeing Kidman naked in a scene that he’s in, so that at least counts for something, right?
Consensus: An intriguing plot-twist and fine performance from Kidman save The Others from being just another lame, boring, dull, and obvious haunted-house, horror-flick that’s all about what spooks in the night and lurks in the shadow. However, it definitely is, despite trying to hide it with a couple of neat, style-points here and there. Neat, but worthless on lame-o material such as this.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
If Mayor Nutter ever needs somebody to watch his woman, he can always give me a call. He just better drop my taxes.
An ex-cop (Mark Wahlberg) finds himself in a job for New York City’s mayor (Russell Crowe), which is that he must trail his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whom he believes is having an affair. However, what the ex-cop stumbles upon is worse than he ever imagined and thus, the job becomes a lot more difficult than he expected.
This is one of those movies that seems like it has all of the promise with the cast, the characters, the plot, the stars, and heck, even the director (Allen Hughes, in his first movie without bro Albert by his side) all being big and well-respected. However, just like Gangster Squad, it is January, and you can’t always expect the best, no matter who may be behind it all. Why can’t it just be May already? Why?!?!??
As a director all by his lonesome, Hughes is actually not too bad. Granted, this isn’t a very showwy-direction for the type of dude that is known for this type of stuff, but he gives us a nice atmosphere and mood to start us off on the right foot. We feel as if we are in for a movie that’s all about dark stuff, happening to dark people, in dark ways, that are almost too dark to explain and believe. Basically, this movie was started-off as being one, big, piece of darkness that was most likely going to keep me guessing until the very end and for awhile; it was doing just that.
I don’t want to say that all of the twists and turns of this story work when you take everything else into consideration, but for the most part, I liked not knowing exactly where the story could go and how. Rarely do you ever get thrillers that just like to throw plot-twists for fun, but actually have them mean something, rather than just be a wake-up call to the audience and make sure they’re paying attention. You never quite know where this story could go and even the places that it does end-up, could actually take you by surprise and make you feel like this is a no-holds-barred movie, that’s ready to take you down any chance it can get. However, that would definitely be giving the movie way too much credit.
Even though the twists, the turns, the darkness, the secrets, and big reveals kept me interested in what was going on behind the closed doors we rarely get a glimpse at, they didn’t feel deserved. It was almost as if the movie itself thought, “Well, we already have these twists here, why not throw in a couple more just for good measure?”. That idea that I maybe think the creators thought up of in their heads during the writing-process, only goes to show you that there wasn’t much thought going into this script, because certain things just don’t add up. We get a look at how the world of politics can be cruel and why it’s more of a fight between the toughest, rather than the smartest, but those moments only get shoved down our throats when the movie feels like it needs to be more than just a natural-thriller where Marky Mark is going around and kicking the crap out of people.
Then, it just gets stranger and more contrived, as more subplots come in like a gay couple that seems as forced as can be, a problem with Marky Mark’s drinking problem, a love story between him and his gal-pal that has the material there to be interesting and gripping, but just isn’t due to the delivery, and a plot that shows Mark’s past and how the “hood” he used to represent, may not always be there. You put these three factors in, add a bit of the political-idea of this flick, and mix them altogether in a blender; then you’re most likely going to get a mixed-bag full of moments that work, but other moments, that just don’t add up to anything. I think where I’m trying to get at with this flick, is that even though you get into it, the movie is still nothing more than just a thriller, no matter how many debates and arguments they want to throw in there about changing NYC, by giving “the People” they’re money back. In today’s day and age, with the economy we have, maybe messages like that would work and really get inside the minds of many, fellow Americans, but put that message in a movie like this: it’s going to go nowhere and not matter a single-bit. Why? Well, because people paid over $9 to see Marky Mark and Maximilian go head-to-head, not discuss on how to make the world/NYC a better place to live free and be happy in. Yeah, wrong movie entirely.
Marky Mark definitely seems like he’s made for these types of roles where he plays the type of conflicted dude that may not have the best morals you have ever seen, but is still a hell of a likable dude that you can’t help but cheer on. His role here, as Bobby, is exactly one of THOSE roles and it’s not something new, original, or slightly refreshing to see from the guy, but it doesn’t matter, because Wahlberg is good, as always, and gives us more to like about this character. However, it’s that character himself I just didn’t believe.
Without spoiling too much about this plot and basically telling you what goes down with Mark and everybody else, I’m just going to state that Mark’s character goes through some sort of self-realization phase where he soon starts to find-out that there’s a set-up somewhere along the lines, and it’s up to him to not only save the day, but show the bad people, for everything that they are: bad people. In any movie where Wahlberg does the same, exact transformation, not only do you believe it, but you like Wahlberg more and more cause you see the cool guy come out of his performance, but here, you just don’t care. Billy is one of those dudes that’s got a troubled-past and some issues that he’s dealing with at the present-time, but never so much to the point of where I feel like the guy would really turn his life around and eventually go balls-deep in a case, that doesn’t seem like it concerned him, well, ever. I can’t give away anymore of what happens, but trust me; you won’t believe in Bobby, no matter how much Wahlberg may distract you with those big guns and crooked, angry eyebrows.
Out of the cast, the two that really shine are probably Jeffrey Wright and Russell Crowe, who both feel as if they were just called-up to have a good time, and do exactly that. Especially Crowe, who seems like he needed to give the audience a nice-reminder that yes, even though he can’t sing, he can sure as hell own the screen like no other. I mean, hell, the guy has an Oscar at his household, and has been nominated close to three times by now! The guy’s got talent, it just doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in his vocal-chords. Oh well, nice to see you back, Russell. Now, stay away from Broadway musical-adaptations!
Consensus: The promise that lies within Broken City is exactly there for the first 45 minutes or so, but once the flick decides to spice things up with an over-abundance of plots, twists, conventions, and obvious-narratives that don’t feel believable, then it just loses all of it’s steam and is nothing more than just another thriller, with more talking than usual.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Think of it as a more subtler-version of Machete. I think that’s about right.
Tommy Lee Jones plays Pete Perkins, a Texas rancher who, following the death of his jolly pal Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo), is compelled to unearth the Mexican’s corpse in order to honor Mel’s request to be buried back home where his wife and children live without him, but in doing-so, he brings the man who killed him, a border patrol guard named Mike Norton (Barry Pepper).
It seems like with all of the strict and heavy-owned laws against illegal immigration, that it would only be right for a filmmaker to come out there, speak his mind, and show us how we all are all the same, just with different heritages. I never would have thought that that filmmaker in-question would be Tommy Lee Jones of all people, but hey, who better??
Well, after watching this movie, I could probably answer that rhetorical question by saying, “anybody, really”. This is Jones’ directorial-debut and although the guy definitely seems like he has a general-idea of what he’s doing, what’s he trying to say, and how he’s getting his point-across, it still feels like a first flick of a director that doesn’t quite know what he’s doing just yet. The problem that Jones runs into with this flick, is that he doesn’t know where or what to focus on and instead of giving one piece of the story line the most attention and detail, he instead tries to have it all of the other, different ways, and just jam-pack them all in there for good fun. All the story lines and sub-plots that Jones throws in here, are all pretty fun and amusing to watch, but they take away from what could have been a real, emotional-trip that looked at the way human-nature is, and how it’s misfortunes can be cured.
That general idea and message that Jones seems to get across, does eventually get said and pointed-out to the audience, but not as strong or as emotionally-impacting as it could have been. There are too many moments where the flick seems to jump back-and-forth between all of these different stories and characters, and as interesting as they all may truly be, they still take the steam and energy out of what Jones seems like he was going for in the first-place. You’ll come to know these characters for all that they are, for better or worse, but there comes a point where you start to have enough of them and just want to Jones to get on with whatever the hell he’s trying to point-out. It’s a long, slow-trip that I didn’t mind taking in the first-place, but at the same time, I also feel like it’s a trip I would have enjoyed a whole lot more, had Jones knew how to edit his film the right way and shave off about 15 to 20 minutes of the final-product.
Then again, it is a Western and Westerns are usually long, slow, filled with themes that discuss morality, and featuring plenty shots of the harsh and unforgiving desert. If there is anything that Jones does do right as a director in this flick, it’s that he does know how to keep an interesting story, just exactly as that and never for once did he really lose my attention. Yes, some moments seemed like they were unneeded in the grand scheme of things, but you start to focus on what Jones is doing as a director, and realize that the guy’s making your typical Western, except a whole lot more subtle than you’d expect.
The morality theme doesn’t really hit hard until the last 10 minutes, and it becomes very clear what it is exactly that Jones is trying to get-across, it’s actually very thoughtful. Without giving too much away and spoiling the moral dilemma this film brings-up very clearly, I’ll just say that the actual death of this main character isn’t a very easy one to understand, and in ways, you don’t really know who you fell bad for more. Him, or the guy who killed him. It’s not an easy decision to swallow and try to think about, and this flick definitely isn’t about the easy answers and that’s something I really have to give Jones credit for. There may not be a whole lot here that really works well with this central-theme, except for the last 10 minutes, but those last 10 minutes will actually stick with you, and they are what I forgive Jones for mainly. However, when you look at the final-picture, there is something that’s left to be desired.
Tommy Lee Jones as a director may not be the finest piece-of-work he has ever done, but Tommy Lee Jones as the main-actor in this story, well that’s a different story. Tommy Lee Jones is basically playing Tommy Lee Jones, but you know what? It doesn’t matter all that much because he’s good, believable, and a pretty stand-up guy that you feel like has a reason to be mad and do all of this nutty-shit, but also feel like he’s a nicer-man than he’ll have you believe by his thoughts or his actions. TLJ is always good when he’s playing himself and even though it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t seen from the guy already, it’s still a nice-spectacle to see, even if his direction may not be able to catch-up quite as much with his acting.
Playing the guy that practically gets forced and carried on this long, grueling trip is Barry Pepper, a very, very underrated actor that really makes his character work like gangbusters, even if the script doesn’t seem like they really know what to do with him. By that, I mean that the guy definitely seems like the type of character you don’t know whether to like, trust, or even give a shit about, but somehow, the movie doesn’t feel the need to develop him at all to make us think any of these things. He’s sort of just there, getting dragged-around, looking dirty, and being scared to high heavens of when exactly he’s going to die and be buried with this dude that he killed. Pepper makes it a performance that’s worth your while and I can definitely say it’s one of the meatier performances I’ve seen from him in quite some-time, but just like TLJ’s direction, there’s a lot left to be desired here and it’s a real shame, too, because this character could have really been the most memorable one of the bunch.
The supporting cast is pretty solid, too, and definitely make this film all the more entertaining, even if TLJ doesn’t exactly know when to stop focusing on them and get on with the actual story. January Jones plays Pepper’s bored and lonely housewife that begins to realize she can get a real kick out of life, if she just learns to live a little and sleep around with some fellow-cowboys. Jones learns that from Melissa Leo’s character, who seems like she’s practically been fucking every guy in town. That is, every guy that isn’t her husband. Leo and Jones are great together as the two, wild and free gals that seem to love being in everybody’s else’s beds, and getting a fresh-taste of life, among other things, they both seem like nice characters for another movie where their presence’s are used more and help move the story along. After awhile, they just become a drag to the story and only there for Jones to show us that it’s not a total sausage-fest. Dwight Yoakam is also perfectly-cast as the dimwit Marshall of the little county that says he doesn’t need Viagra, but yet, can never seem to be able to get it up when he’s about to bone Leo. I don’t know what his deal is, I’d be ready as soon as I saw her walking towards me.
Consensus: Underneath all of the constant subplots, characters, and added-on explanations that feel unneeded, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada actually has a nice point to bring-up about friendship and human-nature, that is well-performed and brought-out very well by Pepper and Jones, but in the end, seems like it wasn’t focused on enough to really make much of a difference in the end, and just seems like a trouble, first-movie for TLJ. And that, is exactly what it is, too.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!