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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Category Archives: 5-5.5/10

Transcendence (2014)

Well of course Johnny Depp thinks he’s God!

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) and his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) both believe in technology being used as a resource to help the planet, rather than continuing to destroy it. Evelyn believes in preserving the environment; whereas Will never necessarily disagrees with her, but cares more about making technology the prime, supreme force in the world. Their other science-buddy Max (Paul Bettany) doesn’t really know what to think, but then again, he doesn’t have much time to once Will is shot with a lethal injection of radiation by a bunch of rebels looking to take him down. He has only about a month to live, and that’s all Evelyn and Max need to transport all of Will’s mind into a computer hard-drive, where they could still talk to and interact with him, as if he was really there; except for, you know, the fact that he’s inside of a computer. While Max doesn’t like what he initially sees with this new programming software Will is in, Evelyn doesn’t care too much and decides to keep Will alive and happy through this computer, where he, all of a sudden, has the world, literally at his finger-tips. This is also, incidentally, around the time when Will decides that it’s time to take the world into his own hands, where he has the ability to repair and posses anyone, giving them hope and invincibility at the same time. Sound like somebody else we all know of?

Yeah, as you can tell, the religious-tones of this movie aren’t at all subtle; then again, nothing of this movie is, or what it’s trying to say is. Throughout the whole two-hours of this movie, you can almost hear director Wally Pfister yelling at the top of his lungs, “Too much technology can ruin one’s mind!!’ It’s a point that he makes abundantly clear in the first 20 minutes, and decides, “Aww, what the heck! I’m already there, so I might as well”, and hammers this point into our heads for the next hour-and-40-minutes. In all honesty, all of this preaching and ranting wouldn’t have been so bad had the movie been able to actually keep its the audience’s pulse, as well as its own, up and moving.

"He has how many years to live? Two? That means like only three-and-a-half Pirates sequels!"

“He has how many years to live? Two? That means like only three-and-a-half Pirates sequels!”

But nope. For some odd reason, Wally Pfister (making his directorial-debut after years and years as an amazing cinematographer) thinks that it’s best to harp on these ideas he has, and totally forgets that this isn’t a college class where kids are supposed to be falling asleep in the back of the room, or inconspicuously playing Candy Crunch on their “notebooks”; this is a movie, for Christsakes! Better yet, it’s a two-hour, sci-fi thriller blockbuster, that has huge names like “Johnny Depp”, “Morgan Freeman”, and, ehrm, “Kate Mara”. She’s a big name now, right? House of Cards anybody? Oh wait! Cillian Murphy is in this and he’s a pretty big name from wherever he’s from. So that counts, right?

Anyway, you get the point! This is a big-budget, sci-fi thriller that is supposed to deal with the big questions one must have about day-to-day society, the technology that runs so rampant around in it, and whether or not we should let that said technology get the best of ourselves and make us forget exactly who it is we are, what we were put on this world to do in the first place, and why, as a species, it is that we matter. There’s no problem with dealings with those questions and trying to find the best, most suitable-answers possible, but there’s a better, more efficient-way to do so than what is presented here.

And it’s not like I’m some sort of caffeine-junkie that can’t wait two more weeks until the summer blockbusters start coming around every damn weekend and needs his action now, now, NOW; but it’s more that I just needed an extra “oomph” to the material that was presented here. That said extra “oomph”, rarely came around. Even when it did, it was near the tail-end, which was also a bit too late and only had me assume that Pfister realized he had to add some sort of action in there, so he decided to have guns shot, people murdered, cars flipped-over and streets exploding from the ground-up. Yeah, it sort of comes out of nowhere, and while it may be damn pretty to look at, it almost amounts to nothing. Just a bunch of smart people, talking about smart things, and trying to be smart, while also a bit bad-ass as well.

Note this, Hollywood: You can’t be a total smarty-pants, and also be a bad-ass as well. Sure, it works for our beloved superheroes, but they aren’t real people. They’re just a bunch of freaks. The same could be said for our modern-day, ordinary, regular-people scientists that roam the Earth, however, THEY ARE real people, which makes it all the harder to see them pistol-whip a baddie, while simultaneously be spewing out coded, scientific-numbers and such.

I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work. Not for real-life, human beings that is. They’re just too, real. Man.

Also, something else to mention about this movie isn’t the fact that this movie doesn’t make much sense, but how it never really seems to stop at a certain-point and realize that this is in fact the point they want to leave its audience with. For instance, the character of Dr. Will Caster comes off a bit like a normal, everyday science-geek. He loves technology, he loves playing around with internet-connections and he even loves playing old-school, vinyl! Yup, so you know he’s a bit of a weirdo! Anyway, with Will, who seem to starts out unlike any other character we’ve seen Johnny Depp in the past decade or so (in other words, “normal”), once he gets shot and is transported into that trusty old computer of his, things start to get a little shaky for this character, as well as this movie. Depp is fine here, but I can’t help but feel like he couldn’t show up to all of the filming for this movie, so just got on his Webcam and decided to act from there. That’s sort of what the role calls on him to do, but it feels like a waste of someone who has finally found some time in his hectic schedule of partying with Tim Burton.

Seriously, those two need to stay apart for a long, long time.

Only cool guys put their hands in their pockets when they're delivering scientific exposition.

Only cool guys put their hands in their pockets when they’re delivering scientific exposition.

Anyway, with with Will, firstly, it seems like he becomes a total, longing-for-the-almighty-power nut-job, all because he “thinks it’s the right thing to do”. Sure, I could see why somebody would want to create a God-like figure, let alone, use themselves as the subject, but after awhile, this movie makes you think at which point did anybody decide that letting Jack Sparrow-speaking Siri start healing people with infinite powers, and taking over their souls was a smart idea? Apparently half-way through, Evelyn just stops caring and is like, “Yeah, whateva. He’s my hubby and I love him for what he is. Even if he is just a computer that can’t touch, feel or bang me. Yup, that’s him alrighty.”

I know I’m making light of this, but this movie’s plot truly is careless. Not much of it makes sense, and the movie never realizes whether or not it wants to condemn technology for being, well, technology, or wish that everybody would take a chill-pill and go back to the old days of smoking on peace pipes and playing Pong for hours-on-end. The movie is somewhere caught right up in the middle, leaving not only its audience with too much info jiggling around in our minds, but never, ever too sure whether or not the movie itself ever knew what it wanted to say. Instead, we’re just left to get in our cars, go to our homes and sit in front of our lap-tops for the rest of the night.

Ah, technology. What a beautiful thing to waste. Or not waste.

Eh, whatever.

Consensus: Filled with more ideas than it can probably handle, Transcendence may get by on its ambitions, but never seems to take-off in terms of its plot, its tone, or even its feelings regarding what it is that it’s speaking out against, or for. I’m still not sure.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

What happens after too much partying with Hunter S.

What happens after too much partying with Hunter S.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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Rio 2 (2014)

You’re the last of your species! Now, stay indoors and shut up!

Now that both Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) have fallen-in love and even started their own family, it’s about time the cracks within the relationship show. Jewel is still that fun, adventurous-type, like she believes every blue macaw bird should; whereas Blu is still sort of like a human, equipped with making pancakes, using a GPS to navigate from place-to-place and even allowing his kids to use technology. Adding more tension is when they both find out about another breed of blue macaw’s that are apparently somewhere out there in the middle of the Amazon. Seeing as this may be their time to find others just like them and hopefully get some excitement in their lives, Blu and Jewel, along with their three children, decide to take a trip out to there, where they stumble upon all sorts of birds that are just like them. Heck, one of them even just so happens to be Jewel’s father (Andy Garcia), whom she thought was long gone by now. So yeah, it’s a nice place where all blue macaws live in perfect harmony with one another, except for when a certain entrepreneur decides that it’s time to start making more paper, and cutting down all of the trees in the Amazon, threatening everything that these birds have made their sanctuary.

As most of you may, or may not have seen, I was actually very surprised by the original Rio. Not only was it a fun movie that made me sort of feel like a kid again, but it didn’t really need to do much to surprise or even shock me. It was just exactly what it was – an animated movie made for the whole family. Sometimes, those types of movies can be utterly cheesy and only work for those little ones who don’t know any better, but other times, they can actually work for everyone who decides to take some time out of their day and give it a try. That’s what the first Rio was. Its sequel though?

He reads and performs Shakespeare. So no, honey, he doesn't want you.

He reads and performs Shakespeare. So no, honey, he doesn’t want you.

Meh. Not so much.

Actually, not at all.

See, with the case of Rio 2, as is the case with any major-motion sequel, everything that worked so well in the first movie, is now re-amped with more of everything. Here, we get more vibrant colors popping out at us; more subplots that don’t need to inserted into here at all; more characters added in; and just more, more, more! And usually this is done to really keep us interested in what is going, while to simultaneously keep track of which characters, are doing what things, for what reasons, but here, you almost never get the sense that anything is happening.

While I may have written the plot-synopsis up top as being a simple story of Blu and Jewel going on an adventure to the inner-levels of the Amazon for a happenin’, joyous good time, there’s actually plenty, PLENTY more where that came from. Remember those birds that were voiced by will.i.am and Jamie Foxx that were always singing, being hip and saying sassy stuff? Well, yeah, they’re here again, and apparently, they’re looking for cast members for their latest production they’re going to put on for Carnivale. That’s all fine and dandy. Not like it’s going to make, or break the movie. In fact, you need a subplot like this to bring some much-needed comedic-relief to this flick.

However, like I alluded to before, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Blu’s human-owner, voiced by Leslie Mann, is with her scientist hubby, voiced by Rodrigo Santoro, and they are running all throughout the Amazon as well; Jemaine Clement’s villainous-character is back around and looking for vengeance for what Blu did to him all those years ago, but this time, has an admirer constantly behind him; Jewel runs into an old friend of hers that may, or may not actually be interested in her; and oh yeah, before I forget to mention it, there’s also sort of a subplot about one of Blu’s daughters wanting to break out her shell and get involved with everything, without getting too involved to where it isn’t deemed “cool” anymore.

So yeah, as you can tell just by reading that, all of those subplots are a bit too much for any film, let alone a kids movie that runs about an-hour-and-a-half, give or take. It’s too much for any kid to keep track of, but better yet, it’s too much for a movie that wants to be so playful and simple. It just takes all of the fun out of what could have been something exactly like the first, except maybe a bit better. That doesn’t happen though, and while it may not all be terrible (the song-and-dance-numbers are just about the only elements working for this movie), it still made me want to watch the first one all over again, just to get the memory of this dull movie out of my mind.

"Aw hay, hay, hay!"

“Aw hay, hay, hay!”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that god-awful, but you get the point. Could have been a good, escapist time if it stuck to its cards, but it didn’t. So therefore, it was just “meh”.

Meh, meh, meh.

As for the voice-cast that’s all returning, nobody is really outstanding; then again, nobody else is really all that bad either. They are just seemingly doing what they did in the first movie, and that’s it. The only one who is still slightly amusing to listen to is Clement’s Nigel, who is still funny when he’s vindictive and angry, but also has plenty of moments where we see his character as being more than just a “villain”. It was interesting to see that happen in a movie that seemed to be so distracted by everything else going on, that they’d actually allow for some neat character-development to actually happen. See, it’s just the little things that make a movie slightly better than what they should be. If only that transitioned well into the rest of the movie, then I would probably be singing a different tune. Not that I can remember any of the songs from this movie in the first case.

Consensus: With too much going in every spectrum of it, Rio 2 ends up being a jumble of many different strands of story, yet, barely any of them ever excite or intrigue one bit.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

That's what true love looks like. Minus all of the disdain and hatred that they hold for one another brewing beneath.

That’s what true love looks like. Minus all of the disdain and hatred that they hold for one another brewing beneath.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Puncture (2011)

Next time I go for my measles, I’m examining the hell out of that needle.

Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) is a young, hotshot Houston lawyer that also has a bit of drug problem. Actually, correction, he has way more than just “a bit” of a drug problem; it’s actually pretty hefty. However, he gets by on his smarts that earns him enough money to buy as many drugs and booze as he wants, while also still having enough left over to get himself a place at a local motel or something of that nature. His best-buddy Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen) is more of a straight-laced lawyer that usually helps him get all of the cases he can find, no matter how unusual or simple they be. However, one day, they sort of walk into one they weren’t expecting, and yet, aren’t too sure if they even want to attack in the first. What their case basically is, is this woman named Vicky (Vinessa Shaw), a local ER nurse, gets pricked by a contaminated needle without ever knowing it, until she finds out it carries a major sickness. As both Weiss and Danziger dig deeper into the case, a health care and pharmaceutical conspiracy teeters on exposure and heavyweight attorneys move in on the defense, making them both unsure as to whether or not they actually want to go ahead on this case, or just leave it alone before any of them get hurt.

My mind was totally blown once the credits showed up and told us that this was all one true story that actually occurred way back back in the late-90′s. I mean obviously, dirty needles are not something people want around as it causes some of the worst diseases of all, but I never knew such a case was taken so far to get them away. It actually makes for a very interesting documentary that I’d watch on the History Channel, rather than one, long re-enactment, with some pretty faces.

Sorry Cap, you don’t always shine so well.

Looks like somebody accidentally found Cap at the tail-end of the 80's, man. Wait til Nevermind hits.

Looks like somebody accidentally found Cap at the tail-end of the 80′s, man. Wait til Nevermind hits.

Co-directors Adam and Mark Kassen (yup, they’re related) have clearly studied this story, from head-to-toe as they get just about every detail right. You can tell that it interests them by how much effort they are putting into making this unknown story, not just known to us regular, everyday-folk, but to also make it matter. In here, you have your typical Cold Case drama where certain pieces of evidence are gathered, deals are made and some corrupt politicians shed their true-skin, but it never feels like it’s always going to go somewhere you’ve seen a hundred, million times before. You get a sense that the Kassen’s care so much about this, and better yet, want you to care as well.

Problem is, the effort doesn’t fully-work.

What bothered me most about this flick is that it doesn’t really seem to know where it wants to go with itself. At first, it seems like they’re really going to dive right into the whole politics of this one case and reveal some a-holes to the public, that need to especially be seen. But then, it sort of goes the conventional-route and starts to talk about Weiss’ drug addiction; which is pretty evident that it exists throughout the whole movie, yet, never really brought up until half-way through and then becomes all about just that. Watching a person be addicted to drugs and fuck something up as big as this case that Weiss has here should be very nerve-racking and emotional to have to sit-through, but there’s barely any tension whatsoever. Most of that has to do with the fact that we never quite get straight-focus of who this story is really supposed to be all about.

Also, I couldn’t help but feel like the Kassen’s were just constantly shoving everything they had to say about the corruption and conspiracy that came along with the case, straight down our throats until we eventually just gave in and got right onto Wikipedia right away. Honestly, I would have felt like that if they just stopped preaching for a little bit and gave me some room to breathe and congest everything in. But nope, they just kept on going, and going, and going, until I didn’t know if they could go on anymore.

But you know what? They did.

Look out behind you, Johnny Storm! Oh, don't worry, Tony Stark will save you or something, right? Wrong superheros? Aw, screw you! Same people!

Look out behind you, Johnny Storm! Oh, don’t worry, Tony Stark will save you or something, right? Wrong superheros? Aw, screw you! Same people!

And you know who feels the side-effects of that the most? Chris Evans, that’s who!

Which, in case you couldn’t tell by now, is an absolute shame considering Chris Evans is probably the only aspect in this movie worth seeing. Reason why Evans is so good here is that he’s able to make us sympathize with somebody as distasteful and unreliable as Mike Weiss, yet, by the same token, make us hate his guts and wish he would just get his whole act together when he clearly needs to start doing so. Evans has always been a good actor in the stuff he’s shown-up in, but now that I think he’s starting to wind his time down as Steve Rodgers, and quite possibly dive into some far-more different directions for his career, I think we’re going to be able to see him really take advantage of that lovable screen-presence he’s always had on-display in many movies. The only problem is that their either barely-seen flicks like this, or Sunshine, or even the Iceman to a certain extent; or pieces of junk that just about everybody and your 13-year-old son saw, like Not Another Teen Movie, or What’s Your Number? or both of the Fantastic Four flicks.

And then of course, there’s some that sort of fails in both categories, like the Perfect Score or London. But I guess those two being forgotten about and barely-even seen is probably a good thing.

Not just for Evans, but all of us as a society.

Consensus: Anytime Chris Evans shows-up to be cool, charming, make us laugh and make us expect the unexpected from his character, Puncture gets a whole lot better. But, as predicted, without him, the rest of the movie sort of falls flat.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

I guess ladies can rejoice that he's in a wife-beater. Even if he is supposed to be a drug-addled, two-bit loser. But sure, that's hot.

I guess ladies can rejoice that he’s in a wife-beater. Even if he is supposed to be a drug-addled, two-bit loser. But sure, that’s totally “hot”.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Cesar Chavez (2014)

Hail Cesar!

César Chávez (Michael Peña) was a man that believed in sticking up for himself and his people, even if it didn’t mean having to take matters into your own hands. César had a problem with the way Mexican farm-workers were being treated; they made very little, worked for very long and if they decided not to work any longer, then they would be forced to go back to their native country. So yeah, of course César saw this as “wrong”, which is why he decides not to stand for it any longer and get together as many of people he possibly can on his side, to face-off against the powers that be – aka, the head of these major companies making these workers work so hard, long and without much of a reward to show for it. Throughout César’s mission, he goes through his usual ups, his downs and even finds himself questioning whether or not there’s any reason to fight for a cause/group of people, that are clearly out-matched, out-numbered, and out-of-their-element when it comes to how the government does things and if they do so in a moral way, or let the sound of money and pride get in the way of doing what is right.

Well, there you have it, folks. It needed to happen sooner or later, but we have finally gotten the César Chávez biopic. Is it the one we deserve? Eh, not really, but I guess if there is one thing that this movie gets right, it’s that it informs those of us out there as to why this man mattered, why his cause was just and how much his impact has been felt on the world today. With that aspect of the film taken in and thought about, then yeah, director Diego Luna (yes, the actor) gets the job done. No questions asked.

"Twenty-on-one, brah. What you gonna do?"

“Twenty-on-one, brah. What you gonna do?”

However, when it comes down to giving us a heartfelt, emotional and complex story about one man’s struggle to fight for what he believes in, as well as staying true to himself, his values and those who are close to him? Eh, I wouldn’t say so.

See, where I think Luna runs into the problem with this movie is that he clearly loves and has so much respect for César Chávez in the first place, that you never get an sense that we’re watching a movie that’s trying to get us to know exactly who this man. Much rather, we get the story about what this man did, those he cared for and why he believed in sticking up for his people. That’s all we really get and even though I wasn’t expecting Diego Luna to throw out some random bits or pieces of info that would have César Chávez look as if he was a downright, despicable human being, I still would have liked to seen a little more detail into the mistakes he made along the way.

Sure, we get to see that he runs into conflicts with his wife, but only because she feels as if she’s being tied-down too much and not given the time to stretch her own wings and fly around for a bit. And sure, we get to see him have problems with other members of the group, but only because where as he wants to rebel in a calm, sophisticated, no-violence way, they all want to take out their dukes and start rumbling a bit. Oh, and sure, we see how much the law-enforcement acted so wrongly against him, as well as the rest of the group, but that’s only because their a bunch of racist, bigoted Southern assholes that have nothing else better to do with their time, money or house-maids, then just take out their shotguns and wailing it around some.

You get the point now? It isn’t that Luna paints César Chávez as the most perfect person on the face of the planet, but it doesn’t really do much to show him at his faults either. Apparently he wasn’t that great of a father to his son either, which comes and goes as it pleases and only seems desperately thrown in there to create some more conflict and family-drama, when in reality, we don’t really need anymore of it at all. All we really need is an honest story about a man we should know a whole lot more about coming out of, than going into, but somehow, it ended up just being the same. Even for someone like me, who only knows the man of César Chávez, his influence and his impact, through the beautiful workings of WikiPedia.

Ah, what a wonderful and nifty tool it is to have the internet exist in today’s day and age. How wonderful indeed.

Cause with that hat, how could you not be a dick?

Cause with that hat, how could you not be a dick?

If there’s anything really worth seeing this movie for, it’s mainly for the fact that Luna makes a smart choice in giving Michael Peña a rare chance at a lead role for once and a lifetime, and the guy does an okay job with it. I can’t really say that it’s anything spectacular or even better than what we’ve seen him do in some smaller, supporting roles, but with what material he’s given, which is rather thin, Peña delivers. Same goes for America Ferrera who fits-in perfectly as Chávez’s wife, even though she’s given the conventional-role of “the house-mother that sits at home all day, does nothing and just wants to be apart of something fun and exciting”. It’s a role we’ve all seen written a million times before, and somehow, Ferrera makes it a bit more watchable and even creates a realistic-piece of chemistry between her and Peña.

The supporting cast has a whole bunch of familiar-faces, which are great to see and all, but none of them really stand-out among the rest; which, once again, may have more to do with the script, rather than their own acting-abilities. Rosario Dawson shows up every once and a blue moon during this as one of Chávez’s most-trusted supporters; Wes Bentley plays a free-lovin’, hippie lawyer-brah that backs up Chávez when he needs all the help he can get; and out of everybody here, the one who made the biggest impression on me was John Malkovich as one of the owners of these major-companies that Chávez and his people are speaking-out against. Malkovich is clearly soaking up the sun as, who is presumed to be, the baddie, but he actually gives a nice moment of humanism where we see him talk about his days of growing up as a Scandinavian immigrant in America, and how he had to work his way up the ladder to become the man who he is today. It doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s being a total and complete, money-grubbing prick that doesn’t give two hoots about his workers, their families, or their livelihoods, but it definitely does throw us a curve-ball in terms of the way we view this character. Love it when that happens in any movie, and I wish there was more of that in here.

Consensus: Though it boasts a few fine performances worth seeing, Cesar Chavez feels more like a tribute to the man, rather than an actual narrative, where we get to see him for all that he was, good qualities, as well as bad ones, alike.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Still pissed somebody hasn't filled his glass back-up yet.

Still pissed somebody hasn’t filled his glass back up yet.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Divergent (2014)

Conform, OR DIE! It’s like high school all over again!

Sixteen-year-old Beatrice (Shaliene Woodley) is like any other normal teen living in Chicago, except that she isn’t. See, what separates Beatrice from any other American teenager (see what I did there?), is that the world she lives in is a bit different. This is Chicago, after it’s been destroyed by all sorts of war, havoc and absolute mayhem where, to ensure safety among the common-people, society is broken-up into “factions”. The factions are meant to bring people with similar interests together, judged solely by their personalities or what they desire to be. In other words, they serve as a purpose to give most of these people reasons to live on and conform to certain ideals that are put down onto them. Beatrice is, at first, apart of the Abnegation team, where she grows her own food and clothes, and is basically a hippie. However, she has this weird ability where she is able to think for herself and question authority – something that the rest of society doesn’t accept, nor do they ever want polluting their minds. Therefore, rather than causing trouble, Beatrice joins up with the Dauntless team, where everybody goes to the gym, beats the shit out of one another, and parkours from one area, to the next. It’s a big step for Beatrice, however, it’s one that she tries her hardest to succeed at, which is mostly thanks to her non-stop training, as well as the fact that one of her teachers (Theo James) takes a liking to her and, in ways, may be exactly like her: A free-thinker that doesn’t listen to what everybody around them tells them. Aka, a “divergent”.

Dun dun dun!

Sorry that premise took so damn long to write, but I think in order to understand what all of this hullabaloo means, I have to go into some heavy-detail about the setting. Well, actually, I could have probably made it easier on both of us and just said it is something of a “Communist government, mixed with a lot more funky dress-styles”, but I don’t think that would have gotten the point across well enough. Just know that this is an adaptation of a young adult novel, that’s set in the post-apocalyptic future, features a female lead, has a lot of violence, political-themes and a romance at the center.

"Cut me out of Amazing Spider-Man 2, see what happens!"

“Cut me out of Amazing Spider-Man 2, see what happens!”

Oh, and by the way, it’s not the Hunger Games.

However, you probably wouldn’t really be able to tell the two apart, since it’s so damn clear that this is what this movie is being made-out to be. Which, granted, isn’t such a bad thing, just as long as the material can hold itself up. I mean, hell, even the Hunger Games, before it was actually considered “respectable” amongst humans that weren’t teenage girls of gay men, was being advertised and hyped-up as “the next Twilight“. Thankfully, that never turned out to be wholly true, but so be it; this is exactly where most major, motion-picture studios are going to be putting their money into and we all might as well accept it now, or suffer long, excruciating deaths from fan-girl mania.

But anyway, I’m just talking too much out of my rump. With this movie, Divergent, there’s nothing really new we haven’t ever seen done before, or hell, even heard discussed. Sure, the idea of everybody having to conform to a certain group, in order to feel socially-accepted or be left homeless, or even worse, dead is a neat one, but it feels like a retread of what most young adult flicks have been trying to do as of late. They continue to try harder and harder to discuss politics in an underlining way, but instead, come off more like their preaching and obvious, rather than actually being sly about it.

Though, what separates this flick from most of the other YA adaptations out there, is that director Neil Burger actually feels dedicated to this material, and isn’t too afraid of getting deep down and dirty with the places this story ends up in. First of all, it’s a pretty violent movie. Many young boys and girls are seen to be either shooting each other with fake, but realistic-feeling guns; throwing knives at one another; having sparring-matches where the loser is decided by whomever passes-out first; and be forced to take a test where they have to figure themselves out cruel, disturbing nightmares of sorts. In ways, it’s actually a bit more violent than anything either Peeta or Katniss have ever done, yet, it still feels like it’s not really doing anything. It’s just being harsh and putting its audience in an awkward situation where they have to watch a guy beat the crap out of a girl, all in order to “fit in” among a group of other fellow “He-Men Woman-Beaters”.

Burger, despite the fact that the material itself is a bit too jarring for even its target-audience, still at least puts enough effort into this where the action is suitable, yet, you will still be longing for more. Mostly though, that’s exactly where the cast comes into play, because everybody here, isn’t just talented, but more than capable of handling this material. It’s only really a matter of whether or not Burger gives them much to work with in the first place; and sadly, he does not.

The only two in this cast that Burger seems to utilize the most, and for all of the right reasons, are both Shaliene Woodley and Theo James as our new, “Edward and Bella”, or, for more of those tougher-fans out there, “Gale and Katniss”. Regardless of this obvious, yet very true, comparisons, James and Woodley are great together, all because you can feel the sexual-tension between them just getting more and more rich over time – as it should. Alone, they’re just fine: Woodley really is continue to grow into one of finer, more interesting young actresses of today; whereas James is a total hunk that will have the ladies swooning, even before he takes off his shirt. However, when they are together, whether they’re arguing over rules and regulations of how to become apart of the Dauntless, or just making small, somewhat flirty, talk, they’re constantly making this flick better and a whole lot more believable. In fact, I’d wager to say that the movie is worth just seeing for them, and them alone, as the attention to their characters and their relationship in the first-half, is what makes it so watchable in the first place.

But, as expected, things start to go off-the-rails by the end, as it becomes more and more clear that this story is dealing with a “higher-power”, as well as more of an ensemble that’s absolutely wasted. Also, not to mention the fact that the movie is close to being about two-and-a-half-hours long, which is long for any movie, especially a YA adaptation. Hell, it even makes Need For Speed feel like a Saturday morning cartoon!

He's so hot, and he acts like he doesn't know it. By doing so, he only makes himself even hotter. Gosh damn him!

He’s so hot, and he acts like he doesn’t know it. By doing so, he only makes himself even hotter. Gosh damn him!

Anyway, what goes so wrong with this story is that it begins to just get more and more serious, and therefore, getting way too over-blown to where you don’t really if they even plan on making sequels to this and want to cram everything in, or, if this is really how jammed-up the actual story is with all of its ideas. Either way, it feels like a little too much for the starter-up of a franchise and even worse, none of it really feels believable or exciting. It’s all pretty boring, if only because we’ve seen it done a million times before and, in most ways, better, too. They definitely leave a lot left open for a sequel, or hell, maybe even two, but most of the ideas here could have easily been placed into them, for the betterment of its high-strung, core audience.

Like I was saying earlier though, about the cast: It isn’t just Woodley and James that this movie has packed-in, there’s a pretty solid ensemble that I feel like any director, with any material other than this, would have utilized so perfectly. However, here, they all just feel like a good waste of talent, time and money (although I’m definitely sure most of these stars got a pretty nice beach house out of the ordeal).

After the Spectacular Now, it’s weird seeing Miles Teller and Woodley in a scene together where they aren’t making love or flirting, but such is the case here where Teller plays a huge dick that is constantly antagonizing everyone around him, especially Beatrice; Maggie Q seems like she’ll be the only voice-of-reason in this new world, as the first gal who realizes Beatrice hidden talents, but is only around for a few scenes where she gives people tattoos and doesn’t kick anybody’s asses (which, if you’ve seen a single episode of Nikita, you’ll know is a huge shame); Jai Courtney plays another muscle-bound a-hole that doesn’t take no wussies around his part of town; Mekhi Phifer is barely ever around, despite his character being the leader of the Dauntless’; Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn and Ray Stevenson made me happy to see them show-up in something for a change, even if they were given barely anything to do; and probably the biggest sin this movie achieves is that it wastes Kate Winslet, giving her the “one-note baddie role”, where all she does is act mischievous and order mass-wide genocides. And why is that, may you ask? Well, it’s because she’s supposed to be a bitch. Or something like that.

Who knows?!?! Who cares?!?! Right!??!

Consensus: The post-apocalyptic future laid-out for us is a bit more grim than what we’re used to seeing in YA novel adaptations, but aside from a sparkling chemistry between Woodley and James, nothing in Divergent really stands-out to separate itself from the rest of the same types of movies that have been released in the past decade or so.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Well, I hate to say this, but if these were my parents, I may have done it sooner.

Well, I hate to say this, but if these were my parents, I may have done it sooner. But, then again, that’s just me.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Morning Glory (2010)

If Indiana Jones and Annie Hall told me what was going on in the world everyday, the world would be a better place.

Becky (Rachel McAdams), a young, high-strung TV news producer feels as if she has it all, but somehow doesn’t. She gets let-go from her current job at a New Jersey local news station, and can’t seem to find a way to make a living in today’s economy. That is, until she’s hired by one of the least-rated morning news programs called Day Break. Becky’s first decision is to fire one of the co-hosts (Ty Burrell), but leaves the other, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), without anybody to help her out. By searching through thick and thin, Becky ends up with getting snobby, old-timer Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to do the job, but his old-school business of telling the news (you know, the stuff that matters) clashes with producers, his fellow co-host, and the ratings. Can Becky save her job, but the show as well? Oh no! Who knows?

I can probably assume that just by reading that synopsis up top, you can already bet just where this bad baby is going. Obviously, she’s going to struggle, run into some problems, find a way to get past those problems, run into more problems, and at the end of the day, possibly learn a lesson or two and make others feel happy for themselves. It’s the typical plot-line we are so used to following and it’s nothing that this movie doesn’t strive for, so what the hell could be the problem?

Well, believe it or not, nothing really. Just that it’s so typical, it barely even lasts in your mind, almost to the point of where you could probably go right on over to The Today Show, watch the Roker say some random shit about the weather, and not remember that you actually saw a movie that was sort of about day-time talk shows. However, the weirdest thing about this movie is that it wants you to remember it, and know the message it is trying to get across.

Don't even think of it you dirty, old bastard. She's mine!!!! I hope!!

Don’t even think of it you dirty, old bastard. She’s mine!!!! I hope!!

Yes, this movie does have a message here and as honest as it may be, it’s still freakin’ obvious because they actually say what it is once during the film. There’s a scene here where McAdams’ character tells Ford’s character that he has to get used to the fact that news isn’t what matters, it’s what’s entertaining that matters, so he better get used to it and man-up. That wasn’t word-for-word verbatim of what she said, but it’s pretty damn close and it made me wonder just what type of agenda this film had on it’s mind. It seemed like it was just gunning for a conventional, happy little movie about a girl finding her place in the world, but it went for so much more that it shocked me.

Not in the good way, either.

It’s a very strange predicament this movie runs itself into. It doesn’t seem to really want to be the type of movie that makes you think about the state of journalism and where it’s going (Spoiler alert: to hell), but at the same time, when it’s not making us chuckle or feel all cozy inside the pit of our tummies, it’s trying to do exactly that. The idea that news-programs can survive off of ridiculous stunts being caught on live-television is a bit dumb, but it’s very true because honestly, when was the last time you saw Matt Lauer actually ask a person about their feelings on the legalization of marijuana? Or abortion? Or college loans going up? Or anything of that matter that people actually give a hoot about?

Anybody?

Yup, didn’t think so.

As I said, it’s a very weird road this movie decides to go down, but it does it with enough charm that I can’t say that I hated myself for watching it. Can’t say that about a lot of movies, so when that idea actually does come into my head and stays; well, it’s a nice, little feeling that reminds me why I love watching and reviewing movies so much. Then again, with all of the movies that I do watch and review, it can be a bit hard to take pleasure and be happy with the little things, and the little movies in life that put a bit of a smile on your face. That’s not to say that this movie had me grinning cheek-to-cheek, but it’s pleasant in the way any good chick flick should be.

Speaking of ladies, ain’t that Rachel McAdams a beauty to behold? This gal really is something else because not only is she charming, but she’s able to make such a conventional, obvious character like “the career-woman who puts her love life on the back-burner”, seem sympathetic and adorable in her own, cutesy-way. McAdams just has that spark to her that makes you get on-board behind character right away, no matter what type of dead-ends she may hit on her path to being successful and happy. This is one role that could have easily been given to somebody like Jennifer Garner or Katherine Heigl, and probably would have had me searching for my remote under every seat-cushion, but it wasn’t given to them. It was given to McAdams and the girl really gives the role all she’s got and make it work, despite her character being one big cliché, after another.

The romance she has with Patrick Wilson also seems slightly forced, even though they both seem to be trying to make it work for the movie’s sake. Still, I have to give it to a movie that can not only feature McAdams’ tush in one shot, but the charming Patrick Wilson as well. That one shot, shows that there’s something in this movie for everyone: boys, girls, straights, gays, you name it. You know exactly the shot I’m talking about, because it’s the only thing anybody ever remembers from this damn movie.

"Should we talk about the latest gun reform, or what the hell Kim and Ye's baby is going to be called? The latter? Okay, thought so."

“Should we talk about the latest gun reform, or what the hell Kim and Ye’s baby is going to be named? The latter? Okay, thought so.”

But perhaps the best performance out of this whole movie has got to be Harrison Ford as the old, cranky newsman; Mike Pomeroy. As most of us saw with 42, it seems to be that old Han Solo has still got some acting-skills left in his bag of goodies, and he shows it here quite well. Not only is the guy funny by acting all crotchety and mean, but he’s also a bit endearing as well, because we see what happens to a man that put his career in front of everything else, and can’t really come to terms with where his life has actually ended up. Okay, maybe that was a bit more deep than anything the movie actually tried to get across, but hey, it’s what makes Ford still a solid actor, even after all of these years of shooting Greedo first and getting nuked in fridges.

The only one in this cast that feels like a bit of a waste is Diane Keaton, who seems to really be having a ball as the older, but still-foxy co-host of the show. Keaton’s still got the looks, the charm, and the comedic-timing to still make her character work, it’s just a shame that her character sort of gets thrown to the side, just so Ford can live long and prosper. Guess it was needed, but damn did I miss myself some of old-school Diane!

Consensus: Everything in Morning Glory is calculated, manipulative and obvious from the very start, but at least it’s still charming, much ado to the fine cast that seems ready to make us happy and smile.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

And Diane be like, “Oh mah lawwddd!”

And once again, Diane be like, “Oh mah lawwddd!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

3 Days to Kill (2014)

We all know that when daddy says he’s going on a “business trip”, that he’s really just going off to some foreign country and kill terrorists.

CIA agent Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is good at his job and knows how to get it done, however, that all begins to change once he receives news that he is terminally-ill. Faced with about four-to-five months left to live, Ethan decides that maybe it’s time for him to start working on the job in his life that he never was good at it: Being the husband to his wife (Connie Nielsen), and especially being the father to his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Though they initially resent him, due to all of those years where he was constantly on the road in “sales meetings”, eventually, Ethan finds a way to connect with the two women in his life that mean the most to him, and will hopefully be there for him when he eventually has to bite the dust. However though, another woman steps into his life in the form of CIA sex-bomb, Vivi Delay (Amber Heard). Vivi wants one thing and one thing only: For him to complete his final mission and get rid of some terrorist named “the Wolf”. If he can do this, she’ll give him one thing in return, a life-saving, experimental drug that only she knows about and is more than willing to give Ethan.

In all honesty, I don’t understand this whole “tired guy gets back in the field of action and violence” sub-genre that’s been so popular for the past couple of years since Taken attacked our movie-screens, and practically took (pun intended), us all by surprise. Not only did it show us that an aging, nearly-forgotten actor like Liam Neeson could still pull in plenty of people to see his movie, but all he had to do was get a couple of guns, pull-off a couple of sweet, ass-kicking moves and talk on the phone in a menacing, yet very determined whisper. That’s it, and now look at him! The guy’s on top-of-the-movie-world and finally getting some of the respect he so rightfully seems to deserve. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind that these older stars are getting their chances to finally shine the spotlight, but it just seems weird that movie-going audiences actually pay a lot of money, go out and want to see them.

She could kill me whenever she wanted.

I’d let her kill me whenever she’d want to.

But of course though, in Hollywood, once one person finds their stride and a whole load of success, and eventually, others follow suite.

Such is the case with 3 Days to Kill, where instead of getting Qui-Gon Jinn to whoop some fine-ass, it’s that guy who dances with wolves. Or the guy who made Waterworld. Either way you put it, it’s Kevin Costner in the lead-role, and he’s definitely worth mentioning first, because he’s probably the best thing this movie has going for it. For quite some time, I’ve stayed firmly on the side of Team Costner, and forever, I’ve been telling everybody, “Just you wait. Kev’s going to be back in action, and better than ever.” Not only am I very happy that I won a few bets in the meantime, but I’m incredibly ecstatic to see that comeback come to life because the dude’s been putting-out exceptional work for years and years, it’s just that nobody seems to really be paying attention to him, his movies or just anything he touches. At least, not like they used too, anyway.

However, now, Costner’s in full comeback-mode and it’s time to live it up and party like it’s 1989!

All jokes aside though, Costner is definitely the main reason to see this movie, because while it is fairly obvious that this is clearly paycheck gig, and nothing more, Costner at least tries, by not trying at all. Here, in his role as Ethan Renner, Costner’s really down-playing it and almost looks like he’s about to fall asleep every second the camera puts it focus on him. In some cases, I would usually be quite pissed-off at Costner for putting in such a lack-of-effort on his part, but somehow, I wasn’t pissed because it ended-up working for this character he was playing. Ethan Renner is the type of worn-down, beat-up and exhausted kind of seasoned-pro we get to see in these types of movies, but Costner does it with such charm and ease, that it almost seems like he isn’t even trying. Which, need I remind you, is a good thing, people! It’s K-Cost for Christ’s sakes!

Like I mentioned before though, it’s a shame that Costner seems to be the only thing really working for this movie, because everything else is sort of just here and ready for to be seen on the surface, but it doesn’t really go any deeper than that. In a better movie, handled by more capable-hands (more on that in seconds), the relationship that Costner holds with his daughter, played by Steinfeld, would have been rich with human-emotion and complexities. But somehow, with McG working it, it’s just passably entertaining and seems like an after-thought in the mind of his own. Instead, McG would much rather focus in on the non-stop barrage of numerous scenes of PG-13 action, terror and violence, which isn’t always bad, but feels manipulative after awhile, considering how many times people get shot here and yet, NO FREAKIN’ BLOOD IS SHOWN!!

Wake up in the mornin', feelin' like Kev Cost.

Wake up in the mornin’, feelin’ like Kev Cost.

I get it, you want to sell tickets and try to make some cold, hard cash in the meantime, but McG tries really hard to cover up the more graphic, naughty material presented here. For instance, there’s a scene inside of strip-club where we see a topless dancer, clearly being half-naked and grinding up and down on a pole, yet, we hardly see any boobs, due to the fact that they are being covered-up by an obvious, gray cloud of CGI smoke. And to make matters worse, another half-naked topless dancer shows up on the stage, only to start making out with the other. What the hell!?!??! How the heck doesn’t something like this not get an R-rating, and better yet, why couldn’t it? If McG decided to push the limits just a bit, we would have a way better, more exciting thriller on our hands here; but rather, we have a jumbled-up, slightly incoherent action-flick that, of all people, McG got a chance to work with.

Why him, Hollywood?!?! Seriously, why this dude?!?!?

Of course, I can’t quite get on this movie’s case too much, because I truly didn’t hate it, it’s just a mess. However, the moments that did work for me, were more than enough to make up for whatever the hell McG was trying to do. The supporting cast is really the main reason why this movie works as well as it does, but if I had to name names, I’d probably have to mention Hailee Steinfeld as she really does give it her all as Ethan’s estranged daughter, giving the role all of the smart-arsed teen-sass we’ve come to expect from these types of roles to be written. Sure, it’s a stock-character we’ve seen done before, but her many scenes with Costner actually can be sweet to watch, and are sure than enough to take your mind off of whatever the heck was going on with Amber Heard’s character, along with her whole CIA-mission subplot this movie tried cramming down our throats. Not only did it not really matter to us who was doing what, for what reason, and why, but Amber Heard, despite how foxy she is, can’t help but feel random and misplaced in a movie that doesn’t know what to do with her, other than give her tight outfits to bust-out of and change wigs. That’s it. Amber Heard, in a nutshell. Good for you, Johnny Boy!

Consensus: In case you couldn’t tell by now, McG is not a very good director, and is the main reason why 3 Days to Kill is such a mess, yet, an occasionally entertaining one with two solid performances from both Haliee Steinfeld and a charming Kevin Costner, who is more than likely going to have bigger and better things to come his way throughout the year. So think of this as something of an appetizer.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"But dad! You said that if you built it, they would come!?!??!"

“But dad! You said that if you built it, they would come!?!??!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Pompeii (2014)

Always hate it when natural-disasters come in to break-up my romances.

Milo (Kit Harington) is a young, Celtic gladiator who was enslaved after his whole tribe/family was brutally slaughtered some years before. For his next tour of duty, in which he practically kicks everyone’s ass, he arrives at Pompeii, but wouldn’t you know it, the daughter of a wealthy merchant (Emily Browning) just so happens to be too! Somehow, they lock eyes and find something that slightly resembles a “connection” on the way to Pompeii, but not until they are taken away, back to their own, separate lives, where they may never possibly see each other again. But in fact, they do, but their lives are a lot more challenging now: He’s out there in the middle of the Colosseum, fighting for his life and gaining a friendship through a fellow gladiator (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)); whereas she’s stuck in a manipulative-romance with the Roman Senator Corvis (Kiefer Sutherland). And to make this even juicier, apparently Corvis is the same man who not only killed all of Milo’s people, but even slayed his mother himself. All hell is about to break loose inside Pompeii, but it’s not necessarily because Milo wants revenge, love and all sorts of escapism – something, for one reason or another, just doesn’t sound all that right with Mount Vesuvius. What is it? What could it possibly be? Hmmmmmm……

Okay, just sit down and think for a second: Take a standard, sword-and-sandals epic like Gladiator, mix it around with the star-crossed lovers story from Titanic, throw in the whole “tragic, real-life” aspect of this story from something like, well, Titanic again, and, to top it all off, have it be directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Now, if that sounds awesomely rad to you in every which way, then you’ll know this is the perfect film for you, your drunk buddies and quite possibly, your dumb-ass girlfriend who still puts up with your immature-ass.

Basically the "token black guy", but only in ancient times. Wait! Hasn't that been done before?!?!?

Basically the “token black guy”, but only in ancient times. Wait! Hasn’t that been done before?!?!?

But, if you’re like any respectable human-being that knows what deserves to be seen, and what doesn’t, then you’ll stay home, watch curling, or whatever is left of the Olympics, and just be happy that you’re doing something productive with your life, that also doesn’t end with you losing insane amounts of brain-cells. And usually, on any given day, I’d be including myself with this group of fine specimens, but for something like this, I just couldn’t help myself. You know why?

Well, because I actually enjoyed this movie, for everything that was so obviously dumb and innate about it. Because see, this is a movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the type of guy I expect to see garbage like this from. So,, that’s why when he actually gave me a movie that was as stupid as it could possibly be in the world, I couldn’t help but laugh my ass-off more than on a few occasions. Granted, they were no way in hell meant to be intentional-laughs, they were more so done in the way that the writing is so cheesy and over-the-top, you can’t keep a smile tucked away for too long. Sometimes, and god forbid I actually be applauding an action such as this, you just have to go with the flow, no matter how mind-numbingly dumb it may be.

Of course though, this movie definitely isn’t perfect, nor anywhere near being so. For the first hour or so, I’d say that while the movie definitely has some bright and shining moments of people being cut-up, slain, murdered and all sorts of injured, for the most part, it’s pretty damn dull. This part of the movie is where we mostly focus in on these characters, the romance and all of the other political back-stabbings going on behind the closed-doors, mainly with a mustache-twirling-without-the-mustache-performance from none other than Mr. Kiefer Sutherland himself. In fact, I’d wager that he’s probably the only real reason to be so entertained by this movie, throughout the whole damn thing. Not only does he chew the scenery up like he was a homeless man in need of a fresh bowl of soup, but he actually seems like he’s enjoying everything that was handed to him on a silver-platter. Sure, it’s as hammy as Christmas dinner, but sometimes, you just need that to survive in a movie whose IQ level is clearly 48 or below.

The main reason why Sutherland is so notable to mention, is because nothing else, for this first hour, really connects with us, or even comes close to grabbing our attention. There’s the romance in the movie that’s supposed to take center-stage and really have us feel for these two, odds-stacked-against-them-lovers, but neither Kit Harrington nor Emily Browning do anything to make us believe in their sparks of romance. Most of that isn’t their fault because, like I mentioned before, the script is utter trash, but none of them really do much other than give us the reactionary-shots that we so obviously need from them to give them any sort of personality. For Harrington, he’s supposed to look tough, angry, constipated (I guess that and “angry” sort of go hand-in-hand, because whose happy when they’re constipated, right?), and have a nice, rockin’ bod so that the camera can rub itself on it, as if Anderson himself was cheating on his own wifey-poo; and as for Browning, well, she doesn’t really do much except have the same face, the whole time, and not make us see why any dude would want to put their lives on the line for her, other than to hopefully get a sniff of her panties or something.

"Should we die, or, uhm, die?"

“Should we die, or, uhm, die?”

I don’t know, I’m just gripping at straws here.

However, once the first hour of this movie is finally over, done and said with, then, things actually start to heat up; and I mean that both literally and figuratively. For starters, not only does the actual volcano erupt and start to cause all sorts of destruction, but this is the moment where we also get to see Anderon’s sheer-love for mayhem and nonsensical violence really come into play, and give us a movie that we not only should pay attention to, but have a great time with. Everything that happens to anyone in these final 40-45 minutes is so obviously insane and wild, but that’s what actually makes the film slightly interesting, if only it’s to see how many times Anderson can get away with a PG-13 rating, despite showing people getting their throats slit, put on fire, drowning, hit in the head with rocks, stabbed in the chest and all sorts of other numerous acts of violence, and yet: Still barely show any blood.

Either way, blood or no blood, if you’re going to go and see this movie at all, and be with your drunken-buddies or girlfriend who is clearly doing you, and only you a favor (you best pay her back, boys, if you know whatta I mean?), just see it for the fact that you know the ending. And yup, that does mean that A LOT of people die. You don’t really care for it when you watch it, but then again: Do we really care about the same, real-life peoples who died some odd 1,935 years? Pretty exact, I know, but chew on that for a short while, even if you still have to catch up on your women’s hockey results.

Consensus: Absolutely, positively and completely dumb and poorly-written, but for some reason, Pompeii got better as it went along, and especially, once the volcano itself actually erupted and started to take down everybody in its path. Sounds sadistic, I know, but it’s all CGI, man. Right? Or, at least I hope.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Haven't you heard? JACK'S BACK!!!"

“Haven’t you heard? JACK’S BACK!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Yes guys: Girls this hot can indeed kick your perverted-asses. So watch yourselves!

When danger is looming and the world is on the brink of self-destruction, who is there to save the day? Well, the mysterious and unknown Charlie is, but he isn’t the one doing the action, he’s just simply pulling the strings. Who he has in his place to take over things and make sure that all is fine and right with the world, he has three of his kick-ass, female agents, who he also calls his “Angels”. We have Natalie Thompson (Cameron Diaz), the bookworm who is oblivious to the dudes around her (except for the ones who want to end her life), Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore), the tough girl who finds herself in more beds of other men than she probably should be in, and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu), the class-act who longs for a life outside of being a secret-agent with her Hollywood star boyfriend (Matt LeBlanc), but just can’t help but kick some butt when it comes around her way. Together, the ladies, along with John Bosley (Bill Murray), their informant, find out what’s going on with secret weapons and tools that have suddenly go missing, and may just endanger not only themselves, but their beloved-Charlie as well.

I’m pretty sure that, by now, every person on the face of this planet has seen at least one episode of the classic, Charlie’s Angels 1970′s-era TV show, right? Okay, if not everybody, then definitely every man on the face of this planet has. And if they say they haven’t, well then ladies, get a flash-light, shine it in their pupils and question them harder, because they’re lying dogs!

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a "6" would have been handed-out.

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a “6″ would have been handed-out.

Anyway, I think what we all have, you know, as a society, garnered from that show was that it doesn’t matter if these women are extremely good-looking, hot and have huge jubblies, give them some corny lines, some action-moves and plenty of cool, unique gadgets, and woolah! All of a sudden, a woman that looks like Farrah Fawcett is able to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money! And there’s nothing really wrong with that, however, you can’t do that type of story seriously for a single bit, which is probably why it’s a good thing the show only lasted until the early-80′s, once people had about enough of it with their non-stop array of campy-material (okay, maybe the 80′s were even worse, but you get my drift).

Basically though, what I am trying to get across is that it’s extremely hard for a movie to pull-off the same type of charm, magic and fun of the original material, without having it be placed in the same decade of the 70′s, or at least being able to show it all with a wink in the eye, and the tongue, placed firmly in the cheek. And it’s apparently clear that that’s exactly the type of notion this movie is going for: It wants to crack a joke about how goofy these gals look when they get in their kung-fu stances and start whooping the ever-loving crap out of everyone that strikes a danger to them, but at the same time, it also wants to still be able to revel in how awesome these girls look when they’re kicking ass and taking names.

Which, as much as I hate to make it sound like otherwise, I didn’t have a problem with because McG certainly does inject this movie with plenty of energy and style to make this feel like a music-video, done with a lot of fighting, sexy women and explosions. The only problem is that everything else he does with this movie, it not only doesn’t work, but it’s too messy for its own good. Certain scenes just don’t work together, and McG himself, as a director, only seems to feel comfortable with his movie when something is either ripping-off the Matrix and being shown to us entirely in slow-mo, or when he’s giving us a close-up of one of these ladies spreading their legs open. And not in that type of way either, ya pervs!

For awhile, it’s all fun to watch and whatnot, but when the movie wants to try and be a bit goofy and satirical with its material and where it seems to have come from, it doesn’t work and instead, totally misfires. Most of that has a problem to do with the fact that McG himself came from a long, long line of music-videos before he made his film-debut with this, and also, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the writers didn’t know if they wanted to give us anything more than plenty of action, and leave it at that. The plot doesn’t make sense; the jokes don’t quite hit; and the action begins to feel like the same sequence showed to us, over and over again. Needless to say, while it may not be anything to write home about, it definitely isn’t terrible. Just misguided is all.

Who needs that much tail when you're Bill Murray? Serious question...

Who needs that much hot tail when you’re Bill Murray? Serious question…

However, as misguided as the rest of the material they’re working with may in fact be, the cast still seems to prevail and make ends meet with whatever it is that they have to work with. The three, leading ladies are all fun to watch, but it’s really Cameron Diaz who gets to walk away with the spotlight placed firmly in her hand as she always seemed to make everything better for herself and for the movie, whenever she decided to give us a glimpse of that beautiful, lovely, cheek-to-cheek smile of hers. Along with her sweet-ass, white girl dance moves, Diaz is very charming to watch here and definitely comes across as the most distinguishable Angel of the three, if only because she seems to actually show some personality. That’s not to discredit Barrymore or Liu or anything, but it’s Diaz who reminds us why she was so young, hot and promising at one time in her life, where now, all she is, is another botox-surgery away from being a parody of herself, much like Ms. Farrah Fawcett ended-up becoming in her later-life as well.

It’s a shame to see a movie in which not only does Sam Rockwell and Crispin Glover get wasted as villains, but so does Tim Curry. Rockwell has a bit more to work with here than the other two, but he still doesn’t seem like he was given much at all to work with, other than a bunch of cocky-lines to sound intimidating with and a random back-story that would, for some reason or another, make sense as to why the plot is so convoluted and nonsensical to begin with. But, to look on the bright side, at least THE Bill Murray wasn’t wasted here, and for that, I have to thank the movie. Then again though, it’d be pretty hard to waste Bill Murray to begin with. He just doesn’t allow for such a wrong-doing to happen.

Consensus: You could definitely place Charlie’s Angels into the “late-night rental” category because while it’s not memorable, it’s still fun, but still seems like a waste of mostly everybody involved, as well as some funny material that never seems to materialize into being anything more than just a bunch of hot ladies, running around, kicking ass and using a lame-pun every now and then.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Ouch.

With legs wide open…

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

No Kraken? Booo!

A decade after kicking some mighty and fine Kraken-ass, Perseus (Sam Worthington) settles down into a life that’s relaxing, full of joy and happiness, as he teaches his son the ways of the world. Everything’s going fine too, until he finds out that his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), needs to be saved from his long-lost, rogue brother (Édgar Ramírez) and asshole-uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes). As strong and powerful as Perseus might be, he can’t do it alone so he recruits Poseidon’s half-human son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) to join him as they fight through thick and thin, limb-from-limb, and even battle a Minotaur. Aw yeah! Maybe not as awesome as the Kraken, but aw yeah!

Even though I didn’t mind it, I can get why a lot of people hated the hell out of Clash of the Titans. It was dumb, a bit long and had CGI done in a way that makes me wonder if we’re still using MACs or not. However, I still can’t understand why the hell we needed a sequel to it, let alone, one that starred the same lead, nor featured the Kraken; because let’s face it: The only reason people waited around in the first movie, was just to see how awesomely cool and epic the appearance of the Kraken would be. Which it was, but does all of five minutes, make an-hour-and-a-half seem worth it?

I can’t quite come to answer that question because, as I said, I didn’t mind the first one but I can totally see and understand the disdain of hearing the news of a sequel. However, you have to think about Hollywood here for a second and realize that not only did the first one make a shit-ton of millions and millions of dollars in the States, but overseas, it made a ton more. So, therefore, you have to realize that of course Hollywood is going to do a sequel for the sake that the first made a bunch of movie, whereas also hoping that the people who ventured out to see the first one, however many times it might have been, will see the second one and probably be just as pleased. That’s exactly who this flick is made for, and that’s the only way this flick could really work.

"No please! Don't squish me too hard! Jimmy C. still needs me for the next five or so sequels!

“No please! Don’t squish me too hard! Jimmy C. still needs me for the next five or six sequels!

That’s why I sort of liked this one a bit more, which isn’t saying too much but is better than what I can say for a movie that’s still on my list for “Most Unnecessary Sequels of the Past Decade”. Even though I didn’t hate Louis Leterrier’s approach to the first movie, producers felt like it was time to re-vamp the series and give it a darker look, feel, touch and story, so therefore, they brought in Jonathan Liebesman to shake things up a bit and see where he could go with this. Liebesman is a welcome addition to this series, mostly because he knows exactly how to get this story off-and-running, right from the beginning.

As soon as we get introduced to what Perseus has been doing for the past couple of years, action just erupts out of nowhere, and we begin to see the old-school Perseus come back in full-form by tangling with a two-headed beast (three, if you count the mouth they have on it’s tail). Right after this fun beginning, the movie jumps right into the story and continues to pile and pile on the exposition, as if all the stories and legends we remembered from Greek History 130 and Herc’s Adventure, was all bullshit.

As mean-spirited as that may sound, the movie still doesn’t show much improvement over the first one in terms of it’s story and script. Of course, I wasn’t expecting a life-opening screenplay about what it means to be a father in the day and ages of Gods and evil forces running amok, but at the same time, at least give me something to hold onto when the action isn’t slamming me in the face. I can only handle so much subplots, stories about Gods, what they can do, and all sorts of philosophical speeches about the after-life that’s supposed to have a deeper-meaning than just, “I don’t want to die”.

That’s where the action comes in and take over what was already a pretty dialogue-heavy movie. Not much better, but slightly in the way that everything looks more polished, feels more thought-out and definitely has more fun with itself, even if it’s a tad too serious for it’s own good. I liked the first one for knowing that it was dumb, loud, and stupid, as if you were watching a B-movie on cable when you and your buddies were high, drunk, bored, or a mixture of all three. This one, however, drives itself down the darker, windier-road that’s all about showing emotions and sad things that not only bring you down, but try and make you feel like there’s more at-stake here when two people are going toe-to-toe in a scrap. It doesn’t work, and it feels like the movie’s trying a bit too hard. All that being said, the movie still has enough fun with itself to the point of where the dark-approach isn’t numbing or bothersome, it’s just more noticeable than it should be.

Nary a scratch and yet: she's in the middle of an intense, bloody battle where she's doing half of the killing.

Nary a scratch and yet she’s in the middle of an intense, bloody battle where she’s doing half of the killing. Inspiration to women all over the globe.

The only real improvement in this flick that’s actually noticeable is that Sam Worthington does feel a bit more “in-his-mode” than he did with the last one. Here, he seems to actually enunciating the horrendous-dialogue he’s been given and seems to really throw himself into the action-sequences that call for more than just heavy panting and staring. Even though there seems to be little to no personality with his take on Perseus, at least Worthington shows us that he wants to be here because maybe all of those wads of cash that he was getting from four years ago, are finally running out and he needs whatever he can take.

Yup, that movie about those blue aliens was released four years back. Funny how time flies.

Returning with Worthington from the first movie, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson seem to be having a bit more of fun as Hades and Zeus respectively, even if they too, do feel like they are slumming themselves down to really fit in with the pure-dumbness of this movie. Can’t complain about that too much, since it is a dumb movie, but a little bit more time and effort would have been greatly appreciated. Hell, if this dude can give us that, why can’t you, Oscar-nominated actors?!?!?

Since everybody from the first movie practically died in it, or re-thought their movie careers, there are new faces and names to be seen and heard which are more welcoming than I expected. Rosamund Pike is a nice addition as the sexy, fiery lady-warrior that isn’t taking anybody’s crap, yet, doesn’t have a problem showing that she can still flaunt it like the boys as well; Toby Kebbell brings a bunch of wit and charm to his role as Agenor, Poseidon’s human son; and Bill Nighy shows his bearded-up face for a wee bit as Hephaestus and has fun, makes his wisecracks, and goes on his own way, probably collecting a hefty paycheck or something, and making us all wish that he would just come back and give us more fun and entertainment. Can never get enough of Bill Nighy, now can ya?

Consensus: To say that Wrath of the Titans is better than its predecessor is stating the obvious, but the problems with that first one still do lie within the cracks and creeks of the script here, and are only ignored when there’s loud, hectic stuff happening on-screen, which makes it at least entertaining to sit-through, even if you sort of wish somebody would crack a smile or two.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Two dudes who played Germans during the Holocaust unite!!

Two dudes who played Germans during that Holocaust movie unite!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Why fix what was clearly not broken?

Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is thrown into the real-world where Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and his evil ways have seem to take over the rest of the world. To end this all of this pain and suffering throughout the land, Perseus and fellow warriors go on a dangerous mission, where they run into many obstacles along the way. However, seeing that Perseus is indeed Zeus’ (Liam Neeson) son, many of the obstacles can be powered through, except for one. And yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Yes, yes, yes! We all know that this movie sucked when it first came out, with post-production 3D and all, but just think about this movie in a different way, if only for a second: Maybe it’s somewhat okay? Alright, maybe that was asking too much but please, do bear with me here as I show you why exactly this flick may not be as bad as people say it is, and say if it is bad, why it is bad in a so-bad-it’s-good-way.

Have I lose anybody yet? Okay, if I have, it’s my fault and my fault alone. But I’m not done here just yet.

The thing about this movie that pissed so many off is the fact that it doesn’t really adhere all that much to the 1981 original. Sure, the story-line and plot-happenings are somewhat the same, but overall, it’s a bit of a different take, with a different way of telling it and a whole new tone that goes in well with what I said before. Then again, the tone here isn’t really too serious that it’s painful to watch, it’s almost so serious, that you can’t help but laugh every five seconds when somebody new decides to throw exposition-upon-exposition down our throats. Even the male-posturing that was always so present within these Greek myths, all gets over-played and used in ways that makes you wonder if the movie was trying to be funny, serious, or nothing at all. More or less, the movie rolls with the last option, but I’m fine with that, as long as it can keep me entertained.

"May we please get your autograph, guy from Avatar?"

“May we please get your autograph, guy from Avatar?”

And entertained is what this movie kept me throughout the whole hour-and-a-half. Basically, the whole movie is built upon three battle-sequences that are supposed to take up the whole run-time and keep us going for more – which seems really stupid considering that this is a movie about titans, having them clash, and eventually fight that lovable sea monster we all know of and love. But somehow, it actually works because the movie injects some fun nature into them. This is most surprising to me, mainly because I know the type of crap that director Louis Leterrier goes for when it comes to his movies, and injecting a quick, shaky-cam is one of them, but it somehow kept this movie moving at a quick-enough pace that I didn’t mind all of the stupidity. And do trust me, there is plenty of stupidity to be had here.

Even though it seems as if three writers were apart of this movie, it doesn’t seem like any of them were able to capture any sort of emotion, feeling or idea to this flick that would make it the least bit more interesting. Instead, everybody yells, screams, commands others to do something, goes “argghh”, and talks about the Gods up above and how dick-ish they are for releasing all of this agony on the people they are supposed to love, care for and watch over. Then again, the movie never really makes up it’s mind of what type of stance it wants to take concerning the Gods. At times, it seems like the movie is saying that to not pray to the Gods and worship them is a sign of being disrespectful and arrogant, but at other times, it tries to say that the Gods are wrong for all of the command they issue out onto these citizens, and even go so far as to show Zeus as being non-other than a high-class, serial rapist. I mean, think about that for a second: Perseus is Zeus son because Zeus decided to bed his mommy in the middle of the night, only to have her realize that the baby wasn’t her actual hubby’s babies, and instead, have it be Zeus’, the God of all things God-like.

Kind of creepy, eh?

You bet your damn ass it is!

However though, the movie isn’t too concerned with all that nonsensical logic and understanding – it’s about big, loud, and angry things being huge and monstrous, so that we all just go “oooh” and “aahhh” the whole way through. It works, but that doesn’t really matter to me since the movie has fun with it’s B-feel, and never let me forget about it. Maybe I was in a good mood; maybe I was feeling generous; and yeah, maybe I was being a nice guy (for a change), but I honestly cannot say that this movie is near-torture to watch and sit-through. Hell, if I caught it on television anytime soon (which with HBO, I most likely will), I’ll probably not mind plopping my rear down on the couch, grabbing a couple of snackaroo’s, getting myself a soda, find the remote and give it a nice, little watch. The worse it could do is probably ruin my day, and that’s all up to me, isn’t it?

I can tell that I’m losing all sorts of credibility here, but that’s what a movie-critic’s life and career is all about. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Since he's Zeus, of course he has to look like Liberace!

Since he’s Zeus, of course he has to look like Liberace!

As you could probably suspect, if the story, the script, and the themes of this movie blow, then, most likely, the characters do as well. However, they aren’t so damn bad, to the point of where watching them will also follow-through with the action of finding hot candle-wax and throwing it in your eyes, in hopes to release the memory of what you have just witnessed on-screen. Sam Worthington leads the pack as Perseus and has that feel and look of the type of Demigod you can believe in to not only just do the right thing, but to kick some fine-ass while doing so. That aspect of Perseus, Worthington does well with, but everything else is just Dullsville right from then and there. Then again, knowing Sam Worthington and what the cat’s been up to in recent-memory, you can’t expect too much from this dude. All you have to know is that he’s going to do some bad-ass things, use the same face for every scene, and somehow, change his accent with the reading of every line. There’s Sam Worthington for ya right there, in a nutshell!

The rest of the cast is only here for show, and all are probably just as interesting, if not less than Worthington and his Perseus. Liam Neeson seems like he’s sleep-walking through his role as Zeus, the type of role that seemed like it would fit Neeson like a glove by now; Ralph Fiennes tries too hard to seem vicious and evil as Hades, even though he just sounds like an old nut-ball; and Mads Mikkelsen doesn’t deserve to be here, and doesn’t seem like he wants to be either. He’s just there for that pay-check, in hopes that he’ll end up breaking the barriers down into the States someday. I think that wish has been fulfilled.

Consensus: Though it is remorselessly stupid and over-the-top, Clash of the Titans can actually be considered as entertaining and enjoyable if you take it as the B-movie it obviously sets its sights on being, and just leaving it at that.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay, stop saying "aaaah".

Okay, quit saying “aaaah”.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

RoboCop (2014)

Please, please, please! Don’t give the police-force any more ideas than they can already handle!

After Detroit policeman Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) gets caught snooping around in all of the wrong places, he’s set-up, blown-up and left in fatal-condition, to where death is most likely the answer. Left with the decision to either never see him again, or allow him to be apart of some scientific-experiment let on by this multi-national company known as OmniCorp, his wife (Abbie Cornish) decides that she doesn’t quite want to let her hubby go, considering that he still has a son to care for. Once scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) is given the “go ahead” from the wifey-poo, Murphy is somehow made into this $2.7 billion (or so) cyborg cop that can detect when something dangerous is about to occur, or already has and the baddie has gotten away and somehow into his sight. Murphy is so unstoppable, that every criminal and corrupt-cop in his jurisdiction run and hide for their lives, while also trying to find out a way to get rid of Murphy for good. However, their not alone, as OmniCorp’s CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) is about to pull the plug, all due to the bad press that Murphy is attracting him and also for the sheer fact that RoboCop may not be able to be stopped, once his path of anger, violence and revenge begins.

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

“How many fingers am I holding up?”

I think I stand for everyone else out there when I say that we definitely didn’t need a RoboCop remake. Two shitty sequels, and an even-shittier TV show, I think, was more than enough for the RoboCop franchise to over-stay its welcome, without ruining the legacy of the kick-ass, slam-bang, Paul Verhoeven original. As usual though, the powers that be in Hollywood always seem to get their ways and despite everyone’s best wishes, we do in fact have a RoboCop remake in the midst of ourselves and it’s just a reality we have to come to grasp with. Doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it, but just realizing that there is a remake out there and accepting it for what it is, definitely goes a long way, which is why I think this is a classic-case where there’s a remake of a beloved-movie that doesn’t do too much wrong, nor too much good – it’s just there for us to see and hopefully make the people behind it a bit more richer.

Don’t think that’s going to happen, but this isn’t “Dan the Man’s Box-Office Predictions”, now is it? So on with the review!

If there’s one thing most remakes should do, it’s not to just tell us the same story again, beat-by-beat, note-by-note, but more so to try and differentiate a bit in ways that would not only improve upon the original, but make it not seem as dated in the new society it’s being presented to. Here, one of the key differences between this film and of the original, is that OmniCorp isn’t as heartless as they once were and are shown to actually be working with the U.S. government, rather than trying to take it over. This makes them seem like not only does Murphy really have all of the odds stacked-up against him once the going gets good, but it also gives you a better sense with the type of people he’s dealing within OmniCorp.

Most of the people that work in OmniCorp, this time around, are exactly what you’d see with most business-heads nowadays: They fight, they yell, they strike-up deals, talk, discuss what to do next, try to make as much money as possible and they also definitely make sure that their public-image isn’t ruined, even in the slightest bit. Sure, that was definitely looked at in the original movie, with a whole bunch of satire to go along with it, but here, it feels like we really are getting a story, with a real billion-dollar company like OmniCorp, that could have possibly even taken place in today’s day and age. All of the sci-fi gadgets and robots aside, there is a true sense that not only is OmniCorp trying to make this world a bit of a better place, but they are trying to be seen as the saviors as well.

Ring a bell of any politicians we may, or may not have out there in the real world today? Just think about it, people! It could happen!

But I digress. Mainly the point I’m trying to get across is that this isn’t a slap-dash remake that just tries to go over everything that the remake did back in 1987; this time around, we actually get a modern-day look and feel to it, although it still has that “futuristic” twist to it. Other than this aspect of the story though, everything is a bit of the same and nothing special, which is a shame, because the rest of the film seemed to hold some actual promise. The biting satire from the original is all but gone this time around, and only shown in bits and pieces where a character will randomly drop-in a famous quote from that movie and make things a bit awkward. Like for instance, a certain character drops the “I’d buy that for a dollar!” line in some form, and it literally comes out of nowhere, and seems like a lame-attempt at director José Padilha trying to have us remember how great the original was. Which, he does do, but probably not for the better sake of his movie, as we are constantly being reminded that this is a remake of a way, way better flick.

Oh, what could have been.

Oh, what could have been.

Speaking of Padilha, the guy didn’t really do much for me with his Elite Squad film, and needless to say, a lot of what he did with the look of that film, is pretty much the same thing this time around. A lot of shaky-cam; a lot of frenetic-movements; a lot of grit; and plenty more corny-lines that only stock cop characters could deliver. It’s not like Padilha does an all that of a terrible job as director, it’s just clear that since he’s working with a PG-13 rating, things are a bit tamer than he may be used to and it translates to the screen, as the action never fully gets off the ground. It just thrills every once and awhile, which is mainly due to the wonderful sound design. Never thought I’d compliment a movie on its sound design, but so be it the case with the RoboCop remake.

What’s also a step-up for this remake, as opposed to many others out there is that the cast is pretty darn promising, even if they don’t all live up to what should have been. Joel Kinnaman shows some of that swagger he had on the Killing and does a fine enough job as Murphy, even though he does struggle quite a bit with some of the cornier-lines he’s given. Especially one scene where we see the extent of his injuries and have to hear him utter out such lines as, “Oh lord no! Oh lord no!”. It’s all so corn-ballish, but reminds us why Peter Weller was such a treat as Alex Murphy to begin with. Even Murphy’s wife, played by Abbie Cornish, is a bit bland, though it’s only because she gets pushed to the side for so long and rarely ever shows her face, if only to bitch and moan about how she “doesn’t get to see her husband enough”. Women, right men?

Though there’s definitely plenty more people here other than just these two, although some are wasted among these well-regarded names. Gary Oldman probably gets the meatiest role out of anybody else here in this supporting cast (which isn’t saying all that much to begin with), and does all that he can with what seems to be a more humane, caring guy that literally feels like his back is thrown-up against the wall, despite him not wanting it to be; Samuel L. Jackson gets plenty of chances to yell, scream and be a lot of fun as a Republican pundit, who frequently shows up to inform us on what the rest of the world is chatting-about; Jackie Earle Haley gets to be a bit gritty as the guy who is always against RoboCop, for no other reason than that he prefers robots with no soul or heart at all, over robotic-humans with hearts and souls; and Michael Keaton, in what seems like his first major-role in 100 years, finally gets a chance to chew some scenery up as the smart, charming and conniving Omnicorp CEO, Raymond Sellars. And there’s plenty of other heavy-hitting, supporting stars to be found here with Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle and even Zach Grenier, who all do what they can, but do feel like a bunch of pretty faces and names, just thrown into a movie that clearly needs the name-recognition. Shame too, because with this cast, we could have had something quite solid on our hands here. Instead, we just get a RoboCop remake, without any penis-shooting.

Boo to that!

Consensus: Surely not as bad as one might have expected from a RoboCop remake, which is to credit more of the different-directions the story takes from the original, but still doesn’t go any further than that and leaves the action, the satire and the overall mood a bit bland.

 5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Dead or alive, you're going to watch this movie, America. You better!"

“Dead or alive, you’re going to watch this movie. You better!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Ride Along (2014)

More reasons as to why we shouldn’t trust our current police-force.

Ben (Kevin Hart) is a fast-talking, very eccentric and slightly goofy that longs for the day he gets his chance to be in the Police Academy. He thinks he is able to do so, all because of the constant video-games he plays on his XBOX, and also because his girlfriend’s brother, James (Ice Cube), also happens to be a cop, and a pretty bad-ass one at that. So if there’s any problems Ben may have, he can always count on his girl’s big bro. Then again though, no he can’t, considering that this said brother doesn’t particularly like Ben, nor even think he’s “man enough” to be the man who takes his baby sister’s hand in marriage. That’s when James gets the bright idea that he’s going to take Ben out on what the task-force calls a “ride along”l which means that the two are going to spend a whole day together where they try and solve crimes, maintain peace and basically, get done all the jobs a normal policeman would normally do. However, there is this case that’s been eating at James for quite some time and it’s starting to all make some sense to him now with Ben around, the only problem is that he may be a bit too in over his head.

Take last year’s the Heat, get rid of the two female leads, as well as their skin-color, and you have Ride Along.

Anybody else find it strange that a member of the NWA is now playing a loyal, by-the-numbers cop?

Anybody else find it strange that a member of the NWA is now playing a loyal, by-the-numbers cop?

And there you have it. That’s all there is to know about this movie and that’s all that you need to know, in order to judge whether or not you should see this flick. Personally, I like a good, old-fashioned, buddy-cop flick when it’s done right, and I thought that with the inclusion of both Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, that things would be a lot better.

However, they aren’t, they’re just mildly acceptable, which is fine, especially considering that we’re in the month of January and, as we all know, the movies released during this uneventful month usually suck terribly. While I definitely would like to say that this movie is “absolute garbage”, I can’t help but think that there were a few times that I actually laughed, and more often than not, had a nice, measly chuckle to go along with the fun as well. For me, that’s all I want in a comedy and if that’s good enough for me, then hell, I think it ought to be good enough for you.

But like I was saying before, this movie definitely isn’t great nor should it be recommended for those who are looking for something that’s going to re-invent the wheel, or even throw them a few surprises they weren’t expecting to see from something that looked as conventional as this. There are a whole bunch of twists concerning certain characters that are easy to pick out right from one of the movie’s earlier-shots; and hell, even the biggest surprise this movie may have had to offer (a cameo from a certain, well-known “someone”) is practically spoiled to us when we the person’s name pops-up in the opening-credits.

And aside from those issues, the plot doesn’t really make much of a difference, because even at an hour-and-40-minutes, the thing still does seem a bit long and lag very, VERY heavily in the middle. It actually lagged so much, that I caught myself dozing-off a few times and barely woke-up from my slumber, despite a crowd of 50-somethings laughing their assess off like hyena’s around me. Almost rarely ever happens to me, hence why I’ve took the time out of this review to make a very big note of it. May not happen to you out there, but it definitely happened to me and it reminds me why coffee comes in so much handy before these types of movies. That, or the fact that the movie itself that I am watching has to be even remotely entertaining.

I wonder why there's so much focus on these guys in the first--half of the movie............

I wonder why there’s so much focus on these guys throughout the movie…………

What’s strange though is that even though I did doze-off during this movie, which would usually kill any other one from getting even the slightest recommendation, this flick had just enough charm and energy about it to where I didn’t mind that it put me to sleep for, oh, I don’t know, say seven or eight minutes. Which means that most of the praise for this movie has to go to both Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, who seem to perfectly placed together as the type of buddy-cop duo we usually see. Cube is very stern, serious and dismissive most of the time; whereas Hart is wild, crazy, energetic, always able to have fun and even take some chances. Together, they make for a very entertaining dynamic, in which you can actually see Cube try his damn near-hardest not to crack a smile whenever Hart is around and doing his thing. And while Cube himself may not be acting his ass off or really lighting the screen-up with his charisma, he’s still fine keeping it as straight-laced as he can be, without ever seeming like a total square that doesn’t know how to have fun.

But as for Hart, the guy’s very fun to watch; although, I do have to admit that some of his screeching and hollering did get to the point of where it was over-bearing. In fact, he reminded me a lot of Chris Tucker in that way, but a lot smaller. And his size, as you could expect, does get a lot of jokes thrown at it from all ends, but Hart’s down with it enough to suck it up and let himself be on the butt-end of a joke. Actually, that’s how he practically is throughout this whole movie, constantly throwing himself everywhere and anywhere, desperately trying to get even the slightest hint of a chuckle out of the audience. Though some may see this as “annoying”, or “over-the-top”, it worked for me and showed me that when in doubt, just trust Kevin Hart to make some goofy, whiny noise to make you laugh. It may not always work and have you soiling your pants, but in the off-chance that it does work, you’ll laugh, you’ll hoot, you’ll holler and most of all, you’ll appreciate that there is a comedian like Kevin Hart out there who is more than willing to sacrifice life and limb for a laugh. Or, even a chuckle. He’ll take what he can get, run with it and leave us enjoying ourselves. True comedian, right there.

Consensus: Shouldn’t be your first, nor your second pick at the movies this weekend, but if worse comes to worse and you end up finding yourself sitting in the same theater that’s showing Ride Along, don’t be alarmed because it’s funny for what it is, without doing much else out-of-this-world. Aka, a typical January movie.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

He is from Philly, so the fact that he wouldn't be able to handle a gun correctly was just a totally unbelievable plot-point. At least for me it was.

Make a note that he knows how to hold that gun through “playing video-games”. Yup, definitely not a movie for the kids.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

As I Lay Dying (2013)

It’s like the big-screen version of the Oregon Trail. All that was missing was the dysentery.

After Addie Bundren (Beth Grant) dies, she makes sure that everyone in her family knows that her dying, last wishes are to be buried in a whole other town, where she’d be transported, by wagon, with every member of her family coming along for the ride. It’s a weighty-task to ask upon someone, but everybody in her fam-squad decides to do so, all in respect to her. However, there couldn’t be anymore of a dysfunctional crew going along on this trip with the nearly-incomprehensible Anse (Tim Blake Nelson), who just wants to get the new set of pearly-whites that his wifey-poo wouldn’t allow him to have when she was alive; Jewel (Logan Marshall-Green), the youngest one who may have some anger-issues as is, so to add on the fact that his loving, adoring own mother just died, is obviously going to add some insult to injury; Darl (James Franco) is definitely the quieter one of the group, but definitely catches onto things pretty quickly and knows what’s really brewing beneath the surface with the rest of his family; Dewey Dell (Ahna O’Reilly), the only daughter that seems to be using this trip to get rid of “something” that has he so scared, that she can’t even mention it; and then there’s the handy-man, Cash (Jim Parrack) who definitely knows a thing or two about how to keep his mom’s casket from breaking wide-open, but doesn’t know a thing or two about keeping him, or the rest of his family safe when they come into some dire, near-death situations. Take all of these factors together, and you have a pretty crazy, wacky and wild trip on your hands.

Give 'em two, equally-sized farmer's hats, and sure, call them "brothers".

Give ‘em two, equally-sized farmer’s hats, and sure, call them “brothers”.

However, being that this is an adaptation of a William Faulkner novel, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

And it’s pretty clear and obvious to anybody who sees this that writer/director/star/God-in-his-own-mind James Franco definitely feels passionate about adapting this pretty heavy, pretty grim material. Now, from what I hear, the source-material itself is found to be almost “unfilmable” due to the fact that the book is split-up into 59 short chapters, in which they were all divided among 15 different first-person narrators. This basically means that Franco would have to do the impossible in the effort in telling the story, getting as much insight as you could from each and every character, not forgetting about some of the most important, relevant parts of the story and most of all, making sure that the whole thing doesn’t come off as a total and complete mess.

So, in order to do this and keep a disaster from happening, Franco inhibits a split-screen format in which we’ll get to see the point-of-view of a certain situation from one character’s side, or even get to hear them as they narrate their inner-most thoughts and feelings, looking straight-on directly into the camera. This is a very smart way Franco allows the story to be told as richly, as detailed and as coherently as he can, but the problem is that it just shows up too oddly and randomly. Though the split-screen format usually shows up for more than half of the movie, the times that it doesn’t, the movie works a hell of a lot more because we’re simply focusing on one thing, and one thing only. Not a billion other things that may or may not be happening, all due to the fact that these characters either seem to be making stuff up, or not seeing the picture clearly enough.

That said, I guess I can’t get on Franco’s case too much as a director for adapting the source-material the way it was written out to be, but it could have definitely been done a lot better. Then again though, maybe it couldn’t have. Maybe this is just one of those pieces of source-material that should stay in libraries, and far away from the script-writing desk. Because if you look closely at what Franco does here, he tries so many times to have this story pop-off the pages and onto the screen itself and in ways, it works. Usually when Franco is just letting the story tell itself, with no visual-flair or camera-tricky added to the proceedings. If two characters are talking about something, no matter whatever the hell it may be, it always seems to be interesting because it’s just a simple tale.

However, when Franco begins to get a little too hot for his own guns and start to add into too much “style” to jazz the whole thing up, it feels distracting, as if Franco needed some sort of mechanism to make this story seem a lot more inviting than it actually is. Because the fact of the matter remains, Faulkner’s source-material is some pretty down-beat stuff, and it’s definitely hard to make sure that material like that always stays intriguing or surprising. But that doesn’t happen here. Instead, I always knew that Franco was going to try something tricky and yet, still have it fall right back in his face. Can’t say that this is a terrible directorial-outing from Franco, as I do think he definitely shows more promise and ambition, than failure, but it’s still very clear that he may have bit-off a bit more than he could chew here, or heck, maybe even not enough.

Glistening = tension.

Even in the deep and dirty South, women still glisten.

Maybe a two-parter, miniseries on HBO would have done the trick? Who knows?

What hurts this movie a bit more, but what also keeps it still above the line of being considered “watchable” is the ensemble cast that Franco so sadly leaves behind, lost, confused and with nowhere to go. Since Franco is so clearly enamored with whatever he is doing behind-the-camera, it kind of sucks for the others since all they have to do is emote and give us compelling characters that deserved to be seen right in front of them on a big-screen, rather than on a bunch of words on countless pages. But despite their many, many efforts, the only one who really comes-off the best is Franco as Darl. It helps that Darl is definitely the center-piece of this story that Franco clearly positioned himself as being, but Franco still shows that he is a charismatic-figure to watch on the screen, even when he’s just being a bumbling, hillbilly idiot. Surely a bit different from what he did as Gator, or as Alien, but kind of the same idea, I guess.

Everybody else does what they can, but with Franco at the helm, they’re sort of just left to fend for themselves. Tim Blake Nelson makes absolutely no sense most of the time as Anse, the head-of-the-family, but is at least entertaining to watch and brings some much needed humor, and energy to a film that desperately needed some, and quick; Ahna O’Reilly is a pretty face, but she proves that she’s more than just that with her performance here as Dewey Dell, the type of girl that seems like she’s about to have a nervous-breakdown at any given moment; Jim Parrack is a fine fit as Crash, the tough, smarter one of the family and shows that even in his most bone-headed decisions, nobody would want to pick a smarts-battle with him; and the same thing that I said about Tim Blake Nelson here, could practically be said for Logan Marshall-Green and his performance as the highly messed-up and problematic baby of the family, Jewel, but has more of a negative-energy going on about him that makes you feel like he truly is apart of this family, for better and for worse. Oh, and even though Danny McBride may be constantly mentioned in the advertisements for this, don’t be fooled; the guy literally shows up for what seems to be maybe ten or 15 minutes, says a few things, uses a weak, Southern-accent, wears a nice farmer’s hat and walks away, presumably to finish the joint that he and Franco lit-up back-stage before shooting.

Consensus: Adapting William Faulkner’s source-material was no easy-feat to begin with, but As I Lay Dying shows us that that statement couldn’t be anymore truer, especially since James Franco himself seems so passionate about getting this material perfect, right down to the nitty, gritty bone, that he forgets what makes a movie worth watching in the first place: Cohesion.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Talk about a family affair!

Talk about a family affair!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

Remember when people just used to get lost in the woods and tape it? Oh, the days.

After recently graduating from high-school, Hispanic L.A. teen Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) gets a new video-camera that he intends to lug around with him as he, and his buddy Arturo (Richard Cabral), hang out, have a good time and just party like it’s the last summer they may ever have together. And with what they’re about to find out concerning their creepy neighbors, it might very well be. Living underneath Jesse are a bunch of quiet and strange people who keep to themselves, don’t bother anyone and heck, even have long, winding-sheets of newspaper covering their windows. The reason for their seclusion is unknown, but Jesse and Arturo think they have an idea why once they begin to start hearing some strange sounds coming from the place. Then, an even stranger occurrence happens when the class valedictorian runs right out of the place, and away from a murder-scene in which he may have, or may not have had a thing to do with. Ultimately, this really gets Jesse and Arturo as curious as cats, so they both decide to see what’s really going on down-below and what they find out, is surely not pretty.

Another year is upon us, which also means, another Paranormal Activity movie. However, this one is different, if only slightly. Rather than being a story based on the mythology that we already know from past installments, The Marked Ones starts us off fresh, new and quite promising, especially considering that what we have here are a bunch of Latino characters that yes, are made to appeal to the Hispanic-demographic that may want to venture out and see this, but also give us some new tricks and trades that we haven’t quite seen before from the other installments. And for a good chunk of this flick, I have to say, things were looking all bright and shiny.

That's one way to wax your 'brows.

That’s one way to tweeze your ‘brows.

Although, it must also be said that I am a huge fan of these movies, mostly because I’m just a sucker for “found-footage” flicks in general. They get me everytime, and even though the last PA movie showed that there was a bit of a lag in terms of quality and quantity, I still wasn’t all that pissed-off with it to the point of where I had practically given up all hope on this franchise. Sure, it’s starting to die down and show its stretch-marks, but I still fall for the same scares, same laughs and same mythology that seems to be expanding even more and more as the flicks come on by.

However, with this movie, I think I may have about had it all, for the simple fact that what I didn’t think was going to happen to this movie after the first two-halves, sadly did and it was a bore to watch.

But like I was saying before though, the first hour of this movie actually works. It doesn’t always make perfect sense in my mind as to why the hell these characters constantly continue to bring this camera around with them, even when they’re out shooting some hoops, but for the most part, it stayed somewhat believable. Also, there was some nifty ideas brought to the table here in terms of Simon Says game that acts as like a Ouija board in which Jesse actually has a discussion with it and brings out some surprising chills. Doesn’t quite make sense, and definitely seems a tad goofy in hindsight, but for the movie, it worked and showed that with the right direction, this franchise can still do some things to surprise us.

Another aspect of this movie that surprised me was how attuned to character-development this movie was, and how not all of it was chintzy. Jesse isn’t the type of character that will necessarily be remembered forever and ever like Micah or Katie were, but he still is definitely likable and easy to root for, especially when you take into consideration that he’s just a teen, doing teen stuff. He likes to get drunk, get high, get girlies, get into parties, cause a little havoc and just see what’s going on with people that live around him. In fact, he’s pretty damn human I’d say. Same goes for Arturo, his best buddy, who also benefits highly from having a good actor in his role. Though I’ve never seen him in anything before, something tells me that Richard Cabral may be able to break-out of this alive and have a steady-career for himself. It has yet to be seen that one of these movies can actually NOT pigeon-hole someone for the rest of their lives, but I think Cabral may be able to given the fact that he steals just about every scene he’s in here, and also never seems like a bad kid, despite always lingering around Jesse and mooching off of him. Let’s wait and see how life pans-out for this kid, folks.

Paranormal3

“Come play with us, Dan..ehrm…Jesse.”

Despite all of this good stuff being said, there’s still something in the middle that didn’t work so well for me like the first-half was. I don’t want to necessarily give away, other than to say that the movie takes a sudden turn for the worst and gets darker, but not in a good, hard-R way that it should have gone. What I mean is that everything gets pretty conventional after this switch occurs and we start to see most of the scares coming from a mile away, not getting scared of them, characters doing stupid things that aren’t as funny as they used to be, and just a whole slew of other frustrating things that happen and make me wonder if this franchise still has any room to breathe in. There are a couple of jumps and scares to be found in the final ten minutes where, predictably, all hell breaks loose, but that ending…

Hold up, let me repeat it for you: THAT ENDING!!! I don’t want to give away too much, but let me just say that it’s the same ending we’ve all seen from these movies before, but rather than going out with a total bang, leaving us alone, scared and in dire need of some warmth from a nearby citizen, it will most likely just leave you scratching your head. Through someway, this movie finds itself connecting to the rest of the franchise in a way that feels more desperate than anything and had me feeling like they are really, and I do mean REALLY, trying to squeeze as much milk out of this utter as they can. I don’t know how long it will continue to work for them, but let’s hope soon, if it continues to go at this pace and betray some of its most loyal fans. Meaning me!!!

Consensus: There are some neat tricks and add-ons to be found in Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones that will have you feeling like there’s still some promise with this already over-long franchise, but there’s still not nearly as many surprises as there should be, let alone any reason for why this has to exist other than to make a lot of money, and just hope and praythat a lot of Hispanics will come out and see this.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES, from Paramount Pictures.

“Yo man, apparently this “spirit” following you around used to take place in just one house and barely anywhere else. What the hell happened to all of the simplicity, you know?!?!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Open Grave (2014)

First reviewed movie of 2014, and what a bummer it is.

A man (Sharlto Copley) wakes up, after what seemed to be quite the slumber party, in a pit full of mutilated corpses. He has no idea how he got there, who he is, or what he has done, all that he does know is that where he’s at right now is not good and he needs to get out as soon as possible. Eventually, he does and he begins to walk around the wilderness when he spots a deserted cabin in the middle of it all. Inside this cabin, he stumbles upon five other people who have the same problem he has: No memory of who they were, are, or how they even got here in the first place. But to make matters worse for this guy is the fact that he was found at the top of this grave, meaning that he looks a tad bit more suspicious than these others who just woke up and found themselves inside this cabin. Though they definitely are curious about all of each other, the group decides to set-out and figure out where the hell it is that they are and how they can escape, all in one piece mind you. However, strange things begin to happen and sooner than later, people start getting knocked-off one by one, just as soon as they begin to remember things about their previous-lives. Also, there’s a calender located inside the cabin that has the 15th of the month circled. Why is that? Be ready to find out!

"This is to all of those haters who preferred the original Oldboy to the remake!!"

“This is to all of those haters who preferred the original Oldboy to the remake!!”

This not one of those times.

The first 20 minutes of this movie were pretty good because of the way it stuck itself to the former. We literally see this dude wake up, have no clue what happened, find a group of people who are just as clueless as he is, find themselves in a situation, and do the best they can with trying to get out of the said situation, while also trying to remember things about their past-life. It’s interesting to watch, because you could think of all the possibilities of what could happen and why, and director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego definitely seems just as interested as we are with the rest of the movie. But, once we get a couple or so flashbacks inside the mind of these characters, then it all comes pretty clear that not only do we have any clue where this story could go or end up, but neither does Lopez-Gallego himself.

With a movie like this, it’s okay to be as vague and as confusing as you want, but it has to be done in a way that makes you, the viewer, feel like it’s working to something that’s not only going to completely and utterly blow your mind, but change the way you thought about the film prior to this point-in-time. That never happens here and that’s a huge problem because most of these movies bank on that huge, surprise twist at the end that shakes things up. Without giving too much away, there are some brief moments where we see characters start to have their brains racked-over memories they had that could either lead them to understand why they are where they are, or what their relationships were with the others around them. In some rare cases in this movie, this leads to some interesting directions that I didn’t quite see coming right off the bat, but once the first-hour is finally over and said with, the movie’s practically thrown all of those possibilities and ambitions to the side.

Just as soon as the hour-mark passes by, we are then thrown into a “suspense-thriller” that not only has the slightest idea of where it’s going to end-up, but doesn’t care about logic at all. Instead, the movie seems like it’s just throwing one ludicrous idea, one-after-another, almost to the point of where the movie just lost my interest because it just seemed to be pointless. This also substitutes any chance of character-development the first two-halves may have been working with and rather, we’re just left sitting and watching a bunch of characters we don’t feel diddly-squat towards, as they try and figure out who’s bad, who’s good, why they are here, how they can get the heck out of this situation and where the end in sight may be. And even when characters begin to get knocked-off, one by one (as they predictably do in faux-horror flicks like this), there’s no emotional-attachment whatsoever and it just feels more like a good riddance, rather than a piece of us being lost.

Why can't condos be in the middle of the woods?

Why can’t condos be in the middle of the woods?

Because don’t we all just long for a sincere, heartfelt human-connection with anybody? Even characters from a B-grade thriller? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me and my neediness after all!

However, it’s not even like the performances themselves aren’t that good, it’s just that the movie doesn’t really give a lick about them. Sharlto Copley had a pretty stacked-2013 in which he played it so over-the-top in movies like Elysium and Oldboy, you would wonder if he was even allowed in a single public library across the globe (if they still exist). But here, as the soon-to-be-named protagonist, he’s surprisingly effective at just down-playing his act and gives us a guy that you don’t know if you can trust, or even want to be around in a situation like this. Yet, there are brief-snippets of humanity that has this guy go a long while, even when it seems like he is at his most morally questionable. However, the best performance of this cast is Josie Ho as a mute gal known as “Brown Eyes” who, as you guessed it, is able to convey any emotion she may be feeling based solely through her eyes and body-motions. She’s the stand-out here, but considering that nobody else is really given much to do at all, it’s not really worth praising as much as it is noting, I guess. Oh well, she’s good! And I’ll just leave it at that!

Consensus: Starts off moody, interesting and chock-full of promise, but once the clues start to show and the possibilities seem overly-endless, then Open Grave begins to spill-out into nothing more than another typical, run-of-the-mill thriller with a few good moments and performances to be seen along the way.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

If you can get past the horrendous smell of rotting, mutilated corpses, it's actually pretty romantic. Dare I say it, titilating?

If you can get past the horrendous smell of rotting, mutilated corpses, it’s actually pretty romantic. Dare I say it, titillating?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Four Rooms (1995)

People will do anything for a tip.

It’s the first day on the job for Ted the bellhop (Tim Roth), and from what it seems like, it won’t be a very pleasant one. Early on, he gets told the ins, the outs, the what to do’s, and the what not to do’s on the job by an aging, supposed retiring bellman that gives him an idea of what he should expect taking people’s luggage up to their room, answering their phone calls and the most important of all, waiting on them for a tip. So with this all out of the way, Ted gets ready for one of the biggest and most hectic nights of the year, New Year’s Eve. And what do you know it? Ted’s night ends up being an eventful one, albeit one that he finds his life threatened on more than a few occasions. But it’s all in the good name of a sizable tip, right?

Like with most anthology films, the idea here seems smart and somewhat nifty: Get at least four low-key, up-and-coming indie film-makers, give them a budget and give them free reign to basically just strut their stuff for no less than 20 minutes each, slap the Miramax logo on it, and release it to the mass-audience. Seemed like a really promising idea that could have worked wonders for all of the film-makers involved, but somehow, it more or less just ended up killing two promising careers, while just injuring two others.

Take a wild guess as to whose career’s were killed, and which ones were just injured for a short while. Not that hard I guess, but let me just tell you through my usual-way of reviewing anthology films; taking it one-by-one, segment-by-segment. Shall we?

Random twitching example #2.

Random twitching example #2.

1. The Missing Ingredient – This is the one that starts it all off, and that’s not a good thing at all. In short, this segment is easily the worst. It made me feel like I made a huge mistake actually even bothering with this movie. Director Allison Anders gives us a cool idea in which a coven of witches who need male sperm to complete their ritual and just so happened to choose Ted as he comes stumbling on in. While the ground-work was there for this to be not just hilarious, but all sorts of weird and cooky, in a fun-way, Anders doesn’t even bother going anywhere with this. Sure, for horny dudes, there is plenty of hot boobage to be seen, but for anybody who wants a little bit of craziness mixed with their covens, will be most likely disappointed as Anders seemed to really drop the ball with this, and not know what’s considered “funny”, and what’s considered “boring.” Easily the worst out of the four, but it’s not like the next one is a peach neither.

2. The Wrong Man – Things seem to get a bit better with this segment, however, not by much. Director Alexandre Rockwell keeps things small and subdued, but not anywhere near being considered “sweet”, as this whole segment just meanders endlessly, without ever really moving outside of the actual hotel room it’s placed in. The whole story is in which a married-couple (Jennifer Beals and David Proval) basically plays this little sex-game where he pretends that she’s been screwing around him and picks out whatever poor fellow just so happens to stroll through that door, interrogate him, wave a gun in front of his face, take his pills, and basically, just scare the shorts off of him. There are moments in this segment where the wheels seemed to be turning and there seemed to be some moments of promise, but once the segment is all said and done with, I couldn’t help but feel like it went on a bit long. Especially once Beals’ character just started yelling out any term for the word “penis” she could think of right away. Sure, it made me laugh (probably my first one), but it was only because it was a random moment of creative spontaneity that the first segment didn’t seem to have.

Thankfully though, it does get better from here and begins to feel like something worth watching, rather than the first two awful-pieces.

3. The Misbehavers – Antonio Banderas plays a tough and sinister father-of-two that wants to take his wife on a night out on the town, in hopes of getting laid and therefore, igniting the spark in their marriage that probably sizzled-out once kids came along and screwed everything up. But, knowing that these same kids can’t come out with them, he decides to intimidate Ted intoi watching over them, and making sure that they “don’t misbehave”. It seems easy, and with the price for this little mission being $500, it seems even easier. However, with these two kids, nothing is quite as easy as it seems and eventually, the room itself starts to smell and once that happens, all hell breaks loose. So yeah, the plot-line for this segment is dumb, but with Robert Rodriguez behind-the-wheel, it’s anything but. Actually, that’s not true. It is still dumb, but in a “fun” way in which one can only associate with Rodriguez and his style of film-making. It starts off simple and small, but as time goes on, and Rodriguez really gets the brain working, you can see just how much havoc he can throw on top of the other and once all is said and done and we get the final-line of this segment, you know that, if anything, the whole movie was it at least worth it for just this whole time-span of 15-20 minutes. It doesn’t even matter if the last segment blows, all we know is that this is the segment people should be wanting to see and talk about.

When you do have a movie in which "the chick from Say Anything" gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something "to watch".

When you do have a movie in which “the chick from Say Anything” gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something “to watch”.

But of course, the last segment is done by none other than Quentin Tarantino himself and, as we all know, the guy has a bit of a thing for stealing the spotlight of movies, and his segment here is no different.

4. The Man from Hollywood – The plot-line is simple: Ted stumbles upon a bunch of fast-cat, Hollywood big-shots (Bruce Willis being among them), who con him into doing something for a hefty price, as idiotic as the act may be. Oh, and there’s a bet involved somehow, someway. Basically, being that this is a Tarantino-segment, you can expect a lot of witty lines that involved pop-culture, violence, sex and a bunch of other talk that doesn’t sound like it’s coming from actual human-beings who grace us with their presence on the same planet we call Earth. That said, considering the rest of the film that came before this, it’s a blast to watch, keeps you interested, laughing, a bit tense and overall, entertained as if Tarantino was the one they really were leaning on for this to work and that’s exactly what they got. In hindsight, it’s not the best thing that Tarantino has ever done or touched (especially when also speaking of his acting), but when you place his segment against the three others, his definitely comes out on-top and a reason to see this whole film. Although you do have to get through two shitty segments, and one pretty good one.

And through all of these segments, there’s none other than Tim Roth himself acting his ass off through them, which is not a good thing. For some odd reason or another, Roth is given the order to carry-out this overly-used, spastic-twitch of his that carries on throughout most of his segments in which he stammers and bumbles more than Hugh Grant on a bad day. It gets old real quick and just becomes random, as if there was no other reason to make this character interesting than to just have him do and say all of these odd things. Roth tries, but he can’t help but suffer due to doing whatever it was that he was told. However, when he’s told to dial it down a notch and just let the segments for speak themselves, is usually when he’s at his most watchable, as well as the same could be said for the movie itself. And mostly, this occurs during the last two segments. Strange how things work themselves out, right?

Consensus: If you counter in the fact that only two of the four segments in Four Rooms work, then I guess you could consider this “watchable” in the least bit. But, then again, if you want to save yourself some precious time, effort and/or money, then just watch the last two segments somewhere on YouTube. I’m sure you’ll be able to find them somewhere.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Talk about a party I'd like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don't do anything I wouldn't do! Woo hoo!

Talk about a party I’d like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! Woo hoo!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

47 Ronin (2013)

It’s Keanu and a sword. What else is there to know?

In 18th century Japan, lowly half-blood Kai (Keanu Reeves) sits outside of his village looking in. Nobody respects him, nor cares for him. He’s just there to clean-up messes that are made and to get on with the rest of the society. However, one day, his master is murdered by a rival clan that is looking to expand his empire, which leaves Kai and fellow other samurai’s without much of anywhere to go. Some have died, some have hidden and some, well, mainly one, Kuranosuke Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), have been locked away from society a whole year, only to be brought back into a world that’s changed a lot since imprisonment. Oishi doesn’t like all of this change and realizes that it’s time to get the old gang back together, even if that means tracking down Kai and bringing him along. Well, it’s a smart move on Oishi’s part as Kai is now a very-skilled fighter, and also, just so happens to know who this evil clan-leader is, and where he’s located. Altogether, Kai, Oishi and the rest of the samurai’s set out for revenge, even if that revenge does mean death, regardless of whether it’s successful or not. Is it at all worth it? Well, the honor-system of the Ronin says so, so they must!

A samurai movie starring Keanu Reeves being released on Christmas: How do you think it’s going to do? Well, for starters, the movie will most likely bomb, bomb, bomb itself away into an oblivion, but that doesn’t get in the way of me at least enjoying a little B-movie fun, right?

You can trust Keanu to save the day. He knows "The Way of the Blade". Or something like that. I don't know!

You can trust Keanu to save the day. He knows “The Way of the Blade”. Or something like that. I don’t know!

Nope, not at all. But do you know what does? Something dull, lifeless and as Americanized as this. And yet, I didn’t hate it. Here’s why:

The problem that most seem to be having with this movie is that it doesn’t take itself as nutty as it should. Those people are absolutely right, but when the movie does actually show some signs of rare-craziness, it’s a whole bunch of fun and makes you wonder what the movie would be like if it was rated-R, rather than the soft, rather safe PG-13. There’s slivering CGI dragons; telepathic monks that have the ability to move at-a-mile-a-second; some huge, gargoyle-looking beast; and a seven-foot-tall-plus samurai warrior draped in all sorts of iron that knows a thing or two about a wrecking ball. Need I say more about this movie’s strangeness? I think not, and in those very rare moments the movie accepts what it is, it’s a whole bunch of fun, even if you don’t see it in 3-D.

That’s why when the movie does seem to take itself so damn seriously, and try to throw a historical-lesson on us, it feels like a wasted-opportunity of something really wacky and over-the-top. Rather than giving us a samurai movie in which Keanu is running all-over-the-place, saying dumb things, and hacking up every person he meets, we just see him show up, speak about “The Way of the Ronin” and then leave, ultimately letting others steal the spotlight from him. I’m not totally against this approach, considering that this is a Japanese-set movie about something that actually did happen with real-life, actual people of Japanese-decent, but it sucks so much fun out of what could have been. And by “what could have been”, I mean something that could have really been just all-out, balls-crazy in its own-self. But somehow, through someway, first-time director Carl Rinsch plays it relatively easy and never knowing whether he wants to be goofy, epic, action-y, loud, proud, philosophical, or all of the above.

It’s a strange mixture that never quite figures itself out. Maybe that’s why I didn’t hate it as much since there was always something odd the movie was doing next. I mean, for lord’s sake, I actually didn’t mind something as plain and simple as R.I.P.D., so you definitely know that this wasn’t going to be a total dread for me to watch. It just wasn’t, as expected, anything special or anything that I’ll remember ten, twenty, thirty, hell, even fifty years from now. However, do you know what I will remember? A Keanu Reeves-starring samurai flick that may have not been perfect, or even all that memorable, but I still had a painless time with. That so rarely often happens to me with a flick, and it happened to me here, so I have to say: I’m feeling alright, and that’s good enough for me.

As for all of you out there, if you want to see this, then I say go for it. Just don’t expect it to be like those old-school, kung-fu movies from the 70′s in which a bunch of people yelp, scream and chop each other’s heads off with a bunch of blood spurting out everywhere. Just expect something as odd and as weird that only Keanu Reeves would actually do, and there you go. You got your movie!

Yeah, they existed.

Yeah, they existed.

Speaking of Keanu, as much as he tries here, he feels terribly out-of-place. Which, yes, makes sense considering that he’s a half-breed of an British man and a Japanese woman. But I mean it more so in the way that he literally feels like he’s in another movie where everyone is placed into this ancient-war epic, and then, out of nowhere, Keanu seems to stumble upon the wrong set, mumbling whatever nonsense he has to say, and then walking off, letting whomever it was that was doing their job, continue to do so, without anymore interruptions at all. And, with this talented, Japanese-cast, it’s not all that bad; even if it is a bit strange that this is a historical-story set in Japan, featuring mainly all Japanese actors, and has them all speak English, with barely any subtitles involved. It’s strange to watch and in ways, very distracting considering you may be wondering what the hell it is that some people are saying at times, but the cast do what they can with what they’re given, especially Keanu. Poor, poor Keanu. The guy can kick ass like anybody’s favorite weirdo superhero, but here, he just feels odd. That’s more of the movie’s problem then his own, so I won’t be so mean to him. Because we all know what Keanu looks like when people get him all upset and bothered. Poor buddy.

Also, be on the lookout for a Gedde Watanabe sighting! Or, better yet, be on the lookout for a “Long Duk Dong” sighting!

Consensus: May not be the movie you’ll remember come next year, or any year for that matter, 47 Ronin is still passable enough as a piece of fluff entertainment that gives its core-audience enough sword-wielding fun and action, with some other neat treats in between, that’s fine for what it is, even if it could have been so, so, so much more had it played itself a little less seriously.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Will the real Ronins please stand up? Yeah, I'm talking to you in the front!

Will the real Ronins please stand up? Yeah, I’m talking to yous in the front!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Grudge Match (2013)

The fight we all wanted and prayed for is finally here! Thirty-years later, of course.

Back in the good old days of the 80′s, two famed-boxers, Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “the Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro), had one of the biggest, and best rivalries anyone sports fan had ever seen. They both had a win on the other, which obviously meant that there would be begs and pleads for a the all-time classic “rubber match”, but sadly, that didn’t happen. Razor ended-up retiring, retreating to his suburban-roots in Pittsburgh PA., and ultimately, leaving the spotlight forever; whereas the Kid just continued doing what it was that he was doing with boxing, still fighting, still collecting paychecks, still wooing the ladies, all up until the time came for him to retire and buy his own bar, in which he still makes money off of and have a great time with. Now, after nearly thirty-years, through a series of strange events, the modern-day media all of a sudden wants the end-all, be-all rematch two happen between these two, and some head-shot promoter (Kevin Hart) is the one to get it all back together. The only problem would actually be getting these two in the same ring together at all, which holds more problems than what may seem on the surface, all because of some personal issues the two ran into with a girl (Kim Basinger) they both had relations with.

Here it is, everybody! The fight we all waited so desperately for: Jake LaMotta vs. Rocky Balboa! Except, take about thirty, some-odd years later, and Grudge Match is what we have.

Oh my! So meta!

Oh my! So meta!

Disappointed? I’d sure as hell say so!

Basically, what it is that we have on our hands here is a joke movie that seems like it was solely made so that these two aging, but still-popular stars can get in the ring together, and do what every movie-nerd has been chatting on and on about for years. But, since they are in fact old (Sly is 67, Bob is 70), that means we get a whole bunch of “old people jokes” that include rectal exams, Viagra, boners, menopause, heart-attacks, Alzheimer, and so on and so forth. Which, needless to say, aren’t all that funny, but yet, also aren’t that harmless neither. In fact, I’d say that some of these jokes are a bit funnier than what I’ve seen in many other “old people” comedies; much more so than Stand Up Guys or Last Vegas.

However though, it was once the movie started diving into such comedic-territory like racism, or homophobia, or even rape, is where I began to draw the line and realize that hey, maybe this movie needs to calm it down and get on with the story. And if it isn’t going to get on with its story, then at least get on with its character. And well, hell, if it sure as hell isn’t going to get on with its characters, then it surely might as well get on with the actual boxing match itself. You know? The same boxing match most fans have been desperately clamming over thirty-years for? Yeah, well they do get on with that, but it takes us about two-hours to get there. In the meantime, we’re subject to all sorts of jokes that either hit hard (anything with Kevin Hart and/or Alan Arkin doing what it is that they do best), or miss terribly (the whole idea of making blow job jokes in front of a seven-year-old was a terrible one in the first place, but to have it play out the way it did, just added insult to injury).

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like I’m saying that this movie isn’t funny, because it can be, it just takes some standard jokes that we’ve seen and/or heard a million-hundred times before, and doesn’t really put a new spin on them. That’s all. And if this were an-hour-and-a-half-movie where all we got was some back-story, and some of this over-the-top comedy, I’d be all fine and dandy with that. However, the movie piles one element, on top of the other, all up until it’s two-hour-mark, and then the movie itself realizes that it actually has to include the boxing match we were all initially promised.

Which, even when it does show up, it’s so poorly-done, you can’t help but to get past its several obvious problems. For instance, it’s very clear who has the better body of the two, but I won’t even bother to dive into that. Instead, I’ll just yammer-on about the obvious difference in weight-classes between De Niro and Stallone and how, in the real world of professional-boxing, this fight would: a) Never happen, and b) not at all go down the way it did. I don’t want to give away what it is that exactly happens in this brawl between these two, as it actually may bring some fun and enjoyment for you peeps out there, but needless to say, the fight goes down the exact way you’d expect a sports movie to have itself go down, and already, it just never works.

Some may say I’m an a-hole for going into a movie like this where two old-as-hell men are battling in the ring and actually got “some” medical clearance for this, expecting some sense of realism, but I say I’m just a guy who wants his entertainment done right. Especially when it concerns two stars like De Niro and Stallone who have both been way, way better than they are here, and not too long ago neither. Stallone hasn’t really been stretching his acting-muscles much lately, but he’s still shown that he’s able to turn that charm on, make us laugh and make us still think of him as the lovable, goofy meathead that he was all those years ago.

I see plenty of timeouts in that little seven-year-old's future.

I see plenty of timeouts in that seven-year-old’s future.

As for De Niro, he’s had better luck in terms of being able to show us what it is that he can still do with dramatic, worthy-enough material; the only problem is, is that it just hasn’t been too often. Sure, he’ll knock it out of the park with something like Silver Linings Playbook, but for every dramatic, subtle-turn he gives, there’s about two or three Fockers sequels just waiting in line. De Niro can usually charm his way into making anything good, and he does his job well here, but after awhile, it becomes painfully clear to us that he’s slumming it for this role, and slumming it hard. The fact that he’s still considered this hardcore womanizer and boozer, and still actually living all of these years later, is a bit ridiculous, but De Niro sells it for all that it’s worth. It just doesn’t work as well as it should for a guy of De Niro’s talents, and it makes me wish he’d just take better work. It’s not like he can’t get it, either!

Perhaps having a dedicated solely to the developing-relationship between the Kid’s son, played very-well by a favorite of mine, Jon Bernthal, and the Kid himself would have been a smarter move on the movie’s part, because it’s quite clear that’s where most of the interesting elements are. It helps that Bernthal is good as the Kid’s son and provides a maybe too-dramatic look at a grown-up man just trying to find a common-ground between he and his estranged daddy, but it also helps that he and De Niro work together, which makes plenty more sense once you realize that Bernthal was in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, too! See the connection!?!? Woo, I’m good!

Anyway, as good as the two are together, the movie doesn’t really do them much justice and instead, decides to splice their scenes alongside those of Razor’s and his budding-romance with an old-fling of his, played by a still-looking-good Kim Basinger. In all honesty, Basinger and Stallone are good enough together to make their scenes work, but after awhile, it’s obvious that they’re what’s sucking most of the wind out of this movie and eventually, it gets to the point of where you just want someone to throw on the gloves, get in the ring and start pummeling another person. Was that too much to ask for in a boxing movie? I mean, really?!!?

Consensus: Fanboys from all over the globe who have been awaiting for this bout to actually happen, may be a bit disappointed with Grudge Match, and how it takes too long to get where it needs to go, and provides us with too much filler that’s either too desperately funny, or just not funny at all.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Quick! Somebody throw the first punch before the other one keels over!

Quick! Somebody throw the first punch before the other one keels over!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Last Days On Mars (2013)

What goes on on Mars, should definitely stay-put there. Except for you, Martian Manhunter. You’re a pretty cool guy.

A group of astronauts on Mars, all get ready for what’s supposed to be their final day of their first-manned mission to Mars. It wasn’t a very eventful mission to say the least, but it was one that went down without a hitch where everybody felt pretty relaxed, happy with one another and confident that they were going to be able to adjust back to normal life on Earth. That is, until something unexpected happens when two astronauts go missing, and one comes back, but brutally injured and possibly bringing back a virus along with them. And while the rest of the group tries to contain their fellow passenger, as well as the virus, they are unsuccessful, leaving the virus out there and able to infect anyone. As the seconds count-down to when they rescue crew will be able to pick them up, every ‘naut tries to do anything they can to stay alive, at any costs. Even if that means getting their hands a little dirty.

While the slew of comparisons to Alien, Red Planet, Mission to Mars, and all sorts of other lost-in-space movies are endless, that still doesn’t mean that a little flick like this couldn’t make its own wonders happen, even if they’re are on a smaller-scale than what we’re used to seeing. That’s why with such the high-profile cast, premise and crew, one has to wonder: Why hasn’t this one gotten a bigger release? And better yet, why the hell isn’t anyone talking about it?

They all act like they've never walked into a room where a guy has an erection before. Haven't they ever gotten a massage?!!?

They all act like they’ve never walked into a room where a guy has an erection before. Haven’t they ever gotten a massage?!!?

Well, the answer to both questions is pretty darn simple: It ain’t all that good to begin with.

Problems with movies in this same vein are pretty constant, but one of the biggest is character-development, or in this movie’s case, lack therof. I get that it may be a bit hard to tell us everything we need to know about each and every single one of these characters, given the small time-frame we have with them (an-hour-and-a-half), but a little probably would have a real long way, especially since there were some pretty talented people in the roles. Peeps like Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams, Johnny Harris and the always welcome Elias Koteas are all here, doing what they do best, however, the script just doesn’t really assist them in anything whatsoever. Instead, it gives them corny lines like “We’re gonna get you through this”, even when the person that they are in fact talking to is turning black and blue from some sort of virus that’s taking over their minds and souls.

Speaking of which, I won’t dare jump into spoiler-territory, but it should be known that once you actually do get to see what infects these people and what they actually become once they are infected, you’ll be pretty bummed. For starters, there’s no reason for what they become; they just become it, all because of the radiation in the air, or something like. Also, there’s never a real explanation as to how you can kill them, or get rid of them in anyway. You see people knock ‘em down, roll ‘em around and drag ‘em as far as they possibly can imagine, and yet, they still continue to get up and cause all sorts of havoc. To show how ridiculous this idea truly is, there’s an even a scene in which Schreiber’s character is wailing away at one of these infected “things” so damn much, to the point of where we can just see the venting frustration clearly on his face. It’s actually one of the movies very rare moments of humor, whether it was intended or not.

And that’s pretty much all we have to this movie. We have our setting (Mars), we have our stock-characters (a group of astronauts), we have our central character who’s is supposed to be the heart and soul of this story (Liev Schreiber’s character), we have our dilemma (people are turning sick and twisted with this new virus) and we even have our end-point in sight (rescue team is supposed to be around in 24 hours), so it’s pretty standard stuff. Not everything in this movie happens the exact way you’d expect it to, but then again, it doesn’t really surprise you either. Sometimes one certain character will take a fall when you don’t see it coming, but that’s more because the actor who is getting killed off is a pretty well-known, recognizable face, and less about the character, the background that went into them and all of the time we’ve invested in them. It’s got the ensemble that isn’t really an ensemble, yet also has a bunch of people we’ve seen, we like and we care for when they show up in stuff, just not as much to where we could really devote our hearts to them here.

I spy with my little eye Phoenix Stadium in the background.

I spy with my little eye Phoenix Stadium in the background.

I can see that I’ve practically gone on and on with this review to the end where it practically seems like I’ve hated, but here’s the thing: I actually don’t. I’m just very “meh” about it. Sure, it can be predictable, doesn’t have anything neat or new to say about the alienation one feels being lost out there in outer-space and it definitely won’t be remember by the year’s end, but if you’re looking for something to watch when you’re cold, alone, bored and want to spend some time underneath the blankets, then I’d say watch this, just don’t expect much. If anything, the movie looks great and has some real moments where you’ll give the creators credit for at least making use of their rather measly-budget, giving all of this space-gear and such a realistic look. Maybe more time and effort could have been dedicated to the script and whether or not we would totally be shocked by the end, but I guess that’s a complaint that’s going to go nowhere considering I’ve made it a hundred times before, and it’s not going to change a thing. Let’s just hope that this makes Liev Schreiber want to choose better roles, in better movies, because when he’s given something to do, he can work wonders with it. Just ask Ray Donovan.

Or, don’t ask him, just watch it. Yeah, that’s what I meant.

Consensus: The Last Days On Mars is about as generic as its title promises it as being, which isn’t all that bad since it can be fun at times, but at others, can just be a plain, simple and dull time whether you’re at the movies, or watching it from home. I’d stick more so with the latter, than anything else.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

If Mars ever wanted to be considered "a vacation spot", well, I think I just found their postcard.

If Mars ever wanted to be considered “a vacation spot”, well, I think I just found their postcard.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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