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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Ben Affleck

Gone Girl (2014)

Anybody down to get married?

On the wee early hours of July 4th, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home to a bit of a shocker: His wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has mysteriously disappeared. Seeing as how this could possibly be a kidnapping, Nick decides to call the local authorities, in which two detectives (Kim Gordon and Patrick Fugit) get called onto the scene to investigate. While they do initially believe that Nick doesn’t have the faintest clue of what happened to his wife, the way everything is laid out just points towards him. However, they continue on with their investigation and keep themselves as subjective as possible. Problem is, the same couldn’t be said for the media who, upon hearing of this mysterious case, jump on it right away and focus most of their attention on Nick, his efforts to help find Amy, and just whether or not he actually has anything to do with it in the first place. This leads Nick to hire an attorney (Tyler Perry) that will not only help with his public persona, but also may help skewer the investigation away from him. But the truth is out there, just waiting to be exposed, and it’s up to everybody to discover what really happened to Amy.

Alright. Alright. Alright. No, I am not channeling my inner-McConaughey. Nope, instead I’m trying to prep myself for this review here because this baby won’t be easy to talk about. Not because I have so much love and praise for it that putting them all into cohesive, understandable sentences and phrases would be a challenge in and of itself, but because this movie is chock full of surprises.

Which also means something else….SPOILERS!!

Picking up girls in a library. So Affleck.

Picking up girls in a library. So Affleck.

Yes, everybody. It’s that dreaded “s-word” that just about every person on the face of the planet hates to hear, but such is the case with movies like these: The more mysterious they are, the more easier it is for bloggers/writers/critics to spoil the fun for everybody and anybody else out there who may actually be looking forward to seeing this. Because honestly, most of the fun in Gone Girl is from not knowing what to expect next, how, why, where, and from whom. In that sense, it’s your typical David Fincher flick, however, there’s something more fun about this piece in particular.

See, while I have never read the novel of which this movie is adapted from, therefore, I don’t have much knowledge of how it is actually written, seeing this was a total treat for me. I had no idea what to expect, except a possible kidnapping, an investigation into this kidnapping, and a whole lot of mystery. And this, my friends, is what I always look forward to when I see Fincher’s flicks; I expect to be thrown about, tussled around, and taken in all these different directions, until I can’t handle it anymore and want to give up, yet, the ride itself is so much fun, that I just can’t help but keep on with the ride.

And with this ride in particular, it’s satisfying. Not because Fincher keeps us guessing every scene, of every second, with every character, but because, for once and awhile at least, Fincher really seems to be relishing in the material that he’s working with. Don’t get me wrong, when I watch films like Fight Club, the Game, and, to an even lesser extent, Panic Room, I continuously get the idea that not only is Fincher having a great time messing with our minds and our expectations of what to expect next, but that he’s having an even bigger blast just setting up all of these set-pieces and plot-threads. That’s not to say his other, more serious movies aren’t considered “fun”, it’s just that there’s a very dark and morbid tone to them, that where it seems like there’d be a time and place for some fun to be had, there’s nothing but sadness. Which, like I will say again, isn’t a bad thing at all, but watching something like this reminds me what it’s like to go to a David Fincher movie and just witness a master at work with his craft and having a ball with it all.

So, with that said, it goes without saying that yes, Gone Girl is a fun ride, from start to finish. And although I am quite compelled to say more about this movie and its story, I’ll stay away because the real marvel of this film is realizing just what the hell is actually happening in this story, as it is brought to our attention. There’s several twists, turns, and alley-ways this movie goes down throughout its near two-and-a-half-hours, and they’re all unexpected (that’s if you haven’t already read the book).

It should also be noted that while this film definitely takes some aim at the mass-media and, most importantly, biased news broadcasts, Gone Girl isn’t particularly a deep movie. There’s no real sense that what Fincher is creating here, is supposed to be any bit of ground-breaking, thought-provoking, or even revolutionary; instead, it’s just a simple mystery that goes through all sorts of hoops and constantly takes you for a whirl. Is it a bit disappointing? Sort of, yes, but only because we know Fincher is capable of much more than just keeping his stories as simple as they present themselves on the page.

But that said, I’d much rather have an exciting thrill-ride from Fincher, rather than a bold, ambitious piece that seems to miss its mark. Not saying that there are many of those kinds of movies out there, but those expecting this to get a whole bunch of Oscar nominations, may be in for a surprise. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

Anyway, even though this is clearly Fincher’s show for the taking, from the beginning, to the end, he still doesn’t make the fatal mistake of getting in the way of his cast. Which was a smart move on his part, because he’s assembled a pretty talented bunch here. And seeming to be leading the pack is Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, the husband of the missing who everybody, with good reason, calls into question as soon as the story comes to fruition. A lot of people were pretty heated up about Affleck’s casting in the role and although I have not read the book, and therefore cannot attest to this, I will say that Affleck seems tailor-made for the part. Not only does Affleck just light the screen up with that boyish-charm of his, but he also makes us continuously wonder just whether or not he is actually as apart of his wife’s disappearance as the rest of these characters are leading us to believe. While we see that Nick Dunne is a nice guy at heart, albeit, a very troubled-one to say the least, we still know that there’s a human deep down inside of there and although it would be as easy as pie for us to write him off as “the baddie”, the movie makes it quite clear that we shouldn’t and instead, see his side of the story and make up our own conclusions. And most of this is thanks to Affleck for having us constantly question who to believe, and who exactly to root for.

"Uhm.....what's in the box?"

“Uhm…..what’s in the box?”

But although Affleck’s amazing in this role, the one who totally steals the show is Rosamund Pike as his wife, “Amazing Amy”. But see, here’s the double-edged sword of describing Pike in this role without spoiling any of the film’s real surprises: You really can’t. Much of this film is dedicated to her back-story and exactly what happened to her, and to give any of that away would be a total disservice to all parties involved here. So I’ll stay away from really getting into her character, but I will say this: Pike is downright amazing and don’t be surprised if she ends up getting a nomination come Oscar season. Maybe even possibly a win….

You never know, people.

And of course, the rest of this cast is great, if also, quite interesting concerning who Fincher casts in some of these roles. For instance, the casting-decisions of Tyler Perry as the PR-representative of Nick Dunne and Neil Patrick Harris as a slightly off-kilter ex-boyfriend of Amy’s were definitely bold choices; choices which, mind you, were willing to fail at any second. However, they both pay-off and believe it or not, give me more hope in Tyler Perry as an actor, much rather than Tyler Perry as a director (although this still has me scratching my head).

But there’s plenty more where these two came from and they’re all pretty phenomenal to watch, especially since each and everyone brings their own little flavor to this overall meal. Kim Gordon and Patrick Fugit play the two detectives that seem to be just as confused as the audience is in knowing whether or not Nick Dunne did anything to his wife and because of this, it’s interesting to see their conversations with him; Carrie Coon (a favorite of mine from the Leftovers) is great as Nick’s twin-sister and seems like she herself may be up to no good as well, although it’s clear that all she really wants to do is make sure her bro doesn’t get jailed; and Missi Pyle plays a television news-analyst by the name of Eileen Atkins who, get this, has a Southern-accent, likes to bad-mouth certain people in ongoing investigation, and does it all for “the ratings”. Now, tell me, who does that sound exactly like?

Oh, that David Fincher, man! He’s a pure-jokester!

Consensus: Maybe not as deep as Fincher’s previous-flicks, Gone Girl still serves as an exciting, enjoyable, and delightfully twisted tale of a marriage gone wrong, and even worse mystery that may, or may not be, exactly what you think it is.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Stop mugging it up for the cameras, Affleck!

Quit mugging it up for the cameras, Affleck!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Armageddon (1998)

Before we all die, at least we can take some pleasure knowing that we’ll be treated to the lovely sounds of Steven Tyler.

After NASA catches wind of a meteor the size of Texas heading straight for Earth, executive director Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) cobbles up a plan: Get a crew on the meteor, drill a hole through it, and leave a nuke in there so that it can break off into two pieces and still miss the Earth by a small bit. It’s a smart plan, but the only problem is finding out who’s right for it. In walks oil-driller Harry S. Stamper (Bruce Willis) who Truman recruits for this mission because the ship plan is the same one Stamper uses on his own oil rig. Though Stamper is initially hesitant to take on such a huge, daring mission, he eventually decides to take it, but on one condition: He gets to choose the crew that goes with him. In walks the rest of his rag-tag group of dysfunctional nut-balls that either love prostitutes (Steve Buscemi), love to smash things (Michael Clarke Duncan), or love Stamper’s own daughter (Ben Affleck). Though not everybody feels alright with this change, they don’t have any other plan to go along with. Meaning, it’s all up to these guys to save the world and all of mankind.

Not much of a burden if you think about it really, you know?

Well, well, well. Here it is, everybody! The movie I swore I would never, ever watch again after seeing it numerous times as a little kid, all because back then, I knew it was total junk. But for some reason, curiosity killed the cat in my case and I just could not help myself; I had to see if this movie got any better with age, and also, whether or not my tolerance for mostly all things Michael Bay would have anything to do with any change in feelings toward this.

He would have done anything to say "Yippie-Kay-Ya".

He would have done anything to say “Yippie-Kay-Ya”.

Needless to say, they sort of do. But not by much. Here’s why:

See, though I like to give Bay the benefit of the doubt on most cases for blowing all sorts of shit up and taking absolute pleasure in doing it, I felt like this was total over-kill. And yes, even by his standards, that means a lot. Then again, I may be getting ahead of myself here, because most of the explosions occur during the last hour-and-a-half of this movie. As for the first hour of this movie, we’re “treated” to watching a bunch of clichés act like nuts, talk goofy, get some back-story on what makes them the slightest bit of “human”, and try to have us believe that they could actually be smart, trained, and neutered astronauts in a near 18 days, but actually be trusted in saving our whole race from extinction.

And while I’m all for a movie being silly for the sake of making people laugh, this was not that kind of silly – it was just downright dumb. What makes it even worse is that the cast here is pretty damn talented – actually, scratch that, it’s an unbelievably stacked ensemble that, with any other movie/director, would have me rushing the gates as soon as I caught wind of it happening, but not here. Especially not with Michael Bay, the kind of guy who takes pleasure in taking these incredibly talented, wonderful screen-presences, and making them his wild, wacky, and near-racist guinea pigs.

Then again though, in the world of Hollywood, money really does talk, so I guess I can’t be getting on Bay’s case too much for just getting along with the times and following the path set out for him.

Still though, that doesn’t excuse giving somebody as wonderfully charming as Steve Buscemi a role in which he just makes stupid comments about hookers, having sex, dying, not being crazy, menstrual cycles, and going absolutely nuts while shooting a machine gun. And yes, while that all may sound incredibly amusing to some of you out there, I can assure you, it’s totally not. It’s just downright corny and seems like Bay is trying way, way too hard to make us laugh at anything; so much so, that he’s willing to embarrass the hell out of some of the most respected talents in the biz.

Also, he uses this comedy to break up all of the nonsensical violence, loud noises and explosions that occur during the last half-hour which, coming from a Michael Bay-standpoint, is relatively impressive. Though, nearly 16 years after the fact, some of it looks a bit dated, you can tell Bay really pays attention to the constant vibrancy he has behind the camera and how he makes this movie look. Sure, it’s frantic and you can almost count how long Bay holds a shot for (don’t worry, it’s two seconds or so each), but it does show you that he’s the kind of director that works well with this stuff.

However, with this stuff here, there’s just way too much. Too much double-crossing; too much dumb humor; too much poor script-writing; too much explosions; too much of random things happening only to make the plot seem more dense and the movie run-time a little longer; just too much of everything really. And yes, while I do admit to being on Bay’s side for this very same reason in most movies, this is not one of them. For some reason, it just felt different this time and rather than laughing and having a great time, I was just laughing, only in a way to pass the time of my complete boredom with the same things happening again, and again, and again.

All that was missing was a bottle of Jack and some Funyuns to make life a whole lot less depressing.

Love and animal crackers: It's the combo you never thought you'd never thought you need.

Love and animal crackers: It’s the combo you never thought you’d need.

Like I mentioned before, too, Bay really does have a knack for getting together an interesting cast, it’s just such a shame that he gives them so very little to do. And even when he does give them anything to do, it’s utter garbage that only makes it seem like the actor in question was in desperate need of another shore house. For instance, despite being practically the perfect role for Bruce Willis in which he has to play a tough, rough, and masculine-as-hell man (with an in-and-out Southern accent), somehow, the writing is so cheesy and godawful for this guy, that everything that comes out of Willis’ mouth seems like he’s having a hard time reading anything at all. Not just because he can’t believe the trash that he’s reading, but because he forgot his glasses on the counter at home.

And heck, I wish I could say the same for Ben Affleck, but man, this kid is terrible here. I know that Big Ben has cleaned his act up now and is a pretty respected guy out there, but any reason why anybody thought he was just a young talent, with barely any of the later at all, were totally correct when they saw this. Which is a shame because watching Affleck, you can see a guy that’s trying really hard, but just doesn’t have the skills yet to really deliver on all of the sobbing and screaming he has to deliver on. It just seems like he’s in a parody of the type of movie that he’s in. You know, a parody of a Michael Bay movie, in which every character has an IQ of 38, has women-troubles, likes to cuss, say dumb stuff, act silly, and at the end of the day, still be able to save the world, all while chanting “USA! USA! USA!”.

Yep, that’s Michael Bay for ya: Praising America, one over-budgeted mess at a time.

Consensus: Though much of Armageddon is what you expect to get from a Michael Bay movie, there’s still no denying how incredibly hard it is to believe anything that happens in this movie, nor enjoy one’s self when all there is a explosion, after explosion, after explosion, with barely any end in sight.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

If these are our saviors, we're fucked.

If these are our saviors, we’re fucked.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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The Sum of All Fears (2002)

Don’t trust your government. Because apparently, they have no clue what the hell’s going on half of the time.

The new Russian President, Nemerov (Ciarán Hinds), seems like he may be giving the good ole’ boys of America a hard time. Actually, probably a lot harder than either the president (James Cromwell) or CIA director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) feel comfortable with! Apparently, a nuclear bomb that was mysteriously lost during a 1972 Israeli-Egyptian conflict, somehow finds its way back into prominence with the Russians who, in their sneaky ways, are making a secret bomb of their own. Some of it makes sense, and some of it doesn’t, but one thing’s for certain: America won’t be taking any chances with this whatsoever. This is when they decide to call in CIA Agent Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) who, having already written a book on Nemerov, seems like an expert of sorts on this type of stuff, and goes so far as to call him a “good man”. The U.S. government doesn’t agree with this and sets up defense as soon as they can. However, “as soon as they can”, may just be a little too late.

"I said, "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??!?!?!""

“I said, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??!?!?!””

Let’s not forget that this movie was released only nine months after the 9/11 attacks occurred and, in case you were born just yesterday or have been living under a rock for the past 12 years, America still hasn’t quite gotten over it. And nor should we; not only was it one of the worst travesties to happen to our country in the past hundred or so years, but it showed every citizen that yes, our country is vulnerable enough to where a couple of terrorists could actually get into planes, strapped with bombs to their chests, run those said planes into the Twin Towers and during the process, even blowing themselves, as well as everybody within a 10-feet-distance from them, up into smithereens. The images, videos, sound-bites, etc. are still shocking to this day and it has us wonder if anything as tragic like that will ever happen again to our country.

That’s why, when a movie that not just discusses the same ideas of terrorism like nukes, mass-genocide and paranoia, but even goes so far as to give us a shocking sequence in which all of Baltimore is hit by a nuclear bomb, it comes off as a bit “in poor taste”, for lack of a better term. Though some of you out there may get upset with me “spoiling” what happens about half-way through, I think it deserves to be noted because not only is it the turning-point for this movie, but it also still does the trick, even twelve years after it’s initial-release, and a little near-thirteen years after the infamous attacks themselves. It’s still shocking, it’s still brutal and, even despite some choppy-visuals here and there, still feels somewhat realistic.

Strange to think that seeing certain stuff like that in movies still gets us to this day, but so be it. That’s what happened to us on that fateful day, and for most of us, we’ll continue to be scarred till the rest of our days.

But anyway, like I was saying about how it effected this movie, because before this sequence, the movie was rather by-the-numbers. Sure, some of it had energy and intrigue added to the proceedings, but for the most part, I didn’t get what was really happening, nor did I really care. Nobody feels all that fleshed-out, with the exception of Freeman’s Cabot who, as you probably guessed, steals the show every time he shows up. Hell, even when he isn’t around, his presence can still be felt and you’ll wonder just when it is that he’ll show his lovely face again, and give us a character that we both enjoy to watch and be around, but also respect enough to where if he was in the same room as us, we’d automatically shut our traps and let him do whatever it is that he wants. He just has that type of control and prowess over a movie, which is why he was the only real reason to stick with this flick for its first-half, because everything else, is rather boring.

Then, the already-mentioned nuclear attack happens and all of a sudden: Everything in this movie is cranked-up to eleven and everybody is going absolutely ballistic. Though you could argue that this later-half of the film is as conventional and plain as the first, you can’t argue that it wasn’t entertaining to watch a bunch of heavy-hitting, grade-A character actors like Bruce McGill, Ken Jenkins, James Cromwell, and Philip Baker Hall walk around a board-room, just yelling at one another. Even if certain lines like, “It’s the Russians who did it! Nuke ‘em!”, are a tad corny, they’re still fun to hear, especially when you have talented dudes like these delivering them. There’s also a stand-off between the Russian and United States government in which both presidents talk to one another through some sort of a computer-messaging system and though it may be a bit silly, it’s still suspenseful to watch and listen to. Yeah, typing on a keyboard has never been the most thrilling, nor exciting thing a movie can do, but here, it worked for me.

"Quick advice kid: Leave the heavy-lifting to me and go get drunk or something."

“Quick advice kid: Leave the heavy-lifting to me and go get drunk or something.”

However though, whenever we don’t focus on these powerful men screaming, figuring stuff out and yelling demands at one another, we focus on Jack Ryan as he ventures all throughout what rubble is left of Baltimore, which may have been exciting to watch, had Ryan’s story been all that interesting to begin with, but it isn’t. That’s not to discredit Ben Affleck too much here in the lead role, because while the guy definitely does try, the movie isn’t all that focused on him to begin with and only shines a light on him whenever necessary. I’m not saying that if you took him out of this film, it would work better, but you could probably have featured somebody awesome like Liev Schreiber’s very mysterious, yet ruthless spy in the same role, and it would have been a lot more entertaining to watch.

Then again, everybody out there in the world knows exactly who Ben Affleck is, and not Liev Schreiber. Hence why one is in main leading-role, whereas the other is in the strange, rather under-written supporting role. Sucks to say, but it’s true.

As it remains though, this is Jack Ryan’s story so when it does focus on him to really deliver the thrills, chills and elements of suspense, it isn’t that Affleck blows the chance to do so, it’s just that we don’t care that much. We see that he’s clearly a nice guy that has a bright head on his shoulder, but can’t fight worth of dick. Which means, that when he has to drop-down in the mud and get his knuckles dirty, it doesn’t fully work, nor does it make you believe too much in him. So it stands, Ford may have been the best Jack Ryan to-date, with Baldwin running a close-second. Sadly, that leaves poor Ben in last place, which isn’t so much of his fault, as it was more of just a wrong film, and wrong time. If Big Ben had been in either the Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games, something tells me he would have been a nice fit and worked well with Clancy’s exposition-heavy dialogue. That’s not the case though. Poor guy. At least he’s onto portraying bigger and better characters than some chump named “Jack Ryan”.

Consensus: May not quite pick-up its full head of steam until half-way being over, but nonetheless, the Sum of All Fears is a well-acted, tense, exciting and rather visceral thriller that takes on a new life when you think about what our country had been going through at the point in time it was released, but also how the shots of a post-apocalyptic Baltimore still have us cringe a bit.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

I think we all know by now that once you step into the state of Baltimore, shit's about to get real.

I think we all know by now that once you step into the state of Baltimore, shit’s about to get real.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

What has this Ryan dude got himself into now??!?!?

After saving his family and the Prime Minister of England from a slew of crazy Irishmen, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is now an assistant to the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence when all of a sudden, his longtime friend Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) is diagnosed with cancer. This is tragic news for both Greer and Ryan, but both know that a job has to be done, so that’s when Ryan decides to take over the job as the Deputy Director of Intelligence, where he is assigned his first assignment: Recover $650 million from the Colombian drug cartels that was left over there by one of the President’s good buddies. Ryan is more than willing to complete the task, but he finds out that there is more brewing beneath the surface than just some money being needed. Apparently, some of the President’s closest advisers are involved with these same said drug cartels and want to keep on continuing to make more money, while also getting rid of Ryan and his boy scout-ways. However, as we found out before, Ryan doesn’t go down easy and won’t back down from a challenge, no mater whom it may be coming from.

Patriot Games was no beauty, but it was at least a relatively small, inspired and taut thriller that worked well when it was showing off the mechanics of the technology that surrounds Ryan and his skills, rather than the fists he uses in fights. And compared to this movie, it was a hell of a lot shorter, clocking in at less than two-hours which, still felt long, but nowhere near as long as a near-two-and-a-half-hour movie like the one we have here, which makes this one feel like any other sequel out there: Overlong, over-exposed, over-stuffed, and worst of all, over-directed.

I wouldn't advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that's just me.

I wouldn’t advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that’s just me.

But while I do feel like director Phillip Noyce got his vision better this time with the action, there’s still a weird feeling with the story that didn’t quite keep me as interested here as it did with the last movie. For instance, the novelty of the first movie where it was just this one situation, with these handful of characters, felt like it was a smaller, more-intimate thriller, for lack of a better term. It made you feel as if you were right there in the moment, with these characters, figuring out what was going on, how they were going to solve it and whether or not they were all going to make it out alive. Problem is, that was when Jack Ryan was just a small-timer in the CIA, but now, he’s taking orders directly from the Big Man himself, which already means that the issues are going to be expanded and a whole lot more jumbled.

That’s why I can’t get too pissed at this movie for giving me a story that covers a larger map of where it goes and how, but I can be pissed off at the fact that it was just so damn convoluted. It seems like with any movie that concerns politics, there’s always got to be a slew of lies, deceptions and back-stabbings, which is exactly what we get here, however, there’s just so many that you lose count of who is screwing who over, and why. In fact, half of the people whose names were said, I couldn’t really match the faces with, all because the movie would focus on this one character for a couple minutes, have them leave and then, all of a sudden, let us know that that character was an important player in the rest of the proceedings we were about to be a witness of.

Think Miller’s Crossing’s Mink, but instead of one character played by Steve Buscemi, you have ten different ones, all played by people less charming and lovable as creepy blue eyes.

So, in essence, when the movie does begin to get closer and closer to its climax, it became to be such a chore for me to keep up with who was who, what they were doing, for what reasons and what the major ramifications of them were. That’s why I just gave up and decided to enjoy the action. Which, no surprise whatsoever, was a smart decision on my part because Noyce definitely got that part of the movie down perfectly. Not only does the action come at you at a full 100 mph, but it also feels very tense, as if the whole movie leading up to it was meant for just this one moment. They aren’t action scenes just thrown in there because they were needed, they feel like they enhance the story and keep it moving at a nice pace. That’s what I wish I saw more in my action movies, but I highly doubt I’ll get. So be it.

Tuco?

Tuco?

And, like usual, it’s always a joy to see Harrison Ford acting in a actioner, regardless of who he’s playing, and his second outing as Jack Ryan, shows that he never gets old as the character, even if he is getting a bit old himself. Once again, Ryan’s less of a bad-ass, and more of a smarty pants who knows what to do at any situation and, if he has to, will get his hands dirty. Ford definitely shows no signs of slowing down with this character, which is why I feel like he could have gone on and did ten more of these movies, and we’d still have a great time with him. However, like what seems to be the case for many major motion-picture franchises nowadays, Ben Affleck came, he saw, and he conquered. That Boston bastard.

The most disappointing aspect behind this flick is even while it does put all of this focus on all of these numerous subplots, characters and emotions, we never really get to see much of Anne Archer or Thora Birch as Ryan’s wife and daughter respectively. Makes sense since this movie is more about the government and its non-stop clusterfucks, and less about the family-dynamic inside the Ryan household, but still, a little bit more development would have been perfect. Especially since Archer, even with her shortened screen-time, shows that she’s still a cool wife that’s willing to take the fact that her hubby could die at any second, and she’d be the one to take over the fam-squad. God, that woman sure is a breath of fresh air that I so desperately need in my life. Tired of all these young bimbos. They don’t know shit about the 70’s like my girl Anne does.

Consensus: Like most mainstream sequels usually are, Clear and Present Danger is quite overblown, loud and excessive to the point of where it’s numbing, but still does feature some fun and exciting moments amongst all of the numerous subplots that are hard to keep track of, characters that we don’t care about and less-focus on the ones we do care about, meaning the rest of Ryan’s family, including the new baby boy!

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Jack's still got it. Oh, and so does Harry.

“Knew I should have taken the keys out.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB

Pearl Harbor (2001)

Cause I’m proud to be an American, where Michael Bay makes crappy movies.

It was the morning of December 7, 1941, and as usual, everything was practically the same. Except, only a couple moments later, Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor, killing thousands and injuring more, thus beginning America’s own, official involvement with WWII. However, despite the movie being named after that horrific event in our history that we will soon never forget, the story isn’t too concerned with that. What the story is concerned with is the life-long friendship between two pilots, Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett). They’ve both been through thick and thin together from an early age, so they feel as if joining the U.S.A.’s Army Air Corps won’t even come close to putting a stranglehold on their friendship, however, they’re wrong. Dead wrong, to be exact and ironic. Because once Rafe volunteers to help out things for the British on their turf-war against the Germans, things go bad and Rafe winds up killed on the battlefield. This leaves Danny devastated, just as much as it leaves Evelyn Stewart (Kate Beckinsale), the little Navy nurse that Rafe shacked-up with before he went off to-duty. Now that Rafe is gone from both of their lives, the only thing that Danny and Evelyn can do is move on, which ultimately means that they have to start banging one another. Which is fine for quite some time, that is, until Rafe turns out to be alive after all! Dun dun dun!

And I do promise you that the Japanese planes do eventually come into play and start bombing the hell out of Pearl Harbor, however, you’ve got to wad through almost two hours of poor character-development, horrendous acting, a cheesy love-triangle that couldn’t be any less unemotional or compelling, obvious propaganda, war movie clichés where fellow soldiers make dirty sex jokes to one another, Japanese army generals looking as if they only sleep, eat and breath death and destruction, and Jon Voight in a rubber double-chin.

Yawn. Where's the explosions?

Yawn. Where’s the explosions?

And even then, yes, the movie still gets a slight recommendation from me.

I know, I know, I know! The flames from hell will rise up with that statement, but please do let me explain. I assure you: If I do not convince you that this is an “okay movie” in the most respectable, reasonable sense-of-the-word, then I give you the right to just automatically block my blog from your mind, for the rest of your natural-born life. Deal? Okay, then. Let’s get started, shall I?

Honestly, it makes sense why this movie was made: A similar, star-crossed lovers romance flick, that just so happened to take place around a disastrous time, in a certain place, Titanic, made a lot of big bucks and brought home almost every statue imaginable, so why not try to emulate that success once again, but this time, with an even more tragic event in our country’s history, the attack on Pearl Harbors? Better yet, why not get an auteur who can not only bring us the emotional-cues we need to fall in love with these dream-boats, more so than they’re falling for each other, but also give us a realistic, jaw-dropping look at what the bombings most likely did feel like: Michael Bay? Yeah, that decision just never sits right with me and while I can see why they did nab him for this movie (more on that later), there’s still apart of me wondering about better, more able choices out there. I can’t really come up with any on the top of my head that would have been able to handle both the romance side of the story, as well as the action-spectacle surrounding it, but Michael Bay is nowhere near one of those names, except for maybe the later aspect (like I said, more on that later).

That’s probably why this movie gets its ass kicked so much by viewers and critics, because while it may promise you an endless array of shit blowing up to pieces, it doesn’t occur for quite some time and instead, we’re left with a romance that’s as titillating as watching you’re grand-parents celebrate their 60th anniversary together. It’s dull, it’s dry, it’s uneventful and as much as I hate to say it, but the only thing that makes these scenes a whole lot better to get through, is that you know the Pearl Harbor attack is only right around the bend. Terrible thing to think about a real-life event and actually to be looking forward to it, but when you put your mind through something like a Michael Bay movie, where all sorts of strangeness takes precedence, then you just have to hope for the best and wait to see what comes around.

Which is exactly why when the Pearl Harbor attacks happened, even though I’ve seen it about a hundred million times now (two of those times were actually watching the whole movie, all over again), it still was able to send chills up my spine, scare my shorts off and make me realize that for what it’s worth, Michael Bay can still direct the hell out of his action scenes and have them come off as something that’s close to the real thing. I know a lot of people will probably get on this movie’s case, as well as my own for even recommending it in the slightest bit, about how certain things that are portrayed in these attacks, didn’t really occur in real life, but to me, that didn’t quite hurt my feelings about this movie. I understand that with a Michael Bay movie, you have to sort of expect all types of craziness to happen, regardless of it is real or not. I know it sounds crazy to say that about the Pearl Harbor attacks, but seriously, it didn’t get into my brain as much because it was a Michael Bay movie. If it was anybody else like say James Cameron, or Steven Spielberg, or anybody else for that matter, then it would be a totally different story and predicament. However, when you have a Michael Bay movie on your hands, you sort of have to treat it like you would a five-year-old who doesn’t get their way: Just let them act-up, piss, moan and do whatever else it is that they do, just as long as you remember to make sure they get back on the right path.

May be a terrible analogy, may not be, but what I’m trying to get across is that while Michael Bay can, and does make many, many mistakes with this movie, the fact that he was able to show the Pearl Harbor attacks in the best way humanly possible back in the beginning of the New Millennium, more than makes up for those said mistakes. In fact, I’d wager that if you were really that interested in seeing what these Pearl Harbor attacks are all about and how they look, especially without even watching the rest of the crap that comes before it, then just check it all out on YouTube. Probably easier and better for your mind, eyes, soul and time-management. But I’m a movie critic and I watch full-length movies, in their entirety. Which, in essence, means that when I watch a movie, I watch the full she-bang just in case I may miss something that I do, or don’t like.

And believe it or not, there’s actually one more aspect surrounding this movie that I did in fact like: The cast.

That's more like it! I guess? I don't know?

That’s more like it! I guess? I don’t know?

Actually, let me rephrase that better by saying, “the supporting cast”. See, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale and Ben Affleck (pre-directing days, people, so it’s alright to bash him if you want), though with their best intentions, absolutely suck the life out of this movie. Affleck is barely around since he “dies” in the first twenty or so minutes, only to show up an-hour-and-a-half later and do nothing else other than yell, shoot down Japanese soldiers and try to teach his best-buddy a lesson about banging his girlfriend while he was away, so I guess he doesn’t totally count. Which then leaves us to be stuck with Beckinsale and Hartness who have no chemistry whatsoever, can’t seem to get through even the shittiest of lines without struggling a bit and show no charisma at all. They just seem like they were thrown on a platter, told to talk to one another by their chaperon Michael Bay and did what they had to do so that they could collect that paycheck, go on home to their significant other, sweet-talk them into the next morning and get back to the day’s next events. Which, most likely, consisted of the same, meandering crap of boring us to death.

But since they suck so much, this does leave plenty of room for the supporting cast to charm the hell out of us, and that is exactly what most of them do, for better and definitely for worse. Alec Baldwin gets the “Affleck treatment” here as well, where he shows up for no more than five minutes in the first-half, does his bit, makes us laugh, and practically is non-existent for the next two-and-a-half hours, until he shows back up and does the same thing as before: Act nutty and steal the show. Cuba Gooding Jr. gets to do the same kind of stuff, except for the fact that he feels criminally underused in a film that could have used his warmth and charm to help the movie move along. However, he’s still fine. Same goes for Tom Sizemore who, once again, plays a gritty, raw and unfrightened military sergeant who isn’t afraid to bring out the big guns in the heat of the battle. Then we have Jon Voight as the previously-mentioned, rubber double-chin president, FDR, and is fine for giving us somebody that is obviously Jon Voight playing FDR, but is still enjoyable enough to give him a pass. Same goes for the likes of Jennifer Garner, Ewen Bremner, Michael Shannon, Colm Feore and heck, even Jamie King, who never does anything for me, EVER in any other flick. She’s just another set of beautiful, bright eyes and nice……talents, which probably made her the love of Michael Bay’s life for the whole time they were shooting. All until she got creeped out, told him to piss off and he was about done with her. Hey, not like it hasn’t ever happened!

Consensus: Undeniably hokey, badly-written, hollow and laughably idiotic at times, and yet, Pearl Harbor is still okay enough to watch, if only for the amazing Pearl Harbor sequence itself, and some supporting performances that have you forget about the awful leads practically doing nothing with what they’re given, which is even worse considering it’s a Michael Bay movie.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Convince you yet? Probably not, but so be it! Michael Bay rules!

Convince you yet? Probably not, but so be it! So I’ll just let it all out: Michael Bay rules!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Runner Runner (2013)

He’s Bruce Wayne, and he’s bringing sexy back. So why the gambling again?

Sometimes when you have an addiction, it’s just too hard to let it settle down and end. Sometimes, hell, you just got to go all in and see if luck can come out on your side, and that’s exactly what Princeton graduate student Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) does. However, in his case, lucks doesn’t come out on his side, but more or less comes over to his side, bites his ass, takes all of his money, and leaves him squandering with pennies, nickels, and dimes in his hand. This all happens to Richie when he decides to pull-out an all-nighter on an online gambling site so that he can pay his college-tuition, and out of there like swimwear. But once Richie does get screwed over by this site and realizes that it may be something of a “cheat” implemented by another user, Richie decides to take his problem to the source, owner of said site, billionaire playboy Ivan Block (Ben Affleck).

You have to face it, even as dumb and as idiotic as these gambling movies may be, they still know how to have a little bit of fun as if you are right there, betting all of your money and luck, running the high risk of losing that all, and either actually doing so, or pulling off the impossible and winning. Yes, these movies are insanely corny and predictable-to-a-T, but you can’t help but join in the fun when you see a bunch of really good-looking, really rich, and really powerful people just soaking up the sun, swimming in pools of Benjamins, and even better, going back to bed and shagging as many dames as they ordered.

He just can't bring himself to leave the $20,000 yacht. Nobody can.

He just can’t bring himself to leave the $20,000 yacht. Nobody can.

Seriously, it’s just the life all of us wish we had, except, we don’t. Instead, we just sit in front of our computers, talk shit about the movies that portray these beings, and act as if we’re better off in our sad, little pathetic lives of normalcy. Cause guess what: We aren’t!! Deep down inside, we all want to be doing exactly what these hunks and hookers are doing in these gambling movies, and it makes it easy for us to be against them, rather than with them and just enjoying all of the fun, the glitz, and the glamour while it still lasts and the bill hasn’t come in yet.

That said, this movie is so stupid, that if you were to talk some shit against it, I would not only back you up in a fight, but agree with you on everything you state, and say that it is fact. Yes, the movie is poorly-written and feature situation-after-situation that would never, ever possibly happen in real life, let alone, should happen in a movie no less, yet, still does happen and makes you question whether or not these writers really thought that “sheer stupidity”, actually meant “creative and cool”. Everybody is given laughable dialogue to work with and you just don’t know who’s game for this type of material, or are just trying their hardest to collect that paycheck in hopes that they’ll be able to go home, get on their type-writers, and start cranking out actual interesting, thoughtful pieces of work.

Most likely, Ben’s chipping away right now. Oh wait, I forgot, he’s a LITTLE occupied at the moment, so I guess this just leaves Mr. JT to do all of the smart thinking in his downtime.

Speaking of said former-boy band leader, Justin Timberlake, Lord bless him, does all that he possibly can to make this material work for him and the others around him, but he just can’t. It’s evident that he can’t play tough in a way that would work in an action movie, and he can’t really spout-out math numbers and try to sound smart while doing it, as if it was the first thing coming out of his pretentious mind. He tries, and he tries, and he tries, but he just does not work in this role and I don’t know if it’s a bad case of shitty casting, shitty acting, shitty material, or a shitty combination of all three. More than likely, it is, and I feel bad even hating on JT right now since I can’t get “Take Back the Night” out of my freakin’ head! Seriously though: Why does a song have to be so damn catchy!?!?!?

Goes from JENNifer, to GEMMa. Yeah, that's all I got.

Goes from JENNifer, to GEMMa. Yeah, that’s all I got.

And even though the dude is getting more than enough crap for the iconic role he took no less than 3 months ago, Ben Affleck still shows all of them naysayers why he’s so good at what he does, that he doesn’t need to worry about how many tweets hashtag about him not being right for Battie, he just needs to have a good time and allow us to do so in return. With that said, he definitely does do so as Ivan Block and made the film so much damn fun to watch whenever he was around. Everything he says whether it’s insinuating sex, murder, more money, or a business deal in-the-works, the guy’s just so much fun to watch as he makes you laugh at just about everything he says. The lines he’s given are dumb, yes, very much so, however, he rolls with them like the champ that he truly is and never lets you forget that this is HIS character, and HIS way of performing him. See what I’m doing there? Like I’ve said before, peeps, give it time and allow him to shine. Once you give him that time of day, then you can continue to be angry. But until then, pipe up and enjoy him while you still can.

But I feel like, as usual, this review is getting further and further away from my damn point, which is: It’s fun. It is as obvious, as predictable, and as dopey as you can get, yet, the movie has some fun with itself and with all of its money, and in the beginning of October, what else can you ask for? Not much else, so enjoy, dammit!

Consensus: Wooden script and acting from people who deserve a lot, lot better than Runner Runner, however, they make the best of it with what they can and for that, it’s worth a watch, and not needed to be taken seriously.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Late-90's, man. That was OUR time. Now what the fuck is this?"

“Late-90’s, man. That was OUR time. Now what the fuck is this?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

If I see anything that’s small and yellow, doesn’t matter what object it is, I’m going to smash it. I’m not kidding.

When we last left ex-villain Gru (Steve Carell) and the his three, adopted-kids were getting along just fine and it’s still nice to see that they are a couple years later. However, Gru does get lonely at times and when he isn’t being the best daddy that he can be, he’s either trying to see what ladies want him or his bald head. The propositions do come, but they aren’t perfect enough for him to fully go for the gold. Anyway, in walks Lucy (Kristen Wiig), the Anti-Villain League agent who actually recruits Gru to be apart of secret mission where they must find out who’s the secret leader/owner of a deadly virus that could spread and harm many.

Despite the first one being an ultra smash, from critics and audiences alike, for some odd reason, I just never really latched on Despicable Me like everybody else and their parents seemed to. It was sweet; it had a nice message to it; and I’m all for supporting kids and families, but the movie just didn’t do much for me, especially with what else I saw in the genre of animation, during the year 2010. Still, that didn’t matter because the only ones who mattered, actually liked it and I was practically left in the dust, knowing that there was going to be another sequel, in hopes to only prolong the franchise any longer than it needs to be.

All of my worst nightmares have actually come true and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Why me? Why!?!?!?

"Yo, Frank. I can't wait to get that paycheck so I can hit my bitches up muthafucka."

“Yo, Frank. I can’t wait to get that paycheck so I can hit my bitches up muthafuckaaaaaaa.”

With a movie like this, as sweet-natured as it may be, and as cynical and emotionless as I may be; I still have to get put my critic-cap on and get down to business with these types of flicks because in all honesty, animation movies aren’t all bad, it’s just that when they don’t do much to change the game or bring you something new you haven’t seen done before, it almost feels like a waste of time. Maybe I say that because I’ve been spoiled on Pixar my whole life and it hasn’t quite hit me yet that even they’re beginning to hit a slip as of late, but I’ve always stood by that idea and I probably always will. Give me a fine piece of animation, along with something original to work with, then I’m all ears and eyes. However, if you don’t, then you might have just lost me, which is exactly what happened with this flick here.

Granted, I know it’s not a movie that’s supposed to appeal to me in any type of way, but after about the 4th or 5th time I saw one of these annoying, little pieces of crap they call “Minions” beat the hell out of each other with whatever type of inanimate object they could find, I was already checking myself at the door, as well as looking at the watch that I imagined myself having. And don’t let me forget to remind you, this was during the first 15 minutes already. Don’t worry, I had plenty more time left to go and it seemed like it was only going to get worse and it sort of did, and it sort of didn’t.

It wasn’t as bad as I may make it out to be with all of my words that I type down, through the slugs and the groans, but overall, the movie is a pleasant-experience, and not just for kids, but for parents as well. I’m not a parent (or at least not a practicing-one), but I can tell that if they got dragged into seeing this with their kids, not only would they be smiling because they’re kiddie-bops are having fun, but also because they’re having an enjoyable time as well. At the screening, plenty of kids were laughing their rumps off, but the parents weren’t so quit either. Obviously I was, but that’s me. I’m a dick-head and I know it, so don’t pay any attention to me when it comes to movies like these. I like what I like, and it seems like these Despicable Me movies aren’t located anywhere in my taste-buds. Shame too, because I usually enjoy the hell out of the cast they have on-display here; with their voices that is.

Steve Carell still nails the role of Gru with his somewhat, Russian-accent and proves that he doesn’t need to be intentionally goofy to make us laugh. Okay, that’s a lie; the guy totally does and with good reason, because when I heard anything come out of Gru’s mouth, I just imagined Carell on the other side of the microphone, having the time of his life with this character. Carell is always a funny guy in stuff that he does, even the serious, melodramatic stuff, but it seems like Gru was the type of role he was born to play, if not just for over-the-top, vocal-theatrics, but because the character himself meshes so well with his voice. They go together so well that it’s almost too hard to imagine anybody else’s voice filling in for him.

Which is weird, considering that the main villain’s voice of this movie, El Macho, just so happened to filled-in. Awhile back, once the flick got announced and was in the final stages of negotiation, it was made clear to us all that Al Pacino would be voicing the role of the villain in this movie and surprisingly, it added a bunch of much-needed excitement for this movie, from my end at least. Best of all though, Pacino would be voicing a Hispanic character, which meant that he would once again be donning the Tony Montana voice just for shits, gigs, and for the kiddies as well. It had me so excited and a bit curious to see how it all played-out, that was, until Pacino dropped out for some odd reason, and Benjamin Bratt took over, filling in for the dude. Bratt is not a bad actor and usually gives good work in everything that he does, so this is nowhere near a hit on him, but going from Pacino to Bratt, is like going from Brando to Affleck. Both are known for pulling off their trademark style, but one is so much better than the other at doing it, that it’s almost a shock that one would ever contemplate replacing the other.

See, kids? This is what happens when you have to become a father. No, not that you become an animated character voiced by Steve Carell, but you go bald. End. Of. Story.

See, kids? This is what happens when you have to become a father. No, not that you become an animated character voiced by Steve Carell, but you go bald. End. Of. Story.

All of that dumb crap said, Bratt is still good voicing the role, it just makes you wonder what could have been, had Pacino not blown a fuse and left the set. Or the recording-booth. Whichever one it was.

As for everybody else, they’re all fine too and make the most of what they’re given, as stale and boring as it may be at times. Kristen Wiig’s general likability and charm comes right out of her voice, and directly into this character of Lucy, the one who takes a liking to Gru and his set of skills, and they both provide a nice companionship that isn’t just based on feelings, but a wee-bit of fun as well. Honestly, where the hell was this character in the first one? And last, but definitely not least are the Minions, who are as annoying as ever this go-around and provide nothing fun or cool to see, except for a bunch of slapstick that gets old after about the first smack to the head or a tumble to the ground.

Still can’t believe those fucks are getting their own movie.

Consensus: Maybe these aren’t the types of movies for me and maybe something in my head just isn’t as gentle and sweet as this material calls on me to be, but Despicable Me 2 still feels like an obvious retread of the original, with few or less surprises along the way.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Aka, my the exact mug on my face the whole movie.

Aka, my the exact mug on my face the whole movie.

Extract (2009)

If you have Mila Kunis working with you, work isn’t really THAT bad.

Joel (Jason Bateman) is one step away from selling his flavor extract factory and retiring to easy street when all of a sudden, a freak workplace accident sets in motion a series of disasters that puts his business and personal life in jeopardy. Problems like wondering if he should stick with his stay-at-home wife (Kristen Wiig), or run off and have an affair with a fellow co-worker (Mila Kunis). Thankfully, Joel has the ability to blow-off some steam, courtesy of the good vibes and weed his buddy (Ben Affleck) presents him.

It was over a decade since the biting, work-place satire helmed by Mike Judge, Office Space, came out so it only seems right that everybody would have high expectations for this work-place satire helmed by, well, you guessed it, Mike Judge. Problem is, those high expectations are what exactly killed this movie.

Nope, sadly no staplers stolen in this one.

George Michael would not be proud.

George Michael would not be proud.

Actually, the word “killed” may not be the right one to use for this flick because it’s not necessarily anything that’s terrible or could even be considered bad, it’s just “generally okay”, which may or may not infuriate fans of Judge, depending on what you have come to expect with the dude. Judge has been able to prove time and time again, that he still has that great comedic-timing that works no matter what story he’s doing or whatever character’s are involved with it. We get plenty of gross-out gags, random acts of people being dumb, and the occasional weed joke here and there. It’s humor that Judge does so well with and what’s always great about his writing, is how everything is very subtle. There are plenty of times where I chuckled here and even had a belly laugh, which is actually a lot better than nothing, especially with some of the shitty, mainstream comedies we get almost every month. Now it’s obviously not as funny as Office Space, but then again: what is?!!? You’ll never get that movie again so you can’t really hold that against this film too much, even if it is a bit obvious that Judge is trying to harken-back to those days. Just a bit.

Anybody expecting any type of satire whatsoever, will probably be more disappointed than ever since there is barely to little of any of that. Instead, we get a pretty lame story about some dude’s life falling apart, one randomly shitty situation after the next. This could have been a whole lot funnier but it almost seems like Judge focused on it’s story way too much, which wouldn’t have bothered me as much if the story was at least somewhat interesting and if the laughs kept ‘a rollin’. Problem is, the story tries too hard and so does Judge with his jokes, to where it almost seemed like he was really struggling to get his one-liners and jokes to stick, like he would expect people to be quoting them for years and years and years. Doesn’t work and not a single moment/line in this movie even comes close.

Another factor as to why this comedy doesn’t seem to hit as well here is that a lot of these comedic scenes go on way too long. Judge has always had a knack for letting long, drawn-out scenes play to his advantage to where he could really get something ridiculous happening but here, he just seemed like he needed an editor of sorts. One scene, in particular, was when Bateman and Affleck decide to go and get smoked-up at this one dude’s place, which seems to go on and on and on with the same joke. Would have been fine if it was the least bit of humorous, but none of it was, and only there to play-up to this one big gag at the end of it, and it wasn’t even worth remembering, so when it does happen, it goes right over our heads as if it never occurred or we didn’t get the joke. Seemed like a total waste of 5 minutes for this flick, and could have been time put into random situations that actually made me laugh, or anything else in this movie for that matter.

But as disappointing as this flick may be with it’s comedy, you still can’t go wrong with the cast that Judge has assembled. Jason Bateman is fine as our main character, Joel, and he perfectly plays up that straight-man role that allows there to be a lot of opportunities for him to let loose on some of his more subtle comedic chops that we get to see plenty of, just not in films that deserve his skills. Bateman’s fine, then again, he’s always been fine, even if he does continue to channel Michael Bluth, time and time again. The act doesn’t get old, even if every movie he’s been in hasn’t been able to take advantage of it just quite yet. However, the fact of the matter still remains is that the guy has been better and probably has had a lot better characters to play, too because let’s face it: did anybody care about this guy and his love and affection for flavoring extract? I know I sure as hell didn’t, and I think everybody else shared the same sympathies as me. Quirky jobs and passions can only go so far for movies.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much like work.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much “like work”.

But the real stand-out from this cast is none other than Ben Affleck himself, playing Joel’s good stoner buddy, Dean. Affleck has always been the most enjoyable to watch on-screen, mainly because he loves poking fun at himself and is usually game for that type of comedy. So to be given the chance to play a total stoner that is always on another level, mentally and physiologically, and is allowed to do whatever he wants with this funny-ass side-kick, it means comedic-gold for the dude and he just runs with it, in just about every scene he’s in. Shame that that’s all he is in this flick because the guy totally steals the show and makes for a pretty great friend that would be more than willing to help you out with any problems you had. Just let him put a pill in your mouth and see what type of cooky-shit happens next.

As for everybody else, they’re all pretty fine too, but just nothing all that spectacular. Mila Kunis plays the con-gal, Cindy, and even though she may be very easy on the eyes, she’s just not all that funny here; Kristen Wiig plays Joel’s wife, and she has some funny bits but she’s been funnier too; J.K. Simmons has some great lines as Joel’s co-worker that can’t seem to get anybody’s names right; and David Koechner shows up and plays, what is essentially, the neighbor-from-hell. Good cast, but they have all been funnier in plenty of other stuff before, and especially, after this.

Consensus: It features some fine performances and funny moments that work well with the subject-material, but anybody expecting anything close to an Office Space 2 or anything like that at all, will be disappointed by Extract and just by how unfunny it can be due to some lackluster decisions from Judge, both the risky and lazy ones.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

To the Wonder (2013)

Nice to know that Big Ben can still have the ladies come crawling to him.

Neil (Ben Affleck) travels to France and meets with a woman named Marina (Olga Kurylenko). They instantly connect, fall in love, and plan what their future may just look like, if they decide to take the next step. They actually do decide to take said next step and finds out that it’s a bit harder than they thought, so therefore, Marina moves back to France. This leaves Neil all alone, until he meets up with an old sweetheart of his (Rahcel McAdams) and relives the young lust he once had. However, Marina’s not gone like Neil suspects. Oh, and Javier Bardem is a priest that’s begging to lose his faith, slowly but surely. Can’t forget about that charming Spaniard.

Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a total and complete devotee to the Church of Malick, I still stand by the fact that I am a fan of his movies, and consider them (as most people), some of the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen in my life. Granted, I don’t go to museums all that often, but with a career that spans over 30 years and only consists of six movies; the guy’s made a name for himself and a name I get very hyped-up for, whenever I see in print. Because let’s think about it: a newly-released Terrence Malick movie isn’t just a regular, everyday movie-going experience that you can catch at your own leisure, it’s a freakin’ event! This rarely ever happens and it’s time to just let it all soak in, and enjoy until he decides to take another twenty-year break. Don’t you dare, Terry. Don’t you even.

No matter what may be going on here with the story (and trust me, I’ll get on top of that in a jiffy), the visuals are always as gorgeous and jaw-dropping as you can get. I love how Malick starts the film off with the beauty and aura of France, and then ends it all in the rusty and fucked-up place that is known as, Oklahoma. Malick is still able to draw natural beauty from these landscapes and give Oklahoma some key opportunities for post cards, but the way that he is able to convey the emotion of a dying land that seems to be dissolving beneath everybody’s feet, and combine that with the story itself really took me for a surprise. It may sound crazy because I know Malick can do stuff like this and totally slap me silly, but he really found a way to make this flick always worth watching, no matter what other type of junk was going on here. So, needless to say, this is a movie that deserves to be seen on the big-screen if not at the movies, then just a big-screen in your house. Either way, see it with a large-lens, volume-up, and the lights dimmed-down. Let the Malick-spell come over ya.

Ben's thoughts:"Totally banged that chick.....

Ben’s thoughts: “Totally banged that chick…..

Now, despite all of my oogling and boogling about the beauty of this film, this is one of the key instances where Malick goes on a little too far with his view. I’ve always noticed when Malick has gotten a bit too into his own shit in recent time, but it’s never gotten to me so bad because of everything else that’s been able to distract me. However, there isn’t all that much to distract me other than beautiful visuals, and to be honest: that damn aspect can only go so far! Eventually, my simple-mind is going to need a compelling story, with interesting characters, and smart messages about the world we live in or something along those lines. I can tell that Malick knows what a simple-mind wants and at least tries to make some of that magic happen, but doesn’t go deep enough. Let me explain….

The problem with this movie is that the story doesn’t do much to bring us in. Yes, it’s an easy story about two people who fall in love, decide that they want to be together, but then realize that there’s more at stake than just love: there’s life! But an easy story don’t mean jack shit, unless you have a way of making us connect to the story and the characters that inhabit. That’s the biggest problem Malick runs into here. Seeing as this is Malick’s movie, and everybody plays by his rules and his ways, everybody in the movie seems to sort of be second-nature to what the man can show just by using a camera. Once again, all fine and all considering the visuals are as naturally-beautiful as they come, but they only go so far.

The characters don’t get enough attention payed to them, but even when they do; they don’t seem to really use it well. That’s no insult against the talented-actors either, that’s just a problem with the script. The movie paints these characters as walking caricatures of what it should be like for people to be in love, to be sad, to feel conflicted, to feel angry, and so on and so forth. It doesn’t really seem to get any deeper than that, and even though there are a couple of key scenes that may change your opinion on what I just said; they don’t do much for the final-product.

The subplot with Javier Bardem as the Spanish priest that’s losing his faith is the one instance where you might change your mind for the sole reason that it has no reason to be here. I mean yes, Bardem is great in it and definitely makes all of his screen-time worth it, mostly because it’s all dedicated to him just walking around, looking sad, and chatting around with random peeps (most of which seem to be non-actors), but he serves no purpose to the story. Everything here is about the love and the feelings that go with it, and then he shows up to start babbling on about God and keeping your faith and whatnot, and it seems random. That, and also just another excuse for Malick to throw in another one of his “God references” that he loves to use so very, very much.

After awhile, all of the same stuff that we have seen done one hundred times before in Malick’s other flicks, and also within the first ten minutes of this movie, becomes an annoyance. It’s still beautiful to gaze at, but the story goes into places that don’t seem reasonable or even worth the watch. We see a bunch of people just mope-around, look as if they are sad about something, or in heavy-thought, a little bit too much. Instead of emotion so damn much, I just wish that one of these characters would actually stand and speak-up for once. But instead, they just all stood there, touching their faces and arms, as the sun rose behind them. That right there, is a scene that’s repeated many, many times throughout this movie so if that’s not your type of thing: good luck. For me, it wasn’t total hatred, but it didn’t make me happy either. I’m just a simple dude, man!

...and that one too."

…and that one too.”

The fact that most of this movie is all in narration, means that it takes away from the actors on-screen. Well, all of them except for one gal. That’s right, Olga Kurylenko is surprisingly the best out of this whole cast. Her character, Marina, is annoying as she’s always craving and needing attention, whenever she’s not prancing and dancing around like five year old, but her performance is exceptional. Kurylenko really captures that fully-free spirit that this character needed to have to work and rather than making her just one, Manic Pixie Dream cliche after another, she keeps it going and gives us depth, heart, and emotion to her. Kurylenko has never really done much to surprise the hell out of me in the past (not much of a track-record to begin with), but she really showed me some promise here and let’s hope that it continues to go on and on, until Malick decides to cast her again.

The other two in this cast, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, really are just here for window-dressing. For the latter, that doesn’t matter since her character and subplot seems so superfluous  it’s almost hilarious. But, as for the former, that’s a bit ridiculous considering that the movie is supposed to revolve around him and whatever the hell he does with his weenie. Affleck has about five or six lines where he actually gets to sit-up and speak for himself, but it’s not enough considering we don’t give a shit for the guy and we never find out why the hell him and Marina are having such a problem being together. Of course Marina wants to venture out into the world, but what the hell is bugging him so much? It’s rarely ever explained and by the end of it; I just didn’t really see the use in them being together, so much so that I just wished a plot-twist would come around the corner and Bardem and Kurylenko would be boning out of nowhere. Hey, Malick has never been one for conventionality so I wouldn’t throw that idea totally out the window.

Consensus: Terrence Malick always has a knack for capturing the natural and inner beauty of this land that we call Earth, which is surely evident in To the Wonder the whole run-time, but can only do so much to satisfy one’s needs when a weak story, irrational characters, and random transitions between characters and character’s stories, begin to plague what could have been a very emotional and compelling experience, courtesy of the master of filming grass.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Oh yeah, and definitely that one too. Holla!"

“Oh yeah, and definitely that one too. Holla!”

The Killer Inside Me (2010)

I think big brother Ben may be a whole lot nicer now.

Sheriff Deputy Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) has a bunch of problems. Woman problems. Law enforcement problems. An ever-growing pile of murder victims in his West Texas jurisdiction. However, he gets so caught-up with one of his victims, that it throws him a curve to the point of where he’s getting closer and closer to being found out. It’s only a matter of time until he loses total control.

Serial killer movies are hard to do. Sometimes, they can be lovable right from the start (American Psycho). While other times, they can totally miss their mark and be something you’d much rather not waste your time in watching (Mr. Brooks). This falls somewhere in between.

This is a film directed by Michael Winterbottom, a guy who seems all over the place when it comes to his films with comedic picks like 24 Hour Party People, to soft-core porno flicks like 9 Songs, and then to dark drama’s like A Might Heart. Basically, this guy has no real genre and that’s pretty neat. He doesn’t have any real sense of distinctive style or look, but he brings a lot of zealous-energy to everything he chooses, it’s almost too hard to talk bad about anything that he does. But that’s also why I liked this movie because he brings something atmospheric and moody to it all. He definitely has the perfect feel for the dark, hot American West because he shows it in such a noir style that really pulls you in from the start. There is a story to be told here, but this is more all about one dark, sinister trip into the mind of a psycho where everything starts off bad, goes to worse, gets better, and then just gets even more worse than before. Great job from Winterbottom, as he definitely makes up for the movie’s big faults.

"Oh, honey. It's been such a long and vigorous day. Let's go murdering!"

“Oh, honey. It’s been such a long and vigorous day. Let’s go murdering!”

Those big faults I’m talking about, lie within the story here. The story actually starts off pretty strong because you feel like you know where it’s going to go and build-up from there, but the problem is that the story isn’t as interesting as you may have mapped it out in your head. Some parts are cool and interesting once we see inside the mind of our closet killer, but whenever that doesn’t happen, the film focuses on how Lou tries to hide away from all of the accusations that are being thrown at him and curiosities he can smell off of everybody he’s around. This isn’t nearly as interesting as the stuff that goes on inside of his head and instead of being thrilling and unpredictable, the actual mystery tale is just there to provide a story for our lead.

Now, to my real problem with this film. In case you haven’t already heard about this flick: this flick is really, really fucked up. Without getting into any spoiler area, two disturbing acts of violence happen to two main characters here and the one thing that really got me here was that the camera never once pans away from it. In today’s world of movie violence, most stuff doesn’t phase me or even get to me because 9 times out of 10; it’s usually just shock value, done for the sake of shock value. That’s never worked on me and probably never will but the violence here feels real and needed to enhance the story, as if it almost pertains to the story and the way this guy feels and thinks. However, I think that’s my biggest problem with this flick.

I can’t really say that I hold anything against this film for showing me some violence that was disturbing, but I can say that it definitely made me think differently about it all because those were the only things left in my mind about this film. It’s some hard stuff to swallow, and as good as the rest of the film may be, I couldn’t help but keep on bringing my mind back to those violent scenes. It’s not like it doesn’t fix well with everything else, it just stuck in my mind more than all else happening. Still, have to give Winterbottom the benefit of the doubt for not panning away once during these scenes and making us actually see the brutality of these grim scenes. On the other hand, I think it also got to me after awhile and may have been more memorable than the actual flick itself. Good for some movies; not good for this.

The 50's needed Jessica Alba.

The 50’s needed more Jessica Alba.

Actually, he second most memorable aspect of this flick would probably have to go to Casey Affleck and his amazing performance as Lou Ford. It’s obvious, right from the start, that Lou has some pretty fucked up ideas in his head but somehow, Affleck is able to make that sexy and interesting through it all. Affleck doesn’t really look like the kind of dude you could put in the role of a closeted maniac, but I think that’s why he works so well here because he’s able to be subtle about his emotions and feelings throughout the movie, but also totally show how vicious he can be when he has to turn on the “crazy meter”. Affleck has never been that actor that people have been feeling the total and complete need to see in movies, but here, he demands your undivided attention and devotion, even when his character is just sitting there, thinking of who to hack-up next. Lou Ford is a great character to watch and makes the film a whole lot better, mainly because of Affleck’s kick-ass performance. He surely has come a long way since being “Big Ben’s little bro”.

Also, I was surprised to see Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson in some pretty down-and-dirty roles that I usually wouldn’t see myself watching them in. But what was even more of a surprise was how good they actually were. They both play Ford’s main ladies and each show a different side to his love, and both work very well. Been awhile since the last time I’ve seen them actually do something worth recommending so I have to give them some love and kudos right here and now. Oh, and there’s a pretty gnarly Bill Pullman cameo here as well. Can’t ever forget about that dude.

Consensus: With a dark and grimly style to make everything moodier and strong performances from the cast, mainly a terrifying Affleck, The Killer Inside Me feels like it has all the right ingredients for a dark and sinister trip in the head of a maniac, but it’s over-shadowed by two appalling scenes of violence and the story doesn’t really grab you, unless its focusing on Affleck’s character.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Them ten-gallon cowboy hats: never get out-dated.

Surprised ten-gallon hats like that could even fit through the door.

The Company Men (2010)

Rich people can be sad too.

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) are living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves them jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers.

As everybody in the world knows, October 2008 was the time where we all found ourselves in an economic-crisis and yes, even though it is a bit hypocritical from a 19-year-old, who at the time, was 15 and lived with his parents, had no job, had no responsibilities  and no bills to pay other than my money for lunch, I can still say that it was a sucky time for everybody and in a way, still is. Everybody was affected by it, not just the common-man, but everybody!

I start off with this middle-minded rant mainly because this is one of the biggest problems with this movie that we have here: who it focuses on. Having a story about a regular, average-Joe who loses his job out of nowhere and finds himself really struggling isn’t a story that hasn’t been done before, but would have probably been more engrossing than watching a bunch of millionaires go from everything, to nothing in a matter of a couple of weeks. Of course, the fact of the matter is that this did happen in real-life and it wasn’t just a certain group of people that were affected by the corporate downsizing, and that’s why this movie feels like it should hit harder, mainly because it’s so timeless and easy to connect with, but it just isn’t.

"They always say, "you're never as good as you're first movie". I guess in your case, that's false."

“They always say, “you’re never as good as you’re first movie”. I guess in your case, that’s false.”

Watching all of these guys be pissed-off by the fact that they don’t have the money to pay for their golf clubs or their Porsches really just seemed stupid and something I didn’t really care about. It gets even worse when some of these guys still feel like they can’t tell their wives, or the people around them that they lost their job. Yeah, I get that losing your job is sort of like losing an ounce of your pride, but there comes a point where you got to nut-up, shut-up, and get moving on with your life in order to make that moolah fall from the skies. Sitting around, pissing and moaning about it, and not even telling your wife why you don’t have the money for the mortgage, isn’t going to solve shite.

But to back away from a topic and theme I guess I don’t know much about since I’m not necessarily the hardest working-man out there in the world, let me go back to something I do know a lick about: movies. The whole idea of watching these rich people be sad by the fact that they can’t spend 500 dollars on dinners any longer, definitely didn’t work for me but I was able to get past it and at least try my hardest to look at the brighter-things in this movie, which didn’t seem to come to me right away. The problem I think I had with this movie stems from what and how writer/director John Wells tries to tell his story. He tries to show us that maybe, just maybe by going back to an old-school America is the only way we’re going to live and survive in this world, but he he shows us in the most obvious and predictable way that’s enough to make the people on the employment-line just scoff at.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that this economic crisis was a very, very depressing time for all men and women of America, but Wells shows how sad and depressing it is in the most conventional ways possible. For instance, Chris Cooper’s character is probably the best example of what I mean because when his character gets fired, he doesn’t just go home, act as if nothing happened whatsoever and go out there and try to make another living with his life, no, he sits at the bar all-day, gets hammered, throws rocks at the old, corporate-building he used to work-at, and tries to act like he still works there by slugging-around the same briefcase. Same example can sort of go for Tommy Lee Jones who finds himself banging-around with the same chick that fired him, and choosing her over his dearly, old-wife, mainly because he’s just depressed. I get it, they’re sad and when you’re sad, you do dumb stuff. Get on with it!

"I'm guessing meeting at a bar was out of the question?"

I guess meeting at a bar was out of the question?

The only light and shiny material actually in this flick, is actually the performances from the characters that try their hardest to make everything work and in a way, succeed in doing-so. “In a way”, however. Ben Affleck has the main-spotlight here as Bobby and definitely seems fit for the job of a guy who loses it all, tries to avoid it by acting like nothing has happened, only to get slapped in the face with reality and realize that he has to do a whole bunch of crap he didn’t want to do when he was rich. His character isn’t all sympathetic to begin-with, considering that he continues to blow-off the idea of saving money and not robbing the bank, but Affleck works through it and does what he can with this role. His wife, played by the always magnificent Rosemarie DeWitt, is always supportive, but at the same time, also never seems to notice how much of a dick he’s being and as hard as she can be on him for not accepting reality, she seems very lenient in terms of actually telling him what’s up in the world. I get it, they’re husband and wife and they forgive each other over everything, but she doesn’t seem all that strong and loving at all, so why the hell should be that way when the guy’s acting like a dick? Ehh, I don’t get it.

Tommy Lee Jones is doing his usual, crotchety  old-man shtick that never seems to run dry, even if his character even seems to get tired of it about half-way through and begins to get all soft and weak in the knees. Tommy Lee is a great actor so this weakly-written role doesn’t do as much harm to him as it does to others, but it’s still obvious that there should be more meat for us to chew-on with this character and his emotions. Chris Cooper has the most sympathetic character out of the bunch, but like I mentioned before, seems a bit too obvious in terms of where his story goes and why. Like Jones, Cooper is a great actor so it’s not that glaring, but still, he should be given more material that’s suited for his great, acting-self.

"So, you still polish your Oscar?"

“So, you still polish your statue? Yeah I’ve been doing that for 19 years.”

Maria Bello is always good with what she does and is fine here as the chick that goes around firing people, and instead, more or less comes-off like a person doing her job, rather than a monster out to get people’s hearts, souls, and above all, their bank accounts. Kevin Cotsner also shows up as the blue-collared, American worker that makes a living off of hanging up dry wall every day of the week and it’s definitely a fun performance that Costner has a blast playing, even though that New England-accent seems to be way too heavy, especially in the seems with Affleck. How the hell do you have a movie that takes place in the state of Massachusetts  that stars Ben Affleck, and not have him doing a Bawhstan accent? Seriously, the guy’s made for it and if you don’t believe me, watch The Town and Good Will Hunting, aka, two movies that will probably inspire you more than this.

Consensus: The premise and themes are as timeless as they may come, but when it comes to delivering on those important ideas and thoughts, the Company Men doesn’t seem to succeed with a bunch of great actors, working in thinly-scripted roles that seem to be placed-in the right category of “Conventional”.

5/10=Rental!!

"They ain't like us."

“They ain’t like us.”

Promised Land (2012)

The Ultimate Battle: Salesman vs. Farmers. Let’s get’s it on!

Matt Damon plays a salesman for a major natural gas company (so stow the “propane and propane accessories” quote) who descends upon a small town to tap into it’s natural resources, but finds himself having a bunch of problems with the locals, especially by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski).

The topic of “fracking” is an act that has been brewing-around for quite some time and even though there have been some documentaries that talk about it, here and there, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood got their filthy, dirty paws on it and made a motion-picture, cinema-trip out of it. However, I don’t know how “Hollywood” Gus Van Sant is now, but hey, he made Good Will Hunting and that counts, right?

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “fracking”, don’t worry, the film will let you know, every, single 5-minutes, too. It obviously seems like an action that makes people happy and filled their wallets/bank accounts, filled to the brim with moolah, but also, destroys the environment around us and makes those pot-smoking, peace-loving hippies all uppity, uppity. However, knowing this before-hand won’t do you any good and to be honest, neither will this flick because all of it just really seems to hit you over-the-head until you can’t take no more. Matt Damon is obviously a very political guy that likes to have his thoughts and opinions heard for the whole world, but maybe his script that he co-wrote with John Krasinski and Dave Eggers was a bit too much for him, or anybody else to really muster.

Sorry Democrats, Matt Damon is not running for President during the 2016 election.

Sorry Democrats, Matt Damon is not running for President during the 2016 election.

Instead of making this movie just one, big “message movie” that likes to talk a lot about what it’s declaring, Damon and his co-writers try their hardest to make us feel like there’s another story here worth watching and feeling something-for, even though we are all being preached-at from the highest choir. That highest choir, just so happens to be A-list actors and producers that may know a thing or two about how to make a good flick, but don’t know a thing or two about how to make one that can coincide with the point/message you’re trying to get across. It becomes over-bearing and by the third time that Damon’s character states, “I’m not a bad guy”, you start to think otherwise because who would really go on and on this long about a topic and a solution that could have been figured-out in a 5-slide Power Point production.

However, a 5-slide Power Point production is probably how long, in-fact, maybe even less, this flick could have been predicted in. Right from the beginning, we know how it’s going to start, how it’s going to coast-on through it’s story, and sadly, how it’s all going to end and what revelations are going to be made by that time. Yeah, there are some nice twists and turns that Damon and co. throws at us for good-measure, and mainly in hope to keep our eyes awake and our minds attentive to what’s going on, on-screen, but doesn’t do much good other than seem obvious. The message is obvious and so is the plot and that’s why I’m so surprised that Damon even co-wrote an intelligent script like Good Will Hunting because all of that fun, all of that flair, and all of that emotional-truth that was stuck underneath that whole flick, is barely even seen here at all. In my honest to god’s opinion, it’s all because Big Ben wasn’t around, and instead, is off doing his own thang and making a name for himself. Take notes, Matt. Start directing movies and see how current and cool you can stay.

"Since the Office is coming to an end, Joel thought you would like to read this. You better accept or Matt's getting the job instead."

“Since the Office is coming to an end, Joel thought you would like to read this. You better accept or Matt’s getting the job instead.”

I will say one-thing about Matt Damon here with this movie, that even though his script may not work to the best of his, or the film’s ability in keeping us interested the whole-way through, Damon’s performance definitely does and the guy once again shows why he is the most dependable actor, working today. Damon’s character, Steve Butler, may have an obvious-route he’s going to drive-on about half-way through, but Damon still keeps you on-edge, wondering when it may actually happen and whether or not we are going to be able to believe it or not. In a way, we do believe it, and that’s mainly thanks to Damon’s top-notch skills as an actor, while in other ways, we don’t just because it’s so conventional, but you can’t go wrong with Damon and the guy knows how to write some great lines, even if the only great lines are for himself, and him only. That damn Matt Damon! He’s always so stingy!

Playing his enemy, of sorts, is John Krasinski as an ecologist that challenges all of Butler’s way of living and making a business. Krasinski rarely ever plays dark roles like these and it’s great to see him really work with that aspect of his acting, while also making sure to keep his comedic-abilities in-tact, as well. I wish that Krasinski was given more than to just fuck around with Damon, in a way that makes it seem like he stole his girlfriend after Junior Prom, but with what he’s given (that he practically gave himself, if you think about it) and what he’s able to do, Krasinski does a very nice-job at it, and I really hope the guy continues to take darker, more-dramatic roles like these because even though that face may always be smiling and shiny, there’s still some darkness that’s waiting to just latch-out from underneath.

Frances McDormand plays Damon’s cohort that seems to be non-other than McDormand doing what she does best: the cool, older gal that still knows what it’s like to be hip, with it, and always one-step ahead of the dudes around her, no matter what it is she may be dealing with. Maybe that was a bit too much of a lengthy-synopsis of what type of characters she usually plays, but it’s the truth most of the time, and it’s the truth here and it’s still fine and dandy with me, because the girl is good with the act. She doesn’t seem to have much more going for her other than the fact that she may just be the brains behind the whole operation when it comes to what it is that they do for a living and how they make their business, but McDormand makes the most of it and in a way, would have liked to see a whole movie dedicated to her, where she was going around and dealing with this personal and professional-crisis, rather than seeing dudes like Matt Damon go through with it. Boo the men! Yay the ladies! That’s how I look at it here.

He's looking-out at the land that he's going to drill into soon, and all he sees is a reflection of himself. Ohhh, the obvious metaphors!

He’s looking-out at the land that he’s going to drill into soon, and all he sees is a reflection of himself. Ohhh, the obvious metaphors!

McDormand isn’t the only gal that gets to show the boys a thing or two when it comes to acting, nope, that honor also goes to Rosemarie DeWitt as the wild child of this small, rural town in Pennsylvania, who also just so happens to be the hottest, single-teacher in the whole world. Not just PA, the whole damn world! DeWitt has been on my “crush list” as of late, and she’s great here, especially in her scenes with Damon who just goes to prove the fact that the dude can make any great chemistry, with anything, as long as it has tits and a vagina. Seriously, they are great together and if it wasn’t for the whole fracking-issue popping-up every 5-minutes, I would have probably enjoyed their scenes together a whole lot more.

The rest of the cast is pretty fine, even if it is a shame to see how little they are used here. Hal Hollbrook is great as the knowing, elder farmer of this small-town that knows what fracking’s all about, why it’s not good, and why he doesn’t like it. Rather than making Hollbrook the annoying and obvious voice-of-reason throughout this whole movie and have us dreading his presence, Hollbrook actually comes-off as a sweet and tender, old-man that has come to terms with the way the world used to be and what it is eventually, going to turn-out to be. It’s sort of sad since how this hits so close to reality and what better person to deliver this reality-check than non-other than Mr. Hollbrook himself. Seriously, when the hell is this guy getting that Oscar!?! Lucas Black and Scoot McNairy show-up here as well, as the resident rednecks of the small town and as good as they may be, are still a bit over-the-top in the way that they are type-casted as a bunch of dumb idiots that work on a farm and don’t give a crap about anything else other than the big olde bucks. I’m sure that some of this is true, but it doesn’t need to be seen to try and get a point across even more. Come on Matt! Come on John! You should know better! You get your caviar and champagne from natural food stores!

Consensus: The topic of discussion in Promised Land is definitely an important one and what Damon, Krasinski, and Eggers get-across about it is an important-one, but it constantly hammers you over-the-head with it, that you begin to lose a care for what they say and an even bigger loss of care over the predictable story, and what direction it goes in.

6/10=Rental!!

I seriously just wanted to just include this picture because of how stoned everybody to the right looks and how everybody to the left are just left clueless and happy.

I seriously just wanted to include this picture because of how stoned everybody to the right looks and how everybody to the left are just left clueless and happy.

Footloose (2011)

Kevin Bacon can still dance. Don’t be fooled.

Slick and cool kid from Boston, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to a small town where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. However, Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) won’t stand for it and he lets Ren know about it, every step of the way.

For all of you loyal readers and followers of DTMMR, you all may be a bit shocked to find out that I have never seen the original, Kevin Bacon headliner in it’s entirety. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, including the awesome dancing-sequences that had me inspired for a day or so, but nothing more than just that really. However, apparently director Craig Brewer has seen it all, and loved it so much that it was the one movie to inspire him to make movies. That’s right: not Casablanca, not Citizen Kane, not even The Godfather, Footloose is the one movie that made this man inspired to make such flicks like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, and now, this remake of his old-school passion. It’s weird, I know, but hey, if you’re going to have a guy do a remake of a classic, have a guy that loves the hell out of the movie in the first-place do it. Then maybe, most remakes won’t suck nowadays.

The idea of featuring a town that actually “bans public dancing” seems a bit too 1984 the dog days of the 21st Century, but somehow Brewer has it make sense and seem a bit believable. This is a small, earnest town that all know each other, know whats going on, and have an idea of what’s best for the whole community. They aren’t some sort of small-commune that’s sheltered-off from the rest of the world because of their hard-earned beliefs of God, faith, and religion, even if those themes do hit-hard in where this story is coming from. Still, the idea of keeping the original premise in this updated remake isn’t as goofy, as well as a couple of other ideas as well, mainly because Brewer knows what does and does not work in today’s day and age.

Brewer, like his last two flicks before this, definitely knows how to work in a great deal of Southern-grit to his stories, no matter how wholesome or sweet they may be. For instance, the opening title-sequence where we see everybody’s shoes moving around, is a trick that was pulled-off in the original but updated in a more standard, gritty way that would be expected by kids of today’s generation, due to there being a crap-load of dirty, kegs, and beer being thrown-around as if somebody was throwing an old-school banger in the middle of the corn-fields. Oh, those were the golden days. Anywho, that’s not the only aspect of this flick that Brewer updates with his gritty look-and-feel, there’s a couple of other cool instances where we see how the world around us has changed to where these kids could easily want to rebel by dancing and sticking-up for themselves, but in the end, Footloose is about one thing and one thing only: cuttin’ loose and gettin’ foot loose.

No matter how much it may seem like Brewer is putting his own, personal stamp on this story, he still never forgets to remind us that this is a dancing-movie at it’s heart and core, and that’s all that mattered to me. Nowadays, dancing movies are usually recognized by two words: Step Up. But thankfully, Brewer shoves a little bit of his fist in the way of those movies and give us a great deal of fun and entertainment to watch, as all of these kids just shake their asses off like no other. The stunts, moves, and choreography are off-the-charts and as goofy as it may be to see a bunch of 18-year-old kids, dancing like Michael Jackson on crack at their high-school prom, you still can get past it and have a great-old time no matter what.

Also, to make matters even better, the soundtrack is awesome and definitely worth a listen. They start-off things so perfectly by keeping the old-school, Kenny Loggins track in the movie, and then start to dive-away from that and giving us a rawer, southern-bound edge to music, filled with the eclectic likes of David Banner, Quiet Riot, Zac Brown Band, and most surprising of all, and probably used the best: The White Stripes. Yeah, his days of giving Terrence Howard some key rap-tracks haven’t gone away in the slightest-bit, but Brewer still shows that he’s got a knack for putting in some cool-tracks, into scenes that you would not expect to gel so well with. Basically, when you put the combination of awesome music and awesome dancing together, you are bound to get some fun and entertainment, and if you do not for one second tap your toes to at least one second of this movie, you have no soul and need to get this soundtrack, ASAP.

As fun as this movie may be, there are a lot of goofy moments in this flick that seem so damn earnest and self-important with itself, that it’s just really hard to swing-by (see what I did there?). There are so many instances in this movie where I just had to roll my eyes by how silly things were, such as when Ariel, or lead-gal, feels the need to play chicken in front of train to show how much of a lost soul she truly is. That’s stupid, as well as all of the scenes with her deuchebag boyfriend named Chuck, who comes into disrupt things between Ren and Ariel’s hormones, and does exactly that, but yet, it’s annoying as hell. Whenever the guy shows-up, he’s just hammy, obvious, and way too violent for his own-good, almost to the point of where I felt like the guy made the story a bit too dark by some standards. Anytime he shows up, and this movie tries to get all serious and dramatic with me, I rolled my eyes, scoffed at it all, and pretty much didn’t care. But as soon as the dancing started-up and the music began to blast, then I just forgot about it all and had a fun-time. Isn’t that what dancing’s all about?

Casting this movie must have been a total bitch for Brewer, considering the guy has to fill in the shoes for so many iconic stars like Bacon, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and even Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others, but he does a nice-job in picking just the right names, for the right people, no matter how well-known or unknown they are. Kenny Wormald is a nice-fit for the rebellious and cool kid known as Ren McCormack and handles a lot of the dramatic-stuff, just about as good as his amazing dancing. His infamous infamous “freak out” dance scene seems a bit like parody at-first, but it just goes to show you just how talented this kid is at shaking his rump, and hey, I gotta give him credit for that because lord knows I’d never be able to achieve that. I just hope that Matt Damon or Ben Affleck didn’t catch a glimpse of this movie, or else they’d have a thing or two to teach Wormald about doing an official, Bawhstan accent.

As good as Wormald may be as Ren, the one who really impressed the hell out of me was Julianna Hough as Ariel, the preacher’s daughter. Her character is the most obvious and predictable out of everybody here, but the gal’s still very, very talented when it comes to dancing and being sexy, but she’s also very good in the dramatic scenes as well that makes a lot of her pain and anguish seem real and reasonable. Sadly, I don’t think the girl’s going to get many dramatically-acting offers any time soon, but it’s always good to know that there’s more to her than just a pretty face, a nice body, and a couple of sweet-ass dance moves.

Playing her old daddy O, is non-other than Dennis Quaid who is terrific as the preacher of the little town of Bomont, that not only wants what’s best for his little town, but for his daughter as well. Quaid is good in this role because as much as he may seem like a bit of a stiff that doesn’t budge on anything that concerns going against the sacred book of God, you can start to see a change in him by the end that’s as believable or moving as anything the guy’s done in the past couple of years. Seriously Dennis, you need to get back-out there, man, and show the world what they’re missing-out on. Everybody else is in this movie is interesting, entertaining, and likable, but the only one that really seemed to struggle is Andie MacDowell as Shaw’s wifey. To most of you, this may come as to no surprise whatsoever, but it’s a bit of a surprise to me considering that this chick has been acting for over 30 years by this point, and still has yet to churn-out a good performance. What the fuck, Andie?!?!?

Consensus: Some moments seem obvious, tacky, self-important, and earnest, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter all that much since Footloose is a fun and entertaining movie that shows some nice/believable character-development, as well as a love and passion for the original source material, courtesy of Craig Brewer.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Argo (2012)

See, Star Wars really did save people’s lives.

The movie is on the true story of a secret 1979 CIA mission during the Iran Hostage crisis in which six diplomats are rescued through a bizarre extraction plan involving a fake Hollywood film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi film named “Argo.” Ben Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the real-life CIA exfiltration expert who came up with the idea in the first-place and has to find the strength and courage to go through with it.

Believe it or not, that silly-ass plot synopsis up there is a real-life account on a secret CIA mission that took place during 1979 to 1980 and may have you think, “just how the hell did the government trust Hollywood with saving the lives of six people?” Well, the truth is that Hollywood is good for many things, and not only is saving the lives of six people one of them, but reviving Mr. Ben Affleck’s career as well.

As director, Ben Affleck is basically three-for-three (Gone Baby Gone and The Town are his two other flicks), but this one is slightly different from those other ones as he is actually stepping out of his friendly-streets of Bawhstan, and upping his game by focusing on something bigger, and a lot larger-scale than from what we usually expect from this guy. The look and feel of this movie just put me right into a late 70’s/early 80’s vibe that not only set me in the right-mood, but never rang a single false-note to me whatsoever, even with all of the goofy mustaches, cars, and hair-do’s running around all-over-the-place.

But what really came as a total shock to me is how Affleck was not only make me feel like I was exactly right there with him in America during this time-period, but also made me feel like in the chaotic shit-hole of Iran during this time as well, and damn, was it freakin’ scary. Right from the start, we are put in this area of Iran that is just full of chaos and on the verge of collapsing, and Affleck shows this perfectly by splicing together his footage, with actual-footage taken at this time to create a realistic, if even scarier view-point of the setting where our main-story takes place in. It’s not only great in it’s realistic/very detailed look, but also how we are able to draw the similarities between the Middle East and the West’s relationship with one another, to then, and how almost nothing has changed whatsoever in the thirty-plus years since this whole “Argo” mission went down.

However, it’s not all about making a point and showing off the politics with Affleck, it’s more about the whole mission itself and that’s where most of the fun of this movie came from. The first hour or so where we are left following Affleck as he tries his damn near hardest to make this fake-movie every bit of legit as he can, is the most entertaining aspect of this whole movie, not just because it takes a lighter, and slightly, more humorous approach than the rest of the film, but because it shows you just how hard it is to actually get something made in Hollywood, regardless of whether it’s the next masterpiece or not. But, all of the hootin’ and holler soon starts to go away once the real plot of this movie kicks in, and that’s where I really started to feel the tension go up my spine and get the goosebumps working. This is where Affleck shines the most, by showing how capable he is of making you sweat your ass off, with every single, tense second that goes by. It’s worked in his other two films, and it sure as hell works here but not as perfectly.

The reason why the whole suspension of this film doesn’t work as well as Affleck’s last, two movies, is because we already know the story going on and if you haven’t already known, chances are, you’re going to be able to tell how it ends. Then again, that’s sort of the basis for all movies out there but when you have a movie that puts the whole aspect of itself, on the fact that you have to feel all tense and worked-up to really enjoy the whole movie, then you kind of have to wonder just when this movie’s time is up. I don’t know want to say that it got to that point for me, but there was a very heart-breaking point where I realized that, “okay, I already know what’s going to happen, so why the hell is Affleck wasting my time with all of these slow scenes and epic score bits?” But, I don’t want to give anything else away and trust me, if you don’t know the story going in, be ready, cause you may already know it from start-to-finish about half-way through. I did, and I think that’s where this film sort of failed in captivating me as much as I would have liked it to.

Then, it seems to get worse for Affleck as the guy doesn’t really stand-out as much with his performance as Tony Mendez. The problem with Mendez isn’t Affleck’s acting, in-fact, the guy’s pretty good when it comes to him showing his near-perfect comedic timing, as well as showing us a character that’s easy to root for, even when the odds are stacked up in his defense, more of the problem is that this character just doesn’t have much going for him that’s interesting or worth really standing behind in the first-place. Yeah, the guy singlehandedly comes up with this plan and is brave enough to go out there and finish it off himself, but he doesn’t really have much of anything else going for the guy. This is fairly evident when the film tries to shoe-horn the whole angle with him and how he misses his son and wife, even though they touch on it for about 6 minutes throughout the whole film, and then at the end, is supposed to have some big, emotional impact on us as we walk out the door. No, no, mister Ben. Not falling for it this time.

Then again, you have to give Affleck more credit because this even and plain performance, almost allows him to take a side-step to the left for the rest of his ensemble to show off and do their own thang unlike anybody else. Bryan Cranston shows up in his 100,000th movie role this whole year as Tony’s boss, and nails all of the snappy dialogue they give him, and his angry soul. I was hearing a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding Cranston and his role here and as good as the guy may be, I don’t really see it all that much since he’s not really stretching his skills as an actor by just yelling and looking mad all of the time. Still, it’s an act that I have yet to be tired of. Alan Arkin is also another guy that’s been getting a lot of buzz for his role here as big-shot, Hollywood producer, Lester Siegel. This buzz is deserved but I don’t really see Arkin getting a nomination, mainly because the guy doesn’t do anything else other than yell, scream, holler, and rant like the old man we all know and hopefully, love him for. Then, there’s John Goodman as real-life make-up artist John Chambers, who also seems to be having a lot of fun with his role and steals a lot of the scenes he’s in. However, the rest of the supporting cast is just filled, and filled, and filled to the brim with actors/actresses that you have most likely seen in about 1,000 other movies and when you see their faces pop-up here, you’re going to be going right up next to your buddies ear and say, “Hey, isn’t that the guy from that so-and-so movie?” Trust me, I did that plenty of times with my sister and I probably missed a hundred more because my mind would still be in heavy thought and not focused on who’s familiar face was going to show up next.

Consensus: Though it’s not as tense or electrifying as Affleck’s last two directorial efforts, Argo still works as a smart, funny, and entertaining thriller that covers a mission that not many people ever knew about, but was also a very important one by how it showed certain sides of the U.S. government working hand-in-hand with Hollywood in a slightly surreal, yet smart way.

8/10=Matinee!!

Butter (2012)

Hey, that’s one way to stop obesity in our country. Make butter sculptures!

A young orphan named Destiny (Yara Shahidi) who, after being adopted by a Midwestern family (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone), discovers she has an uncanny talent for butter-carving. She eventually finds herself up against the ambitious wife of the retired reigning champion named Laura (Jennifer Garner) in a town’s annual butter-sculpting contest.

Director Jim Field Smith surprised the hell out of me two years back when he showed-up with what was yet, another typical rom-com in the name of She’s Out of My League. What surprised me about this flick was not just how it was actually funny, it had some nice insight to relationships and the way dudes and girls are looked at when they’re both together. It surprised the hell out of me, even if the formula didn’t. However, Smith is right back to formula this time around and this time, it’s not so commendable.

The problem with Smith’s direction here is that he never seems to get as dirty or nasty as he wants to get. The satire is so freakin’ obvious it’s not even funny (seriously, it isn’t). Basically, by showing us this butter-sculpting competition, Smith is poking fun at corporate America and how they look at the world in their own eyes. Is it a smart idea? Of course. Is it executed well at all? Nope, not at all and I think the main problem with that is because Smith plays it a bit too safe with a story that could go anywhere (and sometimes does), but ends up going along the lame-o types and formulas we have come to expect from movies of this same nature.

Playing it safe is what bothered me about this film, but the other element that seemed to annoy me was how the story never followed a pattern. For instance, it’s comedy would seem to come out of nowhere and be that raunchy, dirty-type of comedy that pleases Apatow fans only, but then suddenly changes itself into a sappy, corny story about a young girl who’s trying to make sense of the world. At some points, it’s edgy, and at others, it’s plain and soft to the point of where you almost feel like they want to give you a hug. This comes in the way of all of these stories that never really seem to have any meaning, other than to just be there and make use of their big-names on the posters. Olivia Wilde’s character, as amazing as she may be here, still did not need to even be in the movie except for about the first 5 minutes were with her, so every other time she shows up, it seems like over-kill and Smith’s only way to get comedy out of a tired-plot.

That’s not to say that this film isn’t entertaining, because it really is and with the laughs that work, they really do work. The first 45 minutes or so work because it gets us ready and prepped-up for the whole butter competition, shows us the goofy characters, and gives them enough characterization to make us feel like we’re in for a big and wild surprise. Sadly, that only stays with us for about 20 minutes or so, but for those 20 minutes, I was laughing and had a good time.

The main reason why I laughed a good amount of times was mainly because of the cast and what they’re able to do with some caricatures. One of the biggest surprises of this whole cast was Rob Corddry who really dials it down here as Destiny’s adoptive father. What I liked so much about Corddry here is that there is a nice feeling of warmth and support in his character, that comes through in every frame. Corddry is usually that one guy in raunchy comedies that seems way too over-the-top to even be considered entertaining or funny, but here, he shows that it sort of just comes naturally to him and it makes me wonder what else this guy can do with his career. Maybe he can pull-off a drama in the near-future, or maybe he’s just going to stick to R-rated comedies that barely get him noticed as anything else but that crazy, loud bald guy that seems like he’s high all of the time. Maybe that is the case, but hey, I’m not judging.

The one star in this film that did not work-out as well as Corddry did for me, was Jennifer Garner as Laura. Here’s my thing with Garner, the girl is good when it’s her in drama, but when she tries to step her foot into comedy, she falls flat on her face and never seems to get up. That is exactly the same case we have here with her character, Laura, as she’s just another one of those self-righteous bitches, that nobody likes, nobody wants to see, and 9 times out of 10, doesn’t even laugh at because she’s so freakin’ evil. Laura isn’t as evil as the film may want you think, since the only real bad thing her character even does is lie, but Garner tries so damn hard to push her character to those bitch-levels, that it seems forced and never like Garner really has what it takes to make an entertaining bitch. She’s insufferable to watch and I think that Hollywood just needs to stop throwing this girl’s comedic-skills (or lack thereof) down our throats and just realize one, simple damn thing: Jennifer Garner, aka Mrs. Ben Affleck, is not funny! Never has been, and never will be so stop giving her big comedic roles where we need to laugh at her to enjoy ourselves. It just doesn’t work.

Consensus: Butter has some delightful moments and features a fine cast, except for Jennifer Garner who is annoying to watch and listen to, but never goes down to those deep deaths of hell that they call satire and decides to play it safe with it’ story and what it is essentially poking jokes at.

5/10=Rental!!

Daredevil (2003)

“He may be blind, but he can still see evil.” Maybe one, of the 100 cheesy blind references this film makes.

Attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is blind, but his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. By day, Murdock represents the downtrodden. At night, he is DareDevil, a masked vigilante stalking the dark streets of the city, a relentless avenger of justice.

Ever since ‘Spider-Man’ came out in 2002, it seemed like the superhero genre had taken off with almost every superhero known to man either getting a film, or in discussions for a film. However, I don’t really think that choosing a blind dude as your next big block-buster was the best idea.

Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson did a pretty good job here with keeping to the whole dark and gritty atmosphere. Right from the beginning, you know that everything is going to be pretty glum and depressing, which is always different to get with a superhero flick and it’s nice to actually see him stay close to that mood rather than trying to lighten it up all that much. The action scenes he has here are also a lot of fun and bring a great deal of eclectic energy to the film when it probably needed it the most. Yes, the are a little confusing to watch with way too many fast-cuts, but they still were fun to watch and really what kept me watching in the end.

The problem with this flick is that when its not sticking to its mood and the action itself, the film starts to get a little goofy and not in a good way. The film does take itself seriously so when you have these people that are moving, jumping, and swaying around a place like they were trained acrobats, it starts to seem a little unbelievable and cartoonish in a way. I mean I get that superheros are obviously a lot more trained when it comes to moving around than the average human but there’s only so much that I can believe and actually take seriously. Still, this is just one of the problems with the script.

Another problem with this script was that it obviously just seems a little too cheesy and poorly-written for my taste. I wasn’t going into this film really expecting a Shakespearean-like experience when it came to these characters speaking but I still would have definitely like to hear a lot less blind references and more focus on the actual plot itself. The lines, as well as the moments themselves, can get pretty cheesy after awhile but where it really bothered me was the romance between Elektra and Daredevil. They obviously have this fire between them that just strikes up sex, but the story never really allowed them to take that route with all of these melodramatic sequences where he would be able to finally see her through the rain. Lame.

This is what also lead into one of my main problems with this flick and that was it’s rating. The film is obviously a lot darker and grittier than a lot of other superhero flicks I have seen as of late but it still had to go for that PG-13 rating to interest all audiences, which is where I think the film itself messed up on. The violence definitely could have been a lot more dirtier and violent and the sexual tension between Daredevil and Elektra should have been so hot, that it would even have me poppin’ a b. I know that there is a version of this film out there that’s unrated, but I just think the film should have been R-rated from the start and at least take a shot at being a more grownup kind of superhero flick.

Ben Affleck bulked up very well for this role as Daredevil and he’s actually pretty good. He seems like a pretty simple, nice, and everyday dude that just so happens to be blind and still have the ability to knock the hell out of mafia members in a bar. Affleck did this character a lot better than I expected and it’s a shame that he may never do this character again because with a better script, he could have done wonders really. Jennifer Garner is ok as Elektra because she does what she can with this role, and the chemistry between her and Affleck was good (so good, that they now are married), it’s just that she gets some pretty crappy writing by the end of the flick and she’s not really the best actress to cover it all up anyway.

Michael Clarke Duncan is menacing and scary as Kingpin and he just feels like one of those villains that’s so mentally and physically powerful, that no matter what happens to him, he always comes out on top. Colin Farrell is also fine as Bullseye because he’s also a victim of some pretty bad writing as well even though he’s definitely an actor that is able to cover it up a lot better than Garner. Sorry Ben, please don’t kick my ass.

Consensus: Daredevil has a dark and gritty tone to go along with it and action scenes that contain plenty of energy, but the script is written too poorly to be any different from any of the other superhero flicks, except the fact that the superhero himself is a blind dude. I also think that this is one of the very rare, superhero stories that could have at least benefited from an R-rating.

5/10=Rental!!

Tower Heist (2011)

Donald Trump better watch his men extra close now.

When a group of workers at a ritzy Manhattan condo realize their boss has swindled them out of their pensions, they vow to reap their own justice. With the cooperation of the building manager, the group devises an ingenious plot to recover the funds.

When I first heard of this film and saw the trailer, I thought it was going to be good because it had the return of Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy. But then I thought about it, and I realized it was the return to form of Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy I was talking about but this is certainly nothing like the pieces of shit they have turned out recently.

This is basically the concept of the “Ocean’s” films but with a sloppier cast of characters and a high-rise building in Manhattan but it’s not all that much different. The film is very funny and had me laughing a lot but there are also other times when the film gets a little bit serious about getting back at the ones who have made your lives miserable. In some sense the film feels a bit uneven because of this but regardless I still had a fun time laughing my ass off as what all these characters were saying.

The film doesn’t seem like it would be original or new in any kind of way, but it actually is a bit original which provided a lot of enjoyment for me. I love heists, and I love comedies when they are done right so when they put these two together for this film, everything just felt right. I liked how they had all of these buffoons who had no idea really how to rob or steal anything, so basically the whole film just shows you exactly how real people would act if they were put into these types of situations that go from bad to worse to sometimes perfectly executed. It’s a whole lot of fun to see this and it was definitely more original than another “heist/plan gone wrong” film ‘Horrible Bosses‘.

I think the real fault of this film is that it did so well in keeping me laughing as well on the edge of my seat the whole time, that the film sort of starts to fall away from the comedy and be more about the heist itself. It may seem weird that I had a problem with this because I was still enjoying myself, but I still thought that they could have done a little laugh here and there, but instead just totally focused on the action and heist at hand. However, I was very surprised by how well Ratner did with the action and kept the film moving at a fun pace that never really stops to just sit and get emotional.

Eddie Murphy is not the best part of the film as Sly, but he is one of the better parts because he is just so funny here and almost makes you forget about all of the dumb-ass family films he’s done in the past decade. I was glad to see Murphy go back to his old-school roots and finally be that snappy-ass, crazy, and always funny black dude that you don’t wanna mess with because he’s always too smart and too cool. Murphy made me laugh every time he was on screen and I thought this was a perfect choice as Sly and hopefully he continues to do cool stuff like this.

The reason he may not be the best is because I don’t think the film used him as much as I was expecting. In the first act, he shows up only a couple times, then he totally takes over the second act with every line he says, but then by the end of the film, his character’s resolution is just sort of just left there and almost like he was forgotten about, considering he was probably the most memorable out of the whole cast. This was a shame but I still will say that Murphy owns this role and every chance he gets with it.

The rest of the cast is hilarious and all of them do well. Ben Stiller is good as the usual average Joe, named Josh; Michael Peña fills a lot of comedy when Murphy isn’t around, and he does it well like I expected; Matthew Broderick is maybe the 2nd funniest by how random the things that his character says, and how almost everything he says has nothing to do with the heist really; and Casey Affleck is surprisingly very funny as well as Charlie, but I still can’t get over Ben. Alan Alda is the man in this role as Arthur Shaw, and he’s almost too likable to actually hate him. However, Alda is so good at playing villainous roles that he can make the worst son-of-a-bitch seem just a tad bit charming. The girls in this film are also good with Téa Leoni playing the FBI agent, who has a hilarious drunk scene with Stiller; and Gabourey Sidibe is also funny with her Jamaican accent that seems fake, but still had me laughing just because her character is so damn funny.

Consensus: Tower Heist may seem a bit uneven, but it still has a very fun feel to it with goofy comedy, fun performances from the whole entire cast, especially Eddie Murphy, and a story that actually entertains with some very funny moments.

7/10=Rental!!

Good Will Hunting (1997)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/10=Matinee!!

Dogma (1999)

If this was the true story of the Bible, I would love to go to Church every Sunday.

Fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), a gnarly demon (Jason Lee) and a half-baked apostle (Chris Rock) walk among America’s cynics and innocents and duke it out for humankind’s fate. A modern-day battle against evil takes place in suburban New Jersey, after an abortion clinic worker (Linda Fiorentino) gets a higher calling from two clueless prophets (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).

Writer and director Kevin Smith is one of my favorites and always seems to have something to talk about, except for maybe Cop Out. This one isn’t as amazing as people say, but it’s pretty balsy altogether.

Smith took on a lot of risks here talking about God, religion, apostles, Catholics, abortion, as well as plenty others and he does a relatively good job at talking about all of these themes in a funny way, without insulting anybody which I was not expecting. In a comical and thought provoking way, Kevin Smith was trying to present the idea that most of the masses are sheep when it comes to religion…that they are going through the motions and consider themselves religious because they do what they are supposed to do: go to church, confession, tithe, etc.

The film is still very funny because you still have a lot of the juvenile humor Smith is known for, and the satire of cosmic errors work well also, but this just didn’t keep me laughing like his other pictures have. I had a lot of chuckles here and there, but with his other films, I was laughing my ass off right away and even if the plot was a little bit weak, the comedy was still there to keep me entertained. The plot here is a very smartly thought-out one but it soon starts to drag on and it becomes less and less fresh and more of just a reason to have a lot of conversations about faith. Also, the ending is pretty weak because then it starts to get very strange and actually serious which kind of struck me as odd considering you have Jay & Silent Bob there the whole time. I don’t know it just seems to me that it could have been a lot funnier than what I was given.

The huge ensemble cast is what really brought the laughs out though. I loved watching Matt Damon and Ben Affleck play off of each-other the whole time as Bartleby and Loki. Linda Florentino is OK here as Bethany, but I don’t think really did well with her lines and kind of looks like she’s sleeping through the whole film. I don’t know what it was about her, but her performance just annoyed me. Salma Hayek is funny and sexy as Serendipity; Jason Lee does a good job as the evil Azrael; Alan Rickman is the one guy who brought out the most laughs as Metatron, the voice of God; and Chris Rock was a riot as Rufus, the 13th Apostle. Also, let’s not forget Jay & Silent Bob who are always hilarious with everything they do. Lastly, George Carlin as Cardinal Ignatius Glick is a classic bit of casting.

Consensus: Dogma has it’s fair share of laughs and provocative themes about faith and religion, which Kevin Smith takes on so boldly, but isn’t as funny or nearly as entertaining as his other pictures, just clever in it’s own little way.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Maybe if I start boning chicks too, my writing will somehow get better.

Young Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy.

Many people will always bash on this film because they don’t think it was quite deserving of the seven Oscars it got, including Best Picture because it beat out one of my favorites, Saving Private Ryan. But at the same time, I can kind of see why now.

My favorite element of this film is the combination of the witty script, and inspired direction. The script has many little jokes inside the core of it, and it may be hard at first to catch the real wit within this script, but once you get the hang of the jokes, they will have you howling. There are many references to some of other Shakespeare’s work, but also some other ironic jokes that will have almost anybody laughing. This is basically a reworking of a period of history, and in ways you have to suspend all disbelief and just go along with this film, and I promise you if you can, you will not be disappointed.

Director John Madden does a great job of keeping this film at a very quick, and fast pace to have us get a feel for this rowdy environment that this film takes place in. Madden makes this film look perfect with it’s vibrant sets of color, decorations, and costumes and I felt like I was there with all this happening. Beneath all this comedy though, there is a beautiful love story that shows the importance of art, and poetry. Being a writer myself, I know what it’s like to have inspiration in my life and for my art, and I must say that this film did touch on that well here and gave us a reason to believe that this love really was something special. However, Madden still finds fun with this screenplay and does not hold back from getting a little goofy, which just makes this even more fun.

My only gripe with this film is that even though I liked the humor and romantic elements to this film, I felt like when they were combined together in this film, it kind of gave this film an uneven pace. There are moments of this film where it’s going all-over-the-place, and kicking jokes out of the wazoo, but then they get to the romance parts, which are sweet, but they kind of take down all this energy. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was something with me, but either way I just wish the film kept up that quick pace and didn’t slow down when it started to get all kissy face.

I think the main reason this film worked so well was because of its truly amazing ensemble of a cast. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Viola De Lesseps, in an Oscar-winning role, and she deserved it because she really is amazing here. She plays Viola with such strength, and presence that you feel her love and heart through every scene she has and I must say it makes her character so much more interesting than anybody would have expected. Joseph Fiennes fits perfectly as the poster boy for William Shakespeare, as he has both the charm, and the looks to back up his act and make Shakespeare a very likable guy in this film. I still do think he should have at least gotten a nomination for his work in this film too. Geoffrey Rush plays Philip Henslowe and does a good job at always bringing that nutty side to every one of his characters. Judi Dench is only in this film for about nine minutes but somehow won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and this caused quite an uproar. Dench is perfect as Queen Elizabeth here, and brings out that total bitch-mode we all know and love her for, and does a great job with the limited time she’s given on-screen. The rest of the cast is good as well with the likes such as Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Simon Callow, and hell even Ben Affleck does a good job too.

Consensus: The pacing may be a bit off, but Shakespeare in Love is an amazing romantic comedy, that has hilarious and sweet screenplay, that provides great attention to detail, as well as perfect performances from the cast, that just allow you to be entertained and have a great time while watching no matter how much or how little you know of Shakespeare.

9/10=Full Price!!

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