Tom Cruise may not be able to dunk a basketball, but he can save the world, right?
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a lone soldier who lives in the clouds above a post-apocalyptic Earth after a war made the surface uninhabitable. He lives a steady life where all he does is repair drones, in hopes that they will stop any hostile aliens from taking over and destroying the world that Harper now knows and has come to terms with. But things take a turn for the worse once he encounters a crashed space pod with a mysterious woman survivor (Olga Kurylenko), who makes him question everything he knows.
You can’t help but feel pity for most of the sci-fi movies that come out nowadays. It seems as if they aren’t taking something from a piece of sci-fi literature that they read as a big-glassed, tike, they are taking something from another form of media, whether it be intentional or unintentional. That’s what makes so many sci-fi movies hard to follow along with and get wrapped up into because nine times out of ten: it’s been done before. That was my exact problem with Oblivion: been there, done that, 1,ooo times over.
The fact that this movie isn’t anything to scream about in the writing-department is in no way a hit against director Joseph Kosinski. If anything, it’s Kosinski who saves this movie with his inspired-vision and dedication to making every single scene pop-out at you, as if you’ve never seen anything like it, although you have. That’s where this film gets you, but that’s where Kosinski keeps his feet moving and at a steady-pace too. While the film looks beautiful and never seems to look at all fake (IMAX is pretty glorious), the story’s beginning is what really got me because it wasn’t what I was expecting from seeing the trailers, advertisements, and even the numerous posters.
Rather than making this a movie about Tom Cruise, going around, and shooting the hell out of aliens/unknowns that inhabit his dying-land, it’s more about the pace and the mood. It sets you into this cold, dark world where everything is beginning to die down and sooner than you know it; the Earth will be nothing more but it’s own worst enemy. By that, I mean that it will eventually dissolve into nothing. That’s the sad, but true reality that these two characters, Jack and Victoria, are left with and to see them come to terms with that made me feel as if I was watching a different movie than I was promised. Yes, there is Tom Cruise; there is CGI; there are robots; and yes, there are some weird creatures on Earth, but is this a drama I see? I thought so. That is, until I realized that I spoke a little too soon.
The first instance I knew where this movie had a problem was when it’s first batch of twists and turns came, and I had no idea what to think of them except for, “unoriginal.” That’s all it seemed like and without delving into spoiler-territory, the places this movie goes with it’s plot shenanigans don’t really add to anything, except more and more predictability. Once Jack gets to see these warrior humans, he finds out more about himself, his species, and what he was put on this Earth to really do, but none of it seems to make any sense, yet, have us care in the least bit.
I mean, I could go on and on about how none of this plot really seemed to make a lick of sense, but I don’t care too much about that. The story made fine enough sense to where I wasn’t scratching my head too much and to where I wasn’t looking around to see if anybody else was, neither. It was fine the way it was, but I just didn’t have any feeling with it at all. And that word, “feeling”, is exactly what this flick was building on. It tried to go into spots where we were supposed to feel compelled and hit back in our seats, but those moments never came. The movie just sort of went through the motions, gave us sci-fi movie convention after convention, and went on it’s way, like we expected it to from the trailers, advertisements, and posters.
See, the beginning really screwed the rest of this movie up because it makes you feel like you’re in for a somber-look at a dystopian future. But once it gets going, the movie dives into more action-y elements that are fun to watch, but feature no human-connection involved. When I see an action scene go down, I want to feel raw and terrifying emotion as if I was right there, cheering these characters on for fighting the good fight and hoping that they come out alive. However, that movie didn’t have that. It had alright-looking action scenes, but with nothing underneath it. All flair, but no substance. And that would have been fine, if the flair really kept itself going but after awhile; I stopped caring and just wanted more with my story. Now is that too much to ask?
But no matter how shitty the script can be (and definitely is), you got to give some credit to Tom Cruise for at least taking a step by deciding to take this material and make it his. Love him, or hate him, Cruise is a bonafide movie star, and an action one, at that. Cruise is good here as Jack because he gives him a lot of charm and likability that makes us feel like he’s one of those guys that knows it all, what to do, and how to do it, yet, is also just like us in where he doesn’t believe everything around him is really happening, and has the nice-enough soul to realize what’s right and what’s wrong. Of course the guy hits some holes on the way, but Cruise keeps him grounded in reality, where a film doesn’t seem to want that.
Playing the two gal pals of his this time around are Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko, who are both good with what they are asked on to do, but nothing more than that. Some scenes where they have to be more than the “romantic love-interest” are fine, but they aren’t called on to do many of those scenes, so it’s rather useless, really. What was really useless in a movie like this is not only having Morgan Freeman in a supporting role, but even going so far as to advertise him like he’s a big part of your movie, when in reality: the dude only gets about 15 minutes or so of screen-time. Yes, THAT Morgan Freeman! Don’t let me fool you into thinking Morgan isn’t good with what he’s called on to do here, because he is; but it just feels like a waste of a big name, for a role that serves no real purpose other than to be the bearer of good news (or bad, depending on the type of person you are). The rest of the cast isn’t really all that filled with many people, but that doesn’t matter because this isn’t the type of film that’s too concerned with that. They just want to show you shiny, futuristic thingy-majigs, blow up and blow other shit up in the process. Then again, it is a sci-fi movie so what else could you expect? But seriously, don’t answer that. Or else we’ll have another four paragraphs to go.
Consensus: Kosinski’s direction is beautiful and always a sight to gaze at, but the rest of Oblivion can’t sustain his look, and drops beneath his feet with a weak screenplay, no emotional connection to anything that’s happening, and a bucket-list of cliches and conventions I think I speak for everyone when I say; we are tired of seeing used, over and over again in sci-fi flicks.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Look out, Barack. Shit’s about to get real for you this year.
A bunch of North Koreans, intent on having the U.S. pull out of their territory so they can continue their civil war on the South, take over The White House and hold President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) hostage until he gives in to their demands. However, they don’t realize that ex-Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is in the building, and not taking it easy on any of them when it comes to saving his friend, his president, and his country.
Yes, it seems abundantly-clear to me now that Hollywood has finally started to run out of smart, original movie ideas, so now, they just copy one another in hopes of seeming different. See, this is the first movie where terrorists attack the White House we’ll be getting this year, but it sure as hell won’t be the last when White House Down, marches into theaters some time around the Summer. However, regardless of where Hollywood stands in the originality-department, and whether or not they can make smart movies about the leader of our country, is totally meaningless. What does have meaning, is whether or not this movie is as fun as it promises, and that’s all that matters. Oh, and yes: it is as fun as it promises to be.
Judging by reading that premise up-above, you can already tell that is mostly just a Die Hard carbon-copy, but placed inside of The White House. Most of you will probably say it’s stupid, unoriginal, and not worth the watch, but after the recent Die Hard debacle we were just hit with recently (I refuse to call it by it’s title), I think it’s safe to say that anything resembling the original is a-okay with me or any of us for that matter. The idea of a bunch of terrorists taking over one of the most-secured landmarks in our country, does seem a bit ridiculous, especially when you see how these terrorists pull it off, but this movie isn’t made to be thought-about or construed as a believable flick that could give potential-ideas, to potential-terrorists out there. It’s stupid, for the sake of being enjoyed and that’s what mattered to me.
However, the first 20 minutes did make me think otherwise. Not only does the movie start-off poorly, but it made me feel like I really got myself into some bad-business, when they decided to kill off Ashley Judd, within the first 5 minutes. I don’t love, nor do I hate Ashley Judd as an actress, but this unextended cameo just felt like a needless pry to slap another big name on the poster, and get somebody famous in there for a short-span of 5 minutes, to only provide a reason for the story to exist and die. Seemed stupid to me, but hey, I guess every stupid movie needs a reason to exist, right?
Well, it only got worse after that, because then Antoine Fuqua decided to show us how much he loves showing things blowing-up, but the problem is: it looks absolutely terrible. I’m not kidding; IT’S BAD. The special-effects (if that’s what you want to call them), seem like they came right out of a computer game, but not a recent, jacked-up one that almost seems like real-life, pasted into a tiny cartridge of fun and excitement. No, it seems like the type of graphics that were used for the first World of Warcraft, where only 20-30 year olds who lived in their mom’s basements and ate Doritos off of their chests, spent hours and hours of their lives playing and gaining no confidence whatsoever when it came to talking to women. The sequence where Fuqua gets over-zealous and shows us the terrorists attacking and destroying The White House and all of nearby Washington, is so cheap-looking and made me feel like Fuqua didn’t have much of a budget to begin with, and it was only going to get worse from here. Thankfully, I was wrong, but not by much.
After these initial-problems, the movie gets better, as it decides to not go for the big, bad, and the ugly, but stay grounded and have all of the shizz go down inside the actual White House. Once again, probably took place inside The White House so much for the sake of the budget, but it wasn’t so terrible to sit-through, considering Fuqua seemed to have a lot of fun with this aspect. The action, as goofy as it may be sometimes, is fun, exciting, and gets you really involved, right away. It’s the classic, action movie where guns, fist-fights, machines, and explosives all come together, to create this beautiful blend of dude’s yelling, girls closing their eyes, and everybody in the theater clapping and screaming, “Hell yeah!!”. In fact, I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t at least one of them. It actually got to the point of where I found myself involved with one of the fights and felt the pain that was happening in front of me. Sounds a bit dramatic coming from me, but that just goes to show you what I can feel when an action movie does it’s action right, and doesn’t cheap-out on giving me the goods. That’s all I needed, and that’s what I got. Thank you Antoine Fuqua, for at least 75% of your movie. The other 25% can kiss my ass.
However, I cannot go on and on about this movie, without mentioning it’s best-factor of all: the leading man. Yes, after years and years of rotting his career away in rom-com-after-rom-com, finally, Gerard Butler has returned to being an action hero that we not only love and can get behind, but can kick as much ass as we expect and want him to. Butler is awesome in this role as Mike Banning, and even though the character is your quintessential good guy that does everything right, has a solution to every problem, and always has a witty-quip or two to say, Butler still owns it and makes this character watchable in the best-sense of the word. Not only does Butler seem like he’s capable of doing roles like thee, but he also seems like he’s having a great-deal of fun being able to knife the fuck out of terrorists, and telling them all to kiss his rear-end, and not just to the enemy, but to the people on his own side. Yep, Butler is THAT good as Banning, and even if he isn’t and I’m just over-hyping this thing up like crazy (which I might just be); it’s still great to see Butler back in his prime-form. Let’s just hope it stays that way and we never, ever get another Playing for Keeps. Please, Gerard. I’m begging you! Stay away!
The problem with Butler being so awesome, is that the rest of the cast sort of pales in-comparison to him, but that’s not such a bad thing when you have an ensemble such as this. Aaron Eckhart is a bit weak as President Asher, who instead of standing up for himself and showing that he’s more than capable of taking matters into his own hand, is just meant to sit there, yell a lot, and say how much he does not negotiate with terrorists, even though that’s exactly what he does. Barack would be SMHing right now. However, that’s where Morgan Freeman comes into play the speaking-president (for the 2nd time, mind you), and does an alright-job, even if it seems like a bit of a waste for the guy to just sit around a room, with equal heavy-hitters like Robert Forster and Angela Bassett, and react to everything Banning says, does, or follows through on. Hey, I would rather have them in this movie, then not at all, but at least give them more to do than just reaction-shots that they could pull off just by looking into the mirror.
On the opposite end of things, Rick Yune isn’t just taking a little nibble with the scenery, but is constantly gnawing and teething at it with all of his might and will-power. Yes, it does get a bit over-board at times, but it was actually fun and nice to see a villain that seems smarter than everybody else around him, and one that’s more-than capable of getting away with a blood on his hands. Dylan McDermott plays the American who’s on his side, and does what he can, but once again, seems like a bit of a waste for a guy who’s so, so, so much better at playing dick-heads in movies that it’s not even funny. I mean, it’s funny to watch him in this, but it’s not funny when he can play it well. Everybody else is here for window dressing, and that’s about it. They are all fine, but nothing too special to write home about.
Consensus: Even if it isn’t the best, or the last “White House in danger” movies that we’ll be getting this year, Olympus Has Fallen still excels in being a fun, wild, exciting, and brainless exercise that gets us involved, gets us enjoying ourselves, and gives us back the Gerard Butler that we all knew and used to love. Please stay with us, Gerard. And never, ever leave our sides.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Think of it as a more subtler-version of Machete. I think that’s about right.
Tommy Lee Jones plays Pete Perkins, a Texas rancher who, following the death of his jolly pal Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo), is compelled to unearth the Mexican’s corpse in order to honor Mel’s request to be buried back home where his wife and children live without him, but in doing-so, he brings the man who killed him, a border patrol guard named Mike Norton (Barry Pepper).
It seems like with all of the strict and heavy-owned laws against illegal immigration, that it would only be right for a filmmaker to come out there, speak his mind, and show us how we all are all the same, just with different heritages. I never would have thought that that filmmaker in-question would be Tommy Lee Jones of all people, but hey, who better??
Well, after watching this movie, I could probably answer that rhetorical question by saying, “anybody, really”. This is Jones’ directorial-debut and although the guy definitely seems like he has a general-idea of what he’s doing, what’s he trying to say, and how he’s getting his point-across, it still feels like a first flick of a director that doesn’t quite know what he’s doing just yet. The problem that Jones runs into with this flick, is that he doesn’t know where or what to focus on and instead of giving one piece of the story line the most attention and detail, he instead tries to have it all of the other, different ways, and just jam-pack them all in there for good fun. All the story lines and sub-plots that Jones throws in here, are all pretty fun and amusing to watch, but they take away from what could have been a real, emotional-trip that looked at the way human-nature is, and how it’s misfortunes can be cured.
That general idea and message that Jones seems to get across, does eventually get said and pointed-out to the audience, but not as strong or as emotionally-impacting as it could have been. There are too many moments where the flick seems to jump back-and-forth between all of these different stories and characters, and as interesting as they all may truly be, they still take the steam and energy out of what Jones seems like he was going for in the first-place. You’ll come to know these characters for all that they are, for better or worse, but there comes a point where you start to have enough of them and just want to Jones to get on with whatever the hell he’s trying to point-out. It’s a long, slow-trip that I didn’t mind taking in the first-place, but at the same time, I also feel like it’s a trip I would have enjoyed a whole lot more, had Jones knew how to edit his film the right way and shave off about 15 to 20 minutes of the final-product.
Then again, it is a Western and Westerns are usually long, slow, filled with themes that discuss morality, and featuring plenty shots of the harsh and unforgiving desert. If there is anything that Jones does do right as a director in this flick, it’s that he does know how to keep an interesting story, just exactly as that and never for once did he really lose my attention. Yes, some moments seemed like they were unneeded in the grand scheme of things, but you start to focus on what Jones is doing as a director, and realize that the guy’s making your typical Western, except a whole lot more subtle than you’d expect.
The morality theme doesn’t really hit hard until the last 10 minutes, and it becomes very clear what it is exactly that Jones is trying to get-across, it’s actually very thoughtful. Without giving too much away and spoiling the moral dilemma this film brings-up very clearly, I’ll just say that the actual death of this main character isn’t a very easy one to understand, and in ways, you don’t really know who you fell bad for more. Him, or the guy who killed him. It’s not an easy decision to swallow and try to think about, and this flick definitely isn’t about the easy answers and that’s something I really have to give Jones credit for. There may not be a whole lot here that really works well with this central-theme, except for the last 10 minutes, but those last 10 minutes will actually stick with you, and they are what I forgive Jones for mainly. However, when you look at the final-picture, there is something that’s left to be desired.
Tommy Lee Jones as a director may not be the finest piece-of-work he has ever done, but Tommy Lee Jones as the main-actor in this story, well that’s a different story. Tommy Lee Jones is basically playing Tommy Lee Jones, but you know what? It doesn’t matter all that much because he’s good, believable, and a pretty stand-up guy that you feel like has a reason to be mad and do all of this nutty-shit, but also feel like he’s a nicer-man than he’ll have you believe by his thoughts or his actions. TLJ is always good when he’s playing himself and even though it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t seen from the guy already, it’s still a nice-spectacle to see, even if his direction may not be able to catch-up quite as much with his acting.
Playing the guy that practically gets forced and carried on this long, grueling trip is Barry Pepper, a very, very underrated actor that really makes his character work like gangbusters, even if the script doesn’t seem like they really know what to do with him. By that, I mean that the guy definitely seems like the type of character you don’t know whether to like, trust, or even give a shit about, but somehow, the movie doesn’t feel the need to develop him at all to make us think any of these things. He’s sort of just there, getting dragged-around, looking dirty, and being scared to high heavens of when exactly he’s going to die and be buried with this dude that he killed. Pepper makes it a performance that’s worth your while and I can definitely say it’s one of the meatier performances I’ve seen from him in quite some-time, but just like TLJ’s direction, there’s a lot left to be desired here and it’s a real shame, too, because this character could have really been the most memorable one of the bunch.
The supporting cast is pretty solid, too, and definitely make this film all the more entertaining, even if TLJ doesn’t exactly know when to stop focusing on them and get on with the actual story. January Jones plays Pepper’s bored and lonely housewife that begins to realize she can get a real kick out of life, if she just learns to live a little and sleep around with some fellow-cowboys. Jones learns that from Melissa Leo’s character, who seems like she’s practically been fucking every guy in town. That is, every guy that isn’t her husband. Leo and Jones are great together as the two, wild and free gals that seem to love being in everybody’s else’s beds, and getting a fresh-taste of life, among other things, they both seem like nice characters for another movie where their presence’s are used more and help move the story along. After awhile, they just become a drag to the story and only there for Jones to show us that it’s not a total sausage-fest. Dwight Yoakam is also perfectly-cast as the dimwit Marshall of the little county that says he doesn’t need Viagra, but yet, can never seem to be able to get it up when he’s about to bone Leo. I don’t know what his deal is, I’d be ready as soon as I saw her walking towards me.
Consensus: Underneath all of the constant subplots, characters, and added-on explanations that feel unneeded, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada actually has a nice point to bring-up about friendship and human-nature, that is well-performed and brought-out very well by Pepper and Jones, but in the end, seems like it wasn’t focused on enough to really make much of a difference in the end, and just seems like a trouble, first-movie for TLJ. And that, is exactly what it is, too.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
As if landing a plane was a real challenge for Denzel.
Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot who miraculously lands his plane after a midair collision, saving the lives of hundreds of passengers. But as more details emerge, Whitaker becomes the focus of the investigation about what truly happened on that plane.
You have to wonder if Robert Zemeckis got as tired as we did watching all of his family, motion-capture movies, because right in the first scene of this movie we see a chick in full-on nudity (yes, pubic hair and all), Denzel slugging down a brew or two, and then, even going so far as to snort a line of cocaine. Pretty shocking to see once you think how this same guy directed The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol, not all too long ago. However, Zemeckis is sick and tired of motion-capture movies (thank God) as well as making movies for families. He’s going back to making the types of movies he wants to make, that are strictly to be seen by people who vote for Oscar nominees Good job, Robert, you got ‘em again.
If there is any credit I have to give to Zemeckis, it’s that the guy doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to how he focuses on this character of Whip Whitaker, who, as you may already know from the trailers, is a very, very flawed man. Something else you may already know from the trailers is that there is a pretty intense plane-crash that is as tense and as suspenseful as you’re going to see for a long, long time. The last plane-crash sequence that ever hit me as hard as this was United 93, and before that was probably Cast Away, another movie directed by Zemeckis that shows the guy hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to providing tense, plane-crashes that has you gripping onto your seat as much as the characters in the actual movie are.
However, let me get back to what this film really is about: Whip Whitaker. The most powerful element behind this movie is Whitaker himself, his alcohol addiction, and how Zemeckis allows that to be shown on-screen. Zemeckis doesn’t shy-away from the fact that this guy has a drinking-problem and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering just whenever this guy will actually kick the addiction, or just simply rot away like many other addicts out there. This would all make it too easy to hate the guy and not give a shit what happens to him, but Zemeckis doesn’t paint it that simply, and makes this more than just a standard, portrait of a flawed-man. It has layers and that’s what’s so important about this movie.
The idea that this guy Whitaker, got onto a plane, drunk and high, but landed it in the safest way possible by killing only 6 people in the whole-crash definitely leaves some food-for-thought as to what should really happen to this guy. Yes, he endangered everybody by putting himself on-board of a plane under the influence of some drugs and booze, but does that really matter when the fact still remains is that he still saved many lives that day and is probably the only pilot that could have done so? This idea and theme that comes on throughout the whole movie leads you to wonder and to think just what is right, what is wrong, and what should happen to this guy who did both, a bad thing and a good thing at the same time. You never know what answer this film is going to end on and you never know exactly what it’s standing on Whitaker really is, but what you do know, is that this guy has some real problems and it’s hard to think about him as anything else other than a dangerous drunk that did a heroic deed, but also an evil one as well.
Even though I may make this film seem like a Sundance-type, character-based drama from the hand of Robert Zemeckis, it doesn’t stay like that and definitely turns into what could be considered a Hollyw0od-type, character-based drama from the hand of Robert Zemeckis. What I mean by this is that for a good hour or so, the film feels very subdued, very subtle, and very ambiguous with where it’s going to go, what it’s trying to say, and how it’s going to all play-out, but somehow, the story loses that and becomes the typical shit we always see from Hollywood. The whole idea of this guy being a drunk, knowing it, and never making excuses for it is pretty fresh to see in a big-budget flick like this one here, but that idea starts to go away as he gets a tad too nice towards the situation and almost feels a bit shoe-horned in. Especially that second ending where it seems like Zemeckis wanted to really have us happy by the end, and give us an ending that sent us away with a smile on our faces and a brighter out-look on life. I’m not the type of person that wants a sad, depressing story that ends on a dark-note, but come on, certain stories don’t deserve to be cheapened-up because big, ‘ol Hollywood says so. Come on, Zemeckis you’re better than that.
And something else that Zemeckis is better at too, is picking good music for his movies and that is something that he does not showcase well here at all. Every single piece of music here is just another song that hits you on-the-nose with what it’s commentating on and how it affects the scene. For instance, every time Goodman shows up, Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” starts blasting as to show us that something bad is coming Whitaker’s way, and should be played more for laughs. Another example that annoyed me to death was the use of Joe Cocker’s “Feeling Alright”, every time Whip decided to snort a line and walk down a hall-way with his signature-strut. Okay, I get it Zemeckis. Denzel is high and is feeling alright, no need to tell me with the use of Joe Cocker’s voice. There’s other examples as well, but these were the two that really got to me and kept bothering me every time they just so happened to be blasted through the speakers.
Where Zemeckis fails though, is where Denzel Washington passes and it’s one of the best performances I’ve seen him give in a long, long time. It’s been awhile since Denzel has actually played a role that’s really showcased him as the powerhouse he is known to be. A couple of middle-of-the-road thrillers sometimes show this, but not the full-extent that this character-drama does and I’m so glad that Denzel is Whip Whitaker, because I honestly don’t think anybody else could have played this role and make it work as well as Denzel does. See, even though the guy is constantly-drunk, doesn’t care about it, knows that he’s bad fool, and knows that he can stop whenever he wants, he is never unsympathetic. For some odd, dumb reason, you still care for this guy and root for him, so much to the point of where every time he picks up a bottle or you see a bottle around him, you gasp or shake your head by how quickly the guy went right back to his old ways.
It starts to get even worse when you think about what Whitaker did before the plane-crash, and after and how it shows that not only is this guy a troubled, piece of garbage, but is also a man that is a hero in a way and used his better-judgement for something that saved the lives of many people on that plane as well. Whip Whitaker is as complex and as three-dimensional as you’re going to get with a character this year, and thanks to Denzel, the guy is watchable the whole time. Denzel is just about in every single scene in this movie and that is not a complaint whatsoever because it is a thing of freakin’ beauty to watch Denzel just act his off in a way that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. We see everything in Denzel’s acting-skills come out here for show, like when he gets mad, or when he gets sad, or when he gets happy, or when he’s just being the coolest, sliest, mother ‘effer in the whole film. Honestly, I could go on and on and on about Denzel and how great he is here as Whitaker but to not bore the hell out of you, I’ll just leave it at the fact that Denzel may very well be looking at an Oscar-nom come later this year, which is something I cannot wait for. Even though he may not win, I still think he deserves that damn nomination because he is absolutely terrific here.
Denzel’s supporting cast is also pretty damn good, too, even though none of them really rank-up to the type of “Oscar-caliber” that he does. Kelly Reilly co-stars as a strung-out junkie that meets and sticks with Whitaker for the most-part, and is a very interesting character to watch as we see her cope with her own, personal demons, as well as Whitaker’s as well. They both work very well together, and I think that Reilly deserves more roles like this even though I was a bit suspect of her Southern, Georgian accent. Don Cheadle brings a lot of power to his role as the crack lawyer that’s brought to protect Whitaker from serving any type of jail-time and does exactly what you’d expect of the guy: act his ass off. Still, I wish that Cheadle would up his game again and see what he can do with leads again.
Bruce Greenwood seemed like the most interesting character out of the whole bunch because his first-scene with Whitaker really had me tearing up by the end of it, because it showed the level of friendship these two have and how Greenwood stands beside him the whole-way. I wish that more of the film was like this one scene, in particular, but damn was it still great to see and witness. John Goodman does exactly what he did in Argo, and steals just about every scene he’s in and gives some of the funniest lines in this whole drama. Then, the one that really surprised the hell out of me was the small-cameo from James Badge Dale as a cancer-patient who shares a smoke with Denzel and Reilly, and gives the type of role that makes you think about him, long after he’s gone. It’s not just how he acts is what makes us think about the most, it’s what he says and how the reoccurring theme of God and the actions he bestows onto continues to play-out throughout. It’s a role that deserved to be as long as it was, mainly by how powerful and though-provoking it was left as.
Consensus: Robert Zemeckis definitely loses himself by the end of Flight, mainly because he gives into what Hollywood likes to consider “happy”, but still features a top-notch performance from Denzel Washington, in one of the best character-studies of the year and in one of the better performances I have seen so-far. Not a perfect movie, but still a very good one none the less.
I don’t know what these people are selling, but I sure as hell don’t want 21 grams of it. Teeehee
’21 Grams’ interweaves several plot lines, around the consequences of a tragic automobile accident. Sean Penn plays a critically ill academic mathematician, Naomi Watts plays a grief-stricken mother, and Benicio del Toro plays a born-again Christian ex-convict whose faith is sorely tested in the aftermath of the accident.
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu is a director I’m sort of mixed with even though I have already seen three of his four films already, including this one. Still, seems like a good enough director but at the same time, very much into making everything look absolutely filthy.
When it comes to the technical sides of things, Iñárritu knows what to do. The film looks very dirty, grainy, and makes it almost seem as if everybody in the film needs a bath but it works and gives this film a sort of ugly feeling where nothing good will come and happen to these characters. The film also has some very razor-sharp editing that cuts away at some very good moments but mind you, this is not a very fast-paced film by any means, it is a long slow-burner that keeps you watching even when you think your out.
When it comes to the emotional side of things though, Iñárritu also seems like he knows what he’s doing. The film is very dark, sad, and very depressing but there is still a lot we can feel for these characters because each of them all had or still have something terrible eating at them from the inside. Iñárritu keeps all three of these characters’ motives tucked inside of them and it’s actually up to us what we think they will do next and whether or not they are actually good people. At times, it can be hard to feel anything for these types of characters but by the end, you really start to feel their pain and anguish, which is something that almost draws you closer to them.
The problem with all of this is, everything here is told in a non-linear way where it constantly jumps back-and-forth between past, present, and the future. This of course, has its negatives as well as its positives. The positives about this is that this way of approaching the story sort of gives it that feel of a jigsaw puzzle where one second we see two people happy, then the next second we see one of them getting shot, and it all feels confusing at first but after awhile you start to get used to it and connect all of the pieces anyway. I like these types of films that use this different kind of approach and it was pretty neat to see it used here but then again, it did have its negatives that were a little too big.
First of all, I think the whole idea of having this film’s narrative jump around from one scene to another was just because Iñárritu he wanted to spice up the premise that could have easily been a straightforward melodrama. If it was a film that just told its stories in the order that it happened, it would have still been easily as good as the final product here and I think that Iñárritu just did this because he knew that he needed to do something new and cool with this material to make it stand-out. Secondly, this point basically goes along with my first point in saying that it’s pretty pointless after all but then again, it did keep me a little bit more interested than I expected so I can’t talk total ish. However, my last problem was probably the biggest of all and took me away from the film as a whole.
I already stated that I could actually feel something for these characters because of all this bad stuff they had happen to them, but what really took me away from really getting inside of them and understanding how they felt was this narrative structure. The problem with this structure and this story was that the flick requires us to feel something for these characters by seeing all of these things that occur over a different time-and-place every 5 seconds, which doesn’t really allow them to build any real character arc because of the fact that one second they could be happy as hell, then the next second they could be crying like a little beotch, and then the next second they could be getting it in with their significant other. By the end of the first hour, the flick starts to get more linear but it can’t really do much for the fact that this flick jumped around a little bit too much and did damage not only to its characters, but also the audience watching it as well.
What took my mind away from this though was the amazing performances by everybody involved. Sean Penn plays Paul Rivers, playing the quiet and sophisticated type that we don’t usually see him play, but he does a great job here and is amazing at showing vulnerability with any of his characters no matter who they may be. Benicio Del Toro is amazing as Jack Jordan, the one dude who has an inner fight with God. With any other actor, this conviction from this sort of character would have been too hoky and too annoying but Del Toro makes it seem believable and shows what it’s like for the other person who causes the pain to someone else. Del Toro lets it all out with this performance and even when he seems like he’s going to do something terribly wrong and evil, you start to think otherwise once you realize that his character is actually a good guy after all.
Probably the one performance that shines throughout this whole flick is Naomi Watts as Cristina Peck. This performance is nothing short of amazing because Watts is able to show us a character that is practically falling apart right in front of our eyes, and it seems real and believable. Watts is asked to do a lot with her character here such as go through all of these different emotions over the course of 2 hours and it shows her exceptional range and vulnerability as an actress. Watts really tears out her soul for this whole flick but you can’t help but to feel something for her considering her whole life is practically turned to shit and it’s just great to see an actress in top-form like never before.
Consensus: 21 Grams features powerful performances, a dirty and grainy look, and a story that conveys plenty of emotions but the structure is also a problem for this flick because it not only takes away from the character arch of these people but also just feels pointless and put in here for no other reason other than to spice things up.
It’s like ‘Dogma’, with a lot of guns.
Three horny teens go off for a one-night stand with a chick (Melissa Leo) that they think will get it on with them all at the same time. However, they end up being kidnapped into a little freak-show for these crazy Jesus-people that don’t like gay people. The teens soon try to find a way out of the church as the local police force comes in to also raise some hell.
Kevin Smith is a favorite of mine and almost all of his films, except ‘Cop Out‘, all have made me happy and enjoy the hell out of myself. I know a lot of people out there in the world hate this dude but for some reason, he always strikes a cord with me. That’s why I’m so glad to see it when he does something that is totally different from anything else he usually does and at least tries to branch out a bit more than what we have seen from him.
The premise for this film is awesome because it’s a horror film about things that are out there, rather than just ghosts caught on film, or dudes named Freddy, Michael Myers, and Jason running around killing teens. The film is obviously based on the crazy Westboro Baptist Church people, lead by Fred Phelps, who the people that follow this church actually look up to him as if he was the big G.O.D. himself. I like this concept because I hate these people and anytime somebody wants to show them in a bad light and practically get effed up every second, is something I want to see and stand behind. Hey, I know it sounds vicious but just type these people up on YouTube and you’ll see what assholes they really are.
What Smith does here, unlike any other film he’s done, is add an extra-layer of detail to not only his script but also his direction. Seeing that his only action film is actually the crap I mentioned early, it’s highly impressive how he is able to bring a lot of tension and grittiness to the screen to give you this feel of just terrible things are going to and will happen. This is in-your-face gritty with plenty of people getting shot, and sometimes you don’t know who will so you have that whole unpredictability to it as well that Smith is able to bring out well.
When it comes to his script, this is obviously a Smith film but it still has many different elements that can make a lot of people have their heads scratching by the end of the film, when they actually see who wrote and directed this. There is a real dark and sinister side to this film with barely any comedy or toilet humor, which is what I usually love about Smith films but here it was a pretty good way of focusing on actually creating tension and an atmosphere.
However, I do think that this film had its fair share of problems that took away from my overall experience. I feel like Smith does a lot of preaching here that at first seems legit, then it just becomes something of an annoyance where I actually wanted the story to move forward rather than just showing me all of these crazy Jesus people freaks, preaching and hollering about the same old shit every time. I get the fact that Smith is trying to get his point across, but when you have a speech that lasts about 13 minutes talking just to get a point across, it’s not just torture for the people in the film but for those who are actually watching it as well.
In terms of the horror department, I also felt like something was missing from it to actually make it scary. Take it for granted though, this is not your typical horror film so obviously we aren’t going to be getting jump-scares every five seconds, but too much of it felt like people just shooting each other without any real scares or horror to back it up. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when people that I actually dislike so much before I even get to know them get shot up left-and-right, but there were times when even that was gone and there was nothing to really keep it compelling.
Also, why the hell did that random-ass timestamp come up out of nowhere, for no reason whatsoever, and then never come back again? Maybe it was just another one of Smith’s crazy and weird things he just wanted to do for fun.
The cast is pretty impressive considering Smith doesn’t use anybody from any of his previous films, even though I wouldn’t have minded seeing Jason Mewes or even Jason Lee for that matter. John Goodman is good and pretty aggressive as Joseph Kennan, the police dude in charge who has a very good scene by the end of the film; Melissa Leo is one-note as Sara Cooper, but she’s still an easily-hated character from the start; and Michael Parks is very evil and devilish as Abin Cooper, the man behind this church. Everybody’s good here but it’s just one of those cases where it’s more of the director’s show than the people themselves.
Consensus: Red State has a great premise to work off of, a good direction from Smith, and a script that is more than just dirty jokes that he usually has in all of his films, but there are many times where it loses its compelling feel and goes on and on and on about the same point till where it overstays its welcome by a long-shot.
I definitely know that my little bro would not do this for me that little bastard.
Convinced that her brother, Kenneth (Sam Rockwell), has been unjustly convicted of murder and incompetently defended by court-ordered attorneys, high school dropout Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) puts herself through law school in order to represent him in his appeal.
Last year I was supposed to see this at a press screening but for some odd reason, never actually got to it, so I just ended up waiting for it to one day pop-up. When it finally did, I kind of felt bummed by what I missed.
This story here is a true under-dog story that usually gets schmaltzy and feels like a “made for TV” film but somehow director Tony Goldwyn makes it better than just that. The story telling here was not easy to pull off because it all takes place in 16 years of visitations, back-story, courtroom dramas, and marriage problems but Goldwyn does well when it comes to setting up a pace and sticking to it well.
However, where this film fails is within it’s right to actually keep me glued into the story even when I knew all that was going to happen. Right from the get-go, I knew what was going to happen, but then again so did everybody else who watched this and I mean even though its pretty formulaic and predictable it was still fun to watch, but with barely any surprises.
The problem with this film though is that I feel like they had a lot to say about the judicial system and how they are not always right but for some reason, this film only went down that road about twice and that was it. I think with the type of material they had here and the constant showing of mishaps with the actual courtroom system and how evidence is handled and whatnot, that they could have said a lot while still being able to tug at our heart-strings, but only mildly does both.
The real strength of this film though is the cast at hand, and let’s just say it’s a pretty-looking bunch we got here. Hillary Swank is good here as Betty Anne Waters but my problem with her was that her character just has the same look on her face the whole time, and didn’t really give us any real reason to care about her. This wasn’t Swank’s fault but the script could have helped her more. Minnie Driver is also good as the smart-assed best friend of Betty; Peter Gallagher is awesome as Barry Scheck and just had me staring at his eye-brows the whole time; and Mellisa Leo, Juliette Lewis, and Ari Graynor chew up some good scenery as well.
The whole cast is good but compared to Sam Rockwell as Kenny, they are totally forgettable. Rockwell plays up all the charm and humor that he always puts into his performances but he also puts in a great deal of sadness and depression that this character goes through while he’s in prison. Since we only see him through the visitations at the prison, it would be incredibly hard to develop a character solely on that but Rockwell is great at keeping our attention on him the whole entire time.
Consensus: Conviction features plenty of good performances from the cast, especially Sam Rockwell as Kenny, but too much of it feels like the usual, under-dog story we get on cable and in the end, feels like a film that could have went more for the gut than the heart but instead chooses the latter.
So as everyone among the film community know, it is Oscar time babyyyyy!!! So that means get ready for some of the biggest upsets, wins, and probably tearful moments of the year. It was a great year in the film, and this is what has all come down to it people. The big night, and here are my predictions, I hope I do well.
Best Animated Feature: Will Win: Toy Story 3 Should Win: Toy Story 3 Wild Card: How To Train Your Dragon
Best Documentary Feature: Will Win: Restrepo Should Win: Restrepo Wild Card: Exit Through The Gift Shop
Best Foreign Language Film: Will Win: In a Better World Should Win: Dogtooth Wild Card: Biutiful
Best Documentary Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short: Will Win: Can’t say I care too much
Best Editing: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Black Swan
Best Cinematography: Will Win: True Grit Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech
Best Visual Effects: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Alice in Wonderland
Best Sound Editing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Unstoppable
Best Sound Mixing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Social Network
Best Art Direction: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech
Best Costume Design: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Alice in Wonderland Wild Card: True Grit
Best Makeup: Will Win: The Wolfman Should Win: The Way Back
Best Original Score: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Inception
Best Original Song: Will Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Should Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Wild Card: I See The Light (Tangled)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: 127 Hours
Best Original Screenplay: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Will Win: Hailee Steinfeld Should Win: Melissa Leo Wild Card: Amy Adams
Best Supporting Actor: Will Win: Christian Bale Should Win: Christian Bale Wild Card: Geoffrey Rush
Best Actor: Will Win: Colin Firth Should Win: Jesse Eisenberg Wild Card: James Franco
Best Actress: Will Win: Natalie Portman Should Win: Natalie Portman Wild Card: Annette Bening
Best Director: Will Win: David Fincher Should Win: David Fincher Wild Card: Tom Hooper
Best Picture: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Toy Story 3
I must say that this is a pretty solid year for the Oscar’s this year. All the nominees look just about right the only problem is how will the picks turn out? This year, everything seems like it’s coming down to Old School (The King’s Speech) vs. New School (The Social Network). The past couple of years The Academy (I hate that word) has been looking more towards hip, new films to win it’s Oscar Best Picture. Films such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, and American Beauty have all been unconventional new films that have seen their taste of Best Picture gold. But there has also been countless period piece wins for films such as Gladiator, Shakespeare In Love, and The English Patient. Also, many other major award shows have already presented the Best Picture win to The King’s Speech which is really chasing up people’s noses, as many other award shows have been choosing The Social Network as theirs. In my opinion, I liked Inception more than both of them, and yeah it’s nominated, but in all honesty it has no chance of winning. When it comes down to it I think that The Social Network should win, because it is an age-defining film, that went from being known as “The Facebook Movie” to being known as the top contender for every Oscar it’s nominated for. I hope that The Academy goes for the new school, because if they had The King’s Speech win, everyone would feel robbed really.
As for Best Actor, I think that Firth deserves to win for all his years dedicate to films, but Eisenberg fully deserves it. I think what the Academy is doing more and more now, is honoring actors & actresses not for just a certain performance they had, but their careers and saying that it’s their time. I don’t mind seeing stars like Jeff Bridges, Kate Winslet, or Colin Firth win an Oscar, because of the career they have but I’d rather see the “best performance of the year award” go to the BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.
When it comes to the Best Actress category, it seems like Natalie Portman is the sole winner for here, as she has won almost every single Best Actress nomination at every award show. However, there is once again that little idea that it’s Annette Bening’s “time” to win, as she has been nominated twice, and still has not won yet even though her career has been going on for so long. I want Portman to win, and most likely she will, but I still have a feeling that The Academy may pull something out of their pockets and surprise us all with a Bening win.
I’m very disappointed that my main man Christopher Nolan was not nominated for Best Director this year. He was snubbed for The Dark Knight, and now he’s being snubbed again, and it just pisses me off knowing that certain directors that do such a good job with daring material, don’t get the credit they deserve. I think if Nolan was nominated, he should have won, but I know it’s The Oscars, and not everything works out the right way.
This year had great films, and I’m glad to see that the Oscars have turned out to be this way. I loved 2010 as a year, and the films made it awesome. Here’s to 2011, and let’s just hope that the Oscars are awesome.
Thanks everybody for always reading, and keep on checking!!
Just shows you that crack is not always whack. I mean just look at Christian Bale. The guys freakin’ Batman.
Mark Wahlberg stars as boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and Christian Bale as half brother and trainer Dicky Eklund in this inspiring drama based on the fighter‘s rise from working-class Lowell, Mass., to world-class welterweight champ. After a string of defeats, Mickey rediscovers his fighting will with help from Dicky — a once-talented pugilist battling drug addiction.
There hasn’t been a very good boxing movie lately. Now that other “sports” like UFC, MMA, hell even Professional wresting for that matter have taken over mainstream, people have sort of forgotten about boxing. Especially in the film world, but thanks to this, it makes me want more of them.
Director David O. Russell is known for being a huge dick off-screen, and hasn’t really done much else that people know, but because of this film, I think he has finally broken into the mainstream. And it’s with all good reason, he does an amazing job at making this one of the most entertaining pieces of the year. It’s more of a character study than it actually is a boxing film, but it still delivers on plenty of fun, family escapades for us to watch. Also, it was really neat to see the match sequences to be filmed in the digital style that HBO used to use back in the day, and it really did make it all look legit, and not just another boxing film fight sequence.
The screenplay works really well too providing us with a lot more comedy than I expected. There is also a lot of themes that touch on the element of family, which play out so well. You laugh, you cry, but most of all, you love your family, and in the end they always have the best intentions. This film the way it is written, and the way it all plays out, just seems so real. Although you know how this story is going to turn out, you still cannot stop watching, and getting attached to these characters. Everything just seemed very real, and there are barely any moments that feel like they were just put on for the big-screen.
The one main problem I had with this film is that I think it could have gone longer. I know that’s a weird complaint, because many people will probably complain about how it is almost too long, but for me I wanted more somehow. That sounds greedy, and spoiled, but the ending didn’t fully satisfy me to the point of where I was just jumping for joy. This is a weird complaint, I know that, but I just wanted a longer run time.
The main reason to see this is it’s amazing cast. Mark Wahlberg does the straight-man act that he does in a lot of films, but hey it’s not so bad. He is an easy guy to like, and you can tell his frustration with his family, and boxing career. This gives us more of a reason to rally behind him, and keep on watching, which is what all boxing movies need. Amy Adams really steps out of her “goody goody two shoes” light, and gets dirty, bad, and sassy. I loved her performance, and her quick delivery with every line is not only believable, but its also funny, and we actually as fans want to go out with her. Let’s not also forget Melissa Leo who is just perfect as the asshole Mom, who just can’t handle being a nobody. Her performance I loved. But………
The real show is right next to Marky Mark on that poster up above. I have always liked Christian Bale, when people give him shit for his douche bag ways off the screen, and cocky attitude, I have always appreciated almost everything he does. And now all that love that I have given him finally pays off, as I have just seen his best performance, and probably one of the best performances of the year. I loved this performance so freakin’ much. Bale is silly, sad, gritty, crazy, fearless, skinny as a toothpick, but also likable as your any other average Joe. You believe all the little tics, and weird things he says and does, and he commands your attention, and well you gotta give it to him. His character, Dickie Eklund, just couldn’t give up the limelight, and with this performance neither can Bale, cause he steals it. Every scene he is in, he just commands almost every time, and I sure as hell hope he gets an Oscar, cause he is just one of the biggest and best joys to watch on screen.
Consensus: The Fighter may be a story you have seen before, but the inspired direction, and amazing ensemble performances from this cast, make this treat, a fun-filled, entertaining boxing movie, that made us realize we missed this genre too much.