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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Mickey Rourke

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Jack Sparrow vs. Zorro? Yeah, I wish.

El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) who continued to look for work in any Mexican town he ran into is back once again, but this time, he isn’t looking for work, work finds him! Once a crazed and demented CIA agent (Johnny Depp) tracks him down, El Mariachi is called upon the task of saving Mexico’s president, while also killing the man who slayed both his daughter and gal-pal (Salma Hayek). El Mariachi has no problem with this since he’s always down for a nice plot of revenge, especially when he has his guitar and case around, but once the plot thickens and more people get involved with this crime, then it becomes abundantly clear that El Mariachi may have to bite off more than he can chew. Which, once again, he’s fine with, but isn’t that such a bitch?

I’ve basically gotten through all of Robert Rodriguez’s “Mexican trilogy”, and although I’ve been looking forward to seeing these flicks for quite some time, I have to say: I’ve been left very, very disappointed. Now, this obviously isn’t going to be a whole review on the trilogy, but please just bear with me for a second here. Though some may definitely disagree with me, I feel like Robert Rodriguez has definitely fallen-off the deep end as of late and has only shown that with time, and more money, that you can only become your own worst enemy once it all goes to your head.

Take this movie for instance: You have the simple plot of El Mariachi called on to do complete a mission that consists of him killing people with that six-stringed killer of his, which is, as we all know, nothing new or special, but why fix what wasn’t broken in the first place, eh? Well, then you get all of these bigger stars that just so happen to want to be apart of your movie, and then, all of a sudden, you have a much bigger story, with more characters, and in essence, less time spent on the man this trilogy was all about in the first place: El fuckin’ Mariachi.

"You can't be my hero.............BABY!"

“You can’t be my hero………….BABY!”

I read somewhere that Rodriguez meant for this story to be all jumbled, convoluted, and over-stuffed with more subplots and characters, but after awhile, it becomes a nuisance to have to pay attention to what every character says, why they say it, and decide in your own mind who’s a baddie, who’s a goodie, and who doesn’t really mean much to the plot, but is just there because he/she is a familiar face that Rodriguez just so happened to get his grasps on. Some of this may sound like I’m whining about how Rodriguez didn’t dumb the material down for me and tell me everything that I needed to know right off the bat, however, I feel like that same simplicity I’m thinking of worked well for the other two, so why wouldn’t it had here?

Some reason, I just couldn’t get so involved with this story to the point of where I felt like all hell was going to break loose, and I was actually going to give a care in the world about it. Instead, I just sort of sat there and watched, with interest, but yet, also a slight sense of boredom in the pit of my mind as I realized that I was just watching this movie, just to watch it. I wasn’t grasping anything about it, what Rodriguez was doing, or what any of the characters were saying. I was just watching it to watch it, and hopefully be entertained by the action scenes; which I was, but even by then it felt like an after-thought in Rodriguez’s mind. If you can give me something to work with, no matter how ridiculous the material is, then I’m all game; but if you play around too much and spin yourself in your own circle of confusion, then I just can’t give a single lick about it, and that’s what happened here.

However, to keep away from making this movie sound like it’s utter crap, I do have to say that some of it did have me intrigued, if only because I liked to see how far Rodriguez came as a filmmaker. Not only did it seem like he had a big budge that he used to its fullest extent, but it also seemed like he could have gone on longer with it and really fleshed it out more, adding more excitement to the final product, and even in a way, making the whole story more cohesive. Why Rodriguez didn’t see this big-budget as an attempt to go on out there and make a movie longer than an-hour-and-a-half, is totally beyond me. I guess he just wanted to confuse the hell out of us because simply: He’s cool like that.

But with a bigger-budget, does come more time for bigger and better names to be apart of your product and this time around, things are a lot better in terms of performances since the heavy-hitters Rodriguez got to come along for the ride, milk the material for all that they got, and then some. Antonio Banderas seems to be having fun playing, once again, El Mariachi, even if it is a shame that he doesn’t quite get as much attention as he definitely should. Also, don’t be fooled with all of the posters and advertising giving Salma Hayek top-billing, because she’s barely in this and even when she is, it’s all through flashbacks. Guess somebody didn’t have the time, or the courage to even bother with another “Mexican movie”. Oh well, her gain, I guess.

Doesn't watch his own movies anyway, so doesn't really matter.

Doesn’t watch his own movies anyway, so doesn’t really matter.

Although I have been bitching and moaning about how El Mariachi doesn’t get as much focus and attention as he should in his own damn movie, I can’t say that I was all that pissed off because the person taking his spot was none other than Johnny Depp himself who, in a very rare role, plays a weird guy, who also seems like he could be a human-being. Yup, believe it or not, Depp can actually play real characters, who have real emotions and feelings, and even though that’s somewhat weird to be talking about in a Robert Rodriguez movie, it doesn’t matter because Depp steals the show here and lets everybody know that any movie with him starring in it, is lucky to have him in the first place. He’s fun, quick, punchy, random, a bit of an a-hole, and above all else, an energetic mofo that doesn’t lose his comedic-timing no matter how deep his story-line gets, or how much focus of this movie has been thrown around all over the place. Single handedly, Depp saves this movie and makes me long for the days when he could do a role like this, and everybody would still be surprised and not know what to expect next from his eclectic-self. Nowadays, we’re getting 5 Pirates movies. 5?!?!?!

Like Johnny Depp in this movie, other famous faces show up and have some fun, more some than others. Willem Dafoe as a Mexican drug lord is a random bit of casting, but one that works well in the long run because it’s so bizarre, that you can accept it for what it is; Mickey Rourke plays his disloyal henchman who walks around with a little dog the whole movie, and seems like a real softy underneath the big-guy, macho man outer-exterior; Danny Trejo shows up again in this trilogy, but plays some different character, while also, at the same time, not playing a different character since they were both lethal and deadly sons-of-bitches; and Enrique Iglesias, as random as his casting may be, still does well as one of El Mariachi’s fellow mariahchis, which, I guess is a joke because in case you didn’t know by now, this mofo can sing!

Consensus: It’s probably the dumbest out of the whole trilogy, and yet, that still isn’t enough to make Once Upon a Time in Mexico the best, mostly due to the fact that there’s just too much going on, with too many people, in such a short time-limit, that you just stop caring and beg that Rodriguez decides that he’s bored too and wants to see people’s heads blown-off.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

It's like deja vu, all over again. Except, a bigger budget! Actually, WAY bigger budget!

It’s like deja vu, all over again. Except, a bigger budget! Actually, WAY bigger budget!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

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The Wrestler (2008)

I’m sure Hogan really does know what’s best.

Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, an aging professional wrestler who continues to wrestle matches in an attempt to cling on to his 1980′s heyday despite his failing health, while also trying to mend his relationship with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and find romance with a stripper (Marisa Tomei).

Some of you may not know this (and if you do, mucho brownie points go out to you), but back in the day, I used to be a hardcore wrestling fan. Yeah, I knew it was fake. Yeah, I knew that the two guys dressed-up in speedos that were beating the shit out of each other didn’t really hate each other outside of the ring. And yeah, I knew it was a bit childish for a kid that was in 8th grade, but you know what? I watched it and loved it all for the same reasons I watch and love movies so much: entertainment-value. That’s what’s so fun about wrestling that you don’t need to have a brain, a PHD, or even a job to enjoy wrestling, you can just watch it and have a good time. Seriously, if you don’t watch a single match of professional wrestling, then you my friend, are totally lying to yourself.

However, as much as I may patronize the other people out there who don’t feel the same as I do when it comes to half-naked men rolling around and beating each other up, I still feel the same about this movie as any other professional wrestling fan in saying that I love this movie, not just because it shows some legitimacy and real-danger to a piece of entertainment that has been the butt of every joke since the 80′s, but because it shows us what wrestlers are when they aren’t in the ring: real people. Maybe that’s nothing new we haven’t already heard from countless other stories of the same-nature, but what I think makes this approach so different and timeless, is the fact that director Darren Aronofsky makes us feel as if we are there, along for this depressing, dark, and tormented ride.

Nothing says family-daughter bonding more than aimless walks on a deserted New Jersey Boardwalk.

Nothing says family-daughter bonding more than aimless walks on a deserted New Jersey Boardwalk.

This is probably the most normal piece of material that Aronofsky has ever touched and to be honest, you would not be able to tell from watching this that this was the same guy who made a movie where people get sped-up high for an hour and 40 minutes. There’s nothing flashy that Aronofsky pulls off here with the camera but what he does do with the camera, is actually make us feel as if we are there, in a sort of documentary-style way. The camera literally follows Randy wherever he goes and it’s sort of like a TV news crew just found the guy, decided to put the camera on him, and just let real life roll for the guy. It gives us a very candid, fly-on-the-wall look at this story and makes us feel as if everything we see, hear, feel is as natural as it can get. That’s not just from Aronofsky’s end of the spectrum, that’s from everybody else involved, especially you know who.

In case you couldn’t tell by the “you know who” I was just referencing in that last sentence, I was talking about Mickey Rourke in his perfect-performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. It’s obvious that Randy is based-off of the likes of such wrestling-stars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Ultimate Warrior, and so many other famous-faces of the squared-circle from the 80′s, but don’t let that get to you, because Rourke makes Randy his own piece of originality and thank heavens for that. Seriously, I think Mickey is in every single shot of this movie and in some movies, to some people, that would probably be torture that you would have actually had to pay to see for 2 hours, but instead with this movie and this performance, it’s the total-opposite. You will never want to take your eyes off of Mickey and all of the subtle nuances he pulls-off with his facial-expressions. You can tell that there is a battered and beaten soul underneath all of the tanned skin, blonde hair, and chiseled-up, but aging muscles, and you never forget that you’re watching Randy, even if Mickey totally takes over the whole-movie.

As sad as this character may be, Mickey brings out so much fun, excitement, and joy within this guy that you just can’t help but feel like you too would want to share a beer and play Nintendo with him as well. You can tell that a lot of the scenes here are totally ad-libbed from Mickey and it just gives this movie more of a natural feel, as if Mickey decided to walk into the shoot everyday, do his part, but also have a lot of fun with the rest of the cast as well. As I said before, you are never going to want to take your eyes off of Rourke here because he always has something to show you, always has something to surprise you with, and best of all, always has something to make you fell more and more for this guy, no matter how much he screws-up.

If more strippers looked like Marisa Tomei, I'd probably be broke.

If more strippers looked like Marisa Tomei, I’d probably be broke.

There is so much about this character that just screams, “PREDICTABLE, PREDICTABLE, PREDICTABLE!”, but Mickey is above that and makes this guy feel like he has more of a heart than you could ever expect from a low-life like him. Every chance that Randy gets to make life happy for himself and the others around him, he finds his own way of just screwing it up and rather than being pissed at this guy and losing all hope in him, you’re still pissed at him but feel as if he can change, and feel like he just deserves a break. That’s the work of magic from Rourke, because he is able to give us a character that is so selfish, so idiotic sometimes, and so burnt-out without ever admitting it, but yet, still have us love the guy to death and feel as if we are cheering him on, just as much as his wrestling fans are. It’s one of the best performances I have ever seen and it’s one that Rourke was freakin’ robbed of and without Mickey, this film just would have not succeeded. Yeah, if they went with Nic Cage like they had originally-planned, things would have been a hell of a lot different come Oscar-time.

Another character that is basically Randy “The Ram” but with tits and more naked than he is throughout the whole movie, is Marisa Tomei as Cassidy. Tomei is playing the usual, “hooker with the heart of gold” role, but knowing Tomei and what she can do with any role you throw at her, she changes it up and makes her feel more raw than you’d ever expect from this gal. Cassidy is a lonely, sad, and aging piece of work, just like Randy, but still feels the need to push the ones away from her that still may make a difference in her life. Watching her and Randy interact with one-another, shoot the shit, and pretty much start to connect with each other more than they have with anybody else, is a thing of beauty and I think all of that is mainly because of the chemistry between the two. Evan Rachel Wood is good as Randy’s estranged daughter, Stephanie and even if she may be the weakest-link out of the three, that still doesn’t mean jack shit because she is still so good, providing us with great insight into a character that wanted to be loved and held, just as much as Randy does now.

Still fake, right?

Still think it’s fake, right?

These three performances are mainly who tie this film together with it’s neat and nice little bow at the end, but I’m telling you, this flick will take you down a dark, sad road you may feel very affected by. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not totally depressing and in-fact, will actually have you laughing a good, couple of times throughout. However, when the film wants to make you feel any type of emotion that has to do with sad, heartfelt, or touching, it hits the spot right away. You can say that’s because of Rourke, you could say that’s because of Tomei, and you could that’s because of Aronofsky, but I say it’s every single piece of this puzzle is what makes it so damn near-perfect, and yes, after 4 years and seeing it just about 5 times, I still cried my eyes-out like a big freakin’ baby and you know what? That’s alright with me, because once Monday Night hits, I’m watching RAW baby!

Consensus: Whether or not you’re a fan of professional wrestling, won’t matter because The Wrestler is about more than just a bunch of guys fake-fighting in a trampoline/ring. It’s a perfectly-acted, somber-look at the life of a broken and depressed old-man that is starting to come to terms with where his life is going, why it’s headed there, and what he can do to make right again. It’s an emotional-trip that still hits me where it hurts all of these years later.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

Sad to say, but at this stage in Ric Flair's career, Mickey Rourke probably has more wrestling-skills than him.

Sad to say, but at this stage in Ric Flair’s career, Mickey Rourke probably has more wrestling-skills than him.

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

See, this would have never happened if more people had cats!

Colin Farrell stars as a struggling screenwriter named Marty, who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu.

Even though I heard a lot of hype surrounding it way back in 2008, In Bruges still surprised the hell out of me. Not only was it hilarious and violent (the way I like my mobster-like movies), but also surprisingly touching considering the characters were just a bunch of cold-blooded hit-men when you think about it. That was easily one of my favorite movies of that year and that is why I was looking forward so much to seeing what writer/director Martin McDonagh could do next. Thankfully, it’s the same type of stuff around again but this time, with dogs. Even better.

What I liked most about McDonagh’s script and what he does with this story, is he pulls no punches, and makes no apologies for where he goes with it. Right from that memorable first scene, we already know what we are getting ourselves involved with: a slightly off-kilter, type of movie that will kill when it needs to. That’s how I like my crime movies and this one is no different, but there’s more of a darker-edge to it that really works, especially in the comedy-aspect of this movie. There are a couple of jokes here and there that will really fly by people (as it did to me), but what always hit me hard was when McDonagh would have his characters practically dissect what it is that we usually see in movies that are in the same vein as this one, or In Bruges for that matter.

This is made possible because of the fact that Farrell’s character is a movie screen-writer, working on a script while all of this crazy shit is happening, which allows McDonagh to not only go balls-out in the fantasy sequences, but give his own two-cents on what it’s like to make a crime movie that has so many obvious conventions that it’s almost too hard to stray away from. Not only do I love it when movies take certain cheap-shots at movies themselves, but I love when they do it and it’s hilarious, which is exactly what this movie and it’s something I don’t think I’ve stressed enough about this movie. The humor is as dark as you can get, but a lot of other humor bits are intentional and they still work no matter where they are placed in this story. Trust me, you won’t get every single line of funny dialogue, but with the ones you do get, you’ll still be happy and laughing your ass off.

However, as you could expect, it’s not all that sunshine and games with McDonagh and his story as it does get very gruesome at points and may even take you by surprise to the limits it goes. That’s right, characters that you don’t expect to get killed off, do in-fact, get killed off and as heartbreaking and unexpected as it may be sometimes, it still furthers the story on and makes you realize that this is a writer/director that takes no prisoners. This not only adds an extra-level of suspense onto the film, but a whole other layer of heart and emotion to these characters as you feel like any scene with them, could quite literally be their last. It’s something that McDonagh pulls off perfectly and reminded me that this is the type of writer/director we need more of for the crime-genre.

Another thing that more crime-movies should definitely have is an ensemble that we can literally not stop watching. This is exactly what Seven Psychopaths has, and then some. Colin Farrell, once again, stars and plays one of the more cowardly guys in the film, but is the straight-man here, more than anything else as Marty (teehee, gedd it?). Farrell is not only great at playing the straight-man, but also lets a couple of his own weird laughs come through as well and it’s great to once again see this guy stretch his comedy-strength, but also still be able to show that he has what it takes to make an endearing character that we still care for in the end. The only difference between this character, and the one he played in In Bruges, is that we sort of cared for that one more since he seemed so much more innocent, even though he was a hit-man and this guy is a screenplay writer. Actually, that could almost be said about the movie as well, because even though I liked all of these characters and seeing what they did with this material, I wasn’t as emotionally-invested with them here, as I was with the three in McDonagh’s last flick. Maybe it was the size of the ensemble, maybe it was the different sub-plots, or maybe it was just something that made me want to be more entertained and laugh, rather than cry my eyes out. Either way, In Bruges was better in that aspect.

The two cast-members everybody will probably be talking about the most coming out of this film are none other than Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, the two infamous dog-nappers who start this whole shit-storm in the first-place. Rockwell is one of these actors who comes close to stealing the show in every movie he does, but somehow, just hasn’t gotten that big-break he so rightfully deserves just yet, but I don’t think he has to wait any longer. His character as Bill is a pretty wacky and wild one that seems like he came straight-out of a Tarantino movie, but has more than meets the eye with him. You think that Bill is just a total psycho that does stupid things because he has nothing else better to do, but you realize there’s a reason for doing all of the stuff he does and as twisted as it may be (and trust me, it is), in a way, it’s a bit sweet as well. Rockwell is great at playing both sides of this character and I really, really, really do hope this catapults his career to even higher-lengths than he could have ever imagined. Seriously, the guy deserves it and I could totally see him winning an Oscar sooner or later.

Then, of course, we got the always awesome and delightful Christopher Walken doing his best, well, you know, “Christopher Walken”. As unoriginal and lazy as that idea may come off as, it isn’t in the least-bit because Walken is having an absolute ball with his role here as Hans and it reminds you why this guy is such an icon in the first-place. All of the lines that Walken’s given, he nails in that deliberate-delivery of his that’s always great, and all of the emotions he has to emphasize with this character, works but not just because he’s an old-cook, but because he’s a sweet, endearing, old man that seems like he could still kick anybody’s ass, if he’s pushed to that point. Basically, it’s Christopher Walken, playing Christopher Walken and what’s better than that? Nothing at all.

Rounding out the rest of the cast is Woody Harrelson as the crazed mob-boss who goes looking for his doggy like any other pet-lover. Harrelson is a very diverse actor in the way that he is able to have us love him when he’s being the typical, cool guy we all know and love him for, but is also able to have us despise the hell out of him when he’s playing an absolute d-bag that can’t be trusted. Harrelson plays with both sides of the quarter here where he shows us his sinister side, but also allows us to see his charming side whenever he’s actually around his doggy or has to think of it being taken away from. It’s a great role for him but in all honesty, I would have loved it even more if they gave it to Mickey Rourke like they originally planned as it would have been downright hilarious with that nut in the role. Playing another nut-case in this film is Tom Waits, who shows up with a bunny and tells his side of being a psycho killer. Waits is here, essentially, as an extended cameo but it’s still fun to see him show-up and do something really random and weird. That’s how we love to see the guy and that’s how we always want to see him.

The other two in this leading-cast are the two gals (Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko) and they were the two ones I was the most disappointed by when it was all said and done. They aren’t really given much to work with, other than a bunch of one-dimensional lines that don’t do anything for their characters, other than make us wish that they’d just be gone and allow this to be a strictly-sausage party, but it was also lame how McDonagh didn’t really give them much to play around with in the first-place. Seriously, it seems like Cornish and Kurylenko could have had some of their own fun in-between all of the dudes just fartin’ around, so why not give them something, Martin?

Consensus: Seven Psychopaths will take most viewers by surprise by how dark and sinister it can get, but most viewers will also find themselves having a ball with the excellent script, spirited ensemble, and a story that’s not only hilarious, but unpredictable in the way you have no idea where the hell it’s going to g0.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Finally, they got tired of the retirement home and decided to fight back.

Hot off their latest mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his ragtag team of mercenaries are pulled right back in the game when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) presents them with a new assignment. It should be easy—to travel to Albania and retrieve a briefcase carrying a blueprint of a plutonium mine. The villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), isn’t exactly quaking in his boots, but he probably should be. There is exactly no chance whatsoever Barney will allow him to escape with his life.

I know I’m going to catch a lot of hot water for this but I actually liked the first Expendables. I thought it had awesome action, an ensemble cast of action stars that I missed seeing on the big-screen, and provided me with enough laughs to even everything else out. Yeah, the story may have been terribly lame and the action wasn’t non-stop, but at least it was fun and that’s more than I can say about plenty other Summer, action blockbusters that came out in 2010. Thankfully, with more back-up and some new faces, this sequel does a whole lot better and keeps everything moving in just the right way.

Since being writer, director, producer, and the main star of the original one proved to be too much for him, Stallone decided to take it easy on this one and allow Simon West to take over the director duties and what a great decision that was! Going into this film, I wanted action, action, action, and well, more action, and that is exactly what I got from West’s direction. In the first 10 minutes of this flick, we get a huge, loud, and explosive set piece that shows the guys running around, shooting and killing people while dropping corny one-liners for fun and to be honest, it got me in the mood for what I was about to get for the rest of the movie. It was also a surprise to see a lot of wide shots used for the action as well as some nifty editing tricks to where we could actually the action as it happened.

There is a story to be had here, but in all honesty, who gives a shit about that when you got these guys! There’s a whole lot of mayhem to be seen here and everybody here takes total and complete advantage of that and makes this flick seem like it was a lot more deserved in the action department, than the first one. I wanted loud, insane, crazy, and intense action and for the most part, West delivered on that and sort of gave me the old-school action movie feeling I wanted with the first one but instead, only got here once he put his magical touch on it. It also helps that these guys seem like they’re all having the times of their lives making this movie, and you can’t help but feel the same exact thing and join in on the festivities. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I got and for that, I am very thankful.

However, as fun and action-packed as this movie may have been, there were still some quibbles I had with it in that department. All of the action seemed to happen with just guns and explosives. We do actually get a couple of fist-fights here and there, but it seemed like they cheated out on that mainly because the guys are getting a little too old to be flying around, simulating beating the crap out of one another. I guess after Stallone broke his neck during filming in the first one, they decided to settle down on that aspect, but it still worked none the less despite all of my bitching.

You also can’t help but laugh unintentionally at this film at times, too. There is a story here so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much but where it was going, how it was going, and why it was going there all seemed a bit cheap for my tastes and it gets very sentimental at one part, for which I didn’t even really care about. Let me just say this without spoiling anything, a character gets killed off in the beginning and it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t make a difference one bit. It sort of just happens and we don’t care which is kind of a bummer considering these are characters and performers we should love and care about, especially when their lives may be in one degree of danger. That rarely happens in action movies like these but let’s just forget about those conventions and try to suspend reality for a bit.

The ensemble for the first flick was great, but this one, well, it’s even better where we finally get to see some of the most iconic and popular action stars in one, big, action orgy. It’s a pretty neat thing to see, especially when they are all at the top of their game as well. Sylvester Stallone does a great job as the core of the film, and still looks fit and clean to the point of where you could imagine him not only having the brains, but also the guns (both kinds of guns) to kick anybody’s ass; Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, and it’s probably the best type of role he can play out there and that’s all that matters to me; Dolph Lundgren was hilarious and steals probably half of the scenes he’s in just being the normal, goofy, Swedish dude we all know and sometimes love him for; Nan Yu brings some estrogen to the mix and does a fine job of holding her own when it comes to kicking ass and taking names; Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all back for what seem to be extended cameos, but still get the chance to mow down some mothaeffa’s and sprinkle out some awesome one-liners that show them exactly why they were so requested for this movie; and let’s not forget about Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said about that.

Everybody else that I didn’t mention is pretty much in the background but still does their own thing, which is good, but the real star of this whole cast is probably the ultimate return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a major, action blockbuster. It’s been awhile since Van Damme has been in anything this big before and it’s a great return-t0-form for this dude because he still does all of the same awesome shit that we loved him for before. He’s still got the signature kicks in him, still oozes the charisma that makes him such a watchable presence in the first place, still is in great shape, and still can play somebody that we hate so damn much, but yet, we can’t get enough of. In my opinion, Van Damme stole the show for me and I hope that this gets his name out there once again and brings him back to the major, Hollywood blockbusters he at one point owned every time.

Consensus: While it doesn’t win any points in its character development, emotional story, or incredibly original writing, The Expendables 2 wins mucho points in providing plenty of kick-ass action, a look at some of the greatest action stars in the biz, and a fun time at the movie theaters that gives us one last bang for the Summer. Sucks to say it, but it’s just about over people and what a way to go out.

8/10=Matinee!!

Immortals (2011)

Oooooooooh sooo shinnnyyy.

In Ancient Greece, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) searches for a powerful weapon that will free the bloodthirsty Titans and enable them to overpower the gods and enslave mankind. Unable to interfere directly, the gods choose a champion to defend them: Theseus (Henry Cavill). Theseus gathers a ragtag band of warriors, including priestess Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and slave Stavros (Stephen Dorff), to meet the challenge.

Director Tarsem Singh is not a dude I know very well when it comes to his films but from what I know they are beautiful. This is one of those cases here.

The great aspect Singh brings to this film is that everything here is filmed with these bright and vibrant colors that are mixed in with these sets. Some are CG and some are actually real, but either way, everything here just looks beautiful and filmed with this style that almost reminds me of a painting of some sorts that I would see on the ceiling of a church. Probably one of the best looking films of the year and another reason for me to actually go out there and look at this dudes movies.

However, as my 4th grade teacher would always tell me, “beauty is only skin-deep”, which is sadly the case for this film. The problem with this film is that the writing is so generic and lame that nothing seems to really stand-out other than the beautiful colors and ass-kicking action. These characters talk as if they were straight out of a ‘300‘ sequel and there’s no real emotional drive to this film that makes you root for these “people” as they go on and fight the big war.

Also, I never understood just what the hell was up Hyperion. Hyperion wants to wage this huge war on the Gods but he never has a big enough reason and when he does finally say it, I couldn’t take it as that seriously. It could have been fleshed out a bit more, through maybe a flashback here and there but instead was just left in the air. Oh yeah, the reason why he starts the war with the Gods is because his wife and kids die from a disease/sickness. Makes perfect sense, right?

There are also parts to this film where everything seems to drag on and on to the point of where you just want somebody to do something effin’ crazy. All of those epic and intense battle sequences you see from the trailers and everything, is here, but at the end of the film when the rest of it is just about these 3-5 people going after Hyperion. It’s not like the whole film is boring it’s just that the slow parts, seemed to drag on so much more because of the action being as great as it is.

Speaking of the action, it’s freakin’ awesome. Everything is shot so colorfully that the mix of blood and gore fully makes this film a fun treat, especially when the action starts to get bigger, louder, and a lot more epic. You don’t have the normal slow-mo sequences that almost every action director tries to do nowadays, which gives you time to enjoy all of the men spearing, beheading, pulverizing, impaling a whole lot more at a quick and fast pace. When the action happens, it’s fun, bloody, and stylish the problem is that it just happens after some very long periods of dragging.

The real spectacle this film is also trying to high-light is the big-screen U.S. debut of Henry Cavill who plays Theseus, and is also going to be playing Superman. He does what he can with this script and I think he really does have what it takes to be a great Superman because he just has that physically strong and heroish man look to him that will win anybody over.

Mickey Rourke is also having a lot of fun as the baddy, King Hyperion aka the guy who is eating something in almost every scene. It’s awesome to see Rourke having a fun time with a role that he could play for more and more decades to come. Stephen Dorff is good as the comic relief and kick-ass warrior, Stavros, and Freida Pinto is kind of mute and just not doing anything as the “virgin priestess”, Phaedra.

Consensus: Visionary director Tarsem Singh brings so many colorful, vibrant, beautiful, and larger-than-life sets to this film that it almost makes Immortals feel like some sort of dream filled with bloody and fun action, but also a lame script and long moments of boredom in between all of the slashing and killing.

6.5/10=Rental!!

The Rainmaker (1997)

This is what Coppola has done ever since his days of The Godfather. But that’s not so bad.

When Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon), a young attorney with no clients, goes to work for a seedy ambulance chaser, he wants to help the parents of a terminally ill boy in their suit against an insurance company (represented by Jon Voight). But to take on corporate America, Rudy and a scrappy paralegal (Danny DeVito) must open their own law firm.

Director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, etc.) is a guy known for making classics, but has recently fallen off the map. However, even an OK effort by him isn’t so bad.

Coppola does a very good job with this script because he just directs this the way it should be directed. He isn’t really trying to go for any big emotional punches with this story, he just shows what this court case is all about and how to win it basically. I actually found this more entertaining than anything else because I just want to watch a courtroom drama, and I don’t really need some big life-lesson out of it.

The screenplay is also very well done here and not only has a lot of good moments where their all in the courtroom “duking it out”, but there are also a lot of moments of actual comedy that had me laughing a lot much to my surprise.

However, there are still problems that lie here. The problems that Damon’s character has to go through to win this case, aren’t so deadly as the film makes it seem to be. His character is made to be looking like he’s struggling against all odds, when really he’s just a rookie lawyer going up a lawyer who’s been in the game for about 30 years. I mean yeah, that is pretty nerve-raking but the film made it seem like he would never be able to pull it off, when in reality, it was pretty obvious he could.

Another problem with the movie is the sometimes ridiculous names these characters were given. A major insurance company named “Great Benefit” seems just a little corny to me, as does a sneaky lawyer named “Deck Shifflet,” and a woman who is looked on by her insurance company as a piece of trassh, named “Dot Black.” I mean, come on, you actually expect me to believe these almost comic-book-like names.

The real benefit of this whole film is the cast that really brought these characters to life. Matt Damon is charming here as our hero, Rudy Baylor; Danny DeVito is perfect as this sneaky and shady para-lawyer named Deck Shifflet; Mary Kay Place is good and emotionally there as a mother; and Claire Danes is sort of chilling in her performance as Kelly Riker, who has to constantly put up with the assault from her hubby. There are also some nice little spots in here from the likes of Virginia Madsen, Mickey Rourke, Roy Scheider, and a randomly uncredited, Danny Glover as our judge. He was probably getting too old for that shit too! OK that was lame I know.

The best out of the whole cast though is Jon Voight as this smarmy and ruthless lawyer named Leo F. Drummond, who on paper seems like a totally cliche and predictable character, but the way Voight plays him makes this character a great guy you just love to hate because you can always see that he’s one step ahead of everyone else. The film brings no actual surprises but at the end of the film, there’s this little touch that the film provides and basically tells us that even when you win, sometimes you lose, and this is what Voight shows perfectly.

Consensus: The Rainmaker may not offer any real surprises, but the strong direction from Coppola and the good performances from this ensemble cast, keeps this film watchable and interesting as it goes along.

7/10=Rental!!

The Expendables (2010)

It’s like a family reunion, except with more explosions, and steroids.

Barney (Sylvester Stallone) leads a ragtag band of hired guns charged with overthrowing a South American despot, a job no official military unit is willing to touch. But once on the ground, the team learns there’s more to the mission than they were told. Their next move determines whether they survive — or are, indeed, expendable.

Ever since I heard of this films first being talked about last year, I was instantly already pumped for this to actually come out. I was a big fan of the action films, that took over the 80′s and early 90′s, and seeing all my favorites on the big screen, is like my fantasy (no homo).

The film’s plot is how should I say, just terrible. There is plenty of plot holes that doesn’t quite explain a whole lot about the story, and it does not make any sense as it goes on even longer. Also, the screenplay isn’t terribly written but at times it does feel a bit lazy. The jokes are some what funny, but the film tries to be dramatic at times, and it doesn’t work, and is just pretty weak.

But that’s not what this film is all about, it’s all about guns, killing people, explosions, knives, shootings, more explosions, and by the end of it all, laughing it all off, and having a good time. For the most part, the action was awesome. There was defiantly plenty of action to satisfy all action lovers needs, but I just wish there was more than what I was given. The beginning, and the final 35 minutes deliver on the action very well, but I can’t quite say the same for the middle parts. Overall, the action was great to watch, and for once I could actually see what was going on, instead of having to be totally confused, because of the constant swerving of the camera.

The ensemble cast had me first interested because it has all of my favorites from the era of those action films, as well as some other ones. However, it doesn’t use all of them to their full potential, instead the film is more focused on Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and Jet Li, while everybody else is sort of just side characters for the story. However, all three are good and bring a lot to the screen, and when their not killing people, they have great times on screen together. Others in the cast that are good when their on screen is, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The main villain here is portrayed by Eric Roberts, who I think knows that he shouldn’t be taken seriously, cause I really couldn’t with this film as a bad guy, but if that was the type of performance he was channeling, than he does a great job with it. There are also two good cameos from Bruce Willis, and the guy that hasn’t been around forever, that’s right bitches, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It isn’t the greatest cameo ever in the world of cinema, but it’s always good to see a long lost action hero, back on screen.

Consensus: The Expendables, may have a bad plot, and problems with its script, but it does provide plenty of the action it promised, and the cast still does provide plenty of fun for everybody.

7/10=Rental!!!

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Why is Tony Starks such a total d-bag all of a sudden.

Wealthy inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — aka Iron Man — resists calls by the American government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has constructed his own miniaturized arc reactor, causing all kinds of problems for our superhero. Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson co-star in director Jon Favreau’s sequel based on Marvel comic book characters.

After seeing Iron Man, back in 2008, I was totally in love with Iron Man, and the series that was to be. However, I can’t say that I enjoyed this one as much.

First of all, the writing in this film is very top-notch compared to the first one. I can’t remember the last superhero movie that I actually laughed, or chuckled, the whole time through the film. There’s a huge deal of one-liners, that work, and some do not, but it was just better to get a not so serious superhero film.

I think the main problem with this movie is that it has the same thing all superhero films go through: sequelitis. Sequelitis is when a sequel to a very famous film, gets too over-powered with characters, run time, and overall too much story. The film starts off fine with good action here and there, but by the 1 hour mark gets totally dry beyond belief. For a long time, there just wasn’t anything happening, other than the fact that Starks was a total alcoholic (without the film really saying it), and some scenes with Rourke and Rockwell being bad boys. If you take away the sexy people, and big explosions, you really just have a film about one arrogant defense contractor, against another arrogant defense contractor.

Many elements to this story could have been better but instead were just dry. The villain Ivan Vanko is actually a good one surprisingly, mostly due to the fact that the film sets him up to be this totally intimidating guy, with lightning bolts for hands, and a Russian accent that would make Ivan Drago crap his pants. However, the films waters him down with not enough screen-time showing him doing nothing bad or villainous, and showing more evil from Rockwell’s character. The addition of Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson makes no sense what so ever, other than just trying to hype up the Avengers films, which are starting to get pretty annoying now. Listen, I understand that sometime in the future there may be an Avengers film, but in the mean time stop hyping it up to the point, of where there seems to be no use for a film to hype it up, rather than a film that’s just hyping another film up anyway. I know that last sentence was totally confusing, but its hard to explain.

I will admit however, the film does show great action when it does have it, and the actors are able to fill the shoes. Downey Jr. is perfect as this charming, sort of snobby millionaire Tony Starks, and you can really tell why he is a perfect choice for this type of super hero. Paltrow is doing what she does best, playing the strong female companion, with enough sense to be believable. Don Cheadle is also replacing Terrence Howard, and does well with picking up the scraps from Howard’s previous performance, but he just is not on the screen as much as I think he could have been. Sam Rockwell is the real star, and totally steals almost every scene he’s in, and shows how superhero villains are supposed to be played even without all the crazy action.

Consensus: Iron Man 2 has charming performances from the cast, good humor, and enough action to satisfy, however, hits a block in the middle of the film where it lags on, and starts to become a cheap, lame excuse for the Avengers movie.

7/10=Rental!!!

Desperate Hours (1990)

Random hostages don’t always work in the best way.

Director Michael Cimino’s thriller centers on a separated couple, Tim (Anthony Hopkins) and Nora (Mimi Rogers), who wind up housing and trying to trap escaped psychotic killer Michael Bosworth (Mickey Rourke). Until Bosworth’s accomplice (Kelly Lynch) shows up to take him to Mexico, he attempts to elude FBI agent Brenda Chandler (Lindsay Crouse). Meanwhile, Tim and Nora broach their marital troubles in the face of terror and desperation.

The film is your basic home invasion film. Director Cimino (The Deer Hunter) tries to put a whole new different meaning to this film, and try to make it something other than a home invasion movie, where basically all of is staying in the house and being treated poorly.

I never understood why Rourke felt the need why this one house break-in was so desperate and needed. It almost came to me as random, why would he just choose this one house to basically invade and torture?

The thing that got me going with this film was a lot of the way it was actually based around, and that was suspense. It actually has a lot of genuine moments where you are on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next to this family, and these criminals, who you really despise.

The writing isn’t so top-notch and at times is a bit cliched. I feel like the film could have been a lot more dramatic by adding a lot of flavor and freshness to its writing so it could have been a lot more effective. Also, that annoying, and almost at times comical music score just annoyed the crap out of me. It felt like I was watching a film in 1990 with the old 1922 score.

The thing that saves this film is that its performances from the two leads are actually very very good. Hopkins gives his usual bad-ass character, that keeps his strength through the whole film and never loses a sense of pride. The best here is Rourke who proves to be so unlikable, and just so hateful, that his charm at times almost makes you forget he’s a total dick head.

Consensus: Desperate Hours doesn’t have the best writing and features some plot holes, but is all about suspense, and delivers on that level as well as the performances from Rourke and Hopkins.

5/10=Rental!!!

Diner (1982)

One of the best places to hang out no matter how old you get is always going to be, the diner.

Set in 1959 Baltimore, writer-director Barry Levinson’s debut film focuses on a group of pals on the brink of adulthood who find solace at the local diner. The late-night banter between groom-to-be Eddie (Steve Guttenberg), best man Billy (Tim Daly), womanizer Boogie (Mickey Rourke), music addict Shrevie (Daniel Stern) and quirky Modell (Paul Reiser) ranges from girls to growing up and getting old. Ellen Barkin and Kevin Bacon also appear.

This movie defines nostalgia…and who doesn’t think about the past…past friendships and experiences…mostly with a smile. It brings you back to a good old time that you used to have with your buddies always discussing topics about life.

This film is not necessarily a coming-of-age film as much as it is a period piece about these friends and their lives. There is one attitude that goes around this film that isn’t very talked about is the fear of women. There are these movies that show these macho guys going around drinking beer, driving motorcycles, and always having a good time. However, in Diner this attitude is a lot more perceptive, these guys are afraid of women and they see them as an undiscovered country as seen by many scenes in this film.

The writing from Barry Levinson in this film is just superb. He really does show he has a knack for hilarious but at the same true realistic dialogue. Many lines in this film are funny, that also go along with the scenes and make the scenes a lot more better, than you would expect.

One of the most extraordinary things that the film does is that we feel like we know these characters our whole lives. Levinson directs the film in a way so that everybody involved in this film gets a chance to show who they are and their personalities. Its one of those films that I actually felt like I understood who these people were, when the film was over.

The one problem I had with this film was that some scenes were very memorable but their weren’t just enough of those memorable scenes. I think the one problem is that the film does lag at points to where it gets borderline boring, but not enough to totally throw my attention away.

The acting by this very young cast is what makes it even better. Out of the whole cast Mickey Rourke is the best I can name. He is a total womanizer having no feelings for the chicks in general, just their bodies, but by the end of the film he makes a great transition to where you see him as a sympathetic heartfelt guy, and I think as charming as he is in this performance, he does one of the best jobs.

Consensus: Diner does lag at points, but has wonderful dialogue, charming performances, and realistic attitudes about life that bring you back to great times in your life that you remember the most and cherish.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Double Team (1997)

Note to future action movies: Professional Athletes cannot act!!

Jean Claude Van Damme plays counter-terrorist agent Jack Quinn, who is assigned to bring an elusive terrorist known as Stavros (Mickey Rourke) to justice. Things become personal when Stavros kidnaps Quinn’s pregnant wife after his own lover and child were killed in an assassination attempt that went awry. Aiding Quinn in his rescue is his flamboyant weapons dealer Yaz (Dennis Rodman).

Double Team is not a movie you think about for one second. It is basically a gimmick to put together a big-time action star with a big-time basketball star and put in absurd situations with a lot of special effects.

This is not as bad of a Van Damme film as some would expect, it’s just not good. The one thing that makes this film good is it’s well played action. Many of the scenes featured either gun fights or martial arts fights and I found this to be very entertaining. They weren’t slow or absurd, at times I found them fun and nice to watch.

When, the action isn’t happening though the plot just cuts right through. Some of the scenes where nothing is happening is pretty boring and highly unintelligent work. Much ado to the screenplay which calls out for some really dead dialogue.

With a Van Damme film you may know that there are obviously a lot of those bad one-liners, and to be truly honest they are worse than that. At first, they start out small and not to bad, then they just get insane and very corny. Rodman probably has about 15 references to basketball, and every one is basically bad.

This is Rodman’s first feature, and I must say it wasn’t as bad as I would’ve thought. He isn’t given much of a screenplay to work with so he has a very inadequate performance to say the least. Rourke does a pretty good and convincing job at playing the main villain here, and I found him to be the best out of the three.

The one thing that bothered me the most through this whole movie was that it’s score did not match any of the scenes at all. I found it to be quite dumb and not very up-tempo as many of the fight scenes were. I wish they would’ve had a better soundtrack with a little bit more rock or rap that could have made this film actually a little bit better.

Consensus: Double Team has some entertaining action and some good performances, but features a weak plot and some terrible jokes, that are really just made for the sake of being a gimmick.

4/10=SomeOleBullShiittt!!!!

Sin City (2005)

An adventure into a world of hate, crime, and a town ran by a band of prostitues. O god what has the world come to.

The film is primarily based on three of Miller’s works: The Hard Goodbye focuses on a hulking man who embarks on a brutal rampage in search of his one-time lover’s killer; The Big Fat Kill focuses on a street war held between a group of prostitutes and a series of mercenaries; and That Yellow Bastard focuses on an aging police officer who protects a young woman from a grotesquely disfigured serial killer.

Director Robert Rodriguez, who also teams with writer of Sin City comics Frank Miller, is passionately faithful to the look, style, and tone to Miller’s original comic book series.The love that Rodriguez has for his genre of work in this film really does shine and is shown through all of the emotions.

Most of Sin City was filmed in front of a blue screen with digital effects added later, and the look is so stylized that the digital trickery starts to commerce us into Frank Miller’s comic book universe. The look of this film is so visually striking it almost seems at times that you are watching a comic book on the screen. In films today when other graphic novel film adaptations are made what will happen is the director will take the characters and story in put it their own way of style. With Sin City we do not get that as every scene is very faithful to the graphic novel, and we fully feel what the characters feel at that moment.

Each of the actors do great jobs at fully evolving into their character persona’s. The over-the-top narrating job done in each story from Willis, Rourke, and Owen are all so well done that you can totally feel the emotion of the story just through their words. Rourke does the best job I think in this film as the hard nosed son of a gun Marv, and fully shows his true talents of a tough S.O.B. All of the stars make their characters have each different characteristics that are brought up through the film very well.

This film seemed to lack a lot on reality. The certain commitment that Rodriguez has to absolute unreality makes this film hard to get pulled into any of the storys. At times the unrealistic ways became to become too much for me and I started to really kind of become appauled with how far this film could go for the absence of the human factor. This film was so crazy at points that I actually wondered if I could jump from a 5 story apartment building and live to tell the story. Though what in ultimately saved me was these engaging characters and almost made me lose a sense of reality.

The film is ultra-violent without showing any graphic blood depictions as well. The pace of the film is perfect as each scene of violence is handled with ease so it doesn’t become too tiring.

Sin City does well with totally staying faithful to the graphic novels and the visuals are perfect mixed in with some gruesome violence. Though at times this film gets too carried away with being in the state of unbelievable. When you watch this film make sure you surgically remove your brain.

7.5/10=Rental!!

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