Henry and Dean Whipple (Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron) are a father-son duo that are trying to get along, while they are also trying to buy as much farm-land as possible. Henry is all about his job, making money, being with his wife (Kim Dickens), and also being able to lay-around with his gal on the side (Heather Graham). As for Dean: he’s all about racing, causing havoc, being with his gal-pal (Maika Monroe), and having the dream that he will one day become the next big, NASCAR racer. The two don’t get along and can’t really see eye-to-eye on what their lives have turned out to be, but once Henry runs into the possibility of losing the one thing he loves the most (his farm-land), the two come together in surprising ways. Sort of.
The movie’s title, At Any Price, may seem like the dullest in the world. It’s almost as if the creators had a finished-product, but didn’t know how to sell it to the big crowds, so they just decided something that seemed inspirational would work and get people interested. Not for me, which is why I was not expecting anything at all worth while from this flick and for the first hour or so: that’s exactly what I got. Then, something happens in the middle of it all, that not only changes your view on the movie as a whole, but also has the title make more sense than ever. Can’t say what it is, but it will hit you like a ton of bricks, as it did to me. Trust me.
Maybe I’m out-of-the-loop or something, but I’ve never seen director Ramin Bahrani at work. I hear great things about his movies, but just have never given any of them a chance for the sole reason that none of them have ever seemed to really interest me. However, that’s just me and as I can see from his past movies ratings on Rotten Tomatoes: the dude’s got a lovely-following. But as the movie began and the ground-work for the story was being laid; I had no idea why.
It’s not that the dude’s a dull director, actually: it’s the opposite. Bahrani finds a way to paint a portrait of this small town in Iowa that feels and looks as if it should be the little slice of Americanism that you can only get with these types of places, and that’s exactly what it seems like after awhile. He finds beauty in the most simple things, such as a father tending to the rows and rows of corn, or a mother fetching potatoes out from underneath the soil. It’s all there and it all makes you feel at home, but there’s more stuff going on here than meets the eye, and that’s the whole problem right there.
Bahrani takes the over-stuffing of useless characters and subplots, as a way of portraying conflicts among the central characters. Instead of having the character of Henry Whipple just be a guy that’s struggling maintaining a loving-relationship with his son; he’s got to be banging some chick on the side, or his one son (the favorite) didn’t come home when he was supposed to and is out, climbing up the mountains in Argentina, causing even more anger and pain for the man on the inside. But Henry isn’t the only one: Dean goes through the same motions too. Not only does Dean seem to be having daddy-issues; but he also is having problems with his racing-career, being a loyal boyfriend, and is leading a life of crime and hate.
Sounds like too much already for a hour and 45 minute movie? Well, that’s because it is.
If Bahrani left these two central-characters alone, have them face one dilemma each, and leave that be it; then everything would have been fine, dandy, and easier to take in. However, that’s not what Bahrani does and instead, adds more and more context to this story that doesn’t feel needed. Yes, some of it does round-out these characters to make them feel and seem more humane in the way they go about their days together and separated, but it also feels like unneeded melodrama that we could easily deal with if we came home from school and turned on the Lifetime channel. Also, not to mention the fact that the movie goes down some crazy-routes that not only will make you scoff, but just might have you wonder what the hell it is that you’re watching.
But it should be noted, once again, that the one crazy-route that they decide to go down is something I was not expecting in the least-bit, did not know what to make of it at first, and after awhile of thinking and contemplating what it meant to the whole story in a nutshell, I came to the conclusion that it made sense and made the movie a whole lot better as a whole. I’m so damn tempted to go down that dick-headed road and say what it is, but I just can’t. What this final-twist in the story brings to the front, is not just character’s relationships and what each one means to the other, but how they are in everything and anything together.
After all of the strange shit that Bahrani throws at us, he ends on a pretty heartwarming note that touches any person who’s ever been there for a family-member. Whether you noticed that your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, dog, cat, etc. is going through obvious problems or not; you’ve always been there for them when they needed a helping-hand the most. That’s the idea that this movie touches on and despite taking some odd side-streets to get to it’s destination; it still works. Not in the longest-time has there been a flick that I’ve seen, but relatively bored and unsurprised by it, and kick me in the ass, slap me in the face, and open my eyes out of nowhere and change my final-thoughts on the whole-product; what it meant and what message the director was trying to get across. Seriously, once the final-twist comes up: you are going to either run with it and continue to think about it, or throw it in the garbage, and forget about the rubbish you just witnessed. It’s your call. Mine was the former.
Probably the best and most memorable aspect of this whole movie, without a doubt is the fact that after all of these years of showing up in random, bloated CGI-fests like this one, or that one: Dennis Quaid finally gets a role that’s worth his time and effort. Quaid has been one of these actors (refuse to call him a “character actor”), that shows up for work, does what he has to do, and goes on with his day. Nothing more, nothing less. He barely leaves an impression on the viewer, but lets us know that he’s there, if it’s only soeley to collect a paycheck.
All of that better change now, especially after a performance like this as Henry Whipple.
What’s so great about Quaid here is that the dude never seems like he’s phoning it in. Henry Whipple, on-paper, doesn’t seem like a very-complicated character as he’s just a dude trying his hardest to make his son, his wife, and his wallet happy, and leaving it like that. However, Quaid finds a way to make this guy as complicated as ever, which was a total sight to see because with every new scene you get with Quaid on-screen, is another new scene where you find out more about Henry, and his character. You always feel for this guy whenever he’s doing something; whether it be trying to win the heart of his son back again by showing up to his racing matches, or trying to buy-off somebody’s land during a funeral. No matter what the situation may be that the dude finds himself in, you always feel for the dude and has you on-board with his character throughout the whole movie, even when he is fucking up. And trust me: he does. Quaid is amazing and I hope this gets him more and more quality roles in the future, as the dude deserves it. Screw, Meg Ryan! Team Quaid!
That’s not to say the others in this cast aren’t worth talking about, because they all do fine with their lettuce and carrots. It’s just that Quaid is the one with the real meat. Zac Efron is fine as Dean, the troubled-son who doesn’t want to take over the daddy’s business and wants to be a rebel by racing. Efron is fine in the role as he shows off his guns, his good-looks, and his attitude, but the character is thinly-written and feels like he’s trying to go for the same feel of a young-Brando or Dean. Doesn’t quite hit the same marks, but is good with what he’s called on to do.
Playing his mommy is Kim Dickens who knows what’s going down with these two when they are busy at work, and are out in their free-time, but she keeps it all to herself and is good at it. She’s very subtle, but still dramatic to make enough of a difference in the grander-scheme of things. Heather Graham is wasted here as the whore of the town, Meredith, as it seems like she can’t be a normal person without a dick in her or some form of her clothing taken-off. Lastly, to round of the troupe of women we have on display here is Maika Monroe as Dean’s girlfriend who not only likes him for what he is, but also likes his father because of the determined business man he shows to her, as well as everybody else around him. Monroe is a welcome newcomer because she feels like a young gal that’s confused and unknowing about what she wants to do with her life, but still full of love and life. Hopefully, just like with Quaid, this means we get to see more of her in the near-future.
Consensus: At Any Price is a strange movie, but not for the sake of it’s tone or direction. It’s one of those movies that starts off so dull, continues on with same feeling/pace, but ends up taking you by storm with a final-act surprise, giving us a wider-glimpse of these characters, who they are, and what they mean to one another.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Khan or not, it’s still STAR TREK!!! So, shut up!!
The crew of the Enterprise is back! But this time, they are under the guidance of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Whether or not that’s a good thing, people believe in him and will go about his every word. However, his leadership is put to the test when the Fleet is wiped out by a mysterious enemy (Benedict Cumberbatch). Kirk and his crew don’t back down and instead, lead a manhunt to capture “a one man weapon of mass destruction”.
4 years ago, J.J. Abrams did something that no person in their right mind thought was possible: he made Star Trek cool. Yep, that’s exactly right: the dude who brought us Felicity, brought us the most-accessible, and by far, most entertaining Star Trek movie of the whole franchise. I know I may be making some mortal-enemies with that last statement there, but let the record state that I am not a big Trekkie, have watched the show on numerous occasions and have seen about three or four films (at least what I can recall anyway). So yeah, I’m not the biggest Trekkie out there in the world, so yeah, maybe my opinion doesn’t matter in terms of what’s the best and what isn’t of the whole franchise, but do you know who’s opinion does matter? The regular, movie-going audience that got hooked with the last one, and can’t wait to see what this one has got going on, that’s who!
And I think it’s quite safe to say that they are going to have a great time with the latest check-up. Or, at least I hope, because I sure as hell know I did.
The odd aspect behind this whole movie it’s that Abrams doesn’t go balls-to-the-walls with changing anything up here. Instead, we get sort of the same formula for the first one, except a bit of a darker tone. However, I don’t want to really say it’s darker just because the stakes of human-life are a bit higher, but I definitely want to say it’s more “emotional” than the first one, which was more happy-go-lucky in the way that it didn’t want to bother people too much. Basically, this movie is just like the first, but do not take that as insult whatsoever, because I loved that about this movie.
Abrams knows the type of movie he wants to make, and he knows that he’s got to have a little bit of everything for everyone. Yes, even those damn Trekkies get their shout-outs every once and awhile too, and it’s not just the obvious ones neither. There’s a shit-ton of action, some romance, a lot of humor, some sexiness, some drama, and a bunch of scenes that actually may scare you, just by how unexpected they are. But no matter where Abrams takes this movie, it always remains fun in the type of way that you almost feel like you can’t keep up with this movie. It’s sort of like when you’re running, and your friends show up next to you in their hot-ass ride and challenge you to a playful, but somewhat-serious running vs. driving race, and you continue to run your heart out, even though you know at the bottom of your slowly-dying heart you don’t have what it takes to beat the car, let alone even come close to catching up with it. You know what I mean? Kind of? Well, that’s what this flick reminded me of: running-up against my friend’s hot-ass ride.
Don’t get me wrong, neither, because that is nowhere near being a bad thing, especially during the beginning of what seems to be an already-promising Summer. Abrams always gives us something new to view, whether it be some beautiful visuals or something popping-out us in 3D, it doesn’t matter, because it’s always thrilling. In some cases, you could almost say that this movie has too much action, but to that, I’d probably say, “ehh.” The reason I’d say that is because you wouldn’t be wrong with that statement whatsoever, however, I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind their action done when it’s always electric, entertaining, tense, and can keep me as glued to the screen as I was here.
Seriously, even though I know everything’s going to be cool with each and every one of these characters, and whether or not they’re fates will be decided in a gloomy-way by the end, I was still on-the-edge-of-my-seat, just wondering what was going to happen next, to whom, and how the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise was going to feel after all of the tears have been dropped. Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but it was what I was feeling, while I sat all crumbled-up with my large-ass soda and popcorn. I was feeling comfy, cozy, and all easy inside, and then this movie came on and had to ruin everything for a simple man like myself. However, that’s not a negative either. I had fun with this movie, no matter what Abrams decided to throw at the screen and see what stuck, and it just goes to show you that this guy really does have the mastery and the craft to voice a new generation of Star Wars fans for many, many years to come.
Still though: what’s going to happen to his Star Trek franchise? Who knows? Only time will tell on that one, my friends.
Just like the first movie, this Star Trek entry may have the explosions, the cool-gadgets, the Klingons, and the fireworks to catch your pretty, little eyes, but in reality: it’s all about the characters and which ones mean the most to each other. Just in case you were questioning whether Spock and Kirk made up, hugged, and got over their differences, no need to worry; because they haven’t. Yup, they still bicker, argue, and trade quips against one another about choosing logicality-over-impulse and it’s as enthralling to watch as it was in the first movie. It never gets old, despite them having a fight about five or six times here, and you always wait to see what layer of this character is going to peeled-off next, so that the other can capitalize on the vulnerability of the other and show their strength. It’s not all serious though, it’s played for fun and games, but there’s something still really strong between these two that obviously keeps them on the same ground, united, and, well, “friends.” Believe it or not, these two are friends, and this movie shows that many-upon-many of times, all of which, are as compelling and heartwarming as the last. No, Kirk and Spock do not start making-out, but if they did, the reaction would have been filled with more claps than boos.
The two cats playing those iconic characters, respectively, Chris Pine and Zachary Qunto, are still amazing at what they do and show that they have fully grown into these characters with much ease and skill. Pine is as brass as he can get as Kirk, but still shows some ounces of humanity every once and awhile that has us feel like the kid is learning as time goes on, and the stakes continue to get higher for him, and his crew. Quinto is also great as Spock, showing just how smart and thought-provoking he can be with what he says, what he stands for, and what he stands against. Quinto has pretty much mastered the hell out of this role by now, and it’s no surprise that once things start getting a little hectic for Spock in the end, Quinto owns it and makes us feel like Spock will, and forever always be: a bad-ass. I mean, after all, I do own this t-shirt, so I think I know when the guy’s bad-ass and when he’s not. Rarely ever is he the latter.
As for the others along for the adventure, not all of them get as much screen-time as they did with the first movie, but still show each of the acquired-skills and how they all come into play with this story, at least once or twice just to remind us that they are there. Zoe Saldana is good as Uhura, as her and Spock’s relationship is once again, tested to see if they really are worth sticking around and getting all hyped-up over, or if they should just focus their attention on space, and shit like that. A bit obvious for a story like this to go down that route, but both stars handle it like professionals and easily make it a relationship worth caring about, even when danger stares both of them in the eyes, even without a blink. And yes, we all know that Alice Eve’s Carol will eventually play a bigger-role in the franchise sooner or later, but for right now, she’s just here for this and this alone. She’s good when she is called on to do something, but that’s very rare when she isn’t just posing in some misogynistic movie-scene. Not a huge feminist by any stretch of the meaning, but I do know when unneeded is exactly that, and that scene was. At least she’s hot, though.
Even though they don’t get as much adoration and love like they did in the first one, everybody else seems to get their one moment in the sun, and milk it for as long as they can. Simon Pegg is a bigger-part in this story, than he was in the last, and has a great time with the role, but isn’t his usual jokey-wokey self. Yes, Pegg’s definitely funny as Scotty, but the guy helps out a bit more with these plans that makes him less of a fool, and more a smarty-pants, that does smarty-things. Karl Urban is a laugh-out-loud riot as Bones, and shows why his comedic-timing is a thing to behold, even in the darkest of situations. I guess it’s still nice to see when the guy isn’t judging drug-addled crooks, the dude’s still got time to patch everyone up. John Cho gets to have his moment to play in the sun and sand as Sulu, but is mainly there to steer the ship when it needs that ripe-steering, and Anton Yelich is barely even here as Chekov, but I think that’s on-purpose for the whole fact that not many people really care for the dude. Chekov, I mean, not Yelchin. Although, I wouldn’t be too sure that the Trekkies don’t have it out for that guy either. Those mofo’s are crazy.
Most of the hooplah surrounding this movie isn’t about whether it’s good or not, or even better than the first; it’s mainly been all around if the main villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, will in fact be Khan or not. Without diving into any more about this character that may land me in some hot lava, I just want to say that the man is great with this role as he always seems to be one step ahead of everybody else on the Enterprise, and does whatever the hell he can to keep his name, his pride, and his destination clear in sight. The guy’s got some real scary eyes that demand your attention, and it works. You never quite feel like this dude’s going to get away with anything he plans, which in it’s own right, doesn’t make all that much sense to begin with, but you don’t care. All you know about this dude is that he’s a baddie, doing baddie things, and not so much as leaving a post-it for saying “sorry.” Yeah, I know, right? What a total dick!
Has to be Khan, right? I don’t know. I’ll leave that one to you, my friends.
Consensus: Regardless as to whether or not it fully fits in line with the die-hard Trekkies or not, Star Trek Into Darkness is one hell of a ride that’s jam-packed with thrills, emotion, humor, beautiful special-effects, and a feeling that this franchise can, and just might go anywhere and it will always be awesome. Let’s just hope that J-squared doesn’t get too wild ‘n out with Star Wars.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
Now, all who’s left to find is that damn Star Wars Kid.
Although it was originally intended as an inside joke among co-workers, a video of a Winnebago salesman yelling, screaming, and cursing during a shooting for his new commercial spread across the globe like wild-fire. First, it was on VHS tape, then went straight to YouTube, and finally, the whole world. All of this notorious fame earned Jack Rebney the title of “The Angriest Man in the World”. The documentary explores the story of the clip’s origin and how, two decades later, it affects the man who never even knew it existed.
Before I get into this review, you got to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you have never, ever seen the “Winnebago Man” video, ever, then get your ass on over to Youtube, check it out, laugh your ass off, and get back over here.
Okay, solid stuff. Now that you know what all of the fuss is about, I can finally delve deeper into what this documentary really explores.
To be brutally honest, I thought that video was pretty funny back in the day. You know, because it’s all about a simple guy, who’s probably been having the worst day of his life, screams, curses, swats at flies, tries to figure out what the hell the word “accountrement” means, and just yells at every single person who dares walk into his wrath. That stuff was hilarious when I was in 5th grade, when it first came out, but now I’ll just watch it, laugh from time-to-time and that’s just about it. However, this director Ben Steinbauer, really found this stuff not only to be funny, but almost life-changing in a way and it’s surprising to see a guy get over-taken with so much joy and inspiration, by a guy who just drops F-bombs the whole video. But I have to give it to this guy, because he really goes all out in trying to find this Jack Rebney, and even if I wasn’t totally on-board with finding this guy; I have to say that it was a pretty interesting ride in and of itself.
That’s actually where the whole charm of this movie comes into play: through Jack Rebney himself. This is one of those behind-the-scenes, insider-looks at a guy that everybody knows, loves, laughs at, and wants to meet, but hasn’t been seen ever since this video first came on the Y-tube. It’s interesting to see where this guy went, how he looks at the world, what he thinks of the term “internet celebrity”, and also see if this guy really is THAT pissed off all of the damn time. And it’s surprising to see, but yes, this guy really is as miserable in real life as we see him in that video. He’s cranky, he’s old, he’s pissed off at everybody around him for no good reason, but he’s not all that bad of a dude.
I was pretty interested in seeing what was going on with this guy behind those closed doors, but it wasn’t like I was asking for a documentary about this. Then again, what I got to see of Rebney was pretty cool because this guy is somehow able to be a total old fart, with all of his curses and insults, but still be able to be loved by over 50 Y-tube lovers in a room and probably more all over the world. What’s even crazier is that Rebney doesn’t change his personality once and it’s a surprise to see a guy that can be such a miserable git at some points, still have the love and adoration from millions and millions of people all over the globe. Not everything Rebney says is funny, that’s for sure, but when he is pissed off for no reason, it makes you chuckle here and there. Plus, by the end, when you actually see him confront his “internet celebrity” status, it’s actually pretty interesting to see since the guy has pretty much locked himself away from the world for the past 30 years. Wasn’t really begging to see where this guy went with his life and how he was doing, but it’s pretty cool to see what actually does happen to a normal dude that just so happened to be in the right mood, at the right time, at the right place, and in front of the right camera.
However, once you get past Rebney, you start to realize that there isn’t really anything else to this flick other than seeing what happened to one of the first V-list celebrities. Granted, it’s pretty cool to see where Rebney is mentally and physically in life, but we never get to know much about him other than he used to be a writer for CBS and left on his own terms. That stuff actually was interesting, but the film never dives deep into that probably cause this director seemed like he was too afraid to go for the hard and heavy line-of-questioning. He sort of just lets Rebney rant and rave throughout the whole film, which is fine because that’s who he is, but I kind of wanted to know what makes this guy tick (pretty much everything), and just more about him in general. Maybe there was TOO much love and adoration on Steinbauer’s part. Just maybe.
Also, I couldn’t help but think that this documentary is a bit mean-spirited in some of its own ways. Think about it for a second: you’re alone, happy in your life of solitude, free to do whatever you want, have the world all to yourself, have your own little doggy to keep you company, own rifles for protection, and just no real bother from the outside world. Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well, it was for Rebney, who seemed pretty effin’ glad to be living the way he was. That is until Mr. Director had to bring his simple-minded ass up there and bother the poor, old guy. I get that this kid wants to meet “his inspiration for life” and will stop at nothing to do so, but really; think about what that guy wants. I highly doubt Rebney wanted anybody bothering him in his peaceful life, and it’s kind of rude when you think about how this director just walks himself into poor Rebney’s life, without Rebney able to stick up for himself and tell him to beat it. Poor Jack Rebney. I just hope that he’s feeling free and relaxing on his own terms now. Just hope he stays the eff away from that little punk, Ben Steinbauer!
Consensus: Winnebago Man is the type of documentary that’s interesting because of what the human-mind wants to, and must know in order to feel some sort of relief after laughing at this poor, old guy after all of these years. However, it doesn’t seem to go any further other than the fact that dude’s just a slightly-senile, cranky person that wants to be left alone, and probably should have been for the sake of his own health.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
That’s why you gotta fly high, Marriott Inn-style, baby.
It all started on a very-rainy night with a woman getting run over by a limo-driver (John Cusack). After this, the man tries to save her life by bringing her to a motel in the middle of the desert, owned by an odd man named Larry (John Hawkes). There’s no such luck, until a cop (Ray Liotta) with a prisoner in his custody (Jake Busey), comes on by. There might be hope, but there somehow isn’t, considering the more and more people that show up, the more deaths there are. But here’s the kicker: nobody has a single-clue exactly as to who’s killing all of these people in the shadows. It could be anybody. Hell, it could even be YOU, the viewer!! AHHH!!
This movie is such an obvious rip-off of an Hitchcock movie, it’s not even funny. Everything from the strange-o characters, to the tense setting, to the mystery, and hell, even to the actual motel itself. It looks exactly like the one that Norman Bates rented out for anybody that strolled-along, almost to the point of where the actual sign itself continues to flicker on-and-off to portray just how shady the area actually is. Yes, it can get pretty obvious where the creators took their inspiration from, but the distractions go away once the story starts, and ultimately: where the fun really begins.
Going into this movie, thinking that you have a hot-head for detail and knowing what’s good when it comes to any movie, may just have take your high-hat off for this one because it’s a total puzzle in every stretch of the imagination. Every time a new character is brought to our attention, more of a mystery is presented to us, and just when we think we know exactly what this story is all about, where it’s going, and who’s going to end up being the slasher behind the closed-doors; the movie still toys with us and gives us something new to think about. There were countless times in this movie where even I thought I had it all figured-out, but somehow I was stooped, once again.
Movies like this where you can’t trust anyone, not even the director himself (in this case, James Mangold), always are a treat for me to watch because it’s very rare where I actually get to check out a movie that makes me second-guess myself, almost every step of the way. No matter what I thought was right, I was usually wrong. Even by the end once all of the pieces seemed to start to come together, once more, I was slapped in the face with a disapproving look. Not to say it was an insult or anything, but it was more of a slap to wake up, and look at the finer-details in order to see if I could really get on with this movie, and what it was trying to pull.
But most movies like this, with all of the twists and such, remind me of a young-at-heart relationship between two people. At first, all is good. You see where things could go, you get happy, and you start to appreciate everything that you have in front of you, even if you may be stepping-out of your comfort-zone a bit. Actually, maybe even a bit too much for yourself. However, suddenly things go awry and you realize that maybe not everything was as perfect as you once thought it was, and now it’s time for a slight-change. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to over-do everything, show the other person how much you care, and rather than gaining their love and support back, you gain other thoughts and feelings that you didn’t quite want in the first place. You know, the baddie one.
That’s how this movie felt to me. Once everything got ready and going, I was happy and ambitious. I expected the movie to keep me puzzled, glued-in to what was going on, and shock me, every time that it felt like it wanted to. However, things got a little crazy at a certain point that I eventually started to realize that maybe this movie was turning it’s wheels a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the movie for being fun, clever, and original in it’s own type of way, but after awhile, it only went on for so long and so far, that is, until I started to question whether or not this movie even believed in the twists it was throwing at the wall and seeing what stuck, and what sort of just surely, but slowly continued to slide-down the wall.
Then, on the other side of the stadium, I am a bit torn with this movie because I enjoyed myself, had fun, and continued to second-guess myself, even when I was sure that I was correct in my pretentious, critical-ways (hey, it comes with the job). So therefore, I guess it’s all just a judge of character. Whether or not you are able to take the numerous twists the movie begins to launch into the story, is all up to you. For yours truly, some of it worked and seemed smart, whereas some of it didn’t quite work so well and actually seemed goofy. Oh well, that’s just me. Make up your own minds, kids!
But no matter what crazy shit a movie tries to pull, you at least have to give it credit for getting a cast such as this assembled, and allow them to do whatever it is that they can do to make a movie as goofy as this work. Nobody is really playing very far and away from what we’ve seen them do before, but at least they own it and are game for this type of material. At least. John Cusack is good as the ring-leader of the group, who knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to pull it all off so no more people get killed. You see that he has a past where the guy used to be a cop, but suffered a problem that left him emotionally-strained and messed-up in the head, therefore, he left his duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, right? Keep on guessing.
Ray Liotta plays, as you could expect, a cop that has a huge chip on his shoulder with a dangerous criminal in his custody, and a bit of anger-issue. However, as obvious and conventional as this may sound (even for a character played by Liotta), Liotta makes him work because you constantly believe that there is more to this dude than he lets in, even if the character himself doesn’t seem to admit it. Liotta is always good at playing these types of roles, even if it sort of has become a trademark of his by now. That’s fine, though, because the guy seems like he would do the right thing if he had to, but does that mean he’s really a good guy? Keep on guessing.
The only one here who really seems to have a clear-enough conscience not be considered a prime-suspect in all of the killings, is a whore with a heart of gold played by Amanda Peet. I usually love Peet in everything she does, but she seemed a bit annoying here. It wasn’t Peet herself, as much as it was more of her character for having that loud, obnoxious Southern-accent that continued to ring in my ears, even when she wasn’t yelling at somebody for looking at her hot body. Yeah, blame us for this, Amanda!
But they aren’t the only ones in this movie, they’re just the main stars that may (or may not) attract the audience to the wider-show. There’s plenty more where that came from, and they are all great. Clea Duvall plays a young, just-recently married gal that’s having problems with her d-bag hubby; John C. McGinley’s character’s wife is the one who gets hit in the first place and is good at being awkward and twitchy, without reminding me of the legend of all this; John Hawkes is a fun-fit as the type of dude you’d expect to own a motel out in the middle of nowhere (meaning he’s a bit of a creep-o); and lastly, the lovely and equally-as-creepy Rebecca De Mornay is here as an aging, but still very uptight actress that believes she deserves more than she’s given. Art imitating life? Just maybe.
Consensus: Most of what Identity has to offer and whether or not you’ll be able to go along for the ride, is all up to you, the viewer. Twists and turns will occur, and it all depends on whether or not you are game for them. Me, I was quite game, but I will admit that there is some goofiness underneath the blankets of a story that seemed drench in mystery.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
This is how they do Westerns in the land down undaaaaa, undaaaa!
During the 1800s, Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) are captured by the ambitious-sheriff Stanley (Ray Winstone). Along with their psychopathic, blood-thirsty bro Arthur (Danny Huston), they are wanted for a brutal crime. However, both sides of the law don’t really seem to come together until Stanley makes Charlie a seemingly impossible proposition in an attempt to bring an end to the cycle of bloody violence. Will it work? Or will the bloodshed just continue on like it always does?
The film starts off with an action-packed opening, filled with guns shooting, girls screaming, and a bunch of Aussie accents that sound totally bad-ass. This starts off the film perfectly but also gets you off on the wrong-foot. See, it makes you think you’re in for a non-stop, blood-soaking, shoot ‘em up type of Western, when in reality, it’s the slow, melodramatic type where instead of shooting one another, they like to montage about their feelings. Just one of the very smart surprises director John Hillcoat gives us, that doesn’t feel like a rip-off of every other Western to come before it.
After seeing The Road, I realized that Hillcoat has a knack for setting a fine pace not only through his direction, but through his cinematography. The whole film takes place in the Australian Outback and you get a feel that this is a dirty, sweaty, and hot-ass place to be living in and it starts to set in pretty quickly that it all takes a big part of the story considering these people hate living in it, almost as much as you do looking at it. But as dirty and grimy as this flick may be, there are still plenty of beautiful visuals here to just soak up in your system. Whenever you have a film that can perfectly capture what the bloody red sky can look like when it starts to get dark in the middle of the day, then you know you have a keeper on your hands when it comes to visuals.
However, it’s not just all about the look, as dirty and sometimes beautiful it can be, it’s actually all about the tone and pace of the story that really takes over you. Is this film a slow Western that decides to take its time on its story rather than its grisly shoot ‘em up battles? Yes, but that does not mean it’s boring in the least bit. In fact, this film kept me on the edge of my seat at certain points because you don’t quite know where exactly this story is going to turn up, and where it does end up; you are damn sure as hell happy that writer Nick Cave decided to go with it. Hillcoat and Cave work great here together because they keep the story flowing smoothly and methodically, and make it seem like they are constantly on the same pace with what they want to show and how they want to show it. Through Cave’s writing, we get a glimpse at these characters, what they’re all about, what they’re motivations are, and why it all matters, but it isn’t just a bunch of guys weeping on about how they just killed for the first time, because there is violence.
And wow Nelly! When it hits, you won’t soon forget it.
The violence here is actually pretty awesome and even though it doesn’t take up the whole story with constant destruction, whenever it does pop-up; it’s bloody and gory to the core, but doesn’t feel like it’s just there to shock us and have us ready to vomit. Nope, it feels reasonable, if that’s all these characters have going for them is taking another person’s life. You can believe that some of these sick, psychotic son-of-a-bitches would actually go to these levels of violence, just to get their revenge and it feels real rather than feeling like something the creators felt like this movie needed. Can get a little cartoon-y at times with the blood-spurting out and all, but you can’t go wrong with violence that feels deserved, especially when you’re talking about a good ‘ole Western. Darn toooootin!
If there was something about this story that I didn’t like it was that I feel like it dropped the ball on the one thing that would have really made itself matter: it’s moral theme. All of the best Westerns, even the shoot ‘em ups that I’ve mentioned about 500 times in this review, all have one central message that is always looming underneath the surface, and then comes out of nowhere by the end to really make us start thinking. That’s exactly what I thought was going to happen with this movie and I think that’s what they thought as well, but the problem was that it doesn’t end up really being about much in the end. Yeah, there was some discussion about loyalty to family and responsibilities, but when you soak it with all of this bloodshed and bad-assery, does it really matter?
The answer to that is: well, not really. All of the violence and tension for the movie works, but giving it more meaning in terms of how it could have affected our train-of-thought, would have definitely made it more important. Hey, it’s fine for being all about the blood, the guns, the bullets, the horsies, and the hay stacks, but I wanted more. Hell, I needed more! Then again, I don’t really need all of that philosophical shit when I’m watching a movie about a bunch of cops and robbers, going around, shooting one another.
But everything gets better when you think about this awesome, all-star studded cast. Guy Pearce looks pretty damn intimidating as our anti-hero (if you want to call him that), Charlie Burns, a guy who just shows up and wants to do the right thing, even though the rest of his family really can’t. Actually, I don’t even know if that’s what goes through his head so I’m probably just making shit up about him. The guy probably killed families and robbed banks for all I know. But what I do know is that Pearce has that rugged look and feel to him that makes you believe that this guy could kill anything, or anyone that he wanted to, but he just chooses not to unless he actually is pushed to “that edge.” Then, all hell breaks loose and Guy Pearce at his finest.
Somebody who really shocked me in this movie was Ray Winstone, because it isn’t the type of character you’d expect to see him playing, despite it also seeming like the type of dude he was practically born to play: the rough and tough dude that you don’t want to fuck with (that is, unless your Gandhi). But it still has him starting-off like he’s going to play that type of role with him seeming like the type of guy that just wants justice done, and will do anything to get it, but sooner or later, his true colors get shown off to us, and to the rest of the people around him. Once all is said and done and things seem to get a bit too heavy for him, we all see him for the big baby that he really is. Probably one of his least-intimidating roles the guy has ever played, and that’s a good thing because the cockney-gangster bit was getting sort of tired after awhile. The lady who has him come out of his shell and be a bit of a whimp is Emily Watson who is good at seeing why such a masculine, strong dude like him, would fall head-over-heels in love with this girl, and weep at her feet. Okay, she’s not that perfect of a human-being, but she is pretty damn gorgeous so I can definitely see why.
On the other side of the fence, you have Danny Huston playing another one of his evil roles, as the broski Arthur, and gives off a very creepy performance that makes you feel like this guy is going to do some bad shit, whether or not the person he does that to deserves it. He just wants to kill people for the sake of killing people and that’s what makes all of Huston’s roles pretty much scary as hell. Honestly, when has that guy ever played anybody that’s remotely nice in a movie? 21 Grams doesn’t count cause the guy is barely even in it! Don’t worry, I’ll wait here….
Consensus: The blood and guts that are spilled throughout the run-time of The Proposition make this movie worth the watch, as well as the cast, but underneath the surface; there doesn’t seem to be much else other than a bunch of guys just wanting to kill one another and possibly ride off into the sunset when the fun’s all over. So simple, yet, so twisted.
8/ 10 = Matinee!!
Come on Indy! Don’t get caught with your Willy!
Presumed Innocent is about anti-heroic lawyer Rozat “Rusty” Sabich (Harrison Ford), a Kindle County prosecutor and presumptive heir to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office currently occupied by Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy). When Rusty’s attractive colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi) turns up murdered, the evidence points to Rusty, despite his being married with children and the type of dude that would never, ever pull a deadly-stunt like that off. However, is there more going on than he thinks that may point fingers to others out there. Even the people he loves and works with? Only time will tell until everything is revealed.
Old-school mystery thrillers are always my favorite to watch, and for some odd reason, I always get the urge to watch them during the summer time. Don’t know why that’s always been a thing for me. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that every movie in the summer that’s released or viewed, are usually dumb as hell and require barely any thought, or maybe it’s just a thing I do. I don’t know, maybe it’s as simple as that. No further thinking required.
All of the credit for this film has to go to director Alan J. Pakula for bringing a very moody and tense atmosphere to this flick because it honestly gave me a feeling that I couldn’t trust anybody in this story. It’s a very interesting “whodunit” that keeps you guessing the whole time, even when you think you got it all under control. Usually when courtroom scenes show up, they usually spell-out more hints and clues that make the wider-picture seem so much more obvious, but here, Pakula really seemed to be pulling out the rug right from underneath us, and best of all: he seemed to be enjoying it. That’s what I like in my old-school, mystery-thrillers and watching this one was nowhere near being different.
But the most important aspect of this story that made it work was the courtroom scenes themselves, some of which; are very smart and well-written. There are plenty of courtroom drama’s out there like A Few Good Men and A Time to Kill that have great and snappy dialogue to get you riled up and excited, but it’s also dialogue that feels very “staged”, which, I guess is the point considering they’re movies and all but it gives you this feel that maybe these certain types of people wouldn’t talk like this, had they actually been put into situations like this. Here, a lot of the courtroom dialogue feels very realistic and everybody that either defends their own case, questioning someone, or objects, all seem like real people actually talking. I know this is a weird compliment to give this flick but it’s just a very rare thing to see a courtroom flick just shoot it straight, without trying to throw out any lines like “You can’t handle the truth!”. Even though, I do have to say that 20 years later, that whole scene/line is still pretty epic.
Problem is, after all of this build-up, all of this suspense, and all of this smart-ass questioning going on in the courtroom, the film still disappoints. BIG TIME. I don’t want to give anything away as to what happens in the end, or even what the end is all about but it features a huge twist on the story and not only makes you think differently about what you just saw but also, all of the characters themselves. This all sounds cool and nifty, but it’s very weird how they approach this ending by having an explanation told in a way that would remind you of a psychotic horror movie character. I knew by the way this story was, there was going to be a big twist in the end, but I didn’t know it was going to be handled in such a lame and anticlimactic way. I’m tempted to throw my whole life away and spill the beans, but I still want to keep my credibility. It’s stupid though. Enough said.
Even though Harrison Ford hasn’t had the best track-record in recent years (even though he was awesome in 42), you still got to give it to the guy because he’s able to pull off the action roles like Indiana Jones or Han Solo, but also able to breakaway from them and pull off some dramatic, regular-guy roles as well. Ford is great here as Rusty showing a lot of emotional strain just in the way he looks and way he sounds, but also distances himself away from the audience and makes you think twice about his character as to whether or not he’s involved with the murder he’s investigating. Actually, this was a pretty cool feature but there comes a point in the film where Rusty eventually does get accused of murdering this gal, and shows barely little or no emotions about it. I get it, the film is trying to make us question whether or not he’s involved with the actual murder, but it just didn’t come off as real considering the guys normal and somewhat happy life is in danger. Still, Ford can rock these roles out very well and he’s no different here.
The rest of the cast is full of a bunch of familiar faces that are sure to make you happy when they pop-up on screen. Raul Julia is a lot of fun to watch as Rusty’s lawyer, who always seems to have a trick up his sleeve and brings a lot of humor and charm to the courtroom scenes, even when they seem to get uber serious; Brian Dennehy is playing one of his usual nasty and corrupt characters here as Rusty’s morally compromised boss; and Greta Scacchi has a couple of good scenes as our murdered lady-friend, Carolyn Polhemus, and it’s pretty easy to see why so many dudes would fall for her, especially a guy like Ford. There’s also plenty of other people to see here too, but I won’t spoil them for you. Just check it out yourself and see how many faces you can make to names. Movies like this are fun like that. Most of the time at least.
Consensus: The tension, the mystery, the mood, the atmosphere, and the acting seemed to all come together for Presumed Innocent by one point to where it was really kicking ass in a way I wasn’t expecting, but because of it’s out-of-nowhere, nutty-twist at the end, major points had to be taken away. But the build-up is still awesome, so expect that.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
In today’s economy: anything is possible. Yes, even an alien-invasion.
The Barrett family is the stereotypical, 21st Century, suburban-living family that is struggling to make any ends meet. Lacy (Keri Russell) is a Realtor trying to sell a whole slew of houses; Daniel (Josh Hamilton) continues to look for a job as he was laid-off from his old one; Jesse (Dakota Goyo) is a teenager at that awkward age where girls, weed, and porn become front-and-center in the mind; and the youngest son, Sam (Kadan Rockett), is just a little tike that’s weird, but hey, who isn’t when they are 5? All of the problems that they seem to face with money, keeping the house, and having any type of credibility to their names whatsoever is put on the back-burner, once they realize that they may be under a the storm of an invasion from aliens. No, not the metaphorical aliens, but REAL ALIENS.
Dark Skies was one of those movies that nobody seemed to care about when it originally came out, not even the production company that released it did, because they didn’t even bother screening it for critics. And if they did screen it, they told all critics and publications to hold their reviews until the evening of Friday, once the movie already came out. Strange, right? Yeah, sort of is, but isn’t strange because they probably felt like they had a stinker and wanted people to stay away from talking bad shit on it. However, it seemed like such bad press for a movie that wasn’t all that terrible to begin with. Just shitty-marketing. That’s all.
In ways, I can see why the studio would want to hide this movie away from the mainstream audience, but at the same time; I just can’t because it seems like this movie is a tad bit different from what we are used to seeing with horror movies. Well, recent horror movies that is. Rather than just giving us some plot-lines for these characters, who they are, and what situation they are in, the movie takes a surprising turn and actually focuses more on them, with all of the spooky-shit showing up as the side-dish. Characters and relationships are front-and-center in this movie, and for the most part: it worked for me.
It worked for me because I felt myself rooting this family on, even when it seemed like they had every single odd stacked up against them. Yeah, they may be facing-off against aliens and may have little to no control over what happens to them, but at least they are going to fight their way against them. Watching as this family fell through hard times with their house, their jobs, and their money-saving, as well as the alien shit, was enough to make me care about them and this movie. It’s only until the latter-parts where we start to focus more on the “alien shit” is when things seem to get a tad bit out-of-hand.
Not too much, but a tad bit.
See, where this movie goes wrong is when it decides to focus in on the horror-aspect of the movie, but go a bit over-board as well. I don’t mind a horror movie trying to give me little BOO scares here and there, but this movie seemed to do too many of them, in such a short-span of time, when everything else that was sedated and laid-back seemed to work better. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t trying to scare us, it just didn’t work because it felt out-of-place with all else that was happening.
Even the aliens themselves are really corny to see. Granted, we don’t get too many glimpses of them, as they are pushed more to the background at times, but when they do show up; they made me laugh a couple of times just by how cheap they looked. I get it, the movie probably didn’t have the craziest budget to make these aliens look like the second-coming of those blue things from Avatar, but at least give me something better that doesn’t look like it was made for one of those programs that you could view on the History or SyFy channel, that talks about UFO sightings and whatnot. Even when the aliens didn’t show up, the movie still made me unintentionally laugh, just because it seems like the movie took melodramatic moments as clues and hints as to why everything’s happening. After about the 4th or 5th strange happening to this family, I just about had it and wish they went on, but nope; they just had to continue to pile on the happenings.
And not that type of happening either. Thank the high heavens for that.
But at the center of the movie, underneath all of the coating of sci-fi, aliens, and scares, the cast is what keeps this movie moving. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are good as a sympathetic married-couple, because they actually feel like one. They love, they fight, they argue, they bicker, they sleep together at night, they care for their children, they pay their mortgage (sort of), and they always stick together no matter what. Seeing them together felt realistic and worth watching, whereas most films of the same vein, probably would have made one of them have a huge secret that he/she didn’t decide to tell the other, and just a whole bunch of other spousal-disputes would occur. Thankfully, the movie keeps those aspects of the relationship, just like the characters, grounded to where it isn’t an over-abundance. It’s just right in the middle.
Dakota Goyo is good as the teen of the family that’s going through some problems of his own, the most important one of all: girl problems. Goyo is fine in this role because he feels like the type of awkward kid you’d meet on the street, and tell to just smile and be happy because he’s never going to have it again (ever), but all of his subplots did weigh-down the film. However, that’s just because they had to show him at “that age” where everything’s weird and doesn’t seem to make sense. Whatever. Just shut up and smile, kid.
The main cast is good, but why on Earth did the movie decide to waste the talents of J.K. Simmons. As we all know, the guy is amazing in just about everything that he does, which is why I was pretty damn upset when I saw him get a relatively-crappy role as some conspiracy-nut who shows up, talks to this family, and tells them what we all know. Really, that’s all his character was here for: to tell us that these aliens are bad and are going to do whatever it is that they can to take away one of their family members. That’s it. Nothing special about this role, and one that could have probably been played by you, me, or my dog laying right next to me. What a waste, man. What a waste.
Consensus: It’s the typical haunted-house flick, mixed with some aliens, that features clichés and melodramatic moments that feel as unneeded as a Keri Russell nude scene (but seriously, when the hell are we going to get that?!?!?), but Dark Skies still does well with making us care for it’s core characters, and at least have us waiting for something good to happen. It sort of does, and sort of doesn’t, but at least it’s not a total waste of your time.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Sort of like if Mickey and Mallory went on a road-trip. Well, a different one anyway.
Two lovebirds, Chris and Tina (Steve Oram and Alicia Lowe), decide that it’s time to get away for a little and have some fun. Chris then plans out this whole trip for the two to take, hopefully have fun on, and explore the country-side. Oh, and they might also do some killing as well. Just in case the moment ever arises.
Director Ben Wheatley is starting to become a voice to be heard in the world of movies. Kill List was a shock of a movie that never ceased it’s turning wheels, and still has me wondering about it, even until this very same day. It’s just that type of movie that messes with your mind, long after you’ve seen it, which is why you should definitely go out, find it, and watch it if you haven’t done so already. That said, this movie had a lot of promise by the way this is Wheatley’s second film and shows that the guy loves blending human-relationships, comedy, and horror, altogether in one, neat package. But what you may not notice until checking out the credits, this isn’t written by Wheatley and is instead done by it’s two leading stars. First mistake right there.
Even though Wheatley took some risky and strange steps with Kill List, you still have to give the guy credit for at least going down the roads that he did, and not making any apologies for it. It was always interesting to see where he could go next with his story, and what genre he was going to mess around with when he felt like it. This movie just felt like the same genre, the same joke, the same happenings, the whole way through. There’s nothing really crazy going on here other than the fact that these two lovers are out on their own, little trip of sight-seeing and killing random people. Funny for maybe the first or second time, but after that: it becomes a bore.
However, Oram and Lowe don’t really seem to get the nods right off the bat. They decide to keep on hammering and hammering away with the same joke that these two, ordinary people would actually spend a whole trip going from place-to-place, killing people whenever they saw fit. It gets old, real quick, and feels like the movie is at a lost for ideas. If anything, the movie did make me laugh with it’s monstrous uses of irony, and finding new and original ways to use it here and there, but even that got to be repetitive as well. Nothing new seems to happen, other than what person they are going to kill next and even then you can pin-point how, who, what, where, and when.
Not good for any movie, let alone one of the horror/black comedy-genre.
Honestly, I wish I could go on and on about this movie and say how obvious it got to a certain-point where I just wanted somebody to slap me with a fish and get it over with already, but I’m sort of at a lost for words. Wheatley still shows his love and compassion for making things terribly-uneasy with the audience, whether it’s watching a person be killed, or the thought of someone being killed. But then that idea starts to get skewered as you begin to see these characters taking out all of their rage and frustration out on people who seem to sort of deserve it. Not saying any person deserves to die for saying or doing something that may not be the nicest-gesture in the whole, entire world, but if Wheatley really wanted to ruffle some feathers, he would have gone for the jugular and given us victims that were the least-bit sympathetic. Everybody here just seem like mean people that had it coming to them some time soon. Not my thoughts. Apparently it’s the movies. Just by the looks of it.
Then, of course, there’s the two leading-peoples themselves: Steve Oram and Alicia Lowe. Since this is THEIR script, aka, their bread and butter, it only feels right that they make it work to the best of each of their abilities, which it does. Oram is funny as Chris, the sort of dude that seems all cool, calm, and relatively-charming on the outside, but very deep, dark, and sinister on the in. The dude never seems like a bad-enough guy to really go full-throttle with all of these murderous-acts of violence, but at least he has fun with it. Low also has fun with her role as Tina, for the sole-sake that she’s just a nut, and is marveling it. She gets to do some pretty strange-o stuff, and pulls it off well, even when it seems like this girl is too nutty to be taken seriously. But then again, you never know what is real, and what isn’t real with this movie. Wheatley leaves it all up to the viewer and I appreciated that aspect, just not the whole film.
Together, Oram and Lowe are good as it seems as if they’ve been best-buddies/eff-buddies for a long time now, as the chemistry between them is natural. They’re weird, odd, and very scary in the ways that they could do anything they wanted, whenever they wanted, but I wanted more from these characters. For the most part, I never felt like I knew any of them, other than the fact that they just liked to act weird and kill people. That was basically it. It never seems like the movie itself was ever keen on taking them seriously enough, to ever give them any real personalities, with real feelings, real emotions, and real ideas in their heads. I know killing people is a real idea, but I didn’t feel like I was watching real people, thinking about a real idea. They seemed more like they were destined for the big-screen. No surprise that that’s exactly where they ended-up.
Consensus: Wheatley still shows his attention to detail, but working on a script that wasn’t made by him, makes Sightseers feel like a bit of a disappointment considering it’s the same, old joke; again and again with new spins on it every once and awhile, but not enough to fully have me in a daze of fun and disbelief.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
The classic tale of love, lust, living the life, and throwing a great party in the 20′s, all to the sweet and soulful tunes of Jay-Z.
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is an aspiring artist who searches for inspiration and passion when he decides to leave the Midwest and travel to New York City, where all of the hustle and bustle is a-foot. Nick finds himself there, looking for his own taste of the American Dream, but also lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Jay just so also happens to be across the bay from Nick’s cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), who’s with her d-bag-of-a-hubby husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Nick soon finds himself drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, deceits, passions, ways of having fun, and most of all: their secrets.
Believe it or not, The Great Gatsby was one of the very-few books that I have actually had the pleasure of sitting down, taking time out of my day for, and read to the final page. It was a hard piece of literature to get through, but thankfully, I had the bragging-rights and all to say that I was able to conquer it, as well as being able to say I knew what the “big surprise” actually was. Can’t say that about many books (mainly because I haven’t read many), but it still had me wondering just what could be made of with this material, if it were ever made for the screen one more time.
And Baz Luhrmann was definitely not the first choice I had in mind.
Actually, that last statement is starting off on the wrong-foot because I can’t say anything bad against Luhrmann’s direction, or what it is that he tries to do with this material. If anything, the guy tries his damn-near hardest to get past the fact that this is just dry material, made for the sake of reminding everybody how freakin’ awesome the Roaring Twenties actually were. Despite the gimmicky 3D aspect behind this movie (trust me, not even worth the watch in that extra-dimension), the movie does look very purrty and once again, you can tell that Luhrmann really put his heart and feel into making this movie look like it exactly reads out. Loud, lavish parties filled with extraneous amounts of glitz, color, glamour, and loads, and loads of champagne. Being able to match the look I had in my head of what the setting actually looked-like after reading the book, I realized that Luhrmann had a bigger-imagination than even myself was graced with, which makes the movie all the more visually-outstanding.
However, pretty colors, pretty things, and pretty people can only go so far. And in Luhrmann’s case: it’s sad to see. You can jump-start this material with as much exuberance and energy as your little heart desires, but if you can’t get to the heart of the story and feel what it was like to live in this period, then you have all but lost me. That’s exactly what I felt like when I watched Luhrmann try whatever it was that he could to make it seem as if he had actually read the novel, and/or still remembered it to this day. Instead, it just seems like he SparkNote’d the hell out of this thing, went through the motions, and stamp his own trademarks here and there. You know, just for show.
But it’s one of those shows that’s obvious and it lost me about half-way through, once I realized that this movie didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Granted, I wasn’t on-the-edge-of-my-seat considering I knew how the material would play out, and what characters would be doing what in certain situations, but I was still interested in seeing what Luhrmann could pull-off to surprise the hell out of me. Sadly, nothing really seemed to make me fall back in my chair and wonder how he pulled it all off. Everything seems so cut-and-dry with character’s emotions and dilemmas; the “big reveals” are nowhere near being subtle, as they were in the novel; and everybody else here, feels as if they just got out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, but have a fancy-schmancy accent. Okay, maybe the characters aren’t that bad, but they are pretty damn dull. A real shame too, because the cast working with these characters really seem to know what they’re doing, it’s just that the direction isn’t there to help them succeed.
Tobey Maguire plays our narrator for the whole, 2 hours: Nick Carraway. Maguire is alright in a role that doesn’t ask for much, and doesn’t get much back in-return. It’s just Tobey, being Tobey, and whether or not he’s acting like this, or this; you don’t really give a shit what else he’s doing. All you want him to do is not be distracting by how geeky he is, and he wasn’t. Good job, Tobes! New-comer Elizabeth Debicki actually walks away clean with this movie, as she’s the only one who really feels as if she would have been the gal to beat around this period of time, and reminds me of the older-days of Hollywood, where the dames seemed to run rampant all throughout the town. Sort of reminded me of a younger-Kristin Scott Thomas, minus the French and nudity. Pretty bummed out by the latter aspect. Damn you, Baz! Couldn’t “up” the rating to at least a soft R? Bastard.
As Nick’s cuzzy, Daisy, Carey Mulligan looks exactly like the character I imagined in my head when I read it all those years ago, but seems slightly-dull in the way she prances around character-to-character, throughout the whole story. The only thing she wants in this whole movie is to just live a peaceful, happy life, but yet; she’s still stuck with the bastard that continues to cheat on her, right in front of her nose. And to make matters worse, she then decides to mess around herself. Pretty smart girl if I don’t say so myself. Playing that philanderer of a hubby, Tom Buchanan, is Joel Edgerton who seems to take a whole box of delight chewing the scenery with his thin-mustache, but it goes nowhere. Instead, it seems like the guy never has anything good to say, morally-right to do, or even brings any happiness around him. He’s just a miserable, sad-sack of a dude that lacks no moral-understanding of what’s going down. In the novel, there was more to him than just a dude looking to get revenge. But, once again, Baz didn’t seem to get that part of the novel. All he saw as an opportunity to get a bunch of people to beat around the bush with one another about who’s sleeping with who. Gets old, real fast.
Thankfully, the only one who saves these characters and this movie is the man himself: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. Right from that definitive-shot where we first meet him, Leo seems to be having the time of his life as Gatsby. He’s living the life of a billionaire that looks handsome, wears lavish-colors, likes beautiful things, and always holds hospitality at his upper-most important factor of being a person. He’s everything, any person in their right mind would ever want to be, except there’s more to this dude than you may think. Leo is great at playing the cool, charmer of a man that Gatsby shows-off to everybody around him, but is even better when it comes to peeling-away the layers of who the hell this guy just might be, and whether or not he can be trusted. You never know with this guy, and Leo is very good at keeping us guessing as to when he’s going to just lose his shit, and at what velocity he’ll lose it at. If it wasn’t for Leo, this movie would have fallen down the drain, but with him: it survives by a hair. A relatively longer-than-usual hair, but it’s still ready to be cut-off at any second.
Consensus: Baz Luhrmann knows what it takes to make The Great Gasby‘s fourth, and hopefully, final big-screen adaptation as beautiful and eye-appealing as ever, but all of the effort he puts into the look of it, doesn’t translate well into the drama, the message, the characters, or the overall-feel that the novel originally had. Yup, somehow Jack White songs just didn’t cover what it meant to be a flapper during the 20′s.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
The only way you were getting rich in the 30′s was by robbing banks. So yeah, hate on these two for being young, smart, and prosperous.
Living in America during the Depression was hard. However, for Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty): it sure as hell wasn’t as long as they had their guns, their minds, and their love to fully round everything out. Together, the two pulled off a series of daring bank robberies and found their way to becoming two of the most notorious outlaws in American history. This is their sad, but true story.
Viewing these older movies and reviewing them is not an easy chore to complete, especially when they are considered “classics” like this one here. Usually, you have to take this movie how it is but you also feel pressured into making it sound like this movie is some end-all, be-all masterpiece, just because you saw people like Roger Ebert (R.I.P. my friend) say so. However, I’m not going to back down from a fight and I’m going to step over the line and say that THIS MOVIE IS……..good.
What makes this movie such a classic in terms of American cinema is because it was broke down some large-barriers back in the day. Due to the fact that it was filled with incredible amounts of violence, some sexual tension that was actually shown (somewhat), and some booty-showing, this movie had some people up in arms about what people should, and should not see in the movie theaters (oh, if only they could see us now). But that was back in 1967, when these sort of things being in a movie were almost unheard of, which is why you have to give Arthur Penn a lot of credit for taking that huge step and showing his material for what it was worth. The violence and killings here aren’t as graphic and disturbing as some of the stuff we see now, but the film still has plenty of it to make anybody’s grand-mom get a little scared.
One thing that at first bothered me, was that I felt like Penn was really just glamorizing everything that these two did. From the robberies, to the kidnappings, to the murders, and to everything else, it felt like I was watching Penn show us how cool it is to be like them, when in reality: he was just showing us the facts. A lot of the stuff you see in this film, is pretty much how it all happened and it’s not being shown in any hip or cool way, it’s just the way it was and how these two functioned back in the days. And whenever the shoot-out scenes do come up, they are very fun and you never know what’s going to happen next. That is, unless you haven’t been paying attention in history-class, ever.
But what really made me realize that this is no masterpiece, is that it’s just so damn dated with it’s writing. Right from the start, we get all of this corny talk between Bonnie and Clyde where they are constantly just acting like total dumb-asses with their Southern accents that make them sound like a really-bad extra from Deliverance. That was obviously annoying, and a lot of the delivery that Beatty and Dunaway used too, was annoying just because they seemed just a tad too spirited about all of this, almost to the point of where it was basically campy. I mean, what do I expect from a film that was made in the late 60′s, but I know what bothers me, and half of this dialogue is what did it for me.
Also, aside from the main 4 in this cast, everybody else sucks at acting. The kid who played C.W. Moss was really bad and made me laugh my ass off by how idiotic this character, and this actor was. For a prime example, there was the one scene where Bonnie and Clyde first meet him, and he just looks so damn awkward, stumbling around the set like a little fool. His character is pretty much one of those stereotypical country-bumpkins, that doesn’t know how to do anything else other than fix cars (because you know, that’s what all Southerners do). Hell, even the film wanted to take the high-road and go off and write him as he truly was in real life, then good, just get a better actor to play it so it isn’t so damn obvious that this kid blows major cock. There’s plenty of others here that excruciatingly bad as well and I think it’s just a strange mixture of bad acting and some bad lines that just makes everybody come off like they’re over-acting it a bit. But in some cases, they aren’t even acting at all, so it’s either one way or another. No reason for the Blondie reference, but just thought I’d throw it in there while it’s still fresh and clean in my head.
But other than these terrible supporting-performances, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway do some pretty kick-ass jobs with their titular roles and are easily the best things about this flick. They definitely have some great chemistry together and you can tell that the film is going to show them a lot together, but it surprisingly doesn’t. Instead, it gives them more time apart to develop on their own, but even when it does come back to them being with one another, it feels like it’s developing both of their characters and giving us two people that we can feel some essence of sympathy for and actually like. Beatty is this wild, high-strung dude that just wants to make his lady happy, and Dunaway is this sad and l0nely girl that is getting the worst case of homesickness, ever. Two very good performances as even when things for Bonnie and Clyde turn darker and they start doing more bad things, you still like them and I don’t know why that was. Either way, easily the best things about this flick even if there is some more to see.
Oh, and don’t forget to be on the look-out for a performance from Gene Hackman as Clyde’s big-bro. Having Gene Hackman in any movie is always a treat, but this one especially since he actually shows everybody how to act. God, I miss him.
Consensus: Probably more influential than it is perfection, Bonnie and Clyde suffers from a terribly-dated script, and bad performances from everybody else involved, other than the four main stars. Still, you can’t go wrong with a film that was willing to show us these two criminals in a sympathetic-light and be able to get away with it, surprisingly. Oh, and the final scene is pretty freakin’ awesome, too. But I bet you have all already seen it, haven’t you?
7 / 10 = Rental!!
These penguins were definitely putting on a show. There’s no way they could be this cute.
The film depicts the yearly journey of the emperor penguins of Antarctica. In autumn, all the penguins of breeding age (five years old and over) leave the ocean, their normal habitat, to walk inland to their ancestral breeding grounds. There, the penguins participate in a courtship that, if successful, results in the hatching of a chick. For the chick to survive, both parents must make multiple arduous journeys between the ocean and the breeding grounds over the ensuing months.
Is it me, or are penguins not the most freakin’ adorable animals on the planet?!? Whenever I went to the zoo, I always loved watching them do their own thang, whatever it was, but I never imagined that I would feel this much for them. Yes, I know sound very unMAN-like, but there’s a soft-side to me as well and animals are the ones who always get me to express it the most (ladies?). That said, the rest of this review may make some of you laugh at and lose all respect for me. If that’s the case: then so be it! I love those furry, little things and no one’s going to tell me otherwise!
Co-creators of this flick, Luc Jacquet and Michel Fessler, deserve some huge love for all of the footage they were able to capture here considering the type of problems they had to go through. If it was below freezing for the penguins, chances are: it was freezing for them. Then, therefore, whenever anything bad happened to these penguins, they just had to sit there and let it all go down because that’s the way nature is. If it was me seeing a little penguin being ready to get chewed-up by some hawk, I would step right in there and do what mommy should have been doing, but maybe that’s why this movie wasn’t given to me. What I’m trying to say here is that these two dudes definitely went through a lot to get all of they needed to get and in the end: it all payed off for them.
What really took me along with this flick was some of the natural images and sights these guys are able to catch. And no, I’m not just talking about the sky (even though it did look pretty)! I’m talking about the scenes that would show us just how these penguins really are. We see plenty of beautiful scenes where the penguins find their mates, have intercourse, get the egg, watch as the egg grows older until finally, the egg has hatched and then a new penguin is born. It’s great to see scenes like this that shows us that penguins can be so happy and live beautiful lives, just like us. The simple things in life are what get us the most, and it’s very smiley-inducing to see our furry-friends get so worked up as well. However, it’s not always smiles and happiness with these little guys and girls. Life does throw you some sadness in there as well.
Even though I mentioned all of these beautiful things we see happen with most of these penguins, I somehow forgot to mention the fact that in between each and every single little event, danger seems to show itself at every stop and the mother and father are barely ever together with their baby, because each one is always out getting food. This is some real sad stuff but it gets worse once we actually start to see some of these little guys die and have their lives put into danger. There was this one scene where a hawk comes into attack one of the little penguins, and the whole time I was so scared for them and just wanted somebody to beat the shit out of that hawk. Then again, that’s the way nature is and I’m glad that I didn’t have to get involved with this flick, or else nothing would have been accomplished. There is also another very memorable scene where we see a mother mourning the death of her little baby and soon get jealous, and try to take another one. This scene made me well-up like a girl who just got stiffed before prom as it really made me feel like these penguins have to go through so much, just to produce an egg and keep it living. But as much depressing stuff as there may be, the film never loses that beauty to it. Some scenes will just make you smile from the joy of watching nature like this, work itself out right in front of you. Shit. I seriously got to start watching Discovery Channel more.
If there was any problem that I had with the direction of this film was that it was a little too obvious what these guys were trying to say about these penguins. I get it: they are just like us! Except for the sole-fact that they can’t run and also don’t go to the market for the food to support their family. That’s why putting all of the obvious-remarks into a film like this seems so cheap and obvious. Note to all of these documentaries out there: stop comparing humans to certain animal species. We are all alike, now let’s just cut the crap already!
I bet pretty much all of the people went into this film, not giving two shits about penguins, but walked out caring for them, loving them, and knowing everything from start to finish about them. And there is only one man to thank for that all: Morgan muthafuckin’ Freeman. Honestly, who else would be a better fit to narrate a story about a bunch of penguins that sometimes stay in one place, while other times, they move around. Freeman’s voice, is sort of like the voice from God, and he has this slight calmness to him that makes you feel like he actually knows a lot about these penguins and actually cares for them. Obviously, a lot of his stuff was written so it wasn’t just him who thought of it all on the spot to tell how he really felt, but I still couldn’t get past the fact by how relaxing Freeman could make this movie just by using his signature voice. I’m still trying to figure out what to call “his voice”. How about “Morgan Freeman’s voice”? Yup, sounds about good to me.
Consensus: March of the Penguins not only makes you feel happy to live in a world where penguins still can roam the Earth all happy and whatnot, but just make you happy to be alive in a world that is Earth, where the most-fascinating creatures live and around somewhere. You just have to find them yourself. Or watch documentaries like this that do the ground-work. Your choice.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
If this was remade today, it would just be called Aliens in the Water, and probably would have made more than Avatar. Don’t believe me? Fine! Just you wait and see….
A nuclear sub crashes on the floor of the Atlantic, and the motley crew of an underwater station attached to an oil rig prepare to investigate just what the hell is occurring. Obviously, as you could expect, problems do mount: a hurricane rages above, a loony marine is on the loose, and captain Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) is forced to work with his estranged wife, Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Spousal-disputes aside, shit is still a little wacky under the sea.
What I like most about James Cameron is what he is able to do with any premise. Yeah, he may be a little nutty with his love of the Titanic and Avatar sequels, but the guy knows what can, and just might come out of a simple premise, if you give it the right amount of creativity and fun. Here, he takes what is essentially another boring and lame submarine movie, and somehow turns it into a tense and eerie sci-fi flick that gives you the sense of just how menacing the ocean can be. But the ocean is also a place that Cameron can still let it all hang loose in, no matter what the limitations may be, as you will see with this movie.
After I saw this flick, I did some research on it and found out that the majority of the film was actually filmed underwater in an abandoned nuclear reactor. That’s right: Cameron actually got his whole cast and crew, and made them go underwater to shoot this whole film. Sounds a bit risky when you take ego’s and all sorts of other personalities into consideration, which would also be another example of how crazy and inspired Cameron can be. However, he makes it work. He makes the ocean his own little personal playground where he’s able to do what he wants, when he wants and no studio can stop him because seriously, how are you going to say no to the dude who just did The Terminator and Aliens? Yeah, didn’t think so.
This film can be very fun at points but what I liked most about this film was how original Cameron could make it at points. In this flick, we get a cool look at some neat-o ideas that Cameron obviously has had rolling in his head for so long and finally got a chance to reveal to the public. Little details like the cool spacesuits that look like a mixture between the ones from Alien and actual spacesuits themselves, or the concept of having oxygen-infused water that you can just sip on, in order for you to reach superhuman lengths in the ocean, or how the aliens in this flick, aren’t actually mean or evil creatures, they’re nice and love to help out fellow humans. Not only do they look freakin’ cool, but they also show a lot of compassion, sort of like fellow human-beings. It’s a surprise that more people didn’t hop on the bandwagon after this and make more “alien friendly sci-fi movies”, because they could have really worked and turned-on a new generation to making sci-fi movies. Because just juggle this idea in your heads: are they really that mean and terrible?
As usual with all Cameron films, no matter when they were filmed, the visuals are absolutely outstanding. I knew that this film won the Oscar back in 1989 for Best Visual Effects, but that’s 1989 and that doesn’t really mean diddly-squat now. Surprisingly though, the visuals still hold-up today and every time the aliens would show up in the story, everything just started to look so much more beautiful and blue. Probably best combination to have out there: beautiful and blue. It’s something that Cameron works best with, obviously.
As is always the problems with other Jimmy Cameron films, the action and special effects may be rad and awesome, but the scripts always seem to suck, therefore: taking everything else down with them. This film is no exception to that convention, which meant that the eyes rolled pretty much after every single line these characters uttered out their mouths. Every piece of dialogue that tries to sound funny, hip, or cool, just comes off as terribly corny. And even whenever the film does try to get sentimental and show certain relationships between people in this submarine, it fails at bringing any emotions whatsoever. It all just felt so damn 80′s to me (no-brainer), to the point where I just wanted them to be able to do something cool and exciting, without them opening up their mouths. Sadly, they did and that’s when I started getting annoyed.
Probably the worst, and most memorable scene out of this whole flick has to be when a character, not giving away who, tries to revive another character by using CPR for over 10 minutes and then comes back to life, only after that same character yells “FIGHT!” to them. It was such a terribly corny scene and it made me laugh my ass off the whole way through because this film was so serious and even though Cameron knows how to direct: he sure as hell can’t write. Then again, I guess it doesn’t matter to him because the dude freakin’ takes showers in $100 bills everyday, without giving any damn whatsoever. Lucky son of a bitch. Practically stole my life over there.
It was surprising to see Ed Harris not only play a lead role in a movie, but also play a character that’s likable and considered a hero. Nonetheless, the guy’s still solid as Bud Brigman and makes it easy to root for him whenever he seems like he’s done for good. You need that in a hero, even if it never seems like he makes any drastic-decisions that could potentially harm the rest of his crew in anyway. He always seems to know what to do next, and it kind of got bothersome after awhile, since we pretty much knew that nothing could stand in this guy’s way. Not even a shark. Then again, highly doubt they would be able to do anything to a submarine. But I digress.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is fine as his ex-wife, Lindsey, but her character is so annoying and bitchy that I got to a point of where I wanted her to just get killed off somehow. And trust me, there were a couple of close calls for her character in this movie. Not close enough in my opinion, but that’s just me. Cameron-regular Michael Biehn is also here as the completely psycho head SEAL and it makes me wonder just where the hell this guy has been after all of these years. Dude needs to team-up with Cameron again for these countless Avatar sequels that were apparently getting, as it will probably get his career back on the high-rise. All of the performances that I’ve already mentioned, along with plenty of others, are good but the script tears them down to pieces after awhile, and makes it seem like everybody just got out of a stage-play for Shakespeare.
Consensus: The Abyss suffers from some terrible writing (that’s James Cameron for ya), but still has plenty of inspired ideas straight from Cameron’s goofy head, exciting scenes that seem to all take place underwater, and a bunch of beautiful visuals that still hold up today, even against Avatar. Actually, no: Avatar looks better. Lot better.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Apparently, Steve Irwin’s death wasn’t the worst moment in Australia’s history. Too soon?
Northern Australia during the breakout of WWII was a bit of a mess, but at the center of all the craziness, pain, anger, and agony, there were two people (Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman), who came from two opposite sides, to somehow meet together in the middle and find a love that was greater than any other force in the entire world. She, Lady Sarah Ashley, was a richy-rich, stuck-up lady from England who came overseas to help her husband out with his cattle-business, whereas he, Drover, was just a man who just took the cattle, and helped them across the acres so he got his money and went on his way. In the middle of them both, there is a small, Aboriginal child by the name of Nullah (Brandon Walters).
Baz Luhrmann is sort of like a poor man’s version of Terrence Malick. All skills aside, the guy makes a film every once and awhile, hypes it up forever, and they usually meet all of the hype. Over a career that spans 30 years, the man has only made four movies (five, if you include The Great Gatsby coming out this Friday), and each of them have been pretty good. However, whatever your tastes-buds are, you can’t lie about the fact that the guy loves the material he puts on screen, and always give it his 110% full devotion and time. Hence why his films take awhile to come out. However, maybe the guy went a little too far this time. Just a bit, I’d say.
It’s obvious that before the idea of this movie even came about, Luhrmann watched and studied the old-school MGM movies of the 30′s, 40′s, and early 50′s. Why is it obvious? Well, if you take away the beautiful visuals, the color, the action, the blood, the murder, and some other disturbing images that would have been pretty taboo back in the day, then you have your typical, feel-good epic that would have been made back in the day with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, and probably took the whole world by storm. However, those were simpler and more modest times, nowadays, our more-current viewers don’t really have the steam and time for all of the melodramatic moments that Luhrmann seems to embrace, but not really think through.
For instance, there are plenty of scenes in this movie where everything is so happy-wappy, so joyful with glee, and so damn smiley, that it’s near-laughable. That’s not to say that the actors involved with these moments don’t try their hardest to get past the obvious-corniness of the material, but they can’t help but fall prey either. It’s almost inescapable with corn-ballish material such as this. But then some weird things would start to happen with this movie, and I found myself getting more and more lost out of nowhere.
The idea that this flick tackles two subjects, both gripping in their own ways, at the same time really makes it seem a tad uneven, as well as up-and-down with it’s transition. On one end of the arena, we have the love story between Jackman and Kidman, which is probably the best element of this whole flick. Both are great workers in their own right, but the way they’re characters were playing-off of one another at first, had me worried that it was going to be too light and rompy to be taken seriously. But somehow, they made it work because they legitimately do seem like they have sexual-chemistry that can’t wait to get you all hot, sweaty, and ready for the lovin’ to take ahold. If I was Keith Urban, I’d be a little ready to put the fist-a-cuffs up next time I saw Wolverine. Then again, I’m not Keith Urban. Which altogether means that I’m not a million dollar-selling, country artist that is married to Nicole Kidman. Nope, I’m Dan O’Neill, who blogs and watches movie. Wow. Life sucks.
Anyway, those two whether they are together or not, make this movie work and keep it moving at a pace that draws your attention in, but it didn’t seem to draw Luhrmann’s attention all that much, considering he’s more concerned with the other aspect of the movie it wants to cover: the Aborigines. The Aborigines were a very important part of Australia’s history, which makes total sense as to why Luhrmann would make them a key-focus in this story of times that are changing, and the love story in-between it all, but it doesn’t fit well as it seems to not be Luhrmann’s strong-suit.
The strong-suit that I’m talking about is how the man can’t seem to really get his point across, without being as obvious as an albino, dressed in all white, playing hide-n-go seek. Yeah, that obvious. Scenes where they are merely showing the types of racism the Aborigines would face are somewhat disturbing, but also don’t fit well in the context of this movie when you have a bunch of people palling-around with one another and believing in the spirits from up-above. Obviously Luhrmann does not like the treatment that the Aborigines faced during this period, but he doesn’t show his feelings in a strong-enough way to really impact you and instead; sort of makes you wish that he didn’t try to explore it anymore than he already did. Shame too, because it’s a piece of Australian-history that is one of the most important, and should never be forgotten. However, you can’t help but want to forget about it, especially when it’s getting in the way of the sexy-time between Jackman and Kidman.
Seriously, they were about to make me faint!
But this review would not at all be complete if I didn’t talk about Luhrmann’s inspired-attention to detail, that never ceases to amaze me, no matter how melodramatic the material may be. Every scene in this movie feels as if Luhrmann not only paid close attention to it, but wouldn’t go asleep for days until he nailed exactly what he wanted to see. Sure, some of the scenes seem choppy due to lame-o special-effects and green-screens galore, however, it’s still something to see and marvel at, considering you know the type of film maker Luhrmann is. I disliked the hell out of his rendition of Romeo & Juliet, but the man always gave me something to go googely-eyes at, which made the movie slightly-better. That’s the same exact formula here, except there’s more to this story than just an age-old love story that we’ve heard, countless-upon-countless of times. This is a story that does have a heart, does have a vision, and does have inspiration, it just gets lost somewhere in the muddle of it all. Thankfully, Baz keeps his head above it, and keeps us watching. How the man does it: I will never know.
Consensus: Modest and old-fashioned to a fault, Australia may not be the type of movie you watch time and time again due to the unevenness of the material, and cloying-parts of the story that seem to pokes it’s ugly head out every so often, but is one of those movies you watch to enjoy, marvel at with the flair for visual and colors, and get ready to sweat, especially once you see Jackman and Kidman lock bodies, and prepare to make love. Oh yeah, baby.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
Who’s being punished here: us or the criminals?
Former FBI agent Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) still has not been able to get over the murders of his family. Therefore, he takes his anger and revenge out onto the streets where he continues to tally-up a vigilante record that makes every cop in the state of New York, jealous and on the look-out for any suspicious activity. The latest leader in suspicious activity occurring in NYC is Jigsaw (Dominic West), who used to have a pretty face that all the ladies used to love, but is now ruined, all thanks to THE PUNISHER!!
After 3 movies, and no success whatsoever with the box office or the critics, it seems that the Punisher character may have to be put to rest and left in the comics. Why? Well it’s simple: the guy’s just too goofy of a comic book hero. Actually, scratch that. He isn’t even a “hero”. He’s just a dude that goes around, killing people, in the name of what he believes is right. Oh, and it’s always bloody, gory, and not for the faint of heart. That means that these types of movies, are usually made for the older, R-rated crowd, so fuck the little kiddies who want to see shizz like this and that. This is the real shit, men! If you don’t like it, then back off and take your snobbery elsewhere!
Some of you may be a bit confused as to where the hell I was going with those last couple of sentences right there, but don’t be alarmed: I am too. What I’m trying to say is that this character is hard to adapt to the screen successfully for the sole-reason that the character itself has such a fan base that is so divided, it’s hard to really get the name or product out there. That’s why when a film like this comes around, it isn’t made for the New York Film Society or any other group as prestigious as that; it’s made for the bumbling idiots that like when people get their heads smashed in just for the sake of it. No, not psychos. But people who like to see it played out on film where nobody is harmed. I hope at least.
That’s why seeing a movie like this is so hard because being a critic that has a standard built-up after all of these years, it’s so damn hard to just drop it all down, and let a completely dumb movie like this take over. After awhile, I got used to it and it did, but that’s REALLY saying something. To say that this movie is stupid, would be the equivalent to patting it on the back and giving it a cookie for being a good boy. THIS MOVIE IS FREAKIN’ IDIOTIC! I kid you not!
If you don’t know this within the first five minutes, you might just be screwed for the rest of the hour and a half because this is as low on the totem-pole as you are going to get. The script is almost non-existent by how utterly dunce-like this is and makes every piece of dialogue seem like each one of these actors (talented ones, mind you) are just stretching their inner-souls to make something useful come out. Whoever wrote this movie, I feel bad for you and your career because this is like an IQ level of 48 and lower. I kid you not. It’s freakin’ stupid. That’s if you haven’t been able to tell by now.
However, you don’t see a movie about a vigilante that goes around, “punishing” people for the sake of revenge for a well-written script, with perfectly-rounded characters, and an emotional-arch. You want to see blood, guts, guns, bullets, violence, necks snapped, explosions, heads smashed in (like I said before), and campy-as-hell people getting their insides taken out. That’s the type of stuff you want to see and if that’s it: you’re gonna have a field day with this one. Can’t say that I didn’t have fun either, it’s just that this is one of those flicks that is sometimes so hard to get by with all of the terrible qualities, that the positive qualities that make it fun and exciting, really seem to fade away.
But taking this type of movie in as it is, you could do worse. Actually, A LOT WORSE. With a movie like this, you can’t expect much and expect to get much out of it. You just go in, get ready to see some people shot, stabbed, hacked-up, or murdered in any type of way, and expect to smile or go “oooooooohhhhh” by the end of it. Those are the types of people that this movie is made for, and even though I can’t say I’m one of them, I still do appreciate a nice, mass-slaying every once and awhile. Not always, but when it’s done in a fun, unadulterated-way, then I’m rarely ever disappointed.
Even though I’m a huge fan of Thomas Jane as the Punisher and in general, I still have to give some kudos to Ray Stevenson for at least giving Castle some snarl and edge to him that you didn’t really see quite as well last time. Granted, that movie was more concerned with painting Castle as a human-being that still struggled with the reality that everybody he practically knew has been massacred, but that’s not what this movie, or this version of Castle is about. Even when the movie does try to tackle themes and ideas like that, it fails miserably. Thankfully, Stevenson keeps his head above the water and it’s a shame that this guy doesn’t get more leading-roles his way.
Then, on the other side of the coin, you have Dominic West as Jigsaw, and god is this guy chewing the scenery! I mean, every single second he is on-screen, he sounds so ridiculous with his over-the-top, New Yarrrrk accent, and has the goofiest-look that I couldn’t even take seriously after awhile. I get why the guy looks the way he does and I understand why the comics made him that way, but for everybody in this movie to just sit-around him, and act normal as if he doesn’t look like a freakin’ cheap-o, Halloween mask I’d get if I was in a total rush for one before I got sloshed at my dorm room party. West is okay, but this material for him just blows and makes me wonder if he lost a bet, or was just trying to stretch his wings out a bit and get some mainstream exposure. Whatever the predicament was, I feel bad for him and everybody else in this flick that actually took the bait to work with this screenplay. Screenplay, in the sense that it’s just a bunch of words, thrown-together on a page with a bunch of scenes labeled; “Bam! Boom! Bop! Crash! Bang!”
Consensus: If you want a movie that’s going to satisfy your dramatic, and emotionally-powerful needs; then Punisher: War Zone is nowhere close to doing that. But if you want action, blood, gore, and cheesy one-liners, then you’ll be in-store for a bat-shit crazy time.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
White blood is not cool! Give me red!
Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) was a murdered cop who is mysteriously reborn as the masked crime fighter called the Spirit. The Spirit roams throughout the streets of what he calls, “his city”, loves it’s women, and fights crime whenever it rears it’s ugly head. The only problem is that his arch-enemy, Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), is a bit more than he can handle and as his past continues to come right back at him, he finds it harder and harder to get past what might just be his final battle. Everybody else, except for him, hope it truly is.
In a time before Dan the Man was the esteemed critic he is today, he was just a young lad going to the movies, seeing what he could find, and making up his mind on what he thought. That’s right, it was all in my head before I ever started typing down crazy crap! But during that time, the Christmas season of 2008 was where I single-handedly, self-financed AMC for the sole reason that I was there almost every other day. This was the days before I was able to get into screenings so in ways, I had to pay and in other ways, I just snuck in. I was a bad, bad cat, but not as bad of a cat as I thought I was until I saw this movie. Then, maybe I thought it would just be best to live off of Netflix for awhile.
Even after the 4 or 5 years since I’ve seen this; little of this movie has changed. I still remembering it sucking, even until this day, except now I have a clearer-view on what does and what doesn’t work in a movie. Especially shitty ones like these, where almost nothing works. Sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. The only positive-element of this movie that was worth watching and waiting around for this second-go around was Gabriel Macht as the Spirit and the cat that followed him around.
Macht has never been the type of actor to really knock it out of the park in a role, mostly because he’s never really gotten the spotlight. He’s usually been known as “that guy” in big-budgeted, shit-boxes like Bad Company, Whiteout, Because I Said So, and many, many more that I’m almost too ashamed to admit that I’ve seen him in, let alone actually viewed (the shit I do as a critic). So, this is why his performance as the Spirit is actually pretty good because he gets a chance to take over the film, do his thing, show some wit, have his charm, and be done with it. Is the guy anywhere near spectacular? Hell to the no! But in a movie like this, you need something that keeps you going, and he was exactly that for me in this movie. No wonder why the guy hasn’t really been given center field ever since this, but it’s a damn shame because the guy handled the pressure well. It’s everybody else who screwed him over.
No matter what crap he shows up in, Samuel L. Jackson is always the best part of it all. He’s always loud, crazy, yelling, and finding ways to have fun, even if he is the only one but even his performance here as the Octopus felt like he was parodying himself in a Funny or Die video. Not only is the Octopus a shitty villain to begin with, but this guy is literally all-over-the-place in terms of if he’s trying to be goofy, scary, intimidating, or even worth the fight at all. One second, he’s beating the crap out of the Spirit with a toilet, then the next second, he’s dressed-up as a Nazi talking about lord only knows what. It’s strange to see Jackson in such a role like this and have it not work, considering that he is usually the most entertaining aspect of any movie. ANY MOVIE.
But enough of the man meat, what about the ladies?!? Well, they are probably even worse and that’s not a rift against of their acting-abilities at all, it’s just the hands that they were dealt. Eva Mendes plays the Spirit’s old-squeeze who shows up looking all hot, sexy, and bad-ass, and does nothing with it at all. I mean, she shows her back-side once but if that’s all you got going for you in a role, then you’ve got major problemos. Scarlett Johansson seems like she should have been having the time of her life as the Octopus’ side-kick, Silken Floss, and she might have very well been, but we would have never known since she dead-pans to the point of near-boredom. And I’m talking on her part, not mine, even though, once again, she could have easily been having a ball with this role. Then, sadly, there’s Sarah Paulson as the Spirit’s current gal-pal, Ellen Dolan, the nurse with a heart of gold and the leniency of a nun, and does nothing at all with this character. Sad to say, too, because I love this girl in almost all she pops up in.
The reason why I’m paying so much attention to the cast, right off the bat, is because the main problem with this movie lies solely with them. Not their performances (even if they do suck), it’s more that the script has nothing go for it. It’s not fun, it’s not entertaining, and terribly disjointed. I never knew if whether or not this movie was trying to be funny, tongue-in-cheek, or just a serious, superhero movie with action. Very, small amounts of action. I never knew what the hell Frank Miller was trying to do and from the looks of it: neither did he.
Is it purrty as hell? Damn straight, but it only goes so far as to seem like a distraction to people who care about more meaningful things like plot, character-development, and action. None of that is here and even when it attempts at tackling anything like that; Miller and Co. miss terribly. It was a boring as hell experience that I remember so fondly for boring me to near-tears when I saw it all those years ago as a young guy, and still sucks all of these years later. Whether or not this review will make you want to see it yourself and take out of it what you can, is totally up to you, yourself, and you (I know: close, but no cigar). However, if I am going to advise anything: stay away from this movie. If one of your hardcore, nerdy friends say it was rad, kick them in the ass, slap them ion the face, or do something that has them wake up, smell the roses, and realize that their asses are wrong. DEAD WRONG!!!
Consensus: The Spirit is one of those movies that seems like on-paper, it would have been bucket-loads of fun, but is nowhere near that with a dry-personality, performances from a talented cast that seems as if they are lost in the whirlwind of a storm of confusion, and nothing really fun, exciting, or remotely interesting to stick around for. Just see it for the kitty and let that’d be it.
1 / 10 = Crapola!!
At least he’s on the wagon now.
After the wild events that took place in New York with Gods of Thunders and worm-holes and such, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has found himself in a bit of a crisis. Not only is he constantly reminded of what occurred, but he can’t seem to get any sleep and continually works on his hobby: building and building shit. It doesn’t matter what it is or what it could do, the fact is that he’s building shit, losing sleep, losing the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and losing what it means to be a superhero. However, an evil terrorist by the name of Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), might just change that feeling in the pit of his stomach and have him realize what it was about him that made him Iron Man in the first place.
Since the Avengers came, saw, and conquered the world last Summer, it seemed only right that Marvel would unleash it’s brand-new bag and go back to where it all started: Iron Man, or if you really want to be legit about it: Tony Stark. Without the first movie coming out in 2008 and taking over like it did, who knows just what the hell Marvel might have done not just with their fellow, other superheros, but in general as well. But from what we’ve all seen and what we do know is that Tony Stark is the go-to guy for when you need a compelling movie, and Iron Man is a pretty bad-ass superhero, even if he doesn’t have a big hammer. I still think that’s one of the all-time best weapons in superhero history. By far.
The first piece of curiosity that sprang through my mind when I initially heard of this movie happening, was the choice of Shane Black as director and co-writer. If you don’t know who this cat is, I suggest you go and find Kiss Kiss Bang Bang somewhere on DVD and check that out because it is a gem of a movie and it’s all because of Black. The guy’s also written Lethal Weapon, but in my eyes: his directorial-debut ranks supreme against all others because it’s funny, exciting, and filled to the brim with plot that may seem like over-kill, but keeps you guessing until the end. And just as promising as that may sound for a guy who’s about to tackle Iron Man, it still seemed strange considering that not only was this his second movie to date, but also that his first one had barely any CGI whatsoever, or action for that matter. Most of it was just shooting, guns, bullets, a car-crash, and fake blood. That was it. So, how the hell did Marvel trust this guy with their biggest money-maker to date?
Well, whatever it was that the big guys at M found in him, sure as hell worked because Black does a superb job as both director, and co-writer. Not only is his humor present throughout the whole flick, but the guy also finds a way to throw in some neat and nice little twists here and there to spice things up. One plot-twist that I won’t give up unless you want to e-mail me about it (CMrok93@yahoo.com), really divided this movie into two, different ways. Some will definitely go along with it and think that it was a nice-departure from what we are used to seeing with typical, superhero movies, whereas others may be a bit pissed and wished that they exactly got that typical, superhero movie they had grown so accustomed to. I still haven’t been able to rack my brain around whether or not I liked it all that much, but I will say that in Black’s case, it sure as hell was risky, something different, and not exactly what I was expecting. So, yeah, maybe you could put me in that earlier-group of peeps, but at the same time, don’t, because I’m still not sure.
Just give me some damn time, man!
But what really worked for Black and what mainly surprised the hell out of me is how well he handles all of the action, CGI, and 3D (basically, the big-budget). Black knows exactly what the fans want to see when they see a superhero movie about Iron Man and that’s what the dude gives to ‘em. Some may actually be surprised to see that not all of this action features the actual superhero, Iron Man, but features more of Stark doing all of the ass-kicking himself, but it’s still fun and exciting to see, especially when you add a darker-element of story-telling on top of it all, which is what Black has done surely well. Of course the humor is always there to keep people laughing and giggling, but the stakes feel higher with this one and it’s no surprise that some may actually be scared as to who’s going to get off’d next, who might not make it for Iron Man 4 (although Paltrow spilled the beans on that enchilada), and who’s going to come out victorious and with a little bit of something to brag about. It’s fun to watch a movie that knows how to keep the energy rolling without a real break in the pace, but it’s even better when you feel like the seconds you see a person on screen for, could just might as well be their last. Black keeps this going for quite some time, that is, until the last-half shows up and sort of ruins things.
For the most part, about an hour and a half in, I was on-board with this movie and I easily felt like I was working on a 9-9.5 here, but something happened. No, not the twist I was talking about earlier, but the final showdown that we all know is going to eventually come. Something, I don’t know what it was, just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel as epic as the rest of the movie did and it sure as hell didn’t do much to really knock me out of my chair with it’s originality; something I was seeing from Black’s side of the room, more and more. Don’t get me mistaken, I still had a ball with this final-act and just about lost my hearing by how many clangs, booms, and bangs I continued to hear (that’s a good thing, by the way), but something didn’t make it feel like the movie was tied-up with a pretty, little bow at the end like all of the other superhero movies have lately. Even Iron Man 2 somehow decided to do that, and as we all know: that was nowhere near greatness.
However, I can’t put anything against this cast because as usual: they are all phenomenal, even the newbies too. But I’ll get to them later, let me stick with the man of the 2 hours, the man with the power, and the man who practically has it all: Robert Downey Jr. Everybody and their mothers (the coolio ones who didn’t give up on him when he got busted all of those years ago) know that Downey was made for this role and he continues to show us why with his egotistical act, look, and feel. Yet, there’s something more to this guy that makes him actually feel like a hero worth rooting for. Stark does make some stupey mistakes and gets caught-up in situations that he could have easily gotten himself out of if he just thought more, but he’s human, dammit! That’s what we do. And even if we don’t have a mansion, a billion dollar corporation, or a suit made of iron that can kick ass and speak like Paul Bettany, we still feel like this guy would do the right thing, if he was given a chance to make the decision as to what that exactly is. Downey is funny as usual, and probably a lot better with the script considering that he practically vouched for Black to get this job, but it’s his human-aspect within that makes this character tick, rock, and kick….some ass. See what I did there? Yeah, I’m all out of being witty for the night.
Even if it seems like nobody in their right minds is willing to let all of the hate for Gwyneth Paltrow go, just for a little bit of time over 2 hours, at least the girl still shows us that she can act and be charming as hell. I don’t hate Paltrow like everybody else seems to, and that’s why I really liked her as Pepper Potts because it not only felt like her character really loved Tony and wanted him to be all fine and dandy once things were over with, but that she could also stick up for herself in the chance arose itself. Pepper isn’t the type of character that you could classify as a “damsel in distress” and that’s the route that Black turns away from and gives her more a chance to knock some people out, if she needs to. During this movie, she definitely does need to and that’s exactly what she does. Keep on going, Mrs. Coldplay!
Don Cheadle is here once again as Col. Rhodes (still thought Terrence Howard was better, but hey, that’s just me, baby) and does fine with what he’s given. Cheadle doesn’t have a huge role here but gets more to do than just pick up Tony’s scraps and make us feel like he’s more of a bad-ass too. Although, I will say that he does get to show us what makes him all bad-ass still. Oh, and before I forget about it all: Rebecca Hall is here as an old-fling of Tony’s and is good, even if her beauty and charm does seem a bit wasted on a character that is essentially around just to show how much of a chauvinistic a-hole Tony basically was back in the darker days before he fell in love with Pep. Still, the girl is mighty fine!
Now is the part where we go onto the baddies and this is where things begin to get a little dicey for me and you. See, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce both play some evil a-holes that definitely are not the breed you want to mess with, let alone see Tony mess with, but there’s more to them than just that and I can’t give away too much without sounding annoyingly-vague, or just giving it all up. Both do what they need to do as the baddies, especially Kingsley who actually terrified me at one point, but there are more layers to them and once you see what’s really going on with these cats, you might just be a bit surprised. I sure as hell was and once again: I still don’t know what to make of it. What I can say though, is that the movie does not, for a second, stray-away from giving these two guys plenty of scenery to chew on and that’s where all of the fun comes from. Because if you think about it: that’s all you need in a good villain, right?
Consensus: Starts off perfectly with a funny script, electric set-pieces, and a cast that never backs down from a script they can’t grapple, but Iron Man 3 ends more on a whimper, than on a bang. Which would have been all right and perfect with the world, had we not already see the Avengers and know what there is to expect with the Marvel Universe.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!
P.S. Stay for the credits. Even though you probably already knew that, didn’t you?
Is it wrong to say I was getting pretty hungry during this thing?
Back in the day, two girls who became morbidly-obese before they even reached high-school, decided to take it upon themselves to sue McDonald’s for making them “fat”. The court (as they usually do), threw the case out and said that they couldn’t prove anything, because they weren’t so certain that any of the fat or extra-weight they gained was from the actual food. That’s where Morgan Spurlock comes in to show them all who’s boss, by eating Mickey D’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, getting all of the menu items at least once, and always agreeing to have his meal “Super Sized”, but only if the cashier asks.
Way back when this flick was released, it was a pretty big deal for many reasons, but the main which being that it showed us all that fast-food restaurants are practically the devil’s that we always give into. Let’s face it, we have all had our fair-share of food from fast-food joints and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you realize that the crap you’re eating, is in fact bad for you, and shouldn’t be eaten excessively. But back in pre-Super Size Me days, people didn’t really think about this at all and just continued to eat-away at the Big Macs, the nuggets, the McGriddles, the McMuffin’s, and the worst of all, the extra large sodas.
However, this movie came around and really changed all of that and made us realize, “Woah. Chicken McNuggets aren’t just real, actual chickens they get from the farm?” Now, I’m pretty sure not everybody was as stupid as I may make them seem, but the truth is, people didn’t care or think about it as much as they do now. Vegans are all over-the-place (they’re annoying, but all over-the-place nonetheless), Whole Food Markets are popping-up everywhere, and slowly but surely, more and more places that do serve meat, show that they are at least taking care of the animals that they take the meat from, just to ensure that you don’t start tearing-up whenever you take a bite out of a cheeseburger, because you just destroyed Babe’s future. Yet, while at the same time, Mickey D’s is showing-off it’s new and improved menu-item; the one, the only, Fish McBites. Let’s face it, as much as we try our hardest to change the world by the way we live, eat, sleep, drink, and just be, the big corporations are going to stay the same by running business their way, and telling everybody else to hit the high way. It’s the way the world works, but getting a documentary like this really slaps you in the face and makes you realize it’s a sad reality we have to live with. But, it can get better. Which is what exactly happened after this movie, even if Mickey D’s doesn’t like to admit so.
Morgan Spurlock deserves a lot of kudos here, not just for changing certain elements of the fast-food industry as we know it, but by how much effort and dedication he put into making this work. If anything, the guy risked a pretty good job at having heart-disease, let alone, dropping over and having a straight-up heart attack. He knew this all from his doctor’s, who all told him to stop his ass before it gets more than just serious, but yet, still continued to trug along to not just prove his point, but to also give us something to look at. I may be in the minority here, but when Spurlock started paying-attention to the fast-food industry, the way it works, the way it makes it’s money, the way it manipulates, and the way kids are being thrown into this world where a Whopper is exactly what you want for din-din, rather than some soup mom-mom made.
There’s a lot to explore and discover with this journey that Spurlock takes, and the guy deserves all of the credit he seems to still be getting nowadays, just because he never lets-up with his experiment, nor does he ever give up on showing us what’s in-between the finer reading that we may not all be seeing. Some of the scientific-numbers that him and his doctors pull-out of their asses, did sort of come-off like a foreign language to me, but I guess in it’s context, it all meant that his health was failing and getting worse as he continued to pound-away on those wonderful sausage, egg, and pancake breakfasts that never get old. Sarcasm, indeed.
However, being older, wiser, and more knowledgeable of the world around me, who I am as a person, my needs, and my wants, I’ve come to realize that Spurlock feeds us a lot of shit, that may be more than just the food that he’s talking-out against. Be ready, people. This section of the review is about to get really, really rant-y. Here’s the problem that I ran into with this flick: I don’t necessarily agree with Spurlock’s assessment about how the fast-food companies are to be blamed. Granted, fast-food companies are generally considered detestable and in no way, shape, or form the right people you want to give all of your cash to, but they aren’t really the one’s to be blamed here. In fact, we, as human beings are more to be blamed.
For instance, the movie actually brings up the point fairly-early when it says how certain people should make up their own decisions, and shouldn’t feel the need to go about something, like food or whatever, if they have a choice. People have the choice to choose between eating at home, eating at a fancy, schmancy restaurant, or, eating at a fast-food joint. Seriously, the choice is all up to that person and whether or not they want to go with the extra-fatty food, or just chill out and take it easy on carbs. That’s all up to the person, but yet, we are still there pointing the finger at those people because they give us an option? Doesn’t seem right to me and it’s almost a child-ish way of thinking where we can’t make up our own minds and blame ourselves for how fat we got, so instead, stick it straight to the people, who made the product that got us fat.
If you don’t want a Big Mac, then don’t get one! But if you do want one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, then don’t come bitchin’ to me about how much you ate, how fat you got, and how Mickey D’s are a bunch of a-holes that don’t deserve to make the money that they do. In no way am I sticking up for the people from these corporations, but the way that Spurlock rests with his case and shows us that it’s okay to blame those fast-food places for the reason that we’ve all become big and fat; seems so immature to me. It’s almost like we take the whole responsibility idea, and totally throw it out the window because somebody is allowing us to buy a product that they made. Didn’t seem right to me and in the end, seemed a tad too liberal for yours truly.
Then again, all of this could just be me, my views, my opinions, and the ways that I see life, but do we really want to go about our days just doing stupid shit and blaming it on other people for our misfortunes? Like those kids from Colombine: they were some effed-up individuals that nobody decided to help, listen to, or be there for, but at the end of the day, it’s all because Marilyn Manson made some scary-ass tunes about how evil and wicked he is. Once again, not sticking up for Marilyn Manson at all, but it doesn’t seem fair when a guy is just doing something that he likes to do, and gets blamed for something, you know, because people don’t like him and some kids decided to shoot-up their school. Doesn’t seem right to me, and makes me feel like the society that I live in is filled with a bunch of babies that make their own mistakes, but still can’t take the full and utter responsibility.
Okay. End of rant. I promise.
Consensus: Back when it was first released in 2004, Super Size Me was and, in a way, still is an important documentary about how our world loves to eat, loves to be fat, and loves to blame other people for our problems, but the liberal-approach to that latter aspect ruined most aspects of the film for me, despite Spurlock being as dedicated to eating shit food than I’ll ever be.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
I’m telling you, us Irish guys know our women, and beer. Definitely more of the latter than the former.
Three Irish-Catholic brothers (Edward Burns, Mike McGlone, Jack Mulcahy) from Long Island, New York, all love the hell out of each other and would do anything for the other. However, they also have a lot of problems that they need to let out every once and awhile. Whether it be the wife at home giving them a hard time, the kids are getting up your ass, or you feel as if you’re getting too old for this shit anymore, they are always there. That’s what brothers are for and that’s what these ones do for one another. Why? Cause they Irish, they Catholic, and they are, above else: McMullens.
Is it me, or does it seem like Edward Burns deserves more roles? This flick pretty much put him on the map back in the day and all because it was pretty much his brain-child: he directed it, wrote it, funded it, produced it, advertised it, gave birth to it, and practically did everything else one person can do a for movie. Heck, I even think the guy played the bagpipes for the score? Probably didn’t, but it’s always a nice thought. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this is his baby and it’s a film that shows this guy has some real talent, so any problems here, are all put onto him. Thankfully, there’s not too much I can throw against his Boston-ass.
What I liked most about this flick was Burns’ writing and just how natural it felt. Take it for granted, this whole movie is dedicated to a bunch of dudes just sitting around, shooting the shit, talking about what’s on their minds, what’s on their weenies’ minds, and what they think about when the ladies aren’t around. That would definitely bore the hell out of some people, but not me. I actually enjoyed everything that these guys talked about and a lot of it came off as very true. I know I may sound like I’m jumping the gun here because I’m only 19 years of age (for now, ladies?) and I wouldn’t know a single thing about love, marriage, sex (I sort of do now, ladies?), or kids for that matter (I hope I don’t, ladies!!??!?!), but what I do know, is men (sounds a little strange, but you know what I mean). And what I know most about men is that they all talk like about their problems in this sort of way, and react to their problems just like they do in this flick as well. It all feels real and that’s one of the best things that this movie has to offer.
Other than knocking down a pretty solid screenplay, Burns also does a great job behind the camera even though he doesn’t do anything flashy. There’s this very grainy look that makes the film seem as if it’s filmed in documentary style and made me feel like I was there, with these guys while they go through all of this tough shit with their lives. But other than the look, nothing else Burns does here gets in the way of the story which is great. Oh wait, there was that annoying-ass Irish music score that came in almost every single 5 minutes that obviously was there because it went along with the theme of these guys being Irish and all, but did it really need to be here? Especially in a film like this. I don’t know, it just bothered me because it made me feel like I was watching Braveheart.
The only other annoying aspect of this flick was how sweetie-pie everything begins to get by the end of the movie. Before the last 30 minutes or so, these characters were hard-hitting, talking about all of this bad shit, and actually doing some bad shit while they were talking about it, but by the end: it all goes away. Then, once the paths have apparently been cleared, we get some cheesy scenes where everything end nicely, with a little cherry at the top. A bit too too nicely you may wonder? Damn skippy! But trust me, I’m not trying to give away any spoilers here or anything, but you’ll start to see it all once a certain-part in the end shows up. d
Bummer too, because everything Burns was doing here beforehand felt honest and real. It’s almost as if he was speaking for men all-over-the-globe (especially from New Yaaark, booo!), and to see him sort of cop out in the end and get all sentimental with us, seemed like a bit of a cheat. Kind of as if Burns was too afraid in going that extra-mile and really hitting us dudes where it hurts the most (you know where that is, ladies). Also, while I’m at it, why not bag on Burns some more? To top that all off, they played it all of with some crappy and depressing track from Sarah McLachlan. You know, that chick that makes you want to kill yourself for not saving an animal from the pound. Yeah, no reason for her to be in this kind of a flick, let alone, any flick for that matter. Please don’t find and kill me, SPCA. Please.
Aside from all of that though, Burns lifts himself up with a pretty good performance that definitely makes you wish you saw more of his character around, but then again, you got to give it to a guy who isn’t trying to just steal the spotlight in his own show. Instead, he gives it to two other dudes that play his brothers, Mike McGlone and Jack Mulcahy. Both of these guys are good here and it’s a real shame that, along with Burns, they haven’t really been doing much. Well, that is except for McGlone who I see from time-to-time in Geico commercials. That’s right, one second the guy is in a critically-acclaimed film that premiers at Sundance, and the next second he’s cuing up jokes for Elmer Fudd. Funny where your career will eventually take ya, that’s why I stay far away from Hollywood and relish ion the days of appearing in small, indies. Hopefully that stays and hopefully I start making money. Aww, fuck it! I’m going to Hollywood and moving out of my parent’s basement!
Consensus: With plenty of great insight to what really goes on inside dudes’ heads, Edward Burns makes his directorial debut, The Brothers McMullen, a very funny and realistic comedy that touches on some hard-hitting issues with life for the male-gender, it just doesn’t know how to resolve them in a realistic-way. Or maybe it was realistic, who knows.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Jeremy Renner plays Jeffrey Dahmer, who was also known as one of the most notorious serial killers of all-time. He killed over 17 men and boys, after he usually manipulated them into sex, drugs, and drinking, but also was able to get away with it for a pretty long time. Here’s a glimpse into his life, or at least his later-life that some may or may not find all that settling.
No matter who you, chances are that you have heard of Jeffrey Dahmer. Yeah, that dude was very messed up and going into this movie, that’s exactly what I was expecting. Sadly, I just got a really good glimpse of how freakin’ creepy Renner can be. You know, when he isn’t around, defusing bombs and such.
David Jacobson hasn’t done much since this movie hit the indie-theaters, which is a shame because the guy gives us a nice glimpse into the life of a guy that I’m sure none of really wanted to see for ourselves anyway, but yet, couldn’t keep away from neither. Why that is that we always want to see more and more about these sick, sadistic killers lives is beyond me. But then again, I’m the one who’s wondering and I’m also the one who not only watched the movie, but is reviewing it as well. So, screw me, I guess. Anyway, back to the review I just mentioned.
Jacobson does a pretty good job at keeping his direction very low-key, and never going anywhere near to over-exposing his subject. This isn’t your normal type of slasher movie where we see people constantly being hacked up into little pieces and then the killer eating them with ketchup on top, it’s more subdued in the way it tells the story, as if it most likely happened. I liked that approach and I like Jacobson’s very low-budget look that made it seem like this could be happening in any place, town, or city. There could even be people like this, who live right next door to you without you ever knowing. It was a nice way to touch on a subject like this and that’s honestly what I thought I was going to get, but that’s the exact problem with this flick: it never goes that extra mile.
When I say “extra mile”, I mean that this flick could have easily gone into extra depth about this infamous figure and showed us what really made him tick, but it never does. It does show us things that happened in his past that irked him and kind of set him to madness, but we never get inside of his head or see things the way he sees them. We get a couple of clear-cut examples as to when and how he went totally ballistic, but never anything to where I could say “oh, I see why he does this as a chore/hobby of his.” Now, I’m not saying that there should be or ever is any excuse to murder people, let alone 17 boys and adults, and there wasn’t any here at all, it just needed to give me something that I could hold onto when I was watching a person like Dahmer up on-screen. Jacobson seems to get the story, but not the subject if you know what I mean.
But other than not doing much with its subject, the film also suffers from being somewhat, dare I say it: boring. A couple of murders happen here and there, and we get a pretty crazy montage of Dahmer doing his dirty stuff with his boys in a midnight gay club, but other than that, nothing else really all that exciting happens. The movie just sort of meanders around from to scene to scene without any real genuine suspense or thrill behind it. Instead, we’re just sort of watching a guy be weird and plan to do some even weirder things. I didn’t go into this expecting a slasher along the lines of Halloween or Scream, but I just wanted something more to keep me glued. I guess I’m just a little brat because I have probably mentioned the word “more” about 10 times already in this review. Actually, if you have seen this movie, there’s something for memorable about that word “more” that comes into play in this movie. I don’t want to give it away but if you watch the movie, then you’ll understand. Until then, stay in the mysterious dark of not knowing.
This whole review that I’ve done so far may make it seem like I didn’t like this movie, but I actually didn’t mind it. That’s mostly thanks to the one guy who saved it all for me and really kept me going for this whole movie: Jeremy Renner as Jeffrey Dahmer. Renner has been a guy on my watch for the longest time and I definitely think he’s going to be the next best thing for Hollywood when the time comes around. However, it’s these roles in lesser-known movies that he does is what really gets my hopes up for him higher than ever before. Renner is absolutely amazing as Dahmer, because he plays it subtle, without over-reaching his grasps into how psychotic he can make this guy seem to be. He just is, plain and simple. Just looking at this guy from afar, would have you guessing right away that he’s crazy as shit, which he is but Renner gives him this very charming act that works not only the people in this movie, but us, the audience as well. He seems like you average, every day dude that just so happens to be one of the craziest mothaeffa’s around and Renner plays that to the brim, showing barely any emotions the whole time, but still being able to release a cold chill about him that settles in throughout the whole movie, even when it seems like everything is calm and collective. It isn’t, and just by watching Renner’s performance, you can tell that this guy has got presence whether or not he’s saying or even doing anything. He just needs to be there, on-the-screen, to really keep your pulse beating. Great performance from Renner and it’s honestly a role that should have gotten him way bigger, way back when. Thankfully, he’s on the top of the food-chain now, and it doesn’t seem like he’s coming down. Thank the movie heavens for that.
Consensus: Dahmer is one of those movies that makes you feel like it’s really going to get deep down inside the mind of a serial-killer, especially one as notorious as Jeffrey Dahmer, but it never hits that peak. It just sits there, acts a little weird, and lets Jeremy Renner take over the show. It’s not as bad to watch because Renner is so good, but there could have been more than just a weird guy, who did bad things.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
If you live in Salem, most likely weird shit will begin to happen.
Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a vulnerable radio DJ that spends her time working, keeping busy, and staying off the sauce. Everything is fine for her until she receives some weird recording from this band called “The Lords”, and begins to feel nauseous and strange every time she hears it. So does a local historian (Bruce Davidson), who not only tries to find Heidi and tell her of the danger that may await her, but also try to figure out just who these “Lords” really are. He lives in Salem, where this is all happening, so it might just have something to do with the past? Oh no!
Rob Zombie is a weird dude, but he does seem to love the horror genre. In a day and age where almost everybody seems to be giving up on it, there’s Zombie right there, to breath some everlasting love and light into it, even if it doesn’t always work for the dude. However, after he finally ditched the whole Halloween re-boot series (thank the high heavens), it seems like the guy has a chance to make a movie that comes from his mind, his soul, and his fingertips. That’s sort of the big problem there.
It isn’t that Zombie’s ambitions aren’t worth recommending, it’s just that they don’t work. Rather than chasing down a story where a bunch of people kill, sweat, and do dirty shit, all to the tuneage of Southern-rock, Zombie keeps his pace slow and melodic in a way, giving us a chance to focus more on characters, rather than the nutty stuff that’s about to happen to them. That’s why the first 30 minutes of this flick really worked for me; it was all character-development. Granted, it wasn’t anything memorable or special that I haven’t seen done a hundred times before in movies (especially horror ones), but it showed that Zombie could chill out when he felt the need be and could actually tell a story without diving into overly-dramatic theatrics.
Even when Zombie does dive into these said “overly-dramatic theatrics”, they surprisingly do work and feel freaky. Not scary, but freaky in the way that the inner-Catholic in me was a bit shocked by how purely-evil a movie could be and act. Not sure if Zombie actually does worship the devil in his spare-time, but if so: I wouldn’t be all that surprised with all of the devil-loving in this movie. Like I said about the first 30 minutes up top, not only does the character-development work, but so does the freaky stuff. After this though, things get a bit shaky. Actually, who am I kidding!?! They get really, freakin’ shaky.
One of Zombie’s biggest problems is that he does well when he wants to be funny, he just doesn’t transition well into full-out horror. Instead, most of the creepy shit like a baby being licked by witches, evil dead babies doing stuff (I honestly have no idea what the hell they were doing), and witches chanting and praising in the name of Satan, don’t really seem scary, as much as they just seem goofy. It seemed like Zombie was trying to harken back to the good old days of horror, by throwing in elements of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but instead, got something that reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut. Not exactly the type of movie I like to be thinking about when I putting up my “Top 10 for Horror Movies”, but that’s where this movie seems to go towards and it’s a wonder just what the image of where this story could go, actually was in Zombie’s head.
Was he trying to say anything about drug-addiction? Because as far-fetched as that may seem, there is plenty of references to that. For instance, Heidi is a former drug-addict trying to get over her old sensibilities and develop new, improved ones, yet, still finds her way of coming back to them. And that’s all thanks to that vinyl-record she listens to from that weird band, which may be another metaphor for the drugs in her life; past, present, and future. As the recording continues to play more and more, her old life of drugs and partying comes back, and it’s only a matter of time until it spirals out of control and her old friends need to come back into her life and help her. Maybe, just maybe am I diving into this a bit too much? Damn straight I probably am! But still, at least I’m trying to give some amount of credit to Zombie, because it doesn’t seem like any of this material (his, as a matter of fact) goes any further than Satan, dead babies, and witches. Oh, and some rock ‘n roll as well. Some.
If there was anything in this movie that was worth remembering or really blowing me away, it was Sheri Moon’s performance as Heidi. In the past, I’ve never really been too fond of Moon’s acting, as I felt like Zombie has always had the chance to just shoe-horn her in, anyway that he could, but here, she feels as if she belongs. She isn’t her to just get nakey (although she does and it’s awesome); she isn’t her to just act all weird and crazy (quite the contrary, actually); and she isn’t here just to allow her hubby, Zombie, to throw whatever it is he can at her. She’s actually here to act and acting is what she does well by giving Heidi the right amount of charm and sympathy, that makes us care for her more and more as the flick continues to enroll into some odd shite. Moon is obviously down for whatever comes her way, but the human-aspect of her character is probably what worked best for me, and it was interesting to see where her character went, how she got there, and when she was ever going to get out of it. By the way, I’m talking about her drug-addiction. In case you couldn’t tell.
Moon keeps the movie somewhat grounded in a real-sense of reality, whereas everybody else seems to just be losing their essence of cool. Bruce Davison was a big, old welcome-back as the scholar that’s interested in Heidi’s past and record she just received and shows why the guy has this likable sense of dignity to him, that never really waters down over time. It’s been awhile sine I’ve seen this dude do anything, let alone, anything good, so it was a nice, blast-from-the-past to have. Horror-queens Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn, all play the three witches as they ham it up furiously where they bitch, gnaw, and cackle their way through any scene they show up. Does it always work? Not really. More or less of it seems to be them trying really hard to be like the old days, but it’s entertaining enough to watch them try and remember what it used to be like, when they were young, fun, and blissful. And there’s probably a hundred-more cameos, side performances, and such by a bunch of other peoples that I forgot to mention but once you see them, you’ll recognize them.
Consensus: Zombie may have a clear-eye for ambition with The Lords of Salem, and while some of it does work and freak you out a bit, some of it may also have you laughing as if any of this is supposed to be taken seriously, or with a grain of salt. It’s neither: it’s REALLY serious.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!