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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Roland Emmerich

White House Down (2013)

After this, I think Obama’s going to start hiring more male-strippers for around the office.

While Jeremy (Channing Tatum), an wannabe-Secret Service Agent member, is on a tour of the White House with his daughter (Joey King) in an attempt to win her love and support back, something crazy happens. No, not the fact that the President of the United States (Jamie Foxx) meets with the group and even talks to his daughter, but the actual fact that a bunch of terrorists, lead by a trusted Secret Secret member (James Woods) and a ruthless mercenary (Jason Clarke), have infiltrated the White House and are already making demands. Just about everybody in the White House gets either killed, leaves before shit goes bad, or is taken hostage, with the exception of Jeremy who finds that it’s no better time than to prove himself to the president, his daughter, as well as the rest of the world, than now.

Cue up the overly-dramatic action-score when you can.

First, we had Olympus Has Fallen, which wasn’t as bad as it seemed to look, and now we have this. Oh wait, scratch that! Firstly, we actually had Die Hard, and then these two came. Yeah, that’s about right. See, what it is about these flicks is that it doesn’t matter how much risky business you try to take with your premises, you’re always going to end-up being considered “a re-hash” or “unoriginal”. In this movie’s case, words like that are almost too hard to avoid, especially since Olympus Has Fallen has literally came out less than 4 months ago. That’s not to say that this flick loses points from the get-go for that reason and that reason alone, but it did make me wonder many times throughout the whole flick, “Didn’t I literally just see this?”

"Shit, please tell me they didn't just turn on Step Up 2."

“Shit, please tell me they didn’t just turn on Coach Carter.”

The answer to that hypothetical question is yes, and no. Yes, because the same plot-threads are shown in almost the same order, and no, because this movie is way, way, way, way more ridiculous than that one. Seriously, the idea that the White House would get taken over in the first place is pretty outlandish, but top off of everything else that happens in this movie after the 30-minute mark, then you got yourself bigger problems than you’d ever expect. Oh yeah, it gets silly. Real silly.

The setting-up of the story, the tension, and the suspension of belief is fine because Roland Emmerich knows the type of flick he’s about to hammer our brains with for the next 2 hours, so he probably felt like why waste our time right off the bat. However, once the terrorists invade, shit gets hot, and people start getting killed and taken-hostage, the movie gets insane, and not in the best way either. “Insane” in the type of way that it’s almost so crazy that all of this would happen, the way the movie tells it like happening, is almost too ridiculous and innate to take belief in. Then again, like I said, it is a movie directed by Roland Emmerich, who is not known for being smart, subtle, or even realistic for that matter; the dude just wants to see shit blow-up, by any means possible. Even if that means destroying every audience-member’s IQ level, then so be it.

But that’s what you can expect from Emmerich and when it comes to that aspect of the movie (the guns, the explosions, the mass-killings, etc.), the movie is as fun as you’re going to get for the rest of June and for the next couple of weeks (except for when this hits). People come to see a Roland Emmerich movie, to see a bunch of fun, unadulterated fun that you can’t quite get anywhere else; and if somebody argues against that point, you can definitely say that it’s probably the corniest-movie, you can’t seem to get anywhere else. That might just work because once the plot actually begins to thicken and more and more layers are added-on than you can even count on your plate, the movie becomes as stupid as you are going to expect it to get.

Everything from the convoluted terrorists’ plot, to the jawwing-sessions of the officers in the control offices, is all made out of pure randomness and stupidity, but it’s fun to watch, even if you’re laughing at the material and not with it, like Emmerich probably wants you to believe you can. Almost every character here seems like they have something to prove, whether it be an act of violence or an act of intelligence, and none of it ever rings true. It’s as if Emmerich knew how stale and cardboard these characters were, that he needed to give some of them a chance to strut their stuff, and show what it is that they bring to the table. Sort of like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies, where everybody gets a chance to shine so you can see why they matter and why you would actually feel some emotion if they have to get killed off in the next couple of minutes or so. However, comparing those two near-masterpieces, to this pile of cow-dung is almost an insult to Mr. Abrams, one that I hope he never sees or hears about.

If you are reading this, J.J., just to let you know: I loved Felicity. Please don’t remove my name from your contacts. Please!

Sweet, sweet America.

Sweet, sweet America.

With that said, it does call into question whether or not these wild cast of characters can actually handle Emmerich’s mostly-laughable material, and for the most part; some fare better than others, which is what we’re used to seeing with this guy’s films. Channing Tatum springs right into full-on, action-hero mode and is a fine fit as Jeremy, even if everything he pulls off throughout the movie (from the running-away from bullets, to the swan-diving into particular areas a normal human-being would practically be crippled after performing) is utterly ridiculous to watch, even when it’s Tatum performing them all. The dude’s got charm and likability, as I’ve always knew, but his character can only go on for so long until you start to realize that he’s just a one-note guy, without much else to him. The chemistry he has with Jamie Foxx is very good and feels real, especially because they seem to love the hell out of each other in real life. It works well in the film, but I feel like more scenes of them just talking, getting to know one another, and realizing how much they’re alike in ways a common-citizen and the president of the United States would never, ever know about beforehand, would have done them both better. Then again, I’m talking about a whole entirely, different flick with a different director and writer.

On the evil side of things, James Woods and Jason Clarke lead the band of baddies that take over the White House in the dumbest way possible, but still make for good villains because you feel their raw-intensity every time they’re on-screen. It’s probably cliche to even have Woods in a villainous-role, but the guy handles it well and with pride, whereas Clarke feels like he should have just had the whole movie to himself, mostly because he owns it as the main baddie, aka, the one that can actually kick-ass if he’s called on to do so. Starting with Lawless from last summer, to now, Clarke has really been showing his taste for versatility and it makes me wonder what else the guy’s got cooking up for him. I mean hell, when you can “out-evil” James Woods, the king of baddies, then you know you got promise, even in a schlock-fest like this.

Consensus: As over-the-top, stupid, random, insane, and idiotic as White House Down truly is at it’s core, it’s still the type of fun and crazy movie you can expect from a director like Roland Emmerich, even if his cast from the outside looking in, seems to hold so much more promise for the material.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"I'm going to find that bastard who stole my wad of $ bills, even if it's the last thing I do!"

“I’m going to find that bastard who stole my wad of dollar bills, even if it’s the last thing I do!”

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Stargate (1994)

Let’s just stay in this universe and not fuck anything up. Thanks.

Prof. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) believes there is more to our humanity but yet, nobody will care to listen to him because they feel as if he is just another nut with a microphone, and a head that’s a bit too big for his britches. That said, somebody takes notice to this freak-o and makes him apart of a secret mission to uncover an ancient portal known as the Stargate. Along with a couple of soldiers, lead by Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell), they take a trip through this other dimension to see what’s shaking and baking and the answers they come up with are sure as hell not pretty.

We can all come to terms with the fact that Roland Emmerich isn’t the type of guy we can expect to see new-bread, highly-intellectual classics from, but at least we can expect one thing from him no matter what the story may be that he is tackling: fun, fun, and more fun. That’s all there is to it with Emmerich and even though Godzilla pissed almost everybody and their Chinese relatives off, and 2012 didn’t quite predict the future so well, at least the guy had fun with it, right? I’d say yes, but then again, I’m usually a sucker for these movies that don’t lose their enjoyment, no matter how stupid or idiotic they may actually get. This movie is the one where I drew the line with Emmerich and all of his stupidity that follows.

What I’m about to say is probably going to lose me a lot of street-cred but hey, so be it. The problem with this movie, right from the start, was that it was just so damn terribly boring, almost to the point of where I was actually contemplating turning it off, checking out another movie, and acting as if this one never came anywhere near me or my mind. I was very, very close to doing this but sadly, I stuck with it and it rarely ever got better for me. Emmerich tries his hardest by building up a story, showing us all the details, but also trying to leave some out for good fun, but it’s almost too much to where we don’t even feel like we know what the hell is going on at all.

Cool cut though.

Fresh cut though.

We get that these guys have to go to a different dimension, look for species, figure shit out, and take notes down, but that’s about it. Oh, and need I forget to tell you that Russell’s character has actually been given the direct order to bring a bomb with him and detonate it whenever he senses danger on this other universe. You know, a universe that may have human-beings alive on it and other materials that may be useful for the world we live in. Nope, just blow that shitty place up and act like it was all good in a hard day’s work. Because let’s face it, that’s what the military does, right?

That aspect of this movie seemed really stupid, but I was willing to drop my pants and my brain for a healthy-dosage of fun and entertainment, and I barely even got that. The first half of this movie is simply dedicated to these dudes running around this strange land, being acquainted with the natives, and trying to figure out what the hell is up with this land, even if there isn’t really anything wrong with it in the first place. This all plays out as if it was a shitty, low-budget remake of Dances with Wolves, but instead of having Navajo natives, they got these weird, slightly-colored people to speak total gibber and gabber, and consider that a “foreign language”. Seriously? That’s the best you could come up? Give me a damn break!

Don’t worry though, because it does get worse. As soon as the problems do actually show their faces, the movie still continues to make no sense as to why this person they have to face-off against is evil, why the hell he cares about these dudes showing up on their land, and just what does it all mean in the grand scheme of things. Sure, you could probably say that I was looking for a little bit too much in something that was just a typical, sci-fi yarn, but when a movie that is so focused and hell-bent on describing it’s ideas, plot, and exposition, I at least expect there to be some sort of reasonable explanation to it all. Not a whole lot, but just some, and this movie just never gave me that nor did it do anything to excite me. A couple of action scenes here and there fly by, but that’s about it and something felt like Emmerich just wanted to cut-loose, get crazy, and start blowing the shit out of random things like people, pyramids, and most of all, hairy monsters that are just there for show.

If there was any hope in this movie that it wouldn’t be the total shit-box I was expecting of it to be, it was at least that the cast could save the day, and apparently even that was asking way too much. James Spader is a very talented actor that can usually make any type of role work, but he just is so nerdy, so gullible, and so spazzy, that it gets to a point of where it’s annoying. I didn’t look at this guy in any other way, other than just by seeing him as the usual bookworm that thinks he’s way too smart, doesn’t know how to act in situations where the shit gets hot, and worst of all, doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Something tells me that a dude like James Spader doesn’t quite need help with the ladies but I guess Roland Emmerich saw something that I didn’t. Strange.

Okay, maybe he does need some help.

Okay, maybe he does need some help.

Thankfully, this is where Kurt Russell shows up to pick the slack up from here and shake things up, Snake Plissken-style. Okay, maybe his character here isn’t that awesome or cool for that matter, but it’s Kurt Russell being Kurt Russell, and for a movie and role like this: we really needed to see that come alive within the dude. Russell is constantly cool, a bit dangerous, a bit mysterious, but always bad-ass and shows that he can take even the shittiest-material, and make it his own little bitch. He seems like he really wants to get wild at some points, but he keeps it grounded and humane, just the way I like to see Russell play it. Although it doesn’t hurt to want to get up and start hacking people off left and right. Especially wouldn’t have hurt in this movie, anyway.

The strangest person in this cast, who still has me scratching my head as to whether or not he was actually good, or just plain and simply ridiculous was Jaye Davidson as the Egyptian king that wants this pretty place to himself, with nobody else’s grubby paws getting in the way. Davidson is the person most of you may now from the Crying Game (yeah, you know who the hell I’m talking about) and is fine here, but dresses so strange, looks so weird, and has this voice that’s a mixture between Barry White and Satan, that it just didn’t do a single thing for me and had me laugh at him the whole entire time. It seemed as if Davidson just got back from a drag-queen show every time he showed up on set and decided to now waste the time getting ready to suit-up, and kept the clothes he had on originally. Does it work? Yeah, maybe in a campy-way, but this movie isn’t campy enough and is always so self-serious that this villain, this performance, and this look that Davidson carries on throughout the whole movie just seems idiotic and totally out-of-place. Still have no idea why the hell this dude jumped off the face of the Earth after this movie hit, but who knows. Maybe he got stuck in another universe after all!

Consensus: Sci-fi junkies will probably eat this shit for breakfast, spit it right back out, and chew it up again for fun, but for a person who just wants a good story, realistic characters, and a bunch of fun and action, Stargate doesn’t even fill me up after the appetizers. It feels as if it wants to be a goofy, over-the-top movie but plays it so serious and so dramatic, that it never gets off the ground. It just stays there and sinks into the sand.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Trust me, it's a dude. I think...

Trust me, it’s a dude. I think…

The Impossible (2012)

Apparently the English had it way worse than the rest of Thailand. Apparently.

Based on a real story, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as the parents of three sons as they are all caught in the aftermath of the humongous tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004. They get split-up, with the oldest-boy (Tom Holland) and his mother on one side, whereas the father and the younger-boys are on the other. However, among all of the pain, destruction, and disaster  both sides set out to find one another and do, simply, THE IMPOSSIBLE. Come on, you had to know that was coming up.

The 2004 Tsunami is a disaster that is still fresh and clear in many people’s minds and in ways, still has people feeling the effects, even after all of these years. That’s why making a flick about this monster-Tsuanmi would still seem a little too soon for some, but it’s a lot more tastefully done than the advertising would have you think. To be honest, it’s probably a better use of the Tsunami than that piece of crapola Hereafter was. Hey, if you’re going to cash-in on a real-life disaster, do it the right way, not the Clint Eastwood way. And that’s why director J.A Bayona is suited so well for this material because not only does he handle the subject and topic with a real sense of class and decency, but he also shows it in the way that makes me feel as if I was right then and there while it was happening.

After seeing a whole Summer chock-full of the world being blown-up and countless other areas being turned to shit, I was very, very surprised to see that the very best use of any type of destruction for a movie in 2012 (no, not that Roland Emmerich piece of shite) came from a movie that uses only 10 minutes or so of it, and then it’s practically gone. We only get 10 minutes or so until the actual Tsunami comes and concurs, and it’s just one of those moments that occurred this year where I was grounded to the floor from start-to-finish. The reason that is, is mainly because everything I saw seemed so real with the waves coming in at a very realistic look and pace, and the scariest use of water I have seen in quite some time. You seriously feel as if you are right there with these people as they get hit by the Tsunami and I have to give Bayona a crap-ton of credit for putting me on the edge of my seat and having me feel like I was in for a wild ride of drama, sadness, destruction, and family-matters. I got all of them, but sadly, not the way I wanted.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

After the Tsunami hits and we get to see the shitty situations these characters have found themselves in, everything, slowly but surely, starts to fall-apart. Maybe that isn’t the right thing to say because I was very involved with these characters, this real-life disaster, and the aftermath of it all, but then it almost seems to lose it’s focus. The story that we become first accustomed to is with Watts and Holland as he has to practically be the parent in this situation, because she can barely even walk and practically falling apart. This story-line was interesting as hell because you rarely get to see the kid parenting the parent in movies, unless it’s some teenage daughter teaching her dad all of the cool lingo that the Y-Generation, cool kids use. We see how a parent can put themselves below a child, be tended to, and how a child can actually do that while being successful, and yet, still be a child. It was interesting to see and I could tell that if this was how the whole film was going to play-out, then I was probably going to need to borrow the extra bag of Kleenex’s from the person next to me.

However, I soon forgot about a very key, important-factor to this flick: there’s a whole other side to the family! When McGregor shows up with the two, younger boys, then the flick becomes a bit conventional and melodramatic, almost to the point of where it’s off-putting. With Watts and Holland, it was rich, raw, and gritty, almost to the point of where you were cringing because somebody needed to throw water and soap on them, but when you get McGregor and his story of looking for his family, it takes everything down to something that feels as if it would be from a Lifetime movie or something. The eternal conflict that McGregor has to go through, is that he has to choose on whether or not to abandon his own children, to look for his wife and other child, and that’s it. He has to find them and if he doesn’t, chances are, they’ll be dead. I get that it’s a very real and true depiction of events that probably occurred to a plethora of families around this time, but still, it doesn’t make it the least-bit intriguing or surprising to watch, especially when all that I’m watching is a guy, walking around with a piece of paper in his head and asking people certain names. Yeah, should have just stayed with Watts. She probably would have gotten naked more, too.

The fact that this is a real depiction of something that real people had to go through, just makes this final-product a bit more distasteful in it’s own way. For instance, I find it relatively strange that the flick’s real-life story, concerns a family that was Mexican. Here, they are English and even worse, the rest of the film acts like it was hardest on them the most. Over a million people died that fateful day and some families are still reeling from the effects of that, so to sit-there and make a movie about a little, mighty family of mates that went searching for one another, does seem a bit rude to the rest of the people out there who died and were sometimes under the same circumstance as this very same family. I do have to come and realize that yes, this is a Hollywood production and yes, this is a real-life story about a real-life family, not the real-life event that actually occurred, but still, if I were one of the families who suffered from this Tsunami and saw this movie, I’d be a little ticked-off, quite frankly.

"You think I'm bad, you should see Anakin."

“You think I’m bad, you should see Anakin.”

Even though the actual, real-life family this story is based-off of is in fact, Mexican, the English cast that actually does take over this story still make it worth the while to watch and are easily the best elements to this flick. Naomi Watts is getting all sorts of hollers and praise for her role here as Maria, the wife/mother who can’t fend for herself due to a terrible disability, and it’s well-deserved hollers and praise, in my mind. Watts is always knocking roles like this out of the park, each and every single year, but here, she sort of shows the vulnerable-side to her character that can’t be the leader and owner anymore, and instead, has to sit on the back burner and try to stay alive, while her son cares and tends for her. Maybe it’s not as traumatizing of a performance as the one she gave in 21 Grams, but it’s still the cleaner, more mainstream-version of that same performance.

Ewan McGregor is an actor that has been very so-so over the last decade or so, but I think he’s gotten his career back on-track and is a great actor to watch, especially when he’s in such an act of desperation as his character is here. McGregor definitely still has the lovable sensibility to him that not only makes you feel like he’s a great father that loves his family for what they are, but will ultimately, end-up doing the right thing for every one in the end. There’s a scene with McGregor on the phone and without giving too much away and spoiling it for all of you cats out there, it’s probably his most powerful piece of acting he’s given ever since the days of Moulin Rogue. Maybe to some, that’s not saying much, but to me, it means the whole world. Good job, Ewan! Now stay away from the new Star Wars movies!

As compelling as McGregor and Watts are (and trust me, they are something to watch and behold here), the one who really stands-out the most is probably Tom Holland as the oldest-son. The kid starts off as a bit of a brat that can’t help but being a piece of crap to his parents and to his brothers, but has to change all that up once everything goes from bad, to worse, to absolutely dreadful. Not many kid actors working today could pull-off that transition from spoiled-brat, to powerful, adult-like child, but Holland does it and does it so perfectly that you really believe in whatever this kid does next. He’s a wonderfully kind specimen the way he cares for his mother and looks out for her, especially when she needs him the most, but is even kinder when it comes to helping others out in looking for their families, friends, and loved ones. Holland may, or may not slide-by with an Oscar nomination this year but if he does get one, I will not be mad in the least-bit because he’s never annoying, and he’s always real. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

Consensus: Focusing on one, English-family throughout this terrible disaster that occurred in 2004, does seem a bit insensitive to the ones who were effected the most by it, but The Impossible still provides plenty of rich, character-moments that are made even better by the cast and crew that make this flick, one step above your typical, soapy-drama.

7/10=Rental!!

Don't let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.

Don’t let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.

2012 (2009)

Glad we all died this year!

With the Mayan calendar ending in 2012, a large group of people must deal with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers.

Director Roland Emmerich stated that this was going to be his last “disaster flick” and since he already did ones like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, you can tell he needed to go out with a total bang. So you know what that means: more people dying, more destruction, more shit blowing-up, more corny one-liners, and more special effects to eat-up, and shit-out like an all-you-can-eat, Chinese buffet.

Everything I just described up there may make this seem like another piss-poor attempt at trying to just throw a bunch of dollhairs at the screen, in hopes that it will actually make most of it back, and then some, but it actually makes this film a lot of fun because Emmerich knows he isn’t trying to make some piece of “art”. It’s not one of those flicks that makes you think twice about the world we live in, what could happen, how it could happen, and nor is he trying to make a film that’s going to make a run for Best Picture. He’s just trying to make a movie where the Earth, the beautiful world we all love and live in, goes, “BOOM! CRASH! BANG! SPLAT!”, and everybody else suffers because of it. It’s pretty fun, and sometimes exciting to see what Emmerich puts into this type of destruction and the special effects look pretty good, for the most part. Other times, they look like something that came straight out of GTA: Apocalypse but you have to give this movie the benefit of the doubt: showing the world blow up in every which way possible, is a pretty hard thing to pull off. And it’s definitely something that Emmerich shows total joy and glee in doing-so.

Actual, real-life footage taken from the Weather Channel.

Actual, real-life footage taken from the Weather Channel. Seriously, just ask Rolan Emmerich.

Still, whenever the destruction wasn’t going down, this film tried it’s hardest to give us some melodrama that just didn’t work and made me laugh more than anything else. The screenplay is obviously terrible and of course, we get all the same old melodramatic speeches and corny-ass catch-phrases that show up here but what bothered me more about this writing was that it was way too predictable for my taste. The whole story about Cusack saving his family from every line of death imaginable is all good and fun to watch, but there’s so many coincidences here, that I wondered just how this guy didn’t break a leg, a hand, an wrist, a shoulder, a tibia, a collar-bone, or any type of bone in his body, for that matter. Hell, the guy actually drives a limo through a volcanic eruption and he barely even gets a scratch on his cheek, let alone, a scratch on the fine set of wheels he’s been trucking around this hell-whole full of destruction. I don’t want it to seem like I wanted to see the guy perish in the first earthquake, but I thought him, as well as plenty others, just got by without anything really bad happening to them whatsoever and it was a little too unrealistic and too obvious for me to really just let slide-by and act as if it’s not really happening in-front of my eyes. I know, I’m hating on a Roland Emmerich film for not being realistic, but I just couldn’t get my head past it.

Watching places like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Yellowstone National Park get blown up into tiny little pieces and get sucked into the ocean is pretty cool to watch, but I could only imagine how a person would feel had they actually lived there. There was no mention or scenes showing Philadelphia being destroyed, but I would think that if they had, I would feel pretty sad about it because that’s my home and just the thought of everything around me, anything I ever knew, and every person I ever met, being killed instantly would put me in a total bummer of a mood. It also started to hurt me once Emmerich started showing all of Vatican City being thrashed up and made me think: why would you want to kill the Pope in a movie like this? I get it, it’s realistic that him and plenty of other holy people would die in catastrophic events like this, but really!?! Of all people to show being killed in the Apocalypse  you’re going to show the Pope and all of his followers? Did you even need to show that, or could it just have been implied? Just bad taste, that’s all and a bit too extreme for a popcorn flick.

"I'm getting way too old for this Apocalypse shit."

“I’m getting way too old for this Apocalypse shit.”

Also, why the hell did this film need to go on for 2 hours and 40 minutes. I like disaster movies, but not when they can take up about 3 hours of my life and have me practically wasting my day, wondering just what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of it. And if that was the case, I would just watch a double feature of Emmerich’s last two disaster flicks and find more enjoyment out of them both than this junk. It actually got to a point of where I started dozing off by the end when this film decided to go all The Poseidon Adventure on us and it just goes to show you, that once you run-out of ideas about destroying the whole world, just go back, and try stealing from other movies, because nobody’s going to notice. They’re already wasting their times to see your dumb-ass movie, so screw em! Not my thoughts, they’re Emmerich’s and the other Hollywood producers who help him put-out this crap.

The film has a pretty huge cast that works fine with what they are given, but are pretty much wasted on such a shit script like this one here. John Cusack is pretty freakin’ awesome as our central hero, Jackson Curtis, mainly because he doesn’t over-do it one bit. He doesn’t take this role too serious, nor does he ever really freak-out whenever it seems like he and his family are going to perish just like the 95% rest of the world already has. He plays it cool and still has that great comedic timing that we all know and love him for, back from his Peter Gabriel listening days. And also, it’s about freakin’ time that we gave more, heroic-roles like these to Cusack because the dude’s got that, every-day-kind-of-guy look to him, that makes you want to stand-up, pat him on the back, and just cheer him on until he can’t go on no more. Thanks Roland Emmerich! Even if the rest of your movie sucks, at least you have Cusack the shot he so rightfully deserves!

Danny Glover plays the President (as you would assume) and does a pretty good job bringing out some emotions in a guy that I feel like I would blame all of this bad shit on in the first place (don’t know why, but I would probably just be mad); Woody Harrelson has a nice cameo as Charlie Frost, the bearded and dirty hippy that knows all about the end of the world and loves spreading it all out on the airwaves; Chiwetel Ejiofor is fine as the scientist with a heart, Adrian Helmsley, but he also seems a little too good for this ass-like material; Oliver Platt plays his usual “dickhead” role as top government official, Carl Anheuser, and just oozes the corruption; and Amanda Peet and Thandie Newton just stand there and look scared the whole time. Pretty fine bit of casting as everybody here have proven in other flicks, that they are some heavy-hitters. However, when Roland Emmerich gets ahold of them, they have nothing to do other than ham it up like it’s nobody’s business. That’s exactly what they do here and although it may have made their banking-accounts a bit more filled, it made me a bit more ashamed to see them all stoop this low. Oh well, each and every one of them have done something better since then, so I can’t complain too much.

Consensus: 2012 may remind you how much the end of the world is going to suck with its constant explosions, endless use of special effects, and cheesy-ass writing, but also isn’t as thrilling as you would expect from the dude who did Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. And yes, despite them not either of them being, written-down masterpieces, this one still should have been as fun as them.

3/10=Garbage!! 

Yup, the only two black people left on Earth are THIS good-looking.

Yup, the only two black people left on Earth are THIS good-looking.

Monsters (2010)

You thought illegal aliens were bad, what about actual aliens?!?

Six years ago a NASA space probe crashed to earth with a shipload of alien stowaways on board – in the time since, a massive section of the Mexico-US boarder has been fenced off and is now quarantined as an ‘infected zone’. Photojournalist Andrew (Scoot McNairy) is keen to get pictures of the creatures, but when he’s tasked with getting his boss’s daughter (Whitney Able) back to the US, a one-day trip turns into a surprising journey.

I have to give a lot of credit to director Gareth Edwards, who practically made this film for only $500,000 dollars and does a pretty damn good job with it. Actually, it’s probably a lot better than half of the big, studio flicks that come out every month and have about 20 times the budget and still can’t deliver. Take that Hollywood!

A huge problem with this flick that people may have here is that the title and premise has you thinking that you’re going to get plenty of alien action, filled with space ships, ray guns, universal translators, and all of that other crazy alien shit we see but that isn’t the case we have here. In fact, it’s more of an “Adults Only” sci-fi flick (not in that type of way you pervs) and is a lot more character-driven than you would expect, which was a nice touch here. It was sort of like we were joining these two peeps on the road trip from hell taking place in a future that isn’t as destructive as you would think with a whole bunch of aliens constantly running around, instead, it just looks like a wasteland that is still itching for order and control without Edwards ever shoving it in our face that something catastrophic happened here.

Edwards also did a great job of shooting on location, using actual locals that he would find off the streets for the parts, and add in the CGI later. It gave the film this real authenticity where it seems like everything is actually happening right in front of our eyes, and even though we all know it’s not real and this will probably never ever happen, it still feels like a snapshot of what our world could come to in the near future. I mean the whole film is one big metaphor for illegal immigration, so it sort of does make sense after all. Basically, give this Edwards guy a whole bunch of moolah and let him do whatever the hell he wants to do with it because the guy can deliver a lot more than certain directors out there like Roland Emmerich. However, I did like Anonymous, so I can’t knock on the guy too much.

For some odd reason though, as much as I liked and can give a lot of credit to Edwards for his low-budget film-making, I couldn’t help but feel that it took a lot away from the story as well. The obstacles that Edwards puts in here, weren’t enough to actually leave a mark on me, and yes, I did crave a lot more action than this film delivered with. I know, I know I should be shamed about this but I wanted more alien action and shenanigans because it would have really kept more of my interest when the film started to just really linger on and on with these two peeps walking, talking, and sometimes, running. Definitely don’t go into this expecting an Independence Day-like alien flick or else you’ll be left more pissed off than piss happy.

I also may seem like sort of a dick for talking ish about this other element of the flick, but I just have to go with it. I don’t know what it was here that bothered me but almost every time a CG helicopter came up in the flick, whether it was just roaming around or not, I was taken out of this film more and more. They seemed to pop-up in the sky almost every 15 minutes and looked so incredibly fake, whereas everything else was pretty realistic looking and fit well with the rest of the area. I don’t know what it was about these copters but they just seemed so goofy for this type of a serious story.

Because I bought most of the world that Edwards put us in, I actually bought a lot of the characters and feared for their safety as well. Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able are two people that I have never seen before in my life, but both do pretty good jobs of playing these two accidental tourists, Andrew and Samantha. McNairy is good in this a-hole role where he started to peel away his emotions, layer by layer, whereas Whitney, was also very good playing the vulnerable and scared girl role as well. Both had great chemistry together, which they should have because they’re a freakin’ married couple, and both should added a lot more to their scenes, where it’s just the two of them talking basically, a lot more than I expected. No other notable names, other than these two and that’s pretty much all we need.

Consensus: Though it’s not what every sci-fi movie aficionado would like, Monsters is still an impressive debut flick from Gareth Edwards who gives a very original movie with great chemistry between the leads, a story that you care for, and some impressive, low-budget special effects. Hope to see this guy more often!

6.5/10=Rental!! 

Anonymous (2011)

So Romeo & Juliet were never real?!? WTF!??!

Who was Shakespeare? This Elizabethan drama imagines that the man we call the Bard really didn’t pen his body of timeless plays. The stages of London erupt in intrigue as the real author of the classics credited to Shakespeare comes to light.

Probably everybody who has ever heard of the idea that director Roland Emmerich (‘Godzilla’, ‘Independence Day‘, and plenty of other destruction-of-the-world films) would actually be taking the subject of William Shakespeare and the theories that he may have not written his own work. I know it sounds crazy but I think Emmerich is back in action.

The film is not really based on actual facts, but it’s more actually historical fiction that tells a story like plenty of other costume dramas. Hell, Shakespeare isn’t even really the main center of this film, he’s more just the dude that basically starts all of the shit-stirring in the first place.

I like this approach that Emmerich took because he actually kept me involved with the whole story, and his subtle touches of telling the story rather than just letting us know a major plot twist just by having one of the characters telling us. It’s a surprise that Emmerich can actually handle this subject matter and not over-do everything, but I guess after basically destroying the world one-by-one in every single one of his films, he realized that maybe he can just take it a little bit easy.

The script is very well-written because it not only shows how dirty and corrupt politics were back in the “Elizabethan” days, but also shows the connection that politics and arts have, maybe even being one and the same. Everybody was so against poetry and literature and to show how so many of these people could find relief and shelter with these two things was surely great because Emmerich obviously has a love for these work’s of Shakespeare and doesn’t let loose of that sight, even as the story gets more and more compelling. Almost every single costume drama seems like the same one before that, and this isn’t much different from plenty of others that we’ve seen before but the grand-spectacle that Emmerich brings to this subject matter is what made me really involved with this film.

Although it all went well with the writing and direction, I still felt myself having some problems with this film. The film is told in flash-backs which had me confused a lot throughout the whole film considering the fact that everybody still kind of looked the same from about the time their flashing back to, to the time they have the film take place in. There was also a lot of characters that we weren’t really told about until a conversation would come up and they would mention that persons name when they would be talking to him/her. This confused me much and sort of took me away from the film and how I followed it.

Another problem I ran into was the fact that this film is over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, which causes a problem considering the middle act begins to drag severely due to some sloppy soap-operaish things going down. When the film starts to dive into some territories like incest and bribery then it starts to feel a bit melodramatic but not as bad as I was expecting it to become.

There was a moment that comes up by the end of this film that feels like it should have been terribly tense and climactic, but instead something just wasn’t all that there for me to actually to feel like I was on the edge of my seat. I think it was the fact that the film takes so long going back-and-forth with its story that it doesn’t really bring out much tension when it came to its story in the present but regardless of this, I still liked where the film went. Basically I’m complaining about nothing.

Rhys Ifans has sort of been that dude on the side in a lot of comedies, just giving his little witty lines here and there, but he is terrific as De Vere. He gives it his all just about every scene and relies more on his serious and dramatic range, rather than his quirks and really has you root for this character because you know he’s a good man no matter what happens. Jamie Campbell Bower plays him as a young bull and is pretty lame considering that it’s obvious he struggles through a lot of his lines.

There have been so many Elizabeth’s over the years that it’s hard to choose who is the best but when it comes to playing a combo-meal of Elizabeth, you can’t get any better than Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson, who are actual real-life mother and daughter. Both of them play their roles to perfection and give her this very sincere and realistic feel to Elizabeth, but still aren’t afraid to show the power they have over everybody around them. Redgrave is a lot more memorable but I think it was a real good choice having these two together was a real smart pick on Emerich’s part.

Rafe Spall is playing the man none other than William Shakespeare himself and is very funny as this drunken and sort of evil guy that just sinks into the fact that he is being hailed as “the greatest writer of all-time”. He brings a lot of fun to this role but honestly, what the hell were his parents thinking with that damn name? Sebastian Armesto plays Ben Jonson and is another weak-link because he for some odd reason, gives his character a deeper tone than it needed to be so he could sound more serious. It comes off as more hammy than actually realistic.

Consensus: Anonymous has its fair share of flaws, but also has some great qualities with some great performances, an interesting story that benefits from some smart theories, and has Roland Emmerich on top of his game doing something else other than just blowing up the world, one blockbuster at a time.

8/10=Matinee!!

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