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!!
Matthew McConaughey is Mud, a fugitive drifter hiding on a small island in the Mississippi River. He’s on the run and living peacefully all by his lonesome, that is until he is found out by two, young boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland). They don’t cause him much trouble as they seem to be more lost in wonder about this dude and eventually assist him in evading capture and reuniting with his beloved girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon).
So far, for writer/director Jeff Nichols; life has been pretty good. Not only did his first flick (Shotgun Stories) have “the artsie crowd” jumping in their tight jeans, but his second one (Take Shelter) got his name out to a bigger audience that one more over, just by the sure-fire of Michael Shannon being the man. But we all know that when something is too good to be true, it usually is and that’s what I felt like going into this movie. It wasn’t that I doubted Nichols’ skills as a writer or director, it just seemed like such an obvious and predictable story where boys will be boys, and we’ll leave it at that. That’s what I thought, but what I got was so different.
Sorry for ever doubting ya in the first place, Jeffrey.
Movies that feature kids at the fore-front really have to win me over with more than just showing them being funny and insightful by cursing. They have to give me something more, and that’s exactly what this flick did. Instead of reaching for the conventions, and giving me a story that I’ve seen done a hundred times over, Nichols takes that story, and loosens-up it’s hinges a bit. It sort of like Nichols knew the type of genre-movie he was making, and decided to give it a little taste of his own. Not as dirty as I may make it sound, but it sure is fun and entertaining to watch.
Fun and entertaining in the way that the movie starts off quick and continues to go that way as well. There are moments when the flick decides to get real heavy on us and teach us some lessens, but not anything that really hit us in the face like a fish. Nichols keeps every character and their moments grounded in reality where we see these people who for the types of people they are. Each one, in one way or another, has a relationship with somebody else that you’d never knew about before, but the film brings up and shows you how that developed over time. It’s so interesting to see what you can do with character-development, just through simple and lean conversations. Some of it’s dramatic, some of it’s subtle, and some of it’s obvious, but most of all: it was interesting to see and made me care more for each of these characters as the stakes got higher and the tension began to build.
And once that tension does blow off, it does it in a way that isn’t everything you’d expect from a movie like this. Without jumping down the throats of all of you fine people with spoilers out the wahzoo, I’ll just keep it real simple in the way that the flick does end with some shooting and whatnot, but not like you’d expect. It happens for a reason and not just because Nichols got bored and needed to light up some fire works. Once again, it’s another way of showing how certain people use violence to their advantage and don’t seem to care about the after-effects. Just what needs to happen, and how it can be pulled off. Now, where have I heard that before!?!?
But it is meant to be said that by the end of the movie, things did start to get a tad bit conventional. Almost too much, dare I say it. It isn’t that I didn’t hate the flick for ending the way it did, but going to where I could sort of tell everything that was going to happen, and for what sole reason it was as well. Nichols did everything right leading up to the end, but the actual end itself is a tad of a bummer, for the sake that you know where it’s going to go. Again, I don’t wholly mind when a film goes that way, but it did sort of feel like a cheat, coming from Mr. Jeff Nichols here. He had me going though. He really did.
Though, I can’t be too hard on Nichols, because the guy has assembled a fine cast of characters here and that is definitely meant to be praised more than discouraged. Matthew McConaughey has been on a role as of late, and it doesn’t seem to show any chances of slowing down, by any means. His role as Mud is great for him to play because he gets the chance to, once again, tool around with the idea that we don’t know everything about this guy, what he’s done in his past, why he’s doing it, and if everything he’s saying is all truthful or a tall-tale. The whole time I kept wondering what was up with this guy, and by the end: I still didn’t quite know. But that’s the whole beauty about McConaughey’s performance in how he is able to mess with us, even long after the movie. We get general ideas about the guy where we see he’s a slick, cool, and kind fellow that does things for the people he loves, but a bit too harshly? Maybe? The answers to those questions are left for you and you alone to decide. Get going!
Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland play the two boys that find Mud on the island, and remind me of two kids that were picked right out of a Stephen King novel. They curse, spit, swallow, and cause havoc like all kids usually do, but there’s more of a sweetness to them that makes you want to hang out with them, as well as wish the best for them through this wild adventure. Especially Sheridan, who won me over two years ago in The Tree of Life and showed me some real promise as the next, young actor to watch. The kid’s story-line may be a bit too packed for it’s own good, but the kid kept his head above water and that’s more than enough I can say about certain kid actors out there.
After her most recent 15 minutes of fame in the slammer, Reese Witherspoon finds a way to re-group herself from driving and puts her rump down in the acting chair, like she should because she’s good at it when she isn’t choosing shit scripts. That’s a very rare thing for her, but let’s just soak up the moment now, shall we? What’s good about Witherspoon here is that she uses her beauty to her advantage in the way that she never gives you everything you need to know about her, only what you think you need to know. She walks a very fine-line in being both easy to trust, but also a tad mysterious in her ways, and it’s a fine-line that Reese can walk (at least when she’s sober that is!!). I’m really glad that Reese picked up a role like this because it reminded me why the gal was so lovely and so talented in the first place. I mean, hello! She does have an Oscar!
Nichols’ buddy from his past two movies, Michael Shannon is here as an uncle of one of the youngsters and is good, even if he isn’t in it all that much. Actually, the role is so small that it seems like he just showed up for one day of filming, cleared-out his schedule, and went right back to being Zod and reading sorority sister letters. The one who really steals the spot-light away from them all is Sam Shepard who shows them that he is still the bad-ass he once was, even after all of these years. Nice to know that guy’s still around and can do shit and do it right.
Consensus: Mud takes a slight-detour into convention by the end, but it’s a trip that’s worth taking regardless because of the amazing performances, the heartfelt script, and characters that are worth watching because you care for them and feel as if you know them.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
Just another excuse for people to go, “oooh look who it is!”.
‘New Year’s Eve’ celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, in the intertwining stories of couples and singles, told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.
Oh once again, another holiday, another holiday, and yes, another time for Garry Marshall to make Robert Altman turn around in his grave. This is basically the same exact thing as Marshall’s same ensemble-filled film, ‘Valentine’s Day’, and even though this one is only just a tad better, that really is not saying much at all.
What these types of films always have problems with is that all of these types of films have so many stars passing in-and-out of the flick as if it was I95 but they are sometimes not really given much to do, instead of just to be there and look pretty. This is the case with this flick and I felt like Marshall really rushed things here to the point of where he wasn’t really concerned with the stories as much as he was more concerned with just getting as much stars up on the screen before they had to go leave and shoot a better film. When I say this, I’m not talking about Sarah Jessica Parker. She loves this kind of stuff and I think she may be the only one who does too.
Another problem with all of these films is the fact that almost everything everybody says here either seem like cliches, something taken out of another flick, or just plain schmaltz. The film always goes for being sweet, cute, and loving but it more or less just comes off as being the same old crap that I’ve seen time and time again, except this time with Jon Bon Jovi spouting out corny love songs. But then again, the guy owned The Philadelphia Soul, so it’s not as bad if say someone like Nick Jonas was doing it. Yeah, that kids lame.
I knew I was going to get this kind of stuff before I went into this flick but I honestly think that these films try way too hard to give more meaning about a holiday that is basically all about getting plastered with your buddies, yelling random shit at people you’ve never met in your life, freezing your ass off, counting down till a big-ass glow ball hits the bottom in 10 seconds, ending up making out with a person that chick that looks like your sister, and waking up the next morning in somebody else’s bath tub with a splitting headache. I’m not at all speaking from experience but let me just tell you that when it comes to this holiday, not many people are reflecting on the past year and what they are thankful for and what they aren’t thankful for. So stop trying to give it more meaning than it already needs Garry!
However, as much as I wanted to diss on this film for what it obviously fails in, there were moments here where I was enjoying myself probably because New Year’s is such a fun holiday and that’s something that I don’t think Marshall took away from. There are moments where this film actually seems funny and had me chuckling here and there, mainly because of the cast and probably just because this film sort of put me in a good mood. It’s also one of the rare cases where the “bloopers” during the end credits had me laughing a lot more throughout them, instead if the whole film itself.
The whole cast here is star-studded everywhere you look and made this film a little bit better. Instead of naming the whole cast like I normally do with these ensemble-like films, I’ll just run down the people who were probably the most enjoyable. Zac Efron was probably the one dude I had the most fun watching up on screen; Hilary Swank is actually quite convincing as a Times Square vice president; and Sofia Vergara is not only stunningly gorgeous but fun as hell to watch here as the sex-pot chef. There are others that were somewhat fun but too many times were there just these big-named stars just sitting around doing nothing. I’m talking to you, Ludacris. And no, I will still not call you by your “real name”.
I mean to be brutally honest, Valentine’s Day is not a very joyous and fun holiday probably because it’s too centered on having a love on this one special day. However, New Year’s Day where you can just do whatever the hell you want basically and have a blast the whole time no matter how old, young, or if you’re single or not. This film may have it’s obviously problems with plot, writing, and overall construction, but keeping to the fun and reckless spirit that is New Year’s, is what made my enjoyment level of this flick higher than I ever expected it to be in the first place.
Consensus: There is plenty of schmaltz, corniness, and moments that will more or less make you want to punch the writers in the face, but when it comes to keeping the actual fun and unpredictable atmosphere/spirit of it’s holiday, New Year’s Eve is a fun flick for anybody that wants to see stars coming-and-going non-stop for a whole 118 minutes.
If you have just read this review and cannot believe I just did what I did, please do not have any lost hope for me. I will once again get back to reviewing shit and calling it exactly what it is. I promise people.
The one thing I kept wondering the whole time was whether or not anybody got showers.
The film stars Elizabeth Olsen as Martha, a girl who runs away from a cult only to be picked up by her sister and brother-in-law. As she tries to get used to being back in “normal” life she starts get flash-backs of the past, and it starts to eff with her, thus effing with everybody else around her. Let’s not also forget that this chick is as paranoid as a kid looking up porn in a public library.
Going into this film I knew to expect a good performance from an Olsen sister nobody knew about, and a lot of cult freakishness. Sadly, I still don’t know what to think of this film.
This is a real upsetting film that will probably make you more sad than actually on-the-edge-of-your-seat. Right from the opening scene you know you’re in for some real dark ish to be going down and having a cult there, makes it almost even more grim, but that is where my problem with this film is.
The film brings out a lot of points about how vulnerable people can be and how weak-minded most people are as well, but I think this was just a case where writer/director Sean Durkin just wanted me to feel like I should go snuggle in my warm, big, and cozy bed. He definitely did a good job at this but there could have been more to it. This premise can be used very effectively and can do a lot of creepy wonders if you have the right vision but this film kind of left me cold, as if I had no reason to really see this film other than to be utterly depressed out-of-my-mind.
The writing also felt pretty repetitive because it was the same constant thing where Marcy’s sister and her husband would just yell at her because she wouldn’t tell them anything, then Marcy would get paranoid about something, and then they would do the same thing over and over again. I think if they focused more on these characters rather than just the situation itself, the film could have really done some real damage to its viewers but it also felt like Durkin didn’t know what to do with this strong plot and just focused on a bunch of random silence and yelling. There could have been a whole lot of cooler things they could have done with this premise but when you just do the same thing over and over again without getting anywhere the first time around, then that’s where I have my problem.
Despite my problems though, I feel like Durkin did a great job behind the camera and really worked on keeping the grim material, grim. Everything is all dark and faded to bring out this glum look for the film even when Marcy does escape the cult and it gives us this sort of feeling like she will never escape. There were also a lot of cool shots where Durkin has one scene in the present, transition over to a scene in the past and it creates this dark mood that’s subtle. It’s a shame this guy didn’t know what to do with his script because he sure as hell knew how to film it.
Speaking of Elizabeth Olsen, she’s pretty much awesome here as Martha. This is her debut role and what she has to do for it is very hard since this character is so battered and tortured that Olsen is actually forced to basically bring out any type of commanding force to this very complex character. She owns that and I think she has a future in the movie-business, I just hope that not all of her films are like this really. John Hawkes is also pretty menacing and freaky as the cult leader, and Sarah Paulson and Hugh Dancy are pretty good as Marcy’s sister and brother-in-law.
The ending is also another topic of conversation that many people were pissed about because it does just happen, without any real tension but just being ambiguous. I wasn’t as pissed with this ending considering this is what to expect now from all art-house flicks but it’s also a great ending that adds a lot to a film that doesn’t try to spell everything out for the audience. The whole ride to the ending was a bit sloppy but I can at least give some props to a film that you can find a lot of meaning out of. It wasn’t my cup of tea but hey, I’m just one dude.
Consensus: Martha Marcy May Marlene is a grim flick with some great acting from Olsen and Hawkes, but the film itself feels repetitive and a plot that really could have gone so many more places than it actually went and just stayed in this film.