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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Star Wars

The LEGO Movie (2014)

Remember those small, yellow things you used to “accidentally” stick up your nose as a kid? Yeah, they have lives you know.

Normal, everyday Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) lives in a world that is controlled, run-by and practically dominated by the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell). In this plastic world, everyone is to wake up, follow their day throughout a precise set of instructions and guide-lines, always smile, swallow overpriced coffee, go to work, be happy about it, get that paycheck, sing terribly-catchy, yet excruciating pop-songs like “Everything is Awesome” and go home to watch mind-numbing sitcoms like “Where Are My Pants?“. It’s so painfully dull and monotonous, but nobody cares, nor does anybody fret, because quite frankly, nobody knows any better; not even poor Emmet, who is just like everybody else. But things begin to change for Emmet once he stumbles upon an an ancient artifact known as the Piece of Resistance. He knows nothing about it, but he’s soon picked-up by the rebellious ass-kicker known as Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and is told that the fate of humanity lies in his hands, and his hands only. In better words: He IS the “chosen one”, and it’s up to him to stop Lord Business’ maniacal ways.

The plot is the same old, cookie-cutter stuff that we’ve seen done in a million other movies (*cough cough* Star Wars), but that doesn’t matter because it’s all used so that the directors can get all sorts of these LEGO-pieces together and see what sort of magic they can make-up next. Needless to say, for a kid who has played with LEGO‘s all throughout his childhood, it was an honor to see the likes of 2002-era Shaquille O’Neal, rub shoulders with none other than Batman himself. And no, I do not mean that ACTUAL Shaquille O’Neal and Bruce Wayne got next to one another, showed their faces to the camera, and rubbed shoulders; I mean that their LEGO figures did.

Basically, he's like the LEGO version of Corporate America.

Basically, he’s like the LEGO version of Corporate America.

And that’s where all of the fun lies with this movie, whether you like it or not.

Chances are though, going into this, no matter how idiotic you may think the idea of LEGO movie being, you’re going to be laughing, be having a great time and totally surprised by what this movie does; not just with its animation, which is quite stunning to look at pick-apart, wondering just how they were able to film it all, but with its script, that displays hilarious wit at a non-stop pace. Most of the jokes here, are made solely for the adults that will most likely get roped into seeing this, and there is no problem with that whatsoever, because there’s a lot of humor here that had me howling like a banshee in my seat. I mean hell, there’s even a joke about how they refer to one character as “Michelangelo, the artist”, and another as “Michelangelo, the Ninja Turtle.” Now, if that doesn’t make you at least crack a smile or two, then I have no freakin’ clue what will!

But there’s definitely plenty out there for the kiddies as well, which doesn’t mean that there’s just a whole bunch of slap-sticky, or fart jokes to make them giggle – there’s a whole bunch of action, fun and excitement that gets thrown into this, all because you can tell that both Phil Lord and Chris Miller clearly care about the audience that this movie is being made for. Sure, you could argue that a LEGO movie actually does exist, solely to sell more toys and merchandise, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. However, the movie isn’t just an-hour-and-a-half ploy trying to grab your arm, snatch your wallet and long-dart you to the nearest Toys R Us or Wal Mart; it’s actually an animated-flick that’s pretty damn hilarious, fun and always able to gain your attention, no matter how many times you may have to remind yourself that you are in fact watching LEGO‘s, up on the big screen.

It’s a strange feeling that even I had a problem getting through on occasion, but I knew one thing: I was just happy knowing they weren’t actually MY LEGO‘s. After all of the abuse and torture I put those poor things through, lord only knows that if they ever became animated and alive, they’d come after me, and with a vengeance, too! Same goes for my sister’s Barbie Dolls!

Although, that may be a different story entirely….

Anyway, moving on!

Though it is hard to go on and on without talking about the voice-cast, I do have to give all of them credit because they do some energetic, spunky work here that definitely makes you see their wild and goofy figures brought to life. Chris Pratt is growing up more and more each day into the perfect “everyday man”, even if in this instance, it just so happens to be a LEGO; Elizabeth Banks sounds as sexy and dangerous as she should as Wyldstyle, almost too sexy and dangerous for a kids movie where young boys will most likely be present in viewing; Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, by basically just being Gob Bluth, disguised as Bruce Wayne; it’s neat to see someone like Morgan Freeman lending his voice to an animated-movie as goofy as this, but you know, the guy gives it his all and really seems to be enjoying the hell out of himself; the same being said for Morgan Freeman, can practically be said about Liam Neeson who seems like he was definitely a bit tipsy during the voice-over recordings, but hey, it made it enjoyable to listen to; and if there was one weak-link to be found in this voice-cast, it’s probably Will Ferrell, who is definitely as harsh he should be with a name like “Lord Business”, but the act gets stale after awhile and you can sort of tell that Will Ferrell himself is enjoying this a bit too much. Maybe somebody like Nic Cage would have done this guy total justice. Actually, not “somebody”, definitely Nic Cage.

Look! That's the joke I'm talking about! And there's even a ghost in the background! Sweet, right?

Look! That’s the joke I’m talking about! And there’s even a ghost in the background! Pretty sweet, right?

But being that this is an animated movie, which is more often than not, being marketed towards the whole family, there obviously has to be a message learnt here, which there is. However, that may also be where my main problem came from – the way in which it kept on hitting me over, and over head with what message it was trying to get across. Granted, Miller and Lord take a very bold-step in the last-act with a twist that I honestly can’t say I saw coming (one which I won’t spoil here), but it’s one that didn’t feel necessary. Reason being is that whatever this movie was trying to tell us about “expressing ourselves no matter how strange or different we may be from the rest of the crowd around us”, all felt like something we understood right after Wyldstyle steps in and decides to shake things up with this story. Clearly this movie wanted to be more than just your typical, fun-for-the-whole-family animated-fare, but rather than being a simple, ode-to-love flick like the Croods, it ends up going for more of a Lorax-feel, that got a bit too preachy and a bit too strained with what it was trying to say. Doesn’t mean the fun didn’t stop, but it definitely did bother me a whole lot and took me away from most of the action that was happening on screen, most of which happened and was said so fast, I couldn’t make-out half of what was going on.

But you know what? That’s the fun of it, everybody! So definitely do make sure to go out and see this! Just make sure you have at least one cup of coffee to assure yourself that you’ll be able to catch almost anything and everything that Lord and Miller are throwing at you. Because do trust me: They’ll give you everything. Even the kitchen-sink.

Consensus: Almost anything and everything that Phil Lord and Chris Miller have at their disposal, they’ll launch at you, and then some with the LEGO Movie, but it’s always fun, exciting, hilarious, appropriate for all ages, and most importantly, as quick-as-a-Jack-Rabbit. So make sure to keep up and not get too distracted by too much butter being on your popcorn!

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even cooler! I mean, how in how many lifetimes are you going to be able to say that you not only saw "Abe Lincoln and Superman together at the same time next to one another", but also with "The Statue of Liberty right next to them"?!?! Like, super rad!!

Even cooler! I mean, how in how many lifetimes are you going to be able to say that you not only saw “Abe Lincoln and Superman together at the same time next to one another”, but also with “The Statue of Liberty right next to them”?!?! Like, super rad!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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Blade Runner (1982)

2019 doesn’t seem too far from today. Now, where the hell are those new wave-stylized cyborgs at?

It’s the year 2019, and all sorts of sci-fi futuristic craziness is going on. “Replicants” (or robots, take your pick) that look, smell, sound, and feel like humans are slowly, but surely going extinct, but the ones who are still left around to roam the Earth, are looking for their creator in hopes of making more of these replicants and hopefully prolonging their existence. This is where Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) comes in to save the day, or will he? See, the problem with Deckard is that he isn’t necessarily your go-to cop when you need something done, and done the right way. For starters, he’s a bit of a pissant, doesn’t like his job, somewhat sloppy in terms of his fighting skills, and now, to top all of that off, he’s fallen for a fellow cyborg in the form of Rachael (Sean Young) who isn’t as deadly as these other ones who want to take over the world, but still shows herself to be a threat to the case Deckard is handling, as well as himself.

Well, well, well. Where do I begin with this bad boy? I know, let’s start from the history of all this and how I somehow, someway, get thrown into the mix, shall we?

Anyway, knowing about this movie beforehand on countless occasions, I’ve tried to get through it all, but yet, no matter how hard I may try, I never succeeded in the completion of this movie. I’ve always either watched it, found it to be too slow, and lost interest, or, watched it, wasn’t in the right frame of mind, distracted, found it to be too slow, and lost interest. Basically, they were both the same problems, with the same outcome, and that’s because the movie’s pace really took me for a loop. I can handle slow movies that need to be so in order to build characters, tension, plot, and an overall atmosphere to the whole proceedings, but the numerous times I’ve seen this movie, knowing the hype that surrounds it, I just felt like it was too deliberate for its own good. It almost felt like Ridley Scott wanted to make the definitive mix of sci-fi and noir, that he didn’t really care about much else in the flick other than handling his plot. To me, back in those early days of my film watching/reviewing, it seemed like a stingy act on his part; but now, after many, many movies have been watched, reviewed, and studied, I think it was the most brilliant act he performed on this whole movie’s behalf.

Can't even use both hands. What a softy!

Can’t even use both hands. What a softy!

Well, that and the visuals as well, but that’s another story for later one. Let’s just continue to focus on the plot and the way Scott handles it, especially since it gives this movie a whole down-and-out, dirty vibe that too many modern, big-budget sci-fi flicks are scared to even touch, all because they fear they may scare away the audience members looking for lasers, aliens, spacecrafts, and all sorts of explosions. If you are that type of audience member and if those are your favorite things to see in a sci-fi movie, then go watch Star Wars or Star Trek, and don’t even bother with this movie. Not only does this movie have a slow-as-molasses pace that’s more than likely to have you drinking three cups of coffee in the first 30 minutes, just in hopes of making it through the whole near-two hours, but it doesn’t really have much lasers, aliens, spacecrafts, or even explosions for that matter, nor does it need to.

What Scott relies on the most here, other than his beautiful look of the movie, is the pacing and how it continues to give you more and more detail about the story we are watching unfold in front of our own very eyes; the character’s we are getting to know from the inside, and the out; and the future that Scott’s envisioned for us (originally done by Philip K. Dick, every sci-fi’s go-to novel guy), that not only puts you deep into a dark place where bad things happen on a regular, normal basis, but in a future where it almost never ceases to stop raining. I know, it’s a little dumb fact, but it’s always something I noticed and it just added more to the whole cold and muggy mood of the movie, giving the story more of a compelling feel, and also adding more stipulations onto why these replicants taking over the world matter, and why we should cheer on somebody like Deckard in the first place.

Speaking of Deckard, I can’t say that Harrison Ford was the most perfect pick for the guy, however, something tells me that Scott pitched it to him, and the dude absolutely loved it. And back in ’82, working with Harrison Ford was an offer you did not want to turn down so Ford gave it all that he could, despite the character being a little bit of a sheep-dog in terms of how he puts up his dukes and goes about certain scenes in the movie. See, the odd thing about Deckard, is that he does have this icy-cold front where he’s always making smart-ass comments and not really caring about those that he’s around that may have a problem with him; and yet, he’s a bit of a wimp. Not only does he get his rump beaten-up on more than a few occasions (by ladies no less), but he almost always resorts to his laser gun whenever he finds himself in a rut. Which, in case you haven’t been able to find out by now, is ALL OF THE TIME. And it’s not like I’m getting on Ford’s case or anything here, because he does a nice job with what he’s given, it’s just that the character of Deckard seems like such a normal, average dude that not only does it seem the slightest bit implausible that he would be considered a no-nonsense, take-no-crap cop of the near-future, but that he would be portrayed by the same guy who made a living off of those sorts of roles. Some may say this role is “iconic”, in regards to how he was naturally-written in order to give him more of a humane-feel, which I will not argue against, but putting Ford in this lead role definitely wasn’t the best action on Scott’s choice.

However, that’s just a blip on the radar compared to all of the great decisions Scott made with this movie, so I think it’s safe enough to just let it slip.

Still have no idea where that pigeon came from. Oh well, I'll let it slide by again.

Still have no idea where that pigeon came from. Oh well, I’ll let it slide by.

Everybody fares a lot better than Ford, and that’s mainly because they feel right for the material and live it up in all their campy, over-the-top, 80′s glory. The most impressive out of this cast that I can’t go on any further without mentioning is definitely Rutger Hauer who broke big with his role as the leader of these replicants, Roy Batty, a pretty effed-up and sadistic dude in his own right that proves a great foil for the straight-laced Deckard. Hauer’s a great villain and when you give him a role that he can sink his teeth into, he will gladly do so and give you the type of performance you oh so desire from him. He’s proved it time and time again in the past couple of years, but it was here where he first proved this fact and made us scared to high heavens as to what he was going to do Deckard, hell, scratch that, the human race once he got his hands around its throat. But, like with the best-written villains, there’s more to Batty than meets the eye and when we find out the real being behind what he’s perceived as, then it will not only bring a tear to your eye, but make you realize the type of movie you’ve been watching all along. And yes, I am talking about the infamous “Tears in Rain” soliloquy which totally lives up to the hype and legend surrounding it; which is all thanks to Hauer and his sure genius of making somebody more than they may be originally seen as. Good decision on his behalf, bad on anybody else’s out there who want take a look at this guy already and give him another shot. Come on, Hollywood!

Like I said before though, everybody else gets their time to shine and do what they do best, and it serves as a fun flashback to all of the stars that were big in the 80′s, and how some of their careers have sort of gone haywire since then. I’m talking mainly about Sean Young, but hey, she had a pretty damn solid run for the longest time in the 80′s-early-90′s, and her role as Rachael is what started it all. Not only was she a pleasure to look at, but she gave another character that could have easily been written off as literally “painfully robotic”, and instead, gives Deckard an unusual love-interest, yet, a very believable one since you can tell that guy wants somebody in his life to love and behold, no matter if that other person is a human or not. Pretty weird if you ask me, but hey, I’m not Rick Deckard, and thank heavens for that! But I do wish I was Harrison Ford. That is something I will not thank the heavens for. Damn you, heavens! Damn you!

Consensus: The idea that Blade Runner may not be all that it’s been hyped-up to be since it debuted so poorly back in the summer of ’82, may not be welcomed by most die-hards, but the fact of the matter remains is that it is one of the better sci-fi flicks out there because it pays attention to what matters the most in any good story: Characters, development, story, plot, and pacing. That’s all that you need and that’s what Scott executed perfectly, along with some beautiful visuals to appeal to the eyes.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Suddenly, I feel bad for Calista Flockhart.

Suddenly, I feel bad for Calista Flockhart.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

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.

I hate to say it, but Shatner never looked THIS stunning while holding a laser gun.

I hate to say it, but Shatner never looked THIS stunning while holding a phaser.

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.

"Don't worry, I have all this shit planned out."

“Don’t worry, I have all this shit planned out.”

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.

"No need to fear, baby, I got this. Oh, I mean, uhm....don't worry female human-organism, I will conquer this predicament."

“No need to fear, baby, I got this. Oh, I mean, uhm….don’t worry female human-organism, I will conquer this predicament.”

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!!

"Don't worry guys, in 2 more years, I will have totally forgotten about all of you."

“Don’t worry guys, in 2 more years, I will have totally forgotten about all of you. But anyway, while we’re at it, CHEEESE!!”

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

“Giants, ain’t got shit on me!”, says the little kid from About a Boy.

Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a young farmer who ends up taking a bribe from a snarky monk, for some magic beans. Jack doesn’t think much of it, until he goes home, drops some of the beans, and it rains. Yeah, you know what happens next. The beans end-up leading to a land populated by giants with a taste for human flesh, and they have the princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), captured and it’s up to Jack and the King’s royal-men to save her and get rid of those damn giants!

In a way, I can totally see why so many people aren’t looking forward to this movie as much as I was would be expecting. It does seem silly, it does seem stupid, it does see overly-reliant on CG, and does seem like a random-time and place for a movie like this to come out, but that’s all that advertising. That’s why, in another way, I have no idea why so many people aren’t looking forward to this. I mean, first of all, it’s directed by Bryan Singer, it’s written by Christopher McQuarrie (the two did the Usual Suspects together), and it features a new-take, on a classic-tale but told in the type of way that doesn’t alienate older-viewers, but doesn’t cater to the younger-ones either. It’s somewhere in there, slap-dab in the middle and it works perfectly for a movie that could have easily gone South, real quick, had they decided to take the darker-route. Thankfully, they didn’t and stayed straight to the source-material that I’m sure all of us grew-up loving. If not, get off your asses, and read that shit! You haven’t experienced childhood until you have.

Anyway, aside from that point, I have to say that this movie is a huge bag of fun in the sun! Okay, maybe no sun is involved because it is the beginning of March, but nonetheless, it’s still a hell of a wild ride, straight from the imaginative-mind of Bryan Singer. Here’s the thing about this movie: it doesn’t cater to a certain crowd, yet it’s the type of film you can bring your kids to, mainly boys. Why? Because it’s got all of the right-ingredients that a boy at that age should oh so desire: action, fun, humor, giants, fart jokes (not as eye-rolling as it sounds), swords, guys speaking in funny-accents, and a whole lot more where that came from. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect piece of cake to allow your kids to take a bit out of, I don’t know what the hell will!

WEAK!! Start killing giants you bastard!

WEAK!! Start killing giants you lil’ bitch!

Some may rag on this flick for not going any-deeper than just being a loosey-goosey, fun, and wild romp about the Jack and the Beanstalk-tale, but who needs that when you have Bryan Singer just playing around with the material that it seems like he actually enjoys? Seriously, the guy is having a ball with this material, and in-return; so are we. He never lets loose of the action and never loses his mind on what type of movie he’s making. He’s always making a wacky and crazy movie that has a bunch of people, hunting-down giants, and sometimes, vice versa. You can’t ask for much more, unless you want the Usual Suspects-Singer. If you go in and expect that type of Singer, then you’re going to come out of this with a huge slap-mark on your face saying, “WRONG!!”. It’s just a fun-as-hell movie. That’s it.

I could beat this horse to death with all of the shit that I’m saying, but it’s the truth: this movie is just fun. Take for instance, the fact that I saw this at a 11 a.m. screening on Saturday, not expecting anything other than a movie that would be okay, so I could sleep my hangover away. However, that’s where the surprise came. The movie woke me up instantly, and didn’t lose me for a single second. Sure, it started-off pretty slow and made me feel like I was in for a ride that I would most likely doze-off for, but as soon as Jack gets those treacherous beans, it’s a total and complete party, right from there. Singer never loses the sense or style of that party, and always kept me alive, awake, happy, and above, entertained. I can’t give this any more credit. Just go see this movie and be ready to see the return of Bryan Singer. The guy knows exactly what he’s doing with a story, how he wants to film it, and how he wants to keep the spirits alive while doing-so. If there is any increment in my mind that the guy can handle the next X-Men, this is the reason why I think so. Now, I just cannot wait!

As for the cast, they all seem to be up-to-pace with all of the fun and wild times that Singer’s having behind-the-camera. Nicholas Hoult is charming as the naive Jack that has to grab his pair, and beat the shit out of some giants. He does do some of that, but not enough to where I was feeling like, “Wow, this character really is a slayer.” Don’t get me wrong, Hoult’s good and all, it’s just that I wish Jack was doing more slaying of giants, like the title promised.

Instead of Jack doing all of that bad-assery business of slaying the fuck out of giants, all of that is left up to Elmont, playued by the awesome Ewan McGregor. Say what you will about the questionable-choices the guy has made in the past, but Ewan McGregor is a very, very likeable presence that always keeps my attention on him whenever anything’s going down, and he just so happens to be located in the same scene. McGregor seems to be having so much fun playing the charming, but bad-ass soldier that doesn’t take “no” for an answer, and never lets his target get away. He’s not as sadistic as I may make him sound, but McGregor does have a cool character that can kick ass, take names, chew bubblegum, and spew-out hilarious one-liners, like nobody’s freakin’ business. Where the hell was that in all of the Star Wars movie, dammit!!?!?

"Eat our shit, Peter Jackson!"

“Eat our shit, Peter Jackson!”

Stanley Tucci is another one that seems to be having a lot of fun in his role, but instead, is more of the bad-guy here and absolutely revels in it. Tucci is a great screen-presence to have on-screen, but to watch him chew the hell out of the scenery and spit it back out, was just a blast to see, and probably an even bigger-blast to perform. Tucci’s good at playing weird-o bad guys (*cough* The Lovely Bones *cough*), but a simple one that’s just evil for the darn-sake of being evil, is even better in my book. The only one who feels like a bit of a waste is Ian McShane, who really seems like he just wants to break-out his shell, get loose with it, and just start being the bad-guy himself. Instead, he’s all wrapped-up in that King’s armor that makes him look more like a freakin’ egg than any type of ruler, but hey, at least we get to see those devil-ish eyes. God, they still scare me to this day.

Consensus: Jack the Giant Slayer is not what you think it to be from the misleading trailers and advertisements  It’s not a waste of time, it’s fun, it’s exuberant, it’s made for the whole family, it never loses it sense of joyfulness  and even better, just never loses what it’s all about in the first-place: complete and utter entertainment. Don’t bother with the 3D, but if you’re bored and got nothing else better to do with your life than watch highlight clips of the Oscars, then give this bad-boy a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Yup, I just crapped my pants.

Yup, I just crapped my pants.

TRON (1982)

About 20 years later and hell, I could make this movie off of my Mac.

A hip and cool computer programmer named Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer during a computer game. This is also where he interacts with various programs in his attempt to get back out but also make the computer program “nice and civilized” again.

Watching and reviewing old-school movies like this are so hard because you always have to take them with the grain salt, especially ones from the 80′s. You have to always expect the material to be cheesy, you have to always expect it to be dated, and you always have to expect it to not be as up-to-date with the times as you may be used. This movie is even harder to review, mostly due to the fact that nerds from all over the globe hail this as their wake-up call in life, and consider it one of the sci-fi greats, along up there with Star Wars and 2001. Sorry geek fan boys, not quite up there with those classics.

No matter what it is you may hear about this flick, whether it be good or bad, you always hear that this is just one of those flicks that changed the way computers affected a movie. For instance, back in the days before the summer ’82, computers and film didn’t really need each other, except if it was for a fully-animated movie that needed help moving the pictures and graphics along. Then comes along this movie and soon you start to see actual-people, perform in front of a live-stage that’s just filled to the core with special-effects and even though it may not look as beautiful and awe-inspiring as it may have then, it still really takes you awhile to realize, “Damn, this had to really fuck people’s minds when they saw it”.

Seeing an all-out, special-effects extravaganza like Avatar and remembering your first reactions after seeing that can only give you an idea of what people thought about after seeing this movie way back when, and it’s really impressive. Director Steve Lisberger definitely seemed like he had a real hunch in his back with everything he wanted to do, how he wanted to do it, and how he wanted it look in the final-cut, and for the most part; the guy succeeds big time. In the day and age we live in nowadays, films like these only get filled with more flashy-effects and added-on with an extra-dimension, but to see something as simple but cool as this, really brings you back to the days and gets you in the nostalgia-feeling, even if you were never born when it first came-out. Hell, this is my first-time seeing this flick and yet, I still feel the breeze of nostalgia hit me from the early-80′s. Ahh, those were the days…..I think.

Good-looking celebrities trying to look nerdy: not buying it.

Good-looking celebrities trying to look nerdy: not buying it.

Anyway, the special-effects aren’t as dated as I may make it think, they are actually pretty cool to view. I used to be a huge gamer, but recently have fallen off the wagon and found myself playing video-games around once or twice a year. To some of you out there who have hemmorhoids from all-nighters on XBOX live; you may be surprised. However, to some of you that are full-time critics that just love movies; this may not surprise you. Still, watching this made me feel like I was playing a video-game and a really fun, and retro-one at that. Some of the effects may not look as cool as you’d think, but there are still some scenes full of plenty of eye-candy and glamour to feast your eyes upon and whether or not you are a gamer; it doesn’t matter because you’ll still be able to appreciate what’s up on-screen and how Lisberger and his crew were able to create it. It’s very, very impressive, but sadly, this is just one of those cases where it’s all style and beauty, but no substance.

First of all, I had no idea what the hell was up with this story. In the beginning of the movie, I really tried to understand what the hell all of this “computer and technology talk” was all supposed to mean and as soon as I felt like it was translated to me, the film throws me for a loop and not only adds more confusing bits of language to the mix, but brings a piece of tension I never understood. I never fully got why Flynn was in this world and better yet, how, where, when, and how he was supposed to get out of it. To be brutally honest, I don’t think Lisberger cared about any of those details, either, because he seems a lot more concerned with the frequent scenes of running, chasing, brawling, and in what seems to be the most awesome game of dead-or-alive Frisbee. These scenes are all cool to see play-out with the type of visuals Lisberger has on-display, but seriously: what the hell does it all add up to?

Even worse, the film has little to no tension. Other than the cool game of Frisbee I just mentioned in that last paragraph, I never really found myself tense, on-the-edge-of-my-seat, or particularly revved-up with what was going on in the movie. Honestly, I was just watching and waiting for something other than the visuals, to take me by storm and make me feel as if I was really in the mode of playing a video-game. Instead, this ends-up being the lamest video-game ever and it’s even worse when the melodrama rears it’s ugly head in and makes everything seem so corny and dated, aka, exactly what I have come to expect from a sci-fi movie of the early 80′s.

And I know some of you out there may get a tad pissed-off at me and state that this is a movie that’s more about it’s look and feel, rather than the dialogue, but seriously: what sort of defense is that? But even if you weren’t on the film’s side of it’s “style-over-substance”-argument, you still have to admit that it doesn’t matter if a flick has a lame-o script, just as long as it has enough fun and entertainment to take my mind off the crappiness. However, this flick is not one of those and as much action there may have been in the first hour or so, it all starts to go away, in a slowly but surely manner, and rarely ever gain back the excitement it once has. No matter what negatives I may have to speak about this flick, it is still great to look at, but that’s not enough to take my mind off a shit-script of Lucas-proportions.

As of right now, Toyota is using this picture as an example for their next-line of automobiles. Good gas mileage, I''d assume.

As of right now, Toyota is using this picture as an example for their next-line of automobiles. Good gas mileage, I”d assume.

However, when you have a shit-script, you usually have shit-actors and in a way, that’s sort of the case here. Jeff Bridges plays Flynn and is a bunch of fun as the wacky and wild dude that gets sucked into his own world he enjoys to play around with, and brings a lot of excitement to a flick that seems like it really needs it at certain-points. Bridges is always fun to watch and it’s no surprise that the guy brings a much-needed levity to a script that couldn’t be concerned with it either way. The problem with Bridges being so much fun, though, is that he is probably the best one and everybody else sort of falls by the waist-side, and badly too, may I add.

Even though he’s more or less the secondary-character in this story, Bruce Boxleitner plays Tron and is fine with his material, even though you never understand what is so damn special about this guy in the first-place. You sort of feel like Bridges should have been the only guy in the video-game world after all, and even better, should have been named Tron. I don’t know how much of that would have changed and screwed-up the story, but it probably would have made a lot more sense than just featuring two characters that could be the lead-character but yet, continue to battle-it-out for the top-spot. And not in the fun way, either. It’s more confusing and annoying than that. Cindy Morgan is Yori and, rightfully so, probably plays the most robotic member of the cast as she obviously just seems to be going through the motions of acting, without a care in the world. Maybe it worked back then when people weren’t paying attention to her acting or line-reading, but now, it’s more obvious and distracting than the elephant in the room. And finally, all the movie needed was one hell of an evil S.O.B. to take this movie and make something better, but somehow, some way, David Warner isn’t up to the challenge as Stark and just feels like less and less of a threat as time goes on. Yep, I think that the Dude is the only one who prevails in this cast but then again: are you the least-bit surprised?

Consensus: No doubt that the visuals and look of TRON are as beautiful and as polished as they once were, way back when in 1982, but it just doesn’t take special-effects to make a good film. Sometimes, you need other elements like strong acting, believable dialogue, excitement, fun, joy, action, and glee to make a good film, which is where I think this movie dropped the ball on. Okay, bring on the hate-mail nerds.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

If there's anything we can thank this movie for, it's this man and all that he strives for as a human-being. That's a hero right there.

If there’s anything we can thank this movie for, it’s this man and all that he strives for as a human-being.

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.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Being on a ship isn’t always swashbuckling fun.

Russell Crowe is Captain “Lucky” Jack Aubrey, renowned as a fighting captain in the British Navy, and Paul Bettany is the ship’s doctor, Stephen Maturin. Their ship, the HMS Surprise, is suddenly attacked by a superior enemy. With the Surprise badly damaged and much of his crew injured, Aubrey is torn between duty and friendship as he pursues a high-stakes chase across two oceans.

Anybody who ever hears the words “ships” and “pirates”, automatically think of Captain Jack running rampant all over the seas, with his pet monkey on his shoulder. However, how do people feel whenever they make a story like this, with adults in mind? Answer is, more rum!

Director Peter Weir did a great job with accurate depiction of what it would really be like to stay on a ship like this, way back when. All these people do all day is stare at the ropes of the boat and the stars in the sky, then eat, sleep, drink, occasionally have a battle, and then go back to eating, sleeping, and drinking all over again. It seems very tedious, which is an emotion that Weird conveys very well and it’s a real change of pace we usually see from the fun, hip, and energetic movies about pirates out on the seas, having a grand old time. I also liked how we never knew who the enemy was in this story, considering we never know exactly who the hell these guys are going to face up against. Could be an army. Could be a leper boat. Hell, it could even be Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers. But either way, it was still as much of a mystery to me as it was to these guys in the movie.

Let’s also not forget to mention that Weir’s attention to detail is what made this a sight to see the whole film. Weir definitely has a great eye for what looks good and what doesn’t and with a film that takes place on a boat, that’s something to be commended for. The opening shot is absolutely stunning and got me ready for the rest of the shots I was going to get. Long, beautiful, and sweeping shots of the sea and land around it, really made me feel like I was out there with them and took me to this world where I never knew what was going to happen next or where I was going to be, just exactly like these people on the ship thought. Maybe I’m thinking about the cinematography a bit too much here, but when you have something that looks as pretty as this one, you can’t go without at least talking about it. I mean hell, just check out this shot right here. Now try and tell me that that isn’t something that catches your eye! By the way, it’s all real, no CGI. Don’t see that very often.

Even though Weir’s direction really brought me into the mood, the story itself didn’t do much for me and I have no idea who’s fault that was. First of all, the story is pretty slow and even though it does pick up every once and a blue moon, you still can’t help but feel like there should be more character development to have us care who lives, who dies, and who ends up getting put at the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker (which basically mean’s dead, but I just wanted an excuse to use that term). Whenever somebody died, and the crew had a huge ceremony for them, I didn’t really know or even care about it all that much because nothing really happens with these characters to drive this story on. It’s strange too, because even though action doesn’t take up the film, all of the other scenes weren’t really dedicated to the crew members or their character development, instead, the film just sort of lingered around. Weird, I know, plus add on a two hour run-time and you got yourself a boat ride that may over-stay its welcome by a good 45 minutes or so. Give or take.

Another strange aspect of this story, and probably its strongest was Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey. Once again, Crowe turns in another impressive and strong performance that shows he is able to convey so many emotions, no matter who he is playing. The character of Aubrey isn’t a very likable one, but Crowe somehow finds his way to get him by with a wee bit of charm and it worked on me, and then it didn’t. The problem with this character is that this guy goes through so many problems over the course of the flick, that it almost seems like he is a bit bi-polar. There’s those scenes where we see him being the commanding officer of the ship and is inspired to beat the enemy, then we see him being jealous towards his friend and not allow him to do what he wants to do (some random story about collecting newfound insects, that didn’t do much for me), and then he goes a little control freak-ish when he starts to lay down the law on some of the crew for not being respectful enough to him. However, at the end of all of this we get a shot of him feeling triumphant as if he was just another hero of the seas, when throughout the past 2 hours we get a glimpse at a person that seemed like he had a lot of control issues and went with his pride a bit too much. But the film tried to play him off like some great, heroic figure? Didn’t get it but I guess that’s why Weir hired Crowe to do the job since he’s always a great watch.

Another performance that almost steals the spotlight from Crowe is the one given by Paul Bettany as Aubrey’s supposed “friend”, Dr. Stephen Maturin. Bettany and Crowe last appeared in A Beautiful Mind together, where it was obviously Crowe’s show which was supposed to be the same plan here, instead, Bettany comes close to almost stealing the spot-light from him. Bettany easily as one of the best character arcs here because this is a dude that just wants to help everybody out on the ship, is very real with Jack and the crew, and just wants to see some damn animals! His character definitely sticks a lot of sense into Crowe’s face and it’s a real wonder why Bettany didn’t get an Oscar nomination for this one because his character was really the only one I actually cared about. Everybody else could get captured by Black Beard and I wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass.

Consensus: With a couple of good performances from the cast and a beautiful vision from Peter Weir, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World definitely should hit a lot harder than it does, but due to a lacking script without a confused central character and barely little, or no character development, the film just ends up being a mildly entertaining 2 and a half hours spent. Next time, just call up Johnny Depp.

7/10=Rental!!

Argo (2012)

See, Star Wars really did save people’s lives.

The movie is on the true story of a secret 1979 CIA mission during the Iran Hostage crisis in which six diplomats are rescued through a bizarre extraction plan involving a fake Hollywood film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi film named “Argo.” Ben Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the real-life CIA exfiltration expert who came up with the idea in the first-place and has to find the strength and courage to go through with it.

Believe it or not, that silly-ass plot synopsis up there is a real-life account on a secret CIA mission that took place during 1979 to 1980 and may have you think, “just how the hell did the government trust Hollywood with saving the lives of six people?” Well, the truth is that Hollywood is good for many things, and not only is saving the lives of six people one of them, but reviving Mr. Ben Affleck’s career as well.

As director, Ben Affleck is basically three-for-three (Gone Baby Gone and The Town are his two other flicks), but this one is slightly different from those other ones as he is actually stepping out of his friendly-streets of Bawhstan, and upping his game by focusing on something bigger, and a lot larger-scale than from what we usually expect from this guy. The look and feel of this movie just put me right into a late 70′s/early 80′s vibe that not only set me in the right-mood, but never rang a single false-note to me whatsoever, even with all of the goofy mustaches, cars, and hair-do’s running around all-over-the-place.

But what really came as a total shock to me is how Affleck was not only make me feel like I was exactly right there with him in America during this time-period, but also made me feel like in the chaotic shit-hole of Iran during this time as well, and damn, was it freakin’ scary. Right from the start, we are put in this area of Iran that is just full of chaos and on the verge of collapsing, and Affleck shows this perfectly by splicing together his footage, with actual-footage taken at this time to create a realistic, if even scarier view-point of the setting where our main-story takes place in. It’s not only great in it’s realistic/very detailed look, but also how we are able to draw the similarities between the Middle East and the West’s relationship with one another, to then, and how almost nothing has changed whatsoever in the thirty-plus years since this whole “Argo” mission went down.

However, it’s not all about making a point and showing off the politics with Affleck, it’s more about the whole mission itself and that’s where most of the fun of this movie came from. The first hour or so where we are left following Affleck as he tries his damn near hardest to make this fake-movie every bit of legit as he can, is the most entertaining aspect of this whole movie, not just because it takes a lighter, and slightly, more humorous approach than the rest of the film, but because it shows you just how hard it is to actually get something made in Hollywood, regardless of whether it’s the next masterpiece or not. But, all of the hootin’ and holler soon starts to go away once the real plot of this movie kicks in, and that’s where I really started to feel the tension go up my spine and get the goosebumps working. This is where Affleck shines the most, by showing how capable he is of making you sweat your ass off, with every single, tense second that goes by. It’s worked in his other two films, and it sure as hell works here but not as perfectly.

The reason why the whole suspension of this film doesn’t work as well as Affleck’s last, two movies, is because we already know the story going on and if you haven’t already known, chances are, you’re going to be able to tell how it ends. Then again, that’s sort of the basis for all movies out there but when you have a movie that puts the whole aspect of itself, on the fact that you have to feel all tense and worked-up to really enjoy the whole movie, then you kind of have to wonder just when this movie’s time is up. I don’t know want to say that it got to that point for me, but there was a very heart-breaking point where I realized that, “okay, I already know what’s going to happen, so why the hell is Affleck wasting my time with all of these slow scenes and epic score bits?” But, I don’t want to give anything else away and trust me, if you don’t know the story going in, be ready, cause you may already know it from start-to-finish about half-way through. I did, and I think that’s where this film sort of failed in captivating me as much as I would have liked it to.

Then, it seems to get worse for Affleck as the guy doesn’t really stand-out as much with his performance as Tony Mendez. The problem with Mendez isn’t Affleck’s acting, in-fact, the guy’s pretty good when it comes to him showing his near-perfect comedic timing, as well as showing us a character that’s easy to root for, even when the odds are stacked up in his defense, more of the problem is that this character just doesn’t have much going for him that’s interesting or worth really standing behind in the first-place. Yeah, the guy singlehandedly comes up with this plan and is brave enough to go out there and finish it off himself, but he doesn’t really have much of anything else going for the guy. This is fairly evident when the film tries to shoe-horn the whole angle with him and how he misses his son and wife, even though they touch on it for about 6 minutes throughout the whole film, and then at the end, is supposed to have some big, emotional impact on us as we walk out the door. No, no, mister Ben. Not falling for it this time.

Then again, you have to give Affleck more credit because this even and plain performance, almost allows him to take a side-step to the left for the rest of his ensemble to show off and do their own thang unlike anybody else. Bryan Cranston shows up in his 100,000th movie role this whole year as Tony’s boss, and nails all of the snappy dialogue they give him, and his angry soul. I was hearing a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding Cranston and his role here and as good as the guy may be, I don’t really see it all that much since he’s not really stretching his skills as an actor by just yelling and looking mad all of the time. Still, it’s an act that I have yet to be tired of. Alan Arkin is also another guy that’s been getting a lot of buzz for his role here as big-shot, Hollywood producer, Lester Siegel. This buzz is deserved but I don’t really see Arkin getting a nomination, mainly because the guy doesn’t do anything else other than yell, scream, holler, and rant like the old man we all know and hopefully, love him for. Then, there’s John Goodman as real-life make-up artist John Chambers, who also seems to be having a lot of fun with his role and steals a lot of the scenes he’s in. However, the rest of the supporting cast is just filled, and filled, and filled to the brim with actors/actresses that you have most likely seen in about 1,000 other movies and when you see their faces pop-up here, you’re going to be going right up next to your buddies ear and say, “Hey, isn’t that the guy from that so-and-so movie?” Trust me, I did that plenty of times with my sister and I probably missed a hundred more because my mind would still be in heavy thought and not focused on who’s familiar face was going to show up next.

Consensus: Though it’s not as tense or electrifying as Affleck’s last two directorial efforts, Argo still works as a smart, funny, and entertaining thriller that covers a mission that not many people ever knew about, but was also a very important one by how it showed certain sides of the U.S. government working hand-in-hand with Hollywood in a slightly surreal, yet smart way.

8/10=Matinee!!

Taken 2 (2012)

Dude, just stay away from foreign countries.

He came, he saw, he kicked-ass, and took his daughter back (Maggie Grace), and basically lived a life he thought was all fine and dandy, until now. That’s right, this time around, it’s Neeson’s wife (Famke Janssen) who is kidnapped and instead of Paris, it’s going to be Istanbul, and it’s all by the man (Rade Sherbedgia) who wants revenge on Neeson for what he did to his family.

In all honesty, I was very surprised by how much of a success Taken was when it was released way back when in 2009. It did feature a pretty cool trailer, but for what was essentially a pretty lame thriller idea, with a big-name that hasn’t really been big since the first Star Wars prequel, and to top it all off, a film that was released in the dead-heart of January, aka a time nobody goes to see movies cause they’re all pooped-out from seeing the same crap, drunk on egg nog for the past 2 weeks. So, that’s basically why I never understood how the hell it was numero uno at the box-office for about 3 weeks, boosted Qui-Gon Jinn’s career back-up to “action hero” stardom, and made itself destine for a sequel, and possibly more. However, despite all my angry ranting and rambling, I can’t say I hate the idea of a sequel to that film, especially when this is the type of stuff we get.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, Taken still had it’s moments of fun that made the final-product all the more enjoyable. The problem I had with that story was how it would always start-and-stop and always kill the momentum it had going for itself, by focusing too much on the whole internal-crisis that was going on with Neeson and the thought of his daughter going out there and bangin’ dudes under the influence of drugs. I’m not saying he’s wrong to be upset about that, but come on man, go out there and start shootin’ some fuckers and get revenge. That’s exactly what this film is from the 25-minute mark to the end of the whole movie. Need I remind you, that the whole movie itself runs a steady and swift 91 minutes, so that’s basically about an hour of pure mayhem, fun, action, and Oskar Schindler looking as bad-ass as he can look.

Director Olivier Megaton obviously knows the type of movie he’s making here, and you know what? He doesn’t care what you think about it or how you want to look at, he’s having fun and that’s all that matters to him, as it should because it had an extremely positive effect on a group of a d-bags like my friend and I who went to go see this. What’s so exciting and fun about this action is that there is never a dull moment in it to where you think, “Oh great, they’re slowing things down to focus on character-development.” Nope, there’s none of that at all here because we already know who these characters are, what purpose they serve to the story, and why they are motivated to save each other’s lives. We don’t need any freakin’ back-story, we need some freakin’ action and that’s exactly what Megaton delivers on.

However, this is obviously the case where you may have to not only leave your brain at the door, but also have it delivered to you when you’re sleeping in the middle of the night so you sure as hell don’t remember half of the crap you see here because the more you think of it, the more you’re going to ask yourself, “What in the fuck did I just watch?”. Seriously, this movie is one of the dumber ones I have seen the whole year so far and in ways, that’s a compliment, and in others, it’s too distracting to even be considered anything. It’s just there and never seems to go away.

For instance, one of the only subplots that make a difference in this “story” is how Neeson’s daughter is finally learning how to drive with a permit. Now, anybody that ever remembers having a permit, sure as hell remembers how hard it was to go 5 mph down a long-road without falling to the side of the road at least once. I sure as hell do, and if that’s not the exact type of example that has happened to you, something along those lines definitely have and it just goes to show you that when you’re driving a car with your permit, shit is pretty stressful. That’s what really took me by surprise here as the daughter not only goes over 80 mph in very tight and narrow side-streets, but does it all without barely hitting anything, and/or crashing it in the first five-seconds of being behind the wheel. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been so bad either, if it hadn’t been going on for 5 minutes where it was just her driving as if she was taking over Ryan Gosling’s job from Drive, when in reality, the girl still doesn’t know how to master the art of parallel parking, if there ever was one (you city people know what I’m talking about). This example is just one of the many, I do repeat, many of times that this movie just comes off as downright stupid and if you don’t like that with you’re action movies, then stay the hell away and go off and wait for The Avengers 2 to come out in 2014, or whenever the hell Joss Whedon has that planned.

Once again, much to my douchy surprise, Liam Neeson is the big-draw with this flick and as so he should be, the guy still has the talent to pull a character like Bryan Mills, off perfectly. Neeson just has this certain amount of likability and warmth to him that makes you sympathize with his over-protective ways and also make you believe that he’s got everything under-control, when half of the time he’s got a gun pointing straight at his dome. But Neeson is also able to totally switch that off in a heartbeat and make him, your worst nightmare by pulling out all of the stops to succeed in the end and do everything in his power, to kick the ever-loving shit out of you. Neeson does that so well here, but I think it’s his time to eventually hang-it up after this, at least with action anyway. It’s not that Neeson isn’t good nor believable with these roles, because he surprisingly is, it’s just that he seems to old (60) for a role that has the guy moving around, shooting guns, beating the tar out of dudes half his age, and still not be able to break a bone of get a hernia. I love you and all, Liam, but maybe it’s time to go back to drama and see if you got one, last Oscar-push left in ya. That’s all I’m saying, though.

Maggie Grace, despite her out-of-nowhere expertise of driving, does a nice job as the sweet but determined daughter of Bryan, but also seems a bit hard to believe as a girl that is still 17 and going for her learner’s permit. It also surprised me that the first-shot of her that we get is her getting groped by her boy-toy, when in reality, I would think that someone who just got drugged-up and raped by a bunch of Russian mobsters, would still feel a little dramatized and not allow anyone to touch her in that way and to just take it slow. Basically, any girl that’s like that with me would be tossed-out as quick as 1-week old pie, but since it’s Maggie Grace, ehh, I think can withstand the wait. Rade Sherbedgia is here in his 100,000th anniversary appearance as playing the stereotypical, Russian villain that never seems to do a nice thing throughout the whole movie, and is still pretty good at it, even if his character does seem a bit overly-dicky with what he’s doing. I mean honestly, if this guy was a real Russian mobster, wouldn’t he at least understand that family-values are family-values and shouldn’t really blame Bryan for going out there and killing his son, considering his son attacked, drugged-up, and captured Bryan’s daughter? I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking about it too much but doesn’t sound like a real mobster to me. Where’s Don Corleone when you need him?

Consensus: Taken 2 is your typical unneeded, stupid, and unintentionally sequel that seems to get pushed-out every couple of times a year, but for this time, it’s actually fun and keeps your eyes moving along with the quick-fire pace at 91 minutes of pure adrenaline fun, and Liam Neeson bad-assery.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Ted (2012)

If only I could get my plush doll Spider-Man to start talking and doing cool shit.

The film centers on a 35-year-old man (Mark Wahlberg) who must deal with the cherished teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) who came to life as the result of a childhood wish… and has refused to leave his side ever since.

The one reason why I wasn’t really looking forward to this film as much was mainly because it’s the directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane, aka the creator of Family Guy, aka a show I’m not too fond of. I don’t know what it is about me and that show, but I just don’t find it all that funny and consider other animated-shows like Futurama or South Park to be a lot funnier and wittier when it comes to their jokes. But somehow, I caught myself laughing….a lot.

The idea of having a pot-smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear seemed like something that would be funny for the first 10 minutes, then just falter out after that and get boring, but somehow, MacFarlane doesn’t allow that to happen mainly because he’s allowed to do whatever the hell he wants with this material. That’s right, no FCC, no rules, and no standards to live by, he’s allowed to do whatever the eff he wants to do with this story and he obviously is enjoying this newly-found freedom because almost every scene is filled with fart jokes, poop jokes, sex jokes, gay jokes, pot jokes, and plenty of other jokes raunchy jokes that you can shake a stick at.

But the difference here with all of these raunchy jokes in this movie, from say, another raunch-fest like That’s My Boy, is that this film actually has some cleverness behind all of the raunch. It’s not just all about making people go “ewww” or squirm at the sight of a dude’s penis, it’s all about making people laugh their asses off at something dirty, but something that’s also very funny and witty. They do the same thing in The Hangover and even though that film and this one are somewhat different from one another, they both show you can still be clever, even if a good majority of the jokes are centered around dudes smoking pot and farting.

However, it’s not all about being dirty that makes this film funny, no, there’s actually plenty of other funny stuff going on that doesn’t concern any bodily fluids. There’s a couple of great movie references to such flicks as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Van Wilder (random, I know), Superman Returns (another random one), Airplane!, and even the 80′s cult classic, Flash Gordon, which actually plays a big part in this film as well. There are plenty of other references here that I’m sure I forgot to mention but it’s also still the same exact kind of snarky humor from Family Guy and that confused me because I laughed at just about everything here, but I barely ever laugh at that show. Maybe it’s just the foul language that makes everything funnier. Oh yeah, there’s also a reference to that show as well that seemed clever. Once again, I’m using that word “clever” in a review of a movie that’s about a talking bear.

Probably the best, and worst thing about this movie, is in fact Ted, the CG bear voiced by Seth MacFarlane. It’s obvious that Ted was going to pretty much steal every single scene, but what really got to me was just how consistently funny this freakin’ character was. Sometimes when you have certain characters like this, they are very funny at points but miss the mark at others, Ted, just about made me laugh each and every single time he opened up his stitched mouth. Not only did he have the best lines in the movie (obviously) but some of his insults that he flings at almost everybody around him were sometimes so mean and cruel, that I couldn’t believe I still liked him in the end. MacFarlane, of course, does a great job with this voice-role and it’s actually surprising just how good Ted, the CG bear actually looks in this film. I don’t want to go as far to say that he looked freakin’ realistic along the lines of Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I really couldn’t find a single flaw in the animation they had made for him/it.

Sadly though, Ted is such a great and funny character to have on-screen that whenever he isn’t the film falters and definitely isn’t as funny as you would have liked it to be. It’s not like the rest of the cast isn’t game, because they sure as hell are, it’s just that you laugh so much at Ted and all of the crazy shit he says, that whenever he isn’t around you’re left wondering where he is and what he’s up to. Maybe MacFarlane focused on writing so much funny stuff for his own character, that he sort of left the others all in the dust.

Also, the flick starts to get less funny by the end and lose its originality points when the story starts to dive into Ted getting his ass captured by a childhood admirer of his (another crazy role for Giovanni Ribisi, maybe his weirdest, and that’s say something). I get it, they needed to bring this story-line in to give it some tension by the end, but Ribisi’s character is sort of forgotten about for a good hour or so that when he comes back, we just don’t give a crapola and just want Ted to go back to smoking pot, having sex with chicks, and doing coke. You know, the fun stuff.

But as good as MacFarlane may be as Ted, Mark Wahlberg still shows that he’s great at doing comedy, once again with his role here as John Bennett. Wahlberg is great at delivering comedy but mostly at playing the straight-man, which he does here perfectly and it definitely helps out a lot of the scenes whenever Ted isn’t around and it’s just Wahlberg, being Wahlberg, which isn’t a bad thing because it’s obvious this guy is having a ball with this role. Mila Kunis is also pretty funny as Lori and shows that she still has some great comedic timing to her as well, and I like how they didn’t make her character one of those bitchy-types that hate on their mans for having another friend that get’s in the way of their “alone time”. Nope, she’s actually a pretty cool chick that just wants a guy who wants to settle down. Typical woman, that’s why I’m done getting married after three unsuccessful attempts. Or maybe it’s four?

Consensus: Even though it starts to lose some flavor in the last act, Ted is still a very funny and raunchy comedy that shows off MacFarlane in a new light. It’s a new light where he’s able to say, do, and act whatever he wants and not have to give a crap at all, who say’s he’s not allowed to. Still, doesn’t mean I’m going to start watching a becoming a fan boy of Family Guy. Not a chance in hell, my friend.

7.5/10=Matinee!!

Titan A.E. (2000)

A video-game come to life on screen, but in a good way this time.

Set in the year 3028, many years after the planet Earth has been blown to bits by an alien race named the Drej, a young boy named Cale (Matt Damon) is discovered to hold the secret map of the Titan machine inside of his hand. The machine holds the power to unleash another planet for the few surviving humans still roaming around in space, and the opportunity to re-ignite their evolution.

This may seem like a totally random flick to review but for some odd reason I caught this on my Netflix queue and I haven’t seen it ever since it first came out so I thought it would definitely be a great way to get some nostalgia. Being a kid ruled.

One of the best things about watching movies is how they can sometimes take you out of the world that you’re living in at the present and transport you into this different world with all of its inhabitants and beauty. This is one of the main things I liked about this movie because it takes you out into the galaxy above and around us and shows its beauty and sometimes its darkness. The visuals in some cases may be dated, but they still look glorious because they show these little animated sketches but give it this 3-D look that almost makes it seem like a live-action flick. The film does a great job of combining both styles of animation here which works and takes you to this vision of space that I haven’t seen done before. There are so many great sights to see that it’s hard to just put my finger on one and I almost wish it was in 3-D and released again in 2012 because I think it would actually look even better and maybe get a better box office return.

To add on with the visuals too, the action is very fun and there is some sort of great energy that co-directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman both contain that makes this flick so much fun. There is just enough story here to make sense but when the shoot-em-up action scenes pop-up, they bring a lot to the film and make it feel like a lot of fun as if you’re watching ‘Star Wars’ in cartoon version. Let me also not forget to mention that there are some pretty cool rock songs courtesy of Jamiroquai, Lit, and even Fun Lovin’ Criminals. I don’t understand why more animated flicks let alone more movies in general just don’t use a pretty up-beat rock soundtrack to add to their action because it can honestly do wonders like it did here.

However, on the writing front, there is a lot of problems to be had here. First of all, as understanding as the story is in the first place it still doesn’t mean that it’s original by any means. There’s so much here that seems borrowed from plenty of other sci-fi flicks/stories that it can be very annoying at points. I mean there’s no big surprises at the end of the flick, but I was at least asking for some originality for me to get to that point. I also can’t forget to mention that this flick seems very adultish for an animated flick. Sometimes there will be a random sex joke that may seem more subtle than you expect but it’s still random, and there is plenty of other moments where it seemed like this flick really stepped over the whole PG rating, especially when it’s trying to connect with a kids audience but maybe that’s why it didn’t do so well at the box office in the first place anyway.

The characters here are also very bland and they aren’t very interesting, except for maybe one character, who wasn’t even human. Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, and Drew Barrymore, among others, all do their best with their voice jobs it’s just that their characters are so bland that it’s almost way too hard to root for them to save mankind. They all seemed to be written very dry or lifeless and they didn’t stretch my imagination as much as the cool visuals did either. However, the one character that I seemed to like the most was the Caterpillar-looking type named Gune, voiced by John Leguizamo. I don’t know what it is, but it always seems like Leguizamo is able to make any character he is playing, likable beyond belief.

Consensus: The visuals are very pretty to look at and there is a lot of fun to be had here with the energy in the action, but Titan A.E. still suffers from unoriginal writing, characters, and plot devices that seem to be used from so many other sci-fi stories. Still, what stands out from all of those other ones is its great visuals which make it a lot better than it has any right to be in the first place.

6/10=Rental!!

Star Trek (2009)

Just when I thought ‘Star Wars’ was so much better, J.J. Abrams has to just make me reconsider.

The film follows James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) aboard the USS Enterprise as they combat Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan from their future who threatens the United Federation of Planets. The story takes place in an alternate reality due to time travel by both Nero and the original Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

The one thing that J.J. Abrams does perfectly here is that he takes everything that every Trekkie knows and love and doesn’t ignore it and act like it never happened, instead, he’s spiced it up with extra energy on everything across the board like action, story, mythology, special effects, and basically everything else you need in a film. Basically, J.J. Abrams is going to be the next George Lucas and hopefully that’s said with more praise rather than negativity, considering Lucas hasn’t been the most reliable sci-fi director in the past 13 years.

This is definitely one of the films in recent memory that has made me actually want to go out and be a kid again. Abrams injects this flick with a great deal of fun and energy to the point of where almost every single scene is as entertaining as the last. The constant space-ship shoot-outs, the hand-to-hand combat brawls, and the blowing up of just about everything in sight gives this film that epic feel of a thrill-ride that is sure to please just about anyone. So if you’re a Trekkie, a person who hates being called a Trekkie, a person who thinks that ‘Star Trek’ is a poor man’s version of ‘Star Wars’ (I can easily say that I’m one of them), or just a person who appreciates a good old sci-fi/action flick, this film will definitely entertain the hell out of you as it did for me.

It also helps that the special effects are by far some of the best I have seen in the past couple of years. The film is constantly moving around all-over-the-place but there are moments where this flick just stops and lets us sit back and look at these beautiful, CGI images of space, the space-ships themselves, or just what a planet looks like from space itself. There are even scenes where there’s a free-fall from space and it just looks damn near gorgeous but also make you hold your breath considering how real and stunning it looks.

Where this film also works is its script because it can handle just about everything perfectly. The fact that the writers didn’t want to offend any Trekkies out there is something definitely worth noting. It doesn’t just ignore the events of the first 10 films and almost pretend as if they never happened or start from scratch like that, it actually acknowledges them and say that they happened in an alternate time-line. Which in a way is restarting its series but also continuing it and giving them the right to do whatever the hell it is that they want with this material. Definitely the right way to give the series a reboot because it doesn’t offend anybody and doesn’t confuse anybody either.

There is a lot of humor here that works well and doesn’t feel shoe-horned one bit like many action-action flicks try to do. There’s plenty of funny scenes and moments such as a moment where Bones keeps injecting Kirk and he has an allergic reaction to it, a moment where Chekov messes around with the voice recognition computer, any plenty of moments of endless rejections of Kirk by Uhura, and just so many many more scenes that actually had me laughing my ass off and it didn’t feel like it was trying too hard by any means. There are also a lot of other emotional moments as well that will probably bring any real Trekkie to tears. Before the opening credits even pop-up, we are treated to an awesome space-fight where Kirk’s mother gives birth to him and his father is killed in a space crash. I don’t want to say that this made me close to crying but it is definitely a scene that feels genuine and starts off the film perfectly.

My only gripe with this flick was that the villains for this story felt terribly lame. These Romulan people have these Mike Tyson face-tattoos happening and looked like a bunch of angry cave-men. They are always grumpy and totally unforgettable and uninteresting but then again the film is really trying to just give us villains that will make this film work and no matter what, we all know what’s going to happen at the end so who cares really. It’s just a shame that they have a good actor like Eric Bana playing a role where he practically yells and hollers about something new the whole time.

I was also very impressed by how perfectly Abrams handled this ensemble cast as well. Chris Pine references but doesn’t do a parody of William Shatner but brings a lot of swagger, cockiness, sarcasm, and boyishness to the role instead. It’s a very fine line and he struts right down it and makes this one of the better leads for a sci-fi flick I have seen in a pretty long time. Zachary Quinto is also seamless as Spock, channeling Leonard Nimoy (who also appears in the flick as well), channeling both his logical side of things as well as human side to perfection. It’s definitely a great role for both of these guys considering the flick is basically counting on them to give more than just impersonations and it’s something they handle perfectly.

It was also great to see every other character here do a great job and get a chance to have their own moments as well. John Cho is good as Sulu and kicks some ass in a sword fight; Anton Yelchin is funny channeling his inner Russian, while saving the day with his math skills as Chekov; Karl Urban steals almost every scene he’s in as Bones, and just lets the comedic timing; Simon Pegg is also hilarious in a lot of his scenes as the quirky engineering genius, Montgomery Scott; and Zoe Saldana gets to strut her stuff every once and awhile as Uhura. There are so many other little performances here given by stars that you have seen somewhere else but this main ensemble is what really makes this flick work as well.

Consensus: Star Trek is a perfect reboot of the series with exciting action, humor, great performances from everybody involved, impressive special effects, and a fun-loving spirit that will not only entertain and be loved by Trekkies, but also will bring in others who aren’t that familiar with the material already.

9/10=Full Price!!

John Carter (2012)

Don’t worry people, he’s not John Carter of Mars, he’s just regular old John Carter of Earth. Lame.

The film tells the story of warweary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

I have to admit that before I went to see this flick I was not that hyped up as much as others were. The trailers didn’t do much to excite me, I haven’t read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pieces of work, and this just looked like the sci-fi version of ‘Prince of Persia’. Thankfully though, my expectations were met with some high glee that I was not expecting at all.

Director Andrew Stanton does a great job with his first live-action feature because he not only keeps to what made this story so damn influential in the first place, but also makes it work for people who aren’t that familiar with either. The film was made for over 250 million dollars and I can tell that every single piece of that moolah went right to the production design because this flick made Mars look like a pretty cool place to be rather than just a desolate planet. There are these cool solar-sailing ships that are constantly moving in and out of this flick and look really neat, the creature designs look very realistic as if John Carter is actually talking to a bunch of these four-handed aliens, the costumes are a slight mixture of old Rome-looking fashion mixed with some ‘Star Wars’ looks and they look pretty cool as well, and just about every bit of special effects work and seem like Stanton really put his heart and soul into getting us into this world of Mars.

Stanton also does a very good job at keeping this film fun, entertaining, and just exactly what a sci-fi blockbuster should be, epic. In the past couple of years the bar for sci-fi blockbusters have been set pretty high but I think that this one could very easily sit right up there close to the top because it doesn’t try to do much that isn’t different from what we’ve seen before, but with what they do do, it’s a whole lot of fun. There’s constant guns shooting, swords clanging against one another, fist fights happening out of nowhere, aerial battles in those cool solar-sailing ships, a very extreme arena scene where John Carter takes on two huge gorillas, and just a whole bunch of other sci-fi goodness that will surely make anyone, especially sci-fi lovers, just feel a total energy burst in their system. Basically, it’s a film that has fun with everything it’s given with its huge plot and it also has a nice sense of humor to work around with too which is always a plus in any flick.

The problem that this flick hits is that on the story front, there seems to be a little too much going on here for people to grasp onto right away. As soon as John Carter lands right on Mars, we are stuck with the conflicts between the warring races, the new planet and it’s technology, the princess being married to someone she doesn’t want to be married to, the alien species, and the whole fact that John Carter is trying to find a way back home to Earth. It’s definitely a lot to take in right off the bat and even when we find out what the master plan behind all of this conflict is, we are kind of left with that feeling of “we don’t know what the hell he’s talking about”.

When it comes to holding a film on his own, Taylor Kitsch seems like he can do it, but for some odd reason, he’s just not all that special here as John Carter. I will give Kitsch the benefit of the doubt and say that there are some scenes where he displays some wit and charm and looks very fit and in-shape for the role of this ruthless warrior that the film soon makes him out to be, however, he came across as wooden sometimes. I don’t know if it was Kitsch’s fault or if it was just the writing’s problems, but there were times where he just seemed like he was reading his lines with the flattest delivery I have ever heard and I was wondering if he was supposed to do this to show that he’s confused about what’s going on, or if Kitsch is pretty lame as an actor. The guy is appearing in two more big flicks this year so I guess those ones will answer my question but he’s pretty empty here as John Carter and that’s one of my biggest gripes with this flick.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re all pretty good too. Lynn Collins is very stunning but also pretty smart, hip, and sexy as Carter’s main love interest, Dejah Thoris, a new and cool princess that can actually stick up for herself rather than just standing there and let her boy do all of the ass-kicking; Mark Strong is good as Matai Shang, aka the evil angel that shows up and has complete control over anybody he wants to have it over; and Thomas Haden Church, Willem Dafoe, and Samantha Morton all do very good jobs as the CGI-covered Tharks and even though we can’t see their faces, we can still tell that they are putting every ounce of their skills into these performances, which also helps the great-looking animation of these characters too.

Consensus: John Carter has certain problems with its central performance from Kitsch and its over-abundance on plot, but what does work is the fact that Andrew Stanton has done nothing here but make a beautiful and stunning flick with a lot action, excitement, humor, and everything else that makes a sci-fi blockbuster work. I hope it gets all of its money back but that seems pretty far-fetched right now.

8/10=Matinee!!

Shattered Glass (2003)

Damn, I’m scared to be a journalist now.

This fact-based film depicts the rise and fall of disgraced magazine journalist Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), a staff writer at The New Republic and a contributor to Rolling Stone who ultimately fabricated many of his stories, which led to his downfall.

Writer-director Billy Ray takes a film that I had some little interest in at first, and totally takes it into places I was not expecting in the least bit. I mean because it does have Anakin Skywalker in it, and he just blows.

Ray does a tremendous job of telling the story: giving us the facts of what exactly happened, the tough world of journalism, and even a little character study of a sociopath. This all may seem a little too much for a story that’s about a dude lying, but it brings so much more depth to this story that as it developed more and more, I found myself more and more intrigued by this film.

I, myself, actually want to be a journalist and I found this to be a big warning for all journalists out there to not make up phony stories, even though sometimes they would be nice to hear. It’s not necessarily about making people happy with the stories, it’s more about telling the truth, and how we should all never try to make things up as they go along just for some kicks. This theme is amazing because the fact is that today reporters at every publication seem to be exposed for doing the same thing. You’d think the lesson would have been learned eventually, but it hasn’t.

The film doesn’t show Stephen Glass as this total dick-head of a dude who messed with his stories to be “fun”, he’s actually just a kid that messed up big-time and wanted nothing more to make people happy when they read his stories. I mean I actually did sort of feel for this kid, as did everybody in this film because this Glass kid, was so charming and nice that when the ish really started to hit the fan, everybody stuck up for him, except for the editor who was downright embarrassed when he let such fake stories go by him. This brings up some moral questions as to how you would feel if you were ever put in the same situation and how you would respond it.

However, the problem with this film is that even though they show us a nice-portrait of this kid Glass, we never really get inside of his mind except for a couple of dumb foreshadowing scenes. When this kid was on-screen, I was actually on the edge of my seat as he tried to cover up more and more of his lies and then saying it was just because he was in a state of panic. This all was interesting and the film could have actually went deeper into this character more to actually have us understand just why he did what he did, but the film never really does.

We get all of the who’s, the what’s, and the when’s of the story, but never exactly the why part. I think Glass wanted to just get his stories read and make people happy, but never understand as to why he lied about so many of his stories, and what lead him to continue the lies as it seemed like things were going from bad to worse for him. Was he a little crazy? Was he just trying to make it big? Or was he just an insane kid that never really got paid attention too that much because he was so charming? I never understood why Glass exactly did what he did, and that’s what kind of took me away from this tale to make it a little less interesting.

Judging by the poster to the upper-right, you probably already gave up all hope on this film because of that big head you see. Yes everybody, that is Hayden Christensen, but I have to say his performance as Stephen Glass is probably his best ever, and although that’s not saying much, it’s still great in and of itself. The melt-down for Stephen Glass is a slow one but the way Hayden handles it is very believably, especially the way he manipulates almost every one around him to the point of where of no one knows because its terribly subtle. Stephen Glass didn’t seem like a bad kid, just confused and way-over-his-head and Hayden’s performance is so terrific that it almost makes me forget about Anakin. OK, maybe I won’t go that far.

Peter Sarsgaard is also very good as Chuck Lane, the editor who finds Glass out for all of his lies. Lane is a great character because you can tell that he’s going to have some real impact on this story by the end of it, but you just don’t know how, and the way Sarsgaard handles every scene he has is just brilliant. Lane tolerates Glass the most even when the kid lies to him with every statement that comes out of his mouth, which is sad, because Lane really is the one who seems like the actual voice of reason here that knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and knows what has to be done. Great performance from Sarsgaard who is easily becoming one of those signature supporters you need in almost any film.

The rest of the cast is pretty good with the likes of Chloë Sevigny and Melanie Lynskey playing Glass’ two best girly friends; Hank Azaria as the nice and understanding former editor, Michael Kelly; and Steve Zahn and Rosario Dawson are also very good as the two people who find all of the information out that Glass is lying about.

Consensus: The film may have missed a major up-grade in showing us more about the person of Stephen Glass, but other than that, Shattered Glass is phenomenal with great writing and insight into the world of journalism, and great performances from the whole cast, especially Christensen and Sarsgaard, who provide so much context for their characters by the end, that we actually know more about them then the actual story.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Cop Out (2010)

What the hell Kevin Smith?

Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and off-kilter Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) are two suspended cops trying to track down a stolen and very valuable 1950s baseball card. Along the way, they encounter a Mexican beauty and countless other characters and get entangled with the mob.

Being a fan of Kevin Smith, and knowing just how much people really do hate his films, I was able to actually like this. However, here that was not the case.

Probably the main problem here is that Kevin Smith is just a director here, and not a writer. BIG MISTAKE! I love Smith as a writer, but as a director he can’t do much cause in all honesty what does he really know about directing an action scene? Most of his movies are about just people talking about getting bloweys, Star Wars, or Ass to Mouth. Hiring Kevin Smith as your writer/director is like hiring George Clooney as your doctor, he can only pretend to be good at it. I’m sorry about all this hate Kev, but really man, I just was not even having any fun here.

The script should have been written by Smith because I definitely know that if the direction wasn’t that good, at least I would have laughed a lot at what these guys had to say. Well, sadly that’s not the case because two schmucks wrote this, and just bring bad joke, after bad joke here and none of this works. The humor here could be classified as juvenile, or just simply “toilet humor”, but this film just seems like their really trying to gun for laughs, and the random sequence of non-stop film references didn’t help either.

What you need for a great buddy-cop film is chemistry, and these two do not have it. I think Tracy Morgan is hilarious when he’s saying weird things and stuff that doesn’t make sense in a very serious way. However, he’s not the guy you hand a script to that has hard jokes and has punch-lines to them. I got a couple of chuckles here and there mainly from him, but nothing that special. Bruce Willis seemed that he only had about 2 different emotions, either asleep or screaming. Willis really does look like he’s hating every second of this film, and sad to say I’m right there with him. Also, don’t be fooled but Seann William Scott isn’t in this film that much, and although he’s a little amusing, his character is just dumb in the first place. Also wasted in this cast is Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody, Rashida Jones, and Jason Lee.

Consensus: The gags are stale, the jokes are unfunny, and the action makes you want to yawn. To call Cop Out unwatchable is an understatement, this is just total shit, and it really is sad to see from a Kevin Smith fan’s standpoint, that this was actually done by him.

1.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Makes me want to fly into space right now.

While investigating the appearance of mysterious monoliths throughout the universe, astronauts David (Keir Dullea) and Frank (Gary Lockwood) battle their ship’s intelligent computer, HAL-9000.

Questions about space are never answered. Many people sit and wonder about the actual mysteries of space, and what is really out there. I can count myself as one of those people, but thinking about a new life out there? That is what mostly brings up my curiosity.

The one thing about 2001 is that this film, like many of Stanley Kubrick‘s others, confuse the hell out of people. And this film, is really no different. Kubrick films this project with great style. The way he uses almost no dialogue, and replaces it with either, orchestra music, or just the sound of silence or breathing, he is adding a lot more to the mystery of space. He is trying to take us away from the story and more towards the idea of humanity, and where we came from, and what is out there.

However, a lot his style may turn off a lot of viewers. At times, I did find myself a little challenged by everything that was going on, because it is so different. Literally, the first three minutes are just pitch black, with a creepy-ass score, and that’s when I knew I was in for a big-ass ride. People will not just be taken back from the minimal dialogue, but also the extraneous amount of symbolic images, that people have no idea what they mean. The film is open to viewer’s, and for me I understood most of the symbolism, however, some people will find a lot of this, totally out of their comfort zone, because I questioned it too, if whether or not I knew exactly what was going on. But, it’s just the fact that Kubrick keeps this film together with a script that brings out so many questions, and ideas that we, as a society, have never thought about. Where did the first murder occur? How did it occur? When will technology take over the world to a point of where it is practically turning against us? How far will it go, till the point of the end of humanity? All these questions are brought up, and although some are answered, and some are not, we all know one thing that as humans, we may never know, until it actually happens. Its not just about the one human, but just as the human species in general.

I was totally blown away by those special effects. Kubrick uses a lot of hand-crafted puppet materials, that we’re later used in a very similar movie, but you didn’t hear it from me. It still astonishes me that this film was made back in 1968, where images like this were unheard of, and Kubrick got every single image, and effect right, whereas many films, that spend almost $1,000,000 on CGI-special effects, and can’t get it close to even looking right. The images of space, and the numerous space crafts that inhabit, are just beautiful. Mixed with the sound it really does give you sense of isolation, and adds to the overall effect that the film was going for. By the end, Kubrick uses certain colors, that just totally boggle your mind, and actually make you think what drugs you took, however, all of it adds to the overall effect of a place, farther than where our imagination can stretch.

The acting here is highly sub-par but that’s because there’s barely any dialogue, that can show off these actors talents. I have to give it the most to Douglas Rain, who does the voice of that evil-ass red-dot computer, HAL-9000. The best thing about HAL 9000 is that it is one of the first “robots” to be used as a harmful thing in a film. We always see how robots help us out through almost every time, but we never see how, and what happens when this piece of technology turns on us. Rain does a great job of voicing HAL because, he doesn’t show too many emotions, and just sticks with one tone of voice the whole movie. The last couple of scenes with HAL, are just heart-wrenching and will have you totally feeling upset over a robot. This adds a lot more over the idea of technology over humanity.

Consensus: Though some viewers may find themselves catching some z’s, others will be astonished. 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most influential sci-fi films of all-time that brings up great questions about humanity, and space, but has an incredible direction from Kubrick, that holds a lot of symbolism, and great visuals, of outer space. It has to be seen to believed.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

Looked like it was a lot of fun for the crew, but I wish it was as fun for me.

Journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) latches onto an unbelievable story in Iraq when he meets Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a man of mysterious origins who reveals he was a “warrior monk” trained by the U.S. Army to develop psychic powers. Jeff Bridges co-stars as Lyn’s mentor, the man who dreamed up the top-secret operation.

The film starts of saying, “trust us, much more of this story is true than you would believe” which is odd as we believe very little of it, actually we believe none of it, full stop. Which then the film then tries and gets you to buy in to the story, and whether you believe in it or not, you admire it, and you really enjoy it. And that’s where I think the film does its best at. It contains a lot of original and fun ideas at how these soldiers are trained.

The problem with the film is that it dives too much into dark humor and satire, that is pretty hit-and-completely miss. When it comes to making a joke on the war at hand now, this doesn’t bring out the best statement. I think some of the jokes were funny, but others were just completely confusing, cause I didn’t know whether or not if it was a joke, or the story itself was actually serious.

Most of the anguish in this film comes from its all over the place tone. I think audiences, including myself won’t know what to take as funny, because the trailers had it all out to be a knee-slapping fun fest of laughter, but when you get to the film, all you see is a bunch of jokes focused on McGregor and Star Wars jokes, because get it, he was in the film. Oh the laughter. It doesn’t get compelling at all, and once its over your not totally taken away by the story itself. And it almost feels like the film was afraid to get edgy at all, and why, I don’t know. It had the R rating and if it went over that edge, the film probably would have been a funnier film.

However, if there was one thing to praise the most in this film it would have to be its hilarious cast. McGregor can’t get the right accent as an American, but he does play the lead with enough insight into his own character, to actually have us care for him, and like him a lot more than the beginning had it out to be. Clooney is simply hilarious as the quirky Lyn, and although he still feels like George Clooney, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t still entertaining. Kevin Spacey is given a lesser role, and does OK with the material he’s given it’s just I wished there was more for him to show. off. Bridges is basically playing The Dude in uniform, and well it works almost every time.

Consensus: A future cult classic, The Men Who Stare at Goats could have been better given the right tone, touch, and writing, but still has enough funny moments, with enough good performance to satisfy, though it still disappoints.

5/10=Rental!!!

Avatar (2009)

One of the best ways to spend my Christmas day!!

The story is that Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, is a paraplegic who goes to a world known as Pandora. Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) tells Jake that if he can get everyone on Pandora to evacuate so that they can get a substance known as unobtanium, he will get Jake some new legs. So Jake uses an Avatar of himself to gain the native’s trust and hopefully get them to evacuate. But after living amongst them, Jake feels a bond with the people and decides to fight back against the colonel in an epic battle.

James Cameron has been going around talking a whole bunch of shit of how great this is, and you have never seen anything like this at all. Now that I look at it, damn he wasn’t kidding.

If you are going to see this movie, definitely give it a try in IMAX in 3D. There really isn’t any other way to see this, and if you choose to you won’t be in this world they call Avatar. This is a technical breakthrough for all the world of technology. At first I felt like I was going to be annoyed by the 3D, but I soon found myself so fascinated with the way the film looked, that it simply went over my head. Cameron really does have a knack for these beautiful visuals, the effects are even better once you see the way this whole world looks, with its creatures, plants, and overall look of it is just fascinating.

The story has a lot of similarities to Star Wars, but really doesn’t match up to it very much. The story is all way too similar, but the way it is done keeps you hooked on from the beginning. The action will keep you on your feet, as it mixes in with the beautiful visuals you are taken away by how you are excited but also taken away by its beautiful visuals.

The film has an original story, not one of those action block busters that are based on a comic book series or another film. And it creates this world where immersed in it visual, so you almost forget that its unreal and you start caring for the characters, and the whole story.The script is kind of corny and obvious, but I soon just totally forgot about that and cared for more of the story and characters.

Worthington gives a very effective performance here as Jake, and you cheer him on as the main protagonist, and just want him to win it all. The others in the film do great with this motion capture element such as Zoë Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang, all do great in each of their respective parts. I mean as creepy as the creatures look, you actually feel like these are real people, and care more for them, then some of the other humans in this film.

If there was one problem in this almost unproblematic film, was that its central message became a pain. The real central message behind this whole film was that it was about how we are causing global warming, and by doing so we are killing ourselves. Now the first time I got it, but after that about forty times they kept bringing it up and up again, to where I was just saying “OK, I get it!”.

Consensus: Avatar has beautifully enchanting visuals, very effective performances, and an exciting if done before story, that has us forgetting about the real world we live in, with such a beautiful way.

9/10=Full Priceee!!!!!!

Total Recall (1990)

Arnold is at it again but this time he fights in the future.

When construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) discovers a memory chip in his brain during a virtual-reality trip, he also discovers that his past has been invented to conceal a plot of planetary domination. Soon, he’s off to Mars to find out who he is and who planted the chip..

Don’t take this as one of your ordinary same old action thriller, it’s more intriguing than that and surely does add a lot more to thrillers than people think. The film takes place as if Arnold is in some illusion dream that has gone out of sync and has turned into a nightmare, and we have seen this film before. But this one is more different and doesn’t get too confusing.

The most intriguing thing about this film is that it may all just be a dream. So we decide on whats real or what are just delusions, and more of like with Arnold’s character is that is he just a construction worker or a secret agent.

The special effects in the first hour of the picture are really spectacular and look really good but then after that it starts to just repeat itself and look cheesy. It looks a lot like a bad rip-off of an old Star Wars flick and doesn’t look spectacular after all.

Total Recall’s resolution also has me on the balls of my feet too of just what is really going on. We don’t understand by the end of the movie what is fact and what is fiction and leads us to just come up with it ourselves. Which really doesn’t make the payoff real well if all’s we have to do is think what’s real, and not.

Aside from that much of the rest of the film is surely to entertain anyone. This movie is a lot like other Arnold action films it’s that its bloody, violent, energetic, and a little humorous but this time with a twist of sc-fi. The film doesn’t shine away that it’s from the future but also doesn’t exploit by using guns that are noticeable today and not really focusing on spacships like I thought it would’ve.

Much of Arnold’s performance is the reason for this films success. He is not just playing a normal old superman, aside from the fighting, he is a very confused man who has to fight his way through of finally discovering the truth. Although some of his lines can be very cheesy, as usual, I still think this is one of his most adaptive performances yet, and makes this film different from his others.

Consensus: Total Recall has a great boost of action, goore, and a touch of humor that will keep you entertained until the payoff, which really doesn’t payoff.

7.5/10=Rentall!!!

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