Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

This film really did make California look like a crap hole.

Tasked with defending rich lothario Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe), who’s been charged with assault, lawyer Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) finds himself and his family in danger when he deduces the truth behind this and former cases he’s worked on.

This is based off the 2005 crime best-seller, that I still have not read, but after seeing this, I don’t really think I need to read it.

There’s not nothing new here that we haven’t seen before. The plot plays out like you would expect a courtroom drama to play out, and almost everything that happens seems like it came from some other film of this nature. However, that’s not always a bad thing.

Director Brad Furman keeps this film going at a slick and quick pace. He keeps us interested in this plot because he films this so tightly, that we actually do start to wonder, what exactly is going to happen next. The screenplay written by John Romano goes well with Furman’s direction, because a lot of the twists and turns that this story takes here, actually seem believable and not put on. I love old-style courtroom thrillers, and this brought me back to the good old days of when you could just sit back, and watch a crime be solved right in front of  your eyes.

My main complaint with this film is that I didn’t like how this was shot. Furman uses a very dirty look that was trying to show California in a crap way, but instead just seemed dumb and intentional to show how much of a crap hole it can look like. It looks gritty for the sake of looking gritty and this just seemed put-on.

I think Mick Haller is the perfect role for Matthew McConaughey, and he actually pulls it off real well. It’s been awhile since McConaughey has actually head-lined a “good” film, probably because he’s been too busy with those shitty romantic comedies, but this role was a good reminder as to why he doesn’t always have to do them. He’s smug and cocky but at the same time, determined to get his job done in any way possible. McConaughey does a wonderful and believable job as Haller, and has me hoping he’ll continue to take roles like this in the future. The rest of the supporting cast is awesome. Ryan Phillipe is very evil and vindictive as Louis Roulet, who as time goes on, becomes a very, very bad kid. Marisa Tomei also pops up and does a good job as Maggie, and let’s not forget William H. Macy who is always a sight to see, and is not different here as Frank. The rest of this great cast is filled with the likes of John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, Josh Lucas, and Frances Fisher.

Consensus: The Lincoln Lawyer doesn’t offer anything new to the courtroom thriller genre, but a well-paced story, with interesting mystery, and great acting from the cast, keep this somewhat predictable film, entertaining enough.



The Fifth Element (1997)

If the future is this crazy, they better start to get a bigger police force.

Cabbie Bruce Willis is a regular guy … and the universe’s last hope for survival as he helps the embodiment of love and life (Milla Jovovich) fight the darkness unleashed by the crazed Zorg (Gary Oldman).

This is your average sci-fi premise where one guy must save the universe from an evil dude who’s trying to take it over, but this is one of the more original sci-fi films out there.

What I liked most about this film was the look of it all, mainly thanks to French director Luc Besson. There’s a lot of great colors here, that add great detail to all the crazy looking set pieces and will probably take you into the 23rd century Earth. I loved how I didn’t feel all depressed looking at this future, and I more looked at it and went: “This is some crazy shit”. But it was all in the best way possible.

I also found myself having a ball here with the electricity that was in the air with this film and it’s script. There are a lot of awesome action sequences that keep this film moving at a fun-filled pace, but also there is plenty of humor that really contributes to the film’s overall tone since it doesn’t really take itself all way too seriously. Many times, I actually found myself laughing when I least expected it, but sadly the film seems a bit of let-down when it comes to its plot.

At a run-time of over 127 minutes you start to feel a bit of a drag within this film. There seems to almost be too much going on, with too many characters, going on at the same time and overall just has this a little bit too messy. It all leads up to one story-line but there was many things going on here, that I think could have been taking out for the sake of a better ending, because the ending they have here kind of stinks. I think the main problem with this film is that the whole film is pretty goofy, and over-the-top, that when they tried to get serious and make a big emotional ending it didn’t quite work because you couldn’t really believe it all that well mainly because it doesn’t fit. The ending just sort of happens, and kind of seemed cheesy to me, which was a huge bummer since all up to that I was having a pretty damn good time.

Bruce Willis is at it again playing one of his regular guy embroiled in extraordinary circumstances roles as Korben Dallas, and it really never seems to get old. He’s great at being subtle, but then totally kicking ass when he has to. This is the role that put Milla Jovovich on the map with that crazy-looking red hair, and I’m not going to lie it’s a great role as Leeloo. I liked how they made her actually kind of cute in this film, and had us really route for her the whole time as this film was going on. Gary Oldman is doing his usual crazy antics as our bad-guy, Zorg, and with hair like that you can see why he’s so pissed. Ian Holm is good as Father Cornelius, and let us not forget the always funny Chris Tucker playing a flamboyant impersonation of Prince as Ruby Rhod. Spot that double entendre.

Consensus: The overall look, pacing, and feel of this movie has you laughing and having a good time, but The Fifth Element fails to go that full mile when it’s script starts to fall apart by the last act.


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.


Sideways (2004)

Even though I’m not a wine drinker (under-age, holla!) I must say that I really did wanna have some by the end of this.

Pinot noir lover Miles (Paul Giamatti) convinces his soon-to-be-married friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) to enjoy his last days of bachelorhood in style. But the pair end up choosing women (Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen) over wine.

What we have here is something that writer/director Alexander Payne is great at: creating human characters, and putting in them in funny but realistic situations. Not the man’s best, but still great stuff.

Payne writes this film really well because he puts a lot of humor into his plot and characters. There’s a lot to be said here about a guy that can use wine-tasting as a romantic dramedy premise, and not make it seem goofy at all. It’s about how these two best-friends, that are totally opposite and were college freshman roommates, are going through a mid-life crises, and honestly don’t have any idea what to do with themselves. There’s a lot of great one-liners, and great scenes as well, but the real heart of the film is the fact that it all has a purpose. You can’t give up on life, or love for that matter, no matter how much it gets you down. If that means having a whole bunch of pinot noir to drink your all your pains away, then so be it, but just understand that life isn’t such a sad place after all.

My only problem with this film is not so much the film itself, it’s just that I don’t quite think I know that much about what this film was targeting for. I’m only 18 and haven’t really had my mid-life crisis just yet, or not that I know of, and I can’t really say that this film spoke louder than words to me, like it did to many others. Once again, I thought that the writing was great, but once again, not really for me since I’m still quite a youngling.

The best element to this whole film is  that it is a character study and I loved characters, and the actors that portray them. Paul Giamatti is perfectly cast as Miles, the neurotic social misfit that he always plays so well. He’s dark, depressing, and always gloomy about something, but he isn’t an annoyance, and Giamatti plays him so well he because he makes him likable and all the same believable. When this guy is talking to you about wine, you believe it, and you feel like you know that this guy knows what he’s talking about and it’s just all so natural. At times, he may seem like kind of a deuche, but if you look at it like this, he’s the only one that has any bit of sense here, the only problem is that he just doesn’t know how to put a smile on. I must say that I thought that Jack the character was kind of a dick, but Thomas Haden Church plays him so well, that I almost forget about all the terrible stuff he does. He’s a liar, cheater, and asshole, but at the same time he’s the perfect example of The Man. He is just that dude that is so hunky, and such a tool, that by the end of the night he always ends up going home with a chick, no matter what promises he made, or what he even said for that matter. Haden Church brings out some of the best lines here, and really does do a great job with showing how such a dickhead of a character, can be likable if you have enough charm and wit. Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh are great as the two supporting ladies, and their scenes with these two dudes feel realistic, and believable even though they are kind of hotter than both. Not that I’m judging or anything……..

Consensus: This is aimed at a certain audience, but you can’t resist Sideways’ the terrific performances from the cast, especially the funny, insightful, and often touching screenplay that will either having you crave some merlot, taking a trip to California, or just going through life with a smile.


Eat Pray Love (2010)

Total chick-flick, but hey sometimes chick flicks aren’t so bad.

After deciding to reshape her life, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) travels the world in search of direction. She heads to Italy, India and Bali, indulging in delicious cuisine while seeking the true meaning of self-love, family, friendship and forgiveness. Along the way, she meets a bevy of characters and, possibly, her true love.

I’m probably the only human being alive who still hasn’t read this book, and for the most part after seeing this, I don’t mind if I ever do.

This is writer/director Ryan Murphy‘s second adaptation of a book, and I don’t think he quite knows how to get to the emotional core of a story. The film looks very, very good with beautiful shots of Italy, Indonesia, India and the vibrant colors and glorious shots really do have us feel like were right there with her in this place.

However, the scenery may look beautiful, Murphy still doesn’t know how to direct this film in actually becoming something involving. At times, the plot and the flow of the story felt very fragmented to me, as if I kind of felt like I was just jumping from location to location with Julia, and there was no depth to the story. I didn’t feel totally involved with this story, because Murphy doesn’t do a good job at actually creating a love story we can all care about. I must say though that there are many times where I actually had a good time with this film with some moments actually having me laugh, and a little bit inspired.

This chick gets out of her marriage one day and just says I want something new, and decides to run off to all these beautiful locations to search for love in her life, and the meaning of it all. I wish I could do something like this, and just not give a damn about anything, because going with the flow is so much better than caring about so many things in your life.

Julia Roberts is perfectly cast as Liz because she can talk to you about pizza like she’s your best friend, and you totally forget she’s a movie star. She’s not over the hill, but she is over the bullshit and watching her in every scene was great. The only problem is that I feel like the film doesn’t do her much justice because we needed more insight to her life before all this changing started happening, to actually get a real sense of who she actually was. Still, somehow Roberts as always makes this babe very likable.

The men in her life all seem like premise conveniences but they all have that charm to do something about it. Billy Crudup’s character, Stephen, is kind of an ass, but you can kind of see where he’s coming from in all of this. James Franco does an alright job as Liz’s boyf David, and although the writing kind of makes him out to seem like a drag, he still does try with this character. Javier Bardem plays Felipe, who is just sly, sexy, and cool. His chemistry with Roberts is very good, and actually had me believe these two when they were together on screen. Viola Davis doesn’t get enough scenes like I would have hoped for, but she tries her best. However, the best out of the whole supporting crew is Richard Jenkins, the guy who shows up in about 10 films a year. He plays Richard (unique name) from Texas, and right from the get-go you are laughing your ass off at everything he says, so you think he’s just going to be the comic relief of the whole film, but it’s actually more than that. His character has a lot more of an emotional depth than you would expect and Jenkins sells it so well, in a perfect scene that totally won me over. This guy is always amazing in no matter what he does.

Consensus: The cast does their best with this script, and the scenery is just beautiful to look at, but the film feels a little bit too shallow to involve us in this emotional romantic story, and parts feel more rushed than others. However, there are still some pleasant moments, and you will enjoy yourself if your looking for a good date movie.


Vote for the 2011 LAMMY Awards!

If you are a LAMB member, it is now your time to finally be able to vote your favourite LAMB blogs and as well as bloggers in the 2011 LAMMY Awards. You can find more information on the event and voting process here. Also, if you would like to, I’d be very thankful you could give me a little bit of voting love, specifically in the categories of “Best Blog”, “Best Movie Reviewer”, and Best New LAMB. Thanks for reading everybody, and when you can get out there and vote, and put a little something in there for me please!

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Maybe if I start boning chicks too, my writing will somehow get better.

Young Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy.

Many people will always bash on this film because they don’t think it was quite deserving of the seven Oscars it got, including Best Picture because it beat out one of my favorites, Saving Private Ryan. But at the same time, I can kind of see why now.

My favorite element of this film is the combination of the witty script, and inspired direction. The script has many little jokes inside the core of it, and it may be hard at first to catch the real wit within this script, but once you get the hang of the jokes, they will have you howling. There are many references to some of other Shakespeare’s work, but also some other ironic jokes that will have almost anybody laughing. This is basically a reworking of a period of history, and in ways you have to suspend all disbelief and just go along with this film, and I promise you if you can, you will not be disappointed.

Director John Madden does a great job of keeping this film at a very quick, and fast pace to have us get a feel for this rowdy environment that this film takes place in. Madden makes this film look perfect with it’s vibrant sets of color, decorations, and costumes and I felt like I was there with all this happening. Beneath all this comedy though, there is a beautiful love story that shows the importance of art, and poetry. Being a writer myself, I know what it’s like to have inspiration in my life and for my art, and I must say that this film did touch on that well here and gave us a reason to believe that this love really was something special. However, Madden still finds fun with this screenplay and does not hold back from getting a little goofy, which just makes this even more fun.

My only gripe with this film is that even though I liked the humor and romantic elements to this film, I felt like when they were combined together in this film, it kind of gave this film an uneven pace. There are moments of this film where it’s going all-over-the-place, and kicking jokes out of the wazoo, but then they get to the romance parts, which are sweet, but they kind of take down all this energy. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was something with me, but either way I just wish the film kept up that quick pace and didn’t slow down when it started to get all kissy face.

I think the main reason this film worked so well was because of its truly amazing ensemble of a cast. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Viola De Lesseps, in an Oscar-winning role, and she deserved it because she really is amazing here. She plays Viola with such strength, and presence that you feel her love and heart through every scene she has and I must say it makes her character so much more interesting than anybody would have expected. Joseph Fiennes fits perfectly as the poster boy for William Shakespeare, as he has both the charm, and the looks to back up his act and make Shakespeare a very likable guy in this film. I still do think he should have at least gotten a nomination for his work in this film too. Geoffrey Rush plays Philip Henslowe and does a good job at always bringing that nutty side to every one of his characters. Judi Dench is only in this film for about nine minutes but somehow won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and this caused quite an uproar. Dench is perfect as Queen Elizabeth here, and brings out that total bitch-mode we all know and love her for, and does a great job with the limited time she’s given on-screen. The rest of the cast is good as well with the likes such as Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Simon Callow, and hell even Ben Affleck does a good job too.

Consensus: The pacing may be a bit off, but Shakespeare in Love is an amazing romantic comedy, that has hilarious and sweet screenplay, that provides great attention to detail, as well as perfect performances from the cast, that just allow you to be entertained and have a great time while watching no matter how much or how little you know of Shakespeare.

9/10=Full Price!!

Stone (2010)

Derek Vineyard in cornrows = awesome!

Edward Norton plays a convicted arsonist who hopes to get out of prison early by putting to work the seductive talents of his beautiful wife, Lucetta (Milla Jovovich). Robert DeNiro plays the parole officer who is the target of the couple’s cat-and-mouse scheming.

This is the second film from director John Curran, and the good thing he does here is create all this drama with a more subtle approach that you wouldn’t see in other films of this nature. It isn’t your big Hollywood picture, and the story moves very slow, but with enough detail to hold your interest as you know something, just something is not going to right.

However, while we’re waiting for that bad thing to happen the story starts to take a very odd route, and get very spiritual. It’s a very unusual film because it often shits very uneasily towards sleaze and philosophy, and it doesn’t work out well in the end. There is a lot of talk about God, second chances, and being forgiven and for the most part I thought all of this was just dumb for a story like this, because they could have taken a more simpler approach and it would have been fine the way it was.

I liked the screenplay and thought many parts where they tried to get their point across, they did and it worked well, but then there were these long stretches of just something disturbing happening, and it made no sense as to why it was put in here. By the end especially, this film starts to dive into some ludicrous situations but I won’t lie, I still found myself actually involved with this crazy story.

Robert De Niro has been getting some fragile, grand-pop figures as of late, but I was glad to finally just see him have that opportunity to lay into people here as Jack Mabry. I’m not going to say he gives an amazing performance here, but he still has the presence and the strength to hold together his character as he gets more and more emotionally involved with this story. Edward Norton plays Gerald “Stone” Creeson, and proves that he is one of the best actors out there working in the biz today. The whole gimmick behind this film is that he has cornrows in this film which he actually done to his hair, and apparently when he took them out, he looked like Gene Wilder. Little fun fact there, you can either take it or leave it, assholes. I’m glad in this film that he does over-act in such a role, instead he keeps it small, intense, and overall just believable. Stone’s wife, Lucetta, is played incredibly well by Milla Jovovich, who finally gets a chance to get away from his zombie-killing times, and actually flaunt her acting skills again. She takes what could have been a standard psycho bitch, femme fatale role and makes it something deeper because she’s needy, she’s volatile, and makes you believe that she really can be this crazy and daring.

Consensus: Stone is a slow film, that borders between philosophy and sleaziness, but the trio of leads will keep you on suspense for this whole film and you should definitely check it out, because it’s a lot better than the trailers have it look.


Scream 4 (2011)

Something I’ve been wanting for awhile now, and I wasn’t disappointed. Love when that happens!

Perennial survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now a successful self-help author, returns to her home town of Woodsboro. Sidney’s homecoming, however, coincides with a slew of unsettling new murders.

I have and always will be a huge fan of the Scream franchise. Scream was awesome, Scream 2 was almost even better, and although Scream 3 wasn’t as good as either, it still wasn’t terrible. Thankfully that this is just about in between all of them.

So finally about 15 years since the original, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson got back together and did what they do best, make funny effective horror films. Williamson keeps a lot of that self-referential talk here about the constant horror movie cliches, and what to do and what not to do, but there were also some great moments of actual comedy. I have always laughed at the Scream movies, but here I was actually “LOLing” all over the place much to my surprise. I won’t lie some of this smart talk does seem a little bit dated, because it has been done three more times, including this, and it may get annoying for some viewers. But for me, I had a ball with all this talk, and it really did assure me that Williamson hasn’t lost that touch.

Craven also brings back his horror hand back, and even though the times have changed since 1996, he still shows that he can go along with them. Craven does a great job of keeping the suspense with this story alive the whole time, and guessing just who the killer really is. In the first one, I had no idea but in the later two, I knew right away so it was a real treat to keep on guessing just who Ghostface really was. I must say you will be shocked by this twist, but it’s all thanks to Craven who actually made us guessing. It’s less scary as it is actually insanely suspenseful, but still works none the less.

The one thing about this film that really had me happy was that it seemed so much smarter than any other horror film has been in the past 10 years. The usage of cell phones and the internet works well here because it gives us more chilling and suspenseful moments, and keeps us on the edge of our seats the whole time. I’m not going to say that i could see any horror film actually happening, but this one is actually kind of believable with the things that happen. These characters know what to expect next, so sometimes they make a smart decision and live, others make a dumb decision and die, and then sadly others make smart decisions and still die. As the body count goes up, so does the blood and gore, and I must say that Craven hasn’t lost his knack for that either.

It was also good to see some of the old crew back together, even though it was only three of the original cast members. Neve Campbell still looks stunning, and can hold the role of Sidney Prescott like no other. David Arquette is still awesome as Dewey even though he is getting older, and looking creepier with that stash, but didn’t he have a limp in the third and fourth? Courtney Cox is also still sexy as Gale Weathers, and it’s such a shame to see her and Arquette’s marriage fall apart since they were the real heart of these films. But then again, I guess if you name your kid Cocco, you don’t have much luck anyway.

The rest of the uber young cast is solid too. Emma Roberts is still that spunky, little girl and isn’t fully grown-up yet to take these roles yet, but with what she’s given, she does her best. Hayden Panettiere is actually very smart and witty as Kirby, Rory Culkin as Charlie also has some good lines, and Erik Knudsen is also very funny. But let’s not forget the awesome Adam Brody and Anthony Anderson as the two bumbling coppers here, who literally have the best lines in this film, and I’m still laughing about one line, but I can’t say which one. Have to go and see for yourself.

Consensus: Scream 4 may have it’s fair share of annoying self-referential language, but the scares are well done, the suspense ins numbing sometimes, and the script is funny enough to keep you laughing. Overall, I’m just glad to see the franchise back, and glad to see it keeping me fully entertained.


The Jerk (1979)

Perfect reminder for why Steve Martin is a funny mofo.

After discovering he’s not really black like the rest of his family, likable dimwit Navin Johnson (Steve Martin) runs off on a misadventure that takes him from rags to riches and back to rags again. The slaphappy jerk strikes it rich, but life in the fast lane isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and, in the end, all that really matters to Johnson is his true love (Bernadette Peters).

Knowing that this was Steve Martin’s first lead starring role, I was expecting to chuckle here and there, but goddamn was I laughing at this.

The humor is something I would just call funny as hell. This film doesn’t really give a crap just how crazy it can really get, and I must say that adds to much of the humor that worked so well. Watching all these crazy off-the-wall situations, non-stop hilarious sight gags, and some of the best slapstick I’ve seen in film just had me doing more than just LOLing.

The film also has a pretty fun, and fast pace that really keeps things moving even though it does get a little uneven at points. There are many times when you can just quote this, and although some jokes in here may be a little bit offensive, and mean-spirited, you can’t stop but help to remember by the end of this.

My only real complaint towards this whole film is that it does run a little bit out of steam, and that’s mainly to its episodic feel to it all. I liked how they told this film in a rags-to-riches tale, but by the end once it becomes all way too obvious, it didn’t really have me laughing as much as it did earlier, but I was still cracking up.

Anytime that Steve Martin decides to choose another script like Bringing Down the House, or Cheaper By the Dozen, he can watch this film to remind him that he was really, really funny. He totally inhabits this moron-like character, Navin Johnson, but all this is lovable and the whole time your watching this film, and Martin’s crazy antics you can’t help but still fall or this dude. The slapstick Martin uses here adds so much more to this film’s overall humor, and works well towards it main character. Not only does Martin shine, but others such as Bernadette Peters, Caitlin Adams, and Jackie Mason all do good jobs as well. It’s just that Martin knocks them out of the water.

Consensus: Guided by a hilarious leading man debut from funnyman Steve Martin, The Jerk may feel a bit episodic, but the comedy is filled with so much stupidity, so much surrealism, and so much hilarity, you can’t deny the laughter that will be coming through your lungs during this film.


Cast Away (2000)

I wonder what I would do if I was on an island for a whole year.

After FedEx systems engineer Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean, he finds himself fighting to survive on a deserted island with nothing but a painted volleyball — a silent partner he names Wilson — for company.

Director Robert Zemeckis is known in today’s world as the guy who can’t get enough of that weird-ass CGI with such movies as Beowulf, A Christmas Carol, and most recently Mars Needs Moms. But it’s always great to see what this guy can do when he’s given real-life people, or for this matter, one real-life person.

Zemeckis does a great job with the overall feel and tone of this story. He uses no music whatsoever and uses the sounds of the ocean breeze, to give us this huge sense of alienation that Chuck is going through as well. There are also longs periods of time where there is barely any language spoken at all, and it really does work because you feel like you are right there with him, stranded on this unknown island. The cinematography is also so beautiful to look at, as there are moments where I could not take my eyes off the screen because I was so amazed of what I saw.

However, I think the main problem with this film is that it’s pace will have some viewers checking out their watches many times throughout. There are long strains of time where there is no dialogue, and sometimes people will find themselves a little bored with everything that’s going on. I know moments in this film had me more fascinated than others, but I know this film will have many viewers most likely snoozing.

I liked the fact that the minimalist screenplay does a good job of portraying the human will to survive and how its tone is actually very unique, but my main problem with this script is how it’s resolved. I don’t want to give away too much but there’s a certain element to this story that opens and closes the film which actually is pretty weak compared to what they could have done with the story. Again, I can’t give too much away but when the film is over, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The real show to watch here is the always amazing, Tom Hanks. A lot of the film is spent just watching him go about his days on the island, and all of it is so great because Hanks just is a presence that cannot be taken away no matter who else is around him. Hanks is so familiar to everybody, yet he loses himself in this character and we really do sympathize with him through this long adventure on the island all alone. But let us all not forget everybody’s favorite volleyball, Wilson. I must say watching Hanks having a conversation with this volleyball made me laugh, and at parts had me actually believe that he could actually be having a conversation with this thing. Helen Hunt also shows up and is just OK, but that’s how she usually is in most films.

Consensus: Many moments will put viewers to sleep with it’s slow pace, and bother others with it’s crappy ending, but Cast Away showcases Tom Hank’s amazing skills as an actor, and provides a smart directing job from Zemeckis.


Julie & Julia (2009)

Food: the quickest way to a man’s heart. Remember that one ladies.

A woman verging on thirty (Amy Adams) and frustrated in a temp secretary job takes on a yearlong culinary quest: cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” She chronicles her trials and tribulations in a blog that catches on with the food crowd.

I do not cook, I wish I really could because then I could have so much more food that I wanted, but I don’t. However, I do love food, and that is why throughout this whole film, I was just holding my stomach.

It seemed like a challenge for the makers of this film, because they are taking two sources of material, and making it into one and I think that’s where the problem lies. The setting of post-WWII Paris where Julia Child’s story takes place is so intoxicating, that every time we cut away we to New York, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. At times, I just felt like these were two movies about the same subject, copy-and-pasted together.

However, despite this problem with the film, I still found myself enjoying a lot of what’s going on here. I think the overall pleasant mood to this film, and the fact that it just does everything with a smile, is what works here. The whole time I was expecting a standard “chick flick” that was going to be all about cooking, which it was, but it was all so fun to watch, and I had a better time than I actually expected.

Meryl Streep as you can already tell just from seeing that she’s in this film does an amazing job as Julia Child. I had no idea who this chick was before this movie, but after wards I checked her out, and I must say Meryl nails it. She is so alive and flamboyant here that I went from thinking of her as just the PBS cooking lady to somebody who could confront all of life’s challenges with a smile. Amy Adams is her usual cutesy-bootsy self here as Julie, and although her story isn’t as interesting as Streep’s, she still does a good job here and brings out a likability to her character. Also, it was awesome to see Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina up in herre doing great jobs at playing the main-boos for both of these gals, because they are always a pleasure to see, and here they are not different.

Consensus: Streep’s great performance, and along with the overall happy and joyous mood, Julie & Julia is an enjoyable, if flawed treat. See what I did there…


Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Call Of Duty: The Movie.

Led by their skillful staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart), a platoon of gutsy Marines, including Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), Simmons (Taylor Handley) and Lockett (Cory Hardrict), fight to protect all humankind from astonishingly powerful aliens who’ve suddenly invaded Los Angeles.

Ever since that first awesome trailer came out, my interest level went sky-high. And then I found out it was based on real events, so then I got even crazier about this. Then I saw it.

If you are 13, love playing shoot-em-up video games, and just want to goof around with your friends, this is the movie for you. There is non-stop shooting left-and right, which is actually pretty entertaining because there are plenty of aliens, explosions, guns, tanks, spaceships, and helicopters to hold your interest with loud noises all over the place just to make sure your eyes are on the screen. I was somewhat entertained with all this havoc, however, that can only go so far.

All the action was fine until everybody in this movie had to open their mouths, and that’s when everything went downhill from there. The writer of this film, Christopher Bertolini, sucks. I honestly don’t know if this guy was taking this seriously, or just watched a whole bunch o war films, and put every single cliched line you could think of. When these people all start talking it’s most cheesy, predictable stuff you have ever heard. Almost every sentence that these Marines use ends with a big “Hoo-rah”, and every time they get soft and talk about their feelings, they all sound like their gonna cry, and everybody around them is going to cuddle with them. This is some of the most macho bullshit that I have ever heard in a film, and if I were a Marine, I would be pretty pissed that this is the kind of image I got.

Let’s not forget to mention the one who really effed this all up in the first place, and that’s director Jonathan Liebesman. If you heard about a film that’s “Black Hawk Down, but with aliens instead of Somalis” you would be so siked and think it’s going to be awesome, however this dude somehow messes that up too. There’s no real story here, and the only explanation we get as to why the Aliens are attacking Los Angeles off all places, is because they need water supply. But then again, that makes no damn sense either. And although this film is some mindless entertainment, sometimes it’s almost unbearable how Liebesman uses this shaky-cam and it does get pretty annoying after awhile, since it really is all over the place. Also, I’m really annoyed by how in almost every war film that the enemies always die within that first shot, and the good guys barely ever get shot even if they are like 10 feet away. Always annoys me, and here that doesn’t change.

Aaron Eckhart really does have that huge potential to be an A-list star, and an Oscar contender, but it’s when he does shit like this that really screws him over. Eckhart does a good job with this material, and it’ surprise, because I don’t know how anyone could, but the problem is that he does try a little too hard. But I can’t really criticize him all that much because when you have Michelle Rodriguez, Ne-Yo, and Bridget Moynahan as your supporters, you can’t really expect an Oscar-quality performance.

Consensus: Battle: Los Angeles has the look and feel of a video game, that some people will actually enjoy, but if you want good acting, reasonable story, and some smart dialogue, do not look here.


Blood Diamond (2006)

Now I really don’t want to get my girl a necklace!

In war-ravaged Sierra Leone, diamond smuggler Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) learns that a local fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) has stumbled upon a gigantic gem, and he offers to reunite the man with his family in exchange for the diamond. When Archer befriends a journalist (Jennifer Connelly) tracing “blood diamonds” that finance terrorist groups, he’s faced with a choice between riches and humanity.

Director Edward Zwick does a good job here of taking a story we have all seen before, but makes it all exciting and suspenseful. His visual flair works here with beautiful, and sometimes disturbing shots of Africa, as well as giving us some amazing action to watch as well. The action is pretty full-on with lots of urban and jungle guerrilla warfare, child soldiers, massacres of the innocents and gratuitous violence. Just what you want from a movie like this.

The one problem with this film is that the story isn’t as up to par with the directing. It almost feels like times they are exploiting the violence and disturbing happenings in Africa to get their point across. There are times when the film seemed way too preachy with it’s message about how we should stop going after diamonds, because of how deadly it really is. The plague in Africa is harsh, but this film brings that up way too many times to the point of where I was just saying: “I get it! Diamonds are bad!”.

This is a very ugly film with a lot of terribly disturbing shots of families and little boys being killed, little boys getting their arms chopped off, and plenty of other acts of violence that will have you turning your head, but also root on our heroes here to kill the bad-guys that are inflicting so much pain. At times, the film may be a bit predictable, but I didn’t care because I was having a lot of fun with this one.

This film is the exact moment where Leonardo DiCaprio said bye-bye to his Jack Dawson days. He totally inhabits the South African Danny Archer with that perfect accent, brutal intensity, and overall quick wit and smarts to have you fully believe he could pull all of this off perfectly. Djimon Hounsou is also perfect as Solomon who does whatever it takes to get right back to his family, and does a great job of showing that strong will of emotion every chance he gets. Jennifer Connelly plays the sexy reporter Maddy, and as always she does a good job, but it’s really the two big boys’ game in this film.

Consensus: Perfect performances from the cast, and exciting action sequences make up for the major problem that the story does get a little too preachy, as well as predictable.


Reality Bites (1994)

The 90’s looked so cool, and kind of annoying.

A small circle of friends (Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn) suffering from post-collegiate blues must confront the hard truth about life, love and the pursuit of gainful employment. As they struggle to map out survival guides for the future, the Gen-X quartet soon begins to realize that reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

This along with Singles, has to be those early 90’s, Generation-X defining films that probably seemed all hip and cool then, now, not so much.

First-time writer/director Ben Stiller, maybe you’ve heard of him, maybe not, does a good job of combining good elements of comedy, romance, and a dash of 90’s reality. There’s a lot of pop-culture references that some people like myself didn’t quite get, and others you will get and think are kind of funny. Underneath, all of that humor though, there’s actually a sweet little romance that works well here, especially with the tone and everything, since it’s both at times dark, and light. There’s also a lot of insight about the constant struggles there were to actually get a job, and do something with your life after your schoolio days are over.

However, the insight starts to lose it’s flavor, and kind of actually becomes a little annoying, probably because it all seems so dated. These chumps are so used to fighting the system, and saying no to the common man, that they literally don’t do anything with their lives and just sit around and mope a lot about how people have dreams and ambitions, while their doing the same things. I liked some of the discussions about living in the world of AIDS, and the Clinton era, but after awhile those witty discussions start to die down into some annoying territory.

There are also many moments where I felt like this film was almost trying way too hard to be different and cool, just for the sake of being different and cool. I know I have said the word, “cool” a lot during this review, but that’s only because I feel like Stiller was just there behind the camera trying to do some cool things with this film because it’s the 90’s. Maybe it’s dated because that’s the point because it’s a snapshot of a generation and an age. However, I still wish it didn’t try so hard to be so damn cool.

Winona Ryder is a natural in this role as the quarter-life crises infected, Lelaina, who just wants something to do with her life and get pass all of these problems she faces. Ryder is good in this role, and it’s easy to follow her character on a day-to-day basis, because she has that cuteness and charm, but also that harsh reality of someone stuck in a jobless life. Ben Stiller does a good job as Michael, the yuppie that comes into Lelaina’s life, and does that nerdy and nervous awkward shtick that he has in a way perfected, and it works well with his character here. Steve Zahn and Janeane Garofalo are also here and do some nice jobs bringing more humor to the film. My favorite out of this whole cast was Ethan Hawke as Troy, the definitive 90’s slacker. Filled with so many quotes, one-liners, and insightful sayings, Hawke perfectly captures the mind sight and speech of what it was like to live in this generation when all you had to work with were your words. He is at times a dick, and at others, a total charmer, and Hawke plays him so well that he gives off a great early performance that shows what talent he would have for later on in his career.

Consensus: Though it’s insight start’s to get annoying, and may seem just like random conversations after awhile, Reality Bites has a sweet, romantic comedy-like tone, with good performances and a nice snapshot of Generation-X.


Crazy Heart (2009)

The Wrestler, if Randy “Ram” Robinson played the guitar.

When reporter Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) interviews Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) — an alcoholic, seen-better-days country music legend — they connect, and the hard-living crooner sees a possible saving grace in a life with Jean and her young son. But can he leave behind an existence playing in the shadow of Tommy (Colin Farrell), the upstart kid he once mentored?

This was a film that back in the day, I didn’t really appreciate so much. But thanks to HBO, I thought why the hell not! But still, not much is that different since the first time around.

The whole story here is pretty generic. It all starts off as this old, has-been entertainer, who drinks a lot, treats his guitar better than his women, and doesn’t seem to make any good choice. However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel because he soon finds someone that he loves and then his life starts to look up. But all of this is pretty predictable, and you can’t help but know throughout the whole film, just how this film is going to turn out. I’ve seen this story time and time before, and although this wasn’t as bad as others, I still found myself a little annoyed with nothing different here.

First time writer/director Scott Cooper does an alright job here in his debut flick, but you can tell it’s a rookie behind that camera. I like how Cooper just let the music and the story speak for itself, but the film doesn’t really do much else. The pace is very uneven with some parts being actually emotionally raw, and then others terribly cliche. I wish the film did more interesting things with this familiar premise, but it was decent at times.

Also, I’m not a huge lover of country music, but I must say this film actually had me tapping my feet to the country music here. I liked how a lot of the real stars in this movie did their own voices for this film, and they actually all sound good. There are some good songs that work, and might just have you humming the tune when it’s over. I know I was.

The real highlight of this film here is that man up top. Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake here and is basically outstanding. Bridges plays Bad Blake with all that signature coolness that he has, but also with a great emotional depth into his character that has you actually believe that this guy is as messed up as he’ll have you believe. He can be an asshole, with his non-stop drinking, but we are still somehow rooting for him all the way throughout. I was glad that Cooper kept the film on him basically the whole time, cause without him, I don’t think I would have been to get through certain scenes. Bridges deserved that Oscar not only for this, but for also the legend that he really and truly is.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is good here as Jean, but her character is almost too sensible to fall for an old, washed-up drunk like Blake. It’s not to say her performance isn’t good here, because she is very strong, but there’s just not enough in this script to have you believe that she could actually falls for this guy, it happens almost way too fast. Also, that age gap between them, was a little too creepy for me to watch sometimes. There’s also some nice little side spots from Robert Duvall, and randomly Colin Farrell. This was really surprising to see him here, because I just thought it was an odd choice for a country singer/superstar, but he does it well, and actually has a good voice for the music here.

Consensus: The story is very generic, and times a little too unbelievable but the rich performances, especially from Jeff Bridges, and the awesome country music, make Crazy Heart an uneven, but ultimately satisfying story.


Beauty and the Beast (1991)

No matter how old you get, this movie is always awesome.

In this modern-day Disney animated classic set in 18th-century France, young Belle yearns to escape her ordinary existence — and her village’s boorish suitors — until she becomes imprisoned in the mansion of a hideous, coldhearted beast. Can Belle help the monster revive the man within?

Here’s a movie I thought I’d never watch again, probably because I’m a “Man” now, hence the name of the website, so it’s kind of a surprise this got to me. Somehow, this was on numero uno on my Netflix queue, so when this came to my house unexpectedly I was shocked, but also happy because now I could watch an old animated classic, that I loved as a kid, and still loved as a “Man”.

I think the real heart of this film is the emotional weight within the story that rings so true. As a kid, I understood what the movie was doing, but now as I’m older you really do understand what the film is saying, and it’s all so true. Beauty is within. It’s not all about appearances, or popularity, because sometimes even the craziest of humans can be the sweetest, and sometimes most lovely of people. The message of this story rings true no matter how old, or young you are, but not so much for me, since I’ve always been sexy.

The music here is also a great addition to this film as well. There are certain classics here such as the hilarious “Be Our Guest”, “Gaston”, and of course the enchantingly beautiful, “Beauty and the Beast”. All the musical numbers here are perfect, and add so well to the romantic side, as well as the humor that comes so well in this film. It also will help that these tracks will be stuck in your head long after the film is over, but that isn’t such a bad thing, since it’s all great songs here.

I must also say that I loved the fact that this is your basic animation, from the days of when people actually used to draw these scenes, rather than having the help of those damn computers. It was great to see how beautiful these certain details to setting, and the overall design looked and to know that is was all done by a human being. Still about 20 years later, it still looks utterly beautiful and knocks certain 3-D animation picks in today’s world, right out of the park.

There was one problem with this film that I had, and it was probably the fact that it was very very short. It has probably about a run-time of 90 minutes, which is short and sweet to an extent, but the love between Belle and the Beast almost feels a bit rushed, and could have used a bit more scenes of development. However, this isn’t a huge complaint, and after all, I could just be a nut ball about this.

Who can’t forget the characters to this film as well? Belle is such a nice sweetheart, that she’s easily likable upon the first 5 minutes, and the Beast is pretty cool, once you get to the core of his character. These two create a sweet romance, that really is an iconic message about the extents romance has with certain people. Let’s not also forget other amazing characters such as Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and of course everybody’s favorite villain, Gaston. Not a single bad character here, and I liked how everyone had a nice moment of comedy to them.

Consensus: Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful and true-tale about love, acceptance, and the real person within humans. However, the beautiful animation, and musical numbers still work, and are just about as fresh as they were 20 years ago.

9/10=Full Price!!

Last Chance Harvey (2008)

Can Mommy and Daddy’s romance actually be fresh and new?

Dustin Hoffman stars as struggling jingle writer Harvey Shine, an aging father who risks losing his job to attend his daughter’s London wedding, only to discover that he’s not exactly welcome. While seeking refuge in the airport bar, Harvey meets a lonely statistician named Kate (Emma Thompson) and finds himself thrust into an unexpected romance.

I was surprised by this film because I wasn’t expecting to actually like something so obvious, and generic as this. The writing does a good job of actually having us believe that these two can fall in love with each other over a short amount of time, just through understandings and conversation. I especially liked how it was all dramatic in the beginning, but then as soon as these two meet, everything spices up, and I actually found myself laughing more than I expected.

The film does get a bit too generic and formulaic, which disappointed me. I thought at one point it was going to turn for the worst, and actually be something different from what I’ve seen before, but instead it backs right into the formula of a “romantic dramedy”. Also, way too sentimental by the end, and may have you sometimes cringing by all the schmaltz as well.

The real treat here is to watch these two legends do amazing work, as they always should. Dustin Hoffman is great as the chump Harvey, that just wants to make everything but somehow just can’t, through a series of unfortunate events. There are some scenes where he really belts out the emotional part of his performance and does a great job, delivering the best scenes of the movie. But I don’t want to give away too much. Emma Thompson is awesome as always, using the witty and snappy girl personality to her advantage here, and brings out the charm within Hoffman. I actually found their chemistry was the main reason this film worked, cause although the script isn’t terrific, their genuine and hilarious chemistry brings out the best within this film. These two do good jobs at actually having us believe that these two “old” people can actually still find that certain someone.

Consensus: Though the predictability and schmaltz may be in effect here, Last Chance Harvey is uplifted by the good screenplay, that has perfect chemistry between Hoffman and Thompson, who are the top of their game.


Indecent Proposal (1993)

Women always love those rich men.

Talk about expensive dates! Billionaire Robert Redford pays for a doozy when, for a cool $1 million, he proposes to a very married Demi Moore that they spend a single night together. Moore’s husband (Woody Harrelson) is a cash-strapped, down-on-his-luck architect who could use the dough to keep their beach house from defaulting to the bank. Will she, or won’t she?

This is a film that I was very skeptical before seeing, because it won three Razzies, including one for Worst Picture. However, it’s not as bad as the rep that it’s given.

The one thing I will give this film is that it does bring up a good debate. Would you actually risk love for 1 million dollars? And if so, how much would you actually think about that decision? The film touches on the measures a marriage will go when guilt and thoughts start getting wrapped up in the couples heads. This is where the film does a very good job, it brings up good questions that we ourselves have to ask what we would do if we were put in the same situation.

However, the problem with this film is that the material could have been handled so much better to be so much more compelling. I think there could have been more talking about the situation these three people were put in, rather than just the after-math. More of this story could have been discussed in the film but instead is just sort of never mentioned, but never anything bigger than a sure 5-minute conversation.

I did like elements to the story, but underneath all the sex and money, there’s a sappy little romance that is pretty cheesy. Also, the rest of the film starts to turn out to be sure soap opera, that may work for some, but others will just be wondering why the hell are they sticking through all this sappy stuff.

The performances here are what somehow won me over. Robert Redford does a very effective job here as the billionaire John Gage. I must say that Redford really charmed the hell out of me here and does a good job of keeping that cool essence to his character, as well as the sneaky, manacle element too. Demi Moore surprisingly does a good job here giving off some pretty emotional scenes, and shows her character for what she is. Woody Harrelson always does a good job no matter what he does, and here it’s no different as he plays every-day man David Murphy. There’s a lot of emotions that pour out of this guy throughout the whole film, but somehow Harrelson makes it all seem pretty believable.

Consensus: The performances are rich, and the film itself brings up good questions about the limitations of marriage and love, but it never does much with them and just makes those questions turn into a sappy soap opera.


Rango (2011)

Either somebody was watching too many Clint Eastwood films, or took a lot of LSD.

A chameleon (Johnny Depp) that aspires to be a swashbuckling hero finds himself in a Western town plagued by bandits and is forced to literally play the role in order to protect it.

I was actually surprised to see an actual good animation film, that wasn’t by Pixar. I was also more surprised by how different than any other animated film this was.

The real reason this whole film is an awesome treat is because of writer/director Gore Verbinski who does a good job of bringing us so much entertainment to our eyes. When he shot this film, it wasn’t just voice actors in a booth, he actually had everybody up and dancing along and doing all the actions that their characters do. This is what I think adds so much more enjoyment to the film because you can tell that all these actors are having a good time, with all that fun being brought onto us watching this film.

The script for me was OK to say the least, although I did feel it was all a bit too in it’s owns ass. The reason I say that is because there’s too many times where it just seems to be a pop-culture reference, after another and it started to become annoying to the point where I just wanted this story to go on. I did find myself actually chuckling at this film, but I couldn’t help thinking that the writers of this film, felt like they were so much more wittier when they wrote it.

The animation here is so finely detailed, but not in a pretty way, because this may actually have you puke if you’re not careful. There is some gross stuff here like reptiles as well as desert critters, and we get to see every scaly, verbally crack in their skin. Some of this may just scare children, but if you want to look at some amazing visuals, this is the film to see. What I like about this film is that it uses cutting-edge technology to take us back to a kid’s story would kill off a character as well as give us nightmares, but we would still have a great time.

Johnny Depp provides the voice of Rango, and really fits him well because Rango is a very theatrical character which is perfect for Depp because it gives him the chance to really goof around, and as always he does it so well here. Isla Fisher voices Beans, and does a funny job here as our main love interest, who sort of looks like Susan Sarandon. Others in this fine voice cast include Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty, Abigail Breslin, Ray Winstone, and Harry Dean Stanton. Must I also add that there are two great cameos, from two very iconic figures but once you see them, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about.

Consensus: The script may think it’s funnier than it actually is, but Rango features top-notch animation, with an overall fun energy that keeps almost all who watch happy, even though the little ones may not like it as much.