Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Jumping the Broom (2011)

I thought black weddings were a lot more fun.

It’s a comedic clash of African American cultures when the hoity-toity clan of bride Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) and the proudly blue-collar family of groom Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) gather on Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate the couple’s nuptials.

A couple of weeks ago I got these chicken fingers from ACME and inside of them there was this one free coupon for a One-Night DVD Rental from Redbox. Sadly, I used it with this.

What I liked about this film is that there are the occasional little laughs here and there and this film does have a nice heart in the right place. We also see the culture-barrier between high class African-Americans and low class African-Americans, which I haven’t really seen brought up in many films let alone black rom-coms.

However, all of this was taken away once the actual script started to come in play and by God, did it really ruin things. None of this here really seemed real at all and just seemed very tacked on for humor. There’s this character named Amy, played by Julie Bowen, and she has never really been around black people. So she starts to mutter her curiosities about chicken, sunscreen, race, and so many other things that I guess were supposed to be funny but instead just felt forced.

But when the comedy isn’t working so isn’t the drama, and this is even worse. Everything here is a bunch of soap-opera melodrama cliches where everybody talks like their about to cry one minute or start making out the next. There’s all of these little sub-plots that I could keep up with but the problem with this film is that these two big climactic moments within the script come and they just feel like total cliches in and of itself. I guess this film really wanted to bring out some tear-drops from the audience that went to go and see this but here it just made me laugh at what everybody here was saying.

There’s also this big theme about how God is big in all of these people’s lives and to me, it seemed stupid and a bit preachy because all of these people are acting like assholes but when something bad or horrible goes wrong, they started holding the bible praying to “God”. Give me a damn break! There is just some religious themes I can, and then there are others that just make me laugh at the utter stupidity that lies within them.

Although the script blows, I actually did have some fun with this cast. Paula Patton is endearing and sweet as Sabrina; Laz Alonso is pretty charming and believable as Jason; Angela Bassett is pretty good as the stuck-up mother of Sabrina; and Loretta Devine is funny but a little annoying as Jason’s mom, which is probably because her character is such a bitch about the whole wedding cause they want to jump over a broom. Come on! The real revelation of this whole cast is Mike Epps as Uncle Willie who pops up every once and awhile with his hilarious one-liners and brings so much energy to this film every chance he gets.

Consensus: Jumping the Broom has moments of sweetness, much ado to the good cast, but the script here is filled with melodrama cliches, shallow writing, and religious themes that just all forced upon the viewer for no reason.


PS Everybody I will be gone for the next three days until Saturday because I’am going to this retreat for my school. So, I won’t have anything new until then but feel free to check any review you want, comment, and even send me some e-mail love for when I get back. I don’t know, just surprise meee! Hope everything is all good when I’m gone and if you need me, you know where to reach me. I think that was a pretty good line right there.

Peace everybody!


Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Maybe I need to start having dinners where funny people show up and do funny things. Be a lot better than my past couple of Thanksgivings.

Tim Conrad’s (Paul Rudd) boss hosts a dinner party where he invites his friends to bring along the saddest, most pathetic loser they can find. But when the ultimate schmuck Barry (Steve Carell) arrives, his actions somehow turn everyone else into the losers.

This is based on a French film that I still have yet to see, and even though i had tremendously low expectations going into, I actually really liked it.

Director Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Austin Powers) has a big knack for putting a nice guy in an excruciating situation that just keeps on getting more bizarre and more bizarre as the film goes on but I still found myself laughing at almost everything that was going on. The set pieces are used incredibly well because this is a film that isn’t afraid to be weird and then get weirder some more. I laughed so much here that I surely was totally surprised by the end of the film.

Roach also directs this film with a surprising sweetness even when it’s too busy relying on farcical misunderstandings, I never actually found myself at what Roach was trying to sympathize with. The friendship that Tim and Barry actually create is funny but at the same time a very sweet thing and you see how these have each others backs in many situations which makes this film a lot more than just a crazy bizarro fest after all.

However, what really stung me as weird with this film was that it tells us it’s not right to laugh at schmucks but for the whole hour and 54 minutes, that is exactly what you are doing. This seemed very strange to me as I had no idea what Roach was trying to convey across the film and when everything was over, I just kept wondering if I should feel guilty or not for laughing.

Another problem here was the actual tone itself, which at first I didn’t have a problem with but it does start to actually go all-over-the-place and take away more from the comedy and sweetness aspects of the film. Also, the chick in this film named Julie played by Stephanie Szostak is pretty lame and I didn’t really find anything about her that was so damn amazing for Rudd to keep on fighting for her and having the film itself go back to her.

Steve Carell is always somebody that has me laughing no matter what it is that he does and his role as Barry is just downright hilarious. What sets Carell apart from a lot of other comedians is that he can play a total moron, while still being able to tug at your heart-strings just by being so damn lovable. Barry is a wild and crazy little bird that at times wasn’t always a total dipstick, which had me truly not knowing just what he was going to do next. Paul Rudd is incredibly likable and although he associates with total jit-bags, played so well by Bruce Greenwood and Ron Livingston, you’re still pulling for him. Rudd stands there with a straight-face while everyone else around him is goofy, but he still has his moments where he is just downright hilarious as well.

The rest of the cast filled with plenty of other comedic heavy-hitters are great as well. Jemaine Clement almost steals the show as the artsy freak, Kieran Vollard and just provides that signature weirdness that just doesn’t let us take his character seriously at all; Lucy Punch is also good as Darla and has some insanely sexy scenes; Chris O’Dowd is also good here as Marco the blind swordsman; and Zach Galifianakis plays Therman, an auditor that can control your mind, and his scenes with Carell are some of the funniest in the whole film.

Consensus: The tone may be a little shifty and the central message is very strange as well, but Dinner For Schmucks has a hilarious cast, some very funny moments, and an unabashed sweetness to it that actually brings much more heart to this material than I actually expected.


Trust (2011)

It’s official, my kids are never going to have any communication devices whatsoever.

After curious and vulnerable teenager Annie (Liana Liberato) falls into a trap set by an online sexual predator named Charlie, her family begins to disintegrate, uncertain how to cope with such a devastating tragedy. Utterly consumed by rage, her father (Clive Owen) sets out seeking vengeance.

This is the sophomore directorial effort from David Schwimmer, aka Ross Geller, and it’s pretty strange to see him go from a comedy like Run, Fatboy, Run to a film with little or no comedy at all. However, I don’t think you could have said the same about Run, Fatboy, Run.

Schwimmer doesn’t really bring anything new to this subject material other than the IM’s between Annie and Charlie popping up in the corners of the screen. It also shows how such devices like Smart phones, internet, and blackberries have made teenage crushes constant and almost all time consuming. My problem with his direction is that the cinematography seems like it was done by someone who just got out of film school, and looks like a TV-movie almost.

Now the problem with this film that I had was the script where it became very frustrating at points because so many times it won me over and other times where it just had me roll my eyes. The goods about this script is that the scenario is believable thanks to To Catch a Predator and how Charlie reels Annie in completley making her seem incredibly vulnerable and totally clueless to everything seems realistic since a lot of kids don’t know what to do with their first “love” and just go along with what the other person says.

However, my problem lied within the fact that the actual “rape” itself could have been avoided as soon as Annie figured out that this dude was a little creepy in the beginning. Take it for granted, there are girls out there who don’t actually think that every guy they talk to on the internet is a total creep but it seemed so obvious here when the dude started changing his age from 17 to 23 to 28 and then till she found out he was 35. When they actually meet up too, and she sees him for what he is, she could have easily just ran the fuck out of there, called daddy, and Mr. sex offender would have had a nice little meeting from a certain Mr. Chris Hanson.

This may all sound a bit biased since I’m not a very well-known on the subject of girls going through puberty and everything but there were so many red flags here that just seemed completely obvious and I thought she had a bigger head on her shoulder, other than just showing me complete stupidity when she was talking to this Charlie dude in the first place.

Although this is a big problem, the film kept winning me back when there were just completley dramatic and moving scenes that really kept me glued to the screen. Sometimes family dramas can be totally cliche, corny, and predictable but Trust has scenes where the family just lets it all out on one another, whether it be a hissy fit, a cry-fest, or a screaming match, grief is shown very well here from all of the family members, including the parents. Parents coping with grief isn’t something that’s shown very often, except for in maybe films like In the Bedroom, but the way the film plays out a lot of the scenes actually worked for me and made this more than just another touchy subject film gone wrong.

Schwimmer does know how to direct actors though, and very well I may add. Annie is played by new-comer Liana Liberato, who’s very good and I’m pretty sure we will be hearing her name a lot more due to this performance. She’s very good here because she channels all the emotions that a teen going through a crisis like this would and she does is believably rather than just soaking up the cheesiness. Although her character made a lot of dumb choices throughout the film, Liberato made me believe her more as this teen and never let’s anybody from the rest of the cast steal her spotlight.

Clive Owen and Catherine Keener are amazing as Annie’s parents and make so many of the scenes these two have together, alone, or with Annie, just perfect. Owen has always had that sense of rage and misery within all of his characters, but he does it so well here and Keener just does what she always does in every film but it never loses it’s flavor. Another good performance is from Viola Davis as Gail, Annie’s therapist and although I would have liked to see more scenes with her, Davis still owns.

Consensus: Director David Schwimmer makes Trust a very well-acted and at times emotionally honest film about coping with grief, comforting one another, and getting past a terrible happening within a family, but the problems here lie within the script as too many moments feel too obvious to believe and just seems like with a lot more better touches, could have had so much more tension.


Moneyball (2011)

At least we now know where Fantasy Leagues came from.

This is about the true story Billy Beane, a former jock turned general manager who uses unconventional methods to bring the best players to the Oakland A’s, a major league baseball team struggling against financial hardship.

I watch baseball from time to time and being from Philadelphia, I have been apart of a couple of heart-breaks before, but I’m sure as hell glad we weren’t this bad. But I do wish Charlie Manual looked like Brad.

Director Bennett Miller takes the average and cliched sports movies, and turns it into something that actually does something not many have been able to do: makes whatever sport their talking about, entertaining to watch for those who don’t know anything about it.

Miller has many moments of inspired direction with just focusing on how the team is built up with lots and lots of talking, with barely any of the actual game of baseball being played. I mean you of course get the usual sports montages and inspirational moments, but the film is more about the numbers and how to run a successful baseball team with such a slight budget. You also get the feeling that Billy Beane and his team actually changed the way we look at players and baseball, but they don’t try to hit you over the head with that point too much which I was very glad for.

The talking in this film is what also kept me entertained because I never actually knew just how Beane’s way of team-building changed the way we look at sports nowadays. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin both wrote this script and you can tell that they had a lot of fun with this because there are some great moments of hilarity but also plenty of insight and human emotion into these character’s lives that we actually do start to care for. Sorkin brings that constant hammering of words back-and-forth in the script and works here the most, especially when the film is just flying numbers that we have no idea about, right at us.

My problem with this film is that as much as the emotional aspect for this film may have worked, at the same time it kind of took away from the film too. The film shows Billy Beane and how he deals with all of this failure with his baseball team as well as his failure to live up to his expectations as an actual baseball player. This part of the story worked but the film didn’t focus on just that, they also brought in his daughter that really is in the film for about 3 scenes but the film tries so hard to make it seem like she has such an impact on the story that it really seems forced. They try to make Billy’s family “issues” (if there are any) more important than the actual team itself and even that song his daughter writes for him seems something that no 12-year old ever would write. I’m talking about you too Justin Beiber!

The film also tends to run on too long which sometimes isn’t as much of a problem if the film keeps you going, but the pace itself keeps stopping and going to the point of when I didn’t know when it was going to end, nor did I have a feeling they were going to choose a good ending. It’s about a 2 hour and 12 minute movie, which for some is way too long and especially too long for the people around me as everybody I looked at seemed to be moving around a lot after about the 2 hour mark.

I came to see this film for one reason and one main reason only and that was Brad Pitt, who plays A’s manager, Billy Beane. This is a great performance from Pitt as usual because he really gets to challenge the depth of his acting skills with this character. It’s so easy to sympathize with this guy because he seems like such a nice and cool dude who’s caught in a total rutt and wants nothing more to actually win some games and keep this franchise alive. Just by looking at his face, I already felt the emotions that he was feeling and that’s what Pitt does best here. He also gets to show a lot of that great charm that he always has in any film and whether he’s just talking to player, spouting out numbers, or walking around always so cool like he always does, Pitt just shows that he can hit every chord with the audience that needs to be hit with one character.

Jonah Hill is also great in this very tied-down role as Peter Brand, our numbers man. Hill (who was fat still) brings a lot of funny moments to the film and actually makes you believe him as this total number-nerd that builds this great friendship with Beane. Hill and Pitt are probably the most unlikely buddies in any film, but they make it work every chance they get and their scenes just really had me involved almost every time. It’s cool that two totally different actors like Hill and Pitt can actually come together for one film and make it seem believable, rather than just something that Hollywood executives needed for money. Philip Seymour Hoffman gets the top-billing for this film as well but he’s rarely in this but plays the best to his advantage as Art Howe, Beane’s biggest problem when it comes to staff.

Consensus: Moneyball doesn’t fully hit it out of the park (cliche, I know) but does however give us a great look at a system in baseball that changed the game forever, as well as being well-acted, funny, and still touching somewhere in between all the numbers.


Something Wild (1986)

Never trust a chick who follows you when you don’t pay for a meal.

Hey hey hey hey hey! It’s Friday, so you know what that means everyone. Go on over to Boomtron, and show me some love and let me know if you think Ray Liotta is a diverse actor or plays the same dude in everything.

Check out the review here:

While you’re at it this weekend everybody go out and check out Taylor Bourne, or I mean Jason Lautner, or whatever, or Moneyball which looks really good and Killer Elite with my three boys. Oh and Dolphin’s Tale but that just looks like 3-D Free Willy.

Have a great Friday everyone!

One Hour Photo (2002)

That’s why when it comes to cameras, I stay digital bitches.

Robin Williams stars as Sy Parrish, a mentally unbalanced photo development clerk who becomes obsessed with a picture-perfect suburban family. Sy has watched Nina (Connie Nielsen) and Will Yorkin (Michael Vartan) celebrate happy occasions through their snapshots for years. But when the flawless façade he’s created for himself starts to crumble, he takes matters into his own hands.

This is one of those films that really just makes you depressed as soon as you watch it. So don’t let the casting of Mrs. Doubtfire fool you.

What I liked about this film was the first half where we focus on this lonely guy, Sy Parrish, and we are sort of intrigued by him in many strange ways. This dude is sort of alienated from the world around him which kind of actually makes us wish he was part of this family, but then there are other times where we are just glad he’s on a different continent.

Writer and director Mark Romanek is also very good when it comes to creating a great style for all of this alienation and loneliness that Sy goes through. The constant use of a white background kind of made me feel like I was in a dream or a nightmare, which added so much more of a creepy level to this film.

However as a writer, Romanek isn’t fully there yet. The film started off so strong but the second half then turns into this thriller that’s totally preposterous and dumb that it made no sense really as to where it went and actually ended up. I never actually believed Sy’s motivations behind the obsession and the anger that is caused by this family. It came across to me as a bit shallow and the reasons why people take pictures left-and-right isn’t something that is left in your head thinking about before you go to bed. It’s just a damn picture!

Another problem with this film was the score here that actually takes over the film a lot more than it should have. Soundtracks should support everything that happens on-screen, it shouldn’t tell us every little thing we should be feeling and try to add more drama to it. Soundtracks should also be subtle to actually let us sink in the silence that actually happens in real-life sometimes, and not play over a whole scene.

But the dumbest part of the score/soundtrack was the stupid “Danger!” bass sound that comes in almost every time something dramatic happens in this film giving us no actual radical thinking about what feeling we should feel. This is one of the rare films that actually would have been a lot better given it almost had no soundtrack, just silence for every scene but then again, Hollywood has to take over everything.

Robin Williams is the real saving grace here in this film as that lonely, kind of creepy, but very interesting character as Sy Parrish. Williams has done the dramatic roles before with a little hint of his comedic charms in there, but as Parrish he totally gets rid of all of the smiles and just totally takes over every scene he has as this creepy loner. Sy has a depressing life but Williams adds that extra level of likability that we almost actually stand behind and make us feel for him as frightening as he may be. I said this in the Good Will Hunting review and I’ll say it again: go back to drama Robin Williams!!

Consensus: It starts of promising with some great detail from director Mark Romanek, but it soon turns into a dumb thriller that’s aided by a score that is more interested in telling you how you should feel about what’s going on rather than just letting you feel your own emotions. However, Robin Williams is the real one to watch here and steals every scene he has with his creepy look.


Drive (2011)

This guy would make a killing at delivering pizzas.

Driver (Ryan Gosling), a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, is lured from his isolated life by a lovely neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. His newfound peace is shattered, however, when her violent husband is released from prison.

The weird thing about Drive is how this is being advertised as a slam-bang, action thriller with a Fast & Furious look of cars. But that is far from the truth.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) has a great knack for making incredibly bloody films, seem so beautiful. The film reminded me of an 80’s noir with it’s synth-crazy score, the hot pink title cards, and even the colorful as well as gritty look of the under-belly of LA that had me reminded of a Michael Mann film. There are some real great scenes where Refn brings out this very dark mood within the material with the way he films and the way he makes it all sound.

The problem with his direction is that I feel like too many times he doesn’t let the story tell itself at all, and just wants to basically remind people that he’s the one directing here and every shot is shot with his artsy-fartsy trademark. This didn’t bother me that much but when you have a script like this it really does get annoying after awhile.

I thought that the script had its moments where it truly wreaked in awesomeness but then other times, I just felt bored and bothered by what this film was doing. Almost every scene where these characters talk to each other is just filled with some awkward pauses and very slow responses that would have any person trying to leave the conversation as soon as possible. About the third time that I heard Gosling breath and Mulligan sigh, I just about had it about up to here with it, and relied on the action for my entertainment.

Oh wait, there’s barely any of that either. The action here is very short but done so well because of the way Refn creates the tension and keeps the bloodiness packing on up. He also adds this extra colorful flair to every scene, so when some guy is getting his head smashed in, not only is it bloody, but it’s also bright and colorful. This I liked and even though there’s only 2, that’s right, 2 car chases, I still liked them.

However, my problem lies within the fact that I just wish they actually gave us more of the awesome action rather than focus on these boring and awkward conversations that didn’t make me laugh, or really feel any more of an emotional connection to the story, it just annoyed me. I can see why Refn wanted to focus more on the story and visual flair rather than the action but when you got some writing that’s as boring as this is, you start to get pretty annoyed.

The real reason to see this film though is indeed, Ryan Gosling, aka one of my top man-crushes. Gosling plays The Driver and is quiet, calm, and relaxed throughout the majority of the film, but when it comes to him flipping shit, I was totally scared in all the right ways. Gosling plays both sides of this character believably well so you believe the subtlety that he has and the physical anger he projects from his character. I mean I was intimidated by Gosling here and every scene he is in, he uses that look on his face and his body language to convey a sense that his character is feeling every scene and it works so well. My man is on a roll!

The rest of the cast is also pretty good too. Carey Mulligan is good as the sweet Irene, although I think her and Gosling could have really projected some great screen chemistry given the right material; Bryan Cranston is gritty in his role as Shannon, the guy who brings Gosling into the world of crime; Ron Perlman is entertaining to watch as Nino the Jew, and I know this because they call him the name about 12 times; and Oscar Issac and Christina Hendricks have some pretty good “blink or you miss em” performances here as well. Albert Brooks as Bernie Ross is probably the most surprising of the whole cast because he has a presence that’s so powerful and ruthless that you actually can believe him as this violent mobster, rather than the voice of Marlon.

Consensus: Drive has moments where it absolutely works with it’s stylish direction from Nicolas Winding Refn, great performances from the cast, especially Gosling, and some bloody and thrilling flashes of violence, but too much of it feels slow and features conversations that are more boring than one you would have with a wall.


Bully (2001)

Cool. A film about teenagers that doesn’t treat them like teenagers.

Bobby (Nick Stahl) takes great joy in bossing around and beating up his best friend, slovenly ex-surfer Marty (Brad Renfro). But when Marty’s girlfriend (Rachel Miner) witnesses one too many of these incidents, she vows to kill Bobby, enlisting her friends — and a hit man — to help.

Director Larry Clark is a dirty son-of-a-bitch who seems like he has only one subject he does in every film: naked and dumb teenagers. However, naked and dumb isn’t always that bad.

The first 45 minutes or so of this film is basically just a bunch of wild and young teenagers having sex, getting high, being dumb, and not giving a shit of what they do next. You know, the finer things in life. This actually bothered me because I know that it was building up its story and characters but when you have them set up like this, it’s almost too hard to understand where this film is trying to go, and what’s it even all about. Thankfully, it went somewhere.

What Clark does well here is that he actually brings so much to this disturbing true-story and makes so much of it seem so much more real than half of the crap we see on Lifetime. In Bully, there are barely any or little parents involved or shown in this story, and it is practically up to these teens to make up their own decisions on what they want to do, with no real motivation or someone there to tell them what’s right. This spoke very very true to me because these kids are all victims and want to hurt the closest thing to them that’s hurting all of them. Which in this case, is a fellow teenager.

There are some truly disturbing and downright horrific scenes within this film and truly brings you into this world where the teens live free, and don’t have a single care in the world. There’s an under-lining sadness to this whole film because these kids don’t know what their doing so by trying to take another life into their own hands and hopefully getting rid of the problem, when in reality, it’s only creating more and more problems for them. I was shocked by what I heard, saw, and actually thought which was used well for this film but that only went on for so long.

The problem Clark runs into with this film is that too much of this feels like the same crap we see time-and-time again, with nothing really new even happening and a story that wants to get off the ground, but doesn’t know how to move. Clark tries so hard to shock any yuppie-parent that would dare watch this film with the drugs, the sex, and the crime, that he actually starts to lose the people who are watching and to be honest, he kind of lost me at one point.

Moments in this film rang true, such as how messed up these kid’s lives were and how they got away from all the pain they suffered, but that doesn’t mean some parts weren’t put-on. Kids don’t drop acid everyday, kids don’t do as much sex in one day without even the thought of getting pregnant, and kids certainly as hell do not dissolve their precious little friendships by stabbing a kid 40 times to death. If it weren’t for this actually being a true story, I would have thought that Clark got a little out-of-hand but the sad thing is that it is a true story, and disturbing one to say that.

All of the young cast members were great. Brad Renfro plays Marty, Bobby’s “best-friend”, and is stunning in this performance because just by looking at his eyes and face, I could exactly what emotions he was feeling and what certain moment. His emotions go crazy throughout the whole film and you’re kind of left wondering just what this kid will do next. It’s a shame that Renfro is now gone, because this kid could have honestly had such a bigger career.

Rachel Miner plays Marty’s sweet and innocent girlfriend, Lisa, who does a great job especially in the last 20 minutes where her character really starts to get a little crazy; Bijou Phillips is great as the town whore, Ali, who proves that even if you do have some nice T & A, you still have to be able to show it off well which is something she does perfectly; and Michael Pitt is also pretty good as Donny, even though his character’s main thing is that he’s just stoned the whole time.

Nick Stahl probably gives his best performance ever as the “Bully” Bobby Kent. Bobby is a total asshole that rapes girls, and practically takes any advantage he can of his friend, which gets so bad that he even takes his girl. Stahl plays this perfectly because he has that under-lining sense of range within him but also that sweetness behind those eyes that makes you wonder if you feel bad or hate this kid. It really seems like a hard character to pull of but somehow Stahl does it well. Now if only he got his damn ass out of those straight-to-DVD pieces of crap, and did more stuff like this.

The one thing about Bobby and all of these other characters is why exactly did Bobby treat Marty like his little bitch and why didn’t Marty just stand up for himself. I mean the whole first 45 minutes is not only sexy-time and getting high, but there are also scenes where Marty is being terribly manipulated by this menacing asshole and Marty does nothing except punch him once, and that was it. There would be a point for me where I would just stand up and have to lay down some whoop-ass on little olde Bobby.

I also never understood why anybody actually did stand up to him and beat his ass especially after the rape he performed, because if any person I knew was in this film, they would know that rape, no matter who or what it’s on, is not a good thing and whoever feels the need to perform it on another, deserves to get a serious beating. I’m not saying death should be allowed, don’t get me wrong here, but sometimes you have to let the raper know that RAPE ISN’T RIGHT. Sorry for the rape rant, I just felt like it was needed for this subject of the film.

Consensus: Director Larry Clark’s Bully is a challenging film at the most. The story is dark, sad, and pretty disturbing with some real chilling honesty and brutally painful moments shown from the cast, but then all of the greatness of this film is lost within pacing issues, too repetitive sex and drug-use, and just some problems with how it all played out I still don’t understand.


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

23 years later and money is still messed up.

Trader Jake (Shia LaBeouf) tries to mend the broken relationship between his fiancée, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), and her father, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), while avenging the fate of his mentor, Lou (Frank Langella), by getting close to Wall Street’s new megalomaniac, Bretton James (Josh Brolin).

After seeing the first Wall Street, I realized just how much things with money in today’s world hasn’t changed at all really. However, it seems the cheese factor for this type of material hasn’t either.

Director Oliver Stone has always been a favorite director of mine because he always knows how to make any story seem interesting with his great use of style but here he shows that those skills are starting to fall apart. Stone relies too much on montages, almost the same ones we saw from the first one, and quick cuts that try to bring off some sign of rapidness in the Wall Street world but overall none of it actually works.

Having this film set in the time of the 2008 financial crisis seemed like a perfect move for this story but it doesn’t really actually explore that nor does it actually try to explore the relationship between Gekko and his daughter, or any other story for that matter. Basically all the little sub-plots here and there seem totally forced and actually muddled in the end since it doesn’t really seem like Stone knows what story to focus on the most or which one will have the most effect. So what he does is just have all the stories play out at once, but to no effect whatsoever.

With the first one too, the film showed a lot of the dark and mean sides to having business on Wall Street but none of that was really even here to glue me in by how gritty and bad everything is. The one-liners also don’t have the zing they once used to because it all seems so dated as if Stone were just trying to do what he did with the first one but none of it was actually funny or even catchy, just lame and at times just totally forced.

However, my only real favorite thing about this film is the actual performances from the cast. Michael Douglas seems like a natural in his role as Gordon Gekko and plays the anti-hero here rather than the villain but still makes it all work. Douglas knows how to make bad seem cool in so many ways and it’s good to see him do what he does best here. The sad thing though is that it really just feels like him playing the same character, just a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and a lot more grumpier.

Shia LaBeouf is the real star here actually playing his soon to be son-in-law Jake, who works on Wall Street and just so happens to be in a relationship with a Wall Street legend’s daughter. I actually liked Shia in this role because I think he handles a lot of the financial talk really well and gives us that idea that he really can hold a film on his own it only matters if he’s given a good enough role. Carey Mulligan is good at displaying any emotion just by using her face as Winnie; Josh Brolin is good as this dickish rival hedge-fund manager, Bretton James; and Frank Langella is also very good in a small, but powerful role as Lewis Zabel, a man way past his time. There’s also a small performance from Susan Sarandon here as well as Jake’s mom that doesn’t even seem meaningful to the story at all but more just to have an Oscar winner on the set.

Consensus: The cast may help this get through most parts, but Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps has a crappy title (obviously), really piss-poor writing that doesn’t have any actual emotional depth or any connection to the characters, and has no real swift style that Oliver Stone has shown in many of his other films, especially the first Wall Street. A huge disappointment.


Harold and Maude (1971)

Kind of creepy and kind of sweet. Never thought I’d be saying that.

Death-obsessed teen Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) is being hassled by his domineering mother (Vivian Pickles) to play the dating game, but he’d much rather attend funerals, which is where he meets the feisty Maude (Ruth Gordon), a geriatric widow who’s high on life.

The idea of having this 80 year-old lady swing around with this teenager, is a little weird at first but after awhile, you don’t really seem to care.

Director Hal Ashby is that director who made a lot of good films during the 70’s such as Shampoo and Being There among others, but right here he really strikes a strong chord because although I was expecting this to be sort of grim, it’s a very fun and happy film that’s all about how love is blind and you can find it anywhere no matter how strange it may or may not be.

The script here isn’t some sappy love drama about how opposites attract, but it’s more about why life is actually a beautiful thing and really worth living. But despite that little life message the film gives off there are actually a lot of funny moments here that just made me crack up at moments that I least expected. When you have certain material such as suicide, it’s something that’s actually kind of hard to laugh at but it had me laughing many more times than once actually.

However, the film does play itself a little too safe as well. There were moments within this film, as well as within this relationship that just seem too sanitary as if Ashby himself was too afraid to show any actual sexual connection between these two at all. Not to say that I wanted to see these two to practically get it on, but just to see more of an actual relationship rather than something of a friend thing where the sex is kind of hinted.

Also, there were moments where this film kind of just watered over certain plot points like how we kind of linger over Maude’s concentration camp numbers that are tattooed in her arm. I didn’t mean to give anything away but this part struck me as just strange because it happens for less than 2 seconds, and nothing else is ever spoken of it ever again. This seemed as strange to me and another example of Ashby just playing it too safe.

Ruth Gordon is pretty good at playing the eccentric, old, and a tad crazy, Maude, who won me over as soon as she was on screen. Bud Cort is also pretty good as the depressed and pretty strange, Harold, and has some great scenes where it he plays these suicides off so well as well as showing some emotional depth that this character has lined up inside of himself. Both are actually very good together and had me believe in their relationship even more than I actually could think.

Also, let’s not forget that there are some truly amazing songs here from Cat Stevens that add so much more to this film than anything else could have.

Consensus: For all of it’s flaws, Harold and Maude may not be the best rom-com of all-time but still has some great dark comedy to aid the sweet and a bit strange love story about how love is blind and how beautiful life is, which is a message no matter how old or young you are, you can relate to.


The Extra Man (2010)

Gives me hope of one day being a gigolo myself.

It seems like this BoomTron shindig is becoming a Friday thanggg now. Well, anywhoo, go on out and check out the review of this little indie-flick. As always, leave some love, say hey, or just read it and let me know what ya think in the comments section.

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Thanks ya’ll! Happy Friday! Try to check out the new cool action thriller Drive, with my man-crush in it. And also don’t forget about an unneeded Straw Dogs remake, and Sara Jessica Parker doing some raaaaaaange.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand (2006)

This is where the mutants started to get annoying.

When scientists develop a miracle drug to treat unwanted mutations, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his heroic band of X-Men must battle a group of mutants known as the Brotherhood, led by Xavier’s former ally (Ian McKellen).

So after checking this whole series out, I’ve come to realize that Bryan Singer is awesome and Brett Ratner is stupid. Basically sums up this film pretty well.

The action is what really will hold you over this whole film, even though all of it looks like it was done for a video-game. There were a lot of cool special effects used here such as the Golden Gate Bridge being moved, a cool scene with a lake being turned inside out, and just about every single shot in the last 30 minutes. You get constant carnage left and right, and for the most part, it was good carnage and I could tell what was actually going on.

However, there’s not a real story here to keep me going. For some odd reason I felt bored for the first hour or so, just watching this story develop because nothing felt as meaningful or atmospheric as the first two did. I didn’t feel like Ratner really knew exactly what to do with all of these mutants and characters, so instead only focused on about two or three, and the rest were just sort of just shoved off to the side.

This one’s also a little bit more silly than the last two, which I didn’t really mind, but a lot of this just didn’t feel as genuine as Singer’s did. The screen-writers and directors took away what made the first two movies so good— the character story lines. The depth that the characters had in the first two movies was almost nowhere to be found in the third.

These interesting story lines were replaced by a movie completely full of “big booms”. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well filmed battle scene, they really help move a film along, but I don’t like it when they take the place of character plots. Ratner’s main problem is that he doesn’t know the difference between a glamorous action movie and a glamorous action movie with a well developed set of characters conforming to a great story, and sadly that plays out here.

The cast here is full of familiar faces such as Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Shawn Ashmore, and Anna Paquin. Plus there’s also some new faces with the likes of Kelsey Grammar (why?!?), Ben Foster, Vinnie Jones, and Ellen Page. Everybody here tries their best to their advantage but the script doesn’t even care if they are in this story or not and it doesn’t matter what they do with their lines, there all so cheesy and meant for the next big explosion.

Consensus: It may sound like I hate this film but I don’t. The problem with X3: The Last Stand is that it’s terribly weak compared to the first two because it’s more about the action, and less about the actual characters that inhabit this story. The action is good and the special effects will hold you over, but compared to Bryan Singer’s first two, this last installment is lame.


Warrior (2011)

Before he destroys Batman, Tom Hardy gets to destroy his brother.

Tom Conlon (Tom Hardy) and older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) have pursued separate lives, but when Tom returns home to ask his father’s help in preparing for a championship bout, events lead the siblings back into each other’s paths.

Judging from the trailer, I was coming to expect a mixture between Rocky, The Fighter, and Never Back Down. 2/3 are great films that I loved, while the other one was shitty. This one is sort of in between.

Writer/director Gavin O’Connor does a great job of taking a plot and structure we have seen done time and time again, and still make it something amazing to watch. The first hour sets the whole story up, showing these two characters, who at first don’t even seem like brothers but if you have seen the trailer (which everybody has) you know that they are, and just how they each are different in their own way. The film also doesn’t try to explain what happened to these characters and why before the story begins, it is either brought up later in the film casually like it would in real life, and is sort of left up to our imagination.

Another great thing about this script is that the character development is amazing. I really felt intrigued by these characters because each were so likable and charming in their own ways, and you could tell that these two really are believable characters that you could see doing this extreme and intense sport for two reasons: one likes to do it because he’s simply angry, the other does it for money. As the story builds up, up, and away the dialogue gets very heart-wrenching and believable and works when it’s trying to show the problems a family has when they all stop loving and start hating. Hey, it’s a gay line but after watching this flick, you’ll see what I mean.

The fight scenes are also pretty bangin’ because I was expecting them to be all that shaky-cam crap we see in just about every single film where there’s some sort of action or tension happening, but instead they are incredibly well-staged and I could actually tell what was going on too. Also, when you hear somebody get their face smashed in, it sounds like somebody getting their faced smashed in and who doesn’t just love that?!?

The only problem with the fighting is that you had Hardy’s character practically laying out other fighters the same way every time just about 4 times in a row, and it didn’t bother me until I realized that he was just a new fighter. I mean yeah, there are sometimes guys that come into the ring every once and awhile that just totally show everybody else up, even with barely any prior MMA experience, but just watching this dude tear through professionals like Joey Chestnut with hot dogs was a little too hard to believe.

I have still been contemplating about whether or not I actually still liked the ending, or thought it was too schmaltzy but I’ve decided to basically go either way on it. The reason I liked the ending was because I felt that it was true to the story and really had me feeling even more connected to these guys more than ever, and when the ending happened, I felt like it was a great way to turn this story off. However, I started thinking about it more and more and started to realize that a lot of it got really schmaltzy and very lovey dovery way too quick.

I’m all down for cliches and predictability if the film keeps me entertained, which is what this film was doing for the longest time, but when all of these people just started going out all-over-the-place practically telling each other they love each other, it seemed a little cheap just for a more heartfelt ending. Did it touch me? A little bit but with all of the right things the script was doing beforehand it was kind of a shame to sort of see it go for the extra schmaltzy notes that The Fighter did so well in avoiding.

However, this film would be nothing without it’s perfect cast. Tom Hardy is near-perfect in his total bad-ass role as Tommy Conlon, who if you have seen Bronson, looks the part and if you have seen Inception, definitely knows how to act the part as well. Hardy just seems so angry about something the whole film and it really adds an extra layer of that mystery to him that has us attracted to his character in the first place, and he is just so incredibly tough-looking that when it comes to the fighting, I just about feared for whatever poor soul was in the ring with him next.

Joel Edgerton is also great as the modest and a lot more nicer brother, Brendan, and proves that he can handle a lead role all to himself. I guess some people will see Hardy’s performance and just keep their minds on him the whole time, but when it comes right down to it, Edgerton knows how to add those extra levels of emotional depth to him as well that when his character needs more sympathy from the viewers, we’re able to give it to him since he seems so likable and just like your average everyday high-school teacher, that will beat the shit out of you, if you don’t do your homework.

Nick Nolte has been doing some of these crackly old-fart roles that honestly hasn’t done many things well for him lately ever since his beautiful mugshot, but I think he’s starting to win that amazing rep he once had in Hollywood, and his role as Padd, the boys’ father is the real reason why he’s back in action. Nolte is probably the most interesting and sad character of the bunch because he is now a washed-up alcoholic that has messed his life up so bad that he can’t seem to win back the one he once had with his kids and now suffers more and more. Nolte commands the screen just about every time he gets and I think this is probably one of his most brutally honest roles as of late, which makes it all the more tragic to watch.

Oh, also Kurt Angle is here as the MMA equivalent to Ivan Drago, Koba. Didn’t believe it for a second but me want to go back to watching some WWE.

Consensus: Warrior starts to lose itself a real long way by the end of the film, but has great writing, perfect performances from the whole cast, some fun action, and a story that has been done before, but with still hits with that emotional punch that it needed so much.


Contagion (2011)

An apocalypse with no zombies. LAME!

Contagion follows the fast progress of a airborne virus that is lethal and kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows larger, the worldwide medical community runs and races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads almost faster than the virus itself.

It’s been awhile since director Steven Soderbergh has gone back to the scale of Traffic, and to be honest, it’s kind of a good thing since he does get a little out-of-hand sometimes.

Soderbergh fully explores what would happen if a deadly virus were to hit the planet in today’s society and just how the government, scientists, people, and every single person known to man would react. I just wonder how the media would actually handle this virus and what they would do to spark it up and gain attention. This film shows that as well as the well the panic that would travel throughout the world, and just what everybody would do if they almost couldn’t touch anything.

However, the story never really goes anywhere and instead of actually being immersed in all of these characters, I never felt moved by this story at all. What the problem that Soderbergh usually has with many of his films is that he tells a story, and instead of allowing us to feel something for what’s going on, we just feel like we’re along for the ride with Soderbergh. And if I was in for a ride like this, I wanted to go on a new one.

There were moments were I felt that sort of paranoia and feel that the film was striking for so very very much but in the end, nothing here really kept me involved with this story other than the fact that everyone seems to be dying, and I couldn’t really care that much. Soderbergh has this film go on at a slow-pace, which isn’t really bothersome to me in other films, but when you have a film that seems to just move along its pace with no actual connection or emotional feel, then I just get a little, dare I say it, bored. I can’t believe it either, but for some reason, there were times when I checked the time just to see how much longer of the virus we had left.

Though I must say, when the story didn’t keep me going, I still felt a bit affected by the technical aspect of this whole film. Soderbergh shows that even though he may not be able to get this story in your hearts, he will get it in your mind with some really great visuals and camera-tricks that actually made just little scenes of a door-knob or a fork so terrifying and showing how by touching each item with your hands, you can spread the virus more and more. The score that was done by Cliff Martinez actually adds an under-lining tension to a lot of the scenes where people are just walking around and gets you in this full feel of just fear of everything around you.

The ensemble is also one of the best that Soderbergh has shown as of late, and even though they don’t do an amazingly perfect job, their altogether pretty solid. Matt Damon is good as the loving father, Mitch, who plays that everyday man put into a radical situation and gets some really good scenes going here; Laurence Fishburne probably does his performance in the past couple of years as Dr. Cheever, a guy who has so much on his plate but still seems to somehow have it all together and can still do his best to save others he wants to, even as manipulated as he is by the government; and Jude Law is probably the best out of the whole cast as a know-it-all blogger that is all about spreading the real truth, while all of these government officials keep the truth away to keep getting more and more money. His story was the best and I think I actually connected with it more now that I’m becoming that little rebellious teenage pissant nobody wants to deal with.

The ladies here are also good but don’t show up as much as the dudes. Marion Cotillard‘s performance as Dr. Orantes is good but her character is in the film about every 30 minutes, and when her time-limit is up, we find out nothing that has happened to her. Kate Winslet is really good as Dr. Erin Mears, the CDC’s “detective”, and brings a lot of emotional weight to her character for us to actually care about her, even though her character’s motives aren’t clear; and Gwyneth Paltrow is here for about 10 minutes and basically is just there to look sick and have foam pop on out of her mouth. I still don’t know why her character had to begin the film with her having any sex and therefore cheating on her husband. The rest of the cast has some notable faces such as John Hawkes, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Elliott Gould, and a random Demetri Martin.

Consensus: Contagion has an impressive ensemble and makes you feel as if you are in a world of fear and panic during this epidemic, but you never actually feel totally involved with this story, and more of just a watcher of Soderbergh’s annoying way of showing how much cool science stuff he knows.


Charlie Bartlett (2007)

This is the rare time when you actually see a drug dealer that cares.

This comedy follows the exploits of Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin), a miserable high school student who finds a novel way to fit in with his classmates: by pretending to be the school psychiatrist, dispensing advice and the occasional prescription medicine. Charlie’s sympathetic ear and ready access to drugs make him popular with the students, but his activities soon attract the unwelcome attention of the school principal (Robert Downey Jr.).

Here we have the 21st century answer to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where basically this one kid, can practically run the whole school without any teachers even being found. However, the comparison is a little weak.

The screenplay for this film actually had some very good writing to it once the film got past all the annoying high-school movie cliches. I liked that in this comedy they had some teenage angst that actually was clever and very real. A lot of people don’t take time to actually listen to a lot of these kids, let alone teenagers, and if only one person can listen with his/her two ears, it can honestly make a whole hell of a difference.

With a lot of comedies that I see, I always see when a film gets sympathetic by the end and it’s usually terribly cheesy. However, in this film the sympathy in the film actually worked because it was thrown in at moments that it needed it the most as opposed to just throwing it in there in order to get some hearts warming up by the end of the film. You also will really start to care for these characters as the film goes on to the point as to where you don’t know who to like and who to dislike.

The problem with this screenplay is that this film actually being a satire on high-school, it should have bitten harder. I mean you have all of these kids, taking drugs, being total assholes towards authority, and an R-rating, so why wouldn’t you push the envelope just a bit. It was a real shame when I saw the roads this film could have actually went down because there are times when it can be a bit edgy but nothing ever too shocking to the point of where you haven’t seen anything like it in a high-school film before, which with the material this film had, could have easily been.

Another problem I had with this film was the non-stop homages and elements that actually seemed like they were borrowed from countless other high-school films such as Rushmore, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and of course the John Hughes films of the 80’s. Probably the most unneeded homage was to Harold and Maude where the film uses the song, “If You Want to Sing Out” by Cat Stevens, for no reason other than just to basically reference that film in a way that seemed kind of dumb actually.

Anton Yelchin does a very good job at Charlie Bartlett who goes from this total geek, to being the most popular and lovable kid in school. Bartlett has the smarts to make you actually believe he’s capable of doing all of this, he has the charms to where you could actually believe that he would be able to actually talk to all of these people he does talk to, and he’s a also a little bit goofy to show that he’s just like you or me, nothing more, nothing less.

Robert Downey Jr. is very good as Principal Gardner, who is basically always drunk but still has a lot of good lines to himself and as usual, Downey plays him to perfection; Hope Davis is also good as Bartlett’s ditzy mom, Marilyn; and Kat Dennings has great scenes when it’s just her and Yelchin together, which makes her an even better fit as Susan Gardner. All of these characters are fleshed out well and we all care about them so that when something bad happens, we actually feel a little bit of it too.

Consensus: Charlie Bartlett has some clever themes about teenagers and the angst they go through, as well some great performances from the cast but the film never goes anywhere beyond it’s R-rating and plays it safe way too much, which is a bummer because this could have really been some nasty and wild stuff since we are talking about high-school taking pills.


Children of Men (2006)

We need to start making babies now and quick!

In the year 2027, eighteen years since the last baby was born, disillusioned Theo (Clive Owen) becomes an unlikely champion of the human race when he is asked by his former lover (Julianne Moore) to escort a young pregnant woman out of the country as quickly as possible.

Director Alfonso Cuarón takes what we see in every apocalyptic film that Hollywood chunes out every year, and totally turning it on its side with a film that’s more reliant on its story and style rather than just the annoying special effects and action sequences.

Something that Cuarón does masterfully is these amazing tracking shots that almost last between 6 to 10 minutes, which may not seem like a lot at first, but once you start to think about it, you realize that in almost every action sequence, the camera has stayed the same and it feels like the whole time were just with these characters as they constantly move around. This all felt so realistic for me and worked so well because I love tracking shots and to see them used in a way that they have never been used before, really adds so much more of an innovative feel to it.

This is also some real bleak and depressing stuff here that actually seems reasonable as opposed to other apocalyptic films of this nature seeming way too far-fetched. There is just a certain type of depressed feel to this world we live in and it actually doesn’t look any different from what we see around us now, just tired and a lot darker. I liked this because this was one of the more believable near-future dystopian films that focuses more on the overall atmosphere rather than just what looks different and how.

You’ll also start to notice that Cuarón starts to bring out some great questions about racism,  fertility, war, terrorism, technology, paranoia, and even life itself. Cuarón also makes a lot of slight references if not illusions to9/11 and even the Holocaust in a way because you see how everyone is treated, especially these immigrants, and you can’t help but think something just isn’t right about the way everything looks and you know that the looks and inspiration come from somewhere.

The only problem I actually had with this film was that I didn’t understand as to why women were all of a sudden infertile. It’s occasionally brought up every once and awhile but nothing here really stuck out as the real sole reason as to why ladies weren’t allowed to have babies. This problem may seem a bit minor but in sometimes the best dystopian films, they still at least go out of there to explain just why the main epidemic/problem happened, but here I kind of felt a bit cheated.

Clive Owen is amazing in this role as the rugged everyday paper-pusher, Theo Faron, who is basically hurled into an unthinkable situation and forced to confront almost every demon in his life. There are moments where Owen could have easily just cheesed this performance up but really he handles this role so well and keeps everything going even when nothing seems like it’s actually going on. If you  also notice, as Owen is running through the war-torn countryside he never picks up a gun of any kind which I think says a lot about his character.

Julianne Moore is actually pretty good as Faron’s feisty wife and leader of The Fishes; Sir Michael Caine is also great as the hippie confidant, Jasper, who looks a lot like Meryl Streep with a beard but we have never seen Caine in this type of role and it really works; and Chiwetel Ejiofor works well too as another member of The Fishes, Luke. Claire-Hope Ashitey plays the pregnant girl Kee, but wasn’t that good and actually didn’t seem to confidant when it came to actually reading her lines but the rest of the film kind of hid this problem away.

Consensus: Children of Men may be a bit too dark and depressing for some viewers, but the future that director Alfonso Cuarón portrays is a dark, sad, and lonely time that he beautifully creates with great camera-work, compelling themes that add an extra layer to the story, and a couple of good performances from the cast, especially Clive Owen who has almost never been better.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

S.W.A.T. (2003)

Run, jump, hit, shoot, kill, bleed, boom. That’s what S.W.A.T. is all about.

This modern-day “S.W.A.T.” stars Colin Farrell as Jim Street, a Los Angeles cop who joins the department’s elite special weapons and tactics unit commandeered by Hondo (Samuel Jackson). They’re up against a drug lord (Olivier Martinez) who’s offering a million dollars to the first person who springs him from jail. Only the S.W.A.T. team can stop his plan.

Having actually watched the TV show, I knew what to expect, but I mean there could have even been more of what I expected really.

This is one of those films that doesn’t really have any intelligence whatsoever in it’s script but instead it’s just here for the crazy, big-budget, and insane action that it actually provides. However, the problem with this film is that the script doesn’t do anything different we haven’t seen before. I like how it doesn’t take itself too seriously but there were just too many moments where I got exactly what I’ve seen in so many other action thrillers.

However, the real fun of this film lies within it’s awesome action sequences that actually provided a lot more fun and excitement then I actually expected. There’s a couple of huge shoot-outs that go down, cars that go booom booom, and many cheesy one-liners but overall it’s a fun time with some good attention to detail that I wasn’t really expecting.

The cast is OK here but their not really anything special. Samuel L. Jackson does his usual bad-ass, black man role we all know and love him for; Colin Farrell is also good as Jim Street with a lot more of a tougher side to him than most would expect at first; Michelle Rodriguez is here to be the bad-ass chick; and LL Cool J is just the man, nothing else. They all have good chemistry together and all play off one another well which adds more humor to the film, even as cheesy as the lines may be.

The villain here is played by Olivier Martinez but I thought was a pretty lame choice considering they could have had such a better villain already in the film right from the get-go played by Jeremy Renner. The film seems like it’s going to have him pop-up later on in the film, which he does, but the film doesn’t make him the main bad guy which kind of sucks considering Martinez isn’t that good as the villain here and just seems even more lame once Renner pops up.

Consensus: The cheesiness is here and the obvious cliches we have all seen in these types of films show up as well, but S.W.A.T. is a fun B-movie that doesn’t try too hard for anything else other than a bunch of crazy explosions and cool one-dimensional characters.


Cassandra’s Dream (2007)

Why is Woody Allen getting so obsessed with death?

Howdie everybody! It’s the official beginning of school for me today and rather than actually getting too serious with my work, I’m still going to town at the reviews. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving you guys anytime soon.

Anywho, you know how the deal goes down, you check out my latest post on Boomtron, show me some love, comment, rate, or read and that’s basically how the cookie crumbles.

Thanks peeps! Have a great Friday!

The Debt (2011)

Finally! A film that shows what jerks Nazis are…

Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren) is a former Mossad intelligence agent forced to relive her 1965 pursuit of a notorious Nazi war criminal when the bold and dangerous fugitive is thought to have reemerged 30 years later in the Ukraine.

A time-spanning thriller may not seem like the most engaging way to tell this premise, and I can already bet you were already thinking; “been there, seen that”, but I can assure you it’s not as bad as it may seem, it’s kind of cool.

Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) uses the non-linear plot structure to actually add a lot more tension to this film because he somehow finds a way to slow everything down, having our minds wander, and just contemplate what some of the biggest mysteries of this story are. You see how all of these characters are in the future, after the mission, and you wonder just exactly why, but Madden keeps you glued to the screen with the details coming out of the story slowly but surely.

The script itself is OK with some nice plot points here and there, but it was a little distracting for me at some points. I think if they just stuck with a normal approach to this film, I would have been a lot more surprised when things happened, and not so bummed out when my predictions were correct. I’m not going to lie, I did like Madden’s approach to this film, I just feel like I knew how this was all going to play out considering we see the fates of these agents early on and it doesn’t really give us any tension into what exactly is going to happen next.

There’s also a moment in this film when a love triangle starts to occur, which to me, seemed pretty dumb considering these damn people have a mission to do, that could practically threaten their lives and the least their worried about is whether or not they get some sexy time in. If I was on as an important mission as these people brought up every time they could, I know the last thing on my mind would be getting my D wet, but hey that’s just me.

The acting from this cast really is stellar and helped me out with a lot of this film. Helen Mirren is awesome as older Rachel, and proves she can do no wrong; Jessica Chastain is very gritty, mature, and ruthless as younger Rachel who is total live-wire and makes the best out of all of her scenes with everybody on screen; Tom Wilkinson is good as older Stefan, but barely in it as well; Jesper Christensen is very menacing as Doktor Bernhardt, who practically takes advantage of the whole mission, and eventually, everyone around him; and Marton Csokas is also very good as young Stefan. The weakest link of the whole cast was probably Sam Worthington as David, who is just one-note and doesn’t really show off any emotions until he’s later played by a great character actor, Ciarán Hinds, and is kind of forgotten about in a way.

However, my real problem with this film is the insanely laughable ending which was about 15 minutes of just pure Helen Mirren showing how unstoppable she is, and even though this may seem like an awesome thing, I can assure you it’s not at all. The film had so much momentum going for it that the way it ends almost feels forced and conventional, as if Madden needed a way to end the film but didn’t have any cool ideas so he went with the dumb and predictable way.

Consensus: The Debt features good performances from the cast, an inspired direction, and a real big air of mystery and suspense; but has too many problems with not too many surprises, and just ending up being another conventional thriller that may seem cool at first, but ends up being a tad disappointing.


Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

I didn’t know that having green eyes in the 80’s was the craziest things, but then again so was rubix cubes. I mean this is the 80’s we’re talking about here.

Traveling through a shadowy world filled with supernatural creatures and spectacular action, regular guy Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) try to track down a 2,000-year-old magician, Lo Pan (James Hong), who has kidnapped Burton’s friend’s green-eyed fiancée.

After reading that synopsis right there you probably already have an understand of just what you’re getting yourself into when you go into a film like this. But it isn’t all that bad.

Director John Carpenter is doing a crazy thing here by actually combining a kung-fu film with some aspects of a western and somehow making it all work. The film really works well with it’s action that seems intentionally corny with the non-stop karate noises, high-flying judo kicks, and almost everything getting ripped to pieces. The action is a lot of fun and I’m glad that Carpenter went for the tongue-in-cheek approach because who can honestly take wizards and truck drivers fighting against each other in one movie together?

I think the problem with this film is that even though it does have a certain amount of fun to it, the lines and cliches were just almost unbearable to the point of where I just got annoyed. The film starts off a tad slow, which wouldn’t have bothered me at first if the lines weren’t so damn cheesy and the gags they actually had were funny rather than just being forced. There were also times during this film where they do something that seemed really cool back in 1986 but now just seems totally lame which is how it is with a lot of films that came from this decade.

However though, the real shining star of this film is actually Kurt Russell as Jack Burton. Russell is channeling in his inner John Wayne and does a great job at playing this dude that is such a fool of himself by talking up a big game for himself, and then never ending up to be able to actually prove his man-hood. Burton has some of the best lines in the film and when it seems like everyone else is just another action movie cliche, he seems to be able to seem like the most realistic person in the film.

The rest of the cast is filled with almost every Asian actor who’s been in a movie such as Dennis Dun, Victor Wong, and James Hong. Let’s not also forget to mention that we have a little side performance from none other than a very young Kim Cattrall who actually seems like she could use a film like this ever since her comeback performance in The Ghost Writer.

Consensus: Though it is of course dated in many places, Big Trouble in Little China has some awesome and just fun action sequences, with writing that doesn’t take itself too seriously so therefore nobody else should whoever wants to see this one.


Also, check out one of my latest posts on Boomtron about The Rock and Taylor Lautner in the David and Goliath film here:

Thanks everyone!