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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Before Midnight (2013)

Gen-X got old. And grumpy.

We followed Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) through their early days in Venice, as they walked around aimlessly and fell in love overnight, only to never see each other ever again. That is, until 9 years later when Jesse releases a book about his one and only night with Celine, she finds him, they talk, and the fireworks between the two begin to spark-up once again. However, we left wondering whether or not Jesse was going to take the bait and stay in Paris with Celine. 9 years later, we catch back-up with them to see how they are doing, whether they are together, and if they still love each other like they once did. The answers may surprise the hell out of you.

I’m going to come right out and say this that not only was Before Midnight my most-anticipated of the summer or the year, but was also my most-anticipated movie to see in general. After seeing Before Sunset and realizing that we never quite knew whether or not Jesse and Celine made it work after all of these years, I was finally happy to know that everybody was back for another gig. But, at the same time, I was also scared because these characters feel like family now, and if not family; then pretty damn close. I could only wish that my family was this attractive and pretentious.

They fell in love right in front of our eyes back in ’95 with Before Sunrise and allowed us to give into the whole cliche about finding that special someone, on a train, and spending the whole night with that person, falling in love, and sightseeing. Then, reality set in and they realized that maybe it was just a fantasy they were living.

Or was it?

Fast-forward 9 years later with Before Sunset, and these two are back together in action with Celine finding Jesse at a book-shop. They both chat it up like usual, but the problem is that Jesse not only has to be back on a plane in an hour, but also has to take that plane back to his wife and kid. However, just when you thought all hopes and dreams were lost for these two love-birds, the movie leaves us the burning-question in our mind: does Jesse stay with Celine and finally live out that fantasy he always dreamed of, or does he go back to the real world, with real problems, like staying loyal to his wife, paying bills, driving the kid back-and-forth from school, and so on and so forth?

"And then we started talking about the after-life and where we wanted our lives to go once we became cosmos in the sky, and then, that's when I knew: he was THE ONE."

“And then we started talking about the after-life and where we wanted our lives to go once we became cosmos in the sky, and then, that’s when I knew: he was THE ONE.”

Well, if you got this far in the review and have yet to see the movie, I’d advise you to turn away because this review is almost impossible to go on without saying anything at all about what happens, how it happens, or who it happens to. I don’t want to say that this is all a spoiler review, but I’m sorry friends and family; I just can’t hold back if I’m going to get as emotional and dramatic as I am about to in a couple of paragraphs. If you want any clarification on whether or not to see this movie, just look at the bottom rating, and be on your way.

Okay, good? Anybody here that’s not supposed to be? Crystal! Let’s go!

Let me just put it down like this: this is the best movie of the year for me. I don’t know if it’s going to stay on top for the rest of ’13 or what, but what I do know is that right now, at this moment in time, this movie is the best movie of the year because it is everything I ever wanted from this series, and more. Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy have been teasing our brains out of our mind for the longest time about how we might get to see Jesse and Celine back in action, and we finally have it! But it’s weird, because it isn’t like you’d expect them to be.

Jesse and Celine are, yes: old. They are married, they have kids, they are vacationing in Greece, Jesse is still a writer, and Celine is coming at a crossroads at her life finding the job she wants, and the job that would be right for her. They still talk with the same fireworks and charm that had them fall in love with one another in the first-place, but something is different. Something is not right. See, they love each other no matter what and definitely seem to appreciate the fact that they are in one another’s life, but everything they didn’t want to be, fantasized about not being, and would joke with one another about; is actually happening to them both. They do bicker; they don’t always get along; they don’t see eye-to-eye; they don’t talk about cool things like the world, human-beings, or the weather; and they sure as hell don’t seem so lax like they once were when they were young and ambitious.

Nowadays, Jesse and Celine are older, more mature, and more understandable about the world that they have come to hit face-to-face, and the people that surround them. Hell, they know more about themselves than ever, and that scares them half to death. Never, not even in a million years did they ever think that they were going to be old, cranky, rushed, and confused about what to do next in life, but hell; it happened and they have to live with it. However, that still means they love the hell out of each other like before, right?

Well, that’s where the slope gets a bit slippery. It’s obvious that these two still appreciate each other’s company and lending-hands whenever they need it, but it’s not like it once was and that’s where this movie really hits the nail on the head. Even after all of these years, Celine still questions Jesse as to whether or not he thinks he made the right choice staying with her in Paris, or even if she made the right choice getting off of the train with him in Venice. They don’t question it because they regret it, they don’t fully understand where their lives have gone, what they can do to stop time, and whether or not it’s too late. They both fear what’s to come next, but most of all: they fear losing the love of the other. This is where things with this movie really begin to get brutal and it is the most compelling thing I have seen all year.

Like the last two movies, the script here is beautifully-layered down to the last line. Every word of dialogue, every gesture, every idea that the other shares with the other, makes you feel some sort of emotion rather it be happy, sad, scared, or indifferent. No matter what, you will feel something with this movie, and the emotion is only heightened if you love these characters like I do. They aren’t terrible people and they aren’t great people; they are human-beings. They love, they fight, they laugh, they smile, they sleep, they eat, they drink, they clap, they dance, and they do everything that you or I are capable of, which is so rare not only to see in movies nowadays, but to see still be present in a movie that’s already in it’s third entry. Yep, it’s been a long, long time since those wonder days in Venice, and it shows.

The realistic-factor behind these characters, who they are, and what makes them who they are, is only made better by the natural performances from Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke who give the best performances of their careers, by far. Both can play these characters in their sleep by now, which is nowhere near a bad thing since characters that are as layered and as complex as these ones, need to feel as if they were played by people who weren’t really told to act and emote. They have to be played as if they are real people you could meet on the street and strike up a conversation with, and that is exactly what these two do. Whether they are together or separate in this movie; Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are perfection. However, when they are together, the movie shines and never stops.

"Remember this? Remember what we did after? Wanna do it again? Please? Pretty please? Come on, dammit!!!"

“Remember when we last did this? Remember what we did after? Wanna do it again? Please? Pretty please? Come on, dammit!!!”

All three movies have been anchoring on the chemistry between Delpy and Hawke, and this is the one movie where it really matters because there’s so much more going on between these characters, that you need something natural and realistic to really make it work. As I’ve said before, Jesse and Celine still do love one another, but there are problems between the two that seem like ones that most married-couples/adults face, especially at their time and age. They wonder whether they made the right choice or not, or if all of the dreams they once had when they were little tikes, are all but gone. So, rather than facing it head-on and realizing what they have to do, they turn to each other for love, help, and support, and that usually ends in happiness or disaster.

Sadly, it’s more of the latter than the former for these two.

Once again, I can’t stress enough how much these two still do love one another, but there does come a point where you begin to question whether or not it was all real, or a total charade that they stick with because they can. And what’s best of all about this certain in the movie is that it practically comes out of nowhere. By the end of the movie, Jesse and Celine have finally gotten the chance to be with one another, all alone, and ready to do the dirty, but before they can finally get the clothes off and the fluids flowing; it all comes to a screeching halt. Almost seemingly out of nowhere, the married-couple that you thought were the perfect soul-mates for one another and could never be broken-up, somehow actually do start to come unglued as they fight about everything in their life.

This whole sequence they just yell at and fight with one another probably lasts a good 30-40 minutes, but it’s the most compelling and most emotionally-rich sequence in film that I have seen at all this year, and hell; probably the last 5 or 6 years at that. Not a single thing is left out between these two as they get into whether they should move to Chicago so that Jesse can be closer to his son; or if they should get new jobs; or if they made the right choice getting married in the first place; or if the other philandered around; or, last but not least, if they should just call it quits before all is said and done and they have nowhere to go with the rest of their lives. Anything and everything you’d expect these two to argue about, is not left unsaid, but at the same time; not resolved either.

Like with most things in life, people fight, people yell, and people hurt one another, but they apologize, continue on, and act as if nothing happened, but does that mean nothing really happened? For me, it felt like this movie really hit the nail on the head about how Jesse and Celine, no matter how grand their love is for one another, they will always be that married-couple that fights from time-to-time, can’t figure out who’s doing what for the kids, and gets angry at the other for stupid shit like not cleaning up after themselves and so on and so forth. But this can’t be the Jesse and Celine from ’95 and ’04, can it?!?!?! Well, it is and it shows you that no matter what you try, no matter how different you think you are, and no matter what walk of life you take, you will always end up at the spot you didn’t expect to be in: just like everybody else.

I know, I know, I know! I make this movie sound like a total piece of depression from beginning-to-end, but honestly; it isn’t. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me happy, it made me think, it made me feel all warm and gooey inside, and it made me sad. However, I can’t say that this movie is worth watching if you expect Jesse and Celine to be all happy with birds chirping and flying all-around them. That isn’t what real life is all about, and that’s certainly not what these two are all about and that’s where this movie goes. It may take some by surprise that the once-adored couple-to-be, is now, all of a sudden, any other married-couple of their generation (aka, the type of people they talked out against in the first and second movie), but with the way these characters have been formed and developed over these three flicks: it feels deserved and all too real to be perceived as a fantasy. Jesse and Celine make you wonder where your life may go, if you decide to take a step for love, and whether it will, or it won’t be the right step you took at the end of your life.

"Wow, you're still funny like I once remember you being. You were funny, right?"

“Wow, you’re still funny like I once remember you being. You were funny, right?”

Without spoiling it all, the movie ends perfectly. After their big, slap-out, drag-out fight of wits and emotion, Jesse and Celine seem to really come together, apologize, make jokes, and talk about what they are going to do later that night (aka, bang). It all seems so happy and hokey for a series that’s the exact-opposite in terms of how it’s first two movies ended and how, but once you get to thinking of it: it really isn’t. By this point in time, Celine has already told Jesse that she does not love him anymore. Not once, but twice, and she does not stutter or take back what she said. Now, does that mean she just said it out of pure-emotion and anger just to really hit Jesse where it hurts? Maybe, but does that mean there isn’t some truth or realistic-feeling to that statement? Maybe, as well.

Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke really seemed to have made this movie their adored, and wonderfully-watched child, but the ending is what makes you think what these two have to say about these characters and whether or not they will be able to stand the test of time like they mentioned in all movies, especially this one. In the end, the final-shot is of these two jokingly-chatting about how they can’t wait for the night so that they can have sex, love, and be passionate with one another, as if they haven’t in the longest time, but not all is fine and dandy. These two just yelled, screamed, hollered, bewildered, insulted, hurt, and tortured the other in a fight that seemed to not only go on forever, but get meaner and meaner as more words and actions were exchanged. Has the damage already been done, or, as I alluded to earlier before; will they forget about it, move on with their life and days, and act as if it never happened?

Is what the REAL Jesse and Celine are all about, or is that what we expect to come with most married-couples in our world? The movie allows for you to have that question linger in your mind, long after the final credit rolls off the screen, and I have yet to think of what it is myself. All I know, is that if they do decide to do a fourth film, count me in, baby! Just let me in advance so I can bring an extra-bag of Kleenex along for the ride.

Consensus: If you loved the first two movies, Before Midnight will be the next step in Jesse and Celine’s trip you definitely want to be apart of, even if everything they’ve been through and are still going through, may not put a smile on your face like it once did before. However, that’s life, and it’s not always going to be a fun-filled ride of happiness and pixies.

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!!

Not even holding hands anymore. Yup, love blows.

Not even holding hands anymore. Yup, love dies. Goodnight folks!

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The Happening (2008)

Pretty, pretty deadly flowers.

In the middle of a peaceful New York City-day, a bunch of people are walking through the park when all of a sudden, everybody stops what it is that they are doing, walks backwards a few steps, and each commit suicide. There is no reason whatsoever for this mess, but whatever it is, it has traveled by air all the way to Philadelphia where a couple (Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel) runs away, trying to find safety wherever it might possibly be. Problem is, nobody knows what it is, what caused it all, how to stay away from it, and what is the cure. It’s just something in the air, and you must run away and find shelter, as soon as possible. Or something like that.

Fuck it, I’m just going to come right out and say it that this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life-time. Which means, yes, I have seen this movie more than once. Once, when it came out in theaters because I was young and stupid, and twice, because I had to do it all for you loyal readers out there waiting to see me complete my posts on M. Night’s career.

The things that I’ll do just to please your asses.

Anyway, away from all that crap, let me just say that this movie is still god-awful after all of these years, and hell, probably a lot worse now that I’ve gotten used to what makes a movie good, entertaining, bad, or just shit. This is that latter category that nobody should ever bother with. Yes, not even movie critics who have been dared by their friends because they apparently “watch any movie that’s put in front of them.” Trust me, friends: I’ve said it all before and it’s not worth it. IT’S JUST NOT!!

We all know that M. Night’s career has been one shit-show-after-another, but at the time of this movie coming out, everybody thought it was his big return to making movies the way he did before. It was rated-R, it was coming out during the summer, and hell, it even had Marky Mark in the lead role, what could possibly not make a comeback occur?!?!? Well, let’s just say a whole lot did, but let’s start off fresh and just go by hitting the buttons with M. Night.

The problems they're running through all goes back to the fact that he won't become a vegan.

The problems they’re running through all goes back to the fact that he won’t become a vegan.

M. Night is a dude that loves his plots, his premises, and his twists, but one thing he does not seem to love so much is what gets him to his passion in the first-place: dialogue. No matter what flick you want to attack, you can’t help but notice that almost all of M. Night’s flicks have a problem with the dialogue, whether it be because nobody sounds like real human-beings, or that the people do sound like real human-beings, but just idiotic ones. Either way, take your pick and you’ll most likely find a little something to make fun of. However, here, you can find almost everything wrong with the dialogue.

Every piece of spoken-line dialogue in this movie is just god-awful, because M. Night does not have a single clue where to pin-point this movie towards. Sometimes it seems like he’s going for a drama; sometimes a comedy; sometimes a dark comedy; sometimes a horror movie; sometimes a thriller; and heck, sometimes even a “it’s so bad, it’s good” type of movie that you would have probably seen in the 50’s, had it been done by Ed Wood or someone of that nature. The guy loses himself, just as much as he loses these “characters”, and during it all; we’re lost and left without a clue as to what to think of this movie. Is it supposed to be serious? Or, just or, is it supposed to be a slightly off-kilter movie that likes to throw in some laughs, along with the terror and dread? We never find those answers, and after awhile; you’ll probably just give up looking for them. They aren’t worth it, especially when you have so much promise like this just thrown to the ground, in hopes that someone will pick it back up.

Problem is, nobody does. Not the actors, nor M. Night himself. Even he seems at a bit of a loss for what to make of this material. The explanation he comes up with for this whole movie/epidemic inside of it, is that it was all caused by the plants. But why did the plants release some sort of toxin into the sky? Oh well, because we, as humans, are threatening our world and make the plants/trees/nature/etc. feel as if they are constantly at a fight so rather than just giving up and dying as we celebrate with our Cadillacs and light-bulbs, they decided to fight back and show us a bit of a warning to fuck our lives up. Yep, that’s right, in case you couldn’t tell where that idea was going, it was actually M. Night himself trying to go for it all by giving us some food-for-thought about our environment, and give us a spin on the whole global warming aspect of today’s economy. A bit risky you might say? Yes, but does it work at all? Fuck no! It’s actually really stupid, and as much as I may agree with what M. Night has to say on some level, I’ll still can’t say I support his decision to be as preachy, as obvious, and as idiotic with his points as he was here.

But no need to fear, Mark Wahlberg’s in this movie and that dude barely ever touches a screenplay that’s shit, right? Well, back in 2008, along with this other “masterpiece”: that was all a bunch of cons and lies. Wahlberg plays Elliott, a high-school science teacher, which, in a way; sort of is a joke in and out of itself. Wahlberg does whatever the hell he can with this character, but the same old mannerisms that the dude has with all of his characters (and sometimes make them so memorable), are what kills him and his character.The guy rambles, talks to trees, acts scared, has a bunch of close-ups on him looking scared, and does nothing else but use that usual, high-pitched voice we all know and maybe, just maybe, love him for. I love him for all that he does, but here, I felt like the dude was really falling-apart and couldn’t help but go along with whatever the hell M. Night threw at him. Sometimes, I don’t think even he knew what the hell to expect, but hey: that’s him, not me. If only I was Marky Mark, though. If only.

"And remember, once you get home and all, make sure to say hello to ya motha's for me."

“And remember, once you get home and all, make sure to say hi to ya motha’s for me.”

However, Marky Mark looks like he’s about to win an Oscar for his work, compared to what Zooey Deschanel brought to the table. Deschanel plays his wife, who’s obviously a bit weird, unhappy, and confused about what she wants, but rather than being Summer, she’s trying to be like Jessica Tandy in a way. That shouldn’t quite matter if the actress who’s channeling that side of her skills, is supremely talented, but Zooey just isn’t. And if she is, well she didn’t show too much of that talent here because every line that came out of her mouth, felt forced and bored, as if Zooey only did this for the money, in hopes that she will one day have that one, big show that’s dedicated to just her, and her hipster-ways.

Oh wait, I think it has happened already. Shit.

Consensus: M. Night fans (I’m joking, right?) might appreciate the promise and the eeriness that stands behind most of the Happening, but for peeps who don’t much care for the guy, and want good stories, with reasonable acting, writing, and direction, will most likely be at a loss for words just by how shitty this movie truly is. Don’t even bother getting drunk or high for this neither, just don’t even bother.

0.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Shit. This is really bad."

“Shit, I thought M. said this was going to be a dark, domestic drama that teaches us the importance of family values and honor.”

Lady in the Water (2006)

I wish there were mystical, sexy-ish creatures swimming around in my pool after closing time. Instead, it’s just me and my drunk friends.

This part may be a little hard to talk about, but hell, I’ll give it a try. Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) works at the Cove apartment complex and does whatever he can to get by throughout the day. He cleans bathrooms, kills bugs, changes light-bulbs, does everything really, but he never seems happy. All of that somehow changes when the mysterious creature Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), shows up in his pool saying that she needs to go back to land. She tries to, but finds out that a scary monster is there to attack her, and it’s up to Cleveland and the rest of the tenants to fight back and help Story get back to her home-land and hopefully, tell her story.

We all know that M. Night is a story-teller and loves to give us somewhat strange, wacky tales that can only occur in his mind, and his mind alone, but this is where I think people started to grow impatient with the dude. The Village was a bit of the last-straw, but I think more people were apologetic on that one because it had some good features to it. If not, and it’s only me who feels that way, so be it because I will go-to-bat for the dude anytime of the day, night, or week. But this is where things started to not only change for me, but for plenty others as well. And it hasn’t been pretty since.

It’s obvious that M. Night is making this story so that kids will want to go with their families and see all of the wonderful, wildness that M. has to bring to this slightly-original fable, but I highly doubt that’s what came out here. Yes, it is a fairy-tell that captures the wonder and imagination of a kids mind, but it also seems too confusing in terms of what it’s trying to say, where it’s trying to go, and how freakin’ pretentious it is. It’s been said that M. Night is a bit of a cocky dude who feels as if he can do wrong (just watch some of his movies and you might just see differently), and I’ve always put my hand of separation between me and those nay-sayers, but now I can totally see where they are coming from. The dude thinks he’s the shit, and if I’m not just talking about his story, I’m also talking about the character he plays here.

If you're going to throw a banger, the pool has to at least big 3x bigger than that kiddie-shit!

If you’re going to throw a banger, the pool has to at least big 3x bigger than that kiddie-shit!

Instead of having himself play a small-role, or even a cameo like he usually does, M. gives himself a character that is not only one of the biggest parts of the whole movie, but probably the most important since his character is a writer, who’s future piece-of-work is supposed to inspire and influence generations and generations to come. A bit self-indulgent? You think!??! And hell, it wouldn’t been half-bad if the dude could have backed it all up with some nice acting, but the dude seriously can’t act for shit in this movie. His character is supposed to be pretentious and cocky, but instead, he just comes off like a whiny-ass that always comes to Cleveland whenever he needs a light-bulb fixed, his rug washed, or house ram-sacked so that people can see what he’s up to.

However, M.’s problem with his character is the same problem that everybody else in this movie seems to be having as well. God bless Giamatti, but the dude really seems to be phoning it in here. And that’s not just his fault, but more of the character’s and how M. writes him as being. We first see this Cleveland dude as an obviously sad, lonely, and depressed dude that has a stutter, so why the hell would he all of a sudden help out, let alone, actually believe this mystical creature as a thing from a different world? Oh, I don’t know, maybe cause he’s had a tragedy bestowed upon him that’s only brought up once? Yeah, maybe that’s it. Regardless of what the real reason was, I didn’t care, I didn’t understand, and I felt bad for Giamatti as it seems like he got roped into doing this, just so he could work with “that guy who did the Sixth Sense.”

Somehow, I feel that’s why anybody still works with the dude, even until this day.

Everybody else suffers from the same problems that Giamatti does as well. Jeffrey Wright’s character is the type of dude that seems to know almost anything and everything about the English language, just through doing a whole bunch of crossword puzzles, and yet, we are actually supposed to believe that the fate in humanity rests in his hands, as well as his own kid’s, who reads cereal boxes all day. Yup, believe that for sure! But the list of characters go on and on and on, almost to the point of where you stop feeling bad for M., not realizing that he’s losing all control, but for the obviously, very-talented people involved with this movie.

People like Freddy Rodriguez, Jared Harris, and Sarita Choudhury are all here, and trying to do whatever the hell it is that they can, but all fall fate to M. Night’s crappy-writing. He tries to make these characters funny with their own little quirks here and there, but none of it even comes together for the finale to make sense, nor does it ever come together to make us laugh. The movie tries whatever it can to do both of those things (laugh and make sense), but fails miserably and it’s all because of M. Night. The dude may know how to make a shot interesting and make any type of atmosphere as every-bit of tense and eerie, but he can’t write snappy-dialogue, unless the actors/actresses are up to it. I don’t know if everybody was up to it here, but something did not mix so well.

He's got the whole world of this chick's life, in his hands....

He’s got the whole world of this chick’s life, in his hands….

The only person I can say who wasn’t involved with any of the shit-talking I was doing up there is Bryce Dallas Howard as Story, and the only reason I don’t include here is because her character is so dry (funny, because she’s the lady in the WATER), so dull, and so boring, that you don’t ever understand what makes her such a wonderful creature to save, let alone, go nuts for. I get it, she’s almost like a mermaid and has mystical powers, but does that mean we too are supposed to give two shits about her character and how her fate rests in these num-skulls’ hands? Hell to the no! Obviously M. Night cares, but we can’t share the same feelings, which is probably how most people have been feeling for the longest time when it comes to them and the dude.

Poor guy. He’s from Philly, he likes his twist-endings, and he’s got a great name that’s easy to make jokes about, but he just can’t seem to win nowadays.

Consensus: The Lady in the Water is a self-indulgent mess that finds M. Night at his most cocky and arrogant, for the sole-purpose that he thinks everything he’s doing is right, smart, and makes sense, but doesn’t care too realize that he might, just might, be going a tad over-board with the ideas and turns his story takes, as obvious as they are.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Go on, Paul. Take a dip. You deserve it buddy.

Go on, Paul. Take a dip. You deserve it buddy.

The Last Airbender (2010)

Where was the twist?

Aang (Noah Ringer), is the last in a long line of Avatars who was born with the super ability to control the four most powerful elements: earth, air, water, and fire. This makes him the target the evil Fire Nation, specifically, the exiled prince (Dev Patel) who needs to capture the Airbender in order to return home and prove his daddy proud. Appearing in this movie definitely didn’t do the trick.

I must admit, I never read the magna or even watched the anime show that this flick was based on, so maybe I wasn’t as hype as others out there were for this thing but from what I heard: it had a lot of promise in terms of material. Look at it: you got martial-arts, you got people with super powers, you get Asians and Indians duking it out, and better yet, you got the guy who did the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable! That ain’t too shabby, right?

Well, that’s where the final-product, aka, our movie, comes into discussion.

There’s so much to say about where, how, when, and why this flick messed up on so many, goddamn levels but I think the main element to start on first would be writer/director/producer/twist-master M. Night Shyamalan. I’m one of those very-rare breeds of people that actually think Shyamalan is still talented, still has got a lot going for him, and is due for a comeback, eventually one of these days, but here, he just makes me look like a dumb ass. In all honesty, I thought it would have been better had this movie been actually made in Asia, since they can handle this shit a lot better than us Americans, but that’s just where the problem for Shyamalan begins.

Looks like a student-made film of that's dedicated to Mortal Kombat.

Looks like a student-made film of that’s dedicated to Mortal Kombat.

Way too much of this flick is just exposition, exposition, exposition, and exposition. All of which is told in this hilarious, over-the-top dialogue that seems like a 5th-grader wrote it, and considering that most of the target-audience for this movie was them, I wouldn’t throw out the possibilites. Nobody actually speaks to each other in this movie, instead; they just yell, command, argue, or go on and on about some freakin’ mystical tale that we don’t know anything about, or don’t even care that much to listen. All we really do care is to get some action with some stories on the side for more chewing, but we barely get that, and it’s more or less the other-way around. The exposition probably wouldn’t have been that bad had they actually had some person that knew how to write interesting dialogue like this on-paper, but is just unbearable to listen to after awhile. As the years have gone on by, Shyamalan has gotten weaker and weaker as a script-writer, but Jesus, he just lost me here. I think it’s time just for the dude to stick directly to directing and leave the writing-assignments to others that may know how to make this type of material sizzle.

However, even when the action does eventually come around, it’s filled with that, Zack Snyder-ish slow-mo that seems to just try really hard to add emphasis on the hits and blows people take during these battles, when in reality; they just seem really annoying and like an escape for the director to get past the fact that he’s got nothing going on for himself. The special-effects were definitely on-top-of-their-game, but even looked a bit goofy whenever people would just randomly fly all-over-the-place because of some crazy power one of them would unleash. It just looks goofy and too hard to take seriously, which is why I think M. Night wasn’t the right guy for this material and sure as hell wasn’t the type of person who should be directing action.

What’s even worse than M. Night’s directing and how it seems like it’s out-of-place, is the casting of a whole slew of white actors, in roles that obviously seemed to have been made with Asians in mind. It’s bad enough that you have shitty, white actors in these roles, but to have these shitty, white actors, run around a whole movie and go by the names of Aang, Karata, and etc., because then it’s just freakin’ distracting. However, as I said, it wouldn’t have been as distracting if it wasn’t already for the shitty acting from these kids and yes, they’re kid actors so you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but when a film rests entirely and solely on their shoulders, and they can’t muster-up any type of acting-prowess whatsoever, then I not only blame them, but the director as well for not being smarter and realizing that these kids can’t act for shit.

Jackson Rathbone plays Sokka and has only one look the whole movie: the constipated, oh-em-gee-I-am-so-shocked-I’m-actually-in-a-movie look. Seriously, this kid is as bland and dull as a box of rocks and every time he just let loose of some half-assed piece of dialogue, I just wanted him to go away and be killed off, if that’s even possible in an adaptation of a Nickelodeon’s kid, TV show. He gets the most shit out of all of these kiddie-actors, mostly because he’s almost 30 and should know how to act by now. I mean there are some actors who still have yet to channel any type of emotion (R-Pats, I’m talking to you), but with this kid, there is no exception. Playing his little sister is Nicola Peltz, and she does what she can, but she’s another chick that’s stranded in Dullsville and can’t seem to get a boarding-pass the hell out of there.

Bruce Lee would total your ass-up, kid.

Bruce Lee would total your ass-up, kid.

However, the worst of them all is most definitely Noah Ringer as our main hero: Aang. I get it that Aang is supposed to be this young kid who has mystical powers that can do any type of damage, to anything that opposes a threat towards him, but I did not for one second feel threatened by this kid, nor did I ever cheer him on. Ringer is such a bad actor that I feel almost too guilty to pick him apart, limb-by-limb, but I’m going to do it anyway because I review movies, and I’m also a dick. As simple as that. But seriously, he is horrible to the point of where I didn’t want to watch him anymore. Even the shit where he conjures up the cool powers, full of CGI and special-effects, didn’t even seem cool because he was the one doing it. Anybody else, it would have seemed alright with, but this kid just really annoyed the fuck out of me and I swear to God, if they make a sequel out of this, he better get killed off in the first 5 minutes, Count Dooku-style. I’m not kidding, I never, ever want to see this character, or even possibly this actor ever again and if I do and he’s still shitty, I’m going to find any copy of his movies, and just blow them up to pieces so nobody ever has to bother with this kid’s shit. I’m sorry, Noah. Actually, fuck that, I’m not. You blow, kid.

The only person here who seems to come away from the rest of this flick unscathed is Dev Patel, but even he’s horribly miscast as the evil, and self-righteous prince that just wants his daddies appreciation. Patel is way too cute-looking, in a boy band type of way to really be taken seriously as a bad-ass, especially when he’s throwing down fire and brimstone in the 3-to-4 battles that take place throughout the whole flick. There’s a whole bunch of other cats you may, or may not recognize in this movie and trust me; if you don’t, they probably won’t care a tiny, teenie-bit. Hell knows I wouldn’t. Especially if I was standing side-by-side to Noah Ringer.

Okay, I’m done with the kid. But seriously, fuck him.

Consensus: It’s pretty-looking, but that’s about all that’s left for the Last Airbender to offer as it is as terrible as you may have heard it as being. With a terrible script, terrible group of “actors”, and a story that makes no sense or is not worth caring about, probably 10 minutes in, you’re more likely going to want to get drunk rather than remember this movie or write a review. Trust me, that’s why this review is being written a day after the first, initial-viewing, because I just got shit-faced to wash all of the painful memories of this turd away.

1 / 10 = Crapola!!

Don't worry, things will get better after this kid. Just ask Jeff Daniels.

Don’t worry, things will get better after this kid. Just ask Jeff Daniels.

The Village (2004)

Thanks for helping me locate my next drinking spot, M. Night!

In rural Pennsylvania (holla!) during 1897 a group of Protestants who live in a small area live happy and peaceful, in an area surrounded by the woods. However, things aren’t always so peachy and keen, due to the fact that in these woods, apparently lie creatures that kill and might possibly invade this little town. Because of this “problem”, the leader of the village (William Hurt) keeps everybody confined and safe with a set of rules that will help them hide-away from these vicious beasts. After awhile, some people begin to lighten-up and realize that there may be something else out there to find, and one of those curious citizens goes by the name of Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), who also just so happens to be in love with the leader’s blind daughter, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard).

Yes, it’s been known to many, many people that M. Night Shyamalan is the 21st Century equivalent to a one-trick-pony. He starts off all movies the same, with just the right amount of mystery and wonder, continues to build it all up and up, until, woolah; we have ourselves a twist on our hands. Everybody knows what to expect with an M. Night movie and most of the problems with his movies is that when you see them once, who needs them again. However, “everybody” does not mean yours truly.

Yep, believe it or not, I am one of the very few people who actually will still go-to-bat for Philly boy M. Night. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m representing my home land, or maybe it’s because I actually like watching movies that continue to challenge me with an original story, an original twist, and an original look and feel that reminds me why I love watching movies so much in the first place. I know I’m hyping this one up quite a bit, but don’t worry; this isn’t going to be one of those “I don’t see why everybody hates this movie” review, it’s just going to be me sticking up for poor, old M. Night. And with his latest-flick coming out this Friday, the dude needs all the love and support he can get.

What the hell is she looking at? Oh, never mind.

What the hell is she looking at? Oh, never mind.

What I liked so much about this flick starting off, is that M. Night doesn’t simply spoon-feed us what we need to know about this smallish-community, and he sure as hell doesn’t try to make sure that there are conversations that make it easier for us to figure out. He is simply plopping us into this setting, and just allowing ourselves to get ready and up-to-speed with all of these people and what they are up to. Of course, there’s plenty of mystery surrounding what the community is really like, but you don’t think too much about that as much as you think about just who these people are, what’s their deals, and why are they so freakin’ petrified of going out to “the towns”.

You definitely know that something is up from the get-go, but you’re not exactly sure what. However, even though the characters here tell one another that they are monsters in the woods, monsters that you even see from time-to-time, you can’t be too sure what it is that you are seeing, is in fact real or just a figment of yours, or the character’s imaginations. Throughout the whole duration of the movie, up until the last 10 minutes or so, you know that M. Night is playing a trick on you and feel as if you aren’t easily consumed by being fooled, however, something still has you questioning just what is the truth and what isn’t. M. Night does this in all of his movies, and this time is one of those rare instances where it works and makes this movie better, especially when you see it for a second time.

But then of course, there is always that big question at the top of your mind whenever you finish an M. Night flick: “does the twist really hold up when you compare it to the rest of the flick?” Well, the answer to that is: sort of. See, the movie is all about it’s twist, what it tries to make you believe in, and what is actually the truth, but it never loses focus of it’s characters or it’s sense of place in the world. Sure, you don’t quite know exactly what area of the world M. Night has placed us in, but you know it’s a strange place that could easily be in any type of forest on the face of the planet. Does that rule out every realm of possibility? Nope, not really, but it does get a bit obvious as it goes on from there.

As a whole, I do believe that the twist works and the way that holds up in the story is well-done, but what I do feel like M. Night dropped the ball on was actually handling how the twist was revealed, and what he did to us when we realized what was really going on. Slowly, but surely, odd pieces of evidence begin to shine and you not only realize that this movie is getting at itself somewhere, but M. Night can’t wait to show us either. But because of that frantic-feeling the dude must have had in the pit of his stomach, the twist almost feels too sudden, as if we should have really been hit with that “WTF?!?!?” moment that the dude has lived his career on thus far. It does eventually sink in over time, but not enough time until the full-twist is revealed and then all of a sudden, there’s a jumble of thoughts, ideas, and wonders that the brain is attacked with and as we know; the brain can only handle so much.

So, to answer the question that most people have on their minds after seeing an M. Night flick; I’d say yes, the twist does hold up and work well, but the way that it plays itself out, almost defeats any type of smart or genius that the man had to present. Not sure if I still answered the question I placed up-above or if I’m making any sense, but it worked for me. May not work for you or any other peeps on this Earth, but that’s what movies are made for: discussion, disagreement, and different points-of-views.

But it doesn’t matter where M. Night goes with this funky story, the dude always has time for character-development, as well as giving his cast some time to shine in the spotlight, especially when he isn’t stealing it from them. Joaquin Phoenix is good as the member of the community that wants to rise up and find out what’s really happening outside there in the woods, because he’s able to give us a brave and courageous character, that also has some insecurity-issues as well and isn’t just a born-and-told superhero. The same accent he uses here, that he used in Gladiator was a tad annoying since they sort of came off as the same character, but at least the dude is capable of having us forget about that memorable-role after awhile, and focus on this one. Playing the town “special buddy” is Adrien Brody who is fine with giving this character more emotion and heart than you could suspect, but considering that this movie was filmed and released two years after he came out victorious in what some call the most-stacked ballot for Best Actor in a Leading Role, it does seem like a bit of a disappointment for a dude that’s so talented and obviously can show it.

He heard the train 'a comin'....

He heard the train ‘a comin’….

William Hurt is also very good and charming as the leader of the community, because of the way he’s able to make us believe in all that he says, but yet, also not allow us to fully trust in every word he says. There’s some sexy-chemistry going on between him and Sigourney Weaver’s character, the mother of Lucius, and it’s pretty compelling to see since it gives you further and further clues as to what the hell really is happening underneath the wooden-tiles in the ground.

And last, but damn sure as hell not least is Bryce Dallas Howard as Ivy, the blind girl of the community with a heart of fire and passion. Howard has somewhat became a household name by now, but it’s so great to see where she got her start as a head-liner, and show that she was more than just “that girl, who also happened to be Richie Cunningham’s daughter.” It took me awhile to figure out that she was blind, but that didn’t matter after awhile because I could evidently see that this girl had something more to her than just being one of those disabled-peoples, that takes life more for granted now, than most people who seem to have it all. She actually is capable of loving, and to be loved, which gives us more of a reason to feel more for her as time goes on and her adventure begins to get more creepy and scary. Actually, “scary” may not be the right word, but “creepy” definitely is. Yeah, that fits.

Consensus: Even if not all of it adds up to make for a perfect-conclusion to a well-done story, The Village still works, even as a re-watch because of all the hints, clues, ideas, and themes that M. Night gives you to chew on and ponder for a bit, that is, until he shoots himself in the foot by the end once everything is brought out into the open.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

So beautiful. So quaint. So Chads Ford, PA!!!

So beautiful. So quaint. So Chadds Ford, PA!!!

Love Is All You Need (2013)

When John and Paul wrote this little number, you can totally tell that they had James Bond in mind.

Ida (Trine Dyrholm) doesn’t have the most successful life any person could dream of; she’s battling cancer, has a philandering husband, and is a hairdresser. However, she somehow finds a way to approach life with a smile no matter what, and this weekend, will be no different, especially considering because her daughter is getting married. But it’s getting hard for Ida as she soon approaches the date, that is, until she meets the groom’s father, Philip (Pierce Brosnan), who isn’t the nicest, nor the happiest guy in all of the land, yet, has more going for him in terms of Ida. Somehow, someway, these two connect over the weekend in ways none of them ever expected.

Movies about older-people getting married and re-discovering life once again, never seems to interest me, unless it’s done right. However, it rarely is. Movies like Quartet and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are perfect examples in the way that they are way too cute, cuddly, and modest for it’s own good. They show the older-peeps as a bunch of play-toys that say witty and silly things. But why? Oh, it’s all because they’re old! I get it! But this isn’t one of those movies and that’s why it’s one of the biggest surprises I’ve been hit so far with this year.

What starts out as a pretty simple, romantic-dramedy, soon turns into a movie that actually has more meaning than I expected, especially with it’s attention to characters and what makes us love life, the way that we usually do. Susanne Bier is very-talented in that way, because she’s not only able to show us our two, main characters at hand, but give us everybody else’s story as well. Some of it seems over-stuffed and random at points, but it all makes sense in the grander scheme of things, especially when it gets rather soapy by the end. But even then, Bier keeps it moving and never for a second manipulative.

"Would you prefer your martini, shaken or stirred?"

“Would you prefer your martini, shaken or stirred?”

In this movie, you actually care for the people you are watching and hope that they all find their special someone one of these days. Even the philandering husband that’s a huge tool and idiot; yeah, you want him to be happy because you know that underneath all of the sleeping-around, the guy just wants to love and be loved. Hence the title. It all sounds cloying and obvious, but when a film is able to give you the love bug as quick as people fall in love in a Nicholas Sparks novel (for all of you non-readers out there; that’s pretty quick), then you have a simple man, at a simple time in his life, smiling and feeling hopeful for the future. It will put a big smile on your  face, even if you don’t know how and why. You just feel it and that’s the simple joy of life.

God, I need to get myself a girlfriend and stop ordering Vietnamese prostitutes. Been too long.

The only times this movie seems to really lose it’s audience is when it decides to pack more than it can actually handle. The movie may be advertised as being all about Philip and Ida finding one another, connecting, and falling in love, but they are only the anchors of the story. There’s probably about four or five different story-lines going on at once and even though all are interesting, some do feel like they are a tad bit unnecessary, as if Bier felt like she needed to give everybody some sort of meaning and importance to the idea of love.

The most obvious example of this is the soon-to-be-wed couple at the center of the story. From the first moment we see these two, we think that they are perfect together, happy, hopeful for the future, and ready to get hitched as soon as possible. That is, until the movie starts to unearth some unsettling truths behind one of these characters, ones I will not choose to give away, but still feels unneeded. Not just because it added a twist to the central theme and story, but because it’s obvious right from day one about what the hell is going on underneath the sheets (or lack thereof). Even after the truth is unearthed about this one character, the movie explains and focuses on it a bit too much. Once the film goes for this, not only does it stall, but it detracts away from what the real movie’s selling-point actually is: Ida and Philip. Thankfully, it does go back to them and allows this movie to somehow work it’s magic.

I have never seen Trine Dyrholm in a movie before, but her performance as Ida makes me want to pursue more and see what I can conjure up myself. The great thing behind Dyrholm’s performance is that we never, ever know what’s really going on with this character. Yes, we see her smile, laugh, joke around, and have a good time, but you know there’s something more to this gal that just feels real, but also very vulnerable. You know that she’s sad underneath all of the giggles and playfulness, but you can’t exactly put on your finger what and it makes you hope that she eventually finds that one person who will sweep her off of her feet, make her happy, and bring her back to the land of being loved.

Young love: makes me sick!!!

Aww, young love. Makes me sick!!

She might just have found that in Philip, played to perfection by Pierce Brosnan. Even though he doesn’t show up in as many movies as he definitely should, Brosnan is an exceptional actor, all for the sake that he is able to bring cool wit, charm, and likeability, even to the douchiest of characters. And Philip is that type of douche. Not only does the dude feel like he has all the money, riches, good-looks, and reasons to be happy at his disposal; he never really seems to be happy. He always seems to want to be alone, not bothered, and content with being like that. Is there something more to this dude that may be triggering that feeling? Maybe, maybe not. All we do know is that there is more to this guy and layer-by-layer, we begin to see that show and Brosnan works incredibly well with it because he feels real. He’s a handsome dude that knows how to make the ladies swoon (without singing), but he also feels like a honest dude who knows what he wants, he just doesn’t know how to approach it just yet. Him and Dyrholm’s chemistry isn’t what you expect between two adults who are still trying to search for the right answer. They’re a bit fiery, a bit sexual, and a bit loving as well. Together, they are great and what keep this movie moving, interesting, and always entertaining.

Consensus: You may, or may not be able to see the ending of Love is All You Need coming from a mile away, but no matter what, you still will be interested, entertained, and happy with what you feel, see, and hear, especially from the finely-written characters we have to here.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

My man Pierce, still got it.

My man Pierce, still got it.

Frances Ha (2013)

Going through a quarter-life crisis? Just dance!

Meet Frances (Greta Gerwig): she’s young, she’s newly-single, she has no job, she has a best friend (Mickey Sumner), and she’s a dancer. Well, sort of. As soon as Frances feels as if she has her life on-track with the boyf, the job, and the bestie, everything gets swooped-from underneath her feet and she soon realizes that she has no place to crash, no dude to fall back on, no bestie to really care for her when she needs it the most, and no source of income. Basically, Frances is having a hard time adjusting to the curve ball life has thrown her, but that’s life. That’s what all the people say.

It should be no surprise that I’m not the biggest fan of indie-auteur Noah Baumbach. For some reason, the dude has just never connected with me on a deeper-level, except for maybe The Squid and the Whale, which actually followed a plot-line, with real characters, real situations, and real problems that people face in their day-to-day lives. Every other movie of his seems to have barely any of those aspects, and yet: people love the hell out of him. Never quite got, until now. Then again, this is probably his most-cheerful film in the longest time so maybe that’s what’s going along with it as well.

The aspect of this movie that makes it work so well is that it feels relateable to everybody, no matter what walk of life you come from. You can be either young, old, new, or dying and still find something to connect with, whether it be the ideas, themes, or just plain and old Frances herself. I found myself connecting to all of the above, but Frances stayed clear in my mind the most.

Baumbach takes a look at life through the regular, ordinary hipster that lives in New York and is just trying to take in each day as she can, all by herself, and be successful at it, but it’s just not working out for her. Whenever Frances thinks that she has it all figured-out, is ready to move on, and make that big step in the right direction, something problematic pops-up in her way, screws it all up, and then puts her right back at where she started. That’s sort of how life is. Right when you feel like nothing bad could happen and screw-up everything good you have going on in your life, something bad does happen. It’s unexplained, but it always happens. It’s all a matter of whether or not you can pick yourself back up, continue on, and find out what is really out there for you, whether it be in your home state, or somewhere out there in the world, such as a whole other country.

Slap-boxing in the park, how those used to be the days.

Slap-boxing is the perfect bonding for most women, until it becomes serious because the one, fucked the other’s boy and hell just breaks loose,

Being a young, civilized-male who still lives with his parents and attending community college as of right now, I found myself really connecting with this movie as it made me feel as if I wasn’t the only one who still struggles to be independent and not let bad shit get in the way of the simple things in life. For instance, whenever my parents offer me money for anything, whether it be for food, gas, a movie (barely need it anymore), or anything at all, I usually shake the head, put the hand up, and firmly say, “It’s cool. I got it.” It makes me feel cool, makes me feel in control, and makes me feel independent. We all strive to feel like that every once and awhile, but we still need that leverage from a helping-hand. All you can hope is that it isn’t too many times, to where it almost feels like you’re losing all credibility for falling back on others.

Anyway, I feel as if I’ve gotten further and further away from this flick and what it does, and more towards me and my inner-thoughts as a young lad. On with the movie!

If anything, this movie gave me a nice dosage of reality that is sure to hit me any second. Life can be funny, life can be heartwarming, life can be happy, and life can just be random. Things that happen in this movie may take some by surprise, whereas it may just have others scoff at the pure-randomness of it all. However, it does have cohesion to it’s plot because it’s all what life is all about. Life isn’t always going to go according to yours, or anybody else’s plan. It’s just going to happen the way it is, whether you like it or not. Call me cynical, call me what you will, but that’s just how I feel after 19 years of living (old-head over here). Baumbach touches on this reality that the world we live in is always changing, and we might just be changing along with it. We just never take a second to wait and check it out for ourselves. Gotta listen to Ferris in a situation like this!

It was also pretty nice to see Baumbach still display his knack for comedy, drama, and building characters. To be honest, the movie isn’t very funny and even when it tries to be; it’s all about being awkward, weird, or plain and simply hipsterish. That pisses me off, but I guess when you pair Baumbach and Gerwig together for one movie, “hipsterish” is exactly what you’re going to get. Still, it didn’t piss me off as much as it has with his past flicks, because of the sole reason the guy seems to actually give us somebody to care about, somebody that HE actually cares about, and he found that all in Greta Gerwig as Frances.

You can't see, but the training wheels are still on. Yup, such a hipster.

You can’t see, but the training wheels are still on. Yup, such a hipster.

In mainly all of Baumbach’s movies, he always seems to give us characters that you despise, couldn’t give two shits about, and just want to see bad things happen to, in anyway possible. However, Frances is different and you feel for her right from the very-second she shows up on-screen. Gerwig is a very likeable-presence on-screen that isn’t hard getting used to, even when she seems to making too many clueless mistakes that you want to slap her in the face for. But then you get to thinking: we all make mistakes. Frances is just like every other human-being, in a way (minus the irony and ballerina dancing), by how she does what she feels is right for her, even if it doesn’t always have the best impact on the one’s around her.

It would have been really hard to feel for a character like Frances if she continued to make stupid decisions and not realize why and how stupid they actually were, but she does come to that realization many of times. She’s also a nice soul too, that doesn’t seem to have a heavy-set agenda against any person in particular and is rather peaceful, whether she’d be talking to her bestie (played by an amazing Mickey Sumner), hanging-out with random people she just met at a party, or is trying to win over upper-class noobs that she just met through a mutual friend at a very fancy din-din. Frances goes through everything any person has ever gone through in life, but she does it in just about an hour and a half. It always remains interesting, insightful, and enjoyable to watch, all because of Gerwig’s presence. The girl’s got a lot going for her, and it’s only a matter of time until the rest of the world really gets a good look at who she truly is. No, not that look!

Consensus: Considering this is his most pleasant and happy-go-lucky film to date, Noah Baumbach finds reality, along with happiness, pain, sadness, anger, smiles, and hipsters galore with Frances Ha, as he, and supposed real-life gal-pal, Greta Gerwig make you feel like you’re watching a real person, go through real problems, and find a way to get past them in any way she can.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No need for the tie, but hey, I mean, I guess it's cool and all.

No need for the tie, but hey, I mean, I guess it’s cool and all.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

It’s the year 2013, and yet, still no Hamster Wheels getting involved with these street-races!

Where the last thrill-ride ended, this next one begins with the one and only Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and the rest of the clan having to team up with Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to stop a highly skilled criminal outfit (lead by Luke Evans), all in the hopes that they will earn themselves legal pardons. But to make matters even worse for the situation, it seems as if Dom’s old-love, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), is alive and walking, even though she CLEARLY, FUCKIN’ DIED IN THE 4TH MOVIE!!!

Wow, I am really shocked by this. I was never a huge lover of the franchise, but as time went on; I started to grow fonder and fonder of what it could do, if it just allowed itself to have more fun, outside the world of street-racing. Of course, there’s still illegal street-racing going on and whatnot, but there’s more to this movie than just that. We got brawls; guns shooting; babes looking like hot tamales; shit being blown up; and now, we even got tanks to show up and do their thang. To say that this franchise has definitely improved would be an understatement, but to say that it’s idea of changing itself up a bit, evolving with the times, and giving itself more meat to chew on; is just about perfect.

Why? Because this movie is freakin’ awesome, and I never thought I’d be saying that about a movie starring Paul Walker. Never!

It’s a shame that Justin Lin won’t be coming back for the 7th installment, because the dude honestly seems like the perfect fit for these movies. Not only does Lin seem to enjoy being around all of these characters and watching them mess around with one another, but he also loves the whole idea of blowing shit up, and having fun with it. The dude revels in material like this, which may sound a bit off-putting in a way, but no need to worry because all of the fun that he’s having, is essentially brought out onto us and never leaves. Not even until that post-credits is off the screen (by the way, that’s what tops it off to be “freakin’ awesome”).

"You blinked first!"

“You blinked first!”

And that’s exactly what most action movies of this nature: unabashedly fun. Of course the movie is completely and utterly stupid with it’s over-the-top stunts that seem to not only cheat gravity, but lie about what the human-body can, and cannot do. But unles your some speed-junkie, who needs to jump off of things, and dare put yourself to near-death, just so that you can have; then you have to worry about seeing this. But if you’re just a normal, lax person that likes to have fun, and likes to see other people having fun while you join in on it; then this movie is the type of party you want to go to. Hell, even if you want to bring a couple of party-favors for you and your companion to join in on and have fun with, then, by all means, go for it. However, if you get caught and arrested, this site does not exist. Just a fore-warning.

But the question for me, myself, and I, is: how the hell did I become so fond of this franchise that I not only gave this the highest-rating of all, but how the hell do I find myself ranking the next one on top of my list to see next year? I honestly have no clue, but considering it’s the summer, it’s hot outside, and my brain has been turned off since last Friday when I filled in my last circle on my last final, then maybe that has something to do with. Speculation of my brain aside, this movie does not beg you to have a brain in order to watch it and enjoy yourself, all you need to know is what you’re getting yourself into and let the magic take it’s hold from there. I want to say check out the rest of the franchise before scoping this out, but coming from a person who didn’t much care for every other movie (except for the miraculous fifth one), I don’t know if it will do much help. Every addition seems to get better and better as the years go by, and it’s only a matter of time until we have Fast & Furious 30, gunning for the Oscars.

However, I highly doubt on that short-list for a nomination will be the acting of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. No offense against the dudes, because the script is idiotic, but these guys really lost all type of personality that made the first one such a dumb, but easy-to-watch gem. Diesel is always staring at people, grumbling his monologues that seemed to have been written by a 10-year-old who just got the “okay” from mommy and daddy to curse from now on, and always challenge people to either race or fight. It doesn’t matter what the hell the guy may be having a casual-convo with another person about, every time, it seems like they all end with him either ready to brawl, or ready to rev-up that beauty-of-an-engine of his. Then of course, we have Paul Walker here who’s as wooden as he can be (which is not saying a lot), but at least he’s not painful to watch. Since this is an ensemble piece where everybody gets their slice to chew up, Walker is thrown to the back a lot and giving a couple of chances to show how bad-ass he truly can be, even if it is just him driving around and looking stunning. I’m not gay, but has that guy aged at all? Seriously, his hair has just turned from dirty-blond to brown, and that’s about it. Oh, and some scruff too!

Anyway, returning as Hobbs is Dwayne Johnson who absolutely seems like he’s having the time of his life. The dude is tough, rugged, ready to find out what the hell’s going on here, and not taking no as an answer one bit. Johnson loves these types of roles where he pokes a bit of fun at his own image, but at the same time, still gets to show us the people’s eyebrow and how much ass he can truly kick. Joining his gang of criminal-busting, is Gina Carano who seems to have the same look and act going on here that she had in Haywire. Yes, she can still do all the flips and the ass-kicking that she’s been known to do, but when it comes to acting and actually giving us somebody that’s memorable in the least bit: she ultimately fails and gives the same look the whole movie. But hey, at least she’s using her own voice this time and not somebody else’s.

Rounding out the rest of the crew of “good guys” are the usual crew that we’re used to seeing and having fun with. Tyrese Gibson is apparently the poorest out of everybody who got their fare-share in the last heist, and can’t stop bringing up how he needs money for certain things; Ludacris always loves to bust his chops about it, as well as making fun of his big fore-head (apparently he did and just nobody noticed or cared enough to say anything in the first place); Jordana Brewster doesn’t do much other than stay-at-home and watch her O’Conner’s kid (who I feel bad for already, considering he will not past his driver’s test once); and Shea Whigham also shows up a bit, and does the role he was most known for in the 4th one (aka, getting his ass kicked), but it’s still nice to see him and hopefully he got a nice Jacuzzi cover out of the ordeal.

Even in a world where marathons get bombed and terrorist threats have become a daily-happening, it's nice to be reminded that the world can be happy, pleasing place to be alive in. Ah.

Even in a world where marathons get bombed and terrorist threats have become a daily-happening, it’s nice to be reminded that the world can be happy, pleasing place to be alive in. Ah.

As for the “bad guys”, well, they too are okay, if a little dumb. The problem Luke Evan’s character, Shaw, isn’t that Evans gives a bad performance or anything, it’s that the character he’s playing is so loud, so obnoxious, and so blatant with the bad shit that he’s about to pull, that it makes almost no sense about how people continue to say that he gets away with stuff because he’s so secretive and so mysterious. I call bullshit on that for the reason that one of his tactics of showing his “evilness” was to take over a tank on a major highway and see if he could get away with it. Yeah, a tank. Good going, buddy! You’re definitely going to last long.

And as everybody knows (and if you couldn’t, just look up-top at the plot-synopsis), Michelle Rodriguez returns to show us her feminist-ways as Litty, the ex-lover of Dom Toretto who is a welcome-back to the franchise. I’ll admit it, when Litty (actually) died in the 4th movie, I didn’t care too much and felt like it was one way to just create more drama that wasn’t needed to begin with, and heck, even once she showed-up in that post-credits scene in the last movie, I didn’t care much neither (except I was pissed as shit). However, seeing Rodriguez back in her comfort-zone, watching as she acts all confused and questionable, while also being able to throw-down with the best of them, made me happy that the gal was back and ready for more fast cars. The explanation they give us for her surviving the death that we all presumed she had is dumb as hell, but I was willing to drop down some of my nitpicks about logic and simple-reasoning with a movie like this. Obviously.

Consensus: For those who find these movies as stupid and idiotic as ever, may be a bit pleased with what they see in Fast & Furious 6 because it keeps the energy and momentum going at a fine pace, without ever really diving into melodramatic-theatrics or plot-points that don’t matter. It’s just a fun ride from beginning-to-end, and rarely ever loses you, no matter how smart or dumb you are.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Look, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's NOT Henry Cavil.

Look! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s NOT Henry Cavil.

The Hangover Part III (2013)

What happens in Vegas, should always stay in Vegas. This included.

Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifiankis), and yes, even Doug (Justin Bartha) reunite for one last adventure in Vegas. However, it isn’t the type of fun-filled adventure they expected to begin with. Rather than living up the night with drugs, sex, booze, women, and Mike Tyson’s tiger, Doug gets kidnapped from a powerful drug-dealer (John Goodman), who wants one thing and one thing only in return: Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).

The first Hangover, as we all know, was a smash-hit. It was funny, broke box-office records, and even won the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy (against (500) Days of Summer, which still, to this day, is bullshit). So, obviously, it seems like the next, big step for the franchise would be to have a sequel that not only capitalized on the first one’s charm, but enhanced it in a way as well. By the word “enhance”, I mean to just substitute certain aspects of the story out, for other parts like a brother-in-law nobody gives a shit about, for a hubby-to-be that’s Justin Bartha. Yup, I am indeed talking about the second movie that not only pissed off critics, but pissed off audiences as well. Apparently, it didn’t piss them off enough considering that the movie still kicked ass at the box-office and assured that yes: there would be a third, and final one, whether or not anybody actually wanted it.

This is what we have here ending the series, and that’s some joyous news. The movie’s not the joyous news, the fact that it’s the last one in the franchise is the joyous news.

I guess Doug was granted "hanging out with the guys" privileges. Then, killed off several seconds later...

I guess Doug was granted “hanging out with the guys” privileges. Then, killed off several seconds later…

Before I get any further into the nuts and bolts of this movie, I’m just going to put it plain and simple: the movie is just not funny. Yes, the occasional chuckle occurred here and there, but other than half-a-handful of times, nothing really made me laugh, smile, or happy that I was watching these guys go out with a bang. Instead, all I got was a movie that tried to recycle the same old jokes from the first two, and if they didn’t bother doing that; they didn’t even try to be funny. Todd Phillips and the rest of his crew obviously seem to love these characters and all that they go through more than us, so rather than letting them do what makes us love them so much in the first place (be funny), he steps in the way, puts a way-too complicated plot in place, and knocks down any chance for a hilarious moment to occur.

I get that this is the last movie in the series and that Phillips wants to end on a high-note that has us remember these characters for all that they are and what they were, but he tries way too much by just adding lame-ass drama. Lame-ass drama that, by the way, totally brings down the energy and the tone of the movie, giving us a movie that doesn’t know whether or not it wants to be a comedy with streaks of dark, or a drama, with streaks of dark comedy. It ends up being neither, and watching it be slapped back-and-forth by what it wants to be and accomplish, just is not entertaining to watch, no matter how much plot or story Phillips wants to add on. Not even his trademark cameo can make this movie worth watching. In fact, it’s the exact opposite as it seems like the dude was just trying to pull-out any stop that he could, and seemed to fail at doing so.

That’s the real problem with this movie, other than not being funny: it tries ridiculously hard and does not work a bit. There comes a point where you really feel as if this movie is going to take the high-road, hit us with a genius situation that not only makes us laugh, but understand why we love the Wolf Pack for all that they were in the first movie, but we never get that. However, what we do get is a bunch of dudes that bicker about random shit that’s better left unsaid or not acknowledged in any way, running errand-to-errand, and switching more cars than a South Street hooker. None of this is funny to watch, even if Phillips and his crew seem to set these guys up for moments of pure-hilarity, only to have the mark missed and fall right on their toes, without them knowing what the hell to do.

And shame on Todd Phillips for not knowing what to do with these three guys, because if anything, they were the only ones saving that last train-wreck from collapsing to it’s painful, memorable death. In fact, while I’m at it, shame on Todd Phillips for not being able to take advantage of the cast and crew he was able to get back to return for this (hopefully) last installment. You got Mike Epps as Black Doug, Heather Graham as the hooker-wife of Stu/mother of “Carlos”, and even newcomers like John Goodman and Melissa McCarth. All can be funny as hell when they are allowed to go bonkers, but just get held-back by a script/direction that doesn’t seem all too concerned with them. Hell, it doesn’t even seem all that concerned with the Wolf Pack, and instead, diverts most of it’s attention to Mr. Chow!

Listen here, Mr. Chow was a pretty funny-ass character in the first movie because he showed up every once and awhile, did his goofy-Chinese thang, showed his weenie, simulated ejaculating all over people, and let it be left at that. However, this whole movie seems to not only include that, but more and more of it, which is not only unneeded, but it’s stupid because the movie is more of his, rather than the dudes who started the franchise in the first place. It isn’t like Ken Jeong isn’t capable of playing this character well, it’s just that the character has been played-out beyond belief by now, even though nobody working on the film seems to realize that after the first ten times they show him up on-screen. Seriously, this movie could have been without Bradley, Ed, and Zach, and nobody would have noticed. It’s basically Chow’s show from beginning-to-end, and it’s never funny to sit around and view.

It's funny because he's just a little Asian dude acting like a sheriff!!!

It’s funny because he’s just a little Asian dude acting like a sheriff!!!

It’s a real shame too, because Bradley, Ed, and Zach still seem to have some sort of dynamic between one another that would be perfect for a movie that cared more about them, but that’s not this movie. Here, they are given the boot to the side, just so Chow can say dirty and inappropriate things in a “funny” Chinese-accent. Individually, they all seem fine, but it also feels like a lost cause since they aren’t given many chances to be funny or pal-around with one another. They’re pretty much serious the whole time and it never seem to end, even if this is the shortest out of the whole franchise (hour and 40 minutes).

Bradley seems like he’s bored with the material and knows that he’s got better shit coming his way; Ed just looks nervous and awkward the whole movie, and occasionally yells for shits and gigs (because you know, yelling for the sake of yelling is hillurious!); and Zach is just being himself, but it isn’t funny. It’s more random this time around where it seems like Philips gave him the cue to just improv his ass off, which is hit or miss if you’re familiar with his stand-up. Sometimes it hits so hard that you can’t believe you’re laughing as much as you are, and sometimes it misses so bad and noticeably, you wonder if anybody even paid attention in the editing-room.

It’s obvious that nobody did, and were more concerned with getting this movie out there for all to see, hopefully spend a shit-load of money on, and give them the possibility of another sequel down the pipe-line. But since everybody involved seems to be considering it “the last”, lets hope that they stick to their word and allow it to truly be the last. If not, I think I’m going to have to burn my Carlos T-shirt up at the next, local bonfire.

Consensus: If you were there for this franchise when it took an odd-turn for the second movie and stood by it, then the Hangover Part III might just be the perfect good-by you need to calm all of your wonders and nerves down for good, but if you didn’t care for the second one at all: don’t even bother. All of the charm that was once alive and well, is all lost for the sake that a little Asian man can pull down his pants, and ejaculate all over it. So funny, right?

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

If the killing of precious, wild animals doesn't at least make you chuckle, you, my friend, have a soul in tact.

If the killing of precious, wild animals doesn’t at least make you chuckle, then you, my friend, have a soul in tact.

Pearl Jam Twenty (2011)

Oh, where did the grunge go?

This is the story about one of the greatest alternative rock bands of all-time. No, fuck that! This is the story about one of the greatest ROCK bands of all-time, Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam and I, well, we go way, way back to the days of grade school just when I was starting to get into “rock music” again. I remember I was going through this huge-ass 90’s alternative music phase where all I would listen to had to either sound like grunge, be associated with grunge, or had to be released before April ’94 (aka the month grunge died, for good). And Pearl Jam was definitely always on my listening list because of just how awesome they were and how much I respected them for all that they stood for and did for the past 20 years. I actually went to one of their concerts when they came around Philly in ’08, and it was probably the first time I ever smoked pot. You know what, it definitely was. Yeah, those were the golden days of being that young, brass, slightly-rebellious, but always fun kid that wouldn’t stop singing “Jerreeeemyyy spokeeeee innnn claassss todddayyyy!!” So, yeah, pretty much in a nutshell; Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands and needless to say, this documentary made me realize that fact once again.

I don’t think anybody else could have ever done this film, other than the one and only Cameron Crowe. When the dude wasn’t out building zoo’s with Matt Damon and Scar-Jo, he was actually close friends with the band, has always been at their shows, done interviews with them, and hell, even included them in his 1992 flick, Singles. That’s why I think it’s pretty safe to say that this guy knows these guys well enough to the point of where he could get these types of interviews out of them and make them feel at home whenever they talk about their history, the thick, the thin, the good, the bad, the painful, and just about everything else they have been through as human-beings, friends, and as band mates  I also have to give a lot of credit to Crowe for assembling all of these insane amounts of rare-footage where we see the earliest shows, sound checks, behind-the-scenes footage, and even Eddie’s first demo reel that he ever submitted to these guys, and subsequently, got him in the band. It’s all edited together so wonderfully that it makes you wonder just how the hell Crowe found all of this existing footage and found a way to make it all come off as one cohesive flick, rather than a jumble of Crowe showing us what he found and how cool he thinks it is.

"Hey, Eddie? Do you mind moving over more to the right? You're sort of ruining my shot here."

“Hey, Eddie? Do you mind moving over more to the right? You’re sort of ruining my shot here.”

Although, if there is one thing I have to complain about with this flick that kept me away from fully loving it was the later parts of the film where it seems like they don’t really climb into what happened to Pearl Jam’s career from 2002-on. They do discuss some parts of it, but they never really go fully in depth as they did with the 90’s, which is understandable because it’s no doubt that Pearl Jam was at the peak of their popularity during that time, but you never really get the essence of what these guys are up to doing with their lives in later parts. But if anything, it actually makes me want to listen to the latter albums a lot more now, almost as much as I did with the 90’s stuff so maybe that’s making a positive out of a negative.

But despite this slight problem, the real reason to see this flick, other than the crazy footage that Crowe finds or even Crowe himself, is all because of the band itself: Pearl Jam. Anybody who has ever or is currently a fan of this band, will love this movie because it’s all about these guys from start-to-finish, with a couple of interludes to other icons of the grunge era here and there, but it’s nothing too much that will distract you from what’s really focused on here. Perhaps what’s so damn interesting about these guys in the first place is not only how they make their music (without any outside inspiration), but how they have lasted with pretty much all of the same members for the past 20 years. Even in a day and age where bands seem like they’re ending over stupid shit like the usual conflicts between two mates, or contract negotiations, or not making enough money, it’s great to see a band like Pearl Jam still be around with everybody who started it all, still intact. And this may not be a huge surprise to you, but trust me, just watch this movie and see what happens to them over the course of these 20 years. You’ll be surprised to see that any of these guys actually still want to make music.

Nothing like a relaxing walk on the beach for a burnt-out musician.

Nothing like a relaxing walk on the beach for a aging-rocker.

Maybe if this movie doesn’t win you over, that is if you’re not a Pearl Jam fan before seeing this, then it may give you inspiration to use for your own band, if you ever start one because these guys really do have some intense dedication, not only to each other, but to music as well. What always pisses people off about Pearl Jam is how they reacted to all of this stardom in the first place. They didn’t want to make music videos, they showed up to glamorous music shows like the Grammy’s and basically told them to go ‘eff themselves, and couldn’t handle being known as the new faces of rock, along with guys like Chris Cornell and Kurt Cobain. Some of this would probably annoy people considering they make all of this damn money and all they do is complain about what comes along with it, but that didn’t bother me as much because these guys really do seem like they just want to do their own thing, regardless of whether or not others like it or not. These guys have stayed together for a very long time and they have also been doing things their own way for as long as I can remember, regardless of what other people think, so it’s pretty damn inspiring when you see this and knowing that in today’s music business, that’s a very hard thing to find. Look at Pearl Jam and don’t just see a band that knows how to rock with their artistic-cocks out; but instead, see a band that does whatever they want, whenever they want, and never once, not even for a second, decide to call it quits and sell-out. Well, maybe all except for that last album, which I thought sounded kind of “poppy” but hey, that’s just me, people.

Consensus: Pearl Jam Twenty may not win over any new fans looking to see whether or not they really do care for the alt-rock genre, but if you do love Pearl Jam, or are at least familiar with their music, you’ll find yourself not only entertained but also inspired by these guys’ story and just how they’ve made it through 20 years, despite everything that has happened to them and around them as well. Rock on and prosper. That’s what I always say and it seems like they do also.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Say cheese, as well as hello to our next album: "Fuck Conformity."

“Say cheese, as well as hello to your next album: “Fuck Conformity.”

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Where would we be without black actors? Maybe no Django? Or maybe not even the Django outrage?

Bobby Taylor (Robert Townsend) is a young, black male aspiring to be a the “next big thing in Hollywood”. He day dreams about it a lot, talks about it a lot, and even skips his work days just for that a lot, but he soon finds out that it’s a lot harder to be the “next big thing”, especially when race comes into play. Then again though, it’s Hollywood, so what the hell could ya expect when they want you to be the next Denzel, the next Morgan, or the next Sidney?!?

It blows that Robert Townsend doesn’t do much nowadays for the sole-purpose that his career started off with so much promise and inspiration, that it was all but obvious that it would eventually fall from grace and put him back down into the unknown league he was in before. Some may not even realize how much of an influence that guy had over some African-Americans back the day, but he really did, just by making a little film himself. Don’t believe me, watch an episode of Chappelle’s Show, then come back to this, and see where the inspiration came from.

See? It all goes together.

Working at a hot dog shack for the rest of your life can't be all that bad. Probably better than playing "drug dealer #4" for the rest of your life.

Working at a hot dog shack for the rest of your life can’t be all that bad. Probably better than playing “drug dealer #4” for the rest of your life.

Back in ’87, Townsend knew that it was hard for a black person to get their own, little film off the ground so he thought the best way would be to just max out all of his credit cards, direct and produce the film himself, ask his buddies for some help, and see how everything played out. It’s a pretty brave move to pull, a move that helped him out along with his buddies, but it’s also so brave because of the film that he actually created here. This is one of those films that is so funny because it makes fun of the right people, in the right ways. It’s obviously shading a gray-area on liberal-Hollywood that’s all about giving black people, roles in movies like drug dealers, pimps, or some sort of trouble-makers. Rarely ever do you see the smart, intelligent black man that went to Harvard, exceeded with flying colors in the real world, and lived a happy, peaceful life. They’re black, so obviously they have to be gang-banging in some way, right? Well, that’s where Townsend seems to be going with this material, and it’s as insightful now, as it was back then because certain things have changed, and certain things haven’t.

However, the film is most funny when Townsend breaks up the story with his random dream-like montages where he makes fun of certain pop-culture by placing black people in the leads. One skit I thought was very funny was Black Acting School 101, where it’s Townsend talking about this acting school where white people teach black people how to act “black”. It’s pretty freakin’ funny and the only reason why it’s so funny as it is and isn’t as offensive as it should be, is because it’s written by black people themselves. Yeah, that’s a bit of a racist statement to make in a way too, but it’s only the truth here. Townsend and his buds obviously know how to write a funny comedy about the culture they live in and see everyday, even if that culture is their own. Always nice to see that some ddues are able to make fun of others, while also being able to point the fingers towards themselves as well. Need that more in Hollywood nowadays.

A lot of what Townsend and Co. do end up satirizing and talking about, are pretty true and I think that’s where this film works the best in. Townsend, apparently, went through a lot of the same shit these characters are going through where numerous casting directors would try to get him to act more…black. Townsend frowns upon this, obviously, and shows exactly why it makes his culture look even dumber but he also puts a nice frown upon certain actors that do take those kind of dumb-ass, black roles (*cough* *cough* Eddie Murphy *cough* *cough*). Townsend doesn’t seem like he’s mad for this or even vengeful for this, he’s just very tongue-in-cheek and proves some very good points about African-American culture that even still sticks, despite an obvious change in where our movies are going with the usage of black actors, and black characters.

However, as brutally honest and sometimes hilarious this film can be, there was something lacking in Townsend’s narrative structure. The original story here, is pretty boring and your usual “young guy wants to be an actor” type of story that is only spiced up whenever the main character starts day-dreaming about different types of “What if…” situations. Some of them are very funny, but others, are funny at first but then start to go on for too long and get a bit too dry for my taste. One skit in particular was when Townsend substituted two black guys for Siskel & Ebert on their own version of the show, which may have started off very funny and full of promise, only began to go downhill, once it hit that seven-minute mark and you realized that they are still constantly going on about how they snuck into the theaters, stole their own snacks, and are about to get caught by the theater stuff. Funny once or twice, but after awhile; it’s the same joke, over-and-over again.

"So, I guess nobody has the time on them?"

“So, I guess nobody has the time on them?”

The cast is filled with a bunch of people we have all seen in tons and tons of random ish throughout the years, but the film’s main charm is through Robert Townsend who actually makes a pretty endearing character as Bobby Taylor. His character as Bobby is a good guy but it’s really impressive to see Townsend go through all of these different types of styles and pull ’em off very well. The guy also does a killer impersonation of Eddie Murphy and it’s a real wonder why this guy didn’t get any more love after this because he had some true talent to show off. Kind of sucks though, especially when you think about how d-heads like these two are somehow still getting in movies, and you’re still waiting for that next, big break to come your way.

Consensus: Hollywood Shuffle hits the right moments in terms of what it’s trying to say, how smart it can be, and where it shows our culture headed, if we continue this way, but it doesn’t always work with the loosey-goosey narration, and only shows that Townsend was a little bit inexperienced as a director.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Where DC's been heading as of late, would not be the least bit surprised if they went this direction next.

Where DC’s been heading as of late, would not be the least bit surprised if they went this direction next.

Fast Five (2011)

Everything you would expect from a car-racing movie: except for the cars.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are back together again but this time, are hiding out in Rio de Janerio after breaking out of prison. However, they still want to pull off that one, last heist before they head-out into the sunset forever. Problem is, they got one man standing in their way: a tough, and rough federal agent, played by Dwayne “Don’t Call Me Rock” Johnson. It’s everybody’s favorite group of illegal street-racers, versus the police in a knock-out brawl to the end to see who can get the money, who can pull off the job, and who can drive the fastest car.

When you go out to see a Fast and Furious movie, you know you have to expect loudness, cars going “vroooom!”, people skewing out terrible lines, and plenty of moments where men just stare each other down in a deeply sexual, but tense way. It’s what we come to know with this series and so far, it’s been okay considering every one of these movies seem to continue to kick ass at the box-office. Somehow though, they decided that maybe, just maybe, cars aren’t really what’s the most interesting thing for when you do an action movie. Thank the lord for that realization.

Director Justin Lin doesn’t do something that’s by any means ground-breaking, original, or life-changing with his direction, but what he does do is actually inject some energy and fun to a series that quite frankly, needed it in order to it to continue breaking records. In order to broaden up the audience of this flick, they steered (teehee) away more from the whole car-culture aspect of these movies, and made it more of an action/adventure type of movie full of guns, shooting, babes, and heists. In all honesty, it was a great decision because it really keeps the adrenaline going and allows there to be more exciting action scenes, rather than just having two guys go head-to-head in CGI cars.

Meet me on the top of some roof, it's going down.

Meet me on the top of some roof, it’s going down.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any driving in this film, because there is, but there’s not a whole lot to the point of where you feel like the next time you hear a car turn on, you’re going to blow it up yourself. Lin adds just the right amount of car racing fun into this movie, while still allowing all of the craziness of the other action to follow in and quite frankly, kept my eyes on the screen the whole time. Do the scenes defy logic? Totally. Do they look as if they could never, ever happen in a real world we have a little thing called “gravity”? Of course. However, does that make it a whole lot more fun and entertaining to watch? Hell to the yeah! Lin seems like he knows what he’s doing with action scenes and it makes me feel a bit safer knowing he’s taking over the franchise now and not giving it to Ghetto-lover John Singleton. Honestly, why the hell did the guy do that movie?

Despite all of this insane amount of fun action that goes beyond just cars and racing, there’s still a part of this movie that drags and drags on pretty long, too. The opening scene starts things off perfectly and gets you pumped right up, and the ending does the same thing, but there’s a middle-act here that just doesn’t do much with itself other than feature a bunch of people talking about what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to do with it their heist. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t action every little bit here and there, but for the most part, it seems like they may have ran out of money or just edited out one big action sequence, and saved up all of their time for the last 20 minutes. Not to say that’s a terrible thing, but it did have me yawn every once and awhile, something I would not be expecting from a big movie that is in fact named after fast-ass cars.

But since this movie is from the same franchise that gave us Cole Hauser as an evil kingpin, you have to expect this film to not really be the intensely smart and witty script we’d want with something of the same nature like a Tarantino or Kevin Smith movie. However, you don’t also want it to be this bad. There’s cheap one-liners here that are unintentionally hilarious, characters who come out to say something stupid and meaningless to the plot or certain situation they are in, and melodrama that’s supposed to really enhance the tension and emotional-factor for this story, but just feels like a cheat to tack-on more time the audience has to spend with these characters. It just goes to show you that sometimes parents don’t need to get on their young kids’ cases about not having jobs, because they can always apply for a screen-writing job for these Fast and Furious movies. Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.

But where the fun and charm really lies within this flick is the fact it has the whole gang back (with the exception of Michelle Rodriguez, who is supposed to be dead!!!!), and they are all fun to watch. Vin Diesel does his usual stoic, scary-looking big guy act as Dom Toretto and can practically play the role in his sleep. Actually, sometimes it seems like he is doing just that but it doesn’t matter because the guy can still nail the same notes with this role, as he can with any other piece of shit script that gets tossed right at him. Paul Walker is also here making all of that cash money flow from his pockets by appearing in another one of these movies, when in all honesty: he does barely anything for them. The guy that stands in the background and always has to look serious just for the sake that his character is so damn stern and compelled by what is happening. If there is anything I have to give the guy, it’s the fact that he is quite the natural at it, almost as much as I am a natural at winning pong while I’m drunk. It happens, I forget about it the next day, and live my life. That’s about it in a nutshell.

"Hey, we said no head-starts!"

“Hey, we said no head-starts!”

Also, the side characters that you may, or may not, remember from those other flicks are here to just do their thang and have fun. It’s fine to watch them as they all fight with one another, give their own two cents on what the next best plan would be, and whether or not they should drive fast cars. It’s all stupid and unneeded, but hey; at least it’s fun to see old friendships reconvene, and new ones be formed right in front of your own very eyes. It’s sort of like my Sweet 16, without all of the Ke$ha and Katy Perry songs in the background. No, I was not the DJ, for the record.

Even though everybody’s pretty good with what they’re given, the one who really stands out the most is probably Dwayne Johnson as the angry, federal agent that just wants to take these racing-mofos down. As soon as Johnson pops up into the movie, you can tell the guy is ready to do some business and he gives that type of serious, tough-guy role that made him so popular in the first place with wrestling fans all-over-the-world. He’s dead-on serious with all of his lines, but it isn’t distracting in the least bit and somehow works to his, as well as the rest of the movie’s advantage by giving us a real dude that seems like he could actually take down each and every one of these illegal-racing bandits. Another side you could take on his performance, is that it’s pretty surprising how it shows us that maybe this guy isn’t going to be one of those crooked cops we always see in movies like this, and actually just does his job because it’s what he feels is right. Maybe I’m looking a bit too deep into this obvious character, but I know one thing that’s for sure: Johnson kicks some ass with this role and I look forward to seeing him take this role on longer and longer as this franchise goes into it’s 100th movie in the year 2099. Yes, it most likely will go on that long, as you can see by what’s coming out this Friday and what’s already being discussed. Everybody will be quite fast, and furious, even until the day they day. Even when cars are practically extinct for cool gizmos like this.

Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.

Consensus: Stupid, loud, and terribly-written, Fast Five is exactly what you would expect from a movie in this franchise, but it’s still fun, entertaining, filled with life, energy, and a bunch of charming performances that makes this the best offering of this whole franchise.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Think about it, this was one of the last movies to be "ok'd" by Apple for advertisement, when Steve Jobs was still alive. Yup, my way of ending on a downer.

Think about it, this was one of the last movies to be “ok’d” by Apple for advertisement, when Steve Jobs was still alive. Yup, my way of ending on a downer.

Tabloid (2011)

Mormons ruin everything! Except for Ryan Gosling. He is incapable of ruining anything.

The tale of Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney is a very strange one. She started out a simple, sweet girl who grew up on a farm, fell in love with her boy-toy in high school, then found him in England, kidnapped him, and forced him to have sex with her until he eventually got used to it all. Sound strange at all, yet? Well, what’s even stranger is how the UK press had a field-day with this and went crazy with this, well, crazy woman, making her a star and adding more head-space to her ego as it is. However, Joyce McKinney is not done with her 15 minutes of fame and comes back to the spotlight in some strange, unexpected ways.

If you’ve never, ever heard of Joyce McKinney, don’t worry, because by the end of this flick you will have all but enough of her. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, it’s just something you are going to be a witness to since this whole documentary isn’t just about the crazy shit she did for love with a Mormon named Kirk Anderson, but it’s about her as a person. Whether or not she’s crazy, is totally up to you, even though this movie and the events that occurred to her life after the movie was made, may have you make up your mind.

Errol Morris is one of the greatest documentarians of our time, so when he makes a movie about whatever the hell fascinates him, most likely, it’s going to fascinate the hell out of you as well. What once begins as a simple tale of a girl who falls in love with a dude, does whatever she can to keep that love, and how she gets in trouble for doing so, soon becomes more and more complicated as it’s more about this chick and how the British press went insane with her story. I don’t want to give away anything that might spark up some debates about spoilers, but what you are going to see with this movie and story is very odd and very surreal, but unlike Catfish and I’m Not There where it simply plays with the toys and mechanics of your mind as well as a documentary; it’s all real. A little too real, some may say, but it’s the facts of life that make it well worth living. Even if nuts like Joyce McKinney do roam about it.

Life starts out promising....

Life starts out promising….

However, what I say about McKinney is useless, because Morris never seems to ever be frowning-upon, or even judging her. He just lets her tell her story in a straight-forward way, with no frills or strings attached. Now, of course there is the idea that some of the shit she says may be a bit too cuckoo for Coco Puffs, but it’s just who she is. In a way, you learn to accept her story for what it is, and you learn to accept her as hard as it may be. But after awhile, you do start to feel sympathy for her story, what it is that she’s talking about, and just where the hell she has gone with her life. Sure, she  may be a tad bit nutso, but at least she’s entertaining to watch and listen to, whether she’s talking about kissing Keith Moon or dressing-up as a nun to escape the press. Whatever the topic of choice may be, this chick loves talking about and holds a certain type of energy to it that’s almost contagious.

Hell, not almost, it is!

That’s what makes this documentary actually a fun one to watch, that isn’t heavy, doesn’t make you contemplate where the world has gone to these days, and doesn’t leave you with a dour-attitude towards life. It’s a bit weird, a bit of fun, a bit manic, and a bit happy, and coming from Morris (aka, the dude who’s known for getting a wrongfully-convicted man out of jail, mind you); it’s a nice surprise. Morris tackles the ideas of what it takes to be a celebrity, or somebody that is indeed considered “news-worthy”, but it doesn’t go any further than that. Can’t say I’m too disappointed with that fact, but at the same time, can’t say that it doesn’t show either.

There comes a point in this flick, once all is said and done, the wackiness is gone, and Joyce herself has all cooled down a bit, that the flick seems to sort of lose some steam and in a way, not know where the hell to go with itself. Morris seemed to get a little frantic at this stage of the movie because where he had, at once, had a whole story about a random chick who all of a sudden got big for kidnapping some dude, all of a sudden found itself at barely anything where nobody seemed to care about her, and nothing special was really happening in her life. And I’m not saying that her life isn’t special at all, but it’s that at a point, her life seems to lose the interest-factor that seemed to have been working for the movie so darn well the hour beforehand. I don’t know if Joyce McKinney’s story was all that worth a full, hour-and-twenty-minute documentary, but I do know that Morris finds himself in a bit of a sticky-situation where he’s so pleased and ecstatic about this material, but it begins to loosen-up after awhile.

...then it gets a little crazy....

…then it gets a little crazy….

That said, you can definitely see this movie to understand what a documentary can do if it takes something real, but also bizarre, and make it into a movie that plays out almost better than any fictional, Hollywood-produced movie. All flaws of the movie’s last half-hour or so, Morris obviously shows the love and joy he has with what a human-life can be all about, and isn’t afraid to show it for all of it’s craziness or originality. I can definitely say that Joyce McKinney is an original in the way that she took her fame, went with it, ended it, and then came back to it out of nowhere (in the strangest way, as well). Best aspect of it all too, is that it’s all REAL. Don’t get to see too much of that nowadays, now do you?

Consensus: Tabloid is nowhere near being Errol Morris’ best documentary, but there is still the unabashed feeling for fun, energy, weirdness, and originality that is present with this story, as well as the man’s direction of how he presents it.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

...and then it just ends.

…and then it just ends.

At Any Price (2013)

AnyPriceI guess when a male teen is going through angst in Iowa; he doesn’t drink, do drugs, or run away. He races. Pretty cool, I guess.

Henry and Dean Whipple (Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron) are a father-son duo that are trying to get along, while they are also trying to buy as much farm-land as possible. Henry is all about his job, making money, being with his wife (Kim Dickens), and also being able to lay-around with his gal on the side (Heather Graham). As for Dean: he’s all about racing, causing havoc, being with his gal-pal (Maika Monroe), and having the dream that he will one day become the next big, NASCAR racer. The two don’t get along and can’t really see eye-to-eye on what their lives have turned out to be, but once Henry runs into the possibility of losing the one thing he loves the most (his farm-land), the two come together in surprising ways. Sort of.

The movie’s title, At Any Price, may seem like the dullest in the world. It’s almost as if the creators had a finished-product, but didn’t know how to sell it to the big crowds, so they just decided something that seemed inspirational would work and get people interested. Not for me, which is why I was not expecting anything at all worth while from this flick and for the first hour or so: that’s exactly what I got. Then, something happens in the middle of it all, that not only changes your view on the movie as a whole, but also has the title make more sense than ever. Can’t say what it is, but it will hit you like a ton of bricks, as it did to me. Trust me.

Maybe I’m out-of-the-loop or something, but I’ve never seen director Ramin Bahrani at work. I hear great things about his movies, but just have never given any of them a chance for the sole reason that none of them have ever seemed to really interest me. However, that’s just me and as I can see from his past movies ratings on Rotten Tomatoes: the dude’s got a lovely-following. But as the movie began and the ground-work for the story was being laid; I had no idea why.

It’s not that the dude’s a dull director, actually: it’s the opposite. Bahrani finds a way to paint a portrait of this small town in Iowa that feels and looks as if it should be the little slice of Americanism that you can only get with these types of places, and that’s exactly what it seems like after awhile. He finds beauty in the most simple things, such as a father tending to the rows and rows of corn, or a mother fetching potatoes out from underneath the soil. It’s all there and it all makes you feel at home, but there’s more stuff going on here than meets the eye, and that’s the whole problem right there.

My man, D-Quaid, catching them rays.

My man D-Quaid, catching them rays.

Bahrani takes the over-stuffing of useless characters and subplots, as a way of portraying conflicts among the central characters. Instead of having the character of Henry Whipple just be a guy that’s struggling maintaining a loving-relationship with his son; he’s got to be banging some chick on the side, or his one son (the favorite) didn’t come home when he was supposed to and is out, climbing up the mountains in Argentina, causing even more anger and pain for the man on the inside. But Henry isn’t the only one: Dean goes through the same motions too. Not only does Dean seem to be having daddy-issues; but he also is having problems with his racing-career, being a loyal boyfriend, and is leading a life of crime and hate.

Sounds like too much already for a hour and 45 minute movie? Well, that’s because it is.

If Bahrani left these two central-characters alone, have them face one dilemma each, and leave that be it; then everything would have been fine, dandy, and easier to take in. However, that’s not what Bahrani does and instead, adds more and more context to this story that doesn’t feel needed. Yes, some of it does round-out these characters to make them feel and seem more humane in the way they go about their days together and separated, but it also feels like unneeded melodrama  that we could easily deal with if we came home from school and turned on the Lifetime channel. Also, not to mention the fact that the movie goes down some crazy-routes that not only will make you scoff, but just might have you wonder what the hell it is that you’re watching.

But it should be noted, once again, that the one crazy-route that they decide to go down is something I was not expecting in the least-bit, did not know what to make of it at first, and after awhile of thinking and contemplating what it meant to the whole story in a nutshell, I came to the conclusion that it made sense and made the movie a whole lot better as a whole. I’m so damn tempted to go down that dick-headed road and say what it is, but I just can’t. What this final-twist in the story brings to the front, is not just character’s relationships and what each one means to the other, but how they are in everything and anything together.

After all of the strange shit that Bahrani throws at us, he ends on a pretty heartwarming note that touches any person who’s ever been there for a family-member. Whether you noticed that your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, dog, cat, etc. is going through obvious problems or not; you’ve always been there for them when they needed a helping-hand the most. That’s the idea that this movie touches on and despite taking some odd side-streets to get to it’s destination; it still works. Not in the longest-time has there been a flick that I’ve seen, but relatively bored and unsurprised by it, and kick me in the ass, slap me in the face, and open my eyes out of nowhere and change my final-thoughts on the whole-product; what it meant and what message the director was trying to get across. Seriously, once the final-twist comes up: you are going to either run with it and continue to think about it, or throw it in the garbage, and forget about the rubbish you just witnessed. It’s your call. Mine was the former.

Probably the best and most memorable aspect of this whole movie, without a doubt is the fact that after all of these years of showing up in random, bloated CGI-fests like this one, or that one: Dennis Quaid finally gets a role that’s worth his time and effort. Quaid has been one of these actors (refuse to call him a “character actor”), that shows up for work, does what he has to do, and goes on with his day. Nothing more, nothing less. He barely leaves an impression on the viewer, but lets us know that he’s there, if it’s only soeley to collect a paycheck.

All of that better change now, especially after a performance like this as Henry Whipple.

What’s so great about Quaid here is that the dude never seems like he’s phoning it in. Henry Whipple, on-paper, doesn’t seem like a very-complicated character as he’s just a dude trying his hardest to make his son, his wife, and his wallet happy, and leaving it like that. However, Quaid finds a way to make this guy as complicated as ever, which was a total sight to see because with every new scene you get with Quaid on-screen, is another new scene where you find out more about Henry, and his character. You always feel for this guy whenever he’s doing something; whether it be trying to win the heart of his son back again by showing up to his racing matches, or trying to buy-off somebody’s land during a funeral. No matter what the situation may be that the dude finds himself in, you always feel for the dude and has you on-board with his character throughout the whole movie, even when he is fucking up. And trust me: he does. Quaid is amazing and I hope this gets him more and more quality roles in the future, as the dude deserves it. Screw, Meg Ryan! Team Quaid!

"We hate each other. Hurray!"

“We hate each other. Hurray!”

That’s not to say the others in this cast aren’t worth talking about, because they all do fine with their lettuce and carrots. It’s just that Quaid is the one with the real meat. Zac Efron is fine as Dean, the troubled-son who doesn’t want to take over the daddy’s business and wants to be a rebel by racing. Efron is fine in the role as he shows off his guns, his good-looks, and his attitude, but the character is thinly-written and feels like he’s trying to go for the same feel of a young-Brando or Dean. Doesn’t quite hit the same marks, but is good with what he’s called on to do.

Playing his mommy is Kim Dickens who knows what’s going down with these two when they are busy at work, and are out in their free-time, but she keeps it all to herself and is good at it. She’s very subtle, but still dramatic to make enough of a difference in the grander-scheme of things. Heather Graham is wasted here as the whore of the town, Meredith, as it seems like she can’t be a normal person without a dick in her or some form of her clothing taken-off. Lastly, to round of the troupe of women we have on display here is Maika Monroe as Dean’s girlfriend who not only likes him for what he is, but also likes his father because of the determined business man he shows to her, as well as everybody else around him. Monroe is a welcome newcomer because she feels like a young gal that’s confused and unknowing about what she wants to do with her life, but still full of love and life. Hopefully, just like with Quaid, this means we get to see more of her in the near-future.

Consensus: At Any Price is a strange movie, but not for the sake of it’s tone or direction. It’s one of those movies that starts off so dull, continues on with same feeling/pace, but ends up taking you by storm with a final-act surprise, giving us a wider-glimpse of these characters, who they are, and what they mean to one another.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Khan or not, it’s still STAR TREK!!! So, shut up!!

The crew of the Enterprise is back! But this time, they are under the guidance of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Whether or not that’s a good thing, people believe in him and will go about his every word. However, his leadership is put to the test when the Fleet is wiped out by a mysterious enemy (Benedict Cumberbatch). Kirk and his crew don’t back down and instead, lead a manhunt to capture “a one man weapon of mass destruction”.

4 years ago, J.J. Abrams did something that no person in their right mind thought was possible: he made Star Trek cool. Yep, that’s exactly right: the dude who brought us Felicity, brought us the most-accessible, and by far, most entertaining Star Trek movie of the whole franchise. I know I may be making some mortal-enemies with that last statement there, but let the record state that I am not a big Trekkie, have watched the show on numerous occasions  and have seen about three or four films (at least what I can recall anyway). So yeah, I’m not the biggest Trekkie out there in the world, so yeah, maybe my opinion doesn’t matter in terms of what’s the best and what isn’t of the whole franchise, but do you know who’s opinion does matter? The regular, movie-going audience that got hooked with the last one, and can’t wait to see what this one has got going on, that’s who!

And I think it’s quite safe to say that they are going to have a great time with the latest check-up. Or, at least I hope, because I sure as hell know I did.

The odd aspect behind this whole movie it’s that Abrams doesn’t go balls-to-the-walls with changing anything up here. Instead, we get sort of the same formula for the first one, except a bit of a darker tone. However, I don’t want to really say it’s darker just because the stakes of human-life are a bit higher, but I definitely want to say it’s more “emotional” than the first one, which was more happy-go-lucky in the way that it didn’t want to bother people too much. Basically, this movie is just like the first, but do not take that as insult whatsoever, because I loved that about this movie.

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

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

Abrams knows the type of movie he wants to make, and he knows that he’s got to have a little bit of everything for everyone. Yes, even those damn Trekkies get their shout-outs every once and awhile too, and it’s not just the obvious ones neither. There’s a shit-ton of action, some romance, a lot of humor, some sexiness, some drama, and a bunch of scenes that actually may scare you, just by how unexpected they are. But no matter where Abrams takes this movie, it always remains fun in the type of way that you almost feel like you can’t keep up with this movie. It’s sort of like when you’re running, and your friends show up next to you in their hot-ass ride and challenge you to a playful, but somewhat-serious running vs. driving race, and you continue to run your heart out, even though you know at the bottom of your slowly-dying heart you don’t have what it takes to beat the car, let alone even come close to catching up with it. You know what I mean? Kind of? Well, that’s what this flick reminded me of: running-up against my friend’s hot-ass ride.

Don’t get me wrong, neither, because that is nowhere near being a bad thing, especially during the beginning of what seems to be an already-promising Summer. Abrams always gives us something new to view, whether it be some beautiful visuals or something popping-out us in 3D, it doesn’t matter, because it’s always thrilling. In some cases, you could almost say that this movie has too much action, but to that, I’d probably say, “ehh.” The reason I’d say that is because you wouldn’t be wrong with that statement whatsoever, however, I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind their action done when it’s always electric, entertaining, tense, and can keep me as glued to the screen as I was here.

Seriously, even though I know everything’s going to be cool with each and every one of these characters, and whether or not they’re fates will be decided in a gloomy-way by the end, I was still on-the-edge-of-my-seat, just wondering what was going to happen next, to whom, and how the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise was going to feel after all of the tears have been dropped. Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but it was what I was feeling, while I sat all crumbled-up with my large-ass soda and popcorn. I was feeling comfy, cozy, and all easy inside, and then this movie came on and had to ruin everything for a simple man like myself. However, that’s not a negative either. I had fun with this movie, no matter what Abrams decided to throw at the screen and see what stuck, and it just goes to show you that this guy really does have the mastery and the craft to voice a new generation of Star Wars fans for many, many years to come.

Still though: what’s going to happen to his Star Trek franchise? Who knows? Only time will tell on that one, my friends.

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

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

Just like the first movie, this Star Trek entry may have the explosions, the cool-gadgets, the Klingons, and the fireworks to catch your pretty, little eyes, but in reality: it’s all about the characters and which ones mean the most to each other. Just in case you were questioning whether Spock and Kirk made up, hugged, and got over their differences, no need to worry; because they haven’t. Yup, they still bicker, argue, and trade quips against one another about choosing logicality-over-impulse and it’s as enthralling to watch as it was in the first movie. It never gets old, despite them having a fight about five or six times here, and you always wait to see what layer of this character is going to peeled-off next, so that the other can capitalize on the vulnerability of the other and show their strength. It’s not all serious though, it’s played for fun and games, but there’s something still really strong between these two that obviously keeps them on the same ground, united, and, well, “friends.” Believe it or not, these two are friends, and this movie shows that many-upon-many of times, all of which, are as compelling and heartwarming as the last. No, Kirk and Spock do not start making-out, but if they did, the reaction would have been filled with more claps than boos.

The two cats playing those iconic characters, respectively, Chris Pine and Zachary Qunto, are still amazing at what they do and show that they have fully grown into these characters with much ease and skill. Pine is as brass as he can get as Kirk, but still shows some ounces of humanity every once and awhile that has us feel like the kid is learning as time goes on, and the stakes continue to get higher for him, and his crew. Quinto is also great as Spock, showing just how smart and thought-provoking he can be with what he says, what he stands for, and what he stands against. Quinto has pretty much mastered the hell out of this role by now, and it’s no surprise that once things start getting a little hectic for Spock in the end, Quinto owns it and makes us feel like Spock will, and forever always be: a bad-ass. I mean, after all, I do own this t-shirt, so I think I know when the guy’s bad-ass and when he’s not. Rarely ever is he the latter.

As for the others along for the adventure, not all of them get as much screen-time as they did with the first movie, but still show each of the acquired-skills and how they all come into play with this story, at least once or twice just to remind us that they are there. Zoe Saldana is good as Uhura, as her and Spock’s relationship is once again, tested to see if they really are worth sticking around and getting all hyped-up over, or if they should just focus their attention on space, and shit like that. A bit obvious for a story like this to go down that route, but both stars handle it like professionals and easily make it a relationship worth caring about, even when danger stares both of them in the eyes, even without a blink. And yes, we all know that Alice Eve’s Carol will eventually play a bigger-role in the franchise sooner or later, but for right now, she’s just here for this and this alone. She’s good when she is called on to do something, but that’s very rare when she isn’t just posing in some misogynistic movie-scene. Not a huge feminist by any stretch of the meaning, but I do know when unneeded is exactly that, and that scene was. At least she’s hot, though.

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

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

Even though they don’t get as much adoration and love like they did in the first one, everybody else seems to get their one moment in the sun, and milk it for as long as they can. Simon Pegg is a bigger-part in this story, than he was in the last, and has a great time with the role, but isn’t his usual jokey-wokey self. Yes, Pegg’s definitely funny as Scotty, but the guy helps out a bit more with these plans that makes him less of a fool, and more a smarty-pants, that does smarty-things. Karl Urban is a laugh-out-loud riot as Bones, and shows why his comedic-timing is a thing to behold, even in the darkest of situations. I guess it’s still nice to see when the guy isn’t judging drug-addled crooks, the dude’s still got time to patch everyone up. John Cho gets to have his moment to play in the sun and sand as Sulu, but is mainly there to steer the ship when it needs that ripe-steering, and Anton Yelich is barely even here as Chekov, but I think that’s on-purpose for the whole fact that not many people really care for the dude. Chekov, I mean, not Yelchin. Although, I wouldn’t be too sure that the Trekkies don’t have it out for that guy either. Those mofo’s are crazy.

Most of the hooplah surrounding this movie isn’t about whether it’s good or not, or even better than the first; it’s mainly been all around if the main villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, will in fact be Khan or not. Without diving into any more about this character that may land me in some hot lava, I just want to say that the man is great with this role as he always seems to be one step ahead of everybody else on the Enterprise, and does whatever the hell he can to keep his name, his pride, and his destination clear in sight. The guy’s got some real scary eyes that demand your attention, and it works. You never quite feel like this dude’s going to get away with anything he plans, which in it’s own right, doesn’t make all that much sense to begin with, but you don’t care. All you know about this dude is that he’s a baddie, doing baddie things, and not so much as leaving a post-it for saying “sorry.” Yeah, I know, right? What a total dick!

Has to be Khan, right? I don’t know. I’ll leave that one to you, my friends.

Consensus: Regardless as to whether or not it fully fits in line with the die-hard Trekkies or not, Star Trek Into Darkness is one hell of a ride that’s jam-packed with thrills, emotion, humor, beautiful special-effects, and a feeling that this franchise can, and just might go anywhere and it will always be awesome. Let’s just hope that J-squared doesn’t get too wild ‘n out with Star Wars.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

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

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

Winnebago Man (2010)

Now, all who’s left to find is that damn Star Wars Kid.

Although it was originally intended as an inside joke among co-workers, a video of a Winnebago salesman yelling, screaming, and cursing during a shooting for his new commercial spread across the globe like wild-fire. First, it was on VHS tape, then went straight to YouTube, and finally, the whole world. All of this notorious fame earned Jack Rebney the title of “The Angriest Man in the World”. The documentary explores the story of the clip’s origin and how, two decades later, it affects the man who never even knew it existed.

Before I get into this review, you got to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you have never, ever seen the “Winnebago Man” video, ever, then get your ass on over to Youtube, check it out, laugh your ass off, and get back over here.

Back yet?

Okay, solid stuff. Now that you know what all of the fuss is about, I can finally delve deeper into what this documentary really explores.

To be brutally honest, I thought that video was pretty funny back in the day. You know, because it’s all about a simple guy, who’s probably been having the worst day of his life, screams, curses, swats at flies, tries to figure out what the hell the word “accountrement” means, and just yells at every single person who dares walk into his wrath. That stuff was hilarious when I was in 5th grade, when it first came out, but now I’ll just watch it, laugh from time-to-time and that’s just about it. However, this director Ben Steinbauer, really found this stuff not only to be funny, but almost life-changing in a way and it’s surprising to see a guy get over-taken with so much joy and inspiration, by a guy who just drops F-bombs the whole video. But I have to give it to this guy, because he really goes all out in trying to find this Jack Rebney, and even if I wasn’t totally on-board with finding this guy; I have to say that it was a pretty interesting ride in and of itself.

Still makes that face from time-to-time.

Don’t laugh! You’d have that face too if some little piece of shit fly flew into your face on an extremely, fucking hot day during the fucking, hot-ass summer! Fuck!!

That’s actually where the whole charm of this movie comes into play: through Jack Rebney himself. This is one of those behind-the-scenes, insider-looks at a guy that everybody knows, loves, laughs at, and wants to meet, but hasn’t been seen ever since this video first came on the Y-tube. It’s interesting to see where this guy went, how he looks at the world, what he thinks of the term “internet celebrity”, and also see if this guy really is THAT pissed off all of the damn time. And it’s surprising to see, but yes, this guy really is as miserable in real life as we see him in that video. He’s cranky, he’s old, he’s pissed off at everybody around him for no good reason, but he’s not all that bad of a dude.

I was pretty interested in seeing what was going on with this guy behind those closed doors, but it wasn’t like I was asking for a documentary about this. Then again, what I got to see of Rebney was pretty cool because this guy is somehow able to be a total old fart, with all of his curses and insults, but still be able to be loved by over 50 Y-tube lovers in a room and probably more all over the world. What’s even crazier is that Rebney doesn’t change his personality once and it’s a surprise to see a guy that can be such a miserable git at some points, still have the love and adoration from millions and millions of people all over the globe. Not everything Rebney says is funny, that’s for sure, but when he is pissed off for no reason, it makes you chuckle here and there. Plus, by the end, when you actually see him confront his “internet celebrity” status, it’s actually pretty interesting to see since the guy has pretty much locked himself away from the world for the past 30 years. Wasn’t really begging to see where this guy went with his life and how he was doing, but it’s pretty cool to see what actually does happen to a normal dude that just so happened to be in the right mood, at the right time, at the right place, and in front of the right camera.

However, once you get past Rebney, you start to realize that there isn’t really anything else to this flick other than seeing what happened to one of the first V-list celebrities. Granted, it’s pretty cool to see where Rebney is mentally and physically in life, but we never get to know much about him other than he used to be a writer for CBS and left on his own terms. That stuff actually was interesting, but the film never dives deep into that probably cause this director seemed like he was too afraid to go for the hard and heavy line-of-questioning. He sort of just lets Rebney rant and rave throughout the whole film, which is fine because that’s who he is, but I kind of wanted to know what makes this guy tick (pretty much everything), and just more about him in general. Maybe there was TOO much love and adoration on Steinbauer’s part. Just maybe.

"You eye-ballin' me, little director boy?

“You eye-ballin’ me, little director boy?

Also, I couldn’t help but think that this documentary is a bit mean-spirited in some of its own ways. Think about it for a second: you’re alone, happy in your life of solitude, free to do whatever you want, have the world all to yourself, have your own little doggy to keep you company, own rifles for protection, and just no real bother from the outside world. Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well, it was for Rebney, who seemed pretty effin’ glad to be living the way he was. That is until Mr. Director had to bring his simple-minded ass up there and bother the poor, old guy. I get that this kid wants to meet “his inspiration for life” and will stop at nothing to do so, but really; think about what that guy wants. I highly doubt Rebney wanted anybody bothering him in his peaceful life, and it’s kind of rude when you think about how this director just walks himself into poor Rebney’s life, without Rebney able to stick up for himself and tell him to beat it. Poor Jack Rebney. I just hope that he’s feeling free and relaxing on his own terms now. Just hope he stays the eff away from that little punk, Ben Steinbauer!

Consensus: Winnebago Man is the type of documentary that’s interesting because of what the human-mind wants to, and must know in order to feel some sort of relief after laughing at this poor, old guy after all of these years. However, it doesn’t seem to go any further other than the fact that dude’s just a slightly-senile, cranky person that wants to be left alone, and probably should have been for the sake of his own health.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Blacks and whites should continue to be segregated. Wait what? They aren't?"

“Blacks and whites should continue to be segregated. Wait what? They aren’t?”

Identity (2003)

That’s why you gotta fly high, Marriott Inn-style, baby.

It all started on a very-rainy night with a woman getting run over by a limo-driver (John Cusack). After this, the man tries to save her life by bringing her to a motel in the middle of the desert, owned by an odd man named Larry (John Hawkes). There’s no such luck, until a cop (Ray Liotta) with a prisoner in his custody (Jake Busey), comes on by. There might be hope, but there somehow isn’t, considering the more and more people that show up, the more deaths there are. But here’s the kicker: nobody has a single-clue exactly as to who’s killing all of these people in the shadows. It could be anybody. Hell, it could even be YOU, the viewer!! AHHH!!

This movie is such an obvious rip-off of an Hitchcock movie, it’s not even funny. Everything from the strange-o characters, to the tense setting, to the mystery, and hell, even to the actual motel itself. It looks exactly like the one that Norman Bates rented out for anybody that strolled-along, almost to the point of where the actual sign itself continues to flicker on-and-off to portray just how shady the area actually is. Yes, it can get pretty obvious where the creators took their inspiration from, but the distractions go away once the story starts, and ultimately: where the fun really begins.

Going into this movie, thinking that you have a hot-head for detail and knowing what’s good when it comes to any movie, may just have take your high-hat off for this one because it’s a total puzzle in every stretch of the imagination. Every time a new character is brought to our attention, more of a mystery is presented to us, and just when we think we know exactly what this story is all about, where it’s going, and who’s going to end up being the slasher behind the closed-doors; the movie still toys with us and gives us something new to think about. There were countless times in this movie where even I thought I had it all figured-out, but somehow I was stooped, once again.

Just had to get run over, didn't ya?!?!?

Just had to get run over, didn’t ya?!?!?

Movies like this where you can’t trust anyone, not even the director himself (in this case, James Mangold), always are a treat for me to watch because it’s very rare where I actually get to check out a movie that makes me second-guess myself, almost every step of the way. No matter what I thought was right, I was usually wrong. Even by the end once all of the pieces seemed to start to come together, once more, I was slapped in the face with a disapproving look. Not to say it was an insult or anything, but it was more of a slap to wake up, and look at the finer-details in order to see if I could really get on with this movie, and what it was trying to pull.

But most movies like this, with all of the twists and such, remind me of a young-at-heart relationship between two people. At first, all is good. You see where things could go, you get happy, and you start to appreciate everything that you have in front of you, even if you may be stepping-out of your comfort-zone a bit. Actually, maybe even a bit too much for yourself. However, suddenly things go awry and you realize that maybe not everything was as perfect as you once thought it was, and now it’s time for a slight-change. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to over-do everything, show the other person how much you care, and rather than gaining their love and support back, you gain other thoughts and feelings that you didn’t quite want in the first place. You know, the baddie one.

That’s how this movie felt to me. Once everything got ready and going, I was happy and ambitious. I expected the movie to keep me puzzled, glued-in to what was going on, and shock me, every time that it felt like it wanted to. However, things got a little crazy at a certain point that I eventually started to realize that maybe this movie was turning it’s wheels a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the movie for being fun, clever, and original in it’s own type of way, but after awhile, it only went on for so long and so far, that is, until I started to question whether or not this movie even believed in the twists it was throwing at the wall and seeing what stuck, and what sort of just surely, but slowly continued to slide-down the wall.

Then, on the other side of the stadium, I am a bit torn with this movie because I enjoyed myself, had fun, and continued to second-guess myself, even when I was sure that I was correct in my pretentious, critical-ways (hey, it comes with the job). So therefore, I guess it’s all just a judge of character. Whether or not you are able to take the numerous twists the movie begins to launch into the story, is all up to you. For yours truly, some of it worked and seemed smart, whereas some of it didn’t quite work so well and actually seemed goofy. Oh well, that’s just me. Make up your own minds, kids!

But no matter what crazy shit a movie tries to pull, you at least have to give it credit for getting a cast such as this assembled, and allow them to do whatever it is that they can do to make a movie as goofy as this work. Nobody is really playing very far and away from what we’ve seen them do before, but at least they own it and are game for this type of material. At least. John Cusack is good as the ring-leader of the group, who knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to pull it all off so no more people get killed. You see that he has a past where the guy used to be a cop, but suffered a problem that left him emotionally-strained and messed-up in the head, therefore, he left his duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, right? Keep on guessing.

Ray Liotta plays, as you could expect, a cop that has a huge chip on his shoulder with a dangerous criminal in his custody, and a bit of anger-issue. However, as obvious and conventional as this may sound (even for a character played by Liotta), Liotta makes him work because you constantly believe that there is more to this dude than he lets in, even if the character himself doesn’t seem to admit it. Liotta is always good at playing these types of roles, even if it sort of has become a trademark of his by now. That’s fine, though, because the guy seems like he would do the right thing if he had to, but does that mean he’s really a good guy? Keep on guessing.

"No, you go first."

“No, you go first.”

The only one here who really seems to have a clear-enough conscience not be considered a prime-suspect in all of the killings, is a whore with a heart of gold played by Amanda Peet. I usually love Peet in everything she does, but she seemed a bit annoying here. It wasn’t Peet herself, as much as it was more of her character for having that loud, obnoxious Southern-accent that continued to ring in my ears, even when she wasn’t yelling at somebody for looking at her hot body. Yeah, blame us for this, Amanda!

But they aren’t the only ones in this movie, they’re just the main stars that may (or may not) attract the audience to the wider-show. There’s plenty more where that came from, and they are all great. Clea Duvall plays a young, just-recently married gal that’s having problems with her d-bag hubby; John C. McGinley’s character’s wife is the one who gets hit in the first place and is good at being awkward and twitchy, without reminding me of the legend of all this; John Hawkes is a fun-fit as the type of dude you’d expect to own a motel out in the middle of nowhere (meaning he’s a bit of a creep-o); and lastly, the lovely and equally-as-creepy Rebecca De Mornay is here as an aging, but still very uptight actress that believes she deserves more than she’s given. Art imitating life? Just maybe.

Consensus: Most of what Identity has to offer and whether or not you’ll be able to go along for the ride, is all up to you, the viewer. Twists and turns will occur, and it all depends on whether or not you are game for them. Me, I was quite game, but I will admit that there is some goofiness underneath the blankets of a story that seemed drench in mystery.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Surprise! Surprise! It was the bubble-wrap killer after all of this time!!

Surprise! Surprise! It was the bubble-wrap killer after all of this time!!

The Proposition (2005)

This is how they do Westerns in the land down undaaaaa, undaaaa!

During the 1800s, Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) are captured by the ambitious-sheriff Stanley (Ray Winstone). Along with their psychopathic, blood-thirsty bro Arthur (Danny Huston), they are wanted for a brutal crime. However, both sides of the law don’t really seem to come together until Stanley makes Charlie a seemingly impossible proposition in an attempt to bring an end to the cycle of bloody violence. Will it work? Or will the bloodshed just continue on like it always does?

The film starts off with an action-packed opening, filled with guns shooting, girls screaming, and a bunch of Aussie accents that sound totally bad-ass. This starts off the film perfectly but also gets you off on the wrong-foot. See, it makes you think you’re in for a non-stop, blood-soaking, shoot ’em up type of Western, when in reality, it’s the slow, melodramatic type where instead of shooting one another, they like to montage about their feelings. Just one of the very smart surprises director John Hillcoat gives us, that doesn’t feel like a rip-off of every other Western to come before it.

After seeing The Road, I realized that Hillcoat has a knack for setting a fine pace not only through his direction, but through his cinematography. The whole film takes place in the Australian Outback and you get a feel that this is a dirty, sweaty, and hot-ass place to be living in and it starts to set in pretty quickly that it all takes a big part of the story considering these people hate living in it, almost as much as you do looking at it. But as dirty and grimy as this flick may be, there are still plenty of beautiful visuals here to just soak up in your system. Whenever you have a film that can perfectly capture what the bloody red sky can look like when it starts to get dark in the middle of the day, then you know you have a keeper on your hands when it comes to visuals.

"Aye, no shrimp and a bobbies here."

When in doubt, give Guy Pearce a beard. He’s always the man with one.

However, it’s not just all about the look, as dirty and sometimes beautiful it can be, it’s actually all about the tone and pace of the story that really takes over you. Is this film a slow Western that decides to take its time on its story rather than its grisly shoot ’em up battles? Yes, but that does not mean it’s boring in the least bit. In fact, this film kept me on the edge of my seat at certain points because you don’t quite know where exactly this story is going to turn up, and where it does end up; you are damn sure as hell happy that writer Nick Cave decided to go with it. Hillcoat and Cave work great here together because they keep the story flowing smoothly and methodically, and make it seem like they are constantly on the same pace with what they want to show and how they want to show it. Through Cave’s writing, we get a glimpse at these characters, what they’re all about, what they’re motivations are, and why it all matters, but it isn’t just a bunch of guys weeping on about how they just killed for the first time, because there is violence.

And wow Nelly! When it hits, you won’t soon forget it.

The violence here is actually pretty awesome and even though it doesn’t take up the whole story with constant destruction, whenever it does pop-up; it’s bloody and gory to the core, but doesn’t feel like it’s just there to shock us and have us ready to vomit. Nope, it feels reasonable, if that’s all these characters have going for them is taking another person’s life. You can believe that some of these sick, psychotic son-of-a-bitches would actually go to these levels of violence, just to get their revenge and it feels real rather than feeling like something the creators felt like this movie needed. Can get a little cartoon-y at times with the blood-spurting out and all, but you can’t go wrong with violence that feels deserved, especially when you’re talking about a good ‘ole Western. Darn toooootin!

If there was something about this story that I didn’t like it was that I feel like it dropped the ball on the one thing that would have really made itself matter: it’s moral theme. All of the best Westerns, even the shoot ’em ups that I’ve mentioned about 500 times in this review, all have one central message that is always looming underneath the surface, and then comes out of nowhere by the end to really make us start thinking. That’s exactly what I thought was going to happen with this movie and I think that’s what they thought as well, but the problem was that it doesn’t end up really being about much in the end. Yeah, there was some discussion about loyalty to family and responsibilities, but when you soak it with all of this bloodshed and bad-assery, does it really matter?

The answer to that is: well, not really. All of the violence and tension for the movie works, but giving it more meaning in terms of how it could have affected our train-of-thought, would have definitely made it more important. Hey, it’s fine for being all about the blood, the guns, the bullets, the horsies, and the hay stacks, but I wanted more. Hell, I needed more! Then again, I don’t really need all of that philosophical shit when I’m watching a movie about a bunch of cops and robbers, going around, shooting one another.

But everything gets better when you think about this awesome, all-star studded cast. Guy Pearce looks pretty damn intimidating as our anti-hero (if you want to call him that), Charlie Burns, a guy who just shows up and wants to do the right thing, even though the rest of his family really can’t. Actually, I don’t even know if that’s what goes through his head so I’m probably just making shit up about him. The guy probably killed families and robbed banks for all I know. But what I do know is that Pearce has that rugged look and feel to him that makes you believe that this guy could kill anything, or anyone that he wanted to, but he just chooses not to unless he actually is pushed to “that edge.” Then, all hell breaks loose and Guy Pearce at his finest.

"I'm sorry I cried last night while watching Grey's Anatomy. It's just so sad to see it getting ready to, darling."

“I’m sorry I cried last night while watching Grey’s Anatomy. It’s just so sad to see it getting ready to, darling.”

Somebody who really shocked me in this movie was Ray Winstone, because it isn’t the type of character you’d expect to see him playing, despite it also seeming like the type of dude he was practically born to play: the rough and tough dude that you don’t want to fuck with (that is, unless your Gandhi). But it still has him starting-off like he’s going to play that type of role with him seeming like the type of guy that just wants justice done, and will do anything to get it, but sooner or later, his true colors get shown off to us, and to the rest of the people around him. Once all is said and done and things seem to get a bit too heavy for him, we all see him for the big baby that he really is. Probably one of his least-intimidating roles the guy has ever played, and that’s a good thing because the cockney-gangster bit was getting sort of tired after awhile. The lady who has him come out of his shell and be a bit of a whimp is Emily Watson who is good at seeing why such a masculine, strong dude like him, would fall head-over-heels in love with this girl, and weep at her feet. Okay, she’s not that perfect of a human-being, but she is pretty damn gorgeous so I can definitely see why.

On the other side of the fence, you have Danny Huston playing another one of his evil roles, as the broski Arthur, and gives off a very creepy performance that makes you feel like this guy is going to do some bad shit, whether or not the person he does that to deserves it. He just wants to kill people for the sake of killing people and that’s what makes all of Huston’s roles pretty much scary as hell. Honestly, when has that guy ever played anybody that’s remotely nice in a movie? 21 Grams doesn’t count cause the guy is barely even in it! Don’t worry, I’ll wait here….

Consensus: The blood and guts that are spilled throughout the run-time of The Proposition make this movie worth the watch, as well as the cast, but underneath the surface; there doesn’t seem to be much else other than a bunch of guys just wanting to kill one another and possibly ride off into the sunset when the fun’s all over. So simple, yet, so twisted.

8/ 10 = Matinee!!

"You start tearin' up again, mate, I'll kill ya. With love, of course."

“You start tearin’ up again, mate, I’ll kill ya. With love, of course.”

Presumed Innocent (1990)

Come on Indy! Don’t get caught with your Willy!

Presumed Innocent is about anti-heroic lawyer Rozat “Rusty” Sabich (Harrison Ford), a Kindle County prosecutor and presumptive heir to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office currently occupied by Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy). When Rusty’s attractive colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi) turns up murdered, the evidence points to Rusty, despite his being married with children and the type of dude that would never, ever pull a deadly-stunt like that off. However, is there more going on than he thinks that may point fingers to others out there. Even the people he loves and works with? Only time will tell until everything is revealed.

Old-school mystery thrillers are always my favorite to watch, and for some odd reason, I always get the urge to watch them during the summer time. Don’t know why that’s always been a thing for me. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that every movie in the summer that’s released or viewed, are usually dumb as hell and require barely any thought, or maybe it’s just a thing I do. I don’t know, maybe it’s as simple as that. No further thinking required.

All of the credit for this film has to go to director Alan J. Pakula for bringing a very moody and tense atmosphere to this flick because it honestly gave me a feeling that I couldn’t trust anybody in this story. It’s a very interesting “whodunit” that keeps you guessing the whole time, even when you think you got it all under control. Usually when courtroom scenes show up, they usually spell-out more hints and clues that make the wider-picture seem so much more obvious, but here, Pakula really seemed to be pulling out the rug right from underneath us, and best of all: he seemed to be enjoying it. That’s what I like in my old-school, mystery-thrillers and watching this one was nowhere near being different.

With a mug like that, yup, he's totally giving himself away.

With a mug like that, he’s totally giving himself away.

But the most important aspect of this story that made it work was the courtroom scenes themselves, some of which; are very smart and well-written. There are plenty of courtroom drama’s out there like A Few Good Men and A Time to Kill that have great and snappy dialogue to get you riled up and excited, but it’s also dialogue that feels very “staged”, which, I guess is the point considering they’re movies and all but it gives you this feel that maybe these certain types of people wouldn’t talk like this, had they actually been put into situations like this. Here, a lot of the courtroom dialogue feels very realistic and everybody that either defends their own case, questioning someone, or objects, all seem like real people actually talking. I know this is a weird compliment to give this flick but it’s just a very rare thing to see a courtroom flick just shoot it straight, without trying to throw out any lines like “You can’t handle the truth!”. Even though, I do have to say that 20 years later, that whole scene/line is still pretty epic.

Problem is, after all of this build-up, all of this suspense, and all of this smart-ass questioning going on in the courtroom, the film still disappoints. BIG TIME. I don’t want to give anything away as to what happens in the end, or even what the end is all about but it features a huge twist on the story and not only makes you think differently about what you just saw but also, all of the characters themselves. This all sounds cool and nifty, but it’s very weird how they approach this ending by having an explanation told in a way that would remind you of a psychotic horror movie character. I knew by the way this story was, there was going to be a big twist in the end, but I didn’t know it was going to be handled in such a lame and anticlimactic way. I’m tempted to throw my whole life away and spill the beans, but I still want to keep my credibility. It’s stupid though. Enough said.

Even though Harrison Ford hasn’t had the best track-record in recent years (even though he was awesome in 42), you still got to give it to the guy because he’s able to pull off the action roles like Indiana Jones or Han Solo, but also able to breakaway from them and pull off some dramatic, regular-guy roles as well. Ford is great here as Rusty showing a lot of emotional strain just in the way he looks and way he sounds, but also distances himself away from the audience and makes you think twice about his character as to whether or not he’s involved with the murder he’s investigating. Actually, this was a pretty cool feature but there comes a point in the film where Rusty eventually does get accused of murdering this gal, and shows barely little or no emotions about it. I get it, the film is trying to make us question whether or not he’s involved with the actual murder, but it just didn’t come off as real considering the guys normal and somewhat happy life is in danger. Still, Ford can rock these roles out very well and he’s no different here.

"Hmm...I guess I'm going to be a dick today too."

“Hmm…I guess I’m going to be a dick today too.”

The rest of the cast is full of a bunch of familiar faces that are sure to make you happy when they pop-up on screen. Raul Julia is a lot of fun to watch as Rusty’s lawyer, who always seems to have a trick up his sleeve and brings a lot of humor and charm to the courtroom scenes, even when they seem to get uber serious; Brian Dennehy is playing one of his usual nasty and corrupt characters here as Rusty’s morally compromised boss; and Greta Scacchi has a couple of good scenes as our murdered lady-friend, Carolyn Polhemus, and it’s pretty easy to see why so many dudes would fall for her, especially a guy like Ford. There’s also plenty of other people to see here too, but I won’t spoil them for you. Just check it out yourself and see how many faces you can make to names. Movies like this are fun like that. Most of the time at least.

Consensus: The tension, the mystery, the mood, the atmosphere, and the acting seemed to all come together for Presumed Innocent by one point to where it was really kicking ass in a way I wasn’t expecting, but because of it’s out-of-nowhere, nutty-twist at the end, major points had to be taken away. But the build-up is still awesome, so expect that.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Yeah, we're fucked."

“Yeah, we’re fucked.”

Dark Skies (2013)

In today’s economy: anything is possible. Yes, even an alien-invasion.

The Barrett family is the stereotypical, 21st Century, suburban-living family that is struggling to make any ends meet. Lacy (Keri Russell) is a Realtor trying to sell a whole slew of houses; Daniel (Josh Hamilton) continues to look for a job as he was laid-off from his old one; Jesse (Dakota Goyo) is a teenager at that awkward age where girls, weed, and porn become front-and-center in the mind; and the youngest son, Sam (Kadan Rockett), is just a little tike that’s weird, but hey, who isn’t when they are 5? All of the problems that they seem to face with money, keeping the house, and having any type of credibility to their names whatsoever is put on the back-burner, once they realize that they may be under a the storm of an invasion from aliens. No, not the metaphorical aliens, but REAL ALIENS.

Dark Skies was one of those movies that nobody seemed to care about when it originally came out, not even the production company that released it did, because they didn’t even bother screening it for critics. And if they did screen it, they told all critics and publications to hold their reviews until the evening of Friday, once the movie already came out. Strange, right? Yeah, sort of is, but isn’t strange because they probably felt like they had a stinker and wanted people to stay away from talking bad shit on it. However, it seemed like such bad press for a movie that wasn’t all that terrible to begin with. Just shitty-marketing. That’s all.

In ways, I can see why the studio would want to hide this movie away from the mainstream audience, but at the same time; I just can’t because it seems like this movie is a tad bit different from what we are used to seeing with horror movies. Well, recent horror movies that is. Rather than just giving us some plot-lines for these characters, who they are, and what situation they are in, the movie takes a surprising turn and actually focuses more on them, with all of the spooky-shit showing up as the side-dish. Characters and relationships are front-and-center in this movie, and for the most part: it worked for me.

"Re-runs of Felicity? Shit."

“Re-runs of Felicity? Shit.”

It worked for me because I felt myself rooting this family on, even when it seemed like they had every single odd stacked up against them. Yeah, they may be facing-off against aliens and may have little to no control over what happens to them, but at least they are going to fight their way against them. Watching as this family fell through hard times with their house, their jobs, and their money-saving, as well as the alien shit, was enough to make me care about them and this movie. It’s only until the latter-parts where we start to focus more on the “alien shit” is when things seem to get a tad bit out-of-hand.

Not too much, but a tad bit.

See, where this movie goes wrong is when it decides to focus in on the horror-aspect of the movie, but go a bit over-board as well. I don’t mind a horror movie trying to give me little BOO scares here and there, but this movie seemed to do too many of them, in such a short-span of time, when everything else that was sedated and laid-back seemed to work better. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t trying to scare us, it just didn’t work because it felt out-of-place with all else that was happening.

Even the aliens themselves are really corny to see. Granted, we don’t get too many glimpses of them, as they are pushed more to the background at times, but when they do show up; they made me laugh a couple of times just by how cheap they looked. I get it, the movie probably didn’t have the craziest budget to make these aliens look like the second-coming of those blue things from Avatar, but at least give me something better that doesn’t look like it was made for one of those programs that you could view on the History or SyFy channel, that talks about UFO sightings and whatnot. Even when the aliens didn’t show up, the movie still made me unintentionally laugh, just because it seems like the movie took melodramatic moments as clues and hints as to why everything’s happening. After about the 4th or 5th strange happening to this family, I just about had it and wish they went on, but nope; they just had to continue to pile on the happenings.

And not that type of happening either. Thank the high heavens for that.

But at the center of the movie, underneath all of the coating of sci-fi, aliens, and scares, the cast is what keeps this movie moving. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are good as a sympathetic married-couple, because they actually feel like one. They love, they fight, they argue, they bicker, they sleep together at night, they care for their children, they pay their mortgage (sort of), and they always stick together no matter what. Seeing them together felt realistic and worth watching, whereas most films of the same vein, probably would have made one of them have a huge secret that he/she didn’t decide to tell the other, and just a whole bunch of other spousal-disputes would occur. Thankfully, the movie keeps those aspects of the relationship, just like the characters, grounded to where it isn’t an over-abundance. It’s just right in the middle.

Dakota Goyo is good as the teen of the family that’s going through some problems of his own, the most important one of all: girl problems. Goyo is fine in this role because he feels like the type of awkward kid you’d meet on the street, and tell to just smile and be happy because he’s never going to have it again (ever), but all of his subplots did weigh-down the film. However, that’s just because they had to show him at “that age” where everything’s weird and doesn’t seem to make sense. Whatever. Just shut up and smile, kid.

"Eat this, shiny light!!!!"

“Eat this, shiny light!!!!”

The main cast is good, but why on Earth did the movie decide to waste the talents of J.K. Simmons. As we all know, the guy is amazing in just about everything that he does, which is why I was pretty damn upset when I saw him get a relatively-crappy role as some conspiracy-nut who shows up, talks to this family, and tells them what we all know. Really, that’s all his character was here for: to tell us that these aliens are bad and are going to do whatever it is that they can to take away one of their family members. That’s it. Nothing special about this role, and one that could have probably been played by you, me, or my dog laying right next to me. What a waste, man. What a waste.

Consensus: It’s the typical haunted-house flick, mixed with some aliens, that features clichés and melodramatic moments that feel as unneeded as a Keri Russell nude scene (but seriously, when the hell are we going to get that?!?!?), but Dark Skies still does well with making us care for it’s core characters, and at least have us waiting for something good to happen. It sort of does, and sort of doesn’t, but at least it’s not a total waste of your time.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

That kid couldn't be any less concerned with what the hell's actually going on.

That kid couldn’t be any less concerned with what the hell’s actually going on.