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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: June 2013

Maniac (2013)

You’d be a bit of a nut too, if you were around mannequins every single day.

A creep-o named Frank Zito (Elijah Wood) obviously has a bit of problems, most of which stem from the fact that his mom banged/sucked/snorted anything that walked, but that’s the least of his mental-issues. The problem he runs into the most is the urge he has to go out, find a pretty, little lady that catches his eye, follow her until they are practically in the dark where nobody can see them, kill them, and chop-off their scalp. Frank does this so he can put the scalps on mannequins that he owns in his store, and pretends that they are like real people, having conversations with them and all. However, Frank’s distorted ways and actions are put to the test when he meets a French hottie (Nora Arnezeder) that he, guess this; actually likes her. Typical of the French to change your comfortable ways-of-living.

In all honesty, I have yet to have seen the 1980 original and despite peeps telling me that it’s rad and worth a look, I highly doubt I’m ever going to get to it. Don’t know why, it’s just the way I roll, especially with the horror genre, that is so hit-or-miss with me that I rarely even bother watching the movies that come out of it. Especially now, since every single horror movie seems like the same one before it and doesn’t offer anything new that I haven’t already seen done to the genre. However, not every horror movie has to be a ground-breaker in order to be considered “good”, right? Not really, but it sure as hell does help.

Where was my invitation that THAT party?

Where was my invitation that THAT party?

Anyway, what this whole rant means is that going into this, my expectations were pretty low but I was optimistic because I do like me some scares, some chills, some thrills, and a whole lotta blood, and knowing that Alexndre Aja was involved with this (serves as co-writer with director Franck Khalfoun), I knew to expect a crap-load of that last element, if not a whole lot more. However, then something happened to me as soon as the flick started. I realized that not only was it a very dark and mysterious type of horror movie, but it was one with a gimmick that I haven’t seen used before and sure as hell never expected to either.

The whole gimmick surrounding this movie is that everything is shown to you through the eyes of Frank himself, as if it was a found-footage movie, but without the conceit of a video-camera that just so happens to catch every bit of the action, without ever turning away or stopping the film. Instead, the camera is Frank’s eyes and mind, and we see all of the weird shit that he sees, does, and thinks about on a regular-basis. For most movies, this would probably serve as a really interesting way of telling your story, especially for a horror movie where the violence is right in-your-face, and you can’t look away, but it doesn’t work here and feels more gimmicky than anything else in the whole entire movie.

Granted, there were moments here that were pretty neat in it’s own sick, sadistic way. The gore is unrelenting and does not stop gushing, even until a wound has been punctured. Aja adds as much blood-flavored corn syrup to the proceedings without making it seem too obvious, for awhile at least, and then the flick hits that mark where it feels like all it has to offer is a new look at a horror movie, if only that means through the eyes of the killer. And like I said before, that idea is cool and can probably work wonders for many films that I think of, but here; it feels like a gimmick, for the sake of being a gimmick, in order to turn your mind and brain away from all of the problems it faces with direction and it’s script. Most of those problems go right to Frank himself who, despite being a crazy muthaeffa’, really isn’t all that interesting.

I’ll give Elijah Wood the benefit of the doubt, the dude’s pretty creepy as it is and easily makes me forget that he ever played Frodo in his life, ever. That’s a hard trick to pull-off and to do it with such creepy intensity, is something else to praise, rather than bring-down from glory. Woods make a good creep, one that I would probably like to see a whole other movie on that wasn’t placed within his head and seen through his eyes. Maybe one that’s just about him coming to terms with all of the bad, evil shite that he does and ends up crying himself to sleep at night because of? Maybe? Maybe not?

I wouldn't still bang, but he would. Good for him, I guess.

I wouldn’t still bang, but he would. Good for him, I guess.

Oh well, makes sense why Hollywood won’t return my calls.

All that said about Wood and his solid performance as Frank, the character of Frank just blows. He’s nothing new or different we haven’t already seen from the slasher-genre, and especially isn’t interesting since most of his problems stem from his mommy, and the fact that she banged just about everything in sight. Once again, it’s something that you always see in horror movies, but it doesn’t mean that I actually want to see a whole new character’s take on it, and watch as he goes through it in such a dumb way, that I almost want to see him scalp himself just for good-measure.

Even the fact that he begins to fall for this French cutie didn’t strike any chords with me, since it always seemed like he wanted to kill her as well. I guess since he doesn’t kill her right away upon first-meeting, automatically means that he’s head-over-heels for her, but I didn’t see it or really feel it. Which is a bad thing too, because isn’t this movie supposed to be taking place through his eyes and his mind? Yeah, something was not mixing well with this flick and it started to leave me bored, despite the actual murder-scenes being filled with just enough red paint and artistic-merit, that I found myself paying attention to it. Then again, like I spoke about before, it all feels like it’s here for no other reason than to distract us from the shitty story we have on our hands here.

Consensus: Despite there being plenty gore, blood, violence and murder to satisfy any horror-hounds mind and soul, Maniac uses it all to get past the fact that it’s seriously lacking in the script-department, as well as it’s gimmick that gets old and repetitive after the first 10 minutes.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

What French gal wouldn't fall for this man?

What French gal wouldn’t fall for this hottie?

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The Heat (2013)

Be careful, Rex Reed. This “hippo” can shoot to kill.

Stuck-up, by-the-books FBI agent Sara Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a bit of a hard fire to put out. She doesn’t work well with others; is a bit egotistical; and acts as if she knows everything that there is to do, how to do it and when. She’s just that good, and she knows it, however, that’s what also gets her ass transferred over to the Boston district, where she joins forces with tough-as-nails detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). They’re obvious opposites in every stretch of the imagination, but as we all know how the saying goes: opposites do attract. And not in that type of way, either. Although it would have been pretty sexy to see these two lock lips, if only for a small bit.

Right from the beginning of the movie and hell, even before I stepped into the theater; I expected what was to be another Identity Thief. Not just because Melissa McCarthy happened to be in both movies, but because it just had all of the same rings and tones to it, except this time, with Sandra Bullock added to the mix. It was a welcome addition, I guess for the most part, but after the lackluster year of comedy that we’ve gotten so far for the year 2013, save This is the End, I was not expecting greatness nor anything recommendable for that matter. I just wanted to get the movie on with so I could go home, feed my dog, get on the computer, write some reviews, and begin to watch more movies.

Sorry, Sandra. Try all you want, but your hotness will never, ever distract my chubby-chasing ways.

Sorry, Sandra. Try all you want, but your hotness will never, ever distract my chubby-chasing ways.

But something happened. Something miraculous, you could even say because, believe it or not, I actually had a great time with this flick. And no, I did not get greatness, but I did get something recommendable so count this as your letter of recommendation already. If you want to leave, then go for it, but continue on if you’d like.

Die hard DTMMR fans, you still out there? Cool, let’s do it!

Everything I just typed up top in that description of the plot and what’s supposed to eventually happen, is nothing new or original that we haven’t seen done 100x before. However, the movie knows that and doesn’t pull any punches in knowing that either. It presents all of the clichés, conventions and obvious routes we can expect to see from a buddy-cop comedy, but give us a meaner, harder edge that isn’t all about female-empowerment and showing how chicks can do just as much justice as the guys can, but that they can still have a bunch of fun, make you laugh and also give you something to smile about on the way home. That is, until you actually get home and reality hits you in the face. Yup, only until then, does the smile go away. But, for the whole hour-and-a-half of this movie, you’ll be smiling and laughing like the dickens and that’s more than enough that I can say for most of the comedies I’ve been seeing as of late (don’t save The Internship).

Hell, it may have been a lot longer than just 90 minutes, but that didn’t bother me because I found myself laughing just as much as I did with Bridesmaids, a comedy that I thought was underrated-as-hell, but still entertaining and funny for what it was, and not what it could have been. Just like that movie, this is a comedy that knows what it is, what’s it about and isn’t trying to win any Oscars, or any tears from your eye-sockets; it’s just being funny and allowing you to have a good time. That’s what all comedies are about and even if they don’t have a hidden, underlining-meaning, then it shouldn’t really matter. As long as the movie is making you laugh and entertaining the heck out of you, then that’s all there is to it.

As I always say: nothing more, nothing less. That’s all you need, baby.

Okay, maybe I don’t always say that, but I feel as if I should be starting with that sometime soon.

And obviously, you can see where the Bridesmaids-comparisons come in because not only is this by the same director (Paul Feig), but also stars the same lady that stole the show in that one; Melissa McCarthy. Like I alluded to earlier, Identity Thief sucked beyond belief. It wasn’t funny, tried so hard to be and squandered most of the talents of everybody involved, except for McCarthy. Granted, the chick wasn’t that funny in that movie, and I think that more or less has to be a problem with the script and not her, but still; she had me realize that maybe she’s more than just the loud, rather rotund woman in all of these comedies that got by on her big mouth and her love for sticking it to the people with penises (aka, men). There was actually more to her act, as if there was a real human-being that I could connect with on some levels and feel something, anything for.

They got the whooooleeee movieee in their hands....

They got the whooooleeee movieee in their hands….

The character she plays here, Mullins, isn’t that deep or emotional, but some moments of that act still shine through, especially when she isn’t cursing and yelling at every one, while also being able to make us laugh our asses. You can tell that so much of what she does or says, is mostly improv and it hits a lot more, than it actually misses and that’s something you so rarely see in a comedy, or in the comedienne nonetheless. McCarthy sure as hell is talented and brings out the best in the material as well as her co-star, as hard of a task as that may have been to complete.

Sandra Bullock is very hot-and-cold for me. Sometimes, I think she can be very funny, as well as a strong, female-presence on screen, like we all need in our lives; but at other times, she can be really annoying and feels like she’s trying too hard to rip laughs out of our bodies. It’s more of the latter than the former, which is why I was a bit skeptical seeing what she could do with McCarthy and for the most part, the gal holds her own and keeps it just as funny on her end of the bargain, as much as it is on McCarthy’s. Together, they have a great chemistry that develops overtime and one that you actually believe in, despite them both two totally different people. It’s corny and obvious when they do decide to put away their expectations and start to become friendly with one another, but with their inspired-chemistry, it almost feels like anything but. The rest of the cast is good, but it’s these two who really keep this ball rolling, no matter how obvious side streets it decides to go down.

Consensus: Despite The Heat featuring an overly-familiar plot you can see coming from a mile away, Bullock and McCarthy’s chemistry and comedic-timing is working so well, you almost forget about all of the problems from direction, to editing it has.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

I'll accept that invitation, just as long as that one on the right's involved too. Just saying.

I’ll accept that invitation, just as long as that one on the right’s involved too. Just saying.

White House Down (2013)

After this, I think Obama’s going to start hiring more male-strippers for around the office.

While Jeremy (Channing Tatum), an wannabe-Secret Service Agent member, is on a tour of the White House with his daughter (Joey King) in an attempt to win her love and support back, something crazy happens. No, not the fact that the President of the United States (Jamie Foxx) meets with the group and even talks to his daughter, but the actual fact that a bunch of terrorists, lead by a trusted Secret Secret member (James Woods) and a ruthless mercenary (Jason Clarke), have infiltrated the White House and are already making demands. Just about everybody in the White House gets either killed, leaves before shit goes bad, or is taken hostage, with the exception of Jeremy who finds that it’s no better time than to prove himself to the president, his daughter, as well as the rest of the world, than now.

Cue up the overly-dramatic action-score when you can.

First, we had Olympus Has Fallen, which wasn’t as bad as it seemed to look, and now we have this. Oh wait, scratch that! Firstly, we actually had Die Hard, and then these two came. Yeah, that’s about right. See, what it is about these flicks is that it doesn’t matter how much risky business you try to take with your premises, you’re always going to end-up being considered “a re-hash” or “unoriginal”. In this movie’s case, words like that are almost too hard to avoid, especially since Olympus Has Fallen has literally came out less than 4 months ago. That’s not to say that this flick loses points from the get-go for that reason and that reason alone, but it did make me wonder many times throughout the whole flick, “Didn’t I literally just see this?”

"Shit, please tell me they didn't just turn on Step Up 2."

“Shit, please tell me they didn’t just turn on Coach Carter.”

The answer to that hypothetical question is yes, and no. Yes, because the same plot-threads are shown in almost the same order, and no, because this movie is way, way, way, way more ridiculous than that one. Seriously, the idea that the White House would get taken over in the first place is pretty outlandish, but top off of everything else that happens in this movie after the 30-minute mark, then you got yourself bigger problems than you’d ever expect. Oh yeah, it gets silly. Real silly.

The setting-up of the story, the tension, and the suspension of belief is fine because Roland Emmerich knows the type of flick he’s about to hammer our brains with for the next 2 hours, so he probably felt like why waste our time right off the bat. However, once the terrorists invade, shit gets hot, and people start getting killed and taken-hostage, the movie gets insane, and not in the best way either. “Insane” in the type of way that it’s almost so crazy that all of this would happen, the way the movie tells it like happening, is almost too ridiculous and innate to take belief in. Then again, like I said, it is a movie directed by Roland Emmerich, who is not known for being smart, subtle, or even realistic for that matter; the dude just wants to see shit blow-up, by any means possible. Even if that means destroying every audience-member’s IQ level, then so be it.

But that’s what you can expect from Emmerich and when it comes to that aspect of the movie (the guns, the explosions, the mass-killings, etc.), the movie is as fun as you’re going to get for the rest of June and for the next couple of weeks (except for when this hits). People come to see a Roland Emmerich movie, to see a bunch of fun, unadulterated fun that you can’t quite get anywhere else; and if somebody argues against that point, you can definitely say that it’s probably the corniest-movie, you can’t seem to get anywhere else. That might just work because once the plot actually begins to thicken and more and more layers are added-on than you can even count on your plate, the movie becomes as stupid as you are going to expect it to get.

Everything from the convoluted terrorists’ plot, to the jawwing-sessions of the officers in the control offices, is all made out of pure randomness and stupidity, but it’s fun to watch, even if you’re laughing at the material and not with it, like Emmerich probably wants you to believe you can. Almost every character here seems like they have something to prove, whether it be an act of violence or an act of intelligence, and none of it ever rings true. It’s as if Emmerich knew how stale and cardboard these characters were, that he needed to give some of them a chance to strut their stuff, and show what it is that they bring to the table. Sort of like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies, where everybody gets a chance to shine so you can see why they matter and why you would actually feel some emotion if they have to get killed off in the next couple of minutes or so. However, comparing those two near-masterpieces, to this pile of cow-dung is almost an insult to Mr. Abrams, one that I hope he never sees or hears about.

If you are reading this, J.J., just to let you know: I loved Felicity. Please don’t remove my name from your contacts. Please!

Sweet, sweet America.

Sweet, sweet America.

With that said, it does call into question whether or not these wild cast of characters can actually handle Emmerich’s mostly-laughable material, and for the most part; some fare better than others, which is what we’re used to seeing with this guy’s films. Channing Tatum springs right into full-on, action-hero mode and is a fine fit as Jeremy, even if everything he pulls off throughout the movie (from the running-away from bullets, to the swan-diving into particular areas a normal human-being would practically be crippled after performing) is utterly ridiculous to watch, even when it’s Tatum performing them all. The dude’s got charm and likability, as I’ve always knew, but his character can only go on for so long until you start to realize that he’s just a one-note guy, without much else to him. The chemistry he has with Jamie Foxx is very good and feels real, especially because they seem to love the hell out of each other in real life. It works well in the film, but I feel like more scenes of them just talking, getting to know one another, and realizing how much they’re alike in ways a common-citizen and the president of the United States would never, ever know about beforehand, would have done them both better. Then again, I’m talking about a whole entirely, different flick with a different director and writer.

On the evil side of things, James Woods and Jason Clarke lead the band of baddies that take over the White House in the dumbest way possible, but still make for good villains because you feel their raw-intensity every time they’re on-screen. It’s probably cliche to even have Woods in a villainous-role, but the guy handles it well and with pride, whereas Clarke feels like he should have just had the whole movie to himself, mostly because he owns it as the main baddie, aka, the one that can actually kick-ass if he’s called on to do so. Starting with Lawless from last summer, to now, Clarke has really been showing his taste for versatility and it makes me wonder what else the guy’s got cooking up for him. I mean hell, when you can “out-evil” James Woods, the king of baddies, then you know you got promise, even in a schlock-fest like this.

Consensus: As over-the-top, stupid, random, insane, and idiotic as White House Down truly is at it’s core, it’s still the type of fun and crazy movie you can expect from a director like Roland Emmerich, even if his cast from the outside looking in, seems to hold so much more promise for the material.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"I'm going to find that bastard who stole my wad of $ bills, even if it's the last thing I do!"

“I’m going to find that bastard who stole my wad of dollar bills, even if it’s the last thing I do!”

Wimbledon (2004)

Tennis is for wimps, although football doesn’t seem like the type of sport that reels women in. Never mind then.

When it came to being the supreme star in the world of tennis, Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) was never quite that person, but he came pretty damn close back in the day, when he was ranked #15 in the world. Years later, he’s ranked #115. Yeah, time changes, people get older, and skills start to deplete over time, but Pete isn’t letting too much of it go to his head as he plans on making his latest-trip to Wimbledon, most likely his last one as he continues to let more and more people know that he is in fact “retiring from the world of tennis”. Sounds all depressing and whatnot for Pete, but then walks in Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst), a bright-and-shining star in the tennis world that is not only making her name known, but her look as well, especially in the eyes of Pete who just so happens to find Lizzie’s presence and likeness of him, help out his game a bit more and make tennis seem more like a fun, competitive-game for him once again, rather than just a chore.

Rom-coms and tennis are my least two favorite things in the world; put them together, you have a movie that’s just not for me, but yet, I still found myself oddly-attracted to. I don’t know how it happened, but I actually found myself sitting down on my couch in front of the Television, checking out Encore On Demand, finding this, and thinking, “Why the hell not?” and at least giving it a try. After witnessing this movie for all that it is, I feel like I should make random, aimless decisions like this more often, especially if they make my day just a bit sunnier. Even if it is the hot, summa time.

Woah! Tennis is actually FUN and INTENSE!??!!?

Woah! Tennis is actually FUN and INTENSE!??!!?

Everything you expect to happen in a movie like this, whether it be a rom-com or a romantic-dramedy (don’t know how to shorten that one up); happens exactly like you’d expect it to be. The initial-meeting between these two characters is hokey and contrived; the tennis scenes where Pete begins to feel the sensation come all throughout his body once again was seen from a mile-away (because honestly, who wants to see a movie where the lead character gets his ass kicked-out in the first round?); and once things begin to look bright for Pete, you realize that he’s going to end up facing somebody that’s supposed to mean a whole bunch to him and causing the most problems throughout most of the majority of the flick.

Yeah, I know a lot of you out there are probably going to be pissed off that I already spoiled all that you’re practically going to see here, but in all seriousness; if you watch the first 10 minutes of this movie and don’t already know what beats it’s going to hit, how and when, then STOP READING. I knew right from the start, I accepted it, and eventually, it’s magic and charm began to work for me in a way I didn’t expect it to. Rom-coms such as this don’t have to change the world or break any new-ground to really hit me and allow me to enjoy myself, they just need to be done right and that’s exactly how this flick is done here: just right.

Sort of like the Goldie Locks story, but instead of having a little, spoiled brat not make up her mind about what soup or bed to eat/use, we have a witty, British guy who’s trying to win over “the girl”, while also trying to win the coveted, Wimbledon tournament. This ones more entertaining and interesting than that sad-sack-of-a-tale, but they do come pretty damn close. Okay, not at all.

Anyway, back to the movie!

But ultimately, I think what struck my interest-level with this movie and had me eventually go for the gold with it was the fact that it had Paul Bettany in a rare, leading role that we so often see him in, let alone use to his advantage to show why he’s such a good actor,  as well as a very underrated one at that. Bettany gives off the same type of master wit and charm we’re so used to seeing and hearing work wonders for Hugh Grant, but it works even better with Bettany, along with the character he’s playing, because the guy’s just generally likable, even from the start. Pete, as you can tell, is not a guy who asks for much in the world, other than a slight-shot at fame once again, some love in his life, and eternal happiness for the rest of it. That’s all there is to this guy and because of that aspect of this character, and the way Bettany allows him to be perceived as, the movie’s a lot better to sit-through because we see, what seems to be a real guy, going through real problems, and wanting to have real solutions, to his said real life. This is where Bettany shines, not just by making us laugh or want to give this guy a hug, but also show why more and more Hollywood producers should take a look at him when they’re thinking about what next British actor to call next after Colin Firth or Hugh Grant deny a role.

"Love rules! So does tennis! Woo-hoo!"

“Love rules! So does tennis! Woo-hoo!”

And no, I don’t mean these types of opportunities.

While Bettany keeps the movie going, Kirsten Dunst doesn’t show any signs of slowing it down either. Dunst has always been that actress I’ve gone-to-bat for on many occasions, and she’s fine here as Lizzie, even though I feel like she may have just been a bit too young and ambitious with her life to settle-down for such an old-head like Pete, despite the dude being only 32 in the movie. Still, that’s just a weird nit-pick of mine, either way; they’re chemistry is sweet, sexy and worth sticking with this movie for, even if they do feel like they were put together because the studio’s first-choices bailed-out at the last second. Not to be a dick and all, but seriously, I highly doubt that Hollywood producers were clamoring in their seats for the day that they finally got “Mary Jane Watson and that British dude who shows up on the side in every movie” together as love-interests. Just a thought, as mean or as bold as it may be perceived as.

Consensus: Everything you’ve seen done and/or occur before in a rom-com, happens exactly, note-for-note in Wimbledon, but because of fun chemistry between the well-acted leads of Bettany and Dunst, the constant clichés are worth ignoring and/or getting used to, in order just to have a good time with yourself.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"You're that dude who's practically naked all throughout A Knight's Tale, right?"

“You’re that dude who’s practically naked all throughout A Knight’s Tale, right? Yeah, you’re not so hot with your clothes on.”

Extract (2009)

If you have Mila Kunis working with you, work isn’t really THAT bad.

Joel (Jason Bateman) is one step away from selling his flavor extract factory and retiring to easy street when all of a sudden, a freak workplace accident sets in motion a series of disasters that puts his business and personal life in jeopardy. Problems like wondering if he should stick with his stay-at-home wife (Kristen Wiig), or run off and have an affair with a fellow co-worker (Mila Kunis). Thankfully, Joel has the ability to blow-off some steam, courtesy of the good vibes and weed his buddy (Ben Affleck) presents him.

It was over a decade since the biting, work-place satire helmed by Mike Judge, Office Space, came out so it only seems right that everybody would have high expectations for this work-place satire helmed by, well, you guessed it, Mike Judge. Problem is, those high expectations are what exactly killed this movie.

Nope, sadly no staplers stolen in this one.

George Michael would not be proud.

George Michael would not be proud.

Actually, the word “killed” may not be the right one to use for this flick because it’s not necessarily anything that’s terrible or could even be considered bad, it’s just “generally okay”, which may or may not infuriate fans of Judge, depending on what you have come to expect with the dude. Judge has been able to prove time and time again, that he still has that great comedic-timing that works no matter what story he’s doing or whatever character’s are involved with it. We get plenty of gross-out gags, random acts of people being dumb, and the occasional weed joke here and there. It’s humor that Judge does so well with and what’s always great about his writing, is how everything is very subtle. There are plenty of times where I chuckled here and even had a belly laugh, which is actually a lot better than nothing, especially with some of the shitty, mainstream comedies we get almost every month. Now it’s obviously not as funny as Office Space, but then again: what is?!!? You’ll never get that movie again so you can’t really hold that against this film too much, even if it is a bit obvious that Judge is trying to harken-back to those days. Just a bit.

Anybody expecting any type of satire whatsoever, will probably be more disappointed than ever since there is barely to little of any of that. Instead, we get a pretty lame story about some dude’s life falling apart, one randomly shitty situation after the next. This could have been a whole lot funnier but it almost seems like Judge focused on it’s story way too much, which wouldn’t have bothered me as much if the story was at least somewhat interesting and if the laughs kept ‘a rollin’. Problem is, the story tries too hard and so does Judge with his jokes, to where it almost seemed like he was really struggling to get his one-liners and jokes to stick, like he would expect people to be quoting them for years and years and years. Doesn’t work and not a single moment/line in this movie even comes close.

Another factor as to why this comedy doesn’t seem to hit as well here is that a lot of these comedic scenes go on way too long. Judge has always had a knack for letting long, drawn-out scenes play to his advantage to where he could really get something ridiculous happening but here, he just seemed like he needed an editor of sorts. One scene, in particular, was when Bateman and Affleck decide to go and get smoked-up at this one dude’s place, which seems to go on and on and on with the same joke. Would have been fine if it was the least bit of humorous, but none of it was, and only there to play-up to this one big gag at the end of it, and it wasn’t even worth remembering, so when it does happen, it goes right over our heads as if it never occurred or we didn’t get the joke. Seemed like a total waste of 5 minutes for this flick, and could have been time put into random situations that actually made me laugh, or anything else in this movie for that matter.

But as disappointing as this flick may be with it’s comedy, you still can’t go wrong with the cast that Judge has assembled. Jason Bateman is fine as our main character, Joel, and he perfectly plays up that straight-man role that allows there to be a lot of opportunities for him to let loose on some of his more subtle comedic chops that we get to see plenty of, just not in films that deserve his skills. Bateman’s fine, then again, he’s always been fine, even if he does continue to channel Michael Bluth, time and time again. The act doesn’t get old, even if every movie he’s been in hasn’t been able to take advantage of it just quite yet. However, the fact of the matter still remains is that the guy has been better and probably has had a lot better characters to play, too because let’s face it: did anybody care about this guy and his love and affection for flavoring extract? I know I sure as hell didn’t, and I think everybody else shared the same sympathies as me. Quirky jobs and passions can only go so far for movies.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much like work.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much “like work”.

But the real stand-out from this cast is none other than Ben Affleck himself, playing Joel’s good stoner buddy, Dean. Affleck has always been the most enjoyable to watch on-screen, mainly because he loves poking fun at himself and is usually game for that type of comedy. So to be given the chance to play a total stoner that is always on another level, mentally and physiologically, and is allowed to do whatever he wants with this funny-ass side-kick, it means comedic-gold for the dude and he just runs with it, in just about every scene he’s in. Shame that that’s all he is in this flick because the guy totally steals the show and makes for a pretty great friend that would be more than willing to help you out with any problems you had. Just let him put a pill in your mouth and see what type of cooky-shit happens next.

As for everybody else, they’re all pretty fine too, but just nothing all that spectacular. Mila Kunis plays the con-gal, Cindy, and even though she may be very easy on the eyes, she’s just not all that funny here; Kristen Wiig plays Joel’s wife, and she has some funny bits but she’s been funnier too; J.K. Simmons has some great lines as Joel’s co-worker that can’t seem to get anybody’s names right; and David Koechner shows up and plays, what is essentially, the neighbor-from-hell. Good cast, but they have all been funnier in plenty of other stuff before, and especially, after this.

Consensus: It features some fine performances and funny moments that work well with the subject-material, but anybody expecting anything close to an Office Space 2 or anything like that at all, will be disappointed by Extract and just by how unfunny it can be due to some lackluster decisions from Judge, both the risky and lazy ones.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The Western that even made Clint chuckle. Just a little bit, though. He still found a way to be as bad-ass as ever

Here lies the story of the Wild West outlaws known as Robert LeRoy Parker, known to history as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the “Sundance Kid” (Robert Redford). Together, they pulled-off many wacky and wild heists back in their day but here, we watch specifically as they migrate to Bolivia while on the run from the law in search of a more successful criminal career. It works for a little while, that is until the boys rely who they really are and know that they can’t settle down, be calm, and cool. They got to rob, even if their lives depend on it.

For the past two months, something has come over me. I keep on finding myself, sitting down once a week, and poppin’ in a DVD of a Western movie. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather, because I’m bored, or just because I enjoy a nice little shoot ’em up action that take place in deserts, but I’ve just been watching them a lot lately. However, seeing all of these Westerns so much, I think I’ve come to terms with what’s usually seen and accepted with them, which makes it all the better to see one that isn’t your typical Western, no matter how much it gets regarded as one.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

What separates this Western, from so many others out there in the world is that director George Roy Hill takes an approach to this material that is more light-hearted, then it is grim, which is something very different for a Western, especially for one back in that day. When you get the usual Eastwood/Leone Spaghetti-Westerns, you get sinister, dark stares into the sky; guys killing each other in cold blood; innocents going down like flies, and a whole bunch of other gritty shit that is willing to make anybody feel depressed. That’s where this film is very different with that idea that everything has to be dark and grim, in order to make a good Western. All you really need is a bunch of laughs, shootings, and bank robberies, to have a good old-fashioned time, and that is exactly what Hill and co. allow for us to have.

In fact, that’s what really kept me going with this film even when it started to hit some slow spots, here and there. Everybody involved with this flick seems like they’re having so much fun and it’s almost contagious because whenever you see these guys rob a bank or beat the shit out of some gringos, you don’t feel mad at them or feel like these are the two most despicable pieces of human-beings that you have ever seen put on-screen. Instead, you love it and you can’t wait till they start to do some more of that, along with knocking out some pretty funny one-liners along the way to really get you laughing. It’s not all about being an evil son-of-a-bitch here, it’s about being on the bad-side of the law and still having a fun-ass time regardless of wondering who is following you and when they are going to eventually catch your asses. Very different approach to the usual Western people in those days were used to, and I’d say it’s a good thing that it changed the genre up because without this flick, that genre probably would have started to fall off the face of the Earth and become a bore to every person who even bothered with it.

Then again, it’s a genre that’s still growing strong all of these years later, so I think it’s safe to say that the times may have changed, yet the game remains the same.

But people, let’s be honest, this movie would not be as entertaining and fun if it wasn’t for the two leading men, playing in these iconic roles: Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both of these actors, in their own right, are amazing actors that will forever be remembered in pop-culture just for giving out some great performances for basically every film they have done, but they’re pairing here is definitely some of the most fun either of them have had in any film prior to this. Whether they are together or not, both seem to be having a ball with themselves, as well as the material and it’s almost infectious, especially when you get to watching these two vets just work their hardest to make their fun time, not just their fun time, but ours as well. Thankfully, it works.

Newman just oozes cool no matter what it is that he does and plays the brains-side of this duo very well as Butch Cassidy, and Robert Redford plays his charm up perfectly, as one of the most intimidating dudes with a ‘stache ever, The Sundance Kid. Both of them have very different sets of skills, but they both complement each other in a way where the one would totally have the others back no matter what it was that they have gotten themselves into.

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Watching these guys together on-screen is like a work of magic because every scene they have together, just makes them feel more and more like they were actual buds, who just got done having a few pints at the bar before they walked onto the set and started filming. They both play off of each other perfectly and use their hilarious comedic-timing to their advantage every which way of this flick and it definitely helped me stay on-board with this flick, even when it seemed like the film was starting to lose my attention at points. You never stop liking these guys, no matter what bad acts they commit, and I think that’s much ado to the pure likability that lie within these guys’ acting. The chemistry between them is THAT good, and it’s no wonder why they teamed up again for The Sting, and kicked ass there as well.

Perhaps if I was to choose a problem with this flick, it would be that it’s not all that exciting as I would have liked to have expected. The story starts off perfectly with just the right amount of energy and fun that’s needed, but as soon as the film starts to focus on the unneeded “love triangle” between Butch, Sundance, and Sundance’s girl, Etta, I felt like the film cooled down it’s brakes and was really wasting valuable time that could have been dedicated more to these guys just having a fun time, regardless of whether it was all true or not. Thankfully, that last shoot-out where they face-off against all of Bolivia is by far one of the most iconic endings in film-history, and with good reason: it’s full of just the right amount of suspense and emotion, all to solidifie the legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And what legends they truly were, to all bandits all over the world. Even the wet ones.

Consensus: Though it cools itself down in bits and pieces, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is still a very fun, light, and humorous-take on the Western genre that is so much more legit, due to the fact of Newman and Redford’s chemistry being some of the best anyone has ever seen between two buddies in a buddy film, on and off the screen.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even when caught off-guard, they still look cool as fuck.

Even when caught off-guard, they still look fly as fuck.

Stargate (1994)

Let’s just stay in this universe and not fuck anything up. Thanks.

Prof. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) believes there is more to our humanity but yet, nobody will care to listen to him because they feel as if he is just another nut with a microphone, and a head that’s a bit too big for his britches. That said, somebody takes notice to this freak-o and makes him apart of a secret mission to uncover an ancient portal known as the Stargate. Along with a couple of soldiers, lead by Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell), they take a trip through this other dimension to see what’s shaking and baking and the answers they come up with are sure as hell not pretty.

We can all come to terms with the fact that Roland Emmerich isn’t the type of guy we can expect to see new-bread, highly-intellectual classics from, but at least we can expect one thing from him no matter what the story may be that he is tackling: fun, fun, and more fun. That’s all there is to it with Emmerich and even though Godzilla pissed almost everybody and their Chinese relatives off, and 2012 didn’t quite predict the future so well, at least the guy had fun with it, right? I’d say yes, but then again, I’m usually a sucker for these movies that don’t lose their enjoyment, no matter how stupid or idiotic they may actually get. This movie is the one where I drew the line with Emmerich and all of his stupidity that follows.

What I’m about to say is probably going to lose me a lot of street-cred but hey, so be it. The problem with this movie, right from the start, was that it was just so damn terribly boring, almost to the point of where I was actually contemplating turning it off, checking out another movie, and acting as if this one never came anywhere near me or my mind. I was very, very close to doing this but sadly, I stuck with it and it rarely ever got better for me. Emmerich tries his hardest by building up a story, showing us all the details, but also trying to leave some out for good fun, but it’s almost too much to where we don’t even feel like we know what the hell is going on at all.

Cool cut though.

Fresh cut though.

We get that these guys have to go to a different dimension, look for species, figure shit out, and take notes down, but that’s about it. Oh, and need I forget to tell you that Russell’s character has actually been given the direct order to bring a bomb with him and detonate it whenever he senses danger on this other universe. You know, a universe that may have human-beings alive on it and other materials that may be useful for the world we live in. Nope, just blow that shitty place up and act like it was all good in a hard day’s work. Because let’s face it, that’s what the military does, right?

That aspect of this movie seemed really stupid, but I was willing to drop my pants and my brain for a healthy-dosage of fun and entertainment, and I barely even got that. The first half of this movie is simply dedicated to these dudes running around this strange land, being acquainted with the natives, and trying to figure out what the hell is up with this land, even if there isn’t really anything wrong with it in the first place. This all plays out as if it was a shitty, low-budget remake of Dances with Wolves, but instead of having Navajo natives, they got these weird, slightly-colored people to speak total gibber and gabber, and consider that a “foreign language”. Seriously? That’s the best you could come up? Give me a damn break!

Don’t worry though, because it does get worse. As soon as the problems do actually show their faces, the movie still continues to make no sense as to why this person they have to face-off against is evil, why the hell he cares about these dudes showing up on their land, and just what does it all mean in the grand scheme of things. Sure, you could probably say that I was looking for a little bit too much in something that was just a typical, sci-fi yarn, but when a movie that is so focused and hell-bent on describing it’s ideas, plot, and exposition, I at least expect there to be some sort of reasonable explanation to it all. Not a whole lot, but just some, and this movie just never gave me that nor did it do anything to excite me. A couple of action scenes here and there fly by, but that’s about it and something felt like Emmerich just wanted to cut-loose, get crazy, and start blowing the shit out of random things like people, pyramids, and most of all, hairy monsters that are just there for show.

If there was any hope in this movie that it wouldn’t be the total shit-box I was expecting of it to be, it was at least that the cast could save the day, and apparently even that was asking way too much. James Spader is a very talented actor that can usually make any type of role work, but he just is so nerdy, so gullible, and so spazzy, that it gets to a point of where it’s annoying. I didn’t look at this guy in any other way, other than just by seeing him as the usual bookworm that thinks he’s way too smart, doesn’t know how to act in situations where the shit gets hot, and worst of all, doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Something tells me that a dude like James Spader doesn’t quite need help with the ladies but I guess Roland Emmerich saw something that I didn’t. Strange.

Okay, maybe he does need some help.

Okay, maybe he does need some help.

Thankfully, this is where Kurt Russell shows up to pick the slack up from here and shake things up, Snake Plisskenstyle. Okay, maybe his character here isn’t that awesome or cool for that matter, but it’s Kurt Russell being Kurt Russell, and for a movie and role like this: we really needed to see that come alive within the dude. Russell is constantly cool, a bit dangerous, a bit mysterious, but always bad-ass and shows that he can take even the shittiest-material, and make it his own little bitch. He seems like he really wants to get wild at some points, but he keeps it grounded and humane, just the way I like to see Russell play it. Although it doesn’t hurt to want to get up and start hacking people off left and right. Especially wouldn’t have hurt in this movie, anyway.

The strangest person in this cast, who still has me scratching my head as to whether or not he was actually good, or just plain and simply ridiculous was Jaye Davidson as the Egyptian king that wants this pretty place to himself, with nobody else’s grubby paws getting in the way. Davidson is the person most of you may now from the Crying Game (yeah, you know who the hell I’m talking about) and is fine here, but dresses so strange, looks so weird, and has this voice that’s a mixture between Barry White and Satan, that it just didn’t do a single thing for me and had me laugh at him the whole entire time. It seemed as if Davidson just got back from a drag-queen show every time he showed up on set and decided to now waste the time getting ready to suit-up, and kept the clothes he had on originally. Does it work? Yeah, maybe in a campy-way, but this movie isn’t campy enough and is always so self-serious that this villain, this performance, and this look that Davidson carries on throughout the whole movie just seems idiotic and totally out-of-place. Still have no idea why the hell this dude jumped off the face of the Earth after this movie hit, but who knows. Maybe he got stuck in another universe after all!

Consensus: Sci-fi junkies will probably eat this shit for breakfast, spit it right back out, and chew it up again for fun, but for a person who just wants a good story, realistic characters, and a bunch of fun and action, Stargate doesn’t even fill me up after the appetizers. It feels as if it wants to be a goofy, over-the-top movie but plays it so serious and so dramatic, that it never gets off the ground. It just stays there and sinks into the sand.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Trust me, it's a dude. I think...

Trust me, it’s a dude. I think…

Monsters University (2013)

Now how much is a red cup going to cost?

Before they became pals working at Monsters Inc., Sully and Mike (John Goodman and Billy Crystal) were just your ordinary college student. They were young, ambitious, hopeful, happy, and willing to allow anything to happen, just as long as they finally had a chance to get their dream job. However, what some may be surprised about is that they weren’t friends right from the beginning and actually found more things to dislike about each other, than actually like. But through certain bits of challenges and obstacles, they will come together to realize who’s scarier, who’s wiser, and why they don’t like each other in the first place. Oh, and it’s also at a college so mind you; there may be some underage drinking involved.

Ending on the note that Monsters, Inc. did back in the day, it’s an honest surprise that they didn’t go forward with the sequel instead. We do like these characters and we would like to visit them again, but does it really have to be a prequel, especially one that takes place on a college-campus? I didn’t think so, but Pixar seems to really be scrounging the Earth for ideas, so it’s no surprise they re-hashed something that they knew would win over the older-crowd that still gives them money, day-in-and-day-out, thinking that they’re going to see the next Wall-E or Toy Story; as well as the new crowd that’s probably expecting something like Brave.

Those youngsters. What silly little creatures they truly are.

"Dammit, Mikey! Don't you dare mention the name "Boo". She doesn't even exist yet!"

“Dammit, Mikey! Don’t you dare mention the name “Boo”. She doesn’t even exist yet!”

However, I loved these guys so much in the first place that I wasn’t so depressed in seeing them when they were younger, more hopeful monsters, but at the same time, I wish the movie did more with the idea/premise. Basically, it’s just Revenge of the Nerds/Animal House, but with Pixar, so hold all of the f-bombs, the kegs, the nudity, the hardcore partying, drugs, sex, and pretty much everything else you’d come to expect and see with college, or a movie that revolves around college. That said, it’s a kids movie so I can’t complain about how mild and tame the material is, but I can complain about how unfunny the idea plays-out, which is a major bummer because Pixar has been known to take something, anything familiar to the common-brain and spin in it on it’s own head, with their own smart way. Sadly though, this wasn’t one of those “smart ways”.

The movie gets you with a couple of chuckles here and there, mostly through random references you may or may not catch, but overall, it’s a pretty dry experience. Nothing with this humor catches you off-guard like Pixar has been known to do, and is a lot more slapstick-y than it has been in recent years, mainly to get the kiddies laughing and happy. Which, once again, is dandy and fine, but what are the parents supposed to do? Just sit there in near-misery as their kiddie-bops laugh their rumps off by some monsters falling down a flight of stairs? Well, I guess so, but knowing Pixar the way that I do and sticking by them for as long as I have, I’ve come to expect more from them and know that they are about making the little tikes laugh, but also the older-peeps that brought them to the theater as well. Plenty of kids were howling like crazy at my screening, but the adults that surrounded me couldn’t really go along as it was just for them, and nobody else.

Poor parents. You deserve better. Except for when those innocent children all turn 14, then you’re dead to them!

But where Pixar really picks up the slack in is with it’s heartfelt message that is usually supposed to make the kiddies think, and touch the parents as if they were little ones as well. Actually, you could even go so far as to say that it’s Pixar’s strong-suit: if the comedy doesn’t work, get them long and hard with a message for everybody all over the globe to listen and feel something towards. However, what separates this flick from those others is that it’s message does not seem to really click with me as much as I would have expected, and I don’t know if that’s the flicks fault, or of my own.

Basically, the message is that all kids should not really set their standards too high, because if you live life long enough, you know that all of your dreams aren’t going to come true, but to also still settle for mediocrity. Personally, I believe that telling a kid that they should not believe in their hopes and dreams is bullshit because they’re kids and what else are they going to dream about, and also, I think telling them to settle for any sort of mediocrity is just plain and simply wrong. When the kids become older and begin to realize that the world isn’t going to hand them everything they want on a silver platter with a cherry on top, then I would say is the time to let your dreams go away and settle for whatever you can get. But when you’re a kid, and just about anything is possible, with your whole, bright future ahead of you, then I think you should stick to your guns, live the wild and young life you want to live, and if it doesn’t pan out the way you want it to, then big deal. Just don’t get yourself down when and if it does in fact happen.

However, that’s just me though, so maybe other parents want their kids to think the way this movie is telling them to. If that’s the case, it’s their prerogative, but mine is that kids should be themselves and be able to keep their dreams afloat, regardless of what the real world tells them is reality. Hey, I was a kid once too, and I had dreams. They sure as hell weren’t to become a movie critic of sorts, but they were dreams that I at least went for until I realized they had gotten too far for me to even grasp. That’s just the reality of the situation, but I can understand why some parents wouldn’t want their own kids having to go through with that themselves. Call it “babying”, call it what you will. It’s just life, man.

"I pledge to scare the shit out of every boy and girl in the world."

“I pledge to scare the shit out of every boy and girl in the world.”

No matter how far into mediocrity this flick went, the glue holding it all together was Sully and Mike, voiced terrifically once again by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Together, they make a great team and even though I don’t fully believe their obviously-adult voices as ones of college freshman, I was still able to enjoy myself and be reminded of what these guys were like in the first movie (which still ranks as one of my favorites as a kid, and still holds up for me, believe it or not). They’re fun to watch together, by how different and alike they are, but also by how they come together in ways that are believable and easy to understand, especially when you know what these guys are at the beginning of the first movie. I didn’t need to see these characters on the big-screen, but it wasn’t such a bad trip down memory lane once more.

Steve Buscemi also returns as Randy, who actually has an odd twist here that makes you understand why he is the way he is in the original; Helen Mirren plays up her “ice queen”-act as Dean Hardscrabble, the one and only monster who holds the all-time record for most scares, ever; Nathan Fillion is awesome and bad-ass, even with his voice, as Johnny, the head brother of the biggest fraternity on campus; and Joel Murray does an effective job as the older, but equally as goofy member of the frat, Don, who shows some chops for comedic-timing. And trust me, there is plenty, plenty more recognizable voices, and even some faces (I’m talking about the actual characters), that you’ll hear and/or be happy to see.

Consensus: Despite not being a flick we really needed to see after the original ended so perfectly almost a decade ago, Monsters University is still a pleasant, enjoyable movie for the family, but seeing as this is Pixar and knowing what it is that they can do with their originality, it does come as a bit of a disappointment, especially for most die-hard fans, if there are such people.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Like us all, Mike Lisowski too dreams of having the greatest time of his life in college and getting that one job he oh so desires when he leaves. But this is 2013, and those dreams and hopes of a college freshman have all been dashed by now. Sorry, Mikey.

Like us, Mike Wazowski too dreams of having the greatest time of his life in college and getting that one job he oh so desires when he leaves. But this is 2013, and those dreams and hopes of a college freshman have all been dashed by now. Sorry, Mikey.

The Bling Ring (2013)

If you can’t steal other people’s belongings, then how the hell do you expect to make it in Hollywood?!?!?

High school friends Rebecca and Marc (Katie Chang and Israel Broussard) find themselves bonding over their love for fame and fashion on the first day of class, which also leads them on to their next love: stealing. At first, it’s just small amounts of jewelry and money here and there, but after awhile, once the groups gets bigger, with two more added to the mix (Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga), and the fortune and star-appeal begins to get to their heads, they decide that they can’t stop while they’re on top and might as well go for it all while they still can. So, this leads them onto a slew of break-ins into some of the most famous stars’ mansions (Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan, among others). But since they’re young, stupid, and as vain as you can get, they eventually find things to get a bit too hot, almost too hot for them to control at a certain point.

Believe it or not, we live in a world where shit like this happens, gets placed on TMZ.com, and is considered “news”. However, it is real and does provide some compelling story-telling, so why not do it one better and make it a full-length feature-flick? Hell, to top it off, why don’t we throw in writer/director Sofia Coppola, a chick who seems to know quite a thing or two about fame, letting it all go to your head, and how it makes you feel like you’re everybody else, but also empty inside at the same time? Yep, sounds like the right ingredients to me, doesn’t it?

Have your popcorn handy, boys.

Have your popcorn handy for this one, boys.

Well, yes and no. More on the “no”, and less on the “yes”, but let’s stick with the positives and keep people happy, shall we?

We shall!

Anyway, Coppola being the inspired and stylistic director that she truly is, always has this movie popping. There’s always a wonderful color-scheme going on, some form of camera-trickery happening to take you off-guard, and shots that literally speak for themselves, without any needed dialogue whatsoever. All of those three trademarks we sometimes love and hate Coppola for, are all here to be seen and enjoyed, even if it doesn’t add much to the story in the long-run; save for one shot where Coppola keeps her distance from one robbery in a glass-mansion, where all of the action you see is through the windows themselves. Shots like that rarely show up in this flick, but when they do, they are very original and exciting to see but I think this flick needed more of that.

Okay, I promised that I would start off light and happy but screw it! This flick sort of pisses me off because of what it had the ability to do! See, Coppola has a pretty interesting story here on her hands, and what makes it even better is that it’s all real. Now, of course we don’t know how much of what actually happened is pure speculation or the truth, and nothing but it so help you God, but for the most part, either/or: it’s a pretty interesting subject that shines a light on what it means to be “famous” or what it takes to be considered a “celebrity”, especially in the day and age we live in where almost everyone is channeling somebody else more famous, in hopes that they’ll be noticed just like them. That’s the 21st Century for ya, folks, and as much as it may suck, it’s the reality of the situation.

But see? What I already discussed right then and there is what makes this movie/story so interesting to begin with, so when Coppola didn’t seem to do much else with it other than give us the same damn sequence of these a-hole kids going around, stealing shit from people’s houses, going to the clubs, taking pictures, showing off their gifts, and posting everything they took on Facebook, it seems like a bit of a missed-opportunity, albeit a repetitive one that gets old quick as soon as the third robbery occurs. I get the point that Coppola is trying to get across about these characters and what it is that they pulled off: their lives are so dull and monotonous, that the actions they commit are just about the same way. Nothing new happens, and yet, you aren’t totally satisfied and need more. That’s what a lot of people say about our generation and if these ass-bags are the clearest-examples of it, then damn, I’m sad to be apart of it. I’m apart of it, and that’s something I can’t undo, but I sure as hell do feel bad about it.

Back to what I was saying about Coppola though; the gal obviously seems to know what she’s talking about and trying to get across, but it isn’t as interesting or as compelling to watch as you might expect coming from a chick that seems like she knows so much about achieving fame, but not knowing what to do with it’s boring life-style. After awhile, it seems to become the same scene, over-and-over again, without any more insight to what’s happening, it’s cultural-effect on the mass medias, or the characters themselves. Actually, if there was anything about this movie that got me a bit fired-up, it was that the characters just aren’t the type of people you want to spend time with in any movie, let alone a movie like this; and that’s not because they’re detestable as it is, they just aren’t in the least bit interesting.

Each and every character in this movie is probably the most shallow you can get, and whether or not the real-life people were actually like this makes me wonder just if they changed and if so, how much? Then again, those are smart thoughts that are too smart for a movie that doesn’t seem to care about them, and only cares about showing what these characters do, whenever they aren’t bored with their daily-lives of going to class and sitting down on the beach. They’re boring and dull people that only care about the riches in life, rather than the pleasures that can be seen by the most simplest things in life, but we never get a chance to go any deeper because Coppola obviously puts her hand up and shows that she doesn’t want to judge them. Fine, don’t do that, but at least give me something, hell, anything else to really make me want to pay attention to these characters with. They all seemed to be wanting the same things, had no uniqueness to them that made them humane in the least bit, and never popped-off the screen, into my lap, and ready to have a wild time with. Instead, they just robbed, talked stupid shite, and acted like they were hot shit, while we all watched and wondered, “Why?”

They're all coming to my house, except for that dude on the left. Yeah, what the hell's he doing with them!!??

They’re all coming to my house, except for that dude on the left. Yeah, what the hell’s he doing with them!!??

The answer to that, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. No, literally, it blew away and probably never coming back. Smooth move, Sofia!

I even feel bad for the cast because even though they’re given characters to work with that could be fun and exciting to watch, they’re just dull and uninteresting and fall under the weight of Sofia’s insistence on not shedding a light on who they were. Works for a tiny bit, but once it starts to affect the performances, then enough is about enough! Katie Chang is good as the ringleader of the group who starts it all off with her kleptomaniacan ways and shows that there’s so much fun, joy, and feeling of empowerment when you’re going into these celebrities houses, and stealing their shit. Chang is nice and detestable in her own way, and is probably the most subtle of all, which does go a long, long way for this cast. Israel Broussard is a nice equalizer for her as Marc, the closeted-gay friend of hers that loves all the things that she does, including herself. His character seemed like he could have been the most interesting of all, but Broussard isn’t that much of a talented actor to pull it off and eventually, you just see him get dropped off in a pool of obvious cliches and happenings that you can see coming a mile away. Even Emma Watson’s character falls prey to this, only because she’s so remarkably dumb, it’s a wonder how she even got away with it all in the end. I’m talking about the character Watson plays, not Watson herself, although the chick is already known for stealing her fair share of shit from celebrities.

Consensus: Coppola’s style and unique-ways of telling a story her way, or the highway is what makes The Bling Ring a bit of an entertaining watch, but the lack of development with characters, reasoning, or cultural-significance makes it feel like an opportunity missed by a long ways.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Don't worry honey, you look good. Trust me.

Don’t worry honey, you look good. Trust me.

World War Z (2013)

Does every member of the undead have to be hopped-up on coke and speed?

Somehow, with no explanation whatsoever, the undead has suddenly woke up, only to now be blood-thirsty and biting every living human-being with their virus that spreads it on. Not only is it happening in America, but everywhere else all-over-the-globe as well and in the middle of it all is Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former United Nations member who gets called back to the line of duty in hopes to find a cure and beat this thing. Problem is, “the thing” that I’m referring to just so happens to be deadly, have little to no remorse, and as quick as lightning. So yeah, they’re pretty hard to get away from or kill.

Even though I can’t say I’m familiar with the Max Brooks novel, I do know all about the hooplah and controversy surrounding how this movie apparently only shares the same title, and that’s it. But that’s coming from a literary-side, if you look at it from a movie-side, you can already tell that this movie was landed in some hot water from the get-go as the ending had to be re-written, Pitt wasn’t talking to director Marc Forster, despite actually landing him the job in the first place, actual weapons were used instead of props, and a whole slew of other budget/editing problems as well. Basically, this movie was doomed from the start and it didn’t seem like anything it tried to pull, no matter how positive or cool; it still wasn’t going to make people happy or forget “what could have been”. Thankfully, the result isn’t as piss-poor as it may have seemed to be, but I still can’t say I’m typing this up with a smile on my face. More of a face of slick determination to say whatever the hell it is that I want to say.

Come to think of it, that’s my face for every review. Hm.

Even in the face of fear and death, Brad still finds a way to not only look sexy, but heroic as well. Whatta man.

Even in the face of fear and death, Brad still finds a way to not only look sexy, but heroic as well. Whatta man.

What I do have to give this movie some credit for is at least keeping the tension and suspense moving when it needed to. Forster has never been the type of director to really blow me away with anything that he’s brought to the big-screen, but he did a nice job at moving this story along at a fine pace, especially when he needed to do it in order to slide over the weaker parts of the flick, like story, or character-development, or any sense of meaning. That said, every set-piece that Forster gives us here is worth a watch, especially if you like big, action-packed set-pieces where zombies are flying-high, eating, and attacking human-beings, and the idea of having no idea what type of carnage you are going to see next. With that carnage, Forster is able to freak us out just enough to give us the willies, but if it weren’t PG-13, then we probably would have been more disturbed and messed-up.

However, seeing as this is a flick that wants to appeal to the wider-audience of zombie fans out there (and lord knows there’s plenty of them nowadays), you need to take in the fact that you’re not going to see huge loads of in-your-face blood, violence, and gore. Instead, you’re most likely going to see a couple of slides of blood on Pitt’s hands/t-shirt, violence that’s shown off-screen but heard, and moments where crucial parts of the body are hacked-off, but with barely any actual showing of the limbs or nastiness involved whatsoever.

It’s just so damn tame and feels like the movie was just trying too hard to get away with a PG-13 rating, and not even have the balls to go one step further and make it R. Honestly, in a day and age where Hershel’s getting his leg cut-off on television once a week, you’d think that movies would try to do the same, if not more considering they have more of freedom, but nope. They’re fine with just having a zombie movie without any close-ups on the freaky-looking zombies, or even giving us anything more than just a bunch of implied-bits of violence. That’s it. And trust me, I’m not some gore-thirsty freak that needs to see people getting cut up limb-by-limb, in full detail, but I would like to see more when you have a zombie flick, about people getting eaten alive and/or being beaten, just so they too can eat others alive. Just typing that wigs me out a bit, and that’s a weakness on my part, as well as many other’s, that this flick could have definitely capitalized on, had they not pussy-footed around it.

Also, as tense as this movie may be, the slower-parts do take over and try to give you some point of levity to these characters and the situation they are caught in, but it does not work. That’s not because the script blows or the characters blow, it’s just that the movie is so used to being big, loud, and CGI-packed, that when it comes to giving us the smaller, quieter moments that would make this more compelling and emotional; it drops the ball completely. Nobody here you really care for enough to where you want to see them survive, nor do they really make you feel like you could spend the end-of-the-world with them, and never got bored either. Every character here is just boring, dull, and uninteresting, and whenever the flick seems to want to get away from the killing and the human-flesh eating, there’s nothing else for it to go back to unless it wants to bore us to death. And when it does go back there, it does bore us to death. That much is true.

Yup, still sexy and heroic in the face of fear and death.

Yup, still sexy and heroic in the face of fear and death.

But I have to give Brad Pitt some amount of credit here because the dude knows what type of movie he’s in, and gives his heart and soul to making it work, especially with his performance as Gerry Lane. Pitt is in full-on, action-mode where he does a lot of running, hitting, shouting, commanding, and heavy-set staring, and does it all well with just the right amount of charm and likability to harvest our emotions over once the going gets going. Still though, the character doesn’t really have much else to him other than being nothing more than just an everyday dude, that comes up big when the people around him need him to the most. There is some form of gravitas given to this character because he’s played by Pitt, but not much else that you couldn’t seen done by any other actor on the face of the planet, which wouldn’t be a complaint for an actor in a role like this; but this is Tyler Durden we are talking about here! The dude should always have roles made for him, and put to perfection by him. Nothing more needs to be said on that.

Everybody else in this movie that shows up do what they can with the script, but as I said before: the movie doesn’t seem to give a shit about them, what they represent, or what they’re even trying to say, which is a total bummer because a movie like this could have really done something more than just being another dumb, loud, and action-packed summer flick. It could have put some more insight and humanity into the situation we had at hand here, but instead, appeals to the lowest common-denominator, which is all about big and angry things that go “boom”, “bang”, and “whack”. Whoever the members of the denominator are, will most likely be pleased with what they see here, but for the others who want a bit more with their zombies; it’s a huge bummer, if not as terrible as it looked right from the start. And yes, it did look THAT terrible.

Consensus: Considering it is the summer, and loud, big, action-packed movies like World War Z are common to see around and about, it should come as to no surprise to anyone that it is thrilling and fun at times, while also stupid, unengaging, and unoriginal by the same token. Expect nothing more but an alright time, and you’ll go home happy, if not needing more of your gore-fix.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

If that isn't the world's largest human/non-human pyramid, then I don't know what is!

If that isn’t the world’s largest human/non-human pyramid, then I don’t know what is!

Mr. Brooks (2007)

If you wear glasses, chances are, you’re going to be the creepy guy in the movie.

The film follows Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner), a celebrated Portland businessman and serial killer who is forced to take on a protégé (Dane Cook) after being blackmailed, and has to contend with his bloodthirsty alter-ego (William Hurt) who convinces him to indulge his “habit”. His life grows even more complicated when a driven police officer (Demi Moore) reopens the investigation into his murders. But what happens when two worlds collide and a serial-killer has to make up his mind as to which one to follow? All hell and murder break loose!

Serial killer movies don’t really work for me probably because they don’t really do anything different with their subjects. A person has some messed up ideas in his head, wants to kill people, decides to kill people, it continues to go and on, until it all spirals out of control, and then somebody eventually catches them. That’s not how every single serial killer movie ever made plays out but that’s a good majority of them which is why I was somewhat happy to see a bit of a twist with one that seemed so ordinary and conventional, but somehow became a bit more understated than I expected. Even for a mainstream, serial killer flick.

"Hey, Kev. Just keep driving and listening to your Foreigner CD. I don't mind."

“Hey, Kev. Just keep driving and listening to your Foreigner CD. I don’t mind.”

What I liked about director Bruce A. Evans’ approach to this generic plot, is that he doesn’t really gives us a reason to despise Mr. Brooks, and for that reason, we kind of like him. Now, of course he still kills people only because he gets off on doing such a thing, but there was never in a point in this flick where it seemed like he was a terrible person that we should all hate, not feel any sympathy for, and actually want him to get found out and killed by the end. I’m not saying I liked him at all but when things start to go bad for him and he eventually starts to see his serial killing ways go right down the drain, I somehow felt worried for him that he was going to get found out and die. I wasn’t rooting for him the whole time hoping that he would find another couple of victims for him to “off”, but by the same token, I kind of didn’t him to go away either. It’s a weird feeling I had throughout the whole flick but it was still a pretty neat approach that you rarely so often see anymore, especially in a mainstream movie.

For about the first hour and 15 minutes, the plot also kept me very intrigued. The whole feeling of this movie is pretty tense right from the get-go, but it only gets worse as the story starts to have its own little twists and turns, which is when things start to get very interesting. The film is slow and there is a lot of talking going on here rather than some boom-boom action, but I liked the way how Evans let everything settle in and move on itself without having him to resort it to some crazy gun-battles. However, that was all in the first hour and 15 minutes, because after that, well, things start to get a little strange.

What bothered me the most about this flick was the non-stop subplots that would keep on continuing to pile on as the film progressed. I liked the central premise with Brooks coming to terms with his murderous demons and working out a deal with a dude that’s spotted him, but then they bring more in like Moore’s character’s divorce; her problems with another serial killer; Brooks’ daughter being involved with a murder; Brooks daughter having a baby; and plenty more where those came from, and all seemed like over-kill to the point of where I lost my focus on what was really the story at hand. They all somehow come together in the end, but it’s very messy and seems like it was just an excuse for the director to make sense of all of these random subplots that would come into play out of nowhere.

Another aspect of this film that bothered me was Demi Moore as the cop that is trying to track down Mr. Brooks, Detective Attwood. I get it, Moore hasn’t been on the big-screen in quite some time and whenever she is, she doesn’t play the usual, bad-ass characters people all knew and love her for back in the day. So it’s understandable that Evans would want to give her another go around at the fame she once had, but I don’t if it was Ashton Kutcher’s little flings on the side that got her all messed up, or the non-stop whippets, but her acting chops have really plummeted in recent years. Moore tries to do her tough girl role that worked so well for her back in the day, you know, when she was playing a freakin’ monster in G.I. Jane!?! Now, it just comes off as corny and unbelievable considering the whole movie is pretty much spent around her worrying about whether or not she’s going to have to pay $2 million dollars to her ex-husband. Stupid, I know and her subplots take up way too much of the film. More than I really needed to be honest.

The dudes are following her. She's so tough and rugged!

The dudes are following her. She’s so tough and rugged!

But, despite her, at least we get a very good lead performance from Kevin Costner who is probably the main reason why Mr. Brooks isn’t hated in this movie. Costner plays this role with a very deadpan approach, not showing too much emotion and delivering his lines like he just got up from a nap, but that’s not so bad because he’s believable as a guy who only kills because he has an addiction. May sound a bit cheesy, but watching this film, you’ll see that it’s actually very believable, especially when you have such a sweet, charming, and rich man doing all of these secret killings. Glad to see him back in a lead role but to my surprise, he hasn’t had one for a mainstream movie ever since this one. Hopefully, Pa Kent will bring him back to the spotlight for most movie-goers.

A lot of Costner’s charm comes out whenever he has his “talks” with William Hurt, who plays his alter-ego, Marshall. Hurt always plays these evil assholes and always seems to be having a total ball with them, and this one is no different. Marshall’s constantly around, giving his two cents on everything that happens, and actually delivering some moments of dark humor. Another alright supporting performance comes from Dane Cook, in one of his first dramatic roles as Mr. Smith. Cook is good here and doesn’t really do much that would make us laugh at him, intentionally and unintentionally, so it’s fine but I’m still not a fan of him and his annoying, caffeinated-induced stand-up.

Consensus: Mr. Brooks puts a very interesting-spin on the serial killer genre with a lead character that we actually like, including a very strong performance from Costner in the lead role, but the plot takes too much steam away from this and keeps on getting more convoluted as each and every single twist and turn makes its way in there.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

In order to seem unlike his usual, stand-up persona, he needed ten times more facial-hair and roughed-up hair. Cause you know, acting like it wouldn't have been enough.

In order to seem unlike his usual, stand-up persona, he needed ten times more facial-hair and roughed-up hair. Cause you know, acting like it wouldn’t have been enough.

The Kite Runner (2007)

If kites can help you pick-up best friends, what about picking up chicks?

A privileged youth named Amir and the son of his father’s servant named Hassan, both find a their friendship blossoming because of their love of flying kites. However, their friendship is tested when one of the kid’s finds himself in a rough situation, and the other decides to not stand up for him. Their friendship and lives, are changed forever after this.

Here’s a movie that totally took me by surprise, and I have no damn clue as to why. I usually like stories about childhood friends, growing up, growing apart, and following their lives whether they’re together or not. It’s just always appealed to me and there’s nothing more sweeter than watching a young friendship shine, right in front of your own very eyes. However, there were also my reservations with this movie and why I was not expecting much going in.

First of all, the novel this is based off of is apparently amazing. People love it, scholars love it, my Mom-Mom loves it, and it was even a Best-Seller so that if that goes to show you anything, it has a lot of promise to live up to. Promise, that it probably doesn’t come even close to living up to. Secondly, I remember hearing how controversial this flick was for some of the child actors in this movie, how they had to deal with some sexual-material, and how they couldn’t even leave their houses sometimes because they were getting threats for being in a movie like this. I don’t know what pissed everybody off so much, because there isn’t much here that’s worth getting all blue over, but I guess it’s just opposite worlds, so maybe I don’t understand. Basically, I wasn’t looking forward to a movie that was based off a Best-Seller, as well as I wasn’t looking forward to a movie where kids had to go through sexual thangs, but most of all, perhaps the cherry on top was that I wasn’t looking forward to watching a movie directed by Marc Forster, who is usually hit-or-miss for me.

"You're right. Who needs women, when you got kites!"

“You’re so right. Who needs girls, when you got kites!”

Thankfully, though, this movie worked for me and showed me why it’s so damn special to walk into a movie like this and just get my ass surprised. I think what took me off-guard the most about this movie is how Forster took this material, and instead of making it a dark, depressing meditation on what was happening in the Afghanis during this time, he makes it a bittersweet look at the value of friendship and keeping your morals intact, no matter what. Forster does get dark and a bit too political with this material at times, but the guy always keeps it grounded on these two kids, they’re friendship, what they have together, and what they value the most: kite-flying.

There isn’t as much kite-flying in this movie, but when they do show it, it makes you feel more for the activity as well as the story itself. Seeing these two kids as they find peace and happiness with one another, really gave me a warm feeling in my heart, but then it all changes right before you can start dropping the tears. In a single-instance, the movie gets cold, dark, serious, and very disturbing, but it never pushes you away from the harsh-reality that is life. Once the Commies come and invade Afghanistan, things get a little shaky for our characters, and they have to leave to the States.

Once they do end up in the States, the story still stays interesting as we see one of our characters actually adjust to the non-luxurious life of living in America as an immigrant from Afghanistan. This was an interesting look at what life will bring you, how you can get past it, and ultimately, how you can make yourself happy. It may seem a bit cheesy to say and even in the movie as well, but you always feel like what it is you’re watching, is a genuine story, told from the heart and told from the point-of-view of the person who really knew what he was talking about. Even if Marc Forster never grew up in Pakistan, at least he gave us a look at what it was like for most of those people, especially those kids and he never shies away from the facts of life, we always try to slide by.

Good for you, Marc. But still, you should have stayed away from James Bond.

Where the film takes a slight dip in it’s narrative-force, is when it becomes more of a thriller, than an actual, dramatic story on being human and what sort of costs we have to take in life. Actually, that last aspect of life is presented in the second-half of this movie, but it’s performed in such a way that made me feel like I was watching a whole, entirely different movie out of nowhere. When you begin, you have this story of friendship that takes it’s time, builds up relations, and drama, but then you get to the middle of the movie, and then things begin to get all Jason Bourne-y on our asses. Hey, I’m down for a nice bit of tension to allow me to feel more with this story, but it came off like a call for arms where Forster needed to spice up the story. Then again, they probably had this aspect of the story in the book, so if Forster’s just following what he sees, then once again, good for him, but at the same time: bad for me.

It's the 70's. Give the guy a break.

It’s the 70’s. Give the guy a break.

After this change, the film loses it’s steam of being important and teaching us a lesson about life. I don’t know what the hell happened to this movie, but I think they got more about the politics of Afghan, rather than focusing in on the actual friendship and human emotions that were running so damn rampant underneath this story in the first place. I’m not terribly mad at this movie for doing so, because I actually still liked it and think that giving it a political-importance may heighten it’s emotion; I just wish they kept things consistent with tone, narrative, and ideas it was trying to spout-out to Middle-Class America. I will admit though, life did feel pretty comfortable for me after seeing this movie. Being all snuggled up in my big, cozy, King-sized bed. Holla.

Anyway, away from me being a dick and back to the movie. Everybody in this cast does a great job, but the one I was really blown-away by was Homayoun Ershadi as Amir’s father, Baba. I’ve never seen this guy in anything before and I automatically assumed that from the first shot of him in his tower, full of alcohol, couches, with lavish and beautiful clothes, that he was going to be one of those power-hungry, deuchebag dads that cared more about his reputation than his own relationship with his kid. Some of that was true, but once the story gets moving and we start to see more about this guy continue to pop out, then we realize that he’s just an old man, who loves his son, for all that he is and wants nothing but the best. He finds it hard to be the man he used to be, due to the fact that he lives in America, where nobody gives a shite about him, but he still keeps that royalty and honor to his name. It’s more endearing to see, rather than annoying since a character like this could have easily gone either way.

If there was a problem I had with any of these people in the movie, it was more or less that the main character himself was just such a tool. The character I’m talking about is Amir, and he seems like one of these kids who’s spoiled to the gills, can’t stand-up for himself, and just lives and breaths by his daddy’s wealth. He’s like all of the “Richie Riches” out there, except, this kid’s more of a puss. Throughout the whole movie, he never seems to make a strong case for himself, nor does he ever seem to be the type of guy you’d believe in, especially when shit starts to go South for this guy very late in the game. The two people that played him were good and tried their best, but ultimately, they couldn’t do much to make this character seem like anything more than just a sad excuse for a dude that has a bit too much food on his plate, and should at least share the resources. Probably not a saying anywhere in the world, but you get what I mean. The dude’s a bit of a bitch and I just wanted to freakin’ slap him at some points.

Consensus: The Kite Runner starts off promising with a sweet, but nowhere near-gentle look at a young friendship, that’s eventually tested by boundaries and emotional problems, which is where and when the movie began to fall-apart. However, it still stays compelling and that’s what makes this movie worth the watch, even for the toughest and manliest-viewer out there in the world.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

So many kites, so little money. Sorry kid, gonna have to steal these ones.

So many kites, but yet, so little money. Sorry kid, gonna have to steal these ones too.

Say Anything… (1989)

That Peter Gabriel sure has a way with women.

The film follows the relationship between Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), an average student, and Diane Court (Ione Skye), the valedictorian, immediately after their graduation from high school and how they work out their social differences to become a couple. Problem is, Diane’s father, James (John Mahoney), seems to be going through some personal problems that get in the way of what they have. Still, they just so happen to be in love and know that no matter what kind of curveballs life throws them, they’re going to duck out of the way of them and keep on swinging. This movie has nothing to do with baseball, but I just felt like using that analogy.

The 80’s was a decade where high-school rom-coms ran rampant in the theaters, just about every single weekend. Some were great, and some were not so great. However, others made an effort to try and change the conventions of the rom-coms ways. Not only did they add an extra-amount of heart and depth, but actually gave us three-dimensional characters to root for as well. It’s a shame though that it had to happen during the last year of that corny-as-hell decade.

Cameron Crowe is pretty big hotshot now, but made his directorial debut here with this flick, which was a great way to start off a pretty good film-making career. There’s nothing real flashy or significant with what it is that he’s doing behind the camera that’s really worth noting in the first place, but what is worth talking about is his writing for this unlikely high-school flick. That premise up-top probably makes it seem like the same old junk where we see two little teens fall in love, have sex, do funny teenager things, run through a problem where they can’t be with one another, and end up being together by the end. That’s sort of here and sort of isn’t, but what does make this one somehow different is that it doesn’t feel fake and every single step is takes with it’s story, feels believable as if you’re watching a honest relationship bloom right in front of your own two eyes.

Teenagers having sex?!?!? NOOOOO!!!

Teenagers having sex?!?!? NOOOOO!!!

Right from the start where we see Lloyd call up Diane and ask her out, in a weird way, we are somehow hooked and from then on, it feels like these two are spending time with each other, getting to know one another, and becoming attached to each other, in a real way that any teenager would do. Hell, not even just teenagers, I’m talking about people in general, too! This is a timeless story that shows two kids, falling in love and facing the hard-ships that usually come with young love, but the film never seems like it’s taking any cheap-shots at us to make us feel bad for these two when things start to go wrong. You believe these two together and it gives you a little warm and fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach whenever you see them together. Maybe I’m the only one who felt like that, but that’s just me showing my hopeless-romantic side. We all have it, I’m just the first to admit it.

Despite being made and taking place in the 80’s, the film still holds up and doesn’t at all feel like it’s part of that, as I stated before, “corny-as-hell decade”, which is probably a good thing because you can still watch it to this day and relate just as much as kids were doing way back when this sucker hit theaters in ’89. There’s a lot of that pre-Generation-X talk that goes down here with all of the discussions about not having a set future or anything and that’s slightly refreshing to see in a movie that came from the days where John Hughes movies kicked ass. These kids sound like real kids and aren’t trying to be the next frickin’ Stephen Hawkins, Jane Goodall, or Bruce Wayne, they’re all just being regular kids that don’t have any set plans on their future. And when you think about it, who does?

The only real set-back to this whole film was that there are essentially two stories going on here at the same time, and even though they both feel believable and honest, one still took me away too much from the other. There’s this whole story about how Diane’s father is going through scamming-problem at work and even though it fits into the story and makes you believe everything that happens afterwards, it really takes you away from this sweet love story these two have going on and it bothered me because I was enjoying watching them the whole time. Honestly, if the whole film was just about them two having a relationship, going through all of the problems that normal teens do go through when “love” comes into play, I would have had no problems whatsoever, but when you start bringing in another story to distract us from that, then it’s a bit disappointing. Then again, life is random and it seems like that’s the exact point this movie’s trying to get across from the fore-front.

John Cusack was always doing his own thing back in the 80’s and the teen/high-school genre was his area to reside in, without having to move a finger. That’s not to say that the guy didn’t own those roles, but it did seem like he was getting pigeon-holed after awhile and was in need of for a change, which is why it comes as a big surprise that he didn’t annoy the hell out of us here with Lloyd Dobbler, a role that really made him break-out of that mold and start really taking his career seriously. Why? Well, it’s because Cusack is so lovable and understandable as Dobbler, and also able to give him a sense of maturity that showed a man at the top of his game who was getting a lot older than the characters he was playing. There’s this line of sincerity that comes out almost every second he’s on-screen, and you never lose sight of what he wants, even when it seems like he even has. What was so remarkable and lovable about this character was that Dobbler isn’t your ordinary, happy high-school kid that knows what he wants to do for the rest of his life. Hell, in fact, the kid makes a point about not knowing what to do other than try and take up a career in kick-boxing. He’s just one of those kids out there that doesn’t have any motivation to make up his mind now, but what he does want to do is love and to be loved by this one and special someone, Diane.

And what a special someone she is.

Show off.

Show off.

Diane is of course, at the beginning, a total priss that was valedictorian, barely talked to anybody outside of her richy-rich friend circle, and is even going to England for college. Basically, this girl does not fit Dobbler’s loner-type but they make it work through their chemistry, and mainly by how great Ione Skye is here by giving us a three-dimensional character that actually seems like a girl that would fall for this guy, even though everybody else around her has no idea as to why. It’s a shame that the last thing I saw Skye in that was remotely as big as this was a bitty-part in Zodiac, because I think she had some great skill as an actress and did very well portraying a character with so much heart and honesty that made us fall in love with her simultaneously with Dobbler.

Then again, it couldn’t have been too hard to fall for a dude that’s willing to bring out a freakin’ jukebox while you’re trying to sleep. It’s more creepy now, than it was then, but damn, if I was alive back in ’89 when this first hit the big-screen, I would have been using this on all the ladies. Heck, I still do, it’s just that the cops are more than likely to show up than the chick I’m playing the tunes for. Stupid love.

Even though his story-line did get a tad bit in the way of the actual story, John Mahoney still plays his role as Diane’s dad very well. Mahoney does a great job with this material because he plays her father, almost like a friend and the conversations they have together feel realistic and honest, just as many father-daughter relationships usually are. I would’t know because I’m not a girl (yet) but just by talking to my parents in a very honest way about my life and what I do in my off-time, I can see that a lot of this stuff feels real. Also, Lili Taylor is pretty good in her role as Lloyd’s bestie, Corey, and also made me wonder just where the hell she went with her bright-ass career.

Consensus: Say Anything… may have a few distractions here and there in its story, but Cameron Crowe’s assured-direction, honest script, and timeless story that always seems to ring true, makes it all worth it in the end and one 80’s teen rom-com you have to keep a hold onto, no matter how many times you hear that freakin’ song or some dude using it to pick up some chick.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh, and thanks to Cameron Crowe, we now have a quality-band who gives out quality tracks such as this and this. Thanks Cam!

Oh, and thanks to Cameron Crowe, we now have a quality band who gives out quality tracks such as this and this. Thanks Cam!

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

As of right now, it’s hot, it’s wet, and it’s summer, so why not?

In the summer of ’81, a liberal, Jewish camp finally comes onto their last day where everybody’s emotions are running high, low, or every which way but loose. However, not everybody’s aspirations they had for the summer got fulfilled, so for one last night, everybody decides to go crazy and as if they have nothing else in the world to worry about rather than having a good time with beer, sex, drugs, and friends. You know, the little things in life that matter. Screw all that other serious crap!

Summer camp, from what I have seen in other movies, or heard of from other people who have been to one, seems like it’s a pretty awesome place. I know, it’s probably weird for some of you out there to take in the fact that I have never been to a summer camp ever in my life, so therefore, I depend on movies like these to give me a good time as if I was right there. And from what I read, apparently writer/director David Wain has been to many summer camps but for some reason, seems like he never has been to an actual fun one with a film like this that is apparently based of his experiences.

I do have to give credit where credit’s due with this flick and say that for the most part, it can be pretty funny. There’s a lot of crazy gags going on here, zany characters flying in-and-out of the story, and random acts that are sometimes explained, and sometimes aren’t. But you know what? With comedy, you sometimes don’t need to explain what’s going on, just as long as it makes you laugh and enjoy yourself. There were many moments in this flick where I found myself laughing and enjoying myself because I could tell Wain definitely doesn’t take this material too seriously and gives us plenty of random moments that either work, or don’t. As simple as that.

PTSD has never been so hilurrrious!

PTSD has never been so hilurrrious!

Also, have always been a huge sucker for movies that take place during one full-day where almost anything and everything is possible. Always like to live life like that myself, which is even better when I see it transition-well onto the big-screen.

However, the film isn’t as funny as it should be and I think that’s because too much of this just feels like a really long, over-blown pilot to a new TV show, one that would probably be featured on the old days of MTV before Snooki and all of those other d-bags took over. 12-year old type of humor doesn’t bother me all that much, except for when it’s done right, but this film just seemed like it was trying too hard to go for that type of comedy and then would all of a sudden change itself into being a parody of a movie, that either nobody saw, nobody understood, and/or even cared about in the first place. It’s a weird mixture between potty humor and a parody, and the problem is that they never really come together to make this flick a full-feature and make it feel like it was chopped up into little, itty-bitty pieces that Wain and Co. thought would be funny. Little did they know that they were the only ones who actually got the joke.

Another big problem this film seems to have is that with a premise and idea like this film has, you would expect it to be a total wild ride of everything you would expect from a camp movie, but instead, you just get something that’s actually a little boring at times. The title sequence of this flick had me feeling like I was about to see something total insane, starting off with a bunch of camp counselors, hanging out around a camp-fire, smoking reefer, drinking some brews, making-out, and eventually, getting it on, all played to the tunes of Foreigner mind you. So basically, I was expecting something like that or the rest of the hour 30 minutes but I didn’t get that and even when there did seem to be a lot of energy in this flick, it happens and shows in certain spots. After seeing Wain’s recent flicks, (Role Models and Wanderlust), I can tell this guy has definitely upped his game on providing fun and wild moments in a film and keeping that going throughout, but it’s sort of obvious that this was his first flick as you can never tell if this guy knew what exactly he was doing behind-the-camera, other than just making a film he thought was really cool and funny. With his friends as well, which isn’t so bad, just as long as you and your buddies aren’t the only ones having fun.

Sadly, that’s what happens and it’s one of those cases where the high-faves stay on that side of the screen, and that side alone.

Never since the Avengers came out last year has there been a bigger team-up of total and complete deuche bags.

Not since the Avengers came out last year has there been a bigger team-up of total and complete deuche bags.

You would also expect a lot more from a star-studded cast like this, but somehow, they all get squandered with the exception of a few. Janeane Garofalo is alright as the head camp counselor, Beth, and she really seems to be in-tune with her comedic timing, even if this material doesn’t seem to suit her so perfectly; David Hyde Pierce essentially plays his usual role from Frasier, and is still entertaining to watch, but that stuck-up, nerdy-type doesn’t work so well here as it does with that quality show; Paul Rudd is funny as a lady-killing camp counselor known as Andy, and plays up that whole dick-head act about him very well but even he’s not as funny as he should be; Michael Showalter is here as the innocent, hopeless romantic, Coop, that seems like he should be a lot funnier and usually is, the problem is that his material just isn’t strong enough to have us care too much about him; and surprisingly, Christopher Meloni ends up being probably the funniest out of this whole gang, playing a traumatized, Vietnam-vet that talks and does more wild shit than anybody does in this whole flick. You know you’re movie is in some trouble when the dude from CSI is the funniest thing in it, then again, though Meloni’s the man and it’s about time that the dude got not just more quality-roles, but ones that showed how well he can make us laugh, because that’s a greatly-unappreciated talent of his.

Oh, and Bradley Cooper is in this movie doing something you will never, ever believe he does. It gets crazy, almost to the point of where you’re wondering whether or not your eyes are deceiving you or not. Because trust me, right here and right now: they aren’t. Bradley Cooper is in this movie, and he’s doing the most wild shit I’ve ever seen him do. Give him the Oscar now!

Consensus: Though it shines in some bright spots, Wet Hot American Summer should be a whole lot funnier, crazier, and smarter with what it jokes around about and even tries to parody. Not a terrible comedy by any means, just not as funny as it seems like it promises.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

We caught you, Bradley! Can't run from this one!

We caught you, Bradley! Can’t run from this one!

Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

Would have been a lot cooler if this was the direct sequel to the Avengers.

English major or not, I think it’s safe to say that most of us out there know the general basis of Billy Shakespeare’s most famous comedy. Beatrice (Amy Acker) and her cousin Hero (Jillian Morgese), live with their guardian, Leonato (Clark Gregg). Hero is planned to wed a man named Claudio (Fran Kranz), but he comes with two of his fellow comrades, Don John (Sean Maher) and Benedict (Alexis Denisof). The former is a bit of a trouble-maker who likes to see drama occur right in front of his own, very eyes, whereas the latter actually had a past-fling with Beatrice, one that she still has not fully gotten over just yet. By the end of this crazy weekend, things might change for everybody involved.

You would think that with all of the moolah Joss Whedon (director of last year’s smash-hit The Avengers, maybe you heard of it?) raked in, he would have more than plenty of time to just sit back, chill, relax, swim in the pool, get the creative juices flowing, and take his time with life, so that he could get ready for the sequel and make it as awesome as it promises to be. Which means that you wouldn’t at all think that it was in the realm of possibility that he would not only create another movie to work with, but film it during his break. That’s right: in 12-15 days, Whedon not only created a movie (based off of Shakespeare’s most famous), but cast it, filmed it (in his LA home, by the way), and got it all locked and loaded for the festivals.

And you complain about how you couldn’t figure out how E = mc2. Big whoop!

Love at first fight. And yell. And scream. And ounce of hatred. And scold.

Love at first fight. And yell. And scream. And ounce of hatred. And scold.

What’s so strange about Whedon actually adapting a piece of work that was mostly made famous by Shakespeare (that is, if you don’t want to include the adaptation with Denzel), is that the dude is so used to writing his own material the way he wants it to look, sound, and feel, that it seems like he would be totally out-of-place doing somebody else’s, especially something by Shakespeare that is literally word-for-word from the original text. However, Whedon does quite well with this material because it isn’t all about how the and what words are said, it’s more about the style and feel of it being said, emoted, and felt. That’s all Whedon gives to us here in order to keep us away from all of the Olde English, and it works surprisingly well.

Everything about the original text is here, and here to stay, but the way the film is shot, the way it looks, and the way it feels; makes you forget that you are watching a bunch of people re-enacting Shakespeare. For the first half-hour or so, I couldn’t stop trying to take in what everybody was saying, what it meant in modern-English, and how it attributed to the performance of that actor/actress delivering that line of dialogue, but after awhile; I just forgot about it and got into the story. The story isn’t anything new I haven’t heard before (hell, I read it in high-school), but what makes this adaptation stand-out among the rest is that it actually shows to us how modern and hip Shakespeare’s stuff can still be to this day, given the right cast and crew to deliver it to the masses.

You see how a story about people that love to play love games on one another, get joy out of other’s misfortunes, and can’t help but be evil and slimy  still resonates with our world of movies and reality today, so it only seems proper that Whedon shows an abundance of joy and delight for what it means now. Whedon and the cast he has assembled all seem to be enjoying themselves making a movie, just for the sake of making a movie, but they also make it fun to watch Shakespeare, no matter how hard you try to put your finger on what “howareth” actually means.

If there is anything positive I have to say about this movie, it’s pretty plain and simple: it’s a fun adaptation of Shakespeare’s work. That’s something I don’t usually say since it seems as if every adaptation tries harder and harder to modernize the hell out of the material with poppy-tunes, flamboyant tricks, and style-points galore. Basically, I’m talking about Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet. Sorry to single you out, Baz. At least you still taught me the importance of wearing sunscreen.

But as fun as everybody may seem to be having with the material, it doesn’t always work out for each and every one of them. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof fit okay as Beatrice and Benedict, even if it feels like they didn’t display much of a chemistry when they were together. I get it, they are supposed to despise one another for awhile so that you feel as if they never have the chance of rekindling their love and going back at it, but in order for that to work, I needed more of a sexual-chemistry between the two where I could feel the flares blowing up between the two. I rarely felt that between these two and even though they seemed to have fun all by their lonesome selves sometimes, together, they didn’t do much.

Like, why is he wearing that? So drunk!!!!

Like, why is he wearing that? So drunk!!!!

The other players in this movie are good, but not as great as you’d expect. Clark Gregg is good as the odd-ballish Leonato and doesn’t really know whether or not to make up his mind if he wants to be a bad guy or not; Sean Maher seems to be really enjoying himself a tad too much as the easily-despicable Don John; Fran Kranz plays Claudio with the right amount of vulnerability and awkwardness that I imagined reading the character back in the day; and Jillian Morgese is short, sweet, and a pretty face as Hero, even if she never gets a chance to say or do anything worth being remembered for.

However, none are lead-up to the one person who steals the show from everybody else and that is the one, the only: Nathan Fillion. Fillion plays Constable Dogberry and rather than having him be this self-serious, strong, and determined dude that was all about the law and finding out what was right and wrong, Fillion does us one better and changes things up by going the goofy-route. A route which, mind you, had me laughing the whole damn time he showed up on-screen. It’s abundantly clear that Fillion seems to be channeling his inner-Mal Reynolds, but it’s also abundantly clear that the guy gets the role that he’s playing, and makes him seem like an idiot from a bad TV cop show. Fillion knows that he’s adapting Shakespeare and has a butt-load of fun with it, which makes me understand even more why the hell the guy is so loved and adored, no matter what the hell it is that he does next, negative or positive.

Consensus: Though a word-for-word adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous works of all-time isn’t the most original step people might suspect from Joss Whedon, Much Ado About Nothing still seems to have fun with itself, by giving us a glance at what you can do with a modern-day version of an old-play, if you just stick it straight-laced and not try to go all crazy with your control and creativity. Just keep it simple and let that be it.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Yeah, you better run." (Has nothing to do with this picture, I just wanted to say it.)

“Yeah, you better run.” (Has nothing to do with this picture, I just wanted to say it.)

V/H/S/2 (2013)

People are still using video cameras? What about phone cameras?

Two private investigators break into his abandoned house, in search of a student who has apparently been declared “missing” by his mommy. The investigators get in the house, find out that it’s pretty creepy, but also find a stack of video-tapes that seem to have already been viewed or are just waiting to be. What these two see on these tapes is pretty fucked-up, but what’s more fucked-up is that half of the people taking this videos can’t help but put the camera down! Not even for a single second while all sorts of crazy shite is happening all around them!

I may have been in the minority with what I said about V/H/S, but I still stand by it to this day: I had a great time with the movie! Much like other anthology flicks, some pieces of the pie are better than others, but overall, it was a nice way to get me hyped-up about the found-footage genre once again, and also add some needed love and attention to it. Like I said, wasn’t perfect but sure as hell had it’s moments that made it worth it a watch, even while I sat in front of the television, hands in front of my eyes.

That’s why when I heard they were doing a second one that was not only going to be shorter, featuring less segments, and also so soon, I will admit that I got a tad bit scared, thinking that it’s one of those sequels trying too hard to cash in on the original. But thankfully, to my surprise, V/H/S 2 is just as fun as the original, however, still shows some faults that are more clearer to me now, because I know exactly what I’m going to get myself into with this one and I have the general idea of what to expect. Once again, like I did with the first, the best way to review this would be to focus on each and every segment as if they were their own thang because they actually are, they just so happen to be short and placed in the same movie. Not something a little YouTube search couldn’t fix.

Hey, you don't know what sort of problems they may have going on in their lives. Maybe there's a reason for them to all partake in a mass suicide.

Hey, you don’t know what sort of problems they may have going on in their lives. Maybe there’s a reason for them to all partake in a mass suicide.

Anyway, back to each, individual segment:

1. As our wrap-around story, we have Tape 49, that’s directed by Simon Barrett and is about the two private investigators hanging out in this obviously abandoned house, but yet, still get caught up in the eeriness of the place, as well as the tapes they find. Like with the first one, this one’s probably the weakest link of the whole movie, and not just because it continues to start-and-stop to let the other segments show up and work their magic, but because it just doesn’t make much sense and once it ends, you’re sort of left with the feeling as to “why?” I mean, the ending to this segment, and practically to this whole film, seemed like it was supposed to be the most epic and coolest thing this movie had going for itself, but was just weird and anti-climactic as hell. Hopefully they’ll explain more about this later in the 3rd (if they decide to have it), but until then; I remain scratching my head.

2. Phase 1 Clinical Trials was directed by Adam Wingard who seems to be really enjoying the whole idea of having the camera, actually planted in his retina so everything he can see, we can see as well. It’s a fun idea that’s used well for the most part, but as the dude runs throughout the house, where ghosts and ghouls randomly show up, it becomes repetitive and boring. Also probably didn’t help matters that every scare in this segment is a jump-scare that builds on the intensity of the situation by having barely anybody or anything make any sort of noise, only to turn the volume up to 100, and blind-side us out of nowhere. It’s a lazy way to scare us, and must have also been Wingard’s way of making sure we were awake early on, because this segment sure as hell wasn’t keeping us alive and kicking.

Thankfully, it gets real, real better for us and our attention-spans:

3. A Ride in the Dark seemed like a dumb idea at first, but really won me over as it got more and more stupid, whereas also getting very original with what it had to say and do about the zombie-genre. Of course, you can’t have a found-footage flick without the ones who made it up the most famous in the first place, Blair Witch directors Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale, and you can tell that these two haven’t missed a step because what starts out as a bit of a dumb, unoriginal concept of a dude biking in the woods, gets bitten by a zombie, and becomes the zombie; turns out to be using those conventions to it’s advantage. The whole segment takes every zombie cliche you could ever think of (to the thirst for blood, the fact that they can’t run, are dumb, have no emotion for human-life, etc.) all gets turned upside down on it’s head and it kept me laughing, entertained, and ready for more and more blood, gore and laughs as it continued on. Whenever you hear or see a person talking about this movie, most likely the next segment I’m about to talk about will be getting all of the love and attention, but to me; this was the one that was sort of the unsung hero to me as it did something smart, with something dumb, and made it enjoyable for us all to watch. Let’s hope these guys stay with filming the POVs, and stay away from going back to regular filmmaking. They don’t need that shite!

"'Mon bitch. Bring it on, you P-O-V-looking muthafucka."

“‘Mon bitch. Bring it on, you P-O-V-using muthafucka.”

4. As I stated just a couple moments ago, everybody will be ranting and raving about Safe Haven, directed by Gareth Evans, and rightfully so too: it’s funny, twisty, turny, random, outrageous, crazy, fun, and very entertaining. The story of a bunch of filmmakers going to a secret cult and checking it all out is already strange as it is, but it continues to get nuttier and nuttier as the segment roles on and to go any further about it, would be getting closer and closer to spoiler-territory. It makes a big difference too because what this segment relies on the most, is having us not know what to expect next as Evans is practically pulling whatever he can find out of his ass, throwing it on the screen, and allowing us to pick it, if we choose so. I did, and I feel like you will too.

5. Lastly, the movie ends on another wild note with Alien Abduction Slumber Party, which is exactly what you’d expect from a title like that: a bunch of kids have a slumber party, only to have it ruined by a bunch of aliens and their abducting-ways. Director Jason Eisener definitely has the hard task of ending this flick out on a solid note, and does a nice enough job to keep us entertained and interested, but also feels a bit too goofy and stupid to really get a liking to. And just like with the 2nd segment, the horror here is mainly just from loud noises, seemingly coming out of nowhere, once things are all quiet and calm. Didn’t work well on me the first time, and sure as hell not the second. Oh well, can’t win ’em all, now can you?

Consensus: Even if it isn’t as good as it’s predecessor, V/H/S 2 is still fun, uneven, random, crazy, original at times, and always something to look at, even if you can’t believe the stories or the people documenting them.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Guess they didn't have them in HD?

Guess they didn’t have them in HD?

Man of Steel (2013)

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman going in really, really slo-motion.

After his mother and father (Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) are killed and destroyed, along with everything else on his home planet of Krypton, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) lands on a farm in the middle of Kansas, owned by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). While he’s on Earth, he finds out who he really is, what his powers are, what he’s supposed to do with them, and what could be made of them. However, he those are just ideas and questions juggling around in his head, as he, nor anybody else that knows of his secret powers are quick to give the answers to any of them. So, in spite of the life-saving abilities he has as something that’s not from planet Earth, he decides to lay low with a bunch of seamen (not that type, pervs), that is, until General Zod (Michael Shannon comes back from his home planet to unleash his wrath and anger on Clark, along with the rest of the human-beings on planet Earth, some of which, especially fame-hungry journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams), he cares about.

Superman, no matter what your stance is on the Marvel Universe, is the definitive superhero of our time. So definitive, that it’s almost way too hard to make a movie out of him, because you never know what you’re going to get right about his story, what you’re going to get wrong, what you missed completely, and what isn’t the right way to develop his story and all that he can do. He’s had plenty of movies, comic books, and even his own WB television series (top of the food-chain right there), but nothing has ever seem to really get him right in terms of the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and all of the finer-details in between all of the sci-fi talk and hooplah.

Something tells me that Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and David S. Goyer all knew this and had the bright idea that some justice needed to be done! However, they haven’t quite done it the justice that even the big man in spandex would approve himself, but he would at least give them the benefit of the doubt because they’re getting there and it’s only a matter of time until we are taken by the Clark, as much as we were with Peter and Bruce, not too long ago.

"Don't worry, guys. I think I got this one."

“Don’t worry, guys. I think I got this one.”

Give it some time and just let it happen. It will. If not now, then definitely, maybe later.

Where most of this “justice” comes from is in the first hour or so of this movie, that not only packs on all of the exposition and back-up info we need to, even if we already do, know about our man of the 2 hours and some-odd minutes, but gives us plenty more themes and ideas to tackle. We never think in our minds, but if somebody like Superman was to ever come into our lives; we would not have the brightest clue what to do with him, other than just push him to the side and be scared that he might just turn on you. That’s exactly the type of idea this movie touches on, and while we’re still in the period and time where our superheros are crying, more than they are actually kicking some baddie-butt, at least it can still be done in a well-deserved, original way that makes us gain more respect and gratitude for this character.

It all gets better too once Clark begins to see more of what’s on the in, rather than the out (even though he isn’t doing so bad with that aspect). The attention to detail of who this character is and why, all makes sense, seems logical, and doesn’t have you scratching your brain or throwing your hands up in the air because you felt like they couldn’t come up with anything smart, so just went with their gut-feeling and threw it all up. It works, it makes sense, and it keeps this story fresh, and full of new ideas; exactly what I expected when you got three minds like Nolan, Snyder, and Goyer on the job.

However, once things get hairy and the movie hits that hour-mark; things begin to change up a wee-bit, my friends, and not in the good way either. See, with the first hour of this movie, we really got a look and feel for Superman, who he was as a person, what he was feeling, why we should care for him, and root for him to do the right thing and stand up for Earth, even though we know that’s exactly what his brave-ass is going to do (what’s a superhero for anyway?). It’s dramatic in the way that it knows it’s a movie about a guy who flies around with a cape, but takes itself seriously enough to where you feel the story and all that it’s trying to get across, but it all goes away once the three minds I alluded to earlier, realized that they were still making a movie about “a guy that flies around with a cape”, and couldn’t have it be smart, enlightening, or a powerful experience in the least bit. It had to be loud, angry, violent, chaotic, special-effects-fueled, and most of all: a summer flick movie.

Yes, yes, yes! I know that I may be going against this flick bit too much by coming at it’s neck for being a summer flick, that is actually released in the summer, but I’m not rolling like that. What I’m angry at this flick for doing, is getting me all hyped-up, ready, and locked-up for an experience unlike any other superhero movie I’ve seen in some recent time, but what I got was something that started off with more than enough originality to soak us up, away from the sun, but got rid of them once the explosions and fighting came in. Which, trust me, isn’t a bad thing because I love the occasional beat-down as much as the next bad-ass motherfucker, but I have to say that this flick, with the way that it’s done and at the capacity it’s constantly at; it’s a damn shame. Everything was working so fine too, and then Warner Bros. had to (possibly) screw it all up.

Damn, major, Hollywood producers!

"In my contract, it says I have to do this at least once, so awwhwhwhwhwhwwhwhwhwh!!!"

“In my contract, it says I have to do this at least once, so awwhwhwhwhwhwwhwhwhwh!!!”

But the movie does deliver on it’s goods when it comes to being an action movie, with superhero’s doing superhero-like things, it just seems like a bit of a bummer after the incredible start we got. With that taken into the mind, Snyder still does a nice job at showing all types of carnage and destruction, without ever having it look too campy or using that dreaded slo-mo of his. The man also shows that he’s more than capable of being subtle with what he wants to say, and how he wants to get his words across, without literally spelling them out on the screen or having the character say it for him. Snyder seems like he’s changing and evolving more as a filmmaker and it has me anticipate more and more what’s next to come of him and his career. And I’m not just talking about the next Superman movie, I’m talking about whatever he decides to do next as a project. No matter what, sign me up and get me a Redbull!

An aspect of this movie that Snyder handles perfectly, is the impressive ensemble he’s been able to put together. Henry Cavill leads the day as Superman/Clark Kent and does a serviceable job as the man with the big red cape, but here’s the thing about him: he isn’t given much to do. When it comes to being a superhero, having those sort of traits, and making us feel like this guy could, and would go to bat for our race of humans, had he been pushed into doing so, but he isn’t given much else other than that. Cavill’s definitely a charming, handsome-looking dude, no doubt about that one, but something still felt like there should have been more given to this guy, in order for him to really work his ass off. Just like with Snyder’s direction, I hope to see it get better and better as the sequels come piling in.

Despite her being a tad too old to play young, hot-shot journalist of the Daily Planet, Lois Lane, Amy Adams is still great because she has that fiery-attitude of hers that meshes well with the character, as well as being an equal of sorts to Superman. She doesn’t fall head-over-heels for the dude right away, it takes some time and some development to really have them fall in love, and I have to say that it was pretty damn effective by what they were able to do with them both. Nothing spectacular, but better than what we’re used to getting with superhero/human romances. Laurence Fishburne plays Perry White, her boss, and is good, but really serves no purpose in this movie other than to be Perry White who’s there to give Lois a hard-ass time, run when the shit gets heavy, and remind us that he’ll probably play a bigger part in the sequels as well. I look forward to it, but as for now; I wait and I wonder. Just like I do with everyday-life.

"Perry White", get it? Laurence Fishburne is playing a character named, "Perry WHITE".

“Perry White”, get it? Laurence Fishburne is playing a character named, “Perry WHITE”.

A lot of people praised the hell out of the decision to cast Michael Shannon as General Zod and although I think it was a smart move since this guy can be completely bonkers when he wants to, I still feel like there’s a better performance from this dude, lying within all of the yelling and screaming. Zod definitely has a moral-dilemma here that’s supposed to make us wonder if what he’s planning on doing is the right, or the wrong thing, however, the movie only seems to touch that surface and go nowhere else with it. It’s just Zod being a dick, and although I like Shannon playing a dick, especially one that just so happens to be General Zod, it’s not like I haven’t seen this type of performance done before, done better, and done by Shannon himself.

Rounding out the rest of the cast is Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the Kents, aka, the people who take Clark in as a wee, little boy, and both are fantastic. I thought Costner’s role was going to be shoe-horned in because he’s a big, but aging-star, but he did well with the role and provided plenty of emotion, depth, and understanding for the character of Clark Kent, that carries on mostly throughout the film. Lane is also great because she provides the same type of emotional-attachment to Clark, and never feels like she’s over-doing the earnestness. And lastly, we have Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Clark’s real daddy, and in a day and age where Crowe can’t seem to do anything right by anybody’s imagination, it’s nice to be reminded that not only can do the dude still act and have us bring some tears to our eyes, but also kick some ass when he needs to. Just stay away from the microphone, buddy, and all will be fine with your career and respect you oh so desire.

Consensus: Though it definitely starts off great, with just enough attention to exposition, character, story, and heart, Man of Steel eventually takes a detour into the loud, action-y, stupid, and brainless exercise that we’re used to getting with superhero movies, but feels like a bit of a disappointment now, knowing what could have been, and still might be, seeing what the sequels can do next.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay, well, he just broke the vault so that's considered a robbery, right? Yep, this dude's gonna get pinched with a lifer.

Okay, well, he just broke-open the vault so that’s considered a robbery, right? Yep, this dude’s gonna get pinched with a lifer.

Sucker Punch (2011)

Pretty much a wet-dream for any nerd who stays in on the weekends to drool over the hotties from anime. And sex addicts that like it rough.

A girl named Babydoll (Emily Browning) gets sent to the insane asylum where she is essentially going to get a lobotomy, but before that occurs and her whole mind and memory is lost, she dreams of a world that’s as imaginative and as weird as you can get. She dreams of being a newly-affirmed dancer in a high-class nightclub where instead of dancing for rich dudes by taking off of her clothes, gets into the beats and rhythms by being sent on missions, along with her fellow strippers, where she has to kill someone or something. However, reality catches up with poor Babydoll and eventually the life she once had, begins to intersect with the one she’s dreaming of.

Since Zack Snyder’s going to apparently be changing the world with his “newer, darker version of Superman”, I thought it would be best to see just what the hell the dude fucked up with last time he made something for the screen. I never had any reason or sole-desire to see this movie, not just because of the shitty reviews or unanimous anger centered towards the movie’s material, but because scantily-clad ladies in leather, shooting guns, and killing baddies just doesn’t interest me all that much. No, it’s not because I’m a dude, that just so happens to have a dick, and actually be one as well, it’s just because that’s just not my style, yo. I’ve never been the nerd who loved anime, nor did I love video games, and nor did I love porn, aka, exactly who this movie’s made for and should only be judged by. Then again, I’m judging and even critiquing it so who am I to talk?

Give me the right time and place, I'll be shooting something off. I mean, dammit! See what Zack made me think?!?!?

Give me the right time and place, I’ll be shooting something off. I mean, dammit! See what Zack made me think?!?!?

Anyway, what’s so strange about this movie is that the story doesn’t make a lick of sense and doesn’t seem to actually try to. It’s just weird and confusing, just for the sake of it. Rather than explaining why this girl goes from gyrating her hips to the sexy beats of the music, to all of a sudden being placed in a world where samurai-Nazis are causing all sorts of havoc, we are just left to sort of go along with it, which would have been fine had the movie actually taken itself a little less seriously than it was, but Zack Snyder is not really known for shits and gigs. He’s a serious dude that not only loves hid dark, bloody violence, but also loves his slo-mo as much as the next pot-head and it still shows, even if, surprisingly; it isn’t as annoying this time around.

I’ve always gone to bat for Snyder when it’s came to whatever the hell he’s put on the big-screen, so to say that the slo-mo didn’t bother me wouldn’t make much of a difference, as I think it was used well this time to add more impact onto the hits and the blows of the violence, but that’s not what matters here. What does matter here is that this story is random, strange, and confusing as hell. Yeah, you could go so far as to call it “ambitious”, “original”, and “one-of-a-kind”, and I wouldn’t really disagree with you on that, but that creative-control can only go so far. You have to give me a story/characters that are worth caring about, rather than just throwing whatever you can find at the wall, in hopes that something will stick, and if something doesn’t; well then, that nobody noticed.

Problem is, everybody notices because Snyder isn’t exactly the most subtle guy in the world when it comes to what he wants to portray or say in his movies. And yes, I am talking about the typical, man-beats-up-on-woman signature that Snyder oddly enough has in his films. For some reason, the dude likes to show women getting their asses beat to shreds by stronger, manlier dudes and as dark and disturbing as it may be for some movies; his movies make it feel more exploitative as if he wants to get a rise out of you by doing it. He does that plenty of times here, but since this is a PG-13 rated movie (don’t know how the hell that was even possible), it’s toned-down a bit more or shown off-screen. But still, shown or insinuated, the movie still doesn’t seem to make much sense of the man-on-women violence. It’s just here to up the ante in hopes that we will feel more for these ladies as they band together to fight the pig-headed men that they are constantly surrounded by.

As empowering as this is supposed to be, it’s odd in the way that it shows these ladies as nothing more than just a bunch of chicks who wear short skirts, shoot big guns, spout-out corny lines, and show some skin here and there (but not too much because let me remind you, this is PG-13 after all). For dudes that haven’t gotten any action in the 30-40 years they’ve been alive and kicking; this is no more than porn at your own disposal without the possibility of being caught by your parents and frowned-upon til the day you die, but for a dude that’s 19 and doesn’t have much to worry in terms of women or sexual-activity (I’m a pimp-daddy, basically); it seems useless. None of it is empowering, it’s just stupid.

Which means that yes, this movie can be perceived as the “so-bad-it’s-good”-type, but even that feels like a bit of a stretch since nothing here really shines above the rest. Snyder’s direction seems to be inspired with the visuals, but with a story as wacky and self-serious as this, it doesn’t matter a bit and believe it or not, the action is pretty damn fun once you get past all of the slo-mo and sure randomness of it all. But, as I said, what’s it all for? It’s obviously not to make women feel superior to men or feel as if they can take over the world, we’ve already gone by that part, so what is it for?

Even Quentin Tarantino would say, "Dude, what the fuck?"

Even Quentin Tarantino would say, “Dude, what the fuck?”

I still haven’t been able to answer that question and who knows: I may never be able to.

And as for the ladies that have to stand-around, shoot guns, act strong and willful, but also be sexy as hell: I felt bad as hell for them since their careers are the only ones on-the-line here. Emily Browning had to practically get full-on naked, from head-to-toe after this to assure everybody she didn’t star in this; Vanessa Hudgens sort of did the same, but yet, still reminds us that she too will always be known as “that chick who dated Zac Efron when he looked like a girl“; Abbie Cornish shows up in things from time-to-time and probably has the most-respected career out of the main gals; and Jena Malone is still trying to make us forget that she was that bitchy-ass teenager who didn’t like Julia Roberts banging her daddy. I know, I sound like a dick because I’m talking more about these ladies’ careers after the fact that this movie came out, but that’s all that really matters here because their performances are nothing special, mostly because they aren’t asked to do much other than what I alluded to earlier. They do their job because they’re sexy and look good half-naked, not because they can act. Call me an asshole, call me what you will, but it’s more obvious once you actually see the movie and let it all sink in like yours truly.

Consensus: Snyder’s eye for detail and style doesn’t disappoint, but the odd, confusing, and surprisingly-offensive story in Sucker Punch does and only further shows us why Hollywood should be careful to give hot-shot, big-headed directors the chance to do whatever the hell they want to do, all because they made plenty of money at the box office already and are practically granted their time to shine on their own.

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Listen to me, honey: get the fuck away from this dude. I've been with him twice so far, and almost nothing good has come of it."

“Listen to me, honey: get the fuck away from this dude. I’ve been with him twice so far, and almost nothing good has come of it.”

This Is the End (2013)

If the world is going to end, please let me be surrounded by at least one of these guys.

Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and a whole slew of other celebrities and friends come to a party at James Franco’s house and what’s supposed to be just a normal, get-shitty-with-it bash, all of a sudden turns into something incredibly deadly and dangerous. It’s actually the apocalypse that is occurring, but rather than going outside and running the chance of possibly getting killed, the guys decide to stay in the house in hopes that help will eventually come their way. What actually ends up happening is that the guys get absolutely sick and tired of one another and just pray that they get killed as soon as possible.

In the year 2013, when the Wolf Pack doesn’t even seem concerned with squirting out a laugh or two; Owen and Vince can’t recapture the glory days they once had; and that the only thing funny going on with Melissa McCarthy is how a critic refers to her as a “Hippo”, it’s nice to be reminded that comedy is yes, still alive and well, and best of all: still able to make a person hold their stomach while laughing. Then again, with everybody from the Judd Apatow crew, could I have expected anything less? Seriously, everybody here has, and probably will forever always be funny, but if you put them together in one movie, with one inspired-premise that makes them have to be around each other, and give them plenty of lee-way with who the director is (in this case, it’s both Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg); then you have absolute hilarity that does not disappoint for a single bit.

Hyped it up quite enough for ya?

Somehow, something tells me that the actual party would be more horrific and insane.

Somehow, something tells me that the actual party would be more horrific and insane.

Well good, because this movie is the best comedy of the year so far, and judging by what seems to be coming up in the future, probably the rest of the year. It’s well deserved too because year-after-year, we get a comedy that’s funny, makes us laugh, makes us have a good time, and reminds us why we like going to the movies, but never really does anything that’s worth remembering except for maybe a couple of chuckles here and there. Which means we rarely so often actually get a comedy that’s hilarious, is a hoot-and-a-half, and reminds us why comedies can be enjoyed so much, no matter what they’re about or who’s in them. Oh, and to make that even better; it’s an R-rated comedy at that.

It’s not a comedy that wants to appeal to a mass-audience and it’s sure as hell not a comedy that takes it’s R-rating with a grain of salt; this is a very, very hard-R, and rightfully so because when you have these dudes, playing caricaturized-versions of themselves, you need all the cursing, nudity, grotesqueness, smugness, evil, etc. you can get to really make a person laugh. In this movie’s case; it makes you laugh plenty more than you expected and that’s what I loved so much about this movie. It makes you laugh, and always has you guessing what’s going to come of next with this story, direction, humor, or just what the hell these guys are going to pull out of their sleeves next. After the first 10-15 minutes where we see Franco’s party get destroyed and there actually becomes a big-ass hole in the Earth’s crust, we are just hanging around a bunch of funny dudes that can’t take themselves as seriously as they would like to be portrayed and do whatever the hell they feel like doing next. And by “whatever the hell they feel like doing next”, I do mean, “WHATEVER THE HELL THEY FEEL LIKE DOING NEXT.”

This is an aspect of movies, never mind comedies, that we rarely see and it’s so hard to actually see a movie as blatant and obvious as this to take full-on pleasure in it. And trust me, I don’t mean “blatant” and “obvious” in the bad way either, I mean it in the way that these guys know that they’re making jokes out of themselves, and we know it too, so why not just join in the fun and have a couple of laughs while you’re at it? That’s how I felt throughout this whole movie, as each and every line that these guys dropped, whether it be improv or actual-dialogue written down on a page, just came at my stomach like a knife and had me howling for day’s on end. I’m still laughing thinking of some of the lines, and it’s almost too quotable to even remember. Everything everybody says in this movie, is either hilarious, random, or just so-stupid-it’s-funny, and it makes you wish that more and more comedies had the pride and joy to goof around with itself, almost as much as these guys are able to.

So, yeah, everything you’d expect to see and hear in a comedy coming from these dudes; you will see and hear. There’s plenty of drinking, dick-jokes, drug-induced trips, weed-smoking, violence, jerking-off, uses of the word “fuck”, pop-culture references (even to their own movies), and lines that come and leave so quickly, that you almost feel as if you have to watch it all over again just to see what you missed out on or what you think you heard correctly the first time, only to find out differently the second. It’s what to expect from these guys, and it only gets better, funnier, and more and more unpredictable, almost where it’s anybody’s game for the taking, it’s just time until somebody actually walks away with it all.

That’s why it’s so rare to get a comedy as brilliant and crazy as this that makes you laugh and hold your gut, but also one that still works even when it gets a bit sympathetic and action-y by the end. Since this is a horror-comedy flick, you have to expect there to be plenty of action, explosions, special-effects, and random bouts of violence you don’t see coming, but surprisingly, it works well with the rest of the tone as the movie seems to take itself just seriously enough that we are invested in what happens. It never gets serious to the point of where you need a tissue handy, but it does get a somewhat serious to where you can see that these guys still care about the story and the characters they’ve written, even if they are essentially themselves, just in a more Hollywood-ized version.

However, with top-notch comedy acts like these dudes, you can’t ever expect them to do anything serious or honest; you just have to let them roll and continue to make us laugh, which is exactly what each and every one of them does, in their own ways. James Franco plays up the whole “serious, artsy actor”-aspect to his public-image in the way that he’s obviously been the most successful and most respected out of the whole clan, yet, still acts like an idiot as if he was still playing that cool mofo, Daniel Desario. It’s funny to see Franco, who’s at the height of his career, still be able to make a joke or two at himself (I’m down for any Flyboys reference!), without really going too far that it seems like he’s desperate to gain back the respect from the comedy-crowd. Oh, and “the gay rumors” aren’t put to rest either, so take with that what you will.

Jonah Hill also plays up the whole fact that he got quite the big head around the parks when he got nominated for an Oscar those two years ago, and shows that he’s soften-up a mighty-bit since then. As time goes on though, Hill gets meaner and meaner, while still being able to maintain that softness to him that makes him so loveable, even when he is randomly being a dick. Seth Rogen is probably the one who doesn’t really get the most shine from the spot-light, but I think that was fine as hell for him since he was just sitting-back, relaxing, and directing the hell out of his buds, but also still having a great time while doing so. Even he gets a chance to make fun of himself as well, especially when, early on, a paparazzo says  “You play the same guy in every movie, right?” Classic, classic line.

They even get him to do the laugh. Yay!

"Stop, stop, stop! Let me fetch my make-up before you get this shot. Why? Cause I'm James Franco beitch!!!"

“Stop, stop, stop! Let me fetch my make-up before you get this shot. Why? Cause I’m James Franco beitch!!!”

Jay Baruchel plays what is essentially the Canadian outsider of the group that hasn’t really connected much with any of these guys, and has only lingered around Rogen for so long, that it’s almost became smothering. He’s funny, even though he is typically playing the straight-dude who’s thrown into a do-or-die situation with a bunch of idiots. Fun idiots, but idiots nonetheless. Danny McBride shows up and acts like the self-centered dick who’s upset with cumming everywhere like you’d expect from his latest-bouts with comedy, and shows that raw-edge we all love and know him for (except for maybe in Your Highness, which they even make another reference to as well!). And last, but sure as hell not the muthafuckin’ least is Craig Robinson as the sex-addled, black dude of the group that always yells, sweats, and says dirty things like “get your panties off baby!” Robinson is always hilarious in the shit that he does, which is why it’s such a joy to see him back in his prime, without anybody telling him exactly what to do and how to do it. He just free-balls it, and surprisingly comes up with the biggest laughs of all.

Of course, the movie is cameo-central which, as you could probably tell by the trailer, is hilarious and as unpredictable as the rest of the movie (Michael Cera’s as the coked-up, sex-fiend version of himself had me laughing long before the 20 minute mark). However, the movie doesn’t focus on that as much as you’d expect, and instead stays with these guys throughout the whole movie and shows that even though they have changed, gotten a bit more serious with their careers, and have “sold out” in ways they didn’t expect to when they first started out as young, brass, and ambitious funny-men, that they are still there for one another and will go-to-bat for anyone. Granted, there are on-screen relationships in this movie that aren’t as friendly (Franco and McBride hate each other and show it in probably the funniest scene out of the whole movie), but it’s the under-lining thoughts and feelings that count. You can tell that everybody here loves hanging out with one another and using a movie as an excuse to hang-out and pal-around, but whereas other times, it feels manipulative and cheap; this time, it feels right and deserved. Well deserved, actually. Keep comedy alive, guys. Please!

Consensus: Like with most comedies of this nature, it’s usually more sporadic than it is gut-bustingly hilarious, but with This is the End, it doesn’t matter since the comedy, as well as the rest of the movie, fires on all cylinders, takes no names, leaves none in return, and has you laughing until you seriously don’t know what’s next for these guys to make fun of. Then they make fun of it, and have you laughing even more since they pulled it off, and did it with flying colors.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

No comedy, nor movie, is complete without the signature Craig Robinson yell. Comedy gold.

No comedy, nor movie, is complete without the signature Craig Robinson yell. Comedy gold.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Just eat cakes! Who cares if she said it or not!

If you were the one who fell asleep during “the French portion” of World History Class, don’t worry; this movie has you covered. Kirsten Dunst plays the Archduchess of Austria and soon-to-be Queen of France from her beginning days where her and her husband, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) struggle to bang and get pregnant, to the latter where she had a whole country demanding her head. Funny how time changes, isn’t it?

Even though I know the song about her, and I know the (untrue) statement she apparently made, I still know a lot about Marie Antoinette; who she was, what she did, and all of the other background shizz about her. No, it’s not that I’m some weird dude who enjoys looking up historical figures, it’s mainly because the class I’m taking now for college, just got done covering her, France at the time, and the aftermath. So, yeah, basically: I know my shit.

Apparently, by the looks of it, Sofia Coppola doesn’t. There were plenty of times in this flick where I wanted to slap her, or slap something by all of the historical inaccuracies here, solely for the fact that it probably would have helped the film. I get that Coppola couldn’t be any less concerned with the nitty-bitty details of M-A’s life, but when you have a movie that’s focusing on making her a sympathetic/real person; you need to have all of those details in there and not simply make random shit up. I don’t mind when a movie does that just for shits and gigs, but it didn’t feel right here. It felt like Coppola tried to do whatever she could to keep this movie fun, entertaining, and interesting, but even taking liberties with the story didn’t seem to help either. Something else was going on here that I still need to put my finger on.

Ehh, I've seen bigger and more lush!

Ehh, I’ve seen bigger and more lush!

Coppola has that certain style to her directing and writing that works wonders, and other times; totally misses the mark. Here’s one of the latter-instances. Coppola is a gifted-filmmaker in the way that she is able to tell a story and an emotion, not just through having the characters say something, but by giving us a visual or a single-shot that convey whatever it is that she wants to convey. She’s one of the very-rare filmmakers that can do that now, and actually get away with it without being labeled as “pretentious”, “snobby”, or “an artsy-farsty mofo”. However, it doesn’t aid in her in anyway here, and makes the story seem duller instead.

For instance, there are plenty of scenes where it seems as if Coppola didn’t really seem to worry too much about the story, and decided to focus on what made the movie look pretty. It works, that’s for sure, but it does seem like over-kill and a bit of a waste, considering that this is a 2 hour film, that’s primarily dedicated to shots of Dunst playing in the grass and looking happy. Once again, doesn’t matter if you want to pull off a good shot once or twice, but when it starts to take over the rest of the movie and get rid of the substance, then it gets dull. Very, very dull.

But I can’t talk too much crap on Coppola and her visuals, because she does a hell of a great job with them. Not only is this movie beautiful from head-to-toe, but it’s also very impressive by all that it was able to capture on film. Apparently Coppola was actually able to film in and out of the actual Versailles, which is an opportunity that Coppola does not take for granted, considering she makes us feel as if we really are with all of these high-class, royal S.O.B’s, and watching them as they party, drink, smoke, have sex, fondle, and play games as if they were at a P. Diddy party.

Oh, and they are all doing it to the sweet tunes of whatever the hell Coppola had on her iPod at the time of filming. In the beginning of the flick, we get a bits and pieces of actual, alternative-rock songs playing somewhere in the background, but for the most part; Coppola keeps it cool with the anachronisms. Then, out of nowhere, Coppola seems to have had enough with 18th Century ways, and decides to unleash what she’s got ringing in her ears, and it’s all thanks to that Bow Wow Wow song that you’ve heard a million times (and done better by this guy, by the way). After this track comes seemingly out of nowhere, then Coppola goes ball to the walls with any punk rock/alt. rock song in the history of man that she can find, and it works more than it doesn’t, because it actually glues you into the party-atmosphere that these snobs seem to be reveling in. Goes to show you that Tarantino and Luhrmann aren’t alone when it comes to using songs randomly, but perfectly to fit a tone.

The fact that Coppola was able to make this story more centered towards M-A, what she went through, how she got through it, and all of the problems she had to overcome, worked in most areas, but didn’t in others. The areas that it did work in were all thanks to Kirsten Dunst as M-A because she gives not only a great performance that shows her being young, nimble, wild, and free to do whatever she wants and (sort of) get away with it, but it’s also a very subtle one in the way that she’s able to convey so many feelings this lady must have been going through in real-life. The fact that M-A was so young when she got married, was forced to get pregnant, and basically thrown on the throne as queen is something that makes you think about how she got over all of it, but also makes you feel for her a bit, the same way you would want someone to feel for you, had you been thrown into the same situation. This part of the character is where Dunst works best in and once the movie decides to drop the champagne, the cakes, and the sex-games, then that’s when Dunst decides to take herself a bit seriously and you see a young girl who has seemingly come into her own. However, as we all know: it was too little, too late for her.

"Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year."

“Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year.”

In a role that seemed more like an in-joke, rather than anything worth even taking seriously, Jason Schwartzman does fine with what he has to do as Louis XVI, but the movie isn’t all that bothered with him or his character. The whole first-half of the movie is practically dedicated to him just being a pansy, not being able to make love to his wife, and knocking her up. Once that’s all said and done with, then the guy is shown as a pansy who can’t keep his wife satisfied and basically allows for her to stay at these parties where she (presumably) bangs other dudes. Don’t know how much of that is actually true, but from what I’m able to gather: Louis XVI was a bit of a wimp.

The rest of the cast is fine and seem like they had a great time going on the set for a little play-date they liked to call dress-up. Rip Torn plays the philandering king to perfection because he’s grimy as you could imagine; Asia Argento loves scumming it up as the whore that the king is philandering with; Judy Davis does her usual, weird-face thingy that we all know her for; and Steve Coogan is here as well, but not really doing anything funny. When you have “The Coogs” in a movie, I don’t care what it is: you have to make him do or say something in the least-bit funny. Without any of that, what’s the point of even having him around in the first-place? Just for show? Baloney!

Consensus: Coppola’s style and vision slows the feel and pace of Marie Antoinette down, especially when it doesn’t need to, but at least it’s still left to be seen with it’s beautiful look, desired-attention to the finer-details (talking about the set-pieces, not the actual story), and fine performance from Dunst in the lead role, that showed that she was maturing more and more by the roles she began to take.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"One day, you're going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, just like your mother was."

“One day, you’re going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, who wasted all of her country’s money on lavish parties to satisfy your boredom.”