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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: February 2014

Non-Stop (2014)

If only they gave Liam Neeson a line like this, then we would have had a masterpiece on our hands, folks.

Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is a burned-out Air Marshall who has about had it with whatever it is that he does. He drinks, he smokes, he’s not a pleasant guy to be around and always stares at a picture of his daughter. So yeah, you kind of get the idea that the dude’s not fully on-point, but he’s at least smart and determined enough to know that when there is danger in his path, he will not stop until it is gone. That’s why when he gets a series of odd text-messages from a number he doesn’t recognize, inside of his secure-network no less, Bill can’t help but feel like he has to get to the bottom of this. To make matters worse, the texts from this unknown person, are telling him to transfer a large amount of money, to a certain account number that, when checked-on, just so happens to be Bill’s. Something is definitely going awry aboard this plane and Bill is going to find out what exactly is causing it, although his tactics aren’t always supported by those around him.

Another year, which also means, another Liam Neeson-starer. To be honest though, I don’t mean to say that in a disappointed-tone, because I actually like Liam Neeson and even the movies he’s been choosing to do. Sure, most of the movies rely on him being a tall, angry bad-ass that, at one point, eventually picks up a gun and shoots it, but overall, his movies aren’t always so bad to watch to where I feel like I’ve seen the same formula done over and over again, until it’s practically rinse, recycled and repeat.

That’s why, somehow, I was actually looking forward to Non-Stop, because not only does it feature Liam Neeson in, yet again, a starring-role where he plays a tall, angry bad-ass that picks up a gun at some point, but also doesn’t seem like your traditional-thriller. Sure, it’s got the whole “who is the secret person texting me these bad things”-angle going for it, but the way in which the story gets twisted, turned and skewered around to make it look like Liam Neeson is the baddie after all this time, really intrigued me. Even then though, I wasn’t too sure who was going to be the baddie by the end of this, which, just by judging a trailer from the year 2014, means a whole heck of a lot.

"Are you the guy with his phone up to his ear? Oh wait, dumb question! Never mind!"

“Can you hear me now? ‘Kay, cool.”

But like I was saying, what was key to this movie’s suspense and excitement was that we have absolutely no clue whatsoever who the baddie is, why that person is doing it and how exactly are we going to find out. It’s all what keeps us in the dark just enough to ensure us that the long-winding, suspenseful-wait for the big reveal at the end, will be ultimately rewarding and worth it. And even if it totally isn’t, at least we were thrown on a wild ride, right?

And honestly, I think that’s all this movie seemed to be going for. Jaume Collet-Serra definitely knows how to wrack-up tension here, but to do so in the right way that doesn’t feel manipulative. Maybe there were a bit too many red herrings thrown in our direction for good measure, but it all felt necessary after awhile, if only because it made the story all the more twisty and surprising. A thriller like this doesn’t have to be a game-changer, all it has to do is keep us guessing, again and again, even if the story itself does continue to get even more and more implausible; which, sadly to say, actually does happen here.

Yes, Jaume Collet-Serra does begin to lose it quite a bit by the end when all hell truly begins to break loose and the person(s) we get revealed as the baddies, not only have a crummy reason but sort of seemed obvious all along. Actually, that’s a lie. No it didn’t, but the movie made it seem so, just by the sheer-fact that the reasoning why wasn’t quite well-written or even all that believable. Not even a lot of the stuff that Bill is somehow able to do in such a small time-frame mostly doesn’t even seem all that logical, but when you have a thriller done in a tense, assured way like this, you can’t help but forget about all of the plot’s shortcomings and enjoy the ride for as long as you can.

Also, another quick note to make a point of is how some may feel a bit uncomfortable seeing a movie that has to do with a jacked-airplane, post-9/11 America. There are a few occasions where the movie indirectly makes a note of that event occurring and it actually made me feel a bit better. Not just because it showed that the creators at least took into consideration that that event would be exactly the first thing to come to these people’s minds, but that they aren’t too afraid to say it either. There’s also a couple of snarky-comments made towards the Muslim in the story who, just by his appearance, is already looked at in a suspicious-manner by just about everyone around him – and even moreso once things start getting racy up in the air. But like I said, it’s strange that a movie made in the 21st Century can be about an airplane being taken over by terrorists, and not just make reference to 9/11, but also how it still affects our psyche today, even just when it comes to taking a step on an actual aircraft. Maybe a bit too deep for a movie so thin, but hey, whatever.

Anyway, back to the movie on hand here.

Like I alluded to before, the reason why most of these movies do work is because of Liam Neeson’s presence, one that’s always been acknowledged, yet, never fully utilized in a role that had him command our attention, at every single second. Nowadays though, that seems to be all that Neeson gets, and we’re better as a society for it, because he absolutely runs wild with his role as Bill Marks. You already get the sense, early on, that Bill Marks is a pretty disturbed-dude, but Neeson actually takes that one step further and shows you how exactly that can affect not only his thought-process, but the whole situation he, as well as everybody else is in, in general. You want to feel bad for him since nobody seems to fully believe all that he’s saying and passing as “truth”, nor do you really get on his side either, since there’s always a shred of doubt in your mind as to what is really going on with this guy. Still though, in every step of the way, Neeson makes Bill Marks a compelling-figure that deserves to be picked-apart, if only because he’s played by somebody as commandeering and interesting as Neeson. Maybe one of these days, Neeson will shake the movie-world up again and show us that he’s got room on his shelf for an Oscar, but until then, I guess we have plenty of shots of him just holding-up guns and looking like a big, bad mofo.

Redheads are always deceiving.

Redheads are always so deceiving.

Can’t say that there’s much wrong with that though, as he’s definitely the right guy for the job.

But of course, Neeson isn’t the only one working his butt off here, as there’s plenty others in this capable-cast worth taking note of. Julianne Moore is charming as the passenger who takes a seat right next to Bill and cozies on up with him pretty quickly; Corey Stoll plays a NYPD cop and reminds me why I miss his ass so much on House of Cards; Scoot McNairy plays a passenger who tells a little white lie about where he’s actually going, only to find out that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life by doing so; Nate Parker plays a computer programmer and shows us that not all black people who are good with electronics have to look like Jaleel White; Omar Metwally plays the Muslim I made a mention of earlier and also happens to be a doctor; and even Lupita Nyong’o shows up here, in what seems to be a role she took, way before she even had a clue that 12 Years a Slave was going to make her a huge name. There’s plenty of more recognizable and notable faces that get paid attention quite an awful lot here, but what makes them all so worthy of our attention is that each and every one of them have enough positive-qualities to where you can believe their innocence, but just enough shadiness as well, to where if they were to turn that other cheek and be the ultimate baddie, then you wouldn’t be all that surprised either.

Basically, it’s a free-for-all where nobody is who they say they are, all up until they are finally found-out and taught their lessons. Sort of like my high school relationships.

Consensus: Kind of dumb, yet, also very tense, exciting and fun that allows Non-Stop to be another winner for Liam Neeson and his love of releasing a winter movie, just about each and every year. Good for him, but even better for us since we get to watch these movies and be entertained by them!

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Hate it when they all know the answer."

“Hate it when they all know the answer.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

All that I take away is that Jesus, plain and simply, knew how to charm the ladies. That is all.

I don’t think that I’m jumping too far by assuming that just about all of us know the story of Jesus Christ, the son of God, right? Well, if you need some reminding because you skipped CCD or were like me, and just cheated your way through Theology class in high school, then here’s a short synopsis for ya: Here is the story of Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe). He’s the son of the almighty God that only he, and few other loyal and dedicated followers believe in, however, daddy’s been on his nerves a bit as of late. Not only does God keep pushing his son to do things he doesn’t really want to do, like going out in the world, saving people’s lives and preaching the gospel, but he’s ruining practically any bit of social, or personal life the guy could, or would want to have. But, being that Jesus’ daddy is in fact, the almighty Lord himself, he decides that it’s best he listen, get out there in the world, start speaking his mind, letting people know what’s up and ruffle a few feathers, if at all possible. Jesus does in fact, do that, and pays the ultimate price for doing so. However, there’s a small twist here that dodges away from what the Gospel would have you believe as “truth”.

Because see: When you’re working with Marty Scorsese, you’re working with a guy who doesn’t play by the rules, no matter how set-in-stone or followed those rules may be.

You can't tell me you wouldn't want to hang with that guy!?!?

You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to hang with that guy!?!?

But you got to chalk it up to Marty’s willingness to take something like this head-on, as controversial as it may have been. Sure, Marty was, is, and never will be a stranger to controversy, but taking on the story of Jesus, our savior, and making a movie about him where he not only is painted as a human, but even has “temptations”, is just downright blasphemous. Of course, not in my eyes though. Many heavy-duty Christians would have you believe that anything that differs from their script of Christ’s life is not only false, but downright evil and should be broken in two, before it causes any more damage to the fragile, God-worshiping minds of our youth.

As you can probably tell, I’m clearly not a huge believer in my faith, despite going to Catholic school for all 12 years of my general-education, but that’s not what matters here. What does matter here is that Marty Scorsese, a guy we all know and love for painting some harsh, violent and brutal pics about the rusty, ragged streets of New York City, for one reason or another, decided it was his time to go in full-on “Christ mode” and start giving us the story of the Bible. Although, as he notes early-on, Marty does not adapt this story from the Gospel so many Christians hold so near and dear to their hearts; rather, Marty adapts the novel that this is based-off of and gives us what some might definitely say is a “humane-approach” to the story of Jesus Christ, and what we may have known him as.

Sure, this is downright despicable in the eyes of the Christians to paint Jesus, our lord and savior as anything else as a man who was more than willing to do and listen to whatever his powerful daddy told him to do, but when you take into context what Scorsese is really doing with this well-known story and “character”, then you wonder why they bitched and complained at all. Surely they couldn’t have not watched a film and got pissed-off about it because the words “temptation” and “Christ” were featured in the same sentence, right?

I mean, they definitely had to have seen this movie, therefore justifying their angry thoughts and complaints about its material, right?

They wouldn’t just jump to conclusions and automatically think that the said “temptations” that the title was referring to was those of the known-prostitute Mary Magdalene, now would they?

Anyway, I think you all know what I’m doing here, and I promise you, I’ll stop my snarky ways sooner than later, but think about it: Had most of those Christians who were originally upset with this movie being made and released to the general-public, actually decided to shell-out some gold and give this movie a watch, they would have probably been happy, since it doesn’t do much to either offend them, nor tell them that they are wrong in their thought-process of believing that Jesus Christ, God and all of that stuff is real and did in fact happen (snarkiness hasn’t ended yet, sorry). Because what Scorsese does here, is that he shows us that Jesus, despite being pushed and pulled this way and that by his daddy and everybody else in his life, really just wanted to break free, live a life, get a job, have a family, tap some fine ladies’ behinds and be like everybody else around him, while also still maintaining his title as “The Son of Christ”. In all honesty, I don’t find anything wrong or even “sacrilegious” about that, do you?

And that’s exactly why Scorsese’s movie works as well as it does; it goes through the tale as old as time that we know of Jesus Christ, and gives us a chance to see just exactly who he was a person, rather than what he was, as a symbol for religion. And though it may have been extremely odd that somebody who is so attuned to gangsters getting their heads popped-off as Scorsese is, to do a movie about Jesus Christ, when looking into the subject-matter, it actually isn’t. Like most of Scorsese’s characters, Christ goes through problems like guilt, repression, evil confusion, temptation and coming to terms with his own identity, and just figuring out who the hell he is. It’s exactly what all of us feel as humans, on a day-to-day basis, and it’s what makes Jesus Christ, in here, seem like such a real person that we could have cracked a few cold ones and shot the shit with, and even dare to ask that girl at the end of the bar’s number.

Okay, maybe he’s not that cool, but he’s pretty damn human, dammit!

"You remind me of a man I once knew. His name was Ziggy, and he played guitar."

“You remind me of a man I once knew. His name was Ziggy, and he played guitar.”

But while the whole “humane-element” surrounding Jesus Christ and practically everybody else around him works for them in believing them as people, the performances don’t do much to help out. Which, yes, is a total surprise considering the amount of talent on-display here, however, I feel like it’s not entirely all their faults. What separates this flick from most of the same skin, is the use of its anachronistic dialogue, where just about everybody here, speaks and acts like you or I would today in the present-day. Yeah, it makes it easier for those to understand just who is saying what, for what reason and to whom, but it makes everybody here seem like they just showed-up for dress-rehearsal, went over some of their lines and had no idea that Marty would be rolling the camera as they spoke in their natural, modern-dialect. At first, it’s a bit weird, but after awhile, it becomes totally distracting.

Instead, what ultimately happens is that we mostly just see Willem Dafoe playing and dressing-up as a Jesus-like figure, although doing a very good job at doing so; Harvey Keitel who isn’t even hiding his New York accent as the ultimate betrayer of the big JC, Judas, who has more homoerotic undertones added to him than I ever caught notice of in Vacation Bible School; Harry Dean Stanton gets to be, as usual, lovely to see show-up as Saul, even though his character is barely given much, or any time to develop at all; and randomly, David Bowie shows up as Pontius Pilate, making Jesus feel like a huge, steaming pile of shit, while walking-off and, more than likely, continuing his large, extravagant party of sex, grapes and togas.

The only one out of this whole bunch that really seems to be on their A-game and totally attuned to what Scorsese has given her is Barbara Hershey, playing the very grimy, very sexual Mary Magdalene that Jesus takes a liking to, if only because he wants her to make her feel better about herself (yeah, right!). She seems to be the only one who finds a way to mix the modern-day sound of her voice, to the old way in which people would have talked back then, without ever seeming like she’s stretching too hard. Not that anybody else does either (or in the case of Keitel, not at all), but she actually felt like the only one who could have lived, breathed, banged and been around during that period.

At the end of the day though, I think where Scorsese really hits his mark with this feature is that he ends it all on a positive, uplifting note. I won’t dare spoil it here, but when you see it, you’ll wonder just exactly why those devoted Christians were so pissed in the first place.

Oh wait, I know why: Because they’re Christians! End of snarkiness, I swear!

Consensus: Though the idea of a movie devoted solely to Jesus Christ and his humane-like ways, may be a sore-spot for some more faith-based viewers out there, for the rest of us, the Last Temptation of Christ ends up being an honest, wonderful and insightful look at the life Jesus himself may have wanted to live, had he been real, or, had he been real, would have liked to do when his daddy wasn’t looking or pushing him.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

The end. Or so we think......

The end. Or so we think……

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

It’s all in the title, folks.

This is going to be a bit of a struggle, but I’ll get through it somehow. Anyway, the story goes a little something like this (I think): Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) boards a plane in order to protect and guard a key witness (Nathan Phillips) in a crime he is investigating. There seems to be no problems whatsoever with the flight once it first gets off and running, as there are plenty of fun, vibrant people from all walks of life gathered together to reach their destination of L.A. However, there seems to be one problem, and one problem only that nobody on-board ever anticipated: Fucking Snakes, man! Snakes are on this motha fuckin’ plane!

So yeah, as you can tell, I didn’t really have to go into too much detail with that premise, because it’s all pretty simple: There are snakes, who are very high, that also just so happen to be on a nearly-packed plane, where nobody is expecting these sorts of mofos to come right at them as they put on their gas-masks. Sure, you could say this is terribly stupid, and if you did say so, I wouldn’t hold it against you one bit. In fact, I’d applaud you for at least noticing the sheer-stupidity that comes along with a movie when you’re title is in fact Snakes on a Plane.

So fake, but so cool!

So fake, but so cool!

However, I would hold it against you if you weren’t the slightest bit interested in seeing something like this, because even the reprehensibly idiotic movies have to have at least something worth seeing, right?

Well, I’d say have to say yeah, because this is what happens when you take your B-movie premise, your B-movie title and a meager-enough budget to make something that’s not only quite dumb, but actually know that it is, not try to make any mistakes by adding unnecessary melodrama and give it all you got. Because hey, if you fail at making a dumb movie, you’re just a terrible person who should never work a movie camera in your life ever again. Just saying, but it’s true.

Thankfully though, director David R. Ellis knew exactly what he was getting himself into with this kind of material and doesn’t step-back once from pushing it over that extra-step into total “crazy town”. Think about it, when all you have is an-hour-and-a-half-movie dedicated to snakes on crack, slithering around, eating and killing people in whatever possible way you could imagine, you have to have a bit of fun, right? Hell yeah! And that’s why Ellis, deserves credit here for not trying to get too serious here or too dry. Sure, the humor is pretty awful, and so are most of the lines, but at least the guy doesn’t focus on them too much in hopes that people catch onto that aspect of the movie and have an even better time with it.

That would have definitely helped, but I think Ellis was fine with just relying on the action, tension and pure fun of watching some dude’s junk get attacked by an Anaconda. Especially when your target-demographic for something like this is drunken-teenagers, then you have to give them what they want, and that’s boobies, banging, blood, snakes, guns and Samuel L. Jackson yelling, screaming and doing whatever the hell he wants.

And yes, I did just spell-out your recipe for “What Makes an Awesome Movie”. You can all thank me later when you’re rolling in the hundreds of millions and billions of dollars.

But once again, I know I’m stretching it a bit here trying to go into this as much as I can, with as much detail as possible in order to have your opinion swayed on this in any possible way whatsoever – but I really can’t. All it really comes down to is whether or not you’re willing to put-up with a bunch of talented-people, yelling some cheesetastic lines, running away from CGI snakes and, at the end of the day, trying to look as if they aren’t doing it just for a paycheck. Maybe some of them are, but that’s not the point; the point is that this is a movie that realizes it’s not made for those who want to see a piece of grand cinema.  In fact, they’re much more attuned to the movies that don’t need much thought or even plausibility; just expectations of pure schlock, craziness and fun. That’s all.

Totally slumming it here. But it's all for a good cause!

Totally slumming it here. But it’s all for a good cause!

People nowadays go out and see something like Sharknado, or Croctopus, or whatever animal-and-natural-disaster-equation you can come up with, for the pure fact that they are going to see something that isn’t weight, isn’t thought-provoking, and sure as hell doesn’t need to be seen with a clear mind. And there is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with that, because sometimes, when done right, those types of movies can work all sorts of wonders. In ways, they can make people laugh their assess off; in other ways, they can even go so far as to transport that viewer into a whole different world where nutty shit happens, just for the sake of pure entertainment. Now, I don’t know what any of ya’ll out there think, but isn’t that the whole point of going to the movies in the first place? Sure, you want to see those real heavy, real dramatic and real life-changing pieces of film where you can’t seem to get its memory out of your head, nor can you stop allowing it to affect you and your daily-life. Those movies are all fine and dandy, but when I want something to be in front of my eyes, not only entertaining me, but not trying to make too much room in my head, for it to pick my brain to pieces and leave me in whatever shape it leaves me in, I’ll go with something like this. Not saying you totally should, but give it a whirl and see what happens.

But hey, don’t just listen to me, let Samuel L. tell you what it’s all about. Oops, wrong one! But you get the idea.

Consensus: Undeniably stupid in every aspect of its existence, but that still doesn’t keep Snakes on a Plane away from being a good time for anybody who wants pure, unadulterated, non-thought-provoking fun for a quick hour-and-a-half.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Yeah, you heard me! MUTHAFUCKA!

Yeah, you heard me! MUTHAFUCKA!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

About a Boy (2002)

Boys will be boys, even if they are stammering fools.

Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) is a bit of a shallow dude. For one, he closes himself off from the rest of the world, he doesn’t work, he gains all sorts of money off of the royalties for some Christmas song his dad made back in the day and shags plenty of women, although he never plans on, and never actually does, give them a call back or anything. Although, it may make you wonder: Why would somebody who is as charming as Will, actually conjure up a plan to act as if he is a single-daddy, only to connect with more single-mothers, in hopes that he’d be able to nab them as well? Either way though, it doesn’t matter because Will goes for it anyway and wouldn’t you know it? The results don’t go as planned. Not only does he not get nookie, but now he’s got some awkward, mopey teen named Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) who just won’t leave him alone. But little does he know that Marcus has a bit of a problem at home with his suicidal-mommy (Toni Collette) at home, as well as being picked on at school, and is only in need of a friend; something that Will himself may need as well. His only problem is that he doesn’t know it yet.

If anybody out there reading this right now as ever read a Nick Hornby novel, they know one thing about the dude: He knows how to write characters. Not just good characters or those easy-to-define types, nope, he’s more-attuned at writing about and characterizing those certain people in our lives we choose not to be around or associated with, and therefore, would not ever want to spend time with in a movie for a near-two hours.

Exactly how I treat my kids. So yeah, I can totally relate.

Exactly how I treat my kids. So yeah, I can relate.

You know, the unlikable people.

But somehow, Hornby makes these said “unlikable people” actually ones we can actually stand to be around, but even like and, dare I say it, connect with. Because see, Hornby may love it when his characters don’t do the best, most moral things to other people, but he never stops to show us why that said person, does that said immoral act. It actually gets us to grow closer to these characters, just as we’re watching the character themselves grow-up and begin to learn more about being a good, kind person in the world.

You know, like you’re supposed to be.

And with Will Freeman, Hornby truly did give us a d-bag that is not only hardly sympathetic, but pretty damn knowing about his mean ways as well. He knows that he’s lazy, a bum, a dick and a cad-like fella that loves a good shag every now and then, but never anything too severe to where he actually has to start up a relationship with anybody, where commitments, and feelings and all sorts of that icky, gooey stuff gets thrown into the mix. Will just isn’t programmed, but he’s not acting like he is, which sort of makes him interesting to watch. Sure, we know he loves lying to women, in the most manipulative-ways possible so that he can just bed them, but he never really tries to go for anything more than just a god’s-to-honest, simple fling and that’s all. All the ladies out there must hate him, but from one guy to another, I have to say, the guy is pretty damn cool.

That’s also the main reason why the casting of Hugh Grant in the lead role as Will Freeman was not only perfect, but nearly game-changing, in terms of Grant’s career as a head-liner. Grant’s always been the type of bumbling idiot that the dudes love to hate, and their girlfriends secretly want to be with, that’s never really stretched himself too much as an actor and instead, has just relied on two faces: Example A and B. Yes, those same faces have somehow been able to charm just about each and every women across the globe, but it hasn’t really earned him much respect or credit, in terms of just what it is that he’s capable of doing as an actor, and how he’s able to make it seem like he’s more than just another pretty face, who just so happens to have a relatively fine amount of skills as an actor.

But that all changed with Will Freeman, as Grant was not only able to show us that he’s able to be downright funny at times, but that he’s also able to do it while being a bit of a smug prick. You can tell that he’s like a man-child with a million-dollar smile and fine collection of all sorts music, but you can’t always hold it against him, because once Marcus walks into his life, times eventually do change for the guy and even though he does put up a fight against it for practically the whole time, he never does anything too reprehensible to where we totally abandon his character. Eventually too, he begins to realize that he needs Marcus, just as much as Marcus needs him and therefore, they build a lovely chemistry that not only improves over time, but begins to get more and more real, once actual relationships and friendships seem to get all caught up in the mix.

Fast-forward 11 years later, and this kid's slaying Katniss. Chew on that for awhile.

Fast-forward 11 years later, and this kid’s slaying Katniss. Chew on that for awhile.

Needless to say though, Grant is the sole reason why Freeman is the type of character who is worth watching, but also another main reason why this movie deserves to be seen. Makes me wish he did more nowadays, but I guess that whenever we get to see him show up in something, whether it’d be as 2,000 different characters in Cloud Atlas, then that’s fine too. Although, the same can’t be said for Nicholas Hoult who is not only making quite a splash as a leading-man of sorts himself, but is also making a splash into some noteworthy people’s beds, if you know what I mean? Anyway though, that doesn’t matter because Hoult still does a fine enough job here as Marcus to where he’s not non-stop annoying the whole time through. He’s definitely a needy-boy who practically pushes himself onto Will and into his life, but you can’t help but think you’d do the same thing, especially if you saw some middle-aged bum just wasting his life away on game show re-runs.

Together, they’re great and give this movie all the fine heart and soul it clearly needed to survive. Although, if I had to pick a problem I had with this movie, it was that the romance-angle Will had with Rachel Weisz’s character wasn’t all that well-written, or even developed really. Both of them clearly try, and having Rachel Weisz in a movie, is definitely better than NOT having Rachel Weisz in a movie, but it did make me wish her character was given more to work with. At least nearly as much as Toni Collette had to work with, but then again, that woman could make even M. Night Shyamalan’s dialogue work, and sound like Shakespeare, so I won’t even dare mess with her. Yikes!

Consensus: Without ever getting too sentimental or sappy, About a Boy clearly rides the fine line between dark comedy, heart and romance, while also giving Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Grant plenty of time and material to work on their chemistry together, and build a friendship that’s one of the better ones I’ve ever seen on the big screen.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Learned from the best, kid. Good job!

Learned from the best, kid. Good job! Just stay away from those hookers and you’ll be fine.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

Afternoon Delight (2013)

Sky rockets in flight….

Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is your typical, suburban mommy. She’s rich, she works-at-home, she cares for her kid, she has barely any sex with her hubby (Josh Radnor) and she routinely sees a therapist (Jane Lynch). But worst of all, she’s just bored. It’s that plain and simple. So, in order to fix that and get some spice back into her uneventful marriage, Rachel decides to go to a strip-club where she gets a private lap-dance from a much younger girl named McKenna (Juno Temple). The two don’t necessarily hit it off, as much as it’s just Rachel who sees McKenna as a possible source to not only cure her boredom, but make her feel like she is saving somebody from this world, if only it’s to take her away from the sex world. This is when Rachel gets the bright idea to have McKenna stay in her house and tell everybody that she is her “nanny”, while also trying to make sure that McKenna herself stays away from the pole, as well as her other job, being a high-class hooker. As the cracks in Rachel’s lie begin to show, so do the ones with her marriage, her friendships with her fellow neighbors, as well as her and McKenna’s relationship as well, which causes hell for just about everybody surrounded around them both.

Though it’s easy to characterize anybody who lives in the suburbs as “uptight”, “boring” and “stuck-up”, among other things, it’s not exactly fair. See, I actually live in the suburbs, even though I venture out to Philly for most of my natural, breathing-life, and I can’t help but see this differently sometimes. Some of the people that I do know that live in the suburbs, definitely don’t always have a firm grip on reality, or what actually is occurring out there in the world, so they just act like it’s all a big deal, and donate to a charity or some fund, just in order to make themselves feel better about their contribution to a needy-cause. That’s only “some” people I know though.

Dude's totally tucking it in right now.

Dude’s totally tucking it in right now.

As for the others that I know, they’re just as simple as you or I. Sure, they don’t always have the best clue on what is really going on out there in the world, but they aren’t necessarily dummies either. If you take them into the city where crime and violence supposedly runs amok, they won’t fret or freak-out. Yeah, they’ll be a bit tense and all, but who wouldn’t?!?!

But what I’m trying to get at here is that most of the ideas we think we have about those upper-class, suburbanites, aren’t always exactly true, and I think that’s the type of idea this movie tries to get across – not just in its message, but through its main character, Rachel. See, here is the thing about Rachel: You know that she’s this woman who longs for something more and isn’t too into-her-own-head to get all bothered and bugged about what most of her neighbors get all crazy about. However, you can also tell that she still wants to look good in their eyes, not seem like a total “rebel”, and just make sure that she keeps the peace between her and all them, without ever stepping on their toes, or offending them in any way. And to be honest, when you watch Rachel, you can’t help but just root her on because you know that she’s a lovely lady and means well, but the group of gals that she’s thrown into, aren’t really the right fit for her and are the type of walking, talking and living cliches we usually see of these upper-class, suburban women: Uptight, boring and stuck-up.

However though, that same dilemma built for Rachel, is what makes her such a compelling character to begin with. We want to despise her and look down on her for being so dumb and thinking that she could, or “should”, save a girl like McKenna, who has practically been screwing, lying, cheating and stealing since she first learned how to speak; but by the same token, we also can’t hate her because she has good intentions, she does nice things for people and, at the end of the day, she’s just like you or me, and has the same wants, needs and pleads. It’s what makes her so interesting to watch, not because we never know how she’s going to react next to McKenna’s dirty and gritty world, but because we never quite know how she’s going to react to those other women around her. You know, the women she’s supposed to fit-in with, but yet, just doesn’t seem all that interested in doing so.

Writer/director Jill Soloway definitely made a smart decision in making someone like Rachel, feel as real and as genuine as you could get, but she also made an even smarter-decision in casting someone like Kathryn Hahn in the role, someone who, in case you didn’t know, loves to be very funny, crazy and wacky, just about ALL of the time. And in all honesty, I think that’s what makes this performance so worth watching: We know Hahn’s background and we know how much she can make us laugh, but watching her sort of play-up the whole serious side of acting-skills and actually emote, is really surprising to see on-screen, not least because she isn’t any good at it. Because she totally is and makes Rachel someone we can sort of connect with, as well as empathize with, because we all know she wants to do the right thing, even if her intentions are in a bit of a jumble as to why, and for what reasons.

But, make no mistakes, we never hate Rachel, nor do we ever hate someone like McKenna either, which is mostly due to the fact that Juno Temple practically has this whole “young, sexpot”-act down to a T by now. Though we hear that McKenna comes from a sketchy-background, I never once felt like she was all that bad of a woman to have around the house, or bring out into public. Sure, she’s been around the block maybe one too many times, but leaving her alone with my kid? Eh, I could do worse. However, leaving her around my hubby while I was gone? Not at all! But, once again, Soloway makes the smart decision in giving somebody like Josh Radnor, another dude we mostly see as the charming, funny dude in stuff, a dramatic role, but also, a very believable one as a husband that loves his wife, his kid, his house, his salary and his buddies he smokes pot and surfs with, but still may have that lingering-eye a few times.

Very subtle.....slut.

Very subtle. Slut.

Still though, the movie doesn’t always entertain the idea that Radnor’s character may actually go behind his wife and cheat on her with McKenna, which is sort of a disappointment, because there are many times where it seems like this movie could have definitely benefited from some more emotional fireworks thrown into the mix. I mean yeah, we get a couple of scenes where we see Rachel try and understand who McKenna is, where she comes from and why she loves what she does (screwing), but there was never enough to fully wrap us into either of their stories. They were sort of getting to know one another, but at the same time, sort of not. They were, more or less, just peaking into each other’s lives to see what it was all about – which I get was probably the point, but Soloway never allows for there to be much tension added into the proceedings.

Instead, we get a bunch of characters who are definitely very interesting and may make you reconsider some previous-stances you may, or may not, have had on those who choose to live far, far away from the suburbs, so that they can live in peace in harmony, without much excitement in there to shake things up. You can call their life-styles “boring”, and hell, you can even call it “unrealistic”, but for some people, this is probably for the best. So next time, just let those suburbanites settle into their lives and move, as you do the same. Unless you are one, then in that case, get outside, get your ass to the city and see what life is all about!!! Woo-hoo!

Consensus: Most of what Afternoon Delight presents here are used more as just thoughts, rather than as a full-blown idea to keep the narrative going, but when you have such great performances from the likes of Josh Radnor, Juno Temple and most surprisingly of all, Kathryn Hahn, it doesn’t hurt to just sit back and watch as these people live their lives. Even as monotonous and dull as they may be, at times.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

So if I just wanted to watch, would I have to chip in as well? Know what I'm saying, guys?

So if I just wanted to watch, would I have to chip in as well? Know what I’m saying, guys?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

The Armstrong Lie (2013)

Burning my Live Strong wrist-bands as we speak.

At first, when director Alex Gibney decided that he wanted to do a documentary on Lance Armstrong, it was to honor his legacy and hype-up his 2009 Tour de France comeback that came and went. However though, as time went on and more rocks began to get turned over, Gibney started to realize that there was maybe more to what Armstrong wasn’t just letting him on about, but also the rest of the world. See, Amstrong was being investigated on doping-charges (the same types of suspicions that have plagued his whole career), but it didn’t get nearly as bad up until Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis, came out and said that he was there throughout all of those times that Armstrong himself was doping-up left and right. This is when Gibney decided that instead of making a documentary praising Armstrong, that maybe it was time to focus in on just what was true about these allegations, and just what type of person Lance Armstrong, really is. The results, as expected, aren’t pretty.

I’m pretty sure I speak for everybody out there in the world when I say that I was pretty inspired by Lance Armstrong’s story, all before he went on Oprah and finally came clean. Not only was he able to make a sport like cycling actually seem “cool”, but he seemed to do it all for a cause to help others out there, raise awareness for those who need it the most, as well as give it his all, each and every race he partook in. Back in the day, Lance Armstrong was no joke and he was definitely the type of athlete just about every kid looked up to, regardless of if they had aspirations to play any sports whatsoever.

Even the professionals got to work with training-wheels sometimes.

Even the professionals got to work with training-wheels sometimes.

That’s why when you hear about someone like Lance Armstrong and how much of a dick he was, but a lying dick at that, you can’t help but think, “Why Lance? Why?!?!?” Because the truth is, Lance Armstrong stood for everything any moral, kind, humane person in this world wanted to stand for, but the one thing that he had going for himself was that he was a master at riding a bike and never seemed to lose. Whether or not all of those races he won were done on-the-sauce or not, doesn’t matter, because what matters is that he won, showed everybody out there that you can persevere in the face of danger, and most of all, you can be all that you want to be, just as long as you believed in yourself.

And this is why Alex Gibney’s-stance on this story works so well for this subject, because even though he is judging Armstrong for all of his wrong-doings, he’s also shining a light on the whole media-frenzy surrounding him. Because, if you think about it, the main reason why most of us loved Armstrong, was because the media kept their eyes on him and gave him all the fame, fortune and adoration one man could possibly need. We all fell in love with him because that’s what we’re practically shown everything we could ever imagine this man as being, with barely any cracks to be found whatsoever.

Sure, there were teenie, tiny whispers going around back in the day of how he may have been juicing, or how he may not have had that squeaky-clean image he prompted so firmly out there in the media, but none of us really wanted to believe it. We wanted to believe what it is that we saw, was exactly who Armstrong was, and therefore, we fell for the lie. We were all duped on this one, people! We were told that Armstrong was the most perfect human being ever created, and we practically stood-by it because, well, it’s what we were shown and told.

Now of course, I’m getting further and further away from the man himself, and more towards the media, but I definitely do think that aspect plays a huge-role in this story, much like Gibney thinks as well. He saw the type of man Armstrong was in front of the camera, which is why when he saw who the man was behind it, not only was he a bit taken aback, but he couldn’t help but find out if there was more to this. Was he actually a fraud that just used drugs to get ahead of the game? Or, as he always defended himself in saying, just the victim of what seemed to be a whole lot of jealousy going around in the world of sports? Obviously, we know now what question’s answer is “yes”, and what is “no”, but these are the types of questions that I bet Gibney had rolling around in his head the whole time during the filming of this movie and they translate perfectly to a movie that allows us to see Armstrong for all that he is – as a person, as a figure of the media, as an athlete, as an endorser, and most importantly, as a role model for all of those out there who need one.

And that’s what brings me to my main subject for the hour: Mr. Lance Armstrong himself.

Personally, I’ve never always been a fan of the guy. While I did hold a lot of respect for the guy when I was a lot younger, I grew-up to begin to realize that maybe he wasn’t all that he appeared to be. Now, I am not saying that I expected him to be using steroids this whole time, because quite frankly, I didn’t care. Some parts of me felt like he was a genuinely nice guy, and other parts of me felt like maybe he was just doing it all for show, in order to gain more popularity for himself or the sport he played in. Not saying that the causes he spoke-out for weren’t worthy or anything, but once you figure out that Armstrong himself did a little dirty-dealings on the side to protect his image as this lovely, wonderful peace-keeper, you have to wonder if he really did feel so strongly for these supposed-passions of his. Better yet, it also makes you question just who the hell he is: A nice guy, or a bad guy?

The same type of expression most husbands have whenever their wife stumbles in on them with another woman.

The same type of expression most husbands have whenever their wife stumbles in on them with another woman.

And I do mean to say that in a general, movie-sense where he’s a villain or a superhero; what I mean is that do we know if he truly is a good guy that cares for these people and these causes he backs-up in the public-media, or, is he just a show-boy who knows how to work the camera, work a statement and have enough muscle to make sure that nothing of his public-image gets skewered? Honestly, for me, I feel like it’s more of the later, but I came to that conclusion on my own, which is definitely want Gibney wants. For instance, every interview we ever get with Armstrong, whether it’d be in the past or present-day, we don’t hear Gibney telling us what to think. Instead, Gibney lets Armstrong speak for himself, in lying, cheating and stealing way. Of course Gibney probably doesn’t think the world of him, but it’s not like Gibney’s the one to make us think that – he gives us a subject, gives us his story and tells us why we should pay attention to each and everything the guy says, because you never know if you’ll miss-out on something he accidentally admits to or still feels wrongly about.

Nowadays, it seems like Armstrong’s career, for mostly everything, is over, said and done with. However, what we do have left is a story about a man who, at one point in his life, took the whole world by storm and made us all see him for what he was. Only to then to hit us right back in the face, make us feel betrayed, because what we saw, wasn’t actually the truth. It was Lance Armstrong, being Lance Armstrong, the inspiring, conquer-all-odds medal-winning cyclist; not Lance Armstrong, the human being that was pretty much a dick to everyone that he met or ever worked with, and didn’t play the sport he loved so much, fairly.

Consensus: There’s a lot here in this story that Alex Gibney decides to throw at us with the Armstrong Lie, but it also happens to make us humanize the main subject for the type of person he was in the media, against the type of person he was when the lights went on and the cameras stopped rolling.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Okay, cool. After this, can you all get the fuck out? Thanks."

“Okay, cool. After this, can you all get the fuck out? Thanks.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

3 Days to Kill (2014)

We all know that when daddy says he’s going on a “business trip”, that he’s really just going off to some foreign country and kill terrorists.

CIA agent Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is good at his job and knows how to get it done, however, that all begins to change once he receives news that he is terminally-ill. Faced with about four-to-five months left to live, Ethan decides that maybe it’s time for him to start working on the job in his life that he never was good at it: Being the husband to his wife (Connie Nielsen), and especially being the father to his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Though they initially resent him, due to all of those years where he was constantly on the road in “sales meetings”, eventually, Ethan finds a way to connect with the two women in his life that mean the most to him, and will hopefully be there for him when he eventually has to bite the dust. However though, another woman steps into his life in the form of CIA sex-bomb, Vivi Delay (Amber Heard). Vivi wants one thing and one thing only: For him to complete his final mission and get rid of some terrorist named “the Wolf”. If he can do this, she’ll give him one thing in return, a life-saving, experimental drug that only she knows about and is more than willing to give Ethan.

In all honesty, I don’t understand this whole “tired guy gets back in the field of action and violence” sub-genre that’s been so popular for the past couple of years since Taken attacked our movie-screens, and practically took (pun intended), us all by surprise. Not only did it show us that an aging, nearly-forgotten actor like Liam Neeson could still pull in plenty of people to see his movie, but all he had to do was get a couple of guns, pull-off a couple of sweet, ass-kicking moves and talk on the phone in a menacing, yet very determined whisper. That’s it, and now look at him! The guy’s on top-of-the-movie-world and finally getting some of the respect he so rightfully seems to deserve. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind that these older stars are getting their chances to finally shine the spotlight, but it just seems weird that movie-going audiences actually pay a lot of money, go out and want to see them.

She could kill me whenever she wanted.

I’d let her kill me whenever she’d want to.

But of course though, in Hollywood, once one person finds their stride and a whole load of success, and eventually, others follow suite.

Such is the case with 3 Days to Kill, where instead of getting Qui-Gon Jinn to whoop some fine-ass, it’s that guy who dances with wolves. Or the guy who made Waterworld. Either way you put it, it’s Kevin Costner in the lead-role, and he’s definitely worth mentioning first, because he’s probably the best thing this movie has going for it. For quite some time, I’ve stayed firmly on the side of Team Costner, and forever, I’ve been telling everybody, “Just you wait. Kev’s going to be back in action, and better than ever.” Not only am I very happy that I won a few bets in the meantime, but I’m incredibly ecstatic to see that comeback come to life because the dude’s been putting-out exceptional work for years and years, it’s just that nobody seems to really be paying attention to him, his movies or just anything he touches. At least, not like they used too, anyway.

However, now, Costner’s in full comeback-mode and it’s time to live it up and party like it’s 1989!

All jokes aside though, Costner is definitely the main reason to see this movie, because while it is fairly obvious that this is clearly paycheck gig, and nothing more, Costner at least tries, by not trying at all. Here, in his role as Ethan Renner, Costner’s really down-playing it and almost looks like he’s about to fall asleep every second the camera puts it focus on him. In some cases, I would usually be quite pissed-off at Costner for putting in such a lack-of-effort on his part, but somehow, I wasn’t pissed because it ended-up working for this character he was playing. Ethan Renner is the type of worn-down, beat-up and exhausted kind of seasoned-pro we get to see in these types of movies, but Costner does it with such charm and ease, that it almost seems like he isn’t even trying. Which, need I remind you, is a good thing, people! It’s K-Cost for Christ’s sakes!

Like I mentioned before though, it’s a shame that Costner seems to be the only thing really working for this movie, because everything else is sort of just here and ready for to be seen on the surface, but it doesn’t really go any deeper than that. In a better movie, handled by more capable-hands (more on that in seconds), the relationship that Costner holds with his daughter, played by Steinfeld, would have been rich with human-emotion and complexities. But somehow, with McG working it, it’s just passably entertaining and seems like an after-thought in the mind of his own. Instead, McG would much rather focus in on the non-stop barrage of numerous scenes of PG-13 action, terror and violence, which isn’t always bad, but feels manipulative after awhile, considering how many times people get shot here and yet, NO FREAKIN’ BLOOD IS SHOWN!!

Wake up in the mornin', feelin' like Kev Cost.

Wake up in the mornin’, feelin’ like Kev Cost.

I get it, you want to sell tickets and try to make some cold, hard cash in the meantime, but McG tries really hard to cover up the more graphic, naughty material presented here. For instance, there’s a scene inside of strip-club where we see a topless dancer, clearly being half-naked and grinding up and down on a pole, yet, we hardly see any boobs, due to the fact that they are being covered-up by an obvious, gray cloud of CGI smoke. And to make matters worse, another half-naked topless dancer shows up on the stage, only to start making out with the other. What the hell!?!??! How the heck doesn’t something like this not get an R-rating, and better yet, why couldn’t it? If McG decided to push the limits just a bit, we would have a way better, more exciting thriller on our hands here; but rather, we have a jumbled-up, slightly incoherent action-flick that, of all people, McG got a chance to work with.

Why him, Hollywood?!?! Seriously, why this dude?!?!?

Of course, I can’t quite get on this movie’s case too much, because I truly didn’t hate it, it’s just a mess. However, the moments that did work for me, were more than enough to make up for whatever the hell McG was trying to do. The supporting cast is really the main reason why this movie works as well as it does, but if I had to name names, I’d probably have to mention Hailee Steinfeld as she really does give it her all as Ethan’s estranged daughter, giving the role all of the smart-arsed teen-sass we’ve come to expect from these types of roles to be written. Sure, it’s a stock-character we’ve seen done before, but her many scenes with Costner actually can be sweet to watch, and are sure than enough to take your mind off of whatever the heck was going on with Amber Heard’s character, along with her whole CIA-mission subplot this movie tried cramming down our throats. Not only did it not really matter to us who was doing what, for what reason, and why, but Amber Heard, despite how foxy she is, can’t help but feel random and misplaced in a movie that doesn’t know what to do with her, other than give her tight outfits to bust-out of and change wigs. That’s it. Amber Heard, in a nutshell. Good for you, Johnny Boy!

Consensus: In case you couldn’t tell by now, McG is not a very good director, and is the main reason why 3 Days to Kill is such a mess, yet, an occasionally entertaining one with two solid performances from both Haliee Steinfeld and a charming Kevin Costner, who is more than likely going to have bigger and better things to come his way throughout the year. So think of this as something of an appetizer.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"But dad! You said that if you built it, they would come!?!??!"

“But dad! You said that if you built it, they would come!?!??!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Pompeii (2014)

Always hate it when natural-disasters come in to break-up my romances.

Milo (Kit Harington) is a young, Celtic gladiator who was enslaved after his whole tribe/family was brutally slaughtered some years before. For his next tour of duty, in which he practically kicks everyone’s ass, he arrives at Pompeii, but wouldn’t you know it, the daughter of a wealthy merchant (Emily Browning) just so happens to be too! Somehow, they lock eyes and find something that slightly resembles a “connection” on the way to Pompeii, but not until they are taken away, back to their own, separate lives, where they may never possibly see each other again. But in fact, they do, but their lives are a lot more challenging now: He’s out there in the middle of the Colosseum, fighting for his life and gaining a friendship through a fellow gladiator (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)); whereas she’s stuck in a manipulative-romance with the Roman Senator Corvis (Kiefer Sutherland). And to make this even juicier, apparently Corvis is the same man who not only killed all of Milo’s people, but even slayed his mother himself. All hell is about to break loose inside Pompeii, but it’s not necessarily because Milo wants revenge, love and all sorts of escapism – something, for one reason or another, just doesn’t sound all that right with Mount Vesuvius. What is it? What could it possibly be? Hmmmmmm……

Okay, just sit down and think for a second: Take a standard, sword-and-sandals epic like Gladiator, mix it around with the star-crossed lovers story from Titanic, throw in the whole “tragic, real-life” aspect of this story from something like, well, Titanic again, and, to top it all off, have it be directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Now, if that sounds awesomely rad to you in every which way, then you’ll know this is the perfect film for you, your drunk buddies and quite possibly, your dumb-ass girlfriend who still puts up with your immature-ass.

Basically the "token black guy", but only in ancient times. Wait! Hasn't that been done before?!?!?

Basically the “token black guy”, but only in ancient times. Wait! Hasn’t that been done before?!?!?

But, if you’re like any respectable human-being that knows what deserves to be seen, and what doesn’t, then you’ll stay home, watch curling, or whatever is left of the Olympics, and just be happy that you’re doing something productive with your life, that also doesn’t end with you losing insane amounts of brain-cells. And usually, on any given day, I’d be including myself with this group of fine specimens, but for something like this, I just couldn’t help myself. You know why?

Well, because I actually enjoyed this movie, for everything that was so obviously dumb and innate about it. Because see, this is a movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the type of guy I expect to see garbage like this from. So,, that’s why when he actually gave me a movie that was as stupid as it could possibly be in the world, I couldn’t help but laugh my ass-off more than on a few occasions. Granted, they were no way in hell meant to be intentional-laughs, they were more so done in the way that the writing is so cheesy and over-the-top, you can’t keep a smile tucked away for too long. Sometimes, and god forbid I actually be applauding an action such as this, you just have to go with the flow, no matter how mind-numbingly dumb it may be.

Of course though, this movie definitely isn’t perfect, nor anywhere near being so. For the first hour or so, I’d say that while the movie definitely has some bright and shining moments of people being cut-up, slain, murdered and all sorts of injured, for the most part, it’s pretty damn dull. This part of the movie is where we mostly focus in on these characters, the romance and all of the other political back-stabbings going on behind the closed-doors, mainly with a mustache-twirling-without-the-mustache-performance from none other than Mr. Kiefer Sutherland himself. In fact, I’d wager that he’s probably the only real reason to be so entertained by this movie, throughout the whole damn thing. Not only does he chew the scenery up like he was a homeless man in need of a fresh bowl of soup, but he actually seems like he’s enjoying everything that was handed to him on a silver-platter. Sure, it’s as hammy as Christmas dinner, but sometimes, you just need that to survive in a movie whose IQ level is clearly 48 or below.

The main reason why Sutherland is so notable to mention, is because nothing else, for this first hour, really connects with us, or even comes close to grabbing our attention. There’s the romance in the movie that’s supposed to take center-stage and really have us feel for these two, odds-stacked-against-them-lovers, but neither Kit Harrington nor Emily Browning do anything to make us believe in their sparks of romance. Most of that isn’t their fault because, like I mentioned before, the script is utter trash, but none of them really do much other than give us the reactionary-shots that we so obviously need from them to give them any sort of personality. For Harrington, he’s supposed to look tough, angry, constipated (I guess that and “angry” sort of go hand-in-hand, because whose happy when they’re constipated, right?), and have a nice, rockin’ bod so that the camera can rub itself on it, as if Anderson himself was cheating on his own wifey-poo; and as for Browning, well, she doesn’t really do much except have the same face, the whole time, and not make us see why any dude would want to put their lives on the line for her, other than to hopefully get a sniff of her panties or something.

"Should we die, or, uhm, die?"

“Should we die, or, uhm, die?”

I don’t know, I’m just gripping at straws here.

However, once the first hour of this movie is finally over, done and said with, then, things actually start to heat up; and I mean that both literally and figuratively. For starters, not only does the actual volcano erupt and start to cause all sorts of destruction, but this is the moment where we also get to see Anderon’s sheer-love for mayhem and nonsensical violence really come into play, and give us a movie that we not only should pay attention to, but have a great time with. Everything that happens to anyone in these final 40-45 minutes is so obviously insane and wild, but that’s what actually makes the film slightly interesting, if only it’s to see how many times Anderson can get away with a PG-13 rating, despite showing people getting their throats slit, put on fire, drowning, hit in the head with rocks, stabbed in the chest and all sorts of other numerous acts of violence, and yet: Still barely show any blood.

Either way, blood or no blood, if you’re going to go and see this movie at all, and be with your drunken-buddies or girlfriend who is clearly doing you, and only you a favor (you best pay her back, boys, if you know whatta I mean?), just see it for the fact that you know the ending. And yup, that does mean that A LOT of people die. You don’t really care for it when you watch it, but then again: Do we really care about the same, real-life peoples who died some odd 1,935 years? Pretty exact, I know, but chew on that for a short while, even if you still have to catch up on your women’s hockey results.

Consensus: Absolutely, positively and completely dumb and poorly-written, but for some reason, Pompeii got better as it went along, and especially, once the volcano itself actually erupted and started to take down everybody in its path. Sounds sadistic, I know, but it’s all CGI, man. Right? Or, at least I hope.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Haven't you heard? JACK'S BACK!!!"

“Haven’t you heard? JACK’S BACK!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

We Are Marshall (2006)

Nothing like a good ole fashioned game of pig skin to bring the small-town back together! That, and some random hick.

During a dark, windy and stormy night on November 14th, 1970, a flight carrying 37 members the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, as well as the coach and other personnel, suddenly crashed and killed everybody on-board. The small town that the Thundering Herd represented, not only lost most of their football team, but friends, families, neighbors, doctors, dentists and, plainly put, people that they knew and cared for. This obviously leaves the town absolutely devastated and in total shock, meaning that the football-program itself will have to be shut-down for quite some time. That is, all until a couple of players who were on the injured-reserve decide that they want their team back and irk Marshall’s president (David Strathairn), to not just find more players and more money for the team, but an actual coach that believes in them. Enter Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey), the smooth, fast-talking and charming-type that’s practically able to get whatever it is that he wants, whenever he wants, due to his cool ways. However, finding players, getting together a stacked-team and being able to live up to the legacy that the original team had before they tragically passed, is a lot easier said, then actually done. But with the help of former assistant-coach Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), Lengyel may have a shot at making his dreams, as well as the rest of the town’s, dreams come true.

Quick! Whose tie is more retro?!?!?

Quick! Whose tie is more retro?!?!?

When you see a sports drama, that’s “based on a true story”, you already know what to expect. Stirring, inspiring pep-talks; people rooting and hollering for their home-team; a lot of grown-men crying and getting upset; and finally, the one, big game that settles the score on everything. We’ve all seen it before and done a million times, but is there such a problem when that formula isn’t played with too much, but at least given some sort of subtle-nuances to make the whole thing seem slightly different? I actually don’t know and personally, that’s probably not the question I should be asking for something as simple as this.

Basically, this is, yet again, another sports movie in which we have a bunch of people looking for inspiration anywhere they can turn to, but in this case, it just so happens to be the football-field. Never understood why so many sports movies feel the need to teach us all about life through sports, as if that is the only segue into learning everything, about anything that has to do with. Sure, maybe people who watch sports love it and feel as if they are apart of something, but for those select few who can actually play sports and excel at it, feel as if they are apart of something more, leaving those other, unworthy human beings out of the equation.

Anyway, I am ranting.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s tired formula, the sports drama is, but there are the occasional moments when a movie gets it just about right to where it isn’t offensive to those who don’t play sports, but nice enough to those who do and have barley anything else to live for. But in this movie’s case, it’s battling more than just being about the sport of football. See, instead, this movie is actually dealing with some bigger themes –  themes like forgiveness, guilt, moving on, depression, death, love and realizing that you can’t take anything, or anyone, for granted on this Earth, because you never know when they’re going to leave you. Yes, this movie definitely has a lot to talk about and discuss, but with McG at the helm, it’s less emotional, and more ham-handed.

McG obviously comes from the huge institution of film where the main curriculum taught is “tell, don’t show”. Doesn’t make him all that bad of an action-director, because when you want to see people beat each other up, cars chase one another, or things explode, you want to see that sort of stuff happen on-screen and not be at all implied! However, when you have an emotional-story such as this, a very true one, mind you, where subtlety is key to make us feel for everything and everyone involved with this story, you need that type of director to give us those moments that we could only get, due to the human-condition. The way a character acts, reacts or just is, is what makes this movie’s succeed in being able to tell us everything we need to know about a certain character and how exactly they are feeling.

McG, for all of his slam-bang, action-thrilling ways, sure as hell doesn’t have those types of skills in his repertoire, so instead, he just allows the actual scenes of football being played to take over and take us by storm. And for the most part, they do work as they look nice, making you feel as if you are watching people from the 70’s, play football in said decade, while also allowing you suspend your disbelief for the shortest second of time, even if you already do know what happens in the end, to these characters, to this football-team, and to everything else that surrounds it. That aspect of the movie, McG gets right, but whenever he’s called on to give us a strong, dramatic-scene filled to the core with believable, heartfelt emotion, the dude sort of drops the ball. Not because he doesn’t care for the situation most of the people were put into, but because he doesn’t really know what to do with these moments. He just wants people to get up, cheer on their home-team and hope that they forget about their own, actual lives for a short moment-in-time.

Once again, nothing wrong with that, but when you have something of a true story that’s as ripe with emotion such as this, you can’t help but feel disappointed that they couldn’t get more of a capable-director to work on this.

"Power to the people that be!"

Power to the people that be!” What? Too early for that?

Dude should have just stuck with the explosions.

Rather than being able to do it himself and give us the emotionally raw and brutal feelings we need for a story like this to fully grip us and really speak volumes, McG mainly depends on the cast for this, mainly one Matthew McConaughey. I’m so happy to see that McConaughey is back in good-graces with just about every film-nerd out there nowadays, because not only has the dude been putting in great work in some god-awful stuff over the years, but he’s also been trying his hardest to at least show the world that there’s more to him than just good looks and nice, toned-body. The dude can act, and as Jack Lengyel, he gets plenty of chances to do so, mostly whenever he’s just trying to charm a person in their boots and make them see his optimistic, sunny-side-up view of everything that’s occurring. Most of what McConaughey has to work with isn’t perfect, but the dude keeps on bringing energy to the movie whenever possible and makes the movie a bit better. It’s not the most perfect performance that we’ve seen from him (especially not within the past decade), but it’s one that showed us that if you gave him a movie to lead, he could still do so. Good old boy charm and all.

The rest of the cast is pretty good, too, although it does make me sad to see that Matthew Fox maybe couldn’t have gotten the lead role in this. Sure, he may not have as much wit or as much light-heartedness as McConaughey does, but the dude is still a very solid actor and gets to show us many times here, why that is. Same goes for Anthony Mackie, playing one of the players who was originally on the injured-reserve during the crash, and gives us the most compelling, if only, memorable scene of the whole movie. Don’t necessarily want to spoil it, but when you see it, you’ll be happy to see that the dude is making good use of his many skills as an thespian. Others that are also good are David Strathairn as the stuck-up, nerdy president of Marshall who doesn’t want to give up on the program, but realizes that there is a dilemma with bringing it back, while also trying to honor those who have fatally-fallen. And Ian McShane, despite those evil, deadly eyes of his, doesn’t get quite nearly as much to do as everybody else does, and it’s a damn shame because he’s always a presence to make notice of, no matter what garbage the dude does. And he’s done plenty of that in his long career.

Consensus: Though We Are Marshall tries hard, it can’t quite get past all of the numerous conventions and clichés that the sports genre has set-in-stone for ages, and will continue to do so, even if the true stories themselves that the movies are based on, actually have emotional-resonance to them.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT!!"

“ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Yes guys: Girls this hot can indeed kick your perverted-asses. So watch yourselves!

When danger is looming and the world is on the brink of self-destruction, who is there to save the day? Well, the mysterious and unknown Charlie is, but he isn’t the one doing the action, he’s just simply pulling the strings. Who he has in his place to take over things and make sure that all is fine and right with the world, he has three of his kick-ass, female agents, who he also calls his “Angels”. We have Natalie Thompson (Cameron Diaz), the bookworm who is oblivious to the dudes around her (except for the ones who want to end her life), Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore), the tough girl who finds herself in more beds of other men than she probably should be in, and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu), the class-act who longs for a life outside of being a secret-agent with her Hollywood star boyfriend (Matt LeBlanc), but just can’t help but kick some butt when it comes around her way. Together, the ladies, along with John Bosley (Bill Murray), their informant, find out what’s going on with secret weapons and tools that have suddenly go missing, and may just endanger not only themselves, but their beloved-Charlie as well.

I’m pretty sure that, by now, every person on the face of this planet has seen at least one episode of the classic, Charlie’s Angels 1970’s-era TV show, right? Okay, if not everybody, then definitely every man on the face of this planet has. And if they say they haven’t, well then ladies, get a flash-light, shine it in their pupils and question them harder, because they’re lying dogs!

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a "6" would have been handed-out.

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a “6” would have been handed-out.

Anyway, I think what we all have, you know, as a society, garnered from that show was that it doesn’t matter if these women are extremely good-looking, hot and have huge jubblies, give them some corny lines, some action-moves and plenty of cool, unique gadgets, and woolah! All of a sudden, a woman that looks like Farrah Fawcett is able to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money! And there’s nothing really wrong with that, however, you can’t do that type of story seriously for a single bit, which is probably why it’s a good thing the show only lasted until the early-80’s, once people had about enough of it with their non-stop array of campy-material (okay, maybe the 80’s were even worse, but you get my drift).

Basically though, what I am trying to get across is that it’s extremely hard for a movie to pull-off the same type of charm, magic and fun of the original material, without having it be placed in the same decade of the 70’s, or at least being able to show it all with a wink in the eye, and the tongue, placed firmly in the cheek. And it’s apparently clear that that’s exactly the type of notion this movie is going for: It wants to crack a joke about how goofy these gals look when they get in their kung-fu stances and start whooping the ever-loving crap out of everyone that strikes a danger to them, but at the same time, it also wants to still be able to revel in how awesome these girls look when they’re kicking ass and taking names.

Which, as much as I hate to make it sound like otherwise, I didn’t have a problem with because McG certainly does inject this movie with plenty of energy and style to make this feel like a music-video, done with a lot of fighting, sexy women and explosions. The only problem is that everything else he does with this movie, it not only doesn’t work, but it’s too messy for its own good. Certain scenes just don’t work together, and McG himself, as a director, only seems to feel comfortable with his movie when something is either ripping-off the Matrix and being shown to us entirely in slow-mo, or when he’s giving us a close-up of one of these ladies spreading their legs open. And not in that type of way either, ya pervs!

For awhile, it’s all fun to watch and whatnot, but when the movie wants to try and be a bit goofy and satirical with its material and where it seems to have come from, it doesn’t work and instead, totally misfires. Most of that has a problem to do with the fact that McG himself came from a long, long line of music-videos before he made his film-debut with this, and also, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the writers didn’t know if they wanted to give us anything more than plenty of action, and leave it at that. The plot doesn’t make sense; the jokes don’t quite hit; and the action begins to feel like the same sequence showed to us, over and over again. Needless to say, while it may not be anything to write home about, it definitely isn’t terrible. Just misguided is all.

Who needs that much tail when you're Bill Murray? Serious question...

Who needs that much hot tail when you’re Bill Murray? Serious question…

However, as misguided as the rest of the material they’re working with may in fact be, the cast still seems to prevail and make ends meet with whatever it is that they have to work with. The three, leading ladies are all fun to watch, but it’s really Cameron Diaz who gets to walk away with the spotlight placed firmly in her hand as she always seemed to make everything better for herself and for the movie, whenever she decided to give us a glimpse of that beautiful, lovely, cheek-to-cheek smile of hers. Along with her sweet-ass, white girl dance moves, Diaz is very charming to watch here and definitely comes across as the most distinguishable Angel of the three, if only because she seems to actually show some personality. That’s not to discredit Barrymore or Liu or anything, but it’s Diaz who reminds us why she was so young, hot and promising at one time in her life, where now, all she is, is another botox-surgery away from being a parody of herself, much like Ms. Farrah Fawcett ended-up becoming in her later-life as well.

It’s a shame to see a movie in which not only does Sam Rockwell and Crispin Glover get wasted as villains, but so does Tim Curry. Rockwell has a bit more to work with here than the other two, but he still doesn’t seem like he was given much at all to work with, other than a bunch of cocky-lines to sound intimidating with and a random back-story that would, for some reason or another, make sense as to why the plot is so convoluted and nonsensical to begin with. But, to look on the bright side, at least THE Bill Murray wasn’t wasted here, and for that, I have to thank the movie. Then again though, it’d be pretty hard to waste Bill Murray to begin with. He just doesn’t allow for such a wrong-doing to happen.

Consensus: You could definitely place Charlie’s Angels into the “late-night rental” category because while it’s not memorable, it’s still fun, but still seems like a waste of mostly everybody involved, as well as some funny material that never seems to materialize into being anything more than just a bunch of hot ladies, running around, kicking ass and using a lame-pun every now and then.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Ouch.

With legs wide open…

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Event Horizon (1997)

Maybe it’s not the aliens we should fear, but ourselves? Then again, maybe not. They’re freakin’ scary!

Smart, but slightly off-kilter astrologist Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) creates a ship called the “Event Horizon” which, for one reason or another, can create small, black gravity holes and do a whole bunch of other cool and fancy things. The first crew to go aboard the spaceship onto a mission for Neptune, somehow vanish into thin air. Nobody knows how, why or where – they just know that one day, everything went dead. This is when Weir decides that it may be his time to finally go and see what has happened to those crew-members, and most importantly, to his creation, but not without some much-needed, professional guidance first. Enter the spaceship called “Lewis & Clark”, commandeered by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), the type of no-nonsense guy you’d expect to see on such a high-class mission such as this. And for awhile, everything seems to be going all perfect, that is until some of the crew-members begin to see some weird images, that may or may not be actually “real-life” or just plain and simple “hallucinations”. Nobody knows, and yet they are all experiencing them, even Weir himself, who may be getting even more sadistic images in his head than the others.

"....well then you better go catch it!!!"

“….well then you better go catch it!!!”

So yeah, I bet you can already get your pen and papers ready and try to chalk this one up to being, yet again, just another carbon-copy clone of all sci-fi, lost-in-space movies like Alien, 2001, or hell, even Lost in Space itself. And to be honest, if you were to do so, you wouldn’t be wrong; everything that you see here doesn’t have much originality to it in terms of what new technology it introduces, or what sort of logic about its premise and high-tech gadgets it may make us try and believe. But there is something to be said for a movie that doesn’t really try to go out there and re-invent the wheel, but instead, just tries to keep things small, contained, claustrophobic, and straight-up in-your-face, like any good B-movie, you know?

Especially if that B-movie just so happens to be directed by this guy.

Yep, before Paul W.S. Anderson started forcing us to notice and pay attention to how hot his wife is, the guy was another ambitious, inspired and up-and-coming film-maker that had a predilection for big, loud and extremely dumb sci-fi movies. You could argue that his taste-preference hasn’t quite changed since then, but you also could, considering that it seems like he definitely put some thought into these movies, rather than just making the same damn video-game adaptation, time and time again.

I mean seriously, how many times can we honestly see Milla Jovovich blow-off some zombie’s head, while barely-clothed!??!?

But I digress. Mainly what I am trying to get across here is that Anderson is a bit of a joke nowadays (especially being that he’s usually considered “the lesser director Paul Anderson”), but back then, when he was just getting started, the guy showed that he knew how to frame a story, make it tense, make it go all-over-the-place and most of all, make it fun. While this movie definitely starts-off a bit too plot-heavy, eventually Anderson himself decides to throw most of that out of the window and just allow us to feast our eyes on a bunch of characters just losing their cool and not knowing what to believe and take-in as “real”, or “make-believe”. And needless to say, Anderson frames this idea perfectly and actually has us in the mind-set of not knowing just what the hell to believe, or what to expect next. Always fun when you have a movie like, no matter how original its plot may, or may not be.

I guess the "hard-as-nails, take-no-crap black lieutenant cliche" could work for a movie that takes in space.

I guess the “hard-as-nails, take-no-crap black lieutenant cliche” could work for a movie that takes in space.

As you could expect too, the dialogue is, at times, horrendous. The fact that it’s being delivered by some talented, and relatively substantial names, definitely gives it an extra-push to where it’s not as grueling as it may have been with lesser-people involved, but so is not the case here. Laurence Fishburne is definitely the stand-out in this movie because it’s quite clear that he knows exactly what he signed-up for, and lets there be a couple of moments of light in his eyes, shine through whenever necessary. However though, most of the time, he just stone-faces this material, and oddly enough, makes it work because of how strict and uptight this character is. Same sort of goes for Sam Neill who is able to make any sci-fi mumbo-jumbo sound the least bit credible, even if it is abundantly clear, right from the get-go, that he’s definitely a bit of a weird guy who, I for one, would not trust around me for a single bit on Earth with, let alone flying millions and millions of miles into space.

Everybody else that shows up here is fine, too, but I don’t really want to stress any of them all that much because this isn’t really an “actor’s movie”. It’s less concerned with them, and more concerned with how it looks, feels and entertains us as movie-goers, and with that idea taken into mind, the movie does a mighty fine job at doing so. You can clearly tell that most of this movie’s budget went right into the look that Anderson packs with all sorts of 90’s-CGI, that is dated, but then again, it’s the 90’s, so what else could ya expect?!?! And also, any movie that’s as up-front about its numerous amounts of blood, gore and violence as this movie is, always deserves a free-pass from me, especially since it is quite rare to ever get a sci-fi extravaganza that’s rated-R. Maybe that’s why this movie bombed in the first place, but that’s not the point. The point is that while the movie definitely may not have had everybody clamoring at the knees to see it on opening-day weekend, it still seems to have gain a pretty loving, and devoted cult-following; the same one I guess you could consider myself apart of, even though I probably won’t be going to any special events for it anytime soon. Or ever, for that matter. I think a Netflix watch is just enough for me.

Consensus: You can’t wholly expect greatness from Paul W.S. Anderson, but with Event Horizon, you can at least expect him to deliver the goods on a not-so original story that’s fun, exciting and a tad unpredictable, especially once crap begins to hit the fan for everybody involved. Including yourself, the viewer.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Less creepier than before, Sam. Nice job.

Less creepier than before, Sam. Nice job.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

No Kraken? Booo!

A decade after kicking some mighty and fine Kraken-ass, Perseus (Sam Worthington) settles down into a life that’s relaxing, full of joy and happiness, as he teaches his son the ways of the world. Everything’s going fine too, until he finds out that his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), needs to be saved from his long-lost, rogue brother (Édgar Ramírez) and asshole-uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes). As strong and powerful as Perseus might be, he can’t do it alone so he recruits Poseidon’s half-human son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) to join him as they fight through thick and thin, limb-from-limb, and even battle a Minotaur. Aw yeah! Maybe not as awesome as the Kraken, but aw yeah!

Even though I didn’t mind it, I can get why a lot of people hated the hell out of Clash of the Titans. It was dumb, a bit long and had CGI done in a way that makes me wonder if we’re still using MACs or not. However, I still can’t understand why the hell we needed a sequel to it, let alone, one that starred the same lead, nor featured the Kraken; because let’s face it: The only reason people waited around in the first movie, was just to see how awesomely cool and epic the appearance of the Kraken would be. Which it was, but does all of five minutes, make an-hour-and-a-half seem worth it?

I can’t quite come to answer that question because, as I said, I didn’t mind the first one but I can totally see and understand the disdain of hearing the news of a sequel. However, you have to think about Hollywood here for a second and realize that not only did the first one make a shit-ton of millions and millions of dollars in the States, but overseas, it made a ton more. So, therefore, you have to realize that of course Hollywood is going to do a sequel for the sake that the first made a bunch of movie, whereas also hoping that the people who ventured out to see the first one, however many times it might have been, will see the second one and probably be just as pleased. That’s exactly who this flick is made for, and that’s the only way this flick could really work.

"No please! Don't squish me too hard! Jimmy C. still needs me for the next five or so sequels!

“No please! Don’t squish me too hard! Jimmy C. still needs me for the next five or six sequels!

That’s why I sort of liked this one a bit more, which isn’t saying too much but is better than what I can say for a movie that’s still on my list for “Most Unnecessary Sequels of the Past Decade”. Even though I didn’t hate Louis Leterrier’s approach to the first movie, producers felt like it was time to re-vamp the series and give it a darker look, feel, touch and story, so therefore, they brought in Jonathan Liebesman to shake things up a bit and see where he could go with this. Liebesman is a welcome addition to this series, mostly because he knows exactly how to get this story off-and-running, right from the beginning.

As soon as we get introduced to what Perseus has been doing for the past couple of years, action just erupts out of nowhere, and we begin to see the old-school Perseus come back in full-form by tangling with a two-headed beast (three, if you count the mouth they have on it’s tail). Right after this fun beginning, the movie jumps right into the story and continues to pile and pile on the exposition, as if all the stories and legends we remembered from Greek History 130 and Herc’s Adventure, was all bullshit.

As mean-spirited as that may sound, the movie still doesn’t show much improvement over the first one in terms of it’s story and script. Of course, I wasn’t expecting a life-opening screenplay about what it means to be a father in the day and ages of Gods and evil forces running amok, but at the same time, at least give me something to hold onto when the action isn’t slamming me in the face. I can only handle so much subplots, stories about Gods, what they can do, and all sorts of philosophical speeches about the after-life that’s supposed to have a deeper-meaning than just, “I don’t want to die”.

That’s where the action comes in and take over what was already a pretty dialogue-heavy movie. Not much better, but slightly in the way that everything looks more polished, feels more thought-out and definitely has more fun with itself, even if it’s a tad too serious for it’s own good. I liked the first one for knowing that it was dumb, loud, and stupid, as if you were watching a B-movie on cable when you and your buddies were high, drunk, bored, or a mixture of all three. This one, however, drives itself down the darker, windier-road that’s all about showing emotions and sad things that not only bring you down, but try and make you feel like there’s more at-stake here when two people are going toe-to-toe in a scrap. It doesn’t work, and it feels like the movie’s trying a bit too hard. All that being said, the movie still has enough fun with itself to the point of where the dark-approach isn’t numbing or bothersome, it’s just more noticeable than it should be.

Nary a scratch and yet: she's in the middle of an intense, bloody battle where she's doing half of the killing.

Nary a scratch and yet she’s in the middle of an intense, bloody battle where she’s doing half of the killing. Inspiration to women all over the globe.

The only real improvement in this flick that’s actually noticeable is that Sam Worthington does feel a bit more “in-his-mode” than he did with the last one. Here, he seems to actually enunciating the horrendous-dialogue he’s been given and seems to really throw himself into the action-sequences that call for more than just heavy panting and staring. Even though there seems to be little to no personality with his take on Perseus, at least Worthington shows us that he wants to be here because maybe all of those wads of cash that he was getting from four years ago, are finally running out and he needs whatever he can take.

Yup, that movie about those blue aliens was released four years back. Funny how time flies.

Returning with Worthington from the first movie, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson seem to be having a bit more of fun as Hades and Zeus respectively, even if they too, do feel like they are slumming themselves down to really fit in with the pure-dumbness of this movie. Can’t complain about that too much, since it is a dumb movie, but a little bit more time and effort would have been greatly appreciated. Hell, if this dude can give us that, why can’t you, Oscar-nominated actors?!?!?

Since everybody from the first movie practically died in it, or re-thought their movie careers, there are new faces and names to be seen and heard which are more welcoming than I expected. Rosamund Pike is a nice addition as the sexy, fiery lady-warrior that isn’t taking anybody’s crap, yet, doesn’t have a problem showing that she can still flaunt it like the boys as well; Toby Kebbell brings a bunch of wit and charm to his role as Agenor, Poseidon’s human son; and Bill Nighy shows his bearded-up face for a wee bit as Hephaestus and has fun, makes his wisecracks, and goes on his own way, probably collecting a hefty paycheck or something, and making us all wish that he would just come back and give us more fun and entertainment. Can never get enough of Bill Nighy, now can ya?

Consensus: To say that Wrath of the Titans is better than its predecessor is stating the obvious, but the problems with that first one still do lie within the cracks and creeks of the script here, and are only ignored when there’s loud, hectic stuff happening on-screen, which makes it at least entertaining to sit-through, even if you sort of wish somebody would crack a smile or two.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Two dudes who played Germans during the Holocaust unite!!

Two dudes who played Germans during that Holocaust movie unite!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Why fix what was clearly not broken?

Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is thrown into the real-world where Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and his evil ways have seem to take over the rest of the world. To end this all of this pain and suffering throughout the land, Perseus and fellow warriors go on a dangerous mission, where they run into many obstacles along the way. However, seeing that Perseus is indeed Zeus’ (Liam Neeson) son, many of the obstacles can be powered through, except for one. And yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Yes, yes, yes! We all know that this movie sucked when it first came out, with post-production 3D and all, but just think about this movie in a different way, if only for a second: Maybe it’s somewhat okay? Alright, maybe that was asking too much but please, do bear with me here as I show you why exactly this flick may not be as bad as people say it is, and say if it is bad, why it is bad in a so-bad-it’s-good-way.

Have I lose anybody yet? Okay, if I have, it’s my fault and my fault alone. But I’m not done here just yet.

The thing about this movie that pissed so many off is the fact that it doesn’t really adhere all that much to the 1981 original. Sure, the story-line and plot-happenings are somewhat the same, but overall, it’s a bit of a different take, with a different way of telling it and a whole new tone that goes in well with what I said before. Then again, the tone here isn’t really too serious that it’s painful to watch, it’s almost so serious, that you can’t help but laugh every five seconds when somebody new decides to throw exposition-upon-exposition down our throats. Even the male-posturing that was always so present within these Greek myths, all gets over-played and used in ways that makes you wonder if the movie was trying to be funny, serious, or nothing at all. More or less, the movie rolls with the last option, but I’m fine with that, as long as it can keep me entertained.

"May we please get your autograph, guy from Avatar?"

“May we please get your autograph, guy from Avatar?”

And entertained is what this movie kept me throughout the whole hour-and-a-half. Basically, the whole movie is built upon three battle-sequences that are supposed to take up the whole run-time and keep us going for more – which seems really stupid considering that this is a movie about titans, having them clash, and eventually fight that lovable sea monster we all know of and love. But somehow, it actually works because the movie injects some fun nature into them. This is most surprising to me, mainly because I know the type of crap that director Louis Leterrier goes for when it comes to his movies, and injecting a quick, shaky-cam is one of them, but it somehow kept this movie moving at a quick-enough pace that I didn’t mind all of the stupidity. And do trust me, there is plenty of stupidity to be had here.

Even though it seems as if three writers were apart of this movie, it doesn’t seem like any of them were able to capture any sort of emotion, feeling or idea to this flick that would make it the least bit more interesting. Instead, everybody yells, screams, commands others to do something, goes “argghh”, and talks about the Gods up above and how dick-ish they are for releasing all of this agony on the people they are supposed to love, care for and watch over. Then again, the movie never really makes up it’s mind of what type of stance it wants to take concerning the Gods. At times, it seems like the movie is saying that to not pray to the Gods and worship them is a sign of being disrespectful and arrogant, but at other times, it tries to say that the Gods are wrong for all of the command they issue out onto these citizens, and even go so far as to show Zeus as being non-other than a high-class, serial rapist. I mean, think about that for a second: Perseus is Zeus son because Zeus decided to bed his mommy in the middle of the night, only to have her realize that the baby wasn’t her actual hubby’s babies, and instead, have it be Zeus’, the God of all things God-like.

Kind of creepy, eh?

You bet your damn ass it is!

However though, the movie isn’t too concerned with all that nonsensical logic and understanding – it’s about big, loud, and angry things being huge and monstrous, so that we all just go “oooh” and “aahhh” the whole way through. It works, but that doesn’t really matter to me since the movie has fun with it’s B-feel, and never let me forget about it. Maybe I was in a good mood; maybe I was feeling generous; and yeah, maybe I was being a nice guy (for a change), but I honestly cannot say that this movie is near-torture to watch and sit-through. Hell, if I caught it on television anytime soon (which with HBO, I most likely will), I’ll probably not mind plopping my rear down on the couch, grabbing a couple of snackaroo’s, getting myself a soda, find the remote and give it a nice, little watch. The worse it could do is probably ruin my day, and that’s all up to me, isn’t it?

I can tell that I’m losing all sorts of credibility here, but that’s what a movie-critic’s life and career is all about. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Since he's Zeus, of course he has to look like Liberace!

Since he’s Zeus, of course he has to look like Liberace!

As you could probably suspect, if the story, the script, and the themes of this movie blow, then, most likely, the characters do as well. However, they aren’t so damn bad, to the point of where watching them will also follow-through with the action of finding hot candle-wax and throwing it in your eyes, in hopes to release the memory of what you have just witnessed on-screen. Sam Worthington leads the pack as Perseus and has that feel and look of the type of Demigod you can believe in to not only just do the right thing, but to kick some fine-ass while doing so. That aspect of Perseus, Worthington does well with, but everything else is just Dullsville right from then and there. Then again, knowing Sam Worthington and what the cat’s been up to in recent-memory, you can’t expect too much from this dude. All you have to know is that he’s going to do some bad-ass things, use the same face for every scene, and somehow, change his accent with the reading of every line. There’s Sam Worthington for ya right there, in a nutshell!

The rest of the cast is only here for show, and all are probably just as interesting, if not less than Worthington and his Perseus. Liam Neeson seems like he’s sleep-walking through his role as Zeus, the type of role that seemed like it would fit Neeson like a glove by now; Ralph Fiennes tries too hard to seem vicious and evil as Hades, even though he just sounds like an old nut-ball; and Mads Mikkelsen doesn’t deserve to be here, and doesn’t seem like he wants to be either. He’s just there for that pay-check, in hopes that he’ll end up breaking the barriers down into the States someday. I think that wish has been fulfilled.

Consensus: Though it is remorselessly stupid and over-the-top, Clash of the Titans can actually be considered as entertaining and enjoyable if you take it as the B-movie it obviously sets its sights on being, and just leaving it at that.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay, stop saying "aaaah".

Okay, quit saying “aaaah”.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Endless Love (2014)

Stupid teenagers. Just study, go to college, get a good job, settle down and shut up!

Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) is just another ordinary, simple teenager that suffered a tragedy when her older brother died. Since then, Jade has practically been a shut-in, devoting her life to the books, her studies, her family who clearly needs her and a future that she may hold at Brown. Sounds all good for this recent, high-school graduate, but there’s just one big problem: She doesn’t have any friends. Not a single one. That’s why when she begins to lock eyes with the brooding, brutish David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), she decides to invite him to her grad-party and to also be her “summer fling”, for lack of a better term. Together, the two build a nice romance that’s built upon the summer bliss, however, her over-protective daddy (Bruce Greenwood) doesn’t want someone like David ruining his little girl’s bright future. This is when he starts to take matters into his own hands by not just having a detective look into this kid’s checkered-past, but also let him know that when it comes to his daughter, he’s the one who gets to say “yay”, or “nay”. Not him, dammit!

Apparently this is a remake of a 1981 film starring Brooke Shields, a movie that I not only didn’t even bother checking out, but didn’t even know about until I actually looked up information about what the hell this movie was about. Needless to say, I might just never check it out, all because after watching this, I don’t think I can handle another sappy, melodramatic tearjerker about teenagers falling in love ever again. Not now, not ever!

Wait till they find out they've been swimming in a vest-pool of leeches this whole entire time.

Wait till they find out they’ve been swimming in a vest-pool of leeches this whole entire time.

So yeah, I have a lot of problems with these types of movies, however, being a bit of a youngling myself, I find it somewhat easy to relate to these types of movies where I watch kids, who are a bit older than me, fall through the same steps that a younger-version of myself one went through. There’s the looks, the butterflies in the stomachs, the awkward first-dates, the even more awkward small-talk, the idea of falling in love and ultimately, the act of sex. I have, and I bet most of you out there have been through the same song and dance, and it doesn’t matter how many times you see it, it never seems to get old.

Which is why for the first 20 or so minutes of this movie, I have to say, I wasn’t too pissed-off. Sure, there were plenty of faults in which certain characters said and did dumb things that would never, ever happen in real-life, but I let it all slide-by because I actually enjoyed watching these two get to know another, hang-out and basically fall-in love. A bit contrived, sure, but Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde were at least fine enough together that I didn’t mind the more saccharine of this movie, as well as their performances.

Speaking of which, being that these two are both models, it only makes sense that we get to see plenty of scenes where they run-around, half-naked, smiling, being pretty and swapping plenty of spit. When all that the film is concerned with, is letting them do that, I can’t really rain on either of their parades. Wilde has the face of a woman that the camera can’t help but focus on just about every single second she’s is in a scene; and Pettyfer, though he’s proven to be used better in far more interesting-material, does what he can to show that the dude is not only a hunk that can with this shy, introverted gal over, but every other woman around him. Hell, even the lady who play’s Wilde’s character’s mom, Joely Richardson, looks like she wants to bang him half of the time!

But as soon as the romance between these two starts to get more and more serious, where other threads start to show up, the movie really gets ridiculous, but not in a fun kind of way either. You’d think that a movie where a house burns down, a zoo is broken into, a man is punched, two dads argue, people get arrested and restraining-orders are handed-out, would be the slightest bit of wacky, insane fun, right? Nope, this movie is just dull, uninteresting and plainly put, boring. The romance we began to fell in love with before, starts to get bogged-down by a bunch of people fighting and acting like jackasses over nothing, as well as more melodramatic moments where we see a bunch of characters looking and acting sad, all to the sweet tuneage of hip, cool indie-bands like the Bird and The Bee.

Why they would even bother putting anything from their wonderful discography into utter garbage like this, is totally beyond me. Sure there was a pretty penny to be made for it though, so I’ll give them that.

Mainly though, this movie’s problems just boil down to the fact that Jade’s daddy is a total, and complete dick, throughout the WHOLE, GODDAMN MOVIE. Once or twice would have been fine, but time and time again, the guy just seems like he’s about to break something if people don’t listen to him, or that somebody stole his lunch money. Either way, the guy never seems like he’s in a good-mood, and even when we do think there is the slightest redeeming-quality to him, that all gets shoved right out the door when we realize that maybe he’s not the perfect husband he proclaims to be. You can call that a spoiler if you want, but I don’t care!

"You're not going to be with my daughter, and you know why? Because I forget to shave today. That's why!"

“You’re not going to be with my daughter, and you know why? Because somebody else accidentally used my toothbrush today. That’s why!”

This movie sucks and what really ticks me off about it so much is that it probably gave me the first actual, “bad” performance I’ve ever seen from Bruce Greenwood, and he isn’t even really terrible to begin with. It’s just that his character is so thinly-written, so one-note and just so mean to everyone around him, without anybody ever standing-up for themselves and letting him know that they are sick and tired of his shit, you have to wonder just why it is that Greenwood even decided to take this character, work with him as long and as passionately as he seemed to, and just why exactly did he even agree to do this in the first place. Was it money the money? I don’t think so, because I sure as hell think that he’s still making plenty of moolah from not only showing up in the first Star Trek, but the second one as well. Or, was it because he was actually given the chance to work with a class-act like Robert Patrick? I’d like to think so, although the two only share one scene together and it might just be the most memorable, if only because they’re so good in general, that you look forward to seeing them clash heads once and for all. And when it finally does seem like the chance has finally come for them to look at each other square in the eyes, yell-out some insults at the other and just try to decide whose dick is bigger, nothing happens. Greenwood just hands Patrick a note, walks away, with Patrick looking at him in utter disgust/shock. And that’s about it.

What a freakin’ bummer, man!

Consensus: Hopelessly-in-love teenagers who want to spend a romantic night at the movies for Valentine’s Day may find themselves welling-up during and ready to make-out with their significant-other after watching Endless Love, but for those of us who may be single, may have standards when it comes to movies, or who knows a flaming pile of dog shit when they see one, will probably be glad they don’t have anyone to go back to for this special day, except for maybe the latest magazine of GQ or Maxim, depending on what your preferences are.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Wait till a crocodile comes up and snatches them both.

Wait till a crocodile comes up and snatches them both. Be even more awesome than the leeches.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

About Last Night (2014)

Let’s face it, all meaningful relationships start with a one night stand.

Danny (Michael Ealy) and Bernie (Kevin Hart) are best friends who work together, go to the clubs and bars together, party together and even pick-up women together. Sure, Bernie’s a bit more of a loose-cannon than Danny is, but they enjoy each other’s company and never let a nice screw with a woman get in the way of their undying friendship. However, things change for both of these guys when they end-up getting involved with two women that not only take themselves by surprise, but each other as well. Danny starts seeing and getting very serious with Debbie (Joy Bryant), the type of girl that seems perfect for him, that is, until he starts having doubts about giving up his freedom and not being his own man; whereas Bernie has a bit of a “friends with benefits” thing going on with Joan (Regina Hall), all until she decides to drop the dreaded, “L word” and screw everything up for all of them. Not just her and Bernie, but Danny and Debbie, too, as they begin to run into more and more fights as they grow more accustomed to one another and realize that maybe there are still more fish out there in the sea.

As most of you may already know by now, I disliked the hell out of the 1986 original with practically most of my heart. So, that’s why, even though I had my reservations, I went into this with a slightly better mind-set. I knew it would be more of a “modern re-boot” of that story, change-up the humor a bit and, if at all possible, make me believe in any of these people banging, loving one another and deciding as to whether or not they should spend the rest of their lives with on another. The fact that I couldn’t believe that for a single second in the original, really killed it, but could they improve that problem here?

Oh no! She's wearing your shirt, man! SHE'S WEARING YOUR SHIRT!! Game over, man!

Oh no! She’s wearing your shirt, man! SHE’S WEARING YOUR SHIRT!! Game over, man!

Well, sorta, but not really. See, here’s the thing with this movie: While it isn’t a note-by-note remake of the original (thank heavens for that), there’s still plenty of times where they lift lines from that movie and it just comes off as a bit awkward. Especially if you take into consideration that the original source material is taken from a David Mamet play, which already makes me laugh thinking of people like Kevin Hart and Regina Hall actually delivering lines from that guy’s writing-style. But anyway, it’s not like the movie at all suffers for trying to be like the original, because in ways, it really isn’t.

It’s just your traditional, love-story that doesn’t start-off other than a simple meeting between two people who get to know one another, talk, have sex and see where they can go with their lives, and then into something very romantic, passionate and, well, melodramatic. I’ve seen this done once, twice and a hundred, million other times, but here, it felt a tad bit refreshing, if only because the movie was funny and took its approach to modern-day relationships in a very understandable manner. The movie wasn’t trying to tell us that one must find that right person for them, get married, have a whole bunch of kids and live like that way for the rest of their lives – it’s more or less saying that “Hey, if you find that special-someone for you, give it a try and see where it goes! If it doesn’t amount to much, at least you can say that you tried, right?” And I think that’s what makes this movie easy-going and a lot less preachy than the original, where that one tried too hard to stuff down our throats that these two people need a love in their life, regardless as to whether they were happy or not before.

I know I’m harping on the original a bit too much, but I think that’s the main reason why I did enjoy myself with this movie. It’s not totally different, but in the places that director Steve Pink actually “updates it”, makes it worth your while. It may not be the most insightful thing ever made about relationships, but with what this movie has to say about them, it’s funny to listen to and see play-out, especially since we actually have characters to care about here. And I’m not just saying because most of them fall in love with one another, which automatically means that we sympathize with their feelings and emotions, but because they’re actually well-written and three-dimensional people this time around.

The biggest improvement in terms of characters between this movie and the original is definitely within Danny and Debbie – they’re development as characters, as well as their relationship together. It probably helps that both Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant have a bit of a better chemistry than either Rob Lowe or Demi Moore had together, but even when they aren’t together and just doing their own thing, they’re still pretty entertaining to watch. Ealy has a laid-back, cool and suave charm about him that makes it seem like he’s ready to get tied-down at any moment, yet not want to sacrifice his partying-ways; whereas Bryant is a sweet, lovable and energetic presence to watch since she always tries to make her man happy and feel better about his life, while also making sure that she doesn’t get treated like crap in the equation neither. Together, they’re a believable couple that doesn’t always say or do the right things to one another, but their happy times together, more than make up for the stupid-decisions each one makes towards the other. That’s why it is easy to not only hope that they stay together until the very end, but at least be able to find somewhere, some place in their lives where they can be ultimately happy.

Sex in the bathroom-stall: We've all been there before, right guys? Come on! Help me out here!

Sex in the bathroom-stall: We’ve all been there before, right guys? Come on! Help me out here!

I know it sounds all sappy and whatnot, but hey, I liked these two together. They remind me of my younger-self when I was making all the ladies weak at the knees, but rather than making it with the loving, caring ones, I decided to go for the school slut. Typical move by yours truly, people. Don’t worry though, I’ve paid the price since then.

Boy, have I ever….

Anyway, everything that I said about Danny and Debbie’s relationship, can easily be said for Bernie and Joan’s, which is one of the biggest improvements/differences between this and the original. Not only did Joan or Bernie not seem to get together in the original, but they also were a bit too one-note for their own good (although it didn’t matter for Bernie’s case, because Jim Belushi is the man). Here though, both Regina Hall and Kevin Hart are great, not just by giving us plenty of laughs to hold our stomachs because of, but because they actually build real, fully-dimensional characters that you know are too crazy, too wild and too energetic to not be together by the end. I’ve always been a fan of Kevin Hart, and here, he made me laugh my ass off more than a few times, and the same goes for Regina Hall who seems to make everything more exciting whenever she just shows up. Put them together in one movie where they have a relationship full of all sorts of sex, passion, alcohol and heated-debates, you’ve got what many could consider “comedic gold”. Though the rest of the movie may not be able to match-up to them, what they both do when they’re given free reign to improvise, go wild and just be funny, it’s great to watch and definitely makes this movie a whole lot better than that shit-piece of an original. I know I keep going back to that, but it’s the truth: Just see this, and screw that bundle of crap. You’ll be doing yourself, as well as your significant-other a huge solid.

Consensus: Not the most unpredictable, nor game-changing rom-com seen in recent-time, but with sticking straight to its characters, their relationships and what makes them who they are, About Last Night is a lot better than the original and makes your time with these people not just quick and easy, but a good time nonetheless. And on Valentine’s Day, trust me, that’s all you’re going to want, you little romantics.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

He likes going to Dodgers games. Yeah, so unique.

He likes going to and enjoying a nice, simple game of baseball game. So unique!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

Should we blame the tax-payers for the war in Afghanistan? Wait a minute, that’s us!

Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is one hell of a wild guy. He loves his ladies, he loves his booze, he loves his blow, but most of all, he loves the one main thing that’s nearest and dearest to his heart: His money. Eventually though, all of those fun times and partying, soon catch-up with him when a scandal between him and two strippers gets leaked to the public-media. Miraculously somehow, he beat the rap. How? Well, let’s just say he got two very smart and powerful friends of his, Joanne Herring and Gust Avrakotos (Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman), to help him fund resistance fighters in Afghanistan as they fought with the Soviets. Seemed like a pretty good idea to Charlie at the time, but little did he know of the consequences.

Pretty sure most of you know exactly where this story goes and is most likely going to end-up, considering after about two decades of Charlie Wilson’s high-minded ideas, we are still feeling the effects. That’s obvious to us all now, but back then, not many people knew of what would happen down the road and thought that everything that this man Charlie was doing, was the act of a Saint-like creature. Maybe so at the same time, but look where we are now.

But I digress. Being that this a movie all about politics and most of it takes place in the rooms where most of our politicians duke-it-out in a “Whose Ego is Bigger” competition, it would only seem right that Aaron Sorkin be given the reigns to write this movie and given a chance to do everything that he does best: Write snippy, snappy screenplays. And that’s all pretty on-display here, but with a slight twist this time around. Being that is the true story of Charlie Wilson and how he single-handedly manipulated his way into a war, was way beyond me and something I just could not believe. However, I did some research, and surprise, surprise! Most of it as all true and it’s only Sorkin’s job to not only show us that, but to also keep us entertained as well.

They're soooo gonna bone.

They’re so gonna bone.

The script never loses steam, as you can just tell that Sorkin is firing on this story from all cylinders. Yeah, there were certain moments where this flick got a tad too serious and had to show us the true problems with Charlie and all of the people around him, but not too much of it is placed on them and instead, what we get to see a lot of is Charlie being a slick, charming and sometimes, conniving politician. It’s all fun to watch and if anything, is actually a bit insightful since we get to see him slime his way around the office, without ever really saying what it is that he’s all about, or what it is that he truly feels. We don’t even really know if he’s a good guy or not, but what we do know is that he’s a smart guy that is in the position that he’s in for a reason. Got to give major kudos to Sorkin for making another political story that’s apparently based on “fact”, and making me feel like I was right there from beginning to end to see it all go down.

The other-half of the kudos has to go to the cast, whom are all great, do what they do best and make this script seem legit, as if they could have really been speaking this lingo themselves. Tom Hanks in the role of Charlie Wilson may seem like a bit of a miscast, considering the guy we all know and love as our everyday type of dude that just so happens to be a movie star, is in his first scene drinking, doing blow and hanging out with strippers. It’s a bit of a surprise to see Hanks play this cad-like dude, but Hanks’ charm always shines through and makes Charlie Wilson a great person to watch. You can’t really assure yourself that you’re going to like him at all by the end of the movie, but to watch Hanks use that inexplicable likability to his advantage and make everybody else around him, fall in love with him as quick as we all do, is a true testament to the actor’s skills. We all know by now that Hanks is a great actor, but even for someone like him, it’s great to see him stretch his wings a bit.

Julia Roberts plays his “gal-pal” of sorts, Joanne Herring, and doesn’t stretch herself nearly as much as Hanks, but is still entertaining to watch. Roberts just feels like she’s one of these bad, naughty girls that knows what it is she wants, knows what she likes and knows how to get it, so what does she do? She does whatever is possible to acquire her needs and not only does it work because she is still smokin’, but because the girl has a look and feel to her that is so damn spicy. Sorry if this sounds like all I am doing is complimenting Julia Roberts on how mighty fine of a dime she is, but she did a nice job here and I’m just giving her credit where it’s definitely due.

The one out of this cast that really stood-out is Philip Seymour Hoffman as the CIA agent, Gust Avrakotos. Hoffman’s first scene where we see him yelling and arguing with his boss, is exactly what we expect from this guy and the meshing of his skills as an actor, with Sorkin’s skills as a writer, is like a match-made-in-heaven. Hoffman is so slimy and sneaky, that you never quite know what the hell this guy is up to, whether or not it’s the right thing to do, or what he has up his sleeve next. However, at the end of the story, he ends up being the guy with the best conscience of all of these people, and will definitely surprise you. He cares about humanity and he sure as hell cares for his country, but he also cares about getting the job done and doing everything right. Hoffman is a perfection in this role and I don’t really see how they could have casted anybody different for a person like this. Whether or not the real Gust Avrakotos was actually like this, is beyond me, but Hoffman makes this guy the one you can’t wait to see show up, speak, make fun of somebody, and just be a dick, like we all know and love him as being.

"Bring up a 10-bag, A.S.A.P.!

“Bring up a dime-bag, ASAP!

Despite all of the great, wonderful and beautiful things I may be saying about this movie, there’s still something in the pit of my stomach that’s holding me back from liking it just a bit more. See, with this lightning-quick pace we get from both Sorkin and director Mike Nichols, there’s never a moment where we actually get some time to sit-down, relax and let it all sink in. We understand the how and the why what we are seeing is relevant, but it never fully hits us like it should, mostly due to the fact that Nichols’ direction definitely seems to be hiding behind the fact that his material may not be all that weighty to begin with, or just a bit messy.

And don’t get me wrong, I think I’ve already made it clear-enough that I absolutely adored Sorkin’s script, it’s just clear that there could have been a lot more development with this material and the political-point it was trying to make. I wasn’t asking for anything along the lines of a Michael Moore documentary, but a bit more of a high-light on what was coming down the bend would have gone a long way. That, and the movie’s overall balance of comedy and drama. However, when you have an Aaron Sorkin-scripted piece of material, you have to be happy and just embrace for what it is. I guess.

Consensus: Sorkin’s witty and snappy script, the ensemble cast and ideas made about current-day politics are all terrific and all, but that’s all Charlie Wilson’s War is content with being: An enjoyable time, with not much else added to the proceedings. Just a whole bunch of pretty, shiny and entertaining stuff to show us.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Ahhh! The beaming light off of Hoffman's increasingly-large forehead.

Ahhh! The beaming light off of Hoffman’s increasingly-large forehead!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

RoboCop (2014)

Please, please, please! Don’t give the police-force any more ideas than they can already handle!

After Detroit policeman Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) gets caught snooping around in all of the wrong places, he’s set-up, blown-up and left in fatal-condition, to where death is most likely the answer. Left with the decision to either never see him again, or allow him to be apart of some scientific-experiment let on by this multi-national company known as OmniCorp, his wife (Abbie Cornish) decides that she doesn’t quite want to let her hubby go, considering that he still has a son to care for. Once scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) is given the “go ahead” from the wifey-poo, Murphy is somehow made into this $2.7 billion (or so) cyborg cop that can detect when something dangerous is about to occur, or already has and the baddie has gotten away and somehow into his sight. Murphy is so unstoppable, that every criminal and corrupt-cop in his jurisdiction run and hide for their lives, while also trying to find out a way to get rid of Murphy for good. However, their not alone, as OmniCorp’s CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) is about to pull the plug, all due to the bad press that Murphy is attracting him and also for the sheer fact that RoboCop may not be able to be stopped, once his path of anger, violence and revenge begins.

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

“How many fingers am I holding up?”

I think I stand for everyone else out there when I say that we definitely didn’t need a RoboCop remake. Two shitty sequels, and an even-shittier TV show, I think, was more than enough for the RoboCop franchise to over-stay its welcome, without ruining the legacy of the kick-ass, slam-bang, Paul Verhoeven original. As usual though, the powers that be in Hollywood always seem to get their ways and despite everyone’s best wishes, we do in fact have a RoboCop remake in the midst of ourselves and it’s just a reality we have to come to grasp with. Doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it, but just realizing that there is a remake out there and accepting it for what it is, definitely goes a long way, which is why I think this is a classic-case where there’s a remake of a beloved-movie that doesn’t do too much wrong, nor too much good – it’s just there for us to see and hopefully make the people behind it a bit more richer.

Don’t think that’s going to happen, but this isn’t “Dan the Man’s Box-Office Predictions”, now is it? So on with the review!

If there’s one thing most remakes should do, it’s not to just tell us the same story again, beat-by-beat, note-by-note, but more so to try and differentiate a bit in ways that would not only improve upon the original, but make it not seem as dated in the new society it’s being presented to. Here, one of the key differences between this film and of the original, is that OmniCorp isn’t as heartless as they once were and are shown to actually be working with the U.S. government, rather than trying to take it over. This makes them seem like not only does Murphy really have all of the odds stacked-up against him once the going gets good, but it also gives you a better sense with the type of people he’s dealing within OmniCorp.

Most of the people that work in OmniCorp, this time around, are exactly what you’d see with most business-heads nowadays: They fight, they yell, they strike-up deals, talk, discuss what to do next, try to make as much money as possible and they also definitely make sure that their public-image isn’t ruined, even in the slightest bit. Sure, that was definitely looked at in the original movie, with a whole bunch of satire to go along with it, but here, it feels like we really are getting a story, with a real billion-dollar company like OmniCorp, that could have possibly even taken place in today’s day and age. All of the sci-fi gadgets and robots aside, there is a true sense that not only is OmniCorp trying to make this world a bit of a better place, but they are trying to be seen as the saviors as well.

Ring a bell of any politicians we may, or may not have out there in the real world today? Just think about it, people! It could happen!

But I digress. Mainly the point I’m trying to get across is that this isn’t a slap-dash remake that just tries to go over everything that the remake did back in 1987; this time around, we actually get a modern-day look and feel to it, although it still has that “futuristic” twist to it. Other than this aspect of the story though, everything is a bit of the same and nothing special, which is a shame, because the rest of the film seemed to hold some actual promise. The biting satire from the original is all but gone this time around, and only shown in bits and pieces where a character will randomly drop-in a famous quote from that movie and make things a bit awkward. Like for instance, a certain character drops the “I’d buy that for a dollar!” line in some form, and it literally comes out of nowhere, and seems like a lame-attempt at director José Padilha trying to have us remember how great the original was. Which, he does do, but probably not for the better sake of his movie, as we are constantly being reminded that this is a remake of a way, way better flick.

Oh, what could have been.

Oh, what could have been.

Speaking of Padilha, the guy didn’t really do much for me with his Elite Squad film, and needless to say, a lot of what he did with the look of that film, is pretty much the same thing this time around. A lot of shaky-cam; a lot of frenetic-movements; a lot of grit; and plenty more corny-lines that only stock cop characters could deliver. It’s not like Padilha does an all that of a terrible job as director, it’s just clear that since he’s working with a PG-13 rating, things are a bit tamer than he may be used to and it translates to the screen, as the action never fully gets off the ground. It just thrills every once and awhile, which is mainly due to the wonderful sound design. Never thought I’d compliment a movie on its sound design, but so be it the case with the RoboCop remake.

What’s also a step-up for this remake, as opposed to many others out there is that the cast is pretty darn promising, even if they don’t all live up to what should have been. Joel Kinnaman shows some of that swagger he had on the Killing and does a fine enough job as Murphy, even though he does struggle quite a bit with some of the cornier-lines he’s given. Especially one scene where we see the extent of his injuries and have to hear him utter out such lines as, “Oh lord no! Oh lord no!”. It’s all so corn-ballish, but reminds us why Peter Weller was such a treat as Alex Murphy to begin with. Even Murphy’s wife, played by Abbie Cornish, is a bit bland, though it’s only because she gets pushed to the side for so long and rarely ever shows her face, if only to bitch and moan about how she “doesn’t get to see her husband enough”. Women, right men?

Though there’s definitely plenty more people here other than just these two, although some are wasted among these well-regarded names. Gary Oldman probably gets the meatiest role out of anybody else here in this supporting cast (which isn’t saying all that much to begin with), and does all that he can with what seems to be a more humane, caring guy that literally feels like his back is thrown-up against the wall, despite him not wanting it to be; Samuel L. Jackson gets plenty of chances to yell, scream and be a lot of fun as a Republican pundit, who frequently shows up to inform us on what the rest of the world is chatting-about; Jackie Earle Haley gets to be a bit gritty as the guy who is always against RoboCop, for no other reason than that he prefers robots with no soul or heart at all, over robotic-humans with hearts and souls; and Michael Keaton, in what seems like his first major-role in 100 years, finally gets a chance to chew some scenery up as the smart, charming and conniving Omnicorp CEO, Raymond Sellars. And there’s plenty of other heavy-hitting, supporting stars to be found here with Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle and even Zach Grenier, who all do what they can, but do feel like a bunch of pretty faces and names, just thrown into a movie that clearly needs the name-recognition. Shame too, because with this cast, we could have had something quite solid on our hands here. Instead, we just get a RoboCop remake, without any penis-shooting.

Boo to that!

Consensus: Surely not as bad as one might have expected from a RoboCop remake, which is to credit more of the different-directions the story takes from the original, but still doesn’t go any further than that and leaves the action, the satire and the overall mood a bit bland.

 5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Dead or alive, you're going to watch this movie, America. You better!"

“Dead or alive, you’re going to watch this movie. You better!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

About Last Night… (1986)

There comes a time when you have to turn-off the R. Kelly, and start talking about “feelings”. Yuck!

22-year-old Chicagoan Danny (Rob Lowe) loves the single life it hurts so much. His co-worker also happens to be his best pal (Jim Belushi); he’s good-looking; gets all sorts of ladies; likes to be the life of the party; makes a good and honest living as a grocery-food seller; and he’s practically just all by himself, but he doesn’t care too much since things seem to be going so well for him as of right now. But one day, during one of his many drunken-binges at the local-bar called “Mother’s”, Danny spots a mighty-fine looking-chick by the name of Debbie (Demi Moore) and he can’t help but fall head-over-heels for her. He gets her name, number and even a date with her, even though her bestie (Elizabeth Perkins) is more than adamant about her decision, especially with a guy like Danny. Fast-forward a couple of months later, and already, Danny and Debbie are moving in, falling in love and getting very, VERY serious. However, once you throw emotions into the mix of any relationship, not only is everything heightened, but when they end, they don’t just float-away in the air; they fall, face-down on the ground, leaving absolutely nobody alive or left-in-place during its wake.

He's so unattractive that he's the perfect wing-man who'd probably be happier than you at the end of his life. Yeah, whatever you do, don't try to be like that guy.

He’s so unattractive, he makes the perfect wing-man who’d probably be happier than you at the end of his life. Yeah, whatever you do, don’t try to be like that guy.

Sounds a bit harsh, I know, but isn’t that what love’s all about? You meet someone, you start swapping fluids, you fall in love and sooner than later, things begin to go South where every bad decision you make kills you, just as much as it kills your significant-other. It sucks, it’s painful and it’s absolutely one of the most memorable experiences a human being could ever put themselves through, but, it’s something we all need to feel and experience as human beings.

However though, I don’t mean to start this review off as any other review I’ve ever done about a romantic flick, where I start getting all personal, emotional while spreading some of my hard-hurting insight of the painful game of love, because truly, this isn’t the type of movie that deserves all of that yammering. Instead, this movie deserves the type of yammering in which I wonder, just how the hell does this flick get a remake!?!? It’s not even like this one is all that good to begin with, let alone, get a re-boot, with new stars, a new angle and, from what I see, a new tone.

But, this is not a review on that movie, and instead, this is a review on this movie, the original About Last Night…, and how it just doesn’t really do much at all with its premise. Sure, the idea of two people meeting-up, going-out and eventually falling in love doesn’t exactly sound like the most inventive, creative premise to ever be drawn-out and shown to the rest of humanity, but when that type of story can be done right, it’s a pleasure for all to listen, learn and see if they can relate to these character’s in any way. If not through their first moments of falling in love, but through their moments where you sympathize with them over the harsh reality of love, and how it’s so damn killer once it seems to start going away.

That isn’t this movie, and although it definitely likes to think so, it barely even comes close. Most of that has to do with the fact that Debbie and Danny are just such poorly-written characters to begin with, that when they begin to fall for the other, we don’t really care or believe it. First of all, it all happens over the span of what seems like four or five months; the same five months that are shown to us in a montage where we get to see them frolic around parks, laugh, smile, kiss, have passionate sex in the bath-tub, eat food, smile, laugh, kiss, frolic around the streets of Chicago, walk around in the nude, and have even more passionate sex, but this time, they keep it in the bedroom. In some people’s eyes, I guess that’s what can constitute “a relationship”, let alone, “love” in and of itself, but I hardly believed these two together for a single second and found myself really trying to see if I could find any reason to care for these two at all once things started to go haywire for their sweet, little budding-romance – but I just couldn’t.

Too much of this just looks, feels and sounds so artificial, especially once we find out that Danny’s dream is to be a lifelong restaurateur, which is not only totally tacked-on by the final-act, but thrown in there to create some spice and anger between he and Debbie; as if their relationship being as bland as a piece of cardboard wasn’t enough to give them reason to fight, argue and practically hate each other as the days go by. It’s a shame to see that too, because I don’t usually try to go into romantic flicks like this, just looking to hate it and pick it apart, piece-by-piece, limb-from-limb, but barely anything was going good for me.

The only real saving-grace to be found in this movie that made it slightly better, just solely by their presences and showing up enough times to make me crack a smile or a chuckle, were Elizabeth Perkins and Jim Belushi, as the stereotypical, loner-friends who don’t care for relationships and just want to live their lives, their way, without anybody tying them down. Maybe more so of Perkins’ character, as she truly is a total bitch that, at times, can be a bit ridiculous with how upset and jealous she gets over Debbie’s newfound romance with Danny – almost to the point of where you wonder if some freaky, lesbo-secrets are going to be unearthed. Still though, as unpleasant as her character definitely is more times than she ought to be, Perkins made her the least bit sympathetic and somebody worth liking, because she seemed to always speak her mind and stick by whatever it is that she said; even if she was just being an asshole.

She's so disapproving, and most of all, right!

She’s so disapproving and right!

Jim Belushi, on the other hand, absolutely steals this movie every time he shows up, and just made me more than happy to see his lovable grin, receding hair-line and alcoholic beverage placed oh so firmly in his hand. Belushi has never really blew me away as the type of guy I’d expect to make me laugh my ass off, just by the sheer fact of him showing up and being “funny”, but with the rest of the bunch he was thrown into here, he pretty much had no choice but to make me laugh and love the hell out of him. He loves to keep the party going, talk about any “broads” he may, or may not have banged in exotic ways, and also just wants to hang-out with his good old buddy Danny, who couldn’t be less concerned with what really matters, and that’s keeping it cool with your bros.

Just another case of a whipped man. Am I right, fellas?

Speaking of this said whipped man, Rob Lowe, god bless his heart, definitely gives it his all as Danny, but nonetheless, comes up very, very short here. Laughably so, too. You can tell that Lowe’s trying to stretch himself out here as an actor and not just get by on his good looks, but when he has to be cool or charming, you wonder if he just watched Grease about ten times before filming began; and when he’s trying to emote and be all serious, it makes you wonder if he’s ever been in a relationship before, let alone in one with a chick. I know, I know, I know! Rob Lowe is definitely all fine and dandy nowadays, and sure as hell likes the ladies, but here, he’s pretty damn bad and it’s hard to watch after awhile. Even Demi Moore gets off somewhat Scott-free because he’s so lame here. Even though she’s not nearly as bad as he is, she tries a bit too hard to yell, scream, shout and cry, and seems like she just heard that her dog died, while also menstruating at the same time. I know that that’s of an image for ya, but if you can draw the picture inside your warped, twisted minds, you can probably guess just how unpleasant it is to actually be a witness of.

Consensus: Die-hard romantics may get a little something more out of About Last Night…, then say, I don’t know, your die-hard cynic, “love sucks” a-hole, but so be it! It’s not a very well-written, nor insightful movie that just gives us characters we don’t really care for to begin with, and never seem to care for, even when it seems like their own world together comes crashing down and gone forever.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

Okay, I apologize. They bang in the bath-tub, while the shower is on. My mistake!

Okay, I apologize. They bang in the bath-tub, while the shower is on. My mistake!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider,

Elite Squad (2008)

Never thought I’d say this, but those poor drug dealers.

Rio de Janeiro is not a very nice place to live. It’s filled with drugs, sweat, crime, murder, more crime, sex, corruption, and a whole lot more crime. No matter how hard the local police-force try either, it seems like it’ll never be fixed, if mainly because most of the force is as corrupt as those committing the crimes in the first place. However, there is a certain certain force that takes matters into their own hands and makes sure that crime doesn’t begin to escalate, and more and more innocents are injured or killed. Their name – BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion. The captain, Nascimento (Wagner Moura), is the head honcho in charge here and always makes sure things go according to plan, even if he does have the occasional “snap-out” every once and awhile; but he’s getting treated for it and has a baby coming on the way, so maybe it’s not best for him to be around so much violence, death and crime, right? That’s why he decides to start training, brain-washing and beating-down several possible recruits to fill-in for his job, and he thinks he’s found it in both Neto (Caio Junqueira) and Andre Matias (Andre Ramiro). Both are good buddies, but are different in their ways, except for one key similarity: They want to enforce the law and take those down who go against them.

"What? All I said was, "What's up?""

“What? All I said was, “What’s up?””

We’ve all seen the Brazilian, gangster-thriller done before, right? Well, in case you haven’t, trust me, all you have to do is watch City of God and you’ll get a pretty clear picture of what these types of movies are like – violent, dirty, gritty, raw, unflinching, bloody, and usually filled with all sorts of coke, weed, heroin and other drug paraphernalia that I’m even afraid to admit to knowing, in hopes that the CIA isn’t spying on me. I may make it sound like any other ordinary crime-thriller involving gangsters out there, but that movie in and of itself is just about perfect and shows you exactly what one can do with the a tired genre like the crime one, and find a way to spin it on its head in an energetic, creative and original way.

But, as you know by actually visiting my blog, this isn’t a review on City of God, this is a review on Elite Squad, and what a damn shame that is, because this movie doesn’t really deserve your time of the day to be viewed, nor does it really deserve my precious time and effort to be reviewed. Although, since I am a dedicated film-nerd/blogger, I have to stick to my guns and try my very hardest to inform you people on any movie out there, good or bad.

And this is one of those latter ones, which is a shame because just reading that premise up above made this seem like something that would kick all sorts of fine-ass. Somehow though, it does, but not in the right ways. I’ll give director José Padilha credit for one thing, and that’s for at least making me feel like I was on the dirty, disgusting and corrupt streets of Rio de Janeiro, where anything could go wrong at any second, to any person, for any reason. In ways, with the hand-held camera-style Padilha so clearly loves and embraces, I felt as if I was watching a documentary where I was seeing a lot of these crimes being committed, on both sides. For that, Padilha deserves some admiration for sticking it to the streets and at least having me believe that I was watching something that could actually, believably happen on the real streets of Rio de Janeiro

However, that’s where the compliment begins and ends, because the rest of this flick is a mess, and it’s solely on Padilha’s part, and nobody else’s. The main problem Padilha runs into with this flick is that it’s so abundantly clear who he is siding with in this story, and that’s the police-force themselves. Sure, he shows them in some unflattering ways where police-chiefs are all about corruption, keeping your mouth shut and earning some dirty money on the side, but most of the time, he’s usually backing up these men-in-uniform, their actions and what they stand for. And it’s not like there’s a problem when you show your appreciation for the heroes who get stuff done and keep the crimes from happening more and more, but when you have those heroes putting plastic-bags over any possible criminal’s head, just to get bits and pieces of information out of them, the line between “glamorizing” and “being frank” gets blurry.

Here, Padilha seems to start off with the latter, where he shows that even though these guys do get their jobs done in an efficient manner, they’re still very messed-up in the head and not always honest people. But that all begins to change where we soon see that these officers are now carrying-out very violent, very disturbing actions in order to make their job a bit easier. Once again, I am in no way saying that we shouldn’t support and show our love for our local police-forces who are out there and risking their lives, so that our lives a bit easier, simpler and safer, but this movie really tests our patience with how far we’ll go to stand behind these men and root them on as they practically shoot, kill and violently torture anybody who slightly gets in their way. No, I am not a hippie, but I am a person who knows when “enough” is “enough”, and there came a certain point during this movie where I didn’t give a shit about any of these guys, what they were doing or who they were trying to find, capture and kill. All I wanted them to do was stop beating the ever loving shit out of everybody that they suspected to be a drug-dealer, even if that person was holding the slightest ounce of pot.

Poor old Johnny forget about those unpaid parking tickets.

Poor old Johnny forget about those unpaid parking tickets.

I mean honestly, sometimes you just have to say, “Leave me be, man.” And I felt like that many of times during this movie.

Even the fine performances from the cast couldn’t survive this movie’s mucky moral-siding. All of the officers that this movie focuses on and actually gives two shits about, are relatively compelling to watch and can be interesting at times, but later on, they just turn out to be a bunch of sick, twisted and sadistic nut-jobs that you’d neither want to help you out of a burning car, patrolling your neighborhood, or anywhere near your friends or family for that matter. Now, I don’t know how they do things in Rio de Janeiro, but in the U.S. of A, or practically anywhere at all in the world that isn’t Brazil, we don’t want these kind of crazies coming around, enforcing the law, and making sure all is well and doesn’t go bump in the night. We already got our hands full, you know?

Consensus: Those who want to take a life in the police-force will probably find Elite Squad to be somewhat “inspirational” to them, but even then, I don’t know if any person’s morality can stoop so low as to applaud these men for what they do in order to get their job done, all in the name of “the law”.

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

I guess this is the part where you say, "Freeze with your hands up!". But it's cool, just fire away!

I guess this is the part where you say, “Freeze with your hands up!”. But it’s cool, just fire away!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

20 Feet From Stardom (2013)

Screw you, auto-tune! We got humans to do the singing for us!

Whenever you listen to your favorite band, artist, singer, etc., you usually go for them because they are what sells the record, inspires you and basically gives it all they got in order to make you like them, and the music that they create. However though, in many cases, there are times when one person singing a song isn’t enough; sometimes, studios bring in what we call “back-up singers”. In case you didn’t know what “back-up singers” do, it’s all pretty self-explanatory: They stand-behind the lead singer, do a bunch of “oohs”, “aaahs”, and “la la las”, and sometimes, even contribute a bit more with their own singing parts. They are more important to the piece of song music than you’d think, but you don’t know any of their names. Instead, you walk away, remembering all there is you need to know about Mick Jagger, Sting and Bruce Springsteen, but you don’t know the names of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Patti Austin, or even Judith Hill. This is their story, their time to shine and a chance to tell all about who they are, their adventures and just what the heck it is that they are doing with their wonderful, glorious voices.

Rather than having this be another Behind the Music-like rockumentary we’re so used to seeing, director Morgan Neville is able to find a way to get all of these different gals, track them down, get their stories and show how each and every one of them were affected by the fact that, in some cases, weren’t known as “the big, head-lining act”. In some of these cases, these gals were just session-players that didn’t step-out from the background, and kept on trudging on for as long as they could with their voices, their inspiration, their pride and their ambition; but there are some cases where we do see that, after awhile, all of that begins to go away.

White girl be like, "Da 'eff am I doing here?"

White girl be like, “Da ‘eff am I doing here? These girls are way better than my white ass!”

See, rather than making this a story where we see the rise, the fall, and the eventual re-emergence of these gals and their careers, what we do see are stories told in their own words, and through their own eyes. Sounds all so damn simple, which it is, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that each of these lovely women have a great story to tell, and barely leave any small detail out. Some stories are obviously a lot more up-lifting than others, but for those who want to know what the music-business was, is and will be like, then this is definitely the right documentary to see, especially since it deals with real people, having real talents, and struggling with real problems that any and all musicians practically deal with on a day-to-day basis.

And yes, we all know that the music world is a harsh one, because when you’re not dealing with crummy-sales, you’re usually having to deal with the even-crummier politics of the music-business that either: a) don’t think you’ve got enough talent, b) aren’t good-looking enough, or c) all of the above. It’s a shitty reality, but it’s one that most musicians learn to deal with, as hard as it may be to swallow. That’s why watching all of these ladies talk about, reminisce on and give their own two cents on their lives and the state of the music world, is something interesting. The movie itself doesn’t go any deeper than showing these ladies just talking, singing, living and learning, but there isn’t much more you need than that.

If anything, this documentary could have gone a bit deeper into the various social-issues it seemed to bring up and show some interest in, but seemed to only scratch the surface enough to say that they at least “tried” to handle wider-issues. It’s a bit disappointing, really, especially once we dive right into the 60’s/70’s-racial issues that most of these back-up singers had to deal with, and we realize that not only would the record-producers not accept these girls for what they were, but also the rest of the world, too. They pull the same shenanigans during the part in which the idea of computer-based record-producing is brought-up, and only seemed to scratch the surface, but only slightly.

Also, another strange thought I had when watching this movie was why did it just focus on all of the women, all of the time? I know this may seem weird and somewhat “pro-man” in some people’s eyes out there, but we do get to see some men talk and are listed as “back-up singers”, despite them not nearly given as much time in the sun as these ladies do. Granted, most of the focus is thrown on what these ladies bring to the table with their voices, but it seemed odd that we’d get a glimpse at a couple of male back-up singers, yet, the only one who seems to get the most focus is Luther Vandross, who, from what most of us now, ended-up becoming a huge, respectable artist in his own right, and also happens to have passed-away. Seemed odd to me, especially since I’d be quite interested in seeing the story of a male back-up singer, all because we don’t get to hear them in music quite nearly as much.

Mick sure did love his ladies "dark". And I'm not just talking about on the stage.

Mick sure did love his ladies “dark”. And I’m not just talking about on the stage…..

Then again though, those are all small, minor complaints I had with a documentary that really did show me, once again, what it was like to have ambition with something you so obviously want to do with your life, especially if it’s in the world of music. This is definitely not the best “rockumentary” I’ve seen of 2013 (Sound City definitely takes the cake on that one), but for any boy, girl, male, female, father, mother, brother, sister, daughter, son, dog, cat, alien, etc., who wants to follow their dreams and give it a go in music and see what they can do, then I’d definitely say check this movie out and watch these women, listen to their story and realize that if you do have the talent, just know that you may not get as big as you want. Sounds all pessimistic, I know, but when you’re making music, money and all sorts of famous friends, just realize that not everything will go as according to plan; and when, and if, that moment happens, you have to rely on one thing: Your drive to keep on doing what it is that you love, no matter what.

In other words: Keep on singin’, folks!

Consensus: Maybe not the best documentary to ever be made about music, by but sticking its attention straight to those unsung heroes in the world of music (pun intended), 20 Feet From Stardom becomes an engrossing, interesting and honest look at what one individual can expect when making music, becoming successful and earning a load of money, while also realizing that it may go away, at any second.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

There's a dude singing! Represent!

There’s a dude singing! Represent!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net