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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Abbey Lee Kershaw

The Dark Tower (2017)

Yeah. I don’t know, either.

Jake (Tom Taylor) is a lot like any other young kid. He dreams a lot, has certain issues with growing up, and doesn’t quite understand the world around him, just yet. But unlike most other kids his age, he’s been having constant dreams of sinister, almost evil happenings in the near-future that may or may not be real. Of course, he seeks help for these dreams, but he also doesn’t know if he can trust anyone, making him probably the most paranoid 13-year-old in the world. But eventually, his dreams do come true, and for the worst, when Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), who has been using children’s minds to make his evil forces even more powerful than ever. Now, it’s up to Jake and the Gunslinger to prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together, creating an even more powerful battle of good and evil.

Good….

The Dark Tower feels like the end-product of at least five or six studio-executives duking it out in a last man standing match. No one really knows who’s going to win, or at the end of the day, what’s going to be accomplished, but they know they want to get their own little two cents in and see what happens with the end result. In other words, there’s so much going on in the Dark Tower, without any rhyme, reason, build-up, cohesion, or hell, explanation, that it is nothing more than a huge mess.

And one of the worst kinds, too.

Cause see, while there are unabashed messes like, I don’t know, say Suicide Squad that may be all crazy and over-the-place, they still find ways to entertain, in even the most warped ways imaginable. Dark Tower is the opposite of Suicide Squad in that sense, where it’s so mashed-together, rushed, and ill-conceived, that it’s downright boring. And for a movie that’s about 90-minutes long, that’s a problem. Sure, it helps that movies of this awful magnitude not be two-hour long opus that make you feel as if your day has totally been wasted, but it also helps even more when these movies, as quick as they may be, at least bring a little something to the interest-table.

And perhaps the only solid factor Dark Tower has going for it is Idris Elba who, in all honesty, seems bored. But because his material at least has a solid wink-and-a-nod to the audience, it works; everybody else here, seems like they’re way too serious and not really taking advantage of their pulpy surroundings. McConaughey, for instance, feels like he’s channeling his car commercials, but isn’t, in any way, shape, or form, having any bit of fun. Sure, it doesn’t help that more than half of his dialogue is dubbed in that awfully noticeable way, but it also doesn’t help that he seems to be putting in no effort whatsoever.

…versus evil.

Basically, these are two of the most charismatic actors we have working today and not even they can save this trainwreck.

And that’s exactly what the Dark Tower is: A trainwreck. People out there may try and stick up for it, saying that it’s fine enough and short as is, but that doesn’t matter, because the movie just doesn’t know what it’s doing in the slightest. If there were no prior reports about issues in the production process, it would be easy to forgive and understand the movie, but considering that there seemed to be so many problems, it’s not a shocker at all. Everything here feels odd and out-of-place, with certain strands of plot literally dangling in the air when all is said and done. Clearly, it’s meant to be explored more in the sequels, but do we really need one?

Probably not.

Wait. No. Absolutely not.

Consensus: Uneven, poorly-written, directed, shot, acted, and well, everything else, the Dark Tower is a major misfire for all parties involved and seems like a waste of solid source material, courtesy of one Stephen King.

2.5 / 10

But uh, yeah, who cares?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Office Christmas Party (2016)

Egg nog brings out the best in everyone.

Josh (Jason Bateman) is currently going through a little bit in his life and with it being the holidays and all, what he really wants to do is just sit back, relax, drink, hang out with some friends, and get in the holiday spirit of warmth and giving. However, with news that the corporation that he works for, Zenotech, may be on the brink of destruction, Josh now finds it impossible to get in any sort of cheer or happiness – if anything, he’s scared-to-death. And come to think of it, so is the branch manager, Clay (T.J. Miller). So, in some way, they concoct a plan where they not only hold the annual office Christmas party, but they do so in a way that may just save the company, once and for all. The only issue standing in their way is, other than the party getting too wacky and wild, is Clay’s sister (Jennifer Aniston), who also happens to be the CEO of Zenotech and will not put up with any unnecessary and insane shenanigans, regardless of whether or not it’s the holiday season.

Ugh, yeah.

Ugh, yeah.

Studio holiday comedies seem to come out just about every year and because of that, we, the audience, mostly has to accept them for what they are. And Office Christmas Party is the perfect example of that: Just about every funny person on the planet is featured here and yet, why does the movie feel so mediocre? A part of me feels that it has more to do with the fact that the studio behind it knew that they could rank-in some dough with a raunchy comedy, while also didn’t feel the need to really add much else to it than a bunch of familiar names, crazy gags, and Christmas tunes to get the licenses to.

Everything else, as they say, will pretty much figure itself out, right?

Well, that’s sort of what happens with Office Christmas Party, but it sort of doesn’t. It’s the kind of movie that made me laugh every once and awhile, but honestly, considering this cast involved, should have had me losing my pants about halfway through. The gags feel tired and lame; the over-the-top humor that seems to come seemingly out of nowhere, also feels forced; and yeah, I hate to say it, but the party is also kind of lame. Will Speck and Josh Gordon directed this and while it’s clear that they and the cast may have been having some good old fun, it doesn’t quite translate to the rest of the movie; a good portion of the run-time is spent focusing on all of these different subplots and how they develop over the night, sometimes providing laughs and other times, just not.

A movie like last year’s Sisters, showed that having your movie revolved around one single party can be pretty great – what needs to work, however, is the party itself. It needs to be fun, it needs to be raucous, it needs to be crazy, it needs to constantly build-and-build, and yeah, it actually needs to be hilarious to watch. Sure, it also needs to help keep the story moving, but honestly, it doesn’t need to take up about half of the movie, like it does here with Office Christmas Party, because after awhile, it just gets frustrating; every moment you think you’re going to finally get some time to mellow-out and enjoy the craziness of the actual party itself, nope, the movie jumps away and back to whatever plot it feels like going on and on about and it just ruins its momentum.

Like I said, though, the movie isn’t terrible.

Keep on smiling, girl. You're fine after this.

Keep on smiling, girl. You’re fine after this.

Mostly, all of its shortcomings are forgiven for the fact that they have one of the better ensembles in a comedy that I’ve seen in quite some time. Now, what they all do and how they perform here is an entirely different story altogether, but the fact that the movie was able to wrangle up not just the likes of comedic heavyweights Bateman, Miller, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, and Randall Park, along with some random, but welcome ones like Courtney B. Vance, Sam Richardson, and Abbey Lee, is really surprising. And yes, mostly all of them give it their shot and do what they can, but really, they’re all doing the same things we’ve seen them all do before, with barely any new spring to be found in their step, or original-spin taken.

The only one who really seems to be enjoying themselves the most, is also the one who may be changing things up ever so slightly with their act here, and that’s Jennifer Aniston. As Carol, the CEO of Zenotech (a name you will continue to be more and more annoyed by as the movie goes on), Aniston gets to really play it mean, brassy and nasty, like she never has before. Sure, you could make the argument that she did all of that up in Horrible Bosses, but honestly, that was played more up for the zany laughs – here, she’s playing someone meaner, darker and a lot less weird. She’s as serious as serious can be and in between all of that, she brings some humor out of this character and made me want to see more of her.

Because if the party’s not all that great, why not just hang with the people?

Consensus: Even with the great cast on-board, Office Christmas Party still feels like a disappointment, what with the jokes not really connecting and being way too plot-heavy to really make it an altogether enjoyable occasion.

6 / 10

Call those agents immediately!

Call those agents immediately!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Film School Rejects

The Neon Demon (2016)

Eat a burger and enjoy life, girls! Besides, it’s what’s on the inside that actually counts!

Just after her 16th birthday, Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles in hopes of launching some sort of a career as a model. Everyone around her tells her that she’s got the look and innocent appeal for it all, making her not only the most sought-for talent on the market, but the most hated among fellow models who are still trying to make it big, but somehow, can’t seem, to get noticed. Jesse starts to notice this and even though she makes a close friend with a make-up artist (Jena Malone), she still can’t trust anybody enough to where they’re best friends of any nature. And if that wasn’t bad enough for Jesse, she now has to worry about a seedy motel manager (Keanu Reeves), who always seems to be demanding money from her for some reason, and a creepy photographer (Karl Glusman), who wants to be more to her than just a friend, but also doesn’t want to creep her out too much and scare her away. The fashion-world begins to heat up a whole lot more once Jesse enters it, which leads her to decide who to trust, and who not to trust.

Is this aNicolas Winding Refn, or Lars von Trier movie?

Is this a Nicolas Winding Refn, or Lars von Trier movie?

Nicolas Winding Refn, for the past few years or so, has absolutely decided to stop worrying about what other people were thinking about his movies, his pretentious style, and his treatment of everyone and everything in his movies, and just do whatever the hell he wants to do. In a movie like Only God Forgives, it worked so well because every second he got, Refn took something odd, but equally interesting out of his bag of tricks and allowed for a somewhat conventional story, play-out a whole lot different than was hardly expected. Drive was less successful, in my opinion, if only because it seemed like there was a real story to assist everything and rather than sticking straight to that and making it fully work, it felt like Refn himself got bored and wanted to play around for some odd. Either way, both movies are better than the Neon Demon, but it’s still very much the same thing: Refn doing what he wants, when he wants, and however he wants it, and you know what?

I kind of love that.

Refn seems to really be aiming for David Lynch at this point where it seems like he wants to approach this story in a straight manner, but also doesn’t want to lose his points with the cool crowd. For every scene or two where it’s literally just two characters, sitting in a wide room and having an awkward, almost silent conversation, there’s another scene where the Cliff Martinez soundtrack gets turned all the way up to eleven and for one reason or another, inanimate objects start to appear out of nowhere. Refn clearly has two sides to him that always seem to battle each other; there’s the smart, plot-driven side that showed heavily in his excellent Pusher flicks, and the other, a more artsy, visually-attentive director who sometimes prefers telling his stories in a visual manner.

Neither side should work side-by-side, but Refn offers up just enough interesting bits and pieces for both, that it actually works. It helps that the Neon Demon takes place in this cruel, dark underworld of fashion where, yes, on a daily basis, people are constantly judging you and aiming for your spot, giving it something of a satirical look and feel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s Refn’s funniest movie – not that that’s hard to be in the first place, but still, it’s worth pointing out. Sometimes, you never know if Refn’s intentionally being funny, or if his world is just so twisted and wacky that you can’t help and laugh, but either way, it mostly all works because, well, it keeps your eyes and ears glued to the screen.

Sounds stupid, I know, but it really does matter in the long-run.

Not creepy at all, bro. Keep it up.

Not creepy at all, bro. Keep it up.

The Neon Demon is the kind of movie that will spark discussion about what it means, what it’s trying to say (other than the world of modeling is terrible), or how it ends, which is actually great to have. It seems that a lot of directors and writers don’t have as big of guts as Refn does, when it comes to keeping your audience in the dark about, well, almost everything and being perfectly content with that. Sometimes, the directors/writers feel self-conscious and don’t want to be looked at as “pretentious” or better yet, “mean” – Refn doesn’t care about these labels. Actually, he probably embraces them.

It gives him more time to play around with this already-odd story, vivid characters, and slew of actors who, honestly fit each and every role to a T. Elle Fanning definitely seems to have passed her older sis as the more dominate actress and well, there’s a good reason why: She’s clearly got more versatility. As the very young and satiable Jesse, Fanning does a lot with very little; she seems naive enough to get caught and wrapped-up in the utter sleaze of this world, but we also know that there’s something darker deep down inside of her that makes us think she knows a little more than she lets on. Either way, Fanning has to do a lot here with her performance, that doesn’t necessarily consist of a lot of heavy-lifting, but allowing herself to be plain in most scenes where she isn’t the most colorful character, but then change it all around to proving that she does have a voice and remind us that, yes, she is the lead character in this tale of hers.

The others in the cast are pretty great, too, and do more than just help round out the odd characters. Abbey Lee Kershaw and Bella Heathcote, not only look alike, but are pitch perfect in their roles as two, slightly older models who are struggling to be noticed because of the beautiful Jesse’s presence; Jena Malone plays a make-up artist who seems to have something of a crush on her and it’s a fun role for someone who enjoys playing it straight; Karl Glusman, despite being terrible in Love, actually does well here as the kind of creepy boyfriend; Desmond Harrington shows up as a creepy photographer and is, well, effectively creepy; Christina Hendricks shows up in literally one scene as a scouting agent and is so perfect that I missed her the rest of the movie; and Keanu Reeves, in one of his far better roles as of late, gets a chance to camp it up as a sleazy and perverted hotel manager, always having something funny to say and working perfectly within Refn’s universe.

A possible team-up in the future? Let’s hope, as the world would be a much better place with Refn-Reeves movies.

Consensus: Not totally coherent, the Neon Demon will most likely push a lot of people away, but that’s sort of the point and it’s why Refn’s direction, as scattered as it may be, is consistently interesting, dark, and fun to think about long afterwards.

7.5 / 10

It's a good look on you, Dakota, ehrm, Elle.

It’s a good look on you, Dakota, ehrm, uh, Elle.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire