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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Amber Heard

I Do…Until I Don’t (2017)

Marriage blows, get it?

Vivian (Dolly Wells) is a jaded filmmaker who believes that marriage is an outmoded concept that needs a reboot. Hoping to prove her theory, she begins to interview three couples at various stages in their relationships.

Even though it wasn’t a perfect movie, Lake Bell’s directorial debut, In a World…, proved that she had something more on her mind than just humor. It was a small, somewhat subtle look at women trying their best to get by, sisters trying to connect, and something of a showbiz-satire about how the men always get by, and the women are forced to stand back. It was a messy movie, but its ambitions and its cast was so likable and charming, it was hard to fully hate.

It’s why I Do…Until I Don’t feels like it’s made from somebody else entirely. Rather than being a funny, relatively heartwarming look at a bunch of different people, like her first movie was, Bell’s latest is so over-the-top, silly, and random, it almost feels like she made it on a whim. It’s as if she had been waiting so long to get a movie off of the ground, didn’t have a perfectly fresh idea in her head, but stumbled upon a bunch of money and thought that something would work anyway, regardless of how crummy the material was.

Oh man. How they’ve been in so much better.

And that’s where it all comes down to: The movie just isn’t funny.

It attempts to poke fun at marriage, its norms, and the sanctity of it all, but mostly comes down to making fun of a bunch of characters we never really get to know or care about, because they never come close to being human. They’re all goofy caricatures who are made so that Bell can set them up for whatever unfunny bits and pieces of comedy she chooses. It’s a shame to be picking on her, too, because in mostly everything I’ve ever seen her in, she’s constantly lovable and fun – but none of that shows here.

Not with her writing, her directing, or hell, especially not her acting. In fact, Bell’s performance is probably the worst as she totally over-does this character’s constant neurotic ticks, with all of the stuttering, flinching, and turning away. It’s like she’s doing a Woody Allen impersonation, but only saw one movie and decided to just roll with it. Same goes to Ed Helms as her husband here who, does what he can, but just feels like a typically dull husband who wants something more out of life and can’t quite perform in the sack. It’s actually a perfect role for Helms, but because he’s played it so many times before and there’s not much depth to this actual character, it doesn’t wholly work.

Bring back Doll & Em!

Instead, it feels like he’s slumming. And the same could be said for just about everybody else.

Dolly Wells plays the documentary film-maker who gets maybe one or two laughs, because her character seems like the voice-of-reason/bystander to all of this, but then she just ends up being a villain that the movie feels the need to bash; Amber Heard and Wyatt Cenac play a hippie-couple who are so formulaic in their ways, it already feels dated by the first instance we see of them; and Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen, try as they might, seem like they deserve a much better movie. They play an older couple who are running through their own little issues and trying to figure out what the other wants with their rest of their lives and it’s only here, in this one subplot, where it feels like Bell is touching at something interesting and compelling. But then, she drops the ball when she decides to focus on all of the other characters and their wild hi-jinx that, honestly, aren’t all that wild, nor all that funny.

They’re just annoying and ridiculous and it makes you wish that Bell stick with whatever sort of inspiration she had from her first flick.

Consensus: Even with a solid ensemble of likable people, I Do…Until I Don’t squanders all potential with a sitcom-y premise and even more ridiculous jokes and gags that go nowhere.

3 / 10

They’re like hippies, but in 2017. Ha! Ha!

Photos Courtesy of: The Film Arcade

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Justice League (2017)

Just not the same without Superman. He’s not in this, right?

After the rather tragic death of Superman (Henry Cavill), the world is in desperate need of a superhero. And with the current uprising of evil super-villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), the world is in desperate need and they need it quick. Enter Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who decides that it’s time to get together all of the best and most powerful of superheros to take down this foe. There’s Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who we know has supreme strength and can kick all sorts of ass, when she isn’t playing with the heart and emotions of Bruce. There’s Aquaman (Jason Momoa), who can not only talk to fish, but kick all sorts of ass, too. There’s Barry Gordon, aka Flash (Ezra Miller), who can run just as fast as he runs his mouth. Then, there’s Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher), who uses his robot body to do, well, whatever he damn well pleases with it. Though it takes some time, the gang gets together and decides that it’s best to save the world from ultimate destruction, but for some reason, they’re just not as powerful as they think. All they need is one more hero and they’ll be set.

But who?

When you need a Quicksilver, but your movie just not funny enough. Or at all.

No matter what, I am always rooting for DC. While Marvel is clearly kicking all sorts of ass in the superhero-movie world, I still hold out hope that one day, DC will give them the opponent they probably need and deserve. And with this past summer’s Wonder Woman, hell, I thought that maybe DC was getting their act together and was ready to put up a fight. Then, after Zack Snyder had to tragically bow-out, and they were able to gather up the talents of Joss Whedon, things were looking even brighter and better. It seemed like, oh man, DC showed up to the duel and was ready to go all the way, last corporation standing, do or die.

Unfortunately, quite the opposite happens.

In fact, Justice League seems like another five steps back, when it should have definitely been the same amount, but at least forward. But for some reason, the same issues that have been plaguing their past few films (except for the aforementioned Wonder Woman), seem to still be coming up: Their just too uneven and disjointed to fully work as one, cohesive whole. Whereas Marvel seems to have a formula that they will never stray away from, it’s one that works; their movies are the right combination of humor, action, quirkiness, character-work, drama, world-building, exposition, and excitement that when they decide to mix it up every so often, it never feels like it’s going to fail. It’s a near-perfect formula that works for them each and every time and it’s the same kind of formula that DC is trying to imitate, but just can’t seem to completely comprehend.

One of the main reasons for that, at least here, may be that Whedon’s script and Snyder’s direction just don’t mix-and-match well. Like, at all. For instance, Snyder’s direction is so gloomy, so serious, and so moody, and Whedon’s bits and pieces of script are so light, silly, and in ways, meta, that they feel like two different movies. One is trying to be Dawn of Justice (not as bad as people say, especially compared to this), and the other is trying to be both Avengers movies (both are pretty solid).

And like I said, the two just don’t fit.

Just kiss already! Get this testosterone done with already!

There are some moments of pure fun and excitement to be found, however, they are incredibly fleeting. After the initial half-hour and we’re done with all of the annoying exposition, world-building, and sort-of origin-tales, the movie sort of comes together in that the gang’s all in one place, fighting, picking each other’s look apart, and oh yeah, actually building character. It takes so long to get to this point, that when we’re actually there, it’s hard to notice – but when it is there, it’s quite fun and worth watching.

Same goes for the action which, regardless of who directed it the most or not, still works. Each superhero gets to show-off their own superpower and it feels worth it. It’s almost enough to get past the fact that the movie seems sorely underwritten and so rote, but hey, at least it’s not a total slog, right?

If anything, Justice League has me at least somewhat curious to see what they do next and where they go with these solo films. After all, the main reason why some of these characters just don’t work is because we hardly even know them in the first place; Cyborg’s backstory is constantly being brought-up to us and it just gets to be annoying, because we don’t care. We’re supposed to be getting those movies in the upcoming future, but we sort of need them desperately and now.

Cause without them, DC’s just not going to be able to put up the fight that they oh so want to put up.

Consensus: Even though they get an “A” for effort, Justice League is another sign that DC has a lot of work to do, especially on its characters, its script, and its oversall management of their promising franchise.

5.5 / 10

The male-gaze is back, fellas. Yay for misogyny!

Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Danish Girl (2015)

No Kardashian drama here. Just drama in general.

In the mid-20s, Danish painter Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) was living what appeared to be, the life. Married to his beautiful artist wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), was able to have as much fun as he wanted to, by going out to lavish parties, drinking all sorts of fine drinks, and, occasionally, getting a chance to dress up in women’s clothing to model for his wife’s paintings. At first though, it all seems like fun between a couple who clearly can’t be more in love. Eventually though, all of the fun begins to change and become, surprisingly, quite serious; now, instead of just having fun and wearing the women’s clothing for the hell of it, Einar is now wearing it all the time and doing it because he really feels the need to. Also, not to mention, that whenever Einar does dress-up, he does so under the persona of “Lili,”. Because, at is appears, Einar wants to be a woman, but considering that this is the early 20th century, it’s mostly frowned-upon and unheard of. But as his feelings become more conflicted with his feelings of being trapped in the wrong body/gender, friction between he and his wife start as they’re left to wonder what to do next with their relationship, as well as their own lives.

Wait? Stephen Hawkin?

Oh yeah. I can totally see the Stephen Hawkin comparisons now.

Around this time every year, there’s always that one movie that’s drenched in so much Oscar-bait, it’s almost embarrassing. These are, quite frankly, the kinds of movies that, on the surface, are pretty, handsomely made, edited, acted, and feature many “big” moments that demand your attention. But by the same token, these are also the kinds of movies that care so much about how many nominations they tally during awards season, that they forget what makes movies work so well in the first place: You know, things like heart, emotion, and most of all, importance. This isn’t to say that the Danish Girl, given the current world of media, isn’t important, but it is, at the same time, also the kind of movie we’re all used to seeing around this time of the year.

Meaning that, yes, the Danish Girl is safe, conventional, hardly surprising, and most obviously, accessible to just about each and every person who is the least bit interested in what this subject material is all about.

But I’m actually kind of conflicted in my feelings about that fact. For one, it’s nice to see a movie like the Danish Girl not be tied down by its subject material and instead, be able to tell its story the way it wants. Sure, there’s some full-frontal nudity and racy sex that will most definitely upset the elder ones in the crowd, but they don’t carry the movie down, or feel gratuitous; they work, given the context of the story. If anything, I’m more surprised that the movie itself wasn’t slapped with a NC-17 right off the bat, but hey, I guess there’s a true sign that we’re growing as a loving, caring and accepting society.

Still though, the Danish Girl is also too safe that it feels like it doesn’t really care about going hard or deep enough into this story to really have each and every person connect to it. This isn’t to say that unless you are in some way, shape, or fashion, trans, you won’t find something to be touched by with the Danish Girl, however, the movie doesn’t really set out to grab ahold of anyone. It has a story to tell here, which it does so well enough that it’s easy-to-follow and understandable, however, also feels like it’s just going through the same sorts of motions we’ve seen a story such as this go before.

It should also be noted that Tom Hooper, of the King’s Speech fame, directed the Danish Girl and clearly seems invested in what this story represents and discusses. That Einar’s constant need and desire to be accepted for who he was and not what others wanted him to be, is a universal enough feeling and idea that makes it easy for anyone to connect to. Granted, most of the Danish Girl is spent just watching as Einar goes from one scene to the other, trying harder and harder to hide his feminine ways, but still, given that this story takes place nearly a century ago, there’s something interesting to see and take note of; that everyone Einar goes up to to ask for “help”, is already prepared to fire up the lobotomy machine, or call up the cops, already gives you the right idea of just how controversial and forbidden homosexuality was.

"Why does he want me to paint him like one of my French girls?"

“Why does he want me to paint him like one of my French girls?”

This isn’t anything new, obviously, but Hooper presents it in such a way that’s neat to watch.

Problem is, like I said before, the rest of the movie moves at such a languid pace, it’s hard to ever get wrapped up. That’s a problem, too, because this tale of Einar’s own self-discovery, is supposed to be the one we feel apart of right from the very start – instead, it’s more of his wife’s story and just how she accepts the strange and unexpected turn her life has just taken. This isn’t to disregard Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Einar/Lili, as anything but good, because he really is; after awhile though, the character does become one-note and eventually, it’s easy to predict just how he’ll act when thrown into a certain situation.

The one I really couldn’t help but get wrapped up in was Alicia Vikander and her character’s story. 2015 has, for the most part, been Vikander’s year – she’s appeared in nearly 8 films this year, most of which, she’s done something new and interesting within each one. While this role is most likely to be her the one of hers that garners the most attention, there’s no denying the fact that she, as well as the role, deserve it. What’s so interesting about Gerda is how accepting and supportive she is of her husband, even despite the fact that he’s clearly starting to drift further and further away from her and more into his own world.

It would be easy to chalk Gerda up to being “annoying” and “pathetic”, because of for how long she decides to stick by her husband, no matter how much pain or turmoil he causes her, but it’s obvious from the very start, really: They’re in love. And when two people are in love, it’s hard for the other to just get up and leave, regardless of the situation. Though Vikander does so much crying here that I was actually worried her tear-ducts would just split open, she’s still so effective here that, if the movie wins for anything, I hope it’s for her. She’s the heart and soul of this movie that always seems like she knows what she wants the most, even in the most confusing of times.

Which is, yes, absolutely what love’s all about.

Consensus: Lush, well-acted, and relevant, the Danish Girl is a fine film that’s easy to admire, yet, at the same time, feels so safe and conventional, that it’s also easy to not ever actually get too involved with.

7 / 10

Perfect make-up partners!

Perfect make-up partners!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Bigger, longer, uncut. And I’m not even talking about the movie itself.

A few years after Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) left his fellow stripper bros in Tampa, he’s struggling a bit to say the least. Sure, he finally got his dream job of owning his own custom furniture company, but can’t even afford to pay his one employee’s insurance, and not to mention, is living all by himself after his girlfriend (Cody Horn), left him because she “just wasn’t ready yet”. Eventually, the Kings of Tampa reach out to Mike and ask him if they’ll come along and join them as they travel from Tampa to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for their last show before they bow out and get on with their real lives. Mike’s hesitant at first, but he soon gives in and realizes that the trip’s going to a lot harder to complete than he expected; problems arise, women come and go, and friendships are maintained. However, what Mike wants to do the most is break away from what his old boss, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), made him and the guys do. Instead, he wants to dance, shake, jive and strip the way he and his boys know how – it just takes a little creativity is all.

No matter how many people got on my case about it, I never tried to get the past that I actually quite enjoyed Magic Mike – or, as it was known back in the summer of 2012, “the male stripper movie”. Sure, it was filled with half-naked dudes, dry-humping, and dancing on top and/or around women, but because Steven Soderbergh was attached to it, it was surprisingly something more. While it was definitely a movie that featured males stripping to their skivvies for money, it was also a smart tale about growing up in the U.S. and living the American Dream anyway that one person can. Some prefer to work boring 9 to 5, whereas others prefer to get nearly naked for all sorts of women throwing dollar bills at them left and right.

Bro time is the best time. With clothes on, of course.

Bro time is the best time. With clothes on, of course.

With Magic Mike XXL, it’s less about the actual American Dream and more about the dream of, “man, being a male-stripper would be kind of cool”.

Because Soderbergh isn’t around this time again to direct (he does shoot the thing, as you can plainly tell in each and every shot), the movie feels more like it wants to be just a good time, without all that much thinking having to be done in the process. And that’s fine because director Gregory Jacobs understands that most of the people who come to see Magic Mike (see, not critics), may not care about whether or not there’s a heartfelt, compelling story about the human condition placed underneath – he knows that people will just want to see these guys dance, take their clothes off, and look buff as hell. Nothing wrong with that, honestly, it’s just a bit of a disappointment considering that the first one was actually a bit of a surprise by how much it sort of went against its target-audience; something most love and appreciate Soderbergh for.

But like I said, this isn’t a Soderbergh movie and even though the whole story of Magic Mike may not be as deep as the first, it’s still a bunch of fun to watch. The stripping scenes, as predicted, are a lot of fun but seem as if they’re more ridiculous and extreme this time around. That the plot is centered around these guys going on some sort of road trip, we’re now able to peak into all of these neat, little worlds where these guys can sometimes excel. We get to check out a drag club, a mainly African American club, a huge house filled with rich, older women, and, believe it or not, an actual convention for male strippers.

Highly doubt those exist, but for this point in time, I’ll let it all slide.

And with these new set-pieces, Jacobs gets his chance to light the screen up with as much crazy, over-the-top stuff as he wants, and it all makes sense. The art (or in this case, I guess lack thereof) of male-stripping is that you get as wild and as sexxed-up as you possibly can be, because the crazier and more fun you are, the more tips get hurled at you from incredibly horny women. Because male-stripping is such a wacky occupation to have secured in the first place, Jacobs finds himself in a safe place where he can go the extra mile with all of these stripping-sequences, and still be considered “believable”. I’m definitely sure that Jacobs and the rest of his crew weren’t wholly aiming for that element to the story, but it’s the little attributes like that, that help certain movies such as this all the more entertaining to watch.

Also, it helps that you have a solid cast to help work things out, which Magic Mike XXL does, and then some. Considering that Channing Tatum was basically playing a slightly heightened version of himself in the original, it’s no shock that C-Tates plays Mike this time around, the exact same way as before. He’s cool with the ladies, a good dancer, and all around bro that likes to party, but also wants a little more out of life than just fine women, fine cars, fine booze, and fine parties. Sure, we’ve seen Tatum challenged a whole heck of a lot more in the past couple years, but in all honesty, that doesn’t matter considering he’s fine as is here.

Eh. I've seen better.

Eh. I’ve seen better.

Now, when I first heard about Magic Mike XXL, I was very disappointed (but not too shocked) at the fact that neither Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, or Alex Pettyfer would be returning to their original roles here. While most of them are surely missed, the movie still does a fine enough job of filling up their roles, even if too manipulatively so. Though Horn isn’t here as Mike’s girlfriend, Amber Heard is sent in to pick up the pieces as a hipster-ish chick named Zoe, who sweeps Mike off his feet by how “artsy” and “cool” she seems to be with her tats and camera. Heard’s fine here, but her character does feel unnecessary, especially considering all she does is show up, flirt with Mike, and offer him something of a romantic love-interest to look forward to when he’s done his little trip.

But other than that, everybody else is fine and more than welcome to participate in the proceedings.

Most people who moaned and complained about the fact that the original didn’t give a whole lot of development to the characters of Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, or especially, Kevin Nash – well, have no fear. Not only do these characters get plenty of development here, but they even get some of their own moments to shine and reveal something about their personalities. Bomer’s character likes to sing and meditate; Manganiello’s wants to settle down, get married and have a family; Nash’s wants to be, oddly enough, an artist; and as an added-on bonus, Adam Rodríguez’s new character, Tito, likes Frozen Yogurt and wants to sell it in the future. Other characters show up such as Jada Pinkett Smith’s Rome, who had something of a relationship with Mike in his early days, Donald Glover’s Andre, who wants to sing, and Stephen “tWitch” Boss as Malik, who doesn’t have any development, other than that he’s probably the best dancer of the bunch, aside from Tatum himself.

It’s all so incredibly goofy, but it works well because it seems like it wants to make these characters more than just caricatures of puffed-up beefcakes – they’re actually human beings, like you or I.

And yes, we’re still talking about “the male stripper movie” here, folks.

Consensus: While not as exceptional as the first, Magic Mike XXL still provides plenty of fun for anybody looking to see these characters strip-down, dance and hump all the ladies, while also still getting opportunities to talk about their lives.

7 / 10

Enjoy it while it lasts, ladies. Cause after this, it's back to the real world.

Enjoy it while it lasts, ladies. Cause after this, it’s back to the real world.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Joneses (2010)

If they came into my neighborhood, they’d be “outed” in a week. Nobody’s cars are that nice.

The Joneses are the stereotypical, suburban family that has it all, and then some. Steve (David Duchovny) plays golf very well, wears nice clothes, and even hangs out with the dudes as much as he can; Kate (Demi Moore) is sort of like the same person, except she’s more about her looks; and the two kids, Jenn and Mick (Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth), are living the lives of your simple teens that have it all and show it all off to their friends. They’re goods and resources are so pricey and good-looking, that almost everybody in their neighborhood has to latch onto them as well and buy it for themselves. But where did all of these valuables come from? Something’s up with the Joneses and nobody knows, except for the Jones family themselves.

Here’s something that seemed like nothing more than a cheap scam to make a rom-com, but with a tad bit of an intriguing plot going for it. And yes, even in the dead heat of 2010, a plot where a bunch of sales-persons are put together in order to lure consumers towards their products that they are “showing off”, was pretty intriguing and probably hit a lot harder to home for some. I mean, it was what, only two years since the recession hit so why not remind everybody that paying for all of these fancy, shiny things isn’t worth the hassle and hustle because at the end of the day, all that money you once had is now lost on something made to make you look better and a lot better-off than you actually are?

"Can you believe this isn't the 90's anymore?"

“Can you believe this isn’t the 90’s anymore?”

Come to think of it, I’m pretty surprised that this movie was even made in the first place, but I guess that’s why they call them “surprises”.

What took me so by surprise with this movie was that it actually had me thinking and wondering what would happen if something were to ever happen like this around me. Yes, any type of human being gets a little bit interested when they see somebody with something nice-looking, or pretty, but rarely do they ever shell out the money to copy-cat the same way. However, that’s just my view and apparently I’m wrong. The idea that this movie touches on is the simple fact that people will go for anything that’s considered “cool”, if you throw it front of their faces and promise them happiness, even if it’s not everlasting. Because if you think about it: Yes, you may have that shiny, new Convertible, but what about the housing, the electric, the heating, and the phone bills you have to pay, each and every month? The movie taps into this idea that human beings, as a whole, will more than likely take the bait if they are thrown a little meat, and that’s more of a condemnation, then it is a point of life.

That’s why this flick may take some by surprise with it’s cynical view of the way the world works, and the people that inhabit it. It’s not easy straying away from the rest of the crowd, especially when the rest of the crowd is drawing the most attention because of the way they dress, look, or act in public. Those are the types of people that the Joneses are made out to be and I wouldn’t be surprised if some sales-companies out there actually thought of pulling off a stunt like this. It may work, you never know. I guess you just have to worry if the family’s around this “fake one”, are as easily persuaded by the jewels and the pretty things in life, rather than the things that actually matter like love, happiness, and just living in general.

By the end of the movie, it starts to tap into this idea that you don’t need all the clothes, the money, and all of the riches in the world to be happy, you just need a little bit of life and you’re all fine and dandy. However, by this point, the movie does start to get a little conventional and drop away from the smart plot-line it was working on before. Of course it feels like a total missed-opportunity once the flick goes back on it’s word and hits the low road of being soapy, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless and not anything that I couldn’t believe in. The movie gives us enough attention to these characters and their relationships, so that when they actually do start to show a little bit more emotion that may have been easily calculated from the beginning, it feels reasonable, and not meant as an attempt for the creators of the flick to make everybody leave with a smile on their faces, and a happiness in their heart. Even if it does seem like the intentions right from the start.

Now they all understand why Ashton was so smitten. You know, until he wasn't.

Now they all understand why Ashton was so smitten. You know, until he wasn’t.

Even if.

With that said, the characters work more than they should because David Duchovny and Demi Moore in the leading-roles as both Steve and Kate Jones. Together, they seem like two people that get along and work well when they have to, but also have a bit of under-lining sexual-attraction going on between one other, and it’s obvious to a fault that they’re eventually going to shack up in the end. However, watching them as they continue to play little mind games here and there, was always a treat; not just because they work well together, but because they also feel like the types of people that would get stuck in this sort of dead-line of work, even if they didn’t go to sleep knowing it was the right thing to do. But still, they’re characters that are fleshed-out just enough that they’re worth caring about, just as soon as things go for the obvious.

The only people in this cast who really don’t get much time to shine or show off their skills are Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth as the two kiddies of the fam-squad, Jenn and Mick. Heard is hot, as always, and will leave plenty of the dudes who watch in many hot sweats just by being on the screen, but leaves a lot to be desired with her titillating character, especially by the end once we’re supposed to feel glued to her character and what’s going on with her, but instead, feels slightly random and melodramatic. Same goes for Hollingsworth, who shows off some charm, but isn’t given enough time for us to care about him or remember he’s even part of the family for a little while. Nope, it’s all Steve and Kate, which I was fine with because Moore and Duchovny can put in solid work when they want, but a little more roundness of the rest of the family would have went a long, long way.

Consensus: The Joneses is conventional, but it deals with some honest issues about corporations, selling-out, and being one with the crowd, even if you don’t feel like wanting to anymore, that makes it feel like a step above most rom-coms.

7 / 10

Way too attractive to be a real family. I'm sorry.

Way too attractive to be a real family. I’m sorry.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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

Machete Kills (2013)

CIA, step up your game and legalize this man! Along with weed, of course.

Machete (Danny Trejo) is back, and this time, it’s the U.S. President (Carlos Estevez)’s orders! Machete gets the order to get out deep in the deserts of Mexico, and stop a schizophrenic madman (Demián Bichir) from launching a deadly missile aimed at Washington, D.C., which may also run a bit deeper than just him and connect all the way back to the U.S., where rich billionaire Voz (Mel Gibson) may be partaking in some shady dealings as well. Shady dealings like, say, taking a trip to outer space. However, once people catch wind of this news that Machete is alive, well, and running all around, then somebody puts a bounty on his head, which many, many colorful and dangerous characters get involved with. Problem is, they don’t realize that Machete don’t text, don’t Tweet, and he sure as hell don’t die. Remember that.

Though I never got to reviewing it for you fine specimens, the first Machete kicked all tons of ass and was every bit as insane, as dumb, and as idiotic as I would have expected a Robert Rodriguez movie to be, and then some. Essentially, it was a one-joke movie, with a one-joke premise, but it never lost its steam and always continued to make me laugh, get grossed out (in a good, exploitative way that worked well with the material) and overall, just have a total and complete ball. It helped that that movie had a star-studded cast that continued to show more and more familiar faces as it went along, and it also helped that Rodriguez himself realized that he was making a piece of B-movie heaven, so of course he just had to run with it; with a bigger budget of course.

"Machete don't do blondes. But, there's always exceptions to certain rules."

“Machete don’t do blondes. But, there’s always exceptions to certain rules.”

However, what worked so well for me with that movie, seems to have suddenly run a bit dry here, even despite the bigger cast, the somewhat bigger budget, and the even bigger action scenes that Rodriguez really seemed to throw all of his time, money and effort into. For some reason, it never feels like it’s going for that one-joke and trying to spin it around as much as possible anymore; instead, the movie feels like it has almost way too much plot, way too many twists and way too much time spent on meaningless characters that obviously are around to show you how wacky the movie is, but ultimately, just take up precious time and space that could have been used more for people getting their heads chopped off. And yes, that’s the type of stuff I want to see more of in a Machete movie, because it’s done for the sole purpose that it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Here, it just seemed like Rodriguez had so many more ideas and subplots he wanted to play around with, and yet, couldn’t keep his curious hand away from showing them as much as attention as Machete should get. Because, let’s face it, this is Machete’s movie, this is his story and this is his time to shine. So, when you take that away from him and focus more on the meandering plots/characters of the movie that wouldn’t make a lick of difference to the whole shebang in the long run, then you’re robbing us, the audience, as well. People who want to see this want to see Machete do crazy stuff like spin around on a helicopter-blade and chop people’s heads off, or get banged by some of the sweetest honeys around. We don’t want to see a whole subplot that concerns a hitman taking off his disguise face, and putting on a real one, all of the time. And even if that subplot was to be shown, at least do it in less than a minute or so, only to not take away from Machete himself; aka, the character that makes this movie work, everytime they focus on him and whatever sick, sadistic and violent thing he does next.

There’s just so much fun to be had with this character, and it makes you wonder why somebody, especially some nut-job like Rodriguez would want to take that away from him. Give him to Quentin! He’ll set him straight, give him his cake, and allow him to eat it, too. But not just a piece, the WHOLE, FREAKIN’ THING.

But, no matter what, it cannot be denied that Danny Trejo is the heart and soul behind this character, and despite the reality of the matter that he’s older than most of the chiseled-out freaks from the Expendables movies, you still believe him as a wholly unbelievable character. Machete is a straight-man to all of the nonsense happening around him, and with that on his plate, Trejo owns the role and seems to never lose his comedic-timing. It’s obviously not as eventful to see Trejo in this role like it was the first time around, mainly due to the fact that he’s dipped his pen into a few no-budget movies in the years since, but it’s still awesome to see him play Machete, and do what he does best: Kill the fuck out of people.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

And while I do stand by what I said about Rodriguez centering too much of his attention on the supporters more so here than he did in the last film, it can’t be denied that each and every one of these big names are having the time of his/her life. Some peeps from the first are back like Tom Savini, Michelle Rodriguez, William Sadler, and Jessica Alba, in a role that probably gives her as much time on-screen as she does: No less than 5 minutes. Since she’s up on the screen for such a short time, she is ultimately replaced by Amber Heard playing an undercover agent, posing as Miss San Antonio and seems like she fits in quite well with Rodriguez crazed world of drug dealers, hookers, sadists, madmen billionaires, and total crazies.

And that’s just his dinner table at Thanksgiving! Woo-hoo! I got a million of ’em!

But no seriously, she fits in mighty fine, as well as plenty of other new, fresh faces like Sofia Vergara, Demián Bichir, in a very against-type that he rolls with and never loses the fun-factor, Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, and the best of them all, none other than Mr. Jew-hater himself, Mel Gibson. This is one of those cases where it seems like Mel is only taking what he can get at the moment, but if that is the case, then so be it, because every chance this guy gets to join in on the fun, he does, and with plenty of energy and pizzazz. He chews the scenery like nobody’s business, hasn’t seemed like he’s lost his comedic-timing in a million years, and mostly keeps the film afloat, even when it becomes too obvious that it’s gone absolutely everywhere it could have gone, and then some. And yes, I am talking about somewhere like space, but that is a different story and movie, for a different day.

Consensus: No doubt about it that Machete Kills will offer all of the same types of B-movie craziness and fun that the first one gave us, but a little bit more of scaling-back on its numerous strands of plot, character, and ideas, would have definitely helped this been a better time. Oh well, at least I got an autograph from Robert Rodriguez himself out of the deal. At least there is that.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Can't get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I'm sort of like Jesus. Ain't that right, JEWS?!?!?"

“Can’t get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I’m sort of like Jesus. Ain’t that right, JEWS?!?!?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2013)

Those Mandy Lane’s, they’ll do damage to a guy’s head.

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is the dream-girl that all dudes go head-over-heels for. There’s nothing really amazing about her personality, it’s just the beauty of what she looks like is what really does it for these dudes, hence why she gets so many date-offers and such, yet, turns them all down. She’s a shy girl that obviously wants to have a lot of friends, but there’s always something holding her back. What it is, we don’t quite know, but that mystery is what the guys love about her the most. That, and the fact that she’s slam-spankin’ gorgeous! So, Mandy gets an invitation to one of her friend’s ranches out in the middle of nowhere for the weekend just to hang out, drink, have some sex, smoke some weed, and do all the sorts of reckless abandonment that teenagers partake in. However, the weekend gets a little bit weird during the night, and not just because all of the dudes obviously are trying TOO hard to be with Mandy, but because people start going missing and there are even gun-shots heard somewhere in the distance. Are they being hunted? And if so, by who? Is it all just for Mandy?

If you know the whole story behind this movie, you’ll know that people have been waiting like the Dickens for this thing, and it’s not because it’s great or outstanding or anything of that sort. It’s all because the Weinsteins, seeing as how they couldn’t make a profit off of a teen-centered, grindhouse flick, decided to sell the movie to a company that not soon after, went out of business, leaving it stuck without anybody to carry it, or have a release-date at all. People saw it, wanted it out there for the world to see, but it just didn’t seem like that was going to be happening, or at least not for awhile anyway.

"So, you like things? Things like me?"

“So, you like things? Things like me?”

Fast forward 7 years later, and I’m still trying to figure out what the wait was all for.

Director Jonathan Levine is a guy who has gone on to bigger, better things in the past couple of years since his directorial-debut hit, and was never seen, but here, he shows a very promising career that we all know he was capable of maintaining. The guy shows a nice taste for showing movies about young people, their lives, and who they are, yet, he never goes any deeper than just “kids do stupid stuff, nuff said.” That’s about as far into these characters as we go, and even though I’ll give the guy credit for allowing his movie to show these kids doing a hefty amount of drugs, partying, and drinking in a way that feels realistic and not glamorized in the least bit, he never goes anywhere with it. He just shows them for being young, dumb teenagers, and then shows them as they get killed, which made the flick a bit harder to enjoy, mostly because it isn’t interesting.

Once the kills start to happen and the horror-aspect of its story start to file in, then we see what Levine’s true intentions of this movie were, and it’s less about making a statement on the loneliness faced by these teenagers’ dull, meandering lives, but more how his horror flick is better than most out there. Levine seems to take a stand on the fact that he knows the typical genre-conventions that come with horror movies, but rather making something smart or original with those conventions, he sort of does the same stuff, with less flair or enjoyment added to the proceedings. In fact, you could probably go so far as to say that the movie is probably weaker than the ones that Levine seems to pointing the bad finger at in the first place.

With blood-flavored corn-syrup splashed on her, I'd still tap.

With blood-flavored corn-syrup splashed on her, I’d still tap.

And it’s not like the movie’s “bad” per se, it’s just obvious that the horror-aspect doesn’t mesh well with these teens as well as it should, and that’s mainly because there’s no feeling behind it. We sort of want most of these kids to get killed because they’re so boring and annoying to be around, and live rather monotonous lives, even though we shouldn’t feel this way. Levine sort of wants us to feel sympathy for most of these teenagers that can’t seem to make a run for it when they easily should know when and how to, but it never hits us that we should. We just watch as each and every character gets hacked-off, one-by-one, with no feeling of remorse or sadness whatsoever. Not saying that we’re supposed to be happy about these young kids having their lives ended so early and morbidly either, but we should have some feeling involved with it, shouldn’t we?

Needless to say, it was strange seeing Amber Heard in this role as Mandy Lane because of how young, but still gorgeous she looks. Granted, it’s been only 7 years since she made this movie (which would have made her around my age, 19-20), but you can tell that she was always a beauty and the perfect-fit as Mandy Lane, aka, the girl who practically takes over every guy’s mind whenever she walks by, or just so happens to even get close to making eye-contact with them. She’s mysterious in her own way and you want to know more about her, and Heard allows us to be intrigued and interested by her as well. She lets us in as much as she can without spoiling everything about her and it had me going for the longest time. Heard isn’t really given much to do other than just silently sit there, gazing at all of the happenings surrounding her, and that was fine, because she nails it. The rest of the cast I can’t say the same thing for, however, it is fairly obvious that all of them are talented and deserved to show up in more stuff like they have. Some I’ve seen before, some I haven’t, but at least they do well with the thinly-written characters they’re given.

Consensus: Though there are some interesting aspects surrounding All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, they get thrown to the side for the grisly murders, overuse of blood and gore, and non-stop horror conventions that take over the last act.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Losers. Can't wait till they all just die."

“Losers. Can’t wait till they all just die.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Paranoia (2013)

Technology is taking over everything! Be ready, Wall Street!

Young, ambitious Adam (Liam Hemsworth) dreams for something big. Actually, a hell of a lot bigger than his job at a tech firm run by the powerful, but awfully snobby Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman). Adam thinks he deserves so much that when he has to present a new product his team of co-workers have been testing out, that when it doesn’t seem to please Wyatt or the rest of his squad, Adam loses a little bit of self-control and blurts out a snobby comment. Obviously no boss would take this off of any disgruntled employee, especially not Nicholas Wyatt. So therefore, Adam and the rest of his crew gets fired and decide to go to a very high-priced club, party it up, and get whatever it is that they want, all on the corporate credit card. You know, the one meant for “work”? Well, once Adam wakes up, after he has a forgettable (literally) one-night stand with the beautiful Emma (Amber Heard), he gets a demand from Wyatt, who tells him he can either go and rot in jail for the crime he’s committed, or he can do pull off a sneaky stunt where he would go over to the rival company (lead by Harrison Ford), charm everyone, and then steal a prototype smartphone that the company is working on. Sounds easy, but when the stakes are this high and the risk is a lot greater than the reward: Nothing’s ever easy.

No clue why the hell I went so in-depth with that plot-synopsis, but I guess I needed to find something even remotely interesting to type about this movie. Seriously, just by watching the first ten minutes of this movie, you can tell how everything is going to happen, why, where, when, and to what people. It’s all so obvious, conventional, predictable, and cliché, and offers barely anything redeeming about itself that’s worth watching. Whether or not that’s the cast’s or the script’s problem is totally left in the clouds, but let’s just get to the root of the problem here, shall we?

"I got you off my plane 16 years ago, don't think I won't hesitate to do it again!"

“I got you off my plane 16 years ago, don’t think I won’t hesitate to do it again!”

Director Robert Luketic, despite charming me a tad bit with 21, is back on his terrible-streak of movies, and it only seems to be getting worse. Something about the way in which Luketic directs this material not only keeps it away from sizzling, but never allows to amount to anything other than just another huge piece of blandness. You’ve seen it all before, and there’s nothing at all new or cool to see here. Just the typical crap you expect from these two-bit thrillers. It saddens me to say this too, because I don’t know why half of the talent that got involved, got involved with this because the twists and turns that this movie throws at us (way too many to be exact), are not predictable right from the start, but are terribly idiotic as well.

Take for a terrible instance in one scene where Hemsworth’s character is being watched by a group of peeps, spying on him through surveillance who want to know all that he’s up. So therefore, they’ve ran-down his whole apartment with cameras, speakers, and all sorts of tidy gadgets that they need for this one, specific scene and no other time, in hopes that they will catch him in the act of doing something mischievous, like calling up somebody to ask for help or to do something else these bastards consider “bad”. I lost track of what was good and what was bad, but that didn’t matter because apparently the baddies were the goodies all along, or something. I don’t know, and I don’t care.

Anyway, where I was at with this scene is that you’d think that these people wouldn’t want Hemsworth to know that he’s being watched by them, right? Well, that’s a smart baddie would do, but these ones apparently aren’t. They call him, and start describing certain features about the way he’s dressed and he’s walking, giving him the idea that they see him and know what he’s up to. Obviously, feeling betrayed and “paranoid”, Hemsworth lashes-out on the apartment and rips everything down, wall-by-wall, piece-by-piece. Why the hell anybody would ever call up the targets they’re spying on, and giving away with their post, totally beats me. Then again though, the rest of this flick does too.

The only reason I talked about that scene in such particular description is because it’s the most memorable, among many other scenes, that were just as-stupid-as-day. But none of what I’m saying matters, because this movie has been released to the general-public, with some big names, just in hopes that people will run out to see it. I’m encouraging you now to not even bother with it, and buy a ticket for something else. Like Lee Daniels’ The Butler?!? Or, Elysium? Or hell, even Man of Steel?!? That’s still in theaters, right? Ehh, it doesn’t matter. All I’m saying is that nothing here in this movie is worth the price of admission, so please just stay away. It’s for your own good. Trust me.

I get it! He's really, really, super, ultra hot!

I get it! He’s really, really, super duper, ultra-magnificently hot!

But if there is anything, and I do repeat, ANYTHING worth seeing in this movie, it’s the very few scenes that Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford have together, as rival CEOs, who are both evil and snarky in their own, rich guy ways. Both are playing type, and are fine with what crap they’re given, but there’s one scene between the two where they just go at one another that’s so funny, so entertaining, and filled with so much energy and spirit, you have to wonder if it was even in the same script, for the same movie, or if they just improvised their assess off and decided to roll with it. I honestly have no clue, but all I do know is that that one scene, is probably the best and most memorable scene of the whole flick, and actually the only time I felt like I was watching a summer movie that was supposed to be considered “fun”.

And even though I do feel bad for those two, I can’t at all feel bad for Hemsworth because the dude’s just a brick-wall in this movie. He’s a terrible choice for this lead role, not just because he can’t act a single bit, but because he’s simply too good-looking. Weird complaint, I know, but the fact that he’s a total heart-throb for the tweeners that this is aimed for, only makes his performance a lot less bearable to sit through, especially since he’s constantly shirtless and in a towel about every 10 minutes. He looks good, I’ll give him that, but he’s dull, can’t act, and has a body that’s a little too chiseled and ripped for a dude who’s supposed to be considered “trash”, as well as a “hipster”. For a guy who knows plenty of hipsters, Liam Hemsworth being called one, almost made me want to punch the screen, but every hipster I know. Just because you wear somewhat tight-jeans, black-and-white shoes, and don’t make more than $50K a year, does not, not even a single bit, make you a hipster. I’ll just put it down on the line like that and leave it there. So screw you, Robert Luketic! You don’t know shit about the hipster-ways. You dick.

Consensus: Nothing in Paranoia, with the exception of maybe a scene or two between Oldman and Ford, is worth recommending to see. That’s all, folks.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"So since you're insanely hot, and I'm insanely hot, I guess we sort of have to bang, right?"

“So since you’re insanely hot, and I’m insanely hot, I guess we sort of have to bang, right?”

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Rum Diary (2011)

As a pirate, and now as a journalist. I’m starting to think that Johnny Depp the human may just like rum.

Eager to flee his humdrum life in 1950s New York, booze-loving journalist Paul (Johnny Depp) moves to Puerto Rico and begins writing for a local rag, but his life becomes unhinged when he falls for a gorgeous woman (Amber Heard) and clashes with her shifty fiancé (Aaron Eckhart).

Even though I have never seen ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘, I have heard nothing but good and crazy things which is why I was kind of anticipating seeing a film with Depp playing another Hunter S. Thompson character. However, I think I need to check out Fear and Loathing instead.

Director Bruce Robinson does his best to make this adaptation at least mildly amusing but just can’t do too much in the end. There are moments of humor that kept me laughing, and other parts where I like how they down-played all of the humor but the problem with this film is that the drama kicks in and it’s just so dry and boring that the film almost seems a bit uneven. Nothing really happens the whole time, or at least that’s what it seems like and although I was watching I still had no idea where this film was trying to go, let alone actually say.

My real problem with this film is that nothing ever really felt at stake and instead of wondering just where this story was going to go in a suspenseful kind of way, I tried to understand just why the hell this film was meandering. If Depp’s character, Paul joins these bad-guys and practically sells his soul to the devil, then something not too good will happen. That not too good thing never popped up once and I never even cared if he joined them or not. What was even more annoying was how the film had these little constant bits of energy that seemed like a total amount of fun, but then they would get knocked down by some real dry drama or moments of nothing really happening to the point of where I actually heard a yawn.

Remember that awesome, kick-ass trailer? Yeah, I did too, and I felt cheated when I found out that this was just a lazy attempt at trying to re-create the craziness that I hear Fear and Loathing did.There’s probably one scene where there are drugs taken and probably the funniest and most memorable of the whole film, and I never quite understood why the film didn’t keep on going for that constantly weird and crazy vibe that it could have easily benefited from.

Although, I may knock on this film a whole bunch I still did have some fun with this film and that’s probably because the beautiful sights of this film. The film takes place in 1960’s Puerto Rico and it really feels like a love-letter to it with all of the sun-lights, wide-open beaches, and ridiculously sexy mama citas that were all over the place. Hell, even the poor and little under-belly of Puerto Rico looked nice and that seems really really hard to do. If only the beauty of the cinematography could have got translated to some of its direction and writing.

At the beginning of the film, I thought Paul Kemp was going to be an incredibly quirky and funny dude but after the opening scene, Johnny Depp plays Kemp fairly low-key, which will probably disappoint a lot of people. He’s more of the silent observer in this film and doesn’t drink as much rum as the title and cool poster would have you think at first. This isn’t a bad performance by any means, but it’s fairly just disappointing since I would have liked to see him get a little zanier and a lot more fun to watch.

I’m also a little bothered at the fact that Depp is playing a dude that’s just starting out in his career as a journalist, when in reality, Depp is 48. Yes, I know it seems totally insane that Captain Jack Sparrow is old enough to be a 21st Century pop-pop and it gets even weirder when he starts this romance with Amber Heard’s character, who is about 25 herself. Maybe I was the only one who was a tad bothered by this but he seems to be getting too old for some of these roles and I think it may be time for roles that suit him a lot better, whatever they may be.

Speaking of Amber Heard, she’s pretty disappointing here as Chenault although she uses her sexiness to her advantage. She’s been so much better in a lot of other films and it’s a real shame when the film sort of totally gets rid of her by the last act. Aaron Eckhart plays her boyfriend, Sanderson, and is a total and complete disappointment in this film because he just a one-note character the whole time, which takes a lot more momentum out of this film. Giovanni Ribisi plays a drunken dude named Moburg and is a lot of fun on-screen, even though his character seems totally random considering the tone of this film; Richard Jenkins is a lot of fun to watch as Paul’s editor-in-chief and gives a surprisingly smart speech on Puerto Rico that was one of the few moments that actually interested me; and Michael Rispoli plays Paul’s new best-buddy, Sala, and really keeps the moments he and Depp have on-screen, some of the best and funniest moments of this film.

Consensus: The Rum Diary has its moments where it can be fun, beautiful to look at, and have feature some very good performances from the whole cast but has an uneven tone that sort of meanders over its whole 2-hour time-limit and feels like a film that could have been so much better, if it had so much more rum-drinking that the previews and poster were suggesting.

5/10=Rental!!

Never Back Down (2008)

If Ralph Macchio went to Fight Club, and if Pat Morita, was black.

When a quick-tempered teenager (Sean Faris) moves to a new town and faces the challenges of attending a new high school, he seeks solace in an underground fight club, where he’s taken under the wing of a mixed martial arts expert. Djimon Hounsou, Amber Heard, and Cam Gigandet also star.

Right away, you can already tell how this story is going to begin, linger on, and end. Every single thing here is cliched. The script is just how should I say, down right laughable at times, even when it’s not trying to be.

But who cares about that, let’s just see some fighting. And that is what we get, guys beating the shit out of each other. That is probably my only favorite part about this movie, the action is in your face, and fun. I wasn’t bored when watching these guys beat each other, and it’s all filmed with all these camera angles, but I still didn’t mind. Also, the soundtrack is bangin’, which is why most of the fight sequences are great, they add a lot more spunk to the actual fighting itself.

The acting here is pretty hammy about I guess it doesn’t really matter, since it’s really the action that is the star here. I believe the only reason they casted Sean Faris, and Amber Heard because they both look like Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johansson. I mean just look at them, and don’t tell me that they don’t look like those two. Djimon Hounsou brings some life to this film, and he is alright here, although at times, we can’t understand what he says, but who cares he can kick my ass just by raising his eyebrow.

This film really is just hilarious to watch mainly because its so dumb. There are times between the fighting where they’ll say fighting is not the answer, and then they’ll be kicking the crap out of some random dude the next minute. But all these movies have me asking one question: Where in the hell are the parents?? I mean these kids are getting their asses kicked on a regular basis somebody’s mommy has had to call an end to it sooner or later. And when these kids aren’t training, do they actually go to school?? I guess I’m thinking too much for a movie that’s about fighting.

Consensus: It’s hammy, cliched beyond belief, and dumb, but it’s fun. It provides plenty of good action, with an awesome soundtrack, and plenty of unintentional laughs that will keep you entertained.

5.5/10=Rental!!