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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Armie Hammer

Free Fire (2017)

Did someone say “bang bang”?

Two different groups of thugs get together to finish up the deal on a bunch of guns. Seem simple enough, eh? Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t quite go as planned when the groups begin to feud for some odd reasons and then, eventually, and seemingly out of nowhere, begin shooting at one another. But why? And better yet, who is to be blamed for all of this craziness and havoc?

Co-writer/director Ben Wheatley thinks he’s definitely a lot smarter and humoruous than he actually is, which is why his movies, for the most part, have left me feeling a tad bit dry. Sure, they’ve got inspiration and definitely some creativity, but they mostly feel like mixed-bags where Wheatley tries a lot of different things at once and doesn’t quite come out on top, looking as clean and as smart as he thinks.

Still so cool.

It’s nothing against him, as a person, because I’m sure he’s a cheeky and lovely fella to be around, but it also seems like he’s a lot wittier than he may be. Does he take extra steps to put himself into a corner with the kinds of movies he takes on? Oh yes. Does he at least show a surprising amount of ambition? Definitely. Does he always seem to know what he’s doing? Not quite, and that’s why Free Fire, while still something of a slightly mixed-bag, also works a lot better than his other flicks because, well, it is actually as witty and humorous as it think it is.

Which is definitely saying something.

Cause honestly, the premise is basically one overlong gun-battle and while it can get to be a little tiring after hearing gun-shot-after-gun-shot, it also sinks so much into your brain that it works. Eventually, the sound just becomes background noise to these characters constantly plotting, yelling, and figuring out ways how to get out of this situation alive, get off with all the guns, and also, get rid of the ones shooting at them. Sure, is it maybe too simple for its own good? Most definitely, but it still works because Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump seem to know what it is that they’re dealing with here and it works.

In other words, it’s a fun movie. It’s actually kind of funny, but also pretty barbaric and disturbing when it needs to be, and it draws us even closer into the twisted, sick and warped mind of Wheatley. Could he have possibly have toned-down all of the constant shooting and instead, I don’t know, given us something along the lines of a one-on-one battle? Probably, but still, it’s hard to complain about a movie that doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot, yet, still entertaining. It so rarely happens to me with a movie, so it’s great when it does.

Somehow, they have time for laughs?

And yes, the awesome ensemble is to be thanked for that, too.

Because everyone’s got their own one little trait, it works in the long-run. Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley are the bad-ass Irishmen; Brie Larson is the woman who constantly keeps on getting underestimated, but always proving herself; Jack Reynor and Noah Taylor are scummy dudes; Sharlto Copley, in one of his best performances to-date, is the stylish, yet annoying South African who takes things too seriously; Babou Ceesay is his very hard-to-understand partner; Jack Reynor is pugnacious and always looking for a brawl; and in probably the best performance, Armie Hammer stays cool and stylish, even with all of the killing and violence surrounding him.

With a great cast such as this, would you expect a bit more than just quips and shots fired? Probably, but once again, it still kind of works. Wheatley knows how to shoot this action to where we can tell what’s happening, even when it’s sometimes not all that clear, but he also knows how to draw us in on the tension, by upping the stakes and keeping surprises up his sleeve. It can be viewed as pretentious, but compared to his other movies, it’s probably the least stylish and obvious he’s ever been, which means yes, it’s good.

Pretty damn good, to be honest.

Consensus: As simple as it may be, Free Fire still gets by on its fun, humor, and perfectly put together cast who work well in this crazy atmosphere.

7.5 / 10

Don’t take her Oscar away just yet.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Life is depressing, then you die. It’s that simple.

Despite the big house and even bigger bank account, Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is still incredibly sad about something. Her second husband (Armie Hammer) constantly leaves for business trips, when in reality, he’s just having sex with other women; she doesn’t keep in-touch with her teenage daughter; and she’s still feeling some sort of guilt from having cheated on her first husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). But for one reason or another, he sends her a transcript of his latest novel and it absolutely haunts Susan’s life – in her dreams, at work, at her house, seemingly everywhere. And why is that? Well, it just so happens to be a random tale about a husband (also Jake Gyllenhaal), a wife (Isla Fisher), and a daughter (Ellie Bamber) who get ran-off the road by a bunch of mean, dirty and foul Southerners. What does this novel have to do with Susan’s life? Well, she doesn’t quite know, but the more she continues to read, the more she starts to think about her own life and all of the countless decisions she should have, or shouldn’t have, made.

It’s been nearly seven years later since famed fashion-designer Tom Ford’s A Single Man and well, he’s been sorely missed. While that movie not just proved to be a great acting showcase for the always underrated Colin Firth, it also proved to the world that Ford was more than just one of the biggest, most notorious names in the fashion-world. His aspirations and ambitions with his career went further beyond designing pretty clothes and making a heap-tons of money – he had a skill for directing movies and guess what? It all showed.

I don't know, so don't ask.

I don’t know, so don’t ask.

But what’s so interesting about A Single Man and Nocturnal Animals, his latest, is that Ford shows he doesn’t just have a knack for crafting beautiful visuals, but also knows how to make, well, a movie, with a good story, good acting, and most importantly, emotion. This time around, however, Ford’s creative-skills are put to the test in that he takes on what is, essentially, two movies into one; there’s the dark, depressing character-drama about sad and lonely rich people, and then, there’s the even darker, but far more grueling and violent Southern-revenge thriller. What do the two have to do with one another?

Well, I’m still trying to figure that all out.

However, there’s no denying that Ford crafts a very interesting, if at times, hard-to-watch movie. While it’s easy to give him credit for making the one story about the sad and lonely rich people and making it somehow work, it’s not as easy to give him credit for the Southern-fried revenge-thriller. The two are very hard movies to make, side-by-side, but somehow, he pulls it all off; both stories and compelling and also seem like they could have been their own movies.

Which is also the very same issue with Nocturnal Animals, in and of itself. For one, it takes a lot on, and handles it well, but also runs into the problem of having one story-line be fare more intriguing than the other. It happens to almost every movie with countless subplots, but here, it feels more disappointing, because they’re both very interesting to watch; it’s just that one clearly has more juice than the other.

Shave up, Jake. And possibly shower.

Shave up, Jake. And possibly shower.

And yes, I am talking about the Southern-fried revenge-thriller, although, it doesn’t make me happy to say that.

See, with that story, Ford is able to transport himself into far more deadly material, where anything can happen, at any given time. Just the introduction into this story, with the couple getting pulled-off to the side of the road and essentially terrorized over the course of ten minutes straight, still plays in my head, just by how truly disturbing it is. But it continues to get better and better, asking harder questions and not giving all that many answers, either.

But then, there’s the other-half of Nocturnal Animals and it’s still good, yet, also very different. It’s slower, more melodic and and far more interested in building its characters. And is it successful? Yes, but it just so happens to be placed-up, side-by-side with this other movie and it makes you wonder whether or not they should have been put that way in the first place? The book in which Tom Ford is adapting does, but I don’t know if it transitions well to the screen, where we literally have two entirely stories being told to us, with two very different styles.

So yeah, as you can tell, I’m still racking my brain around Nocturnal Animals.

If there’s anything I’m for sure certain about, it’s that Tom Ford is no fluke of a director and has, once again, put together a pretty great cast. Amy Adams gets a lot to do with very little, as the very cold and mean Susan Morrow who, through certain flashbacks, we do see develop over time and become more human to us; Jake Gyllenhaal plays her ex-husband as well as the daddy in the book very well, even if they are, two different performances, both seeming to be emotionally draining; Aaron Taylor-Johnson has always been fine in everything he’s done so far in his young career, but here, is absolutely bone-chilling and scary as the one psychopath from the story; Michael Shannon pops up as the Texas Ranger from that story and is clearly having a ball, yet also, showing off a great deal of heart and humanity in a story that, quite frankly, could have used more; and others seem to pop-up, like Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Isla Fisher, Michael Sheen, and Andrea Riseborough, and do whatever they can, but sometimes, have such limited screen-time that it’s a bit of a shame.

But hey, maybe that’s just me being extra needy.

Consensus: By working with two movies at once, Tom Ford expertly crafts Nocturnal Animals into being a dark, dramatic and sometimes disturbing emotional-thriller that may not fit perfectly together, but does offer up some really great performances.

7.5 / 10

It's love. Or is it?

It’s love. Or is it?

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz, Indiewire

The Birth of a Nation (2016)

Wait, which movie is this?

Ever since he was a little boy growing up on a slave plantation in the early 19th century, Nat Turner (Nate Parker), has always wanted to be more than just your typical slave. He was literate, could preach the word of God and most of all, saw himself as one with white people. However, little does he know that, outside of his plantation, where everything’s bad, but not awful, lies a cruel, dark and unforgiving world that doesn’t take kindly to black people, free or not. And Nat gets to witness a good portion of it, first-hand, when he and his owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), go out on a few trips where they stop at fellow slave plantations and Nat preaches the word of God. For some reason, the owners see this as a way for their own slaves to get riled up and do the work that they were “supposedly” put on this God’s-green Earth to do in the first place. But after witnessing one too many brutal acts of sadism, Nat decides that it’s time to turn the other cheek, gather up all of the other slaves that he’s come to know and love, and fight back. 

Symbolism? Right?

Symbolism? Right?

A lot of the discussion about the Birth of a Nation, oddly enough, hasn’t been about the title, the movie’s depiction of slavery, its message, or hell, even whether or not it’s actually good and worth watching. Instead, it’s been all about what director/star/co-writer Nate Parker and co-writer
Jean McGianni Celestin did on that one fateful evening, nearly 17 years ago when they were students at Penn State. This review is not about what did, or didn’t happen, and whether or not Parker and Celestin are, or aren’t guilty of their supposed-crimes (even though Celestin did actually plead “guilty”, but that’s neither here, nor there) – in fact, it’s actually going to be about the movie itself, the Birth of a Nation.

And well, it deserves to be talked about. If not exactly for the reasons people imagine.

If there’s anything I have to give Nate Parker credit for here is that you can tell that there’s a fiery, burning-passion deep inside of him that makes this movie hit as hard as it should sometimes. By telling Nat’s story, especially from the literal beginning to the literal end, he’s giving us a small, but important tale of, sure, rebellion, but also of so much more. The tale is definitely about racism and how slavery was terrible, but it’s also a little bit about religion and the way in which slavers back in those days would use it to somehow justify all of their terrible wrong-doings.

Parker could definitely lean into the realm of preaching the masses (which Nat literally does), but he chooses not to; instead, he opts for keeping the focus on Nat, his story and his mission in his all-too short life. It’s a sad story, as most slave-tales are, but Parker shows that there could have been some hope in a dark and foreboding tale such as this. Even for all of his shortcomings as a director, writer and, yes, even human being, he’s still got something here that makes me interested in seeing what he has to do next, because he has a story that he wants to tell here and he doesn’t back down from getting into the nitty, the gritty and the downright vile of it all.

But at the same time, the movie is awfully troubled.

See, for one, it seems as if Nate Parker, the director, has a bit of work to do. A part of me feels the raw and inspired emotion coming from Parker’s direction, but a part of me also notices how much of that emotion seems to be getting in the way of actually creating a good movie, where there’s a nice narrative-flow and a compelling plot-line to make sense of, what with all of the terrible slave-stuff going on. The issue here is that Parker doesn’t seem all that focused; he has a lot to speak out against and say, but it never quite means anything.

There’s one great scene in which Nat has an argument with Mark Boone Junior’s preacher character, in which they literally battle one another with scripture-passages, showing how the other has misunderstood the message of the Bible and Jesus’ teaching. It’s brilliant, smart, tense, exciting, and most of all, important; it shows that the idea of slavery and the business of it all, while a very successful one at that, was based on a huge plain of lies. Parker uses this one scene, to show that he’s worthy of bringing on a discussion about this tale and what he’s got to tale, but the flip side of it all is that he doesn’t quite do much with that.

Friends for life. Until the work needs to be done.

Friends for life. Until the work needs to be done.

Instead, he sort of just leaves the scene there and focuses back on Nat Turner being a hero to us all.

In a way, I don’t argue with the movie in that respect; Nat Turner fought for what he believed in and was going to die if he had to. It’s an admirable act on his part, however, the movie seems to back away from discussing, or even shining a light on some of the more troubling aspects of his story. Like, say, for instance, how he uses the Bible as a way to justify his slaughtering of men, women and children (even if we don’t see the women and children actually killed on-camera here, although it did happen), or how there are literally two rapes that occur in this movie and, for some reason, they all seem to be made-up for the sake of adding some sort of theatrical tension that may not have already been there.

What’s odd about this is that it seems like all of Parker’s emotion and intensity in telling this story, also blinded him to the fact that Turner’s story is a lot more complicated than he thinks. Slaver was awful and Turner had to be around it his whole life, but at the same time, the movie doesn’t ever seem to present anyone, or anything else differently. Every slave-owner, with the exception of Armie Hammer’s Samuel, are dirty, foul-mouthed, drunk and always looking for a fight. Granted, there was quite a number of them in the far-superior 12 Years a Slave, but at least there was some humanity to them in that – here, they just seem like cartoons who haven’t bathed in decades.

That’s why, as a director, Nate Parker has a lot of work to do.

As a whole, the Birth of a Nation has a powerful story to work with, but the execution is surprisingly tame. Parker gets all wrapped-up in actually telling the story, once and for all, that he forgets how to actually construct a whole, feature-length film about it and loses track way too quickly. It’s a movie definitely worth seeing, but yeah, don’t believe the hype.

Consensus: While brave, the Birth of a Nation is a bit too messy to really hit as hard as it wants to, even if Nate Parker’s debut is an interesting one that makes him someone to keep an eye on.

7 / 10

"For freedom! Obviously!"

“For freedom! Obviously!”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Secret spy agents have never been so cheeky!

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is a post-WWII antiquities smuggler who gets recruited by the CIA to help catch the baddies and put himself in dangerous positions that no pencil-pusher would ever even dream of being caught in. His latest mission, however, may test him to his utter limits. An East German mechanic by the name of Gaby (Alicia Vikander), has a father who was a former rocket scientist for the Nazis and may be currently developing a nuclear bomb for a bunch of shady fascists. Because the mission itself is so complex, Solo’s boss (Jared Harris) assigns him to work with KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer); somebody Solo already has a bit of a rivalry with as is. This leads to constant tension and bragging between the two where they sometimes find that they are at odds with one another, rather than with the enemy. But while Solo is busy fighting off whatever pretty honey that comes his way, Kuryakin is trying his hardest to not show off any sort of emotional feelings for anyone, especially not for Gaby, who has now been assigned to use cover as his fiancee. Will all of these personal problems get in the way of the mission? Or will Kuryakin, Solo and Gaby combine their forces and beat the villains, so that all us citizens can live a happy, healthy, and care-free life?

Still not Kristin Scott Thomas, even though my brain keeps making me think so.

Still not Kristin Scott Thomas, even though my brain keeps making me think so.

Love him, hate him, don’t care for him, or hell, don’t even know who he is other than the dude who married Madonna, Guy Ritchie’s got style. And no, I’m not talking about the way he dresses or acts in real life – I mean the movies that he makes. While some may get tired and bored of his energetic and frenetic style, to me, Ritchie feels like the kind of director we’re very lucky to have. None of his movies (even his really terrible ones), can be called “horrid”, “stupid”, and “annoying”, but they can’t be called “dull”. This is because Ritchie refuses to let a movie of his get made without some form of color or fun thrown into the proceedings.

And if anything, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. is the perfect example of this.

What makes me most happy about U.N.C.L.E. is that it’s the kind of action-thriller that likes to have fun. What was that word? “Fun”? In a current action-thriller, you say? Well, funny that you may ask because yes, U.N.C.L.E. is indeed a fun movie that doesn’t try to frown or grim too much; more or less, it’s concerned with kicking-ass, stunts, guns, babes, booze, spy-gadgets, fancy cars, and most of all, humor.

In today’s day and age where Bond seems to be losing his smirk as each and every movie goes by, or where every hero’s trying to be the next Bourne, U.N.C.L.E.‘s characters all have lovely personalities, seem to have some bit of fun in their systems and, most importantly, have a good joke to end a sentence on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all jokes and play for Ritchie’s characters here, however, even when they do get serious and melodramatic, it isn’t at the high cost of the movie where all of the exciting and fun times are over and now we have to get all stern and cold.

Ritchie doesn’t care for those kinds of thrillers and it’s way U.N.C.L.E. works as well as it does.

Some of this has to do with the fact that the setting (post-WWII, Cold War-era) just screams white-blooded nostalgia right at you, but a good portion has to do with the fact that Ritchie seems interested in this story all around. After all, it’s his fault that a TV show from the 60’s is being brought to the screen where half of the audience who watched that original show may not be alive, or even remember it, so if he screws this up, it’s off with his head. But Ritchie seems absolutely enthused to be giving these locations, these characters, and this decade the light of day and it’s hard to not get caught up in all the good vibes going around.

After all, it’s getting to the end of the summer, so it’s better to get out with a happy, healthy bang, rather than a down-beat, depressed and down-trodden whimper like some of these blockbusters have been this summer.

But perhaps the best thing about U.N.C.L.E., isn’t that it’s filled with plenty of cheeky humor, or impressive set-pieces, but is that it makes you want to see more of these characters in whatever the next adventure it is that they’re getting involved with. While Henry Cavill may be seen as Superman for quite some time, he’s very charming here as Napoleon Solo – who is basically Bond, except that he’s got a perfect chin, hair, body, and cheeks that makes you wonder if Ritchie too thinks this guy’s handsome as hell, too. This gives me hope that whatever side-projects Cavill decides to do away from being Kal-El, that he chooses to take ones that test him as an actor a bit, but also show what his strengths are as an actor.

Doesn't get anymore British than him.

Doesn’t get anymore British than him.

Same goes for Armie Hammer who, after the Social Network, hasn’t had the most lovely career. None of that really has to do with him, because even the crappy movies he participated in, he was at least fine in them, but there is something to be said for a person when they just become a one-hit wonder and you wonder whether or not they’ve actually got some sort of acting-skill in their soul, or are they just another good-looking. In Hammer’s case, he’s definitely the later, but here, he shows that he’s got skills as an actor and is at least able to make this stiff character funny and engaging to watch.

Of course, the whole joke surrounding him is that he’s all too serious and emotionless for his own good, but what Hammer does well, is that he shows that there’s more to this character than just what’s presented on the surface. This is what makes the later-portion of this movie actually interesting, because Hammer and Alicia Vikander have good chemistry between one another where it seems like their characters would be perfect as partners in life, as well as in work. It should be noted that Vikander is great here, too, and is another female character we get this summer that seems like she’s there as nothing else but just a damsel-in-distress, but soon shows her true colors and turns out to be smarter than her male counterparts.

But I’ll save my praise for Vikander for a later-time, considering she’s got plenty of more movies coming around the bend.

Consensus: Stylish, colorful, and whimsical, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. isn’t just an entertaining action-thriller, but one that signals why Guy Ritchie is one of the better directors we have working today; he just needs to be given better material to work with.

8 / 10

Please, movie audiences: Let us see these three again.

Please, movie audiences: Let us see these three again.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Lone Ranger (2013)

It’s a 2-hour version of Cowboys and Indians, with Jack Sparrow thrown into the mix somehow.

Once upper-class lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) shows up in Texas, hell breaks loose. A known murderer and criminal, Butch Cavendish (David Finchter), escapes from custody; an Indian by the name of Tonto (Johnny Depp) is thrown into custody; and his brother (James Badge Dale) is all-of-a-sudden killed by Cavendish and his league of fellows murderers. Needless to say, Reid finds this killing as a perfect tool to not only put Cavendish away for good, but get a bit of revenge on his own time. However, Tonto somehow escapes from prison and begins to follow Reid around, calling him “the chosen one” or, for lack of a better term, “The Lone Ranger.” There’s the title. Happy!?!

Right from the get-go, it seemed so obvious that everybody involved was trying to make this like another Pirates movie, but I still didn’t want to believe it. Something, somewhere, told me that it wasn’t just made strictly for money and to make it into a big franchise, it was made out of tenderness, love, and care, as well as for the sake of entertaining the hell out of people. Surely Johnny Depp, hell, Gore Verbinski is better than that, right?!?!

Well, I sure as hell was wrong and unbeknownst to me: it’s exactly what I thought it would be, a total money-grabber.

That's so silly! Native Americans don't use umbrellas, especially NOT in the desert. Wow!

That’s so silly! Native Americans don’t use umbrellas, especially NOT in the desert. Wow, that Tonto! I’ll tell ya!

That’s a very sad reality too, because this movie seemed like it was destined for some real, honest fun from beginning to end. Not only has the Lone Ranger character been one that’s been begging for a movie-adaptation, but also seemed like it could have only been done justice, if Verbinski was in fact attached to making it. Problem is, what seemed almost irreplaceable, actually ends up killing any sort of steam or momentum for this flick, and turns into a bit of a bore. Never expected that to happen with this movie, especially since the first 10-15 minutes are fun and exciting, but once the plot kicks in and Verbinski decides to get serious on all of our simple-minded asses; things begin to get too dark, too quick.

It’s almost like Verbinski loved this material so much, that he actually some actual racial-conflict between Tonto and all of the other characters surrounding him. Little does he know that it’s just a silly movie, made for kids, as well as the adults who will most likely get roped into taking them to this. For the kids, they may have a good time, depending on how much they like Johnny Depp, being Johnny Depp, but the adults may be a little distraught with what to do here. See, this flick can be all about fun, games, and all of the goofy things that the character of Tonto can, and most likely will do, but there are times throughout the duration of this movie where it gets pretty disturbing, pretty quick, and it’s tonally messed-up. One scene will have Reid and Tonto goofing-around about why he should wear the mask, and then the next scene will have Cavendish eat out some dudes heart and wipe the blood off of his face, just 2 seconds after performing the act of cannibalism. Yep, pretty fucked-up, and not just for a kids movie: but for a fucking Disney movie!

Beware on that one, adults.

And even despite the odd-tone this movie seems to have throughout the whole, 2-and-a-half hours, the movie doesn’t even seem to be hitting the marks it aims for more than often. It rarely ever had me laugh, even as the flick strained so hard to make me; the plot is a bit too heavy and features more than enough exposition for any Western-type of thriller; and the heart of the story, gets lost under unintentional racism. If people don’t remember too fondly already, back in the day when this flick was getting ready to be made and whatnot, people were already pretty pissed-off by the fact that Depp, an American actor, would be playing Tonto, a Native American. Obviously any Native American in their right mind would be ticked about this, but knowing the type of humble dude that Depp is, he made it clear that he wouldn’t take the role unless there was respect and care for this character. Because if you think about it: Tonto is the most-definitive, Native American character in film, so if you screw him up, you screwed yourself up basically.

Problem is, the movie screws it up big-time and it’s so noticeable. Not only does Depp run around like a fool the whole time as Tonto, but they make Tonto out to be some snidely, jackass-of-a-person that fucked up everything and everyone he knew because he was a dumb-ass, Native American. The movie also presents some mean looks at the Native American tribes, more than likely, they’re just flat-out cruel, but the treatment of the character Tonto pissed me off because this dude could have been pretty fun to watch and bad-ass for that matter, but just wasn’t. He was always off-kilter, always acting strange, and never allowed to do anything else other than goofy faces. That’s it.

And yes, even for an actor like Depp; it’s a bit too much. Granted, at times, Depp does seem to be the best, freakin’ thing about this movie for awhile, but once the act runs dry and he, and Verbinski pull out whatever type of “humorous material” they can find in their artistic-asses, then we all begin to realize that this is just another Jack Sparrow performance, used in the form of a Native American, and not a savvy-pirate. Depp can play any type of bonkers characters like this in his sleep, but at times, it literally does seem like he’s sleeping or just in another form of autopilot. Tonto seems smart, like he has a way of making out any situation, just by the look and feel in the air, but here, he’s played up simply for hijinx and comedic-relief. Nothing new, or even remotely funny.

However, it’s not bad to make Tonto the lead character if you’re going to give him something interesting or cool to do, but they don’t even do that. They make the main star of the show, The Lone Ranger, more of the sidekick and that’s all because Hammer isn’t as big of a name as Depp is. It’s all true in the world of Hollywood, but that’s maybe a bit too cynical, especially because it ruins the flick of any promise it ever seemed to have. Hammer is fine as the Lone Ranger, has a bit of wit and charm to his act that goes a long way, but all gets bogged-down once Tonto takes over and it becomes “The Johnny Depp Show” after awhile. Hell, I’d probably watch that show too, if I had the chance, but not for a near, 2-and-a-half hour movie! That, to me, is just overkill! It’s even worse because Hammer seems like a nice fit for the role; he’s just never given the chance to fly with it. He’s practically the side-kick.

"Hey, Armie? Could you move a little to the left you think? You're sort of in my shot."

“Hey, Armie? Could you move a little to the left you think? You’re sort of in MY shot.”

But at least the rest of the cast is bearable to watch, right? Well, not really. If there was anybody in this cast who seemed like they really had a grip on what movie they were apart of and what was supposed to be used to make it a fun, movie-going experience for everyone, it was William Fichnter as Butch Cavendish. Fichnter is a villain in almost anything that he does, but with a role like this, you can totally see why since he’s a slimy dirtball that you never feel an ounce of sympathy for, no matter how much he may perk-up once the violence and the threat of death gets thrown onto him. Just goes to show you that Fichnter should be in more stuff, even if it is with MutantTurtles.

Aside from Fichnter’s show-stealing, scenery-chewing, everybody else is pretty dull and uneventful to watch, as if they were just ready for the healthy paycheck they were about to receive. Ruth Wilson is a bit of a bore as Reid’s sister-in-law, who just so happens to be his old-school crush, that never became a reality; Tom Wilkinson’s role is obvious from the start, even if the guy is a champ at playing it, before he starts to delve into over-the-top theatrics, made for a totally different movie with a higher-care for characters and development; and Helena Bonham Carter, despite being heavily-advertised like she’s a big part of the story, is in it for maybe 5 or 6 minutes, and that’s just a untrained guestimation of mine. It’s probably less, now that I think about it.  Oh, and Barry Pepper! What the fuck happened to your face, dude?!??!

Consensus: The Lone Ranger may feature just as much disdain from parents, as much as it may feature pleasure and happiness from the kids that are bound to see it, because while this remains a rather joyless-experience, rest assured, the movie will still make millions of dollars at the box office, and may even be granted a sequel, in hopes that Verbinski, Depp, and co., score the next franchise hit they oh so desire.

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Seriously, dude! What the fuck did I just tell you?!? Back up!!"

“Seriously, dude!?!? What the fuck did I just tell you?!? Back up!!”

Mirror Mirror (2012)

Who’s the fairest of the two Snow White movies that nobody asked for?

An evil queen (Julia Roberts) steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess (Lily Collins) enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

So here we go with the first of TWO Snow White films for the year of 2012 and I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but I hope Kristen Stewart can do a better job as Snow White.

One of the strangest things about this film is that it’s directed by visual artist Tarsem Singh, who has done flicks like The Cell and Immortals. Those films, much like this one, are all about the visuals rather than the actual story itself but it’s not always a bad thing either. Singh brings a very colorful flair to it all with vibrant set pieces and costumes that makes you feel as if you are watching a children’s book being brought to life. Visually, this film is a treat even though it does feel like I’ve seen this done before but it’s still Singh and he can’t really do much wrong when it comes to making things look pretty though.

The one department that he is obviously trying really hard to work on is his writing, and I think this is a clear example as to why. The story isn’t really a loose re-telling of the usual Snow White tale we all know and love but it still offers a lot of cheeky/campy jokes to give the audience plenty of winks. The film does have its witty moments where it made me chuckle at times and I can definitely say that it’s a step-up for Singh considering all of his other movies consist of little or no happy emotions.

Problem that I with this comedy is that it tries way too hard to go for this campy feel that it just ends up being annoying. All of the anachronistic jokes placed within a fairy tale story is a device that has pretty much beaten to death for the past decade ever since Shrek came out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shrek but there is only so much winking you can do towards the audience when you’re telling a story like this until it seems like you have nothing else to really rely on. There was also something off about plenty of this comedy as well because I don’t really think that Singh understand comedic timing let alone put it in a film where it’s story depends on it to be different. A lot of the jokes just felt strange and whenever they missed the mark, they really missed it and it was pretty noticeable. There was also a very strange George of the Jungle joke that I don’t know if I was the only one to catch but it was just another case and reason as to why this film was trying too hard.

I think the rest of this problem also has to do with the cast and that some had good comedic timing, while others just couldn’t seem to get it right at all. Julia Roberts was the prime example here as the Queen. Roberts is obviously taking a lot of joy in a role where she gets to play an evil and powerful bitch but a lot of the jokes that she makes, either falls flat or come off as if it was some high-class chick who doesn’t really do comedy but is trying her hardest at it for once in her career. Roberts also wasn’t as evil as the Queen and I couldn’t help myself think that she was more likable than she was unlikable, but I guess that just goes to show you the kind of charm Julia Roberts has.

Even though she wasn’t given much comedy to work with here, Lily Collins also comes off pretty flat too. Collins obviously hasn’t had much experience so I guess I should take it a little bit easy on her but she’s so damn bland, so damn boring, and so damn generic here as Snow White that it almost feels like this role could have been played by anybody else in the wholest widest world and it wouldn’t have even matter, which is something I shouldn’t feel with such a character like Snow White. She should be likable, cute, witty, smart, and full of charisma, which are all things that Collins does not have except for huge eye brows. I’m sorry to point it out but I honestly could not believe that those things were real!

The cast that did get the comedy right actually were the best parts of this flick in the end. Armie Hammer went all out for his role here as Prince Alcott and it shows because this guy really did have me laughing. I like how Hammer was able to mess around and poke some fun jokes at his All-American boy look he has sported on so well and it brings out plenty of laughs considering you don’t see an actor that is so young and good-looking as him going to the same depths just for a laugh. Hopefully Hammer continues with his comedic side but also not forget about his dramatic side either because it’s very obvious that he can handle both pretty well. Nathan Lane is also great with his comedy here as Brighton, but then again, when isn’t this guy funny?!? Lane is such a professional that it didn’t seem hard for him at all to bring out a laugh here and I just wish that he chose a better movie to be apart of. This is also one of the rare movies where they actually give dwarves something to do that isn’t just being on the end of every “short” joke known to man. Hopefully this gives Hollywood the idea that maybe they should start giving dwarves better in roles because you never know if they could be any better than any other regular sized, A-list name. You never know!

Consensus: Filled with some campy laughs and nice-looking set pieces, Mirror Mirror will obviously entertain most kids and adults who go out to see this, but it also tries way too hard for its comedy and results in a very strange and bland attempt at trying to wink at the audience while telling a legendary story at the same time.

4/10=Garbage!!

J. Edgar (2011)

Even wearing his mom’s clothes, Leo is still the man.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this riveting biopic as J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime FBI director as notorious for his overzealous methods of law enforcement as for the rumors regarding his cross-dressing and close relationship with protégé Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).

J. Edgar Hoover is a dude I know about and it’s cool to finally see someone bring all of his crazy myths and legends up on film. The problem is that I wish it was as good of a film as I was imagining.

Director Clint Eastwood knows how to direct an emotional and compelling story, and he brings that to this film here with a great deal of moments where it shows J. Edgar not as a genius, but more of in an negative light, which is something you barely ever see in biopics. He’s a very sad dude that has terrible problems of paranoia, controlling everything, and trying to get all of the attention for himself. It’s hard to imagine a film that would basically talk ish on its subject but to be honest, this guy was a nut-case if a smart one at that.

Another element to this film that everybody was buzzing about before it came out was how apparently they would be talking about J. Edgar’s sexuality. The film does not exploit this by any means and I think handles it very delicately because it has a lot of the subtle touches that the film is trying to show and probably the best and more emotional scenes of this film actually have something to do with that gay-love angle. It’s finally great to see a big Hollywood film with a lot of talent in it, so able to actually show homosexuality without hating or making fun of it.

The problem with this film is that even though there are moments where this film clicks, other times it just plain and simply misses. One of the problems with the film is that it’s story is told through a very-old Hoover talking to numerous ghost writers, telling his side of the story to almost everything in his life, and this isn’t the most original idea but it’s not such a bad one either. However, sometimes they would go back-and-forth between the past and present time, which not only became annoying but also a major take-away from the film considering that the story jumps around so much, we can never fully get ourselves into one without going to the other one. I think if they told this film from Hoover being young and then watching him as time progresses, then the story would have been a lot better.

Another major problem is that I feel writer Dustin Lance Black emphasized so well on the whole homosexual-angle that when it came to telling the story of Hoover, he kind of lost his way by trying to go for too much without any connection. The film almost feels like a “Best of J. Edgar Hoover” series where we see all of the famous cases that he was apart of, all the controversies, and all the rumors, but we never actually know how the film wants us to feel about all of this and just exactly what this film is trying to say. I felt a little bit dragged on especially by how slow the story was and I think that it gets very jumbled with the actual story of Hoover, except for his fancy of women’s clothing.

My last problem with this film is the fact that it is about 2 hours and 17 minutes long which in some cases, isn’t so bad, but here I felt like I was dying a slow-and-somewhat painful death. The film has about 5 endings and I couldn’t help but look at my cell-phone every 30 seconds to check what time it is and to see when this film was actually going to end. I wouldn’t have had such a problem with the time-limit if the film didn’t lag along at a snail’s-pace and over-stayed its welcome by at least 20 minutes.

It’s a real shame though that this film couldn’t have done any better with critics, because it really could have done Leonardo DiCaprio‘s amazing performance as the man himself, some justice. At first, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get past the thick-accent and the obvious make-up, but somehow DiCaprio makes this very troubled person, an almost larger-than-life persona who totally sinks into this character and after awhile I stopped seeing him as Jack Dawson and more of Hoover. He won’t win, but I’d like to see him at least get an Oscar nomination for this.

Armie Hammer is also exceptionally well as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s right-hand man. Hammer has a great look to him where he always seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody he is with and throughout the whole film he uses that to his advantage. The scenes these two share together are great and you can really feel the chemistry and almost sexual tension between them both build-up as the film goes on. Their scenes together were the best mostly because they were believable, and handled in such a way that it didn’t seem shoehorned but more of natural when you have two guys who are with each other all the time, with some very dark secrets.

Oh, I lied, I had one more problem with this film as well. The make-up looks exceptionally well on Leo because he really seems like how old-man Hoover would look like, but Hammer is a different story. The guy’s make-up design looks more like a burn victim mixed with Eric Stoltz from ‘Mask’. It’s very weird to see and Hammer’s performance as older Tolson isn’t any better considering he does these random twitches and jitters that apparently every old man that Armie Hammer has ever seen does.

Consensus: The film has its fair share of flaws: it’s story goes from one place to another, it’s too long, and the make-up is exceptionally bad. However, J. Edgar features great performances from the cast, especially a compelling DiCaprio, as well as a certain love angle that feels right with this material and makes this seem more emotionally connected, when other times it seemed distant.

6.5/10=Rental!!

The Social Network (2010)

I never thought I would actually love a film, that is about Facebook.

David Fincher’s biographical drama chronicles the meteoric rise of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from Harvard sophomore to Internet superstar, examining his relationships with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Way back when, I remember hearing news that crazy, dark director, David Fincher, was making a film on Facebook. So I don’t know how everybody else felt, but I was basically wondering “why the hell are they doing this!??!”. I thought it was a dumb idea, then I saw the trailer, and that’s when my guilt was finally taken away.

When it comes to directing, deep, strange, and bleak material, David Fincher is the main for that job, and here he shows that he can branch out and take a story like the creation, and overall effect of Facebook. He does it so well, with keeping a fast pace throughout the film, but not forgetting to show us how Facebook came to be, and the people that were “the other creators” of Facebook. The film bounces back in forth between showing the creation, and also the lawsuits that soon followed, and at first, I felt like it was going to be confusing, but I feel like that was the best way for this film to be structured, through flashbacks, and then you see how these people react with each other, before and after the creation of Facebook. It really is something remarkable what Fincher can do with this big-budget, Hollywood story, and still keep his own type of style in it, but attract mainstream audiences.

However, the main reason this film works, is the amazing, and I do repeat, amazing script job done here by Aaron Sorkin. This is what all films should be like, smart, witty, dark, and true to the point. Sorkin blends a great deal of comedy, and drama within this film that keeps it going, as fast as these geeks are talking, and the lines that come out, feel so real, and so genuine, as if your actually hearing somebody talk from the 21st century, just as this was going on. It works as a character study because the script dives into the egos that these people create, as they get bigger, and bigger, but not without showing us how they get the job done. This literally is the perfect script, cause you understand everything that these people are saying, even though they are speaking 50 miles per second. You also don’t really know who to hate, or who to sympathize with. Sorkin doesn’t just show you how much of a dick Zuckerberg is, but it does show the true emotions when a friendship is tested between business’, and who the real, and the fake friends are.

I was so astonished by Jesse Eisenberg in this film, and can easily say he has gotten rid of the awkward nerd title, that has been on his forehead for quite some time now. There are moments in this film, where you can see that Zuckerberg is just ready for something genius, and you can tell through Eisenberg’s purely amazing performance, because he’s got the look of a smart, and witty geek, but when he gets the attitude of a kid that will just rip your ass to shreds, by how much more rich, and famous he is than you, your just amazed by how good Eisenberg really can pull this off. He plays a dick so well, but yet his charm also attracts us to him oddly enough, and he’s likable, and utterly disgusting at the same time. I really do hope he gets nominated this year, and that he doesn’t once shy away from playing even more serious roles, cause he really can do them.

But it’s not just all about Eisenberg, the supporting cast, has also got some very bright spots as well. Andrew Garfield (aka New Spider-Man), is just perfect, and sort of the wild-card here in this film. This film mainly shows Eisenberg as the big see in this film, when Garfield, gives some honestly great showings of emotion within this film. You can feel the anger within this guy, as he sees his best friend, and ultimately whole life, go right down the tubes, and you just watch him every time he’s on screen. Justin Timberlake goes back to the old days of his N’Sync curly locks days, and basically gives a surprisingly very, very good, and energetic performance. This one shows that he is indeed an entertainer, and if his music career starts to slow down, he can just keep on doing acting, he’s obviously good at it. Armie Hammer also plays both of the Winklevoss Twins in this film, and does a great job at showing, two both arrogant, and cocky son of a bitches, that rely on their last name for everything, and he plays both sides very well.

There is also an amazing score job done by the Trent Reznor, which at first struck as me as odd, simply because he’s known for making crazy weird songs like: “Closer“, or “March of the Pigs“, and adding a creepy score to a film about Facebook, doesn’t seem to match very well, but somehow it does, and gels very well with the story, and brings a lot more emotion to the scenes.

The only problem I had with this film that I can think of, was that I do feel some things were made up, just for the fact of dramatic effect. Which in ways is alright, but at the same time, it kind of gets you thinking, why would you dramatize something, if it wasn’t as interesting in the first place? I don’t know, but other than that almost flawless film.

Consensus: When it comes to modern film-making at its finest, The Social Network, is brilliantly directed, written, and acted, but will also be a 21st Century defining film, for the years to come.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!