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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Brendan Fraser

Gods and Monsters (1998)

Next time you dress up as Frankenstein this Halloween, think about where the creation came from.

James Whale (Ian McKellen) is one of the most regarded directors of all-time. With such classics under his belt like Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein, Whale had all of the fame and fortune that any man could ever afford to settle down and spend their last couple of years in utter and total harmony. However, Whale still pains from what his career could have and should have been, had he not been openly-gay and criticized for it his whole career, and it’s beginning to take more of a toll on him as the days continue to go by and his hair gets whiter. Then walks in his newly-appointed gardener (Brendan Fraser), and all of a sudden, Whale has found a new bit of inspiration in his life, whether or not it may just be sex or art. Either way, the man is happy and spirited again but his long-loving care-taker, Hanna (Lynn Redgrave), doesn’t see it as being so happy or spirited. She senses trouble brewing in the air and she may be right, but James doesn’t care nor take notice to it. He’s just happy being him.

He likes what he sees.

It’s interesting to watch Gods and Monsters because, at first, you have a general idea of just where the story is going. You’d automatically assume that Whale, in his last gasp for life, starts something of a relationship with this hunky groundskeeper, reliving all of the lovely and enjoyable times of his past, while also realizing that life is beautiful, wonderful, and grand, and deserves to be lived, rather than not, only to then pass away right as soon as the going gets good. In a way, that sort of happens, but it sort of doesn’t, and it’s why Gods and Monsters remains a solid look at the life of someone that time may have forgotten about, but the movies he’s made, will continue to stand the test of time.

Which is neat, because after watching Gods and Monsters, you’ll soon realize that a lot of the issues prevalent in Whale’s own life, basically shined through his most famous works. Whale had a love and an affinity for showing the weirdo’s, or better yet, the outcasts, of society to the rest of the world. The movie’s many hints at this can tend to get a bit annoying, but that doesn’t make them any less true; making movies for Whale was less about making millions and millions of dollars, gaining respect, and getting the chance to hob-knob with some of Hollywood’s finest, as much as it was about expressing his true, inner-feelings of loneliness that haunted him his whole life.

Does that mean he didn’t have some fun while doing it all? Of course not, but still, we’re shown and told that there was something more here than just a bunch of fun-to-watch monster flicks. There was a heart, a soul, and an absolutely sad being behind it all.

But the movie doesn’t just harp on this one fact and drive it into the ground, as it’s actually more about this made-up guy known as Clay, as played by Brendan Fraser, and the type of relationship he builds over time with Whale. Like I’ve said before, this aspect of the movie could have easily been the most obvious and conventional one seen coming – man and man fall in love, realize something new about one another, etc. – but it doesn’t quite go that way. In fact, Clay doesn’t even know Whale is gay at first, and even when he does find out, he doesn’t quite care; personally, he just likes to hear the stories this guy has to tell.

Can you blame him?

It’s an interesting dynamic these two create and to watch as their relationship builds to something sweet, is quite nice. It also helps that Fraser and McKellen have great chemistry, seeming as if they truly are getting to know one another and getting along while doing it. Fraser has always gotten a bad-rap for being a bad actor, something that hasn’t always been true; just one look at his performance in Gods and Monsters, you’ll notice that he’s holding his own against McKellen, while also showing some signs of immaturity and growth needed. Basically, it’s what his character was going for and Fraser shows it, proving that when given the right material, he’s actually quite good.

McKellen, on the other hand, well, what can be said that hasn’t already been said before about him?

McKellen is an old pro who knows what he’s doing, which is why watching his performance as Whale can sometimes be a joyous experience, even if it does revolve around a great deal of sadness. McKellen shows us that there’s some true light, happiness and inspiration in Whale that somehow reignites once he meets Clay, but also doesn’t forget to remind us that there’s something truly heartbreaking about this character. We get the flashbacks, the dream-sequences, and of course, the stories, but where we really get the idea of something truly unsettling, is through McKellen himself. He plays Whale as an old man, getting older and more broken down as the days go by, proving to himself, that life can end.

But it’s the movies and the creations you release to the whole world, that really make it all meaningful.

Consensus: With two very solid performances from Fraser and McKellen, Gods and Monsters works as a smart, moving and rather sweet take on life, memories, and an aspect of Hollywood classics that most of us tend to look away from.

8 / 10

Best friends forever.

Photos Courtesy of: Cinema Queer

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Gimme Shelter (2014)

Mick Jagger swingin’ and jivin’ his hips was nowhere to be found.

Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) is a 16-year-old pregnant girl living with her abusive mother (Rosario Dawson) and is looking for a way out. She gets that one day when she ends up at the house of her biological father (Brendan Fraser)’s where he takes her in, despite them clearly not having anything whatsoever in common. When he and his family find out about the pregnancy, they give her two options: Either have the baby and take of it on her own, or get an abortion and stay in their house for as long as she’d like. Apple options for the later, but right before the operation happens, she flees the scene and somehow ends up in a hospital-bed where an older, faith-based man (James Earl Jones) tells her about the joys of living by God’s law and way. Apple is against this originally, but decides that she has nowhere to stay and decides to do what he says, and stick with him. That is, until he realizes she’s pregnant and puts her into a young mother’s home, where she is around gals just like her, even if her brash attitude may not always mesh with the others; mainly the head caretaker (Ann Dowd).

Right as soon as I spelled-out the word “God” you could already tell what this movie was going to be all about: A whole lot of preaching about how life is sacred, how one should devote their life to God and most importantly, how one should not kill their baby. I get that these are messages very important to people out there and I for one, do not necessarily disagree with them, however, I do have a problem when a movie constantly jam that message down my throat.

No homo, but that guy's pretty hot.

No homo, but that guy’s pretty hot.

Better yet, I hate it when a bad movie decides to jam its message down my throat. Because honestly, if this movie was any good or at least interesting in a “bad-crazy kind of way”, I wouldn’t have a problem feeling as if I just sat down to listen to a sermon for two whole hours. But it’s crap and it’s crap that doesn’t really do anything at all, except just preach like its Vacation Bible School all over again for a younger-version of yours truly.

Where this movie mainly fails is in how it doesn’t really seem to have much of a plot, except for just a bunch of scenes that can serve as “talking points” for the audience. For instance, Apple goes to the abortion clinic, which you know is going to stir up plenty of chatter among those who see this. Then, there’s another scene in which Apple gets into countless fights with her upper-class, biological father and his wife, prompting the idea of a clash of two different cultures. And then, there’s of course all that baby stuff that really just had me ripping my head out.

And I get the stance this movie is taking: Don’t have abortions because giving and taking care of a life is the most beautiful one thing a person can do. I understand that and personally, I don’t have a problem with that. However, I do have a big problem when that seems to be the only thing the movie has to say for itself. No real conflict, no real character-development, no real nothing. What this is here is basically a Lifetime made-for-TV-movie, with way too many talented people in it.

Most importantly, Vanessa Hudgens as Apple, our protagonist we’re supposed to care for, but for some reason, get annoyed of right off the bat. It’s a shame too, because you can tell that Hudgens is really trying with this character – both physically and literally. She looks the part of a troubled, poverty-stricken kid and definitely takes much pride in “uglying herself up”, but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere whenever she talks. Once again, it’s not like Hudgens isn’t trying, she totally is, but maybe it’s a bit too much.

For instance, whenever Hudgens opens her mouth, she has to sound like a cold hearted, stone cold gangsta, so she gives herself a slangy-like accent. At first, it’s hardly noticeable and it was probably better that way; however, once the movie goes on and on and she has to talk a whole lot more, it really gets hard to listen to. At best, she sounds like a really shitty Wire extra that David Simon realized was bad, but had to leave in due to budget-concerns and the fact that she was a hot chick. But at her worst, she’s an actress trying too hard to sound like a young, troubled girl, when she should have just been one.

"Gotta nickel?!?!?!"

“Gotta nickel?!?!?!”

Her scenes get more painful when she’s around the rest of the cast of dramatic heavy-weights like Ann Dowd, James Earl Jones, Rosario Dawson, and I guess, Brendan Fraser. Yeah, I know it’s a bit weird to think of Brendan Fraser as an actual good actor in something, but here, he gives us some moral-ground when everything with this situation seems to go sour right from the beginning. He takes Apple in, cares for her and tends to her needs by any means possible, and still finds problems with her because she is so different from the rest of her family. In a way, I felt bad for the guy, even if he did just one day, knock up a girl and not decide to be a father to that baby.

Surprised this movie didn’t make him out to be a total and complete a-hole to begin with.

The only wildcard out of those four is Rosario Dawson who is unbelievably over-the-top and insane in this role, and I don’t particularly mean that in a good way. Usually in any other movie, it would be awesome to see her chewing up the scenery and acting like a cracked-out, nutty drug-addict, but when you compare her role to the rest of the movie, she really feels out-of-place. I know she’s trying to give us a serious, heartfelt portrait of a messed-up, vindictive women, but it’s so goofy, it seems like she’s even trying too hard. Once again, another wonderful talent, that I’m feeling bad for, all because she showed up in a piece of garbage like this.

No offense to all of you faith-based viewers out there, but it’s the truth. Sorry, God.

Consensus: Every member of the cast seems to be trying to make Gimme Shelter at least somewhat interesting, but they all end-up falling on dull-ends because all the movie cares about is its message and that’s it. Nothing else really matters.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

"What a beautiful baby. Let's name him Anakin. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?"

“What a beautiful baby. Let’s name him Anakin. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

Crash (2005)

Don’t be racist, especially in L.A.

A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are also lovers. A black television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple… They all live in Los Angeles. And in the next 36 hours, they will all collide…

So the one thing about this movie that always seems to get people crazy (myself included) is that this was the Best Picture winner over the near-masterpiece that is ‘Brokeback Mountain’, and while I can’t say that I think otherwise now, I can still say that i think that this one doesn’t deserve all the bashing it seems to get.

To start off with this flick, I have to say that the general idea of having all of these stories center around racism is pretty nifty and it works mainly because of Paul Haggis‘ script. Haggis did a great job at showing us all of these different perspectives on other peoples’ race and gives us plenty of stories where we realize just how hard it is to be anything in this world, especially when race comes into the picture. I think I’ve mentioned race about 3 times already in this review but it’s as if it was just another character in this movie, but it just didn’t speak. It’s everywhere these characters look, around everything they do, and basically impacts all of their everyday activities and it’s only gotten worse and worse as the years have gone by. It’s a harsh reality but it’s a very true reality and I have to give it to Haggis for at least going out there and showing all of this because it’s something everybody needs to hear and understand. There’s plenty of other themes and messages here about life, people, and the world we live in, not just racism, but it’s definitely one of the themes that I could understand and connect with the most.

The problem that Haggis ran into with this script was that it sometimes dives into soap opera-ish and that’s where it sort of began to lose me. Some moments in this film rang true for me, while others just felt too cinematically cheesy that they could only happen in a movie, which is what movies are all about but this film does try its hardest to seem like its real. Take for instance, the scene with Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate, without giving too much away I just want to say that they both are driving in a car and within 1 minute of the ride, they are already fighting and arguing about something, which is trying to show how a black person and white person can’t really get along. Then it ends in a very bizarre and shocking way but it came off more as unbelievable to me because it seemed like Haggis was trying too hard to try and show us how messed up relations between two different races are. Nice try Paul, but life doesn’t always play out like that.

However, for every “made for movies” scene, there was an equally compelling and powerful scene waiting to just come right up and snatch us. Haggis has a couple of scenes as director where he unleashes these very heavy scenes full of his score and they work because as over-powering as it may be, it still keeps your eyes glued on the screen as you can feel the emotion pouring out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the fact is that when it works here, it works superbly.

Where this film really works is the ensemble cast that Haggis was able to assemble here and all do perfect jobs with their sometimes unlikable characters. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, and Matt Dillon are all given characters that you can’t really like just because they don’t do the right thing about 95% of the whole flick, but yet they are very compelling, especially Dillon. Matt Dillon is perfect here as the racist cop, which is sort of a cliche in and of itself but he somehow transcends above that formula and makes this a character that it seems like only he could play. He’s unlikable, pompous, and racist but by the end we start to see the human side of him and it actually feels very real and that’s where I think his performance hit its highest note. Once we start to realize that he’s actually a good actor too, is also when his performance got better. Still don’t know why this guy hasn’t been able to get more like this recently. Then again, there was ‘Takers’ but I think that only counts as a good movie for me.

Consensus: Crash is a very hard flick to talk about because it’s well-written, features some great points about the world we live in, especially when it comes to race, and is acted greatly by everybody involved, but way too many scenes also feel like they were just made for a movie experience and the more the film seemed to ring false, the more it seemed to lose points for me. Good film? Yes. Good enough to win Best Picture over Ang Lee’s near-masterpiece? Nope, sorry.

8/10=Matinee!!

The Quiet American (2002)

Michael Caine is still a pimp.

A British reporter, Fowler (Michael Caine, in an Oscar-nominated performance), falls in love with a young Vietnamese woman, Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), and is dismayed when an American, Pyle (Brendan Fraser), also begins vying for her attention.

The nice thing about The Quiet American is that it looks very very pretty and gives us a great image and view of Vietnam before everything started getting a little hay-wire. This was actually filmed in Vietnam so it gave me that real time and feeling that served this material very well, and when you look at a big ocean with little boats with lights, it’s nothing more than a just a very pretty screen saver pic for your computer.

However, if only the actual story and writing did the looks some justice. First off, the film totally ruins itself within the first 10 minutes because it shows Pyle dead and it’s basically assumed that there was some sort of love triangle going on with these three. So basically for the next hour-and-a-half we are left wondering just how big of a role Fowler actually played in Pyle’s death and what lead to everything. In some movies, this actually works well, but here, not at all.

Another problem with this film is that the writing is pretty crappy with the script sometimes going from this love-triangle to the problems in Vietnam with France. This constant going back-and-forth between stories and themes bothered me as I didn’t know what the film was trying to get across other than the metaphor of Phuong actually representing Vietnam, that the film was bashing me over the head with.

Speaking of Phuong, what the hell was so amazing about this girl that made these two practically fall in love, fight, and almost die for? The whole film she is just there to sit and look pretty, spouting out incomplete sentences and being a face that looks pretty familiar honestly. I mean these guys could have gotten a million girls in Vietnam, but what was so special about this chick? That was never really answered and then the film went so low as to try and get me to root on Fowler as he was trying to divorce his wife. When the hell has divorce for the sake of being with some Vietnamese mistress been alright? I guess in some cases it is, but this one threw me off a bit.

Michael Caine is actually very powerful as Fowler, and is probably what makes this film watchable in a way. He got nominated for an Oscar here, and with good reason because his character isn’t likable or even morally attracting at all, but something about Caine just draws you into him the whole film. Caine’s character goes through many transitions and he makes them all seem believable and draw you into Fowler.

Brendan Fraser also stepped away from his usual goofy roles to play Pyle here and is actually pretty good. We never know what his full intention’s are but the whole time we wonder just what will Pyle end up being at the end of the film and that mystery is what kind of drew me into his character. Fraser plays a pretty nerdy guy and then gets dark real quick, but still makes it seem very believable and it’s a good thing that he doesn’t get blown away from Caine in the end.

Consensus: Caine and Fraser are very good in The Quiet American but this pretty film suffers from some bad writing, metaphors that are too obvious, and film that is practically spoiled within it’s first 10 minutes and takes you out of the whole film.

5/10=Rental!!

The Air I Breathe (2007)

Ehh, could have been better.

Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Brendan Fraser and Sarah Michelle Gellar co-star in this Jieho Lee-directed drama that mines four basic human emotions — love, pleasure, sadness and joy — for cinematic inspiration. A banker discovers true happiness, a mobster finds hope, a celebrity sees life lose its luster and a doctor wrestles with matters of the heart that can’t be addressed within the confines of an operating room.

For me and this film I was expecting so much. I love these kind of inter-twining stories, with a great ensemble, and instead what i got was just mediocre.

The film is directed by Jieho Lee, who is all known for his crazy Japanese music videos, and you can tell this is a directorial debut just by the sloppiness of the film. The writing isn’t top-notched but isn’t terrible. Some lines I heard were cheesy, and weren’t believable, but the philosophical beliefs of these four themes are what were interesting to see play out in this film. The most interesting story in the beginning, is honestly the best, but then is cut so short. Why this happened?? Needed more time for great lines belched out by Brenden Fraser.

The random tastes of humor that jumped in and out of this film actually kind of threw me off cause I was confused on whether or not to take this film seriously, or take it seriously. The stories start to get a little less interesting by the third story, because they lost the emotional flair that the first two had.

The one thing that did it for me was the great performances from its cast. Whitaker for as long as he’s in the film does a great job and actually brings the whole heart to this film, more than you could think. Fraser is OK, I guess, but i couldn’t quite take him seriously as this big and tough mobster, because the whole time I was thinking about George of The Jungle. The best performance here surprisingly is Sarah Michelle Gellar who actually gives a knock-out performance as her talented and socially disturbed pop-star who makes some scenes that could have came out as corny, actually believable.

Consensus: The Air I Breathe tries hard to be something its not, with its not so creative inter-twining plot, and use of different methods of screenplay writing, but is saved by its enchanting performances from its cast.

5/10=Rental!!!