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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

My Date with Drew (2004)

A date with anyone? Where does one begin?

Aspiring filmmaker Brian Herzlinger has been in love with Drew Barrymore since he was a young boy. So in love that he even joined her fan club at a very young age, receiving all sorts of letters and pictures that drew him even closer and closer to his Hollywood crush. After buying a video camera from Circuit City, Herzingler and his crew have 30 days to find Barrymore, date her and return the camera for a full refund. Unfortunately, Barrymore is Hollywood royalty, and Herzlinger is just a guy from New Jersey. It will take every ounce of charm Herzlinger can muster to make his way through the minefield of agents, publicists and bouncers to reach his prize. But to make it even worse, Herzingler is constantly finding himself running into roadblocks, whether they be people who aren’t willing to help him out, or the simple fact and reality that he doesn’t have a job, needs money, and can’t do anything else involving this project without it. Needless to say, it’s an impossible mission, but it’s one that Herzlinger won’t stop trying to complete.

Uhm, why?

My Date with Drew isn’t necessarily the kind of hard-hitting, thought-provoking that it sometimes intends to be. You’d think that a movie about a guy trying his absolute hardest to get a date with his Hollywood crush, while not just creepy, would have a little something to say about the Hollywood culture, the stalker culture, and the relationships celebrities hold with their fans, and how far they can go, but nope, not really. It’s literally just a documentary of watching, waiting and wondering when, or even if, this dude is ever going to get a chance to date Drew Barrymore.

And is that okay? Yeah, sure.

Would it have helped to been about something deeper, or better yet, try to make this situation more interesting? Yeah, possibly, but even without any of that here, My Date with Drew still works because it’s entertaining and never seems to slow down. In fact, the idea that it doesn’t try too hard to harp on the hard-hitting, possibly serious issues a situation like this could bring up, actually helps it out in not taking away from the action, or what actually matters: Finding and dating Drew Barrymore.

Considering that the movie was made for a little over $1,000, it’s interesting to see how all of that money is spent, what it goes towards, and just how easy it can be to shoot a documentary on the cheap, even with such a subject as this. It’s an ambitious mission for sure, but it helps that the camera is there literally every step of the way, giving us a better idea of how one outsider could possibly get a date with Drew Barrymore (in the early-aughts, that is, times have definitely changed), and also never forgetting that the sole focal point of this project isn’t just Barrymore herself, or the movies she’s made, but Herzlinger himself.

But even with him, I’m still a little bit put-off.

Not because what he sets out to do is creepy, or even downright weird, because in a way, I kind of respect the guy – he knows that he’s being weird for having this crush and knows that going about this idea is even weirder, but still, he chugs along, trying his absolute hardest, leaving nothing off-screen. The camera is always there and Herzlinger wants it that way, so of course, we get to see a whole lot of him, hear him talk, and try to keep his cool persona, even when it seems like he’s creeping every person out around him. He’s a likable presence, too, which makes it all the easier to watch him in interviews, even when, once again, he’s literally asking random people within Hollywood about Drew Barrymore, and even they know it’s a little weird, but aren’t sure if they want to, or know how to say it.

Once again, why? You’re fine! She was married to Tom Green, after all!

But then there’s this other part of Herzlinger’s that’s odd and nothing to due with the whole Barrymore-aspect – it’s the persona he actually puts-off to the camera. There’s plenty of real, raw and rather genuine moments that Herzlinger shares for the camera, but then there are these other, like when he’s showing his body off to people, working out, having random conversations with needy exes, that it feels like he may be putting on a bit of an act. Or, if he isn’t, then it’s a wonder why he includes any of this stuff in this first place; the work-out/grooming scenes are tedious, and the whole ex-sequence within the film could have been taken out and not have at all changed the film, considering how random it is.

I’m not saying that the Herzlinger we get in the movie isn’t the real guy, but a part of me feels like, possibly, he’s acting a little bit.

Just a little bit.

Then again, maybe that was intended; maybe he wanted it to appear like he was this way-more charming guy than he actually was in real life and maybe, he was just doing it all for the sake of the movie and in hopes that he wouldn’t scare Barrymore away, had he actually gotten a date with her. Makes sense and okay, whatever, I’ll accept it. But still, there’s some weird stuff about him that goes beyond the Barrymore stuff that yeah, threw me for a loop, if only a bit. And then I realized that, “Oh wait, it’s about him, but also this date. So who cares?”

And it all got better from there.

Consensus: My Date with Drew isn’t particularly deep, but then again, doesn’t need to be with its entertaining idea, and likable, if flawed subject in Herzlinger.

7 / 10

My Date with Eric? Make it happen, Hollywood.

Photos Courtesy of: Rotten Tomatoes

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The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Throw a football, solve a major scandal. Makes sense.

Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) used to be a first-rate Secret Service agent who, for one reason or another, got kicked off the squad. Nowadays, Joe spends his time as a work-for-hire private dick, who smokes a lot, drinks, sleeps in his car, has a kid that doesn’t respect him, and even worse, has a wife who is sleeping around. Basically, Joe’s life ain’t all that grand, but when a friend of his dies (Halle Berry), he can’t but feel inspired to figure out who did this to her and why. Another person who wants to find out the same thing is Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans), an ex-football star who has a tad bit of a gambling problem. Though the two don’t necessarily get along, they both feel the need to figure out just what happened and get the sons of a bitches who caused their friend’s death. However, what they soon find out behind the scenes, leads them to the shady people dealing with the professional football league, as well as the President of the United States.

That's Brucie for ya. Always protecting the kids!

That’s Brucie for ya. Always protecting the kids!

Shane Black can write scripts like this in his sleep. While the Last Boy Scout may not feature cops in the lead roles, it still features two people who are, in a way, supposed to be “buddies” in the buddy-cop genre. Black loves these kinds of stories and always adds a certain flair of panache and fun to them that even when they don’t fully deliver, they still like fun pieces of action-comedy, rather than just another waste of time. After all, a movie written by Shane Black is at least a few more times better than most of the action flicks we get out there, right?

And also, having Tony Scott in the mix as director helps out, but not as you’d expect it to. Sure, when the action is happening, it’s as frenetic and crazy as you’d expect a Tony Scott movie to be, but it’s the smaller, more quieter moments between the characters that actually work best. Obviously, this is definitely attributed to Black and his interesting way of writing likable characters, but it’s also a compliment to Scott for taking a step back and let the script do the work itself. Scott hasn’t always been known as the best director for drama or anything of that nature, however, here, he decided to take it easy and it pays off.

Which is great, because Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis are so good in their roles, as well as together, that it almost doesn’t matter how many scenes we get of them just hanging around and talking to one another, rather than just shooting stuff and killing people.

At first, it appears that Wayans isn’t going to handle Black’s dialogue so well, but after a short while, he gets the hang of it and needless to say, we get the hang of him. His lines actually turn out to be funny and even though he’s playing against-type here, Wayans still finds a way to break in that nice charm every so often. Sure, you could chalk that up to Black’s great screenplay, but you can also give some credit to Wayans for knowing just the perfect moment to remind the audience that he’s still Damon Wayans, and he’s a pretty charming fella.

However, Wayans is nothing compared to how great Bruce Willis is here.

For one, Willis seems perfectly tailor-made for this kind of role. He’s not just an everyman who has a certain set of killing skills, but he’s also just an ordinary guy who we’re getting to learn and know more about the flick goes on. Willis handles this dialogue oh so well to where, yes, he nails all of the humor that this character has, but he also gets the smaller, more emotional moments, too. He doesn’t overplay them, though, just as the script doesn’t; he keeps them short and subtle enough for a movie where there’s so many explosions and gun-shots that it doesn’t matter if characters exist in it or not. Why Willis didn’t work with Black on more projects, is totally beyond me.

If I had their recent track-record, I'd be slammin' the bottle pretty hard, too.

If I had their recent track-record, I’d be slammin’ the bottle pretty hard, too.

In fact, I’m pretty sure Bruce could use that now.

But if there is an issue to be had with the Last Boy Scout, as there is to be with most of Black’s screenplays, is that they don’t always know how to end well, or at all. In a way, it almost feels like Black starts off with something simple and understandable, but ultimately, gets bored and just wants to everything and anything come into play, regardless of if any of it makes any actual sense. While this is fine to have in an action movie, where no one really cares about believability or anything like that, after awhile, it sort of seems like Black’s either making stuff up, or just throwing whatever he can at the wall and letting stuff stick as they please.

Sometimes, it works, other times, it doesn’t.

However, at the end of the day, the Last Boy Scout is really just a fun action-comedy. Take it or leave it, I guess.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t always work, especially in the end, the Last Boy Scout is still a nice combo of Black’s hilarious script, with Scott’s wild direction, culminating in a fun movie, if nothing else.

7 / 10

"Hey, agent? Yeah, get me more movies like this. You know, the ones where I actually give a hoot."

“Hey, agent? Yeah, get me more movies like this. You know, the ones where I actually give a hoot.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, All Movies I Like

The Astronaut Farmer (2007)

AstronautposterThe moon landing never happened anyway. So keep on dreaming, bro.

For as long as he’s been alive, Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) has always wanted to travel to the moon. Although he was a NASA pilot for a little while, he had to step out due to personal issues at the time. Now, Charles is trying to create his own spaceship that he can launch into space. It seems like a pipe-dream, but Charles is inspired so much, that he won’t take “no” for an answer; even though friends, confidantes, and hell, even his wife (Virginia Madsen), tell him it’s impossible, he doesn’t listen. When Charles’ plans get leaked to the world wide web, eventually, as they tend to do, the FBI finds themselves getting involved. Though Charles is not, from what people know, a terrorist planning on nuking the entire Earth, the government still doesn’t want to take any chances and keeps track of Charles’ everyday comings and goings. And hell, even though Charles has got the rest of the world behind him and his journey, the government still does not want to budge. This is a challenge that Charles accepts and stands against, even if it risks his own life, as well as those that he loves and cares for so much.

Bring out the rotten tomatoes!

Bring out the rotten tomatoes!

The whole time while watching the Astronaut Farmer, I kept on waiting for the subscript to start/end the movie saying something along the lines of, “based on a true story”. Does a story about some small-town farmer creating his own rocket and trying to launch it into space sound plausible? Not entirely, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen nor that I’ve never heard about it before. Crazier things have happened in this land we call Earth, right?

But the subscript never shows up.

The Astronaut Farmer is literally an idea written by Michael and Mark Polish, which is interesting to say the least. Silly? Sure, but it’s obvious that they’re both trying to aim for that you-can-do-anything-that-you-put-your-mind-to sensibility that so many Disney films seem to rely on. Through Farmers’ own journey of trying to get into space and do what he’s always wanted us to do, the Polish bros. are trying to get us to think of our dreams and have the idea that we too can make them come true, so long as we have enough heart and inspiration deep down inside of our souls.

And this is all fine and good, but the movie never seems like it earns that feeling of absolute and divine inspiration. Instead, it’s just a really old-timey, almost-retro story that may have a heart to work with, but never seems to go any deeper than the surface. Which is kind of a shame considering that the Polish bros. debut (Twin Falls Idaho) also dealt with the same sort of strange premise in a mindful way, but also gave us more to the story than just what was presented.

Here, it just sort of feels like everything and everyone is one-note, without there being any gray area left for the audience to decipher themselves.

The only interesting aspect of this story where it seems like the Polish bros. themselves are conflicted of a certain character-trait is with Farmer himself. While the Polish bros. clearly love and adore the character of Charles Farmer, his ambition, his heart, and his never-say-never attitude, the idea that, if he isn’t successful with his trip to space and does end up dying in the process, what will he leave his family back on Earth with? Because he’s put so much gosh darn money into this spaceship, he’s already bled them dry, so what could they possibly do without him around to keep the money flowing in? Will they be left high, dry, and without a fork to use? Or will they get by just fine because, well, Charles Farmer always has a tricky plan up his sleeves?

Take a guess of which conclusion the Polish bros. come to.

"It's okay, honey. If you die, don't worry, cause we're all screwed."

“It’s okay, honey. If you die, don’t worry, cause we’re all screwed.”

Like I’ve said though, I don’t mind the simplicity of most tales, but this one in particular doesn’t seem to really concern itself with much else other than, “dude wants to travel to space and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve that”. While it would have been interesting to see a complex, almost flawed-figure presented, Charles himself is painted in such a lovely portrait, that it’s almost like they’ve could had him run for president at the end, win, create his own world where everybody and their grand-mothers are allowed to travel into space, and it would seem uplifting, smart and, above all else, believable. It’s painfully clear that the Polish bros. don’t have much of a narrative-drive to go any further and it hurts the characters so much, that even the ones who may have some sort of interesting plight to show, it just makes it seem like a waste.

For instance, Billy Bob Thornton, surprisingly playing a good-guy, does what he can as Charles, but because the dude is so blue-eyed and optimistic, it just becomes irritating. Virginia Madsen, despite her character seeming as if she initially has something interesting to say, doesn’t really go anywhere you don’t expect her to, except by her husband as he possibly kills himself in the process of living his life-long dream. And then, as her daddy, Bruce Dern shows up as the voice of reason who, you might expect to be against the idea of Charles going out into space and risking his own life, but is instead happy that he’s doing it because, as he says, “he shares the dreams with his family”.

Yawn.

The only people in this movie that I could identify with were the FBI themselves – which, for a movie such as this, is not what’s supposed to happen. The FBI, as written by the Polish bros., are painted to be these sort of big brother, negative Nancies that are always trying to get on Charles’ case and tarnish his dreams forever, but in all honesty, they have a point for thinking the way that they do. Though Charles may not be a huge threat to the government per se, there’s still something incredibly dangerous and crazy about his idea of going out into space with his own, homemade spaceship that makes it understandable why they wouldn’t want him up in the sky to begin with. This may seem like I’m thinking too hard, but honestly, the Polish bros. want us think of this as some sort of “could-happen” tale that, if someone puts their heart, mind, body and soul into an idea long enough, that it and the rest of their wildest dreams can all come true.

Yawn again.

Consensus: Though its heart may be in the right place, the Astronaut Farmer is too implausible and one-dimensional to really inspire the people that it wants to, but instead, make them feel happy that there aren’t more Charles Farmer’s trying to release DIY spaceships into the sky.

4 / 10

"Kids, don't be so scared, because Gravity was fiction. That can't possibly happen to anyone."

“Kids, don’t be so scared, because Gravity was fiction. That can’t possibly happen to anyone.”

Photos Courtesy of: Superior Pics

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

When a place is called “Sin City”, it’s best not to trust anyone and just leave.

Sort of taking place before the events of the first movie, and sort of not, we follow three-four different story-lines taking place in the most violent, most brutal places of all: Sin City. First, there’s a out-of-towner gambler by the name of Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who definitely has lady luck on his side when it comes to playing a mean game of poker, but ends up realizing that maybe he’s met his match in Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Then, there’s Dwight (Josh Brolin) who, after having reconnected with a former flame of his (Eva Green), finds himself in the middle of a scandal that puts both his life, as well as his lover’s in danger. And lastly, after having the love of her life killed, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) vows for vengeance against the man who is responsible for this, although now, she’s drinking a lot more heavily than ever before. But also, lets not forget that there’s Marv (Mickey Rourke), who is basically roaming around, kicking whoever’s ass deserves a whooping next.

Though it was over-the-top, violent, gratuitous, and incredibly idiotic, there’s something about the original Sin City that still has me smile. Even to this day, if I’m running around through the channels in need of something quick, fun and easy to watch, and if it’s on, I’ll usually sit back and watch as if it’s my first time all over again. It’s also the movie I can turn on around my bros, and safely know that they’ll enjoy it.

I state this fact because I don’t necessarily think I’ll be saying/thinking the same way for this movie. Which isn’t as much of a problem, as much as it is a disappointing. Because if you think about it, we didn’t really need another Sin City; however, it doesn’t hurt to have one because the original was such a lovely surprise of dark, brooding joy. And it would have been totally fine had both Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller decided to go down the same route once again, and apart of me actually wishes they did.

Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.

Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.

Because yes, while this movie may not be nearly as bad as some may have been touting it as, it sure as heck isn’t what a superfan of the first movie would want to expect. Remember all of those senseless acts of over-the-top, cheesy violence in the first one that never seemed to stop showing up out of nowhere? Yeah, they’re here, but rather than being all that fun or exciting, they’re just repetitive and after awhile, just feels like a crutch for Rodriguez to fall back on when he doesn’t trust the numerous stories are keeping our attention as much.

Which, isn’t to say that the stories here aren’t at least interesting to follow, as they jump through one hoop to the next, but honestly, it becomes a bit of a drag after awhile. All of the numerous double-crosses and contrivances of the plot eventually begin to show and it makes you wonder what the real passion behind this movie being made was in the first place. It couldn’t have been to get more and more money from the die hard Frank Miller fans out there, could it have? I don’t think so, but whatever the reason may be, it doesn’t seem like Rodriguez feels all that much strive for this movie to be made and work for anybody who decides to watch it.

And I know I’m getting on Rodriguez’s case a bit too much here, and yes, I know it isn’t all that far. But however, since I saw Machete Kills and gave it some sort of “a pass”, I feel like I’m obliged to go out there and get on his case for sort of ruining another franchise that was chock full of surprise and absolute wonder. Sure, the Machete and Sin City movies aren’t the highest of art, for the most respectable movie-audiences out there, but they’re movies that, when done right, can be an absolute great time because they’re so crazy, so idiotic, and so self-knowing about their own stupidity, that anything goes, so long as the movies themselves stay as fun and as awesome of a time as they originally promise being.

With this second Sin City film, it feels like there’s not nearly as much craziness, or fun, to really make up for most of the problems with the script, its stories, or even its characters. It’s just something of a blank slate that feels like it wants to go somewhere, somewhere rather insane beyond our wildest and zaniest dreams, but for some reason, just doesn’t. This is a feeling I’ve had with most of Rodriguez’s movies and I feel like it’s time that he nuts up, or shuts up. Meaning, give me an absolute, balls-to-the-walls B-movie that doesn’t give a hoot about what people think or say about it – or, just doesn’t promise me anything like that at all in the first place, especially if you’re not going to follow through on your promises.

To be safe, just make another Spy Kids movie. Nobody seems to be complaining about them.

Or, the people that shouldn’t be, at least.

That said, the ones who mostly get out of this movie, Scott-free is the ensemble who are either as charming as one can be in a goofy noir, or downright weird that they feel perfectly suited for the material they’re given. Either way, they do a fine job, it’s just that it feels like, in the hands of a much better, more dedicated director, they could have done absolute wonders, like mostly everybody did in the first movie.

Returning as everybody’s favorite, and something of the iconic superhero for this franchise as a whole, is Mickey Rourke as Marv and shows us that, underneath that over-load of costume and make-up, lies a true talent that can still breath some dimensions into his character; even if that character is literally a cartoon. Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Jessica Alba and a few others return and show why they were picked for this material in the first place, even if there is a slight feeling that maybe Alba could have been given less to do. And it’s not to rain on her parade and talk out against her skills as an actress – it’s more that her character is so poorly-written, that the only positive aspect to her character is that she, occasionally, will talk to the spirit of Bruce Willis’ character. He’s another one that shows up every so often, but really, he doesn’t need to be here; he’s just taking up space, really.

Mean, heartless, brutal and full of weapons. My kind of women.

Mean, heartless, brutal and stocked with all sorts of toys. My kind of women.

As for the new bloods coming into this franchise, most of them are fine, although, like I said before: One can only wonder what would have happened to them, had there been a far more driven director involved. Josh Brolin plays Dwight (who has a new face, hence why no Clive Owen in the role) and is fine playing this troubled character who wants to always do the right thing, but knows that in a place like Sin City, that’s easier said, then actually done. Brolin’s good here as the gruff dude that can kick ass, but he doesn’t have as much of a personality as Owen did. Maybe it’s a British thing?

Another new addition to this franchise is a favorite of mine (so back off, ladies!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, a known gambler who sometimes is a little too in over his head. It’s cool to see JGL challenging himself in something this stylized and strange, but honestly, if you take his character, or even his whole story-arch, out altogether, there would probably be no notable change found whatsoever. Although there is a lovely bit featuring Christopher Lloyd as a degenerate doctor, his story lacks any real muster that makes you want to keep watching him, or this Johnny character as is. So if he was taken out, there wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the fact that this is a JGL and the guy’s known to put in great work. So give him something better to do, dammit!

And last, but certainly not least is Eva Green as Ava, the dame people are “killing for”. Green, with what seems to be the second movie in a row this year (300: Rise of An Empire being the first), brings a certain level of camp that doesn’t necessarily make the movie better, but at least makes her scenes feel like they’re genuinely pulsing with some sort of energy. Add on top of that the fact that she’s naked practically every other scene she shows up in, then you’ve got the most memorable performance of a cast filled with huge, reliable names.

For better, and I guess, for worse.

Consensus: Without nearly as much heart or as much of the shock-factor as there was in the first, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is, for the most part, occasionally fun, but never jumps over that edge of making it total and complete, B-movie joy. Much like the original was.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, I'd need a new pair of shorts.

If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, a new pair of shorts would totally be needed.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Armageddon (1998)

Before we all die, at least we can take some pleasure knowing that we’ll be treated to the lovely sounds of Steven Tyler.

After NASA catches wind of a meteor the size of Texas heading straight for Earth, executive director Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) cobbles up a plan: Get a crew on the meteor, drill a hole through it, and leave a nuke in there so that it can break off into two pieces and still miss the Earth by a small bit. It’s a smart plan, but the only problem is finding out who’s right for it. In walks oil-driller Harry S. Stamper (Bruce Willis) who Truman recruits for this mission because the ship plan is the same one Stamper uses on his own oil rig. Though Stamper is initially hesitant to take on such a huge, daring mission, he eventually decides to take it, but on one condition: He gets to choose the crew that goes with him. In walks the rest of his rag-tag group of dysfunctional nut-balls that either love prostitutes (Steve Buscemi), love to smash things (Michael Clarke Duncan), or love Stamper’s own daughter (Ben Affleck). Though not everybody feels alright with this change, they don’t have any other plan to go along with. Meaning, it’s all up to these guys to save the world and all of mankind.

Not much of a burden if you think about it really, you know?

Well, well, well. Here it is, everybody! The movie I swore I would never, ever watch again after seeing it numerous times as a little kid, all because back then, I knew it was total junk. But for some reason, curiosity killed the cat in my case and I just could not help myself; I had to see if this movie got any better with age, and also, whether or not my tolerance for mostly all things Michael Bay would have anything to do with any change in feelings toward this.

He would have done anything to say "Yippie-Kay-Ya".

He would have done anything to say “Yippie-Kay-Ya”.

Needless to say, they sort of do. But not by much. Here’s why:

See, though I like to give Bay the benefit of the doubt on most cases for blowing all sorts of shit up and taking absolute pleasure in doing it, I felt like this was total over-kill. And yes, even by his standards, that means a lot. Then again, I may be getting ahead of myself here, because most of the explosions occur during the last hour-and-a-half of this movie. As for the first hour of this movie, we’re “treated” to watching a bunch of clichés act like nuts, talk goofy, get some back-story on what makes them the slightest bit of “human”, and try to have us believe that they could actually be smart, trained, and neutered astronauts in a near 18 days, but actually be trusted in saving our whole race from extinction.

And while I’m all for a movie being silly for the sake of making people laugh, this was not that kind of silly – it was just downright dumb. What makes it even worse is that the cast here is pretty damn talented – actually, scratch that, it’s an unbelievably stacked ensemble that, with any other movie/director, would have me rushing the gates as soon as I caught wind of it happening, but not here. Especially not with Michael Bay, the kind of guy who takes pleasure in taking these incredibly talented, wonderful screen-presences, and making them his wild, wacky, and near-racist guinea pigs.

Then again though, in the world of Hollywood, money really does talk, so I guess I can’t be getting on Bay’s case too much for just getting along with the times and following the path set out for him.

Still though, that doesn’t excuse giving somebody as wonderfully charming as Steve Buscemi a role in which he just makes stupid comments about hookers, having sex, dying, not being crazy, menstrual cycles, and going absolutely nuts while shooting a machine gun. And yes, while that all may sound incredibly amusing to some of you out there, I can assure you, it’s totally not. It’s just downright corny and seems like Bay is trying way, way too hard to make us laugh at anything; so much so, that he’s willing to embarrass the hell out of some of the most respected talents in the biz.

Also, he uses this comedy to break up all of the nonsensical violence, loud noises and explosions that occur during the last half-hour which, coming from a Michael Bay-standpoint, is relatively impressive. Though, nearly 16 years after the fact, some of it looks a bit dated, you can tell Bay really pays attention to the constant vibrancy he has behind the camera and how he makes this movie look. Sure, it’s frantic and you can almost count how long Bay holds a shot for (don’t worry, it’s two seconds or so each), but it does show you that he’s the kind of director that works well with this stuff.

However, with this stuff here, there’s just way too much. Too much double-crossing; too much dumb humor; too much poor script-writing; too much explosions; too much of random things happening only to make the plot seem more dense and the movie run-time a little longer; just too much of everything really. And yes, while I do admit to being on Bay’s side for this very same reason in most movies, this is not one of them. For some reason, it just felt different this time and rather than laughing and having a great time, I was just laughing, only in a way to pass the time of my complete boredom with the same things happening again, and again, and again.

All that was missing was a bottle of Jack and some Funyuns to make life a whole lot less depressing.

Love and animal crackers: It's the combo you never thought you'd never thought you need.

Love and animal crackers: It’s the combo you never thought you’d need.

Like I mentioned before, too, Bay really does have a knack for getting together an interesting cast, it’s just such a shame that he gives them so very little to do. And even when he does give them anything to do, it’s utter garbage that only makes it seem like the actor in question was in desperate need of another shore house. For instance, despite being practically the perfect role for Bruce Willis in which he has to play a tough, rough, and masculine-as-hell man (with an in-and-out Southern accent), somehow, the writing is so cheesy and godawful for this guy, that everything that comes out of Willis’ mouth seems like he’s having a hard time reading anything at all. Not just because he can’t believe the trash that he’s reading, but because he forgot his glasses on the counter at home.

And heck, I wish I could say the same for Ben Affleck, but man, this kid is terrible here. I know that Big Ben has cleaned his act up now and is a pretty respected guy out there, but any reason why anybody thought he was just a young talent, with barely any of the later at all, were totally correct when they saw this. Which is a shame because watching Affleck, you can see a guy that’s trying really hard, but just doesn’t have the skills yet to really deliver on all of the sobbing and screaming he has to deliver on. It just seems like he’s in a parody of the type of movie that he’s in. You know, a parody of a Michael Bay movie, in which every character has an IQ of 38, has women-troubles, likes to cuss, say dumb stuff, act silly, and at the end of the day, still be able to save the world, all while chanting “USA! USA! USA!”.

Yep, that’s Michael Bay for ya: Praising America, one over-budgeted mess at a time.

Consensus: Though much of Armageddon is what you expect to get from a Michael Bay movie, there’s still no denying how incredibly hard it is to believe anything that happens in this movie, nor enjoy one’s self when all there is a explosion, after explosion, after explosion, with barely any end in sight.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

If these are our saviors, we're fucked.

If these are our saviors, we’re fucked.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Four Rooms (1995)

People will do anything for a tip.

It’s the first day on the job for Ted the bellhop (Tim Roth), and from what it seems like, it won’t be a very pleasant one. Early on, he gets told the ins, the outs, the what to do’s, and the what not to do’s on the job by an aging, supposed retiring bellman that gives him an idea of what he should expect taking people’s luggage up to their room, answering their phone calls and the most important of all, waiting on them for a tip. So with this all out of the way, Ted gets ready for one of the biggest and most hectic nights of the year, New Year’s Eve. And what do you know it? Ted’s night ends up being an eventful one, albeit one that he finds his life threatened on more than a few occasions. But it’s all in the good name of a sizable tip, right?

Like with most anthology films, the idea here seems smart and somewhat nifty: Get at least four low-key, up-and-coming indie film-makers, give them a budget and give them free reign to basically just strut their stuff for no less than 20 minutes each, slap the Miramax logo on it, and release it to the mass-audience. Seemed like a really promising idea that could have worked wonders for all of the film-makers involved, but somehow, it more or less just ended up killing two promising careers, while just injuring two others.

Take a wild guess as to whose career’s were killed, and which ones were just injured for a short while. Not that hard I guess, but let me just tell you through my usual-way of reviewing anthology films; taking it one-by-one, segment-by-segment. Shall we?

Random twitching example #2.

Random twitching example #2.

1. The Missing Ingredient – This is the one that starts it all off, and that’s not a good thing at all. In short, this segment is easily the worst. It made me feel like I made a huge mistake actually even bothering with this movie. Director Allison Anders gives us a cool idea in which a coven of witches who need male sperm to complete their ritual and just so happened to choose Ted as he comes stumbling on in. While the ground-work was there for this to be not just hilarious, but all sorts of weird and cooky, in a fun-way, Anders doesn’t even bother going anywhere with this. Sure, for horny dudes, there is plenty of hot boobage to be seen, but for anybody who wants a little bit of craziness mixed with their covens, will be most likely disappointed as Anders seemed to really drop the ball with this, and not know what’s considered “funny”, and what’s considered “boring.” Easily the worst out of the four, but it’s not like the next one is a peach neither.

2. The Wrong Man – Things seem to get a bit better with this segment, however, not by much. Director Alexandre Rockwell keeps things small and subdued, but not anywhere near being considered “sweet”, as this whole segment just meanders endlessly, without ever really moving outside of the actual hotel room it’s placed in. The whole story is in which a married-couple (Jennifer Beals and David Proval) basically plays this little sex-game where he pretends that she’s been screwing around him and picks out whatever poor fellow just so happens to stroll through that door, interrogate him, wave a gun in front of his face, take his pills, and basically, just scare the shorts off of him. There are moments in this segment where the wheels seemed to be turning and there seemed to be some moments of promise, but once the segment is all said and done with, I couldn’t help but feel like it went on a bit long. Especially once Beals’ character just started yelling out any term for the word “penis” she could think of right away. Sure, it made me laugh (probably my first one), but it was only because it was a random moment of creative spontaneity that the first segment didn’t seem to have.

Thankfully though, it does get better from here and begins to feel like something worth watching, rather than the first two awful-pieces.

3. The Misbehavers – Antonio Banderas plays a tough and sinister father-of-two that wants to take his wife on a night out on the town, in hopes of getting laid and therefore, igniting the spark in their marriage that probably sizzled-out once kids came along and screwed everything up. But, knowing that these same kids can’t come out with them, he decides to intimidate Ted intoi watching over them, and making sure that they “don’t misbehave”. It seems easy, and with the price for this little mission being $500, it seems even easier. However, with these two kids, nothing is quite as easy as it seems and eventually, the room itself starts to smell and once that happens, all hell breaks loose. So yeah, the plot-line for this segment is dumb, but with Robert Rodriguez behind-the-wheel, it’s anything but. Actually, that’s not true. It is still dumb, but in a “fun” way in which one can only associate with Rodriguez and his style of film-making. It starts off simple and small, but as time goes on, and Rodriguez really gets the brain working, you can see just how much havoc he can throw on top of the other and once all is said and done and we get the final-line of this segment, you know that, if anything, the whole movie was it at least worth it for just this whole time-span of 15-20 minutes. It doesn’t even matter if the last segment blows, all we know is that this is the segment people should be wanting to see and talk about.

When you do have a movie in which "the chick from Say Anything" gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something "to watch".

When you do have a movie in which “the chick from Say Anything” gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something “to watch”.

But of course, the last segment is done by none other than Quentin Tarantino himself and, as we all know, the guy has a bit of a thing for stealing the spotlight of movies, and his segment here is no different.

4. The Man from Hollywood – The plot-line is simple: Ted stumbles upon a bunch of fast-cat, Hollywood big-shots (Bruce Willis being among them), who con him into doing something for a hefty price, as idiotic as the act may be. Oh, and there’s a bet involved somehow, someway. Basically, being that this is a Tarantino-segment, you can expect a lot of witty lines that involved pop-culture, violence, sex and a bunch of other talk that doesn’t sound like it’s coming from actual human-beings who grace us with their presence on the same planet we call Earth. That said, considering the rest of the film that came before this, it’s a blast to watch, keeps you interested, laughing, a bit tense and overall, entertained as if Tarantino was the one they really were leaning on for this to work and that’s exactly what they got. In hindsight, it’s not the best thing that Tarantino has ever done or touched (especially when also speaking of his acting), but when you place his segment against the three others, his definitely comes out on-top and a reason to see this whole film. Although you do have to get through two shitty segments, and one pretty good one.

And through all of these segments, there’s none other than Tim Roth himself acting his ass off through them, which is not a good thing. For some odd reason or another, Roth is given the order to carry-out this overly-used, spastic-twitch of his that carries on throughout most of his segments in which he stammers and bumbles more than Hugh Grant on a bad day. It gets old real quick and just becomes random, as if there was no other reason to make this character interesting than to just have him do and say all of these odd things. Roth tries, but he can’t help but suffer due to doing whatever it was that he was told. However, when he’s told to dial it down a notch and just let the segments for speak themselves, is usually when he’s at his most watchable, as well as the same could be said for the movie itself. And mostly, this occurs during the last two segments. Strange how things work themselves out, right?

Consensus: If you counter in the fact that only two of the four segments in Four Rooms work, then I guess you could consider this “watchable” in the least bit. But, then again, if you want to save yourself some precious time, effort and/or money, then just watch the last two segments somewhere on YouTube. I’m sure you’ll be able to find them somewhere.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Talk about a party I'd like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don't do anything I wouldn't do! Woo hoo!

Talk about a party I’d like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! Woo hoo!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Planet Terror (2007)

Muscle cars > zombie apocalypse.

Not all small towns get along, but especially this one that seems to be located somewhere in the heart of Texas. And just to make matters worse, they’re thrown up against the wall and supposed to fight off a ward of zombies after an odd, toxic biochemical is released onto them. Why? They don’t quite know yet, except for maybe the government may be involved. However, they can’t, and they won’t worry too much about it because they have bigger fish to fry. Or should I just say: Bigger “zombies” to fry? Yeah, it’s corny, but that’s what I’m going for!

The idea of having a chick having an M4 carbine assault-rifle for a leg is probably one of the dumber one’s out there, even as cool as it may sound. That is, unless, you’re a character in a Robert Rodriguez movie, then it makes it perfect sense because you’re just another part of his crazy, insane puzzle that never seems to end inside that guy’s head. And that’s not a complaint at all. I like what Rodriguez brings to the table, whether it be weird, straight-laced, or something new he’s trying out. However, when he’s supposed to be back in his “original form” and is going up against non other than Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself; he can’t help but feel tame in comparison.

Its just what happens when you go toe-to-toe with an even bigger nut, if that’s even imaginable.

"Walking Dead who?"

Walking Dead who?”

But, despite whoever you put Rodriguez up against in a movie, no matter what: The guy always knows how to have fun with his stories and direction, and it is no different here. It’s obvious that this is a mesh between the George A. Romero zombie-flicks, and the eerie, horror movies from John Carpenter, but it seems like Rodriguez is doing more than just an homage, and actually expanding on his own story, with his own quirks and trademarks thrown in there for a great deal as well. The guy lets loose on what we all know and love about him; people get shot-up to oblivion, body-parts come flying out of nowhere, corny-lines are exchanged, and distorted colors seem to make everything on-display trippier. Basically, everything you expect to see from a “Robert Rodriguez zombie flick” happens and is seen here. For that reason, it’s very fun and will keep your eyes alive on the screen for quite some time, even when it seems like Rodriguez is maybe going a little too “nutso” with his own material. Then again, he’s a film maker and he’s allowed to, so who the hell am I to judge?

But what I think ruins Rodriguez and his flick as a whole, is that when it’s stacked-up to Tarantino’s Death Proof, it really pales in comparison. Now, in a way, Death Proof and Planet Terror are both different from one another. Death Proof is a bit serious with its subtle-approach and as a result, feels very down-played, whereas Planet Terror goes absolutely gung-ho with it’s story and never loses it’s pace; Proof is very dialogue-heavy, with lines that are as witty as you’re going to get, whereas Terror has some of the cheesiest lines you’re ever going to hear, but it’s on-purpose; Proof is more about the tension, dialogue, and characters, whereas Terror is all about the action, blood, and violence. See, as much as the two stories may have in common with one another, you can’t help but notice how different they are as well. Whether or not that was deliberate on both of these guy’s parts is totally left up in the air, but I think that’s where this flick hits a hard-place. Or at least Rodriguez does, anyway.

Maybe because I’m speaking from my own point-of-view, my problems with this flick may be a bit biased, but when it comes right down to it: Tarantino is just more talented than Rodriguez in the long-run. Some may call that a no-brainer and some may not, but what I do know is that I feel like Tarantino has a lot more resilience when it comes to the movies that he wants to do and why, where as Rodriguez is a little too random and sporadic. Also, Tarantino has never done a Spy Kids movie so maybe that’s where the sake of the argument lies as well. But I digress.

So yes, both sort of have the same styles in how they let their movies play-out and even tell their own stories as well, but in the end, Tarantino just has something more to him that’s attention-grabbing and as interesting, as anything that Rodriguez has ever really done. Now, I’m not saying that anything Rodriguez has done in his career isn’t good by any means necessary, but Tarantino just has something about him and his movies that make you want to go out there, start writing on a piece of paper, and start making your own movies. In a way, Rodriguez’s films can do that as well, but Tarantino is the automatically first guy I think about when it comes to inspirations/favorite directors.

Fairly uncomfortable I'd suppose, considering he "assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg" situation.

Fairly uncomfortable I’d suppose, considering he “assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg” situation.

Aside from that whole “Rodriguez vs. Tarantino” rant, the reason why Planet Terror just isn’t as good as I would have liked for it to have been was because it’s stacked-up against something that Tarantino did, and that movie’s name is Death Proof. Granted, Proof was no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it kept me alive, intrigued, and best of all, entertained the whole time; whereas with this flick, I felt myself, as well as itself, just meander along and didn’t really offer me anything new that I haven’t already seen done 100 times before in other, and sometimes, “better” zombie movies. That’s not to say that this flick isn’t any fun at all, because trust me: It is. Its just is a time-burner for the sake of being a time-burner and there’s nothing else to it other than that. Kind of disappointing when you think how this is by the same guy who did From Dusk Till Dawn, among many others, but I guess that’s what happens when you go up against a guy who’s won Best Original Screenplay more than once.

Where this film does feel a lot like a Tarantino movie, is in it’s characters that are goofy, wild, and fun as hell to watch. Rose McGowan fits perfectly as Cherry, the ex-stripper/wanna-be comedienne, because of her physical presence (her early strip-scene is one of the hottest openings I’ve seen in a long, long time), and her comedic-timing is actually pretty good which makes the whole idea of her being a “stand-up comedienne” seem pretty convincing. Freddy Rodríguez is alright as Wray, Cherry’s bad-boy, and does what he can but comes off as a bit of a stiff dude, without any real presence on-screen. Most of that screen-presence is used very well by steadied-pros like Michael Biehn, Josh Brolin, and even a short, but lovable cameo from Bruce Willis. A pretty stacked-cast and everybody kicks it pretty hard here, but its a real surprise to me that the only one who really comes out on-top is Kurt Russell. And hell, that guys from a whole other movie!

Consensus: Robert Rodriguez injects Planet Terror with his signature style of goofy, over-the-top, wild fun that we all like to see in all of his movies, but can’t really stand-up against Tarantino’s far better, more interesting piece of work known as Death Proof. Sorry Robert. Quentin’s just more of a crazier son of a bitch than you are when it comes right down to it.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Don't worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds."

“Don’t worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds.”

To check out my buddy Brandon’s review of the other part of Grindhouse, Death Proof, go on over to http://bkstareviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/death-proof-movie-review.html and let him know what you think! You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Red 2 (2013)

Still old, and still have the right to bear arms. So why the hell can’t I?

A couple of years after we left off with the first adventure, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker) have finally taken time to relax and settle down. That all ends abruptly once Moses’ old pal Marvin (John Malkovich), comes back to stir up more trouble, telling him that they have both been linked to a top-secret Cold War weapon, that somehow made it’s way online. They all realize that they can’t just wait around and see what happens and instead, have to go on the run. To make matters worse however, they also find out that a bounty has been put on their head, where their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Moses’ old protégé Han (Lee Byung-hun) are on their tales and trying to get a slice of the pie any which way they can.

Most of you probably already saw by now, but I didn’t care too much for the first Red. Granted, I didn’t hate it, nor did I love it. It was just fun and fine for what it was, and that was that. However, nobody in their right mind was begging for a sequel to it, and I don’t think anybody ever will bother again, especially after this hunk of crap.

Bald heads: Unite!

Bald heads: Unite!

I mean honestly, the first one was no masterpiece to begin with, so how the hell do you screw up a simple plot about a bunch of old people getting back into action, blowing things up, and being a tad bit goofy while doing so? It’s not a hard trick to pull off, which is what the first was able to do with such ease and a laid-back feel, but not this one. This movie feels like it was almost trying too hard to be like the first movie, with the same type of humor still in place but it does not work a bit because it’s not refreshing anymore. It’s an old trick we saw done before and it’s not going to get cooler or newer as by the second, which wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t noticeable why they focused on the comedy aspect of this movie so much.

The first flick was able to balance everything out nicely, but this flick doesn’t have that skill at all. It’s mostly all comedy, all of the time and would have been fine if it was the least bit funny or chuckling, but it’s just not. It continues to go on and on and on, beating the same old joke to a bloody pulp, until it’s practically crammed itself into your brain, as if you needed any more understanding or learning of what the jokes they were trying to throw at you meant. For example, the perfect instance of a joke going on way too long, and way too far was the first time that Sarah saw her man, Frank, hooking up with another gal. For some odd reason, this gets her hormones all up in a twist and she not only decides to up the ante by getting with two guys, but I’d say about three or four. Honestly, I lost track counting because the movie continued to move with it, but instead of having it move somewhere to a spot where it would constantly be funny or inventive to use in a certain spot, it’s continued to be used the same, exact way each and every time.

Like everything else in this movie, the comedy gets real old, real quick, and it never stops. Then again, it wouldn’t have mattered, had the action or the story worked a bit, but they don’t. The plot makes no sense and eventually, I just lost myself wondering, “Why this person was trying to kill this person? Or, why this was happening at all?” The movie oddly begins with the typical plot from the first movie that’s standard, simple, and to-the-point, but then journalists, terrorists, the Russians, and nukes get involved, and it becomes too much of a chore to keep up with, or even care about for that matter. The action is good at points, I’ll give it that, but also looks cheaply-done, as if the studio itself didn’t have enough faith in the movie to perform well enough at the box office to really be granted as much money as the past two Willis action pictures of the year (A Good Day to Die Hard, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). Whether or not the movie’s actually going to make much money at the box office, or at least enough to earn it’s money back is a worry that I don’t give two shits about. I really don’t.

But at least, even in the darkest pit of the movie’s worst, most uninspired moments (which there are plenty of, trust me), the cast is enjoyable enough to watch, right? Well, it’s more of a mixed-bag this time around than the last and that’s because everybody’s doing the same act they did from the first, except it’s more amped-up because it’s a sequel, and whatever you do in the originals, means you have to do a lot more in the sequels. Such as is the case with the likes of Malkovich, Mirren, and Louise-Parker who had me chuckling and happy at some points, but seemed to be using the same old shtick that made them so pleasing to watch in the first movie. Granted, there is something grating about watching Helen Mirren hold up two machine-guns as she blasts the opposing-cars around her, but it can only go so far. She’s rarely in the movie all that much and doesn’t leave much of an impression at all, unlike the first movie where her holding a machine-gun was worth the price of admission alone.

Fire. Machine Gun. Helen Mirren. I need a new pair of shorts.

Fire. Machine Gun. Helen Mirren. I need a new pair of undies.

Still foxy, though. Holy hot damn, is she foxy.

New-comers to the franchise are Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lee Byung-hun, who both seem to actually try with this material, but fall short of juicing anything out of it. Hopkins especially, who probably gives the most disappointing performance out of the whole movie considering he seems to obviously have the spunk and energy that would make this material pop and electric, but his constant ramblings and oddness just bothered me, rather than amusing me. Even if the old joke about “the nut who still talks to his imaginary friends” isn’t funny anymore (when was it ever), don’t tell this flick that. Anything this movie has to throw at you with it’s sense of humor, it will, and if you don’t like it, then scram-off and see a different movie for goddsakes. No seriously, do that.

And last, but sure as hell not least we have Bruce Willis himself, playing Frank Moses in the blandest-way possible. I will give credit to Willis, he was fun to watch as Moses in the first movie as he seemed to have a jolly good time doing his usual “tough guy” persona to the death, and never letting up for a single action scene where it may have called on for him to get a tad physical. However, like he has been known to do in the past, he’s simply phoning it in here as Moses, as if he didn’t want to do a sequel, but just chose to because the money was good and the franchise most likely would not survive without his name attached to it. I don’t think his name attached is going to matter now, since it sucked, but let’s hope we don’t get another sequel. Let’s just hope on that one.

Consensus: Red 2 feels like it’s trying way, way too hard to be like the first one in spots, but this time, with less action and more comedy, that not only isn’t funny, but is repetitive and gets old after about the first 20 minutes or so.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Looks like they just got caught in the act of making a sequel to Red. Oh wait...

Looks like they just got caught in the act of making a sequel to Red. Oh wait…

Red (2010)

They are old as hell, and not going to take it anymore!

Retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has found himself in a bit of trouble when a younger, hot-shot CIA agent (Karl Urban) is hot on his trail. Rather than running away and hoping that he doesn’t get caught, Moses not only takes a possible gal-pal of his (Mary-Louise Parker) along for the ride, but also calls up some of his old pals as well. Some have been waiting for this sort of action all of their later-days (Morgan Freeman); others have just been lounging and relaxing in retirement (Helen Mirren); and well, frankly, others have never left the force and are still waiting to get attacked any second, at any time (John Malkovich). Together, they form the team that they once were and stop at nothing until they unveil the truth about their pasts.

The whole idea of having a bunch of old-farts, go back to their golden days and act all bad-ass and violent again has been just about done to death by now nor has it ever really worked. Most movies like that try so hard to be funny and zany with it’s presentation, that you too, have to laugh at it because honestly, just think about it: Would a small, petite thing like Helen Mirren be able to hold up a huge machine-gun? Well, maybe in the movies, yes, but in real-life: hell no! That’s why movies like these are made; they are supposed to make us laugh by how outrageous they are, supposed to make us feel happy for the old people getting in the spotlight once again, and most of all, supposed to make us feel like we can join in on the fun.

None of these factors that are supposed to work for this type of film, actually happen here, but I still found myself pleased for the most part. Weird, I know, but please do bare with me here.

Totally see the attraction....

Totally see the attraction….

The whole tone of the movie likes to play around with the fact that it’s goofy, but is also very laid-back. A little too laid-back, some may say. For instance, the plot is supposed to be filled to the core with non-stop twists, turns, moments of danger, panic, and heavy-breathing, but since the movie itself seems to take such a lax-approach to it’s material; we never really get to that part where we feel like all hell is going to break loose and that our beloved characters could perish at any moment. Heck, even when one does (and I’m not going to give it away, trust me) bite the dust, quite surprisingly too, I may add; the film plays it off with a shrug of the shoulder, a couple of shots (of Vodka, obviously), a couple of wisecracks about how they’re “too old for this shit”, or something along those lines, and then they’re back on with the story, action, and supposed humor. It’s an odd way to attack a film like this, especially when you’re supposed to have havoc occurring just about every second of it, and it somehow didn’t quite work.

But still, I can’t fault this movie too much because yes, I did have fun and yes, I did enjoy what most of what this flick had to offer me. Could it have been better? Bet your damn tushes it could have been, but I wasn’t going to be hating against this flick for something that it wasn’t, especially when I didn’t see much potential in it in the first place. That means, nope, I have not read the graphic novels that this movie is based off of, but coming from a person who knows what type of movies work and how they should, I know that this movie was not destined for anything more than a couple million at the box-office, some nice sales on DVD, and back to the box of forgotten movies (aka, WalMart $5 Dollar Bin).

But, much to my surprise, I was wrong. Dead-wrong, in fact, and one Golden Globe nomination later (then again, the Tourist was nominated that year as well), the movie screwed-away all of the nay-sayers and just had fun with itself. That was something I was very grateful for, especially when you take into consideration how freakin’ dumb and dull action movies can get nowadays, no matter what type of talent is involved. What makes it so much better to watch here is that not only is the cast the movie working with, very acclaimed and very strange for this type of material, but actually how the movie doesn’t let us forget that this is a dumb action movie that not only did they sign up for, but one that we did, as well. That sharing of fun and joy, is what makes this movie work and at the end of it, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed. Besides, who would pass-up a moment to watch John Malkovich run towards the Vice President with a bomb strapped to his chest.

Okay, maybe that was a bit too weird, but you see what I’m saying. It’s fun, for the sake of being fun, that it’s. Nada!

Even if the material is dumb and only made so that you’ll get the Extra Large popcorn and hopefully come back for a refill, the cast still doesn’t treat it like that, which does sometimes work, and sometimes doesn’t. More of the former than the latter, but the latter is more noticeable. I don’t want to say that Bruce Willis seemed like he was phoning it in here as Frank Moses, but it does seem like the type of performance that the dude has been giving us every so often. He squints, he makes random googly-eyes whenever possible, and just seems as if he’s itching to say everybody’s favorite line. It is John McClane, so you can’t go too wrong when you have Willis and a gun in his hand, but after awhile, the act does get stale and it seems that the dude is more or less just in the mood for getting a new summer house, rather than actually putting in any effort into making his character three-dimensional or fun to watch.

The one who really keeps his character interesting and begging for more is Mary-Louise Parker as his gal-pal, Sarah. Parker has never really got me much in the movies that she’s shown up in, but she does well here with the humor-aspect of her character, and also being able to make us believe that this chick could fall for a dude like Moss, no matter how dull or boring he actually may be, underneath all of the violence and espionage. Of course even for her age, she is still freakin’ smokin’, but looks aside, the chick’s got comedic-chops that are always worth checking out. Along with her other chops. Hayyo!

Cheer up, guys. This is the best you're going to get. Okay, that's a lie, but still: cheer the fuck up!

Cheer up, guys. This is the best you’re going to get. Okay, that’s a lie, but still: cheer the fuck up!

Helen Mirren doesn’t let Parker steal her spotlight as being the only chick that has something bad-ass to say or do, and gets to show us why she’s still so damn foxy, fun, vibrant, and awesome to watch, no matter what the hell it is that she does. Yes, she played the Queen no less than 7 years ago, and here she is, holding up a machine-gun and letting the mofo’s have it. Awesome. John Malkovich seems like his role as the paranoid, loose cannon of the group would be tailor-made for a dude who’s made a career out of these types of roles, but much to my dismay, played it straight most of the time. It was still entertaining to watch this guy play around with a character that’s a bit loopy in the head, but he never goes so far, to the point of where you can really tell this guy couldn’t wait to start killing people, something that, I think I speak for everybody else when I say, is what seems to go through Malkovich’s mind whenever he plays characters like these.

Lastly, rounding everybody else out here, is Morgan Freeman as the oldest dude of the group, who also happens to be diagnosed with liver cancer and is need of this fun and adventure the most. Freeman is good in the role, even if it doesn’t seem totally right for him, considering how unsubstantial his character is to the plot, and how half of the time the dude is just sitting around, smiling, and poppin’ B’s, as he checks out the house-maids “fix” the television. Yup, apparently when you get old, that’s all you have to live for: boners. Even if you are Morgan fuckin’ Freeman.

Consensus: Some of it tries to be more witty and wild than it actually is, but Red still stays fun, light, energetic, and well-acted enough to be worth a watch, even if you do just want a silly action movie, with non-other than Dame Helen Mirren holding up a machine-gun. Seriously, it’s so awesome to see occur on-screen.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

See what I'm talking about!!!

See what I’m talking about!?!?!

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

Yo Joe! Get a better release date next time!

After almost all of the G.I. Joe’s are wiped-out after a sneak-attack from Cobra hit them, the ones that are left must build a team, get the professionals, and be strong enough to defeat their mortal enemy. The only problem is that they need help, and with the assistance of the government and a General named Joe Colton (Bruce Willis), they may find a possible way of a victory after all. However, just like you always used to fantasize when playing with the toys: it’s not always an easy match. That is, unless you played with Barbies, then don’t even bother reading this synopsis, this review, or this movie!

No matter what I say about this movie from now until the end of this review, just know that I am so mad at this movie for what it did to me last year. I mean, I not only was really looking forward to it, I even went so far as to put it as one of my most-anticipated for the Summer, IN MY HIGH-SCHOOL NEWSPAPER! That’s right, for all of my high-school to see and then when they actually buzzed out on me and decided to take it back to the next year (meaning today), not only did I look like an ass, but actually was a little upset because I wanted to still see it. But noooooo! Hollywood has to get those bigger bucks, had to make sure everything had an extra dimension, and worst of all, had to make sure Channing Tatum got five more minutes of screen-time. That’s right people: he’s only in this for a total of ten minutes, then gets killed, and is never seen again. Nice job. Glad the re-shoots and delays were worth it.

His 15 minutes of fame, minus 5.

His 15 minutes of fame, minus 5.

I’m not going to lie to you all, I actually liked the first G.I. Joe movie. Yeah, it had it’s fair share of problems, it was corny, it was stupid, and it was sure as hell loud, but it was still fun and that’s all that mattered to me. However, it seems like the people behind this sequel, feel as if that movie was so damn terrible, that they not only need to kill-off almost all of the characters from that movie, but do away with everything else about it as well. The first one had this over-the-cop, campy-feel to it that was surprising, considering the G.I. Joe cartoons and comics have always been serious, but this one sort of loses that edge about half-way through.

For instance, when we are first introduced to Duke and Roadblock, we see them goofing around with one another, spouting-out one-liners, and overall, just having a good time without getting too jokey and forgetting about the action. Then, as soon as the original Joe members are all killed-off, then things get a tad too serious, and not in the fun way either. The jokes are still there, the action is still around, and the over-the-top look and feel is still present at moments, but it’s not what you’d expect.

Where this movie seems to lose itself is that it not only focuses way too much on plot, but also forgets that this is a mindless action movie, made off of what is essentially a bunch of action figures that all the cool kids played with, when the girlies were off making sure that Ken and Barbie got it on. A lot. To try and make a serious story out of something like that, is ridiculous in it’s own right. To lose that sense of fun or craziness, just seemed like a slap in the face to the audience that grew up loving and watching G.I. Joe’s but also a waste of a good budget, and a good cast that knows how to have fun, be witty, and be cool, all at the same time. Jon M. Chu isn’t a bad director to be chosen for this material, but at the end of the day: something felt like it was missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it just yet, but it may have something to do with the fact that everybody seems to melodramatic, without getting loose and shaking things up. The original wasn’t a ground-breaker by any stretch, but at least it had fun for the time being. This one just tried way, way too hard.

But don’t be fooled by all of this shit-talking I’m doing, it’s still a fun movie and will most likely bring out the kid inside of you: for better or worse. Yes men, this is the movie that you want to see with your buddies, whether or you be drunk or not. Just make sure that you don’t bring your ladies or else she may come around the next day, asking for when the best time for her is to pick up her stuff. Trust me, it’s that type of movie. It’s filled with a bunch of fun, action, and excitement, and even though I have to say that almost every single trailer and commercial has spoiled the big,  insane shit that was supposed to wow us into the new year, it’s still fun to watch and enjoy, especially when you’re around as much machismo, as was in this movie. Oh and that is a lot. That’s fo damn sho.

Dwayne Johnson (fine, I guess I’ll take his ass seriously for now) is pretty bad-ass as Roadblock because not only does he have that lovable charm that makes you feel like he could win over anybody with that million dollar smile of his, but the smarts to beat Cobra and take back the country that was rightfully his in the first place. When it comes to the action, Dwayne is awesome and proves us why he is the perfect man for a job when it comes to beating the tar out of people, spitting on their faces, and always having the tongue left to say something witty. I mean, hey, that’s how the guy got famous in the first place, right?

What a dick.

What a dick.

I was still bummed to see Channing Tatum go away so quick, let alone, at all in this movie, but I guess it’s fine for what we see of him. Still, I was pissed that they got rid of him, in place of D.J. Cotrona as Flint who is as dull as they come. He barely has a personality, anything cool or insightful to say, nor does even have a specialty that makes him stand-apart from the group of other Joe’s with him. He’s just regular, old Flint that nobody seems to care about, let alone remember once the shit hits the fan. The one person I did remember was Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye who does a nice job at conveying that sense of what it takes to be a female and still kick-ass, but yet, still have to stay and be able to hang with the big boys in town. She’s actually good in the role and not a joke like she could have easily been. Bruce Willis is also here as recently-retired sergeant Joe Colton and is fine, but this is no John McClane. He’s just there to be old, a bit witty, and the type of guy who can handle a gun. Willis is always likable, but he seems bored here. I don’t blame him.

On the opposite side of the fence, the baddies are okay, but nothing special. Cobra is Cobra and always a bad-ass, who somehow seems to get away just in the nick of time. Ray Stevenson plays Firefly, the type of dude that has a solution to every problem and is good doing what it is that he does. However, the one that really stole the show for me, especially on the flip side of things, was Jonathan Pryce as he played a dual-role as the U.S. President, when he was good and when he was bad. What makes Pryce so much fun to watch is that he seems to be having a freakin’ turkey of a time just being evil, mean, and sadistic, but never goes over-board with it all. Instead, he seems smart, calm, and collective, even when stuff seems to get very serious for him and the others around him. Very surprised with Pryce here and somehow, he made this old dude seem like the type of guy that could get away with this all in the end.

Still have no idea why the hell RZA showed up here in a old-man, kung-fu outfit, but damn does he love his kung-fu or what?!?!?

Consensus: Though it’s a tad bit better in some ways than the first one, G.I. Joe: Retaliation still takes itself a bit too seriously in terms of plot and characters, to be considered an all-out action fest of guns, explosions, bullets, hot ladies, and even hotter dudes, but does what it can and is entertaining for that fact.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"You really expect me to say it, in a PG-13 movie?!?!"

“You really expect me to say it, in a PG-13 movie?!?!”

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Hey, at least it’s not PG-13.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back and older than ever now. However, he still has a thing or two up his sleeve when it comes to blowing shit up, kicking ass, and saying everybody’s favorite line. You know what it is. Don’t even make me try to utter it. This time around, he’s facing-off against terrorists in Moscow and teaming-up with his estranged son (Jai Courtney) for double the action and double the kills, father-son style.

After I reviewed and posted my thoughts on Live Free or Die Hard, I got a lot of comments from people saying that, “it wasn’t like the original Die Hard“, “it didn’t feel like John McClane was a regular-person”, “Justin Long’s annoying”, and basically, “it wasn’t a Die Hard movie, and instead like another action-movie”.  All are valid-points and I can totally see where they were coming from but trust me, when you see this, you’re going to get on all-fours, and kiss the feet of Len Wiseman and co. from that last movie. Seriously: the Die Hard lovers are going to riot over this one.

If you go into this expecting it to be a Die Hard movie, be ready to be disappointed. I can already tell you that without a stutter in my speech, but, if you go into it expecting an action-movie, you won’t come-out hate yourself, Bruce Willis, or director John Moore for that fact. Okay, maybe you’ll still hate John Moore but at least give the guy some credit: he makes the action “fun”, right? Being that this an action movie, you can expect there to be a huge amount of guns, deaths, blood, gore, f-bombs, explosions, bullets, and most importantly, cars that are totally destroyed. That’s the whole fun of an action movie and if there is anything that this movie does better than I expected, it’s that it gives us something fun to pay-attention when all else seems to be failing. If anything, you’ll have plenty of eye-candy to view and gaze at, but once you get down the bottom of it all, you’ll soon start to realize that there’s just nothing else other than exactly that: eye-candy. Everything is pure dullsville.

This had no effect on me or my hormones. Sad, sad feeling.

This had no effect on me or my hormones. Sad, sad feeling.

Okay, here is where the movie screws itself up on: it does not feel like a Die Hard movie. The look, the tone, the screenplay, the characters, and even the action, feel as if they could have come from any other action-movie in the world, but not a Die Hard movie. You know why? Because Die Hard is a special franchise that it’s crowd loves, it’s lovers still praise to this day, and humble critics like yours truly still rate as one of, if not, the best action movie of all-time. It was an action movie that didn’t just give us fun and entertaining set-pieces full of action, but it also gave us a real character that was easy to stand-behind, root for, and love just about everything he did. Here, everything feels like it was trying to re-create that glory once again, but lost all of the lovely charm of the original.

Instead, we just have a bunch of action, mixed together with something that’s supposed to be considered a story, something that’s supposed to be funny when it wants, something that’s supposed to be epic, and something that’s supposed to resemble John McClane. Everything I just mentioned, was supposed to be “something” from the original, but all of that gets lost in the wind. For instance, let’s focus on the screenplay. The story itself makes some sort of sense when it first begins, but after awhile, starts to go through twists, turns, and unexpected paths that don’t make a single-lick of sense, nor should they even be in the movie. The villains in this movie suck (more on that later), but what really has them stand-out like a sore thumb the most is that there’s a whole story-line to whatever the hell they are doing, why they’re doing, and who’s good, and who’s bad on their side. In all honesty: nobody fucking cares! All we care about is John McClane, the action, the quips, and everybody’s favorite line.

Hell, even when they do say the line in this movie, it’s so unepic, so lame, and so random, that only two people in my screening actually clapped-at and heard. Other than those two, nobody knew what the hell he said and even if they did hear it, nobody cared. That’s a real, fuckin’ shame. When you have an iconic franchise such as this, and you try to re-create the magic that was once there and fail at it: everybody’s going to notice. Don’t believe me, just ask George Lucas and Steven Spielberg when they tried to buy another house with that cash-grab Indiana Jones movie. Yup, it’s along the same lines as that, my friends. Be ready to be angry.

However, as much as I rag on all of the dumb things that this movie does, what they get wrong, what they mess-up on, and what type of magic they miss achieving once again, perhaps the biggest-sin this movie commits is making it’s main action-star, John McClane, the most annoying character out of the bunch. That’s right: John McClane is annoying in this movie. Bruce Willis is the type of guy you can trust with your movie because he’s got charm, he’s still got that coolness to him, and he still proves that it doesn’t matter how old you get, you can still light some motherfuckers up like it’s nobody’s business. However, he falls prey to this terrible script and it shows when McClane first appears on the screen, and you automatically want to punch him the face. By the way, everything you are reading is not a lie and some early-April Fool’s joke. You really do want to punch John McClane in the face.

It’s actually not that Willis is annoying as McClane, it’s more that the script makes McClane do dumb stuff that his character in the earlier-movies would have never, ever thought about doing. Ever. For an example, take the first-time McClane meets up with his boy in Russia: he shows up by yelling at him, standing in front of the car when he knows bad shit is going on, stopping his son from possibly being free, and even worse, totally draws attention by just hollering at his son like a complete jackass. To top off that, he’s trying to ask his son what’s he doing and why he’s doing it, all while his son obviously looks like he’s in desperate danger and needs to leave, pronto.

Strike one.

If John yells his son's name one more time, that gun's gonna be pointed at him.

If John yells his son’s name one more time, that gun’s gonna be pointed at him. And I wouldn’t blame him, either.

Then, it gets worse as McClane gets involved with some of the action, by driving in a car-chase that goes all throughout Moscow. John McClane knows a thing or two about driving a car through busy streets, never losing sight of where he has to go, catching all of the short-cuts, and at the end of the high-speed chase, still being able to get his man that he’s tailing so yeah, it can’t be that bad, can it? Well, lets take into account that as he goes on-and-on with this whole car-chase, and either kills or injures over 1,000 innocents. I’m not kidding, either. The car-chase that I’m talking about does some damage to Moscow, and that’s not certain buildings that were closed to renovations, or a headquarters for all of the bad-guys located in Moscow. No. These were actually innocent, harmless people that just so happened to be at the wrong place, the wrong time, and in the way of John McClane’s road rage. Now, let me ask you this: would the original John McClane from the first 3 movies, would he really go so far as to lose his shit and start killing a bunch of innocents? Yeah, you could probably say that he was just doing his job to kill the baddies, but think about it: his job is an NYC cop. I would automatically think that the guy not only knows a thing or two about getting his man, but being able to do so without killing a bunch of people that didn’t deserve it. Didn’t seem like the original John McClane I knew and loved, and if this is the new, and older John McClane; then he’s a total fuckin’ prick.

Strike two.

Okay, well, so far, the movie has not only fucked-up McClane’s intro, but his action-prowess as well. What’s left? Well, don’t forget that this movie does include his son and his daughter, which means there’s going to be plenty of bonding between the family members, right? WRONG!! When John McClane sees his son, not only does he totally fuck-up his plan to get out alive and well, but he constantly continues to get up his ass about doing something bad. Yes, any kid of yours that does something bad should be reprimanded, but to do it while the kid’s driving away from a bunch of angry Ruskies that are out to kill him and wear his skin as shoes? Ehh, I may have to take a rain-check on that one, pops. But don’t worry, it gets worse. Once McClane and his son actually do have some down-time to talk about what they’ve been up to, why they love each other, and why they should be a father-and-son once again, McClane is still yelling and still up his son’s ass, even though he’s supposed to be reaching-out to him. Listen here, whatever your daddy issues are, it doesn’t matter. If my daddy came-up to me after not seeing me for about 10 years, showed up in all of my shit, and started just bothering the fuck out of me by calling me names and telling me everything that I do is wrong, then I’m either going to kick his ass or just send him straight back to the nuthouse. Either way, I’m not going to put up with it because I’ll be a lot older and I don’t need him fucking my shit up. That’s exactly what John does to his son here, and even though I could suspect that from some other dads, in other movies, I could never, not for a second expect that from a guy who apparently knows what he’s doing when it comes to kicking-ass, and also wants to have the love of his son back. It’s stupid, makes no sense, and gets annoying by about the fourth or fifth time that John tells his son that he’s doing something. Okay, I bet you know what this all means by now:

STRIKE THREE!! GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!

Okay, well, now that we know John McClane is annoying-as-fuck, what about the rest of the cast of characters? Well, they’re not better than him nor are they worse. They’re just there and do what they can with a shit-script such as this. It was a pretty neat idea to add Jai Courtney in as John’s son (even though I never really remembering hearing anything about him existing until now, but okay, whatevs) and the guy does a solid-enough job to where he isn’t annoying, he isn’t a weak-link, and he doesn’t seem unlikable. He’s got a bit of a personality, he’s got the looks, he’s got some of the quips, and he’s got some of the ass-kicking skills as well. He’s not a bad character to have in a movie like this, and Courtney isn’t such a bad actor to portray him neither. Also, anybody expecting to see some more of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lucy; don’t get your hopes up too much. She rarely shows up here and even when she does, she just provides more hassle and annoyance for John McClane.

I’m still shocked that I didn’t like John McClane. Oh well, at least the villains are good, right?

HELL TO THE FUCKIN’ NO!! You would think since this is a Die Hard movie, since this does have John McClane on the good-side, and since this does have him facing-off against Russians, that this wouldn’t be one hell of a toe-to-toe battle between the two sides, but that’s where the thoughts are wrong. These villains blow and are as lame as you could expect. All of that back-story shit I alluded to earlier aside, these guys got nothing for them in terms of intimidation, smarts, or toughness. They seem like a bunch of clowns that decided to do something bad, and just so happened to stumble-upon John McClane “on his vacation”. If you don’t believe me, there’s actually a scene where one of the main villains dance in front of John and his son, only to show how intimidating and cool he can be. That’s right: HE DANCES! If Hans Gruber could come back alive and have a thing or change about these rusty Ruskies, he’d fucking shoot ’em down, one-by-one, and help John back to safety. Or, being a true villain in his finest-form, he’d probably off those Ruskies, torture John’s son right in front of him, kill the son, and then kill John before he was half-way tortured to death. That’s just the sick bastard that Hans Gruber was and watching a bunch of bums like these in this movie; I missed the guy a shit-load.

I’m still in shock that I didn’t like John McClane.

Consensus: People going into A Good Day to Die Hard and expecting another fan-favorite of the franchise, are going to be more than disappointed: they’re going to be outright pissed-off. And to be honest, I don’t blame them. Everything that you would want from a Die Hard movie is barely here, except for a couple of quick-quips that are funny and action set-pieces that catch your eye, but that’s just about it. Be ready to be upset, people.

As a regular, action movie to see on a boring night or day: 5 / 10 = Rental!!

As a Die Hard movie: 0. 5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Kill me now."

“Kill me now.”

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

John McClane may not be able to utter his famous-line with the MPAA on his ass, but at least he can still kick some, right? Should have just hired me for the advertising.

Famed New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) returns to action in trying to save the world from terrorists once again. However, what makes these terrorists so different and so much more difficult to deal with, is that they deal with state-of-the-art techonology and are lead by a man who knows exactly what the hell he’s doing when it comes to taking over the world and all of it’s pride and joy. That’s where McClane’s new buddy (Justin Long) comes in to try and help him with this computer-shit that John McClane doesn’t need to take down the baddies.

For all of you people out there who have been longing for the days of when action movies came to theaters and did nothing else but provide plenty of guns, bullets, fights, and killings, all in a natural, special-effects free way; then most of you were probably happy to see John McClane back in action after almost a decade of being gone for so long. However, the idea of a 52-year old man saving the day and taking down a group of terrorists does seem a little unbelievable, right? Oh wait, it’s Bruce Willis. Never mind, it’s totally believable now.

If you’re reading this right now and haven’t seen the original, 1988 action-classic Die Hard, then you, my friend, need to get out of that muthatruckin’ seat and check it out because you are really missing out on something for your life. It’s a classic that will forever, and ever stand the tests of time and that’s all thanks to the fact that it was an old-school action movie, back in the times when they were more simpler and kinder to the people who ventured-out to go and see them. See, what made the original Die Hard such a great movie was that it not only had a bunch of stuff blowing up, people getting killed, and cool-ass lines coming from the mouth of Mr. Willis, but it also had a bunch of interesting characters in it and kept us worried and scared for them all, as their lives were single-handedly hanging in the balance from these crazy, but smart Ruskies. But as usually what happens with most franchises that are a bit too big for their britches,  sequels come-around and forget about all of the substance. Instead it’s all about style and all that there is left at the handles is a bunch of non-stop action, shootings, guns, countless people getting killed, and once again, stuff blowing up. That’s all fun and all, but with our Die Hard movies, we need a little something to hold onto and I think that’s exactly the memo director Len Wiseman got here, because he brings this series way back to what it was before: fun, entertaining, joyful, and an always exciting action movie.

Leave it to John McClane to say a big old "Fuck You" to text messaging, and stick straight to walkie-talkies. Oh. He has to use them because the plot needs him to so he doesn't get tracked by the villains? Well, it's still old-school!

Leave it to John McClane to say a big old “Fuck You” to text messaging, and stick straight to walkie-talkies. Oh. He has to use them because the plot needs him to so he doesn’t get tracked by the villains? Well, it’s still old-school!

Wiseman doesn’t really break the action-mold with this movie and doesn’t necessarily do anything that could be considered ground-breaking in the least bit, but that’s all fine and dandy because the guy knows how to make one entertaining action-sequence, after another. Watching McClane get out of these sticky-situations that he always finds himself getting wrapped-up in, definitely kept my interest and even had me a bit tense by wondering if he was going to make it out alive or not. I know it’s pretty obvious that the guy was going to survive it all but at that moment in time, when McClane was stuck in a situation that it didn’t seem like he was going to be able to get out of alive, I didn’t feel it and instead, just felt a bit of suspense in the palm of my fingers. Solid job by Wiseman, on his part.

Even better is that the movie never stops hitting us with the action, and even reminded me a bit of the old-school action movies of the 80’s/90’s, that were all natural and had little to do with special-effects or computers or anything that would be considered “new-school” like that. It sticks to the basics and it brings back all of my old-school, VHS days. However, that’s a reason why this movie was pretty cool in other ways, because we got to see what they did with this age-old premise, set it in present-day America, and giving McClane some technological-difficulties to step in front of his way and make his mission a whole lot harder. That was a pretty neat-use of the setting an definitely made this flick a bit more twisty and twervy with where it went and how. Then again, we all know how the story ends, but when all of the crazy action is going on, you sort of forget about that and just enjoy the scenery.

With all of this action coming at you left-and-right, you have to wonder if there is any time to actually slow-down at all and the answer to that is: well, not really. Wiseman seemed like he spent so much goddamn time on the action, the explosive, and the shootings, that whenever it came right down to showing McClane as a human-being once again, he sort of shies away from that and goes right back to McClane beating the crap out of people once again. In a way, it’s not so bad considering it’s what we all know and love McClane for in the first-place, but one of the main reasons why we loved him so damn much in the first-place is because he was a human, just like you or me. I missed that aspect of the character again, and I wish Wiseman got his hand out of the CGI cookie jar and actually allowed there to be some down-time for McClane to just tell us more about him and what he’s been up to. I mean it has been almost 10 freakin’ years! The least we could find-out is what the hell’s taken him so long to be away from the limelight!

And even once they do go back to the action-scenes, a lot of them will really have you laugh your ass off. And not in the fun or exciting way either. The dumb way, is more like it. Whenever I go out to see one of these action movies, I always know to leave my brain at the door and not worry about what makes sense and what doesn’t, but there does come a point in this movie where I just couldn’t handle it anymore. There’s a whole sequence with McClane riding on top of a flying-jet, that is in the air and then, all of a sudden, he jumps from it, lands on a slant, slides down the highway, and comes back with a couple of scratches here and there and continues on with his adventure as if he didn’t just stay on-top of a flying, fuckin’ jet just about 5 seconds ago. Now, I get it: McClane is an action-hero and those types of characters are usually allowed to pull-off insane, inhumane stunts such as ones like these, no matter how stupid or incomprehensible. However, the guys a frickin’ cop from NYC, not Clark Kent! After awhile, all of the preposterous and ridiculous action-sequences in this movie bean to take a toll on me and I lost my believe-ability in all of this, but then again, it is an action-movie so I guess there shouldn’t be too much of that going-around anyway.

Meet the hottest girl you will never, ever get a chance to sleep with.

Meet the hottest girl you will never, ever get a chance to sleep with.

Even though he does still pull off all of these crazy stunts, Bruce Willis never, ever seems to disappoint and is still the man as John McClane. Willis has a knack for always showing showing why he’s the man for any job and John McClane, is the job he was meant for and you can see why that is, even if the guy is pushing 52, around this time. Still, age isn’t a matter for John McClane! McClane is a fun-loving, tough son-of-a-bitch that spits out hilarious one-liners like nobody’s business and the whole old-man look that Willis has, doesn’t really get in the way of what we think he can and cannot do. Willis seemed like he had a hell of a lot of fun playing McClane once again, and I think that the guy’s going to be playing this role for a couple more movies now, that is, until he hits age 100 and is still dodging bullets. Hey, if anybody can do it, it’s Bruce Willis, that’s for damn sure, so don’t worry, he’ll always get my ticket!

Justin Long is the geek-hacker that McClane accidentally picks up but realizes he can use him to his advantage and come to beat these villains the way he wants to. I’ve always dug Long in anything that he’s done and it’s great to see his charm and wit be put to good use, even if he is a bit of nerd and clashes with McClane’s old-school style a bit much. Then again, it provided many of yucks for me so I can’t complain too much about the butting-of-the-heads between the two. Timothy Olyphant is alright as the main villain that stands in McClane’s way, but in a way, seems very miscast as well. Olyphant definitely tries to come off as the weird, off-kilter dude that’s only out to get the U.S. and all of the money it has, but instead, seems a bit like he’s forcing it too hard and is maybe a tad too good-looking for a role that should be played by some creep who hasn’t seen the light of day. You know, a creepy and nerdy cat like Kevin Smith who actually shows up here in a cameo as the geek-of-all-geeks: the Warlock. That’s all you need to know about the dude’s role because the bigger surprise, the better, even though the opening-credits sort of spoil it for ya. Thanks!

Consensus: It is essentially your typical, ridiculous action movie that makes little to no sense about what happens and why, but Live Free or Die Hard is more than just that. It’s an old-school action movie that is able to provide us all with plenty of fun, exciting action set-pieces, and a return-to-form for Willis as John McClane, a role that he will never, ever live down and I think he’s fine with that. As are we.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Should have just gone bald, or been gay, or sold drugs, or even been all of them combined. Now that's a real villain of epic-proportions!

Should have just gone bald. Or been gay. Or sold drugs. Or even been all of them combined. Now that would have made a real Die Hard villain!

Looper (2012)

Don’t we all want to be John McClane in the future?

The film revolves around a mobster (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) working for a crime syndicate in the near-future. He, along with other so-called Loopers, kill people sent from the future by their boss. Things get complicated when he recognizes one victim as his future self (Bruce Willis) and lets him escape.

Writer/director Rian Johnson‘s debut, Brick, was one of the biggest surprises in a film that I have ever seen. I went into it, expecting a crime-thriller, which is exactly what I got, but with a new twist on it that made it seem cooler and a lot more different from anything else I have ever seen prior to that. That’s why when I heard about Johnson tackling the sci-fi genre, I had no doubts whatsoever in my mind that it would be nothing short of original and different. Thankfully, that’s exactly what I got.

Most people that see the trailers for this flick will automatically get stuck in their head that it’s another confusing, sci-fi movie about time-travel. In a way, it is a sci-fi movie about time-travel, but it’s more of a twist on the crime and gangster genre than anything else. But even saying that it’s a crime and gangster genre movie is selling it short, because trust me people, this is not something you have seen before. You think you know the premise, you think you know how it’s going to play-out, and you think you know where it’s going to go, but trust me, you don’t know nothing yet and I think that’s where the fun in Johnson’s writing and directing comes from.

Anytime this movie ever seems like it’s going to go straight for the genre conventions, somehow, Johnson pulls himself straight-back from that and offers us a surprise that we were not expecting in the least-bit and even adds another secret twist/idea to the story that we didn’t already have in front of us before. This story, for some, will probably be as confusing as the meaning behind 2001, but if pay attention, if you stay with this story, and you stay with these characters, then nothing will go wrong for you at all. This is also one of those stories that I can’t go on and on about too much because the less you know about it going in, the better for you as you’re most likely going to get slapped in the face many of times with a bunch of happenings you weren’t expecting.

Johnson obviously loves having this bigger-budget and takes every great use of it with a slick look that reminded me a lot of Kubrick film, but not too much to the point of where it’s distracting, and also gave me a future that just seemed gritty and dirty, rather than over-stylized and filled with technology to the brim. There’s also a lot of sweet and stylized action scenes that will totally grab you out of nowhere, and just release you in the coolest way possible. However, it should be noted that as much action as there may be in this flick, this is not a pure, old-fashioned action flick per-se. Instead, the story takes this big twist about somewhere in the middle where things start to get a little slow, start to get a little bit more dramatic, and start to get a little talky, but it wasn’t a bad thing at all because Johnson seems like he has that perfect spark for snappy and fun dialogue that always seems interesting, no matter where these peeps may be getting at.

However, if there is a problem that I had with this change of pace half-way through the film, it’s that the characters just never came through for me. Yes, you do feel some of their sympathy throughout the film, and yes, Johnson lets them all have their different arcs but there was just that missing ingredient that wasn’t there and made me almost feel as if I was losing some sort of heart for this flick. JGL’s story (which is practically Willis’ as well), really made me root for him but the times where death was staring him straight-down in the eyes, I didn’t really know what to do or feel. The guy starts the film off as a total dickhead, just doing drugs, killing people, and stealing money, but then gets a conscience at the end and it just didn’t work for me, nor did it work for Willis’ side of the character either. Maybe I’m a heartless fool, I don’t know. But what I do know is that these characters just never really had me reaching out to them and it really bummed me out when it was all said and done.

Despite this problem with the characters, the people who play them are better than ever. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been on such a winning-streak by now that it almost seems obvious to say he kills it once again in this role, but he really does. Right when you take a first-glance at him, you’ll notice that JGL is playing a darker, more evil character than we’re used to seeing him play before and it really makes us wonder what we got ourselves into, especially since his make-up is less than subtle. However, you do get over it after awhile and just realize that this is another chance for JGL to bring out some real character emotions, and bring out a character that could really have us feeling for him when it’s all said and done. As for his “supposed” Willis impersonation, it’s not really what you think. In a way, JGL is doing certain channels of Willis and his trademarks, but it’s never to the point of where it comes off as a Frank Caliendo impression or anything. It feels real and that’s just another sign that JGL can do no wrong. Trust me, already forgot about Premium Rush.

As for Bruce Willis himself, the guy does an awesome job in a gritter and meaner role than we have seen from him in the longest time and it’s a welcome back to form for the guy because it’s been awhile. What most people will be surprised about is how Willis and JGL don’t really spend all that much time together in the film. All of their scenes take place with them rarely being near one another, and the only time where they actually do come in-contact for the first, and only real time, is this magnificent diner scene that reminded me of Heat in a way. Where Johnson goes with both of these characters though, is what really intrigued me because instead of having Willis be some, old, crotchety mentor to JGL’s young dude ways, it’s sort of the other way around where we see a guy with some level of humanity and heart, and another that just seems to have lost it after all of this time in crime and killing.

Another cast-member/character that people will be mainly surprised about is Emily Blunt as Sara, the gun-toting, tough farmer-chick that JGL hangs with for a little while. Some will be surprised to see Blunt in such a rough and ragged role for a gal that has been in many rom-coms as of late, but the surprise is well-deserved considering this girl really seems like she has something to her that works and really takes us by storm. Her character has an arc that didn’t really make me cry or love her character any more than I already did, but I like how Blunt made this character one that you feel could kick somebody’s ass when she had to, yet, still be very vulnerable at times, as well. It’s a performance that shows she’s got more to her than just looking pretty and being witty, and I look forward to seeing what type of direction this role takes her career in now.

Consensus: Though it’s not as emotionally-stimulating as some may, or may not be expecting, Looper is still very original and different in it’s own way of story-telling, character-development, and it’s numerous plot twists that really make you wonder just what the hell is going to happen at the end of this story.

8.5/10=Matinee!! 

Hart’s War (2002)

Yippie Kay Yay Nazi!

Lieutenant Tommy Hart (Colin Farrell) is a second year law student who is enlisted as an officer’s aide in World War II due to his father’s political pull. When he is captured and thrown into a German prisoner of war camp, top ranking Colonel William McNamara (Bruce Willis) assigns him to defend Lieutenant Lincoln Scott (Terrence Howard), an African-American POW accused of murdering a fellow white prisoner.

Everything from the poster, to the trailers, and even to the title may have you think that this is a slam-bang action, war flick filled with none other than John McClane at the fore-front. Problem is, it’s more like 12 Angry Men filled with Nazis. Don’t get too hyped up though, not as cool as it sounds.

What this film does and does will is that it has three different parts to it: it’s war movie, it’s a courtroom drama, and it’s also a racism-movie as well. All that may sound like a little bit too much of a jumble right there but surprisingly, the film doesn’t loose itself too much that’s worth crying about. The first 15 minutes starts out where Farrell is getting interrogated and held captive for questioning, then it turns into this “prisoner of war” movie where it almost seems like a “jail house” flick, with all of your random assortments of characters here and there scattered throughout the camp. Then the racism card comes out, as soon as the murder goes down and that’s where the courtroom ish starts to take place but there is still some stuff brewing underneath it all which always kept my interest.

As much as this film would have liked to focus on one subject and one plot only, it still finds its way to get all of these other stories going and place them in this film somehow which made my interest seem to never wan. Beneath the courtroom drama you have a racism issue, beneath the racism issue you have a Lt. who wants to prove himself, beneath the Lt. who wants to prove himself you have the superior officer who wants to come out on top, and beneath the superior officer who wants to come out on top you have WWII and everything else that came with it. Sounds like a real combustion of things going on here, which it is, but it still kept my interest as this story started to develop more and I realized more about these characters and just what all of their intentions were.

Problem with a lot of this film though was that I felt like the screenplay really lead it down in so many damn ways that bummed me out. It really did. The racial issue is a very important one to be brought up and is actually talked about in a very sensitive way here (even though the “N” word does get splashed around quite a lot) but sometimes it could get so heavy-handed with what it was trying to say, I felt like I was talking to Reverend Al Sharpton or something. The black man they are accusing here is practically in the film, just to give off speeches and montages about his race, what he’s going to do with his life, and all that yadda yadda yadda. I don’t mind when a film wants to throw me some racial themes and issues out there to further enhance the story and make it more important than it has any right to be, but maybe there was too much of that and less of something else that may have made some importance as well. Can’t say what it is, but it’s there.

As much as I’m able to let loose of some logic just for the sake of being entertained by a flick, there are times when there’s just too much logic to let loose. First of all, since these soldiers were all in a POW camp, why the hell were they allowed their on theater, let alone, allowed to even hold a court session on the campgrounds. I’m an American so it’s obvious who I’m rooting for in the end, but don’t you think that if I was a German Commander that I would at least try to punish the enemy that I was facing? Maybe if I was a ruthless German Commander from a WWII movie I would, but I guess that’s just the logic I have when it comes to stuff like this.

Also, why the hell would a German Commander get so lovely and overly nice to his prisoners? I could understand if you wanted to humor the prisoners from time-to-time and have a little piece of shits and gigs here and there but inviting them in for drinks to shit the shit is sort of pushing it and a little too far fetched for my taste. Then again, Hans Landa was pretty nice and look what happened to him….oh wait! Nevermind!

The film is high-lighted as a Bruce Willis vehicle and even though he is a big character in this flick, he definitely isn’t the main center of it. That honor is actually given to Colin Farrell as Tommy Hart, who gives a very rich and mature performance from a dude that, at the time, was really starting to grow up and realize what dramatic skills he really had behind all of those bad-boy looks. The role that Willis does play in this film is definitely not one of his best because I honestly think that he is terribly miscast here as William McNamara. Yeah, Willis can play tough and rigid like no otha motha and he has his moments here as well, but his stiff demeanor and limited vocal range doesn’t fit this overly ambiguous character that seemed to always be up to something, even though we never really find out. Somebody else could have definitely fit this role a lot better than Willis, but I think the film just needed him so they could use his name for advertisement. Understandable.

Terrence Howard gives off a very good performance here as the soldier on trial, William McNamara, and gives one speech by the end of the flick that feels very genuine and also shows why Howard is one of the better African-American actors working today. There’s so many emotions in this guy’s system as he’s telling this speech that it actually makes you think twice about what you’re seeing and hearing. Howard definitely bumps this flick up but once again, it was the screenplay that kind of brought him down.

Consensus: Hart’s War has good performances from it’s cast, features some rich stories dealing with a lot of different issues, and is an entertaining enough of a war flick to hold you over, but with it’s heavy-handed approach and unbelievable writing, the film sort of feels like a fable made for inspiration, rather than an actual story that could have possibly taken place.

6/10=Rental!!

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Finally, they got tired of the retirement home and decided to fight back.

Hot off their latest mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his ragtag team of mercenaries are pulled right back in the game when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) presents them with a new assignment. It should be easy—to travel to Albania and retrieve a briefcase carrying a blueprint of a plutonium mine. The villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), isn’t exactly quaking in his boots, but he probably should be. There is exactly no chance whatsoever Barney will allow him to escape with his life.

I know I’m going to catch a lot of hot water for this but I actually liked the first Expendables. I thought it had awesome action, an ensemble cast of action stars that I missed seeing on the big-screen, and provided me with enough laughs to even everything else out. Yeah, the story may have been terribly lame and the action wasn’t non-stop, but at least it was fun and that’s more than I can say about plenty other Summer, action blockbusters that came out in 2010. Thankfully, with more back-up and some new faces, this sequel does a whole lot better and keeps everything moving in just the right way.

Since being writer, director, producer, and the main star of the original one proved to be too much for him, Stallone decided to take it easy on this one and allow Simon West to take over the director duties and what a great decision that was! Going into this film, I wanted action, action, action, and well, more action, and that is exactly what I got from West’s direction. In the first 10 minutes of this flick, we get a huge, loud, and explosive set piece that shows the guys running around, shooting and killing people while dropping corny one-liners for fun and to be honest, it got me in the mood for what I was about to get for the rest of the movie. It was also a surprise to see a lot of wide shots used for the action as well as some nifty editing tricks to where we could actually the action as it happened.

There is a story to be had here, but in all honesty, who gives a shit about that when you got these guys! There’s a whole lot of mayhem to be seen here and everybody here takes total and complete advantage of that and makes this flick seem like it was a lot more deserved in the action department, than the first one. I wanted loud, insane, crazy, and intense action and for the most part, West delivered on that and sort of gave me the old-school action movie feeling I wanted with the first one but instead, only got here once he put his magical touch on it. It also helps that these guys seem like they’re all having the times of their lives making this movie, and you can’t help but feel the same exact thing and join in on the festivities. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I got and for that, I am very thankful.

However, as fun and action-packed as this movie may have been, there were still some quibbles I had with it in that department. All of the action seemed to happen with just guns and explosives. We do actually get a couple of fist-fights here and there, but it seemed like they cheated out on that mainly because the guys are getting a little too old to be flying around, simulating beating the crap out of one another. I guess after Stallone broke his neck during filming in the first one, they decided to settle down on that aspect, but it still worked none the less despite all of my bitching.

You also can’t help but laugh unintentionally at this film at times, too. There is a story here so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much but where it was going, how it was going, and why it was going there all seemed a bit cheap for my tastes and it gets very sentimental at one part, for which I didn’t even really care about. Let me just say this without spoiling anything, a character gets killed off in the beginning and it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t make a difference one bit. It sort of just happens and we don’t care which is kind of a bummer considering these are characters and performers we should love and care about, especially when their lives may be in one degree of danger. That rarely happens in action movies like these but let’s just forget about those conventions and try to suspend reality for a bit.

The ensemble for the first flick was great, but this one, well, it’s even better where we finally get to see some of the most iconic and popular action stars in one, big, action orgy. It’s a pretty neat thing to see, especially when they are all at the top of their game as well. Sylvester Stallone does a great job as the core of the film, and still looks fit and clean to the point of where you could imagine him not only having the brains, but also the guns (both kinds of guns) to kick anybody’s ass; Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, and it’s probably the best type of role he can play out there and that’s all that matters to me; Dolph Lundgren was hilarious and steals probably half of the scenes he’s in just being the normal, goofy, Swedish dude we all know and sometimes love him for; Nan Yu brings some estrogen to the mix and does a fine job of holding her own when it comes to kicking ass and taking names; Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all back for what seem to be extended cameos, but still get the chance to mow down some mothaeffa’s and sprinkle out some awesome one-liners that show them exactly why they were so requested for this movie; and let’s not forget about Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said about that.

Everybody else that I didn’t mention is pretty much in the background but still does their own thing, which is good, but the real star of this whole cast is probably the ultimate return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a major, action blockbuster. It’s been awhile since Van Damme has been in anything this big before and it’s a great return-t0-form for this dude because he still does all of the same awesome shit that we loved him for before. He’s still got the signature kicks in him, still oozes the charisma that makes him such a watchable presence in the first place, still is in great shape, and still can play somebody that we hate so damn much, but yet, we can’t get enough of. In my opinion, Van Damme stole the show for me and I hope that this gets his name out there once again and brings him back to the major, Hollywood blockbusters he at one point owned every time.

Consensus: While it doesn’t win any points in its character development, emotional story, or incredibly original writing, The Expendables 2 wins mucho points in providing plenty of kick-ass action, a look at some of the greatest action stars in the biz, and a fun time at the movie theaters that gives us one last bang for the Summer. Sucks to say it, but it’s just about over people and what a way to go out.

8/10=Matinee!!

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Wes Anderson’s mind is finally a fun place to be at again.

Moonrise Kingdom centers on two 12 year-olds (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) who fall in love and decide run away together into the wilderness. Naturally, the local community frantically scrambles to find them before a violent storm hits shore.

For awhile now, it seems like Wes Anderson has really started losing any credit he’s ever gotten since his debut, Bottle Rocket. Mainly, the reason for that is because his style is just overly-quirky, to the point of where you don’t feel like you’re actually watching real-life human beings, you’re just watching a bunch of twee characters made from Anderson’s sketches. However, that all changes here but at the same time, doesn’t change all that much. Which is very strange considering it’s probably my favorite from him since The Royal Tenenbaums.

This is probably Anderson’s best-looking flick he has ever done but it’s also with the same style he’s been using for his whole career, it’s just that it works so well with the story. All of the trademarks from Anderson’s direction are here in this flick, but the difference here that sets it apart from all of his other, beautiful-looking movies is that this one is set in the 60’s. The bright colors, sets, costumes, and camera-tricks that Anderson pulls out of his pocket all work rather than just seeming like another hipster attempt at being “cool” because of how he sets it in the 60’s. 60’s was a time for fun, relaxing, and being yourself and Anderson totally taps into that mind-set with just how gorgeous he makes this film look and even if you don’t like Anderson films (and trust me, there are plenty out there who absolutely despise the hell out of him), you can still sit there and just gaze at the beautiful portrait Anderson has on-display here.

Anderson always has beautiful films, no surprise there, but what makes this one so different is that he has a great script to give us something else to sink our teeth into. Anderson has a very dead-pan way of comedic timing but it’s put to great use here just because the film is so damn funny. As usual, you have to look out for little sight gags here and there but it’s the fact that this film continues to get more and more goofy as it goes on, that makes you feel like you’re having the time of your life. There’s a certain unabashed “fun” feel to this film that had me entertained so much but it’s more about how the story made me feel, rather than what it made me do.

This is probably Anderson’s most innocent piece of work to date, and with good reason because when you have a story about two runaway, little kids being together and falling in love, how can you not get a little cutesy? There are so many moments here that are so pleasant to watch because you really feel something for these two kids whenever they are together, and you want them to be happy, you want them to never grow-up and be old, angry people like Suzy’s parents, and you just want them to live their lives together, forever. I know it all sounds uber cheesy and lame, but this story really bring you into to its sweetness and Anderson takes full advantage of that showing us that the outside world for these two, is just not a fun or happy place to be, especially together. It was a story that actually reminded me a lot of my little crushes I had on some chickity-doo-da’s when I was little tike and made me feel young again, just watching how happy they were being able to connect to somebody in their lives. It’s some great stuff to see up on-screen and it’s a real surprise that Wes Anderson almost had me close to tears by the end of it all. “Close to tears” is what I said, people! Don’t worry, he didn’t get me just yet.

The reason why you love these kids together so much, is because the performances from Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are so damn good that I was even surprised to hear that this was their first film-roles ever. Gilman has this nerdy, but endearing look to him that makes him easy to like especially when he starts acting all cool and tough, while he’s trying to protect his “girl” from the cruel outside world. While Hayward is absolutely great as this somewhat disturbed girl, that seems like she would most likely be one of those emo freaks, had she been born 30 years later. They both seem so natural with each other, which really shocked me because they have to do some pretty “intimate things” together that would more than likely have some kids turn their heads and go, “ewwww coootieeeeesss!!”. However, that’s not either of these kids and they’re definitely a perfect fit for one another and I hope that they both get some real, bright futures for themselves because I think they deserve it with the work they put out here.

They’re the real stars of this flick, but everybody else is pretty damn good, too. Bill Murray is great as the dead-pan, always sad daddy of Suzy; Frances McDormand is fun to watch as the very messed-up mom of Suzie (also, Hayward looked a little bit like a younger version of McDormand, just a little bit though); Edward Norton is a whole lot of fun as the cheesy Scout Master Ward, and totally had me by surprise by how spot-on his comedic timing was considering this was the guy who got nominated for an Oscar where he actually curb stomped some dude (doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would have me really laughing at all); Tilda Swinton is evil and bitchy as Social Services, then again, what other kind of character would she play; and Jason Schwartzman also pops-up for about 5 minutes as Cousin Ben, but is still a lot of fun.

Actually, the most surprising piece of good work here was probably done by Bruce Willis as the sad and lonely guy that searches all over for these kids, Captain Sharp. Willis has been so many damn action roles as of late that so many people almost forget about how great of a “dramatic” actor this guy can be at times and he totally surprised me with the depth he was able to go through with this sad-sack of a character. He’s not really all that tough, he’s not really all that happy, and he’s really not at all like John McClane in the least bit. All of which, are a great thing and I hope this shows that Willis has more to him than just shouting out “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker!”.

If there was one complaint I had to throw out from this whole movie it would have to be Bob Balaban as the narrator. The guy opens up the film and is a funny joke, but every time he comes on, for some reason just bothered the hell out of me and it seemed like it was a joke that went on too long. Not a huge problem by any means, but any time the guy showed up, I seemed to have gotten more annoyed.

Consensus: Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s welcome back to being a top-notch writer/director, and with good reason. The ensemble all bring out great work, including the little kiddie leads, the writing is hilarious in its subtle, dead-pan way, and the story itself will drag you in with its sweet innocence. Classic Anderson and I hope he’s back to stay for good.

9/10=Full Price!!

Alpha Dog (2006)

Wiggers gone wild.

Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) controls the drugs on the well-manicured streets of his neighborhood. Where Johnny goes, the party, the girls and his loyal gang follow. When he’s double-crossed over missing deal money by raging hothead Jake (Ben Foster), Johnny and his gang impulsively kidnap Jake’s little brother, Zack (Anton Yelchin), holding him as a marker and heading to Palm Springs. With no parents in sight, they grow used to having the kid around, and Zack enjoys an illicit summer fantasy of drinking, girls and new experiences.

Writer/director Nick Cassavetes seems like he’s always trying to not be known as “the legendary directors son”, but it’s almost too hard to get by that. But with films like this, I have a feeling he can do it right.

The first hour of this film doesn’t really have anything going on other than show all of these asshole teenage kids, doing stupid and annoying teenage kid stuff. It was kind of annoying since we have all seen this done time and time before with no real originality here other than some kids drinking, smoking weed, and cursing up a storm like nobody’s business.

However, after the first hour the film starts to pick up and I think this is where Cassavetes really starts to show signs of a great director as well. Since this was based on a true story, the film is told as if it were a police investigation, watching this whole film as if it were looking for details, witnesses, and just the truth on what actually happened.

The script itself is kind of uneven but overall I found myself chilled with not knowing just what was going to happen next, and just how damn evil and dumb certain people can be. The whole time this film never loses sight of the people who it’s trying to portray. You get a real sense that these dumb-asses were so shallow in their mind-set that they could have easily just let him go back to his mommy and daddy, to then tell them he went off with a girl and got some pootang in the meantime. That plan would have worked but these asses instead let him hang around, get drunk, get high, get some ladies, and overall, just feel free to finally be away from that home of his. I was angry with these people and personally when a film can do that to me, it’s pretty good.

The only problem with this script is that for every chilling and good moment of emotion, there’s an almost unintentional funny moment that this film always seems to find. One of the highlights of this film and probably the best example of unintentional hilarity at it’s finest, is when Foster’s character goes into a party and absolutely beats the shit out of everyone around him, making him almost look like a ninja. The guy does a round-house kick to someones face, gets hit with a bottle then keeps going, and even knocks out a girl there or two. I mean this scene was awesome by how insane it was but it felt out-of-place for this film and was one of the various moments of unintentionally funny moments this film had.

This ensemble cast though, I must say does a pretty good job as well. Ben Foster is insane and crazy as Jake Mazursky, and owns just about every scene he has on screen, but it’s a shame that he has only about 4 or 5 scenes throughout this whole 2 hour film; Emile Hirsch is pretty good as our baby-faced villain, Johnny Truelove, who I actually truly hated; Shawn Hatosy is convincing as Truelove’s little sheep-dog, Elvis; Justin Timberlake gives a surprisingly good performance as Frankie; and Sharon Stone and Bruce Willis just basically are here to chew up scenery as they do so well.

Anton Yelchin is actually amazing in this role as Zack, who has this sort of too sweet voice that makes him seem a little fruity and geeky at first, but instead has you totally feeling so many emotions for him even by the end. Yelchin’s great in this role because honestly shows what a tied-up kid would do if he was able to live a little and just party all the time, without having to worry about parents, responsibility, or grades for that matter. I felt like I was watching an actual kid on-screen the whole time and as it goes on the film gets more and more disturbing.

Let, me also not forget that Olivia Wilde is in this too, showing off some pretty nice boooooobiesss too. And that’s always a watch in my book.

Consensus: Alpha Dog has some genuinely chilling and disturbing moments that are heightened by the whole ensemble cast that’s in this film, but too many times does this film get a little too laughable to take seriously and the characters just weren’t as likable except for two or three maybe.

7/10=Rental!!

The Verdict (1982)

Drinkin’ in the courtrooooooom.

A washed-up, ambulance-chasing attorney (Paul Newman) gets a chance at redemption when his friend (Jack Warden) tosses him an open-and-shut medical malpractice case. But instead of accepting an easy cash settlement, he takes the powerful defendant to court. James Mason plays the opposing counsel, whom his legal adversary calls “The Prince of Darkness”.

Director Sidney Lumet is a favorite of mine and even his films that aren’t amazingly great, are still OK even if they may be nothing new.

This is a courtroom drama that isn’t really all about an up-lifting story that’s high on inspiration and corny lines. It’s more about this guy who actually gains a lot of self-esteem through this one case and has a new out-look on life. Yeah, it still sounds pretty cheesy but I can assure you, farthest thing from really.

The script done by David Mamet is good although it seems too much like a stage play, rather than an actual full-length feature film. However, there are moments where he shows brilliance whether it’s Newman yelling an annoying judge, Newman and his girl getting into a yelling match, or any of the courtroom scenes, Mamet seems like he knows exactly how he wants to say everything, and it works out very well here. With this film, there’s also a portrayal of how dark the legal system can actually be. Sometimes, not all the time, sometimes it’s not all about who’s right or who’s wrong, it’s actually about the money and who is going to get a certain amount for the decisions to be made. I thought this was a pretty bold point to show, and very cool to see in a courtroom drama like this one.

Lumet is also good with his direction here because he uses the slow-burn process well to where the story is built up the whole entire time, to the point where the last 10 minutes of the film keep you on your seat the whole time. Lumet also uses a bunch of silences and awkward pauses in-between all of these conversations these character’s have to give it a real-life feel.

However, the problem with this direction is that I really didn’t feel like this film was actually going anywhere. It didn’t mind the slow-pace because I thought it actually helped the film, but for a long long time I didn’t feel gripped by this story at all. I almost just felt like I was watching Newman do these little lawyers thing-a-ma-jigs here and there and I wasn’t wondering just what was going to happen next. The whole sub-plot with Newman and his lady-friend, played by Lindsay Crouse, I felt was a little weird and didn’t add much to the film other than a really cool scene that I think I already gave away but when you see it, it’s pretty cool I must say.

Paul Newman is very very good in this lead role as Frankie Glavin. Glavin is just a guy who wants to do right but is such a bum and so out of it when it comes to getting this course case done, he feels pressured and almost out-of-sorts. He once had it all, then he soon lost it all, and is now trying to win it all back. This is a great character, and a character that Newman plays so well. Newman’s delivery of his famously stirring closing argument, is a career highlight and probably my favorite scene from this film, other than the one I came close to mentioning. There is also another good performance from James Mason as Ed Concannon, and he practically made me want to punch his face in. That is a good thing too. Also, be on the look-out for a young Bruce Willis in the background of the film by the end. That bastard always shows up in the most random places!

Consensus: The Verdict has good performances, especially Paul Newman and a good script that keeps the story going with it’s slow-pace, but it doesn’t really start to gain momentum, until the last act where something just didn’t feel like I was taken along with this story.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Bandits (2001)

Second best bank robbers, behind Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.

Two bank robbers, charming Joseph (Bruce Willis) and neurotic Terry (Billy Bob Thornton), battle over the affections of Kate (Cate Blanchett), a housewife they kidnapped before one of their big heists. Gaining notoriety as the “Sleepover Bandits,” the partners then force a reality TV show host to cover their 15 minutes of fame while they go on a crime spree — Kate in tow.

Director Barry Levinson usually does a lot of  good films that are all very talky so it was kind of cool to see him touch a thriller, with some talking there too. However, it’s not the best thing he’s done.

The script here is at times very good and other times, just plain weak. I liked how the film doesn’t take itself way too seriously with all the robberies and there is a lot of funny things that are said and done which will surprisingly have you laughing. It’s sort of like a combination of The Odd Couple and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and it surprisingly works well. Let’s not also forget the little twists and turns that keep this film entertaining especially when the action is happening as well.

The problem with the script here is that the film is about 2 hours long and the script can’t really keep itself going for that long. By the end, there were many dry spots where they started to rely too much on slapstick and just weak comedy. The film also acts a little cute by showing barely any blood while the robberies take place, but that’s just dumb because blood or no blood, there’s nothing at all about robbery and kidnapping that’s wholesome.

However, the main reason this film actually works is because the cast is so damn likable. Bruce Willis is awesome as the straight-man, Joe Blake. Willis practically plays the same guy in every film ever since his Die Hard days but it never stops working for him and here it works even more because while the whole film is a tad goofy, he always plays it straight and never seems out-of-place. Billy Bob Thornton is a riot as Terry Collins, who is so up-tight about everything that it’s almost too laughable to be taken seriously. Thornton does a great job here playing a character that some people would usually get irritated of quickly, but thanks to Thornton’s appeal, the character is the best in the whole film. Cate Blanchett is sexy as well as very good as Kate Wheeler and doesn’t let the guy’s steal her spotlight one bit and has many funny moments although I think the little love triangle was kind of stupid. But it brought more the story so I can’t be hating that much.

Consensus: Though it’s script may start to get weaker as the film’s last act starts to come, Bandits is still very funny and entertaining because of it’s playful feel to the material, and the amazing trio of leads, that make these characters so much more likable than they had any right to be.

6.5/10=Rental!!

The Fifth Element (1997)

If the future is this crazy, they better start to get a bigger police force.

Cabbie Bruce Willis is a regular guy … and the universe’s last hope for survival as he helps the embodiment of love and life (Milla Jovovich) fight the darkness unleashed by the crazed Zorg (Gary Oldman).

This is your average sci-fi premise where one guy must save the universe from an evil dude who’s trying to take it over, but this is one of the more original sci-fi films out there.

What I liked most about this film was the look of it all, mainly thanks to French director Luc Besson. There’s a lot of great colors here, that add great detail to all the crazy looking set pieces and will probably take you into the 23rd century Earth. I loved how I didn’t feel all depressed looking at this future, and I more looked at it and went: “This is some crazy shit”. But it was all in the best way possible.

I also found myself having a ball here with the electricity that was in the air with this film and it’s script. There are a lot of awesome action sequences that keep this film moving at a fun-filled pace, but also there is plenty of humor that really contributes to the film’s overall tone since it doesn’t really take itself all way too seriously. Many times, I actually found myself laughing when I least expected it, but sadly the film seems a bit of let-down when it comes to its plot.

At a run-time of over 127 minutes you start to feel a bit of a drag within this film. There seems to almost be too much going on, with too many characters, going on at the same time and overall just has this a little bit too messy. It all leads up to one story-line but there was many things going on here, that I think could have been taking out for the sake of a better ending, because the ending they have here kind of stinks. I think the main problem with this film is that the whole film is pretty goofy, and over-the-top, that when they tried to get serious and make a big emotional ending it didn’t quite work because you couldn’t really believe it all that well mainly because it doesn’t fit. The ending just sort of happens, and kind of seemed cheesy to me, which was a huge bummer since all up to that I was having a pretty damn good time.

Bruce Willis is at it again playing one of his regular guy embroiled in extraordinary circumstances roles as Korben Dallas, and it really never seems to get old. He’s great at being subtle, but then totally kicking ass when he has to. This is the role that put Milla Jovovich on the map with that crazy-looking red hair, and I’m not going to lie it’s a great role as Leeloo. I liked how they made her actually kind of cute in this film, and had us really route for her the whole time as this film was going on. Gary Oldman is doing his usual crazy antics as our bad-guy, Zorg, and with hair like that you can see why he’s so pissed. Ian Holm is good as Father Cornelius, and let us not forget the always funny Chris Tucker playing a flamboyant impersonation of Prince as Ruby Rhod. Spot that double entendre.

Consensus: The overall look, pacing, and feel of this movie has you laughing and having a good time, but The Fifth Element fails to go that full mile when it’s script starts to fall apart by the last act.

7/10=Rental!!