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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Cam Gigandet

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

It takes one to ruin a village. And about six more so blow it the hell up.

Looking to mine for gold, greedy industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) has been taking over small towns, wiping out any man, woman, or child who comes into his way. Why? Because he’s an absolute savage and does not give a single hell what anybody else thinks, says, or does – as long as he’s rich and powerful, then there’s no issues. Eventually, he seizes control of the Old West town of Rose Creek, wiping out quite a few of the townsfolk there, too, leading some residents, like Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) desperate and in need of some help. That’s when they discover bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), who is more than up to the task, but may need a little bit of help from some talented, incredibly violent pals of his. That’s when he recruits the likes of a gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), a sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), an assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), all to take down this Bogue, even if they have to get over their differences and whatnot at first – something that’s actually quite easy when they all have a common enemy.

Possibly the beginning of a great friendship? Let's hope.

Possibly the beginning of a great friendship? Let’s hope.

The original Magnificent Seven isn’t a perfect movie, to be honest. Like a lot of other movies from its time, sure, it’s dated, but it’s also pretty slow and takes a little too long to get going, when all it seems to do is focus on such icons like Steve McQueen and Yul Brenner measuring dicks and beating their chests like true alpha males. Sure, that’s some bit of entertainment in and of itself, but after nearly an hour of that, there needs to be something to help speed it all along, which is why when the action does eventually come around in that movie, it’s glorious and a healthy reminder of what sort of magic can happen when you have a lot of bad-asses, picking up guns and shooting other bad-asses.

So yeah, in that sense, it’s a good movie, but not a perfect one.

And the same goes for the remake, which for some reason, takes even longer to get going. Yet, for some reason, I didn’t mind that as much here, as it’s very clear that director Antoine Fuqua, is just enjoying his time with this cast and these characters so much, that to jump right to the action where most of them may go down in a blaze full of bullets, would almost be a disservice to them all. Fuqua isn’t the best director out there, regardless of the fact that he drove Denzel Washington an Oscar with Training Day, but when he decides to settle all of his crazy tendencies down, believe it or not, he’s actually a pretty solid director. He may love the blood, gore, guns, and women a whole lot more than the actual characters themselves, but he does something smart here in that he keeps the character moments here for safe keeping.

Of course, too, it also helps that Fuqua himself has such a solid cast to help him out, with his pal Washington back in action as the sly, but cool and dangerous Sam Chisolm. Washington may seem like a weird fit, but he works it all out perfectly, showing that he’s the clear-headed individual of the whole group, while also proving that he’s not afraid to lose his cool and shoot some mofo’s down, too. Chris Pratt is also a bundle of joy to watch Faraday, showing off another sense of cool and charm that works in his character’s favor, as well as for him, too. It’s nice to see Pratt, even after something like Jurassic World, that didn’t allow for him to even crack a smile, well, get a chance for him to do that and prove that there’s also something a little more sinister to him, as well.

Yeah, where's Eli Wallach? Oh, never mind.

Yeah, where’s Eli Wallach? Oh, never mind.

The rest of the cast and characters don’t get nearly as much attention, but they’re all still fine, nonetheless.

Ethan Hawke has some interesting moments as Robicheaux, showing a serious side effect to all of the gun-slinging and killing that he talks so famously about; Vincent D’Onofrio is goofy and weird as Jack Horne, a big bear of a man, but it’s right up his alley; Byung-hun Lee is cold and dangerous Billy Rocks, even if he doesn’t have a whole lot to say; Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is probably the weakest of the crew as Vasquez, never quite getting the chance to really show off any charm or excitement; and Martin Sensmeier, while barely uttering a line as the Red Harvest, is still a pretty intimidating figure nonetheless and it works.

The only shame about the movie is the inclusion of both Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard. Nothing against either performer, who both do fine jobs here, but it also feels like they may have been a little tacked-on. Bennett literally has a leading role here and honestly, a part of me wanted to believe that she’d be one of the so-called Seven, all sexist issues aside, but sadly, that doesn’t happen and she’s lead to just be the smart gal who, yes, can take care of herself and yes, can shoot a gun, but also doesn’t feel like she’s that part of the crew. And Sarsgaard, enjoying his time as a campy villain, doesn’t have many scenes to show off all of his evil tendencies and instead, seems like an afterthought in the movie’s mind; so much time is spent on the Seven, their dynamic and their training for this battle, that the movie forgets the actual threat himself, which is Sarsgaard’s Bogue.

Still, the final battle itself is solid and saves any sort of bad feelings going into this ending. It’s bloody, brutal and surprisingly, unpredictable, with a few people biting the dust that you wouldn’t expect to. It’s nice to see a mainstream movie not afraid to take off some famous people’s heads, while, at the same time, still have the chance to offer up a sequel in the near-future.

Would I see it? Probably. Just give me a better next time.

And no, I’m not talking about Marvel.

Consensus: With a talented and more than capable cast, the Magnificent Seven works as an entertaining, sometimes incredibly violent Western that’s a lot like the original, but also feels more concerned with characters this time, even if the villain himself doesn’t appear all that much of a threat.

7 / 10

Yeah, I'd turn around, too.

Yeah, I’d turn around, too.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Pandorum (2009)

A title that I heard this movie say about 30 times throughout the whole film.

Upon rousing themselves from hyper-sleep, Payton (Dennis Quaid) and Bower (Ben Foster), a pair of crewmen assigned to work on a spacecraft, discover startling gaps in their collective memory — including who they are and what, exactly, their mission was in the first place. The plot thickens when they realize they’re not the only ones on board the ship.

I was very surprised by this film because I rarely remember when it first came out, and the posters did nothing to help me get ready what to expect either. Thankfully, I had a good surprise with this film.

Space-horror films are always the best because they really get that type of claustrophobic feeling in and director Christian Alvart brings that here very well. I always felt like there was no way out for these characters, and that they were always in danger almost every single turn they took. Alvart’s story he creates here is something that starts off very mysterious and weird, but then turns into this action and tension-filled horror flick that kept me wondering what was going to happen next.

I like how this film had a whole bunch of confusion that lead me to wonder why all of these things were happening, and how they all happened. These questions are left open for a good majority of the film and the way Alvart leaves it like this is a very brave thing to do considering that most of this would be very hard for most viewers to just stick with, especially if they don’t understand just what the hell is going on.

The only problem with Alvart’s story here is that there are an increasingly large bunch of plot holes that come with this film and its story, which are hard to ignore really. I didn’t understand as to why if these characters knew they were going to lose their memories once they got shipped away in their pods, they didn’t just leave a couple of little sticky-notes to have themselves be reminded of certain information that would seem very important for when they finally “woke up”.

Another thing I didn’t understand was why these ships would just leave one little button for somebody just to press and mess every little thing up. The first crew of the ship in this film go crazy, and one person actually presses the button to destroy the ship after he goes incredibly nuts, or suffers as they say, “Pandorum”. Plenty of submarines have this button, but it’s really, really hard to get to but why in the hell would they just leave that button for someone to easily press for something a whole lot bigger, and something that is apparently being used for a very important mission. Hell, a mission that is apparently going to impact the rest of mankind. There are more plot holes to be found but these were the two that bothered me the most of all.

I was able to get past these plot holes though because not only of Alvart’s story and the way he tells it, but with its very detailed and artistic direction he gave it. A lot of sci-fi films keep their spaceships usually gritty and disgusting to look at, but the way this spaceship looks is actually very convincing and what a spaceship may actually look like if it were going to be around in today’s world. The sets are real and the way all of the colors, some dark and some bright, actually blend in so well with the moody atmosphere this film was given.

Even though there is some really good-looking CG used in this film, I still couldn’t help but get bothered by the CG that was used on these monsters, or creatures, or whatever the hell you want to call them. These damn things are here just for the sake of being terribly gratuitous and disgusting, and look less lie actual creatures and more like lizards stuck through a condom. Yes, I did just say lizards stuck through a condom but once you see this film, you’ll know what I mean. Lesson learned here is that making your monsters completely and utterly disgusting, doesn’t make them anymore scary.

The cast here is very small but all do pretty well with what they are all given. Dennis Quaid gets top-billing for this film and is pretty good even though at the beginning, his character is just limited to staying in the control-room but soon gets more and more involved and that’s when we see Quaid’s chops really come out. The real star for this film is actually Ben Foster playing Bower, a guy who does everything in his will-power to find out just what the hell is going and does whatever he can to get out of this place safe. This guy can really make you believe in him and seem like he’s always one step-ahead of all of the baddies in this film, which is what Foster really can do well with any film he is in. Cam Gigandet was really annoying and bad as this other dude that comes later in the film, but he’s only here for a small bit. I still don’t know what so many people see in this little shit.

Consensus:Pandorum has its fair share of flaws and plot-holes that may bother some, but the story is mysterious and tense enough to keep any sci-fi die-hard watching, and wondering just what is going to happen next.

7/10=Rental!!

Easy A (2010)

I know too many chicks that this movie could be based on.

Ambitious student Olive (Emma Stone) decides to boost her popularity by pretending to be the school slut. As the school’s swirling rumor mill increases both her notoriety and her finances, Olive enjoys her newfound status but eventually must decide which is more important: popularity or self-esteem.

I think my favorite part of this film was it’s script. Being in high school myself, it was very easy to relate to some of the topics that this film was poking fun at, and a lot of the stuff they say is actually true of how high school actually can be. Times have changed since the good old John Hughes days, but the jokes remain the same. Now, while none of the jokes actually had me bursting into tears while laughing, there were some great one-liners and even some very clever and well-constructed jokes that were brought full circle at the end that were just great. I think I found this to be a lot more wittier than most teen comedies we get about 5 times a year, and for that I had a good time with it.

My gripe with this film was that it was kind of hard to take seriously since this subject would be such a huge talked about thing. In this age of webcams and sexting, virginity is not something you would expect from a high school senior. So I found this kind of unbelievable that this one chick that had sex, would be the main talk of the town.

There is also a slight problem with this film and it trying to get its point across. The film wants to have it both ways, because it wants to be smarter than your average teen comedy, but it still wants to show it’s female star dancing around and wearing slutty clothes, and somehow it doesn’t work well. It either needed to be about girl pretending to be a slut, or how judgmental Christian high-schoolers can be, but it can’t be both.

Emma Stone has spent much of her career being the best thing in bad movies, but now she’s given the chance to actually lead a film, and I must say she does a great job with it. I cannot think of another young actress in Hollywood who would have been able to pull off, and carry this role in the whole movie like Stone did. She’s kind of got a niche for herself playing a young girl, who’s wise beyond her years and that signature snappiness just always brings out the best lines. The rest of the ensemble cast does fine as well. Amanda Bynes plays the “Jesus freak” Marianne, and at first has a couple of funny scenes, but then her character starts to get over-played and becomes somewhat annoying. But I don’t think this is Bynes’ fault, as the film relies too much on her character for humor. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci seem almost too sarcastic to be actual parents, but I found their scenes to almost be the funniest here and work so well. There’s also many other great little notices from the likes such as Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, and Cam Gigandet, but the film doesn’t have them show up enough, and I wish the film actually gave more time to these acts rather than some dumb plot-line with the Christians. Still, I still did like this ensemble.

Consensus: Easy A may over-exaggerate it’s plot, but the witty screenplay that’s smarter than most teen comedies, and the perfect performance from Emma Stone make this a flawed, but entertaining love letter to the John Hughes films.

8/10=Matinee!!

Never Back Down (2008)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.5/10=Rental!!