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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Chris Evans

Gifted (2017)

Math is hard. But man, it sure can bring families together.

Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a single man raising a child prodigy named Mary (Mckenna Grace), who also happens to be his niece. His sister/Mary’s mother, unfortunately, killed herself due to issues with the family and it’s because of this that Frank has taken it upon himself to ensure that Mary doesn’t turn out to have too much pressure put on her. However, she’s incredibly brilliant, is very good at math, and doesn’t just know it, but also allows for everyone around her to know it, too. It’s both a blessing, as well as a curse – a blessing because she’s smart and will always be successful, but a curse because going to the public school that she’s at, doesn’t really challenge her. Like, at all. Eventually, people around Mary begin to take notice and worry that she’s not being challenged as much as she should. Enter Frank’s mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), who sees it as her task to help get Mary the right treatment she deserves for her genius brain and ensure that her career is an accomplished and masterful one, much like hers was.

You can find out what the square-root of 3,005 is, but you still can’t read? What child prodigy you are!

Everything about the way Gifted looks, feels, hell, even sounds, just brings gags to my throat. It’s not that I don’t mind these schmaltzy tales of hot, attractive people battling happiness and love, but it’s that so often, they aren’t done correctly. Of course, Nicholas Sparks is definitely to be blamed for that, but it goes one step further than that – it almost feels like these kinds of movies are bound to fail, right from the instance that they are announced, filmed, and released to the wide public. The only kind of schmaltz that seems to work nowadays is the pure Oscar-bait that cares about as tears, as much as they care about votes, which means that they want people to cry, by any means necessary.

And then, like I’ve said before, there’s Gifted, a movie that should have absolutely despised and hated, yet, somehow, came away thinking, “Man, why can’t all these kinds of movies be like this?”

Which is to say that, yes, Gifted works. Is it a perfect movie? Nope. Is it an original one? Not really. Is it still kind of schmaltzy and manipulative? Sort of, yes. But everything about it still kind of works in the way that you wouldn’t expect it to. For one, it actually has a heart and soul that you can feel, not just because it’s telling you to feel it, but because the characters are so lovely, the relationships are so well-drawn, and yes, the actual story is worth getting wrapped-up in.

It’s not a very complex tale, but it didn’t need to be; Sparks’ movies are always so bogged down in silly twists, like alcoholic, abusive ex-husbands, or plot-contrived cancer-scares, that after awhile, it’s nice to get a movie that gives us characters, a conflict, and allows it all to play out, without trying too hard to add too much into the rest of the mix. Director Marc Webb and screenwriter Nick Flynn know what they’re working with here and because of that, it doesn’t feel like they’re taking any cheap shots.

Essentially, what we see is what we get.

Don’t worry, everyone: Octavia is just the sassy black neighbor. Not the sassy black nanny. For once.

Of course, that sounds so easy when put like that, but honestly, it’s just nice to get one of these movies. Flynn’s screenplay is solid in that every character has at least one funny-quip to use at their disposal, but everyone still feels like well-rounded, three-dimensional characters, not made out to be god-like creatures, of fire-breathing devil-worshipers – everyone here is a human being, and in that sense, they’re all complicated. Flynn doesn’t forget to overdue the cute nature of his story, but hey, it’s not cloying, which is all that matters.

And Webb, while no doubt trying to get back in his good graces after the two Spider-Man movies, finds himself giving us a smart, humane tale about humans again. Sure, it’s nowhere near (500) Days of Summer, but then again, not many movies are; it’s just nice to have him back, directing original flicks for a change. Hopefully, he’s here to stay and not ready to get sucked up by the machine that is known as Hollywood.

Because what better way to stick it to the man than have your movie star Captain America himself, Chris Evans?

No, I kid. Regardless, Evans is good here in that he’s his usual charming, snappy-self, but there’s also more to him than meets the surface; the relaxed, chill nature he gives off, eventually starts to show signs of sadness that’s deeper than you’d think. Evans has been looking for a hit outside of the Marvel universe for quite some time and it’s nice to see him finally get it here. Of course, though, the movie is definitely Mckenna Grace’s for the taking and as Mary, she’s quite great. Sure, the character is a type, in that she’s precocious as hell and seems like a 30-year-old trapped inside of a 7-year-old’s body, but it works because you believe in her as this character. If she ever is annoying, or a bit of a pain, it’s because she’s meant to be and not because the movie thinks that she’s just way too cute for our own good.

She is, surprisingly enough, like a real kid. And we get so very few of them in movies nowadays.

Consensus: As schmaltzy and sappy as it can sometimes get, Gifted also works because it has a heart, well-written script, and most of all, solid ensemble of characters who all feel realized and interesting, despite the eventual conventions of the plot.

7 / 10

Like uncle, like niece. Right?

Photos Courtesy of: SlashfilmThrifty Jinxy, Indiewire

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Street Kings (2008)

Don’t mess with Johnny Utah. Ever.

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a veteran member of the LAPD who has definitely seen better days. While he does still do his job and take down the bad guys that need to be taken down, he also does so by sucking down bottles of vodka. He does this because he is still mourning the loss of his wife and as is such, has alienated a lot of those around him. One person in particular is his former partner, Officer Washington (Terry Crews), who now looks back on his time with Ludlow in disgust. Ludlow knows this and doesn’t like it, which is why he decides that it may be time to get Washington to shut up, before certain people start listening in on to what he has to say. But wouldn’t you know it that when Ludlow does get a chance to shut Washington up, Washington is gunned-down in what happens to be a random corner-store robbery. Feeling some echo of guilt, Ludlow decides to set out and find out who did this to Washington, but unfortunately, the more he digs up, the more dirt begins to show.

That Forest Whitaker eye is not to be messed with.

That Forest Whitaker eye is not to be messed with.

David Ayer can handle these types of dirty, gritty and violent thrillers about corrupt cops and politicians being, well, just that, corrupt. However, there does come a point where eventually, all of the same things that you made your name on, can get to be a bit too old, especially when you’ve got nothing left to say. Sure, a movie like Street Kings should resonate more so now, than it ever has before; police corruption is at an all-time high and people seem to really be demanding questions more than ever, but for some reason, it’s the kind of movie that brings these hard and questionable figures up, without ever seeming to bother to really say much more about it.

Instead, Ayer is more interested in shooting things and throwing blood anywhere he can set his sights to.

That’s fine because Ayer can handle action well. The best parts of Street Kings, actually, are when it’s just a few characters sitting in a room, expecting there to be some violence occurring soon, with their hands firmly on the trigger’s of their guns, not knowing when the other shoe is going to drop and people are going to have to be lit-up. It’s why some of the best moments of Training Day, were the ones where you had no clue exactly what was going to go down, even if you had a general idea.

Problem is, with Training Day and countless other flicks that Ayer has attached his name to, he’s become a tad too conventional. Street Kings feels like the kind of cop flick that would work somewhere back in the mid-90’s – ideas like these weren’t new, but they were still sustainable for entertainment. You could make the argument that Street Kings is sort of working with the same environment, to just be fun and nothing else, but when you have brothers in blue, who are literally doing terrible, immoral things, or getting killed, left and right, there’s a feeling that maybe, just maybe, someone needs to ask, “why?”

In a way, it’s almost like Ayer has a responsibility to ask those questions and get, at the very least, an idea of an answer. To just service your plot with cops and criminals getting shot and killed, without ever saying anything else about it, seems wrong. Trust me, I’m all for the down, dirty and immoral action when push comes to shove, but Ayer doesn’t really have his flick placed in any sort of fake world, or universe – it’s a real world/universe, where cops are meant to stop bad people, from doing bad things.

In fact, it’s the world in which we live in now.

"Uh. Hey. Freeze, man."

“Uh. Hey. Freeze, man.”

But honestly, besides that, Street Kings can be fun, when it actually cares to be fun. There’s a lot of the same stuff seen before, especially from Ayer’s pen, and you can tell that he’s trying to change everything up, yet, fall back on  the same conventions that have made cop-thrillers, such as his, hits in the first place. Ayer is a good director and writer when he wants to be, but here, it feels as if he’s just moving along, steadily, not trying to rock the boat and rely on what he knows best, without trying to change up any sort of format.

The only opportunity Ayer really gets a chance to liven-up things in Street Kings is with his wonderful ensemble, all of whom are having a great time. Keanu Reeves is actually quite good as Ludlow, mostly because the guy doesn’t always have to say something – some of the times, he just backs it up with his gun, or his fists. This suits Reeves just fine, just as it suits him playing the mentor-role to Chris Evans’ young, hotshot rookie character, both of whom work well together. Evans, too, in an early role before he truly broke-out into stardom, seems like the heart and soul of this cruel, dark and upsetting world, which works, until the movie decides that it cares less about him and more about just shooting people’s heads off.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but there comes a point where it’s overkill.

Others randomly show up like Common, the Game, Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Mohr, John Corbett, and Terry Crews, and all add a little something to the proceedings. You can tell that Ayer likes to cast these known-actors in roles that you least expect them to work with and it actually works in his favor. However, had he given more screen-time to Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker, equally the best parts of this otherwise mediocre movie, all would have been right with the world. The two play opposing chiefs who may or may not be as evil, or as good as they present themselves as being. Ayer always treads the fine line here between these characters and it makes me wish that he decided to do more with the other characters, or even the plot.

Consensus: As conventional as cop-thrillers can go, Street Kings boasts an impressive cast and some fun moments, but ultimately seems to concerned with blowing stuff/people up, and not ever asking why.

5 / 10

"Let me give you my card. And no, I'm not playing that cynical doctor this time."

“Let me give you my card. And no, I’m not playing that cynical doctor this time.”

Photos Courtesy of: Roger Ebert.com, IMDB, Deep Focus Review

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Sometimes, you’ve just got to let them fight.

After years and years of constant controversy over their extreme efforts to stop evildoers in the world, the Avengers are now facing public scrutiny. So much so that now, the government wants to find a way to intervene with their ways in how they go about stopping the evil, while also making sure that no innocent, kind citizens get killed in the process. This new rule sets the group apart; while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is all about it for the sake of still being able to stop villains from taking over the world, Captain America (Chris Evans), on the other hand, doesn’t feel the same way. Of course, there are others in the group who feel the same as either side, but they’re coming to a point now where they don’t know if they can stay together as a single unit without someone getting hurt. And now, what with Bucky (Sebastian Stan) back in the picture, Cap wants to protect him in any way he can, even if that means having to take down fellow friends and confidantes that he could once trust.

I know someone in DC who could probably beat all of them....

I know someone in DC who could probably beat all of them….

Which means, yes, they all brawl.

A few months ago, there was a huge backlash against Batman V. Superman. Most of the reasons had to do with the fact that it basically just sucked and that was about it. Of course, none of these people were ever wrong, but for me at least, I was a tad bit kinder on it because it set out to make a superhero movie that, yes, was ultimately messy, but asked certain questions and toggled certain ideas that we don’t typically see in superhero movies. Should there be superheroes in the world in which we live in? And if we can’t help the fact that they are, what can we do to stop them, or better yet, decrease their power and danger to our society? Get rid of them altogether? Or put little rules and guidelines for them to follow, so that they don’t go around killing thousands and thousands of citizens as if it was, yes, 9/11 all over again.

Obviously, these are the same kinds of questions and ideas that Civil War plays with in its own mind, but where BVS screwed-up with, they actually deliver on. Not only do they ask the goddamn questions, but they also seem interested in solving it, even if the only way to do so is basically through fist fights and banter-battles. For once, we see characters and superheros who, for the past few years or so, have been nearly untouchable and almost too close to being perfect, but somehow, Civil War finds a way to have them all shine in different lights. Even though this is supposed to be his movie, Captain America actually comes off more like an unlikable child here who doesn’t get his way, so therefore, has to resort to punches, kicks and throwing his shield.

Then again, nobody else is perfect here, either. And well, that’s sort of the point of this story.

Falcon punch!

Falcon punch!

What the Russo Brothers do the best job of here is that they allow for the story to do its usual checklist of things we see in these kinds of superhero movies, but does them way better than those movies. While new characters and subplots are being brought to our attention, the Russo’s never allow for it to get too jammed-up to where we have no idea what’s the conflict with which character, for what reasons, and when we can expect it all to get resolved. In Age of Ultron, the movie was admittedly way too overstuffed and overlong to really make sense of its mayhem and therefore, it suffered. The action itself may have been fun and well-done, but because there was just so much going on, with so many damn people, it was hard to really care for any of it, especially when you’re still trying to pinpoint who matters and why.

The Russo’s, thankfully, don’t have that problem. Even though they’re working with a wide arrange of characters and stories to work with, they somehow are able to have it all work together in a cohesive manner, that when the action does eventually come around, you care. Not only do these characters get their opportunities to shine and show why they’re genuine ass-kickers, but give us a little background on who they are and their personalities. Even for characters like Hawkeye and the Vision, who you may feel have overstayed their welcome, still come around to show us that they’re around and actually matter to a story as overcooked as this.

Does this make Civil War perfect? Nope, but it definitely makes it the best Avengers movie since the first Avengers.

Which is saying something, because all of the Marvel movies have been fine and done their jobs well. That isn’t to say that they haven’t all felt like they were doing the same things as the one that came before it, but regardless, it still doesn’t matter, because it seems like Civil War gets Marvel right back on-track. Though a lot more is left up in the air this time, the feeling that everything has changed and gotten a whole lot more serious with this universe and these characters is still around and it’s what makes me genuinely excited for what’s next to come.

Cause yes, obviously, we’re going to get more of these movies, whether you like it or not.

Consensus: Exciting, tense, smart, and believe it or not, interesting, Civil War does everything that Batman V Superman tried to do, but hits every nail on the head and reminds us why this universe can be so great to be apart of when they’re firing on all cylinders.

9 / 10

Hey guys, I know you're kicking ass and all, but 2-on-1 ain't cool. Let's fight fair here.

Hey guys, I know you’re kicking ass and all, but 2-on-1 ain’t cool. Let’s fight fair here.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Push (2009)

X-Men clearly did it better. They always do.

Due to a government experiment gone wrong, Nick Gant (Chris Evans) is what some call “a mover”. Meaning that, well, he’s able to move things with his mind. However, he’s been on the run at an early age and in a way to stay even further off the grid, he’s been holding up shop in Hong Kong. But due to a couple of bad decisions made on Nick’s part, he ends up getting found out by these sinister powers-that-be who want to kidnap Nick and take away his powers. Or something like that. Along with Nick is 13-year-old Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning) who is what people call “a watcher” – someone who can see the future and certain tragic events before they happen. So yeah, Nick and Cassie are on the run from bad and evil people, meanwhile, they’re trying to meet up and find Kira Hudson (Camilla Belle), who may have all the answers to the questions that they need answering so that they can defeat these villains and get back on with their lives. But as time rolls and Nick and Cassie start to talk with her more, they realize that Kira may not be who she is and better yet, actually may be playing on the same side of those people they’re on the run from to begin with.

Round 1, eh, who cares!

Round 1, eh, who cares!

I think.

The whole thing about Push is that it’s incredibly convoluted. Certain powers of these characters, when they’re able to use them, what keeps them from using them, is hardly ever explained; all we’re supposed to make up our minds about is that they do have powers and they want to use them for the greater good. This makes it all sound like an over-extended episode of Heroes which, quite frankly, I would have been totally fine with.

But nope.

Instead, what we get with Push, is an overlong, overly complicated, very silly sci-fi flick that doesn’t know where it wants to go, or even what it wants to be. While the movie does stage some flashy action-sequences, they come so few and far between, that they become an afterthought. Instead, the movie wants to focus on the inner-workings of these characters, what makes them tick and just how it is that they get by in a world that, honestly, doesn’t quite accept them for who they are or what skills they possess. Obviously, I’ve seen this all done way better in X-Men and it just goes to show you just how easy it is to make a tale like that.

But for some reason, no one on-board with Push seems like they want to give anything an honest effort. Director Paul McGuigan tries his hardest to give this movie a cool, slick feel, but overall, can’t overcome all of the issues that the script has going on. While he gets a lot of play out having his movie shot on location in Hong Kong, the shame about this all is that he hardly gets a chance to use it to its fullest extent. Sure, there’s a few chase scenes through fish markets and narrow, over-crowded streets, but really, these scenes aren’t ever around as much to make an impression.

In all honesty, we just have to sit around and watch as these characters piss and mope about whatever problems they have and, you know, it’s nothing to ever care much about.

Which is to say that yes, despite the script thrown at them, everyone in the cast seems to be trying. Chris Evans, pre-Cap, was still trying to find his feet in Hollywood and not be type-cast as “a poor man’s Ryan Reynolds” and though he tries to inject his character that winning personality and charm of his, it doesn’t help. That’s nothing against him, though – it’s more that Nick Gant, the character, is way too bland and boring to ever register as a strong protagonist that we get behind and cheer on until the very end. We just sort of watch him move things every so often, then cry, and that’s it.

Oh well. Chris Evans is doing better things now, thankfully.

Together, they're not scary. Like at all.

Together, they’re not scary. Like at all.

Dakota Fanning gets to play an against-type role as a cranky smart-ass who can see the future and despite her seeming like she’s having a good time with it, it’s a terribly annoying role that just goes on and on without ever ceasing. She’s not funny, over-bearing and if anything, ruins just about ever scene she’s in; which, in something already as dreary as this, is definitely saying a whole lot. None of this is against Fanning, because she’s clearly on-board with this character, but the movie itself thinks she’s so hilarious, that they keep her going with the wisecracks and none of them ever conjur up a chuckle or two. Instead, it’s just sighs. And then, the always bland Camilla Belle shows up, hardly do anything; Djimon Hounsou shows up and tries to be scary, but never does; and Ming-Na Wen is, yet again, another worker who can feel happy that she’s apart of the Marvel universe.

But regardless of these performances, the true problem of Push lies with its screenplay. Writer David Bourla never seems to make sense of anything that’s happening and doesn’t even seem interested; he’d much rather try to distract us with random scenes of action and mutant-like things that, because we’re never fully explained on where they came from or what they’re capable of, are random. Bourla also tries to dive in deep into what all of the mytholgy surrounding these characters mean, and really, it never goes anywhere. All we know is that the government was up to some shady dealings and now, they want their product back. 

Or something.

Seriously, I’m still trying to figure out just what the hell this movie meant and why it went, where it went. But instead of focusing on it even more than I need to and wasting more of my precious time, I’m just going to say that, yeah, Push blows.

That’s it.

Consensus: Despite some fun and flash to be found, Push is a mostly dull affair, without much understanding of what’s happening, nor anything happening of actual interest.

2.5 / 10

Run from her, Chris! Hell, run away from this movie! Do what's best for you!

Run from her, Chris! Hell, run away from this movie! Do what’s best for you!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Before We Go (2015)

Two strangers this attractive never just coincidentally bump into one another in real life.

One night, while trying to avoid a wedding reception that his ex-girlfriend just so happens to be at with a new man, Nick Vaughan (Chris Evans) plays his trumpet at a New York City train station, hoping to pass the time and get whatever change he can receive. While busking, he stumbles upon a woman who’s fortune isn’t all that great right about now; Brooke Dalton (Alice Eve) has just missed her 1:30 train to Boston and has no way of getting there in time so that her husband doesn’t find out what it is that she’s actually been up to, or better yet, where she’s been. Seeing an opportunity to do something nice for someone and to pass even more time, Nick decides to help Brooke find her way back home, even if there are a whole lot of twists and turns they run into throughout the whole night. But in the meantime, the two talk and get to know more about one another in ways that they never thought two strangers ever could. The only question constantly hammering around in their head is, where else can they take this?

Here they are in love.

Here they are in love.

You have to give some credit to Chris Evans, the guy seems to be trying. Love him, hate him, adore him, want him to banish forever so that your wife can stop foaming at the mouth for him, he’s one of the very rare guys in Hollywood who seems like he actually wants to be taken seriously. Even after the Fantastic Four movies, Evans aligned himself in some smaller, low-key indies that not only stretched his abilities as an actor, but also allows for his fans to see him in lights that they may not have expected to see him in – sometimes, unlikable ones. But even though Before We Go features Evans both behind of, as well as in front of the camera, there’s still a feeling that he seems to be trying harder and harder to have people take him in as more than just another superhero guy.

Even if the movie itself isn’t all that great.

That isn’t to say that Before We Go is bad, it’s just that it seems like Evans was trying too hard for something and it just didn’t pan-out too well for him. This makes sense considering that this is his first time directing a movie and it shows that maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t quite ready for to take whatever ideas he had to work with, film them, and make them out into a feature-length picture. Most of this has to do with the fact that the plot feels incredibly close to those of Linklater’s Before franchise; which may seem unfair to say considering that any movie featuring two strangers just aimlessly walking around and chatting with one another automatically brings any sort of comparisons to those movies, but it deserves to be said.

To just mimic a story that’s been done before, but placing different situations and characters, doesn’t mean you have an unoriginal movie, but to not do anything interesting with those different ideas, makes it feel like a lazy attempt at trying to recreate magic that’s already been used before. When Nick and Brooke decide to spend their night together with one another, trying their hardest to make one another’s lives a whole lot easier, it doesn’t feel like two characters actually wanting to do such tasks, it feels like a plot conceit. It’s almost as if Evans had the idea of the plot in his head, and didn’t actually think of any real problems that would come up and get in these two people’s ways while they were aiding one another; things just so happen to go right enough for each other that they spend more and more time together.

Here he is filming.

Here he is filming.

Which honestly, isn’t as bad as I may make it sound, but there’s nothing really interesting to these characters that makes the time we spend with them all the more compelling to sit by and watch. Nick is just a bearded-loser, but who has some amount of charm and is graced with the looks of Chris Evans, whereas Brooke feels uptight and prissy, but also happens to be very good-looking as Alice Eve. Both are good in these roles and obviously share a great deal of chemistry, but the movie gets in the way of itself too many times, that we hardly get a chance to see their relationship pan-out to much more than a series of coincidences that possibly draw them closer and closer together.

Not like real life at all.

And once again, I know this may not sound fair at all considering that movies are, well, made to allow for people to get out of their own real worlds, and into these fantastical, imaginary ones, but Before We Go doesn’t seem to be one of those movies. Evans seems as if he’s really really trying to strive for some sort of raw, gritty and dramatic realism in which two strangers could, inexplicably enough, meet one another, get along, help each other out, and somehow fall in love over a 10-15 hour period. I’m not saying that this can’t happen in real life, but the way it’s presented here, not only makes it seem tacky, but phony as well.

Still though, my heart is always falling back on the fact that Evans seems to be trying here. While it’s mostly common for actors to make their directorial debut projects as simple and as easy as just two people talking for nearly an-hour-and-a-half, there’s a part of me that feels like Evans was trying to do something smart and ambitious here. In fact, it’s so low-key and tiny of a movie, that it makes me wonder whether Evans started off with something small, and all of a sudden, change his mind about half-way through and wanted to strive for something a little bit larger.

Or, then again, maybe not. He probably just made a crummy movie.

Consensus: Despite the lovely chemistry between Alice Eve and Chris Evans, Before We Go is sadly, a misfire for Evans as a director, but shows that there may be some promise for him in the near-future.

4 / 10

Here they are in love. There ya go. End of movie.

Here they are in love. There ya go. End of movie.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

More robots?

Since their big battle in New York City, the Avengers crew has been up to a lot; although, more often than not, they’re separated from one another, left to fend for themselves. Now, many years after their last team-up, the gang is back together and, for the most part, everybody seems to be the same. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is still a snarky deuche; Captain America (Chris Evans) is still trying to keep everybody in line; the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is trying his hardest to control his temper and not lose all sense of control; Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is still kicking as much ass he possibly can; Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is doing the same as Thor, except with her sheer beauty; and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is, well, still there. However, now with a new threat on their hands, inadvertently courtesy of Banner and Stark, the gang has to fight even harder than ever before, especially since they’re going up against new foes like Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen), and perhaps more dangerous than they ever expected, Ultron (James Spader), a piece of artificial intelligence that nobody seems to be ready for.

"Quit crying, bro. We've got baddies to fight."

“Quit crying, bro. We’ve got baddies to brawl.”

The first Avengers was pretty much everything anybody who had been waiting four incredibly long years could have ever wanted. It was fun, hilarious, action-packed, and featured all sorts of fan boy moments that made not just the die hards happy and not taking their disapproval straight to the message boards, but also showed that, while this may have been the pinnacle of the Marvel franchise so far, it wouldn’t at all be the last outing. In fact, if there was anything at all spectacular about what Joss Whedon did with the first movie, was that he showed that there was plenty more life to be found inside of these characters, their stories, and what could come their way next.

And now, it’s time for the eventual sequel to that near-masterpiece of everything that’s right with superhero movies and there’s a slight feeling of disappointment. It’s not because Whedon messes up here and gets everything wrong; in fact, everything that Whedon does here, for the majority of it, is that he allows for the action to be as fun, as loud, and as energetic as possible, while also still allowing for us to see everything that’s happening where, when, and to whom. However, he never loses sight of what makes them kick so hard and as well as they do, and that’s the characters.

Yes, these are the same characters that we’ve spent so much time with already, but as you’ll see here, Whedon breaths some new life into them and allows us to see them in a light that we haven’t quite seen them in before: A vulnerable one.

See, what Whedon gets right here, as Guardians of the Galaxy showed us all last summer, is that these characters probably work best when they’re just hanging around with one another, shootin’ the shit, getting on each other’s cases, and overall, learning more than they ever thought they could. Because, as they’re getting to learn more about each other, we’re doing the same; which in and of itself, is not only interesting, but fun. We think we know these characters for all that they appear to be and then we see a certain conversation they have go a way they didn’t expect it to, and all of a sudden, something new is learned. There are many moments of that here and, due to reasons that can’t be disclosed, they feel more emotional and compelling, rather than just fine bits and pieces of filler.

Problem is, that once the filler comes around, it feels like it’s just around to take-up space.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at a Marvel movie for offering all sorts of action it can come up with. However, I do get a tad bit ticked-off when it takes away from moments that could be spent, dedicated to more and more character development, where we feel like something is actually being accomplished, rather than just tacked-on so people don’t get bored quickly. Whedon does a fine job at putting in certain action sequences that go everywhere and anywhere that they want, with absolute reckless abandon and they’re fun to watch, it’s just that it sometimes feel like the wheels are spinning, but there’s nobody driving.

Things can blow up as much as they want, but when there’s general basis for them, then there’s a bit of a problem. Which, like I’ve said before, wouldn’t have been bad, had it been serviced by something of a plot that worked, or better yet, made some bit of sense. From what I can tell you, Ultron is bad and is capable of planting his subconscious into any robot-body it wants. This, for the most part, made sense to me, but then, for reasons I can’t understand as anything but “corporate excess”, Whedon throws a plethora of characters onto our plate where we’re wondering what they serve to the plot, what they’re all about, and whether or not they’re even worth our time.

Not saying that I have a problem adding in new characters, but when it eventually seems like too much, then you have the same sort of problem that a fellow superhero flick like Spider-Man 3 had. While that movie was definitely off a lot worse than this one, there’s something here that makes me think that all of the added-on characters and subplots, like some of the action, were all just filler; they weren’t to serve much of a purpose, other than to just distract the audience from what is a very confusing and nonsensical plot, and the fact that it could care less about developing the already-known characters a bit more.

"Me mad? But why? WAAH!"

“Me mad? But why? WAAH!”

This isn’t to say that the characters here don’t get some attention and care that they deserve. Above everyone else, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner gets the most development of the pack, where we see him not only tangle with his possible emotions for the likes of Black Widow, but his actual emotions as well. There’s been a lot said about the Hulk character in the past where he seems like too much of a supporting character that, when he’s given his own, single-picture, it doesn’t quite work as well as the others. If that is the case, then Whedon has done a true service to this character where we get enough of him to sense the danger, the sadness, and the actual thrill within this character that people always want to see.

Everybody else that isn’t the Hulk, though, sort of get the short-end of the stick.

One of the more genius aspects surrounding the newly-recruited Scarlet Witch’s character is that she’s able to dig into anybody’s deepest, darkest and most painful secrets imaginable, and with that power, comes plenty of glimpses into some of these character’s heads that are not only disturbing, but pretty sad. For example, Cap’s and Thor’s memories are all about how they miss the people they let-down and left behind, whereas with Black Widow’s, we see her horribly violent up-bringing that makes you wonder just how far she’s willing to go with these missions, where she runs the risk of losing herself. These small glances are what help make these characters all the more compelling to watch and root for, however, there comes a point where it seems to just be used as a way to make us think that the odds are fully stacked-up against the Avengers’ crew.

And while that may most certainly be true with the likes of the absolutely dangerous and intimidating Ultron, the fast, furious and cocky Quicksilver, and the previously mentioned Scarlet Witch, it seems unneeded. It’s almost as if Whedon wanted to jump inside these character’s heads, and jump out as soon as quickly before the going got too heavy. This definitely puts it a step-up above most of the summer blockbusters that are constantly thrown at us left and right, however, it also feels like a teaser for something that’s deeper than what any of us expect.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but why the small hints, Joss? Give us it all!

Consensus: As far as superhero blockbusters go, Avengers: Age of Ultron is as action-packed, exciting and as fun as you’d expect it to be, however, some of it is starting to feel repetitive now, especially since there’s more to be unraveled about these characters and what we do get, works so damn well.

8 / 10

Basically a film adaptation of the Blacklist, but with no fedoras. Bummer.

Basically a film adaptation of the Blacklist, but with no fedoras. Bummer.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Snowpiercer (2014)

Public transportation really is a pain.

In 2014, the government is afraid that global warming will rip our worlds to shreds, so they decide to test out an experiment which will supposedly counteract it. The problem is, that doesn’t happen. Instead, nearly all life on Earth is knocked out, with only a few hundred or so left riding on this super duper, seemingly never-ending train called “the Snowpiercer”. It doesn’t seem ideal at first, but when the world outside of you is a frozen wonderland, you take what you can get; but don’t tell that to those who have to stay, live and survive at the tail-end of the train. They’re considered “the low-life’s of society” that live poor, dress poor, and eat these black gelatin-bricks, they’re are told is “protein”; whereas the rich sit up front, eat their steaks and live in total luxury. It’s been like this for quite some time, but finally, the poor have had enough of being treated like total and utter crap! That’s when Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) decides that it’s his time to step up, take charge and map-out a way to get to the front of the train, find the creator, find that engine, and basically, take over the train as a whole. Sounds simple enough, but with the riot-team this train has, getting there is only half of the mission.

It’s taken quite some time for us Americans to get to see this movie, but finally, Bong Joon-ho’s English-language debut is here! And yes, even though I just recently got into him, I have to say, from what I’ve seen so far, I’ve been impressed. I like how Joon-ho is seemingly able to take all of these different genres of film, throw them into a blender, add a drop of sugar or two, and somehow, still be able to have it all come out fun, exciting, interesting, original, and best of all, cohesive.

"Call me 'Cap', one more time."

“Call me ‘Cap’, one more time.”

That’s why, as ambitious as this project sounds, I was a little weary. Not because the reviews for it haven’t been good (actually, quite the opposite), but because it seemed like the type of film that gets so hyped-up in the States, because it’s so different/original from anything our lazy, cheeseburger-lovin’ asses see. It doesn’t matter if the film is bad or anything, as long as it features something else other than giant robots facing off against one another, then hey, strap me in coach, I’m ready to play. Personally, I don’t mind that with some movies, but maybe with this here flick, I was more inclined to be against it, solely because everybody and their weird, stay-inside-all-day-nerdy-brothers are loving the hell out of it.

But fear not, ladies and germs! DTMMR has seen Snowpiercer and yet again, DTMMR has given into what the rest of the world has been saying: It’s pretty rad.

That said, the movie isn’t perfect and I think that’s the most important fact to note right away. Because see, while this movie is all sorts of ambitious, strange and, for lack of a better word, “different”, it can be a bit messy. Not just with the action that spills out all over the place at times, but because the balance Joon-ho has here between having people beat the bloody hell out of one another, with said people sitting down, chatting about life and what it all means, isn’t very well-done. You can tell whenever the brakes on this movie are hit, because it doesn’t just slow everything down to a slower-speed, it slows absolutely everything down to a freakin’ halt.

That’s not to say that whenever the movie wanted to sit down, chat for awhile and be more than just “poor vs. rich; fuck yeah!”, it was bad or annoying, it was just clearly obvious that Joon-ho felt like he had to include those moments in there, just so that people wouldn’t be upset that there wasn’t any “substance” behind all of the brutal murders and acts of violence. And although those said brutal murders and acts of violence are a bunch of juicy-fun to watch and see play out, there was still a desperate need for this movie to be about something “more”. Not just in the existential-crisis kind of way where we all take a break or two from the action, to sit around and cry for hours on end about how, one day, we’re all going to die; but in the way that we’re given a story that feels like there’s a reason to it existing.

And for the most part, Joon-ho totally delivers on that point. Not because it’s fun to see a bunch of poor people dressed like chimney-sweepers from a Dickens novel, battle it out with a bunch of riot police, but because you get lost in their cause and what it is that they want. Although, I will admit, it was more interesting seeing as how this movie never quite addresses what it is that these poor ones are wholly fighting for; sure, they want to get to the front of the train, get to that engine, talk to the owner of it and become the big men and women on campus, but in all honesty, what exactly is it that they’re going to do when they get up there? It’s never really brought to our attentions (not just by the film, but by the characters themselves), which is why it’s so thrilling to see them battle their way to the front, and even more thrilling to watch them as they figure out and come to the realization that they have to think of something, and something quick if they want this train to be theirs.

That the film doesn’t feel the need to hit us over the head with non-stop “we’re the 1%” metaphors, really felt like a refresher. But was even more refreshing was just seeing an sci-fi/action blockbuster be exactly all that it should be. It has heart; it has originality; it has blood; it has violence; it has fun; it has sci-fi; it has themes about people taking over control of a situation that they either can’t get out of, or don’t want in the first place that almost everyone can relate to (looking at you, Grandpa); and, to add a cherry on top, there’s a wonderful ensemble cast to go along the ride with as well.

Also, another interesting note to be made about this movie, is it’s cast. Not only are there some pretty big names, but they all comes from different shapes, sizes and regions of the world that it feels so strange having them together, on the same screen at times. Sure, I expected Jamie Bell and John Hurt to eventually cross paths in the film world, but you could have never told me that you’d expect to see Ewen Bremner and Octavia Spencer just hanging out, side-by-side, giving their enemies hell. Then again, maybe you could; maybe, I’m just a strange duckling. But either way, it’s a pretty unique cast that not only works to the movie’s advantage, but also helps make the idea of the whole world being thrown onto this ultra-train all the more believable.

Tilda Swinton wants YOU to spend your money on this movie, and stop giving it to Michael Bay.

Tilda Swinton wants YOU to spend your money on this movie, and stop giving it to Michael Bay.

You can’t just have a dystopian-set futuristic world in which survivors from all throughout the globe have survived, and there be all American white guys just hanging around and shooting the shit about the good old days of bull-shitting about the Bush administration. This is the world, man! And last time I checked: It’s pretty damn big!

But although the cast is huge and pretty eclectic, the one who really leads this to the finish line is none other than an American white guy as is: Chris Evans.

Yes, for most of you hormone-fueled women (as well as gay man), Chris Evans has definitely been the pleasure of your eye-lids for quite some time, but he’s changing that all up now with this role. Not by throwing some dirt on himself and growing a beard, but by showing us that he’s an actor baby, and that he can sure as hell do exactly that, which is act! I’ve always had much faith in Evans as an actor, and here, he’s given free reign to not only command this group of his and be a leader, but also command this movie into being something more than just a sci-fi tale full of havoc, blood and destruction. He gives it some levity; most importantly so during one of the last scenes in the movie in which he talks about his history on that train, why he needs to do what he needs to do, and the type of effect it’s had on him for the past twenty or so years. Not only is it one of the most emotional scenes of the whole movie (of which there isn’t many), but it’s definitely the pinnacle of Evan’s acting-ability and shows that he can play both tough, angry, and emotionally distraught, all at the same time.

A very impressive feat. Try topping that, Downey.

Consensus: Internally, Snowpiercer is a messy flick, but it’s hardly ever boring, intriguing, nor against a crazy, out-of-the-box idea it didn’t like, making it one of the better, more memorable blockbusters of the summer.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Guess they don't have showers in the future. Oh well. Works for me!

Guess they don’t have showers in the future. Yay! Now I’d have an excuse!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Get your head out of the past, man.

After being brought back into the world, only to find out that he’s in a new millennium, where mostly all of his friends, families, confidantes, anyone he’s ever known, is dead, Captain Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) decides to lay low in his nice, cozy life in Washington D.C. He’s made a new friend in the form of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), he stays in shape, he saves the day when it needs saving and hell, he may even start getting busy with that fine-looking nurse neighbor of his (Emily VanCamp). Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well it is, but it doesn’t last. Somehow, he, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and a handful of other good-hearted citizens, all end-up involved in a huge conspiracy with the head-honcho of S.H.I.E.L.D., Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), where apparently just about every which person is out to kill them. It’s pretty nerve-wracking as is, but it gets even worse when a certain masked, hired-assassin named the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) starts rolling around town, blowing shit up and trying to kill whoever gets in the way of his targets. But what’s so weird about the Winter Soldier is that he seems to hold a very close resemblance to a man Cap once knew. A man he never thought of to be alive, but somehow, seems to be in the form of this walking, talking hitman.

By now, I think we all know that no superhero movie, let alone a Marvel superhero movie, that doesn’t either consist of more than one main superhero on the same screen, for a longer amount of time than a simple cameo or end-credits scene, is not going to be better than the Avengers. It just won’t. And it’s not because it’s hard to accept these superheros as individuals, with their own battles to overcome, and adventures to journey, but the bar has been raised so high now, it’s just not capable of handling. We have seen mostly all of the best a superhero movie could be, and for that, we are better as a society. May not be better for these stand-alone, superhero movies, but hey, at least we know that Age of Ultron is coming out next year.

"No, I was serious. Does he look like a bitch to you? Cause I sure as hell can't see him!"

“No, I was serious. Does he look like a bitch to you? Cause I sure as hell can’t see him!”

So, until then, we have plenty of time to just wait around, kick-up dust and have our time with these stand-alone flicks, in which we get to see most of the same magic, fun and wittiness play-out like the awesome spectacle that was the highest-grossing movie of 2012, but still realize that it’s not quite as magical as we have seen done before. Hate to keep on harping on that, but it’s the truth. It’s just the fact of the matter. Doesn’t make these types of movies bad or anything, just not nearly as great as we have seen before.

But away from that, and more towards the actual film itself: The Winter Soldier is pretty rad. With the other Marvel Phase II movies we got last year with Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3, this one definitely seems to be the darkest, most serious one out of the whole bunch, but that still doesn’t take it away from being fun, if not more so on some occasions. Actually, much rather than being a “fun” type of action-blockbuster, because the suspense and the drama is so heightened this time around, a lot of it begins to just feel “tense” and “exciting”. Sure, there’s plenty of winks, nods, jokes and playful banter we usually see from these types of movies, but there’s still a whole lot more going on here like political-intrigue, mass-destruction of a society, genocide and the media.

Yup, it’s all so very serious and in ways, a lot darker than it should be, however, the movie barely ever misses a note with what it is trying to do; as long as what it is trying to do is be fun, exciting and as loud as it can possibly be. When it begins to shy away from that aspect of the story, you can tell it bites-off a bit more than it can clearly chew. For instance, the first 20 or so minutes of this movie, I had no idea just what the hell was going on. I knew that S.H.I.E.L.D. was clearly up to no good and being as sneaky as they could possibly be, but whatever plot the writers were trying to set-up here, made no absolute sense.

And it wasn’t like it didn’t make any sense because I’m a big dummy (which I am), but because it seemed like the movie itself was just packing itself with so much dense exposition, that it really didn’t seem to want to make sense. The clear synopsis of this plot, and also why there are baddies we hate, and goodies we cheer for, would be that it’s just a simple tale of a company owner not being too happy with his workers, so, as any smart, powerful businessman would do, he decides to have him, his friends, his family, anybody he’s ever loved, killed right away. That’s pretty much the basis for the whole story in a nutshell, however, it not only took me nearly a half-hour to get to that point, but it took the movie even longer as well.

That said, what eventually happens with this movie is that once it decides to stop being so damn melodramatic and confusing, it gets very wild and energetic, but in a good way. It’s strange that we’re getting something that clearly could have been released in the summer and not suffered at all, but hey, who am I to complain about a Marvel movie being released one month before the official start of summer?

Also, why would I complain about getting to see the lovely, delightful faces of such darlings like Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan and yes, even Samuel L. Jackson? I’m nobody, that’s who!

May have been an inspired-choice to cover-up most of his face, but you also run the risk of leaving plenty desperate, horny housewives disappointed.

May have been an inspired-choice to cover-up most of his face, but you also run the risk of leaving plenty desperate, horny housewives disappointed.

Speaking of these cats, as you could expect, they all do fine. Evans shows us more and more reasons why should want to see him play Cap for the rest of all humanity, even when his body’s rotting and deteriorating, while in his late-90’s; Johansson does a lot of that punching, kicking, and pistol-shooting as Black Widow, while also looking extremely well in tight-leather and heating things up with the awfully-flirty chemistry her and Evans build; Mackie is a nice-addition to the cast as Sam Wilson and shows everybody else once again why it is that his bright, and smiling face should be in every movie, ever made; Sebastian Stan does a lot, without doing much, playing the Winter Soldier, but that’s about as much as I’ll say about that; and Samuel L. Jackson, you know, does his thing where he yells, acts like a bad-ass and sets some people into their place as Nick Fury, in a role that’s just Samuel L. Jackson with an eye-patch and a fancy-looking gun. That’s really all he is.

Now, except for the mention of Stan as the Winter Soldier, there’s some new villains here that I think really do work well in this universe, and especially in this movie. Which, yes, means a whole lot when the only, actual villain worth anybody’s time in your universe is the same guy who switches sides more times than Michael Stipe at a music festival. Bad analogy, I know, but if you know rad music, you’ll get it.

Robert Redford is a great addition to the cast as Alexander Pierce, the type of sinister, back-stabbing and ruthless corporate bighead we’d usually see him play-against. Redford doesn’t do movies of this size or stature much too often (hell, he doesn’t even do movies in general), which is why it’s so great to see him show-up here, chew-up the scenery, has some fun being the baddie and get his paycheck like he should. Same goes for grade-A character actor Frank Grillo, who almost never ceases to let me down, even when he shows up in some real crap. Even UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre gets his kicks in (pun intended) as Georges Batroc. Now, if only he’d be able to do the same when it came to getting in the ring with Silva and not being such a chicken-shit, whiny baby, then yeah, maybe I’d have more to say about him. Come on, men! Am I right!?!?

Consensus: One of the more serious entries into the Marvel Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t always know what it wants to do, but when it has its head on straight and just allows the exciting, fun-nature of this material take notice, then it’s definitely worth your time.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even from the back, he's still got that charm. Whatta stud.

Even from the back, he’s still got that charm. Whatta stud.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

What’s Your Number? (2011)

Oh women and all of the sex they have! I mean honestly, who’d be keeping track after #20?

Ally (Anna Faris) is a little over-thirty and has come to that crossroads in her life: Should she start trying to get married? Well, since her little sis (Ari Graynor) is, Ally thinks it’s about time to get on top of that. The only problem is that she just broke-up from her latest boyfriend (Zachary Quinto), which leads her to her next objective: The last twenty men she’s either had a relationship with or “been with” in any sort of, kind of, maybe serious-manner whatsoever. While she’s off looking for “the one”, she’s getting help from a studly neighbor (Chris Evans) who can’t help but feel like it is his duty as a neighbor, but also as a dude to help this one, very-attractive gal, find her special someone, while he stands-off to the sides, bangs all sorts of ladies, plays guitar, takes his shirt off and tries to eat ice cream with her.

When you watch any rom-com that has ever been made, you expect to have all of the same conventions you’ve seen before. It’s sort of what you get when you approach the genre. However, it’s up to the movie itself to be able to deviate from that formula and those conventions enough times to where you don’t really care how conventional the romance at the center may be; as long as it’s believable and entertaining to watch, then who really cares about predictability, you know? Which is sort of why I didn’t expect to hate this whole thing, but man, this is every bit of conventional.

Oh, just bang already!

Oh, just bang already!

I really do mean that, too.

For example, in the first scene of this movie, Faris’ character gets up out of bed from her lover, puts her make-up on to look pretty, gobbles-up some toothpaste and gets right back in bed right before he wakes up, just so he can see her and her beautiful-self when he wakes up in the a.m. This scene would have been a pretty smart and funny one, had it not already been used in a rom-com that came out literally four months before it, in Bridesmaids! So yeah, as you can tell, this was not an easy start to a rom-com I wanted to like but I thought, “Hey, it’s just one scene. How bad could it really be?”. “Well”, I answered myself, “pretty bad, you dumb shit”.

What really flounders here is the fact that this premise is actually somewhat promising. This is a pretty neat idea of a gal going back to see what all of her ex-lovers made her out to be and how they are now. It’s almost like a female version of High Fidelity without all of the rock & roll references, or anything interesting or fun resembling that movie at all. Instead, every opportunity this film has at all to even be funny, just comes off as very annoying, predictable and downright stupid. And you can tell when this movie is trying to be “funny”, or even better, “risque”, by having a certain character like Faris’ or Blythe Danner’s say something like “shit”, or “ass”, or “fuck”, or what have you. Either way, wasn’t funny, crude, or shocking to hear at all. Just added more annoyance to me and my brain.

Another one of the main problems is that we never really give a crap about Ally Darling, or her quest to find that special-lover who can give her the ideal-life all women think they need. In all honesty, I think we should, as a society, all be way past the idea of making a woman conform to some standard set-of-rules where she has to be whisked away to a man before she’s a certain age, just so that she can have kids, start a family, give mommy and daddy those grand-kids, along with that $500,000 wedding recital, and not really worry about what happens to the marriage after all is said and done. Divorce, or stay together, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as the middle-of-the-road, career-woman gets married and has some unprotected sex to some Randy, then sure, it’s all fine.

Personally, I think this is all wrong, but it seems like time and time again, we see these kinds of movies where women are constantly getting the idea of marriage shoved down their throats. If they don’t feel like it’s the right time, then it really isn’t! Leave her be! That’s why I couldn’t help but not at all care for Ally Darling, where she went, or even who she met. However, I do realize that that may be more of a problem I have with the “message” of the material, rather than the actual character itself. But either way, it sucks all around! No way of getting around that!

The "false-hair" gag. Never gets old.

The “false-hair” gag. Never gets old.

However, if there is any saving-grace to be found at all in this piece of wreckage someone had the audacity to call a “film”, it’s both our lead-performers. Anna Faris still has that great comedic-timing that’s as every bit as wacky and zany as you would expect from her days as Cindy in the Scary Movie franchise, but it’s wasted in every single scene here. Maybe had the script been tuned up a bit more to make her character more appealing than just a sad sack of a chick that can’t get laid by someone she loves, then I wouldn’t have minded so much but she’s just annoying sometimes by how much she complains. She’s still funny at times, but all the other times, she made me want to punch her, or, for safer choices, a wall. Something needed to be punched. I know that much. Then there’s Chris Evans, who is as every bit of charming and cool as a dude would expect from him, and every bit of hot and dreamy as a girl would expect. The guy has some real charisma that still has not been used properly, outside of Steve Rodgers.

Together, these two have great chemistry and is easily the one thing holding this film together. All of the scenes they have feel natural, fun, and realistic to where it doesn’t matter if they’re doing the usual corny and predictable shit that these rom-coms stuff down our throats, they seem like they really like each other and have a great time together. It’s obvious that these two are perfect for each other, and it’s even more obvious that they should have been in a whole other film that could have really made a killing with them in the two romantic leads as a goofy couple. That would have been fun to see, but mainly because of how terrible this film is and how much money it didn’t make, I highly doubt we will ever get that now.

Great! Any sign of light at the end of the tunnel can be practically gotten rid of for the rest of eternity now!

Consensus: Faris and Evans are entertaining to watch whenever they are together, but their chemistry deserves a way, WAY better movie than whatever the hell What’s Your Number? sets out to do and actually ends-up being.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

Bet you donuts-to-dollars he's playing "Jessie's Girl" or some corny bull-squat like that. As for me, my girl better like the Clash and be pleased with it.

Bet you donuts-to-dollars he’s playing “Jessie’s Girl” or some corny bull-squat like that. As for me, my girl better like the Clash and be pleased with it.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Puncture (2011)

Next time I go for my measles, I’m examining the hell out of that needle.

Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) is a young, hotshot Houston lawyer that also has a bit of drug problem. Actually, correction, he has way more than just “a bit” of a drug problem; it’s actually pretty hefty. However, he gets by on his smarts that earns him enough money to buy as many drugs and booze as he wants, while also still having enough left over to get himself a place at a local motel or something of that nature. His best-buddy Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen) is more of a straight-laced lawyer that usually helps him get all of the cases he can find, no matter how unusual or simple they be. However, one day, they sort of walk into one they weren’t expecting, and yet, aren’t too sure if they even want to attack in the first. What their case basically is, is this woman named Vicky (Vinessa Shaw), a local ER nurse, gets pricked by a contaminated needle without ever knowing it, until she finds out it carries a major sickness. As both Weiss and Danziger dig deeper into the case, a health care and pharmaceutical conspiracy teeters on exposure and heavyweight attorneys move in on the defense, making them both unsure as to whether or not they actually want to go ahead on this case, or just leave it alone before any of them get hurt.

My mind was totally blown once the credits showed up and told us that this was all one true story that actually occurred way back back in the late-90’s. I mean obviously, dirty needles are not something people want around as it causes some of the worst diseases of all, but I never knew such a case was taken so far to get them away. It actually makes for a very interesting documentary that I’d watch on the History Channel, rather than one, long re-enactment, with some pretty faces.

Sorry Cap, you don’t always shine so well.

Looks like somebody accidentally found Cap at the tail-end of the 80's, man. Wait til Nevermind hits.

Looks like somebody accidentally found Cap at the tail-end of the 80’s, man. Wait til Nevermind hits.

Co-directors Adam and Mark Kassen (yup, they’re related) have clearly studied this story, from head-to-toe as they get just about every detail right. You can tell that it interests them by how much effort they are putting into making this unknown story, not just known to us regular, everyday-folk, but to also make it matter. In here, you have your typical Cold Case drama where certain pieces of evidence are gathered, deals are made and some corrupt politicians shed their true-skin, but it never feels like it’s always going to go somewhere you’ve seen a hundred, million times before. You get a sense that the Kassen’s care so much about this, and better yet, want you to care as well.

Problem is, the effort doesn’t fully-work.

What bothered me most about this flick is that it doesn’t really seem to know where it wants to go with itself. At first, it seems like they’re really going to dive right into the whole politics of this one case and reveal some a-holes to the public, that need to especially be seen. But then, it sort of goes the conventional-route and starts to talk about Weiss’ drug addiction; which is pretty evident that it exists throughout the whole movie, yet, never really brought up until half-way through and then becomes all about just that. Watching a person be addicted to drugs and fuck something up as big as this case that Weiss has here should be very nerve-racking and emotional to have to sit-through, but there’s barely any tension whatsoever. Most of that has to do with the fact that we never quite get straight-focus of who this story is really supposed to be all about.

Also, I couldn’t help but feel like the Kassen’s were just constantly shoving everything they had to say about the corruption and conspiracy that came along with the case, straight down our throats until we eventually just gave in and got right onto Wikipedia right away. Honestly, I would have felt like that if they just stopped preaching for a little bit and gave me some room to breathe and congest everything in. But nope, they just kept on going, and going, and going, until I didn’t know if they could go on anymore.

But you know what? They did.

Look out behind you, Johnny Storm! Oh, don't worry, Tony Stark will save you or something, right? Wrong superheros? Aw, screw you! Same people!

Look out behind you, Johnny Storm! Oh, don’t worry, Tony Stark will save you or something, right? Wrong superheros? Aw, screw you! Same people!

And you know who feels the side-effects of that the most? Chris Evans, that’s who!

Which, in case you couldn’t tell by now, is an absolute shame considering Chris Evans is probably the only aspect in this movie worth seeing. Reason why Evans is so good here is that he’s able to make us sympathize with somebody as distasteful and unreliable as Mike Weiss, yet, by the same token, make us hate his guts and wish he would just get his whole act together when he clearly needs to start doing so. Evans has always been a good actor in the stuff he’s shown-up in, but now that I think he’s starting to wind his time down as Steve Rodgers, and quite possibly dive into some far-more different directions for his career, I think we’re going to be able to see him really take advantage of that lovable screen-presence he’s always had on-display in many movies. The only problem is that their either barely-seen flicks like this, or Sunshine, or even the Iceman to a certain extent; or pieces of junk that just about everybody and your 13-year-old son saw, like Not Another Teen Movie, or What’s Your Number? or both of the Fantastic Four flicks.

And then of course, there’s some that sort of fails in both categories, like the Perfect Score or London. But I guess those two being forgotten about and barely-even seen is probably a good thing.

Not just for Evans, but all of us as a society.

Consensus: Anytime Chris Evans shows-up to be cool, charming, make us laugh and make us expect the unexpected from his character, Puncture gets a whole lot better. But, as predicted, without him, the rest of the movie sort of falls flat.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

I guess ladies can rejoice that he's in a wife-beater. Even if he is supposed to be a drug-addled, two-bit loser. But sure, that's hot.

I guess ladies can rejoice that he’s in a wife-beater. Even if he is supposed to be a drug-addled, two-bit loser. But sure, that’s totally “hot”.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

The Iceman (2013)

That “bank job” daddy gets all the big bucks from? Yeah, it’s really just him slaying mobsters.

Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) is a family-man that loves his wife (Winona Ryder) and his two daughters and wants to support them in any way that he can. His original job, dubbing audio porn, even though he tells his closest family members that they’re “cartoons”, gets run-down by powerful mob moss Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta). Demeo, however, senses some sort of potential in this tall, quiet, and scary-looking man. So, he puts him to work where he becomes a contract killer that gets rid of people for these powerful mob families, and eventually starts working with a fellow hitman (Chris Evans). However, once the reward gets bigger, so does the risk, and this is where Kuklinski finds himself coming up short, in deals that should have been made a long, long time ago and done a lot cleaner as well.

After seeing this movie, I did myself a little research on who Richard Kuklinski really was, and all I have to say is: Holy crap. Not only did the guy work for the mob and do their dirty-work, but he killed from about 100 to 250 people. If that’s not a sign of a cold-hearted, sick, sadistic mofo, I don’t know what is! But that’s the whole point of this movie. Yes, even though it does understand that he was an unlikable dude who killed people for a living, it doesn’t shy away from showing as just that, but with a small ounce of humanity; that small ounce being that he loves his family, and doesn’t kill women or children. It’s nothing new or original that we haven’t seen before, but most of what we see here is true and it works in the movie’s favor.

"Hey, you talkin' to me? You muthafucka!!"

“Hey, you talkin’ to me? You muthafucka!!”

Also, the movie should be commended for never allowing Kulkinski himself to come off as a forgiving, lovely soul. He may have had traits to his character that made him an alright guy, but overall, he’s a pretty disgusting man. He killed people, did it for money, gave that money to his family, but in return, also put their lives in danger as well. His heart may be in the right place, but his brain wasn’t and that’s only one of the very few mistakes the guy makes. However, as few as they may be, they’re still mistakes and he paid for them. Big time.

But enough of my mugging, on with the movie. What worked with this movie was that yes, even though it’s about a despicable space of human-flesh, the movie never asks us for sympathy for him, or anybody else around him. We’re supposed to make up our own minds on who’s a good person, and who isn’t. Sometimes the result don’t come as cut-and-dry as in some other cases, from some other movies, but that’s what made this more of a compelling watch. You never know what’s really going on beneath the surface of these characters, what they’re going to pull off next, why, and how. Even if you do know how it ends and you can make up your own conclusions about what happens to some of these character-figures portrayed in the movie, it still grips you and has you for a full-on ride.

Problem is, it’s not that the real-life story itself is as conventional as it comes, it’s just the movie itself. The only way this movie can differentiate itself from many of the other mobster movies out there is that it’s about a hitman, front-and-center, and shows him for all that he is, without any strings attached. Other than that, everything that happens in this movie, from the murders, to the drug-deals, to the hold-ups, and even to the discrete, business meetings in porno theaters; have all but been pretty much done to death by now, and most likely done even better, in far more original and thrilling movies. Not to say that this movie isn’t something that you could watch and not get involved with, it’s just that there’s nothing here really separating itself from the rest of the clan of dark, gritty, mobster movies that have a lot of violence, and a lot of cuss-words.

That said, the movie mainly benefits from Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski, and does everything in his will-power to make this character work. He succeeds, and thankfully, keeps this movie moving along whenever seems to be slowing down a bit too much for it’s own good. Shannon is the type of actor who’s been churning out works of perfection for the longest while, that it shouldn’t be a surprise how great he is here as Kulkinski, but once again, the dude shows us that he can handle any piece of material, as long as it’s weighty and dramatic enough for him to act his ass off with. Instead of going for the full-blown, crazy-act that we all know Michael Shannon for, the man surprisingly keeps it dialed-down, where we see more brooding from him here, than we ever have before. Take for instance the scene where Ray Liotta holds a gun up to his head. Any movie that features that scene alone, should automatically scary any actor on the opposite-end, but not Shannon. The man does not flinch, he barely blinks, and he doesn’t show any signs of fear in his soul; he just lets it all happen because he himself, is a bad person, he knows it, and doesn’t care what happens. That scene may have been the most memorable for many reasons, but the main one being that Shannon pulls out every emotion within that character that we need to know, in a short and lean 5 minutes.

"That's my husband. My murdering, sick, and insane son-of-a-bitch husband."

“That’s my husband. My murdering, sick, and insane son-of-a-bitch husband.”

What an actor that Michael Shannon. What a freakin’ actor!

Speaking of Ray Liotta, even though the guy’s playing the same role we’ve seen him play a hundred-and-fifty times by now, the guy still owns it as the powerful mob boss that takes Kulkinski in first and foremost, Roy Demeo. The two who are actually stretching their acting-muscles here, Winona Ryder and a nearly-unrecognizable Chris Evans, do very-well with their performances and show that they can for it all, even when they have to play it back and go for smaller, shorter stuff in these indies. Especially Ryder, who gives us the character of a wife who’s practically left in the dark about what her hubby does for money and support, but doesn’t seem at all stupid or idiotic in any way. It seems like she knows what’s really cooking, but at the same time, you can’t be too sure because she doesn’t let too much on about her mind, just enough to have us as curious as she is. Nice to see her finally getting more acting-roles as of late, as it’s a shame that the only reason she fell down the ladder was because of the little “stealing-mishap”. Come on, people! It was over a decade ago! Learn, live, and forgive!

Consensus: Everything that happens in The Iceman, is everything you’d expect to see from another crime-drama of it’s kind, but what separates it from the rest of the pack is Michael Shannon’s powerful performance in the lead, one that doesn’t ask for our sympathy, but gives us a person who was real and as compelling as they got.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Seems like Cap got discovered a little too early. In the 70's, perhaps.

Seems like Cap got discovered a little too early. In the 70’s, perhaps.

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

A 2-hour-long wet dream for any video game nerd out there. All that’s missing: Bewbs.

In Toronto, 22-year-old bum Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is trying to make it big with his garage band Sex Bob-omb, lives with his gay roommate (Kieran Culkin), and has just recently fired up a relationship with a young high school student named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), even though everybody around him disapproves of it. Everything’s going all swell between Scott and Knives, that is until Scott has a dream of a girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a quirky, color-haired American gal that seems all to good to be true. Thing is, she isn’t something only dreams are made of, SHE’S FREAKIN’ REAL!! This obviously gets Scott’s heart beating up and down, and his mind going berserk, so he does what any love-struck dude would do: He pursues her in hopes of being her new love-interest. However, in order to do so, he needs to defeat her 7 evil exes with any trick he can pull off. Which ultimately means, a lot of “KAPOWS”, “WHAMS”, and “BAMS”.

No “THANK YOU, MAMS”, cause honestly, that would just be way too meta.

For the third time since it came out, I have watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and why I never decided to chalk-up a review for this until now, is totally beyond me, although I think I may have a clue as to why. There’s something about Edgar Wright movies that just intimidate the hell out of me; so intimidating, that I’m scared to even bother writing reviews about them, and feel more better just telling people that I’m a fan of them through conversation. It seems like every Wright flick has its own core audience that understands every joke, every pun, every piece of wit, and just about everything thing about it, so much so that any person who doesn’t quite “get it” or even like it for that matter, is ultimately “a noob”. Maybe that’s just all in my head (most likely is), but that’s the main reason why I have yet to write a review of this flick.

Got her with the old, "Do you know the history of Pac-Man" line. Works like a charm every time.

Got her with the old, “Do you know the history of Pac-Man?” line. Works like a charm, every time.

That is, until now. Three years after the fact, and just in time for The World’s End.

Never reading any of the graphic novels going into this, I have to say that I went in, originally, not knowing what to expect, other than sure mayhem. Why? Well, because it is directed and co-written by Edgar Wright who, as you may or may not know, is the creator of two of the funniest comedies from the past decade: Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. So yes, going into it, I knew that I was going to have to be watching the screen the whole time just to see and spot out all of the visual-gags, and get ready for what would be a very quick and fast movie, one that would not slow up for me or hold my hand, guiding me through to where I wasn’t left behind. If I missed a joke or two, Wright wouldn’t stop doing what he was doing so I could keep, so therefore, I knew I couldn’t either. However, despite Wright’s style being practically the same from every one of his other movies (meaning that they’re all hilarious, including this one), there’s something a tad bit different to the approach that he takes with this flick.

Rather than being a full-on parody of a certain genre, then becoming a film that could easily be considered apart of the same genre he is mocking, Scott Pilgrim is more of a straight-forward story that doesn’t make fun of any certain genre; instead, it combines two different types of styles that we usually see done in movies, but never to the full extent as they are done here: Video games and comic books. Right from the beginning of this flick, you can tell it’s obviously going to be an ode to video games; where when characters get hit, there will be words like “BOOM” and “BANG”, along with a bunch of frenzied colors gracing the screen as well. Even other action words like “RIIIING” or “THONK” show up, but here’s what surprised the hell out of me here: It never gets boring to see. Instead, Wright finds a way to make each and every one of these aspects of his style work and continue to spring out more inventiveness within his project, even if it is solely for the gamers out there that grew up on Zelda, and know the Final Fantasy II theme song by heart. I’ve never considered myself a full-fledged “gamer” of sorts, but this movie made me feel like I was watching one on screen, and a very fun and hilarious one at that.

And yes, there are plenty of comic book trademarks here, but not as obvious or as over-zealous as the video game trademarks. With that said, the movie still has plenty of fun with its manic energy that, not even for a single second, let up. There do come the moments in this movie where it has to slow down and give us a little bit of characterization and development, just so that we care a bit more, but even then the story still never cools down. It continues to fire more and more jokes, gags, and funny quips at us, all while feeling like an honest and heartfelt story about a dude just trying to overcome his own mishaps with love and life, and just be with the girl of his dreams, literally. Which actually surprised me because even though the flick never gets too serious or meaningful in the least, it still has a story placed well into the middle somewhere, that goes beyond just being about “a dude facing off a bunch of evil ex-boyfriends”. It’s more about a guy coming into his own, realizing how much of an ass he was in the past, and best of all, still learning that love is the most sacred thing to behold in your life, and you shouldn’t let it go, not even for a second. Some pretty soapy stuff, but it has a meaning for being present and I have to give Wright credit once again for at least tackling a the rom-com genre, and giving it a new vision, while providing the same kindred thoughts and spirits as well.

But like I said before, this movie is fun, fun, fun, and that must never be forgotten. Everything you expect to see from an Edgar Wright movie is here, if not more than that. Obviously there’s going to be a generational-gap between the people that did love the hell out of this, and the people that hated its guts, but that’s neither here nor there. What is “here”, is the matter of fact that this flick knows what type of movie it is, and continues to find new, improved, and refreshing ways to tell its story, while also giving us just the right amount of adrenaline and craziness we need to really get involved with it. You can be a “geek”, and love this; and you could be just a normal, average dude who enjoys movies for the sake of entertainment, and still love this. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll enjoy the hell out of this, and continue to find more and more aspects about it that you love about it.

That IS how people dress in Toronto. So disgraceful!

Yes, that IS how people dress in Toronto. So disgraceful!

Case in point: Me. I’ve seen it about three times by now, and it continues to get better and better. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally got a handle on what good humor is, or maybe its just that I’ve wised-up in the past couple of years and came to notice that Edgar Wright is one of the freshest voices we have in the movie world, and it’s better to embrace him, rather than be away from the rest of the pack and say “I don’t get him”. Maybe that’s it. I still don’t know. I love this movie, let me just leave it at that, okay dammit!!?!??!?

It seems pretty obvious though, that if you’re going to have a movie strictly dedicated to nerds from all over the globe, that it’s only right to include none other than everybody’s favorite celebrity nerd in the lead: Michael Cera. For most people, hearing Cera’s name attached to anything just gets them waving their hands up in disapproval, which makes sense. The guy definitely hasn’t done himself any favors by practically George Michael again and again, role after role; however, from my side of the room, I like what Cera does with these roles and even though he is still awkward, still a bit nervous, and always not-so sure of himself here, he’s still amusing and shows that he can prove to be a bit of a toughie as well. Also, surprised to see that he was playing that wasn’t the smartest guy in the room, or even the whole movie for that matter. He’s a bit of an bumbling idiot when it comes to certain decisions, and shows that he can still get by using his typical trademarks you may, or may not, love him for, but also spice it up a bit as well. Nothing too drastic in terms of what he does as Scott Pilgrim, but the dude seems really comfortable and seems really deserving of the honor of playing every nerd’s favorite superhero, that isn’t Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman (if you get my drift?).

While Cera’s doing his thing in the lead, everybody else on the side do their things as well; the difference with them is that they not only seem to be having more fun, but absolutely living it up in the moment, no matter how long they have on screen. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty rad as Ramona Flowers, not just because she’s every hipster dude’s dream woman, but because she handles the dry sense of humor with perfect ease and resilience that it’s not hard to see her popping-up in more of Wright’s features; Keiran Culkin was an absolute riot as Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace, and handles the humor perfectly as well, while also adding his own bits of charm; newbie Ellen Wong is a great fit for Knives Chau because not only is she funny, but she’s quite endearing and cute as well, making it easier for us to get past the fact that she does become a bit stalker-ish by the end; and lastly, nice to see Brandon Routh actually do something with his career and life after donning the cape and spandex for Clark Kent, but also be very funny and show he may have a future in comedy, if he decides to wake up and smell the moolah burning. Those are the ones that just came to my mind first, but honestly, if you think long and hard enough, you’re going to find more and more people in this movie that just knock it out of the park. Everybody’s hilarious, everybody has something to do, and not a single cast-member feels wasted. Not even Mark Webber. Now honestly, when was the last time you saw that guy being funny?!??!?

Consensus: The central demographic for this movie may ruin some viewers, and win the hearts of others, but it can’t be argued that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the perfect example of a movie that never lets up for anything or anyone, while also being hilarious, and always offering us something new to see or enjoy every time we watch it. Third time for me, and I’m still finding stuff out!

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

I guess "Finish Him!" wasn't in the script? Boo! Points taken off!

I guess “Finish Him!” wasn’t jotted down in the idea book? Boo! Points taken off!

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Saved! (2004)

Now I thought Amanda Bynes was a pretty good looking Jesus freak, but damn was I ever so wrong!

Good girl Mary (Jena Malone) can’t believe it when she gets pregnant by her newly-gay boyfriend. She also can’t believe the actions of her popular, relentlessly devout best friend, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), who’s looking after her wheelchair-bound brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), attempting to convert adamantly Jewish Cassandra (Eva Amurri), and trying to snag cute newcomer Patrick (Patrick Fugit), a hip skateboarding missionary.

You would think that a film about a born-again Christian getting knocked up would be comedy writing itself. But writer/director Brian Dannelly is more about getting in touch with the big issues with religion and the results are fairly successful. Hell actually, a lot better considering Mandy Moore is in one of the leading roles.

What I liked most about Dannelly’s script here is that he goes for some big punches by poking a lot of jokes at fundamentalism, faith, and the people that believe so fanatically in it but he does it in a way that doesn’t offend anyone really. It’s much like ‘Dogma’ in the way that its just showing religion/faith for what it is and even though it may poke a couple of jokes at how crazy and energized up these certain people can be that are behind it, he never really bashes them. The humor is very funny in a satirical way where we see how everybody in this high school is all about the big G.O.D., but at the same time, they aren’t necessarily being the best people that they think God wants them to be. Then again though, that’s the point of the flick.

We can’t always live up to God’s expectations as to whether or not we are doing the right thing in his eyes just about 24/7. It’s definitely a lot harder to ask that out of teenagers more than adults considering we have so much evil and bad things around us that seems so easy to just do what we think is fun or the right thing for us to do. Still though, we can still be happy and be loved by God even if we may mess up every once and awhile because honestly, who’s perfect in today’s world. Donald Trump? Barack Obama? Oprah Winfrey? Don’t worry I’m not a huge believer in faith but I can definitely say that certain people are a lot pushier with it than they have any right to be in the first place.

The film isn’t just a satire about faith and the people it, it’s also a sweet, little coming-of-age story that I thought had some nice touches here and there. Dannelly gives this film a little relaxed feel to it where everybody lives close to one another in this suburban town of Maryland, and they all have different things going on in their lives except for one thing, The Holy Spirit. I liked this because it was a good coming-of-age teen comedy that didn’t try to do anything new with itself but at the same time didn’t try to be another one of those lame-o high school flicks that get old by the 20-minute mark.

My problem that I had with this flick was that as funny and as biting as it sometimes was, the last act really disappoints. I like the fact that Dannelly didn’t try to bash any religion or the people behind it but at the same time, he makes enough jokes at them throughout the whole flick and then tries to say that he’s sorry by giving everybody a nice reconciliation. This seemed a little too neat for my liking considering how biting this film and its satire could be and it just seemed like Dannelly took the easy way out rather than just trying to go for anything edgy or different for that matter. The film’s last act is also filled with just about barely any humor whatsoever, but then again, I don’t really think they were trying to go with that either. It’s just a shame though that a film can be mocking a subject at one point and then by the end, just teeter out and try to ask for its forgiveness for making jokes in the first place.

As for this nice, young cast, they all do pretty good jobs as well. Jena Malone is a perfect fit for Mary because her face shows that she is both naive about what she should do with her future but also determined to do the right thing, which makes it so much easier to like her character right from the start; Mandy Moore is a blast to watch as Hilary Faye because she’s just one of those pretentious, goodie-goodie, rich, pretty, and self-centered chicks that you just want to see get knocked out and told who’s boss but she’s also very funny by how serious she is and it’s just a surprise as well that Moore gives a good performance considering she does do a lot of crap; Macaulay Culkin and Eva Amurri probably have the best scenes together in this flick and it’s a real surprise why none of their careers never really lift off after this; and Patrick Fugit is nice to watch as Patrick, a kid that knows all of the right things to say but just can’t get the girl that he wants. However, if it came down to a choice between Mandy Moore and Jena Malone, I’m sorry but I would have to say Moore. Actually, it’s not that hard of a decision in the first place.

Consensus: Saved! features a lot of funny satire that has a sweet coming-of-age story behind it that works, but by the end it starts to teeter back and ends a little too cleanly. Young cast that makes it definitely worth watching more though.

7/10=Rental!!

The Avengers (2012)

Summer season here we gooooooo!!!!

When an unexpected enemy emerges threatening global safety and security, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Director of the International Peacekeeping Agency (known as SHIELD), finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

Ever since 2008 swung by with ‘Iron Man’ on its shoulders, Marvel Studios has pretty much been patiently waiting and building up to this moment. And needless to say (however still said), the wait was worth it.

The best thing about this flick is how Marvel was able to get a director/writer like Joss Whedon. Whedon knocked it out of the park last month with ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, and he pretty much does the same thing here; but instead of focusing on the horror genre, he focuses on the superheros that we all know, love, and hope to be someday. Maybe I’m alone with that last one, and maybe I snuck it in so quick you didn’t even notice, but basically what I’m trying to say is that these are superheros that deserve the right treatment with everything they get. Whedon gives them all that, and much, much more. I mean after all, Whedon is a fanboy at heart but he is also a film-maker, and that is something he’ll always live up to. He knows what comic ban fans expect to see from this type of material, and he absolutely delivers.

Whedon’s great attribute to this flick is that he is able to stage so many excellent action sequences that are some of the best I have seen lately. Of course, the special effects and CGI are perfect. And the IMAX 3-D does makes this film look so cool it seems like you’re right there along for the ride, but when it comes down to some awesome, kick-ass throw downs, Whedon knows how to do it; and even better, do it right. They’re all breath-taking because they have so much intensity, but a lot of it’s because plenty of the action scenes consist of superheros fighting superheros. We get to see Thor versus Iron Man, Captain America versus Thor, Iron Man versus The Incredible Hulk, and so on and so forth. If any of you out there love these superheros and want to see what they would be like stacked up against another superhero, then definitely see this flick because almost every fight shows these heroes pulling just about everything they have out of their arsenal. It’s like King Kong vs. Godzilla, Lincoln vs. Washington, or even  Backstreet Boys vs. N’Sync. It’s the battle between two opposing forces that can almost never be stopped, and it’s just pure fun. It’s as easy as that.

The strangest but most awesome thing about this movie is that it’s turns out bring one of the funnier comedies of the past couple of years. Whedon shows that he’s even better when it comes to writing witty scripts, and pinpoints perfection here with this cast of characters. I mean all of these superheros are pretty much egotistical freaks who think they’re superior to others because of their freakishly powerful skills they inherited; and that’s exactly what Whedon touches on here. There are plenty of scenes where it’s just a one-on-one outrageous verbal battle between two characters and it’s probably some of the funniest dialogue you’ll hear this whole summer. But it’s not just these verbal battles that are funny, everything else here is too, and it doesn’t even seem like Whedon is trying to write funny dialogue just to be funny and cool; it comes naturally. Even better is that it’s not just one character who gets a chance to be funny, EVERYBODY here does. There will definitely be moments where you come close to rolling out of your seat. My buddy next to me was on the brink a couple times there and I couldn’t blame him.

I honestly think that the reason this film does work so well the way that it does here is because that we’ve had all this time (4 years to be exact) to get to see, know, love and understand these characters in their own movies; and it’s just awesome to finally see them all together in the same room doing exactly what it is they do best: be freakin’ awesome. Robert Downey Jr. obviously is the star of the show and gives off a whole bunch of hilarious one-liners as Tony Stark/Iron Man (remember when people thought that movie was going to blow?); Chris Evans is THE MAN as everybody’s favorite red, white, and blue superhero, Captain America; Chris Hemsworth is once again likable and charming as the Olde English speaker/Norse God, Thor; Mark Ruffalo does a great job of replacing Edward Norton here as Bruce Banner/Hulk, and gives him this scruffy, worn-out look that coexists well especially when he gets angry and turns green; Scarlett Johansson is pretty cool as Black Widow even though it didn’t really seem like she was going to be around here much, but surprisingly, she is also great and doesn’t let us down; Jeremy Renner is pretty much cool and tough as Hawkeye; and Samuel L. Jackson‘s performance here as Nick Fury is basically him playing the Samuel L. Jackson we always see him play, but this time with an eye-patch. Is that a bad thing? Not at all people, not at all.

A superhero film like this is usually made or broken by the villains, and I think they chose right with Tom Hiddleston as Loki. To be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Loki in ‘Thor’ and I actually found him to be a somewhat weak villain no matter, despite how entertaining the flick was. However, Whedon gives Loki just enough time to show how evil and dangerous of a villain he is when he allows this guy to cut a villainous monologue every time he is around one of these heroes. It sounds a bit tiring, but thankfully, Whedon keeps all of these speeches interesting simply while showing  how incredibly powerful Loki can be. Also have to give a lot of credit to Hiddleston who shows that he’s definitely able to carry one villain role all by himself, but also exercise a bit of his comedic chops here as well. A lot of the funnier scenes in this movie revolve around Loki and just how ridiculous this damn dude can be.

Actually, it’s not just Loki who gets the special treatment from Whedon here, come to think of it, everybody does and that’s what’s did it for this flick. There are so many characters/superheros here, but Whedon’s still able to keep them all relevant by showing how all of their powers, skills, and elements as heroes can change the situation that they’re in while simultaneously reminding us why and how we fell in love with these characters in the first place. For example, Black Widow is definitely a character that you would expect to be forgettable in this huge cast of characters. But Whedon shows her as being a kick-ass spy and assassin that actually adds a lot more to the team than you would expect. You think a lot differently of her and what she can do with those nice, strong legs. It’s just great that Whedon lets every character have their time to shine and not have any of them get over-shadowed by one in particular. Hell, even Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson gets to have a couple of memorable moments! Joss surely does know how to share the love.

If I had to be a total dickhead here and nit-pick, it would have to be that sometimes, the film did seem to hit a lull in its pace. And not only did it seem to take a bit away from the final product, but it also made me want more action up on the screen. The scenes with Hawkeye and Black Widow were a little lame and didn’t do much for me, but then again, it didn’t matter because when it got to them kicking ass, that’s exactly what they did.

Consensus: The Avengers is pretty much everything you could expect it to be with fun action, great performances from this ensemble cast of characters that we all know and love, very funny screenplay, and just a reminder as to why nerds rule, and will never, ever go away. Best film of the year so far and a totally kick-ass ride from start to finish. Long live Marvel!

9/10=Full Price!!

BTW: If you guys get a chance to, check out a website called GuysNation. It’s a pretty far-out site I’ve been writing for, for quite some time and just go on by, show me some love, and check out some of the other non-related movie stuff that’s on there as well. Have a good Friday night everybody!

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Sunshine (2007)

When Sheryl Crow sang, “I wanna soak up the sun”, these people took that to the heart.

With permanent darkness looming, scientists devise a plan to reignite the sun before the lights go out forever. To do so, a crew of astronauts is sent hurtling through space on an intense mission to determine the fate of the planet.

Director Danny Boyle is a dude that has been doing great things for the past decade. Ever since he flew on the radar with Trainspotting, people have been watching this guy for just what crazy story he’ll bring out next. This is one of them.

Boyle does a great job with this film because he creates this ultra-freaky sense of claustrophobia as the crew members get closer and closer to the sun, and farther and farther away from the actual planet. This is how Boyle creates suspense as he shows more close-up shots, confined structures, and basically telling us what’s going to happen next but still leaving that little thought and idea that something, just something may go wrong.

Another great thing that Boyle does here is show us perfect actually almost seamless dazzling effects that look like an actual spacecraft if it were to travel to the sun. I liked how Boyle used all these different types of vibrant colors to contract the over-bearing darkness in space. The scenes of where we actually see the sun hitting these people’s eyes or just seeing the sun in general are actually very well-detailed and if Boyle did one thing right here, it was to show us just about pitch-perfect visuals that never seemed to disappoint and brought me more and more into this world.

My main problem with this film is that none of this really seems original which is what anyone could see from a mile away. I almost got the sense of claustrophobia that I had with Alien, or the talking space-ship from 2001, or hell even the little plot twists that happen here reminded me so much of Solaris and plenty other sci-fi flicks. This isn’t saying that this one doesn’t stand well on it’s own two feet because it does well, but the constant reminders of countless other sci-fi films started to annoy me.

I like how Boyle chose this international cast and actually all had them live together so he could get this very legit feel between all of the, and to say the least it worked. Cillian Murphy is the real showcase of talent here as Capa; Rose Byrne is gorgeous but also very good as Cassie; Michelle Yeoh creates a very good character which is something I wasn’t expecting as Corazon; and Cliff Curtis does a good job as the reasonable nice guy, Searle.

The best out of the cast though is a guy I actually talked about not too long ago in my Captain America review. Chris Evans is stunning here and attributes to a lot of the scenes he has because he has that legitimate feel to him and it almost seems when everybody’s getting all too freaky and crazy with what’s about to happen. He’s the one who always seems to breath some fresh air of smarts into their sci-fi heads and even though the rest of the cast is good he is still the one that seems to do it for me the most.

My final problem with this film is that the tone starts to switch very dramatically by the last hour. The first hour is this building of suspense, sci-fi, and unknowings, but then the last half comes up and then we get this strange, trapped, almost slasher flick kind of film. This kind of disappointed me because it was never explained why the last half actually happened the way it did and the way everything happens just seems so run-of-the-mill even though I thought the ending had a good touch.

Consensus: This isn’t a totally original film, and the final act may disappoint, but Sunshine benefits from Boyle’s inspired direction that creates suspense, beautiful visual effects, and a cast that actually do well with their roles and seem like actual people rather than just a bunch of action cliches.

7/10=Rental!!

Happy Last Day Of Summer of Everyone! It’s been a great one!

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

And if you don’t like him then you can just go to Russia!

Marvel launches another super franchise with this origin story, which follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he volunteers for a secret experiment during World War II. Transformed into a superhero named Captain America, Steve goes after the Axis. With his perfect physique and heightened reflexes — and his sidekick, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) — Steve battles the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a super soldier created by Italian fascists.

With The Avengers film coming closer and closer, it’s time we finally got a look at the one who basically started it all and is the most important of all of them. And he is played by Johnny Storm.

Director Joe Johnston knows what he’s doing with this material because he once made a 1940’s superhero flick back in the day called The Rocketeer, and it seems that he hasn’t lost that spark for making the 40’s seem awesome. To add to the awesome look this film has, is the action that this story brings out.

There’s nothing really much else like watching a dude dressed in all red, white, and blue hurling a shield almost the length of a football field, kicking the shit out of these super-Nazis, and seeing him shoot people right in the face without even caring one bit. After awhile, it starts to just become the same old stuff after awhile, but the action keeps on building and building itself up to the point of where the end is there and hell practically breaks loose.

The problem with this superhero film is that this is basically the same as every single, superhero film that has come out within the past 3 years ever since Iron Man. I was expecting this to be a lot different for this story since it needs to tell us more about just why everything happens for the reasons they do, but we never really get that. Just about three montages as well.

The story here is pretty much the usual good vs. evil premise we have all come to know by now but the writing is all so solid that it makes it all seem very different. I found myself actually laughing a couple of times with this film and actually a little bit of quoting after wards too which I guess can’t be said about too many superhero films in today’s world. There’s also a great deal of heart to be shown in this film which by the last 10 minutes will be somewhat moving.

Chris Evans has never really been much of an household name and is somewhat a poor mans Ryan Reynolds, but we now know who can play the better superhero. Evans keeps a little bit of that sarcastic comedy he has here but he also does a great job of making Steve Rogers seem someone to completely love and stand behind. He seems like a noble dude and a normal human-being who just has this superpower that he is incredibly strong and ready to kick ass at any second. Let’s also not forget that he totally looks the part with his buff and muscular body that actually had me believe this dude could perfectly defend our country. It was a little hard to get past the fact that he already played another Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, Evans was still a solid casting choice.

Hugo Weaving is OK as The Red Skull who looks really menacing with the scary look and slick-leather wardrobe but is nothing memorable. I never really hated him at all because he just wants to destroy the world and that’s pretty much it which I think is a problem with the script because as much as Weaving tries to look smug the whole time I knew what was going to happen, didn’t really care, and most of all just thought with better writing this villain could have been even more terribly menacing.

The rest of the cast is pretty bangin’ though. Tommy Lee Jones can practically play the one-liner, smart, old-timer role in his sleep now and his role as Col. Chester Phillips is no different; Newcomer Hayley Atwell does a pretty strong job keeping up with the boys here as Peggy Carter; and Stanley Tucci is also good as German scientist Abraham Erskine and shows just what a pro he really is. The rest of the ensemble cast is filled with the likes of Derek Luke, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, and Neal McDonough who is surprisingly not playing a villain this time around. I guess he’s just trying to build back up his career after that Street Fighter shit that came out two years ago.

Consensus: With a couple of writing brush-ups, Captain America: The First Avenger could have been even better, but instead works with awesome visuals, kick-ass action, and some very good performances that really add so much more to this film and get you even more pumped up for The Avengers film.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Losers (2010)

The 14-year old boys definition of freakin’ awesome!

After learning that their handler, Max (Jason Patric), has set them up, a group of disavowed CIA operatives led by Clay — aka the Colonel (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — bands together to bring down their betrayers in this slick action thriller.

This film is based off a graphic novel that I have never read, but from what this film makes it out to be, it’s a crazy read.

To say the least, this film has a lot of things blowing up, people getting shot, and materials being destroyed. The action here is pretty non-stop for the most part, and I must say I did not have a problem with this because it actually kept me entertained, despite being another loud and noisy action thriller.

I did think this film was actually funny at times, and I liked that because not many action comedies can actually be “funny”. The film is downright dumb, and proud of it which I liked because it’s not at all trying to hide it. They also tried to make some sort of story here, but that didn’t quite work, because the film wasn’t all that involved with the story as much as they were with the explosions and killing.

However, there were moments where I felt like this film tried too hard to be cool, and that really did annoy me after awhile because some gags just fell right on their ass. I can’t say that I’m totally against this, because not many other action comedies can be as funny as this one is, but they try too hard with the puns, and the random shootings and explosions that don’t really do much other than be a cool thing to watch.

The cast here is what makes this film a step above many action comedies as well. Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a good job here as Clay, and just proves he can be that leading tough guy we want in Hollywood. Jason Patric is pretty corny as our villain, but I think he was going for that here so I can’t really diss too much. I was glad to see that Zoe Saldana can fill those Angelina Jolie shoes, and not so much as Megan Fox like Hollywood was planning. You also have Columbus Short, Oscar Jaenada, Idris Elba, and the best out of the cast, Chris Evans who brings so much humor to this film that he was probably the best, and the one I’ll most likely remember.

Consensus: The Losers is loud, noisy, and all-over-the-place, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it works if you’re looking just to have a good time watching everything in sight blow up.

6.5/10=Rental!!