Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Colin Ford

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


Disconnect (2013)

Social-networking sites may be bad, but at least they give suburban, middle-to-upper-class families something to chat about.

There are multiple storylines here, all concerning the usage of modern-day technology in some way or form. One story is about a father (Jason Bateman) coping with his son’s recent suicide-attempt, that may or may not have been spurred on through “cyber bullying”; an ex-cop (Frank Grillo) has some problems of his own trying to make sure that his son (Colin Ford) stays on the right track when it comes to school and his social-life, and away from those damn iPads; a married-couple (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard) are going through a rough patch in their lives when they realize that they have been the subjects of a security-fraud and know set their eyes on where the criminal may possibly be located at; and a young, 18-year-old stud (Max Theriot) who uses his body for web chats he makes money off of, gains the attention of an aspiring journalist (Andrew Riseborough) just looking for her big break into the world of media, and finds it with him, only to find out that sooner or later, eventually, emotions can screw up anything. Especially a good story.


"What you want more? A cracked skull, or a cracked iPad-screen?"

“What you want more? A cracked skull, or a cracked iPad-screen?”

Those were my sarcastic feelings when I first heard of this movie, which, at first, seemed like a really bad, really obvious, made-for-TV, Lifetime movie that would get all sorts of parents in a fluster, angry and ready to take any sort of electronics away from their kids in hopes that they don’t turn out like these people do. In that regard, I shooed this movie off as if it was just a waste of my time, and heck, a waste of anybody’s time for that matter. And then, I saw the cast and automatically, my mind switched up a bit into some curiosity as I felt like, “Hey, if it’s good enough for talented peeps like Jason Bateman and Frank Grillo, it sure as hell has got to be good for me, right?!?!”

Well, the answer is yes. And as you may have predicted, it is also no. Here’s why:

The first-half or so of this movie is pretty painful to get through. Not only does every story not seem the least bit of interesting, but they’re told to us in such a way that makes us feel like all it’s going to be is teaching us a lesson about how we should long more for connection to humans around, face-to-face, rather than for connection to humans around us, computer-screen-to-computer-screen. Personally, I agree with the message here that this movie is so obviously throwing at me, however, I’d be wrong to say that I haven’t found myself on the other-end of a conversation/connection with another person that hasn’t solely been through the computer. Not saying that I was using any sites like this, or that, but a simple message or two through the good ole’ Facebook messenger, and/or text-message, is all fine and dandy, just as long as I don’t over-do it like some people I know definitely do.

That said, the movie does start off as very preachy and seems like it may just continue to be so, up until the ending when we see all of our characters learn their lesson, be on with their lives and hopefully continue to live in a way that isn’t so dependent on technology. But surprisingly, the stories start to work and sooner than later, the message actually makes a lick of a difference. It isn’t that everybody in this movie is like, “Oh, the internet’s bad. Stay away or die!!”. They’re more just like, “When it comes right down to getting to know another person, maybe the internet isn’t the best way to go about things, you know?” And that’s why the movie, despite it’s previously-known message, takes on a new meaning once it turns a new leaf and actually had me compelled to see what happened to these characters, at any given moment. Although I wouldn’t have predicted most of these stories to spiral as out of control as they did, I still didn’t fully throw them out of the realm of possibility, since there’s plenty of weird crap that you can see on the internet nowadays, and also, plenty of weird crap that occurs in daily-life that has to do with some stuff people see on the internet, or want others to see. Hell, I bet if you typed in “dude sets himself on fire”, on YouTube, you’d get thousands of videos where people just want the fame, attention and chance to be noticed by anybody out there.

It’s sort of sad, really, but it’s nothing new we don’t already know. Or at least, I hope not anyway.

But like I was saying with the stories, they all start off pretty boring as they try to find their feet in place of this story; but once their groove is found, most of them due tend to get a lot better, if mainly because the performances from everyone are so good and determined. We rarely see Jason Bateman go as full-fledged into the dramatic-territory as we see him do here and thankfully, it was a nice change of pace for the guy. I don’t think he made one single wise-crack at all throughout this whole movie, but you know what? It didn’t bother me, nor seem like he was trying too hard not to crack a smile. Same goes for the criminally underused Hope Davis who plays his wife, and shows us why if you need a sad lady around, she’s the perfect pick.

"Hey Jamie, what's all of this stuff about two girls and a cup?"

“Hey Jamie, what’s all of this stuff about two girls and a cup?”

Frank Grillo also has one of the more interesting stories of the whole movie, if solely because he, his character, is so damn compelling to watch in the first place. Grillo’s character is a tough, rugged, angry and unpredictable man that isn’t necessarily bipolar, but definitely has a short fuse when it comes to getting things his way. On the outside, he seems like a total dick that nobody would ever want to be around, let alone even his own son, but once we get to find out more about him, who he is now, who he was back in the day and his past, then we start to see that there’s more damage done to this guy, than he actually inflicts on the others around him. Sure, he may be a little mean when it comes to the whole “tough love” aspect of raising his family, but in reality, all he wants to teach his kid a lesson so that he doesn’t grow up to be a poor schlub that sits around all day and wastes his life, staring at a computer-screen. Speaking of his kid, Colin Ford is pretty good at giving us a little punk-ass deuche cake that, through some interesting and slightly tense internet-chats we see him have, we realize that he’s just as damaged as the kid’s he picks on, if not worse. Hence why he’s such a bully in the first place.

After these two stories, the rest all seem like they were given less attention and complexity, but they still work, if only for, once again, the performances from the actors working in them. Andrea Riseborough, despite working with an American-accent, does a surprisingly nice job as the hotshot, up-and-coming reporter that just wants the big story to make her a household name, once and for all. The “relationship” that she sparks up with Max Theriot’s character is a well-written at first and heck, could have been its own movie, given the right time and effort, but once it begins to reach its first two or three twists, then it gets a bit overblown and ends on a cheap note. Same goes for the story of Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard’s couple, but they didn’t really have much to work with in the first place and it wasn’t until the last second where things got surprisingly, somewhat intriguing. Still, it’s easily the most boring, and poorly-written story of the four and to make matters worse, these two just don’t share much of a chemistry at all. Even if they are supposed to be upset and stand-offish with one another, they still need to have some amount of connection between the two. But nope. Instead, they seem more like the types of people that accidentally got a baby and decided that they had to get married, only to spend the rest of their days together wondering just where it all went. Yeah, I’m really reaching here, but it’s what I got to do to sell something like this.

Consensus: While not everything may work well in the message that Disconnect is trying so obviously to get across, the performances from everyone involved still make up for most of the mistakes.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Wanna see Tony, the tiger? And no, not the one up to my top-left."

“Wanna see Tony, the tiger? And no, not the one up to my top-left.”

Photo’s Credit to:

We Bought a Zoo (2011)

Wow they really run that house like a zoo. Thank you, I know I’m funny.

‘We Bought A Zoo’ is based on the Benjamin Mee memoir of the same name and an actual true story. It tells the story of how Mee (Matt Damon) and his family used their life savings to buy a dilapidated zoo and restore it to its former glory.

What is with the films that are coming out that have to do with a father taking over his family as the wife dies (this, ‘The Descendants’) or ones that have to do with animals (this, ‘War Horse’)? Oh wait, it’s the holidays and everybody needs some good old cheer even though I’m not buying it.

Cameron Crowe returns to the big-screen after 6 years and being a fan of films such as ‘Jerry Maguire’, ‘Vanilla Sky’, and ‘Almost Famous’, I was excited to see him come back but he could have chosen something a lot better but thanks to him, it’s a lot better than I could have imagined. The film itself is co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna who has done fairly light-comedy flicks but you can almost tell where Crowe inserted his own writing and lines in. The main character is a writer (though he doesn’t do much of it), he’s going through a mid-life crisis of sorts and is dealing with the loss of his wife while raising an adorable child. Oh and let’s not forget that there are also the little speeches that characters give each other about life and just living it out to the fullest.

Although this all may sound cheesy and predictable (which in a way it is), Crowe somehow makes this film believable and entertaining to the point of where you do start to get involved with this story. The story is cliched beyond belief but there is just something about all of these characters that makes you smile and make you feel like you are apart of this zoo as much as anybody else on-screen. Crowe also out-lines the film with a lot of humor that is sometimes very witty, sometimes very obvious, and other times very dark (such as the Chilean miner reference which came out-of-nowhere). I think because of Crowe, this film isn’t as bad as it should be.

The problems that this film runs into is its dramatic moments where Crowe stumbles quite a bit. Since this is a family flick, Crowe feels the need to bring in these ultra-sappy and corny moments where a character is saying something sweet or giving another montage about their own feelings. It gets even worse when the score starts to blast on in every sequence something cute or bubbly happens. Maybe if they didn’t have the stupid score, I would have smiled at more scenes but it’s so cloying and distracting that I honestly just wish Crowe used the soundtrack for ‘Almost Famous’ instead. Could you imagine a zebra running around to the tune of Tiny Dancer?

Another problem I had with this film was that I think Crowe didn’t know how to trust his audience here so he just hits people over the head with everything he’s trying to show and do. When Benjamin does something dumb, there is automatically something there to hit his head or fall down from or when Benjamin starts to think about his deceased wife, she pops up right away. Crowe tries to spell everything out for us and instead of letting us think about it for ourselves, we have to get constant visuals of whatever is happening just so Crowe doesn’t lose us.

However, the power with this flick really lies in Matt Damon’s performance as Benjamin Mee, and it’s great to see him once again in top-form. Damon has the perfect balance of charm, humor, and normal look to him that makes him seem like a real dude with real emotions and even though his daughter sort of takes away any moment he has of being funny, Damon still seems like he knows what he’s doing. Scarlett Johansson is great to watch as Kelly, and the romance between her and Damon is really under-played which I liked because judging by the previews, I automatically knew I wouldn’t have been able to believe it and I still didn’t.

The rest of the cast is great with everybody getting a chance to strut their stuff. Thomas Haden Church is funny and brings a lot of wit to his character as Benjamin’s big-bro, Duncan; Patrick Fugit is back on the big-screen with a chimpanzee over his shoulder the whole time as Robin Jones; Angus Macfadyen is funny as the Scottish crazy-man, MacCready; and John Michale Higgins plays his arch-nemesis, Walter Ferris, who shows his perfect comedic timing with just about everything he says or does. The one disappointing performance and plot I was bothered by was the sub-plot between Elle Fanning and Colin Ford which seems very forced the whole time, even though the film constantly brings it up. Fanning has been really good in the past two films I’ve seen her in so for her to kind of just be a one-note character was a real disappointment, but hey, she’s got more films way ahead of her.

Consensus: We Bought a Zoo mainly benefits from Cameron Crowe’s writing and the fun performances from the cast, especially a very likable real Matt Damon, but is also way too sentimental and tries too hard to get us to feel something with constant speeches about life and spelling everything out for us.