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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Daniel Kaluuya

Get Out (2017)

Stay away from the white ‘rents house. Always.

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Alison Williams) have been dating for quite some time. So, this obviously means that it’s time for Chris to meet her parents – something they’ve both been holding off on, because well, Chris is black and knows how these sorts of things go. Rose brushes it off and it makes sense; her parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), both seem like well-intentioned white people who, sure, may not always say the best, most appropriate things, but love their daughter enough to know that if she loves Chris, well, he’s got to be something special. But Chris starts noticing some odd things going on around the house, like with the house-workers both being black and very odd, as well as some of the other black people in/around the area. It’s all very surreal to Chris, but maybe, maybe he’s just overreacting. Until he realizes that maybe something incredibly bad and dangerous is going on here, and it’s up to him to figure it all out, way before it’s too late and something bad happens to him. Whatever that may be, he doesn’t know. But he sure as hell isn’t going to stick around and wait to see what happens.

Young happy couple. Time to ruin their lives.

Young happy couple. Time to ruin their lives.

It’s crazy that someone like Jordan Peele had Get Out within him; all of those years of creating and writing some hilariously biting and funny satire, behind it all, there was a dark, rather sick and twisted soul who wanted to get his voice and vision out there for the whole world to see. It’s actually shocking how different Get Out is from what you’d expect from Peele, but to take it one step further, but also by how different it is from so many mainstream horror movies. It’s as if the movie was made on a hand-shake agreement between Peele and the studios, where he would give them the funny bits of his persona, only so that they would invest and allow his freak-flag to fly.

And yeah, it pays off. For the most part.

The one interesting aspect surrounding Get Out is that you never quite know where it’s going to go, both in terms of its story, as well as its tone. That can sometimes back-fire, but for the longest time, Get Out is a suspenseful, tense and rather exciting horror-thriller that doesn’t try to grab out at us with the big, loud and obvious shocks and scares that we’re so used to seeing with horror movies of this same kind (although there is that conventional scene early-on of the couple running into a deer for a jump-scare, but it’s easy to forgive). Instead, Peele shows a resistance in giving us everything we need to know about this story, and slowly builds this story, giving us small, itty, bitty clues and hints into where this story may be headed and what the overall shocker’s going to be.

It’s the kind of suspense-horror that the genre doesn’t quite utilize that much anymore – in a way, it’s as if Polanski’s influence has come and gone out the window, once it appeared like he himself left the genre in the back-burner. But Get Out does suspense right, never letting us forget where the story may head, as well as what it’s trying to say about numerous things, like race, gender, and the class-system in our country. But it’s interesting that Peele doesn’t quite hit us over the head with these points; you’d think that a movie about black people being practically whitewashed would be a lot more irate and angry, but instead, Peele uses it as a platform to discuss further more troubling issues about identity and losing one’s self-respect.

White parents. Nice and presentable on the outside, evil and heartless on the inside.

White folks: Nice and presentable on the outside, evil and heartless on the inside.

Oh, and yes, we are still talking about a horror movie here, folks.

So yes, Peele should definitely be commended here for taking the horror-aspect of the story and working it for all that he’s got. The only regard where Peele seems to lose himself and show a bit of a room to grow in his debut feature, is that he doesn’t quite nail the comedy down as much as he thinks he does. Lil Rel Howry – who is a scene-stealer in the Carmichael Show – plays Chris’ best buddy who is, for the most part, seen having phone-conversations and that’s about it. He’s funny and the scenes in the first-half that we get of him work and help break-up the tension every so often, but then it gets to become a little tiresome, with a whole ten or so minutes dedicated to watching this character make dick and sex jokes.

Howry’s timing is on-point, but the movie’s is not. It doesn’t do much but take away from the momentum that the movie has going for itself and just seems like cheap laughs, for no exact reason other than to have cheap laughs. Maybe in a far less serious movie, it would have been fine, but Get Out is not that movie. It’s very deep, very dark, very serious and very drab, and it deserves to be that way, with some comedy sprinkled throughout – not whole segments.

But hey, Peele’s just getting started and he’s constantly going to be creating. I’m excited to see just where he sets him ambitious sights next. Whether it’s in a comedy, or another horror movie, remains to be seen.

Can’t wait to see, though.

Consensus: Even with some narrative flaws here and there, Get Out is still a suspenseful, unpredictable and chilling horror-flick that also proves Peele to be a talent to keep a look on when he’s behind the camera.

7.5 / 10

White people will do this to you.

White people will do this to you.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Welcome to the Punch (2013)

Why can’t gangsters and cops just get along?

Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is going damn near-obsessed with Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong), a notorious British gangster who shot him in the knee, left him injured, and with a burning flare of revenge in the pit of his stomach. So, in order to get this criminal, Max decides to devise a set-up in which they’ll use Jacob’s son as bait. The plan sort of works, but it sort of doesn’t; while Jacob shows up, he still doesn’t fall prey to the tricks and trades of Max, therefore, leading to another battle of gunshots and violence. Meanwhile, the city’s law enforcement is cracking down on crime by issuing in new, state-of-the-art facilities and plans, all of which seem to promise a better, less-criminalized future for London, but really, seems like it may just be a pipe dream. After all, when you have cops as unprofessionally obsessed as Lewinsky handling very serious, almost life-changing cases, it’s hard to wish for a better tomorrow, when the present is already so screwed up and muggy.

"You fell for the free ice cream bit, too?"

“You fell for the free ice cream bit, too?”

Welcome to the Punch is, for lack of a better term, a very bloody, very violent, and very dour adaptation of cops and robbers. I say this intending for it to sound so exciting and fun as you’d expect something along those lines to be, but in reality, I can’t help but let you know that the film is very far from being exciting, or better yet, even fun. If anything, Welcome to the Punch is so cliched, serious and boring, that by the end, you may actually want to go out and play a simple, seemingly harmless game of cops and robbers yourself.

If you want to add the guns, the violence and the cursing, then sure, knock yourself out, but trust me, the entertainment you’d find with that game, you won’t find here.

A big part of that has to do with the fact that writer/director Eran Creevy doesn’t seem to know what to do with his set-up. While you can’t say the story here is particularly “original”, or even “surprising”, per se, there’s still a lot of promise up in the air. British gangster tales like this, when done right, can be every bit as compelling as they were back in the heydays of cinema – you just have to find the right approach and spin to make them as such. Creevy seems like he’s interested in these kinds of characters, but doesn’t know where to go with them, what to do with them or how to do anything that doesn’t bring anybody’s attention to far better, more engaging movies of the same genre.

Sure, this is expected with the British gangster genre, but still, there should be something different to make a note, instead of nothing. The violence and the few action-sequences we do get are, thankfully, fun and slick enough that they nearly save the movie, but everything else, when there isn’t shooting, or killing, or bleeding, or stuff blowing up, is just dull. Creevy seems to have a bright idea of staging action-sequences and how to get them going when push comes to shove, but actually getting there and bringing enough tension and turmoil to the action-sequences, he seems to have issues with.

Nobody lives in London except for James McAvoy, apparently.

Nobody lives in London except for James McAvoy, apparently.

This is a big problem, too, considering that he’s got a very solid cast to work with, yet, also seems to saddle them with dry, almost two-dimensional characters. McAvoy’s Lewinsky is so unrealistic and ridiculous, that he’s already hard to sympathize with, but McAvoy tries. We’re supposed to believe that a character like this would be such a live wire that, despite him brimming with rage and anger, he’d still be able to maintain himself in a place of professionalism and handle such a high-profile case as this. We don’t get to know anything more about McAvoy’s Lewinsky, other than that he’s obsessed with catching his shooter and that’s it.

Yawn.

Mark Strong’s Jacob seems like he’s going to be more than just your average British crook, but turns out to be just that. Sure, he’s not a total bad guy, but other than the fact that he seems to be doing everything for his son, there’s no real development to him that sets him apart from the rest of the other gangster characters who show up here. The only aspect is that he changes his mind about killing McAvoy’s Lewinsky, which almost doesn’t matter because, well, it’s hard to really care for that character in the first place.

Other welcoming presences show up like Peter Mullan, David Morrisey, and Andrea Riseborough show up and try their damn hardest to add some bit of electricity to the movie, but ultimately, seem like they’re not given anything in return for their efforts. Everyone here reads their script and does their absolute best, but Creevy isn’t really there to pick up the rest of the slack; they’re all sort of left working with thin characters we don’t come to care about, nor really identify with. They’re just place-holders for a bunch of action-sequences that, yes, look nice, but ultimately, don’t add up to much other than a bunch of in-focus explosions.

Give me a Diet Coke, Mentos, and a video-camera, and honestly, I could do the same thing. Except that it wouldn’t cost over 10 million dollars, nor would it be 100 minutes – it would cost five bucks, and last only about two minutes. Everybody would be a lot happier and not feel as if they’re time was just wasted.

Basically, the opposite feeling you get from Welcome to the Punch.

Consensus: Despite a great cast, Welcome to the Punch flounders their talents on a lame script, predictable storytelling, and uninteresting characters that are only meant to push us to the next action-sequence.

3 / 10

"Just do it. Make this thing interesting."

“Just do it. Make this thing interesting.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Sicario (2015)

Do drugs kill? Or do people? Think, think, people!

After a sting operation goes terribly wrong, FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is left wanting any sorts of revenge on whoever may have been responsible. Thankfully, she gets called up to the big leagues when higher-ups in the FBI, like Matt (Josh Brolin), recruit her for a mission to take down a notorious drug lord in Mexico. Kate knows that this is what she wants to do, but she starts to see that the mission may not be all that it appears to be. For one, an informant that the FBI is working with, named Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), comes from a very shady history that, in ways, seems a lot more reprehensible than the one that this drug lord is most known for. Secondly, Kate has to fear for her life in ways that she didn’t expect. While she think she may be doing the right thing, she’s making herself a target for all sorts of evil-doers that may be associated with the cartel that her operation is targeting, but some may also be associated with the FBI – the people that she’s supposed to be protected by and arm-in-arms with.

I don’t know what sort of travesty occurred in Denis Villeneuve’s personal life, but after having seen this, Enemy and Prisoners, I can easily say that Villeneuve wants to hurt someone. Whether it be people, animals, or trees, Denis Villeneuve seems like he’s got an ax to grind with someone and because of that, we’re just watching him make these dark, brutal, brooding, and downright angry movies about people that are, well, dark, brutal, brooding and downright angry as well.

I'd hate to be on the end of anything with Benincio Del Toro. Not to mention, his gun.

I’d hate to be on the end of anything with Benincio Del Toro. Not to mention, his scope.

And I’m loving it all!

I mean, of course, whatever happened Denis, I’m sorry for your loss. But please, whatever has you so upset with the world you live in, let it continue to mess with your for a little while longer. So long as you’re making movies like Sicario, where we can see you vent all of your frustration in mean, but exciting ways.

With that said, too, yeah, Sicario‘s pretty awesome. In every sense of the word, it’s a thriller. But because this Denis Villeneuve we’re talking about here and somebody like, I don’t know, say, the one and only Michael Bay, there’s a lot more brewing underneath the surface other than just more guns, more bullets, more blood, more death, more drugs, and more Mexican gangbangers. Of course, all of the guns, bullets, blood, death, drugs, and Mexican gangbangers help keep this movie exciting and tense as anything I saw displayed in Prisoners, but when you strip all of that away, you got a really interesting story about how the FBI is, well, shady.

Through Emily Blunt’s Kate Mercer, we see this world where FBI agents and cartel members constantly duke it out between who has more money, more power, and most importantly, more weapons at their disposal. In fact, in me just describing that, I realized that this movie would have been at least ten times better, had it literally just been a one-on-one, winner-take-all, last-man-standing battle between the FBI and Mexican drug cartel. They could have gotten Bruce Buffer to announce it, Jim Ross and Joe Rogan to commentate, and hell, even Mills Lane to referee everything.

But sadly, Sicario is not that movie.

But I don’t mean that in a bad way because, in its own, all-too-realistic manner, Sicario has a lot to say other than that, “people who do and get involved with drugs are bad, bad people that you probably should stay away from on the streets or at social gatherings.” In this post-9/11 world that we currently live in, nowadays, the FBI and so many other people involved with the government and in catching baddies, are so concerned with getting the highest top-tier guys that they can find, that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there. This, in some more ways than one, means that they find themselves in some shady alliances that, on paper, may look nice, but when you get to thinking about it, don’t really make much of sense. Why would the FBI, let one violent, sadistic, and smart criminal go free, just because he helped them get to another one who has the same characteristics? Is it because one bowed-out before the other? Or is it because it’s the only hand that the FBI can play with that makes them look good to their superiors and the people who hand-out promotions?

I’ll let you think about that one, but yeah, you get my drift. If you look under Sicario‘s hood, you’ll find that there’s a lot more going on and to be said, which is fine and all, but occasionally, it does take away the sheer awesomeness that is the action here. And by “action”, I don’t mean fist-fights, gun-battles, car-chases and/or sword-action galore – I mean the kind of action you see in Michael Mann movies where the sheer fact that it’s being lead-up to and spread out over time, intensifies it a whole lot more. There’s one sequence in particular where the FBI is stuck on the Mexican-border with a hostage of theirs and honestly, I won’t spoil it any further. Just know that it’s a pretty rad sequence so that, when it comes up, you can get ready and let your friends know how rad it’s going to be.

Courtesy of Dan the Man, of course.

And what makes the action all the more exciting is the fact that it’s all being shot by the legend himself, Roger Deakins. Roger Deakins could shoot a film-sequence of me sitting on my love seat, flicking through the premium channels to where I found good re-runs of my favorite Wire episodes (spoiler alert, I never do!) and it would have more layers of beauty than a whole Adam Sandler movie ever would. He’s one of the main reasons Sicario breathes as vibrantly as it does, regardless of what’s happening. People can be sitting around, talking, or they could be getting all ready and amped-up to blow some people’s heads off. Either way, it’s always lovely to watch, all because of Mr. Deakins himself.

Look out for the camo!

Look out for the camo!

Not to mention, too, the cast is pretty great. This isn’t a total surprise to me considering that Denis Villeneuve got just about every role down to a perfect T with Prisoners, but still, it’s worth noting that when your movie features Emily Blunt as a bad-ass, kick-ass, take-some-names FBI agent and doesn’t have me laugh my rear-end off, then yeah, you’re solid gold. Granted, Blunt is a great actress who has shown, many times before, that she can move around any genre she likes and make it work in her favor, but still, this role could have easily been a silly one, had the wrong actress been placed into it. Then again, the fact that it was an actress placed into this role to begin with, and not some chiseled, ripped-up, and beefy dude with other masculine features, is worth praising.

But the reason why Blunt doesn’t seem to get too much notice is because, quite frankly, she’s used as our eyes and ears for this story. She’s at least one step above that and has something resembling a personality, but overall, she’s basically our conduit to everything that goes down and as to why this story is being told. Which is good, because without her, we wouldn’t have been treated to the likes of Benincio Del Toro as Alejandro.

As soon as you see Benincio Del Toro in a movie about Mexican drug cartels, you automatically think, “Oh great. Re-run of Traffic! Next!” But because Del Toro’s an actor and a very good one at that, he likes to shake things up and show that he can give this character a type of menace that will have you terrified for days. However, at the same time, he gives this guy a conscience that makes you think he’s a human being that doesn’t like to chop down trees for the hell of it, but at the same time, still doesn’t make you think he’s a total nice guy, either. There’s a certain back-story to this character that puts everything he does or says into perspective and it gives Del Toro absolute free reign to do whatever he wants with this character, and it’s a blast to watch.

Sure, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, and surprisingly, Jeffrey Donovan, are all good in their own rights, but it’s Del Toro who runs away with this movie and will have you thinking about him for days.

And also the cool explosions, bro!

Consensus: Tense, well-acted, and most importantly, complex, Sicario is more than just your average thriller with lots of explosions and bullets flying, but still takes much pleasure in showing those things, too.

8.5 / 10

Damn. I still hate that Josh Krasinski, man!

Damn. I still hate that Josh Krasinski, man!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Sadly, as much as it pains to me admit it: Jim was right.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is still the same old, lovable dork everybody remembered him as being three years ago. He still wants the ladies, he’s still awkward with his dad, and he still tries to save the day dressing-up as his alter-ego, Kick-Ass. However, times have changed since everybody’s favorite, real-life superhero came out and started saving the world, one dead drug-dealer at a time; now, it seems like everybody on the street who’s ever wanted to do something nice, is dressing-up as their own creation and getting ready to go head-to-head with the various baddies who run throughout New York City. Heck, they even have their own team, which is lead by the mysterious, but deadly force of nature known as Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Things start to get a little shaky however, once Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), aka, the Red Mist comes back to seek his revenge for his daddy’s death, but this time, has a new name and a dangerous posse along with him for the ride, wreaking havoc and disaster everywhere they show up. With Kick-Ass, the rest of his team, and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), D’Amico’s war-path of revenge may come to an end.

Despite it having its haters, I rather enjoyed the original Kick-Ass. It definitely had its moments where it went a little too far with its action, and definitely felt like it was a lot cooler than it actually was, but overall, it was fun, exciting, gory, and a nice change-of-pace from the usual, CGI-driven superhero flicks we usually get, and got that fine summer of 2010. Hence why I was looking forward to this sequel so much, even if it felt like the type of movie that didn’t need a sequel, nor did it really need to expand on its story. But you know what? It’s the summer; it’s action-y; and it’s Kick-Ass, so why the ‘eff not?!?

Just your typical, everyday teenagers; teenagers that will probably beat you within an inch of your life if you pull a butter knife on them.

Just your typical, everyday teenagers; teenagers that will probably beat you within an inch of your life if you pull a butter knife on them.

Well, here’s why not….

Nice transition on my part, I know.

Where I feel like this flick definitely hits its problems in, is its tone. The first movie took its violence seriously, but never too seriously to the point of where we couldn’t laugh or at least be amused by the image of some druggie getting decapitated. The point of Matthew Vaughn’s direction in that movie was to show violence in a form that didn’t make you feel guilty, but showed you violence that still meant something, without being overly-exploited. Here, under the new wing of Jeff Wadlow, it feels overly-exploited and nonsensical, which wouldn’t have been bad had the movie not tried taking itself so seriously at times. I get that the movie isn’t trying to condone these (sometimes) disturbing acts of violence, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like it should really be glamorizing it all that much either.

But as the movie goes, it then continues to gets weirder with its view-point and its tone; which I thought wasn’t possible at all, but apparently I was dead wrong. What happens with this movie is that it gets very, VERY serious, and throws in pieces of action that would make any die-hard, action-junkie jump in the air, fists raised, but at the same time, also is too disturbing for anybody to really cheer for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pulling a Jim Carrey here and/or getting soft in my old age or anything, it’s just that I know when you can mix comedy and action together, in order to make the transition between the two seamless, and this movie’s transition is noticeable, if not off-putting. A scene by the end when one of these superheros named Night Bitch (witty, ain’t it?), gets attacked by the main group of baddies, and is shouting, screaming in fright, and looks like she’s about to be the victim of a very vicious, a very scary rape. I don’t know about you, but to put a “hinted” rape scene in any movie, whether it be a comedy or a drama, gets me feeling a bit uneasy, especially when it’s thrown into a movie like this, where it seems like they’re going for the yucks, but also the “Hoorahs!” and the “Yays!” of its heavy-male demographic.

However, I realize that I’m sounding more and more like a prude here, so I’ll just stop while I’m ahead of myself and before I lose my membership to Hardbodies Gym. Anyway, what I was saying about this movie is despite the tone being oddly “off”, the movie still has its moments of sheer fun and visual-grandeur, maybe it’s just not as smartly-written or as thoughtful as the first movie. Maybe so, but that said, it’s still a good movie that will have you all ready for the inevitable, final show-down between the goodies, and the baddies. Which is credit to Wadlow as the director, because even though we know where this story is going to go and how it’s most likely going to end, he throws in his own subtle-tricks of amping-up the story’s tension, little by little, piece by piece. For that, I have to stop busting his balls and give credit where credit’s due, but I also have to say that Matthew Vaughn was such a better director for this material; one that I hope they are able to get back if/when they make a third.

Look out, Aaron. You don't want to get caught wearing something of Nic Cage's.

Look out, Aaron. You don’t want to get caught wearing something of Nic Cage’s.

Though we all know he’s one sexy mofo underneath that whole, “I’m a total geek! Just look at my glasses and frizzy hair” facade, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is still serviceable as Kick-Ass, even though he isn’t given much heavy-lifting to do with this story. Instead, that honors given to Chloë Grace Moretz who not only steals the show when she’s being the feisty, fiery, little bad-mouthed gal that she is known as with Hit Girl, but also when she’s just living the life of a 15-year-old, high-school freshman. Yes, believe it or not, Moretz is getting a bit older and it’s about that time for her to start taking on more mature roles, and if this counts as the beginning for her, well, then she’s off to a pretty good start. Not only is it funny to watch her try to fit in with “the cool clan” of her grade, but to watch as she fails, time and time again. Sometimes it’s hard to watch because of how true it is about certain social-cliques within high-school, but Moretz’s unabashed sense of knowing that she can whoop any of their asses, makes it all the better just to sit back, and wait for her to extract her revenge whenever she sees fit. And when she does, trust me, it’s going to be deserved, if not disgusting. VERY disgusting, that is.

While Nicolas Cage isn’t here to steal the show like he did in the first one as Big Daddy, Jim Carrey is more than able to take his spot and do a little bit of scene-stealing as well, even if it isn’t the type of performance you’d expect from the guy. Not only is Colonel Stars and Stripes a bit of a nut when it comes to violence and the way he uses it on his victims, but he’s also a bit of an endearing figure, especially when we find out that he’s an ex-mobster, now turned born-again Christian. It’s a very strange role for Carrey, one that he doesn’t go too over-the-top with, but still owns and has a great time with. Shame that he abandoned any type of love or support for this flick, because the movie could have really benefited from it. And even though he’s still treated as more of a joke than he was in the last one, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is still enjoyable to watch as Chris D’Amico, now with his new name: The Motherfucker. Not much originality lies in the pens of those script-writers, but at least they know how to make a joke work a couple of times.

Consensus: Though the first one added an extra feeling to its punch, Kick-Ass 2 still delivers on the action, the violence, the humor, and the fun turns from its cast, but also doesn’t know whether it wants to be a serious superhero movie with disturbing bits and pieces of violence thrown in it, or a comedic superhero movie, with disturbing bits and pieces of violence thrown in it.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"When the camera's are on, I'm your best friend. No need to worry. But when they're off, ehh, go fuck ya self!"

“When the camera’s are on, I’m your best friend. No need to worry. But when they’re off, ehh, go fuck ya self!”

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net