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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Demian Bichir

Alien: Covenant (2017)

It’s basically Jason X, but in space. Oh, wait. Jason X was in space. Never mind. So basically, it’s Jason X.

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy so that they can continue on with the human race, but this time, elsewhere, members aboard of the colony ship, Covenant, seem to be going just fine. However, disaster strikes when they’re ship is hit, killing the Captain (James Franco), leaving a new one to take his place (Billy Crudup). The odd thing about this Captain, however, is that he believes a little too much in faith, which makes him a bit detested by the rest of the crew, which would be fine and all normally, but makes their situation all the more heated when they discover a new planet. Rather than just continuing on with their journey, they decide to check out what this new planet is all about and believe it or not, it’s not exactly what they expected. Instead, it’s the planet where the dreaded Prometheus expedition crash-landed all of those years ago, and still harbors David (Michael Fassbender), the scariest robot around who is still, somehow, on and being creepy.

Tell me, could you hate a face like that?

The fact that Covenant is better than Prometheus, may not be saying much. The later is a flawed movie that, yes, while brimming with all sorts of ambitious ideas and themes about life, faith and science, also didn’t have much a plot, and even worse, lame characters. It was a sight to see on the big screen, but also felt like a hollow experience, made all the more disappointing by the fact that it was done by Ridley Scott, aka, the dude who kick-started the whole Alien franchise in the first place.

But now, Scott seems to be back in his comfort-zone with Covenant, the kind of Alien movie you’d expect an Alien movie to be. It’s tense, exciting, silly, scary, gory, and at times, pretty wild, but at the same time, also feels like every other horror movie we’ve ever seen done before, where instead of Freddy, or Jason, or hell, Leatherface, we’ve got a bunch of aliens, running around and taking people that we don’t care about, off one-by-one. Now, is that disappointing, too? Or, is it just something to expect?

Either way, Covenant can be a good movie to watch, for quite some time, because like Prometheus, it’s clear that a lot of attention and detail was put into how slick and cool the movie looked. But unlike Prometheus, it has some characters to care about (sort of), and most of all, a plot that’s easy to fall in-line with. Sure, it’s formulaic and a little conventional, with all sorts of exposition flying left-and-right, but it’s less of a metaphysical experiment than Prometheus was so, once again, it’s better.

But still, a tad bit disappointing. I don’t know why, either.

Not Ripley, but still has an odd hair-do. For some reason.

Because honestly, Scott does a solid job here. He knows how to racket up the tension, he knows how to take advantage of an A-list cast, and most importantly, he knows how to still shock and surprise us, but still, there’s a feeling had with the movie that’s all the same beats hit, again and again, time after time, and now, it seems like it’s just running out of ideas. Then again, maybe it’s not; Covenant does set itself up as a sequel, but also shows us that there’s a much larger, much grander universe out there, just waiting to be explored with more and more movies to follow.

So in a way, Covenant is like a refresher-course for those who were worried of the Alien franchise blowing and not having any reason for its return. Scott seems to have a genuine interest in where these stories can go and eventually, lead to, even if it seems like he’s taking his good old time, taking an opportunity to give us another trapped-in-space-by-aliens-tale, rather than, you know, exploring more and more.

Then again, it’s entertaining. it’s hard to have an issue with a movie when it’s doing that.

Even though, yes, it is a bit frustrating to watch such a talented and awesome ensemble, essentially, be left to just spout out a bunch of sci-fi gibberish, when they aren’t giving us frightened and freaked-out reaction-shots, but hey, it’s nice to have them around, right? The one who gets away the most is Michael Fassbender playing, get this, dual roles as one robot, and another one. But there’s a key difference in the way the two are – David is a cool, sophisticated robot with personality, whereas the new one, Walter, is much more advanced in that he doesn’t think for himself and is, basically, as dull as a doorknob. It works for Fassbender who has fun, both as a the square-edged dork, as well as the charmingly freaky David, and makes his scenes, genuinely intriguing, because you never know where they’re going to go, or lead to.

Something this movie needed more of, but once again, was still entertaining.

Consensus: While not necessarily a game-changer for the franchise, Covenant is still a fun, intense and rather exciting entry that showcases Scott doing what he does best, even if there is some disappointment in him not trying a bit more of something, well, new.

7.5 / 10

Everyone’s waiting, Ridley. Now kill ’em!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

Next time a blizzard comes, stay away from the cabin with the most assassins.

In post-Civil War Wyoming, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) escorts fugitive Daisy “The Prisoner” Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock, where she’ll be hung for committing all sorts of evil murders and crimes over the years. However, along the way, they encounter a bounty hunter by the name of Major Marquis “The Bounty Hunter” Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), who is also heading out to Red Rock to get money for a few criminals he killed himself. Ruth allows for Warren to hop aboard, but they soon realize that a deadly blizzard is coming their way. With this information known, they decide to hold out in a little comfortable and cozy cabin where everybody knows and loves called “Minnie’s Haberdashery”. There, the three meet a few shady, but altogether, colorful characters who may, or may not, be up to any good or actually be who they appear to be. There’s Bob “The Mexican” (Demián Bichir), who claims to be one of Minnie’s helpers, even though they’re nowhere to be found; Chris “The Sheriff” Mannix (Walton Goggins), claims to be the soon-to-be sheriff of Red Rock; Oswaldo “The Little Man” Mobray (Tim Roth), is another one who claims to be the soon-to-be hangman of Red Rock; Joe “The Cow Puncher” Gage (Michael Madsen), claims to be just a lonely ol’ cowboy looking to spend the holidays with his mommy; and ex-General Sanford “The Confederate” Smithers (Bruce Dern), well, doesn’t claim to be much of anyone. He’s just holding out and waiting for this storm to pass, which is what everyone else seems to be doing, until it becomes clear that someone is up to no good and needs to be taught a lesson.

Sort of bad-ass.

Sort of bad-ass.

Quentin Tarantino makes the sort of movie he wants. Nobody’s going to tell him “no”, nor will anyone tell him “how” – they’ll just hand him a bunch of money, plenty of freedom, and see what happens. Due to this, his movies can tend to sometimes feel overlong and excessive, which is why, when it turned out that the Hateful Eight was going to be over three hours, with a short, 10-to-12 minute intermission, automatically, most people will be turned off, as well as they should.

However, here’s the funny thing about the Hateful Eight – it’s actually pretty deserving of its three hour run-time.

Much of this is due to the fact that Tarantino doesn’t try to, in any sort of way, shape, or fashion, rush the plot here – instead, he takes his time to give us those delicate, but juicy character-moments we oh so appreciate and adore from someone as immensely talented as he is. Nobody really breaks into a conversation that feels useless, unnecessary, or unneeded – everybody here has a reason to talk about what they want to talk about and, honestly, it’s hard to not be intrigued by them right away. After all, this is Tarantino’s dialogue and as is the case with Tarantino’s dialogue, it’s punchy, fun, energetic and most importantly, exciting. The issues that have chased Tarantino since the beginning of his career in that his characters speak in that heightened sense that no other normal human would speak in, may still be here, but honestly, who gives a hoot?

It’s Quentin Tarantino! You know exactly what you’re going to get, as soon as you walk into one of his movies.

And even though most of the promotion and hype surrounding this movie has been about the fact that it’s filmed and presented in 70 mm, the real kicker here is that, aside from at least 20-25 minutes of wide landscape shots at the beginning, middle, end and sporadically throughout, the majority of the movie takes place solely in this one room. The movie looks great to begin with, as we’d expect from Tarantino, but the reason why the 70 mm matters so much in a story like this is because it gives you a greater sense of just how confined and stuck these characters are; while it may appear that there’s a great big world for these characters to go outside and venture out into just in case they have to, because there’s a deadly blizzard going on right outside, they are all stuck with one another.

Which, as you could probably guessed, leads to plenty of scenes where characters talk to one another, get on each other’s nerves, and come pretty damn close to killing the other. This is, of course, all terrific and great to listen to, adding more of a sense of intensity and suspense to the chilly air of that Tarantino, as well as his terrific ensemble create. Any lesser director/writer would have been bored with this one room setting and decided to take their movie elsewhere and jump around a bit, but Tarantino knows and understands the sheer power there is in watching a bunch of heavy-hitting actors stand around a room, watch one another, and get ready for the other shoe to eventually drop.

And when that shoe drops, well, it’s pretty crazy, violent, and gory, but still all so pleasing.

However, at the same time, there’s also that annoying feeling that perhaps Tarantino loses himself a slight bit here. For one, the intermission that takes place is perfect because it sets up a whole other movie, with a whole other tone and feeling altogether. It’s a smart decision on Tarantino’s behalf, but what he does with this second-half is, sadly, a bit disappointing; though the movie doesn’t necessarily feel long, there’s a 20-minute sequence that, in hindsight, didn’t really need to be included at all. Without saying too much, it’s a sequence that takes us a tad away from the current on-goings of the plot and instead, give us another view to look at the story; while it’s a tricky device that Tarantino uses well, it still doesn’t seem like it needed to be included at all.

As an audience-member, it was already easy enough to connect the dots as is, so why is there the need to explain certain plot-elements even further than what’s already needed?

And this matters because, right after this point is where the Hateful Eight started to feel like a bit of a retread of what Tarantino has done many times before and, mostly, better. There are still certain ways that Tarantino keeps this plot moving in an efficient manner, but by the same token, he also seems to be utilizing the same sort of twists and turns we’ve seen him roll with before and, honestly, it’s a bit of a shame. This isn’t to say that Tarantino misses the mark here, but considering that the bar has been raised so high in the past few years with Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, really, anytime it feels like Tarantino isn’t fully giving his all, can definitely be a problem.

Kind of bad-ass.

Kind of bad-ass.

This is all to say that the Hateful Eight definitely isn’t Tarantino’s best, but also isn’t to say that it’s his worst, either.

It’s just that it’s very good, yet, also feels like it’s destined for something far, far better than what it ends up being.

Through it all though, the ensemble, as expected, works perfectly. Though it did disappoint me a tad bit to see a lot of familiar faces show up to work with Tarantino again here, it still doesn’t matter because they’re all so great as is. Samuel L. Jackson continues to get his meatiest roles from Tarantino and as Major Marquis Warren, he gets to show us a man who has been through it all in life and isn’t afraid to get violent when he needs to; Kurt Russell is having a blast as John Ruth, someone who seems to have a decent-enough heart, but is also just as savage as the rest; Tim Roth is joyously fun as Oswaldo, someone who seems way too cheery to be a hangman; Michael Madsen is, once again, cool and stoic as Joe Gage; and Bruce Dern, playing the ex-General of this story, is wise and grizzled, but also adds enough depth to this character that he feels like more than just “the old man of the story”.

As for the newcomers, they’re all amazing, too and show why they were perfectly picked by Tarantino to deliver his sometimes challenging, but altogether lovely dialogue. Demián Bichir, despite playing what appears to be just “the Mexican”, also seems like there’s more to him that he’s not letting on and it’s cool to see someone like Bichir, play both mysterious, as well as funny; Channing Tatum shows up in a small-ish role, too here, and does a fine enough job that it makes me definitely want to see him appear in more Tarantino flicks; and even though he already appeared in Tarantino’s Django, Walton Goggins is electric as Chris Mannix, the supposed-sheriff who we may not be able to trust, but because he’s sometime so stupid and naive, it’s almost like he’s telling the truth.

However, the true star of this cast, believe it or not, is actually the sole woman of the main cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh.

As Daisy Domergue, Leigh does a lot of standing around, staring and looking as if she’s up to no good and nine times out of ten, that’s pretty much the case. While we’re told that she’s as bad-ass and as dangerous as any of the other men surrounding her, Leigh still shows that through her odd, occasionally hilarious performance. Though she may appear to be nothing more than just a basket case, there’s something about Domergue that, underneath it all, still seems present and this is perhaps the main factor that keeps this character interesting, as well as compelling. Domergue, just like every other character here, is a total mystery to us and while we may never know what to expect next from them, we sure as hell know it’s not going to be an act of kindness. And that’s why Leigh, who we haven’t seen much of in the past few years, is absolutely brilliant in this role, giving it all that she’s got, but at the same time, still seeming like she’s not really trying at all, either.

Consensus: Though the Hateful Eight isn’t Tarantino’s best, it is still fun, well-acted and compelling enough to keep everything moving at a fine pace, even despite the three-hour long run-time.

8.5 / 10

Totally bad-ass. Back off, boys.

Totally bad-ass. Back off, boys.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Dom Hemingway (2014)

Don’t drunk and drive, kids. Or go to jail for 12 years. Or do drugs. Or, simply, just don’t do anything bad.

It’s been quite a long time since Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) has been out in the outside world (12 years to be exact), but he finally gets released one day, where he goes back to doing everything he once did before. He collects debts; has sex with women; does blow like nobody’s business; drink; illegally smoke tobacco inside of a pub; hang out with his close-buddy Leftie (Richard E. Grant); kick the shit out of the man who married his wife when he was thrown in jail; and try his damn near hardest to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke). The only problem is that Dom has a bit of a temper-issue, which more often than not, has gotten him into trouble in the past, and seems to be getting him in even more trouble now when he realizes that he’s out of money and needs a new gig. Being the swift heist-man that he is, with the niftiest of fingers, he decides to go back to his old ways of breaking into concealed-vaults; something that’s a lot harder now with every vault being electronic, thus throwing Dom off of his game. Thus, as a result, making Dom even more pissed-off with everything and everyone around him.

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen something in which Jude Law really wow’d me. Not saying that he’s a bad actor by any means – in fact, he’s a terribly consistent one. He always shows up in movies, acts, does what he has to do, look charming, get his paycheck and continue on to the next project in which he’ll do the same exact thing. There’s nothing wrong with that really, especially if you’re somebody whose been surviving in Hollywood since the mid-to-late-90’s, but there is something to be said for an actor who has always been around, but really hasn’t had that one, amazing performance in which he’s knocked down all of the doors and showed us his true talents as an actor.

Hey, uhm, whose driving?

Hey, uhm, whose driving?

I think Dom Hemingway may in fact be that performance we’ve all, myself included, have been waiting for.

What Law does so well here as Dom Hemingway, unlike from anything else we’ve ever seen him do, is be brass, crass and all sorts of detestable. Dom Hemingway, by creation, is a dirty, mean son-of-a-bitch that looks as if he’s stumbled out of the pubs from the 70’s, and into the modern-era in which none of the kids want anything to do with his old, grungy ass, and just want to hang out and drink their Pabst Blue Ribbons alone and in peace. He’s always wanting to get pissed, get some blow, bang some fine ladies, and start trouble with anybody who dares to ever step up to him. Because of that, we’re supposed to dislike him and think he’s just a total jack-ass that doesn’t our sympathy, or even time of day – but somehow, Law makes us do just that.

Law is every bit as loud as he’s ever been in a movie before. With Hemingway, Law’s asked to be a total sleaze-ball, but a sleaze-ball that is always making those around him feel uncomfortable. Not just because he always seems to do and say the wrong things, at the wrong time, and to the wrong people especially, but because he’s just so damn unpredictable with his actions. One second, he’ll be so drunk that he’ll be offending and screaming at the most powerful mob-boss in all of Europe; but then, the next second, be totally cool, calm and suave at the dinner-table, with the same guy he was just insulting clear to his face. So yeah, Dom Hemingway is not an easy character to pin-point down, but that’s why it’s so amazing to see Law tackle a hard task like that and seemingly get through it all without making us ever seem like he’s trying too hard to be something that he clearly isn’t.

Sure, the receding hair-line, chin-strap facial-hair, and over-worked jaw-line may also have something to do with that, but for the most part, it’s Jude Law that makes us believe in somebody like Dom Hemingway.

The same actor whom, ten years ago, was most known for tappin’ his nannies and filling in Michael Caine’s shoes, in a movie most of us would like to just forget about by now.

But there’s a reason why I’m talking so much about Jude Law’s performance in the first place because, as much as I hate to say it, the rest of the movie doesn’t really live up to everything he does. The supporting cast is good here – with Richard E. Grant being a particular stand-out as Hemingway’s close buddy/voice of reason – and there were a few moments in which I had no clue what Dom was going to do next and how it was going to affect him and those around him. But, like I said, there just wasn’t much else here to really keep me going and all that interested.

Practically me, every night of the past week.

Practically me, every night of the past week.

There’s a twist that occurs somewhere around the half-way mark in which the tone of the movie sort of changes and we see how Dom’s life goes from shit, to even shittier in about a matter of a couple of minutes. The surprising switch itself is one that I think writer/director Richard Shepard pulled-off well, but he does with that feels sort of like an after-thought; almost as if the only idea for this movie was to focus on how much fun it is to watch Jude Law yell, rather than actually give us a plot, or even much character-development really. Then again, we do get some character-development here for Dom, it’s just that a lot of it seems so cheap and over-used.

Like, for instance, the whole idea that Dom’s daughter absolutely hates his guts because he left her and her mother all alone, with nobody to care for them at all, isn’t anything new, but you could do so much with that to make it feel genuine and heartfelt. Here, it felt like Shepard knew he wanted it to be the sweet aspect about the movie that the more emotional moviegoers would enjoy more than just seeing Jude Law eat cocaine like breakfast cereal, so he didn’t put much thought into it. All we get are a couple of arguments that go nowhere except show us that Dom’s daughter doesn’t like him and doesn’t want to give him a chance to get to know her better and make up for lost times, which then makes Dom want to go out and go back to his old ways of pulling-off heists.

For some reason, I didn’t see the connection and I sort of wish I did. It not only would have made the movie more interesting as it went along, but would have made a lot more sense to me once Dom started going nuts and humping vaults. Yeah, it gets a little nuts, but that’s all this movie seems to want to be: Nuts, with Jude Law providing most of that craziness for us.

Consensus: Though Jude Law clearly carries Dom Hemingway on his bulky shoulders and booze-breath, the rest of it doesn’t feel as well thought-out or interesting, it’s almost too in awe of its own main character.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

The only way Dom Hemingway knows how to make an entrance: Through the damn wall.

The only way Dom Hemingway knows how to make an entrance: Through the damn wall.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Machete Kills (2013)

CIA, step up your game and legalize this man! Along with weed, of course.

Machete (Danny Trejo) is back, and this time, it’s the U.S. President (Carlos Estevez)’s orders! Machete gets the order to get out deep in the deserts of Mexico, and stop a schizophrenic madman (Demián Bichir) from launching a deadly missile aimed at Washington, D.C., which may also run a bit deeper than just him and connect all the way back to the U.S., where rich billionaire Voz (Mel Gibson) may be partaking in some shady dealings as well. Shady dealings like, say, taking a trip to outer space. However, once people catch wind of this news that Machete is alive, well, and running all around, then somebody puts a bounty on his head, which many, many colorful and dangerous characters get involved with. Problem is, they don’t realize that Machete don’t text, don’t Tweet, and he sure as hell don’t die. Remember that.

Though I never got to reviewing it for you fine specimens, the first Machete kicked all tons of ass and was every bit as insane, as dumb, and as idiotic as I would have expected a Robert Rodriguez movie to be, and then some. Essentially, it was a one-joke movie, with a one-joke premise, but it never lost its steam and always continued to make me laugh, get grossed out (in a good, exploitative way that worked well with the material) and overall, just have a total and complete ball. It helped that that movie had a star-studded cast that continued to show more and more familiar faces as it went along, and it also helped that Rodriguez himself realized that he was making a piece of B-movie heaven, so of course he just had to run with it; with a bigger budget of course.

"Machete don't do blondes. But, there's always exceptions to certain rules."

“Machete don’t do blondes. But, there’s always exceptions to certain rules.”

However, what worked so well for me with that movie, seems to have suddenly run a bit dry here, even despite the bigger cast, the somewhat bigger budget, and the even bigger action scenes that Rodriguez really seemed to throw all of his time, money and effort into. For some reason, it never feels like it’s going for that one-joke and trying to spin it around as much as possible anymore; instead, the movie feels like it has almost way too much plot, way too many twists and way too much time spent on meaningless characters that obviously are around to show you how wacky the movie is, but ultimately, just take up precious time and space that could have been used more for people getting their heads chopped off. And yes, that’s the type of stuff I want to see more of in a Machete movie, because it’s done for the sole purpose that it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Here, it just seemed like Rodriguez had so many more ideas and subplots he wanted to play around with, and yet, couldn’t keep his curious hand away from showing them as much as attention as Machete should get. Because, let’s face it, this is Machete’s movie, this is his story and this is his time to shine. So, when you take that away from him and focus more on the meandering plots/characters of the movie that wouldn’t make a lick of difference to the whole shebang in the long run, then you’re robbing us, the audience, as well. People who want to see this want to see Machete do crazy stuff like spin around on a helicopter-blade and chop people’s heads off, or get banged by some of the sweetest honeys around. We don’t want to see a whole subplot that concerns a hitman taking off his disguise face, and putting on a real one, all of the time. And even if that subplot was to be shown, at least do it in less than a minute or so, only to not take away from Machete himself; aka, the character that makes this movie work, everytime they focus on him and whatever sick, sadistic and violent thing he does next.

There’s just so much fun to be had with this character, and it makes you wonder why somebody, especially some nut-job like Rodriguez would want to take that away from him. Give him to Quentin! He’ll set him straight, give him his cake, and allow him to eat it, too. But not just a piece, the WHOLE, FREAKIN’ THING.

But, no matter what, it cannot be denied that Danny Trejo is the heart and soul behind this character, and despite the reality of the matter that he’s older than most of the chiseled-out freaks from the Expendables movies, you still believe him as a wholly unbelievable character. Machete is a straight-man to all of the nonsense happening around him, and with that on his plate, Trejo owns the role and seems to never lose his comedic-timing. It’s obviously not as eventful to see Trejo in this role like it was the first time around, mainly due to the fact that he’s dipped his pen into a few no-budget movies in the years since, but it’s still awesome to see him play Machete, and do what he does best: Kill the fuck out of people.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

And while I do stand by what I said about Rodriguez centering too much of his attention on the supporters more so here than he did in the last film, it can’t be denied that each and every one of these big names are having the time of his/her life. Some peeps from the first are back like Tom Savini, Michelle Rodriguez, William Sadler, and Jessica Alba, in a role that probably gives her as much time on-screen as she does: No less than 5 minutes. Since she’s up on the screen for such a short time, she is ultimately replaced by Amber Heard playing an undercover agent, posing as Miss San Antonio and seems like she fits in quite well with Rodriguez crazed world of drug dealers, hookers, sadists, madmen billionaires, and total crazies.

And that’s just his dinner table at Thanksgiving! Woo-hoo! I got a million of ’em!

But no seriously, she fits in mighty fine, as well as plenty of other new, fresh faces like Sofia Vergara, Demián Bichir, in a very against-type that he rolls with and never loses the fun-factor, Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, and the best of them all, none other than Mr. Jew-hater himself, Mel Gibson. This is one of those cases where it seems like Mel is only taking what he can get at the moment, but if that is the case, then so be it, because every chance this guy gets to join in on the fun, he does, and with plenty of energy and pizzazz. He chews the scenery like nobody’s business, hasn’t seemed like he’s lost his comedic-timing in a million years, and mostly keeps the film afloat, even when it becomes too obvious that it’s gone absolutely everywhere it could have gone, and then some. And yes, I am talking about somewhere like space, but that is a different story and movie, for a different day.

Consensus: No doubt about it that Machete Kills will offer all of the same types of B-movie craziness and fun that the first one gave us, but a little bit more of scaling-back on its numerous strands of plot, character, and ideas, would have definitely helped this been a better time. Oh well, at least I got an autograph from Robert Rodriguez himself out of the deal. At least there is that.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Can't get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I'm sort of like Jesus. Ain't that right, JEWS?!?!?"

“Can’t get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I’m sort of like Jesus. Ain’t that right, JEWS?!?!?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Heat (2013)

Be careful, Rex Reed. This “hippo” can shoot to kill.

Stuck-up, by-the-books FBI agent Sara Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a bit of a hard fire to put out. She doesn’t work well with others; is a bit egotistical; and acts as if she knows everything that there is to do, how to do it and when. She’s just that good, and she knows it, however, that’s what also gets her ass transferred over to the Boston district, where she joins forces with tough-as-nails detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). They’re obvious opposites in every stretch of the imagination, but as we all know how the saying goes: opposites do attract. And not in that type of way, either. Although it would have been pretty sexy to see these two lock lips, if only for a small bit.

Right from the beginning of the movie and hell, even before I stepped into the theater; I expected what was to be another Identity Thief. Not just because Melissa McCarthy happened to be in both movies, but because it just had all of the same rings and tones to it, except this time, with Sandra Bullock added to the mix. It was a welcome addition, I guess for the most part, but after the lackluster year of comedy that we’ve gotten so far for the year 2013, save This is the End, I was not expecting greatness nor anything recommendable for that matter. I just wanted to get the movie on with so I could go home, feed my dog, get on the computer, write some reviews, and begin to watch more movies.

Sorry, Sandra. Try all you want, but your hotness will never, ever distract my chubby-chasing ways.

Sorry, Sandra. Try all you want, but your hotness will never, ever distract my chubby-chasing ways.

But something happened. Something miraculous, you could even say because, believe it or not, I actually had a great time with this flick. And no, I did not get greatness, but I did get something recommendable so count this as your letter of recommendation already. If you want to leave, then go for it, but continue on if you’d like.

Die hard DTMMR fans, you still out there? Cool, let’s do it!

Everything I just typed up top in that description of the plot and what’s supposed to eventually happen, is nothing new or original that we haven’t seen done 100x before. However, the movie knows that and doesn’t pull any punches in knowing that either. It presents all of the clichés, conventions and obvious routes we can expect to see from a buddy-cop comedy, but give us a meaner, harder edge that isn’t all about female-empowerment and showing how chicks can do just as much justice as the guys can, but that they can still have a bunch of fun, make you laugh and also give you something to smile about on the way home. That is, until you actually get home and reality hits you in the face. Yup, only until then, does the smile go away. But, for the whole hour-and-a-half of this movie, you’ll be smiling and laughing like the dickens and that’s more than enough that I can say for most of the comedies I’ve been seeing as of late (don’t save The Internship).

Hell, it may have been a lot longer than just 90 minutes, but that didn’t bother me because I found myself laughing just as much as I did with Bridesmaids, a comedy that I thought was underrated-as-hell, but still entertaining and funny for what it was, and not what it could have been. Just like that movie, this is a comedy that knows what it is, what’s it about and isn’t trying to win any Oscars, or any tears from your eye-sockets; it’s just being funny and allowing you to have a good time. That’s what all comedies are about and even if they don’t have a hidden, underlining-meaning, then it shouldn’t really matter. As long as the movie is making you laugh and entertaining the heck out of you, then that’s all there is to it.

As I always say: nothing more, nothing less. That’s all you need, baby.

Okay, maybe I don’t always say that, but I feel as if I should be starting with that sometime soon.

And obviously, you can see where the Bridesmaids-comparisons come in because not only is this by the same director (Paul Feig), but also stars the same lady that stole the show in that one; Melissa McCarthy. Like I alluded to earlier, Identity Thief sucked beyond belief. It wasn’t funny, tried so hard to be and squandered most of the talents of everybody involved, except for McCarthy. Granted, the chick wasn’t that funny in that movie, and I think that more or less has to be a problem with the script and not her, but still; she had me realize that maybe she’s more than just the loud, rather rotund woman in all of these comedies that got by on her big mouth and her love for sticking it to the people with penises (aka, men). There was actually more to her act, as if there was a real human-being that I could connect with on some levels and feel something, anything for.

They got the whooooleeee movieee in their hands....

They got the whooooleeee movieee in their hands….

The character she plays here, Mullins, isn’t that deep or emotional, but some moments of that act still shine through, especially when she isn’t cursing and yelling at every one, while also being able to make us laugh our asses. You can tell that so much of what she does or says, is mostly improv and it hits a lot more, than it actually misses and that’s something you so rarely see in a comedy, or in the comedienne nonetheless. McCarthy sure as hell is talented and brings out the best in the material as well as her co-star, as hard of a task as that may have been to complete.

Sandra Bullock is very hot-and-cold for me. Sometimes, I think she can be very funny, as well as a strong, female-presence on screen, like we all need in our lives; but at other times, she can be really annoying and feels like she’s trying too hard to rip laughs out of our bodies. It’s more of the latter than the former, which is why I was a bit skeptical seeing what she could do with McCarthy and for the most part, the gal holds her own and keeps it just as funny on her end of the bargain, as much as it is on McCarthy’s. Together, they have a great chemistry that develops overtime and one that you actually believe in, despite them both two totally different people. It’s corny and obvious when they do decide to put away their expectations and start to become friendly with one another, but with their inspired-chemistry, it almost feels like anything but. The rest of the cast is good, but it’s these two who really keep this ball rolling, no matter how obvious side streets it decides to go down.

Consensus: Despite The Heat featuring an overly-familiar plot you can see coming from a mile away, Bullock and McCarthy’s chemistry and comedic-timing is working so well, you almost forget about all of the problems from direction, to editing it has.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

I'll accept that invitation, just as long as that one on the right's involved too. Just saying.

I’ll accept that invitation, just as long as that one on the right’s involved too. Just saying.

Savages (2012)

Drugs are bad, three-ways are awesome. Life lessons learned, kids!

Blake Lively stars as Ophelia, the girlfriend to two Laguna Beach entrepreneurs, one an ex-mercenary (Taylor Kitsch) and the other a principled environmentalist (Aaron Johnson), who’ve built a thriving homegrown industry on the best marijuana ever developed. When they refuse to sell their business to a brutal Mexican drug cartel (lead by Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro), Ophelia is kidnapped, and so begins an escalating series of ploys with savage consequences.

It’s been a very long time since director Oliver Stone has made a good movie, or at least, made a movie that’s more entertaining than it is preachy. So for his return to form, it seems like Stone is back to making stories about hot people, hot guns, hot money, and most of all, hot Mexican drug dealers.

What I liked most about this flick is that it seems like Stone is really having a fun time with this material. Take it for granted, I never read the Don Winslow novel that this adapted from, but from what I hear, it’s a freakin’ cult-classic that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time you’re reading it, which is very surprising to hear considering my only way of actually reading nowadays is watching a foreign flick. But anywho, Stone starts this story off well by giving us a setting, the characters, and an under-lining sense of impending doom that sooner or later, bad shit is going to happen and going to happen badly, too. Things never get to the full-on extremist-level that I feel like it could have gone towards, but any time it even tries to dance with that idea, it works and brings a whole bunch of fun and kinetic energy to it.

Another aspect of this movie was how I didn’t quite know what was going to happen next, after Ophelia eventually ends up getting captured. To me, I felt like I knew what was going to happen to these characters, how, when, and where, but for some odd reason, Stone totally changed things up on me. Stone starts to focus his attention towards different details, characters, and plot devices that made me wonder just what this guy really was going to pull out of his hat by the end of it all. But this film wouldn’t be a Stone film without any of the trade-mark changing of colors throughout the film, which we do get, but not enough in my opinion. Honestly, when you have a Stone flick, you can never go wrong with too many changes of color in one movie.

Problem with this film, is that whenever you think that this film is going to deliver the goods on when it showed to be Stone’s “most ruthless film since Natural Born Killers“, I didn’t see it. Yeah, there’s a couple of grisly kills here and there but when I go into a Stone film that promises me the type of blood-shed like his 1994 classic, I expect freakin’ blood and guts everywhere, not just two torture scenes out of a whole 2 hour and 10 minute movie. Even when the tension builds up in some scenes and we get a taste of Stone’s frenetic feel, it’s awesome and brings you right back into the story, but whenever it leaves, you feel disappointed like Stone had all of this crazy shit planned but didn’t decide to go with it because he seems to have a better appreciation for life in his older years. Boo old Oliver Stone!

What interested me about this flick right from the start of production, was the ensemble cast that Stone was able to assemble here that are all pretty good. First off, the young blood. Taylor Kitsch has had a pretty rough year so far and it only seems to get a lot worse considering he doesn’t really do much in this flick, other than just stand around, look tough, and call up his Army boys to save him when he feels like shit is about to go down. Maybe that’s how his character was written in the book, but it makes for a very boring and dull character, especially when you have him uttering out lines like, “life does not change, life changes you”. Give me a break dude. Blake Lively also doesn’t do much as O, even though the story is all surrounded her. The problem with Lively here is that even though some of her scenes can be good, her narration that carries on throughout the whole film just made me want to not only hope that she got killed, but whoever was taping her voice for the narration was as well. Her lines are terribly cheesy like one where she goes, “I had orgasms, he had Wargasms”. Really? Is that what we consider clever when we make jokes about sex?

The actual stand-out from these youngsters is probably Aaron Johnson, who shows that he is fresh face that deserves to be watched in the upcoming years. He’s pretty solid here as the hippie-like dude, Ben, and gives this character a total transformation from soft, peace-loving guy who loves the weed he grows and smokes from violent, hell-breaker that just wants his girl and his business back. Johnson definitely makes this character a lot more interesting than what was already written for him and it’s cool to see that this is pretty much the same kid from Kick-Ass, who is still doing the same things 2 years later, only this time, with weed added to the ass-kicking. My man.

Now, it’s time for the old-heads in our cast. Benicio Del Toro is pretty cartoonish as Lado, a vicious enforcer who wants to be his own man, but also can’t because of the orders he has to take. Saying that “he is cartoonish” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because this guy can be pretty scary whenever he’s on-screen. Del Toro has a lot of scenes where you can just tell that this guy is up to no good and I guess when you have a Mexican drug dealer villain in any film, that’s always good, if a tad racist. Salma Hayek plays his boss, Elena, who shows off a new side to her where she’s chewing the scenery like no other with all of her yelling and screaming, but still has chances to settle it all down and be a real person. Definitely could have replaced Julia Roberts in Mirror Mirror. Then again, would have been a whole different film entirely. It was also a surprise to see John Travolta in a meaty role that shows him off as being sort of a dickhead of sorts. Travolta plays this crooked-ass DEA agent that’s on everybody’s pay-roll and you, just like the characters in the movie, don’t know whether or not to trust him. This is a great role for Travolta, because it reminds everybody that he actually does have some good acting chops still left in him, even if some can’t get past the fact that he may be playing for the same team. But hey, that’s OK in my book, just keep on bringing out some good roles.

Consensus: Though it is a tad messy and never goes to the full extremes of violence that it seemed like it promised, Savages is still a fun return to form for Oliver Stone, who shows that he still has the knack for choosing a great ensemble cast, and giving them good material to work with, even if some of them aren’t as good as others. I’m talking about you Blake Lively and Taylor Kitsch.

6.5/10=Rental!!