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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Dexter Fletcher

Stardust (2007)

Better than Goldust’s brother.

Tristan (Charlie Cox), a young man from the town of Wall, a small, quaint and lovely little town on the border of Stormhold, a magical kingdom where all sorts of crazy things happen. To hopefully win the heart and the hand of his girlfriend Victoria (Selma Miller), Tristan enters the magical world to collect a fallen star, in hopes that he’ll obviously win her over, but prove that he is quite the man that he always thought he could be. After little issues here and there, Tristan eventually collects the star who, to his surprise, is a woman named Yvaine (Claire Daines). However, Tristan isn’t the only one who’s looking for Yvaine; numerous witches, Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses also want this star and will do anything to get it, by any means. So now, Tristan’s job just got a whole lot harder. Not to mention that he and Yvaine, while initially not being able to get along with one another at all, start to see each other as equals and even, well, connect. In possibly more ways than Tristan has been able to ever do with his possible future-wife.

A pretty hot star.

Matthew Vaughn is probably the perfect director for a Neil Gaiman book, because no matter how strange, or action-packed, or even tense things get, Vaughn remembers not to take everything all that seriously. Meaning that we do get a lot of jokes aimed at the material, but it’s also very funny in the same way that the Princess Bride was – it respects the fantasy-genre up until the point of where it realizes how ridiculous it truly is. That’s a lot of Gaiman’s material and while there’s been plenty of attempts at recreating the same kind of odd-style that he has, Vaughn’s perhaps the closest one to achieving that.

And yes, it also helps that the movie is buckets of fun, reminding us that, when he isn’t trading quips and smart-ass remarks, Vaughn knows how to keep the action moving and exciting. Cause Stardust is a little over two-hours and about a bunch of silly witches and knights battling it out for a star, it can be a bit too much to ask for a non-lover of the fantasy genre. And yes, I am one of them.

However, Stardust is a much different tune.

It’s in on its own joke, it never really relies too much on exposition, or world-building, or certain other tricks and trades of these kinds of stories that can tend to make them a bit annoying. The story itself is already pretty straightforward and thankfully, Vaughn doesn’t try to over-complicate things; he keeps it simple, effective and most importantly, fun. He could have done anything he wanted with this movie and I wouldn’t have cared, because he knows how to keep it fun, even when you least expect it to remain as such.

That’s Michelle Pfeiffer? Uh. Yeah. Time has not done well for her.

And a whole bunch of that fun extends to the cast, too, who are, as expected, game for this kind of silly material. Charlie Cox, in a pre-Daredevil role, shows a great deal of charm as Tristan, a dork-of-a-man who we like right from the get-go and sort of stand-by, no matter where he goes, or what he does. Claire Danes is also quite great as Yvaine, the star with a whole butt-load of personality. Danes knows how to make this wacky material work and come-off not so wacky, and yes, her and Cox have a neat little bit of chemistry that transcends most other movies that are just like this.

In that we actually care and want them to get together in the end.

The rest of the cast is, thankfully, having a ball here. Michelle Pfeiffer shows up as the main evil witch, vamping it up and having an absolute ball; Robert De Niro may seem out-of-place, initially, as a pirate, but really blends in with this goofy-world; Mark Strong is, as usual, charming and a lot of fun as Prince Septimus, Tristan’s ultimate foe; and well, there’s plenty more where that came from. The real joy is just getting a chance to see everyone here show up, have a good time, and not make us feel like we aren’t involved with it, either.

We are and that’s the greatest joy of all.

Consensus: Despite its silliness, Stardust wears its heart and soul on its sleeve, with a fun and exciting pace, matched by an even more charming ensemble.

8 / 10

There were a lot of Italian pirates back in those days, people! Come on!

Photos Courtesy of: Paramount Pictures

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Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Fly like an eagle. Or Eddie, too, I guess.

Throughout his whole life, Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton) had everything going against him. His dad always wanted him to work more, rather than spend his time focusing on silly dreams of being a superstar athlete, and even when he does finally get a chance to make something of his athletic career, it turns out that he gets cut from England’s Olympic ski team. Rather than being frazzled and with nothing to do with his life, Eddie decides to travel to Germany and test his skills at the very dangerous, but ultimately rewarding sport known as “ski jumping”. While there, Eddie meets the one and only Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former ski jumper who now works as a snowplow driver. Though Bronson has been done with the sport for quite some time and is now all about drinking, partying and starting fights, he sees something about Eddie that he just can’t resist. That’s why, together, they train, night and day, as hard as they can, so that they can ensure that Eddie gets a chance to show his face at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.

Always practice with props.

Always practice with props.

Eddie the Eagle is a lot like other sports movies of the same nature. In a way, you know Eddie is going to be the typical sports biopic protagonist who has an undying spirit for overcoming the odds, is earnest, sweet to everyone around him, and generally, puts up with a lot of crap from people who are mean to him for no exact reason. But in all honestly, that’s actually fine.

See, even though Eddie himself was all about breaking the conventions of what made a typically-seen athlete, the movie itself, more or less, just wants to give Eddie’s story the movie spotlight it actually deserves. While you may not at all care about ski-jumping, this Eddie fella, or even Brits for that matter, Eddie the Eagle, slowly but surely, will have you eating out of the palm of its hand, while simultaneously making you forget that you ever saw any other sports movie before it.

Okay, maybe that’s a tad too far, but you get the picture.

There’s a fun-loving, kind spirit to Eddie the Eagle, the person, as well as the movie itself, that’s downright infectious. It’s 80’s theme and style, while overbearing at first, soon starts to work its way into actually getting to understand the feel and appeal of that era; while there’s maybe one too many synths in the score, it turns out that it actually works for the sport the movie’s portraying, as it’s a little hard to have a ski-jumping movie with a Metallica-like score backing it all up. No offense to ski-jumping, but it’s not necessarily considered the roughest, toughest, and rigorous sport of them all.

But that doesn’t keep Eddie the Eagle away from being a solid movie, at the very least, an inspirational sports movie, as well. You see the twists and turns coming from a mile away and even if you didn’t already do your own homework on just who this Eddie character was in the first place, chances are, it won’t matter. You’ll know exactly where this story is going to end up and while that would normally tick me off to high heavens, here, it didn’t seem to matter.

I was just happy to be in the presence of Eddie, Bronson, and well, basically everybody else who showed up.

Keep on lookin' ahead, Taron. Sooner or later, people will be forgetting all about Joel.

Keep on lookin’ ahead, Taron. Sooner or later, people will be forgetting all about Joel. (And yes, I know that Joel’s last name is “Edgerton”, but still, it’s hard not to get confused)

Speaking of Eddie himself, Taron Egerton has slowly, but most definitely surely, shown himself to be one of the brighter, more promising young voices in film nowadays and it’s great to see where he’s going with his career. While the movie definitely overdoes it in trying to making Egerton look like the actual Eddie himself, with titled-glasses, terrible hair and whatnot, Egerton gets past all of that and makes us sort of fall in love with this guy. He’s nice to basically everyone around him and hardly utters a naughty word throughout the whole movie, which may seem like total bull-crap, but once we actually get to see the real Eddie himself, it becomes all too clear that this is exactly who the guy might be. He may be overly earnest and kind to those around him, but it’s hard to hate a person who, quite frankly, is exactly as he appears to be in actual, real life. And yeah, Egerton’s great at him, showing both the inspired, as well as the lovable side to our hero.

And even though there’s no such person as Bronson Peary (well, at least not in relation to Eddie’s story – there’s most likely a porn star with that name out there on some corner store shelf), Hugh Jackman does a solid job at giving us a likable mentor, who also has a few demons of his own. Obviously, by the way story goes, we’re going to have to expect at least some sort of issue between these two that they need to overcome and though the movie does predictably bring one up, it actually seems believable to the situation. While the world may look at Eddie like a fool and he may not care about it, there’s also the argument to be made for him not even trying to be apart of the Olympics, for that exact reason. Because Peary’s character is a point-by-point caricature of conventions that we typically see with these mentor types, it makes sense why he would have a problem with Eddie taking himself one step further, even if we want him to achieve his dream at the end of the day.

But if anything, what Eddie the Eagle does best that, some other sports biopics like, for instance, Race, didn’t seem to do, is get down to the meat of the story and make us realize why we care so much to begin with. Jesse Owens was way more inspirational than Eddie, however, this movie at least shows that Eddie is like you or I. We may be a little troubled and clearly not in perfect shape to do everything that we want to do, but as long as we have the right mind and spirit, we can achieve whatever we want.

Sure, it’s hokey as hell, but it’s the kind of hokey I don’t mind to smile at and go along with.

Consensus: Conventional and corny, Eddie the Eagle may not surprise viewers familiar with the sports biopic, but is still so likable, well-acted, and enjoyable, that it’s easy to push away these issues and just fly along.

7 / 10

Teachers aren't always that hunky,

Teachers aren’t always that hunky, but it certainly helps your movie’s appeal.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Oh, those Muppets. So hip, so meta, so cool.

It has finally happened! The Muppets are back and more popular than ever! The only difference now is that they don’t quite know what to do with all their popularity, that is, until booking-agent Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) walks into their lives and gives them an offer they can’t refuse: Come along with him, go on a world tour, sell every place out and sooner than later, they’ll be rich, famous and cool all over again. But, the only problem here is that none of the other Muppets know about what Dominic is really up to, which concerns breaking into art galleries all over the world, finding buried-treasure and becoming even more rich than ever before. Also, there is another part of the plan that consists of Kermit getting mistaken for a villainous thief known as “Constantine”, because they look exactly the same, although the latter does have a mole on his face. Either way, the switch-up happens and when Kermit is thrown into a Russian prison, the rest of the Muppets are left with nothing else to do but to just get on with the show and hope for the best, even if they do notice that something rather strange is going on with the “new” Kermit.

To clear things up right away, I absolutely loved and adored the hell out of the latest Muppets movie that came out some odd years back. Not only was it a return-to-form for those lovely puppets I grew up watching and knowing throughout all of my childhood, but it reminded me just how hilarious they actually were, despite me growing up a little bit. Their jokes were a lot more self-knowing, smart, witty, and even, dare I say it, meta. It showed me that the Muppets weren’t only here to stay, but that they could easily continue to have me smiling, laughing and having a great time with them, even as I got older.

For once, Ricky Gervais doesn't know what to say.

For once, Ricky Gervais is left speechless.

Heck, I even watched that holiday special they had with Lady Gaga and RuPaul a couple of months ago!

Anyway, that’s why when I was going into this, I expected to have the same bit of fun I had with the last movie, while still remaining a bit skeptical. Why? Well, because with the first movie, it seemed like there was a lot more at-stake. We hadn’t seen the Muppets pop-up in much for a very long time, nor did we get a movie of theirs for a whole ten or eleven years. So basically, the first movie was created as a tool as to see if these puppets were still popular, or, better yet, could even make some money for those powers-that-be. Thankfully, the movie did both! But that’s why I remained a little weary of what this movie was going to do and if it wasn’t going to stick to its guns like the latest movie did. I felt like they were probably going to try all that they could to strangle a laugh out of us and probably end-up straining themselves in the process.

But somehow, this wasn’t the case here, although some of my fears did come true here, if only a wee bit.

What I think works so well here, as it does with practically anything involving the Muppets, is the humor. It’s the type of humor that works for any and all ages. There’s the older, more-knowing jokes suitable for the more mature crowd; as well as there’s plenty of those slapstick jokes where characters are falling down, blowing stuff up and hitting each other over the heads with whatever they can find, for the younger crowd. It all works very well and barely ever lets up, even if most of those “thoughtful” jokes do, and will, go over most of those younger kids’ heads. Not saying so in a condescending way, just saying that it’s something that you have to expect with a Muppets movie. Or anything involving the Muppets whatsoever.

The next best aspect of this movie is definitely the music which seems like it only gets better the more and more you think about certain lines of lyrics. Sure, there’s nothing along the lines of “Man or Muppet” to be found here, but for what it’s worse, most of the tunes heard here are funny, well-written and better than most of the other crap you hear on the radio nowadays. I mean, seriously, who in the hell is “the Glitch Mob”!??!?

And I guess you could consider the cast to be the next best aspect of this movie, mainly Ty Burrell as a French Interpol inspector that works with Sam the Eagle on this whole big mystery of a plot and is always competing with him as who is the better Secret Service agent. Also, they battle it out on whose badge is bigger, which is a running-gag that never seems to get old. Burrell is probably the only who is more lively and energetic than some of the Muppets here, if only because he has the goofiest, showiest role of them all. Whereas Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey, despite the latter sporting a heavy-Russian accent, don’t really get to do much other than try their very few hands at being funny and holding believable reaction-shots with a bunch of puppets. That’s not taking anything away from Burrell at all, because he truly was hilarious to watch in a campy, over-the-top way. You know, the way you should be when you’re in the same frame as Ms. Piggy, or the Swedish Chef, or especially Kermit himself.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswaggle is a "Spoiler", than whatever.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswoggle is a “Spoiler”, than whatever.

The cameos themselves are all fine and dandy, if totally and completely random. However, that’s exactly what these movies live-off of. Some of the people who show up I’m scared to even give away or spoil, but just know, a few of them will absolute stun you and make you wonder just where the idea of putting this particular person the movie came from. Not all of them are great, but more often than not, they’re pretty strange, but in a good way that the Muppets are always known for featuring.

At the end of the day with this movie, I find myself being totally ecstatic about it, and then, other parts of me find it hard to remember it as perfectly as I did with the first movie. I guess that’s my fault for stacking 30 years of Muppets movies up against one another, but then again, I don’t think it is. As a fan, I think it’s alright to shine a light on the past, and see exactly where the franchise is going. For now, I’m content with the Muppets being around and making us laugh, but still, I hold a little hesitance in my heart, as I know that there could quite possibly be another Muppets from Space, just around the corner. Let’s just hope that’s just another case of me talking out of my backside, and not the harsh, brutal truth.

Consensus: As usual, Muppets Most Wanted assures that our favorite, lovable puppets are still funny and able to make us have a great time, although it is clear that some of the magic is fading away. If only some of it is.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

That "Walter" guy is still around? Meh!

That “Walter” guy is still around? Meh!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Elephant Man (1980)

It’s like Forrest Gump, had it been directed by David Lynch. And instead of a box of chocolates, it was life-like bunny rabbits.

Rescued from his degrading life as a circus freak, John Merrick (John Hurt) is given a chance by a dedicated surgeon (Anthony Hopkins) to live his last years with comfort, respect, and dignity. But since life has not been so kind to John Merrick, he finds it hard to open-up to the rest of the world and let others in. Then again, can ya blame him when you look like this?!?!

David Lynch is a guy that I can never wrap my head around as to whether or not I like him, or just find him bat-shit crazy. Mulholland Drive had me for the first hour or so, then just totally lost me after about the box came into play; Dune just sucked and was a film I wish I couldn’t understand, just to add some more interest to it; Wild at Heart is strange, but very engrossing with its themes and different genres; and Blue Velvet is a very strange, dark tale that worked for me mainly because of Dennis Hopper. I know, I haven’t seen all of his movies, but from what I have seen, it’s been a pretty tough act to love, let alone enjoy. However, I think I can add this one to the list of “good Lynch movies” or “enjoyably pleasant ones”.

What sets this film apart from all of Lynch’s other flicks is that it’s not all that concerned with messing with the minds of the audience, as much as it’s actually more concerned about creating a story about a man that has an obvious set-back in his life, but finds anyway possible to get past that and live the life he wants to. Lynch focuses on Merrick and gives us a story that is not only inspiring, but is also very true in the questions and ideas it brings up about how it is to be human. People look at Merrick and see an “animal”, or a “creature”, and write him off as “stupid” just because of the way he looks. However, like every idiot-savant in movies like this (in real-life, I don’t know if they exist), we start to see more of a human-being behind the look and it’s an mesmerizing thing to watch.

Some form of the KKK, I guess.

The KKK for those who are less-fortunate than us.

However, that is definitely not the case because once Merrick starts to actually talk, we all start to realize that this man is brilliant and one that many of us should look up to considering he doesn’t once ask for any pity whatsoever. Nope, this guy just wants to move on with his life and get past the fact that everywhere he goes, somebody will be staring at him and try wondering what the hell is up with his face and body. To be honest, I’d wonder and probably stare too, but I wouldn’t be as rude about it as some of these people are because I’d realize something fairly quickly: this guy’s a human-being and has feelings like any other human. It’s very hard for anybody to feel and act like this in life, and it’s even harder for a guy like Merrick, but he somehow lives this life-style the whole way through and you are ultimately pulled in right from the start. This is mostly thanks to Lynch’s directing skills because he’s able to play everything straight, while still have a little bit of his weirdness here and there. But Lynch never loses himself and always keep his heart in the right place to give us a story that is one for us all to remember and feel touched by. Sounds strange that this is coming from the same dude who gave us a Naomi Watts lesbian scene, but that’s the whole beauty of this film and what Lynch can do as a director.

But also, that was also my one big problem with this flick. See, as much as Lynch dedicated this flick to being one hell of a story about a man with problems, he still brings in all of these freak-show elements that kind of make this film more confusing than it has any right to be. The first five minutes, we get the signature, Lynch freak-out scene but then it doesn’t come around again until the middle, where Lynch starts touching on all of these freak-shows and other themes of his like the night of the obscure and some strange, sexual obsessions that people have. This wouldn’t seem like something as bad to include in one of his total, mind-fuck movies we all know and sometimes, love him for, but when you place it in a film like this, it seems a little cheap. Also, based on the story we have here, it’s very confusing for a viewer to fully understand just what the hell it is that you are trying to say in the first place. Once again though, it is Lynch we are talking about here and the guy’s never been a fully-sane, fully-functioning person to begin with.

But then again, that’s why we have characters to look at and what a character John Merrick is. Not only is Merrick an inspirational-figure in real-life, but also in this movie and wouldn’t be that way if it wasn’t for John Hurt in this almost unrecognizable role here. The makeup job is done perfectly here and captures exactly what the real person looked like (actually, that guy was worse looking it seems) and I could have only imagined how much of a bitch it must have been for Hurt to have to constantly put that on, day after day. But regardless of how annoying it must have been for him, Hurt still gives off a powerful performance and totally transforms himself into Merrick, whole also actually down-playing the role with ease and subtlety. It’s hard to be subtle when you have a shit-ton of make-up and costumes on, but Hurt is able to capture a sincere presence with his eyes. Oh, those enchanting eyes. Shame that this guy hasn’t fully gotten his due yet from the Academy, but hopefully he will soon.

"Hold me?"

“Hold me?”

Anthony Hopkins, another legend on the big-screen, is also very good in a role that seems very fit for him: Frederick Treves. Treves is a character that thinks he is doing the right thing by going around and showing off Merrick to other people, only to realize that he is pretty much doing the same exact thing to him with these meetings, as the last guy was doing with all of those “freak-shows”. It’s one of those characters that hits the dilemma of doing the right thing, but soon realizes he’s way too in over-his-head. But yet, Hopkins always keeps him loveable and for the most part, a guy that’s easy to fall back on, even when shit seems to get a little too hectic for Mr. Merrick. If there was any problem I had with Hopkins, it’s that he always has that frozen look in his eyes where you don’t quite know if he’s nice or just scary underneath all of the glitz, glamour, and charm, but it works for this character and still makes it easy enough for us to care about this guy because he means well, even if others may view it differently.

Consensus: With a surprisingly straight-forward direction by David Lynch, a pair of great performances from Hurt and Hopkins, and an inspirational story at the heart of it all, The Elephant Man is a wonderful flick that will make you feel for it’s main subject but also realize what it’s like to be a human, and what it takes to care for the other humans around you as well.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Proof that Bradley can do it all.

Proof that Bradley can do it all. Kind of.