Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Eric Bana

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Where’s those Knights of the Round Table?

After the murder of his father (Eric Bana), young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is sent off, via boat, to an island where whores and crime run wild. However, Arthur gets going with it all pretty quick and soon, he becomes the smartest, craftiest, and trusted people on the island that, practically, everyone is asking him for their help, in any way that they can. But there’s a reason for why Arthur is the way he is – he comes from royalty, yet, doesn’t know what it is, what it feels like, nor does he actually want it. He’s actually pretty pleased with his life and doesn’t feel the need to up-end it, only until he discovers that his power-hungry uncle Vortigern (Jude Law), who also killed his father, is looking for him and needs him to pull the Excalibur sword from stone. Arthur eventually does and leads to all sorts of action and violence that both sides will compete in until their deaths, but also know that there’s more to being a king, than just having power and fine jewelry. There’s also this thing called respect and honor, and stuff like that.

Just look at that get-up! Clearly the baddie!

King Arthur is a movie that a lot of people will, and already have started to, hate. This isn’t to say that those who don’t like it, aren’t wrong, because in fact, they’re probably; the movie is loud, dark, brash, stupid, random, nonsensical, and downright weird. But sometimes, can’t there be fun had in all of that?

See, Guy Ritchie is the kind of director who seems to take on anything he wants, so long as he can put his own little cool, suave stamp on it. It’s why his early movies, the Sherlock Holmes‘, and even Man From U.N.C.L.E. have worked so well for him, because he was able to do something neat and different with these pieces of work, and make them entirely his own. And yes, it also helps that Ritchie’s style, while definitely show-offy, is still fun to watch and brings a certain amount of energy.

Then again, maybe that’s just for me.

See, the first ten minutes of King Arthur are just so odd, slow and boring, that it made me want to check out very early on. But then, out of nowhere, Ritchie’s style kicks in, where everything’s quick, a little dumb, loud, and random, making it feel like we were watching Clash of the Titans, only to then change to channel to 90’s MTV. It’s silly, of course, but it works in moving this flick forward when in all honesty, other films just like it would have kept a slow, leisurely pace for no reason.

Does it totally work? Not really, but it does help keep the movie fun at times when it shouldn’t be. For instance, Ritchie makes Arthur and his cronies as just another group of his usual rag-tag bunch of gangsters, stealing, lying and killing, for their own gain. Granted, Arthur’s supposed to be the hero here, but listening to him and his pals telling a story, or better yet, a bunch of stories all at once, is quite entertaining.

Once again, this may all just be me, but for some reason, King Arthur was a little bit of fun for me.

The issues the movie seems to have is in making sense of its story, which is why, for two hours, the movie can be a bit long. There are times when it seems like even Ritchie himself can’t make sense of the story and why Arthur matters in the grander scheme of things; certain supernatural elements with witches, eagles, and bugs, all randomly pop-up and are supposed to mean something, but they really don’t. The movie hasn’t really told us much about it, other than, “Oi, yeah, this kind of stuff can happen.”

Poor Eric Bana. The man can just never catch a break.

Can it, though? I guess, and it’s why King Arthur, while clearly not a perfect movie, also seemed to need some more help on the story, even though it took three writers to apparently bring it around.

Still, King Arthur provides enough entertainment when it’s needed and it’s also nice to see the ensemble here having some fun, too. After the Lost City of Z, I began thinking of whether or not Charlie Hunnam was actually a good actor, or if he was just another good-looking guy, who also happened to be able to read lines. Here, I think he fits Arthur quite well; he gets to cool, calm, sophisticated, and a little arrogant, which, if you’re someone who looks like Hunnam, it probably works, and it does here.

Even Jude Law gets to have some fun as Vortigern, although he never quite gets the chance to go full “villain”. Sure, he kills innocents, gives people the bad eye, and yes, even scowls, but there’s never any key moment where it feels like the man is as despicable and as evil as he probably should have been. He’s basically just the Young Pope, but instead of preaching and having weird sexual feelings for nannies, he’s actually killing people.

So shouldn’t that make him more evil? I don’t know, either way, Law deserves to be meaner and badder.

Consensus: While it is no doubt a flawed, odd and at times, random piece, King Arthur also proves that Guy Ritchie’s hip and cool style can still work, so long as it isn’t being depended on to help out with the story, or other things that matter to making a good movie.

5.5 / 10

He’s still deciding on what accent to use, or if to even have one at all.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Advertisements

Finding Nemo (2003)

Animals lose their kids, too. It’s not just humans.

Marlin (Albert Brooks) is an obsessively overprotective Daddy clownfish, but with good reason. Some time ago, when he and his late wife had just welcomed all of their children to the sea, because they weren’t paying enough attention, somehow, they all got swept away, and the wife died. There was one left, however, and it turned out to be Marlin’s sole child: Nemo. And needless to say, yes, Marlin is very uptight and worried about Nemo, so much so that Nemo himself feels as if he needs to venture out there into the world a whole lot more than he’s allowed to. However, all of that adventuring gets Nemo caught by a bunch of humans and thrown in some dentist’s office fish-bowl. For Nemo, this is a new world, but it’s one that he doesn’t quite love just as much as he loves the sea. But Marlin will not stop until he finds Nemo and brings him home safe, once and for all – now, though, he’s got the help of a fellow fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneras), who may actually be more of a problem than a solution.

How I imagine Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneras talk to one another in real life.

How I imagine Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneras talk to one another in real life.

Finding Nemo came out at a time for Pixar that was definitely crucial. They were still hitting it out of the park with each and every flick they offered, but by 2003, you could start to tell that maybe, just maybe, Pixar’s appeal was starting to wane. Sure, a sequel to Toy Story works perfectly, because who doesn’t love talking toys, but talking sea-creatures? And one that involves one fish being lost and, hopefully, found?

Well, regarldess, none of this talk matters. Finding Nemo wasn’t just a hit commercially, but it also showed that everything Pixar was able to do with their first couple of movies, they were still able to carry-on with and remind everyone that they were the voice and brand-name to be reckoned with when it came to the world of animation. Nowadays, it seems as if they’ve fallen a tad off the ladder, but still, Finding Nemo, as it still lies, works.

The visuals, for one, are as beautiful as they ever have been. Given that the story literally takes place under the sea, it only makes perfect sense that every bit of Finding Nemo be as eye-engaging and beautiful as the bit before it. Heck, even after it being over 13 years of this thing being out and about, you’d think that at least some portion of it looks dated, or doesn’t quite hold-up; technology has, believe it or not, gotten a whole lot better and Pixar has definitely shown this. But nope, it’s still a beautiful movie.

And I’m not just talking about the visuals, either, although they are quite great to look at.

The greatest aspect of Finding Nemo is that it wears its heart on its sleeves practially the whole way through. It all starts off somber, tragic and absolutely upsetting for the first five minutes, but sooner than later, turns into this pleasant, relatively sweet story about overcoming one’s fears, adversities, and own handicaps to get something in life, as well as making one’s self better. While, yes, you could most definitely chalk that same message/theme to every other Pixar movie ever released, the fact remains that it still works and hits close to home here, even if you also get the idea that maybe Pixar wore it on a bit too strong?

Maybe? Eh?

Then again, maybe not. What Finding Nemo works best in is that it allows for its story to hit the emotional archs and all that, but also bring on the funny, too. There’s so many silly and lovely side characters that, honestly, it’s not hard to want to see a movie about them. There’s the sharks going through AA for blood; there’s the sea turtles who live the rock ‘n roll lifestyle like bro-ish surfers; and most especially, there’s the sea creatures stuck in a fish bowl who want nothing more than to escape this unforgiving prison. Of course, Finding Nemo gives all of these characters their chances to shine, but what matters most is that none of them feel like throway gags that Pixar thrown in there to create more toys, or because, well, they were bored; each and every character serves a greater purpose to the story and helps it move along.

Cowabunga dudes!

Cowabunga dudes!

And yeah, while I’m on about the characters, I might as well say that the voice-casting is probably the ballsiest, yet, smartest bit of casting Pixar has ever done. Albert Brooks’ gruff, yet slightly neurotic voice is perfect for the overly neurotic and scared Marlin, who is easy to warm up to, especially since we know that Brooks is such a lovely presence on the screen. But it’s strange that he was cast in the role, because honestly, he wasn’t all that big at the time of this release; it’s hard to say if Finding Nemo helped revitalize his career (he’s not on the screen at all and half the people who saw it probably have no clue who Albert Brooks is), but hey, if it’s a role that utilizes him well, then so be it.

But really, the star of the show is Ellen DeGeneras’ Dory.

Now, despite this too being a voice-role, Dory’s the character that definitely regenerized DeGeneras’ career for the greater good of society. The character allows for her to get as high-pitched and silly as she wants, without ever seeming as if she’s over-doing it to a huge exteme. In fact, it’s the right bit of goofiness and charm that works well for this character, as well as DeGeneras, because even if we do want to strangle Dory at times, it’s still hard not to want to see her and be around her more.

Probably why she’s getting her own flick, now that I think about it.

Consensus: Just as you’d expect from Pixar, Finding Nemo is a heartfelt, sweet, honest, fun, and downright hilarious tale of adventure, family and love, which is what makes it all the more great.

9 / 10

Yeah, now you're lost.

Yeah, now you’re lost.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Finest Hours (2016)

Well, if pneumonia doesn’t kill ya!

Based on the true story of events that took place in February of 1952, a when a brutally strong storm hit the coast of New England. During this storm, an oil tanker, the SS Pendleton, found itself in a whole of trouble – meaning that they’re ship was literally torn in half. Captain of the ship, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck), as well as thirty two other men found themselves in the back half of the ship and were in desperate need of some help and attention. Because, well, the longer the ship stayed floating in the water, the more and more flooded it got, leading the men closer and closer to their own respective deaths. Obviously, nobody on the boat was happy about this, so they decided to make one last call for help, in hopes that somebody, even despite the terrible storm, would be able to come and save them all. Well, wouldn’t luck have it that a U.S. Coast Guard station hears it, and one person in particular, Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), decides that it’s his responsibility to save the day and make sure that all of these men get home alive and safely. But Bernie, as well as the other brave souls who go along with him, will soon find out that maybe their dream all along, just was that: A dream that maybe couldn’t ever come true.

He's so normally good-looking.

He’s so normally good-looking.

The Finest Hours is a better movie than people seem to be giving it credit for. Although that isn’t to say it isn’t without its faults, because, well, it definitely has problems. One such is that director Craig Gillespie seems like he’s trying to do a tad too much here, but never really fleshing each plot-line/subplot out to their fullest extreme. Gillespie brings us into the sort of old timey, nostalgic-tone of the early-50’s for the first half-hour of the movie where we see love, happiness and all sorts of novelty expressions of the old days, blossom and it’s a genuinely sweet little movie in its own right. It feels odd considering that we know the movie is going to have to do with a huge storm and ship at one point, but hey, it’s fine for a short while.

Then, it jumps right onto the ship and all of a sudden, we’re getting what is basically the prequel to the Perfect Storm.

Had this movie been released in 2000, right before the Perfect Storm, the Finest Hours would have been called that and it probably would have been a bit of a better movie (although the later is definitely better than the former). However, the Finest Hours is a movie that exists, features a huge boat, as well as a destructive storm that, believe it or not, is actually pretty scary; even though Gillespie literally goes from us watching as Chris Pine makes on some sweet girl, to then being thrown head-first into this dirty, sweaty, wet, and muggy ship, at the drop of a dime, it’s still surprisingly effective.

A bit jarring? Yeah, but it still somehow worked.

But most of this is due to the fact that Gillespie seems to put a lot of his focus onto the storm at-hand and it’s where the movie really excels. Though the CGI can look a bit shoddy, as well as incredibly dark at times, the movie still gives you this idea that, no matter how determined or empowered these guys may be, there may just be one too many odds stacked against them. Despite the fact that it’s based on a true story that most people probably already know about, it’s not hard to get wrapped-up in the characters, as limited as they may be, and the storm, watching as the two sides constantly duke it out.

Once again though, Gillespie’s focus does tend to lean back towards the characters and this is where the movie can sometimes lose its grove. Personally, I was all fine with the central romance between Pine and Holliday Grainger, but once Pine’s Bernie Webber is out on the water, Grainger’s character is sort of just left there to fend for herself, going from one random house to another, looking scared and beautiful at the same time. Why she wasn’t cast in Carol is beyond me!

But regardless, yeah, everything on-land is pretty dry and more often than not breaks up the tension of the movie. However, the storm/rescue sequences themselves are so compelling and tense, that they’re almost worth all the little breaks in between. That’s not to say that Gillespie could have probably made better, tighter movie without all of the stuff on-land, but still, it exists and it’s worth getting past, just to get to the good stuff.

Work that ship, Casey. Show big bro who the real Affleck is.

Work that ship, Casey. Show big bro who the real Affleck is.

And it’s not like the characters are played by any chumps, either, as everybody here is pretty solid.

Chris Pine is surprisingly playing against-type here as Bernie Webber, someone who is neither cunning nor charming, but just sort of the quiet and meek dude who always happens to be in the corner. Granted, it’s Chris Pine, with Chris Pine looks, so it’s hard for him to really play anyone as normal and everyday as someone who doesn’t already look like Chris Pine, but it’s fine because he’s at least trying with something different and, for the most part, it works. Ben Foster plays his pal, and doesn’t really have much to do or say, despite being in just about every scene. It’s a shame because we know so much more from Foster, but still, the presence is welcome.

And yeah, there’s a whole bunch of other character actors here to shake a stick at and be happy to see, but it’s really Casey Affleck and Eric Bana who steal the show – the former for good reasons, the later, for memorably bad ones. What Affleck does well here with his character is that he presents him as a smart, but determined man of very little words who doesn’t beat around the bush when the ship is sinking, but knows exactly how to save himself, as well as the rest of the crew on-board. There’s something comforting about his presence that makes him take over every scene and sort of just wish the movie was about him, his crew, and what’s always going through their minds.

Then, there’s Eric Bana who, sadly, is doing one of the worst movie accents of all time, although it’s not entirely his fault.

Okay, that’s a lie, because it pretty much is. However, I’m just trying to be nice to the guy because it seems like he’s got a lot to work with here. For one, he’s an Australian, trying to play a Texan, who just so happens to be stationed out in Boston. It’s initially odd because we don’t know what accent he’s doing, but after awhile, it becomes clear which one he is trying and it just never works, nor makes any sense. The movie could have definitely just placed him as a normal American from California or Montana, and Eric Bana would have been fine. However, they don’t do that and instead, Eric Bana looks and sounds so ridiculous.

Poor Eric. At least he got to be the Hulk in the new millennium before it was cool.

Consensus: Though the Finest Hours doesn’t always focus on the miraculous and surprisingly uplifting escape plan, it still works when it does, but then, doesn’t work when it’s looking elsewhere.

7 / 10

Ew! Bring back the hot and sweaty dudes!

Ew! Bring back the hot and sweaty dudes!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Munich (2005)

When you need a job to be done, always call up the Hulk and James Bond.

During the 1972 Summer Olympics, nine Israeli Olympic athletes were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists, in front of the whole world to see. In retaliation to this, the Israeli government decided to launch a unofficial mission to take out those who were deemed “responsible” for the massacre, by any means necessary. Given the leadership role of the group is Avner Kaufman (Eric Bana), an Israeli Mossad agent, who leaves his pregnant wife (Ayelet Zurer), knowing that he is doing something that he can be proud of, even if the details are a bit shoddy. Joining him are the likes of Steve (Daniel Craig), Carl (Ciarán Hinds), Hans (Hanns Zischler), and a former toy-maker-now-turned-bomb-creator, Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz). Together, the men will unite and band together to take out those whom they are ordered to take out and while things start off promising, eventually, the hits begin to get a bit messy and leave these five men fearing for their own lives. Not to mention that Avner is starting to get in bed with some shady fellas who he uses as sources, but may also not be able to trust them full-well.

Can't get any closer fellas?

Can’t get any closer fellas?

For most of you dedicated DTMMR readers out there (all two of you), you’ll probably realize that I have already done a review of Munich a few years back. And nothing against that review or whatever, but I’ve definitely done some growing in the past few years. Not to mention that I’ve grown a fonder appreciation for Spielberg and all that he puts into his films; no longer is he just “the guy who makes good movies”, he’s now, “the guy who makes good movies and has some incredibly interesting ones, too”. Therefore, it made perfect sense to me to give this movie another shot and see how it is that I felt about it, all these years down the road.

And thankfully, my feelings have gotten better. Even if not everything’s changed.

Munich is, probably, Spielberg’s riskiest movie. Sure, some may say A.I. was, or the real hardcore fans will say 1941 may have been, but I’m afraid that they are wrong, because Munich most definitely is. With Munich, Spielberg was reported to have been given a budget of nearly $70 million, which is fine and not surprising at all considering that it’s Spielberg, but at the same time, when you take into consideration the factors at-play here, it totally is a shocker.

For one, Spielberg cast a largely international cast, with cast-members who weren’t well-known by large audiences (even Eric Bana himself wasn’t a huge box-office draw). Also, he focuses most of his movie on a bloody, violent and downright disturbing mission that does have to deal with the Munich massacre, but is in no way a re-telling of those events (which is something that most studios are looking for when they’re funding a movie). And lastly, if not the most important of all, it has no real end-point. Meaning, the Palestinians and Israelites, even until this very day, are still continuing on to battle and feud with one another, leaving the movie to feel, in a way, incomplete.

But, Spielberg being Spielberg, he makes it work.

A good hour or so of this movie feels like Spielberg getting a chance to make that gritty, dirty and overly-violent Bond movie he’s never been offered and the man takes every opportunity he can to make the feeling last. While this is a two-hour-and-44-minute-long movie, it doesn’t really take us all that long to get to the action of the plot and realize that people are going to be killed in some heinous ways and Spielberg’s not going to shy away from it a single bit. Though it should definitely be noted that the countless killings and murders in this movie are portrayed as horrifying and as shocking as they should be, Spielberg also doesn’t forget about the certain rush, or excitement one can feel when a plan is going into action. There’s a few scenes that highlight this, but they’re all tense to watch and remind us all what it is about Spielberg’s fun side that we miss so much of.

Still though, there’s a lot to this movie that’s very harsh and sad, which works well with Spielberg trying to get his message across and whatnot. From what it seems like with Munich, Spielberg does not think too fondly of the violent-relations that Palestine and Israel have with one another, nor should he; Spielberg knows that religion will continue to separate people till the end of time, but at the same time, he doesn’t believe that any of it should lead to senseless violence or deaths. In a way, Spielberg is basically using Munich as a way to get across his age old message of “everybody, let’s just get along”, but because this message is mostly specific to the never-ending issues between Palestine and Israel, it feels fresh and fully-realized.

Believe it or not, these guys could still kill you. Just let them finish their dinner first.

Believe it or not, these guys could still kill you. Just let them finish their dinner first.

No longer is Spielberg preaching! He’s actually got something worth while to say!

Of course though, what usually plagues Spielberg in most other movies, still follows him with Munich, in that he still hasn’t figured out a way to end a strong story, with a strong ending. There’s many endings within Munich, and while none of them are really bad per se, they mostly feel unnecessary and mundane; it’s almost as if Spielberg was like, “Hey, maybe the audience didn’t see my parallels to 9/11 the first time I brought them up. Let me throw another one in there!” Of course, if there’s a director to make any sort of 9/11 parallels to Israeli-Palestine conflict, then it’s Spielberg, but here, it feels over-done and too self-fulfilling – as if Spielberg realized how smart and nifty he was for connecting the literary dots, that he wanted the whole world to see.

But still, Spielberg makes more good decisions with Munich, than he does bad, and while that sounds like faint praise, I can assure you that it’s not supposed to. This is most evident with the cast and whom Spielberg decided fit which sort of roles perfectly, as minor and standard as they may have been. Daniel Craig, despite not being Bond just quite yet, still felt the pugnacious-feel of Steve so well that it would make sense if those in charge of who chooses the next Bond, saw this and decided to give the hunk a shot; Ciarán Hinds brings a certain warmness to Carl, even despite the mean things he has to do; same goes for Hanns Zischler as, well, Hans, another older-man who feels as if he’s being thrown into a situation he never asked for, but is happy to accept the challenge anyway; Mathieu Kassovitz’s Robert is perfectly nerdy that it makes it all the more disorienting to see what it is that he’s actually creating; and Geoffrey Rush, despite his accent really going in and out, still works well with the role as the government official you’re never too sure to trust or not.

Of course though, it’s Eric Bana who the movie depends on the most and he deserves it. Bana is, in other words, an underrated actor, I feel; while he’s never lit the screen on fire quite like he did with Chopper, the guy always shows up in movies, giving it his all, and continuing to show that he can blend in well with any director’s style. Bana’s done it all and it’s about time that he was given his own, dramatic-powerhouse to work wonders with! And that’s what he does as Avner; while the character isn’t necessarily made out to be as “heroic” as some of Bana’s other characters can sometimes be written as, there’s still a lot to this guy that makes you feel as if he’s got everybody’s best intentions at heart and doesn’t want anything bad to happen. Cause, after all, he’s just taking orders.

And also, allowing for Jews everywhere to get laid again.

Consensus: Despite a lackluster ending, Munich is a fact-based spy-thriller with emotion, a well-acted cast, and the usual dose of interesting anecdotes that Spielberg is able to orchestrate effectively.

8 / 10

Don't question Eric Bana. You won't like Eric Bana when you question him.

Don’t question Eric Bana. You won’t like Eric Bana when you question him.

Photos Courtesy of: Having Said That, One Shot, Amazon Web Services

Lone Survivor (2013)

I wonder how many people got out of this alive?

It’s the summer of 2005 in Afghanistan and four Navy SEALS (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitch, Ben Foster, and Emile Hirsch) find themselves assigned a covert mission: Find the vicious Taliban leader known as Ahmad Shahd and kill him. All four of these soldiers feel like it’s going to be another walk in the park, but soon, things start to go wrong once they seem not to be able to get their radio to work. To make matters even worse, they stumble upon a few local goat herders, whom they hold in captivity in fear of not knowing what to do just yet. However, working with their better judgement, the four decide that they shouldn’t hold them any longer, nor kill them. So, they let them go and continue on with the mission. Problem is, once they let these bystanders go, one of them actually goes right back to the local Taliban and gives up their cover, meaning that it’s these four Navy SEALS, against this whole army. In other words, it’s a fight to the death in which the Americans, for once, are out-numbered and may continue to be if they can’t get their stinking radio working.

Peter Berg’s been known to be a big advocate for our soldiers, which is why a movie like this just plainly reads “total propaganda”. Even if the story itself is real, with all of the right details thrown in there and such, it still seems like another case of Peter Berg getting his hand on a military story, making it for the masses and showing the rest of our society the heroes that are out there, fighting on a day-to-day basis, so that we can continue to live our lives in perfect, total harmony. Trust me though, there’s nothing wrong with that as we should all definitely pay our respects and gratitude to these soldiers who risk their lives day in, and day out. But a movie that’s basically telling me I need to, is never something that sits well with me, which is exactly what I thought I was going to be subject to here with, yet again, another Peter Berg “military” movie.

With or without guns in their hands, they're pretty damn boss.

With or without guns in their hands, they still look boss.

However, I was very wrong. I’m glad to be though because now seeing it, I can say that this is as honest, and as heart-wrenching of a tribute to our fallen heroes, as we’ve gotten for quite some time. Especially with one that doesn’t hold any obvious political-agenda; it’s just signaling a tribute to those who deserve it the most.

What Berg does so well with this true tale is by the way that he doesn’t really pander to any view-point in particular. Whether the people who see this more are for the war, or aren’t, it doesn’t matter as Berg clearly shows us that this is less a story about the actual war, the brutal killings and all sorts of other controversies that surround it, but more about the human-beings who get wrapped up into this war, feeling as if they are doing something right for themselves, their families and most importantly, their country. And they definitely are, which makes it all the more heartbreaking to watch as each and every one of these guys continue to fight for their lives, find the best possible way to make it out alive and make sure that whomever it is that’s on their side, walks across the finish-line alongside them as well. It’s more of a testament to how these soldiers are like brothers in a way and care more for the person next to them, rather than themselves. I don’t usually like that “hurrah hurrah!” type of stuff in these war movies and quite frankly, I don’t really fall for it, but here, with Berg’s attention to emotion, it felt real and authentic, without many strings attached. There were some over-dramatic moments that were clearly tugging at the heart-strings, but never to the point of where it was unbearable.

But what really sets this movie over that edge of being more than just your traditional, war flick, is in the way it portrays our infamous sequence-of-violent/horrific-events. It’s less sentimental than one might suspect, and really will test some audience’s patience as it gets very up-in-your-face, and never seems to shy away from the harsh facts of the reality of this situation.

For instance, the whole sequence between the SEALS and the rest of this Taliban army starts off on the top of a mountain, and at first, Berg makes it seem like these soldiers are invincible heroes that yes, do get shot, but also suck it in and walk away from it all, only to continue on with the shooting, the strategizing and the running away. Eventually though, the soldiers do begin to get more and more shot at, which also means, they begin to take more bullets wherever they just so happen to connect. Some take it in the legs, the back, the shoulders, the stomach, the head, and all sorts of other parts of the body that I don’t even want to get into or describe.

Nonetheless, this is when the movie really starts to hit you, and hit you hard. This is also where Berg’s direction really starts to excel in the way that it paints a portrait of just how bad a situation can get, once one unfortunate mishap continues to happen, after another, and nothing seems to be working well for one side, but perfectly for the other. You begin to feel a palpable sense of danger, just about the same time as the soldiers do and it takes you for a thrill, more times than often. Especially once the battle itself starts to spill out all the way to the bottom of the mountain, and people begin to start falling all over themselves, and getting injured even more, in horrific and gruel detail.

Though some may see what Berg does here as “too realistic”, it’s never gratuitous as if he were making a horror film. For example, some people’s ears are shown falling off; blood is seen spraying every which way but loose; and even eyes get enclosed to practically making some people blind. But somehow, it never seems over-done. Instead, it seems like Berg really does want us to get an idea of what it is that these soldiers went through on that fateful day, without trying to manipulate us in any way. Simply, Berg just allows for the scenes to happen, with barely any directorial-trickery or manipulative score added anywhere.

It’s just four Navy SEALS fighting for their damn lives, and it’s a compelling watch, every single second its on-screen.

Yep, they really do go there.

Yep, it goes there.

However, it should be noted that once the actual mountain-attack is over and done with, the movie does begin to get very conventional, and this is exactly where Berg begins to tug on the heartstrings. And usually, it would feel deserved, especially since we’ve already been through so much with these SEALS and seen them go through and, well, stay there, but it didn’t quite work as well as the first two-halves of the movie. Most of that simply has to do with the fact that barely any of these characters have much more to them than we see painted on a portrait for us in the first 30 minutes or so.

Despite this, the cast does very well with each and every one of their roles, despite never really getting any development beyond the bravery-side to their personality. Mark Wahlberg definitely does well with being macho and tough, but showing the capability of being smart as well; Taylor Kitsch is at least easier and less painful to watch here, then he’s been in his past three or four movies; Emile Hirsch brings a lot of his little-boyish charm that we’ve seen him bring to most of his movies, and it works wonders for his character here that himself seems a bit immature and a bit too out-of-his-reach; Eric Bana tries hard to hold-back on his Australian-accent, but does fine altogether as the one sergeant whose back at base, watching over all of the proceedings; and, if there is any stand-out to be found here, it’s Ben Foster as the one soldier who suffers through the most pain and agony out of them all, but never wusses-out or asks for mercy. He just keeps on trucking until he can’t truck on no more. Much like every other soldier did on that terrible, terrible day where lives were lost and families were hurt. But altogether, we stuck through it and will continue to do so until the end of time. ‘Murrica!

Consensus: Though it has all of the workings of a very obvious, ham-fisted war flick that’s trying to make its political stand-point known loud and clear for all to hear, Lone Survivor still sticks to the humanity of this real-life mission, in which many soldiers lost their lives and even though one came out alive to tell the story, the painful reality of fallen family members is still there and never going to go away.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Never forget.

Never forget.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Black Hawk Down (2001)

Did the U.S. Army actually screw up for once? And come close to admitting it?!?! What is this?!?

It’s the fall of 1992 in Mogadishu, Somalia, and just about every citizen of that city is starving to death. Why? Well, powerful warlords are using starvation as a fear-tactic to knock down the weak, get the strong ones, and find out who is most loyal to fighting the good fight. This doesn’t seem like such a nice thing in the eyes of Americans, so it’s seems obvious that the next the U.S. army would take would be to go over there themselves and show them the right way to live and be socially acceptable. In order to do this, they need to capture a powerful warlord named Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the same warlord who declared war on the remaining U.N. personnel still left in his territory. Together as one, the U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force soldiers, and 160th SOAR aviators all gang up to capture him in what is snow-balled as a “30 minute mission”, no more, no less. However, when one soldier (Orlando Bloom) makes the rookie mistake and gets badly injured in the heat of the battle, that’s when all of the forces begin to fall apart, lose formation, balance, and sight of what they’re in this land for anyway. Suddenly, a 30 minute mission becomes a whole day-affair with more than a few casualties, and families with members taken away from them, as a result.

"Exposition, exposition, oh, and before I forget to mention it: Exposition."

“Exposition, exposition, oh, and before I forget to mention it: Exposition.”

So marks the fifth and most likely not going to be my final, viewing of this movie and needless to say, time has not done this one well. That’s less of a hit on this movie, and more of a hit on the type of pretentious movie reviewer I have become, but so be it! The fact of the matter is that even though the film has lost its steam in certain spots over the years, the spots that worked so well for me in the first place, still do work. And that all goes back to Ridley Scott’s direction which is, once again, nothing short of spectacular.

It’s common-knowledge now that Scott doesn’t just take a piece of material because he wants to get a new cover for his Jacuzzi; he takes it because he wants to, and feels so passionate about it that he’ll put his whole heart, mind, body, and soul into it. Sometimes, that can usually backfire on him, which is why he is one of the very few filmmakers working today to have director’s cut editions on almost all of his movies, but for the most part, the guy knows what he is doing behind the camera, and it allows for the viewer to take a peak inside of his mind, see what he sees, and wonder just how the hell he was able to cobble all of these pieces of film together to make one, long, cohesive story.

Maybe that’s why the movie won Best Editing all of those years ago. Just maybe.

But anyway, the landing-point for this tangent is that Scott, no matter how hollow the stories he works on may be, he himself, as a director and visual artist, is not. As soon as the movie begins, you feel as if you’re right there with each and every one of these soldiers just shooting the shit, cracking jokes, trying to prove whose ding-a-ling is bigger than the other’s, and so on and so forth. This starts things off on the right, if not more relaxed, foot, so that when things do start to get all crazy and jumpy, not only do we get hit with a sure rush of energy, but make us feel like all of the nice, happy, and playful vibes have gone elsewhere. This is where the material gets serious, and pretty damn violent as well.

However, the violence in this movie never oversteps its boundaries into “gratuitous” territory. Whenever a soldier dies, Scott clearly cares for this character and puts the spotlight right on them for however long that may be, and it gives you the general idea that yes, soldiers did die in this ill-planned raid, but also, fellow human-beings died as well. It’s sad, no questions about it, and that’s why Scott never takes his attention off the gruesome, gory details of this war/raid and has you feel as if you are right there, ducking every bullet within an inch of your life, just hoping that you have the upper-hand on your enemy, and it’s not the other way around. Sort of like warfare, isn’t it? Except that you aren’t actually participating in a war, you’re just watching it all play out, which is both comforting and tense at the same time.

So for right now, I think we’ve pretty much hammered in the fact that Scott is not to be blamed for any of this movie’s short-comings, because trust me, trust me, trust me: There are plenty to be had here. First of all, while I do respect that Scott shows the same type of respect and gratitude to those soldiers who lost their lives during that fateful raid, you never care for any of them. Or, let me try it like this: You’re never really given much of a reason to care in the first place. Sure, it’s easy to feel sympathetic as it is because they’re humans just like us, and were fighting a war, for us, however, nobody really seemed to be the most separate from the pack. Instead, every soldier, with the exception of a whole bunch of familiar faces, feels like the same person and they’re thinly-written persons at that.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah. Sorry, bud. Not buying it.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah. Sorry, bud. Not buying it.

Take for instance, our lead guy in the midst of this whole battle, Josh Hartnett as SSG Matt Eversmann. Now, obviously Hartnett has never really been the type of actor to carry a film on his shoulders, which makes it strange and relatively reasonable why Scott would make him the main leader in an ensemble feature, but the kid’s never given a chance here with the lame character he has to work with. Not only does Eversmann start off with the most dull and plain motivations any character, in any war movie has ever had, but his whole arch never changes over time. He just sees the war for all of its gory, bloody despair and detail. Once again, another thoughtful pretty-boy who looks at the world as one big bargaining chip where discussion and finding a middle-ground is daily accepted among society, finds out that the world actually isn’t like that? Really?!?! Is that the type of writing we want to accompany a movie about a raid that the U.S. wrongfully envisioned and got caught with their wankers in their hands more than a few times? I don’t think so, but hey, I guess if you have Ridley Scott on-board as director, not much can really go wrong. That’s if you don’t listen to the characters when they speak, which is exactly the problem here with everybody.

Hell, even the most talented actors among this ensemble can’t even save some of these lines from coming off as terribly corny. Tom Sizemore comes close as the bad ass, tough-as-nails commander that, get this, casually walks to wherever he goes on the battlefield. This whole character gets by on Sizemore’s nasty charm, but it’s so ridiculous, that it almost makes you forget about the rest of the stars in this cast that get stuck with even worse characterizations. Jason Isaacs has a really, REALLY thick Southern drawl that never catches on; Eric Bana’s accent is even worse and makes him seem more like a surfer brah, than an actual self-righteous soldier; Jeremy Piven and Ron Eldard love to crack jokes to one another while they’re getting ready to drop off fellow soldiers into a play land full of guns, bullets, explosions, death, and all sorts of viciousness; Sam Shepard yells out orders from a comfy, cozy bunker somewhere very far, far away from where this is happening, and seems like the type of dick nobody wants to be around, on-or-off the battlefield; and Ewan McGregor’s desk-jockey character, as charming as he may be, has that one skill of being able to make a great cup of coffee. Dude would have been hella popular with Buddy the Elf, but in the middle of Mogadishu, where all sorts of guns are being discharged and explosions are, ahem, doing exactly that, does that really matter? Does that even need to be included in here? Actually, those are all rhetorical. The answer is no!!!

Consensus: Scott’s inspired, jumpy, frenetic, and chaotic direction makes Black Hawk Down a thrilling, exciting, and sometimes, scary war flick, but the script never goes any deeper with its message, motivations behind the actual proceedings, or even the real-life soldiers who were involved with it, most of whom deserve better attention and writing. Except for the coffee guy. Seriously, why was he around again?!?!?!

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Must have been gnarly waves........dude.

Must have been gnarly waves……..dude.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB

Closed Circuit (2013)

Good thing I don’t live in London. Seems like they’re government is crazy.

Over 120 people were killed after an explosion was set-off in very busy London marketplace, and the main suspect is an Turkish immigrant known as Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto). After his defense attorney is mysteriously killed, Martin Rose (Eric Bana) rises on the scene and is given the opportunity to work with special advocate Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall). Seems fine and professional and all of that, except it isn’t because the two had an affair that destroyed Rose’s marriage some years earlier. However, the court can’t know about that, or else they would both be out of a job and would lose this case; one that surprisingly ends up being very serious and detrimental to the government, because people begin to wind-up dead, just as more and more information comes out about it.

The best way to really, and I do mean REALLY, get a thriller pumping, is just to add the threat of the government. Once they’re involved, then you know there’s nowhere safe to go, nowhere to hide and no way you can come out of this unscathed in one way or another. Mostly all thrillers end the same with the government prevailing and showing us that no matter how hard us determined human-beings may try, the government is always going to be one step ahead of us and ready to lift their magical, power fingers in order to come out on top. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles and although this movie does give us very subtle hints at what type of powerful wrecking force the government can truly be, it never seems to go anywhere with it.

It's the paper-guy. He can't be trusted. KILL HIM!!

It’s the paper-guy. He can’t be trusted. KILL HIM!!

See? Didn’t think all of my jabbering and ranting had a point, now did you?

Anyway, where I was getting at with that paragraph was that the movie definitely wants to be like one of those frenetic, paranoid thrillers from the 70’s, but never fully amounts to that. And I don’t mean that in the way that the movie doesn’t generate any type of suspense or tension in the air, because it sure as hell does; it just never quite gets to that point where I understood that this was a “Two small-time lawyers vs. the big-ass government” type of story. It only kicks in with about 10 minutes left, and that’s where I really understood what was going on, for what reasons, and who exactly was all involved with this cluster-fuck. Only then did I get a chance to pain the full-picture, but everything leading-up to it was just a tad too confusing for me.

Not because I need every single clue, hint or plot-twist painted out on the walls for me, it’s mainly just because the story never sits with one aspect and pays attention to it the most. We get that these two got it on back two years ago, and rather than making that the fore-front of the movie and paying attention to how this whole case causes a strain on they’re relationship, the movie only alludes to it from time-to-time, and suddenly, out of nowhere, becomes ALL about it by the end, just as things with the political-conspiracy is starting to heat up. That bothered me, not just because it seemed unnecessary or stupid, but because it probably would have made the movie more effective and more suspenseful, had we cared for these characters and their relationship, but we sort of don’t. We just sit there, watch them as they fumble around, look behind their shoulders everytime they turn a corner and throw subtle hints that they just want to get on top of the table right now and go at it like never before. Some of that sounds fun, but most of it isn’t.

However, as much of a thrashing as this movie may be getting from yours truly, I do have to say that I got tense very often. It isn’t like the flick totally loses all sense of its mystery and what it’s actually about; it actually pays close enough attention to the case, therefore, allowing us to feel more compelled when we begin to realize what’s happening and what this cover-up means. Once we get painted a clearer-picture, it all makes sense and takes you by the throat and throws you along, I just wish it happened earlier, and with more character-development.

"Screw this case! Let's just screw one another, for old time's sake!

“Screw this case! Let’s just screw one another, for old time’s sake!

That said, I can’t get on the cast’s case all that much because everybody does their best with what they’re given, even if it is only for a short amount of screen-time. Rebecca Hall is still one of those actresses that has yet to really do anything for me, but she shows that she’s getting bigger and better roles now, especially with her performance here as Claudia Simmons-Howe. Hall’s a bit sexy, but she always seems inspired to do the right thing, which makes it a lot easier for us to actually root her on and care for her when the shit hits the fan. Eric Bana, despite having a pretty piss-poor British accent attached to his vocal-chords, does a nice job being smart, confident, and slightly heroic as Martin Rose. Together, they show that they do have chemistry, but since they aren’t on-screen together all that much and aren’t really given much to do with one another other than just look scared and shout out facts of the case, it only feels like a missed-opportunity.

The rest of the cast is pretty rad too, especially because they have some real heavy-hitters here. Jim Broadbent is probably the most sinister he’s ever been here as the Attorney General of the case, and shows that he can not only charm us, but make us wet our shorts at the same time when he wants to; Ciarán Hinds is a lovable presence to watch on screen, but you know that there’s always something up with him that you can’t quite put your finger on just yet; Julia Stiles randomly shows up as a New York Times journalist whose role shows not much purpose, but it still made me smile seeing her working again, so that’s something to commend; and Anne-Marie Duff, for all of the sexiness that she has, really scared the hell out of me as Melissa, somebody you expect to be a goodie-goodie in all of this, but somehow turns out to be the decider in all that happens. Overall, a solid cast that I wish was given more to work with, even though they do make the best of what they have here.

Consensus: Even though it doesn’t really get tense and edgy until the final 10 minutes or so, Closed Circuit is still an okay watch if you don’t have much else to do with your life, just don’t expect much in terms of character-development or shocks.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Something's out of place here, and it isn't that red dress.

Something’s out of place here, and it isn’t that red dress.

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Hanna (2011)

Thrillers need more techno beats.

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a teenager raised and trained by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA operative, to become a highly skilled assassin. But when she’s sent on a deadly mission across Europe, Hanna takes to an English family and starts longing for a normal life. She must first solve the puzzle of her mysterious past, however.

The fact that this is directed by Joe Wright (‘Atonement’, ‘The Soloist’), definitely makes this film stand-out a lot more considering this guy isn’t really known for adrenaline-bumping action flicks. Still, it’s great to see a director who can actually get out of his comfort zone a bit and actually do a pretty good job with it.

What I liked about Wright’s direction was how much style this dude put into this flick. There are plenty of beautiful visual moments where it almost seems like you’re watching a rave party go down and how he just keeps the camera moving on the action is very tense and creates this sort of “nowhere to hide” atmosphere. It takes a lot for a director to take a total 180 from doing Jane Austen adaptations to doing action films, but he definitely shows a lot more promise when it comes to action than a lot of these other directors that have seeming to been doing it for over 10 to 20 years by now.

What always kept staying in my mind the whole time with this flick was the awesome action scenes and how Wright’s style really added a whole bunch more to them. In ‘Atonement’, Wright used this 7 and a half minute tracking shot and it was not only beautiful but also very unneeded especially for that flick. He does the same thing here with a couple of scenes but there was one that stuck in my mind and it felt right to the whole movie considering it actually keeps on continuing to build up more and more as the shot continues. There was this one shot where we see Hanna’s dad get off of a bus and end up at a subway station where he is met by 4 dudes who obviously want to beat his ass and the camera never leaves as we see him walking and then kicking ass. It was definitely one of the most memorable scenes from this flick and was a really good use of a tracking shot, and everybody knows how much of a sucker I am for those kinds of shots.

Let me also not forget to mention that the score/soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers is absolutely phenomenal and what I think separates this from many other thrillers. There’s always a constant dub beat in the background of this flick and it keeps on getting louder and louder and louder until you feel like you just entered a club full of teens all strung-out on ecstasy. I never really have been a fan of those guys much but when it comes to scoring an action flick, they do the job just about as perfect as Hanz Zimmer has been doing for the past couple of years.

The problem with this flick is that even though on the technical front, it’s astonishing, everything else seems to be pretty lame. The script isn’t anything special, nor is it anything worth recommending. Too many times did this film focus on Hanna and her little trip with this family where she got to see the world and encounter all of life’s problems on her own. Right from the beginning I knew they were going to go down this road so when it actually did happen it was kind of disappointing since it seemed like this flick was going to be a tad different from anything else that I’ve seen. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t really get attached to Hanna’s character considering she’s just one of those fish-out-of-water characters that obviously looks like she is a little Coo-Coo for Coco Puffs so it’s not like I could feel anything for her since she didn’t really have much to worry about because every person that walked into her, she practically killed right away.

Still, though, the biggest problem this flick hits with its end is that there is a little plot twist they decide to throw in here that was too obvious and the end with how Blanchett’s shoes come into play was a little too goofy. The film was just a bummer because it obviously drops the ball when it came to being a cool moment and it’s just a shame that Wright didn’t get a script that deserved him because he is probably the biggest star of this whole flick.

However, the cast is pretty good and I can’t really put the blame on them for anything whatsoever. Saoirse Ronan is pretty bad-ass as Hanna and seems like that sort of weird and freaky-looking kid that would be a secret cold-blooded killer, but then again watch in 10 years when I’m calling her the hottest chick on the planet; Eric Bana is pretty awesome as her daddy and is allowed to show off his action stuff; and Cate Blanchett is pretty much a total bitch as the evil and sinister Marissa. Good cast all around just not enough on the script side to give them the love that they deserve.

Consensus: Hanna is super stylized with a pumping score from The Chemical Brothers, and some very cool-looking action scenes courtesy of Joe Wright, however, the script fails to live up to the direction and just ends up being a little too boring and obvious to ignore after awhile.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Star Trek (2009)

Just when I thought ‘Star Wars’ was so much better, J.J. Abrams has to just make me reconsider.

The film follows James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) aboard the USS Enterprise as they combat Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan from their future who threatens the United Federation of Planets. The story takes place in an alternate reality due to time travel by both Nero and the original Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

The one thing that J.J. Abrams does perfectly here is that he takes everything that every Trekkie knows and love and doesn’t ignore it and act like it never happened, instead, he’s spiced it up with extra energy on everything across the board like action, story, mythology, special effects, and basically everything else you need in a film. Basically, J.J. Abrams is going to be the next George Lucas and hopefully that’s said with more praise rather than negativity, considering Lucas hasn’t been the most reliable sci-fi director in the past 13 years.

This is definitely one of the films in recent memory that has made me actually want to go out and be a kid again. Abrams injects this flick with a great deal of fun and energy to the point of where almost every single scene is as entertaining as the last. The constant space-ship shoot-outs, the hand-to-hand combat brawls, and the blowing up of just about everything in sight gives this film that epic feel of a thrill-ride that is sure to please just about anyone. So if you’re a Trekkie, a person who hates being called a Trekkie, a person who thinks that ‘Star Trek’ is a poor man’s version of ‘Star Wars’ (I can easily say that I’m one of them), or just a person who appreciates a good old sci-fi/action flick, this film will definitely entertain the hell out of you as it did for me.

It also helps that the special effects are by far some of the best I have seen in the past couple of years. The film is constantly moving around all-over-the-place but there are moments where this flick just stops and lets us sit back and look at these beautiful, CGI images of space, the space-ships themselves, or just what a planet looks like from space itself. There are even scenes where there’s a free-fall from space and it just looks damn near gorgeous but also make you hold your breath considering how real and stunning it looks.

Where this film also works is its script because it can handle just about everything perfectly. The fact that the writers didn’t want to offend any Trekkies out there is something definitely worth noting. It doesn’t just ignore the events of the first 10 films and almost pretend as if they never happened or start from scratch like that, it actually acknowledges them and say that they happened in an alternate time-line. Which in a way is restarting its series but also continuing it and giving them the right to do whatever the hell it is that they want with this material. Definitely the right way to give the series a reboot because it doesn’t offend anybody and doesn’t confuse anybody either.

There is a lot of humor here that works well and doesn’t feel shoe-horned one bit like many action-action flicks try to do. There’s plenty of funny scenes and moments such as a moment where Bones keeps injecting Kirk and he has an allergic reaction to it, a moment where Chekov messes around with the voice recognition computer, any plenty of moments of endless rejections of Kirk by Uhura, and just so many many more scenes that actually had me laughing my ass off and it didn’t feel like it was trying too hard by any means. There are also a lot of other emotional moments as well that will probably bring any real Trekkie to tears. Before the opening credits even pop-up, we are treated to an awesome space-fight where Kirk’s mother gives birth to him and his father is killed in a space crash. I don’t want to say that this made me close to crying but it is definitely a scene that feels genuine and starts off the film perfectly.

My only gripe with this flick was that the villains for this story felt terribly lame. These Romulan people have these Mike Tyson face-tattoos happening and looked like a bunch of angry cave-men. They are always grumpy and totally unforgettable and uninteresting but then again the film is really trying to just give us villains that will make this film work and no matter what, we all know what’s going to happen at the end so who cares really. It’s just a shame that they have a good actor like Eric Bana playing a role where he practically yells and hollers about something new the whole time.

I was also very impressed by how perfectly Abrams handled this ensemble cast as well. Chris Pine references but doesn’t do a parody of William Shatner but brings a lot of swagger, cockiness, sarcasm, and boyishness to the role instead. It’s a very fine line and he struts right down it and makes this one of the better leads for a sci-fi flick I have seen in a pretty long time. Zachary Quinto is also seamless as Spock, channeling Leonard Nimoy (who also appears in the flick as well), channeling both his logical side of things as well as human side to perfection. It’s definitely a great role for both of these guys considering the flick is basically counting on them to give more than just impersonations and it’s something they handle perfectly.

It was also great to see every other character here do a great job and get a chance to have their own moments as well. John Cho is good as Sulu and kicks some ass in a sword fight; Anton Yelchin is funny channeling his inner Russian, while saving the day with his math skills as Chekov; Karl Urban steals almost every scene he’s in as Bones, and just lets the comedic timing; Simon Pegg is also hilarious in a lot of his scenes as the quirky engineering genius, Montgomery Scott; and Zoe Saldana gets to strut her stuff every once and awhile as Uhura. There are so many other little performances here given by stars that you have seen somewhere else but this main ensemble is what really makes this flick work as well.

Consensus: Star Trek is a perfect reboot of the series with exciting action, humor, great performances from everybody involved, impressive special effects, and a fun-loving spirit that will not only entertain and be loved by Trekkies, but also will bring in others who aren’t that familiar with the material already.

9/10=Full Price!!

Munich (2005)

A little friendly advice: when you’re in the cinema watching this flick, don’t stand up, wave your hands in the air and shout “Allahu akbar!” It doesn’t go down well.

Palestinian terrorists hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, prompting a Mossad agent Avner (Eric Bana) to track down the assassins in the tragic aftermath.

Director Steven Spielberg kind of seemed like an odd choice for this type of material, since it is a relatively action/thriller type, set in the 70’s but it seems a lot like his other films. Except not as good.

What Spielberg does right here is that he does an amazing job when it comes down to creating the right amount of tension for the whole film and each individual scene. I actually was on the edge of my seat wondering just what was going to happen next and the way Spielberg just throws us and himself into the mix of suspense, is very compelling and works well for a lot of the more subtle and trickier scenes.

The film also looks beautiful and shows that Spielberg not only has a knack for creating a good story, but also creating a very beautiful picture to look at. There are a lot of areas this film takes place in and the production and costume design really adds a lot to the whole vibe of 70’s Europe. So many films that are based on the 70’s, just look lame and don’t bring anything new at all to the look of it’s story, but somehow the production designs had me feeling as if I really was there after all.

The problem that Spielberg runs into with this film is that it almost seems like it’s never going anywhere, especially within the last hour. I won’t lie, the first hour and say 15 minutes had me totally on the edge of my seat and riveted, but when the last hour for this film (the film is a staggering 165 minutes long), I just felt like Spielberg got lost as to where he wanted his story to go and just let there be random scenes of violence and messages that are way too heavy-handed.

The messages here are good as it talks about how how the killing and “victory” we want with any war is worth killing and dying for. Spielberg also does a very fine connections between Israel of 1972 and of America today, and how the quest for getting rid of terrorists is basically the same, with nothing changing. These are all good points but they get so muddled and so blatantly obvious that it’s almost way too much for you to believe, let alone enjoy.

There’s this very dumb and pretty obvious scene where these Mossad agents find themselves sharing a safe house with a bunch of Palestinian terrorists, which practically gives this film a chance to show us that if they just put their problems aside with no violence whatsoever, it would be a lot easier for things to get done in this world as well as getting along with each other. This scene also allows a nice little monologue between these two camps, but it’s used so obvious that it’s really hard to care.

The cast here is what really keeps this film running, especially Eric Bana as Avner. Bana owns this film and shows exactly why he deserves more roles like this because even with a lot of the sillier scenes this film has, especially by the end, Bana makes it seem real and builds this compelling character up more and more as the film goes on. Great performance by this dude, and it shows why The Hulk was just a fluke. Daniel Craig is good as the angry voice of reason; Ciarán Hinds is good here as well and plays the man with a conscience, who’s been in the game so long named Carl; and Geoffrey Rush isn’t here too much, but still does a great job with every scene he has as Ephraim, and it’s pretty cool to see him play such an unlikable character.

Consensus: Munich shows Steven Spielberg’s strengths for a compelling story, good performances from the cast, and deep messages about important subjects, but it goes on way too long and obvious that it feels cliche, and something that starts to lose its thrill as you get to the half-way mark.

7/10=Rental!!

Hulk (2003)

He’s angry….and boring.

Researcher Dr. Bruce Banner’s (Eric Bana) failed experiments cause him to mutate into a powerful and savage green-skinned hulk when he loses control of his emotions. And the only person who seems to stand by him is his girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), proving that love is indeed blind. Nick Nolte co-stars as Banner’s father.

Director Ang Lee is a very strange director for this type of material. I mean this is the same dude that made Sense & Sensibility, The Ice Storm, and Brokeback Mountain so adding this to his list is strange but also disappointing.

I have to say that that Lee does do something new with the superhero film here and that is bring a lot more emotional depth to a film that would just seem like constant smashing everywhere. The film focuses a lot more on the actual characters, story, and happenings which is something new and actually cool for a superhero film because we never see that really and Lee somehow makes it interesting.

The problem with Lee’s ambition is that at a staggering time-limit of 138 minutes, a lot of this does feel kind of boring. Not much really does happen except for a lot of these people just talking about what’s going on and a little bit about the mysteries of their lives. The action does come every once in a blue moon but not enough for a film that is all about a big green dude who goes around and smashes things.

The script is also kind of lame because instead of actually trying to create any sense of real tension with this story, it just focuses on Banner and his father’s relationship, or how he still can’t remember what happened to his parents when he was young. The humor is gone within the first 10 minutes so therefore were stuck with just a bunch of serious people, doing their very own serious face and overall just being dull.

However, despite the problems with the script and story the constant visual fest of this film is what had me liking it more. Lee makes this film look like a comic book on the screen with the use of light colors, split-screen to portray about 3 different things happening at once, and The Hulk itself. I loved how the green just stood out amongst the area around him and when the action actually does happen it looks really cool and is actually exciting because even though Lee may not be able to keep this film exciting through its over two hour time limit, the action still provides some fun here.

The acting itself was pretty good and brought me into the film more as well. Eric Bana as Bruce Banner is good and plays that torn, all messed up dude that doesn’t know exactly who are where he came from very well even when he starts to get angry. Jennifer Connelly is practically doing the same exact “stand by your crazy scientist lover” performance that she won an Oscar for in A Beautiful Mind but that’s not so bad; Sam Elliot is a total dick with his snarling and teeth grinning performance that looks like he came right out of the comic book itself; Josh Lucas is a dick as well here as Glenn Talbot, but isn’t in this film as much; and Nick Nolte plays Banner’s father, David (Get it, David Banner) and looks like he just came right out of that disastrous mug-shot but is still pretty good with that craziness he always uses so well.

Consensus: Director Ang Lee strives for ambition here with some dramatic depth to the story, good performances from the cast, and a beautiful, comic-book look to the film, but overall there’s too much talking and most of it just feels plain boring with not enough cool action sequences which makes me question how didn’t Lee know why Lee tried to aim for a Greek tragedy?

5.5/10=Rental!

Troy (2004)

Now I know more about history.

In 1193 B.C., the love-struck Prince Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) kidnaps legendary beauty Helen (Diane Kruger) from her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, setting the two nations on a fast-and-sure collision course for war and bloodshed. The Greeks, including Achilles (Brad Pitt), marshal their entire armada, sail to Troy and begin a decade-long siege. Eric Bana plays Hector, the leader of the Trojan forces, and Sean Bean is the wily Ulysses.

I’m not a huge reader of old Greek mythology, but I know my way around it. However, due to this film, I may want to give them all a second reading.

This film is really great to look at, and you do have a fun time. The set pieces and costumes are extremely beautiful, and you almost feel as if you are in ancient Greece watching all these battles go on. The battle sequences are awesome. If you love watching bows fly in the sky, and swords be thrown around like frisbees, then this is definitely the film for you cause the violence here is down-right bangin’.

The problem with this film is that when all the action is not going on, there really isn’t much else to this film to keep you entertained for long. I thought that the script was pretty lame, and there are a lot of lines that seem cheesy and cliche.

You also can’t really connect to these characters cause the film is more about the events happening, and less about the actual people involved. The film doesn’t really give you an idea as to who the bad, and the guys are, and it’s not that you can make up that assumption for yourself, the film doesn’t really let you in to figure that out. So by the ending, I didn’t feel any real connection to these characters, and their fates were kind of not as important to me. These actual historical figures seem more of action hero cliches rather than actual people, and that’s the problem cause you could have actually rooted behind some of these people if the film just let you. But you are never really given that chance.

The acting for me here was pretty good. Brad Pitt is oddly in this film, and it seems kind of strange, but I think this was his days before Angelina, so it’s kind of understandable that his career didn’t really pick up just yet. He’s good as Achillies and actually brings a charm to his character that I wasn’t expecting him to do with such a cheesy script, but that just proves his skills as an actor. I also liked Eric Bana as well, and thought that his performance as Hector, brought a lot of emotion to the film that it needed. Orlando Bloom was kind of a downer for me, cause his performance isn’t that good, and his character is even worse. I don’t know what he was trying to do here, but being compelling surely wasn’t one of them. Diane Kruger is alright in this film as well as Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Peter O’Toole, and the always reliable Brian Cox.

Consensus: It’s beautiful to look at, and the action is exciting, but the film’s bad script, keeps Troy away from the emotional resonance that could have actually helped the film be more than just a standard action movie.

6/10=Rental!!

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Talk about a terrible way of being cock blocked.

Due to a genetic disorder, handsome librarian Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) involuntarily zips through time, appearing at various moments in the life of his true love, the beautiful artist Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams).

So from a first glance at this plot your main question, as mine was: Why the hell is this chick getting married to a guy that time travels, and then complaining how he’s never around!??! This question is never really brought up that well, and it has you suspend all disbelief of this actual story.

The story itself is just a bore, but it also does something that I didn’t think was able to happen, and that’s make time-travel boring. I never read the book, but what looks good on paper sometimes doesn’t look so good in a film. There’s a lot of confusion to what exactly is going to happen next, but not because your in suspense, it’s mainly because your confused as to what in the blue hell really is happening. He can’t control his time-changing, and he can’t keep his clothes on while doing it, but he can cheat at the lottery? Plenty of head-aches come around to this one, especially when your trying to figure out the logic to this one.

The romance is somewhat sweet, even though it does seem a bit confusing at times, but there are scenes that do have you a little bit emotionally riveted, but only a little bit. I think the reason why this romance actually does work is because the performances from these two are the strong-point of this film. Eric Bana turns in a performance that has him running around naked, disoriented, and most of all tragic. He can’t help what happens to him so he tries everything he can to be with the people he loves, and you can in a way feel that struggle within this performance. Rachel McAdams is also fine as Clare, and does that usual “sweet one minute, but totally upset another minute” act really good. Ron Livingston is up in herrre as Gomez, and almost every time he’s on screen brings the usual great charm that we all know and respect him for.

The problem with this romance was that this was the only thing that the film actually focused on. Except from the “hello, I’m going” problem, I didn’t really know much about these characters or what held them together, so in all honesty I started to stop caring after awhile. That may sound harsh but hey, they didn’t really give me anything remotely interesting to watch here.

Consensus: Two fine performances can’t save The Time Traveler’s Wife from being a confusing, illogical, and sometimes dumb romance, with a little sci-fi twist that could have been used better.

3.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

Funny People (2009)

I could only wish that everybody was as funny as the title says.

When famous comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is given a second chance at a new beginning, he and his assistant, a struggling comedian, Ira (Seth Rogen), return to the places and people that matter most…including the stand-up spots that gave him his start and the girl that got away (Leslie Mann).

With Judd Apatow’s last two at bats (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) he has shown that he can make hilarious comedies, with heart-felt messages somewhere in between. This is no different, except it kind of is.

Apatow as the writer is perfect. He always fines a perfect balance of heart and hilarity, and this is no exception. The jokes as usual, are hilarious, if you like a lot of boner jokes, and it almost never slows down. The stand-up seems just wreak with hilarity and a lot of originality. When Simmons gets cancer, you would think that the most would slow down, and get very very serious, however, Apatow changes that and never stops bringing out the jokes, and surprisingly a lot of them had me laughing-out-loud. You can tell that he has matured, and his writing makes you have more hope for him in the future.

Although, Apatow as the director, now that’s a stretch. He overuses the slow-zoom to show his characters being emotionally effected by something, it’s almost too obvious at times. Also, the first act between Rogen and Sandler works so well, it was this close to getting a 10/10, then came the next story with Sandler and Mann, then it just kind of lost me. It’s less of a buy-one-get-one-free deal, and more a but-one-and-get-one you really didn’t ask for deal. Both stories just don’t seem connected, and although the jokes kept up during the last act, I still didn’t find a reason for it. Oh, and the film is about 2 hours and 30 minutes, so be ready to be looking at your watch many times.

Apatow does a great job of blurring the line of fiction and non-fiction to create compelling, realistic performances from the cast. George Simmons is sort of the dream role for Adam Sandler. Mainly because Simmons is a goofy comedian, Sandler gets to indulge in that goofy side, we all know and love him for, but he gets to show the characters darker parts, and does a fantastic job at it. Although, I think the film could have done a better chance of showing Simmons in a more positive way sometimes. Simmons is a dick, especially towards the end, but we never get to see him come out of that dark shell, and understand who he has come to be.

The rest of the cast is perfect too. Seth Rogen (who is looking very, very slim) plays probably the least Seth Rogen he has ever played, because he doesn’t do that famous “Rogen chuckle“, and instead he does a character with nervous twitches, and mega-awkwardness. Leslie Mann is funny, but more serious than her usual character, and seems a lot more genuine during the last act, than she has, in a long time (yes, I’m talking about you George of the Jungle). There are other little characters that will make you laugh such as Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, RZA, Aziz Ansari, but the most surprisingly funny one was…………….Eric Bana! He comes in the film and you expect him to play this really deuchy character, cause the whole film they talk about him so badly, then you meet him, and he’s downright lovable. He’s hilarious, sweet, and really cool. Kind of makes me forget about The Hulk.

The film probably should get an Oscar for the film with most cameos, if there ever was one. I mean you got Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, James Taylor, even Tom from MySpace (I don’t know how that guy still has a career). But the funniest one is between Eminem and Ray Romano, that will just have you cracking up, although it does seem really random. Better yet, you never know, Eminem probably wasn’t acting.

Consensus: Funny People is consistently funny, as well as being heart-felt, with great performances from the whole cast, even though the last act may take some away, and not very inspired direction.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

This King really does know how to mack back in the 16th-century.

Director Justin Chadwick’s opulent historical drama stars Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansson as her sister, Mary — both beautiful, ambitious and vying for the heart of powerful but intemperate King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). Though both women are the monarch’s mistresses, only one can become his queen consort — but at what cost?

Remember when you were taught in history class about that guy Henry VIII, and he was ginat, and fat and there was that little picture of him eating the chicken? Well that guy is played by Eric Bana, who does not match any of those characteristics at all. That’s basically all your going to get in this movie.

Now I’m no historical major, but I know a little thing or to about the 16th-century and what events took place. This film basically makes all those factual happenings and romanticize them into something totally unbelievable. Throughout the film I wondered if, if the King is so busy with these two women, who’s controlling what happens with England.

The film felt more of a soap opera than a film. There were moments that just made me want to puke by how overly romantic it was trying to be. And other than this I just felt bored all the way through. Like honestly nothing exciting really happens until the first hour is up and then the real story develops. I zoned out a whole bunch of times even when the stroy came on, and as a whole found this not so interesting.

I also think that this film could’ve really pushed the boundaries a lot more. It was PG-13 and it felt so drawn back by this, that it made its love scenes less romantic cause they were afraid of showing some boobies. Now, I’m not trying to sound perverted or anything, but when you have two beautiful women such as Johansson and Portman, you would expect to see some bodies go around but nothing quite happens in order to get its appeal going.

I liked the set pieces and found this to be very good to look and gaze at. The scenery made me feel placed in this era, and I really did feel in this time-period as this was happening.

Natalie Portman is what really makes this film. Her performance is so good and rich that I actually did believe her as this totally bitchy sister that all she wanted was the fame and fortune as Queen. Bana is misscast and I didn’t find him to be very engaging as a King, and this is what basically threw me off from his character.

Consensus: Portman’s great performance and beautiful set desings, aren’t enough to save The Other Boleyn Girl from a boring story that just felt like a 1 hour and 55 minute soap opera.

3/10=SomeOleBullShiittt!!!!