Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Vantage Point (2008)

Does it actually take 8 different point of views to see who assassinated the president?

Moments after he arrives in Spain for a landmark anti terrorism summit, U.S. President Ashton is shot. The 15 minutes leading up to the shooting are rehashed — Rashomon-style — from the perspective of various onlookers: two Secret Service agents (Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox), a TV reporter (Sigourney Weaver) and a tourist (Forest Whitaker).

I’m not going to lie but the premise is actually quite intriguing. I was looking forward to actually seeing this movie, but it collapsed into car crashes, shoot-outs, and utterly implausible plot developments.

The one thing I liked about the film was its style. It revealed something new at just about every vantage point, and sometimes things we didn’t understand the first time, we understand somehow later on.

Then, after awhile the flashbacks really start to be annoying. I felt like I was watching Groundhog Day by the 5th flashback, cause to be truly honest, this film has way too much plot and not enough action to let us have fun with. Instead we always have to think about whats going on at that exact moment.

The one big twist to the whole film is that the president that gets shot isn’t really the real president. Yes, it’s one of those dumb look alike twists. I found this completely stupid and just put in to give William Hurt some lines to work with. Also, the cliches come out almost every step of the way. You have lines like “but you gave me your word”, and I’m thinking how could they give you their word, their terrorists!!!

The cast is well-picked but not the best acted. William Hurt does an OK job as the president, Forrest Whittaker probably gives the best performance as a lovable camera man. Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox probably play some of the dumbest security guards ever who ditch out lines so bad that I won’t even try to restate them.

Consensus: Though with an intriguing premise, Vantage Point turns into a loud, dumb, and stiffly acted gimmick of a film.



Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

There’s a one inside of us.

Max (Max Records) imagines running away from his mom and sailing to a far-off land where large talking beasts — Ira, Carol, Douglas, the Bull, Judith and Alexander — crown him as their king, play rumpus, build forts and discover secret hideaways. Voices by Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, and many others.

Once in a lifetime a very noble director will get a hold of a wonderful children book and really turn it into something magical, this is close to what I thought I was going to have.

I had a really hard time with this film overall. I was expecting a beautiful, exciting adventure from the out-of-this world mind from Spike Jonze. However, all the hype that the film was getting it quite didn’t live up to what I was expecting. Well, I guess adapting a movie from a 10 page book, isn’t the easiest thing to do.

The emotional depth this film goes into is perfect and really handled well in this film. There are just some really profoundly beautiful scenes that really do shine with emotion and old natural beauty. Jonze connects the character of Max to all the other Wild Things, and shows how both of their lives are both equal in every single way, and how they can both learn from one another. Jonze even goes as far as to sort of get adults thinking about these messages about childhood, and how they felt at their age as well.

The only problem I had with this film is that it just wasn’t as powerful as it could’ve been. There were so many scenes that could’ve been handled better if the right attitude was given towards it. In most of these scenes I almost thought that Jonze was going to pull off the scene and really make it memorable. However, Jonze takes another road that doesn’t seem like the best solution for it.

Another problem I had with this film was that although there is a lot of kid-friendly elements to this film, I don’t think that kids will quite have a ball with this film. This movie is more about the message of Max, and most kids won’t look at this. They’ll look at the Wild Things and how scary they look, and the little fun montages, not necessarily the message that Jonze was really going for here.

The little things of this film we’re really good add-ons however. I liked the soundtrack with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and I thought all of those songs really did connect to the mood of each scene. The visuals that combine the elements of people in costumes, CGI, and animations. They look real and actually could get a nomination cause of how spectacular they look.

Max Records, who plays little Max does a good job at showing some future star quality. Though he can be a little annoying at some points, I really did feel like he was one of the more realistic protagonists in a film in a long time. The voices in this film are good as well, but the best has got to be James Gandolfini as Carol. He really does give the emotion that is needed to play this character and overall has a more effective job than any other of the Wild Things.

The ending that most of you all know from the book, is not as emotionally-charged as you would think. I left the film with a very bad taste cause of the ending, because overall it was just a lame ending for a very powerful movie.

Consensus: Spike Jonze, doesn’t deliver on every spectrum, but does create a very true, emotionally-powerful fable about what it’s really like as a child and the kind’s of turmoil they face at such a young age.