Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Fran Kranz

The Dark Tower (2017)

Yeah. I don’t know, either.

Jake (Tom Taylor) is a lot like any other young kid. He dreams a lot, has certain issues with growing up, and doesn’t quite understand the world around him, just yet. But unlike most other kids his age, he’s been having constant dreams of sinister, almost evil happenings in the near-future that may or may not be real. Of course, he seeks help for these dreams, but he also doesn’t know if he can trust anyone, making him probably the most paranoid 13-year-old in the world. But eventually, his dreams do come true, and for the worst, when Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), who has been using children’s minds to make his evil forces even more powerful than ever. Now, it’s up to Jake and the Gunslinger to prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together, creating an even more powerful battle of good and evil.

Good….

The Dark Tower feels like the end-product of at least five or six studio-executives duking it out in a last man standing match. No one really knows who’s going to win, or at the end of the day, what’s going to be accomplished, but they know they want to get their own little two cents in and see what happens with the end result. In other words, there’s so much going on in the Dark Tower, without any rhyme, reason, build-up, cohesion, or hell, explanation, that it is nothing more than a huge mess.

And one of the worst kinds, too.

Cause see, while there are unabashed messes like, I don’t know, say Suicide Squad that may be all crazy and over-the-place, they still find ways to entertain, in even the most warped ways imaginable. Dark Tower is the opposite of Suicide Squad in that sense, where it’s so mashed-together, rushed, and ill-conceived, that it’s downright boring. And for a movie that’s about 90-minutes long, that’s a problem. Sure, it helps that movies of this awful magnitude not be two-hour long opus that make you feel as if your day has totally been wasted, but it also helps even more when these movies, as quick as they may be, at least bring a little something to the interest-table.

And perhaps the only solid factor Dark Tower has going for it is Idris Elba who, in all honesty, seems bored. But because his material at least has a solid wink-and-a-nod to the audience, it works; everybody else here, seems like they’re way too serious and not really taking advantage of their pulpy surroundings. McConaughey, for instance, feels like he’s channeling his car commercials, but isn’t, in any way, shape, or form, having any bit of fun. Sure, it doesn’t help that more than half of his dialogue is dubbed in that awfully noticeable way, but it also doesn’t help that he seems to be putting in no effort whatsoever.

…versus evil.

Basically, these are two of the most charismatic actors we have working today and not even they can save this trainwreck.

And that’s exactly what the Dark Tower is: A trainwreck. People out there may try and stick up for it, saying that it’s fine enough and short as is, but that doesn’t matter, because the movie just doesn’t know what it’s doing in the slightest. If there were no prior reports about issues in the production process, it would be easy to forgive and understand the movie, but considering that there seemed to be so many problems, it’s not a shocker at all. Everything here feels odd and out-of-place, with certain strands of plot literally dangling in the air when all is said and done. Clearly, it’s meant to be explored more in the sequels, but do we really need one?

Probably not.

Wait. No. Absolutely not.

Consensus: Uneven, poorly-written, directed, shot, acted, and well, everything else, the Dark Tower is a major misfire for all parties involved and seems like a waste of solid source material, courtesy of one Stephen King.

2.5 / 10

But uh, yeah, who cares?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Advertisements

Mojave (2016)

Chances are, random dudes you meet in the desert, aren’t going to be the ones to trust in actual society.

Famous Hollywood writer Thomas (Garrett Hedlund), is conflicted about his life so, one day, he decides to get up and leave his mansion, French girlfriend, and money behind, to venture out into the desert for some peace and solidarity. However, while in the desert, Thomas realizes that he may not actually be alone in this huge desert – in fact, he may actually be being followed. This is when Thomas meets Jack (Oscar Isaac), a drifter who says that he’s a director, but at the same time, doesn’t really seem all that convincing when he says that. He and Thomas, despite the obvious awkwardness of the whole situation, have a solid conversation about life, death, Jesus Christ and the devil, but it becomes all too clear that there’s something off about Jack that Thomas doesn’t want to be around. So, that’s why Thomas decides to leave the desert, as well as Jack behind; which, as a result, makes Jack very angry and forced to follow Thomas all the way to his glitzy and glamorous home life, leading to some very bloody, very violent results.

He's brooding.

He’s brooding.

William Monahan, nearly a decade ago, wrote the script for the Departed and he could have stopped right there. Already, he had given each and every person on the face of the planet something that they wanted, loved and adored, and right then and there, Monahan could have packed his things up, got all of his money together, and head for the hills, never to be heard from or bothered again, but knowing that he did something right for society. But seeing as how Monahan is, first and foremost, a creator, he decided to make Mojave which is, most definitely, a whole heck of a lot different from the Departed in many ways.

Of course, though, what Mojave does have similarly to the Departed, is that both movies feature big, rough, and tough guys being, well, big, rough, and tough.

And honestly, for the longest time of Mojave, there’s a lot to enjoy in just watching that happen, especially when the two said guys in question are Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund, two young talents that are so well-deserving of every role they’re given. Seeing as how both are actual friends in real life (as well as co-starred in Inside Llewyn Davis), it makes sense that they feature wonderful chemistry together, just playing off of one another and testing each other to their limits; the same is definitely said for their characters who are, randomly, at odds with one another for reasons we never fully know or understand. However, there’s still a feeling you can get watching these two pals act alongside one another, and just knowing that they’re having a great time watching as the other works the field, so they say.

Which is why, had Mojave just been a two-hander of these two talking about whatever the hell they wanted to talk and swinging their dicks around, it probably would have been a whole lot better, tighter and enjoyable. However, because Monahan adds on so much more than just these two going to battle with one another and leaving it at that, it becomes messy and we forget what makes the movie so strong in the first place: Isaac and Hedlund. While neither loses any sense of charm or presence in the proceedings, they still get pushed too far to the back so that Monahan can run wild, say whatever he wants, and do weird things that nobody expected, but nobody really needed to see, either. Monahan gets mixed-up in his own ideas where, one side of him wants to make this mono-e-mono thriller between these two colorful characters, but on the other side, wants to talk about Hollywood and everybody in it is a terrible, mean-spirited and disgusting place that nobody should ever get caught up in.

Wow, where have I heard this before?

He's weird.

He’s weird.

Clearly, Monahan’s not working with any life-changing, ground-breaking themes or ideas and it sometimes calls into question just how odd this movie can be. Mark Wahlberg randomly shows up a coked-up, over-the-top and wild Hollywood agent who is, definitely fun, but still doesn’t add much to the whole movie; Walton Goggins shows up as a Hollywood executive who is about as dead-spirited as they come; and yeah, then there’s a whole murder investigation that never seems to escalate, but still bring these two guys closer. Monahan brings up a whole lot of stuff here, but because he’s both the writer, as well as the director, there’s no holding back in just where Mojave can, and will, go.

Still though, it’s Hedlund and Isaac who make this movie work the most and it makes sense why they’re given the most to work, for better as well as for worse. Hedlund is, once again, playing up that whole brooding-angle he always shows and does fine with it. While Thomas, the character, may be limited in how much we actually care or get to know about him, Hedlund shows that there’s something of a soul underneath it all and it makes us sympathize with him just a tad bit more, even if we don’t really care either way where the story goes, or who ends up getting the ax.

But Isaac is perhaps the one having the most fun here and it’s great to see him just live every bit of this material up. In a way, as Jack, Isaac livens this material up a whole lot more than it probably should have been, as he’s not just funny, but more thoughtful than the movie may have called for. He’s got a lot to say about faith and Hollywood, or whatever, but he’s also got something to say about Hedlund’s Thomas, and it’s these revelations that I found most telling. While Monahan has a bone to pick with Hollywood, he still has a point in saying what he says, which makes me wonder why he’s making movies as conflicted as Mojave, and isn’t giving it his all again like he did with the Departed all those years ago?

The world may never know, but we wait and wonder.

Consensus: Hedlund and Isaac are great, however, Mojave‘s odd plotting and themes don’t always come together in a cohesive manner, that gives them the movie they wholly deserve.

5.5 / 10

Together, they're the perfect couple.

Together, they’re the perfect couple.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

Would have been a lot cooler if this was the direct sequel to the Avengers.

English major or not, I think it’s safe to say that most of us out there know the general basis of Billy Shakespeare’s most famous comedy. Beatrice (Amy Acker) and her cousin Hero (Jillian Morgese), live with their guardian, Leonato (Clark Gregg). Hero is planned to wed a man named Claudio (Fran Kranz), but he comes with two of his fellow comrades, Don John (Sean Maher) and Benedict (Alexis Denisof). The former is a bit of a trouble-maker who likes to see drama occur right in front of his own, very eyes, whereas the latter actually had a past-fling with Beatrice, one that she still has not fully gotten over just yet. By the end of this crazy weekend, things might change for everybody involved.

You would think that with all of the moolah Joss Whedon (director of last year’s smash-hit The Avengers, maybe you heard of it?) raked in, he would have more than plenty of time to just sit back, chill, relax, swim in the pool, get the creative juices flowing, and take his time with life, so that he could get ready for the sequel and make it as awesome as it promises to be. Which means that you wouldn’t at all think that it was in the realm of possibility that he would not only create another movie to work with, but film it during his break. That’s right: in 12-15 days, Whedon not only created a movie (based off of Shakespeare’s most famous), but cast it, filmed it (in his LA home, by the way), and got it all locked and loaded for the festivals.

And you complain about how you couldn’t figure out how E = mc2. Big whoop!

Love at first fight. And yell. And scream. And ounce of hatred. And scold.

Love at first fight. And yell. And scream. And ounce of hatred. And scold.

What’s so strange about Whedon actually adapting a piece of work that was mostly made famous by Shakespeare (that is, if you don’t want to include the adaptation with Denzel), is that the dude is so used to writing his own material the way he wants it to look, sound, and feel, that it seems like he would be totally out-of-place doing somebody else’s, especially something by Shakespeare that is literally word-for-word from the original text. However, Whedon does quite well with this material because it isn’t all about how the and what words are said, it’s more about the style and feel of it being said, emoted, and felt. That’s all Whedon gives to us here in order to keep us away from all of the Olde English, and it works surprisingly well.

Everything about the original text is here, and here to stay, but the way the film is shot, the way it looks, and the way it feels; makes you forget that you are watching a bunch of people re-enacting Shakespeare. For the first half-hour or so, I couldn’t stop trying to take in what everybody was saying, what it meant in modern-English, and how it attributed to the performance of that actor/actress delivering that line of dialogue, but after awhile; I just forgot about it and got into the story. The story isn’t anything new I haven’t heard before (hell, I read it in high-school), but what makes this adaptation stand-out among the rest is that it actually shows to us how modern and hip Shakespeare’s stuff can still be to this day, given the right cast and crew to deliver it to the masses.

You see how a story about people that love to play love games on one another, get joy out of other’s misfortunes, and can’t help but be evil and slimy  still resonates with our world of movies and reality today, so it only seems proper that Whedon shows an abundance of joy and delight for what it means now. Whedon and the cast he has assembled all seem to be enjoying themselves making a movie, just for the sake of making a movie, but they also make it fun to watch Shakespeare, no matter how hard you try to put your finger on what “howareth” actually means.

If there is anything positive I have to say about this movie, it’s pretty plain and simple: it’s a fun adaptation of Shakespeare’s work. That’s something I don’t usually say since it seems as if every adaptation tries harder and harder to modernize the hell out of the material with poppy-tunes, flamboyant tricks, and style-points galore. Basically, I’m talking about Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet. Sorry to single you out, Baz. At least you still taught me the importance of wearing sunscreen.

But as fun as everybody may seem to be having with the material, it doesn’t always work out for each and every one of them. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof fit okay as Beatrice and Benedict, even if it feels like they didn’t display much of a chemistry when they were together. I get it, they are supposed to despise one another for awhile so that you feel as if they never have the chance of rekindling their love and going back at it, but in order for that to work, I needed more of a sexual-chemistry between the two where I could feel the flares blowing up between the two. I rarely felt that between these two and even though they seemed to have fun all by their lonesome selves sometimes, together, they didn’t do much.

Like, why is he wearing that? So drunk!!!!

Like, why is he wearing that? So drunk!!!!

The other players in this movie are good, but not as great as you’d expect. Clark Gregg is good as the odd-ballish Leonato and doesn’t really know whether or not to make up his mind if he wants to be a bad guy or not; Sean Maher seems to be really enjoying himself a tad too much as the easily-despicable Don John; Fran Kranz plays Claudio with the right amount of vulnerability and awkwardness that I imagined reading the character back in the day; and Jillian Morgese is short, sweet, and a pretty face as Hero, even if she never gets a chance to say or do anything worth being remembered for.

However, none are lead-up to the one person who steals the show from everybody else and that is the one, the only: Nathan Fillion. Fillion plays Constable Dogberry and rather than having him be this self-serious, strong, and determined dude that was all about the law and finding out what was right and wrong, Fillion does us one better and changes things up by going the goofy-route. A route which, mind you, had me laughing the whole damn time he showed up on-screen. It’s abundantly clear that Fillion seems to be channeling his inner-Mal Reynolds, but it’s also abundantly clear that the guy gets the role that he’s playing, and makes him seem like an idiot from a bad TV cop show. Fillion knows that he’s adapting Shakespeare and has a butt-load of fun with it, which makes me understand even more why the hell the guy is so loved and adored, no matter what the hell it is that he does next, negative or positive.

Consensus: Though a word-for-word adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous works of all-time isn’t the most original step people might suspect from Joss Whedon, Much Ado About Nothing still seems to have fun with itself, by giving us a glance at what you can do with a modern-day version of an old-play, if you just stick it straight-laced and not try to go all crazy with your control and creativity. Just keep it simple and let that be it.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Yeah, you better run." (Has nothing to do with this picture, I just wanted to say it.)

“Yeah, you better run.” (Has nothing to do with this picture, I just wanted to say it.)

The Village (2004)

Thanks for helping me locate my next drinking spot, M. Night!

In rural Pennsylvania (holla!) during 1897 a group of Protestants who live in a small area live happy and peaceful, in an area surrounded by the woods. However, things aren’t always so peachy and keen, due to the fact that in these woods, apparently lie creatures that kill and might possibly invade this little town. Because of this “problem”, the leader of the village (William Hurt) keeps everybody confined and safe with a set of rules that will help them hide-away from these vicious beasts. After awhile, some people begin to lighten-up and realize that there may be something else out there to find, and one of those curious citizens goes by the name of Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), who also just so happens to be in love with the leader’s blind daughter, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard).

Yes, it’s been known to many, many people that M. Night Shyamalan is the 21st Century equivalent to a one-trick-pony. He starts off all movies the same, with just the right amount of mystery and wonder, continues to build it all up and up, until, woolah; we have ourselves a twist on our hands. Everybody knows what to expect with an M. Night movie and most of the problems with his movies is that when you see them once, who needs them again. However, “everybody” does not mean yours truly.

Yep, believe it or not, I am one of the very few people who actually will still go-to-bat for Philly boy M. Night. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m representing my home land, or maybe it’s because I actually like watching movies that continue to challenge me with an original story, an original twist, and an original look and feel that reminds me why I love watching movies so much in the first place. I know I’m hyping this one up quite a bit, but don’t worry; this isn’t going to be one of those “I don’t see why everybody hates this movie” review, it’s just going to be me sticking up for poor, old M. Night. And with his latest-flick coming out this Friday, the dude needs all the love and support he can get.

What the hell is she looking at? Oh, never mind.

What the hell is she looking at? Oh, never mind.

What I liked so much about this flick starting off, is that M. Night doesn’t simply spoon-feed us what we need to know about this smallish-community, and he sure as hell doesn’t try to make sure that there are conversations that make it easier for us to figure out. He is simply plopping us into this setting, and just allowing ourselves to get ready and up-to-speed with all of these people and what they are up to. Of course, there’s plenty of mystery surrounding what the community is really like, but you don’t think too much about that as much as you think about just who these people are, what’s their deals, and why are they so freakin’ petrified of going out to “the towns”.

You definitely know that something is up from the get-go, but you’re not exactly sure what. However, even though the characters here tell one another that they are monsters in the woods, monsters that you even see from time-to-time, you can’t be too sure what it is that you are seeing, is in fact real or just a figment of yours, or the character’s imaginations. Throughout the whole duration of the movie, up until the last 10 minutes or so, you know that M. Night is playing a trick on you and feel as if you aren’t easily consumed by being fooled, however, something still has you questioning just what is the truth and what isn’t. M. Night does this in all of his movies, and this time is one of those rare instances where it works and makes this movie better, especially when you see it for a second time.

But then of course, there is always that big question at the top of your mind whenever you finish an M. Night flick: “does the twist really hold up when you compare it to the rest of the flick?” Well, the answer to that is: sort of. See, the movie is all about it’s twist, what it tries to make you believe in, and what is actually the truth, but it never loses focus of it’s characters or it’s sense of place in the world. Sure, you don’t quite know exactly what area of the world M. Night has placed us in, but you know it’s a strange place that could easily be in any type of forest on the face of the planet. Does that rule out every realm of possibility? Nope, not really, but it does get a bit obvious as it goes on from there.

As a whole, I do believe that the twist works and the way that holds up in the story is well-done, but what I do feel like M. Night dropped the ball on was actually handling how the twist was revealed, and what he did to us when we realized what was really going on. Slowly, but surely, odd pieces of evidence begin to shine and you not only realize that this movie is getting at itself somewhere, but M. Night can’t wait to show us either. But because of that frantic-feeling the dude must have had in the pit of his stomach, the twist almost feels too sudden, as if we should have really been hit with that “WTF?!?!?” moment that the dude has lived his career on thus far. It does eventually sink in over time, but not enough time until the full-twist is revealed and then all of a sudden, there’s a jumble of thoughts, ideas, and wonders that the brain is attacked with and as we know; the brain can only handle so much.

So, to answer the question that most people have on their minds after seeing an M. Night flick; I’d say yes, the twist does hold up and work well, but the way that it plays itself out, almost defeats any type of smart or genius that the man had to present. Not sure if I still answered the question I placed up-above or if I’m making any sense, but it worked for me. May not work for you or any other peeps on this Earth, but that’s what movies are made for: discussion, disagreement, and different points-of-views.

But it doesn’t matter where M. Night goes with this funky story, the dude always has time for character-development, as well as giving his cast some time to shine in the spotlight, especially when he isn’t stealing it from them. Joaquin Phoenix is good as the member of the community that wants to rise up and find out what’s really happening outside there in the woods, because he’s able to give us a brave and courageous character, that also has some insecurity-issues as well and isn’t just a born-and-told superhero. The same accent he uses here, that he used in Gladiator was a tad annoying since they sort of came off as the same character, but at least the dude is capable of having us forget about that memorable-role after awhile, and focus on this one. Playing the town “special buddy” is Adrien Brody who is fine with giving this character more emotion and heart than you could suspect, but considering that this movie was filmed and released two years after he came out victorious in what some call the most-stacked ballot for Best Actor in a Leading Role, it does seem like a bit of a disappointment for a dude that’s so talented and obviously can show it.

He heard the train 'a comin'....

He heard the train ‘a comin’….

William Hurt is also very good and charming as the leader of the community, because of the way he’s able to make us believe in all that he says, but yet, also not allow us to fully trust in every word he says. There’s some sexy-chemistry going on between him and Sigourney Weaver’s character, the mother of Lucius, and it’s pretty compelling to see since it gives you further and further clues as to what the hell really is happening underneath the wooden-tiles in the ground.

And last, but damn sure as hell not least is Bryce Dallas Howard as Ivy, the blind girl of the community with a heart of fire and passion. Howard has somewhat became a household name by now, but it’s so great to see where she got her start as a head-liner, and show that she was more than just “that girl, who also happened to be Richie Cunningham’s daughter.” It took me awhile to figure out that she was blind, but that didn’t matter after awhile because I could evidently see that this girl had something more to her than just being one of those disabled-peoples, that takes life more for granted now, than most people who seem to have it all. She actually is capable of loving, and to be loved, which gives us more of a reason to feel more for her as time goes on and her adventure begins to get more creepy and scary. Actually, “scary” may not be the right word, but “creepy” definitely is. Yeah, that fits.

Consensus: Even if not all of it adds up to make for a perfect-conclusion to a well-done story, The Village still works, even as a re-watch because of all the hints, clues, ideas, and themes that M. Night gives you to chew on and ponder for a bit, that is, until he shoots himself in the foot by the end once everything is brought out into the open.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

So beautiful. So quaint. So Chads Ford, PA!!!

So beautiful. So quaint. So Chadds Ford, PA!!!

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Have a genre? Don’t worry, Joss Whedon will eventually eff with it.

The story centers around a group of five friends going on a quiet cabin retreat, only to scratch the surface of something so massive and horrific that they can only begin to fathom what might possibly be going on just as time quickly runs out.

In the past couple of years, the horror genre has sort of gone down the tubes with just about every other film being a carb0n-copy of another one. It can all get pretty damn annoying but that is unless you have Joss Whedon signed on to write, then you got yourselves something totally different in all of the right ways.

This is the same old stupid teenager story where a bunch of dumb, horny teenagers go out into the woods and stay in a cabin, when crazy shit starts to go d0wn and they all get knocked off one by one. That’s the generic premise we are used to getting with these films, which is what you get here in a way, but then the twists and turns come out like crazy. I don’t want to give anything away but what I will say is that certain things pop-up in the middle of the flick that changes this the way you look at this film forever. You get curve ball after curve ball here and things you wouldn’t expect to happen in a movie like this, happen and it’s all thanks to the crazy mind of Joss Whedon. It’s definitely more of a “fun” horror movie then anything else and you’ll probably be spending most of the time watching this flick, just wondering what’s going to happen next to these characters and this story itself. Basically, this plot goes anywhere and everywhere it wants to at it’s own pace and that is no problemo with me. I know all of this sounds very vague, but trust me it’s for your own safety.

What I liked most about this horror flick was not just how it’s got constant twists to it but it was also that I had a hell of a time with the whole film in general. The movie makes a lot of jokes towards itself, other horror movies, and the same old plot conventions we usually see but it’s not winking at the camera constantly, it’s actually a bit more wittier than the first 10 minutes may have you think. Essentially, it’s a horror movie that is about horror movies but doesn’t feel tired in the least bit like we have seen other spoofs start to become after the first 20 minutes. The jokes work and they actually had me laughing, which I haven’t gotten with a spoof-horror movie since ‘Scary Movie’ and maybe that’s even pushing it. I also have to say that as funny as this film may actually be, I still find plenty of other times where I really got scared by certain stuff, especially by the end. Once again giving too much away, the last act basically lets loose on everything that’s scary in the world and throws it right at your face to see which may start to surprise you by how freaky it may actually look. Now I mean I wasn’t petrified but there was definitely some moments that had me shaking up a bit in my boots in a more disturbed way really.

Maybe my biggest complaint with this whole film was how the film started to turn into this big-ass CGI bonanza that wouldn’t have been so bad if it were that the special effects were good, but instead they looked a little cheesy. This may sound like a small complaint but the film heavily relies on its CGI and special effects to get some of the creepiest and scariest stuff out there on-screen and it seems more like a B-movie than anything else. I don’t know where the budget for this one went, but it definitely was not it’s special effects.

The young cast here is all pretty good and features a couple of faces that may get very big after this, if aren’t all ready as it is. Chris Hemsworth has some likability to him as the school jock but is a lot cooler as Thor; Kristen Connolly is a nice, little cutie-eyed chick that obviously seems like she could be a lot better if here role weren’t written in such a jokey way; and Fran Kranz ends up stealing the whole show here as the stoner buddy that always has something smart and witty to say but in an annoying way either. The young cast is good, but aside from Kanz, aren’t really anything special. The other two juiciest roles here are given here to great character actors Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as….well…you’ll just have to wait and see.

Consensus: The Cabin in the Woods is definitely one of the funnest horror movies to come out in some time with it’s twisty and unpredictable writing, tongue-in-cheek humor that works, and a whole fun feel to it that will definitely not disappoint anyone whether or not you like horror movies.

8.5/10=Matinee!!