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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Francis Guinan

Hannibal (2001)

Should have just let him eat whoever he wanted to eat.

Ten years after getting away from practically everybody involved with law enforcement, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is enjoying his time, relaxing, looking at fine art, and walking through the breezy, lovely streets of Florence, Italy. Meanwhile, back in the states, Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) is stuck in a bit of a pickle in which a drug-bust went incredibly wrong and violent – leaving the FBI to have to clean up the mess. But because Lecter can’t keep his appetite for Clarice down, he decides to send her a letter, which then leads her to start her own investigation into finding exactly where Lecter is. However, Clarice isn’t the only one. Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) is also on his own search for an art scholar who goes missing, which may lead him to stumbling upon Lecter and having to decide whether he wants to arrest the man, or bring him in for a healthy reward granted by deformed billionaire, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman). The reason for Verger’s reward, is because he is one of Lecter’s last survivors around, and has the face, body, and voice to prove it.

Ew.

Ew.

So yeah. The Silence of the Lambs is, was, and will forever be, a great movie. There’s no way of getting around that. And as is usually the case when you’re trying to recreate some of the same magic from a precursor that’s as legendary and iconic as that movie was, the odds are not in your favor.

Such is the case with Hannibal, the sequel to the Silence of the Lambs, that came out nearly ten years later, starred someone new as Clarice, and had a different director.

Granted, Anthony Hopkins is still around and if you’re replacing the likes of Jodie Foster and Jonathan Demme, with Julianne Moore and Ridley Scott, then not everything’s so bad. But honestly, if there was ever a reason for a sequel to not exist, it’s shown here. That is, after the first ten minutes in which some of the creepiest, most disturbing opening-sequences ever created, transpire and bring you right down to the level of knowing what to expect from the rest of the movie.

And the rest of the movie for that matter, is also pretty creepy. Because Scott is such a talented director, he’s able to make almost each and every shot feel as if it came right out of an art exposition itself and add a sense of eeriness, even if we’re literally watching a scene dedicated to two people just sitting around in a darkly-lit room, whispering about something, and not doing much of anything else. There’s a lot of scenes like that in Hannibal, and while it’s hard to really be excited by any of them, Scott tries his hardest to add a little more pizzazz and energy in any way that he can.

But it still doesn’t escape the fact that the movie’s still uneventful.

Sure, people are shot, killed, ripped-open, eaten alive, sliced, diced, and chewed-on, but is any of it really exciting? Not really, and that’s perhaps the movie’s biggest sin. The first flick may have been a dark, serious and chilly thriller, but there was still a bunch of excitement to the madness of tracking down Wild Bill, nabbing him, and taking him; while it took its time, there was still a feeling of tension in the air. That same tension isn’t really anywhere to be found here, even if the same feeling of general creepiness is – though it only comes in short spurts.

Most of this has to do with the fact that, despite there being maybe three-to-four subplots going on, there isn’t anyone that really grabs ahold of you and makes you want to watch it as it unfolds. Once again, Clarice is on the search for Dr. Lecter, but because there’s another story that runs along the same lines going on, it doesn’t actually seem all that important. Sure, she’ll get her arch-nemesis, but at the end of the day, does any of it really matter? The dude’s off the streets and not eating people anymore, but does that mean the killing is done once and for all?

This is a point the movie seems to bring up, but never actually go anywhere deeper with. Instead, it’s more concerned with seeing how many times Dr. Lecter can fool people into thinking that he isn’t a mean, sadistic, and brutal cannibal. In fact, hearing that, I realize that these scenes should be somewhat fun, if not, totally hilarious. But they aren’t. Instead, they’re just drop dead serious, grim, and uninteresting.

Stop saying her name!

Stop saying her name!

And that’s about it.

The cast does try their hardest, however. Hopkins, as usual, fits into the role of Lecter as if he never left it to begin with. He’s weird and off-putting, but at times, can also be incredibly suave and charming, especially when he’s speaking of disemboweled bodies. But, at the same time, we are getting a lot more of him, which means that it can seem to be a bit of overkill; whereas the first movie featured nearly 15 minutes of screen-time devoted to Lecter, Hannibal features nearly an-hour-and-a-half of him, which means that his act can get a bit old and stale as the time rolls along. Especially since, you know, he isn’t really growing as a character – he’s still killing, conning, and eating people, the way he always did.

The only difference now is that he’s a lot more laid-back than usual.

And though she tries, too, Julianne Moore really does have all the odds stacked against her playing this role that was definitely made a lot better, and more famously by Jodie Foster. Though Moore seems to be still playing into that same kind of ruthless aggression and dedication that Foster worked well with, it’s hard to get past the fact that she’s playing the same character, but it not being Foster. Ray Liotta shows up and, of course, plays a crooked cop that seems like he has nobody’s best intentions at heart and is fine, but once again, what else is new?

The best of the rest, though, is an absolutely nonidentical Gary Oldman as the disgusting and vile-looking Mason Verger. From the beginning, it’s difficult to recognize that Oldman is even in the movie (mostly do the ugly, but impressive make-up and costume job done to him), but after awhile, it’s obvious that it is him, and the performance works wonders from then on. Despite being able to only use his eyes and voice for his character, Oldman still gives off an deceitful feel that helps make it clear that, if the film was just about him and Lecter sparring-off in a duel of wit and evilness, then it would probably be better.

But sadly, that is not what we get and instead, we’re left reaching for our copies of the Silence of the Lambs.

Consensus: Despite trying its hardest, Hannibal cannot quite reach the same creepily entertaining heights as its predecessor and feels more like a waste for each of the talent involved.

5 / 10

It's okay, Jules. We feel the same way.

It’s okay, Jules. We feel the same way.

Photos Courtesy of: Screen Musings

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Constantine (2005)

Cigarettes are the devil.

John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) was born with a gift that gave him the ability to recognise the half-breed angels and demons that walk the earth in human camouflage. It’s not something he wanted, but it was the hand he was dealt, so there’s not much else he can do with it other than drive the demons off of this Earth from hurting humans, and just smoke his life away. He seems pretty content on spending the rest of his days like this, that is all until police detective Angela Dodson’s (Rachel Weisz) twin-sister jumps off of a balcony, plummeting to her death. However, right before she decided to go sidewalk-diving, she apparently turned to the security-camera watching her uttering his name. Dodson knows that there’s something more powerful going on here than just a sudden burst of suicidal thoughts, so she decides to ring Constantine up, despite his best wishes to, once again, be left alone to smoke and fight evil for the rest of his days. But now, Constantine realizes there may be a way to save Dodson’s sister’s life, even if that does mean putting himself clearly in harms way.

A lot of people have made a stink about this movie and the choice in which Keanu Reeves was to play the titular character of the famous comics, John Constantine. While I have never read the comics, meaning I don’t have much of an opinion as if he perfectly solidifies this character or not, it doesn’t matter because Keanu Reeves, no matter what bad stuff you may hear about him, is STILL a movie star, and can take any piece of material, find a way to make it interesting and be able to get people to watch him do what it is that he’s doing, despite us all knowing he’s not-that good of an actor. That’s the reality of it, but we should all just get by that right now and move on. Shall we?

Hey, at least she didn't leave Darren Aronofsky for THIS co-star of hers.

Hey, at least she didn’t leave Darren Aronofsky for THIS co-star of hers.

Anyway, what this movie does do well is that it sets its story up with a unique tone. Seeing this movie and material from afar, some would probably bet this to be an overly-serious, religious-themed thriller that’s all about demons, gods, angels and all sorts of other biblical references to where you feel like you’re back in Sunday School, but the movie has a little bit of fun with itself, right before it dives right into that cheesiness. Constantine’s played-up more as an anti-hero that always has something nifty to say, has his pack of smokes handy and basically knows what it is that he has to do next, at any given time. The movie sets us up with this cool-as-molasses character right away, gives us a tone that’s at times goofy, but darkly so, and has us feel like if the rest of the movie continues on like this, we may just have ourselves a clear-defined winner of religious-themed, action-thrillers, among the other religious-themed, action-thrillers (of which there are many, I think).

However, about half-way through, once the real bulk of this story gets introduced to us, things begin to slowly go downhill. For starters, the movie is over two-hours long, which already gives you the impression that no matter what it is that this flick does with its story, it must do it quick and easy, just so it doesn’t feel like a three-hour epic along the likes of Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments (and yes, I know those two are way, WAY longer than just “two-hours”). But needless to say, despite him having a clear-eye for what it is that he wants to tell us about this story and this main character, director Francis Lawrence still can’t seem to get himself away from all of the constant-exposition that usually brings these types of movies to a screeching-halt.

With a story of this matter, it’s not like you don’t need to know the ins, the outs and whereabouts of when Satan was born, how, where and why he matters now, it’s just that there is a more efficient way to tell that, among many other parts of the story, without having it seem like a total snooze-fest that’s so repetitive, you don’t even care if it makes sense or not. Instead, you just want to see this Constantine guy put his feet into water, grab a cat, start meditating and all of a sudden, be thrown into this dark after-world, where all he does is battle demons. Yes, that scene does happen and it’s pretty cool, but it’s in the middle of non-stop dialogue-heavy scenes where people just use a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, that can easily get passed off as “religious”.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, I say!

As we all know though, once the middle-half of a movie goes by and we feel as if we’ve been more-than introduced to this story and the characters that inhabit it, then things begin to get fun, and that’s the truth with this flick. While it does get really goofy and cheesy by the end with all of the CGI, the movie still kept me entertained and feeling as if I was just watching a piece of science-fiction, rather than something that was supposed to have a deeper-meaning because it used biblical-figures like Gabriel or Lucifer himself (perfectly given the nickname of “Lou”; whatta cool guy). Some may be enraged by me saying something like that, but it helped me get through the movie a lot easier. So crucify me if you must, but I was just trying to make the pill go down easier.

"Did I hear somebody talking about 'a machinehead'?"

“Did I hear somebody talking about ‘a machinehead’?”

And yes, I did use a “pill joke” there because Keanu stars in this and yes, he is like I said before: Stiff, tired and dull, but he’s still fun to watch. He makes Constantine the type of witty bad-ass a movie of this nature needs to move along and survive by, and without him, I don’t really know who else I could see doing it. Maybe if I read the comics I would know, but for right now, it seems like Neo was a pretty solid choice in the first place. Rachel Weisz, despite her credible acting-abilities, is sort of left without much to do other than work-off of the blank piece-of-paper that is Keanu Reeves’ screen-presence, but she makes it interesting enough, to say the least. Still though, this would be released in the same year that she won her Oscar, so I guess all was forgiven after awhile.

As okay as these two are in the lead roles, they’re sort of given the standard-roles where all they have to do is all act all plain and simple, amongst all of their crazy, bat-shit surroundings, which doesn’t just limit itself to the atmosphere and the story, but the fun and energetic supporting cast as well. Shia LaBeouf gets his first, real taste in mainstream cinema as Constantine’s lacky and shows that he has the ability to be charming and a bit annoying at the same time, but rightfully so; Djimon Hounsou plays a strange, voodoo-like conjurer called Papa Midnite, who doesn’t take sides between the angels and the demons, yet, sees himself leaning more towards the demons, just because the plot needs him to do so; Gavin Rossdale is charming as the cunning Balthazar, showing us that in the year 2005, he was still staying relevant by doing this and Gwen Stefani at the same time (bastard); Tilda Swinton shows up early on as the angel Gabriel, and isn’t heard from in quite awhile, until she shows up later and does what she does best; and Peter Stormare plays the infamous Lou, giving him all the likable, but evil charm we’d expect to see when Peter Stormare is playing the man also known as Satan himself. If that isn’t what the devil’s really like, then I have no clue what a better personification truly is!

Consensus: Juggles itself around with being overtly-serious at certain times, and campy-but-fun at others, but at the end of the day, Constantine is just a fun, cool-looking and feeling religious-themed action-thriller that somehow benefits from the deadly-charm of Keanu Reeves and the rest of his able cast.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"WOAAAAAAAAAAH!!!"

“WOAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

The Last Airbender (2010)

Where was the twist?

Aang (Noah Ringer), is the last in a long line of Avatars who was born with the super ability to control the four most powerful elements: earth, air, water, and fire. This makes him the target the evil Fire Nation, specifically, the exiled prince (Dev Patel) who needs to capture the Airbender in order to return home and prove his daddy proud. Appearing in this movie definitely didn’t do the trick.

I must admit, I never read the magna or even watched the anime show that this flick was based on, so maybe I wasn’t as hype as others out there were for this thing but from what I heard: it had a lot of promise in terms of material. Look at it: you got martial-arts, you got people with super powers, you get Asians and Indians duking it out, and better yet, you got the guy who did the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable! That ain’t too shabby, right?

Well, that’s where the final-product, aka, our movie, comes into discussion.

There’s so much to say about where, how, when, and why this flick messed up on so many, goddamn levels but I think the main element to start on first would be writer/director/producer/twist-master M. Night Shyamalan. I’m one of those very-rare breeds of people that actually think Shyamalan is still talented, still has got a lot going for him, and is due for a comeback, eventually one of these days, but here, he just makes me look like a dumb ass. In all honesty, I thought it would have been better had this movie been actually made in Asia, since they can handle this shit a lot better than us Americans, but that’s just where the problem for Shyamalan begins.

Looks like a student-made film of that's dedicated to Mortal Kombat.

Looks like a student-made film of that’s dedicated to Mortal Kombat.

Way too much of this flick is just exposition, exposition, exposition, and exposition. All of which is told in this hilarious, over-the-top dialogue that seems like a 5th-grader wrote it, and considering that most of the target-audience for this movie was them, I wouldn’t throw out the possibilites. Nobody actually speaks to each other in this movie, instead; they just yell, command, argue, or go on and on about some freakin’ mystical tale that we don’t know anything about, or don’t even care that much to listen. All we really do care is to get some action with some stories on the side for more chewing, but we barely get that, and it’s more or less the other-way around. The exposition probably wouldn’t have been that bad had they actually had some person that knew how to write interesting dialogue like this on-paper, but is just unbearable to listen to after awhile. As the years have gone on by, Shyamalan has gotten weaker and weaker as a script-writer, but Jesus, he just lost me here. I think it’s time just for the dude to stick directly to directing and leave the writing-assignments to others that may know how to make this type of material sizzle.

However, even when the action does eventually come around, it’s filled with that, Zack Snyder-ish slow-mo that seems to just try really hard to add emphasis on the hits and blows people take during these battles, when in reality; they just seem really annoying and like an escape for the director to get past the fact that he’s got nothing going on for himself. The special-effects were definitely on-top-of-their-game, but even looked a bit goofy whenever people would just randomly fly all-over-the-place because of some crazy power one of them would unleash. It just looks goofy and too hard to take seriously, which is why I think M. Night wasn’t the right guy for this material and sure as hell wasn’t the type of person who should be directing action.

What’s even worse than M. Night’s directing and how it seems like it’s out-of-place, is the casting of a whole slew of white actors, in roles that obviously seemed to have been made with Asians in mind. It’s bad enough that you have shitty, white actors in these roles, but to have these shitty, white actors, run around a whole movie and go by the names of Aang, Karata, and etc., because then it’s just freakin’ distracting. However, as I said, it wouldn’t have been as distracting if it wasn’t already for the shitty acting from these kids and yes, they’re kid actors so you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but when a film rests entirely and solely on their shoulders, and they can’t muster-up any type of acting-prowess whatsoever, then I not only blame them, but the director as well for not being smarter and realizing that these kids can’t act for shit.

Jackson Rathbone plays Sokka and has only one look the whole movie: the constipated, oh-em-gee-I-am-so-shocked-I’m-actually-in-a-movie look. Seriously, this kid is as bland and dull as a box of rocks and every time he just let loose of some half-assed piece of dialogue, I just wanted him to go away and be killed off, if that’s even possible in an adaptation of a Nickelodeon’s kid, TV show. He gets the most shit out of all of these kiddie-actors, mostly because he’s almost 30 and should know how to act by now. I mean there are some actors who still have yet to channel any type of emotion (R-Pats, I’m talking to you), but with this kid, there is no exception. Playing his little sister is Nicola Peltz, and she does what she can, but she’s another chick that’s stranded in Dullsville and can’t seem to get a boarding-pass the hell out of there.

Bruce Lee would total your ass-up, kid.

Bruce Lee would total your ass-up, kid.

However, the worst of them all is most definitely Noah Ringer as our main hero: Aang. I get it that Aang is supposed to be this young kid who has mystical powers that can do any type of damage, to anything that opposes a threat towards him, but I did not for one second feel threatened by this kid, nor did I ever cheer him on. Ringer is such a bad actor that I feel almost too guilty to pick him apart, limb-by-limb, but I’m going to do it anyway because I review movies, and I’m also a dick. As simple as that. But seriously, he is horrible to the point of where I didn’t want to watch him anymore. Even the shit where he conjures up the cool powers, full of CGI and special-effects, didn’t even seem cool because he was the one doing it. Anybody else, it would have seemed alright with, but this kid just really annoyed the fuck out of me and I swear to God, if they make a sequel out of this, he better get killed off in the first 5 minutes, Count Dooku-style. I’m not kidding, I never, ever want to see this character, or even possibly this actor ever again and if I do and he’s still shitty, I’m going to find any copy of his movies, and just blow them up to pieces so nobody ever has to bother with this kid’s shit. I’m sorry, Noah. Actually, fuck that, I’m not. You blow, kid.

The only person here who seems to come away from the rest of this flick unscathed is Dev Patel, but even he’s horribly miscast as the evil, and self-righteous prince that just wants his daddies appreciation. Patel is way too cute-looking, in a boy band type of way to really be taken seriously as a bad-ass, especially when he’s throwing down fire and brimstone in the 3-to-4 battles that take place throughout the whole flick. There’s a whole bunch of other cats you may, or may not recognize in this movie and trust me; if you don’t, they probably won’t care a tiny, teenie-bit. Hell knows I wouldn’t. Especially if I was standing side-by-side to Noah Ringer.

Okay, I’m done with the kid. But seriously, fuck him.

Consensus: It’s pretty-looking, but that’s about all that’s left for the Last Airbender to offer as it is as terrible as you may have heard it as being. With a terrible script, terrible group of “actors”, and a story that makes no sense or is not worth caring about, probably 10 minutes in, you’re more likely going to want to get drunk rather than remember this movie or write a review. Trust me, that’s why this review is being written a day after the first, initial-viewing, because I just got shit-faced to wash all of the painful memories of this turd away.

1 / 10 = Crapola!!

Don't worry, things will get better after this kid. Just ask Jeff Daniels.

Don’t worry, things will get better after this kid. Just ask Jeff Daniels.