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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Halle Berry

Kidnap (2017)

Kidnap (2017)

Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) is just another single mother doing whatever she can to get by. Her job as a waitress can be a little demanding, with her also battling over custody for her son with her ex-husband, and yeah, she tries. But to add another wrench in her life is the moment when her son is kidnapped by a bunch of random rednecks. Karla has no clue why they kidnapped her son, but you know what? She’s not going to hesitate for a single second to find them and get her son back. Which is something she does, although it becomes readily apparent that Karla’s going to have to do a lot of driving, yelling, running, maneuvering, thinking, and oh yeah, possibly even killing. See, Karla’s life just got a whole lot more complicated, but it’s her son and she’ll fight for him any day.

So happy….UNTIL!

Just like with the Call a few years ago, Halle Berry is once again stuck with a B-movie where all she has to do is show up and give it her all. Which is exactly what the Oscar-winner does; there are brief moments where she really has to let loose on her emotions and well, it actually kind of works. Granted, she’s practically crying and yelling throughout the whole movie, but no one does that quite as well as Berry does and she actually elevates the material, just by showing up and putting in solid work.

It makes me wonder why she’s doing stuff like this, when in reality, she’s still a tremendous actress and downright beautiful to-boot.

But once again, why is she here?

Always check your blind-spots.

And this isn’t to say that Kidnap‘s a terrible movie; it’s exactly what you would expect in a late-summer diversion. It’s fast, fun, and incredibly stupid. The fact that the plot-line never goes beyond “Halle Berry chases kidnappers” for the whole 86 minutes, should really show you what you’re getting yourself into. And it’s not necessarily a problem that the movie doesn’t try to over-complicate itself with things like plot and motivations, but a part of me feels like there truly was no script here and a lot of it was just left up to director Luis Prieto and Berry to make up as they went along.

If that’s true, what they do make up can be exciting, but most of the time, a little repetitive. For instance, a good portion of the first-half is this car-chase that goes on and on and on for what seems like hours. Which is fine, because it does keep the adrenaline going, but there’s not much else to it; we just hear Berry talking to herself and wondering what the next best move for her is. After awhile, it can get a bit old and feel like, once again, there’s not much of a script.

Just action, action, and oh yeah, a little more action.

Once again, though, it’s not as if this is always a problem with movies – simplicity is, in ways, sometimes a movie’s best friend. But here, with Kidnap, it feels lazy and as if there really wasn’t anything else actually going on beneath the surface to be found. It can be fun, but even at 86 minutes, it still feels like it was stretched a bit too thin, even by its own standards.

So yeah, Halle, please get back into the mode of making good movies again. Please. We need you and miss you.

Consensus: Even as a late-summer diversion, Kidnap is fine, but also feels like it’s not really going anywhere and solely depending on the still-great skills of Halle Berry.

5 / 10

Oh. Here we go with this for an hour.

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

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The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Throw a football, solve a major scandal. Makes sense.

Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) used to be a first-rate Secret Service agent who, for one reason or another, got kicked off the squad. Nowadays, Joe spends his time as a work-for-hire private dick, who smokes a lot, drinks, sleeps in his car, has a kid that doesn’t respect him, and even worse, has a wife who is sleeping around. Basically, Joe’s life ain’t all that grand, but when a friend of his dies (Halle Berry), he can’t but feel inspired to figure out who did this to her and why. Another person who wants to find out the same thing is Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans), an ex-football star who has a tad bit of a gambling problem. Though the two don’t necessarily get along, they both feel the need to figure out just what happened and get the sons of a bitches who caused their friend’s death. However, what they soon find out behind the scenes, leads them to the shady people dealing with the professional football league, as well as the President of the United States.

That's Brucie for ya. Always protecting the kids!

That’s Brucie for ya. Always protecting the kids!

Shane Black can write scripts like this in his sleep. While the Last Boy Scout may not feature cops in the lead roles, it still features two people who are, in a way, supposed to be “buddies” in the buddy-cop genre. Black loves these kinds of stories and always adds a certain flair of panache and fun to them that even when they don’t fully deliver, they still like fun pieces of action-comedy, rather than just another waste of time. After all, a movie written by Shane Black is at least a few more times better than most of the action flicks we get out there, right?

And also, having Tony Scott in the mix as director helps out, but not as you’d expect it to. Sure, when the action is happening, it’s as frenetic and crazy as you’d expect a Tony Scott movie to be, but it’s the smaller, more quieter moments between the characters that actually work best. Obviously, this is definitely attributed to Black and his interesting way of writing likable characters, but it’s also a compliment to Scott for taking a step back and let the script do the work itself. Scott hasn’t always been known as the best director for drama or anything of that nature, however, here, he decided to take it easy and it pays off.

Which is great, because Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis are so good in their roles, as well as together, that it almost doesn’t matter how many scenes we get of them just hanging around and talking to one another, rather than just shooting stuff and killing people.

At first, it appears that Wayans isn’t going to handle Black’s dialogue so well, but after a short while, he gets the hang of it and needless to say, we get the hang of him. His lines actually turn out to be funny and even though he’s playing against-type here, Wayans still finds a way to break in that nice charm every so often. Sure, you could chalk that up to Black’s great screenplay, but you can also give some credit to Wayans for knowing just the perfect moment to remind the audience that he’s still Damon Wayans, and he’s a pretty charming fella.

However, Wayans is nothing compared to how great Bruce Willis is here.

For one, Willis seems perfectly tailor-made for this kind of role. He’s not just an everyman who has a certain set of killing skills, but he’s also just an ordinary guy who we’re getting to learn and know more about the flick goes on. Willis handles this dialogue oh so well to where, yes, he nails all of the humor that this character has, but he also gets the smaller, more emotional moments, too. He doesn’t overplay them, though, just as the script doesn’t; he keeps them short and subtle enough for a movie where there’s so many explosions and gun-shots that it doesn’t matter if characters exist in it or not. Why Willis didn’t work with Black on more projects, is totally beyond me.

If I had their recent track-record, I'd be slammin' the bottle pretty hard, too.

If I had their recent track-record, I’d be slammin’ the bottle pretty hard, too.

In fact, I’m pretty sure Bruce could use that now.

But if there is an issue to be had with the Last Boy Scout, as there is to be with most of Black’s screenplays, is that they don’t always know how to end well, or at all. In a way, it almost feels like Black starts off with something simple and understandable, but ultimately, gets bored and just wants to everything and anything come into play, regardless of if any of it makes any actual sense. While this is fine to have in an action movie, where no one really cares about believability or anything like that, after awhile, it sort of seems like Black’s either making stuff up, or just throwing whatever he can at the wall and letting stuff stick as they please.

Sometimes, it works, other times, it doesn’t.

However, at the end of the day, the Last Boy Scout is really just a fun action-comedy. Take it or leave it, I guess.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t always work, especially in the end, the Last Boy Scout is still a nice combo of Black’s hilarious script, with Scott’s wild direction, culminating in a fun movie, if nothing else.

7 / 10

"Hey, agent? Yeah, get me more movies like this. You know, the ones where I actually give a hoot."

“Hey, agent? Yeah, get me more movies like this. You know, the ones where I actually give a hoot.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, All Movies I Like

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

So many freaks, it felt like being in Saturday detention once again.

In the post-apocalyptic future, mutants across the globe are hunted down and killed by giant robotic Sentinels, who are able to modify their powers depending on what mutant it is they are fighting. This makes the idea of mutants’ extinction almost a reality, forcing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) to come up with a master plan: Send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to 1973 to find the young version of himself (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and convince them to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the creator of these deadly Sentinels (Peter Dinklage). That’s a lot easier said then done, considering the last time Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr saw one another, they almost killed each other, leaving the former unable to walk. But, with Wolverine thrown into the mix, they hope that they can smooth some things together and finish their master-plan, all in time before the Sentinels come around in the present day, and kill all that’s left of the X-Men. And to make matters worse, retro-era Magneto is predictably giving everybody a bit of a hard time when his ideals don’t mesh so well with the rest of the group’s. Oh, these Mutants, when will they ever learn to get along.

So, in other words, what this movie is trying to do is allow Bryan Singer to come back to the franchise that was basically consider “his”, and go back in time to where he could not only make us forget about the stink of the third and Origins, but also, show that this franchise can go on, even without him or many others attached to it. And, for the most part, it’s a noble effort on Singer’s part because you can tell that he honestly does “get” these characters, their plight, as well as their stories. Singer, all of his modern-day controversies aside, knows what it’s like to be looked at in a weird way, to be a social outcast, and what it means to be pushed away from the rest of society, which is not only why these characters still work for us, but also why the movie moves as well as it does.

"Yeah. I did that. Get at me."

“Yeah. I did that. Get at me.”

Because see, what Singer does so amazingly well here is that he gives us all of the characters we’re supposed to care about and allows them to have their smallish scenes of character-development. They’re nothing gigantic to where this becomes something of a character-driven piece; a little sign of compassion, anger, rage, depression definitely helps this go a long way. However, it’s enough to where there’s some sort of emotion backing all of the wild and insane action that happens throughout the most part of this movie. Which definitely makes this movie all the more satisfying and fun to watch – exactly how a superhero summer blockbuster should be.

Sure, I may have liked the Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than some, but there’s a reason for that: Not only did the movie keep me excited, but it seemed like it genuinely knew what kind of movie it was being. Nothing more, nothing less – a quintessential, 90’s superhero movie that just so happens to be made for Generation Y. It worked for me, but it didn’t work for others. So hey, whatever. Anyway, what I’m trying to get across is that while that movie knew it was a shallow piece of entertainment and didn’t try to go anywhere it wasn’t supposed to, Days of Future Past knows that it’s more than just a piece of carefree, sugar-explosion entertainment that one pays nearly-$20 to see at the end of a shitty day to make themselves feel better.

There’s real, actual heart and emotion to this piece, that not only has us reeling for the characters whenever their lives are at danger, but makes the stakes feel all the more higher.

Jeez, who woulda thunk it, right? Having a blockbuster in which we were given characters we genuinely sympathized with and for? Naw, get outta here!

But that’s what’s so wild about this superhero movie: It not only kicks, moves, and runs around like an action movie, but it also breathes like a superhero movie, in which we get to understand and see our “heroes” for all that they are worth, regardless of if we like them or not. Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t a total drag-fest in which Singer continuously hits us over-the-head with sadness and darkness, like in the vein of Christopher Nolan, because there a few ounces of light, fun, and frothy comedy to keep our spirits up and afloat; but there’s also plenty of drama to make us feel like the ride is plenty worth while.

And the ride is exactly what matters here, especially in the eyes of someone like Singer, who feels like he’s gotten the whole band back together. Which is not only great for him and those struggling-actors who need a bit more extra cash thrown into their bank-account, but it’s also great for us. Personally, I remember growing up on the first two X-Men movies and fondly remember seeing each and every character introduced to me. Granted, I was young and didn’t know much better, but when I did decide to re-visit both of those movies, I found myself rarely at all disappointed. Some tonal issues here and there messed me up, but that was just the older, more-advanced movie-viewer inside of me speaking; the young, ten-year-old kid, however, was going nuts and in total joy of what he was seeing.

That’s why when certain faces show up in this movie like Halle Berry as Storm, or even Shawn Ashmore as Iceman, I genuinely felt happy; not because people are still actually hiring Halle Berry and Shawn Ashmore, but because I was finally seeing the mutants I used to watch as a kid, back on the big screen, in all of their wildest form. It made me feel like a kid again which, as we all know, usually comes with its huge dosages of nostalgia and late nights of sobbing into my pillow. So yeah, it’s great to have the band all back together again, but what’s even better is that they’re all in the hands of someone who knows what to do with them.

Not some freakin’, low-rent, spoiled-brat chump who I will leave unmentioned. But you know who it is I’m talking about.

Like I was saying though, yeah, this movie. What works so well about not only seeing the cast back on the screen, altogether once again, is that they definitely work wonders with delivering some corny dialogue. Maybe less so for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, who really does deliver some of the movie’s best and funniest lines when it’s just him having to get used to the 70’s and all; but definitely moreso for class-acts like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen who have always made their long-winding speeches of unity, acceptance, and banding together actually seem honest and interesting. There’s no difference here, it’s just that they aren’t on the screen so much, considering that most of this movie takes place in the 70’s.

She must be feeling blue...

She must be feeling blue…

This is where we get to see the younger-versions of Magneto and Xavier who are, once again, played wonderfully by both Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, respectively. Fassbender feels like he’s constantly on the verge of dropping his good-guy persona and straight-up turning evil on everyone’s asses, while McAvoy gets to play Xavier as a bit of a drugged-out bum that needs some sort of inspiration to keep him going. It’s nice that First Class was able to get these two in the first place, because they work pretty damn well here in this movie, even if some of their dialogue is rather clunky. Just a bit though. Nothing too much.

And yes, before I go on too much, I will say one thing, and that’s everybody’s favorite figure in the media, Jennifer Lawrence, is fine as Mystique, however, I feel like she’s given a role that’s rather one-note. The whole aspect surrounding Mystique’s character in this movie is that she’s constantly angry about something, and while we know what that something is about, it doesn’t give us much reason to like her character or even see J-Law doing much for that character. There are certain shadings to her anger, but nothing to the point of where I felt like this was the Oscar-winner coming out of her performance and making this something more; just pretty standard stuff that could have gone a much longer way.

Hell, while I’m at it, I could even say the same thing about the movie. See, what got me so wrapped up in its emotion was the characters and the fact that I was seeing all of my old, favorite mutants, back on the screen, together, once again. That made me happy and a bit emotional, but for the story itself, there wasn’t that push I really wanted. It never really seems to be about much, except for just being about maintaining one’s extinction? I mean, I guess? I don’t know, let’s work with that, shall we?

Anywho, I know it’s a dumb nit-pick and all but it’s what kept me away from loving the hell out of this thing. But it’s definitely the superhero blockbuster you should see this summer. Although, probably, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 is only a couple of steps away.

No takers? Okay, cool. I’ll shut up about that now.

Consensus: With an utter sense of glee and joy with Bryan Singer at the helm, X-Men: Days of Future Past is not only a fun and exciting summer blockbuster, but is also a somewhat heartfelt, emotional ride that brings back all of the characters we once loved and adored, for another installment. Whether or not it’ll be the last, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that everybody’s back and the smiles it brings to the fanboys’ faces.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Back the office, once again. Shit."

“Back the office, once again. Shit.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Call (2013)

I guess Public Enemy wasn’t correct when they said, “911 Is a Joke“.

Halle Berry is a very skilled 911 dispatcher who is good at her job, can ease any caller down, and seems to have her life on-track with her cop-boyf (Morris Chestnut). However, a call that lands the victim to be murdered, puts Halle on the side-lines as she feels as if she is not only a failure, but a person who was not able to do her job the right way. Several months later, she picks up a call from a young girl (Abigal Breslin) who has been kidnapped and trapped in a weirdo’s trunk. Halle feels as if this is her time to shine once again, and helps this young gal out in anyway she can.

Here’s a film that just never seemed to have interested me, but yet, I found myself viewing in the early days of Easter, just because I got out of The Host and felt myself less-than satisfied with what I saw. Therefore, what better way to spend the next 2 hours of my life then checking out Halle Berry, in a great ‘fro by the way, as she talks to some teenage girl about how to not get killed by this random psycho? None, I’ll tell ya! None!

Brad Anderson is a more than capable director when it comes to these types of thrillers, but this is probably his first step into the big boy, mainstream-land, and he seems to feel right at home going along with it. The premise is corny, the script is bad, and the character-development is little to nowhere to be found, but that isn’t what Anderson’s movie is all about. The guy pays more attention to the tension and the plot, rather than knocking us down with a bunch of crap we don’t care about. All we do care about is whether or not Halle Berry is going to be able to get this girl out alive, and whether or not they are ever going to be able to catch this psycho. The questions are raised very early on, and you never lose wonder as to what’s going to happen next.

Seriously, was the huge, fro-like wig needed?!!? Like, at all?!?

Seriously, was the huge, fro-like wig needed?!!? Like, at all?!?

That’s why this movie really surprised the hell out of me. It’s fun, quick, exciting, and the type of movie you want to see for a good time, maybe even a couple of chills that will really have you putting on some extra-pairs of clothing. There were only about 5 or 6 other peeps in the theater with me, but each and every person was either screaming, yelling, or absolutely curled-up in their seats as they watched to see what happened next. If that doesn’t show you what a successful thriller like this is supposed to do, then I have no clue just what the hell will. For me, I squirmed a couple of times and I sure as hell was very tense throughout, but the crowd loved the hell out of this, and I can’t fully blame them. That’s exactly what this type of movie is made for, and I think Anderson knows that, therefore, he has more fun with it all. Good for him.

The biggest problem I had with this movie was that as fine as it was doing just being an old-school, classic-like thriller that’s plain and ordinary, it still feels the need to change everything up and get stupid. Instead, of sticking with the whole dispatcher gimmick that made the movie work so damn well, it changes to where Halle Berry all of a sudden needs to leave her job, not perform so well anymore, and go out into the field because as we all know, the police aren’t capable of doing their jobs, especially when they’re in a Hollywood movie. Without going into spoiler-territory, the movie gets very dumb and becomes almost like a horror flick where the killer does some weird stuff and is supremely invincible whenever it seems as if he’s going to die next.

To put on top of that, the ending also gets rid of it’s “justice is what’s right” motto that seems be pretty put-upon the whole movie. Once again, not gonna get into spoiler-territory here, just know that the final-act is what brings this movie down a big-load. Sort of like me after I eat beans, 2 fiber bars, and some nice prune juice on the side. Okay, that was a bit dirty but you’re picking up what I’m throwing down. Without this final-act, the movie would have been a lot better rather than leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth. Thankfully, I washed it all down with ham, corn, and mashed potatoes. Nothing like a fancy, Easter dinner.

Even though this is material that may have some of you scratching your heads as to why the hell even Halle Berry decided to sign up for it, don’t be so surprised. In the past couple of years, Berry has starred and signed up in some real stinkers, but this is the movie that gets to show you that she’s still good, she can still act, and yes, she’s still charming. Let’s all just forget about Catwoman and move on now, shall we? Berry is mostly good in this role because she’s a very sympathetic character that you already know is a good person, but who just has such a hard job, it’s hard for her to stay close to her morals. When shit gets crazy for her, she does do the usual panic-episode that any sane person would do when they are thrown into a situation such as this, but at least she’s able to gain composure right back, and move on. For this, she’s a good character to root for and even better; Berry seems to really be on her A-game, despite a lackluster script. Still, a lot better than what we’ve seen from her lately (minus Cloud Atlas).

I've gotten myself caught in this situation many of times. Just haven't been sober nor petrified.

I’ve gotten myself caught in this situation many of times. Just haven’t been sober nor petrified.

Abigail Breslin is the actress that will probably be known as Little Miss Sunshine forever and ever, but she shows that she can at least handle material that would be terrible in anybody else’s hands, but is slapped in her’s and done quite well. Throughout the movie, Breslin is practically in the pit of a trunk the whole time, however, she makes it work because she never seems like she’s over-doing the panic and the yelling, she’s just genuinely scared and you root for her as time goes on. Her and Berry actually create a good chemistry together, despite never actually being on-screen together. Shows you why they are more talented than some of their recent film choices may have you think otherwise. Can’t wait to see what Breslin pulls off next and can hopefully make me re-think dancing to Rick James. Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Consensus: It’s obvious, a tad predictable, and really stupid towards the end, but The Call is surprisingly fun, tense, and exciting due to a solid director from Anderson, and good performances from the leads, Berry and Breslin.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Btw, the killer's a total nut job. Big shocker!

Btw, the killer’s a total nut job. Big shocker!

Movie 43 (2013)

Not all celebrities are prudes. Only the ones with Oscars are.

The central story is about how a deranged writer (Dennis Quaid) forces a studio executive (Greg Kinnear) to make his movie. But before any moves actually take place on it, we get to see what the actual-product is as the writer reads it out to us and the executive. Basically, it’s just one dude’s shitty idea, all for us to see and cringe at. Yay!

Sketch-comedies never seem to work, that is, unless you just so happen to be drunk, horny, wild, and ready for a good-time. However, I don’t think it will matter if you’re any of those things: you may never, ever enjoy this movie. Okay, maybe if you’re 12-years-old, and love to hear the word “balls” in almost every sentence  then yes, you might just have a freakin’ ball with this thing. But if you are above that age-limit in anyway, shape, or form, this is going to be one cringe-inducing trip for you. Whether you like it or not. I’m going to guess your most likely to side with the latter.

Any movie can tell a ball, poop, or fart joke like it’s nobody’s business, but it’s all how you do it and literally; this film just cannot do it in the right way where you laugh, chuckle, or even get that they just made the joke. Almost every single skit in this movie has at least one use of the word “ball” or “shit” and it gets annoying, probably around the time the first skit kicks-in and you realize that you’re going to be tormented to the core of your stomach, with non-stop raunch jokes that do nothing. Apparently, everybody who ever worked on this movie, all thought that the idea of somebody having a certain bodily-fluid sprayed all-over-their-face was downright, hilarious and it’s a huge-shocker that it never dawned on any of these people that maybe, just maybe, the type of material that they are working with, just isn’t funny enough to suit a 6-to-7-minute sketch, let alone a whole movie full of ’em.

"Today's lesson is, "How to NOT choose shitty movies like this".

“Today’s lesson is, “How to NOT choose shitty movies like this”.

And also, the idea of having a movie so chock-full of sketches where big-named stars just demean themselves to the lowest, common denominator, almost seems so old-school, it’s not even worth it paying the money to go out and seeing. I mean, you can probably go onto Funny or Die, College Humor, Cracked, or even YouTube for that matter, find big-celebrities, doing some crazy shite for laughs, and actually having there be; ACTUAL LAUGHS. Here, in this movie where it’s just one, long presentation of a bunch, you get probably one-or-two laughs and that is literally all because the jokes that they use in the film that are actually funny, were already used 100-times before in all of the trailers/commercials we have either seen or heard, 100 times before. Going out to see this movie is already a crime, but actually going out to pay for it, is like a freakin’ cardinal sin. Especially when you know that more-quality humor is laying right there for you, at your fingertips.

Even if the delivery is god-awful, at least some of the placement is okay. For instance, some skits actually seem to have some promise like the one where Robin (Justin Long) actually stands up for himself and gets involved with a Superhero speed-dating event, where other, actual superheroes show-up to mingle and hopefully, get laid. This idea seems like it’s planned to be a butt-load of fun, especially if that idea came from Joss Whedon, but sadly, it comes from the makers of this shit-pile and before you could say the word, “kryptonite”, the sketch has already lost itself in saying the word “bush” or “shit”, one way too many times. I mean, when you got Wonder Woman and Batman talking to each other about how they fucked and it never amounted to anything but Batman running-away and never calling again, you would expect non-stop hilarity, right? But nope, instead it’s all about having Robin still be played-out as the softer, gayer-one of the two and if you didn’t think that joke was over-played by now, trust me, just wait for the rest of the movie.

However, without the promise of an interesting-idea, most skits just fall from grace, right from the very start. The skit where Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott both find and capture a leprechaun (played by Gerard Butler, in CGI-form), in hopes to get some gold, starts off pretty bad. Apparently the director, Brett Ratner (in case you haven’t been surprised yet), thought that the idea of having a leprechaun spew-out a bunch of dirty words was funny enough to last a whole sketch, especially one where it seemed like it’s main actors would actually sparkle in. Sadly, they just don’t do anything for the sketch, or the movie itself and the way it all ends is so dark and savage-like, that it really left me with a bad-taste in my mouth, which is very shocking since the rest of the film just couldn’t. I want to spoil the ending of that sketch for you so you understand what I’m blabbering all about, but sadly, I am a critic and I have morals, people. But still, don’t see this movie because I won’t spoil it for you.

"No, I'M in this movie?!?!"

“No, I’M in this movie?!?!”

The idea of having all of these different stars being packed into one movie where all they do is completely raunchy and dirty shit (sometimes literally), may make them seem cool and on-the-edge, but in reality: it’s just a poor-decision. I guess it’s really strange to see heavyweights like Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman in a skit about a dude with balls on his neck, or a skit with Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts playing parents of a home-schooled kid that give him the full, high-school experience with sex, drugs, abuse and all, but it’s even stranger to see peeps like them actually stoop themselves so low as to actually make this material work. I don’t know if they knew this right from the initial script-read, but this is terrible-material they are working with here so instead of giving it their all and actually going to town with whatever energy or sense of purpose they can muster-up to make this work, they seem almost as if they forcing it out, almost like a kidney stone (and yes, it is THAT painful to watch). Nobody here really out-shines the other and probably the only person that really made me laugh and surprised the hell out of me from this whole cast was Will Sasso, who shows-up, does his thing, reminds us that he is still alive, and actually made me laugh. I was terribly and utterly surprised, but he was the real spectacle to see for me. Everybody else can suck my nut because I hated this shit, and I hated watching them try to act in it!

Consensus: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let the star-studded cast fool you, Movie 43 is one hell of a bombshell that begins on a lame-note and ends on an even-worse one that makes you feel like you’ve just been hit over-the-head with somebody’s foreign parts, and not in the fun, or pleasureful way, either. It’s the type of way that disturbs you and scars you for life. That is, until you see an equally as bad movie and that’s, going to be very hard to come by for some time I think.

1 / 10 = Crapola!!

Poor Gerard Butler. This is probably his worst movie to-date.

Poor Gerard Butler. This is probably his worst movie to-date.

Holy Motors (2012)

https://i2.wp.com/1.bp.blogspot.com/-CPsn0PyqTdc/T8Nu_KGnDzI/AAAAAAAAMtc/BzYEfvwDApE/s1600/aaCannesHolyM1.jpegFrench people are weird. Big woop!

From dawn to after nightfall, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man… He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part…but where are the cameras?

I’ve been hearing a hell of a lot of noise about this crazy French-flick through the grapevine and for the most part: I had no idea what the hell to expect. I heard it was weird, I heard it was strange, I heard it didn’t make sense, I heard it demanded repeated-viewings, I heard people didn’t get it, and I heard people (mainly critics) had a freakin’ hard-on over it, but most of all, I heard it was a movie that needed to be seen. Thankfully, I found it somewhere, checked it out, and still have no idea what the hell to even think about this in the end. Well, then again, maybe that’s the point after all?

Writer/director Leos Carax definitely has his own way of making a movie, and he sticks very, very clear to that style/image. Right from the beginning, I felt like I was watching a David Lynch movie with all of the weird and surreal images, that sometimes lingered right on ambiguous and I really wondered what the hell I was caught with here. However, the film went on and that’s when things started to pick-up and become more and more fun, not just for me though, for Carax as well.

I’m not too sure what the main plot of this movie is, but without giving too much away, we practically just watch a guy run-around France, dress-up in different costumes, and do some oddly crazy shit that you may have to wipe your eyes a few times to believe what it is that you are actually seeing. Watching this main character just do a bunch of strange-shit, without any rhyme or reason would have been terribly annoying, and just another time for me to rant and rave about how much I didn’t get anything that happened, but that didn’t seem to really impact my overall feeling of the movie here and that’s mainly because of Carax and his style of filmmaking, as weird as it may be.

Being nutty and completely random seems like the name of the game for Carax and I stand by the dude because he knows how to have a good-time with material that seems to lose anybody within the first 5 minutes of it being on-screen. For instance, watching a guy dress-up as a whole bunch of people, sometimes going around kidnapping, killing, or treating people, seems like an confused piece of boredom, but it surprisingly isn’t for the longest-time. Carax just throws whatever the hell it is that he can get to stick-up on the wall and the stuff that does stick, for the most part, worked and had me feeling like I was apart of a good-time and it didn’t matter where it went with itself, either. Sometimes you get a gangster movie, sometimes you get a melodrama, sometimes you get a comedy, and sometimes, oddly enough, you get a musical. I’m telling you, you will have no idea what to expect from this movie and once you get used to the fact that Carax is just going to do his own thang, and doesn’t give a hoot on whether or not you like it, then the better time you may have.

However, when I do say the word “may”, I really do mean that you may or may not like it because it’s not for everyone, and I’m still trying to guess on whether or not which group I was particularly apart of. The reason I say that is because about half-way through this flick, things start to shake-up and get a bit weird, but not in the good-weird either. See, with the first 45 minutes or so, I was catching what Carax was throwing at me, because everything was quick, fast, weird, and pretty humorous for the most part. But, after those first 45 minutes, things start to change and get slow, soapy, weird, and pretty, pretty serious, and almost to the point of where I had no idea where they were going with it.

For instance, I’m all fine and dandy with a movie that’s willing to just be crazy and not make an apology for it, or it’s weird story, but you got to give me a reasoning for everything that I’m seeing, or else you’re really going to start to lose me, and lose me quick. That’s the problem with this movie, Carax forgets the three main-points you need to have to a script to really make us care and why: the “who”, the “why”, and the “what”. Honestly, I had no idea what this Oscar-guy was doing, why he was doing it, or for the most-part, who the hell all of these random characters were that just seemed to pop-up out of nowhere, give their 10 cents away, and never be seen, or heard from again.

And usually I can get rid of these plot problems in terms of reasoning, just because of the fun feel and look of the movie, but this movie really does lose that fun, infectious-feel to it that made me feel so along for the ride in the first-place. It seems as if Carax decided to slow everything down, get a bit serious, and ultimately, try to make things more dramatic with a character we knew nothing about, have no background on him whatsoever, and just have no idea hos motivations or ideas in his head are. Maybe I was thinking a bit too much about this guy, what Carax was going to do with him, and where the story was going to take him, but I do think that the viewer (myself included) deserves more of an understanding of what they’re watching, and not robbed of that idea in their heads, just because the director feels the need to be so cool, creative, and, well, dare I say it, relatively pretentious. Yeah, I’m going to get a lot of heat for that last one, but hey, bring it on, hardcore critics!

If there is any reason as to why this character, Oscar, even works is because of the guy who’s playing him: Denis Lavant. Lavant has not been a dude I’ve seen much of in anything really, but he absolutely blasted me away with everything he pulled-off here with all of the costumes, clothes, and different appearances that seemed to take-on a life of it’s own sometimes. When Cloud Atlas came-out, everybody was boasting about how much stars like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant all had to really stretch their acting abilities out just to keep-up with all of the make-up, costumes, and different character variations, well to be honest, none of them have got shit on Lavant, because this guy blows them all out of the water by totally convincing us he’s every single one of these different characters, dedicates himself to that character, and never for once seems like he’s faking. There’s a couple of really weird and crazy stuff this guy has to go through with, but you know, Lavant makes it all seem way too easy and the guy is one talented mofo, that I hope to see a lot more of in the future.

The rest of the cast is pretty good, but much like a similar-movie that came out this year and featured a shit-load of scenes with a guy in the back of a limo (Cosmopolis), they don’t really have much to do, except stand there for Lavant and watch as he takes over each and every scene. The most familiar faces out of the whole bunch of supporters, is probably Eva Mendes, who barely even speaks in her whole role as a sexy model that Oscar kidnaps, and a still, stunningly beautiful Kylie Minogue who shows-up, let’s us all know that she’s still alive and well, and still reminding us that she can sure as hell still sing. God, I still wonder where that gal must be nowadays!

Consensus: Even though it’s not for everybody (and still may not even be for me), Holy Motors is still a flick that plays by it’s own set of rules, makes no apologies for it, and even asks you to come-along for the ride. It’s not a wholly-satisfying ride, but still one that will have you entertained, intrigued, and just wondering what the hell is going to happen next.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Hey, I don’t blame Bond. I’d be pretty pissed if Eva Green was taken away from me.

Returning once again, James Bond (Daniel Craig) battles wealthy businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a member of the Quantum organisation, posing as an environmentalist who intends to stage a coup d’état in Bolivia to seize control of the nation’s water supply. Bond seeks revenge for the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and is assisted by Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), who is seeking revenge for the murder of her family.

After falling in love with Casino Royale right from the first-shot on, I realized that the only way to keep this “new” Bond series going-strong, would be to up the ante a bit and give us some more action, more intensity, and most of all, more of Bond just being cool. That last one isn’t really hard to do, but the first two can sometimes be pulled-off well and other times, cannot. Sadly, I think director Marc Forster took this idea of “more, more, more”, and decided to just go to town with it and that’s where I think the film/”new” series takes it’s sudden-dip.

See, what makes Bond so cool is that the guy is able to do all of this crazy, violent crap that definitely makes you go “Ouch!”, but is also able to pull off some sly and witty stuff like faking people out, getting in between buildings without being seen, and just being the ultra-sneaky spy we all know and love him to be. However, all of that violent crap starts to take over the film and as fun as it may be to watch, you can’t have a Bond flick with over 15 minutes of non-stop action, already happening in the first 30 minutes of the actual-movie. That makes it seem more like an action-thriller that is more about being thrilling, rather than being a Bond flick and as weird as that may sound, yes, they are both two different types of films in their own right and I think it comes off more as Bourne movie.

A lot of people complained that the last one felt a bit too much like a Bourne movie with all of the non-stop shaky-cam work, crazy stunt-work used, and high-flying, action set-pieces, and sort of getting rid of the old-school, classy-way that Bond usually does his line of business. However, as much as I agree with that statement, I can definitely say that some of that is true because it is a very gritty, actiony thrill-ride that delivers more action than it deserves class, but at least it had the classic, Bond class. This film, somehow, doesn’t even seem to really have that. It goes on and on and on with Bond killing almost every single person that walks into his way, without him ever getting a chance to ask question them or interrogate them in any way possible, and to top that off, the story makes no sense despite picking right up 5 minutes after the first-one ended.

In a case like this, I think it’s easy to blame the writers, the producers, and the companies who were behind this movie, but I think the one to really blame is Foster of all people. For people who don’t know who the hell Marc Forster is, well, let’s just say that he’s a guy that’s most known for directing character-based dramas like Stranger than Fiction, Monster’s Ball, and the Kite Runner, among others. To be honest, the only type of action that happens in any of those movies is when Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton decide to get down and dirty, late one night, so why the hell would they decide to give this guy a Bond movie that’s all about guns, cars, violence, girls, and Bond? Seriously, it’s not like the guy does a terrible job or anything, it’s just that it’s pretty obvious that the guy brings nothing new to the table in terms of action or story-development, and instead, has this movie come off like a failed-attempt at trying to create a Bond spin-off for a far, far away future. It’s no surprise that this guy’s screwing up World War Z now, because he sure as hell came close to screwing this one up, big-time.

But as much as I may get on Forster’s case, and this movie’s case, I can’t lie anymore because I really did have a fun time with this flick and all of it’s action. Some of the set-pieces are a bit unbelievable and ridiculous, but you know what? So were some of the ones in Casino Royale and that’s what sort of made me love that movie even more, so I can’t really get on this film for all of that crap either. At the end of the day, it’s still a James Bond movie that definitely features plenty of thrills worthy of seeing and worthy of being in a Bond movie, and even though they sure as hell aren’t as memorable as Bond playing poker, they sure as hell keep your attention on the screen for as long as it can.

And come to think of it, as much as this film may not be worthy of his skills, Daniel Craig still kicks plenty of ass as Bond and shows us exactly why he was chosen for this role in the first-place. Craig, no matter what all the haters may say, just has this dirty and tough look to him that makes you scared for the baddies that go up against him in brawls, but also has this charming and swift look that makes you feel like he is the coolest guy in the room, and definitely the type of guy you would go up to and try to conversate with, but no words would come out because he is simply that cool and intimidating. Maybe I put too much thought into this guy’s look and role, but I don’t care, because Craig is awesome.

Olga Kurylenko plays his “Bond girl” and is alright for the most part, even though she really has nothing to work with here other than a forced, sympathetic-route her character takes. I just want to know why the hell Craig doesn’t bone her, instead, goes off to bone Gemma Arterton as some red-headed, secret-spy that shows up for 5 minutes, gets laid, and is practically gone from the rest of the movie after that. I mean you put them side-by-side, Olga definitely takes the cake and it’s a shock to me that Bond would make a silly-mistake like this. Once again, gotta blame it on Forster. That guy should know Bond, and Bond’s taste in women. Damn you!

Matthieu Amalric plays Greene, the typical Bond-villain that we need in these movies to make it work and although he does what he can, the character is too thinly-written. It’s a good thing that Greene isn’t your typical Bond-villain, where all he does is twirl his mustache and hat and make huge, unbelievable promises of destroying the world around him, however, I felt like we sort of needed that in order to hate this guy even more and actually feel scared for Bond. Yeah, Greene does do some bad things, but never to the point of where I felt like Bond needed him to kill him right-away, or else all hope was lost. Also, the guy was a bit of a softy and I even think M could have kicked his ass, just as much as Bond could have.

Consensus: Quantum of Solace is definitely fun, entertaining, and a relatively mediocre addition to the Bond series, but still feels like it should have been so much more, instead of just settling for typical, action-thriller conventions, two-dimensional characters, and choices that seem to come from a place that isn’t all about Bond, and more about making a lot of money and making it quick. Hey Hollywood, news flash for ‘ya: It’s a James Bond movie, therefore, it’s already going to make a shit-load of moolah at the box-office. Now shut up, and let James get back to work!

7/10=Rental!!

Cloud Atlas (2012)

So, since we’re all connected to one another, does that mean Hugh Grant is connected to me??!?! Yes!

The movie explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Most of you folks out there have probably been seeing loads and loads of advertisements and whatnot for this flick and are probably thinking, “What the hell is this about?” I’m pretty sure my synopsis up there didn’t provide any such help for you either so let me just start off by saying it’s about a bunch of stories that all take place during the past, present, and future, and all connect to each other in slight, little-clever ways. There, now you have it so let’s get on with what makes this film one that the common-folk will hopefully see. I highly doubt my review will do anything to change the opinions of peeps, but there’s always hope, people.

This movie marks the long-awaited return of the famous directing team, the Wachowskis, but it isn’t all about them the whole way. They also share directing-duties with Tom Tykwer, but that doesn’t matter because you can’t really tell who’s directing who as neither of them really have a distinct-style of film-making, other than using loads and loads of CGI in their works. Not saying that’s a bad thing but it’d be a lot more obvious if you had a pairing-up between two directors like, say, Martin Scorcese and David Lynch. One person would be telling a story about a bunch of mobsters going off to whack some guy, while the other person would be telling a story about boogie-men, Roy Orbison songs, and live-walking bunnies. Hell, now that I think about it, that would make a pretty cool-ass flick. Anyway, I am toates off-subject here. Back to the freakin’ movie at-hand.

From what I hear through the grapevine, the original novel that this movie is based off of, has been apparently called unfilmable, which makes the direction between these three seem all the more eventful in the long-run. There about six-different stories that are told here, and all seem very understood and easy to follow, where you don’t really ever get confused as to what story is actually taking place and what the hell is going on in each of them. All stories are pretty simple to follow and even though some of them may have goofy sci-fi shit going on, you still get the gist of what’s going on.

And what’s so great about all of these different stories, is that each and every single one is about as entertaining and interesting as you could get. Granted, not all of the stories hold your attention as much (the one that takes place in the woods where everybody talks like they’re from the South, during the 19th century), but they all seemed to keep me glued to the screen and provided me with the right ingredients to have a good time. They also all seem to have their own personalities where there’s one story concerning romance, one story concerning a bunch of slap-stick humor (and it’s slap-stick done right, mind you), one story concerning sci-fi, futuristic action, and even one story that reminded me a lot of Death Wish, with it’s cool, 70’s-thriller vibe. In a way, there’s something here that’s for everyone and if you don’t find one story all that intriguing  then you can always depend on another one to come right out, and sweep you off your feet to get you right back into what’s on-screen. Great directing skills from all three of these peeps and it shows you that these guys still have it in them to make an entertaining movie, even if it is almost 3-hours long. Yes, you heard me right, people. 3-HOURS LONG. Bring the red bull, you may need it. But yet, it’s 3-hours that didn’t feel like it at all, so maybe you don’t. You know what? Bring it just in case.

However, as entertaining and interesting as this whole film was, I still felt a bit empty at the end of it all. The whole point of this movie was understandable, and it was how we all the same, underneath our skin. It’s a message that does get drawn-out very well in this movie with certain stories relating and connecting to another in a very small-way, but that message didn’t have any impact on me whatsoever when the movie was over. Some of the characters in the stories I did care about, but not to the point of where I felt like I was going to cry my eyes out if they died or anything. Maybe that’s sick-way of thinking when you see a flick like this but that’s how it all went down for me. No emotional impact, no emotional connection, no nothing. It was just a bunch of fun, entertainment that kept my interest.

But somehow, I felt like the Wachowskis and Tykwer were going for me than just that, which is why I felt like I missing something at the end. The score did give me that epic-feeling in the pit of my stomach and had me look to the screen with wonder, but how the hell was I supposed to connect to characters and to a story through just plain and simple score-music? I don’t know what was wrong with me during the viewing of this flick, but if you expect a huge, tear-jearker, than you may have come to the wrong-place. Bad/sad stuff does happen, but never to the point of where I felt like I needed an extra box of Kleenex on the way home. Maybe that answers the question for ‘ya. So, for all of you Nicholas Sparks fans, don’t even think about going to this after a bad break-up and expecting to relate.

Most of the fun of this movie that I already alluded to earlier, is watching the ensemble cast and seeing all of these different roles they pick-up in each story. See, in this movie, instead of just having a star play one character, in one story, and having that be their own pride and joy, they all get to play another character in each and every other story and all have different looks. Some are goofy-looking, and some are pretty neat-o how they all pulled it off (make-up and costume designs are sure to get an Oscar nomination this year), but overall, they all will probably have you staring at that one character and thinking to yourself, “Is that Huge Weaving in drag?”

And yes, in case you wondering, Hugo Weaving does actually show-up in drag here and it’s fun to watch him play it too, because the guy plays a villain in every, single story. But he’s not the only one having fun out of the cast, because everybody else is pretty much too. Tom Hanks shows up the most prominently in this flick and plays all of these different types and roles that we have never really seen from the guy before and it just goes to show you why exactly this guy is the face of-Hollywood, in a lot of ways. Halle Berry is another one who shows up the most prominently in this flick and shows us all why she deserves bigger and better roles like the ones she has here. It’s been awhile since Berry has actually took a nice, juicy-role that spoke to her true talents as an actress, and thankfully, the time has come to where we see it finally and she handles herself oh so perfectly with every story.

Out of this whole cast, it’s really hard to decipher who has the more-difficult tasks at-hand here, but I will say that the one I was most impressed with was Jim Sturgess who held his own pretty damn well throughout this whole flick. Maybe the guy didn’t do an amazingly spectacular job, but after appearing in shit like 21, Across the Universe, and One Day, the guy took me by surprise by showing me the depths he has as an actor and I look forward to seeing what else he can do in the near-future with his career. Hopefully, just hopefully, he steers clear of those soapy, melodramas that always seem to plague young, good-looking guys’ careers like his.

It should also be as to no surprise that Jim Broadbent steals the show in every story he has, and the one where he and a couple of fellow old-timers plan an escape out of an old-folks home is definitely worth the price of admission alone. Basically, everybody you see on that cast-list up there on the poster, is featured plenty of times in this movie that will have you pointing to the screen a crap-load of times. But on a sad-note, the coolest Brit of them all seems to get the short-stick a bit. Yep, that’s right. I’m talking about you Hugh Grant. I want to see more of you buddy, so show-up in more stuff!

Consensus: Cloud Atlas is a very, very long movie that’s filled with plenty of stories, plenty of characters, and plenty of ambitions that it’s set for itself, but is also a very entertaining and beautiful movie to watch as it never really leaves you bored when it’s all over. It may not be the most emotionally-impacting viewing-experience you’ll have this year, but it’s a great watch that will probably take-up half of your day. But, in a good way at least.

8/10=Matinee!!

Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)

Hopefully these two didn’t leave their Oscars where the fire happened. Especially Berry because I don’t thinks she’ll be getting one any time soon.

Attempting to piece her life back together after losing her husband (David Duchovny) in a tragic incident, grieving widow Audrey (Halle Berry) turns to an unlikely ally: her husband’s childhood friend Jerry (Benicio Del Toro), an emotionally wrecked heroin addict. But as the troubled pair struggles to bear their respectively heavy burdens by leaning on each other, they discover that they possess unexpected resources.

Yes, it’s another one of those grief-filled, sad, and lonely tales but director Susanne Bier (who made her American debut with this film) makes the film a lot better than what I was originally expecting. Then again, it could have been the fact that she had two Oscar winners at her disposal as well.

What I liked about this story is how emotionally true and heartfelt the film felt. This is a very hard film to take in because it’s bleak, dark, and quite depressing, but the film never loses sight of what it’s trying to show and say. The story may seem a bit unbelievable (honestly, why would some chick of Audrey’s stature allow a heroin-junkie around her young kids) but sometimes people only want to be reminded of their lost loved ones, so in order for that to happen they choose the next big thing that can remind them right away. This film shows how hard it is to get over a huge obstacle in life such as death but it’s also a film that shows how we can all get through life together if we are always there for one another no matter what the situation may or may not be. The film didn’t make me cry bring out the Kleenex but it definitely felt like an emotionally realistic film that didn’t try too hard to get people crying. It just told the story like it was supposed to be told in the first place.

The problem with this film that kept me away from crying or feeling anything more than I already did was the fact that it can get very melodramatic at points to the point of where it was coming off like a  daytime soap opera. There were many moments in this flick that made me feel emotions for these characters and the situation that they are put into, but at the same time, too many other moments seemed hokey and uninspired. The film constantly relies on close-ups to show us how sad and upset these characters are; there are conversations between characters that seem like they should go one place but end up a totally other place; and by the end, all of the corny melodramatic speeches start popping out like crazy. There’s even a speech/story by the end of the flick that mentions the title about 10 times and it seemed over-done and totally obvious that the film was trying to have us understand where this title came from, rather than just letting us figure it out for ourselves.

The main reason to see this film though and why it mostly worked for me was the two lead performances that elevate this material to higher proportions, especially Del Toro. Benicio Del Toro plays the strung-out junkie, Jerry, and probably gives on of his most underrated performances of all-time. Yes, that is saying a whole lot. Del Toro goes through a lot of transitions with this character as he goes from being nervous the whole time, to stoned, to charming, to lovable, and then back to being stoned. Del Toro does so much with this guy but every single step he takes feels real and you believe in this guy and his motivations he had behind the things that he does. The whole time I was watching Jerry, I didn’t see this recovering heroin addict, I saw a genuinely nice dude that would do anything to make the people around him happy, it’s just that he’s been so effed up for so long that he can’t find the energy to even do that anymore. I felt that kindness and warmth come right from Del Toro’s performance and it’s definitely one of the best performances of his career and one that should have at least had him nominated once again for an Oscar. I’ve been watching this guy a lot lately and he just seems to be getting better and better and better.

Halle Berry is also very good as the grief-stricken mother, Audrey. Berry is basically channeling her role from ‘Monster’s Ball‘ but she’s still a pro at it and is easily able to make us feel for her character even though she may make some questionable decisions. Berry feels emotionally-driven in this performance as opposed to the other crap she’s been giving as of late and I wish that she would just take more roles like this since it obviously suits her best and gets more people looking at her come Oscar time. Yeah, she didn’t get nominated but compared to her performance in ‘Cat Woman’, she should have freakin’ won every single acting award!

Consensus: Things We Lost in the Fire may get exceptionally cheesy and hokey with its melodramatic trappings, but the amazing performances of Berry and Del Toro make this feel seem genuine and make a bleak story into something that’s emotional and heartfelt.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Monster’s Ball (2001)

Those beautiful black women just love those redneck freakoids.

The story is about Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) who is an embittered prison guard working on Death Row who begins an unlikely but emotionally charged affair with Leticia (Halle Berry), the wife of a man under his watch on The Row.

For the first hour or so, nothing was going right for me with this flick. I knew that it was going to be a slow-ass flick right from the start but the film barely felt like it was moving at all. It has this very dark and depressing feeling to it right from the start, which will kind of throw you back a bit but somehow, somewhere there was happiness and hope in this story, and then it suddenly started to grow on me. Damn Billy Bob!

I think the main reason why this flick got better in the way that it did was because of its script. This a very character-based flick that focuses on these gritty, dirty, and sad people that all need something in their life, whether it be love, family, or just a nice little bang here and there. The script just feels very human in the way how everybody deals with their problems and it’s also one of the rare cases where the the screenplay decides to take a step back from actually having non-stop talking but focus more on the quiet side of this story which spoke louder to me than any of the racist crap Frank Barone was saying here.

The problem with this flick is that I don’t think the direction here from Marc Forster does the script justice. Take it for granted, there isn’t anything really flashy here done by Forster to get in the way of the material at-hand but he feels very unfocused. There will be moments where it focuses on this nice romance between Billy Bob and Halle, then will go towards the racism she faces, then towards the fact that she has little or no money, and then it will go right to Billy Bob being sad about something. There were too many times where I feel like the film constantly brought up all of these other things that these characters were feeling, which in all honesty, were definitely not as interesting as the romance between Berry and Billy Bob, especially when they start boning in everybody’s favorite sexy time scene.

Where the flick did work was at the center of it all: the romance. The romance between these two feels subtle and something that would happen between two 8th-graders almost but then it really turns into something serious, heart-breaking, and very very real. I liked this romance that these two had going on because it showed just how much they needed each other at a certain time in their lives and even though they both may not be the same person, they still feel hurt and need someone or something to take their pain and anguish away. However, whenever they are on-screen together, you can feel the romance and deep-down inside, was this sweet little love they had going on which really worked for me.

Halle Berry won the Oscar here for Best Actress and even though I can’t recall seeing any of the other performances from that year, I have to say that I think the Academy made the right decision. Berry lets it all hang loose as Leticia. She’s sad, vulnerable, full of pain, anger, remorse, but also very optimistic for the future and feels like a very real person when it comes to how she wants to be treated. Berry is a very stunning chicky but she lets the grit take over here and she dives into this character without any fake steps. Her emotions are almost all-over-the-place but Berry makes us sympathize with this character and actually feel something for her no matter what. Amazing performance from Berry and one that truly did deserve the Oscar.

Billy Bob Thornton was pretty good here as Hank, even though when he is being compared to Berry, his character is definitely the one you least remember. It’s not that this is a bad performance by any means, it’s just that Billy Bob isn’t really doing anything other than playing sort of a dick that somehow changes half-way through, even though we don’t really realize it until his own daddy brings it up. Speaking of his daddy, Peter Boyle is quite good as the totally racist dad, even though it was kind of funny watching him spout out the N-word left and right; Heath Ledger is also good in this flick as Hank’s son, Sonny, and is very chilling every time he is on-screen; and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs does a nice job as Lawrence, Leticia’s husband, and doesn’t really over-play any of the lines like rappers-turned-actors usually do.

Consensus: Despite a slow beginning and feel to the film, Monster’s Ball starts to pick up with a very sweet romance in the middle of the story, great performances from the cast, especially Berry, and a script that doesn’t try too hard but still is able to make us feel something for these characters.

7.5/10=Rental!!

New Year’s Eve (2011)

Just another excuse for people to go, “oooh look who it is!”.

‘New Year’s Eve’ celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, in the intertwining stories of couples and singles, told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.

Oh once again, another holiday, another holiday, and yes, another time for Garry Marshall to make Robert Altman turn around in his grave. This is basically the same exact thing as Marshall’s same ensemble-filled film, ‘Valentine’s Day’, and even though this one is only just a tad better, that really is not saying much at all.

What these types of films always have problems with is that all of these types of films have so many stars passing in-and-out of the flick as if it was I95 but they are sometimes not really given much to do, instead of just to be there and look pretty. This is the case with this flick and I felt like Marshall really rushed things here to the point of where he wasn’t really concerned with the stories as much as he was more concerned with just getting as much stars up on the screen before they had to go leave and shoot a better film. When I say this, I’m not talking about Sarah Jessica Parker. She loves this kind of stuff and I think she may be the only one who does too.

Another problem with all of these films is the fact that almost everything everybody says here either seem like cliches, something taken out of another flick, or just plain schmaltz. The film always goes for being sweet, cute, and loving but it more or less just comes off as being the same old crap that I’ve seen time and time again, except this time with Jon Bon Jovi spouting out corny love songs. But then again, the guy owned The Philadelphia Soul, so it’s not as bad if say someone like Nick Jonas was doing it. Yeah, that kids lame.

I knew I was going to get this kind of stuff before I went into this flick but I honestly think that these films try way too hard to give more meaning about a holiday that is basically all about getting plastered with your buddies, yelling random shit at people you’ve never met in your life, freezing your ass off, counting down till a big-ass glow ball hits the bottom in 10 seconds, ending up making out with a person that chick that looks like your sister, and waking up the next morning in somebody else’s bath tub with a splitting headache. I’m not at all speaking from experience but let me just tell you that when it comes to this holiday, not many people are reflecting on the past year and what they are thankful for and what they aren’t thankful for. So stop trying to give it more meaning than it already needs Garry!

However, as much as I wanted to diss on this film for what it obviously fails in, there were moments here where I was enjoying myself probably because New Year’s is such a fun holiday and that’s something that I don’t think Marshall took away from. There are moments where this film actually seems funny and had me chuckling here and there, mainly because of the cast and probably just because this film sort of put me in a good mood. It’s also one of the rare cases where the “bloopers” during the end credits had me laughing a lot more throughout them, instead if the whole film itself.

The whole cast here is star-studded everywhere you look and made this film a little bit better. Instead of naming the whole cast like I normally do with these ensemble-like films, I’ll just run down the people who were probably the most enjoyable. Zac Efron was probably the one dude I had the most fun watching up on screen; Hilary Swank is actually quite convincing as a Times Square vice president; and Sofia Vergara is not only stunningly gorgeous but fun as hell to watch here as the sex-pot chef. There are others that were somewhat fun but too many times were there just these big-named stars just sitting around doing nothing. I’m talking to you, Ludacris. And no, I will still not call you by your “real name”.

I mean to be brutally honest, Valentine’s Day is not a very joyous and fun holiday probably because it’s too centered on having a love on this one special day. However, New Year’s Day where you can just do whatever the hell you want basically and have a blast the whole time no matter how old, young, or if you’re single or not. This film may have it’s obviously problems with plot, writing, and overall construction, but keeping to the fun and reckless spirit that is New Year’s, is what made my enjoyment level of this flick higher than I ever expected it to be in the first place.

Consensus: There is plenty of schmaltz, corniness, and moments that will more or less make you want to punch the writers in the face, but when it comes to keeping the actual fun and unpredictable atmosphere/spirit of it’s holiday, New Year’s Eve is a fun flick for anybody that wants to see stars coming-and-going non-stop for a whole 118 minutes.

5/10=Rental!!

If you have just read this review and cannot believe I just did what I did, please do not have any lost hope for me. I will once again get back to reviewing shit and calling it exactly what it is. I promise people.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand (2006)

This is where the mutants started to get annoying.

When scientists develop a miracle drug to treat unwanted mutations, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his heroic band of X-Men must battle a group of mutants known as the Brotherhood, led by Xavier’s former ally (Ian McKellen).

So after checking this whole series out, I’ve come to realize that Bryan Singer is awesome and Brett Ratner is stupid. Basically sums up this film pretty well.

The action is what really will hold you over this whole film, even though all of it looks like it was done for a video-game. There were a lot of cool special effects used here such as the Golden Gate Bridge being moved, a cool scene with a lake being turned inside out, and just about every single shot in the last 30 minutes. You get constant carnage left and right, and for the most part, it was good carnage and I could tell what was actually going on.

However, there’s not a real story here to keep me going. For some odd reason I felt bored for the first hour or so, just watching this story develop because nothing felt as meaningful or atmospheric as the first two did. I didn’t feel like Ratner really knew exactly what to do with all of these mutants and characters, so instead only focused on about two or three, and the rest were just sort of just shoved off to the side.

This one’s also a little bit more silly than the last two, which I didn’t really mind, but a lot of this just didn’t feel as genuine as Singer’s did. The screen-writers and directors took away what made the first two movies so good— the character story lines. The depth that the characters had in the first two movies was almost nowhere to be found in the third.

These interesting story lines were replaced by a movie completely full of “big booms”. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well filmed battle scene, they really help move a film along, but I don’t like it when they take the place of character plots. Ratner’s main problem is that he doesn’t know the difference between a glamorous action movie and a glamorous action movie with a well developed set of characters conforming to a great story, and sadly that plays out here.

The cast here is full of familiar faces such as Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Shawn Ashmore, and Anna Paquin. Plus there’s also some new faces with the likes of Kelsey Grammar (why?!?), Ben Foster, Vinnie Jones, and Ellen Page. Everybody here tries their best to their advantage but the script doesn’t even care if they are in this story or not and it doesn’t matter what they do with their lines, there all so cheesy and meant for the next big explosion.

Consensus: It may sound like I hate this film but I don’t. The problem with X3: The Last Stand is that it’s terribly weak compared to the first two because it’s more about the action, and less about the actual characters that inhabit this story. The action is good and the special effects will hold you over, but compared to Bryan Singer’s first two, this last installment is lame.

5/10=Rental!!

X2: X-Men United (2003)

The freaks are back, and surprisingly a lot better this time around.

Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his team of genetically gifted superheroes face a rising tide of anti-mutant sentiment led by Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox). Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) must join their usual nemeses Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) to unhinge Stryker’s scheme to exterminate all mutants.

After watching the first X-Men film, I was bummed to say that it wasn’t as awesome as I once thought it was. Then, when I watched this, I realized just how awesome this one actually was.

Director Bryan Singer knows what he’s doing with this material here and takes the events of the first film and builds on them in such a way that when you see the credits you know that big things have happened. There is a lot of action here but there is also a deep story about being accepted in a world that won’t even look at you without judging you as well.

Singer knows how to balance a good story with some great action, and as the story kept getting deeper and deeper, the action kept on getting better and better, something I thought could never happen in a superhero film.

In the first one, I thought they focused too much on way too many characters, but here the movie is more focused on these characters throughout this moving story, and it doesn’t start dragging at all. This one actually felt more epic as well with its story and I guess that’s how all superhero films should be, but when you have something like Mutants vs. Army, you know you’re going to be in some pretty big shit.

The special effects are just plain awful (as in “awe full” – funny how a word can have two diametrically opposed meanings). Seamless integration with the live action, astounding in their inventiveness, so enticing that you want to be a mutant yourself. Exactly what special effects should be. They are worth the price of admission all on their own.

My problem with this film was that I did feel that there were some plot holes that I didn’t fully understand. Such as all these mutants can use their powers against a normal human-being and kill them right away, but when this young dude named Pyro throws fire balls at these people, nothing happens except a little sun burnt. These mofos should be dead! There were also some problems I thought that the plot had as it went along but I don’t want to give away too much here.

The cast from the first one is back, and better than ever actually. Hugh Jackman continues to be excellent as the angry and awesome Wolverine. The guy is not just dedicated, he’s frustrated but he never lets that stop him from finding the right thing to do, whether it’s protecting the weak or punishing the bad. Jackman totally improves his performance from the first one, and does a great job here as always. Patrick Stewart is also very good as Professor Xavier; the evil and maniacal Magneto, is played just so so well by Ian McKellen; and Brian Cox plays William Stryker, to the point as to where every time he was on screen, I just wanted somebody to beat his ass. All your other favourite mutants are also more interesting and more advanced than they were in the first film. Halle Berry’s Storm is sexier and more dangerous, while Famke Janssen manages to overcome Jean Grey’s hairdo (the worst I’ve seen on an actor in a long time) and really kick ass. The new mutant in this film is Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, who is a little strange but at the same time very innocent and there’s something about him that you just like. Everybody else does a great job here too, there’s just so many to talk about though and so little time.

Consensus: Despite some plot holes, X2 is a total improvement from the first showing a lot more action, special effects, and a more deeper and darker story-line that will take you by storm (pun intended) and won’t let you go until the credits are up.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

X-Men (2000)

The beginning of the freaks!

Amid increasing fear and bigotry, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) provides a safe haven for powerful outcasts like Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Storm (Halle Berry), who are genetically gifted mutants — and the world’s newest, most persecuted minority group. In an explosive battle for freedom and honor, the X-Men take on Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his band of evil mutants, who relish the public’s paranoia.

Director Bryan Singer, who also did The Usual Suspects, does a good job with this material because he doesn’t get too chaotic with all of this action. The effects are seamless, not a big thing in these days of CGI, but still a difficult thing when dealing with human beings who keep moving around and talking. It’s good to watch a film where it isn’t always possible to tell which are the fake shots and which ones really happened. Now of course, there are action sequences here that are pretty awesome, but he also allows a lot of down-time for these characters to talk and be developed. However, that’s where my real problem with this film lies.

I liked how this is a film that’s based more on its characters than other superhero films, but there is almost too much time devoted to the characters. These characters were cool but the problem was that the film focuses too much on them and not the story so the big climax at the end, ends up being sort of anti-climactic.

I also felt like there was something missing from this final product because although they show all these different powers that all these different superheros have, it almost never seems to add up. It’s no secret that the studio rushed this film so it could make the summer blockbuster deadline. There are some lovely details that would’ve made this film extraodinary but didn’t make it thanks to the dollar driven movie studio.

Though, the main reason why I enjoyed this a lot is because I love X-Men, and even though the story may be a bit weak, you still can’t help but love all these characters. Hugh Jackman is perfectly cast as Wolverine because he has that total bad-ass look to him, and those funny side-cracks to him that just make him a likable superhero from the beginning. Patrick Stewart is also great as Professor Charles Xavier mainly because he’s just that lovable old man, who is always one step ahead of every one else. Ian McKellen is a perfect villain as Magneto, and brings out the devious attributes within Magneto that make him such a memorable villain. Everybody else here is pretty good too such as Halle Berry as Storm, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, James Marsden as Cyclops, Anna Paquin as Rogue, and the always sexy Rebecca Romijn as Mystique.

Consensus: The action is fun and the ensemble is perfectly acted, but the story is too centered on all these different characters, rather than focusing on a good story, but if you’re a fan of the comics you’ll have a good time.

6/10=Rental!!

The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Another Tony Scott film that blows. How am I not surprised?

Bruce Willis stars as Joe Hallenbeck, a down-and-out private detective forced to team up with a disgraced pro football quarterback (Damon Wayans) to uncover a conspiracy engineered by a crooked politician and a corrupt football team owner.

This film cause quite an uproar back in the day, when the script from Shane Black, sold for about $1.75 million. That surprises me because I do not know who would want to pay that money, for this crap.

I will not lie, this film actually did start off pretty well for about the first 20 minutes. There was a lot of humor, fun action, and the plot was some what original. But then something happens out of nowhere. We start to dive into a weird plot, that just gets weirder, and weirder for no reason. The beginning was really lame, and right as you see it, you’ll think the same thing.

Usually when it comes to these action thrillers, I can take them if they are formulaic, as long as the action is good, and the script is alright. The action in this doesn’t save this movie from being the same old crap I’ve seen time and time again. I’ve seen all this action before, and it’s not even cool, just a cheap, and lame excuse to let Tony Scott blow shit up.

The script from Shane Black is somewhat alright. There’s a lot of those corny one-liners you would expect from a 90’s action/comedy, but the best scenes I think are when it’s Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, just talking about everyday things. There performances are good, and in a way, they have that obvious chemistry that these films always build on, and when they talk about family, love, or just problems they have, it all feels real, and somewhat fresh. However, we don’t get enough of this, and therefore the film is brought down a whole lot.

Consensus: Some parts are nice, mainly the average script, but the action doesn’t save this generic, corny, and dumb action/comedy.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

Bulworth (1998)

I don’t like it but Warren Beatty is starting to grow on me here.

California Sen. Jay Bulworth (Warren Beatty), reduced by years of compromise and scheming, hires a hit man to put him out of his misery. Kicking off an election campaign with nothing to lose, Bulworth lets his mouth get his ass in hot water.

Now for me I like a lot of satirical films, such as Natural Born Killers and also This Is Spinal Tap.., but I never really found the politician satirical films to be that interesting or funny. I always felt like they were just trying to imitate real-life figures in politics and make a different story, but this one is very different and I actually enjoyed it.

This movie is passed off as a comedy, but I think more importantly it says what we wish a lot of politicians would say all the time, which is the truth. Granted this movie is only one opinion, but the talk about race and more importantly class, is right on if you listen to what he actually says, part of it will either make you sick or really stop to make you think. The message that lies within the film is heartfelt and actually shows us a lot of true elements to what we want for our country but in a hugely melo-dramatic way, but with a really strong sense of comedy.

The comedy in this film never really gets old, and I actually found myself laughing at a lot of what Beatty said but also a lot of people around him were saying. The racist slang’s that Beatty uses are hilarious to listen too but also very true in what he says half of the time, and what shows to be the strength is it’s screenplay.

I felt like some parts in this film were not needed at all. The love story between Halle Berry and Beatty was pretty lame, and not needed, and put in just for the sake of having a love story. Also by the end of the film I felt it got a little too predictable. There is a little bit of symbolism that runs throughout the film that when it first came up basically made me know what was going to happen for the rest of the film.

Beatty, though as much as I try to dislike him, I just can’t help but love him in this film. This is basically his film as he is director, main actor, producer, and also co-writer. He does a very good job with all but ultimately succeeds in his acting. This isn’t the normal woman charmer dick like Beatty we have seen before he actually plays a different character than all of his other films, and breaks down barriers that some thought could never be broken. It breaks down and so does his performance and it really does show he can act in different roles and play different people, and not the same guy all the time.

Consensus: Bulworth is a little predictable by the end, but Warren Beatty does a great job at keeping this movie hilarious but also very true in it’s message about race in politics, without ever losing it’s charm.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Swordfish (2001)

Whoever thought computer hacking was such a dangerous job.

Rogue agent Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) is determined to get his mitts on $9 billion stashed in a secret Drug Enforcement Administration account. He wants the cash to fight terrorism, but lacks the computer skills necessary to hack into the government mainframe. Enter Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), a n’er-do-well encryption expert who can log into anything.

Swordfish definitely has too much plot for one movie, maybe also two movies. The director Dominic Sena, who is also known for directing Gone in 60 Seconds, is known for his little or no plot but has many gratuitous car chases, but with Swordfish he obviously doesn’t abandon the plot one bit.

The problem with this film is that the logic and the plot are out-of-this world. We can’t decide who’s the good guys and who’s the bad guys, too many times and we can’t just think in a movie that is all about war against terrorism. The storyline here as well is not very clear and the twist and turns are not bright and at times can be a little bit predictable.Also, when will Hollywood find out that computer typing scenes are just not that all exciting.

The film has many jumbled scenes, that just don’t feel like they belong in the movie at all. There are scenes that belong but there are too many that just don’t seem like they belong at all. Add a very confusing plot and a bunch of scenes that don’t belong and you just have a huge film of incoherence.

Though this film is very dumb it is not boring. Many of the action scenes are there and very cool to watch and I actually found myself amazed by some of the over-the-top action sequences other than confused. Special effects in movies get so much better every year and this movie shows how you can use those special effects to your advantage. Also, much of the script is very ironic and at times very comical if it doesn’t even fit in with the scenes.

Acting in this movie is highly OK. Halle Berry is not in this film much but does show she is great at being a total tease and very distracting to the others and the viewers themselves. John Travolta, is really going back to his Vincent Vega character from Pulp Fiction, but is still convincing and makes us believe in him. Hugh Jackman is also good in this film and shows a lot of promise as a actor and tries anything he can to sell this script. May I mention this is Halle Berry’s first nude scene and although many will go crazy, it seems really forced and doesn’t really match in with the story at all.

Consensus: Swordfish is as brain dead as its name. Its features an incoherent plot, random scenes, and overall just doesn’t have a noticeable sense of style, but is not boring.

3/10=SomeOleBullshittt!!