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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: James Marsden

Superman Returns (2006)

ReturnsposterHe’s back and you know what? Those glasses are still working their charm!

Five years after exploring the deepest, darkest parts of the galaxy, Superman (Brandon Routh) finally returns back to Earth. Why? Well, it seems like his time had finally come for him to get back to his old ways and schedule. Miraculously enough, around the same time that Superman reappears, so does Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent. And through Kent’s eyes, Superman gets to see just how much life has changed in the past five years. For one, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is now engaged and with a child, even if she still hasn’t quite gotten over Superman; Perry White (Frank Langella) still heckles Clark over giving him crappy stories; and Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey), well, is awaiting for Superman’s arrival so that he can launch his evil, dastardly plan of taking over the world and being rid of the super-dude, once and for all. Obviously, Superman won’t let this happen, but he’s going to have a lot of issues battling Luthor if he can’t get his personal issues in order, or if he can’t keep those that he loves, out of harm’s way.

The meet-cute knows no boundaries!

The meet-cute knows no boundaries!

But when you’re Superman, sometimes, that’s a lot easier said then done.

I’ve got to give Bryan Singer credit for going all out with Superman Returns. Not only does his fanboy love shine through each and every single scene of this movie, but even for those who may not already be on-board with Superman in the first place, well, he doesn’t forget to reach out to. In a way, Superman is the quintessential, perfect human being, except for the fact that he isn’t a human being – he’s an alien. While this may sound all cool and rad, especially if you had all of the skills and capabilities that Superman had, Singer shows that there’s something actually very sad about this fact.

After all, don’t forget that Superman’s whole family, let alone, his race perished within the first five minutes of the original 1978 flick. Now, it’s just him, all by himself, left to make up his own legacy for his own good, where nobody’s there to really care, love, or support him, except for maybe a select few. But once again, because he’s Superman, he can’t get too close, nor trust anybody quite as well – some people will try to take advantage of him, whereas others may not want to be bothered with a possibly dangerous alien from outer-space.

This inherent sadness is what drives Superman himself, and it’s also what drives a good portion of Superman Returns.

In a way, it’s not your typical superhero summer blockbuster, but at the same time, it sort of is. It isn’t because there’s so much more attention to the tenderness and the humanity of this character, rather than just how much ass he can kick, and what sorts of heavy stuff he can lift. Then again, it sort of is because Singer can’t help himself from getting lost in all of the crazy, high-intensity set-pieces that can be deafeningly loud, but still equally as effective. This mixture of two sides of Singer may not always work, but when it does come together, it comes together so well that it makes me wonder why they don’t just give every superhero story to Singer.

After all, the guy has done some pretty wonders with the X-Men, so why not anymore heroes?

Regardless, there’s a lot to really be touched by with Superman Returns in that it really does ask for us to reach out and feel something for Superman himself. This may sound almost too simple, it’s stupid, but you’d be surprised how very few superhero movies actually seem to try and get us care for their title characters, more than just because they’re going to save the day from the bad guy. Here, Singer shows that there’s more to Superman than just what meets the eye; sure, he’s good-looking, super-strong, jacked, and not the person you want to pick a fight with, but he’s so lonely in this vast, wide world where people don’t know what to do with him, and after awhile, it begins to take a toll on him and make him wonder what any of it is worth. Should he continue to fight the good fight for Earth? Or should he just stick it out all on his own?

What a happy gang of pals.

What a happy gang of pals.

Either way, Brandon Routh does a solid enough job as Superman/Clark Kent to where he doesn’t get in the way of the character. Routh has obviously received flack over the years for not amounting to much after this role, which is wrong, because not only does the guy have some charm to him, but he’s also a sympathetic figure, and not just another pretty-boy asking for our compassion. You can almost look at Superman here like a sick little puppy that needs a home, a bone, and somewhere to shed his fur. Obviously, this works in the movie’s favor, and it’s definitely because of Routh.

As the iconic Lois Lane, Kate Bosworth may seem too young at first, but eventually, she works well into the role and gives us the sense that she’s the same old kick-ass heroine that she was in the older movies, and comics; James Marsden plays her fiancee who may, or may not be a dick, but may also just be a simple, everyday guy thrown into the shadow of Superman; Frank Langella gets some fun moments and lines as Perry White; Parker Posey plays Lex Luthor’s right-hand-women Kitty Kowalski (Parker Posey), and does a nice job showing that there’s more humanity to her this time around; and as for Lex Luthor, well, Kevin Spacey does a good job in the role, however, there’s still a big issue with him.

A big, big one.

What’s bothersome about Luthor here is that, yes, he’s the stereotypical villain in a comic book movie, so obviously we can expect there to be some unbelievability. However, the plan that Luthor eventually hatches to take over the world, which would entail wiping out the rest of the human race for some reason, just seems so random and out-of-this-world. The movie seems to treat this as some grand master plan from Luthor, even though he is a crazed-loon and, for the most part, he doesn’t have the right head on his shoulders. While I could easily just pass this off as a small thing to nitpick at, it really doesn’t end-up that way and instead, turns out to take the bulk of the later-half of the story where the emotions are extra heavy and we’re really asked to pay attention.

It works, but still, it comes close to not doing so at all.

Consensus: With an extra bit of attention to the heart and soul of its title character, Superman Returns works both as a silly, yet exciting superhero flick, as well as a tender look at the loneliness these kinds of characters embody.

8 / 10

Still no glasses! Come on, girl!

Still no glasses! Come on, girl!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Gossip (2000)

These 21st Century kids make millennials look like babies.

Sex, deception and rumors run wild amongst a group of university students and roommates when Derrick (James Marsden), Jones (Lena Headey) and Travis (Norman Reedus), collaborate on their new journalism class assignment: Identifying the link between news and gossip. But when their class project goes frighteningly out of control, it puts friendships, the future, and their lives, in total jeopardy.

Looking at Gossip from afar, you’d expect it to be your normal, by-the-numbers teen-beat thriller that features a good amount of stuck-up, rich, good-looking kids all running around, drinking, having sex, getting crazy, and saying all sorts of mean, ugly things behind one another’s back. And considering that the film stars many actors/actresses who were, at the time, nearing-30, this makes the movie actually seem like a whole lot of campy, unintentionally-silly fun. And it sort of does, which is why it’s weird to see this being directed by Davis Guggenheim; someone who is most known for directing important, finger-pointing documentaries (An Inconvenient TruthWaiting for Superman).

Not even Kate can take James seriously with that cut.

Not even Kate can take James seriously with that cut.

Pretty odd, right?

Well, what’s even odder is that Guggenheim seems to take this material a whole lot more serious than it probably needed to be. But, like I expected, there’s something fun about the fact that it revolves so much around bullying and gossiping, and doing so in such a straight-faced, no-jokes manner. And because everybody’s a lot older than who they’re playing, it’s a lot more entertaining to be watching 30-year-olds go on and on about rumors of who cheated on who and where at.

One would expect a film titled Gossip, to be one hard-hitting morality tale on how people lie with their words, only to extract revenge on that other person for something they may have done, or to just see that person being talked about, feel pain and hurt. While they touch on that a bit in this film, it’s never materialized into being anything more meaningful or smart. Instead of actually digging deep into how gossip affects us everywhere we go (jobs, media, relationships, etc.) the film takes a left-turn to silly land and becomes a “he said, she said” argument that’s not nearly as smart or as defined as it may think it is. You have to give points to the movie for at least trying, but for the most part, I just wanted them to go back to the screwing, drinking, partying, and gossiping.

Then again, who doesn’t want to watch teens do that for an-hour-and-a-half?

Like I said before, too, the cast is filled with all sorts of recognizable faces who, in plenty of other work, show that they’re more than willing to do great things with the material given to them. However, because everything is so cheesy here, they’re sort of limited to just having to go through the motions. Even if, you know, some do try to step apart from the rest of the group.

Still Pacey, bro.

Still Pacey, bro.

That one, key performance would probably have to be from James Marsden, playing some asshole named Derrick. Marsden is a good-looking guy; there’s no doubting that, no matter who you are, what’s your sexual orientation, or what your taste is. Where Marsden works well with here is that he plays against that fact and shows that, yes, while he may be awfully handsome, there’s not much more to him than that. He’s rude to girls, treats them like used-tissues, and will, on more than a few occasions, make himself feel better regardless of how it makes another person feel. Yes, he’s so deuchy and annoying, that it makes Marsden’s performance all the better and more enjoyable to watch because he’s not backing down from it one bit. Sure, it’s hard to imagine what sorts of wonders Marsden could have done with a better movie/character to work with by his side, but for what it’s worth, the dude gave all that he could.

And what else could you ask for?

That’s why when I look at everybody else in the cast, while I’m initially impressed, I see them in the film and it’s a bit of a disappointment. Nobody, much like with Marsden, is given all that much to do, so they’re sort of just left with being around and servicing a lackluster script. Lena Heady is most definitely pretty, but her character is flat and seems like she’s in a whole other movie completely; the incredibly talented Norman Reedus is fine as the art-weirdo that seems to be a bit too obsessed with all of this gossip-talking, but seeing what he does now on TV, really makes me think that this type of character doesn’t really suit him totally well; same goes for Joshua Jackson who, with the Affair, seems like he was primed and ready for a good role to come his way, he just wasn’t getting it just yet; Kate Hudson despite not being around nearly as much as she should is good in a rare dramatic role as the rich girl, Naomi, because the verdict is never fully out on whether this character is as good of a girl as she says she is, or is as raunchy and vindictive as others say, too; and Eric Bogosian seems so randomly-placed here that it’s actually pretty awesome. He definitely took this as a nice paycheck gig, but still: When was the last time you could say you saw Eric Bogosian in the same film as Cyclops, Daryl, Pacey, and Cersei?

Never! So yeah, see it for that, if anything else.

Consensus: Gossip wants to be, at certain points, a trashy, over-the-top and wacky teen-thriller, while at others, wants to be a melodramatic, soap-opera-y message movie about the affects of false rumors and never makes perfect sense of either, but is still occasionally entertaining to watch because of the cast involved.

5 / 10

Teenagers. Literally never get old.

Teenagers. Literally never get old.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Welcome to Me (2015)

As long as you’ve got money, you can film whatever you want.

After winning the lottery, Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), who has borderline personality disorder, decides that she wants to spend it on exactly what her life’s dream has been: Have her own talk show. It doesn’t sound too harmful, except for the fact that it’s going to feature nobody else but her own-self, in which she will air her own feelings out about life to the live audience, as well as the rest of the world watching home, with also offering glimpses into her past and how it’s made her who she is today. While it’s mostly all inappropriate, Alice is willing to throw as much money as she wants at the network’s producer (James Marsden), and considering that they need the money, there’s not too many problems. However, eventually fame and fortune go to Alice’s head where she soon forgets about those who helped her get such a firm grasp on reality in the first place, like her best friend (Linda Cardellini), her possible boyfriend (Wes Bentley), and especially, her therapist (Tim Robbins); all of whom want to help Alice, yet, don’t know how to communicate with her in an effective manner that gets her to stop thinking of her own-self for once.

"Hey, Alice? Maybe don't say 'fuck' on the air?"

“Hey, Alice? Maybe don’t say ‘fuck’ on the air?”

I’ve got to hand it to Kristen Wiig. Even after the huge success of Bridesmaids, she could have easily taken any money-making, big-budget, mainstream comedy pic and become something of the female equivalent of Will Ferrell: It doesn’t matter if the movies you make are any good, as long as people are seeing them and making money, then that’s fine. With Wiig, though, she’s proven herself to be more interested in these very challenging, relatively low-key indies that not only challenge her as an actress, but to allow us, the audience, to see her in this new light. While the results can sometimes range from bad (Girl Most Likely), to fine (Hateship Loveship), to good (the Skeleton Twins), there’s no denying the fact that Wiig isn’t afraid to step up to a challenge and see what she can do with herself as an actress.

Even if, like I said before, they aren’t quite spectacular to begin with.

That’s the case with Welcome to Me, however, it’s hardly Wiig’s fault. Wiig is fearless in every sense here with her portrayal of Alice Klieg – since her character is a little loopy, Wiig gets a chance to try out her dry sense of comedy, but in a more bizarre, slightly disturbing way. But also, because her character is mentally messed-up, we’re treated to Wiig giving her certain layers and shadings that writer/director Shira Piven’s screenplay may not have had in the first place. With Wiig, it’s easy top say that this character works because while Alice may not be a sympathetic character, there’s still something compelling about watching her profess her feelings to whomever will listen to her and it makes you feel a tad bit more sad for this character. Even though she does some pretty terrible things throughout the majority of the film (and for no reasons whatsoever), there’s still a feeling of care for this character, and I think a lot of that credit can be given to Wiig’s talents as an actress.

Then again though, her performance would have been a lot better off, had Piven herself been able to make up her own mind about this character, seeing as how it’s sort of a mess how she’s handled. For one, there’s something very deeply upsetting about Alice Klieg’s life that’s portrayed to us in a manner that’s either too dark that it can’t be funny, or too funny, so therefore, it can’t be dark or dramatic. In a way, Alice’s life is presented to us that gives us insight into why she acts the way she does, what’s affected her over the years, and how exactly she’s trying to cope with it in the present day – all of which, are very revealing, but for some reason, Piven doesn’t know what to do with all of these insights.

In most cases, Piven focuses on Alice’s life as it’s some sort of a joke that, yeah, may have featured some traumatic occurrences here and there, but oh look how silly and awkward she is! In a way, it’s like Piven’s constantly wrestling with two different movies, and rather than making up her mind and sticking straight to one, she constantly flirts with both.

One has a beard, the other doesn't. Which one do you think is less pissed-off?

One has a beard, and the other doesn’t. Which one do you think is less pissed-off?

One movie is a dark comedy about a messed-up individual, getting the chance to say whatever she wants to the mass-media audiences, all because she has enough money to do so. As you can probably tell, this is a little satirical bite on the way our mainstream media has turned into nowadays with the likes of Dr. Phil and Oprah, who may not actually have any wise pieces of info to send-off to its audience, but have just the right amount of dollars to make people listen to whatever they have to say. While this idea may be a bit dated in the world we live in now, it still works in the context that Piven presents because the TV executives portrayed here know that what Alice is doing is outlandish, ridiculous and everything wrong with the modern state of television, and yet, can’t do anything about it.

Everybody’s making money, so what’s the big deal?!?

Then, on the flip-side of the equation, there’s another movie that discusses Alice’s life and how her current personality reflects all that she’s gone through. While there are certain bits and pieces of this that shine through in the final product that’s still interesting, it’s still not nearly as well-rounded as what Piven does with the satirical edge. While Piven wants to discuss Alice’s problems to their fullest extent, she still can’t help but laugh and point at whenever there’s a scene in which she has sex with some random stranger, blurts out obscenities, and seem to not be able to grasp anything in her life. Piven doesn’t seem like she’s fully capable of handling this character and it’s a bummer, because not only does Alice seem like she’s a well-done character, but because Wiig is, once again, more than willing to go as far and deep as she can.

Poor Wiig. You’ll get ’em next time!

Consensus: Wiig and the rest of the ensemble do fine in Welcome to Me, but due to the uneven tone and messy direction, it never looks as fully polished as it should be, no matter how many lovely names it has attached to it.

6 / 10

Life.

Life.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The D Train (2015)

High school reunions are a joke and sometimes, so are the people who you see there.

Self-proclaimed chairman of his high school’s reunion committee, Dan Landsman (Jack Black), wants to be the exact opposite of what he was many years ago in the 9th-12th grade: Cool. He hasn’t ever had that feeling, because after high school ended, he got his pregnant (Kathryn Hahn), took the first job he could find, and basically, never let home in the first place. That’s why when he sees a former classmate of his, Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), in a commercial for Banana Boat sunscreen, Dan gets the brilliant idea: Get Oliver to come to the reunion and have the reunion itself be a fun, memorable time, all due to Dan himself. However, what that takes is a lot of planning and maneuvering around to get Oliver from L.A., all the way back to home; although Dan is totally up for it too, he may have some problems in the way of his boss (Jeffrey Tambor). Not to mention, Oliver himself may not want to even come at all – something that Dan is able to change, but it all comes at a cost.

While this seems like a very sparse premise, the fact is that there’s something that occurs about half-way through the flick that makes up what’s to become the rest of the movie after it. It’s something I can’t discuss as it will simply spoil the rest of the movie, but do know this: What may seem like a small plot-point, something that could definitely be traded-in as a passing-gag, eventually turns the movie into something very serious and dramatic. Almost too much, would one say?

How I spend every reunion I've ever had to attend.

How I spend every reunion I’ve ever had to attend.

I’m not sure, but there’s something about this drastic step that the D Train that makes it smarter than most comedies. But in hindsight, does it work?

Well, not really. The reason being, too, is that it seems like where co-writers and directors Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel get mixed up is that they have a neat premise and know what they want to do and say about it, but instead of going anywhere interesting, or better yet, intelligent with it, they just use the most broad example they could find and figure out ways to make the jokes just string off of that. Don’t get me wrong, the jokes that both Paul and Mogel are able to cobble up work and definitely shed some light on the whole bromance subgenre of movies that I’d never see Apatow’s crew bothering to touch.

However, what it ultimately turns out to be is something of a disappoint. See, while Paul and Mogel make it seem like they’re going to discuss the whole idea about growing up, getting out of high school and doing something for yourself, the D Train instead goes somewhere else that feels lazy. It’s as if Paul and Mogel didn’t want to make its audience think too much while laughing, so instead, they just decided the best way to cure all that was to just go for the easiest jokes possible. Once again, the jokes do work and I’d be lying if the movie stopped being serious after this half-way point, but after it all, it made me wonder why there wasn’t more attention given to what seemed like the original intentions Paul and Mogel had.

Though, there is something to be said for a comedy where we get to see plenty of range come from the likes of Jack Black, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, and most especially, James Marsden, that doesn’t just include them mucking it up. Because, for the most part, everybody here is funny and clearly shows they have a great sense of humor to work well within the confines of this script, but they also dig deep into these characters and make them seem like something more than just caricatures. They’re actual humans, albeit, ones with plenty of problems that they may not be able to ever get past.

Such is especially evident in the case of Black’s Landsman, who not only borders on the verge of being incredibly creepy, but may definitely have some self-esteem issues of his own that may not bode well for the rest of his family. I won’t divulge what it is exactly that I am discussing, but Landsman’s obsessive nature is odd and off-putting at times; however, he never becomes a terribly unsympathetic character. There’s a reason for why he acts so insufferably cruel and manipulating to those around him and it’s what keeps most of the moments where he’s just acting like a dick, therefore digging himself deeper into holes he can’t get out of, not only fun, but interesting in what it does to develop this character.

Same goes for Hahn’s character, Stacey. Not only does she love and support her man until the end of their days, but also realizes what it is about him that she loves so very much, even if he can be a bit of a sad sack. She’s not just there as window-dressing to give Landsman a reason to come back home every so often, but she’s actually a genuinely sweet person. And even though most of the easy, softball jokes constantly rely on Tambor’s boss character being present, you can’t help but enjoy what’s happening to his character, as well as sympathize with the dude.

Trust me, sit closer to the soul patch. It works well.

Trust me, sit closer to the soul patch. It works well.

Then, of course, there’s James Marsden.

I’ll admit it, I’ve never been a huge lover of James Marsden; it’s not because he gets the women that I can only dream of having, it’s not because he’s incredibly handsome as hell, and it’s not because he got to do kissy-face with Famke Janssen back in the day, it’s just that I’ve never been fully impressed with his capabilites as an actor. Sure, the dude’s charming and, more often than not, is able to make me laugh, but I’ve never walked from something he’s been involved with and have gone, “Wow. That James Marsden sure is something.”

That may change now. Not just because Marsden’s hilarious here (which he definitely is), but literally gets to the bottom of the heart and soul of this character, without ever making it seem like he’s trying too hard at all. Oliver Lawless stands in the place of every high school jock who peaked in the 11th grade: Was the life of the party, everybody wanted to be friends with, and had high aspirations for, but when the time came around to actually moving on and doing something with their life, totally fell apart. Marsden’s Lawless may be cool, handsome-as-eff, and suave with the ladies, but is also pretty sad with what he’s become and how he can hardly even get Dermot Mulroney to talk to him. Marsden shows layers to this character that I don’t even know were there to begin with, and because of that, I will forever look forward to seeing what Mr. James Marsden has for me next.

Whether the movie be good, bad, or just, middling. Kind of like this.

Consensus: The D Train flirts with interesting ideas that challenge R-rated comedy standards, but doesn’t do enough justice to them and instead, relies heavily on the charming and likable cast to pick up the pieces.

6.5 / 10

How I imagine everybody feels standing next to James Marsden anywhere.

How I imagine everybody feels standing next to James Marsden anywhere.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Accidental Love (2015)

accidentalloveposter“Stephen Greene” is the new “Alan Smithee”.

Small-town, roller waitress Alice (Jessica Biel) seems to have most of her life in an ideal position. She’s happy, about to be engaged to her boyfriend (James Marsden), and has promises of a simple, painless life that she can hopefully grow old, fat and relax with. However, that all changes when a nail-gun strikes her head; which shouldn’t be much of a problem, except that Alice doesn’t have insurance. Meaning, when Alice is on the operating-table, she is denied the surgery that would allow for the nail to be taken out of head and have her healed. Alice isn’t very pleased with this, so in an act of anger, she joins up with a group of fellow victims who all hope to get free healthcare from the U.S. government. But, in order to have their dreams fulfilled, they need to have some sort of political representation – which is what they find in with congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal). Birdwell seems like he means well and honestly wants for Alice, as well as many others, to be healed, but he soon realizes that there’s plenty of problems standing in his way that may not allow for this to happen.

Without diving too much into the production history of Accidental Love, I’ll just try to keep it as simple as I can possibly be. Accidental Love, who’s initial title was the much-better Nailed, was directed by David O. Russell back in 2008 when, out of nowhere, finances fell through and filming for the movie, which was nearly 80% finished, was cut-off. Many, like myself, felt like the movie would never see the light of day and would join the long list of other movies that sound incredibly promising, but have been held back because of certain problems; whether they be legal, financial, publicity, etc.

Just waiting to be interviewed by Michael Moore.

Just waiting to be interviewed by Michael Moore.

So, with all that said, should Accidental Love seen the light of day?

The answer is a “no”, but it’s not a strong or direct one. Instead, it’s a disappointing one, because somewhere, if you squint long and hard enough, is a smart, entertaining, and incredibly funny satire that Russell seems to excel so well in. But that’s when you really force your eyes to do so; if not, you’ll most likely just find a choppy, messed-up, slightly interesting movie that seems to deal with important issues, yet, still doesn’t hit as hard as it should.

Honestly, there’s no telling if Accidental Love was a good movie even before things went awry in its production-department, but you can tell that everybody involved with it seemed to be game for some sort of wacky comedy. Whether or not that comedy actually works, is a totally different subject to talk about, but there’s no denying that the solidly impressive ensemble Russell was able to assemble here had no clue what they were doing. They did, and they’re totally game – it’s just that the movie isn’t.

Though I’m still not sold on Jessica Biel’s talents as an actress just yet, I have to giver her at least a portion of credit for dialing it all the way up to 11 with this performance and hardly ever coming down to a lesser-notch. She’s loud, over-the-top and camping it up, and even though the jokes don’t land when they’re at her expense, it’s clear that Biel was at least in on them and didn’t want people to think otherwise. Same goes for Jake Gyllenhaal who, in recent years, has proven to be on the more consistently engaging screen-presences we have working today, and here, seems like he’s just having fun. He, like Biel, is only doing what the script calls for him to do, but he seems so happy doing so, that the character flirts with the idea of being more than just a caricature of whom Russell was setting out to make fun of.

And for the rest of the cast, much is the same. Tracy Morgan’s funny; James Marsden’s funny; Catherine Keener’s funny; Paul Reuben’s funny; and hell, even Kirstie Alley’s funny. There’s no denying that everybody here seems to be having fun with where Russell takes them, and what he does with them, it’s just that the movie they’re working in doesn’t seem to gel. Like, at all.

Which is understandable, considering what happened behind-the-scenes. The movie seems like the kind of hatchet job that a studio would only perform, had they honestly felt as if they had something of a hit on their hands. But Accidental Love, believe it or not, never seems like a hit. And I’m not just talking from a critical stand-point – I’m speaking from the financial one.

Who are we making fun of here?

Who are we making fun of here?

Being nearly seven years after its initial release-date, Accidental Love feels awfully dated, especially in terms of its subject-matter. Living in the post-Obama society that we live in now, talking about, making fun of, and even trying to make a point about healthcare, its benefits, and its draw-backs, feel a little too late to the game. Are these points worth bringing up for people to hear and sometimes laugh at? Sure, but it’s all been said and done before, and sometimes more effectively so.

That being said, the movie isn’t totally terrible, miserable experience for people to sit through and watch.

Like mostly all of Russell’s movies, he seems to revel in the delight of having his characters just act wild, yell at one another and go seemingly more and more insane as the time rolls on by. Some of that can be fun to watch here, but for the most part, it seems spliced together in a movie that’s concerned with everything, yet not anything, at the same time. It wants to be clever and sly about the point it’s trying to reel on home about healthcare; it wants to be a touching, sweet tale about a relationship between two unorthodox individuals that might blossom into something beautiful; and it also wants to be farce about a bunch of goofy people, being just that.

Yet, it’s never any of these. Just a jumble.

Consensus: While not nearly as embarrassing as its shoddy production history may have you think, Nailed, err, I mean Accidental Love seemed like it had an objective early on, yet, ends up being nothing, about no one, and doing nothing for those who watch it.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

Eh. At least the sex was good for these two.

Eh. At least the sex was good for these two.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Loft (2015)

Stay loyal, fellas. No matter how hard it gets.

Five married men, who all share a loft that they casually take hot, younger women who aren’t their wives, back to to wine, dine and then bang, all stumble upon a huge surprise when they find a girl dead in their place. The blame game begins when it’s revealed that she was Vincent (Karl Urban)’s girl, although, once push comes to shove, the fingers begin pointing to Chris (James Marsden), who everybody believes had some sort of hand in this, whether he meant to or not. Either way though, all five of these dudes have no clue what to do and through the constant thinking, deciding and game-planning, they start to paint a broader portrait of what happened, who is responsible, and what the next best step is to do. They sure as hell know they don’t want to get any cops involved; because once they do, so do then their wives and subsequent families. Basically, it’s all up to these guys to figure things out, but once each other’s dirty laundry starts airing out, none of them may be able to make it out unscathed, married, or better yet, alive.

Since it wrapped up filming in 2011, the Loft has been on the release-bubble and it makes perfect sense. Not only is the movie pretty crummy, but the source material, that’s apparently adapted from a Belgian film of the same name, is very harsh and almost, dare I say it, offensive. Which isn’t to say that movies that offend others aren’t supposed to be made, they’re just supposed to be handled in a way that allows for all sides of the story to have their say and meaning when all is said and done. However, at the end of the day for the Loft, we have a bunch of sleazy, horned-up married-men who realize the costs they take when they start sleeping around, and yet, still go about it anyway because, well, I don’t know, really.

Somebody just realized that he needs new friends.

The face of someone who just realized that he needs new friends.

Bitches be cray?

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you, and I don’t think this movie can either. And that’s definitely it’s biggest problem; the cast of characters are strong, recognizable, and well-acted, but these characters are just so dirty and unlikable, that there’s a slight feeling that you not only want their wives to find out, but to also have them jailed so that they learn their lesson the hard way. Sounds a bit extreme and harsh, I know, but the way the character’s are written and made-out to be, it’s hard to think any other way.

Take, for instance, the character of Chris, played by the always charming James Marsden. Chris is, as you’d expect, a typical middle-aged husband – he’s bored, unsatisfied and chock full of hormones that are just waiting to be released in any sort of sexual manner possible. Problem is, his wife is a tad bit crazy and doesn’t give him all the pleasure he needs. It makes sense why he would want to go start banging whatever hot, young thing he can find next; it doesn’t make it right, but it at least serves some sort of purpose, rather than, “Hey, what can he say? He’s horny.”

So then, Chris does eventually finish the deed of having sex with someone who isn’t his wife, and automatically, we’re made to feel sorry for him. Not his wife who, understandably, is on the strange side and paranoid, to say the least, is getting cheated on, right behind her back. No, it’s Chris, the one dude who cheated, screwed around, and was upset to find out that the girl he had sex with was paid to do so in the first place, who is the one we’re made to feel sorry for.

Same goes for the character of Vincent, played by a stern, yet dull, Karl Urban. Vincent has a bit more back-story to him here that I won’t spoil for any of you possible viewers, but I’ll leave it at this – he’s easily the sleaziest, most despicable member of the group, and yet, we’re still supposed to feel some shred of sadness for when it comes close to blowing back in his face. In all honesty, I have no idea why we’re supposed to feel sorry for any of these guys at all, let alone Vincent or Chris; they all know what they’re getting themselves into, understand the rules, regulations, and circumstances, and yet, still go out, party, bang, snort, drink, and live it up as if they’re young, twenty-something swingers.

We’re not supposed to like them, but somebody forgot to tell the people behind this movie that.

A dude's dream. Hopefully, minus the blood, death and all that.

A dude’s dream. Hopefully, minus the blood, death and all that.

But honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg with this movie, because while it’s hard to care for any of them, there is something of an interesting mystery at the center that works well for, I don’t know, the first-half or so. Once it’s revealed to us that these guys don’t have any clue what happened, who was behind it all, and what they’re supposed to do next, the movie keeps us in the dark as much as possible and it’s quite interesting. Once the flashbacks come into play and we’re given more light into these guys’ past, both together and apart, it becomes apparent that clearly somebody’s more of a “baddie” than the rest and that’s where it begins to lose some sort of focus. Because, honestly, they’re all baddies, but I guess just one is worse than the others.

However, the movie starts to go off the rails by the last-half, where we are constantly getting twist after twist thrown at us, without any of them ever landing or making much sense. One character is apparently something of a psycho that can’t help his sexual-tendencies, which makes him do evil, terrible things to those around him and none of it ever rings true. It almost seems like the director and writers got bored with whatever they were doing, didn’t want to wrap things up too quickly or nicely, so instead, added a serial-killer, for shits and gigs.

Cause, you know, nothing’s funner than a serial-killer who loves taking advantage of women.

Consensus: With unlikable characters that hardly shed any bit of sympathy, the Loft becomes an aimless, uninteresting study in people we don’t care about, and an even less-interesting murder-mystery that starts somewhere, but ends absolutely nowhere.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

Hint: Dude with glasses. Just saying.

Hint: Dude with glasses. Just saying.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Best of Me (2014)

Funny how true love always seems to come around while on the verge of dying.

After an explosion on a rig that nearly kills him, Dawson Cole (James Marsden) catches wind of news that his mentor of sorts (Gerald McRaney) has tragically passed away. With this, Dawson decides it’s time to head back home and see what needs to be taken care in the estate. While he’s doing this, an old-love of his, Amanda (Michelle Monaghan), is doing the same. Which would be great if they wanted to catch up and be cool with one another, however, considering where they last left things, that can’t seem to happen. But because the recently-deceased wishes was for them to see if they can be friends again, they decide to give it a try and with this, we get to see, through flashbacks, how they got so acquainted with one another in the first place and where exactly they went wrong in the process. Which begs the question: Are they too damaged to get back together one last time for all? Or, are they just beginning on another romance of theirs that they can make into something serious? Oh, the melodrama!

Here we go again, people – another year, another Nicholas Sparks film adaptation. And as most of you may know, I for one do not take kindly to these movies; they’re poorly-done and yet, still make so much money because young teenage girls can’t seem to get the fact that hardly any of these movies are good. Sure, the Notebook was serviceable at best, but other than that rarest-of-rare example, there’s not much else to write home about.

In fact, the only times that these movies are at least watchable, at that, is when they’re absolutely crazy and over-the-top that it doesn’t matter how manipulative and corny the final-product turns out to be. As long as you’re having fun with it, that’s all that matters. Safe Haven showed small signs of this, as well as the Lucky One, but regardless, those movies are still terrible. Like I said before, there’s some fun to be had in how ridiculous they can get, but for the most part, they’re just a bunch of overly-sappy, rather boring romantic-melodramas that not even some housewives can get through.

Is there really any need for the shirt to be off?

Is there really any need for the shirt to be off?

And trust me, I live with one and she hates these pieces of garbage!

Which is what brings me to the Best of Me, yet again, another Nicholas Sparks adaptation, but with a slight twist: the two lovers here are actually a bit older than we’re used to seeing with these adaptations. Usually, Sparks’ adaptations like to appeal to a young-ish crowd, so therefore, they include two hot, young, in-the-moment stars to ring in the dough, but here, the story is a bit different in that the two stars this movie is being advertised with having, are older and definitely not huge stars to begin with. No offense to either James Marsden or Michelle Monaghan (who actually receives top-billing, thankfully), but they’re not the sorts of movie stars that I could see ranking #1 at the box-office, with or without the Nicholas Sparks name attached.

All that said, it’s sad to see them in something like this because, unsurprisingly, they do both try and do succeed in making this material seem genuine. They have a nice chemistry together that is challenging and believable, which is probably a testament to how talented these two pros are. But, as one could imagine happening, even they eventually succumb to the beast of this movie’s script and just how terrible it is.

But most of what makes this movie so bad isn’t the script and how horrendous it is (although it’s definitely a key-factor), it’s the non-stop flashbacks that this movie uses to enhance the emotions of this story, and just constantly annoyed me everytime it showed up. Some of that has to do with how hackneyed the dialogue is between all of these teens, but most of it has to do with the fact that they cast someone who looks like Luke Bracey, in a role that’s supposed to be a younger-version of a James Marsden character. Seriously, look at the two and tell me if you can see one bit of a similarity in how they look.

Not one?

Well, don’t worry, because you’re totally not alone. See, rather than actually searching the landscape and finding a person that looks somewhat like a young-ish James Marsden, the creators here make it seem like they had enough money and time to get a young-stud like Luke Bracey and just decided to cast him in the role, regardless of if he shared any similarities in terms of look or personality with Marsden. This isn’t just a glaring problem with the movie, but it’s constantly distracting because you never for one second believe that one would eventually grow up to be the other. It’s like they’re two different characters, who just so happen to share the same name.

Nicholas Sparks' view of what a grizzled, ex-convict looks like.

Nicholas Sparks’ view of what a grizzled, ex-convict looks like.

Which is to say that had Bracey not been playing the same character as Marsden’s, the performance probably would have been viewed better, but sadly, that is not the case. Even though he tries to make us believe in him as this Dawson character, he can’t help but seem like just another one of those bumble, redneck-like characters. But you know, this time, has a heart of gold. Haven’t seen that before, I’ll tell ya!

Thankfully though, Monaghan and the one playing a younger-version of her character, Liana Liberato, are better-off; not because they actually look the least bit alike, but because the personalities of the two characters match and make you believe that one could actually grow up to be the other. That said, Liberato is probably the most memorable part of this movie because she makes a young gal like Amanda, not just seem like she could fall in love with somebody as troubled as Dawson, but because she actually seems like a young kid. She’s reckless, spirited, and lets her emotions get the best of her – a true-to-form, high school girl.

But it’s just a shame that it all had to get wasted in something that doesn’t once feel “honest”, or even “believable”.

Consensus: Like most of Sparks’ other adaptations, the Best of Me is sap-tastic in every which way, meaning that those who usually love this kind of stuff, will continue to do so, whereas everybody else, just cringes and laughs away.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"James, take my hand. AND WE OFF TO NEVA NEVA LAND!! BOOM!!"

“James, take my hand. AND WE OFF TO NEVA NEVA LAND!! BOOM!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Walk of Shame (2014)

Ugh. Like who even does one-night-stands anymore?

Meghan Miles (Elizabeth Banks) is a news-anchor that wants to get her big break in the world of journalism. One day, she finds that opportunity taken right away from her, dashing all of her hopes and dreams, so what does she do? Well, she decides that tonight is the night she is going to get absolutely plastered, do whatever she wants, with whomever she wants, and not even think about tomorrow, because who the hell cares, right? Sounds like a dandy decision in the moment of everything, but when Meghan wakes up the next day, she finds out that not only has she gotten the job that she thought she wasn’t going to get, but that she has no car, no phone, no wallet, no idea where she is, and strapped with nothing more than her car-keys and a skimpy, yellow dress she borrowed from one her friends. Also, to make matters even worse for the already-unlucky Meghan: She has to be at the newsroom, prepped-up and ready-to-go, in less than four or five hours. Sucks right? Well, trust me, it gets a whole lot worse for Meghan, who also happens to be roaming the streets of L.A., where all sorts of grit, crime and mischievousness is occurring.

There’s one plot-line I somewhat left out there up top, and with good reason. I sort of mentioned the fact that Meghan goes home with some guy, has sex with him, and wakes up the next day, barely knowing who this guy was, what she was so attracted to in the first place, and basically moving on with her life, hoping that she gets to her job, on time and able to make a big name for himself. Notice how I didn’t mention who the lucky man was that Meghan went home and eventually had sex with that night? Well, there’s a reason, because it’s James fuckin’ Marsden.

Yeah, they have no chance at all of getting lucky tonight. Like totally.

Yeah, they have no chance at all of getting lucky tonight. Like totally.

And yes, if you’re a woman or gay man, you know exactly who James fuckin’ Marsden is. Simply put, the dude is a pretty handsome fella’, and that’s just for dudes. For gals, it’s probably a whole lot more detailed and explicit about their feelings for and towards him. But regardless, the fact is that Elizabeth Banks, a very beautiful woman in her own right, goes home with the total hunk that is James Marsden and it makes total sense. He’s smart, she’s smart. He’s hot, she’s hot. He’s got a million-dollar-smile, she’s got a million-dollar-smile. So on and so forth, you get it.

What I’m trying to get across about this one-night-stand is not only does it make sense why these two would want to bang each other in the first place, but it’s the only thing in the entire movie that makes the least bit of sense. Because trust me, as soon as Banks’ character leaves Marsden’s apartment, she’s thrown into a crazy, wild-fire world where all sorts of walks-of-life inter-connect with one another, and make a difference in this one white girl’s life. Yeah, we’ve all seen that premise done before, and some cases, done to absolute perfection, but for the most part, this is not one of those times.

In fact, it’s the furthest thing from, and there’s nobody here to really be blamed except for writer/director Steven Brill himself. See, what Brill does here is that he gets a very talented, very funny cast together that can make lemonade out of lemons, given the right material, in the right time, at the right place, and with the right other people around them, lending a helping hand. Here, everybody seems like they’re either trying too much, or not trying enough. Which isn’t to really get on the cast’s case, because, like I said before, it’s Brill who should be blamed. His script is unfunny, most of the time borderlines on being offensive or racist, and ends on such a falsely-sappy note, that I actually wanted to go back and see if the movie tried to be serious at one point during it’s hour-and-a-half running-time, until I eventually got sober five hours later and realized that this wasn’t the right decision I should be making with my life.

And yet, there are still some people here who end up looking a whole lot worse than him. And yes, the most glaring example of that is definitely Elizabeth Banks, whom I felt so bad for the whole time. I don’t know if anybody knows this about me, but I love Elizabeth Banks. She is, without a doubt, the most charming leading-lady we have working in film today and it honestly surprises me that she would take something as bland, as dull, and as fumblingly-unfunny as this. I want to assume that the paycheck was almost too grandiose to ignore, but there’s still a part of me that feels as if she really wanted to do something like this, if only to prove that she could carry a movie on her own two shoulders. You know, like a real woman, and not with some dirty, disgusting, hormone-fueled man getting in the way and trying to help her out.

Oh mah god! Average, middle-class white girl can't connect with urban, street thugs. The hilarity!

Oh mah god! Average, middle-class white girl can’t connect with urban, street thugs. The hilarity!

No! See, Elizabeth Banks doesn’t want that shit, so instead, she decides to take this road alone and it’s probably one of the worst decisions of her career. She does try with this material here, time and time again, but her character is just so unlikable and screechy, that I just did not give a shit. She has a lot of physical stuff to do here, and while I definitely applaud Banks for flinging herself like a long-dart just to get a slight whimper from the audience, it comes off as if she is trying way too hard to make unappealing material, well, appealing. Which, as I sort of said, would have been all cool and rad if Banks’ character was likable at all to watch as she goes and roams throughout the streets of L.A., lost, dazed, confused, and totally hopeless, but I did not give a flying hoot one bit. I just wanted her to either get to the station, report the news, and shut her damn mouth; or, better yet, get totally lost, end up hitch-hiking a ride with a random, bumble truck-driver, and having the movie just end there, without us knowing at all what happened to her next and whether or not there will be a sequel (even if we totally know, and we just don’t want to admit it to our more-sensitive friends and family members).

Most likely, there won’t be, and we’re better as a society for that.

Consensus: Though just about all of Walk of Shame is terrible, unfunny, disgusting, and downright appalling, it’s biggest and, depending on how you look at it, it’s best undoing is the fact that it misuses Elizabeth Banks, giving her material that’s not even worth her eye-sight, let alone her five-to-six weeks out of the year.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

They don't deserve one another.

Eh, unrealistic.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

Good call on making it Lee Daniels’ The Butler, because there would have been a whole lot of confusion differentiating this movie, from the 1916 short film of the same name.

The years from 1952 to 1986 saw a lot of change. Change in economy; change in society; change in people; change in politics; and just change in general. However, the one thing that didn’t change in this world was Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), and the job that he had as a White House butler. Remember though, he was the butler for more than 8 presidential terms, and saw them all: He started with Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robin Williams) and ended with Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman), and witnessed all of the change, the turmoil, the happiness, the problems, and all of the social happenings that occurred in our country, and had the best seat in the house. However, on his home-front, away from the very white, very rich people who lived in the nation’s capitol, Cecil Gaines found it a little hard to keep everybody in his happy, mainly his drunken wife (Oprah Winfrey) and rebellious, but racially-inspired son (David Oyelowo).

When you see a movie like The Butler (which I will continue to call it for the rest of this review), you have to know what you’re getting yourself into right from the start. Obviously its going to be predictable, ham-handed, preachy, episodic, and beyond earnest, but that’s what you expect with something that people are considering “The Civil Rights movement meets Forrest Gump“, right? But like with most movies of this type of nature, if you can get past all of the politics of what the story’s trying to get across, then you can actually find yourself a bit touched by this story, even a little inspired. Nope, I am not black and nope, I am not a Civil Rights activist that still fights to this day, but I’ll be damned if this movie didn’t make me want to raise my fist up to the white man!

"Dear Lord, please get this black man out of dining-area. He's scaring the shit out of me."

“Dear Lord, please get this black man out of dining-area. He’s scaring the shit out of me.”

What’s very strange about this movie though, and what ultimately does it itself in, is that it’s seemingly two movies spliced into one, 2-hour-long feature. One is a flick about a meek and kind butler working for these rich, white politicians who are sometimes as mean a they come; while the other is a flick about a father and a son who obviously love and care for one another, but can’t find an agreement on where they both stand when it comes to the Civil Rights movement, and what needs to be done in order to get the same respect and gratitude that the white man’s been practically getting forever. One’s very interesting, if a little conventional, while the other is surprisingly well-told, and holds most of the core emotions that Lee Daniels himself has this flick bottle-up, just in hopes that it will eventually cork right open and have everybody crying in their seats.

Eventually the cork does come flying out and the emotions do run high, but it could have hit harder, had the other-half of this movie not been so coincidental.

And yes, I do get that if Gaines’ story didn’t have some sort of meaning in the grander scheme of things, then ultimately, we wouldn’t have a freakin’ flick; but some of this is just a little too hard to let slide by. A couple of scenes with Gaines and the president-at-the-time felt honest, realistic, and believable (mainly the ones with JFK, played very well by James Marsden, who not only looks, but feels the part, for as short of a running-time as he gets), but others just claw their nails into your face, just trying their hardest to get a tear out of you. The scenes with Nancy and Ronald Reagan mean well, but end up somehow spitting in the face of both of those familiar faces, making them seem more like fame-whores, rather than actual humans, that were considered at one time, the saviors of this country. I guess hating on Nixon is all fair game by now, but the Reagans? Really?!?! Oh well, maybe it’s just me, but something with their story left a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

But then of course we have the stronger-half of the movie: The father-son drama, that’s more compelling than it ought to be. I don’t know who to chalk up the credit to for this part of the movie working the most, so I’ll just give it to all involved with it. Firstly, Lee Daniels has never really impressed me with anything he’s done yet as a director, mainly because the dude’s nowhere near being subtle. Even Precious, as dramatic as it was, was completely over-the-top and got away with it all, because it was adapted from something people consider “truer than art”. Didn’t see that at all, but whatever. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid on that notion, but hey, I guess it’s time to get blind-sided every once and awhile, right?

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Daniels doesn’t pull as many punches here, and it shows. When he keeps it grounded in a sense of comforting reality, you feel closer to these characters and have an emotional-placement in them and what it is that they do. Sometimes Daniels gets a little too over-his-head with various cuts to news footage of the South, where it was practically legal to kill a black person (only if you were a white person that is), but overall, the guy made sure that his story stayed on track and never lost sight of what he was really trying to tell us here. Maybe Gaines’ story didn’t impact the world like Daniels thinks it does, but it definitely is a story worth telling, especially on the big screen, and you can tell that Daniels loves that fact and doesn’t want to lose us, or our interest.

Like I was saying though, the aspect of this movie that mainly keeps it going throughout is the father-son relationship between Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo, two actors who give their best work in a long time, especially for the former, who has been churning out dull-role-after-dull-role ever since he won “The Big One” way back in ’06. Both characters, Cecil and Louis, are fighting a fight and doing it all for a cause; and that’s racism. But what separates one from the other is how they’re doing it. Cecil stays loyal, workable, and dedicated to his job, just to show that a black man can make a living in the White House, even if he isn’t at the head of it; while Louis, on the other hand, believes that taking to the streets is the one, and possibly only, way to get your voice heard and to make matters finished. At first, when he’s teaming-up with MLK, it’s all about resilience and control, but once the man gets assassinated, and Malcom X takes over the wheel, then it all becomes about violence, installing fear into society, and doing a whole bunch of other questionable acts that would end anyone in a slammer, regardless of their skin-color.

"Don't worry baby, I'll just buy you the White House."

“Don’t worry baby, I’ll just buy you the White House. I mean, cause Christ, I’m Oprah, bitch!”

Anyway though, I’m avoiding the fact that these two, despite them being both father and son, are fighting the same battle. They want to speak their minds and be heard for the rest of the world to take notice of, but are doing it completely differently, if not at the same time. But they don’t disagree with how either goes about it, and that just causes more friction between the two, even when they aren’t together. It’s very clever how Daniels stretches this aspect of their story, and it never gets old or over-done, especially since Whitaker and Oyelowo inject their characters with some real-life heart and trouble. Whitaker gives the type of tour-de-force performance that always is able to get his name noticed come Oscar season, but it’s mainly Oyelowo who shows us that he’s capable of taking someone who’s a little too young and brass to fully get a grip on the world, and still be arrogant about it. Yet, at the same time, still fully gain our sympathy because we know his heart is in the right place, it’s just that he doesn’t have the total understanding on what the world means or where it’s going to end up. Pretty interesting stuff once you think about it, and thankfully, Daniels doesn’t hammer that idea in too much, to where it practically becomes over-shadowing everything else; even if it still does, unintentionally so.

And the rest of the ensemble is great too, if not a bit too stacked for it’s own good. Going into this movie, I felt like I was going to be annoyed to high heavens of Oprah Winfrey here as Cecil’s wife, Gloria, all because it seemed like a piece of stunt-casting used just to get the movie’s name out there more and more for the rest of the world to see (because honestly: Everybody loves Oprah!). I have no qualms with Oprah, but it seemed like a dumb idea to cast her here, if not a very obvious one. However, the woman totally shocked the hell out of me with her portrayal here because she never over-does it, always brings out something new within this character, and charmed me with every scene she was in. Heck, she even made me forget I was watching Oprah act as somebody that wasn’t Oprah! Didn’t think it would happen, and nearly thought I was doomed once I saw her face on the big screen, but she sure did show my pretentious ass. Glad she did, too.

Also, glad to see my main man, Cuba Gooding Jr., getting more work and still being able to knock it out of the park. Take note, Hollywood. The man may be on his comeback trail. Guess Daddy Day Camp wasn’t such the career-killer everybody thought it was….okay, yeah, it was. But still, he’s back, baby!

Consensus: Lee Daniels’ The Butler touches plenty of schmaltz throughout it’s 2-hour running-time, but does it so in a way that will actually compel you, while also serving a history-lesson on how far we’ve come as a nation, and how many times we’ve screwed-up in the past. However, the future looks bright and that’s something I feel that is worth seeing, especially during these hard times.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

When he isn't responding to politicians who want his input on legal matters, the Butler still finds enough time to stare out into space, still being unresponsive. Whatta man.

When he isn’t responding to politicians who want his input on legal matters, the Butler still finds enough time to stare out into space, still being unresponsive. Whatta man.

Photos Credit to: IMDBCollider, JobloComingSoon.net

2 Guns (2013)

Can’t ever trust a cop. Unless they’re Marky Mark and Denzel. Then, it’s safe to live again.

Two criminals-on-the-run (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) decide that it’s best for them to rob a bank, in order for them to take it away from a drug-lord (Edward James Olmos) who launders it there. However, in the midst of the heist, both find out that they are not who each other seem to be, and both decidedly turn on the other, leaving them both stranded and helpless by their superiors. To make matters worse, they owe a slew of money to the said drug-lord, and also have a scary, vicious secret enforcer (Bill Paxton) hot on their tracks and ready to get back the money that was stolen from him during the bank-robbery. Basically, it sucks being these two right now, but damn does it look so good.

It’s been quite awhile since the last time I saw a straight-up, unapologetic R-rated action-er like this, and although it didn’t have me miss those types of flicks, it still reminded me how much fun they could be when they’re done right. But as we all know, R-rated flicks don’t do much bang at the box office, so of course every major studio has to give us the watered-down, PG-13 version of any action movie. Whether it be with superheros, crooks, or zombies, the PG-13 action-flick seems to be in full-force for now, but it’s movies like this that remind me that the R-rated action-flick may not be around as much, but it sure as hell won’t die.

"Darn toots, boy!!"

“Darn toots, boy!!”

That said, can’t say I loved the hell out of this movie all that much either. It was just nice to get a shot in the face and be reminded of how much fun these types of movies can be, especially when they feature a full, lean, mean 100 minutes of double-crossing, gun-play, bullets, curse-words, corny jokes, and even some nice nudity from Paula Patton herself. The first 5 aspects, when done right, make any movie worth watching, but when you throw in that last one: Well, you got something that you need to see! And NOW!

But as I cool myself down, let me just remind you that this flick isn’t perfect. It’s obvious, it’s a bit by-the-numbers, and very convoluted into where it goes and how it ends up, but for awhile, a lot of the usual meanderings my mind would take with a movie like this, did not show up in my system at all. Sure, I could see who was going to kill who and how it was going to be done, but for a split-second, if only that, I had a slight bit of fun because I was able to let go of all the previous-knowledge I have for these types of movies. A movie that can do that for me deserves at least some credit, if not enough to be worth seeing.

Like I said though, not perfect. I only continue to say this because so many people will probably see this movie as stupid, badly-written, and over-the-top with it’s odd sense of humor. And to all of those fair points, I strike no objection whatsoever: It is a dumb movie; the plot doesn’t make sense half of the time; and I do think that they went a little bit overboard with some torturous scenes of action or grimness. However, I couldn’t help myself a single bit! I had fun, I enjoyed what I saw, and I definitely won’t remember this flick in 2 years or so, but that idea doesn’t matter when you’re just soaking up all of the air-conditioning in for an-hour-and-fourty-minutes. Hell, maybe it was the cool air that got to me, and if that is the case, then so be it.

I had fun, and if you like these types of movies, then most likely: You will too. There, I said it. Let it be done with!

Clothes on? Boo!

Clothes on? Boo!

Most of the fun that I did have with this movie, mainly came from the solid cast involved, even if it does feel like a hint of this material is a bit a cut below their pay-grade. Washington and Wahlberg have done far-better movies in the past decade or so, but they absoloutely live it up here together when they’re on screen. They joke, they kid around, they get serious, and they get very brutal as well. However, they always seem like people that enjoy working together, and didn’t let a single second of their first team-up go to waste, especially Wahlberg who really seems to turn on the charm here, in a slightly different way than we’ve seen from him before. Yeah, he’s still a bit goofy and stupid, but he’s got a bit of a cockiness to his act here that works, and makes me feel more and more confident about what he has next to accomplish with his grade-A, acting-career so far. As for Denzel, the guy just oozes cool. Nothing more to it.

I’d actually probably say that the weakest parts of this flick came from when these two weren’t together. See, they hold so much energy and life together, that when they’re respective stories take them down different roles, we are kind of saddened and missing something as a result. We know that they’re ways are going to collide again soon, but when they aren’t doing their thing and making this movie fun, it seems like a bit of a dull-experience. Not that the supporting cast isn’t good, it’s just that they don’t quite light the screen up like it’s two stars do. Actually, save for Bill Paxton who plays the shadowy government-connected enforcer who is red-hot on his trail for blood, and wants to find these two peeps on the end of it. Paxton’s so nutty and so cunning, that it’s almost a bit too much of a service to take him seriously, but you can’t help but roll with it and enjoy what the dude has to offer you, even when he isn’t screaming, “Game over, man!!”

Consensus: May not break any new ground, or change the frequency of R-rated action-flicks in the mainstream, but for the time it’s up on the screen, 2 Guns is still a bunch of quick, tense, action-filled fun, made even better by the always-entertaining chemistry between Wahlberg and Washington.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"After this, wanna sip down a couple brews? I'm buying..."

“After this, wanna sip down a couple brews? I’m buying…”

Robot & Frank (2012)

Never trust robots, until they make you steak dinners. Then, it’s okay.

Set somewhere in the near, but not too distant future, Frank (Frank Langella) is an aging jewel thief whose son (James Marsden) buys him a domestic robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) mainly because he cannot take care of him being about 10-hours away. Even though he’s very resistant at first with the robot, Frank warms up when and realizes he can use it to restart his career as a cat burglar.

Everybody seems to like to make jokes about what could possibly happen, but the idea of having robots practically take over most human’s positions in the world, doesn’t seem all that far-fetched after seeing a movie like this. I mean, think about it: if some human is tired and bored of doing what they do, why not just get a computer/robot that’s programmed to do the same work, with more inspiration, and probably with better results as well? It’s definitely something that most people can poo-poo to the side and say it’s just crazy talk, but I’m serious, if we don’t look out, sooner or later, the robots will be taking over the world. First it’s the jobs, then it’s the wife and kids, then it’s the president, and then it’s the world from there. Okay, maybe not that crazy and drastic, but just you wait you non-believers. Just you wait.

But those simple ideas and thoughts aren’t really the gist of this movie and maybe that’s why I liked it so much. It’s a sci-fi film that does include robots, but isn’t all about shit blowing-up, intergalactic battles, and possible end of the world talk. It’s just a realistic and honest, human film that just so happens to involve a talking robot that does and says whatever it’s programmed to do. Think of it as I, Robot without all of the guns, bombs, fights, explosions, kick-ass score, and a constantly-yelling Will Smith.

"While you're at it, shine my shoes, bitch."

“While you’re at it, shine my shoes, bitch.”

This film isn’t all about showing robots taking over the positions and roles that most humans fill; it’s actually about a sweet, tender story of a man getting old and trying to still connect with the world he once knew. Through the robot, Frank is able to relive his glory days as a cat burglar and feels the type of rush and sensation that he hasn’t felt in years, and most of all: hasn’t been able to feel them with anybody else. See, Frank is a crook and was never really able to live that up with his kids or his wife, so it was always just him riding solo and committing crimes. Not the worst way to conduct business, but a bit of a lonely-experience if you think about it. That’s why it’s nice to see him and the robot talk with one-another about life, what they’re doing, and all of the sweet, fond memories that Frank had from his golden-days and it’s as sad as it is sweet.

Getting old is a pretty damn big part of life and it’s something that we can never avoid. Yet, at the same time, it’s something that we can all help by caring for the other’s that need it the most and that’s exactly what this flick shows. You see a friendship between this robot and Frank actually start-up and you see how the other one cares for the other and it’s very surprising how many depths there are to this friendship, as well as how nice they treat it, rather than making it some old-school joke about a cook treating some robot like a human-being. Hell, the movie itself even tries to remind Frank that the robot is not human and as painfully honest as that was to see on-screen, it still made me sad to think that there are just some people out there who probably cannot tell the difference by what is real and what isn’t, and for them, it all comes down to emotions. It’s a thoughtful-idea that the movie plants into your head, and it’s one that the movie still treats with respect and care, sort of like it’s protagonist.

However, the idea’s of getting old and going through dementia aren’t that subtle to see, especially by the last-act when everything begins to get obvious and heavy-handed. We get that the movie wanted us to know that Frank is going through a hard-time with life in trying to remember what he had for dinner 2 days ago, but it gets to a point of where it just seems like the flick is making it TOO obvious. It’s nice how they treat the idea, overall, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it all, you realize that they could have played it a bit safer and just kept on doing what they did in the first-place. May seem like a bit of a dumb negative to hold against the flick, but it’s something I noticed and didn’t swing too well with me.

The one element of this movie that did swing very, very well with me was Frank Langella as, well, Frank. Langella has this lovable and endearing look and feel to him that makes it easy for us to fall-behind the guy’s back and just wish for the best, but what really makes this performance work is how much you believe in this guy in what he’s going through. He doesn’t forget stuff like how to tie his shoes or turn the television on, but simple things like what his kids are up to in the world or where his favorite restaurant is, really stood-out to me and the way that Langella handles that character’s real-life dilemma with such believe-ability, really worked for me. Langella, in my mind, can almost do no wrong, and here, he gets to show me exactly why it is that I think that and why the guy can still take over a movie, even if he’s not playing one of our most famous president’s of all-time.

"This library used to be sooooo mainstream."

“This library used to be so mainstream.”

The one that really took me by surprise here was Peter Sarsgaard, who literally doesn’t do anything else in this movie other than voice the robot, but he does it so well that it is totally worth being mentioned. Sarsgaard has this voice that is instantly recognizable, by the way it’s so sinister, yet so compelling in the way that he can make little phrases or words sound so devious, yet have so much more meaning that it’s insane. The guy’s always a creep-o in the movies that I see him in, but since he only has to voice the robot, he seems more humane and kinder with the way he uses his words to convey emotion and feeling. Which is weird, because he’s voicing a robot that apparently has neither emotion nor feeling. It’s a great job by Sarsgaard who shows that just by having strong vocal-chords, you can still make the most-compelling character out of the whole movie.

James Marsden and Liv Tyler play Frank’s kids and they’re both pretty good, especially because they get to show how much they love their daddy and will do anything for him, yet still have their own lives to look after as well. I liked how the movie didn’t just make them a bunch of sneaky, lying pieces-of-shits that were ungrateful for everything that dear old daddy did for them, but I still would have liked to see a little bit more to their characters and their history with Frank. Susan Sarandon is here as Frank’s love-interest, and does a pretty nice job with what she’s given, but is just here to serve the plot and serve Frank’s moral dilemma. She’s okay with what she has to do, but it also feels like a bit of a waste for such a beautiful and powerful talent.

Consensus: Even if you might not suspect it to be more than just a movie about a guy and a robot becoming friends, you still will be surprised to know that Robot & Frank features plenty of depth and emotions about the fact that people get old, that it sucks, and that it’s up to us to care for those ones who need our help the most. It’s also a sweet, little story about a guy and robot becoming friends, as well.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

I'm telling you: 5 more years, folks.

I’m telling you: 5 more years, folks.

Bachelorette (2012)

Yeah, don’t invite you’re real friends to you’re wedding. They’re assholes.

A childhood friend (Rebel Wilson) is getting married, and her three jealous friends (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan) are nothing but pissed about it. So, what better thing to do than party it up with beer, sex, and drugs? Woo-hoo!

When Bridesmaids came out last year, everybody was going around and hailing it as “The Hangover for gals”. In a way, it was sort of true since they did and said some dirty things that you wouldn’t normally see from a bunch of “ladies”, but at the heart of it all, there was a genuine and heartfelt look at the friendship that’s between two females. That made it a lot softer than people imagined so that’s why this film comes around, slaps them in the face, and gives the boys a little run for their money, and their coke as well.

Writer/director Leslye Headland based this off of her play (who the fuck would want to see a play about this?) and gives this whole premise a big deal of honesty that feels somewhat fresh. Rarely do we ever see in a film about three unlikable bitches, be so honest with itself as to why they hate everything around them and how they still don’t feel the need to change. It sort of gave me that Bad Santa vibe, that was mixed around a bit with Sex and the City, but even comparing these chicks to those prissy beotches would just be terribly wrong. Instead, these girls are the types that were the meanest, cruelest, and most evil girls you would have ever met in high school and still live in high school, and talk as if they were spreading the weekly gossip once again. These types of chicks don’t necessarily sound like the kind I want to spend an hour and 30 minutes with but somehow, Headland finds a way to make it a bit fun.

I don’t want to go far and say that I had an amazingly fun time with this flick but there is something entertaining about the big night before a wedding, going out, getting plastered, getting high, and hopefully by the end of the night, getting a little lucky. This film seems to have a bunch of fun with that aspect that we have seen done so, so many times before but it’s a bit darker and sinister here that seems to relish in the countless acts of debauchery. It makes me look forward to the night I may spend with my buds when they eventually get shipped off into the hell they call marriage, but hopefully it will be with a lot nicer people.

But as fun and entertaining as this film may be, the most surprising aspect that I found here was how little I actually laughed at everything. Watching somebody be messed up on coke and say stupid and uncomfortable things can be funny every once and awhile, but it seems like an old-trick done a thousand times to where it doesn’t even seem funny here. Even half of the mean and terrible shit these people say to each other isn’t as funny as it is just, well, whatever, they’re saying terrible and mean shit to each other so I don’t really care. Sometimes it’s funny, other times, it doesn’t matter. It’s just there and doesn’t do much for you.

Also, before I go any further I just want to point out the cheap trick that this film tried to pull by referencing Fast Times at Ridgemont High, not once, but twice in such a lame way! The first time they do it is almost like a homage to the whole infamous “Moving in Stereo” scene, and then the next one they actually talk about Damone and how much of a dick he was. First of all, it seemed cheap in the first place to have an homage but then to just actually go out there and reference the movie itself seems a little lame to begin with. Sorry if this doesn’t really seem like much of a problem to have with this flick but it came to me and I couldn’t let it go.

Back to these three characters though, because they never show us any reason to have sympathy or love for them but it doesn’t matter, because it seems like these actresses love playing that whole aspect up. Kirsten Dunst is a huge force to be reckoned with as Regan, as she shows that she can play up her bitchiness to her advantage, while also showing us a bit more about her character is in ways that we least expected; Lizzy Caplan can play the cynical bitch like nobody’s business, but there’s more to her character than meets the eye here and I think that’s where the most sympathy out of all of the characters go; and Isla Fisher has some of the best moments just being a total klutz on drugs and drunk, but now it’s sort of a cliche for her to play that type of character so it doesn’t seem like anything really new. Rebel Wilson has a nice screen presence as they’re friend who’s getting married, Becky, and does what she can with the limited screen-time she has, which is enough for me.

The problem with these characters isn’t that they are toothless and terrible to every one around them, it’s more that they are like this the whole way through and then they apparently have a change of heart by the end. All films like this one do the same-exact thing: show these characters doing mean things, showing that they never change, and then woolah, they all of a sudden love everybody by the end. The movie tries to convince us that these girls can all of a sudden end on a clean slate and act like everything they just did over the past hour, wasn’t something that mattered all that much and it comes off as fake and a bit too calculated for how these characters really are. I will say that Headland does show these chicks as being terrible at the start, and at the end, but the whole sympathetic route they take is not something that rang true.

Consensus: Bachelorette features a cast playing each of their roles perfectly and a fun atmosphere full of sex, drugs, and booze, but plays it too safe by the end with it’s sympathetic ending that seems a bit out of the norm after who and what we’ve been watching for the past hour.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Straw Dogs (2011)

Those Mississippi rednecks are so much more vicious than those ones from England. Well that’s if  there are such things as rednecks from England.

David Sumner (James Marsden), a Hollywood screenwriter moves with his newly wedded wife, Amy Sumner (Kate Bosworth), to her hometown of Blackwater, Mississippi. During their stay they meet with Amy’s former high school sweet heart Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård) and his red neck friends. Of course hunting is in season and jealousy arises pushing everyone to their breaking point.

Having been a fan of the original Sam Peckinpah film, I went into this with very high expectations even though I knew everything that was going to happen. However, when it comes to remaking classics, I will never trust writer/director Rod Lurie ever again.

The original is all about the idea of non-violence and how far that idea will go until somebody eventually snaps and decides to take violence into their own hands. This film does not really express that idea one bit, instead, it just wants to be over-the-top. There is no subtlety here at all with this flick as we find out what the meaning for the term “Straw Dogs” means, seeing that all of the rednecks are basically one-note villains the whole time who do barbaric things such as hunting when it’s not hunting season or cutting the antlers of deers, and having a random sub-plot with a mentally-challenged kid, played by Dominic Purcell, that eventually leads into the grand-finale.

The film is very obvious with many parts that have David just looking terribly out-of-place. I mean the guy has the fancy Jaguar, listens to the orchestrated music, has a problem with people coming into his house and talking to him, and puts on a robe and slippers just to go out onto the ladder to talk to the guys working on his roof. I mean I got it that he was a nerd, but to constantly hit me over the head telling me what he is, was just annoying.

Where Lurie messed up with this film is that he spells way too many things out and where he could have actually developed characters and made their relationships understandable, he just focuses on trying to build up tension. Building up tension is fine in many cases, but here, we need something for us to actually be able to root for these characters and understand why they are the way they are and why these people are doing the things that they do.

However, I can bag on Lurie too much considering there good elements to this film as well. There are moments where the film will just focus on the couple of David and Amy, where you think it will just be them expressing their love and trying to be all cute but instead you get some pretty interesting moments. One moment is when Amy is running around in barely anything and is mad that the guys are looking at her (but come on, could you blame them?!?) but David then replies by telling her that she should have wore bra. This pisses her off and for once we see David looked at into a negative-light from Amy’s point-of-view which I thought was very intelligently handled because you don’t get to see much of that with any film that has a married couple, let alone couple, actually talking or being like that with one another in a very well-handled way. Lurie has many moments where he shines but others he just drops the ball.

If you have already seen the original then it’s basically known that the infamous rape scene is in here and it is used in a different way then it was in the original which is not a very bad thing because it was still used for great effect. Lurie makes this rape scene seem very graphic and very hard-to-watch which it should have been even if it was handled in a “tasteful way”. After this happens, the film starts to pick up some steam. Lurie creates some very good tension with many of these scenes including the end where the shit practically hits the fan. This was used a lot better in the original, but I still found myself behind this couple and cheering every time something cruel happened to the bad-guys.

However, my problem with the last act is the fact that I think it happens way too quickly and suddenly for it to actually make any real sense. I mean everybody gets real pissed, real quick and it almost seems like this violence was just something they always resort to when they don’t get their way. The ending is also way too abrupt where I was kind of hoping for some sort of epilogue or resolution to where we see David and Amy all happy that they got past all of these rednecks. It was a great build-up for Lurie but in the end of the film, he actually just loses it which was a tad disappointing.

Having James Marsden fill the shoes of a role that was originally played by Dustin Hoffman is like going from Pepsi to Max Cola, but I think this is the best I’ve seen him yet. Marsden is playing this sensitive and very soft guy that is trying so hard to prove to his hot, new, and young wife that he’s got what it takes to be “one of the guys” even though he doesn’t want anything to do with hunting or getting sweaty. When Marsden goes crazy at the end of the film, you feel the tension and anger coming off of his character and that works a whole lot considering that this character needed that psycho look in him.

Kate Bosworth is also a pretty good choice as Amy because she is both sexy and flirtatious at the beginning of the film, but then soon becomes very damaged and scared by the end of the flick. This is probably the best I’ve seen Bosworth, which isn’t saying much but she still is good here with the transitioning of her character. Her real-life boy-toy Alexander Skarsgård plays the main bad-guy Charlie who is staring intently about 50% of the whole film but is still pretty good. I thought that James Woods was completely over-the-top in his scenery-chewing role as the ex-football coach who starts almost all of this shit every time he’s on screen and just kept making me wonder on whether or not I should have laughed or taken his role seriously.

Consensus: The cast does a fine job with their roles and the tension builds up very well in the last half, but Straw Dogs is a remake that suffers from being too obvious, glorifying its violence to the point of where it seems almost forced, and moments where Rod Lurie loses his ideas of what he’s trying to say and instead just leaves them hanging without any real explanation as to why they were in the film in the first place. Stick with the original.

5.5/10=Rental!!

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!!

Death at a Funeral (2010)

Goes from being a black comedy, to a BLACK comedy. Pun intended.

Put-upon Aaron (Chris Rock) is always plagued by drama and dysfunction, but he encounters more than he can handle while attempting to plan his father’s funeral. What’s a family gathering without jealousy, tension and blackmail?

This film is directed by Neil Labute, but noticed how I said directed, not written. This guy has made some pretty edgy comedies like Your Friends & Neighbors, and In the Company of Men, so I was kind of bummed to see he wasn’t doing any writing for this film, and considering his last remake was The Wicker Man, I was sort of on my tippy toes about seeing this.

Now I haven’t seen the original so this review will be based on this one, so don’t worry no comparisons here my friends. I didn’t want to really see the original at first, but after watching this, I really don’t want to. This script could have been so much better if it was written by Labute, but yet, I don’t know how funny it would have been either. The jokes in this are as tired as how you would feel after a funeral. We have too many poop gags, drug gags, sex gags, and overall just no sense of what’s even funny. The joke doesn’t work the first time, but they keep going on with it, and that’s what really sucks, cause it takes away from all the other possibly good jokes that could have came out.

The one thing that really intrigued me, is the ensemble cast that has some of my favorite African-American comedians, however their not funny. Chris Rock playing this straight-laced, hapless guy was really dumb, because he wasn’t convincing, and he does too much nose clinching, and wide-eyes to convey emotions, and after awhile, I was just sick of it. Martin Lawrence has put on a couple of good pounds, but isn’t funny at all, he has a couple of dirty sex jokes with him and this girl from high-school, and the jokes are about dead within the first minute of it. Tracy Morgan probably made me laugh once or twice, but he’s watered down by dumb poop jokes. Zoe Saldana, Regina Hall, and Loretta Divine are all good on their own time, but just fall fatal victim to the wrath of the gags. Luke Wilson‘s also here, and it looks like him and Martin Lawrence have been hanging out, as well as sharing lines, cause nothing’s really funny here either. The only ones that made ma laugh the most were James Marsden and Peter Dinklage, who were both under the influence in the movie, as well as Danny Glover‘s lines are hilarious. But notice that’s two white guys out of the whole cast, plus one, but those two are the funniest. Oh and Columbus Short, and my fav Keith David are here too, but their not as funny, as they could be.

Consensus: Death at a Funeral has a great ensemble cast full of the best comedy stars, but uses them for stale jokes, that are tired, as well as not funny, and used way too many times.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

P.S Roger Ebert said this was the best comedy since “The Hangover”. Sorry Roger, love ya bro, but WTF were you smoking!??!

Sex Drive (2008)

Watched this movie with 3 of my pals, and let me just say that is what I call a good time!!!

Determined to lose his virginity, 18-year-old Ian (Josh Zuckerman) grabs two pals (Clark Duke and Amanda Crew) and drives from Chicago to Knoxville, Tenn., to meet Danielle (Katrina Bowden), the girl of his dreams … or at least that’s what she seems like on Facebook. Sweetening the deal is the fact that she’s offered to go “all the way,” as long as he can make it all the way to see her, of course. Seth Green and James Marsden co-star.

This is one of the overly-sexed up raunchy teen comedies like Harold & Kumar, and Superbad. And I think it’s safe to say to put this one in that same category as those two greats as well.

The one thing I didn’t like about the film was that it didn’t have the heart like those other two did. The characterization of our main character isn’t that well put out, and you sort of just walk into this character as a horny, geeky, 18 year-old. Also, his pal Lenny bones chicks left and right and it takes about the 100th one to know that’s not how you act, especially with chicks most of the time.

I can see why so many people thought it was so bad, but really I wasn’t expecting anything else other than a raunchy, sexed up, teen road trip comedy. I watched the trailer right before and I knew what I was getting myself into, so I accepted it for what it was, and I actually enjoyed a lot more cause of my acceptance.

There are a lot of things that happen in this movie that are hilarious, although some are better than others but really who cares. The gags were funny and a lot of the things that these characters said were perverted, but really funny and I will probably catch myself in the near-future using one their catchy lines.

The first three acts are very very cliched and predictable. And basically the film can be very predictable but it is really funny when the moments actually happen. As me and my buddies were watching this we were always guessing what came next and I’m not going to lie 90% of the time we were right, but we still had a lot of fun laughing and predicting.

Probably the best thing about this film is that it actually does feature a good cast. This new kid, Josh Zuckerman plays the geeky and nerdy Micheal Cera that we all know and love, but he doesn’t over-do the awkwardness and actually seems a bit believable. The best are the little side characters such. James Marsden plays this very uncharacteristic jock who is such an ass, but is so funny at the same time, and after watching this I can almost forget that he was ever in Enchanted. Seth Green probably has the greatest cameo of all in this movie as the free-spirited Amish man, who is so cool and funny that I wanted more of him, but really just didn’t get enough. And another problem I had with this film was that it didn’t feature enough cameos to keep the story fresh and exciting, cause I always wanted to see someone new but never got that.

Really this film is meant for a bunch of dudes to watch. There are boobs flying everywhere, and really if any dude that hasn’t enough a good firm laugh in a long time for about a week, this will probably cure you have that problem.

Consensus: Though a bit predictable and less heart-felt as other films of this nature, Sex Drive is a hilarious, and fun take on the raunchy teen-comedy genre, and actually does feature some great stuff but some are just better than others.

8/10=Matinee!!!