Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Jeremy Irons

Justice League (2017)

Just not the same without Superman. He’s not in this, right?

After the rather tragic death of Superman (Henry Cavill), the world is in desperate need of a superhero. And with the current uprising of evil super-villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), the world is in desperate need and they need it quick. Enter Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who decides that it’s time to get together all of the best and most powerful of superheros to take down this foe. There’s Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who we know has supreme strength and can kick all sorts of ass, when she isn’t playing with the heart and emotions of Bruce. There’s Aquaman (Jason Momoa), who can not only talk to fish, but kick all sorts of ass, too. There’s Barry Gordon, aka Flash (Ezra Miller), who can run just as fast as he runs his mouth. Then, there’s Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher), who uses his robot body to do, well, whatever he damn well pleases with it. Though it takes some time, the gang gets together and decides that it’s best to save the world from ultimate destruction, but for some reason, they’re just not as powerful as they think. All they need is one more hero and they’ll be set.

But who?

When you need a Quicksilver, but your movie just not funny enough. Or at all.

No matter what, I am always rooting for DC. While Marvel is clearly kicking all sorts of ass in the superhero-movie world, I still hold out hope that one day, DC will give them the opponent they probably need and deserve. And with this past summer’s Wonder Woman, hell, I thought that maybe DC was getting their act together and was ready to put up a fight. Then, after Zack Snyder had to tragically bow-out, and they were able to gather up the talents of Joss Whedon, things were looking even brighter and better. It seemed like, oh man, DC showed up to the duel and was ready to go all the way, last corporation standing, do or die.

Unfortunately, quite the opposite happens.

In fact, Justice League seems like another five steps back, when it should have definitely been the same amount, but at least forward. But for some reason, the same issues that have been plaguing their past few films (except for the aforementioned Wonder Woman), seem to still be coming up: Their just too uneven and disjointed to fully work as one, cohesive whole. Whereas Marvel seems to have a formula that they will never stray away from, it’s one that works; their movies are the right combination of humor, action, quirkiness, character-work, drama, world-building, exposition, and excitement that when they decide to mix it up every so often, it never feels like it’s going to fail. It’s a near-perfect formula that works for them each and every time and it’s the same kind of formula that DC is trying to imitate, but just can’t seem to completely comprehend.

One of the main reasons for that, at least here, may be that Whedon’s script and Snyder’s direction just don’t mix-and-match well. Like, at all. For instance, Snyder’s direction is so gloomy, so serious, and so moody, and Whedon’s bits and pieces of script are so light, silly, and in ways, meta, that they feel like two different movies. One is trying to be Dawn of Justice (not as bad as people say, especially compared to this), and the other is trying to be both Avengers movies (both are pretty solid).

And like I said, the two just don’t fit.

Just kiss already! Get this testosterone done with already!

There are some moments of pure fun and excitement to be found, however, they are incredibly fleeting. After the initial half-hour and we’re done with all of the annoying exposition, world-building, and sort-of origin-tales, the movie sort of comes together in that the gang’s all in one place, fighting, picking each other’s look apart, and oh yeah, actually building character. It takes so long to get to this point, that when we’re actually there, it’s hard to notice – but when it is there, it’s quite fun and worth watching.

Same goes for the action which, regardless of who directed it the most or not, still works. Each superhero gets to show-off their own superpower and it feels worth it. It’s almost enough to get past the fact that the movie seems sorely underwritten and so rote, but hey, at least it’s not a total slog, right?

If anything, Justice League has me at least somewhat curious to see what they do next and where they go with these solo films. After all, the main reason why some of these characters just don’t work is because we hardly even know them in the first place; Cyborg’s backstory is constantly being brought-up to us and it just gets to be annoying, because we don’t care. We’re supposed to be getting those movies in the upcoming future, but we sort of need them desperately and now.

Cause without them, DC’s just not going to be able to put up the fight that they oh so want to put up.

Consensus: Even though they get an “A” for effort, Justice League is another sign that DC has a lot of work to do, especially on its characters, its script, and its oversall management of their promising franchise.

5.5 / 10

The male-gaze is back, fellas. Yay for misogyny!

Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures


Inland Empire (2006)

Wait. What?

Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is an accomplished actress who, after much time spent waiting and wondering, finally gets the role as the lead in On High in Blue Tomorrows. It’s supposed to be her comeback role, so to speak, so there’s a lot of pressure wearing on it, not to mention, a lot of pressure from her husband not to fall in love with her co-star Devon (Justin Theroux). Sure, it can be done, but the two are playing characters who are having an affair, making it a tad bit harder. However, the director (Jeremy Irons) trusts that both of them will keep it as professional as can be and will make sure that the movie comes out perfectly, because believe it or not, it’s been attempted before, but for some reason, the movie just hasn’t been made. Why, though? Eventually, Nikki and Devon find out and it causes both of them to start imagining weird, rather insane things, that they don’t know if is real, or not.

Wait, what?

Honestly, there’s a lot more to the premise of Inland Empire, in that there’s not just one story, but about three or four more of them, none of which make a single lick of sense, or better yet, ever seem to come together in a way that you’d imagine. Now, if sitting around for three hours and watching as a bunch of random stories get told to you in the most confusing manner imaginable sounds like a good time, then be my guest and enjoy the hell out of Inland Empire.

I, however, didn’t and just couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. Sure, there were things to admire and of course, this is David Lynch we’re talking about here, so I can’t be all that surprised, but still, it just didn’t quite work for me. There was so much going on, without any rhyme or reason, that after awhile, I had to sort of give up and just accept the fact that the movie’s going way beyond my intelligence and I’m best to just let it do its thing and see if I can make it up in the end.

Spoiler alert: I couldn’t.

Sure, is that more of a problem with me, as opposed to the movie? Definitely, but by the same token, there is something to be said for a three-hour movie that not only feels every bit of it, but never seems to show any signs of actually going anywhere. Lynch is well-known for doing this sort of thing time and time again, and while it’s always had me happy and rather pleased, this go around, it just didn’t work. It seemed like too much meandering and craziness for the sake of being meandering and crazy, as if there wasn’t a whole lot of story, but weird and surreal imagery that Lynch just had to get out of his system.

And okay, it makes sense, because the look and feel of this movie is, above all else, freaky. Then again, how could it not? Filmed on a hand-held digital-camera, the movie is grainy, dirty and downright gritty, but in a way, it’s also more terrifying for that reason alone, often times feeling like a documentary, than another glitsed-up flick. Film itself can do wonders, but digital-video can also do the same, especially when you’re really trying to go for an aura of realism, even if, you know, there’s nothing realistic happening here.

No seriously, what?

And once again, that’s all me. The movie gets away doing its thing, but it’s so frustrating to watch, that no matter what Lynch does behind the camera and how much inspiration may come out of him, it just didn’t connect for me. There’s a lot going on here and a lot that randomly happens, but the only thing I could remember clearly in my head was a very few haunting-images, bunny-rabbits, a dance to “the Locomotion”, and a lot of walking down hallways.

Like, a lot.

But Laura Dern, all issues aside, is great here and gives it everything she’s got. There’s no denying that Dern’s probably perfect for Lynch’s creepy, twisted and warped mind, and it’s why her performance here, with so many shades shown, is something to watch. Even when it seems like the rest of the movie has gone far, far away, she’s always there, working her rump off and making sure that everything sticks together. She allows for it to do so, too, it’s just a shame that it didn’t fully connect at the end.

For me, at least.

Consensus: Absolutely confusing, weird and random, Inland Empire is a hard movie to get into, mostly due to its frustrating plot, but there is some art to be seen here.

5 / 10

See, even Laura doesn’t know.

Photos Courtesy of: Pretty Clever FilmsFour Three Film

Their Finest (2017)

Now I definitely don’t need to see Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.

It’s Britain, 1940, and needless to say, the war is hitting them pretty hard. Men are being shipped-out randomly, bombs are dropping everywhere, resources are drying up, families are being torn apart, and it just doesn’t seem like the good old days any longer. It seems like everyone is sad, depressed and absolutely unsure of what to do with their lives, which is why the British Ministry of Information decides to step on in and change all that up the only reliable way they know how: Making movies. And one such movie they commission is a supposed true story of heroism and bravery that occurred in Dunkirk, France. Of course, the movie-version of these said events get all wrapped-up and twisted around, to the point of where the original story isn’t even found anywhere, but the message of the tale is simple: Greater and better times are ahead and can still be found now. And crafting that film is writer Catrin (Gemma Arterton) who finds herself constantly battling it out with fellow writers, like Tom (Sam Claflin), actors, like Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), and fellow women in the office, like Phyl (Rachael Stirling) who give her crap for her gender and how she handles herself. But all she’s trying to do is make the best, most inspirational movie she can make, no matter what.

How could you not fall for the chum?

Their Finest is one of the most charming movies I have seen in quite some time and it doesn’t even seem like it’s trying. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie; it’s so smug, likable and sweet, that it’s almost begging for our adoration before the opening-credits roll onto the screen. But for the most part, it’s the time, the place, and the nostalgic message that makes it feel like Their Finest doesn’t have to even try – it’s homework of charming and pleasing the pants off of the audience is already done for itself.

That said, it’s still a wildly lovely movie that even without the time, the place, the nostalgic message, it would still work. Sure, those things certainly help, but mostly, Their Finest works because it’s a movie that has a heart as big the bombs that are constantly being dropped out throughout. Director Lone Scherfig and writer Gaby Chiappe come together in an interesting way that doesn’t shy away from the dark, brutal, and grueling reality that the war presented for everyone involved, but it also doesn’t shy away from the fact that there was some happiness and light to be found through it all.

It’s like an overlong episode of Boardwalk Empire, except the polar opposite – everyone around the main characters are sad, but the main characters themselves, somehow, through some way, are happy.

It all works, though, and never appears too cloying, or overly cutesy; it all feels earned and just earnest enough that it knows it’s harsh reality, without ever trying too revel in it, either. The movie is, plain and simple, just sweet and lovely – like a Pastri that you know you shouldn’t have, but also can’t keep yourself away from, either. That may not be the best way to describe Their Finest, but trust me, just know this: It’ll be hard not to smile the whole way through. Even when the movie’s sad (which it can be on countless occasions), it’s still kind of cheerful.

And it mostly all comes down to the characters and what they represent. In what has to be her best role to-date, Gemma Arterton finally gets a chance to prove that she can be awfully sweet and charming, when given the right material to work with. As Catrin Cole, we see a character that’s still figuring herself out, trying to make some sort of a mark in the world and above all else, trying to remain happy, hopeful and optimistic towards a brighter, better future. It’s a role that could have been easily grating and annoying in anyone’s hands, but it’s one that Arterton works so well with, that you immediately fall in love with her and her infectious spirit.

Gemma, have you ever seen Atonement? Get out of the subway!

And it’s also easy to see why everyone in the film does, too.

Sam Claflin, once again, proves that he’s quite possibly the most charming and handsome British guy working today, aside from Henry Cavill, as Tom, and shows quite a nice little chemistry between he and Arterton. The relationship may go into obvious places, but because they’re so good and cute together, it doesn’t matter – we want them together, no matter what. Bill Nighy is also the stand-out as the one actor in this whole production who can’t seem to know or realize that he’s a little too old to be quite the superstar he once was. The character could have easily been a cartoonish buffoon, but there’s a lot of heart and warmth in Nighy’s portrayal, that it works. Same goes for everyone else who shows up here, adding a little bit more personality and light to the whole proceedings.

But if anything about Their Finest really works for me, it’s the message that, no matter what happens to you, the outside world around you, or anybody, anywhere else in the world, the movies will always be there for you. Sure, it’s a sentiment that’s not as relevant as it may have been in the early-1940’s, when practically everyone and their grandmother needed a little cheering up, but it’s still the same kind of sentiment that resonates for any film-lover. Movies have always been made, and will always continue to be made, to take people away from their real lives, and place them somewhere lovely and magical, and provide the perfect distraction. Sure, there are movies that are made not to do such a thing (aka, documentaries), but the ones that really take you out of the real world and give you hope and ambition, well, then those are the ones that deserve to be seen, no matter what’s going on around you.

It’s what movies were put on this Earth to do in the first place and it’s why they will always hold a special place in each and every living person’s life.

Consensus: Sweet, endearing and ridiculously nostalgic, Their Finest wears its heart and humor on its sleeve, with even better performances to show for it.

8.5 / 10

Making movies have never been so, ehrm, British.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Assassin’s Creed (2016)

Wait, seriously? An apple?

Right after he is put to death, Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender) all of a sudden wakes back up to Dr. Sophie Rikkin (Marion Cotillard). He is told that he is being held at a facility as a member of the Assassins, a secret society meant to fight and protect free will from the Templar Order. It’s also used as a way for Rikkin to figure out the scientific-method on how to stop violence from occurring in a person’s mind and hope to eliminate that threat altogether – her father (Jeremy Irons), meanwhile, wants to get his name in the papers and constantly goes head-to-head with Sophie on where the experiments seem to be going. But like I said, Cal is able to travel back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA, where he can kick all sorts of ass for the sole sake of finding the Apple of Eden. While time goes on, however, Cal’s memories of his earlier life begin to come back and he starts to develop certain ideas in his head about how he doesn’t want to be locked-up and forced to do all of these missions for someone else’s sake – he wants to live.

Who needs a sword when you have long, flowing locks like that to do the killing?

Who needs a sword when you have long, flowing locks like that to do the killing?

Or yeah, something like that.

Any video-game adaptation, no matter how good, or promising the material from the video-game may have been, always turns out to be pretty crummy. There’s a general idea that there has yet to be a virtually acceptable and agreed on “good” video-game movie, although there have definitely been some moderate ones that were fine as is, yet, in the world of mean-spirited and angry critics, still get mixed reviews (Prince of Persia). And yes, I’d be a fool if I didn’t say that all of the hatred and skepticism towards video-game movies doesn’t get to me – even one of my absolute favorite games of all-time, Max Payne, was made in to a pretty bad movie that I, for some reason or another, try to make a case for.

But honestly, there’s no case to be made for any video-game movie. They all kind of suck and honestly, they’re kind of pointless.

Until, well, now.

Surprisingly, there’s something about Assassin’s Creed that probably shouldn’t have worked for me, but somehow, I left it thinking about more positives, than actual negatives. Perhaps the smartest decision that went into Assassin’s Creed, the movie, was that it got a hold of director Justin Kurzel right away, because without him, or his artistic integrity, who knows what would have happened here. Just as he did with last year’s Macbeth, every shot is somehow filled with a certain beauty, yet at the same time, still getting across this idea of darkness lying underneath. In a video-game movie, it’s very easy to just play it safe and try to make everything as joyful and as pleasing as possible, but Kurzel doesn’t forget that the promising source-material he’s working with can get pretty dark and ugly.

Which is to say that there’s also a certain joy to the film, too, especially when the action gets going. For a lot of video-game movies, it seems that the general complaint is that they aren’t nearly as fun as the video-games themselves; that in and of itself is a pretty silly criticism, because well, a video-game is a video-game, and a movie is a movie. Still though, Assassin’s Creed doesn’t take much time getting right to the hectic violence and action as soon as possible, giving us the idea that we are indeed watching a movie, who’s origins also seem to come from a video-game.

Then again, the game was a hard “MA”, whereas the movie, is a bloodless and odd-looking PG-13.

Macbeth flashbacks and wow, they are not pretty.

“Michael, you can’t leave. You helped produce this.”

Does it ruin the experience? Sort of, but not a whole lot, because Kurzel does keep it moving, even when he’s focusing on a rather convoluted and heavy plot. That said, what Kurzel does well here with the story is that he focuses on it enough to make it actually seem like there’s something to fall back on and not just have there be so much damn violence and action, without any rhyme or reason; the movie even does attempt to get darker and deeper with its philosophical ideas about life, death and faith, which doesn’t work, but hey, at least the movie’s trying, right?

Maybe it’s easy to be nice to Assassin’s Creed because it’s compared to everything that has come before it, but if so, that still doesn’t get me past the fact that I enjoyed what I saw, regardless of the obvious holes to be found. It’s nearly two hours and while it could have definitely felt like every second of it, Kurzel keeps the pace going enough to where we get enough character and plot development, as scarce as they may be, as well as more than enough action. What I’m essentially trying to say is that what could have been a total and absolute slug of a film, moves at an efficient enough pace to where you don’t get caught up in all of the silliness and obvious mistakes the movie is making trying to make sense of some sort of a plot.

And of course, there’s no getting past talking about Assassin’s Creed, without discussing the on-slaught of talent here who are, unfortunately, not given a whole lot to do.

Fassbender as the iconic Cal Lynch is a bit dull, if only because the character himself seems to be so charmless, that it feels like Fassbender has to really bring himself down for this kind of role; Cotillard seems a whole lot better than the material she’s working with, but tries, and her and Fassbender have some nice chemistry; Jeremy Irons is, as usual, pretty mean and menacing; Michael K. Williams shows up as a fellow assassin who befriends Cal and is playing a more compassionate character than we’re used to seeing from him; and Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling show up for a few scenes, do what they can, collect their paychecks, and head on out. In fact, the same could be said for just about everyone else here, but hey, at least they’re here, right?

Man, I’m getting way too soft in my old age.

Consensus: Even with the holes of the plot, Assassin’s Creed does feel like a step above the usual video-game movie, with plenty of action, fun, beautiful visuals, and solid cast-members who seem like they could be doing more, but try with what they’ve got.

6.5 / 10

"Yeah, we may have overdone it with the tats."

“Yeah, we may have overdone it with the tats.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

High-Rise (2016)

Happens at Marriott Inns all the time.

Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Middleston) moves into a towering London skyscraper where most of the rich and powerful upper-class people live on the tippy-top, and the lower-class, mostly poorer people live on the bottom. Laing for himself is somewhere in the middle of everything and soon finds himself accepted by both sides of the spectrum; he enjoys the lavish and exquisite parties that the upper-class has, but he also enjoys having a pretty wacky and wild time with the lower-class ones as well. Mostly though, he’s just trying to play it safe, live a simple life, make some friends, and not get dragged-up in anything too complicated or whatever. However, that all changes when the two classes begin to clash over, well, everything. Power starts going out, supermarkets start running dry, and somehow, more and more people are fighting. Even though the police are around, they don’t seem too interested to get involved, which means that it’s mostly all up to the tenants to solve these issues. This, as expected, leads to some disastrous and downright deadly results.

If he's shocked, something's got to be really screwed up there.

If he’s shocked, something’s got to be really screwed up there.

There’s a good half-hour or so where I was totally on-board with High-Rise and everything that Ben Wheatley seemed to be doing. The tone is off in that we get a sense of this where we are, but we don’t know what to make of anything just yet; we know that something bad is going to happen, but how, why and when? These are questions brought up by Wheatley who seems to, at times, be feeding us a pitch-dark comedy that doesn’t want to clue us in yet of just what its intentions are, or where exactly it’s going to go.

And yes, in a way, I ate all that up. The movie not only looks great, but there was something about its world-building that kept me interested, even if it did seem like Wheatley was plodding his way along something of a plot. Wheatley seems less interested in plots such as these, and more interested in just figuring out more about these characters and the world that they’re surrounded by – while some of it seems real, for the most part, it isn’t. This is a scarily idealized world that we’re not necessarily to be happy about, but still want to see stuff happen in and that’s how I felt watching High-Rise.

And then, that all changed.

For one, Wheatley loses all sorts of focus with this and never seems to know what he wants to do, or say with this material, except just do the same thing, over and over again. Without saying too much, a lot of terrible stuff happens to a lot of people in here and while I’m all for it, there came a point where I was wondering if it was going to mean anything for any reason. Wheatley has shown in his past few movies that he doesn’t mind killing people in ugly, heinous ways because it either, A) looks cool, or B) is cool, which is a-okay with me, but there has to be some sort of reason, or at the very least, some sort of connection to it; to just give us bloody and horrific acts of violence for the sake of it, can not only get real old after awhile, but it just makes you seem lazy. Rather than seeming like the talented and cool kid who can find all sorts of meaning in a painting of a red box, you still seem more like the kid who doesn’t get it, so rips it off the wall and lights it on fire.

That poor child being brought up in a world like this.

That poor child being brought up in a world like this.

Maybe that’s a huge generalization to make, but it’s not a hard one to make after watching High-Rise. There’s a lot of good in the movie, most definitely, but there’s also a whole hour-and-half where the movie does the same thing, again and again, and there’s nothing to it. None of these characters ever feel like real people we care about, nor does any of the action hit close to home because, well, it’s all an over-the-top cartoon. The tone may be dark and eerie, but not for a second did I take anything seriously what anyone did or said. Wheatley may have, but it sure as hell didn’t transition to the screen.

And this is a huge shame, because the cast he’s got really does try their best with all that they can do, but it’s really Wheatley’s show and he doesn’t really allow for anyone to grow beyond him, or the material.

Hiddleston is basically doing exactly what he did on the Night Manager, except seeming more clueless about the world around him than ever and it’s no fun to watch; Sienna Miller is fiery and hot, but has some weird subplots going on that never materialize, nor make any emotional impact; Elisabeth Moss shows up as a pregnant housewife who has a bit of an interesting dark side to her, but it’s so mushed in together with the rest of what’s going on that it almost feels like an afterthought; Luke Evans has some fun, but ultimately, goes down so many wild and wacky paths with his character that he never feels like an actual, living and breathing human being; and Jeremy Irons is, yes, pretty freaky, but that’s all he is. He never becomes detestable, nor does he ever go beyond just being “a scary dude” – he’s supposed to be the main villain of the story, but really, I just didn’t care.

Maybe that’s the point, but honestly, who knows? I clearly sure as hell don’t, as shown by my rating. Maybe I’m stupid.

I do know that.

Consensus: High-Rise toggles with interesting and eerie ideas about social classes and economics, but never makes much sense of them with a story that works, or actually intrigues past just being a bunch of bad things happening, for whatever reasons.

3 / 10

Going up, Mr soon-to-be-Bond.

Going up, Mr. soon-to-be-Bond?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

My money’s on the guy who can fly. And no, not like a bat.

After nearly destroying all of downtown Metropolis after his brawl with General Zod (Michael Shannon), Superman (Henry Cavill) isn’t quite loved by the general public. The media portrays him as either a “hero”, or a “dangerous alien”, government officials are calling for him to testify to his actions, and even those close to him, like Lois Lane (Amy Adams), still aren’t sure if he’s making the best choices. One person who would definitely agree with Lois is billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), CEO of Wayne Enterprises, and one of the many people who were affected by Superman’s mayhem of destruction. Seeing as how his whole company got screwed-over by Superman, without so much as a “sorry”, or “I.O.U.”, Bruce decides to take matters into his own hands and go after Superman himself, but this time, as Batman. Meanwhile, evil-genius scientist Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is conjuring up his own dastardly plan of sorts, but doesn’t seem to keen on letting those in governmental power know what it is. Obviously Superman and Batman got their issues to settle, but with Luthor somewhere in the background, they may have to push it all to the side and focus on the rest of humanity.

"Hero! Hero! Kill him!"

“Hero! Hero! Kill him!”

I’m going to be nice to Batman v Superman. Even after all of the anticipation, hype, and expectations built-up for this thing, it seems like a lot of people are, predictably, not liking it, which isn’t the only reason why I’m going to give it a break. One reason is that it’s a tad better than a lot of people seem to be giving it credit for in that it’s as dark, as serious and as brooding as you can get with a superhero movie. While Christopher Nolan may not be directing (he’s actually producing), his style is seen everywhere – the overbearing Hans Zimmer score, the countless shots of superheros looking into the distance and being sad, daddy issues, and, oh yeah, the seriousness.

Oh, so very serious.

But that’s one of the main reasons why I dug Batman v Superman in the first place – it’s not trying to crack jokes, wink at the crowd, break the fourth-wall, or make it seem like they’re out to provide knee-slappers. What it’s trying to do is give you this story, these characters, and do so in a very serious, almost unrelenting manner. The world painted here by Zack Snyder is a gritty, cold and bleak one, which definitely works, given how the first ten minutes start-off with us seeing just all of the destruction Superman caused at the end of Man of Steel. While Snyder himself may have caught a lot of flack for using that movie’s last-half as some sort of mindless 9/11 allegory, here, he shows that there’s actually a heartbeat to all of that pain and demolition; it’s not just about blowing things up for the sake of blowing them up, but showing that there’s a consequence for these kinds of actions.

That’s why, if anything, Batman v Superman seems to be, for the longest time, very anti-Superman. If it wasn’t for the first ten minutes portraying his act of retribution as something harmful to the rest of society, the following hour-and-a-half questions just what kind of being Superman is, whether or not he can be trusted, and why his better judgement may get the best of him if he’s not paying close enough attention. So rarely do superhero movies nowadays seem to hold a mirror up to their own characters in a way that Snyder, and co-writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer do with Superman and it brings up some really interesting ideas and questions about the idea of a superhero in and of itself.

Like, for instance, would we trust someone who could literally all kill us one day so easily, even if he was just saving us from every cataclysmic event? Or, would the fact that he’s always saving our butts give him enough privilege to do whatever he oh so pleased? And if not, then what would he have to do to ensure that he’s not just free-wheeling on his own? Set-up governmental rules for him to follow by? Or, just let the people decide?

Batman v Superman brings all of these questions ups and while there doesn’t seem to be much interest in actually answering them, the fact that they’re still brought-up at all means a lot.

And most of this is just to get past the fact that the rest of Batman v Superman is pretty messy and odd, even by Snyder’s standards. At two-and-a-half-hours, there’s so much, with so many, going on here, that it’s almost impossible to talk about it all to great length without spoiling something, or just getting lost in the shuffle of this movie, but just know this, there’s so much going on here that it’s basically too much. Snyder doesn’t know how to settle things down enough to where we get a few subplots and leave it at that; instead, the movie has at least five or six subplots going on, all surrounding the main, important one at the center with Batman and Superman coming to battle.

"I see youuuuuuuu!"

Way to hide, bro.

Speaking of them two, the battle they do eventually have is, pretty nice. In fact, all of the action here is pretty well-done and looks great, which is no surprise because Snyder knows his way around a good shot. It’s just that the movie literally takes two-and-a-half-hours to actually get to the ultimate showdown between Batman and Superman, when it definitely doesn’t need to. The movie already makes itself pretty damn clear what Bruce Wayne is going to be doing for the next hour, which is, chasing after Superman, so why take up all of our time, give us subplots of characters we don’t give a hoot about, and further prolonged the battle we’ve all been waiting so desperately for?

Don’t get me wrong, the fight is definitely awesome and it’s not like I would have preferred it if the fight had been in the first five seconds, but still, there’s too much time dedicated to senseless stories, when it could have been dedicated to developing both Superman and Batman more. And while you could definitely make the argument that we already got enough development with Superman, a part of me walked away feeling like Superman was a bit of a dick in this; when everyone is up-in-arms about all of the destruction he caused to the city, he literally says nothing and continues to fly around the sky, pouting, and, every so often, crying on Lois’ shoulders. No inspirational speech, no selective reasoning, no mic-drop speeches, no nothing.

He literally just takes it and leaves everyone to hate him and question him.

If anything, it’s Ben Affleck’s Batman who fares a lot better than most of the people here. As an older, much more grizzled Bruce Wayne, Affleck gets a chance to show a more seasoned-side to himself than we’ve seen in recent time and it works. While there was a public outcry over Batman being handed to Affleck, he shuts them all up by showing, not only is his Batman a freakin’ bad-ass that will literally stab a guy, or shoot him in the face, but will also take no mercy on whoever has done him wrong.

Screw these Justice League movies! Give me the solo Batfleck movie now!

Consensus: Messy and at times, incoherent, Batman v Superman has gotten its haters for a reason, but for those willing to look past its many weaknesses, will also see a very dark, very serious and very exciting superhero movie that gives us a solid new beginning to the DC franchise, that can hopefully pick up the pieces a bit after this.

6.5 / 10

It always takes three to tango. And what a hot and sexy tango that would be.

It always takes three to tango. And what a hot, sexy tango that would be.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Race (2016)

Those Nazis didn’t even know how to enjoy the Olympics!

Jesse Owens (Stephan James) was just a young man living on the dirty streets of Ohio. He had a kid, he had a girlfriend, and he had a very poor family, but what made him rise above all of that was the fact that he not only was a very fast-runner, but had all sorts of ambitions and ideas for what he wanted to do with his life. That’s why when he got accepted on a full-time athletic scholarship to Ohio State, he couldn’t pass it up and had to grab the opportunity right away. Problem was, considering that this was the mid-30’s, people didn’t take too kindly to African American people, regardless of how fast they could run, or how high they could jump. Getting past all of these issues, however, was Jesse’s track and field coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), who wants Jesse’s absolute and undivided attention to the team, so that they can win all sorts of championships and, if lucky, head on off to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. And everybody knows what was going on with Germany at that time, and it’s another problem that gets thrown in the way of Jesse, as well as the whole U.S. Olympics team.

Black and white can get along people!

Black and white can get along, guys!

There’s already something interesting, and relatively cinematic about Jesse Owens’ own story that it doesn’t need much else more to be said around it. However, Stephen Hopkins, for some reason, didn’t seem to realize this. Instead of keeping the story singularly placed on Owens, his triumph over racism, adversity, and personal anguish, to, at the end, stick it to Hitler in the best way he could, Hopkins goes everywhere else.

Not only does we get Jesse’s story, but we also get a story about his track coach; not only do we get a story about his track coach, but we also get one about Jesse and his wife and girlfriend; not only do we get one about his wife and girlfriend, but we also get one about the Nazis and how they were using the Olympics as a way to let the world know of their brutal regime; not only do we get one about the Nazis and their regime, but we also get to see how the Olympic committee decided on not boycotting the Olympics that year; not only do we get the idea of boycotting or not, but we also get one about German camerawoman Leni Riefenstahl, and how she used her skills as a director to, in ways, undermine Hitler and his messages; and not only do we get this story-line, but we also get one about how a fellow hurdler, German Carl “Luz” Long, saw Jesse for what he was (a great athlete), and decided to let all of that race stuff go to the side.

Did I get everything?

Honestly, I’m not sure, and that’s a huge part of the problem. Race already has a solid story at the center, what with Jesse and all, as conventional as it may be when it comes to race biopics, so when it seems to linger elsewhere and take on all of these different angles, it seems to be too much and a bit disrespectful to Owens. It’s almost as if Hopkins and his team of writers thought that having a Jesse Owens biopic wouldn’t be enough to get people going, so they just decided to take up all of these other different subplots, in a way to cram everything in and distract people from the fact that they don’t really have any actual faith in Owens’ own story.

And for the most part, everything concerning the 1936 Olympics is interesting. It’s nice to see just how everybody acted in that country, at that time, but also, to see just how some people reacted to Nazi Germany, their ways, and their controversial rules, way before anybody actually knew what was going on. At the same time, the movie handles some of these bits and pieces in a hammy way; an almost useless scene concerning Sudeikis’ character looking for shoes late in the night is handled in such a hammy way, that I still have no clue what it was trying to get across. Even the subplot concerning Luz and his random friendship with Owens is so corny, that it feels tacked-on, even if it did happen in real life.

"Thank you for all your service. Now please, walk through the designated bathrooms."

“Thank you for all your service. Now please, walk through the designated bathrooms.”

If anything, the movie really livens up when Jeremy Irons and his character is around. As Avery Brundage, the International Olympic Committee who works as something of a concierge for the U.S., trying to figure out a deal with the Nazis, Irons isn’t just exciting, but fun to watch. He tells the Nazis some stuff that I don’t think the real life Brundage ever had the right idea to say, but it’s interesting just to see how he gets his point across and how, when it came to planning these Olympics, the certain demands both sides had. Obviously, as real life would have it, Brundage becomes more of an unlikable, but for awhile, he seems like the heart and soul of, what was supposed to be, after all, Jesse Owens story.

But that’s neither here nor there.

There is one interesting idea the movie brings up concerning Owens and it’s whether or not he should have actually competed in the Olympics or not. Considering that he was already facing so much unabashed racism and hatred in his own country, it was actually a huge question as to why he would bother representing said country, in an Olympics game to show whom is better than the other? Not to mention, Germany itself was treating people in their own country with the same kind of racism, except with more tragic consequences obviously. So why would Jesse even bother?

The movie brings this idea up and touches on it a couple of times, but really, it’s not enough to get through everything else. At two-hours-and-ten-minutes, yes, Race is jam-packed with the idea that there will never be another Jesse Owens biopic made for quite some time, even though it’s incredibly likely that there probably will be. As well as their should be – Owens himself had made it quite clear that he wasn’t afraid of saying what was on his mind when it came to racism, his thoughts on it, as well as the U.S., but really, none of that’s ever shown here. Instead, Jesse Owens is used as our conduit to explore this much bigger, more interesting world where people are bad and evil, but that’s about it.

I guess as long as you’re fast and can jump really high, people will like you.

Consensus: While there is the occasional interesting thread weaved throughout, Race deals with way too much, in such a messy way, that it feels like a disservice to Owens, as well as everything he stood and fought for.

5 / 10

Fly like an eagle, Jesse. Away from all the Nazis.

Fly like an eagle, Jesse. Away from all the Nazis.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Beautiful Creatures (2013)

Plenty of chicks I knew in high school were witches. Then again, those were the same ones who still have yet to return my phone calls/love letters. Bitches.

After his mother’s tragic death, Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) re-enters high school in hopes that he will pick back up with his studies, get back in line with the ladies, and eventually get the hell out of his little, Southern town and venture throughout the world. And hell, if there is any kid in that small town: it’s him. But all of his plans get put to the side once Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl, shows up to the town and everybody accuses of being a witch and a lover of all things weird. Whether or not this is true, Ethan does not care as he takes a liking to Lena and begins to start a relationship with her, even though it’s frowned-upon from his best buddy (Thomas Lennon), to the his house-keeper (Viola Davis), and even to the mother of his best buddy, who just so happens to be the head of the Church (Emma Thompson). What Ethan should care about though, is Lena’s odd uncle Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), who seems to have a bit more secrets than you could imagine.

Ever since Twilight ended, the most predictable, yet obvious thing happened to the world. The Earth still continued to revolve around the sun, people woke up the next day and went on with what they do usually do everyday, and men and women still mated in hopes that there will be a next generation to come. So yeah, the world didn’t turn over on it’s side and begin an apocalypse like every female teenager probably suspected, but what did actually happen out of the whole ending was that studios desperately realized something: they needed the next, big Twilight movie. Not necessarily Twilight itself, but something that’s along the same lines in terms of it’s one-dimensional characters, sappy, teenage romance, and supernatural happenings. This is what they came up with but here’s the problem: this movie isn’t like those crap-fests.

Sneaking into places that you aren't originally supposed to be in: oh, how young love gets me swooning in the moment!

Sneaking into places that you aren’t originally supposed to be in: oh, how young love gets me swooning in the moment!

And by that, I mean that the movie actually has a bit of soul to itself. Not a huge soul that may have you re-thinking what you’ve been doing with your life for the past couple of years, but a soul that’s pretty clear for you to see on-screen, even if everything else surrounding it is nothing new or original you haven’t already seen done just a couple of months before. That’s what’s so surprising about this flick is that it isn’t actually boring and it isn’t actually just a movie made to appeal to the Twilight audiences (even though it’s clear that it definitely went for that type); it was actually made to entertain audiences. Wow. Who would have ever thought that you could make a movie about a teenage romance, with some superpowers, and not have it be as boring as a snail race?

Well, at times though, the movie does seem like it’s a lot more boring than a snail race, and probably just as bad as one of those shit-fests we know as Twilight. For instance, whenever the movie focuses away from the couple and goes more towards the witches and what their history means, the movie becomes exceedingly bad. It isn’t that it’s bad because it doesn’t make sense or everybody’s just speaking in code that you don’t even dare to understand, it’s that the movie doesn’t really want you to care about it. It’s honestly just there to fill up time, make us forget about the sappy love in the middle, and hope that we actually fall for the exposition it’s piling down our throats. Sometimes, however; it does work, especially when the witches get into a battle with one another. But other times; it’s just a bore of a chore to watch.

And that’s about half of the movie right there: a bunch of annoying, shitty exposition that’s only here to add more depth and information to this story than needed. Obviously the books they adapted this movie from probably had the same bit of exposition and rules to being a witch and how, but that still doesn’t make it any more or less interesting. What looks good and informative on the page, may not look the same on screen and I have to call-out director Richard LaGravenese for not realizing that. The dude definitely tries his hardest to try and make us care about these witches and what it is that they do, but we just don’t, as it seems like the movie doesn’t really care for them either. Or, well, care enough for them to actually give them a decipherable history, meant to be understood by the common-folk who don’t quite understand witches, except for the fact that they make stew that’s supposed to poison you or something of that kind nature.

However, like I said, the movie isn’t always as bad as I may make it sound, because at the center of it all is actually a love that’s worth caring about and believing in, which is most thanks to the chemistry between the two leads: Aiden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert. Both of them together, was great to see because you could tell that they actually did both care for one another and didn’t care about what the rest of their little town had to say. They don’t fall head-over-heels right off-the-bat, but over time and through getting to understand one another, something nice between the two develops and it was a nice reminder that the central love in your story doesn’t have to be awe-inspiring to work, it just has to have some amount of detail to. Of course, my thoughts may be with a totally different movie that may have actually put more emphasis on their relationship-dynamic, but at least the movie still gave them enough development together as a couple to make it work well enough, that to when shit started getting weird with this plot and these characters; that I was at least somewhat invested in what I saw.

"Well darn' tootin' boys and gals! Yee-haw!! Southern enough for ya?"

“Well darn’ tootin’ boys and gals! Yee-haw!! Southern enough for ya?”

Because trust me, these two are the only elements of this movie grounded in any sort of reality. Still wondering if that’s a good or bad thing.

Every supporting character seems to be camping it up beyond belief that it’s no wonder why people think they’re all crazy-ass witches. Jeremy Irons strains himself trying to hide his English-accent, and gives Macon a very goofy-demeanor where you don’t know if you should be terrified of him, or get him a drink while he parties it up with all the gals and sings karaoke. Irons seems to be having fun, but it’s at our expense and it’s a bit strange to watch. Not saying an veteran who has given his life to the big-screen can’t have a little bit of fun every once awhile, but what I’m saying is that watching it does become a tad strange after awhile. Once again, don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing considering I didn’t seem to quite know where this movie was going with it.

He’s just the starting-point though, as everybody else is just as campy and goofy as he is. Emma Thomspon is another who’s guilty as Mrs. Lincoln, who seems to be really enjoying the hell out of herself, but like Irons; still seems to be doing it just by simply goofing around. Whether or not we are supposed to be scared by her, is totally up to us and how much we still wet the bed at night. Emmy Rossum is good as the sexy and seductive Ridley Duchannes, who seems to be using her good looks to get whatever it is the hell that she oh so desires, but it doesn’t go further enough. She’s a big part of the story and then, all of a sudden, gets kicked out, only to come in again. The scenes with her were pretty good, but the movie didn’t use them or her quite enough to really get her character across the board and in our minds. Except for the maybe teenage dudes who were strangled into seeing this with their girlfriends. Then, lastly, there’s Viola Davis who actually feels bored with the material, almost as much as we are. Can’t blame her though since all she has to do is talk about what witches do, what’s bad about them, what’s good about them, and while she’s at it, put the groceries away into fridge. You would honestly think that after doing something like the Help, that the gal would gain a bit more respect for what roles she’d be given, but nope; she’s right back to getting food and packing it up for white folks.

Consensus: Most of what’s wrong with Beautiful Creatures, lies on the fact that the movie tries too hard to appeal to the Twilight crowd, but it’s slightly better than that because of it’s leads and the love story in the middle. Everything else is a bit too campy or over-the-top to take seriously or really care about enough.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

One second, she's making the Thanksgiving dinner for a white family of two. Next second; she's reading witch diaries.

One second, she’s making the Thanksgiving dinner for a white family of two. Next second; she’s reading witch diaries.

Margin Call (2011)

These ARE the people we trust with OUR money?

The story takes place at an investment bank during a time span of about 24 hours during the early stages of the financial crisis as a financial analyst uncovers information that could destroy the firm. Tough decisions have to be made, pushing the lives of those involved to the brink of disaster.

In my honest opinion, this is the flick that the debacle Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps should have and tried to be. Which is an ever bigger shame for me considering Oliver Stone is one of my favorites and to see this young blood, writer/director J.C Chandor, practically make a better script, do a better-job behind the camera, bring-out more emotions, make a way, way better flick and take his spot, really makes me sad for one reason and one reason only: the times are changin’. However, it’s not something to really be all that sad about because trust me; after spending 2-hours with this movie, you’re going to be more than inspired to take all of your moolah out of the bank, and hide it in that secret vault behind that lame-ass painting G’Mom bought you last year. Don’t act like you have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m on to you people out there.

But I digress. For those of you out there who don’t know this already, Margin Call is the directorial debut of Chandor and it’s a real surprise because you would think with something this entertaining, smart, thrilling, and overall, good, that the guy has been directing for decades upon decades. As a director, the guy is all fine and dandy since he never really does anything flashy other than tell the story like it is, but where he really shines is the script. Chandor’s script is amazing not only because it shows you what may have happened to cause the Stock Market crash, but because he shows the Stock Market crash for all that it is, with all the tiny and intricate details, yet without letting anything go over our heads. Like many others reading this, I, myself am a regular, every-day citizen which means that any type of talk of the stock market, the dow, and yadda yadda, all sound like a foreign language to me. However, that’s why I’m glad Chandor decided to include all of that jargon here, but just enough for all of the little-known citizens to fully understand and get a feel of before he launched a full-out, attack of numbers, stocks, and the most important of all: money. Remember the word “money”, people, because it’s going to come-up in this story many, many times. I can assure you on that.

"Kirk, I may need your help."

“Kirk, I may need your help.”

Instead of showing us a bunch of assholes that pretty much bankrupt this country for all that it’s worth, Chandor takes time with these characters and shows about each and every single one of them as human-beings, rather than people to be blamed for the mess they caused. Actually, everybody’s to be blamed here because they didn’t take notice as soon as they should have and Chandor shows that in many ways:  some people feel guilt, others feel sad, others feel optimistic, and others, well, they just don’t give a shit because they already make $56 million a year and won’t really lose much after the whole crash is said and done, so why the hell should they give two hoots!??! It’s a very disturbing idea to think about and have sit in your head, but it’s also very true and realistic in it’s own way because while there are over thousands and thousands of people out there, struggling to make ends meet and support a family; these other people who are supposedly responsible for the whole shit-show, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the Benjamin shower. Why? Because they can and quite frankly, they don’t care.

That whole last paragraph may seem like a total tirade/rant and for those out there who came hear to read about Chandor’s direction, I apologize but it’s just the way the world works, and that’s the way that Chandor paints it. There are no heroes, there are no villains, and there sure as hell aren’t any underdogs here, either. They’re just straight-up human-beings that just so happen to get plenty of moolah, but also have plenty of decisions to make at their workplace. That’s why, instead of sitting around and sobbing about the worst that has yet to come (and trust me, it will come), they get-up out of their seats, do their job, and move on with their lives. That’s mainly the mind-frame of everybody else in today’s world and if not, then it sure as hell should be. Pretty sure I gathered a lot more from this film than I imagined, but none the less, it’s a great script that Chandor deserved the nomination he got for it.

My problems with this film lie in the fact that I feel like this film didn’t have much momentum going for itself. I mean think about it: we already know what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen, and how it may or may not be resolved. All we really have to do is watch everybody’s reaction and see what their view-points are. That’s not terrible thing to have in a movie like this where the central-problem of the movie is an actual, real-life happening that screwed many people over in today’s world, but it also just seems like it could have been a hell of a lot more tense, had it not already been known what was going to happen in the end. However, that’s why you have movie stars, and holy hell; what movie stars we have on-display here, all for show and tell.

Kevin Spacey is the center of this film as one of the more morally confused characters of the whole film. You can tell that he wants to stay true to his original vision of not selling off worthless stock, but as time goes on, you see this character start to fall back from this original idea as the “money” begins to comes into play and has to make-up and come to terms with the fact that he’s going to have to give into to being a coward, just so he can make a living and be fine in this dying economy. Spacey is always great in roles like this, but we barely see him get a chance to pull it off because he’s always too busy playing the evil, dick-headed roles that he seems to perfect so well. And even though, yeah, he’s good in them, it’s always nice to see him play a character that we root for rather than against,  because he does the right thing and even if he doesn’t do it, at least he’s thinking it. It’s the thought and idea that counts and as shitty of an excuse as that may sound, then trust me; that’s more than I can say for any other character in this flick.

Zachary Quinto also stars in a very strong performance as the one guy who actually finds out about this problem in the formula and is left to solve any pieces of the puzzle that he can. Quinto isn’t somebody I have seen enough of in the past to actually give you my general opinion of what I think of him, but he’s very good here and it’s a real shame that he may not be able to get more roles after this, outside of Star Trek, because of the fact that (I may get shit for saying this but if you think about it: it is somewhat true) he’s gay. Once again, it’s a sad thing to say but it’s true because certain people just don’t want to see an openly gay men in a film, especially one where a character takes such a central focus as this. Yes, I know that it’s a very cynical way of thinking, but it’s the way people are and I hope that I’m wrong about Quinto because I would like to see him in more, other than just playing Spock. No matter how good he may be at it.

Right about now is where I would have to change my diaper.

Right about now is where I would have to change my diaper.

The real scene-stealer of this whole film is actually Paul Bettany, who plays one of the playboy bosses. Bettany has that perfect British wit down-pat here and shows that in every scene he has. However, it isn’t all fun and games with this dude, as he actually has a soul to let-loose and one that may not always seem the most morally-composed at times, but still understands how the world works and understands what’s going to happen to people, once the shit really hits the fan. Bettany deserves more roles like these and it shows that the guy can not only show the humorous-side of him that we see on-display in mostly all of his flicks, but also be able to balance it all out with a rare, dramatic-side as well. Jeremy Irons also pops in as the head-honcho, and does his usual, villainous shit where he comes into a scene, takes it over, brings out the inner-Scar within him, and just lets everybody know that he isn’t having anybody’s crap. In fact, the first scene where he’s introduced and allows us to see the real boss, play his cards and play them well, is one of the high-lights of the movie, not just because of the build-up, but because Irons owns these types of roles and absolutely delivers on everything we have come to know and expect from him.

Make no means about it: everybody in this cast is good and all get to show what they can do when they have the right piece of material, slap-dab in front of them. However, not everybody gets to join in on the fun quite as much as the ones I just mentioned earlier and in a way, as terrible as it may sound, seem like they are all just there to have a BIG-name on the poster. The useless roles for such stars as Demi Moore, Simon Baker, and Mary McDonnell all seem like they were created just for some more publicity, which isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re whole film is going to have them in it as much as the others, but they aren’t really around too much to really take their toll on you. Especially McDonnell, who literally shows up for 2 minutes, barely shows her face, and that’s it. Oh and even worse, it’s basically by the end of the movie, almost to the point of where we start to feel all trugged-along by this movie and all of their characters as it is. But hey, put her name up there next to Stanley Tucci and let’s see how many butts we can get in the seats. Apparently not a lot, but hey, it was worth the “money”-making shot. There’s that damn word again.

Consensus: While it lacks the tension due to the predictable turn of events that conspire, Margin Call is still an in-depth look into the lives of the people that made the ’08 crash possible and how, even though they may have screwed-up terribly, they are still human-beings none the less and made mistakes, that only you, myself, or the rest of the human-species would make.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Yeah, we're assholes."

“Yeah, we’re assholes.”

The Words (2012)

Look at that face! Honestly, would a face like Bradley’s lie to you?

Bradley Cooper stars as Rory Jansen, a struggling writer who happens upon a lost manuscript in a weathered attaché case. After he decides to pass the work as his own, he finally gets the recognition he so craved for but he soon has to face his actions when the original author (Jeremy Irons) comes to him.

After I got the chance to meet the writers/directors of this flick, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, I found out that it took them over 12 years to finally get this piece off of the ground. So, think about that: this script has been in writing since 2000 and you would think that with such a long time to be revised, edited, and perfected that we would sort of have a masterpiece on our hands, right? Sad to say this, but I don’t think 12 years were worth waiting to see this story. Great guys, though!

Needless to say, Klugman and Sternthal have definitely made a very ambitious film that people will either hate or love due to the approach. The whole framing device starts off with one older guy, reading a story about this young writer who steals this other piece of work, which in and of itself is a story about a man and the love he found in post-WWII Paris. Judging by what you read there, you could probably say that this flick is either way too pretentious for it’s own good. And I would probably say that you are right but it is very interesting to see where and how these stories come together. The whole idea of whether or not these stories reflect fact or fiction come up plenty of times throughout the whole movie and they offer some pretty interesting questions you may have about this film once it’s all over in it’s brief, 96-minute run-time.

But as interesting as this film could be with it’s clever premise and general idea about what’s real and what’s not, the material never fully comes off the page (pun intended). I can definitely see why so many people were ready to buy-out this script around Sundance last year because all of the plot’s happenings and ideas seem a lot more subtle and hidden when you’re reading it. But the problem is, that once you get it on-screen, it comes off as a bit flimsy, especially when you have a bunch of the scenes revolving around a dude just typing away on his type-writer. Trust me, I love writing, I do it almost every day, and I can’t get enough of it, but there is nothing exciting or tense about watching somebody do that. There’s plenty of that here, along with some cringe worthy lines where Bradley professes to himself that he doesn’t really know who he is anymore, and that this whole guilt-trip about him taking over somebody else’s work is getting to him too much. Didn’t see that plot-device coming at all…

Speaking of that, what the hell was even the main message behind this whole movie in the first place? It seemed like Klugman and Sternthal wanted to say how stealing other people’s work is bad and will weigh heavily on your conscience, but do they not realize that this is a known thing ever since the days of 5th grade where kids had to start writing their own papers? It’s fine to talk about something that has already been talked about before but the idea of a guy stealing another person’s work, only to find out that it is terribly wrong, does not do much for me as it may have for Klugman and Sternthal. I wonder how many papers of their’s was sent back with a big “F-” due to stealing other people’s works.

If there is somewhat of a saving grace to this flick, it probably has to be the cast that does everything in their power and will to save this muddled story from going to shit. Bradley Cooper has a very strong presence in the lead here, even if a lot of the stuff he is called to do consists of him staring off into space, looking like he’s just done something completely and terribly wrong. He did, and we get that right from the start but we didn’t need to keep on being reminded every 5 seconds whenever the guy looks sad. Zoe Saldana is fine as his beau, and brings out some great drama in a role that seems so empty and shallow once you think about why she is in the story.

The only real bad acting I could find in this flick was Dennis Quaid’s as Clay Hammond, the old dude who’s reading Bradley’s book in the beginning of the movie. Firstly, the whole story with him and Olivia Wilde comes off as terribly random and stupid and does practically nothing for the movie. Secondly, I don’t know if it’s just the fact that he’s getting older and seems a lot creepier, but the way Quaid phrases a lot his sexy lines to Wilde (who is 30 years younger than him, mind you) makes him seem like he’s doing a very bad impersonation of my dad when he tries to talk to me about girls. If you don’t know my dad, you won’t really get the joke but just think of those awkward dads that always try to talk to you about the ladies, then you’ll get my drift, hopefully.

Once Jeremy Irons comes into this flick, then everything else bad with this movie sort of just disappears because of what this guy can do. Everybody knows that Irons can play a sly mother-humper as if it was nobody else’s business and he does that perfectly here, while also being able to add some true depth and emotion to a character that isn’t the film as long as you’d like to hope. It also probably helps that his whole story about him and his lover in France was perhaps the most emotionally-invested part of the movie I had and reminded me a bit of The Notebook in a way. Not saying that I was insanely giddy by that fact but at least it was something that kept my eyes on-the-screen and not on my cellular device.

Consensus: Even with some smart ideas and good performances from the ensemble, The Words still never seems to come full-circle with it’s story or it’s intentions. Instead, it just features barely little or no thrills, and offers nothing new to what it has to say about the act of plagiarism and the guilt that comes over a person after they commit it. Well, other than it being bad and you shouldn’t do it.


Reversal of Fortune (1990)

Those damn Germans, always causing trouble.

The enigmatic Claus von Bülow (Jeremy Irons) stands accused of putting his wife, Sunny (Glenn Close), into a perpetual coma with an insulin overdose. Claus hires hard-charging attorney Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver), who scrambles to defend his client — with help from some impassioned Harvard law students — while Sunny narrates flashbacks that shed light on the events that lead to her condition.

The whole film has a plot line that seems it should almost be a tragic drama. However, it combines that weird element of satire and docudrama. I mean its a weird combination, that at some points doesn’t quite work out the best in ways, but still is entertaining.

The praise of this film goes to Director Barbet Schroeder who makes this film a lot of different things, but mostly all just effective. He has this story told with so many flashbacks, and doesn’t leave out a detail that we feel as most that we are the lawyers in this film as well. The movie remains all ambiguous about what actually happened to Sunny, but we still get this feeling as to nothing is right.

I also enjoyed how many courtroom dramas that we know, like A Time To Kill and Primal Fear, all end up in the big courtroom scene, where as this is more about what goes on outside of the courtroom. We see all of the prepping, investigating, and questioning that goes into these cases, and it actually surprises me onto how much the lawyers themselves create so many stories, just to find out the truth.

However, I did have many multiple problems with this film. These “cutesy” students with their quips and their basketball and their sitting crossed-legged on coffee tables were annoying. Even Silver/Dershowitz was irritating with his persistent agonizing and flittering. Also, throughout this film the speed actually sped up, and I was more taken into this film. Then surprisingly, it got slower, and slower, without any real pace at all.

I have to give the most praise to Jeremy Irons, who actually did deserve that Oscar he was given. Although, I think Costner still gave almost a better performance with his material, Irons plays this character with such simplicity and realism, that its actually hard to tell on whether or not he actually did it. You want to hate this guy, cause of the way of his lifestyle, but yet he is so charming and cool that you actually want to be like him in a way. I think a nomination for Best Supporting Actress should have been given to Close, cause with the very few scenes she gets she actually brings out a lot of emotion, that actually has us caring for her character.

Consensus: Though its pace is all over the place and story is bit off setting, this strange film does well with its direction from Schroeder, wonderful writing, and most of all powerful performances from Irons and Close.


Appaloosa (2008)

Two cowboys fighting for the pride and Rene Zelweggars love. OK sure!!!

When two gunmen, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, arrive in Appaloosa they find a small, dusty and lawless town suffering at the hands of renegade rancher Randall Bragg. Bragg has not only taken supplies, horses, and women for his own, but also has left the city marshal and a deputy for dead. It is now up to Cole and Hitch to stand against the actions of the renegade rancher, which have already taken their toll on the town.

Ed Harris directs this western after 8 years of his last job in Pollock, in which he also starred in.That one about an artist, this one about cowboys.

This film does not add to the western genre like I thought it would. The pace at times is incredibly slow and I felt myself yawning at times, and I don’t normally do that. The editing job was sometimes very missed mashed around and I wish they had some sense of a pace for the story and at least put in more shooting scenes to make the film more interesting. Also the lineup of stars are very talented but I didn’t like how some of them were used. Renee Zelweggar’s character is not very an appealing in the sights and in the mind she’s pretty snobby and also not very smart, but then I forget were in the western times.  Jeremy Irons who plays the main villain in this film could’ve been more effective if used more. Irons is a great actor and can prove to be a good guy or a bad guy very easily and he doesn’t get that chance at all. Though the time he had on the screen he too advantage of and did pretty good.

Though despite these bad things the film does have some good elements to it as well. The setting looks exactly like the western times, During the whole movie I actually felt like I was in the west with them. The dialogue is very clever with its undramatic use of humor mixed with a little bit of drama but doesn’t go over the dramatic meter.

Most of the praise comes from the underling chemistry that is between Harris and Mortensen. Harris is aging but still has the ability to apprehend the law when needed to, and Mortensen is also great as the right-hand man who is very soft-spoken but when needed to, he gets the job done. Also a noteworthy performance from Jeremy Irons when he is on.

This film for people who don’t like Westerns may not really find this the most appealing but it still does have good features though it doesn’t add on.