Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Patriots Day (2016)

We could be heroes, just for a few solid hours.

It’s Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston and man oh man, what a lovely day. The Boston Marathon is set to happen, with tons and tons of people all involved and excited to run for a good cause. But of course, things don’t go down this way. In the final stretch of the run, bombs start going off, injuring and killing some. This leads the Boston Police Department, as well as the FBI to get involved as best as they can. Eventually, they find out who is responsible and limit their search to two people: Brothers Tamerlan And Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff). Of course, it’s now up to everyone to get together, stand strong and find these guys before they cause even more damage to the city of Boston and put an even greater shadow over what was supposed to be a very lovely, carefree day.

The term “too soon” is normally used with a negative connotation and well, there’s good reason behind it. People, the fragile beings that we are, find it hard to connect or accept tragedy or heartbreak, that talking about it immediately or even a little time after, seems to be too much to handle; nobody can really talk about something sad, because well, that just brings on more sadness. I point this out, not to just ramble on and on for no reason, but to point out why a movie like Patriots Day, while immediate, exciting, tense, and well-done, also feels like it may have been done way too soon.

Marky Mahk thinks he hears something fizzlin'.

Marky Mahk thinks he hears something fizzlin’.

But not in the way you’d expect.

When United 93 came out over a decade ago, it was four years and a few months after the events of 9/11, and considering how emotionally jarring that movie was, it makes sense that people would get up in arms, wondering whether or not this tale needed to be told, so suddenly, so soon, and so in-our-faces. After all, we as a nation still have yet to get over 9/11, 15 years after the fact, so you could only imagine how those in the mid-aughts must have felt when they saw a documentary-like film based on one of the hijacked planes. That said, director Peter Berg approaches the Boston Marathon Bombings with the same sort of tenacity; it’s the kind of movie that takes awhile to get going, but is setting up so many pieces of the story, that just watching and seeing how they connect in the long run is really interesting.

And then the movie does get going and eventually, it becomes something along the lines of a typical action-thriller, except with very real-life circumstances. Just like he showed with Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, Berg has a knack for telling these fact-based stories where we probably know the ending and certain details, but there’s still a thrill and a certain energy behind it that’s hard not to get compelled by. Even when it seems like he’s manipulating certain elements of the story a bit, there’s still a feeling that Berg is giving it all that he’s got to make us feel as if we are there, while the action is all happening, trying our own hardest to put together this sometimes convoluted and crazy pie.

But then again, there’s that issue of being “too soon” and I think that’s where Patriots Day really runs into problems.

For one, it’s been a little over three years since the attack, meaning, that a lot of old wounds still have yet to heal. Due to that, it seems like there’s not enough appropriate room, space, or time to really think about the hard, thought-provoking questions that need to be asked in order for us, a society, to gather a better understanding of what happened. Sure, Berg does a nice job of sticking straight to the facts and giving us what is, essentially, a play-by-play analysis of what’s happenin’ and shakin’, but for a movie such as this to really resonate and hit hard, it also needs to be more than just that.

At its heart, Patriots Day is definitely a tribute to those who lost their lives and those who worked day and night on that one, fateful afternoon, and there’s nothing wrong with that – these are all stories that deserve to be told and given the type of treatment that Berg is more than happy to give them. At the same time though, there’s not enough introspection that makes us think longer and harder about this event – it’s just sort of the standard, bad guys did something bad, now good guys must go and find them. It is, for lack of a better term, a procedural.

An entertaining one at that, but still, a procedural.

"I told ya, it was paked down by da riva."

“I told ya, it was paked down by da riva.”

The bits and pieces of the movie where it seems like Berg really wants to dive in further to this event, is through the portrayals of both Tamerlan And Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Surprisingly, the movie does go the extra mile to try and develop them, show them for what they were, and most importantly, give us a better look into what the hell was going through their heads, which is admirable, on the part of Berg’s. He’s telling the whole story for what it is and considering that a good portion of what happens can only happen from their point-of-view, it makes sense that we get some time spent with them and try whatever we can to understand them for their actions. The movie doesn’t hold back on showing us their terrible actions, but it also doesn’t shy away from showing that, well, they were human beings. As troubled and as ill-conceived as they may be, they are still human beings and sometimes, it’s interesting to see their side of the story, regardless of whether or not you sympathize with them or what they did.

Which is interesting here, because while the movie boasts a big, starry and shiny cast with the likes of Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Bacon, Rachel Brosnahan, and plenty others, really, the movie’s more concerned with Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff’s portrayals of the brothers. It shows that Berg was at least trying to go somewhere more interesting with this material, but of course, also realized who he was doing this movie for and didn’t want to offend anyone. There’s nothing wrong with that, either, however, it does leave that feeling of wondering maybe it was too soon and maybe something else will come down the pipeline.

Like, I don’t know, say a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Malsany?

Oh, well there we go.

Consensus: Compelling, thrilling and well-paced, Patriots Day works as an exciting take on the events, as well as a nice tribute to those who lost their lives and responded quickly, even if there’s still some material left to be covered.

7.5 / 10

Marky Mak is da best cop awound dese paks.

Marky Mak is da best cop awound dese paks.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire


Hollow Man (2000)

Even while invisible, Kevin Bacon still loves to show his dong.

Scientist Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is working with a secret military research team to complete his experiment of making living-things, completely and utterly invisible. It works on a couple of animals, but Sebastian being the narcissist and ego-maniac that he is, decides that it’s his turn to go under the wire and test it out. It works, but as you could expect, it does come with some perks. Deadly perks, at that.

At the time that this movie came out, it was regarded as a visual-spectacle. The idea that a character like Bacon’s, could seemingly disappear, re-appear, and show up in different forms over time and still have it look realistic is very stunning to say the least. Granted, in the days of Avatar and every Summer blockbuster known to man since 2008, we’ve come to expect a lot from a visual stand-point, but that’s still not to say that this movie isn’t surprising with what it shows us. If you take it into context of the time that it was made, how, when, and who made it, it’s damn surprising and definitely deserved an Oscar nomination. However, anything more than a cheap-o special-effects nomination, would have been ridiculous and downright laughable.

Sort of like Hollow Man itself.

Now, that’s not to say that the movie is terrible or anything – it’s just a total and complete B-movie. If you still don’t think it is, take into account who the director is, one Paul Verhoeven. Basically, this is a fun movie from the wicked-mind of Verhoeven that never seems to sleep, until he’s satisfied with as much blood, gore, nudity, sex, and violence that he can get. And then some.

The guy’s a nut behind-the-camera and gives this movie the type of feel that we want from our corny, sci-fi flicks, campy fun. Some of it is a bit too serious, but who the hell cares when you got a movie about a guy that’s invisible, naked, and killing people, left and right?

No one! That’s who!

Oscar-nominated visual-effects right there....

Oscar-nominated visual-effects?

Still though, the story does leave plenty to be desired in the end. Actually, there’s a lot left to be desired, what with a premise such as this. This movie is bonkers, in the right ways, and in the wrong ways, but no matter what, you never, ever for a second take this movie, the story, its ideas, or its characters ever seriously. I don’t know if that’s a discredit to the peeps involved, but either way, I just didn’t care. Sometimes, you just want to have fun with a crazy B-movie and often times, it feels like Hollow Man forgets a little bit about that.

Despite getting very horror-ish by the end, with everyone getting killed every which way but loose, the problem within Hollow Man was that it tries so hard to make this main character’s problem seem so universal, so understandable, and so relatable, that it should almost come off as no wonder to us why he would ever, ever think about killing everybody. A story needs to be told here, of course, and Verhoeven needs to get rid of the ketchup packets he paid for, of course, but the movie could have done more to actually make me believe the fact that this guy would literally lose his cool, and instantly start killing people.

Also, the people around him are so stupid and never, ever think for themselves for one instance. Even when Sebastian’s invisible and a bit creepy, everybody still has him call the shots because what better way to go about things than to let the invisible guy who’s been cooped-up for awhile say what needs to be done, right? It’s dumb, but honestly, watching dumb people get killed in awfully gory ways, while sometimes fun, does still seem repetitive because you know, no matter how far they may get from him, they’ll always screw it up somehow and die.

Basically, it’s every other horror movie ever made, but with Verhoeven, there’s nothing wrong with wanting/expecting a little bit more.

...these too.

Oh, now I see why….

And at the same time, it’s hard not to feel a little something for the cast. Kevin Bacon feels like he was really down-on-his-luck when he took the offer for this movie, not because he’s bored or anything, he’s actually having a lot of fun playing the baddie for awhile, it’s more just that he seems like he’s too good for this kind of trashy stuff and couldn’t be bothered either way. Probably just a nice way for him to get a new, Summer house, so if that is the case, good for him.

Elisabeth Shue is also randomly here as his ex-lover/co-worker, who knows what to do when he gets a bit wild, but is also a tad stupid in her ways, too. That’s where Josh Brolin comes in to save the day and show that he can be cool, charming, smart, and pretty bad-ass once he’s given the chance to be. A pre-cursor to his role in No Country For Old Men? I think so. Oh, and any movie that has Greg Grunberg in it, is always a win for me. Even if two strong gals like Rhona Mitra and Kim Dickens are, unfortunately, nothing more than walking, talking meat, with boobs.

Then again, this is a Paul Verhoeven flick. Why should I be surprised?

Consensus: The Oscar-nominated Hollow Man is nothing more than another stupid, nonsensical sci-fi flick that’s initially intriguing, then gets dumber and dumber as it verges into slasher-territory. However, if you want a good time, give it a look cause that’s what it’s here for and nothing else.

5 / 10

"What the fuck did we just star in?"

“What are we all doing here?”

Photos Courtesy of: Thecia.Com.Au

Death Sentence (2007)

Nazis never back down from a fight. Except when they’re swarmed by the Allied forces and have no way out.

On the way from a hockey game with his son, Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) decides to stop for gas, because, well, the tank is low and he needs to. However, the station that he’s at gets robbed by a gang of thugs and in the process, Nick’s son gets caught in the crossfire. Obviously, this leaves Nick, as well as the rest of his family as devastated as can be. And while Nick may be just another simpleton, after something as tragic as this, he can’t help but think what’s next for him. Should he just sit around, mope and wallow in his pain and misery? Or, should he go out there and take down said thugs who are causing said pain and misery? Well, Nick being the inspired fella that he is, chooses the later option and is now tracking down and taking out these thugs, one by one. But by doing so, Nick also brings more terror and violence to his family, with the thugs now extracting their own kind of revenge.

Bacon does not like what he sees. And that means a whole lot.

Before facing-off against heartless thugs.

A movie like Death Sentence is a hard one to recommend, because you know full well what it is, but at the same time, you still enjoyed some piece of it. At its heart, Death Sentence is nothing more than a dirty, disgusting and downright mean-spirited revenge tale, made out to be Y2K’s answer to Death Wish, where the good guys go around extracting revenge, baddies get killed and justice is kind of served, without their being any grey area in between. And because of that, the movie is an ugly piece; one that doesn’t try to make any smart messages about life, humanity, justice, death, or violence, but instead, just wants to see people kill one another in bloody, incredibly gory ways.

Can there be some fun in that?

Sure, there can be! Director James Wan, who has now become something of a godsend for horror flicks, actually does a solid job as director here, because he lets a lot of the action speak for itself. He doesn’t get in the way by jilting around the camera, nor does he try to make it “about anything”; with this kind of material, you’d almost wish that Wan at least attempted to make this about something more than just plain and simple blood-stained revenge, but oh well. The fact remains that, when the action is on-screen, it’s quite riveting and exciting to watch.

Take, for instance, a near-20-minute sequence in which Bacon’s character has a chase sequence with the villains of the story. What starts off of as a conventional run through the streets, eventually turns into something intense, unpredictable, and most importantly, exciting. Wan uses a few camera-tricks here and there to make it seem like nothing you’ve ever seen before and well, it works. Because the rest of the movie doesn’t try to get in the way, these small, brief instances of style from Wan are fine enough because they show that he does care to some degree about the material.

However, when the action is gone, dead and off the screen, Wan loses Death Sentence.

There’s no doubting the fact that Death Sentence is just a trashy, gory and downright grueling B-movie, however, at the same time, there’s no denying the fact that it also takes itself very seriously and at least attempts to try and be more meaningful than it is. Wan loves the action and violence and wants to solely focus on that, which is fine, but because there’s an actual story here, it all feels a slight bit uneven. Whereas the story wants to have its say about what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s sort of “okay” with the world today, Wan just wants to see people get killed for the sake of being killed because, well, their bad people and they probably deserve it anyway. Once again, I’m not trashing on Wan for giving bad people some disturbing deaths, to try and have us feel bad, or at the very least, upset that we’re entertained by watching this, is silly.

During meeting said heartless thugs.

During meeting said heartless thugs.

Wan knows that he wants us to all stand-up, cheer and root for Bacon as he takes out all of his revenge on these thugs, so why not enjoy it while we can? It may be vile and upsetting, but isn’t that sort of the point? Violence isn’t supposed to be this pretty, beautiful thing that’s just around in ordinary life – it’s supposed to be ugly, sad, and scary, regardless of who is involved with the violence. Wan gets the ugliness of the violence right, but when he tries to put the lens on everything else, it seems like he’s confused to which movie he’s making, or just what he’s trying to say.

Then again, he’s got Kevin Bacon to rely on, so he’s not all that left alone.

And as Nick Hume, Bacon is as good as he can be, given the script and material he has to work with. Nick doesn’t have much development beyond “sad, but vengeful daddy-figure”, but Bacon gives it all he’s got, whenever he’s not kicking people’s asses because he’s ticked-off and not going to take it anymore. Garrett Hedlund shows up as one of thug’s older brothers, who basically becomes the arch-rival of Bacon’s and, well, he tries. What’s interesting about Hedlund and his career is that even though he’s been around forever, it’s only just now that it seems like he’s hit his stride and gotten to really show some charm in these movies.

Back in 2007, it appears like Hedlund was confused with every role he took; some relied on him to just be annoying and whiny, whereas others relied on him to be somewhat sinister. It’s an odd mix-and-match that he had to play around with, which is why his performance here can get to be pretty laughable at times. However, it seems as if everything has been looking up for Hedlund and I hope that stays.

For his sake, at least.

Consensus: Wan definitely knows his way around an action scene or two, but Death Sentence also tries to be so much more than just another bloody, gritty revenge tale, which is its biggest problem.

5 / 10

After meeting said heartless thugs.

After meeting said heartless thugs. What a transformation!

Photos Courtesy of: Head in a Vice

Sleepers (1996)

Never mess with a hot-dog stand, kiddies.

Lorenzo “Shakes” Carcaterra (Jason Patric), Thomas “Tommy” Marcano (Billy Crudup), Michael Sullivan (Brad Pitt), and John Reilly (Ron Eldard), are all childhood friends from Hell’s Kitchen who, after many years, haven’t really kept in close contact. Most of this has to do with the fact that, when they were younger, they were all sent to a juvenile delinquent center, where they were both physically, as well as sexually abused by the wardens there. Many years later, one of those wardens (Kevin Bacon), gets shot and killed in a bar late one night and guess who the shooters allegedly are? Yup, John and Tommy. Seeing as how they’re buddies are in the right to have shot and killed the warden, Shakes and Michael concoct a plan: Get Michael to defend the dead warden and have their old local mafia gangster, pay-off a lawyer (Dustin Hoffman) who will do the job that needs to be done, where both John and Tommy shine in a positive light and aren’t convicted. However, moral dilemmas eventually sink in and make everybody rethink their decisions – not just in this one particular moment, however, but through their whole life in general.

Trust Dustin, guys. He knows what he's doing.

Trust Dustin, guys. He knows what he’s doing.

There was a constant feeling I had while watching Sleepers that made me think it was just so “movie-ish”. Like clearly, a case like this couldn’t ever be true – and if it was, it sure as heck didn’t deserve the oddly-sentimental tone that Barry Levinson gives it. Despite there being a chock full of talent both behind, as well as in front of the camera, Sleepers just never resonates, mostly due to the fact that it all feels too sensational and over-wrought – something I would expect material of this nature to be.

However, that isn’t to say that Sleepers is a bad movie, because it isn’t. For at least an hour or so, Sleepers is actually a smart, disturbing, and interesting coming-of-ager that doesn’t necessarily try to reinvent the wheel of the kinds of movies that have come before it, but at least put you in the same position of these characters, so that when they do all eventually get back together some odd years later, we’re already invested in them enough as is. When the kids are transported to the juvenile delinquent center, it’s made obvious that the movie’s going to get a whole lot more heavy and mean, and it still worked.

Though maybe the big reveal of having these kids sexually abused was a bit campy, it still worked because it added a certain sizzle to a story that, quite frankly, needed one. Whenever you put young kids and pedophiles in the same story, most often, the stories tend to get quite interesting and thankfully, that’s happening with Sleepers. While I sound terrible for typing what I just did there, it’s the absolute truth; in hindsight, Sleepers is two meh movies crammed into one, with one being a lot more gripping to watch, then the other. That’s not to say that the courtroom stuff of the later-half doesn’t bring about some form of excitement, but because it all feels so phony, it never quite works.

Now pedophiles being in-charge at juvenile delinquent centers? That’s something I can definitely believe in!

Still though, the later-half of the movie brings Sleepers down a whole bunch. For one, it’s hard to ever believe, not in a million years, or even in places like Syria, that there would be a case as blatantly perjured and/or one-sided as this. Sure, the movie tries to make it understandable that a public-defender could get away with doing something like this, so long as he kept-up appearances, but I don’t believe I heard Brad Pitt’s character stand-up and yell “Objection!” once. For the most part, he’s just sitting there, looking determined, tense and most of all, pretty. That’s what we expect from Brad Pitt, of course, but it doesn’t help make the case seem at all legit, even though the movie seems to be depending on that.

"I do solemnly swear to yell at Focker anymore."

“I do solemnly swear to yell at Focker anymore.”

Then, there’s Levinson’s direction that, honestly, is pretty odd. Though Levinson makes it clear that the boys killed a person that raped them when they were kids, the fact remains that they still killed plenty of other, probably innocent people. So, to just stand by them and say, “Well, that guy had it comin’ to him”, seems a bit weird; the guy whose death is being contested over was a bad person, but what about all of the others? What if these two guys are just, regardless of what happened to them when they were younger, bad apples that need to cause some sort of ruckus by killing others? Does that make them worthy of being stood-up for?

The movie never seems to make that decision and it’s a bit of a problem.

But, like I said, the cast on-deck is fine. It’s just unfortunate that most of them don’t have a great deal of heavy material to work with. Jason Patric and Brad Pitt both seem like they’re trying hard to make everybody take them seriously, but sadly, it just ends up with them being a bit dull. Ron Eldard and Billy Crudup, on the other hand, also don’t have much to do except just look mean, mad and ready to pull out a pistol at any second.

The more seasoned-pros of the cast do what they can, too, but as I said, they get lost a bit. Kevin Bacon is in full-on sicko mode that’s fun to see him playing around with, even though his character is quite the despicable human specimen; Dustin Hoffman gets some chances to shine as the inept lawyer of the case, which works because of how laid-back his persona is; and Robert De Niro, with the few scenes he gets, seems to inject some heart into this story that’s definitely needed. He doesn’t help push the movie over that cliff it so desperately seemed to be searching for, but he does the ticket just enough.

And that’s all any of us want from Bobby D, right?

Consensus: Sleepers is, essentially, two movies into a two-and-a-half-hour long one that is occasionally interesting, but ultimately, ends up seeming to silly to be believed in or compelled by.

6 / 10

Enjoy it while it lasts! Each one of your careers are going to go in some very different directions.

Enjoy it while it lasts! Each one of your careers are going to go in some very different directions.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Black Mass (2015)

Tim Burton must feel pretty useless right about now.

Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) was one of the most notorious criminals in history. He ran South Boston by his rules, which, for the most part, consisted of a lot of drugs, booze, women, and murder – actually, there was lots and lots of murder involved. But the reason why Whitey was so able to get away with all of his criminal escapades was because he aligned himself with an old pal of his, John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who just so happened to be part of the FBI. Because Connolly looked up to and adored Bulger, he gets the FBI to strike some sort of deal where they’ll take down all of Bulger’s enemies (the Italian mob, local kingpins, etc.), and Bulger himself will practically be able to get away with anything he wants. Nobody quite catches on to this fact just yet, but eventually, the blood-shed, the drugs, and the murders become too much and too frequent to the point of where people start to notice that something is awry with this deal between Bulger and the FBI. And it all comes down to Connolly and Bulger’s relationship; one that will ruin both of their lives forever.

"Don't you dare say your sunglasses are cooler than mine!"

“Don’t you dare say your sunglasses are cooler than mine!”

Finally, after a few months of sitting through some okay-to-good movies, it seems like the time has come for extraordinarily great movies to start hitting the cinemaplexes. While I am very tempted to say “Oscar season is upon us”, my better-half doesn’t want to because that seems to have recently given off a negative connotation. Rather than just being about good movies that deserve our attention, Oscar season is more about how studios finagle and manipulate their way into getting more votes and notice from the Academy, so that they can make more money, become more successful, and continue to do so for as long as they want to. And while Black Mass may not be a total Oscar-bait-y movie, through and through, it’s still a sign of good things to, hopefully, come in the next few or so months.

Oh yeah, and Johnny Depp’s pretty good in this too.

In fact, he’s really good. As good as he’s been since he started hanging around with Tim Burton. And while you could make the case that, yes, Depp is once again playing a notorious gangster (like he did in Public Enemies as John Dillinger not too long ago), there’s still something that feels different about this portrayal here that makes it seem like we’re not watching Johnny Depp playingJohnny Depp“. But instead, we’re watching Johnny Depp play Whitey Bulger, a ruthless, cut-throat, mean and sadistic crime-boss that intimidated practically everyone around him, that nobody ever dared to step up to him.

Sure, some of that has to do with the sometimes-distracting make-up job that’s trying so desperately hard to make Depp have some sort of similarities to the infamous Bulger, but Depp is so dedicated to making a character, that it works throughout the whole movie. He’s one-note for sure, but he’s so scary and terrifying to watch, even as he holds conversations that seem to go south as soon as somebody steps slightly out-of-line, that it’s hard to take your eyes off of him. Which is an all the more impressive feat when you consider that Black Mass isn’t exactly a Depp-centerpiece, as much as it’s an ensemble piece, where everybody gets their chance to show up, do some solid work, and give Depp a run for his money.

Depp may still own the movie at the end the day, but it’s an effort that’s compelling.

This is mostly evident with Joel Edgerton’s performance as John Connolly, a close friend and confidante of Bulger who, after awhile, you begin to feel bad for. Though Connolly is dirty, corrupt, and tries to avoid every idea that Bulger may get incriminated for all the wrongdoings he’s committed, there’s still something interesting to view and dissect. That Connolly looks up to Bulger more as a big brother, rather than a pal, makes it all the more clear that there’s something inherently wrong with Connolly’s own psyche, but he doesn’t own up to the fact and watching Edgerton play around with this character, showing-off all sorts of shadings, is enjoyable. It may not be as showy of a performance as Depp’s, but there’s something that sits with you long after that puts Black Mass over the hill of being more than just “an entertaining gangster pic”.

Come on, David Harbour and Kevin Bacon: If you're an FBI agent in the 1970's, you've got to have a sweet-ass 'stache!

Come on, David Harbour and Kevin Bacon: If you’re an FBI agent in the 1970’s, you’ve got to have a sweet-ass ‘stache!

Which is to say that, yes, Black Mass is in fact, an entertaining gangster pic. Director Scott Cooper and co-writers Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth clearly have a love for these kinds of raw, gritty, and violent gangster flicks in the same vein as Scorsese and do well in constructing a movie that’s both fun, as well as emotional. While it’s hard to really get attached to any character in particular, there’s still interesting anecdotes made about certain character’s and their lives that make it more of an interesting watch.

For instance, though she only gets a few or so scenes, Julianne Nicholson is spectacular as Connolly’s wife who, from the very beginning, doesn’t like a single thing about Whitey Bulger. While she knows he’s helping her hubby out in getting a nice promotion, she also knows that the dude’s bad news; so much so, that she won’t even bother to sit at the same dinner table as him, let alone socialize with him at a party at her own house. Though this role is clearly limited to “disapproving wife”, there’s a lot more to her in the way Nicholson portrays her that makes us want to see a whole movie dedicated to just her.

Same goes for a lot of other characters here, as well.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Bill Bulger, Whitey’s bro, is a mayor who knows that his brother is up to no good, but is so willing to push it off to the side if that means he gets to have more power, politically speaking, that it’s actually scary; Peter Sarsgaard plays a drug-dealer that gets in on Whitey’s dealings and, although a total mess, still seems like a real guy who is easy to care for; Dakota Johnson only gets a few scenes as Whitey’s wife, but sets the basis for what Whitey himself will live by until the day he died; and of course, there’s the likes of Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, W. Earl Brown, Juno Temple, and a very emotional Rory Cochrane, that all add more layers to their characters, as well as the movie itself.

Though it doesn’t make the movie great, or better yet, perfect, it still makes it a highly enjoyable, mainstream gangster pic that has more to it than meets the eyes.

Or should I say, more than just bullets that meets the eyes.

Consensus: Led by a breathtaking performance from Johnny Depp, Black Mass benefits from its stacked-ensemble, but also has plenty more to say about its characters than just guns, blood, and crime.

8 / 10

Jack Sparrow who?

Jack Sparrow who?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Cop Car (2015)

Stealing cop cars in real life, sure as hell aren’t as easy as stealing them in GTA.

Two kids, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford) walk through a field that eventually leads to a creek where, for no explainable reason, a cop car is left abandoned. Seeing as how these two kids are chock full of piss, vinegar and energy, they decide to take it for a spin, or two, or three. Hell, they decide to take it out everywhere they can, going 100 mph, and not giving a single crap about the world outside of them. Eventually though, the man whose cop car that is originally (Kevin Bacon) comes looking for it and with a good reason: He’s got some pretty naughty, downright incriminating stuff in the trunk of that car that he wouldn’t want anyone seeing, let alone two kids who just so have happened to stumble upon it. This is where the cop decides to track these kids down, get his car back, drive them back to their guardians’ homes, and getting back on with his life. Problem is, the kids look in the trunk of the car and needless to say, what they find, is not good.

That's how it always begins.

That’s how it always begins.

You’ll be hearing a lot about Jon Watts in the next couple of years. If you haven’t already, then consider yourself prepared. Because with Watts taking over the new, hopefully improved Spider-Man reboot set to come out in two years time, a lot of people are wondering just what it is about this guy that would give a studio like Sony so much hope that he’s the one to get the job done right and in a way that can hopefully let people forget about the past two Marc Webb movies (even though, to be honest, they weren’t terrible, just ill-timed).

Well, I don’t know if Cop Car was the evidence Sony needed, but it sure as hell is for me.

Because, for one, it’s great and it’s absolutely surprising that I’d think this. For one, Cop Car seems so simple in its grindhouse-ish premise that the only way for Watts and company to go, were down; they had kids, they had cops, they had guns, and they had mystery, which gives them all of the perfect ingredients to make something sleazy, dirty and at least partially fun. But there’s something strange about Cop Car in that it’s essentially two movies, rolled into one, not-even-an-hour-and-half flick, and they’re both very good.

On one side of the spectrum, you have a coming-of-ager involving two kids we literally know nothing about other than that they like to cuss, spit, and cause all sorts of chicanery wherever they go. Basically, they’re like all kids and that’s all you need to know about them; Watts doesn’t put much of an effort into getting down to the nitty gritty of what makes them tick, he just presents them as kids, who are different from one another in certain ways that it’s easy to identify with one from the other. Already, this movie had me won over because it felt like dialogue for real life teenage kids, but then the situation itself gets hotter and heavier and the movie really started to work its magic.

See, once these kids steal the cop car and everything around them starts getting a whole violent, we all of a sudden see that these kids are, as expected, kids. They can’t make full sense of the world, so that when they are held at gun-point by an evil dude, they ask him quite simply, “Are you going to shoot us?” They don’t even know that, no matter what, they’ll get shot and probably killed; to them, life is like a video-game and because of this, they don’t take the real life consequences into account when thrown into a predicament quite like this.

And then, there’s the story involving Kevin Bacon’s cop character, which is still pretty strong in its own right.

Like with the two kiddies, we literally know nothing about Bacon’s character, other than that he’s a small-town cop, is clearly up to no good, and may be a bit more sneaky than he originally lets on. This part of the movie is well-written and compelling, obviously, but without Bacon, or his acting-skills, I don’t know how well this character would have done with such limited-detail surrounding him. Everything we need to know about this character is the way in how he desperately carries himself from one objective, to the other, all in hopes that he’ll be able to get his cop car back and ensure that his dirty little secrets never get out.

Just look at that mustache! It's so terrible, you have got to think there's some sympathy in him somewhere!

Just look at that mustache! It’s so terrible, you have got to think there’s some sympathy in him somewhere!

Bacon does wonder in this role because he makes us think that this character, despite him having clearly done bad things in his life before, may be a bit of a good guy. We never quite know with his character and it’s interesting to watch as he constantly digs himself out of certain obstacles that seemed to continuously pile-up in his way, no matter how much closer he believes he is to reaching his goal. Do we want him to reach it, too? Or, do we just want all of his dirty laundry to get seen by the right eyes and for his life, as well as his police career, to be all over and done with?

We never fully know and that’s the main reason why Cop Car works as brilliantly as it does.

Though I won’t divulge into too many details about what happens in the last-act of this movie, I will say that it gets very violent, very quick, and in some very gruesome ways, too, but it all feels so deserved. See, with the violence in this movie against something like, I don’t know, say Terminator Genisys, is that people in that movie get shot, die and evaporate into the air all willy nilly. No harm, no foul, no problems. But here, when people get shot, they die, and there’s nothing special or glamorous about that at all.

I know this sounds so damn obvious to state (in a review no less), but it’s the truth that more movies like Cop Car should exist, if solely for the fact that it highlights gun violence and death for what it actually is: A traumatizing event. In light of today’s events, this resonates quite an awful lot and while it may not get that same sort of message across to others, quite as well as it did to me, it still matters that it’s being portrayed as such in a movie about kids, cops, guns, drugs, and criminals. Because all of these elements co-exist in real life and are all too close together.

Something that’s quite saddening indeed, but hey, at least we’ve got a new Spider-Man movie on the way!

Consensus: As small and short as it may be, Cop Car is still a near-perfect thriller, mixed with a smart, endearing and compelling coming-of-ager that makes it all come full circle.

9 / 10

Go on! Try to get five stars!

Go on! Try to get five stars!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Wild Things (1998)

Drunk, alone, and horny? Turn this one on and you’ll have a new best friend.

Two high-school girls (Denise Richards and Neve Campbell) accuse their teacher (Matt Dillon) of raping them on two separate occasions. The guy tries his hardest to defend himself against this terrible case, but it’s not quite as it seems as we see from detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon). Even if Duquette himself may be up to no good, either.

To be honest, the only real reason this film is as popular as it once was (and maybe still is), was all because of the infamous threesome and a rare dong-shot all being placed in a big, Hollywood production. Not that there’s necessarily anything daring about two girls and a guy engaging some hot, steamy sex, or even a slight shot of some male genitalia, but being that this was a pretty big movie, it created quite the stir. But is there more here to at least enjoy other than that threesome?

Yeah, but not too much.

Former Bond girl there, folks!

Former Bond girl there, folks!

It’s been awhile since the last time I saw a whodunit and Wild Things is a classic example of a whodunit that’s made to just keep on getting more and more ridiculous as it runs along. The script, for one, is probably not the best out there and can seem really lazy at points. You would expect a sexy little thriller like this to have some ultra-sexxed up dialogue that ladies would be quoting to dudes everywhere, but instead, it just comes off like a corny B-movie flick that goes through the motions with all of it’s dialogue. So, basically everything you’d expect from your ordinary B-movie, you get here and it’s sometimes hard to watch and enjoy because it’s so damn laughable at points. Now, there is a certain thing to be said about that and that’s how I actually found myself having fun with it but still, when everybody is serious and you are pretty much the only one laughing, you have to feel like something was missing here or that these people just weren’t in on the joke. I think I choose both.

As for the little plot twists that seem to come out of nowhere, they’re okay and actually make this story a bit interesting. Since there are so many plot twists to be had here, you can’t help but think that the film sort of loses itself with being a bit too over-exaggerated with itself, but it at least creates a tense mood to surround everything. Some of the twists took me by surprise, and some of them still took me by surprise, but after awhile I started to think about them and realize that they made absolutely no sense to the story at all and may have just been thrown in there for shits and gigs after all. Hey, I’m all down for a couple of neat plot twists here and there to spice up the story, but don’t make it overkill!

Then, there is, of course, the infamous threesome which will probably go down as the film’s biggest claim to fame and I will cut it some slack on, because it’s pretty freakin’ hot.

Usually when I watch films when some raunchy sex scenes are happening right in front of me, I don’t really feel anything since I know that they’re all fake and they aren’t really engaging in any sorts of sex with each other. But for some odd reason, with Wild Things, it all felt too real and it was just as hot and sexy as I remembered it being all those years ago around the first time I watched it. I won’t comment on the infamous dong scene but for all of the ladies out there, you got your six degrees of Bacon, alright!

"What did you say about the Following possibly getting cancelled?"

“What did you say about the Following possibly getting cancelled?”

Speaking of Kevin Bacon (and getting away from his actual Bacon!), he’s actually the best out of the whole main cast because the guy can sell any role no matter what he has to do and you can almost feel like this guy was just laughing at everybody else’s acting in the film by how laughable they can all be. Those ones I’m talking about are Matt Dillon and Denise Richards who could be placed in the “so bad, they’re good” category for the respective performances they give off here. Dillon plays up that macho, hammy bullshit dude that nobody likes and the whole film, just seems like he’s phoning it in from start-to-finish where you don’t really see this guy being an evil genius, you just see him being a total schmuck. Then, you got Denise Richards who is terrible in this role as the main high school girl who starts all of this drama and deliver every line of dialogue as if it were a self-serious soap opera, but without any slight wink to the audience. Dillon has barely any of that, but at least some, as opposed to Richards being such a dull presence to begin with, the fun sort of get sucked-out.

Though these two are pretty bad at what they do here, they don’t fully bring the ship down and leave everybody else to dry. Neve Campbell at least has some nice touches with her sympathetic character that got the best treatment out of everybody here, but still somehow seems like she gets the short end of the stick at the end. But as good as she is, she stands nowhere near to how great Bill Murray is as Dillon’s ambulance-chasing attorney that absolutely takes the film’s script, wipes his greasy hands all over it, and leaves some sort of particles that make the film a whole lot more entertaining whenever he’s up on-screen. I’ve said it many, many times before, but Bill Murray is the freakin’ man and whenever the guy isn’t out chillin’ with RZA, or playing a zombie, the guy can still take small roles like these and make them the most memorable due to that perfect comedic-timing.

Makes me wish he was in the film more, but hey, I guess that’s why we all love Bill Murray in the first place.

Consensus: While it’s hot and steamy for sure, Wild Things does get a bit too bogged-down by its own plot-twists, to make this campy-ride feel like one that’s a bit too rampant and wild for its own good.

5.5 / 10

Keep being you, Bill.

Keep being you, Bill.

Photos Courtesy of: IMDB, Premiere.Fr

Where the Truth Lies (2005)

The partners that travel, do everything else together. Even murder groupies.

Famed comedy-duo Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth) were at the peak of their fame during the tail-end of the 50’s. Morris was always the wise-cracking funny-man, that always acted-out and was goofy; whereas Vince was the reserved, kind and gentle British straight-man who was always there to apologize and make nice for Morris’ behavior. They were successful  had a lot of great shows; held a weekend-long telethon for a Polio charity that became something of a staple for television at that time; messed around with plenty of women; made a chunk of money; and seemed as if they could never, ever stop being rich, famous and powerful. However, one day, that did in fact happen when a dead body was discovered in one of their hotel bathtubs. Though both claimed to have no idea who the body was and how it even got there, it didn’t matter, the rest of the world already saw them as criminals, therefore, they were. Their fame died-down, they broke-up, and less than twenty years later, they’re reliving it all over again when journalist-turned-author, as well as Morris-Collins enthusiast, Karen O’Connor (Alison Lohman), comes into these guys’ lives, trying to get to the bottom of the story, but also getting mixed-up in a whole lot more than just the narrative of that night in question.



Back in the day, when this movie was first released, their was a lot of talk surrounding this movie and the fact in which it was rated NC-17 after the MPAA didn’t like what they saw. Writer/director Atom Egoyan, as predicted, was upset with this, so, as an act of rebellion and to also make a dignified-point, he released it without a rating at all. The scene called into question was a graphic sex scene in which Bacon’s character was indeed making some sweet lovin’ to a very-naked woman.

That doesn’t sound like much of anything different from what we usually see in movies nowadays, right? Well, here was the difference: Firth’s character comes up from behind during the scene and therefore, engages in a little bit of a threesome, although it doesn’t end like so. It’s a pretty quick scene, and given the run-time and plot itself, seems rather minor, but apparently, the MPAA didn’t like the homosexual ideas being tossed-around, therefore, they slapped it with an NC-17 rating. A rather unfair one, if you ask me, but then again, when was the last time the MPAA actually gave a movie a harsh rating and it made sense.

Okay, sure, Shame needed to be more than just NC-17, but that’s not the point!

Anyway, the reason why I highlight this aspect surrounding the film, than anything else, is because there really isn’t much else to talk about. There’s plenty more sex where that came from (even one including two women going at it), but that’s Egoyan really seems to color this film with to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack of spicy, saucy, neo-noir thrillers. If there wasn’t all that many sexual-escapades shown to us in the most straight-forward manner, then what we’d have would be just another, smoky, dark, and mean tale of celebrities doing bad things, ad there never being a clear answer as to what exactly happened when the lights went down, and who exactly was responsible.

As I’ve said before, that’s nothing new in the genre of thrillers, or even mystery-tales, and that’s why I think Egoyan threw in so much sex, drugs, nudity, lobsters, champagne, twists, turns and curve-balls (most of which, don’t even work); he doesn’t have much to work with, so he hides behind a coating-of-paint to give us the impression that we’re working with something else on a higher-level. Better yet, a different level, and it just doesn’t come off that way. Instead, it seems like a regular thriller, with too many twists by the end. Which is a bit of a disappointment, considering that the first act of this movie is actually pretty good and gives you an idea of what to expect of the rest of the movie.

It takes place both during and around 1957 and 1972, giving us the idea that this is going to be a classic-tale of mystery, intrigue, and what classified a person as a “celebrity” back in those days. Once again, it isn’t uncharted-territory, but Egoyan seems very interested in the look and feel of this movie, and for the longest time, I took the bait and followed along with him. He isn’t necessarily “basing” this story off of anybody in particular, but just any celebrity in general that may have been caught with a scandal that the mainstream media may, or may not have, heard about. Everything looks colorful, sensual, misty and as if all of the budget went into the production-design, without there ever really being a false-note to be heard or seen.

Then, sadly, it all goes downhill, especially during the 1972 story-angle that’s forced down our throats just about every ten or so minutes. The first problem with this angle is that the turns and twists continue to get thrown at us, and almost none of them make sense. They aren’t necessarily confusing that when we’re first told the explanation for something happening, we automatically scratch our heads; it’s more like once the twists actually get explained to us, then everything gets a whole lot more foggy. They also never seem to build to anything except that “celebrities lie”.

No shit! Tell me more!



Another problem with this angle is that Alison Lohman is pretty bad in this movie. Usually, I think Lohman’s a sweet, heartfelt presence to have in a movie, but here, she’s given something she is not at all capable of being: Sexy. Not saying Lohman isn’t attractive (she totally is, I’d take her home in a heartbeat, heck maybe even bring up the topic of marriage), but what she has to do here is act, look, and sound like she’s a raspy, old school dame that would exist in those noirs released during the 30’s-to-the-50’s, but she’s just too small and innocent. In a way, it’s almost like she’s just a little girl thrown into this cold, dark and menacing world where grown-ups play and have no time for silly, little willy nillies like her. There are times when Lohman is okay, but her unenthusiastic-narration isn’t doing much to help her, and neither is the fact that she’s placed against two class-acts like Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth.

As usual, Bacon is great here as Lanny Morris, the wild, crazy and typical prankster in front of the camera, but more quiet and calm behind it. Bacon is great at being a lovable goofball, which is why it’s so effective once he has to turn the other cheek, be a bit of a dick and not really say much at all. It’s something we’ve seen Bacon do before and work really well with, and that’s no different here. As for Firth, he too is great at doing what he does best: Show a dark side to his collective and cool manners. Together, the two are great and seem like they could have really been a wonderful comedy-act to see in real life. In fact, if this movie really wanted to go for the gut, they could have just made it something of a biopic about these two talented guys whom worked together, traveled together, slept together, partied together and even committed crimes together, and it would have been such a better movie. However, what we have here is just a murder-mystery with a lame detective and a sex scene that hints at something more extreme, yet never materializes to much.

Like sex with me, I presume. Right, ladies? Or wait! No, that’s not right, ladies! Not at all!

Consensus: A little sexy, a little dark, a little mysterious, and a little entertaining for the first hour, Where the Truth Lies works well setting-up its story, which is why it’s such a shame once it all goes down the tubes during its last-half when unbelievable plot twists start showing up like clockwork.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Oh. Boo!

Oh. Boo!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider,

R.I.P.D. (2013)

Who ya gonna call? Van Wilder and The Dude?

Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up one day as if it was the most normal, average day he’s ever lived. His girlfriend (Stephanie Szostak) wakes him up with hugs, cuteness, and kisses, he goes to work, talks with his partner (Kevin Bacon) of what to do with a bunch of stolen-goods he’s buried underneath a tree, and goes off to raid a meth-house. Same old shit, different day you would think, right? Well this day is different from any other that Nick has lived because he gets shot and killed by his partner. Bummer, I know. But rather than living the after-life like a ghost, roaming all throughout the world or the heavens up above, or something, he’s assigned to be a member of the R.I.P.D. organization, an after-life police-force that’s built to take monsters out of the real world. Nick is up to the task, just as long as he’s able to live his life, but the task gets a lot more complicated when he’s given the go to be partnered-up with wild-cat Roy (Jeff Bridges), a cat who’s been dead and on the force for quite some time.

You know how I knew this flick was going to be lame? No, not because of the crappy, first trailer a mixture between Jonah Hex and Men in Black, but because I literally saw it 2 hours before it was finally released to the public. For ordinary peeps who have no idea what that means, it means that the movie sucked so bad, that the studio that released it didn’t even trust it enough with the critics, so who needs a screening a week or two before? Give it to the people right away so it can get some word-of-mouth, whether it be good or bad. However, shady-screenings make any film look bad, which this one isn’t. Then again, maybe I was just in a good mood to begin with.

Watch out, Hollywood! They got a bomb on their hands!

Watch out, Hollywood! They got a bomb on their hands!

Actually, no. That’s definitely what it is. I’m still a sucker for free movies.

The thing with this movie that I didn’t mind was that it was somewhat fun. Granted, it’s nothing new you haven’t seen done before time and time again, especially within the past year or so, but it still allowed me to have a small ounce of fun, despite being nothing out of the ordinary. It’s supposed to be a comic book movie, but doesn’t show much color or wildness to it that could really make me feel as if I was watching a comic book brought to the big screen. It’s sort of just on the screen for us to see and have some fun with, which is what happens, even if it feels like it could have been better. Actually, so much better to be exact.

The movie’s premise to promise something wacky, crazy, and energetic, but even though we get bits and pieces of that idea, the movie still toys around with our minds thinking that it’s going to explode at any second. However, it doesn’t and just continues to lie there, hoping we don’t know how lazy it’s being. I may call it “lazy”, even if I still didn’t mind it, but I’m still struggling with ways to describe this movie in a way that can get past 1,000 words and also seems smart. But it’s a lot easier said in my mind, than actually done and typed-down in this review.

That said, it’s not a bore. Some people will find themselves laughing at the goofy-quips between these two, or the creations of the CGI-monsters, who all feel like the most blatant rip-offs of Men in Black, with each and every one looking like Vincent D’Onofrio’s long, lost relative in a world where creatures roam the world, and the action that shows up in spots to smooth-out the non-stop exposition that’s fed to us, even if we don’t want to digest, and all of that’s fine. Nobody is wrong in their right mind for enjoying this movie because that’s what it’s here and released in the dead of the Summer for: to be enjoyed. Even I took a bit of the Kool-Aid in a way, so even I deserve a small bit of that finger pointed at me as well. But knowing what a Summer blockbuster can be, especially one that featured huge, freakin’ robots and monsters colliding, head-to-head, you know that you should and could do a lot better.

"Please, God. Let Green Lantern 2 never happen."

“Please, God. Let Green Lantern 2 never happen.”

However, it’s the Summer time so spend some money if you have some left-over. Just don’t make this movie your first choice. Or the second. Or the third. Or maybe just your last choice before you lose your mind and spend money on Lone Ranger. Yeah, whatever you do: Just don’t buy a ticket to the Lone Ranger. Bother your wallet with this and “thank me” later. I guess.

If there’s something in this movie that makes it a slight cut above some of the other pieces of junk that’s out there, playing in cinema’s all over the globe now, it’s the nice chemistry between it’s two leading stars, who both seem to be slumming it a little bit, but not too much to where it’s almost unwatchable. For instance, Reynolds has that comedic-timing that works and makes you laugh every once and awhile, and Bridges is basically playing another rendition of Rooster Cogburn, but with the slightest understanding of what the hell he’s actually trying to say. It’s a bit hard at times, I will admit, but when you can understand him, he’s pretty funny to listen to, even if most of them consider of him saying “Oh shit” to every insane thing that happens to him and Reynolds’ character. Like I said, their chemistry doesn’t break any new ground or give them a career resurgence that they desperately need, but for an hour-and-a-half, they are fine to watch. That’s all you have to ask for from a movie starring these two, especially one released during, as I said: “In the dead of Summer.” That’s all there is to it, folks.

Consensus: Even though it’s as ordinary and conventional as you’re going to get with an action-comedy such as R.I.P.D., you can still have a small ounce of fun with it, and also do a hell of a lot worse with your time and money. Once again, talking about you, Lone Ranger.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Beat it old, Chinese man!

Beat it old, Chinese man!

Mystic River (2003)

At the end of the day, boys will be boys.

Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) were three childhood friends who lost touch over the years, all because of an incident that happened to one of them. All these years later, Jimmy’s daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum), is found dead in the park, and it’s up to Sean to find out who killed her, why, who, what, where, and when, but somehow, Dave seems like the most prime-suspect out of them all. Whether or not he did it, is left up to these three to figure out.

Movies that try to deal both with a human-story and a mystery, never fully come together and seem to work all that well. However, Clint Eastwood seems like the type of dude who’s been in enough movies to realize that anytime you can add on real, honest human emotions; then anything can work. He also seems to know that if you can get an amazing cast, that is more than capable of delivering on every, single spectrum; then anything can, and most likely will, work. Clint knows the game he’s getting himself involved with and although he’s been racking it up in the age-department, the guy shows us he still knows what’s up with a good story.

What works so well with this flick is that in almost every aspect, something is always working. For starters, the mystery behind this flick is one that actually works, and one that keeps you glued to wondering just what the hell is going to be revealed, and possibly said, next. Most of these movies that try to add mystery to a human-story, never really seem to work and instead come off like a lame excuse to distract the audience who wants a fast-paced, exciting story, but this isn’t one of those flicks. We are never really told what happened to Katie in the beginning, other than the fact that she was murdered, by the park, and somebody called it in. After that, everything we hear, see, or try to grip and understand, are all news to us and it feels like we are learning everything, just as soon as each and every other character in this movie as well. Love a fine mystery-tale, especially when it’s done well and not for cheap-kicks.

Then, you get to the human-element of this whole story, which is really the anchor to it all and has everything come together like a fine string, between two Dixie cups. Every character in this movie, for no matter how long or how little you may see them pop-up on-screen, you still feel like as if you know them for all that they are, all that they were, and all that they ever will be. Sure, some are more pleasant to think about than others, but you still can’t help but be intrigued by the way that these characters interact with one another, and just how they find ways to connect around the a murder-case like this.

"Fucking Southies, man. Fucking Southies."

“Fucking Southies, man. Fucking Southies.”

The most interesting character-relationships in this movie, were definitely the three boys we see at the beginning: Sean, Jimmy, and Dave (remember those names). At the beginning, we see how they were childhood pals, until something very disturbing and dramatic happened to one of them, and separates them all, while changing the course of their lives forever and ever. After we see this change in their childhoods, we then fast-forward to them being adults, moving on with their lives, and making ends meet, but still never, ever forgetting about that fateful day that impacted all of them, not just that one person. Throughout the rest of the flick, they always go back-and-forth about that moment in their lives, and they realize that it changed who they were, forever, but never really come to terms with how or why. They know that one person was actually hurt and had to pay the piper, but in the end, they were all hurt that day and never seemed to forget about it, nor heal from that pain. It’s interesting that they all see each other in one-on-one’s, but never show up altogether. It’s as if the movie wants you to see how separated they are, not just from each other, but the rest of the world around them. Maybe that’s just a bunch of babble from yours truly, but it’s something that I felt, and something that I saw and continue to think about even while writing all of this jibber-jab.

But trust me, not everything in this movie is as clear as I may make it out to be (or not). The movie has characters that you don’t know whether or not to trust, like, dislike, or even care for, but you still remained enticed by everything that you see them as. Eastwood also has an interest in each of these character’s lives and personality-traits, and shows how each of them react to certain situations differently. Some are cool, and some are nervous bumb-fucks. Some are suave, and some jittery-jatters. Some know all the right things to say, and others do as well, they just don’t know how to say it. You see all of these characters act and respond to the same situations, the same questions, and the same happenings, but yet; they are all different in their own ways, and watching that was just about perfect. It was even better to watch, if not just for the actual characters themselves, but the performances that were there to back them up.

When you have a story that’s so rich, so deep, and so compelling as this, with characters that are on equal-measure, it’s necessary to have a cast that can handle this, and that’s exactly what all of these heavy-hitters are ready to do, and do it in style. Sort of. Back when this flick first came out, everybody ranted and raved about Sean Penn and his performance as Jimmy Markum, but it’s rants and raves that were meant to be. Not only does Penn give one of the greatest freak-outs of all-time (second to this, of course), but he also gives us a deeply-layered, and beautiful glimpse inside the world of a man that’s trying to be right, trying to be good, and trying to be well-mannered, but just can’t because of his natural-tendencies. Markum is not a nice guy and is definitely not the type of guy you’d be easy and able to trust when it came down to getting business done the right way, but he’s trying and you can see that in every single scene that Penn shows up in. Most of the time, he’s a grieving father that’s just taken down, notch-by-notch, because of the fact that his baby girl is dead, but he continues to get back up, fight, and search for the truth. The ways he goes about it, the answers that he finds, and how he responds to those said answers, are not always the most “just” ways of going about your bizz, but Penn always remains stoic, compelling, believeable, and understandable in the way he never loses hope, even if death is staring him right in the face. It’s not as corny as I may make it sound. Trust me on that.

Tim Robbins comes very close to stealing Penn’s spotlight as Dave, an old-time friend of Jimmy’s, who also just so happens to be married to his wife’s cousin. Don’t know what that would make them in terms of family, but I guess they’re related, right? Okay, whatever. Anyway, Robbins is amazing as Dave, not just because Robbins knows how to play crazy like anybody’s business, but he really plays it up without going overboard in the sense that he’s way too insane to be considered the type of guy you’d want to marry, have, and raise a family with. He seems like an honestly-nice dude, that just so happens to have a pretty fucked-up past that gets in the way of his present-day happenings. That never makes him a bad person, but just the type of person you never know whether or not to trust, and what it is about him that’s so shady. Whatever it is, that mystery and that dark-shade of him, always stays there between us and that character, and it not only works in the movie’s favor, but Robbins’ as well. Both him and Penn received Oscars for these roles, and in my opinion: were both well-deserved. Then again, I think I share that same opinion with many, many others out there in the movie-reviewing world.

Marcia Gay Harden plays Dave’s wife, Celeste, who knows about Dave and what he did the night Katie was murdered, but doesn’t know how to accept the fact that maybe her hubby was the killer out of all of this. Harden is great with this role and this character because it gives us a sense that this woman loves her husband to death, but still doesn’t know if she can trust him in all of this, and finds herself in a dilemma between choosing between love, family, or being fair. She’s always nervous, she’s always twitchy, and she’s always scared, and some may call her performance one-sided for that, but Harden handles it perfectly, and never lost my interest.

Jeez Louise. Somebody really needed an Oscar.

Jeez Louise. Somebody really wanted an Oscar.

Kevin Bacon seems like he got the shortest-stack of the bunch with a character that isn’t as interesting and sure as hell isn’t as memorable as these two, but still proves that he’s the man when it comes to owning roles like these, no matter how procedural they may be. It also doesn’t help that his character’s wife just so happened to have left him, with their baby, calls him almost all of the time, and never speaks. She just sits there, with the phone to her ear, in silence as the guy rambles on about nearly nothing. Still, Bacon is great through all of this, it’s just obvious that Eastwood wasn’t as concerned with this character as much as he was with the first two. Laurence Fishburne plays Sean’s fellow-detective who’s also investigating the case and is great with what he does, but is only there to give some slappy, side-comments and show how he isn’t as biased as Sean may be. Then again, Fishburne is always worth watching, especially in roles where he’s playing himself better than anybody else.

Even though the cast, the direction, the writing, the themes, and the mystery behind this whole movie, worked for me and had me loving just about every second of this, there is always a glaring-problem that never ceases to leave my mind when I think of this: the ending, or should I say: the final 10 minutes. Without spoiling all of the shite that goes down in the final-act, we leave with a dark, but reasonable conclusion that effs with our minds, our hearts, and our eyes, especially with everything we just saw for the past two hours. However, the movie doesn’t end there, just when it should have. Nope, instead, the movie felt the need to add on an epilogue where we not only get one, whole scene dedicated to Laura Linney’s characters, Jimmy’s wife, acting as Lady Macbeth-type character, but also feed us an ending that sort of contradicts the whole movie.

For instance, the movie plays around with the themes of people staying true their ways, their morals, and their nature, but somewhere, those themes get lost in a strange conundrum of characters not acting like themselves. It’s so hard to go into all of this without giving each and every thing away, but for the people who feel like they know what I’m talking about, you may be able to understand that some people realize some things about others, that they didn’t know before or has just become news to them, but yet, they choose to do nothing about it and go about their lives as if nothing happened. That would have been fine for one or two characters in this movie, but for the one that it does high-light, it seemed wrong, too theatrical, and a tad stupid, as if Eastwood really wanted us to feel like nobody was meant to be trusted, nor were they meant to be liked in any way, form, or shape. It’s not a happy-ending, per se, but it’s the type of ending that may piss you off because everything up until that point, was going swell, but had to end right there. Damn you, Clint. Why’d you have to go and ruin a good thing?

Consensus: The ending doesn’t make sense in the grander scheme of things, but everything else in Mystic River leading up to that, is still near-perfect with it’s powerful acting, realistic themes about life, and interesting character-traits and relationships that never always seem to add more heart and depth to this mystery, rather than just finding out who the baddie is.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Dear, I could imagine the type of conversation these two would be happening.

Dear, I could imagine the type of conversation these two would be happening.

Footloose (2011)

Kevin Bacon can still dance. Don’t be fooled.

Slick and cool kid from Boston, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to a small town where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. However, Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) won’t stand for it and he lets Ren know about it, every step of the way.

For all of you loyal readers and followers of DTMMR, you all may be a bit shocked to find out that I have never seen the original, Kevin Bacon headliner in it’s entirety. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, including the awesome dancing-sequences that had me inspired for a day or so, but nothing more than just that really. However, apparently director Craig Brewer has seen it all, and loved it so much that it was the one movie to inspire him to make movies. That’s right: not Casablanca, not Citizen Kane, not even The Godfather, Footloose is the one movie that made this man inspired to make such flicks like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, and now, this remake of his old-school passion. It’s weird, I know, but hey, if you’re going to have a guy do a remake of a classic, have a guy that loves the hell out of the movie in the first-place do it. Then maybe, most remakes won’t suck nowadays.

The idea of featuring a town that actually “bans public dancing” seems a bit too 1984 the dog days of the 21st Century, but somehow Brewer has it make sense and seem a bit believable. This is a small, earnest town that all know each other, know whats going on, and have an idea of what’s best for the whole community. They aren’t some sort of small-commune that’s sheltered-off from the rest of the world because of their hard-earned beliefs of God, faith, and religion, even if those themes do hit-hard in where this story is coming from. Still, the idea of keeping the original premise in this updated remake isn’t as goofy, as well as a couple of other ideas as well, mainly because Brewer knows what does and does not work in today’s day and age.

Brewer, like his last two flicks before this, definitely knows how to work in a great deal of Southern-grit to his stories, no matter how wholesome or sweet they may be. For instance, the opening title-sequence where we see everybody’s shoes moving around, is a trick that was pulled-off in the original but updated in a more standard, gritty way that would be expected by kids of today’s generation, due to there being a crap-load of dirty, kegs, and beer being thrown-around as if somebody was throwing an old-school banger in the middle of the corn-fields. Oh, those were the golden days. Anywho, that’s not the only aspect of this flick that Brewer updates with his gritty look-and-feel, there’s a couple of other cool instances where we see how the world around us has changed to where these kids could easily want to rebel by dancing and sticking-up for themselves, but in the end, Footloose is about one thing and one thing only: cuttin’ loose and gettin’ foot loose.

No matter how much it may seem like Brewer is putting his own, personal stamp on this story, he still never forgets to remind us that this is a dancing-movie at it’s heart and core, and that’s all that mattered to me. Nowadays, dancing movies are usually recognized by two words: Step Up. But thankfully, Brewer shoves a little bit of his fist in the way of those movies and give us a great deal of fun and entertainment to watch, as all of these kids just shake their asses off like no other. The stunts, moves, and choreography are off-the-charts and as goofy as it may be to see a bunch of 18-year-old kids, dancing like Michael Jackson on crack at their high-school prom, you still can get past it and have a great-old time no matter what.

Also, to make matters even better, the soundtrack is awesome and definitely worth a listen. They start-off things so perfectly by keeping the old-school, Kenny Loggins track in the movie, and then start to dive-away from that and giving us a rawer, southern-bound edge to music, filled with the eclectic likes of David Banner, Quiet Riot, Zac Brown Band, and most surprising of all, and probably used the best: The White Stripes. Yeah, his days of giving Terrence Howard some key rap-tracks haven’t gone away in the slightest-bit, but Brewer still shows that he’s got a knack for putting in some cool-tracks, into scenes that you would not expect to gel so well with. Basically, when you put the combination of awesome music and awesome dancing together, you are bound to get some fun and entertainment, and if you do not for one second tap your toes to at least one second of this movie, you have no soul and need to get this soundtrack, ASAP.

As fun as this movie may be, there are a lot of goofy moments in this flick that seem so damn earnest and self-important with itself, that it’s just really hard to swing-by (see what I did there?). There are so many instances in this movie where I just had to roll my eyes by how silly things were, such as when Ariel, or lead-gal, feels the need to play chicken in front of train to show how much of a lost soul she truly is. That’s stupid, as well as all of the scenes with her deuchebag boyfriend named Chuck, who comes into disrupt things between Ren and Ariel’s hormones, and does exactly that, but yet, it’s annoying as hell. Whenever the guy shows-up, he’s just hammy, obvious, and way too violent for his own-good, almost to the point of where I felt like the guy made the story a bit too dark by some standards. Anytime he shows up, and this movie tries to get all serious and dramatic with me, I rolled my eyes, scoffed at it all, and pretty much didn’t care. But as soon as the dancing started-up and the music began to blast, then I just forgot about it all and had a fun-time. Isn’t that what dancing’s all about?

Casting this movie must have been a total bitch for Brewer, considering the guy has to fill in the shoes for so many iconic stars like Bacon, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and even Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others, but he does a nice-job in picking just the right names, for the right people, no matter how well-known or unknown they are. Kenny Wormald is a nice-fit for the rebellious and cool kid known as Ren McCormack and handles a lot of the dramatic-stuff, just about as good as his amazing dancing. His infamous infamous “freak out” dance scene seems a bit like parody at-first, but it just goes to show you just how talented this kid is at shaking his rump, and hey, I gotta give him credit for that because lord knows I’d never be able to achieve that. I just hope that Matt Damon or Ben Affleck didn’t catch a glimpse of this movie, or else they’d have a thing or two to teach Wormald about doing an official, Bawhstan accent.

As good as Wormald may be as Ren, the one who really impressed the hell out of me was Julianna Hough as Ariel, the preacher’s daughter. Her character is the most obvious and predictable out of everybody here, but the gal’s still very, very talented when it comes to dancing and being sexy, but she’s also very good in the dramatic scenes as well that makes a lot of her pain and anguish seem real and reasonable. Sadly, I don’t think the girl’s going to get many dramatically-acting offers any time soon, but it’s always good to know that there’s more to her than just a pretty face, a nice body, and a couple of sweet-ass dance moves.

Playing her old daddy O, is non-other than Dennis Quaid who is terrific as the preacher of the little town of Bomont, that not only wants what’s best for his little town, but for his daughter as well. Quaid is good in this role because as much as he may seem like a bit of a stiff that doesn’t budge on anything that concerns going against the sacred book of God, you can start to see a change in him by the end that’s as believable or moving as anything the guy’s done in the past couple of years. Seriously Dennis, you need to get back-out there, man, and show the world what they’re missing-out on. Everybody else is in this movie is interesting, entertaining, and likable, but the only one that really seemed to struggle is Andie MacDowell as Shaw’s wifey. To most of you, this may come as to no surprise whatsoever, but it’s a bit of a surprise to me considering that this chick has been acting for over 30 years by this point, and still has yet to churn-out a good performance. What the fuck, Andie?!?!?

Consensus: Some moments seem obvious, tacky, self-important, and earnest, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter all that much since Footloose is a fun and entertaining movie that shows some nice/believable character-development, as well as a love and passion for the original source material, courtesy of Craig Brewer.


Frost/Nixon (2008)

I would have definitely liked it more if they interviewed the Nixon from Futurama.

This is a period piece, that centers on little-known talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), who goes way out of his way to interview probably one of the most controversial and famous presidents of all-time, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). This is the story of how those interviews went.

I really didn’t know too much about the Frost/Nixon interviews other than the fact that they both were interviews between two dudes. Goes to show you how much I paid attention in history class after all. Surprisingly though, this is not a history lesson and more of a film about the two dudes who were in these famous series of interviews together.

Director Ron Howard really gives it his all with this film because of the way he makes these interviews seem less like actual interviews and more like a boxing match of words between two famous figures. Howard keeps the tension building up and up on these interviews and gives us enough character development to realize just how much both of these people need these interviews. One for fame, the other for forgiveness and setting the record straight.

Another great element to this film that makes it so damn watchable is that it’s script is very very good with a lot intelligence, wit, and small doses of humor to keep us laughing and entertained. It’s basically a “talking heads” film where you just watch a whole bunch of people talk without anything really happening, but it’s a very fun one that relies solely on the fact that it can keep people glued into what Frost is going to ask, and what Nixon is going answer with. I never actually saw the play that this is based off of but apparently everything is taken verbatim which makes the transition from stage to screen even better.

The problem with this film that keeps it away from being anything perfect or amazing like it could have easily been is that I feel like Howard could have really went out-of-bounds with this film. Granted, this is a very small film where there isn’t really a lot happening other than these two guys talking but I feel like there could have been more of how the nation felt about these interviews, and more about other characters that are just sort of there.

I also never understood why Howard have the actors who portrayed these actual people, come off and randomly narrate what was happening and why. I feel like the film is trying to give a sort of documentary feel when in reality it could have just stayed away from that or even used the real-life people itself. We all know who the actors are and who the real people are, so there’s no need to trying to show us otherwise.

Michael Sheen is a lot of fun to watch as David Frost because this guy is sometimes at the lowest points of his life, but no matter what keeps a big olde smile on his face. Sheen reminds me of that very cheeky, very corny, but always funny British guy that always seems to think he’s better than everybody, and usually is depending on who you are talking. However, this film really does belong to the one and only Frank Langella as Richard Nixon.

Even though he doesn’t look like Nixon, Langella probably does the best performance/impersonation of the man that any other actor has ever done in their whole lives. Yes, Anthony Hopkins has played Nixon too, Langella is THAT GOOD. You notice the physical differences within the first 5 minutes but then you totally got lost in this guy because he really just sells this whole conflicted, and tormented soul that knows what he did was wrong but he can’t get past it with everyone around him always breathing down his neck. There is some pretty wild stuff that Langella does as Nixon, such as losing his temper like a 7 year-old would do if his mommy didn’t buy him ice cream, but it’s totally easy to see why Langella got nominated for an Oscar and hopefully he keeps on getting better roles from now on.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t achieve greatness, Frost/Nixon is still a great flick with two great performances, a clever script, and a direction from Howard that keeps this film tense and on its toes.


Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Don’t take taxis during rush hour. This is what will probably happen to you.

Neal Page (Steve Martin) is a high-strung advertising executive who needs to get from New York to Chicago in a matter of two days, for Turkey Day. Many things go bad for Neal and he ends up being stuck with a very nice, eternally sunny, and somewhat intolerable dude named Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower-curtain salesman. Things go from bad to worse, and Neal is stuck with Del in trying to get back to his crib for the turkey. And honestly, who wouldn’t be rushing home for Thanksgiving dinner? Yummy yummy.

John Hughes is a great writer and director and those are the two strengths that are shown here incredibly well, especially with his writing. The whole script here is basically watching this tight-ass be tormented by horrible situations that honestly do go from bad to worse and a guy he always seems to sneak away from, but in the end, he always ends up being right back to where he started from. It’s a formula that is very obvious but somehow Hughes makes it work.

The humor here is hilarious because I just loved seeing a buddy-comedy that had funny situations mixed with a lot of the usual jokes that come from two guys who are polar opposites. Del is talkative, loving, and always happy, while Neal is somehow always tense, annoyed, angry, or just bothered by everything going on around him. This clash between two characters creates a whole lot of fun for the film but then again, I do love road films, so my opinion could be a bit biased.

What really adds to this film is the fact that the humor is under-lined with some sentimental moments, but it doesn’t feel forced or corny in anyway. Hughes is able to draw out these characters so much that by the end of the film, we really do understand them and care for them and hope that no matter what they are both happy, which may sound a little cheesy now but the film spends so much time with its comedy that when it actually does get a little soft, it surprisingly works. The ending is quite a heavy one and I think that’s a real surprise and tribute to what a true talent John Hughes was as a screen-writer.

My problem with this film was that it was a little too obvious that there is a lot more to this guy Del, then we actually think. Without giving anything away, we never really find out where this guy is going, why he’s going there, and just how the hell he ends up going the same way as Neal the whole film. This to me seemed pretty obvious and I think if Hughes wanted to really shock us, he could have just been a bit more mysterious with the character of Del.

There was also this one scene where we find out the big “twist” if you want to call it that, at the end of the film. The scene doesn’t last long and I think for the film to really give this hard-hitting emotional impact on the audience, the scene needed to be help up longer before we started getting into the real heavy ending. Then again, I could just be nit-picking like a the highly-esteemed movie critic that I always am deep down inside.

The main reason why this film works is because of the great performances given by Steve Martin and John Candy who give some of their most memorable performances of their careers, and that’s saying something. Martin is great as the stuck-up Neal, who always seems to be freaking out at everything, and there are also many other scenes where he gets to show his true comedic talent. If you don’t believe me, just watch the F-bomb scene, then you’ll see what I mean. Just wish the dude would step away from ‘Cheaper By the Dozen’.

Candy has never been better as Del and it’s probably my favorite performance from him (beating out ‘Uncle Buck’) because he’s just so damn likable. The guy is always happy, looking on the bright side of things, and whenever something bad seems to come his way he always finds his way of sneaking out of it and bringing out a positive. Candy has a lot of funny lines and funny scenes where he gets to show his playfulness on-screen, but it’s really about the heart that Candy brings out inside of Del that works. You can tell there is something underneath Del, and there are a couple of scenes that hint this and the way Candy shows it is just perfect and real showing of how great he was with both comedy and drama. If I was stuck with John Candy on a two-day trip, I can easily tell you it would be a hell of a time though!

Consensus: Planes, Trains and Automobiles uses a formula we have all seen before but somehow Hughes makes it even more hilarious than it has any right to be, which is also with some thanks to Candy and Martin who are perfect in these roles, bringing out both comedy and heart within their own characters. Perfect Thanksgiving film.

9/10=Full Price!!

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

A lot of stupid, a lotta love, and some craziness ain’t so bad.

When Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) discovers that his wife (Julianne Moore) wants to end their marriage, he reluctantly faces the unwelcome prospect of single life with the counsel of the younger and smoother super-bachelor Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). However, Gosling’s character starts to question his playboy ways when he meets Anna (Emma Stone) and falls in love.

Ever since the trailer first came out for this way back when, I couldn’t wait to see it, but waiting 2 weeks after it already came out to see it was a good idea.

Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris) know how to balance out comedy and drama very well here. There are times where I laughed and a lot of the times felt very moved by a lot of the interactions between these characters and wanted to see more of it as the film progressed.

The problem with the film is that the script itself is just moving along a slick pace but with way too many subplots to actually fit it’s two hour time-limit. When you have all these different characters, it’s sometimes very hard to make all their stories fit before the end is over and this film doesn’t know how to actually wrap it up all too well really which is kind of a shame because there is many comedies within the past year that have been able to do that very same thing well.

In certain scenes, there is that great sign of insight within the script that talks about two people think when it’s not just about sex which I liked because it showed that this was a sort of smart and intelligent romantic comedy that was so based in reality. However, there are so many moments here that are almost cringe-worthy by how sappy and contrived they are. This film is very knowing about certain things and then very up-lifting and sentimental about others which kind of bummed me out considering that there could have been so much here that actually spoke a lot about relationships and love, when in the end, it just turns out to be another rom-com with too much sweetness.

When I kept wondering if I liked this film or not, I kept on coming back to the cast and that’s when I knew, I actually did like this film a lot more. Steve Carell is basically playing the same guy he always plays here as Cal Weaver, but he does it so well that you can actually connect to his character and sympathize with him. There’s a lot of problems that this character runs into but Carell makes it all seem believable and truly has that comedic and dramatic depth to all of his characters.

The real revelation of this film is actually Ryan Gosling who is amazing as Jacob Palmer. Gosling has always had that charm that people know and love him for but he’s never been able to fully throw out his comedic chops until now and I have to say that he really does know exactly what he’s doing. This guy is the exact persona of what every guy in the world thinks they are and what they look like, however, Gosling actually is and with the rock-hard abs, to the fresh-to-def looking vests and to the combed-over hair, Gosling just fits this role so perfectly and shows that he has great comedic timing as well as the dramatic depth to his character to make Jacob Palmer work in the end.

Julianne Moore is also very good as as Cal’s wife, Emily, who has a lot of problems as a character, but somehow Moore is able to over-shadow them with her amazing screen presence and Emma Stone is a lot of fun to watch as Hanna, and creates this great chemistry with Gosling that at first may seem hard to believe in, but by the end you may start to actually wish the film was more on them. Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon are actually kind of in cameo roles but they both play each role amazingly well, given the time they both have on screen.

Consensus: There are moments here that seem incredibly intelligent while others just have you shake your head at the predictable cheesy moments that take so much away from Crazy, Stupid, Love. despite an amazing cast and good moments of being smarter than other rom-com’s out there.


Super (2011)

Basically Kick-Ass with a lower-budget.

When his wife (Liv Tyler) falls in league with a drug dealer, average guy Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) dons the guise of a superhero, dubs himself the Crimson Bolt and tries to keep a tagalong comic-book store clerk (Ellen Page) from becoming his sidekick. But it’s hard to be a superhero when all you’ve got to work with is a pipe wrench.

When I first saw the trailer for this way back when, I didn’t buy it, and just thought it was going to be a complete rip-off of Kick-Ass. In a way it is, but it still works.

Writer and director James Gunn is very good here with this already pretty dark story, and putting some comedy into it and heart here. It starts off as a parody of those super-hero films that we all see, but then turns into one of its own and dives into some very dark and disturbing places. I have to say some of this comedy doesn’t work because it’s almost too terrible to even laugh at, but I have to say I felt uncomfortable at times, and I think that’s what the film wanted to do.

There is also loads and loads of blood, gore, and just really hard-to-watch violence. Some of it will keep you watching and actually rooting for more, while others will just have you totally horrified and taken aback by what you see. Basically, if you’re squeamish, don’t see this film.

My main problem with this film is that Gunn tries to make the audience actually feel bad for rooting this violence on which I did not understand. I guess that Gunn was trying to comment on how we see violence in our every-day life and it’s basically glorified, but this film is pretty much doing the same exact thing here. I didn’t get what he was trying to say, if anything at all, and to be truly honest I think that Gunn could have done a better job of getting his point across.

Rainn Wilson is totally awesome here as Frank aka Crimson Bolt, and is playing this character very straight-laced and normal, with barely anything funny, but he totally gets lost in the character. Wilson is good at making this loser, who turns crazy and wants vengeance, seem believable and actually likable. I think Wilson should keep on doing more roles like these because they actually do work. Liv Tyler is here and does a good job at just being there. Kevin Bacon is great at playing this slime-ball, Jacques, and although he is a total asshole, he still manages to bring laughs out. Nathan Fillion is funny here as The Holy Avenger, the Christian channel superhero who fights off evil. However, Ellen Page is the real delight in this film as Libby who comes out of nowhere and you expect her to be really annoying, but somehow is a great character which Page plays to perfection and her best scenes are with Wilson where they just are total opposites, but seem believable friends.

Consensus: James Gunn’s supposed message may get a little messy, especially towards the end, but has some very dark laughs, a good story, and great acting that keep us involved with this sometimes gruesome superhero tale.


X-Men: First Class (2011)

The greatest mutant bromance ever told.

Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) — the future Professor X and Magneto — are best friends dedicated to harnessing their powers and promoting the education of fellow mutants during the turbulent 1960s. The duo works together to stop a powerful adversary that threatens mankind, but their ideological differences drive them apart and turn them into ferocious enemies.

I’m a big follower of the X-Men. I like the first two X-Men films, and the last two, let’s just say are a little out-there. However, this prequel brings back that flair that I’ve wanted within that genre, since that crap with just Wolverine.

Director Matthew Vaughn who did the “wanna-be” superhero film last year, Kick-Ass, does a surprisingly great job of actually bringing that fun, but very detailed to this story. Vaughn does a great job of keeping this story at a quick pace, with all these different sub-plots and story devices going on at once, but it’s still paced very well and not once did I feel like I was lost in the confusion.

There’s also a great feeling to this screenplay because not only is there a little bit of humor here and there, but it’s also great to see the beginning of the friendship between Professor X and Magneto. Professor X is more like Martin Luther King Jr. as he wants peace in a kind way, while Magneto is more like the Malcolm X type, and believes any force necessary. I liked how this story plays out well and their friendship is the real heart of where the story is located. It must have been hard for four screen-writers to be on this, but somehow, it seems to work out so well.

The action is also amazing. Vaughn really knows how to make the crowd go “wow” with his visuals because they keep on getting cooler and cooler as the whole film continues. There are also a couple of epic scenes with missiles, submarines, and even a couple of bangin’ showdowns between the mutants that step into some unpredictable territory that will keep your eyes fully glued to the screen.

My main problem with this film is that I feel like that this film had so many stuff going at once, that I thought what really worked, didn’t get much attention and other things just sort of dragged it down. Also, I felt they tried to do too many philosophical themes here that didn’t quite work out in the final product, because once you think about it, this is an X-Men film and you don’t really need to say much else.

This whole cast is amazing though. James McAvoy brings that cool and laid-back approach to Professor X and works very well; Michael Fassbender is also great as Magneto and makes him seem like the total mean, and vindictive villain that he is, although his Irish accent comes out a couple of times when he’s trying to sound Polish. These two together have great “buddy” chemistry that makes this film stand-out from any other ordinary superhero flick. Kevin Bacon is pretty good as the smarmy bastard Sebastian Shaw; Jennifer Lawrence is also very good and sexy as a young Mystique; and the rest of the cast does a good job too with the likes of Oliver Platt, Rose Byrne, and the all grown-up Nicholas Hoult. Ohh how they get so old! The weakest link in this cast would probably have to be January Jones as Emma Frost, because even though she looks the part, she doesn’t really bring much to this performance and is ultimately forgettable altogether.

Consensus: It may try it’s luck at times, but X-Men: First Class is a well-scripted, stylishly directed superhero flick from Matthew Vaughn that keeps the action running at a fast-pace, and the actors doing great jobs with the material. This Summer movie season just keeps getting better and better.


A Few Good Men (1992)

A movie that is always remembered for that one famous line.

When cocky military lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and his co-counsel, Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore), are assigned to a murder case, they uncover a hazing ritual that could implicate high-ranking officials such as shady Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson).

When it comes down to it, this a powerhouse of a film. The writing, acting, plot, and directing has got it all, and let’s just say even after 18 years, it stills stands the test of time.

My main love of this movie comes from it’s incredible writing job from the always brilliant, Aaron Sorkin. There is a lot of detail that goes into this story, and not for a second do you get confused by what’s going on, and what is to come. There is plenty of hard talk going throughout this film, and that’s what kept me watching, is how I was just compelled by everything that was said, and happened in this film. The main reason it’s so compelling is because you see just how people act in a certain way, especially when it comes to making decisions that have major consequences.

The problem is that the film is quite a predictable, and run-of-the-mill courtroom drama, with a bit more than others. It plays off as a conventional story, and although it’s interesting, as you keep on watching, you can’t help but think, you have seen this before.

However, the acting here is just superb, with almost every star, basically having their work cut out for them. Tom Cruise, plays his usual cocky character, but with a lot more of a likability this time, and you don’t hate him as much, you start to cheer him on. Demi Moore, and Kevin Pollak, are both Cruise’s little helpers, and do well, creating tow characters that we enjoy watching especially on the screen with Cruise. Although it may seem more like an extended cameo, Jack Nicholson’s part is honestly one of his most well-acted. He starts off as a total dick, and every time he’s on screen you can just feel the tension, and the anger from this dude, and your just getting chills with every little thing he says. However, by the end, and mainly because of that explosive ending, you realize that there’s so much more to his character, and although you may not agree with his claims,you still understand. Those last 20 minutes between Cruise and Nicholson, are just so perfectly acted, and works so well with this whole movie, and when it’s all over, your just amazed at what you just saw. There are of course other supporting acts that are notable such as Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and the always reliable J.T. Walsh. All of the stars in this movie, each give their 100% efforts, and you can tell, which makes this film even better.

Probably the other great thing about this movie is that it can also be used as a great moral tale, or discussion. The whole movie you think got everything figured out, until those last 20 minutes come up, and you just don’t know what to think about it all. I have seen this about 3 times, and let me just say I still don’t know what was right, and what was wrong, but that’s the best thing about this film.

Consensus: A Few Good Men may be your conventional story, it all gets over-shadowed by it’s great script, powerful acting from the whole cast, and those last 20 minutes that will just take you back so much.


She’s Having a Baby (1988)

I guess John Hughes can actually make films, that aren’t just about whiny teenagers.

This John Hughes classic follows high school sweethearts Jake and Kristy Briggs (Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern) as they settle into married life. But Jake’s not completely sold on the idea of giving up his freedom — or his fantasies of a dream girl. Kristy decides to speed things up by going off birth control without telling Jake — until three months later, when they’ve failed to conceive, and Jake agrees to go to a fertility clinic.

Much thanks to my man Peter, at Magic Lantern Film Blog, for mentioning this in his posts. I’ll make sure to keep on watching, what you say to watch my man.

Writer/Director John Hughes has always be known to make films that express restless teenagers, in a very adult-like situations, but with this one, he actually steps out of that shell, and puts real adults, in real adult situations, and the transformation is just great. So many people rag on this movie nowadays, saying this isn’t his best work, and their entitled to their opinion, but honestly, this is one of his best, mainly cause he is able to juggle out humor, and drama so well with this picture.

The screenplay is brutally honest. I’m not a father, nor am I husband of any kind, but the insight that is given here, is so real. These young couples in love, always move into nice, little suburban homes, have the kids, and become that pitch-perfect family, but do they really want that? The film brings this question up many times, as well as others, and it shows you the hard-ships that a wife, and husband, go through, when it comes to that idea of being dedicated, and having to put up with responsibility, ideas that this film bring up so well.

But the film has plenty of emotionally strong moments as well, that work, especially towards the end. The climax, works so well, that by the end of the film, after everything is all said and done, you are just stuck thinking about that little dramatic series, which rarely happens in films. There is also plenty of comedy in this film, much ado to Hughes great sense of satire when it comes to the “American family”, and how people view it as, and fantasize it as.

The one real problem I had with this film, that many others seem to have, is that it doesn’t know when to stop. John Hughes puts plenty of fantasy sequences in this film, to convey the sense of unbelievable feeling, and there are some parts, that are true, and funny, but other times, I found myself actually annoyed by how many there were, and how long they went for. There is just one stupid dream sequence, involving all the neighbors, and their lawn-mowers, as their dancing around, and its amusing for the first 3o seconds, but then it goes on for about 4 minutes, and then I just got annoyed.

Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern really do shine in this film, and keep you watching, even when the film is a bit stale. Bacon at first, starts off as this funny, immature, dude who isn’t ready to handle grown-up decisions, but by the end, you see him transform into somebody better, and more mature, and it’s all believable, but he still brings a lot of humor to his character. McGovern, is also very good, showing a lot of strength in her character, as well interest, even when it seems her character is pretty boring, compared to Bacon’s. Alec Baldwin also shows up in this film for about 3 scenes, and totally nails each one, mainly because he plays a deuche bag, and we all know he’s good at playing that, or is it an act?? hmmm…….

Consensus: Different, more mature, and overall smart film, by John Hughes that hits all levels of drama, and comedy, as well as showing great insight into the suburban life.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Apollo 13 (1995)

Reasons why aliens aren’t the only thing we have to fear out there.

Technical troubles scuttle the Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1971, risking the lives of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and his crew in director Ron Howard’s chronicle of this true-life story, which turns a failed journey into a thrilling saga of heroism. Drifting more than 200,000 miles from Earth, the astronauts work furiously with the ground crew to avert tragedy. Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris also star.

I have always been interested in the idea of US landing on the moon. The whole idea, happening, people, everything just about it interests me a lot in such a weird way. So to finally see the one that couldn’t play out like it did, was really a treat.

Director Ron Howard probably gives the best directing job of his career with this one. Its not so much the story that’s so perfect as much as it is the special effects, and the use of sound in a film like this. There is a great scene of when the shuttle is on for liftoff, and you see how everything heats up and goes up in flames, and also some great scenes showing the outer world of space, all together great looking scenes. The scenes when they are also in the shuttle itself, and just floating around is something miraculous, to see it played out so well, and not as a humorous thing.

I had a problem with this film that actually did ruin the experience for me. The film acts almost as if it were a suspense thriller in space, when I think anybody that has had high-school history should know that these people lived. Hate to give you guys a spoiler alert, but if you don’t know that then, well get your head back into those history books.

There was also a problem when they focused on the wife of Hanks in the film, played by Kathleen Quinlan. It’s a good performance don’t get me wrong, but watching those scenes were not as effective as the ones when they were in space. They could have been better and I kind of do blame Howard for not hitting the marks he could have off the shuttle.

When it comes to playing almost the same guy in every movie, Tom Hanks does it the best. He is very good here showing off his usual heroic like appearance. Also, the chemistry between him, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton (who’s basically coughing throughout the whole movie), shows a lot of great scenes between each other. Although Ed Harris was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, the one who should have gotten nominated was Gary Sinise. Who brings a lot to his character who is actually left out to dry in the beginning and middle part of the film.

Consensus: Apollo 13 doesn’t work on its suspense level, and some of the scenes aren’t as effective, but is fun, emotional, great to look at, and wonderfully acted by the cast.


The River Wild (1994)

Its like Funny Games, on the river.

What was already a turbulent family vacation turns deadly when a fugitive (Kevin Bacon) and his crew kidnap river rafting guide Gail (Meryl Streep), her husband Tom (David Strathairn) and their son in this thriller from Curtis Hanson. As they steer toward a series of dangerous rapids, the criminals force Gail to abandon Tom, who immediately embarks on a courageous mission to save his family.

So the film starts out as any typical hostage film. People meet, its all nice and fun, then shit gets crazy. The one thing that most of these suspense thrillers, is a deal of suspense. However, this had one scene of that, and then after that one scene, was totally lost. The film’s writing is not so good, and where it could have most definably succeeded in being witty, and suspenseful, the film goes for the predictable mark.

I mean the film is PG-13, so I don’t think that much grizzly killing would be going on, but at least excite me with something rather than these people getting held hostage, and going down a river. Like in all honesty, find something to spice up the story!

The film does work in some ways though. I liked how the setting of the film looked. This forest actually almost has a life of its own, because the film tries to make it seem like all these people are totally secluded from the world outside, and the film does that very well, by showing the good and the bad of the forest.

Another reason the film works is also because of the performances, mostly Streep and Bacon. Streep plays her role of a former river guide turned wife and mother, so well and so believable that I actually did stand behind her a lot of the times, cause she was smart, tough, and overall believable. Bacon also is very good here starting off as this ridiculously creepy, inappropriate dude, and then totally switches the other gear when he is scary and sadistic, actually making me hate him. Which in film, is a good thing.

Consensus: Though its good to look at and well acted, The River Wild suffers from an incredibly predictable, and badly written screenplay, that has so many stupid scenes, it all just seems pretty dumb.