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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Marin Ireland

Hell or High Water (2016)

Crime? Yeah. Keep it in the family.

Toby and Tanner Howard set out to rob a bunch of banks across the Texas region, but for what reasons? Toby (Chris Pine) has two kids that he’s got to support, whereas Tanner (Ben Foster), doesn’t really. The two are brothers who haven’t been in contact much all of these years, but for some reason, have now caught back up to do a bunch of a bank jobs, save up some money, and become all nice and rich. However, hot on their tail is aging, almost-retired Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges). While the brothers think they have the plan down to a T and are going to run into no mishaps along the road, of course, they do end up actually having some issues, whether it be poor-planning, or Tanner acting out in violent, sometimes dangerous ways. Either way, the bros have a plan that they’re going to stick to and stay alive with, even if Hamilton knows a thing or two about robbers of these sorts and isn’t going to back down from a challenge, even if his older age is telling him that it’s time to settle down and just retire already.

The bros that live together, grow competing mustaches together.

The bros that live together, grow competing mustaches together.

It’s nice to get a movie as relaxed and laid-back as Hell or High Water, yet, at the same time, still be tense and on-edge while watching it. Director David Mackenzie knows his way around a suspenseful sequence and doesn’t shy away from kicking up the action to high-gear, whenever he sees fit. However, he also makes the smart decision to slow things down whenever is necessary, so that we get a sense of this setting, these characters, their relationships, and just exactly what’s at-stake. Honestly, it’s movie-making 101, but for some reason, it still surprises me that we get so few of that in movies nowadays that when I do get it, it’s a nice and pleasant surprise.

Which is why, for the late-summer, Hell or High Water is definitely a nice jump of joy.

It’s not the kind of movie that breaks down barriers, or brings peace to the whole world, but it’s the kind of movie that shows how much can be done, with so little. Even when it seems like Mackenzie and writer Taylor Sheridan are way too comfortable and don’t really have anywhere to go, they all of a sudden pull something from underneath the rug and give us an action-sequence, a speech, or just a conversation between two characters that’s just as exciting as any of the shoot-outs or car-chases. Although, that isn’t to say that the shoot-outs and car-chases are fun and exciting, because they most definitely are, but they aren’t the bulk of the movie and that’s what matters most.

In a way, Hell or High Water is much more about some sort of political statement than any sort of popcorn crime-thriller; sure, it takes absolute joy in being all about sweaty Southern gals and pals cussing and shooting and robbing, but it also enjoys having a little something to say about these aspects as well. It’s a lot like a 99 Homes in that it speaks out against the government, the banks, and the whole entire system that would make two brothers feel as if they needed to rip-off of a bunch of banks, for whatever reason. The movie’s very hush-hush on their reasoning until a certain point (which, when it is revealed, makes a lot of sense and is pretty damn smart), but it’s more about how a world like ours can produce people to rebel and fight back against a system that’s constantly ripping them off and robbing them of their own goods and will.

It’s less preachy than I make it sound, trust me, but it’s still effective all the same.

That’s why a cast like this is so good and so needed to make sure that all of the material comes off organically; to have a bunch of silly, sometimes cartoonish Southerners go on and on about society and the United States government would get to be a bit old and not believable, but the ensemble does make it all work. But when they aren’t spouting-off their political ideas or beliefs, they’re also building their characters up to be understandable human beings, and not just goofy characters in a crime-thriller.

She's probably the biggest bad-ass of them all, and she doesn't even rob a bank. Or does she?

She’s probably the biggest bad-ass of them all, and she doesn’t even rob a bank. Or does she?

For instance, the brotherhood between Ben Foster and Chris Pine’s characters is so well-written, yet subtle, that you feel as if they’ve known each other their whole lives, have had issues in the past, but have gotten over all of them for the sake of growing older and allowing for bygones to be bygones. Foster is a compelling nutcase, whereas Pine is a lot smaller and understated, but all the more interesting, as we know that he’s got a head on his shoulder, but why he’s doing what he’s doing is always left in the air. It does eventually get answered, but really, it’s the mystery that keeps him so watchable.

And then, of course, there’s the always reliable Jeff Bridges, in full-on Rooster Cogburn-form, howling and cackling as much as he possibly can. But no matter what, he’s always lovable and fun-to-watch, even when it seems like his character may be running into caricature-territory. However, as good as he may be, it’s really Gil Birmingham who steals the show, offering a sweeter look into the life on an American that we don’t always see in movies, nor do we see get all that much attention as he does here. It’s the kind of quiet and contained performance that gets overlooked with so many big names and big performances, but it’s the kind that I loved and made me want to see more of, even if it’s just a supporting character.

Still though, he deserves his own movie and it’s one that I definitely wouldn’t mind watching.

Consensus: Small and understated, yet, still tense, exciting, compelling and most importantly, well-acted, Hell or High Water is a nice diversion from the rest of what the summer’s got to offer and definitely well worth a look.

8.5 / 10

Kirk got lost somewhere in Texas and hasn't called back yet. He's just having way too much fun.

Kirk got lost somewhere in Texas and hasn’t called back yet. He’s just having way too much fun.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Cinema Clock

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The Family Fang (2016)

Life’s a joke anyway. So yeah, make some stuff up while you’re at it.

Ever since they were just little kids, Buster and Annie Fang (Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman) have always felt like they were a part of some big joke in life and never really their own person. Most of this was due to the fact that their parents were well-known con artists that would sometimes stage crazy, nearly dangerous scenes in real life, and more often than not, it was Buster and Annie who were usually huge parts of making sure that the elaborate scams went into play. Now, many years later, Buster and Annie are having a bit of trouble adjusting to their adult-lives, with their own careers; Buster is a writer who had one good book, one bad one, and can’t seem to make up his mind about what he wants to do with this next one, whereas with Annie, she’s a mediocre actress who, for the first time ever, just did a nude scene. And even though Annie and Buster have changed an awful lot, believe it or not, their parents are still the same as they used to be, thinking of new and exciting ways to screw with the people around them. However, when they both go missing, Buster and Annie don’t quite know what to make of it. Do they take it as serious and actually face the fact that they may be lost out there in the world? Or, do they take it as another one of their long-running gags that they’re using as a way to be “artistic”?

Yes, mom and dad, kids really do grow up fast.

Yes, mom and dad, kids really do grow up fast.

What’s interesting about the Family Fang is that even though you’d automatically assume that this is, yet again, another drab, depressing and pretentious piece of Sundance-filmmaking, surprisingly enough, it doesn’t turn out that way. This is probably due to the fact that behind the camera, is none other than Jason Bateman himself. Rather than drowning in the sorrow and misery that can sometimes seems all that’s inside of these characters, Bateman does decide to go for a lighter, sometimes funnier-route, where we’re laughing more at the fact of how weird this family-dynamic is, rather than laughing along with it.

Trust me, there’s a big distinction.

There’s a solid blend between the comedy and drama here that, while I thought worked in Bateman’s directorial debut, Bad Words, still works here, but on a much smaller and subdued scale. Bateman isn’t demanding our emotions, nor is he trying to ask for us to love him, the movie, or these characters – he’s just giving us a story that may be a bit odd, but still resonates because, at the end of the day, it’s really about family, love and finding your true self. Sure, it’s most definitely corny, but Bateman finds a way to get to these themes and messages without overplaying his hand too much to where it feels like cues a movie like this takes.

And then yeah, his performance as Buster is pretty solid, too. For once, it seems like Bateman himself has found that perfect balance between the both sides of his persona. While we’ve seen him try to be dark, dramatic and serious before, more often than not, it feels as if he may just be making a statement about it, or the movies themselves haven’t been that good to really keep up with what he was doing (the Gift is the very, very rare exception). Here, as Buster, Bateman finds just the right sweet spot to where we see this character as a very serious person, but by the same token, still someone who can make a wisecrack every so often, just as Jason Bateman characters tend to do.

Uh oh. Is Jason Bateman trying to "out-act" Nicole Kidman? Look out!

Uh oh. Is Jason Bateman trying to “out-act” Nicole Kidman? Look out!

But as good as Bateman is in the role, it was really nice to see Nicole Kidman get a good role to work with as Annie. While Kidman has been one of the best actresses working today, lately, it seems as if she hasn’t been given a role worthy of her immense talents; there’s been some brief, bright and shining moments of that old light that used to shine all of the time, no matter what project she took up, but unfortunately, not as many around to where I’ve gotten excited about seeing her name pop-up for something. However, as Annie, Kidman gets a chance to show off her more funnier-skills as an actress, as well as remind people that she can, yes, act dramatically.

She and Bateman do that both very well, which is why their dynamic as a brother and sister, works quite well.

If anything, too, it’s actually damn relatable. Given that the story itself may be a bit on the weird side, the fact that Bateman is able to make it appear like the Fangs are just like any other family out there in the world, is a true testament to the kind of director he could be, with more and more time behind the camera. We get a sense of who these characters are, what they’re all about, and while it may come-off as a bit unbelievable, the movie still makes an effort to allow us to see them for all that they are.

It sounds really tedious, I know, but certain attention to characters and their relationships to one another is, unfortunately, often times, too rare to find around these days. Bateman does that right and then some, allowing for his talented cast to work with the material as much as they are able and willing to. Even though he has maybe only 15 minutes in the whole film, Christopher Walken leaves a lasting impression as the Fang father, who may or may not be a total dick for what he made his kids do when they were younger. But because it’s Christopher Walken, you start to think of him less as a “good guy”, or “bad guy”, but more of just “a guy”, and that’s the true greatness of the Family Fang.

Wow. Did I really like it that much? Guess so.

Consensus: The Family Fang benefits from the fact that Jason Bateman is a capable enough director to balance out heart, humor and character detail, to where everything and everyone gets their time to shine in subtle, but effective ways.

8 / 10

Yeah. Hated it when my parents made me do this, too.

Yeah. Hated it when my parents made me do this, too.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Run, Denzel, run!

Denzel Washington plays Army Major Bennett Marco, a career soldier who grows suspicious about his experience in Desert Storm after Squad Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), son of the powerful Senator Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep), becomes a candidate for Vice President. Something feels very eerie about Marco, and both of the Shaw’s and that’s why Marco is going to go out and settle the truth.

Jonathan Demme is a very skilled director that can go from making movies about Neil Young, to making one about a pilled-up Anne Hathaway that loves crashing weddings, and make it all work out in his own way. Of course, like with most directors, the guy has had his fair share of blow-outs (The Truth About Charlie, anyone?), but I think it’s safe to say that he’s definitely had more hits than misses and this flick is one of those rare hits, that somehow misses a mark it could have hit a littler harder.

What makes this flick work is that Demme puts us in the same state-of-mind as it’s main character is in, and has us disheveled and confused as he is, and never lets us know exactly just what the hell is going on. We get a lot of dreams, flashbacks, hallucinations, ideas, drug-trips, and plenty more devices that are used to mess with our minds, just like our main character’s as well, and that’s what Demme succeeds at the most. He keeps us in the dark with what we think we know, and what we expect to happen next in a flick like this.

And yes, it most definitely works.

Just think about it: Naomi Watts would be OUR first lady.

Just think about it: Naomi Watts would be OUR first lady.

There are certain places that this movie goes, really will surprise you, in terms of twists and material. The twists are good and kept on flying when I thought they would end, but still added more and more layers of tension and mystery to a story that didn’t need it, but didn’t suffer from too much of it either. But in terms of material and where this flick goes with it, it can be pretty damn surprising. Certain things happen that you don’t expect to considering this is a mainstream thriller with A-list names and Hollywood producers, and you also don’t expect certain characters to get killed-off when they do. Basically, with a filmmaker and story-teller like Demme, nothing is as what it seems and you can’t seem to trust anyone. Once again, that’s the same sort of mind-frame that our main character takes and it’s a real delight to see that work so well by the inspired hands of Jonathan Demme.

Although, something just wasn’t clicking for me in the right ways that I was expecting it to. What I mean by that, is that the movie has all of these ideas, all of these mysteries, and all of these conspiracies to it, that enhance the plot as well as our confusion of what we think is actually happening, but never seems to get off-the-ground. The reason for that being is because it feels like Demme is so considered with laying down the groundwork of this story and telling us what he feels like we should know, that he never kicks the story into full-gear and having us feel like we are on a ride that’s never going to end, and shows no signs of it either.

Maybe the problem I had with this movie and this pace, was that I think I was expecting something more of a slam-bang, action-thriller, and that’s exactly what I did not get. This is more along the lines of a psychological thriller that takes it’s good old time to get where it needs to go, and doesn’t really worry about the people watching it, squirming in their seats and just waiting for the tides to change, and start having people beat the shit out of one-another and run away. That never happens and even when it does show signs of that actually occurring and speeding everything up: it still disappoints. If it wasn’t for this snail-like pace, Demme would have really been onto something here, but the guy just never lets his material move at a speed that cannot only gain our attention, but have us more intrigued in seeing where it all goes and ends-up.

Thankfully, we have an A-list cast like this to save the day and thank the heavens for them. When you see a movie that Denzel Washington stars in, you automatically assume that he’s going to be the downright lovable, cool-as-shit Denzel Washington that we see him play, and master in just about every one of his movies. However, he’s a little different and shows that the guy can play crazy, pretty damn well, mind you. The guy’s still got some charm to where you feel like he’s a good-guy underneath all of the lost-marbles, but you still don’t know what to make of where he’s going, in terms of character and his motivations. No matter where this character ends up, Denzel is always compelling and always makes it easy for us to root him on, as if it’s him vs. the world, and we are on red corner’s side, just hoping he comes out of this alive and without a single-scratch on that voluptuous forehead of his. Yeah, I went there and I make no apologies for it either, bitches.

Not walking up the public-escalators? Yeah, totally crazy.

Not walking up the public-escalators? Yeah, totally crazy.

The one in this cast that I was really surprised by was Liev Schreiber as Raymond Shaw, because not only does the guy portray his character’s smugness in such a way that really had me want to punch him in his corrupt-face, but he has the most challenging-role of all. For instance, Shaw is the type of character that is typically a bad guy because he looks bad, is on the bad guy’s side, and is rich, powerful, and smart. Pretty much any person that has those qualities in a movie, or life for that matter, fit the bill of being a total and complete villain that we just don’t like and want to see dead as soon as possible. I’m talking about in the movies, not real-life. Although I do think you could arrange that if you needed to.

But I digress.

What makes this character of Raymond Shaw so complex is that yes, he does fit the role of the type of guy you would normally hate and root-against in a movie like this, but there’s more to him than just that. You sort of feel bad for him because you can tell that he doesn’t really have the brightest-clue as to knowing what the hell is going on, and feels bad that he’s being played-with as a result of all of this confusion. Therefore, he has to take the higher, and sometimes more difficult road of taking everything he sees, hears, and thinks in stride and going about his business, but still having wonders in his head as to what the hell is right and what is wrong with his life. Schreiber plays this moral-dilemma so very, very well and shows the type of dimensions you can get with a character like this, no matter how one-sided he may seem on-paper. Schreiber is always a solid actor that continues to turn in good-work-after-good-work, and his role as Raymond Shaw, is one of the glaring examples of this.

Perhaps the one who really knocks this out-of-the-park, but didn’t surprise me as much was Meryl Streep as Raymond’s “mother”, Eleanor. I think it goes without saying that we all know and love Streep for being the powerhouse-force of in almost everything she does, but her performance as Eleanor shows a darker, meaner-side to the things that she can accomplish and show-off as an actress. She doesn’t necessarily chew the scenery, as much as she takes a look at it, contemplates whether or not to take a bite, and then, decides to eat the whole freakin’ thing and spit it right back out. Streep is the type of actress that can pull-off this hard-hitting woman role like gangbusters, and it was so glorious to see her play a character that isn’t all wholesome and happy; she’s actually pretty terrible.

Consensus: Demme doesn’t allow The Manchurian Candidate to fully pick itself up off-the-ground with fun and electricity in the air, but instead allows the eerie, and mysterious atmosphere kick in and mess with your minds as much as it’s messing with the lead character’s, and many other’s as well.

6.5 / 10

Rawr!

Rawr!

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Glass Chin (2015)

Don’t be afraid to bag groceries for the rest of your life. There’s some pride in that.

Down-on-his-luck ex-boxer Bud Gordon, was commonly referred to as “the Saint”, but he’s been anything but. He’s got a girlfriend (Marin Ireland) that he’s trying to settle down, but can’t stop cheating on her; has a job as a boxing-trainer, but still can’t keep himself away from working as a guy who looks for loansharking victims; and wants to open back up a restaurant of his that was recently closed down, but in order to do so, he has to rely on whatever the odd, eccentric gangster J.J. (Billy Crudup) tells him what to do and when. Bud may not have a perfect life, but he’s just getting by and wants to continue to do so, even while his night job with his “co-worker”, Roberto (Yul Vasquez), gets more and more dangerous by the minutes. Eventually though, it all comes to a head and Bud’s left to wonder what his next move should be – either, risk everything in his life, or take another easy pay-out for himself and his possible new restaurant? Bud doesn’t know what to do, but he’s going to rely on his ability to do the right thing, even if he doesn’t know what that is just yet.

"Hey, we get Freud, too."

“Hey, we get Freud, too.”

Everything about Glass Chin sounds so very familiar and generic, but somehow, writer/director Noah Buschel finds interesting little ways of how to spin it just so that it doesn’t come off like that one bit. Instead of making this movie about how an ex-boxer found redemption both in-and-out of the ring, it’s more about how this ex-boxer copes with making enough money to support him and his girl, with whatever work comes his way. Though, once again, that may all sound conventional, it doesn’t come off that way; more or less, it seems like the kind of movie made about people we don’t too often see get the spotlight quite as much.

These types of characters here in Glass Chin are mostly all down-on-their-luck, not just Bud, but they have so much more to them that makes them worth watching. Sometimes. they enjoy a little movie, other times, a nice night on the town, getting plastered and reminiscing on the old times. These characters here may all have their quirks that set them apart differently from one another, but they’re all placed into a certain group that’s similar and it makes me appreciate these kinds of movie all the more.

Though Buschel had every opportunity to make this movie so much more than it appears to be, he fights the urge to do so and mostly, just keeps his attention set firmly on Bud and all that happens with him and his life. And by “firmly”, I do mean as-firm-as-a-glove; Buschel has a neat style here where he performs a lot of long takes, sometimes likes to go with a close-up on a character’s face who seems like they’re talking directly to you, and other times, make the colors so jumpy and distinctive, that the characters themselves fall into them.

However, no matter what tricks Buschel uses, there’s always somebody talking here. And it’s always intriguing to hear and watch as it moves the plot along.

Because even though a lot of these characters could be generally considered “the numbskulls of society”, they occasionally drop a smart line about life every now and then, just to remind you that they do an awful lot of thinking, too. They aren’t just placed into one area of society, forgotten about, and allow for their brains to fry – they’ve think, too, and you know what? They want to let others know.

Sometimes, what these characters say or talk about, can border on unique, or plain and simply odd, but it’s always interesting to listen to. Buschel has a knack here for writing dialogue just how these sorts of people would talk, even if they do sometimes go on rather long tangents that either, seem to go nowhere, or have a point, but take forever to get there. The one character that this is proven so perfectly with is Billy Crudup’s slimy and weird J.J.; though you know he’s definitely up to no good and is more than likely to screw Bud up in any way he sees fit, there’s something oddly charming about him to where you just want to believe that he may be as nice of a guy as he presents. You know he isn’t, but still, you hold-out some form of hope.

A little too intrigued by that light.

A little too intrigued by that light.

Same goes for each and every other character here.

Corey Stoll’s Bud seems like a dope that doesn’t always use his head when it comes to making any sort of decision, but you just hope that his mind is in the right place for this moment in his life and that he’s not going to screw it all up due to greed; Yul Vasquez’s Roberto may or may not be on Bud’s side, but you have a feeling he is looking out for the guy, even if it’s to save his own ass; Marin Ireland’s Ellen wants to stay by her man, but he continues to test her patience with all of the screwing around and disappointing that, even if it’s sad to think of her doing so, she might have to get going, pack up her stuff, an leave Bud once and for all; and Kelly Lynch’s Mae is, just, well, sexy. Can’t expect much else from her.

Each member of the cast is good here and give their characters certain level of dimensions that you definitely won’t see coming. Sure, some are more interesting than the other, but they all matter to the story and prove that if you have a good enough cast and characters to work with, then the plot will sort of fall as it pleases to do so. All of the other stuff is just unnecessary used for those who can’t handle themselves if something isn’t blowing up, or if a person’s getting shot.

Those are the kinds of people not made for Glass Chin and that’s why there’s something so special about it.

Consensus: With a talented cast at work, Glass Chin goes farther and beyond its basic-cable premise, and becomes an insightful, dramatic glimpse into the live’s of character’s we don’t always get glimpses of.

8 / 10

Imagine Creed, but without pushing-70 Sly.

Imagine Creed, but without pushing-70 Sly.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

I Am Legend (2007)

Carlton would have faired-off much better.

Virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) and his doggy Sam, are left to roam throughout the rest of a desolate NYC, just after a virus has hit the Earth and pretty much wiped-out any signs of human-life throughout the globe. And how did it all start, you ask? Well, Neville himself actually caused the beginning of it through a new treatment that was going around to cure cancer, but instead, turned almost all humans into walking, roaring, angry, pissed-off, and rage-infested monsters that only come out at night, when there’s no sun anywhere to be found in the sky. Neville continues to search for a cure and to stay alive, but more than often, he finds himself coming up on loose-ends, without knowing when the clock is finally going to stop ticking and he’s going to give up, or when he’s finally going to get rescued. And yet, he continues to wait and wait, and wait.

What sets this flick apart from most of the other mainstream, zombie-invasion flicks out there is that this may have a crap-load of money, crap-load of places to film, and a crap-load of filler-scenes, but don’t be mistaken, this is not necessarily the type of mainstream, zombie movie you’re used to seeing and wasting $10 (plus more if you include over-priced snacks) on. Somehow, this one goes a bit deeper than that in the sense that it shows you this man, Robert Neville, practically all alone in this world by himself. There may be others out there looking for him, or searching the world for a cure or a way out of this crisis, but from what he knows, he’s the only one left alive.

Just a typical walk with his dog through a deserted NYC. Typical, is what I say and typical is what I mean.

If only every dog-walk I’ve ever been on with my pooch was as peaceful as this. No plastic bags needed at all. What a dream that would truthfully be.

In a way, due to Francis Lawrence’s approach for a good-chunk of the movie, you feel as if you’re watching something along the lines of Cast Away, minus Wilson and the Palm trees. Right as the movie begins, you’re thrown right into this world of pure-silence, where, if something or somebody was moving around, you’d be able to hear it just through the sheer-lack of anything else happening at all. It’s sad, yes, but Lawrence also injects some fun and humor to make up for the fact that this is essentially: One dude, one dog, and one deserted city, all to themselves. Which also means, plenty of time to golf wherever you want, steal whatever you want, from wherever you want and even get the chance to make-up fake friends with mannequins, where you can have imaginary, one-sided conversations to make it feel like you live in a normal, everyday-like world. Sucks that it isn’t true, but Neville doesn’t harp on this sad reality too much, and just takes everyday as he goes along, not knowing when its all going to come crashing down at any given time.

While this is all strangely, un-Hollywood-like, eventually, Francis Lawrence does realize that he has a huge budget to work with, and that ends up becoming the movie’s biggest-issue, despite all some impressive shots in the beginning. The fact that Lawrence was able to make NYC look like this post-apocalyptic, deserted wasteland is something to applaud, yet, given the fact that he was probably given a mucho amount of moolah to spend, it isn’t anything that noteworthy. Then again though, it’s still cool to see done on the big screen, especially since you can tell a lot of effort obviously went in to the way it looked, felt and seemed to be sought as a realistic look at the world’s end.

But like I said, the big budget ends up killing Lawrence’s ambitions because not all of the CGI here works, and instead, comes off as rather dodgy, where it seems like most of the attention was put into NYC itself, and less of the rage-infested vampires themselves. Given that the movie cost a lot of money, this is a beat of a disappointment, but then again, we have come a long, long way since the late-days of 2007, so maybe I shouldn’t get on this movie’s case too much about the special-effects being as up-to-par with what I’ve seen in the post-Avatar movie world. Though it was a bit hard to get past some of those problems, I eventually realized that at the end of the day, it’s better to just embrace the hard-effort put on by Lawrence and his crew, and look at the positives.And then that ending happened.

Without spoiling it all for you peeps out there who have yet to view this movie and see its ending, I’m just going to let you know on a little fact that the theatrical-release’s ending, is way different from the original, far-better ending. In the original ending, we get this sense that what Neville is fighting is more than just a bunch of angry, vampire-like things that are hungry for human-flesh and are chomping at the bit for their next flavoring-session, instead, he’s fighting something that somewhat resemble humans, with enough heart, humanity and understanding to come to terms with; but with the original ending, it’s all played-out as if it was some big, loud, action-packed, HURRAH moment that could have only come along with a big-budget, mainstream Will Smith movie, and not something that’s a little smarter and different, like we were initially promised from the first hour or so.

"Jesus! After 3 years, there is still no delivery-guy!"

“Jesus! It’s been three years now, and these assholes still haven’t realized where I live!”

I’m sorry if I may have ruined the ending for some, but honestly, I don’t feel as if I have. You can check out the original ending online somewhere, I bet, and you can most likely make up your own mind. But as for me, the original ending should have been used, and is a lot more effective than just something that the major-studious probably forced to Lawrence to have, just so that “some” audiences could feel like they got their large helpings of soda and popcorn fully-deserved.

That said, the one aspect keeping this whole movie together, through the worst of times, and the best of times, is none other than the star of the show himself: Mr. Will muthafuckin’ Smith. Some people may not know this, but in case you don’t and need a simple reminder, let me let you in on a little something: Will Smith is freakin, bonafide movie star. He truly is, and he shows that he not only is capable as a charming fella that you’d love to spend time with, even if the world has practically turn to utter-crap, but that you’d be able to trust every judgement he makes. There are some questionable choices throughout this movie he decides to go through with, but you always get the sense that he’s doing it for the better for himself, for his trusted-doggie Sammy and the rest of mankind, or at least what’s left of it. We know he’s a good guy, and even though he practically spurred this whole infection on in the first place, it’s relatively easy enough for us to forgive him now because he’s making up for it in a hard-hitting way. Yet, he’s not asking for our sympathy and doesn’t want everybody to know how damaged he is, he just wants to survive and save the rest of the world from being fully-contaminated and ruined. Whatta man. Great performance from Smith that obviously gets a lot of attention as being that he’s the only human we see on-screen for awhile, but still makes every single second with him count and be believable.

Consensus: I Am Legend, despite all of the pit-falls it hits with its patched-on ending and dodgy-CGI bits, is still one hell of a survival flick that never leaves you feeling like you know what’s going to happen next, no matter how many times you’ve seen it (fifth time for yours truly).

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

When he's not kicking ass and taking names of the monsters that surround his city, Will Smith usually takes a break, chill-out, and see what's new in the world of the Apocalypse.

When he’s not kicking ass and taking names of the vampires that inhabit NYC, Will Smith usually takes a break, chills out and check out what’s new in the world of the Apocalypse.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Hope Springs (2012)

Face it, old people bone.

Many years of marriage have left Kay (Meryl Streep) wanting to spice things up and reconnect with her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones). When she hears of a famed relationship guru (Steve Carell) in the town of Great Hope Springs, she must persuade her skeptical husband to get on a plane for an intense week of marriage and sex therapy.

Judging by the first couple of trailers I saw, I was expecting another zany, Streep comedy, where she plays an older gal trying to relive her older days by doing what it is that she wants, when it comes to being between the sheets. In that regard, it reminded me a lot of It’s Complicated, which is a film I laughed at, but still thought was your average, rom-com that nobody thought twice about. That is not necessarily the case here, and that’s what really, really took me by surprise.

Despite being advertised as this totally zany comedy, the film isn’t filled to the core with that. Yeah, there is a couple of funny light moments that really work and made me crack up (one scene in particular where Steep tries oral sex on Jones in a movie theater, which probably gave a lot of people in the theater with me a lot of ideas), but it’s more about the dark, sad truths that come behind relationships and marriages, regardless of how long you have been together.

People, as a whole, grow old. And it doesn’t matter what you try to do with your life to never grow old, but that’s eventually what happens and you can see that especially with this couple of Kay and Arnold. Not only did these two grow old, but they also just grew apart from one another, becoming more of room-mates than actual life-mates. Arnold wakes up everyday, eats the same breakfast combo (one slice of bacon and two eggs, remember that), kisses his wife on the cheek before going to work, comes home from work every night, eats dinner with his wife, goes to watch the Golf channel, falls asleep (typical), and gets awoken by Kay to go up-stairs to his own room, where only he sleeps. This is how his day is every day and it never changes, and it all occurs with barely any talk between him and his wife. What the hell happened between them? Why won’t he just love her? Why doesn’t he talk to her? Why? Why? Why!?!?

Much to my surprise, I was very intrigued by this couple within the first 10 minutes and I kept sitting there to myself wondering just what was up with this obviously, once-loving couple. Director David Frankel is actually more intrigued than anybody else watching this and through the series of non-stop therapy sessions, we see what happened to them, how it all started, who’s to mainly be blamed, and just why they are the way with each other now. The smartest thing that Frankel does other than just let all of these play out, is that he doesn’t take anybody’s side in this relationship. Nope, it’s actually both of their faults for the reasons as to why they aren’t as in love as they once were. I don’t want to give away as to how and why they all of sudden changed things up in their relationship, but what you may find and hear about here are some very honest truths about the way couples begin to act, especially when they have been together as long as 31 years together. Yeesh!

Though, as surprisingly heavy as this film may be, there was still a whole bunch of unneeded rom-com elements that I didn’t feel were really needed. After about the third, awkward sexual scene these two have, I was pretty much getting annoyed by how it seemed like the only way that Frankel could get comedy for this material is by placing a whole bunch of stupid, jokey-jokey sex scenes that didn’t seem to really add much to the film and the ideas, other than show us how old people can’t really be dirty and sexual. Another rom-com formula that also seemed to bother me was the types of songs Frankel used here. A lot of them are a bit too-on-the-nose with certain sad and sappy songs playing whenever either one of them don’t feel loved, and so on and so forth. Basically, the fact that this is a rom-com kind of ruins it but I guess it wasn’t all that terrible to totally destroy the final-product.

But I guess when you have the actors that you have in this film, it doesn’t matter what type of material you have, because it works anyway. Meryl Streep is of course, great as Kay, but this performance is a lot different from what we’ve been seeing from her as of late. There’s a lot more subtlety going on here with her act that really stands-out as we can tell that this girl just wants to be loved and just wants her old relationship back as most people would feel if they started to get in a relationship like the one she’s in. Kay is a character that doesn’t get too up-front with her husband because she’s a bit afraid to ruin any type of chance of intimacy that they may or may not have, and it also shows the effect that this dull relationship may have on her self-esteem and feelings. Streep is great in this role and she gives us a female character that is not only as strong as the male, but also gives us a lot of insight into how our woman feel if we don’t show them the bedroom from time-to-time. Am I right men?

As good as Streep was (and trust me, she was good), I was more involved with Tommy Lee Jones as Arnold and actually found him to be the best thing in this whole flick. Jones starts out as the usual grumpy, stand-offish old man that doesn’t really want anything to do with anybody or anything, he just wants to go about his day the same way he’s been going about it for the last 20 or 30 years. But as time moves on in this flick, we start to see a lot of those walls come down and we see a very lonely and self-conscious guy that doesn’t know what to do with his wife, other than just be a husband and not much else. There’s a lot of moments where Jones nails a lot of the comedic moments, but his emotional moments where we see the character for all that he is, is what really took me by surprise and has me hoping that he decides to take more roles like these in the near-future because isn’t it just a total treat to see this guy shed a tear every once and awhile?

Steve Carrell plays the therapist that somewhat helps this couple out and as successfully deadpan as he can be, truth is, he doesn’t really have that much to do in this film other than to ask these two questions and try to “connect” with them emotionally. Carrell isn’t really ever in this film all by himself and it seems like sort of a waste of a very good actor that shows he can do great things with his roles, even if he isn’t playing his usual, funny-side that we see so very often. It’s not necessarily that this is a criticism of the movie, it’s more that I wish they used him more or if they didn’t want to do that, then they should have just got somebody else that wasn’t such a big-name to do this role in-place of him.

Consensus: Though it follows the same-old, rom-com formula most people hate (and surprisingly love), Hope Springs still succeeds with great performances from Jones and Streep and at showing us the dark and sad truths behind older relationships that can sometimes be healed just by a little communication and most of all, love. Yes, that “L word” always finds itself back.

7.5/10=Rental!!