Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Marlon Brando

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)

It’s like they say, “Your best movies, are the ones that come close to killing you.” Even though, yeah, they don’t.

After making not just the Godfather Part I, but Part II in the span of a nearly two years, Francis Ford Coppola could basically do whatever the hell it is that he wanted, with as much money, with whomever, and wherever. That’s when he decides to take up adapting Heart of Darkness, the novella that had been a long passion-project of Coppola’s, but needed some extra push to get off the ground. Eventually, he got it, but in this case, it wasn’t what he, or anyone else was expecting. Needless to say, without saying too much, one lead actor gets a heart-attack, another gets recast about halfway through, one is filmed in a drunken-stooper, one lies about his age to get in the movie. But then, if you go past the usual actor stuff, you’ve also got the fact that the budget is running up the bill way more than it was supposed to, the Vietnam locals are getting pissed, the weather was absolutely awful and practically unlivable, and oh yeah, Coppola himself literally lost his mind.

Was it “method”?

The biggest joke about Hearts of Darkness would be that the resulting film of all this mayhem and madness, Apocalypse Now, turned out to be a bunch of crap that people put way too much of an effort into, for no other reason because they had to, or they thought what was right. But that’s what’s funny, because the movie turned out, dare I say it, almost perfect. All of the years spent filming, editing, and putting money into it, guess what?

At the end of the day, everyone went home happy.

But Hearts of Darkness isn’t a movie about what the final product ended up becoming, nor is it really about what everyone else thought about the movie, it’s mostly about the behind-the-scenes of everything that happened on, as well as off the set, and yeah, it’s just about as candid and as eye-opening as you can get with a documentary about so many big names and faces in Hollywood. With the assistance from Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper, believe it or not, Eleanor Coppola, Francis’ wife, is actually the perfect one to bring this table of absolute craziness to the big screen; she was, after all, there for it all, and her insight, while sometimes silly, focuses on things that probably mattered the most. While Francis was off worrying about how much fire was burning the trees down, Eleanor was worried that her husband was going to have a stroke and possibly die from all of the tension and turmoil in his life.

It’s not like she wants us to feel bad for her husband, but at the same time, she also wants to see it from more of a film-nerd’s perspective, where the control-freak director is always right for themselves, the movie, and everyone else around them. But still, just watching what happens behind-the-scenes here, and the things that we only hear small instances of, are truly insane, but draw you in even closer to the mind of Coppola, how he worked, and why he slaved away for so long to get this picture of his made and up on the big screen, for all the world to see and hopefully feast their eyes on.

It was the 70’s and it was hot, so maybe he wasn’t totally crazy.

And really, it all comes back to Coppola, someone who has become a pretty infamous figure in movie-making, only because it appears like his career has taken a huge turn downwards after he was put into debt for this project, as well as the many others to follow. For one, it’s interesting to see Coppola talk about this project, but also not think of him as a total ass; sure, he loves himself and his work, but can you blame him? The man has literally just made two of the greatest movies of all-time and was onto making another, so maybe he’s allowed to kiss his own ass, eh?

If so, it still brings up the question: How much is too much?

Eleanor and the movie as a whole, brings this point up many times and makes us think, whether we’re on his side for going so far as he did, to make sure that this movie was complete and actually worked to his vision, or, if he was just way too artistically-driven in the first place? See, it would be a problem if the movie didn’t turn out to be such a classic, but it somehow did and it makes us not just think, but wonder: Where has that same artistic integrity gone? And hell, when is it coming back?

Consensus: Eye-opening and thrilling to watch, especially if you’re a film-nerd, Hearts of Darkness will surely show you everything you need to see, hear, and understand about all of the craziness that went into making sure the final product turned into what it is seen as today.

8.5 / 10

Pictured: Cast and crew getting the hell out of Coppola’s rage.

Photos Courtesy of: Jonathan Rosenbaum


Superman Returns (2006)

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

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

The meet-cute knows no boundaries!

The meet-cute knows no boundaries!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a happy gang of pals.

What a happy gang of pals.

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

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

A big, big one.

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

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

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

8 / 10

Still no glasses! Come on, girl!

Still no glasses! Come on, girl!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Superman (1978)

Those glasses really do matter.

After his mother and father (Marlon Brando and Susannah York) are killed along with everyone else on his home planet of Krypton, Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) lands on a farm in the middle of Kansas, owned by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Glenn Ford and Phyllis Thaxter). While he’s on Earth, he finds out who he really is, what his powers are, what he’s supposed to do with them, and what could be made of them. However, those are just ideas and questions juggling around in his head, as he, nor anybody else that knows of his secret powers are quick to give the answers to any of them. So, in spite of the life-saving abilities he has as something that’s not from planet Earth, he decides to join the Daily Planet, a newspaper in the heart of metropolis, where Clark meets the wonderful, but vivacious and ambitious writer Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Though Lois doesn’t really care much for Clark as anything other than a friend, he makes it his life’s mission to save her from harm, any chance the opportunity shows itself. That’s why, when evil mad scientist Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) begins to wreak havoc all over Metropolis, Clark can’t help but rip his shirt off, put those glasses elsewhere, and fly in the sky like, well, Superman.

Punching works, too. I guess.

Punching works, too. I guess.

There’s something so inherently goofy and charming about Superman, that even though it’s incredibly corny and silly, it’s still hard to despise. For one, director Richard Donner knows exactly what kind of material he’s working with and doesn’t make a single apology for it; good guys fly around in capes, bad guys wear ugly wigs, aliens roam the world without any of us knowing, etc. Superman never has, nor ever will be, material that we’re all supposed to take super, duper seriously, which is why Donner gives this a lovely taste of kitschy fun, as well as heartfelt adoration for Superman himself, what he represents, and just why exactly he still stands as a symbol for everything right and good with the world.

And even though it’s been nearly 40 years since it’s release, Superman is still a solid movie, even stacked-up against some of the great, nearly amazing superhero movies we have today.

Then again, it’s very hard to compare the two. 1978 was a very different time for cinema where there seemed to be a shared party between those who enjoyed both popcorn movies, as well as more artsy-fare, whereas nowadays, the line between the two has been clearly struck. Sure, there’s definitely big-time, mainstream blockbusters out there that can also be seen as a “serious films”, but there’s still an obvious difference.

With Superman, it’s clearly not trying to bring out the tears, nor is it trying to change anybody’s life – what it’s simply trying to do is re-tell the story of Superman, to the general mass public again and remind us that superheros such as this, can exist. Okay, maybe not actually exist in real life, but you get my drift. What Donner is aiming at here with Superman is that he is an icon for everything right, powerful and brave about the world we live in and we should be so lucky to have him around, constantly caring for us, saving us from near-death, and grabbing kitties out of trees. He’s the perfect man, if anything, but mostly, he’s the perfect superhero, which is why the casting of the late, great Christopher Reeve, was so pitch perfect from the ground-up, that it’s been nearly impossible to think of somebody else to take his place.

Sure, guys like Henry Cavill and Brandon Routh look an awful lot like Reeve, but it’s less about the good looks that made Reeve such a great Superman; there was this certain balance between earnestness and bravery, without ever seeming naive, that Reeve handled so well. He could, on one hand, be the most charming man alive, while on the other hand, he could also be the one guy you’d trust to kick the hell out of some evil-doer because they stole your purse. Even when Reeve puts on the glasses and becomes Clark Kent, there’s still a certain amount of charm to the way in how he heightens all of his character’s nerdy aspects and traits.

Marlon's probably very upset that the baby may not be "method".

Marlon’s probably very upset that the baby may not be “method”.

You could definitely say it’s still a tad ridiculous that all he has to do is put on a simple pair of bifocals to blend in with the rest of society, but hey, if the movie whole fully believes it, then guess what?

So do I!

And everybody else in the cast is pretty great, too. Marlon Brando shows up for at least 15 minutes in the beginning and definitely leaves a mark as Superman’s daddy; Margot Kidder seems definitely a lot stronger and smarter than your average damsel-in-distress that we tend to get in these sorts of movies; Jackie Cooper is absolutely hilarious as Perry White and just about steals every scene with every line he drops; and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, well, let me just say that I’ve got a lot to say about him.

If anything, I feel like the movie sort of drops the ball on him. Hackman is definitely more than willing to play along with this character’s sometimes weirder eccentricities, but after awhile, it makes us forget that he’s actually supposed to be an evil, mean, scary and despicable villain. Sure, we see and hear him do bad things, but none of them ever feel or appear to be actual threats; you could chalk a lot of this up to the fact that, with Superman looming in the background, we already get the sense that Luthor won’t achieve his dastardly plan of, uh, destroying the Earth for some reason, but still, with any movie, superhero or not, there should always be that sheer feeling of having no clue what the hell is going to happen next, or who is going to come out on top and save the day. We know that it’s going to be Superman no matter what, but hey, sometimes it’s fun to keep the audience guessing and give your superhero and equally-skilled and matched-up villain.

Consensus: Many years later, Superman still remains a great piece of superhero fiction, that not only balances the heart and humor of the original stories, but gives us an icon with the wonderfully talented Christopher Reeve.

8 / 10

It's love at first sight. Get it? 'Cause he's not wearing glasses this time!

It’s love at first sight. Get it? ‘Cause he’s not wearing glasses this time!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Blumhouse

The Score (2001)

Never trust a guy that is half your age. Especially if he has already done better movies than you.

Career-thief Nick Wells (Robert De Niro) is about to mastermind a nearly impossible theft that will require his joining forces with a clever, young accomplice named Jackie Teller (Edward Norton). The unlikely alliance, arranged by Nick’s long-time confidante Maximillian Beard (Marlon Brando), interrupts Nick’s plan to retire from crime and leads Nick to wonder whether or not this last job of his, will be the one to ruin them all.

When you got three acting powerhouses in one movie, you would expect there to be nothing else other than pure greatness. But sometimes, that doesn’t quite happen. Instead, you just get mediocrity, whether you’re willing to accept it or not. Even if the movie in question does star not just Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, but also Marlon Brando.

Seriously! Why isn’t this thing as spectacular as it sounds?

You wouldn’t think that the guy who voices Miss Piggy and Yoda would be helming a feature flick like this, but I guess Frank Oz is just chock full of surprises. Oz doesn’t do necessarily do anything new, neat, or flashy with his direction here, but did bring some well-earned moments of suspense and keeps the heist as involving as he can, without showing his cards too early-on. The heist, when it does happen, doesn’t take up the whole movie. The rest is actually dedicated to a lot of scenes with Norton and De Niro, who are butting heads and ego’s together on-screen. Which honestly, is a way better movie, because when you give two stars like these ones here free reign to just work with one another, only good can come from it.

"Now remember kid, don't try and upstage my ass."

“Now remember kid, don’t try and upstage my ass.”

However, though, it all comes back down to the plot of this movie, which services these talents, but also doesn’t do much of anything interesting either. All of the caper/heist conventions are here – guy tries to get away from his life of crime by pulling off one last job; guy doesn’t work well with others; partner isn’t all who he seems to be, etc. Basically it’s got all of the clichés that you don’t want to see in a crime thriller, especially this one, but you sadly get.

If anything, that’s what disappointed me the most here is that nothing was all that surprising with this plot and how it all eventually played out. We get a couple of tense moments where we don’t know where this film is going to go and we get a nice twist at the end that’s a bit surprising, but nothing else to really have me going, “Oh crap! You gotta see this movie with Bickle, Vineyard, and Don Corleone! Not only are do they kick-ass when it comes to the acting, but the plot is actually pretty neat-o too! Right on!”. Maybe the average movie-goer would say that, let alone, anybody else in the whole world, but the point is, this film should have offered plenty of more surprises than it actually gave.

But people, let’s not fool ourselves here, this film probably would have never gotten made and given a wide theatrical release had it not been for these three names: De Niro, Norton, and Brando. All of whom don’t disappoint, even if the movie sort of does. Robert De Niro gives a pretty solid performance here as the Nick, the old-timer just looking to get out of the “business”. De Niro doesn’t do anything special with this performance that he hasn’t already done in his long career, but it’s nice to see him actually give a commendable performance considering that seems to be very hard to come by with the crap he chooses today. Angela Bassett plays his girlyfriend, and as good as she may be, her character still comes off a bit random and unneeded, even if it does give De Niro’s character some reason for wanting to leave and star anew.

"Hey, didn't I play you once?"

“Hey, didn’t I play you once?”

Let’s face it, Bassett is black, beautiful, and rocks a sweet ‘fro whenever she wants. Why wouldn’t you want to retreat with her?

Marlon Brando isn’t in this film a whole lot, but whenever he is, he makes his presence be known. Brando plays an aging and severely over-weight crime lord that seems desperate to make sure that this last job works and it’s a role/character that seems superfluous if it wasn’t being played by anybody else. The difference here, is that it’s none other than Brando in the role and he makes it all work perfectly giving him plenty of great lines, tension, and water-drinking. This is his last film he was ever in and it’s a shame since it’s not exactly the perfect swan song that anybody with his type of career could have asked for, but at least it’s better than doing the Freshman 2.

The one who actually runs away with this flick is Edward Norton as the hormone-fueled kid that Nick is forced to work with, Jackie. Norton is always great to watch no matter who he’s playing and what I liked most about him here is that you know there’s something about this character that you can’t really trust, but you don’t know what it is because Norton is so good at playing those types of confusing characters. Norton is always a powerhouse in every film he does and could almost be considered a younger Marlon Brando himself, but in this film, he actually shows that he may be one-step ahead of the master and continue to give compelling performance after compelling performance.

Now, what about the movie?

Consensus: Though it may not offer many surprises, the Score mostly gets by on the power and strength of its leads, even if the movie itself does seem to be relying on them a tad too heavily to begin with.

7 / 10

Look out, aging actors. Eddy Norton's a comin'!

Look out, aging actors. Eddy Norton’s a comin’!

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

If I see anything that’s small and yellow, doesn’t matter what object it is, I’m going to smash it. I’m not kidding.

When we last left ex-villain Gru (Steve Carell) and the his three, adopted-kids were getting along just fine and it’s still nice to see that they are a couple years later. However, Gru does get lonely at times and when he isn’t being the best daddy that he can be, he’s either trying to see what ladies want him or his bald head. The propositions do come, but they aren’t perfect enough for him to fully go for the gold. Anyway, in walks Lucy (Kristen Wiig), the Anti-Villain League agent who actually recruits Gru to be apart of secret mission where they must find out who’s the secret leader/owner of a deadly virus that could spread and harm many.

Despite the first one being an ultra smash, from critics and audiences alike, for some odd reason, I just never really latched on Despicable Me like everybody else and their parents seemed to. It was sweet; it had a nice message to it; and I’m all for supporting kids and families, but the movie just didn’t do much for me, especially with what else I saw in the genre of animation, during the year 2010. Still, that didn’t matter because the only ones who mattered, actually liked it and I was practically left in the dust, knowing that there was going to be another sequel, in hopes to only prolong the franchise any longer than it needs to be.

All of my worst nightmares have actually come true and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Why me? Why!?!?!?

"Yo, Frank. I can't wait to get that paycheck so I can hit my bitches up muthafucka."

“Yo, Frank. I can’t wait to get that paycheck so I can hit my bitches up muthafuckaaaaaaa.”

With a movie like this, as sweet-natured as it may be, and as cynical and emotionless as I may be; I still have to get put my critic-cap on and get down to business with these types of flicks because in all honesty, animation movies aren’t all bad, it’s just that when they don’t do much to change the game or bring you something new you haven’t seen done before, it almost feels like a waste of time. Maybe I say that because I’ve been spoiled on Pixar my whole life and it hasn’t quite hit me yet that even they’re beginning to hit a slip as of late, but I’ve always stood by that idea and I probably always will. Give me a fine piece of animation, along with something original to work with, then I’m all ears and eyes. However, if you don’t, then you might have just lost me, which is exactly what happened with this flick here.

Granted, I know it’s not a movie that’s supposed to appeal to me in any type of way, but after about the 4th or 5th time I saw one of these annoying, little pieces of crap they call “Minions” beat the hell out of each other with whatever type of inanimate object they could find, I was already checking myself at the door, as well as looking at the watch that I imagined myself having. And don’t let me forget to remind you, this was during the first 15 minutes already. Don’t worry, I had plenty more time left to go and it seemed like it was only going to get worse and it sort of did, and it sort of didn’t.

It wasn’t as bad as I may make it out to be with all of my words that I type down, through the slugs and the groans, but overall, the movie is a pleasant-experience, and not just for kids, but for parents as well. I’m not a parent (or at least not a practicing-one), but I can tell that if they got dragged into seeing this with their kids, not only would they be smiling because they’re kiddie-bops are having fun, but also because they’re having an enjoyable time as well. At the screening, plenty of kids were laughing their rumps off, but the parents weren’t so quit either. Obviously I was, but that’s me. I’m a dick-head and I know it, so don’t pay any attention to me when it comes to movies like these. I like what I like, and it seems like these Despicable Me movies aren’t located anywhere in my taste-buds. Shame too, because I usually enjoy the hell out of the cast they have on-display here; with their voices that is.

Steve Carell still nails the role of Gru with his somewhat, Russian-accent and proves that he doesn’t need to be intentionally goofy to make us laugh. Okay, that’s a lie; the guy totally does and with good reason, because when I heard anything come out of Gru’s mouth, I just imagined Carell on the other side of the microphone, having the time of his life with this character. Carell is always a funny guy in stuff that he does, even the serious, melodramatic stuff, but it seems like Gru was the type of role he was born to play, if not just for over-the-top, vocal-theatrics, but because the character himself meshes so well with his voice. They go together so well that it’s almost too hard to imagine anybody else’s voice filling in for him.

Which is weird, considering that the main villain’s voice of this movie, El Macho, just so happened to filled-in. Awhile back, once the flick got announced and was in the final stages of negotiation, it was made clear to us all that Al Pacino would be voicing the role of the villain in this movie and surprisingly, it added a bunch of much-needed excitement for this movie, from my end at least. Best of all though, Pacino would be voicing a Hispanic character, which meant that he would once again be donning the Tony Montana voice just for shits, gigs, and for the kiddies as well. It had me so excited and a bit curious to see how it all played-out, that was, until Pacino dropped out for some odd reason, and Benjamin Bratt took over, filling in for the dude. Bratt is not a bad actor and usually gives good work in everything that he does, so this is nowhere near a hit on him, but going from Pacino to Bratt, is like going from Brando to Affleck. Both are known for pulling off their trademark style, but one is so much better than the other at doing it, that it’s almost a shock that one would ever contemplate replacing the other.

See, kids? This is what happens when you have to become a father. No, not that you become an animated character voiced by Steve Carell, but you go bald. End. Of. Story.

See, kids? This is what happens when you have to become a father. No, not that you become an animated character voiced by Steve Carell, but you go bald. End. Of. Story.

All of that dumb crap said, Bratt is still good voicing the role, it just makes you wonder what could have been, had Pacino not blown a fuse and left the set. Or the recording-booth. Whichever one it was.

As for everybody else, they’re all fine too and make the most of what they’re given, as stale and boring as it may be at times. Kristen Wiig’s general likability and charm comes right out of her voice, and directly into this character of Lucy, the one who takes a liking to Gru and his set of skills, and they both provide a nice companionship that isn’t just based on feelings, but a wee-bit of fun as well. Honestly, where the hell was this character in the first one? And last, but definitely not least are the Minions, who are as annoying as ever this go-around and provide nothing fun or cool to see, except for a bunch of slapstick that gets old after about the first smack to the head or a tumble to the ground.

Still can’t believe those fucks are getting their own movie.

Consensus: Maybe these aren’t the types of movies for me and maybe something in my head just isn’t as gentle and sweet as this material calls on me to be, but Despicable Me 2 still feels like an obvious retread of the original, with few or less surprises along the way.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Aka, my the exact mug on my face the whole movie.

Aka, my the exact mug on my face the whole movie.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

War is hell. Especially when you’re dropping acid.

This film tracks the journey of Captain Benjamin L Willard (Martin Sheen), a USA Army Intelligence Officer sent on a hazardous mission up river into Cambodia to terminate “with extreme prejudice” American renegade Colonel Walter E Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has spun out of control and out of his mind. What Willard has to go through in order to get to Kurtz is unlike any other.

Jesus H. Christ. Where do I begin with this one? Well to start, I should say that this isn’t the first time I ever saw this movie, or even the first time I ever reviewed this movie. Confused as to why I’m doing a total double-take? Well, the first time I watched this flick I wasn’t as fully into it as I should have been and my review at that time (along with many others), come off as very lazy to the point of where it seemed like I was reading off of Rotten Tomatoes and piecing them altogether. Trust me, that’s not what I did but if you go back and read it, you’ll think it by all of the jibber-jabber that I typed. But after checking it out for the second time, I finally realized the beauty and the ugliness that lies behind this film but I said it once and I will say it again: this film is somewhat overrated.

Anybody who has ever done research about this film probably heard about how director Francis Ford Coppola literally went to hell in pre-production just to get this film done in his way (it’s actually the subject of a documentary, one that I need to still see), and thank heavens for that because this film would have not worked without his direction. Seriously, no way in hell would it have. What catches your eye right from the start is the beautiful, but deadly images of a Cambodian jungle being blown up to pieces, all played to a tune from The Doors. It’s the perfect combination of a dark song and a dark image coming together and starting this baby perfectly right off the bat, and it gets you ready for what’s about to come and that is pure, utter craziness that’s all from the point-of-view from Coppola.

Let me just say that this film is probably one of the more beautiful ones I have ever seen in my entire life. I don’t know how Coppola got some of the shots that he did, but the long, sweeping shots of helicopters blowing shit up to the tune of Wagner still sticks in my mind every time I think about this film and the beauty it has. Oh, and there’s also the famous bridge blowing up scene where the only source of light throughout the whole scene is just fireworks and gun shots being lift-off in the sky. But regardless of what specific scene I’m talking about, there’s something inventive Coppola does with the colors in his film and it’s just that he constantly mixes them with every new frame. One shot you got purple, the next you got yellow, the next you got red, the next you got orange, and so on and so forth. Coppola has a great eye for colors and how they convey moods for a film and that’s what really caught my eye every time with every shot. When you look at this film and the way that it’s shot, you know that you have to give Coppola enough credit for that but that’s not all he does that makes this film work. No sireee!

The whole general story of this flick starts off pretty strange, but only gets worse after that whole “Wagner sequence”. We start to see these soldiers go across Vietnam running into other soldiers that are either completely insane, or have no guidance whatsoever, or run into a bunch of innocent Vietnamese that are just trying to make it across without getting killed or hurt, or just another bunch of people that keep on making this film tick and tick away some more. There are no sunshine and peachy days with these people that we soon meet on this “trip”, if you will, and they automatically shock and compel you every time somebody new shows up. This is fairly one of the strangest films of all-time, with characters that only make it so, but it’s all there for a reason and that’s to show you the type of effect the war has on people from all different sides of it.

Not once do we see the enemy from their point-of-view, or do we ever really see them up-close-and-personal. Instead, we get to see plenty of the American soldiers that are fighting against them and just how much of a terrible toll this isolation and destruction is taking on their bodies, on their minds, and on their lives as well. This is all some scary shit that we have seen before in anti-war flicks of the same nature, but never this disturbing to the point of where you really feel like it’s about to get bad. Coppola gives us the images to really stick in our heads, but he also gives us the situations and characters to think about and how all war, brings pain and misery no matter whichever way you make it out to be.

However, you heard me going on and on about this film but the one question in your head still has to be left there thinking, “Just what the hell does this cat think is so overrated about this movie, because all he’s doing is having orgasms over it?”. Well, have no fear because here’s the answer to exactly why I think so: not as much character development as there should have been. That’s right, in this whole 2 hour and 30 minute movie, we get plenty of crazy and bizarre-o characters that pop in-and-out and provide us with a lot of philosophical shit to chew on for the time-being, but when it came to the main players of the story, I found it very hard to care for.

Let me give you the prime example of this flick, and that is Martin Sheen‘s character, Captain Benjamin L Willard. Willard is a very confused fellow that seems like he has no motivation for this duty he has to do, other than the fact that he literally had nothing else to do and was just assigned to it. We see Willard go throughout the whole war, meet up with new characters that eff his mind up as much as it effed mine up, challenge what he thinks is suitable of the war, and teach him some new things about life that he never once realized. Problem is, I think I’m looking into that a little bit too much because we never get much from this Willard guy, other than a very cold and intimidating stare from Sheen. Don’t get me wrong, Sheen does an amazing job with this role and handles the lead with such ease and perfection, but he’s not given much to work with outside of just looking pissed and barely saying anything. All of his motivations and convictions feel real, it was just that we don’t really know what to think about him since the guy is so damn stern the whole time and barely loosens up with the exception of a couple of scenes where he actually cracks a smile.

Everybody else kind of suffers from the same thing, but that doesn’t matter as much because of the awards-caliber performances they give as well. Robert Duvall is a sensation to watch as the hip, fun, and cool as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. Of course everybody knows the famous “Napalm” line that Duvall utters in this film but honestly, how can you not love that line as well as this dude’s charisma? The whole film is essentially one, big downer of a movie and Duvall brings a whole bunch of comedic relief to the film that makes you appreciate him a whole lot more once he’s out of the film for good but you never forget one of the lines he says, and trust me, it’s not the “Napalm” one either. You’ll see.

Then of course, you got Marlon Brando who caused all types of shit (as usual) on the set of this film by showing up overweight, needy for money, and dicking everybody around like he normally does. However, it’s kind of hard to be mad at him for something like that especially when he gives off such a commanding but brief performance as Colonel Walter E Kurtz. As soon as Brando shows up, the film takes a much darker turn, which I thought wasn’t even possible, but once I started hearing all of the shit Kurtz discusses, then I realized it was. Brando hits like a wrecking ball in these types of roles and his small role here as Kurtz is no different and you can’t help but just wait, and wait for him to show up as soon as you see his picture-perfect face within the first 10 minutes.

Also, be on the lookout for plenty of other supporting performances from people you obviously recognize, but other’s, you don’t by how young they are. Especially a very young Laurence Fishburne, who deserves major props for being 14-years old in this film and still not getting blown out of the water with the type of talent they have on-display here. Nice going Morpheus!

Consensus: While it’s not the pitch-perfect masterpiece so many people laud it as being, Apocalypse Now is still a powerhouse of a film to watch, mainly because of the inspired direction from Coppola that pulls out all of the stops, awesome performances from this wide ensemble, and plenty of themes and moral issues to chew on about the war and all of the misery it brings to those involved.

9/10=Full Price!!

The Apparition (2012)

If you think about it too much, you die anyway. So in reality, it doesn’t effin’ matter what you think about. The resolution is always the same.

This is the story of a couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) who are haunted by a supernatural presence that is unleashed during a college experiment, and the fellow student (Tom Felton), who helps them out.

I know I didn’t want to see this movie (even though I did), but to be honest, it doesn’t seem like Warner Bros. wanted anyone to see, either. This has sat on the shelf for over two years, hasn’t had a single trailer or commercial ad that I have seen so far, and nobody has even asked me about it which is strange, since all of my lame-o friends seem to ask me what I think about a new horror movie coming out soon. What’s even weirder is that the film has been screened for only a couple of critics, for a screening that was to be held 4 hours before the film actually came-out. That really shocked me, except for when I actually saw the movie. Now all of the clues finally make sense. This movie, just plain and simply sucks.

This is the feature debut of writer/director Todd Lincoln and to be honest, I sort of feel bad for the dude. It seems like his vision has been tampered with so much because of this being in post-production for over 2 years and whatnot, but I can’t feel that bad since this movie is just god-awful. Honestly, if a horror film is not scary but at least has fun with itself, I’m fine with that, but when I get a horror film like this, that doesn’t even seem to try hard one bit in making us scared or to even have fun with itself, then I’m totally against it. The latter part is exactly what this film is and it doesn’t even seems like it tries at all. Nothing here scared, compelled, or even entertained me for it’s 77 minute time-limit. Instead, I just nodded off, thought about what I would do to save this movie and even went so far as to take out my phone and just text people, asking what they’re plans are for the night. I never do that when I’m in a movie theater, but seeing as this movie totally blew and I had only 2 other people in the lobby with me, I decided to go for it.

It’s sort of sad to see such a film like this not do anything with itself at all, because this film in particular, really seems like it gives up right from the start and just doesn’t even try to liven itself up with any cheap scares one bit. I hate jump-scares, but I don’t think there was one at all throughout this whole film and instead of that, we had slow-burning scenes where the camera would just linger up to the scene of scares, waiting for us to feel the effects of the tension. Problem was, there was absolutely no tension there whatsoever and it just made this flick a whole lot more boring. I think the most tense I was when watching this flick, was the previews that came before it and Taken 2 showed up. That trailer still gets me all of the time. Horror films, when they aren’t good, can be pretty boring, but never THIS boring. Seriously, I was just dozing off at points, whenever I wasn’t texting or day-dreaming and I don’t feel ashamed for it one bit.

Perhaps what makes this film even worse is that the cast does nothing else to keep us watching. Granted, they can’t really do anything with such a script like this unless it’s the likes of Meryl Streep or Marlon Brando acting in it, but they do nothing throughout this whole movie. Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan play the dullest couple I have ever seen in a horror movie, let alone any movie, ever. They really do try but there is no chemistry between them, no sense made as to how the hell they barely talk about any of this bad stuff, and how they even make a living in this big house, when neither of them have heavy-paying jobs that they go to. What also surprised me was how Stan’s character in the beginning, is shown trying to conjurer up the dead, only to have his gal-pal at the time, mysteriously disappear and never to be heard from again, but once all of the freaky shit actually starts to happen, he’s the first to dismiss it as anything else. It’s almost as if the guy forgot he had a girlfriend that was taking by a ghost randomly. I mean plenty of my girlfriends in the past have gotten taken away from me due to ghosts, but I’ve never forgotten about it. Oh well, I guess they must have been going through a real rough patch at the time.

Then, there is Tom Felton who shows up for about 7 minutes throughout the whole movie and I actually wish, showed up more because he brings some excitement to a film that needed some for sure. Felton seems like a kid that can act, if he’s given the right script, but here, he’s given absolute dog shit but makes the best of it so I have to give him that credit. Sadly, he’s barely in the film which means it’s all up to Mr. Stan and Ms. Greene to hold out attention, and that is something they do not do a lick of.

Consensus: The Apparition was destined for disaster right from the start, and a disaster is what it is. With barely any scares, any excitement, any type of fun in this flick at all, we get what is essentially one of the most boring horror films out there, that seems like it should have never, ever been made, even if it was just for the dog days of August.


Apocalypse Now (1979)

One of those trippy war films.

Francis Ford Coppola’s epic adapts Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to the Vietnam War, where special operations Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) must travel deep into the Cambodian jungle to locate and kill the mysterious — and insane — Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

The one thing right away you will notice about this film is that it is not your typical war film. And that is a good thing, but also a bad thing.

The best part of the film is just the amazing visuals that inhabit this movie from start to finish. The vibrant colors that Ford Coppola use, especially at the end, all convey a sort of emotion that nothing is right and you are in hell where there is no way out.

The film is a lot more trippier because its also about the haunting fear of the war. I liked this part and yet I thought it was pretty much goofy. One reason was because I feel like there were times where the film could have succeeded with being a natural war film with nice war scenes, but instead gets into this weird world by the end of the film that we really have no idea about and its kind of freaky, but also unrealistic.

I have to give most of the credit to director Ford Coppola who basically directs this film with sure power and makes sure no detail is left out. The way he lights his scenes, and makes them look is beautiful, but just the overall setting especially the one helicopter sequence which really shows some great film making. Ford Coppola gives you this sense of madness that is going around at this time, to a point where you feel as your going mad with these soldiers as well.

The young cast is awesome here with recognizable faces, but not so much of recognizable performances. Sheen is the fore-front of this film and brings out a lot of craziness with his character, but doesn’t get too nuts and stays sane most of the time. It was funny to see all these performances from all the actors so young like Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, and a great Robert Duvall. But the best here that will leave a mark on you at the end of the film is the always great Marlon Brando. The whole movie is basically all about him waiting to be seen and the one scene when him and Sheen finally meet is just shot so perfectly, and after that Brando has a short monologue which is just so perfectly delivered gave him so much more gratitude by the end.

Consensus: Apocalypse Now is not your typical war film, but has a fearless direction from Ford Coppola, who gives us these beautiful colors on-screen, a haunting setting, and brings out great performances from its young cast.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

The Missouri Breaks (1976)

What were these guys thinking!??

Laid-back rustler Tom Logan (Jack Nicholson) and his gang buy a ranch next to their new target: rich landowner Braxton (John McLiam). While Logan courts his neighbor’s daughter (Kathleen Lloyd), Braxton gets wind of the rustling plot and hires gunman Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando) to do the dirty work.

having two great legends in the big roles for a film, you know it just has to be good. However, in this case we do not have that at all.

The one huge problem with this film is that it tries to do so many things with itself and it just doesn’t work at all. It tries hard to be a quirky comedy at points, others it tires to be a romantic-heartfelt story, and then in all it tries to be a suspenseful action ride, all from the West. All of these different things that go on just don’t work and just add on to the flatness.

There are some scenes where it’s just all powered by dialogue and actually it is not interesting nor meaningful. I found these cowboys to be talking about random crap from the farm, to the things that inhabit the farm, or going into town. As you can see not very interesting stuff, and I actually found myself yawning a lot.

A lot of Westerns usually build up the story in order to eventually have a big action-packed climax. However, this film doesn’t feature any if no Western action sequences at all, and the climax I felt to be terribly anti-climactic, and ultimately unmeaning.

If you really can stand a 2 hour film of just sure boring then be ready for this one, cause it has a whole bunch of that. The whole film moves at a very slow pace with occasional step ups, but with 2 hours of a film that could’ve been put on the screen for about 1 hour, come on! After awhile I just couldn’t put up with that much and just started making fun of the film bit by bit.

The one thing that actually makes this film not as bad, is its two leading actors. Jack Nicholson does a good job at capturing his role, but the one who really blows this film out of the water is Marlon Brando. Brando plays one of the most over-the-top characters he has ever played, and actually brings a lot of enjoyment to this non enjoyable film. Brando ad-lib’s throughout the whole film and makes a lot of memorable quotes and actually makes this film better, as random as he is.

Consensus: With two leading stars of Nicholson and Brando, The Missouri Breaks fails at being an engaging , interesting Western film, and just becomes way too stale and too over-played.


A Dry White Season (1989)

The white man in Africa never gets no respect.

South African school teacher Ben du Toit (Donald Sutherland) seeks justice for the murder of a black boy in this political drama set against the backdrop of apartheid. When his gardener’s son is killed by a vicious police officer, Ben hires lawyer Ian Mackenzie (Marlon Brando) to prosecute the man. With the outcome of the case a foregone conclusion, Mackenzie butts heads with the system at every turn while Ben suffers personal alienation.

A Dry White Season is a story that shows a man who can no longer close his eyes to the injustice system that is happening so wrong around him. It also does contain a lot about the South African’s lifestyles and the difference of the whites and the blacks that inhabit South Africa. This film does do a great job at showing the whole spectrum of Africa and not just a few white descenders.

The one thing I lied about the film which may be a bad thing for some people is that it’s very graphic in its depiction of the brutality that goes on in South Africa. He shows children being harmed, adults being beaten, and shows all the scrapes and scars in their entirety and doesn’t shy away and show movie injuries, and that’s what I think makes the film a whole lot more effective and true.

The film falls a bit short for me because it relies too heavily on cinematic conventions. What I mean is that instead of focusing on a sweeping indictment of Apartheid and living conditions in the townships, the film tries treats Jurgen Prochnow’s character simply as “the bad guy,” and the movie suffers for it.

The music which I do not get very discouraged about was a big problem for me. This gave me the wrong feel during certain scenes where more current use of scoring techniques would have been more appropriate.

The acting in this film is superb. Donald Sutherland is up for the challenge and shows what it feels like to be an average white man who just won’t stand for the disgrace any longer, and creates a powerful but sympathetic portrait. Marlon Brando is amazing in his very brief performance and I think was misused as along with Susan Sarandon. Both show that they can act but they just weren’t given the right amount of screen action, and when you have two big name actors heavily titled on the posters they should be in the film more.

Consensus: A Dry White Season is a heavy-handed but very powerful film about the apartheid in South Africa that doesn’t shy away from showing the true reality of their lifestyles.