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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Ron Perlman

Chuck (2017)

Rocky who? Oh yeah, that guy.

Chuck Wepner (Liev Schrieber), for quite some time, had the life that any person would have wanted to live. He was an accomplished boxer, kicked a lot of people’s assess, had a wonderful wife (Elizabeth Moss), good kids, loyal friends and family, respect, a cool nickname (“the Bayonne Bleeder”), and oh yeah, went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali. In fact, he was so well-known that, believe it or not, Sylvester Stallone actually used his life and career as the inspiration for Rocky – a fact that, for a very long time, Chuck would continue to let everyone know about, regardless of if they asked or not. But after awhile, Chuck began to get too big of britches and, to go along with his insane drug-habit, he couldn’t stop screwing around with all the wrong people, other women included. Eventually, he loses his job, his wife, his legacy, and oh yeah, his family. So where does he go from there?

No really, where does he go from there?

Uh oh. Chucky go some ‘asplainin’ to do!

See, Chuck was advertised heavily as “the story of the guy who inspired the story of Rocky“, as if any of that really matters. It’s like when John Carter came out and the advertisements were all saying, “the story that inspired Star Wars and Avatar“, once again, as if any of that matters. Because even though the story may have inspired another one, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the adaptation of said story, isn’t conventional, or formulaic.

After all, we didn’t get Chuck before Rocky. The other way around, in fact. So because of that, Chuck comes off a bit like a run-of-the-mill, stationary biopic that hits all of the same beats and rhythymns that Rocky hit, but also feels a little overdone. Because instead of feeling like a movie, of its time, like Rocky did, Chuck goes the extra mile to put us in the place of the 70’s, where coke was everywhere, disco was constantly playing, and people dressed-up so super fly.

Does it kind of work?

Yeah.

It’s hard to have an issue with a movie that makes the energy and glitz of the 70’s so fun and infectious; if anything, it’s nice that they were able to get it all down so perfectly, without feeling like they were trying way too hard to recreate a period of time that they obviously didn’t have the budget for. Director Philippe Falardeau, while no doubt a very serious French director, also seems to be enjoying himself here, not allowing for the material to get too dark or serious, but just to the point where it matters. But for the most part, he’s having a good time and relishing in the period-setting and the details that all went along with it.

Does that help take away from the fact that Chuck is a little conventional and, well, as a result, slight? Not really. But it makes what could have been a very boring movie, turn out a lot more fun and entertaining. It’s still a formulaic boxing movie, about an underdog who had his shot at the big time, accomplished it, and then lost it all due to awful life decisions, but it’s an entertaining one, at that. So yeah, it helps.

All about the hair.

And yeah, it also helps that the ensemble is quite good here and clearly able to keep up with the times.

Liev Schreiber is perfect casting as Wepner, because he not just looks the role, but feels it. There’s something lovable about him, but also makes you realize that he’s a bit of flawed asshole who you can’t always trust, especially not with your wallet or wife, but can always still love, when the end of the day comes around. And that’s what matters for a story like this, about a guy like this, who definitely didn’t make perfect decisions, but was a good time to be around. He had his moment in the spotlight, made it last, and did what he could to keep the party going? Granted, he forgot about his wife, kids, bank-account, and plenty other responsibilities, but hey, who am I to judge?

Either way, Schreiber’s great in the role that he was, essentially, born to play. Everyone else is good from Elizabeth Moss as his annoyed, but strong wife, to Jim Gaffigan in a pretty silly role. But everyone’s good here; even the bit role with Naomi Watts, while feeling a little self-serving, still works because, believe it or not, her and Schreiber do have good chemistry.

See, not every couple has to have their own Gigli.

Maybe that’s why they’re broken-up now. Ugh. True love doesn’t last, people. So love the one you’re with and try to make it last.

That’s the moral of Chuck, right?

Consensus: Formulaic and run-of-the-mill, Chuck is a boxing-drama that doesn’t really break any new ground, but is fun, light, and well-acted enough to get by the conventions that usually keep movies down like this.

6.5 / 10

“Guys. Who’s Sly?”

Photos Courtesy of: IFC Films

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

It’s like Tinder, or Grindr, but for ugly-looking creatures.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York by boat, carrying a suitcase with him. Why? What’s in the suitcase? And why does the year have to be, specifically enough, 1926? Well, it turns out that he has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. He’s arrived in New York just for a brief stopover that, he assumes, would go down without a hitch. However, his suitcase randomly opens up and a mysterious, platypus-looking creature named Jacob runs out of it, leaving Newt to have to search the city, far and wide, for this creature and get him back in safely his suitcase, so that he can continue on with his adventure. However, his stay in New York becomes far more difficult once he meets a factory worker aspiring to be a baker (Dan Fogler), and an odd woman named Tina (Katherine Waterston), who also turns out to be a member of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). Meanwhile, a deadly, terrifying force is taking over the area, destroying all sorts of buildings and killing people. No one knows where it’s coming from, or from whom, but Newt has an idea and will stop at nothing to make sure that no more people are hurt.

"Come with me, Newt! We've got to show that hack David Blaine what real magic's all about!"

“Come with me, Newt! We’ve got to show that hack David Blaine what real magic’s all about!”

Coming from a person who, as much as I hate to say it, doesn’t quite love the Harry Potter franchise, it’s surprising how much Fantastic Beasts can be at times. Director David Yates who directed the last four Potter movies, shows up here and brings the same kind of fun, lively and exciting bit of whimsy that he brought to those movies, but while the installments he worked with were far more darker and scarier, this time around, he gets to play everything down a bit.

I would mention the same way he did with the Legend of Tarzan earlier this year, but I think we all know that’s not true.

Anyway, the best part about Fantastic Beasts is that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, or get too bogged down in the actual plot itself; due to this being an actual franchise-in-the-making, it would have been very easy for the movie to just set up a whole bunch of stuff and just sort of leave it all up in the air, knowing that we’ll still come back anyway. Instead, the movie’s more concerned with giving us the chance to know these characters, this setting and just what this wonderful, slightly more grown-up world of fantasy and wizardry has to offer. There’s a whole heck of a lot more scarier beasts this time around, period-details about the good old days of the roarin’ 20’s that only older people would really appreciate, let alone, get, and even the humor itself, while obviously silly at times, also feels like it’s aiming for a smarter, more adult crowd than the Potter movies.

Bad buzz-cuts automatically mean "villain".

Bad buzz-cuts automatically mean “villain”.

Not to say that there’s anything wrong with those movies or the people who like them, it’s just that, for awhile at least, they were movies specifically created for kids. Times have changed and for Yates, it seems like he understands that the better aspects of Fantastic Beasts are actually getting us involved with this world and all of the colorful, surprisingly wacky characters and creatures that inhabit it. While characters like Newt and Queenie are meant to seem off-kilter, even the human characters, like Tina, or Jacob Kowalski, still seem placed into this bright, shiny and sometimes weird world where magic does exist and for the most part, takes priority over all else. It reminds me of what the early Potter movies set out to be, all before they got obsessed with their own sense of sadness, dread and darkness.

That said, Fantastic Beasts still runs into its problems.

For one, it’s story doesn’t quite work. While in the first half or so, Yates doesn’t get too bogged down by what’s going on, who’s to blame for it all, and how it all can be stopped (magic, right?), eventually, he changes his tune and in the second-to-last-half, decides that maybe it’s time to actually give us a full-blown story that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, nor really matter. The best times of Fantastic Beasts are whenever we’re sitting there, watching as these characters run all throughout NYC, chasing creatures, tripping over themselves, and hitting constant obstacles, as if they were outtakes from the Looney Tunes, but whenever we focus in on the actual so-called “villains” of the tale, it never quite registers.

Most of that has to do with the story itself being so incredibly dark and disturbing, making Fantastic Beasts feel a tad bit off. Without saying too much, the subplot involving the so-called “baddies”, ends up coming down to child abuse and depression, which, in a movie where the first hour is dedicated to a bunch of characters chasing around what is, essentially, a platypus who can stick all sorts of items inside of him (please, don’t ask), is odd. It also doesn’t help that incredibly talented actors like Colin Farrel, Ezra Miller and Samantha Morton, are all left to work with some lame material that seems like it wants to be more sinister than it actually is. Even though the evil creature actually turns out to be quite scary and loud, there’s almost no rhyme or reason behind it all; we get the sense that maybe this character’s strict religious beliefs have something to do with it, but maybe not. Either way, it doesn’t quite work and only gets in the way of making Fantastic Beasts as bright and as shiny of a spectacle as it so clearly wants to be.

Consensus: Even with an overly complicated plot that seems to promise darker times to come in future installments, Fantastic Beasts can still be a very fun, charming and lovely little spin-off the obviously more famous Potter franchise.

6.5 / 10

You're Newt, Eddie! You're not Stephen Hawking anymore! So stop with that quivering lip!

You’re Newt, Eddie! Not Stephen Hawking! So stop with that quivering lip!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz, The Movie My Life

Stonewall (2015)

I don’t even think homosexuals want Roland Emmerich voicing his support.

The 1969 Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York City are considered one of the main kicking-off points in LGBT history. But before this moment in history occurs, we get to see how everything was beforehand, and through the eyes of Danny (Jeremy Irvine). Danny is a small-town boy from Indiana who, for controversial reasons, has fled his hometown in hopes that he’ll find a new life and possibly go to college at Columbia. But for now, Danny wants to enjoy his time around people he never quite had the chance to back when he was living at home and it all starts with Ramona (Jonny Beauchamp) – someone who takes a liking to Danny right away. So much so that once Danny starts to shack up with local liberal rights activist Trevor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), he’s as jealous as can be. For Danny though, he’s living the life that he never could and is absolutely loving every second of it. Eventually though, reality sets in and he not only realizes that he wants to make something out of his life than hustling on the street for whatever nickels and dimes he can scrounge up; he wants to make his voice heard and better yet, he wants to stand up for what he believes in.

"Freedom! Or, something!"

“Freedom! Or, something!”

When I hear “heartfelt, emotional, and character-driven historical account”, nowhere at all does my mind come near the name, “Roland Emmerich”. The same director who’s created such disasters (literally) like 2012, Independence Day, the Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, Stargate, and many more that I don’t want to even speak of, is also the same guy who I imagines just sits around, throwing bricks around his mansion, seeing what he can break in the most awesomely outrageous and unbelievable way imaginable. He’s not, honestly, the same guy whom I’d expect to take an account of seminal moment in LGBT history and give it the movie it deserves.

And don’t worry, he still doesn’t deliver that movie.

However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was at least somewhat tickled by what Emmerich is appearing to try here. Basically, Stonewall takes this moment in history, and plays it all out through the eyes of this random, seemingly fictional that, of course, has to be around so that we can see everything he sees, take everything that he takes in, experience the way he experienced it, and well, learn some neat anecdotes about being gay in NYC during the mid-to-late-60’s while he learns them. Obviously, this is a manipulative narrative-device so that the movie can appeal to a broader audience, but it was one that I didn’t mind.

For one, Danny himself has his own backstory that, albeit conventional, is at least interesting enough to deserve some attention. Also, the fact that Danny himself is a homosexual, trying to come to terms with his sexual orientation and the sorts of trials and trepidations he’s to face, makes the fact that he’s around and about, not all that annoying. Sure, Emmerich’s trying to make this something along the lines of Forrest Gump, but you know what? It worked. I was interested, I was paying attention, and most of all, I was learning a few new things that I didn’t know beforehand.

So sue me!

But then, of course, Emmerich’s usual tendencies come into play where it seems like we’re getting the work of a director who seems a whole lot more concerned with being over-the-top and making sure that his message hits everybody straight in the face. In a way, this is fun to watch in a campy, none-too-serious way, but by the same token, it also seems to do a great disservice to the actual story of Stonewall itself, the people who were involved with it, and what it helped to do for some time to come. None of that is ever quite evident or made known, mostly because Emmerich seems distracted elsewhere.

And most of that comes down to the fact that Danny himself, the blonde, chiseled, and hunky man from Indiana, really doesn’t need to be in this story and just gets in the way of everything. Through Danny, Emmerich seems like he’s trying to study the predicament of having a peaceful protest, against a violent one, but never seems to go anywhere deep, smart, or meaningful with them. It’s almost as if once Emmerich brought the idea up, he thought it’d be too boring and threw more scenes of Danny having sex where he’s either in pain, or crying, or clearly wanting to be elsewhere. There’s one exception, but honestly, it’s so slight, it hardly matters.

Where's the flying-saucers when you need 'em the most, Roland?

Where’s the flying-saucers when you need ’em the most, Roland?

This isn’t to say that Jeremy Irvine isn’t bad as Danny, either, it’s just that he’s such a brick wall, he doesn’t really factor in much to the story. The best moments Irvine has is when Danny’s forced to break out of his shell a bit by acting wild and flamboyant like his fellow friends – every other time, though, he’s mostly just there, helping the story to move on along. Everybody else around him is saddled with more eccentric, lively performances and while most of them try, they’re mostly given a poor script that makes it seem like they coached how to deliver each line, four or five different times, with almost each and every different time being put in the final-cut.

But to be honest, I want to give Emmerich the benefit of the doubt here.

It’s interesting to see him not just throw his own money on the table and create his own tribute to the Stonewall riots (or some hot dude named Danny), but to also seem like he’s giving it his honest-to-god shot here. For that, I give him at least some credit; however, it doesn’t make him, or the movie, itself, better. It just gives us a dude who clearly has good intentions, but doesn’t know how to display them in a smart way.

I guess this just leaves the path for another Stonewall movie to come around soon enough then, eh?

Consensus: Despite Emmerich seeming like he’s trying his hardest, and at least, succeeding slightly, Stonewall is too distracted and silly to really drive home the cause it’s fighting for.

4 / 10

Coming soon to a Broadway theater near you.

Coming soon to a Broadway theater near you.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Tangled (2010)

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Long hurr, don’t curr.”

Separated from her real, royal parents as a baby, a young girl named Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) with very long, very flowing and very magical flowing locks longs for the day she’s able to go outside into the real world, where she can just do whatever it is that she wants. However, her adoptive mother (Donna Murphy) doesn’t allow her to for many reasons, but the main which being that she tells her it’s too dangerous for a wee-little chick-a-pee like her to be in, and that she also doesn’t want Rapunzel to lose her hair because if she does, that means the mommy loses her young age. One day though, a noble thief by the name of Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) somehow finds himself in her tree-house, where she takes away his crowned-jewels. She’ll give it back to him on one condition: Take her to see these beautiful lights in the sky. Rider, despite being obviously hesitant to go back to the same town where he’s wanted dead or alive in at first, eventually softens up to young Rapunzel and starts to feel the love connection. But mommy ain’t too happy about her protected and sheltered girly being out there in the crazy world, so she decides to take matters into her own hands, which isn’t going to be so pretty for the star-crossed soon-to-be-lovers.

What a charmer! What young, adolescent male doesn't want to be just like him!?!?

What a charmer! What young, adolescent male doesn’t want to be just like him!?!?

Pretty much, it’s the story of Rapunzel, but with a lighter-twist that makes it suitable for all kiddies out there in the world. Oh, and it’s a different title, too, just to appeal to all genders, not just the gals. Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, let’s go onto the movie, shall we?

This may not be a surprise to anyone at all out there, but this is a pretty damn good-looking animated flick. Apparently the production-costs went so high-up for this thing, just to marry both traditional-animation, with the type of color-patterns that make it look like a painting, but needless to say, it works out well. You could practically turn the sound down all the way when watching this, and still find something about it to enjoy because it’s a beaut of a flick, giving plenty of detail, color and visual-pizzazz every the story takes itself.

However, you wouldn’t want to keep the sound turned down the whole time as the music itself is pretty damn stunning as well, if not entirely memorable like what we’re so used to having with Disney animated-flicks. The songs definitely hit their peaks with each and every singer who’s performing it, and while you may be absolutely stunned when watching it, you won’t really find yourself humming the tunes for the rest of the day. But the songs are still worth listening to, especially since every performer seems to give it their all and add a little “signature” of their own on it.

For instance, Mandy Moore gives all of her songs a fun, jumpy-feel as she’s vibrant and constantly moving around; Donna Murphy’s the obvious pro at-work here who gives her very-few songs the feel of something you may see with your mother or grand-mother in an very expensive opera house; Zachary Levi doesn’t have much singing to do in the first place, but at least gets a chance to show his coolness, even when using his vocal-chords which, for any guy out there, is a hard-feat to actually pull-off since, we all know, being a dude and singing, doesn’t always come closest to being considered “cool” in the slightest bit; and though the voices are all-over-the-place with whose singing at one point, there’s a song taking place inside of a bar where a bunch of huge, demanding forces-of-nature sing about their dreams in the most sensitive-way ever, and got a lot of laughs out of me while it was being performed.

Totally see the resemblance. How could you not?

Totally see the resemblance. How could you not?

See though, there’s a reason why I went into so much detail about the tunes of this movie, and how different they are from one another because they aren’t the only thing that’s inconsistent with this movie. In fact, it’s the tone as well. There were a couple of times throughout this movie where I began to question what it was that I was supposed to be watching; some scenes seem like they’re pandering to the young girl, female-crowd that may want to venture out and see a flick about a young girl falling in love and living out her dream, while other scenes made it seem like it was appealing to the younger boys that want a slick, cool bad-ass hero that not only gets the girl at the end, but seems to get out of any terrible situation Scott-free whenever he oh so chooses. The movie definitely tries to have itself both ways, but it ends up coming off as a bit disjointed, as if it was like the movie want to be more for the girly-girls, but didn’t want to totally alienate the young guys either.

That said though, the movie’s still fun regardless of which way you spin it. It’s funny, quick, witty, sometimes emotional and overall, a huge crowd-pleaser meant for the families who need a bit of escapism around this time of the year. Also, something else that should be noted that this is an animated-flick released in the 21st Century that has just about little-to-no pop-culture references involved at all. Which also means, you don’t have to be a total whiz, or smarty-smart to get the jokes that the movie brings out of itself. All you have to do is have a relatively nice sense of humor to where you like slapstick, you like jokes, and heck, you may even like it when horses try to act like humans in a demanding, powerful way. If that’s your type of humor, then this one will surely work out well for you. If not, go watch Shrek, and it’s 500 other, unnecessary sequels.

Consensus: Surely not the best Disney animated-flick ever made, but Tangled still works well in the way that it’s a pleasing, exciting, funny and worthy-enough piece of escapism that may not appeal to all viewers out there in the world, but does just the trick for whomever it’s for, even if that itself is a bit harder to pin-point down than anything else that has to do with this movie.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Mandy Moore's voice can command anything. Even horses.

That’s the type of power Mandy Moore’s voice has over things.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Pacific Rim (2013)

Who cares about going to war with North Koreans when you have HUGE, FREAKIN’ MONSTERS!??!?!

The Earth is being threatened by a bunch of huge-ass, killer monsters known as Kaiju, who never seem to stop attacking. There’s more and more of them, each and every day so obviously something has to stop them. Enter the Jaegers, giant robots that are equipped and ready to defeat this big monsters, especially since they are ran by two people at the same time. However, once the threat of human extinction becomes all too real and closer and closer by the seconds of every day,  two unlikely heroes (Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi) realize that it’s their time to stand up, fight, and break some monster skulls, while also having the fate of humanity rest solely in the palm of their hands. Not too much pressure, is it?

As you could probably tell from the last 5 days: I’ve been watching A LOT of Guillermo del Toro movies. Yes, the main reason for doing so was to get all hyped-up and ready for this flick, but also to understand him more as a film maker and creator, then I ever did, and I think have a handle on what he’s all about now.

First of all, the guy is a director that makes the type of movies he wants to make, and allows people to join in on the fun and excitement if they so please to. He’s sort of like a kid who grew-up on late-night trips to theaters, more action-figures than actual, human-being friends, and probably made Atari more times than you or I have ever popped in GTA IV. Except he’s all grown-up, has the ability to make a movie, and get paid for doing so, which is great for him, but even better for us since we get to watch those movies, and see the world through his eyes, as amateurish and kiddish as they may be. However, the terms “amateurish” and “kiddish” are used more as positives than negatives here, because del Toro makes such great movies that it’s so easy to forgive him for being non-other than the type of director who likes to see things go “bang”, “boom”, and “caboodle”. But with his latest effort, “great” doesn’t come close, but “fun” does and that’s more than enough than I can say about other loud, big, summer blockbusters.

Yeah, you need to get those molars next time.

You need to get those molars next time around.

Looking at you, Lone Ranger.

Del Toro’s knack for having fun with his material shines throughout the whole flick, and it never lets up. The idea of having huge-ass robots and aliens fight each other, atop major cities and oceans is a silly idea, but it’s one that del Toro takes very seriously in the way that he amerces himself into this universe where, for some reason or another, alien-like creatures come out of the ocean and start attacking our world, only to be fought to the death by even-bigger robots created by us, the humans. As I said, silly, but a bunch of fun because del Toro knows the type of flick he’s making here and isn’t really trying to show us anything new or surprising, in terms of plot or tone. Some may be a bit saddened by that fact, knowing what del Toro has been able to do with even the most simple plots, but I was happy to see this, considering this flick could have easily gone South, had he decided to make it a super-cereal flick, with still a shit-load of aliens and robots fighting one another.

This aspect of the movie works because it’s as big, loud, explosive, CGI-filled, and entertaining as you may have thought it would be, coming from all of the countless trailers and whatnot. Not only do the aliens and robots look very-detailed in a way that’s obvious CGI, but still feels natural, but their fights are easy-to-understand and aren’t constantly cut and edited at a fast, Paul Greengrass-style. Del Toro continues to let the fights linger on and on and on, until we had enough or, in some cases, want more. I was more of the latter than the former, however, I can see the ship from both sides. Some may want the fights to not over-stay their welcome and end as soon as they get started so they can get back with the characters and their development; whereas some may just want the fights to keep on happening and continue to take up space, considering that they’re the best thing the movie has going for itself.

This is a real shame too, because, if you know del Toro movies the way I’ve been knowing del Toro movies, you know his attention to action-splendor and characters is amazing considering he rarely ever misses a beat with each aspect. However, with this movie, he seems to have lost his touch and used loud action scenes, and put them in place of characters and their developments. Which is fine since the action scenes are fun and exhilarating, but it’s a huge bummer knowing that there could have been so much more accomplished here, had del Toro decided to go that extra mile with each and every one of these characters and making them more than just cardboard cut-outs. But he didn’t, and as saddened as I am to say this: It totally brings the film down.

The human-race: FUCK YEAH!!!

The human-race: FUCK YEAH!!!

Though everybody in this flick seems perfectly-cast, they are all wasted on a script that couldn’t give two shits about them. Members like Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Ron Perlman all get their chances to shine and do what they do best (especially Elba who probably gives his best “film” performance, ever), but the script is so weak and poorly-written, that it feels like most of them were just called onto have one “look” the whole time, and never lose it. They all try to rise above the material, but they all fall face down in the dirt because del Toro is more infatuated with the big-ass robots he has grace the screen more than a couple of times, as he should, since they cost him probably more than half of that $200 million budget of his.

The only person in this cast who actually seems to try, but gets the hardest end of the stick the most is Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket, the type of role that should have catapulted him to stardom, but most likely won’t because it’s too weak and conventional, even for him. I can’t get on Hunnam’s ass too much because the dude seems like he was putting some time and effort into a role that probably seemed fit for him on paper, but the script just lets him down and makes him nothing more than a poster boy for getting revenge, fighting for “your boys” and respecting the code and honor that is bestowed onto you. That’s all this role has to do and there are times when Hunnam shows some inspiration in his work, but nothing too noticeable to where I think he’s going to be a star one of these days, and really show the world what he’s got. Yes, I know he’s on Sons of Anarchy and, from what I hear, is lighting up television screens all over the world, but film just may not be his thing just yet. With time, maybe. But as for right now, not at all.

Consensus: Even though it may be del Toro’s weakest in a long while, Pacific Rim still offers you all the bang for your buck that you need, especially with the constant battles between aliens and robots, but if you want anything more like character-development or heart injected into the material, you may be a little lost.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

In Luther, we trust.

In Luther, we trust.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

It’s like Halloween, but in the summer time, where your constantly sweating your ass off underneath a 10 lb costume.

Last time when we left Hellboy (Ron Perlman), he was sucking face with his fellow “freak”, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), and it’s nice to see that 4 years later, not much has changed. They argue, they love, they kiss, they battle, they bitter, and they continue to go through the steps that most couples do, except that they’re “different” in the sense that one can do all sorts of bad-assery, while the other one can light herself on fire and cause explosions for miles. However, they put their relationship to the side this time once an ancient prince named Nuada (Luke Goss) tries to destroy the human-population with his Golden Army, aka, a bunch of mechanical robots that are a lot bigger than Hellboy, or anything else for that matter.

As you probably saw yesterday, Hellboy was a flick that I hadn’t seen in awhile and wanted to re-watch, especially for this whole “Guillermo del Toro thing” I’ve been doing. Needless to say, I liked it again and even though I noticed some itsy, bitsy problems I may have not noticed when I was 10 and first saw it, it still held-up very well and showed me what del Toro could do if he got a big enough budget, and enough creative-control to do whatever the hell he wanted to do. In the hands of del Toro, I trust nobody else, which may make sense that after Pan’s Labyrinth got nominated for a slew of Oscars and such, it seemed only right that not only would the dude be able to get another Hellboy movie, but one that would be all his, and nobody else’s.

If they ever break up, she's going to be single forever. That shit is TORN UP.

If they ever break up, she’s going to be single forever. That shit is TORN UP.

That selfish mentality where he gets whatever he wants, when he wants, and how he wants it, is the same type of mentality that kills most directors and gives them a terrible rep that you don’t even want to bother being around, but not del Toro. No, no, no. He’s more of a stand-up guy than that and yes, even though I don’t know him personally (still hasn’t returned any of my phone calls), it still seems like the guy knows what’s best for his movie, and what makes them best for everybody else to see. Because let’s face it: The man’s making a superhero movie that most likely, many, many people are going to see. So if you want to throw in a bunch of dark-trademarks that has the art-house crowd soon over your style, then go for it, just know that it’s not going to appeal to a wider-audience.

However, like with the first one, del Toro hits that perfect mark where it’s not only the type of flick that could go to please even the die-hardest fan of del Toro, but any regular movie-goer who just wants to go to the movies and have a good time. All of the beautiful creature-creations are here on full-display which, thankfully, are more practical-effects, than just cheap and lazy CGI, even though there is some used here to even the odds out. That’s why every shot in this movie, no matter what the hell may be going on with the story, there’s always something cool or inventive to see, and it shows you that del Toro never got bored while filming. So, therefore, you never really get bored of this movie either.

There’s plenty of action, ass-kicking, witty quips, guns being shot off, and explosions, but there’s also an under-lying beauty to it all that just works because it’s del Toro, and you can tell that he not only cares for these characters and the way they look, but the actual movie as well. Wish I could say the same about the story, which goes off the deep-end, fairly quickly, but I don’t know if that aspect of the movie was where del Toro’s aspirations lied the most. Obviously he needed a story to back all of his crazy, cartoon shit up, but whether or not it’s worth paying attention to doesn’t seem to matter. All that does seem to matter is that you love the eye-candy he throws in front of your eyes, and have a good time while doing so. Sometimes that’s easier said then done, but not in this case.

Like I said, and like you’ve probably seen these past couple of days: Del Toro is that director who can do anything he wants, and it will most likely be an inspired-decision on his part. Very, very talented man, I must say so myself.

Along with del Toro’s artistry, another aspect of this sequel that carries over well from the first one is Ron Perlman as Hellboy, who honestly seems to be on his game here. In the first movie, he was still great and showed that he was having a hell of a time with a role he rarely ever saw back in those days, but time was kind to Perlman between ’04-’08, and it shows because he’s now got more of a naturalistic look and feel to this character, that makes it seem like he’s not even acting at times. The witty one-liners come off as if Perlman himself was just ad-libbing his ass off, and knowing how Perlman acts; I wouldn’t be all that surprised.

The subplot that Hellboy and Liz have between each other is awkward at times and takes away from the some of the originality in the look of del Toro’s movie, but Blair and Perlman work well together enough that you could believe these two as actually being together, and going through the same problems, had they been around in real-life. But only with the make-up. Without it, something tells me that they wouldn’t last longer than a simple bang and a handy, just as long as Ron wore a paper-bag. Hate to speak like that, but hey, it’s the truth, Ruth.

Hollywood's tax dollars at work.

Hollywood’s tax dollars at work.

And just like with Perlman, Blair is still very good as Liz because she’s less doped-up now and more of a gal with problems. It’s a clichéd role, but it’s one that she handles well because she’s so used to being subtle in the various indies she does. Doug Jones fully takes over the role of Abe Sapien (rather than just acting as him while David Hyde Pierce voiced) and does a perfect job because he has that slender look to him that works so well with Abe, as well as that sly wit that may even catch you off-guard at spots. As usual, Jeffrey Tambor is here as Tom Manning, the government employee who’s constantly covering for these “freaks” and over-does it a bit, but something tells me that’s what the script wanted just so it could be more humorous, and light than most of the superhero flicks that were coming out around that time.

Hell, that’s why we need another one of these movies because I can’t handle the freakin’, self-loathing superhero anymore. I just can’t! Bring back Hellboy!!! Please?

Consensus: Even though the first was a bit better because of the element of surprise and tighter-plot, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is still a whole bunch of fun because of del Toro’s style that, no matter what’s happening on-screen, always finds a way to throw in his eye for beauty and color in there somewhere, and his knack for allowing for a film to be fun, goofy, silly, and a bit heartfelt as well. Just like he did with the first one.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Hell3

Okay, maybe del Toro’s creations aren’t always so original when you’re practically just making a knock-off of Boy George.

Hellboy (2004)

The Christian groups demanded “Heavenboy”, but Mel Gibson got that project.

In 1944, as soon as WWII was getting closer and closer to ending, some of Hitler’s Nazis occult experiments go wrong. Terribly wrong. By this, I mean that through a transportation device, somehow, a little red, devil-ish creature got stuck over here on Earth and was soon named Hellboy (Ron Perlman) by his founder, paranormal expert Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt). Cut to 60 years later, and that little red baby is a full-on, grown man with muscles, wit, and cigar-smoking and all. He also just so happens to be a government-funded crime fighter that has to be kept secret from the outside world, but all of that turns to shit once a scary dude, Rasputin (Karel Roden), comes back for revenge for the 60 years prior and wants it now, at any cost.

Some of you may find this hard to believe, but when I was just a wee, little guy, I never really went to the movies all that often. The movies that I did go see, were either ones that would have been out for longer than 2 weeks (cheapest), were usually seen with my dad (so nothing R-rated or too sexual), and were ones that we waited forever and ever to see, which means that my trips to the cinemas as a kid, were very few and far between. However, Hellboy was one of those very rare movies that my old man and I saw together and needless to say, it’s held a pretty close spot to my heart ever since. It wasn’t that I loved it or anything, I just remembering liking it and being awfully surprised that I would like something that was filled with freaks, monsters, and a red demon. Never was my cup of tea, but this film showed me that maybe I had to drop down those barricades and start drinking those cups.

God, I feel bad for whatever toilet he's about to use in the next hour.

God, I feel bad for whatever toilet he’s about to use in the next hour.

All that said, about 9 years later after checking this movie out again, I still have to say it holds up, for better or worse.

What I mean by that is that the movie didn’t totally shock the hell out of me back in the day, and it still hasn’t now, but certain things I did and didn’t like about movies have certainly changed and I realize that more than ever with this flick. Guillermo del Toro will always be known for making creep-fests that stick with people for the longest time, whether they be disturbing or just plain scary, which is why it must have been a bit of a shocker to see his name attached to a mainstream superhero movie, that was also rated PG-13. It was a crazy idea that many people thought would not work (critically and financially), but the dude somehow pulled it off and it’s mainly because his attention to detail and beauty never ceases to amaze anybody watching his flicks.

The man just has an eye for style and where some directors would use their over-abundance of style to distract most viewers from the shit script they’re working on, del Toro uses it to his advantage to keep the story moving and even more relevant as time continues on. The darkness of the whole movie kind of got annoying after awhile, but once the man threw some color and CGI in there, then it was all good in the hood because it always offers you something new and interesting look at, regardless of if you feel it’s necessary or not. I feel like for a film that’s an adaptation of the Hellboy comics, it should look and feel as dark and as mystical as you can get, but that’s just me. Some people like that, and others don’t. I just so happen to be in the former.

But don’t be fooled by all of the “dark” talk I’m doing, because this movie is actually very light and fun in a way that doesn’t make it a romp, but doesn’t make it too serious either. It’s slap-dab in the middle, and it’s a whole bunch of fun for that main reason. Del Toro knows that the type of material he’s working with is a bit goofy, especially when you place it in a real-world environment, where human-beings scour the streets day-in-and-day-out, and he doesn’t shy away from those aspects. He treats Hellboy and everybody else with love and care, but also doesn’t forget that they’re also a bunch of “freaks” that obviously can’t connect with anybody else in the world except for themselves, and loves to watch as each and every one of them react to one another in a way that’s sometimes pleasant, and sometimes isn’t so pleasant. It’s sort of like an episode of Full House, but with a bunch of mutants and creatures and shit, instead of Danny Tanner, Uncle Joey, and *ahem* Jesse.

Once again though, del Toro finds perfect ground between these two elements of dark and light, and altogether, makes it a fun movie that can be enjoyed by all sorts of movie-going audiences. You got stuff for the nerds (swords going through countless people), the families (an endearing message lies within about loving the one who helped you through all of your years), the kids (Hellboy is a goofy guy who says funny things), the ladies (a nice love-angle between Hellboy and Liz Sherman), and even the guy who’s trying to get lucky with his girl on the second date (plenty of scary monsters). So basically, it’s the type of movie that anyone can see if they want to check out and have a good time with. Never thought I’d see that coming from a dude who’s most memorable trademark is the death of children in almost every one of his movies, but hey, surprises happen in life.

Told you it was a "fishy-thing".

Told you it was a “fishy-thing”.

The even bigger surprise here is that Ron Perlman, an actor who has become a big name by now but wasn’t then, was probably the best and only person that could actually play this role as Hellboy because he’s got all of the features and elements to make this character watchable, even for a tad over two hours. On the outside, Hellboy seems like a hard-ass, tough dude that you do not want to mess with no matter what; but on the inside, he’s a big softy that has feelings, loves kittens, eats his Baby Ruths as if its nobody’s business, and has a heart that gets moved around a couple of times here and there. He’s basically a human, but not really. However, Perlman makes him feel realistic and charming enough to have us love him right from the start, and never lose that feeling we have for him. It may have been a risky move placing a relatively unknown character actor in a lead role for a big-budget, superhero flick, but it’s a risky move that paid off, because Perlman is such a class act that the dude can practically do anything, just as long as he isn’t scaring women and children away with that mug of his. Sheesh!

Everybody else in this cast is good too, and aids Perlman well, even when he doesn’t seem to need it. John Hurt is a great fit as Hellboy’s “adoptive father” that looks after him and knows all the ins and the outs of practically every mythological-being out there; David Hyde Pierce does “his thing” voicing Abe Sapien (Doug Jones actually “performed” the character), the fishy-man that can tell when, how, and where something happened, just by holding his fins down on an object; Selma Blair is boring and dead-panning her ass off as Liz Sherman, which bothered me at first because she seemed bored to death with the material and made me feel it as well, and then I realized that her character was hopped-up on nut-house drugs, so it all came together and made sense; and Rupert Evans is a bit bland as Kevin Myers, the FBI agent that’s assigned to looking after “the big red guy”, and seems to be struggling with trying to say nerdy, but smart and determined at the same time. The villains here are pretty forgettable, especially since they just seem to be nothing else other than “crazy, fucked-up Nazis!”

Consensus: By bringing some much-needed heart, feeling, and wit to it’s superhero, Hellboy ends up becoming a lot more of an entertaining-romp that can be seen and enjoyed by all, regardless of if they like del Toro movies, superhero movies, movies about weird creatures, or any of the above or not.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Here, kid: Take the gun, leave the acting to me."

“Here, kid: Take the gun, leave the acting to me.”

Titan A.E. (2000)

A video-game come to life on screen, but in a good way this time.

Set in the year 3028, many years after the planet Earth has been blown to bits by an alien race named the Drej, a young boy named Cale (Matt Damon) is discovered to hold the secret map of the Titan machine inside of his hand. The machine holds the power to unleash another planet for the few surviving humans still roaming around in space, and the opportunity to re-ignite their evolution.

This may seem like a totally random flick to review but for some odd reason I caught this on my Netflix queue and I haven’t seen it ever since it first came out so I thought it would definitely be a great way to get some nostalgia. Being a kid ruled.

One of the best things about watching movies is how they can sometimes take you out of the world that you’re living in at the present and transport you into this different world with all of its inhabitants and beauty. This is one of the main things I liked about this movie because it takes you out into the galaxy above and around us and shows its beauty and sometimes its darkness. The visuals in some cases may be dated, but they still look glorious because they show these little animated sketches but give it this 3-D look that almost makes it seem like a live-action flick. The film does a great job of combining both styles of animation here which works and takes you to this vision of space that I haven’t seen done before. There are so many great sights to see that it’s hard to just put my finger on one and I almost wish it was in 3-D and released again in 2012 because I think it would actually look even better and maybe get a better box office return.

To add on with the visuals too, the action is very fun and there is some sort of great energy that co-directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman both contain that makes this flick so much fun. There is just enough story here to make sense but when the shoot-em-up action scenes pop-up, they bring a lot to the film and make it feel like a lot of fun as if you’re watching ‘Star Wars’ in cartoon version. Let me also not forget to mention that there are some pretty cool rock songs courtesy of Jamiroquai, Lit, and even Fun Lovin’ Criminals. I don’t understand why more animated flicks let alone more movies in general just don’t use a pretty up-beat rock soundtrack to add to their action because it can honestly do wonders like it did here.

However, on the writing front, there is a lot of problems to be had here. First of all, as understanding as the story is in the first place it still doesn’t mean that it’s original by any means. There’s so much here that seems borrowed from plenty of other sci-fi flicks/stories that it can be very annoying at points. I mean there’s no big surprises at the end of the flick, but I was at least asking for some originality for me to get to that point. I also can’t forget to mention that this flick seems very adultish for an animated flick. Sometimes there will be a random sex joke that may seem more subtle than you expect but it’s still random, and there is plenty of other moments where it seemed like this flick really stepped over the whole PG rating, especially when it’s trying to connect with a kids audience but maybe that’s why it didn’t do so well at the box office in the first place anyway.

The characters here are also very bland and they aren’t very interesting, except for maybe one character, who wasn’t even human. Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, and Drew Barrymore, among others, all do their best with their voice jobs it’s just that their characters are so bland that it’s almost way too hard to root for them to save mankind. They all seemed to be written very dry or lifeless and they didn’t stretch my imagination as much as the cool visuals did either. However, the one character that I seemed to like the most was the Caterpillar-looking type named Gune, voiced by John Leguizamo. I don’t know what it is, but it always seems like Leguizamo is able to make any character he is playing, likable beyond belief.

Consensus: The visuals are very pretty to look at and there is a lot of fun to be had here with the energy in the action, but Titan A.E. still suffers from unoriginal writing, characters, and plot devices that seem to be used from so many other sci-fi stories. Still, what stands out from all of those other ones is its great visuals which make it a lot better than it has any right to be in the first place.

6/10=Rental!!

Drive (2011)

This guy would make a killing at delivering pizzas.

Driver (Ryan Gosling), a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, is lured from his isolated life by a lovely neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. His newfound peace is shattered, however, when her violent husband is released from prison.

The weird thing about Drive is how this is being advertised as a slam-bang, action thriller with a Fast & Furious look of cars. But that is far from the truth.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) has a great knack for making incredibly bloody films, seem so beautiful. The film reminded me of an 80’s noir with it’s synth-crazy score, the hot pink title cards, and even the colorful as well as gritty look of the under-belly of LA that had me reminded of a Michael Mann film. There are some real great scenes where Refn brings out this very dark mood within the material with the way he films and the way he makes it all sound.

The problem with his direction is that I feel like too many times he doesn’t let the story tell itself at all, and just wants to basically remind people that he’s the one directing here and every shot is shot with his artsy-fartsy trademark. This didn’t bother me that much but when you have a script like this it really does get annoying after awhile.

I thought that the script had its moments where it truly wreaked in awesomeness but then other times, I just felt bored and bothered by what this film was doing. Almost every scene where these characters talk to each other is just filled with some awkward pauses and very slow responses that would have any person trying to leave the conversation as soon as possible. About the third time that I heard Gosling breath and Mulligan sigh, I just about had it about up to here with it, and relied on the action for my entertainment.

Oh wait, there’s barely any of that either. The action here is very short but done so well because of the way Refn creates the tension and keeps the bloodiness packing on up. He also adds this extra colorful flair to every scene, so when some guy is getting his head smashed in, not only is it bloody, but it’s also bright and colorful. This I liked and even though there’s only 2, that’s right, 2 car chases, I still liked them.

However, my problem lies within the fact that I just wish they actually gave us more of the awesome action rather than focus on these boring and awkward conversations that didn’t make me laugh, or really feel any more of an emotional connection to the story, it just annoyed me. I can see why Refn wanted to focus more on the story and visual flair rather than the action but when you got some writing that’s as boring as this is, you start to get pretty annoyed.

The real reason to see this film though is indeed, Ryan Gosling, aka one of my top man-crushes. Gosling plays The Driver and is quiet, calm, and relaxed throughout the majority of the film, but when it comes to him flipping shit, I was totally scared in all the right ways. Gosling plays both sides of this character believably well so you believe the subtlety that he has and the physical anger he projects from his character. I mean I was intimidated by Gosling here and every scene he is in, he uses that look on his face and his body language to convey a sense that his character is feeling every scene and it works so well. My man is on a roll!

The rest of the cast is also pretty good too. Carey Mulligan is good as the sweet Irene, although I think her and Gosling could have really projected some great screen chemistry given the right material; Bryan Cranston is gritty in his role as Shannon, the guy who brings Gosling into the world of crime; Ron Perlman is entertaining to watch as Nino the Jew, and I know this because they call him the name about 12 times; and Oscar Issac and Christina Hendricks have some pretty good “blink or you miss em” performances here as well. Albert Brooks as Bernie Ross is probably the most surprising of the whole cast because he has a presence that’s so powerful and ruthless that you actually can believe him as this violent mobster, rather than the voice of Marlon.

Consensus: Drive has moments where it absolutely works with it’s stylish direction from Nicolas Winding Refn, great performances from the cast, especially Gosling, and some bloody and thrilling flashes of violence, but too much of it feels slow and features conversations that are more boring than one you would have with a wall.

7/10=Rental!!

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

If every single 80’s classic is being remade, there’s no reason for Howard the Duck not get a little one too.

A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan (Jason Momoa) realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.

So it seems like Hollywood is running out of any original ideas so they are practically remaking every 80’s film known to man. Sadly, they should have let this legendary Arnold flick alone.

The one thing that works for this re-work is that the action and gore is pretty freakin’ awesome. I loved just watching Conan slice up almost every single person that walked into his way and not give two shits about it after wards either. Another good thing about the action here is that I could actually tell just what the hell was going on because to be honest, so many action films come out nowadays and you can never know who is getting killed or who will be.

The movie is directed by Marcus Nispel, who is most well-known for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th reboots and the godawful Pathfinder. Conan the Barbarian has more in common with the latter, but it is thankfully a much better movie even if that doesn’t say much. Nispel’s direction here isn’t anything mesmerizing but he handles a lot of the action scenes very well whether it be a huge war going on, or Conan taking on a bunch of baddies, Nispel seems to have his head on the right track a lot.

However, when this movie is not killing people, it’s pretty weak in every aspect. The plot of this film has been done about 500 times before and probably a lot better and as the second half of this film comes around, the bloodshed tones down so we can actually understand these characters when we really don’t give a shit and just want Conan to pick up his sword and start chopping heads off. I hate when any film tries to do this because it usually takes so much away from the action, and here it’s just about 10 times worse.

The dialogue also tries to be so incredibly witty and smart but it just fails terribly, however, I don’t know what this film was trying to go for. The one-liners here are just terribly cheesy and just made me laugh-out-loud but I have to say that I don’t really think that this film was trying to take itself too seriously either, so I guess I can’t hate on it too much. But he writing for this film is just only writing in the sense that words were put down on a piece of paper, with no real sense of knowledge and just lines of dialogue that are just made to move the film along.

The film also looks insanely cheap and something that just screamed “straight-to-dvd release”. I mean sometimes I usually don’t mind this but the film honestly looks like half of the sets were made from plastic, and CGI backgrounds that look as realistic as a high-school play stage. The rocks on the ground also bounce up higher than usual rocks actually should bounce up and it doesn’t just happen once, it happens a couple of times and I noticed it right away. It’s a shame that these production designers didn’t put more effort into the look of this film because I actually feel like I really could have gotten into this setting, if it wasn’t for the cheesiness.

The cast of this film tries what they can but in the end, the script is only a huge let-down. Jason Mamoa makes the most of his performance as Conan and uses these crappy lines to show how barbaric he is. He is one of the things that makes the film barely tolerable; he’s ruthless, threatening and very badass. I wish I could compare him to Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Mamoa does a good job on his own, and when it comes to Arnie, there is not comparison whatsoever.

Stephen Lang is good as the same villain he plays in every film, but instead with funky-looking hair that makes him look like a chick as Khalar Zym; Rose McGowan is very strange but pretty good in a kind of Marilyn Manson way as his daughter, Marique; Ron Perlman is good as Conan’s daddy; and Rachel Nichols is pretty alright as Tamara. But the one real mystery of this film was how they actually got damn Morgan Freeman to narrate a little portion of this film! I mean this guy has another Batman flick coming up and he’s getting bothered doing this crapola! Stay away Morgan!

Consensus: Conan the Barbarian is dumb, terribly written, cheap-looking, and no emotional connection whatsoever, but it still has a lot of fun and awesome blood, gore, action, half-naked barbarians, naked chicks, Morgan Freeman narrating, and a feel to it that doesn’t take itself too seriously but by all means, leave your brain in the car, as far away from the actual area you see this flick.

5/10=Rental!!