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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Ronda Rousey

Entourage (2015)

Eight seasons and a movie?

Having just divorced after nearly 10 days, Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) now has his eyes set on writing, directing and starring in an adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde, which will just be called Hyde. However, Vinny’s ambitions are so large and demanding, that the movie needs a bigger budget to feel “right” enough for him to give the go ahead with. Cue in Vinny’s long-time manager, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who is still happy with his family, but still needs to convince financiers that the movie deserves more money because it’s considered, well, “a masterpiece” (his words, nowhere near at all mine). However, Ari and Vinny’s lives aren’t the only ones happening here as Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) all respectively have their own trials and tribulations to get through. E is can’t seem to find it in himself to stop sleeping around with random girls, and settle down with his very pregnant ex-love Sloan (Emmanuelle Chirqui); Turtle wants to settle down with someone again, but that special someone just so happens to be Ronda Rousey; and Drama, as usual, can’t seem to catch a break with any casting directors.

Oh, how sad they must all be.

"Hey, guys? A little help here because my back is killing me!"

“Hey, guys? A little help here because my back is killing me!”

Let’s cut the crap and get right down to it, everybody: Entourage, the show, wasn’t all that it’s been made out to be. Was it fun? Yes. Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it anything else deeper or more meaningful than that? Not really, and I guess, there was some appeal in that. Most fans who tuned in to watch the show on HBO every week, didn’t want to see heartfelt, intimate emotions portrayed on the screen; they just wanted to see how these four fellas would stay rich, party it up, stay rich, and bang whatever hotties they could find. Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but where I have a problem with that idea is that, all of a sudden, people make Entourage out to be as some sort of sitcom classic along the lines of such treasures as Seinfeld, or Arrested Development, or Friends, or hell, even another, much better HBO program, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

And these are the exact reasons why I wasn’t at all that stoked with this movie finally being made. Now, that isn’t to say that just because I’m crapping on everything that has to do with Entourage, means that I not only hate the show and feel as if everyone should to – that’s just not true. The show was, at points, interesting to watch, and occasionally made me laugh. However, I also do realize that the show carries on a lot of die hard, full-on fans that have been anticipating a movie event such as this ever since it had its finale nearly four years ago. Sometimes, there are fans who like shows for just being what they are, not what they could be, and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just that what Entourage is, or better yet, represented about all things having to deal with society, is pretty sickening.

Which is all the more strange to say, considering that I’m talking about a show that came on the air no less than eleven years ago.

Yeah, chew on that for awhile.

See, with Entourage, the show, as well as the movie, all we do is watch these thinly-written characters grab-ass with one another, while, at the same time, try to grab any hot model’s ass, spend thousands and thousands of dollars, and have basically no worries in the world. Now, of course, there was still a lot to see with the Hollywood/movie-making side of the spectrum (more on that later), but lets be honest, neither Doug Ellin nor Mark Wahlberg could really care about these angles as much because, at the end of the day, everything was fine. Girls were slept with and sometimes treated like yesterdays garbage; everybody stayed rich; Vincent was looked at as a superhero of sorts; and everybody was happy. That’s literally every episode of Entourage in a nutshell and it’s the same with this movie.

Which is, obviously, to say that the movie feels like nothing more than an overextended episode with hardly any arch carrying it along – it’s just one scene, after another, that occasionally meanders onto another self-important plot-point that’s nearly forgotten about in the next frame. Normally, this happened in the show, but there wasn’t all that much of a problem considering that each episode was hardly above 25 minutes. But, when you’re movie is nearly two hours, there’s a huge problem in that it feels like nothing is getting accomplished. It’s literally just a bunch of attractive people walking around L.A., doing normal things that people in L.A. do.

The gang is all back together and they look so excited.

The gang is all back together and they look so excited.

Once again, this will most definitely please fans of the show and have them wanting, hell, pleading for more, but for anybody who was already “so-so” on the show to begin with, it’s nothing more than another clear sign as to why the show shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did and should stay dead in the water as it is. But like with the show, if there were any saving graces, it was whenever Jeremy Piven showed up as the foul-mouthed, yet excessively obnoxious Ari Gold to do and say whatever he was saying or doing, and with the movie, there’s no difference. In fact, I was probably happier to see Piven here, if only because it’s been awhile where I’ve seen him get a lot to do on the big screen.

And also, well, because he would save the movie from being an utter and total bore.

Piven as Gold has always felt like the smartest man in the room, no matter how brash the decisions he made, were. He would hurl out insults at some of the most important people around him; wouldn’t think twice about ditching an important family engagement just so that he could have a dinner with some Hollywood exec; and he would always stay loyal to his wife, no matter how hard it was for him to do so, especially in a place like L.A. Here, there’s not much of anything new for Piven to try out as Ari Gold; all he has to do is stick to the same old song and dance, which is fine because it worked so often before. And like they always say, why fix what’s not broken?

But then, this puts into perspective how lame the rest of the performances are from the rest of the core performers. Adrian Grenier has always had that one expression and tone as Vinny and it never changes, which isn’t good; Kevin Connolly has always felt like a smart-ass as E, which isn’t good; Jerry Ferrara has always been the overly eager one as Turtle, which isn’t good; and Kevin Dillon has always been the creepiest, most perverted one of the clan, which isn’t as bad as the others, but still isn’t all that great, either. While some could make the argument that maybe this is less of a problem with the performer’s, than it is with the material for not challenging them enough, I would probably have to say you’re right.

However, by the same token, if they haven’t been challenged for the past decade or so, either, so why even bother trying to do so now?

Consensus: Like the show, Entourage, the movie, feels like it’s never really going anywhere, nor is it trying to offer anything new to the viewer, but instead, just rely on the same old tricks and trades that allowed the original show to stay on way longer than it maybe should have.

2 / 10

Ride off in the sunset, boys. Please try and stay there, too.

Ride off in the sunset, boys. Please try and stay there, too.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Furious 7 (2015)

People can be violent, but cars are nearly worse.

The gang’s all back, but this time, it’s personal! Soon after their buddy is killed by a notorious thug by the name of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) – a brother of one of their former foes – Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) realize that it’s time to get vengeance in the only way they know best. But before doing so, they get a proposition from a special agent (Kurt Russell): Help him retrieve a piece of spy software from a terrorist (Djimon Hounsou) and he will more than make sure that Dom, Brian and the rest of the crew get that sweet taste of revenge that they’ve been clamoring for after all of this time has passed. However, there are other problems going on from within the group where Dom can’t seem to get Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to remember their past together for what it was, nor can Brian seem to tear himself away from the wacky, wild life of crime that’s always attracted him for so long, even if he’s know settled-down with a wife (Jordana Brewster) and kid. Will the crew stay fast? Furious? Or neither?

So yeah, already going into this installment, there’s plenty to be discussed. With the tragic passing of Paul Walker nearly a-year-and-a-half ago, everything that was initially planned for Furious 7, from the release date, to the plot, were all scrapped and made anew. Which makes total sense. Walker wasn’t some sort of bit player in this franchise that showed up every so often to utter some witty line that would get the whole crowd laughing at how likable he is; he was, literally, the heart and soul of this franchise. Without him, it probably wouldn’t have gone on for as long as it has, which is both a blessing and a curse.

And they're not beating the hell out of each other, because.......?

And they’re not beating the hell out of each other, because…….?

A curse because the movie’s are dumb, over-the-top, ridiculous, and represent everything that is wrong with American’s society of masculinity. On the flip-side, though, it’s also a blessing because these movies, at least in the case for the last three installments, are so much fun, seem to never lose sight of just how illogical they are, and hardly ever apologize for it. Fast & Furious movies aren’t supposed to be taken seriously, and that’s where the real charm lies.

Hence why Paul Walker, all of his acting talents aside, was perfectly-suited for this franchise, no matter what it threw at him, or where it threw him.

With that being said, Furious 7 is a pretty raucous time. While I may not be saying anything new that hasn’t already been uttered by millions and millions of people from around the world, there’s still something interesting to note about a franchise in which the movies seem to constantly get better and one-up the one that came before it. Fast Five started this trend of the franchise going towards more action-fare, rather than just making it all about hot cars, hot men, hot women, and hot bodies, and the sixth film absolutely went for it all and, for the most part, came out on top.

While Furious 7 may not be better than the sixth movie, it’s still pretty damn close because it never forgets what it is: A mindless piece of action-fare that audiences will pay dozens of dollars for. Though this sounds easy (because, quite frankly, Michael Bay’s been doing it for the past two decades now), looking at some films, it’s actually not. Last year’s utterly forgettable and boring Need for Speed tried so desperately to pull-off the same sort of magic that the Fast franchise has been pulling off for quite some time and it failed miserably. That movie wanted to be silly, insane and ludicrous beyond belief, whereas the Fast movies are exactly that, but they don’t ever seem to be trying.

Not to mention that they actually do feature a dude a named Ludacris.

But because Furious 7 knows what it’s all about, it doesn’t try to pretend it’s something it isn’t. Though there are a chock-full of scenes dedicated to these thinly-written, one-dimensional characters breaking down all sorts of barriers and getting dramatic with one another, these scenes are quickly dismissed as soon as they show up. Also, too, it makes sense that we need at least some sort of character-development to help make things seem fully rounded-out and not just *crash*, *bang*, *boom* all of the darn time. While this would have been fun, let’s be realistic here: No movie franchise with its seventh-installment is going to totally shelve its characters for their beyond-nuts action sequences.

Just get used to it and move on. That’s what I did and it worked well.

It worked well because, once I realized that every problem these characters had didn’t really matter much in the grander scheme of things, the action just got a whole lot better and more exciting. Though you’d think these movies would have already run-out of ideas on how to set-up action sequences and still, somehow, be able to utilize automobiles in some sort of fashion, director James Wan proves you damn wrong. With scenes depicting cars flying through the sky with parachutes and even scenes where cars go flying through three buildings, this franchise continues to give us something new and fun to feast our eyes and ears onto.

Not a Rock Bottom, but it'll do.

No Rock Bottom, but it’ll do.

And honestly, the sky is the limit from here on out. No matter how many times this movie tries to break actual science, it won’t lose any bit of respect because the rules have already been set-in place: There are no rules. Cars can literally fly through the sky; people can literally shoot their guns till the cows come home and never run out of ammunition; jets can literally glide around downtown LA without there being hardly any interference from the Army of any sort. Literally, anything can happen in these movies and because of that, they never lose an ounce of momentum; they just continue to build up and up on it some more until it feels like, you know, we may have had enough adrenaline for one day.

And really, the same rules apply to the characters, as well. Like I said before, none of these characters here are inherently interesting or well-written, but they exist in a universe that loves them all so very much, that it’s hard to look down upon them for being “types”. Like the movies they exist in, you just accept them for what they are, let them do their thing and move on.

It’s quite easy, really.

Meaning, when you accept them, you have to accept Vin Diesel’s garbled growling; Michelle Rodriguez’s resting bitch face; Dwayne Johnson to be wearing Under Amour every time he is on-screen and trying so hard not to break kayfabe; Jordana Brewster just being “there”; Ludacris and Tyrese to be the goofy sidekicks that everyone can rely on for comedy and not really anything serious to contribute to the plot; and, most of all, Paul Walker’s ability to just be the “everyman” in every scene he’s in. Because even though newcomers to this franchise like Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, Kurt Russell, and especially, a deliciously evil Jason Statham all acquit themselves perfectly into this movie, strut their stuff and show us what they’re more than able to bring to the creative table, it’s Walker who still leaves the most lasting impression. He isn’t trying to, either – he just is.

And somehow, there’s a small bit of beauty in that.

Consensus: Like every other installment of the franchise, Furious 7 is as ridiculous and nonsensical as you can get, but still a whole bunch of fun, treating fans to everything that they could ever want with one of these movies, and then some, especially with the emotional tribute to Paul Walker – the one true face of this franchise.

8 / 10

Ride on, brotha.

Ride on, brotha.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Expendables 3 (2014)

They’re old. Get used to it.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the gang are back and older than ever! Which means that with age, comes a lot more violence and harm in their way. And possibly, with their latest target, their lives could all be in actual danger. The baddie this time around goes by the name of Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) and he’s had a bit of a history with Barney. However, he takes mercy on him and instead, decides to injure the ‘eff out of Caesar (Terry Crews), leaving the rest of the Expendables wanting all sorts of revenge that they can practically taste it in their thyroids. And Barney knows this, which is why he decides to give his old crew a much needed rest, and start up with a new crew of youngin’s just waiting to throw their lives on the line for some under-paid mercenary job they know hardly anything about. Eventually though, the mission ends up getting a whole lot more complicated for Barney and his new rag-tag, which means he may have to bring in all the friends he can think of. Or, better yet, the ones who would agree to work in this for chump change.

It should be no surprise to anyone out there who has gotten to know me through the years that I’m a huge fan of the older action movies of the 80’s/90’s. They always hold a very nice place in my heart and will continue to do so, so long as I still maintain a sense of immaturity. Which is exactly why the Expendables movies, despite being an obvious ploy to get nostalgic-mother-humpers like me in the theater, have always worked for me. No, they aren’t perfect and no, they sure as hell aren’t nearly as good as the twelve-year-old inside of me would have thought it been, but they’re still fun movies that deliver on exactly what you want: Your favorite action stars from yesteryear, kicking ass and blowing shit up all over again.

"Grrrr."

“Grrrr.”

And here, with the third movie in this rather surprising franchise, that’s exactly what you get. But then again though, it’s what we should expect, so it’s hard to really judge a movie on what it’s supposed to be and clearly is. A movie should be followed and dissected on what it does with those expectations, and here, it’s something that isn’t nearly as fun and exciting as the second movie, yet, not nearly as lazy as the first. Somehow, this movie is stuck right in the middle and I think that’s fine.

Sure, would I have liked that there’d been less corny chit-chat between some of these strange duos on-screen? Of course. And while I’m at it, wouldn’t have I at least liked to seen more action scenes that didn’t just contain guns being shot, without ever really seeing what they do in the first place? Most definitely yes! But that’s just me being greedy and picky and all that bad stuff. And while I’m like that with most movies I see, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for any of that chicanery here.

So yeah, back to what I was originally saying – this movie’s pretty fun. And considering that were all stepping into what I know to be the “dog days of summer”, that means a whole heck of a lot. It means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting a fun, action summer blockbuster, but it also means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting it courtesy of some people we haven’t seen do stuff like this in quite some time.

I mean, well for Sly, Arnie, Statham, Crews, Couture, Lundgren, and whoever else shows up here that’s shown up in the past two, but as for the other “new breeds”, as I like to call ’em as I sees ’em, it’s great to just see actually working in something again. Even if the material that they are working with is pretty timid, run-of-the-mill stuff, it still makes my heart feel all warm and tingly knowing that, yes, Wesley Snipes may finally be in full comeback mode. Don’t worry, I won’t get my hopes up too high, cause you never know with him, but I will keep my fingers crossed because seeing him here, throwing knives, doing karate and whatnot, made me think of the good old days in which I’d sneak downstairs and watch Blade while everybody else in my house was asleep. The nightmares were terrible, but man, it was oh so worth it!

Come on, Wesley! Just pay your taxes for your gosh sakes!

But I digress, because this movie isn’t just about Wesley Snipes and his much needed return to the big screen; this is about everyone who is involved with the Expendables franchise as a whole. It doesn’t matter if they pop up just to wreck some mofo’s up like Chuck Norris infamously did in the second movie, or if they’re just around to be weird and wear other outfits, from other famous summer blockbusters, much like what Mickey Rourke did in the first movie. See, it’s the little pieces of this cast that make it all worth the while and even though the script is cheesy and at times, god-awful to listen to, it’s fun and it’s hacky for a reason, and it’s only made better because the cast totally seems in on the joke.

I would have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn't have gone over quite as well.

I could have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn’t have gone over quite as well.

Sure, I could totally do without Arnie self-deprecatingly yelling at people, “GET TO THA CHOPPAA!!”, but it’s something I take with me when I’m watching something like this. Sly and the rest of the clan have finally realized that instead of taking themselves so damn seriously all of the time, that they should just lighten up, crack a few jokes at themselves and move on. There’s no need for a super-duper heavy, melodramatic story about how we all need to get along and maybe even highlight some of the problems over in the Ukraine.

Nope, not here. Because here, it’s all about the guns, the blood, the violence, the shooting, the wise-cracks, the half-naked men, the sweating, the yelling, the constant “bro-ing”, the running, the helicopters, the tanks, the explosions, the bikes, the knives, the guts, the, well, everything that has to do with an action movie of this nature.

And Kelsey Grammar for some odd reason. But I guess we can just leave that as is. A little Frasier here and there never hurt anyone too bad.

Consensus: Everything you’d expect from an Expendables movie, yet, not nearly as good as the second, nor nearly as mellowed-out as the first. In other words, it’s just right if you’re hankering for some serious fun and nostalgia.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

More than half of who's pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

More than half of who’s pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images