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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Rosamund Pike

Hostiles (2017)

Wish I could say we treat Native Americans any better.

It’s 1892 and legendary Army Capt. Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) is coming closer and closer to retiring once and for all. He’s seen and done a lot of crap that would take its toll on any man in his own right, and for Blocker, who is no doubt messed-up in the head, he’s done. But, asked by his superiors, there’s one last mission for him to take out and it’s one he reluctantly agrees to on the basis of self-respect: Escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to their tribal land. Why does he not want to do it? Well, it’s the near-end of 19th century and let’s just say that Native Americans weren’t all that loved by practically anyone in the deep and dirty West. But still, orders are orders, which means Blocker, along with a great deal of his most trusted-soldiers, embark on a journey from Fort Berringer, N.M., to the grasslands of Montana. On the way, they encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike) whose family was killed on the plains. But that would only turn out to be one small surprise, on a journey that would soon bring many, many more to come.

Give him a gun and he’ll run wild. Trust me.

Hostiles is the rare kind of Western that isn’t really a Western, at least not in the general sense. There’s not much gun-play, there’s not all that many trips to small towns, or even really that much conflict. It’s a movie that plays by its own rules and moves to the beat of its own drum, which is cool in a sense, but when it’s actually playing out on-screen, shocker, it’s kind of a bummer.

Like a huge bummer.

And coming from director Scott Cooper, it’s a bit of a disappointment, because even though he doesn’t have the best track-record around, he’s still a solid enough director to keep things interesting, even when they’re not. In Hostiles, the story is moving at such a slow, languid pace, it almost feels like it’s going to end up everywhere, but nowhere, even if we’re already told a clear-objective up front. Sure, it’s admirable that Cooper’s trying to make the anti-Western, in that there’s not many conventions and the movie’s much more about grief, sadness, and depression, but when you’re movie’s a little over two hours and feels like it’s about three, it’s a bit of a problem.

Which isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot of good stuff to find in Hostiles, cause like with Cooper’s other flicks, there’s always a few great sequences every so often. The only issue is that they’re strung along this rather long and melodic movie that never picks itself up. It can, often times, be gruesome, intense, and a little dramatic, but these scenes, how few there are, happen about ever ten minutes or so – the rest of the time is spent watching as these characters travel from one spot to another, all to a slow-tune. That may work for some people who are expecting a whole heck of a lot different from their Westerns, and usually I’m in that boat, but here, it just didn’t get me as involved as I would have liked.

Hitchhikers have never looked so beautiful.

The only real benefit to this direction is that there’s more attention on the performances, all of which are great, including Christian Bale in a shockingly un-showy role.

For one, it’s nice to see Bale dial things down, almost to the point of where he’s practically a mute. But his silence works well for a character who, we’re told early on, was a bit of a reckless savage in his war days and has done all sorts of hurtful, dangerous, and downright violent things. He gets celebrated and praised as a “hero”, but you can tell, just by looking into Bale’s eyes throughout the whole thing, that there’s something truly messed-up about him and the movie, as well as Bale himself, are both very subtle about that. It’s the kind of performance that saves a movie, because it makes you interested in seeing what happens next, if not especially to the rest of the movie, but to him.

And the rest of this ensemble is pretty good, too, although, it’s such a huge ensemble, there’s only so much love and praise that can go around. Rosamund Pike, like Bale, plays her role very grounded and quiet, to a devastating affect; Rory Cochrane has some truly powerful moments as a fellow-soldier of Bale’s who may be just as messed-up as he, if not more; and Ben Foster, about halfway through, shows up to be crazy and almost steals the show. The only disappointment of this cast is that the Native Americans here (Adam Beach, Wes Studi, Q’Orianka Kilcher), don’t really have all that much development to them, except that their stoic and in-touch with their spiritual side, or something. Maybe that was the point, but it seemed like a waste to just have them around, not give them much to do, and that act as if the movie truly cares about them at the end.

After all, it’s kind of their story, isn’t it? When will Hollywood ever learn?

Consensus: With such a slow-pace, Hostiles can take awhile to get used to, but with such a great cast, including a spectacularly subtle Bale, it’s hard to fully not be interested in.

6.5 / 10

Cry it out, Chris. Go for that Oscar.

Photos Courtesy of: Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

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A United Kingdom (2017)

The world hasn’t changed all that much, unfortunately.

In 1947, Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the King of Botswana, met Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a London office worker, and for the most part, it was a match made in heaven. They instantly fell in love, they danced, they sang, they drank, and oh yeah, they planned on getting married. However, that proved to be the biggest hurdle for them to overcome when both the British and South African governments got involved, for various reasons. The latter had recently introduced the policy of apartheid and found the notion of a biracial couple ruling a neighboring country intolerable, whereas South Africa threatened the British to either break-up the couple or be denied access to South African uranium, which at the time, was vital for the government, and gold and face the risk of South Africa invading Botswana. Through it all though, the two would remain a loving couple that, at times, didn’t really know if all of this anguish, pain and separation was really all that worth it.

True love.

At the center of A United Kingdom, we have a really interesting tale that’s a lot bigger and much more ambitious than another similar racially-mixed couple movie, Loving. Writer/director Amma Assante is an interesting director, in that she takes this notion of racism and rather than just seeing it applied to the States, shows that it was the same problem in Britain, but this time, with much more to do with the government and appearances and all of that stuff. It’s a real story that, surprisingly, hasn’t gotten the big-screen treatment to now and you’d think with such rich source material, that yeah, it would be quite the stirring experience.

But sadly, that doesn’t happen.

What’s most odd about A United Kingdom is how safe and easy it plays itself. It never quite seems like the emotional thrill-ride it must have been for those actually involved with this real life part of history, nor does it ever translate to being a rich and passionate story about a couple overcoming prejudice and adversity from all sides, to stay by each other’s side, through the thick and thin. Sure, there’s interesting points to be made about politics and how all governments want to insure that they have the best PR program imaginable, to any and all lengths, but it mostly all gets lost in a near two-hour movie that, for quite some time, is just boring.

Which yes, I know may sound like a silly criticism, but honestly, it’s one I can’t seem to stop myself from saying. It’s the kind of movie where it’s so safe, so conventional, and so easy-going, surprisingly, that it’s hard to really get past it all. In a way, it almost feels like a made-for-TV production that would be perfect for the BBC, but instead, gets the big-screen treatment and because of that, actually suffers – there’s so much story, so many random twists and turns, that after awhile, you just sort of have to give up.

Mad Max?

Because through it all, there is a loving couple that we’re supposed to love, adore and get behind, and yeah, it doesn’t quite happen. Then again, it’s not entirely Oyelowo or Pike’s fault; together, the two have a nice bit of chemistry that’s sweet and believable, but the movie doesn’t focus on them enough. In real life, the two figures were spread across from one another for so long, that the movie does follow suit and with that, we never quite feel their love for one another. One too many conversations over the phone, all by themselves, and never really all that pain-staking.

Then again, it’s probably what happened in real life, to the two actual people.

But is A United Kingdom a bad movie? Not really. It’s well-made, in that it looks nice, professional, and feels like it was given a sizable budget, but still, there’s just not that many feelings to be had. These issues of racism and hatred, for no real reason, are still relevant to today and because of that, are still powerful, but for a movie to try and really get in on that, and fail, almost feels like an missed-opportunity. Because there is a hard, honest, and emotional story to be told, but it’s just not told here.

Oh well. Maybe next time.

Consensus: Well-acted and filmed, A United Kingdom is also, unfortunately, too safe and easy to really do justice for its subject matter, or its real life counterparts, despite all the promise to be had.

5.5 / 10

Spoiler alert: A child does come into play.

Photos Courtesy of: IndieWire

The Big Year (2011)

These people care about these birds a lot; that is, until they find  that white stuff on their cars. You know what I’m talking about.

Three men (Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Steve Martin), each facing their own personal challenges, try to outdo one another in the ultimate bird-watching competition in 1998. However, bird-watching gets in the way of what’s best in their lives and has them rethinking their dedication and craft.

The whole idea and premise behind The Big Year? Well, it’s real. Every single year, a group of avid birdwatchers go around competing against one other to see who can spot the most birds in some set area. Doesn’t sound like the most happening thing to do on the street, but these people could all be doing something a lot worse with their time, right?

Either way, it makes you think: Did we really need a movie about bird-watchers?

Brian?!?

Brian?!?

Probably not and judging by all of the trailers/posters/ads, it’s made abundantly clear that everyone behind it were trying their damn near hardest to make sure that absolutely nobody knew this was a bird-watching movie, because really, who would want to go out and see that? Seriously. It doesn’t matter who you have, or how good the movie may be – movies about a group of bird-watchers, just isn’t all that exciting to the general audience. And it actually wouldn’t have been such a problem what the material was about, had the movie itself actually just been good, but that’s the icing on the cake, because it just isn’t.

Director David Frankel is your typical layman’s director who shows up to work and doesn’t do much, which probably made him the perfect candidate for the Big Year, a movie that’s so happy-go-lucky and cheerful, that it’s almost nauseating. Being cheerful isn’t always such a bad thing, though – sometimes, it can work in your movie’s favor – but the Big Year relies so much on its slapstick and humor, that it just doesn’t connect. The moments that the movie wants to be funny, just doesn’t work or even register as, well, “comedy”. It’s a problem that never ceases throughout the whole flick, making it all the more of a chore to sit through.

But trust me, it actually gets kind of worse.

Once Frankel takes this story into straight-on drama mode, things start to get really unbearable as all of these dumb stories converging together. The story behind Wilson’s character is probably the dumbest, because here he is being the #1 birder in the world (which is something he deserves credit for, I guess), and he can’t even choose whether he wants to be with the birds or with his wife. Need I remind you, his wife is played by the ever so gorgeous Rosamund Pike who always seems to always look the same as each and every single year goes by. So right then and there, the film tries to pull you into this story and give itself a dilemma – one that, mind you, would be solved if this dude was actually placed in real life. “Goddess or birds?”, seems to be the main dilemma and well, I think it’s pretty simple to figure that one out.

But it’s not just Wilson’s character who gets this type of treatment, everybody else gets it too and it’s only worse when you have three comedic stars like Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black, basically all kicking themselves in the ass just for anything resembling a laugh. Steve Martin used to be one of the funniest and most daring guys in comedy, but now, he’s stuck doing old-man, grandpa roles where his performances consist of him being ultra-serious, with his once-in-awhile signature dance. That dance is priceless, but when he pulls it out here, it comes out of nowhere and didn’t make me laugh at all.

Tim?!?!

Tim?!?!

Then of course, there’s Jack Black who everybody seems to hate, but I for one, don’t. I’ll give Black some love here and there because the guy can be good when he’s given the material to work with, but is really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. He plays his usual “zany” role where he does all of this wacky stuff, and says weird things and why is that, you ask? Oh, because he’s the 36-year old slacker that doesn’t have anything else better to do with his life or his money, instead of just waste it all on bird-watching. Black is probably the most bearable to watch out of the whole cast, but that is really not saying much.

 

But fine, Wilson, Martin and Black all putting in terrible performances? That’s fine. I can accept that because they’ve given terrible ones before and guess what? They’ll continue to do so. The real stab that hurts harder and harder that I think about it is the fact that there’s so many more people in this cast, like Tim Blake Nelson, like Dianne Wiest, like Brian Dennehy, like John Cleese, like June Squibb, like Anjelica Huston, like Rashida Jones, and like so many others, that honestly, deserve a whole hell of a lot better. Why they’re here, why they’re stuck with this crap material, why they needed the money so bad, well, is honestly a hard question to answer.

All I do know is that it’s over with and they’ve all moved on. For the most part.

Consensus: Unfunny, poorly-written, and a waste of everyone involved, the Big Year deals with an odd premise, takes it way too seriously and never knows just what to do with itself.

2 / 10 

"Nope. Not a good movie in sight, fellas."

“Nope. Not a good movie in sight, fellas.”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)

Dude, you’re married to Rosamund Pike. How much more happiness do you seriously need?

London psychiatrist Hector (Simon Pegg) feels like his life isn’t as fulfilling as he would like for it to be. Sure, he’s got a nice job, a nice house, and an even nicer wife (Rosamund Pike), but for some odd reason, he feels like that there’s something more to his life. And if he doesn’t find out what that is, he won’t fully be happy. So, of course with the permission of his wifey-poo, Hector sets out an globe-spanning adventure that takes him all around the world and allows for him to meet some of the most interesting people he’d never have the chance to meet, had he stayed in his boring, posh life in London. However, whenever one travels to a new place that they’re not quite familiar with, they of course run into certain problems with people who don’t take too kindly to tourists – aka, exactly who Hector is. This leaves Hector in many life-or-death situations where he has to take into consideration that sometimes, the life you’re dealt, isn’t so bad at all. So stop whining!

Most of the reviews I’ve read for Hector and the Search for Happiness have been basically calling this, “the indie Secret Life of Walter Mitty“. And while that’s not entirely incorrect, it’s still ill-advised for someone who was actually a fan of Ben Stiller’s piece (such as myself); while the movie wasn’t perfect, there was a certain layer of sweetness that helped the movie get by some of its more dodgy spots. Not to mention, it also had me look at Stiller, the director, in a different light than ever before.

Such an adventure ahead of him. And yet, I could care less.

Such an adventure ahead of him. And yet, I could care less.

But that’s besides the point because Mitty is definitely a better movie than Hector, which isn’t to discredit the later’s leading-man at all. In certain aspects, Simon Pegg is a lot charming and lovable than Stiller, but for some reason, he’s absolutely insufferable here. Pegg’s not doing anything different from what we’ve seen him do before, but the character of Hector, is so dull and thinly-written, that there’s a certain feeling of anger I began to feel with this character. He’s already a whiny mope as it is, with practically everything one could want in life, and yet, he still finds enough time to piss and complain about it, acting as if there’s more to life than living in upper-class society.

Just saying, bud, but many people would be happy to live the life you’re living.

So yeah, already this movie’s not working for me, and then, the plot continues on and once I realize that everywhere Hector goes to, he’ll be involved with some sort of life-threatening situation, my interest was lost. Not only was it unbelievable that Hector himself would just randomly get thrown into these deadly situations for no reason or another than to move the plot along, but the movie never treated them as seriously as they should have to really make it feel like, holy crap, Hector could literally die, right in front of our faces, and we’d be spending the rest of the day in absolute shock and despair. But nope, instead, the movie cracks a smile, even when there’s an AK-47 directly staring them in the face.

For instance, take the whole sequence in the later-half when Hector ends up in Africa – a region of the world that movies such as these love to show as desolate, crime-ridden war-lands. Without getting into the intricacies of what lands Hector there in the first place, basically, he gets kidnapped and taken in by a bunch of thugs, where he is then imprisoned, questioned about his recent whereabouts, and threatened with death, so much so that he’s actually thrown into an execution position. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sort of stuff is not funny. Just go on LiveLeak and you’re bound to find plenty of real, downright disturbing videos of the same thing happening to someone, for no reasons whatsoever.

You're leaving that at home?!?!?

You’re leaving that at home?!?!?

However, the movie thinks differently. Much rather, it thinks that coming close to executing someone is rich with humor, so they treat it as something of a joke. As a result, too, Hector himself does the same and spends the rest of the movie acting as if it had never happened; as if, oh, well, you know, it was all a pure coincidence that was meant to happen so that he could understand and appreciate life a whole lot more. Being dumped by my girlfriend and being kicked out of my apartment has me understand the meaning of life, as well as appreciate it a whole heck of a lot more, and that’s about it for me. I don’t believe I need to be blind-folded, kidnapped, threatened, and have a gun pointed in my face to make me think that.

But hey, that’s just me. I’m not Hector and thank heavens for that.

Basically, in case you haven’t been able to tell already, there’s not a lot going for Hector and the Search for Happiness. There’s hardly any comedy to be found whatsoever (even though the movie insists that there actually is), the melodrama is suffocating, and the message, isn’t just obvious, but ludicrous, especially when you consider all that Hector, the character, had to go through to get to that point in his life. The only moments of actual entertainment that can be found within this movie is whenever some odd-ball from the supporting cast shows up, and even then, they clearly seem to not have much to work with. The only one I can think of off the top of my head that really left any sort of impression whatsoever was Christopher Plummer and even then, I still wondered whether somebody shot him with tranquilizers beforehand to make him numb to the utter garbage he was forced to deliver.

Nobody should have to deliver this junk. Not Christopher Plummer. Not Simon Pegg. Not anybody.

Consensus: Everywhere it goes, everyone it meets, everything it experiences, Hector and the Search for Happiness wants you to enjoy the ride with them, but instead, it’s the kind of trip you wish you took alone, with no annoying Brits found anywhere in sight.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Drink up, Simon. And save me some. By the end of this, we'll both need it.

Drink up, Simon. And save me some. By the end of this, we’ll both need a few.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Gone Girl (2014)

Anybody down to get married?

On the wee early hours of July 4th, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home to a bit of a shocker: His wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has mysteriously disappeared. Seeing as how this could possibly be a kidnapping, Nick decides to call the local authorities, in which two detectives (Kim Gordon and Patrick Fugit) get called onto the scene to investigate. While they do initially believe that Nick doesn’t have the faintest clue of what happened to his wife, the way everything is laid out just points towards him. However, they continue on with their investigation and keep themselves as subjective as possible. Problem is, the same couldn’t be said for the media who, upon hearing of this mysterious case, jump on it right away and focus most of their attention on Nick, his efforts to help find Amy, and just whether or not he actually has anything to do with it in the first place. This leads Nick to hire an attorney (Tyler Perry) that will not only help with his public persona, but also may help skewer the investigation away from him. But the truth is out there, just waiting to be exposed, and it’s up to everybody to discover what really happened to Amy.

Alright. Alright. Alright. No, I am not channeling my inner-McConaughey. Nope, instead I’m trying to prep myself for this review here because this baby won’t be easy to talk about. Not because I have so much love and praise for it that putting them all into cohesive, understandable sentences and phrases would be a challenge in and of itself, but because this movie is chock full of surprises.

Which also means something else….SPOILERS!!

Picking up girls in a library. So Affleck.

Picking up girls in a library. So Affleck.

Yes, everybody. It’s that dreaded “s-word” that just about every person on the face of the planet hates to hear, but such is the case with movies like these: The more mysterious they are, the more easier it is for bloggers/writers/critics to spoil the fun for everybody and anybody else out there who may actually be looking forward to seeing this. Because honestly, most of the fun in Gone Girl is from not knowing what to expect next, how, why, where, and from whom. In that sense, it’s your typical David Fincher flick, however, there’s something more fun about this piece in particular.

See, while I have never read the novel of which this movie is adapted from, therefore, I don’t have much knowledge of how it is actually written, seeing this was a total treat for me. I had no idea what to expect, except a possible kidnapping, an investigation into this kidnapping, and a whole lot of mystery. And this, my friends, is what I always look forward to when I see Fincher’s flicks; I expect to be thrown about, tussled around, and taken in all these different directions, until I can’t handle it anymore and want to give up, yet, the ride itself is so much fun, that I just can’t help but keep on with the ride.

And with this ride in particular, it’s satisfying. Not because Fincher keeps us guessing every scene, of every second, with every character, but because, for once and awhile at least, Fincher really seems to be relishing in the material that he’s working with. Don’t get me wrong, when I watch films like Fight Club, the Game, and, to an even lesser extent, Panic Room, I continuously get the idea that not only is Fincher having a great time messing with our minds and our expectations of what to expect next, but that he’s having an even bigger blast just setting up all of these set-pieces and plot-threads. That’s not to say his other, more serious movies aren’t considered “fun”, it’s just that there’s a very dark and morbid tone to them, that where it seems like there’d be a time and place for some fun to be had, there’s nothing but sadness. Which, like I will say again, isn’t a bad thing at all, but watching something like this reminds me what it’s like to go to a David Fincher movie and just witness a master at work with his craft and having a ball with it all.

So, with that said, it goes without saying that yes, Gone Girl is a fun ride, from start to finish. And although I am quite compelled to say more about this movie and its story, I’ll stay away because the real marvel of this film is realizing just what the hell is actually happening in this story, as it is brought to our attention. There’s several twists, turns, and alley-ways this movie goes down throughout its near two-and-a-half-hours, and they’re all unexpected (that’s if you haven’t already read the book).

It should also be noted that while this film definitely takes some aim at the mass-media and, most importantly, biased news broadcasts, Gone Girl isn’t particularly a deep movie. There’s no real sense that what Fincher is creating here, is supposed to be any bit of ground-breaking, thought-provoking, or even revolutionary; instead, it’s just a simple mystery that goes through all sorts of hoops and constantly takes you for a whirl. Is it a bit disappointing? Sort of, yes, but only because we know Fincher is capable of much more than just keeping his stories as simple as they present themselves on the page.

But that said, I’d much rather have an exciting thrill-ride from Fincher, rather than a bold, ambitious piece that seems to miss its mark. Not saying that there are many of those kinds of movies out there, but those expecting this to get a whole bunch of Oscar nominations, may be in for a surprise. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

Anyway, even though this is clearly Fincher’s show for the taking, from the beginning, to the end, he still doesn’t make the fatal mistake of getting in the way of his cast. Which was a smart move on his part, because he’s assembled a pretty talented bunch here. And seeming to be leading the pack is Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, the husband of the missing who everybody, with good reason, calls into question as soon as the story comes to fruition. A lot of people were pretty heated up about Affleck’s casting in the role and although I have not read the book, and therefore cannot attest to this, I will say that Affleck seems tailor-made for the part. Not only does Affleck just light the screen up with that boyish-charm of his, but he also makes us continuously wonder just whether or not he is actually as apart of his wife’s disappearance as the rest of these characters are leading us to believe. While we see that Nick Dunne is a nice guy at heart, albeit, a very troubled-one to say the least, we still know that there’s a human deep down inside of there and although it would be as easy as pie for us to write him off as “the baddie”, the movie makes it quite clear that we shouldn’t and instead, see his side of the story and make up our own conclusions. And most of this is thanks to Affleck for having us constantly question who to believe, and who exactly to root for.

"Uhm.....what's in the box?"

“Uhm…..what’s in the box?”

But although Affleck’s amazing in this role, the one who totally steals the show is Rosamund Pike as his wife, “Amazing Amy”. But see, here’s the double-edged sword of describing Pike in this role without spoiling any of the film’s real surprises: You really can’t. Much of this film is dedicated to her back-story and exactly what happened to her, and to give any of that away would be a total disservice to all parties involved here. So I’ll stay away from really getting into her character, but I will say this: Pike is downright amazing and don’t be surprised if she ends up getting a nomination come Oscar season. Maybe even possibly a win….

You never know, people.

And of course, the rest of this cast is great, if also, quite interesting concerning who Fincher casts in some of these roles. For instance, the casting-decisions of Tyler Perry as the PR-representative of Nick Dunne and Neil Patrick Harris as a slightly off-kilter ex-boyfriend of Amy’s were definitely bold choices; choices which, mind you, were willing to fail at any second. However, they both pay-off and believe it or not, give me more hope in Tyler Perry as an actor, much rather than Tyler Perry as a director (although this still has me scratching my head).

But there’s plenty more where these two came from and they’re all pretty phenomenal to watch, especially since each and everyone brings their own little flavor to this overall meal. Kim Gordon and Patrick Fugit play the two detectives that seem to be just as confused as the audience is in knowing whether or not Nick Dunne did anything to his wife and because of this, it’s interesting to see their conversations with him; Carrie Coon (a favorite of mine from the Leftovers) is great as Nick’s twin-sister and seems like she herself may be up to no good as well, although it’s clear that all she really wants to do is make sure her bro doesn’t get jailed; and Missi Pyle plays a television news-analyst by the name of Eileen Atkins who, get this, has a Southern-accent, likes to bad-mouth certain people in ongoing investigation, and does it all for “the ratings”. Now, tell me, who does that sound exactly like?

Oh, that David Fincher, man! He’s a pure-jokester!

Consensus: Maybe not as deep as Fincher’s previous-flicks, Gone Girl still serves as an exciting, enjoyable, and delightfully twisted tale of a marriage gone wrong, and even worse mystery that may, or may not be, exactly what you think it is.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Stop mugging it up for the cameras, Affleck!

Quit mugging it up for the cameras, Affleck!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

A Long Way Down (2014)

If I ever have to be stuck in the same room as these people, remind me to just kill myself right then and there.

Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) was once a very popular day-time talk show host who found both his professional and personal life ruined when a recent sex-scandal involving him and a minor became known to the public; Maureen Thompson (Toni Collette) is a meek single mom who is struggling with taking care of her handicapped son, while also barely having any personal life to speak of; J.J. Maguire (Aaron Paul) is a struggling musician, working as a pizza delivery-man and is living with the news that he has brain cancer; and Jess Crichton (Imogen Poots) is the daughter of a very wealthy politician who she doesn’t care for and has just been recently dumped. All four of these people are so different in their own ways, yet, they share one common interest: They all wanted to jump off of the roof of the Toppers Building, on New Year’s Eve, which is where they all met in the first place. Eventually, the four decide that it would be best to continue to meet up, talk and see if they can maybe raise awareness for this sort of problem, however, not everybody is so willing to do so, or even capable because of how truly messed-up they are.

Though the reception for this hasn’t been too lovely to say the least, there were two factors really driving me more and more towards this. For starters, the cast is pretty impressive – more importantly because they cast Aaron Paul as an American in a very-British movie, something I was not expecting in the least bit from him. And secondly, this movie is an adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel of the same, who also just so happens to be one of my favorite writers. No, I have not read the book and after seeing something like this, I feel like I should.

Oh, come on, Pierce! Live a little, take that shirt off, and show the ladies that you still like your martini's shaken, not stirred!

Oh, come on, Pierce! Live a little, take that shirt off, and show the ladies that you still like your martini’s shaken, not stirred!

Not to get a better impression of what this film was leading towards, but to somehow wipe the horrid taste of this flick out of my mouth.

Which, for someone such as myself, is really a shame because whenever I see a Hornby-adaptation, I feel like I can always hear or feel his style through the movie; but not here. All of that fun, that wit, and all of that humor seems to be lost here on a bunch of characters that seem as thin as the pieces of paper they originally appeared on, but aren’t likable, or even interesting to get to know better. They’re all pretty miserable, annoying people that try to make each of their lives better, but instead, just annoy the hell out of each other by being as unpleasant as they are humanly capable of. Which, if you wanted to know, is for the whole duration of this movie.

Now sure, there are some nice touches here and there – mostly due to the way the cast handles some of the more schmaltzier moments – but I really couldn’t get past most of this movie’s problems. It has an interesting premise for sure, but the movie can’t do much with it. It just has these characters talk to one another and, presumably, get on each and every one of each other’s nerves, only making the idea of suicide seem all the more reasonable. I know that was a low joke, but you get my drift: These characters are unlikable and to make matters worse, the cast can’t really do much for them either; which is to say that mostly everybody acts the same here, as they’ve acted in about five of their past pieces of work.

Pierce Brosnan is a crotchety old dick that seems like he could be a nice guy, but doesn’t seem like he wants to be and only wants his last shot at fame instead; Toni Collette is charming at times, but even she’s so quiet, you wonder if she would have been better written as a mute; Imogen Poots runs around, yells at people, makes fun of them, gets all up in their business, and gets upset when others don’t take so kindly to her constant line of questioning; and Aaron Paul, bless his heart, is basically just Jesse Pinkman here, except this time, without their being any meth around whatsoever.

Which, honestly, is kind of a shame, because this movie barely has anything that resemble the slightest amount of something “fun”. Now, I know that this is a flick about suicide and people coming to the end of their roads, but still, something like this doesn’t have to be such a dramatic-bore. Especially in the middle-act when we get a chance to see all of these workers make some magic together and let loose a bit. But nope, we never get that. Instead, we just get more and more talk about suicide, why they hate their lives, and why they are annoyed of the other person they’re with.

Betch.

Betch.

In all honesty, if I wanted to sit around a room where a bunch of people said how much they disliked the person sitting across the table from them, I’d just go to my Grand-mom’s place for Sunday dinner. But, I don’t want to. So, when I want to watch a movie that features some very talented people, I want to at least see more than just a bunch of arguments and nagging. I want to see some emotion, heart, insight, and most of all, fun. There’s hardly any of that here and although the film definitely likes to act as if it has a funny-bone located in its body, the mark just never hits. It’s just unfunny and uninteresting.

On second thought, Sunday dinner at my Grand-mom’s doesn’t sound so bad now that I think about it.

Love you, ‘Gams. See you then.

Consensus: Though it is clearly packed with a promising premise, and an even more promising cast, A Long Way Down just never knows what it wants to do with either of it, so instead, just becomes a ill-advised bore that no one wants to talk them off the ledge.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Wah. Go home and shut up!

Wah. Go home and shut up!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

No Kraken? Booo!

A decade after kicking some mighty and fine Kraken-ass, Perseus (Sam Worthington) settles down into a life that’s relaxing, full of joy and happiness, as he teaches his son the ways of the world. Everything’s going fine too, until he finds out that his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), needs to be saved from his long-lost, rogue brother (Édgar Ramírez) and asshole-uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes). As strong and powerful as Perseus might be, he can’t do it alone so he recruits Poseidon’s half-human son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) to join him as they fight through thick and thin, limb-from-limb, and even battle a Minotaur. Aw yeah! Maybe not as awesome as the Kraken, but aw yeah!

Even though I didn’t mind it, I can get why a lot of people hated the hell out of Clash of the Titans. It was dumb, a bit long and had CGI done in a way that makes me wonder if we’re still using MACs or not. However, I still can’t understand why the hell we needed a sequel to it, let alone, one that starred the same lead, nor featured the Kraken; because let’s face it: The only reason people waited around in the first movie, was just to see how awesomely cool and epic the appearance of the Kraken would be. Which it was, but does all of five minutes, make an-hour-and-a-half seem worth it?

I can’t quite come to answer that question because, as I said, I didn’t mind the first one but I can totally see and understand the disdain of hearing the news of a sequel. However, you have to think about Hollywood here for a second and realize that not only did the first one make a shit-ton of millions and millions of dollars in the States, but overseas, it made a ton more. So, therefore, you have to realize that of course Hollywood is going to do a sequel for the sake that the first made a bunch of movie, whereas also hoping that the people who ventured out to see the first one, however many times it might have been, will see the second one and probably be just as pleased. That’s exactly who this flick is made for, and that’s the only way this flick could really work.

"No please! Don't squish me too hard! Jimmy C. still needs me for the next five or so sequels!

“No please! Don’t squish me too hard! Jimmy C. still needs me for the next five or six sequels!

That’s why I sort of liked this one a bit more, which isn’t saying too much but is better than what I can say for a movie that’s still on my list for “Most Unnecessary Sequels of the Past Decade”. Even though I didn’t hate Louis Leterrier’s approach to the first movie, producers felt like it was time to re-vamp the series and give it a darker look, feel, touch and story, so therefore, they brought in Jonathan Liebesman to shake things up a bit and see where he could go with this. Liebesman is a welcome addition to this series, mostly because he knows exactly how to get this story off-and-running, right from the beginning.

As soon as we get introduced to what Perseus has been doing for the past couple of years, action just erupts out of nowhere, and we begin to see the old-school Perseus come back in full-form by tangling with a two-headed beast (three, if you count the mouth they have on it’s tail). Right after this fun beginning, the movie jumps right into the story and continues to pile and pile on the exposition, as if all the stories and legends we remembered from Greek History 130 and Herc’s Adventure, was all bullshit.

As mean-spirited as that may sound, the movie still doesn’t show much improvement over the first one in terms of it’s story and script. Of course, I wasn’t expecting a life-opening screenplay about what it means to be a father in the day and ages of Gods and evil forces running amok, but at the same time, at least give me something to hold onto when the action isn’t slamming me in the face. I can only handle so much subplots, stories about Gods, what they can do, and all sorts of philosophical speeches about the after-life that’s supposed to have a deeper-meaning than just, “I don’t want to die”.

That’s where the action comes in and take over what was already a pretty dialogue-heavy movie. Not much better, but slightly in the way that everything looks more polished, feels more thought-out and definitely has more fun with itself, even if it’s a tad too serious for it’s own good. I liked the first one for knowing that it was dumb, loud, and stupid, as if you were watching a B-movie on cable when you and your buddies were high, drunk, bored, or a mixture of all three. This one, however, drives itself down the darker, windier-road that’s all about showing emotions and sad things that not only bring you down, but try and make you feel like there’s more at-stake here when two people are going toe-to-toe in a scrap. It doesn’t work, and it feels like the movie’s trying a bit too hard. All that being said, the movie still has enough fun with itself to the point of where the dark-approach isn’t numbing or bothersome, it’s just more noticeable than it should be.

Nary a scratch and yet: she's in the middle of an intense, bloody battle where she's doing half of the killing.

Nary a scratch and yet she’s in the middle of an intense, bloody battle where she’s doing half of the killing. Inspiration to women all over the globe.

The only real improvement in this flick that’s actually noticeable is that Sam Worthington does feel a bit more “in-his-mode” than he did with the last one. Here, he seems to actually enunciating the horrendous-dialogue he’s been given and seems to really throw himself into the action-sequences that call for more than just heavy panting and staring. Even though there seems to be little to no personality with his take on Perseus, at least Worthington shows us that he wants to be here because maybe all of those wads of cash that he was getting from four years ago, are finally running out and he needs whatever he can take.

Yup, that movie about those blue aliens was released four years back. Funny how time flies.

Returning with Worthington from the first movie, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson seem to be having a bit more of fun as Hades and Zeus respectively, even if they too, do feel like they are slumming themselves down to really fit in with the pure-dumbness of this movie. Can’t complain about that too much, since it is a dumb movie, but a little bit more time and effort would have been greatly appreciated. Hell, if this dude can give us that, why can’t you, Oscar-nominated actors?!?!?

Since everybody from the first movie practically died in it, or re-thought their movie careers, there are new faces and names to be seen and heard which are more welcoming than I expected. Rosamund Pike is a nice addition as the sexy, fiery lady-warrior that isn’t taking anybody’s crap, yet, doesn’t have a problem showing that she can still flaunt it like the boys as well; Toby Kebbell brings a bunch of wit and charm to his role as Agenor, Poseidon’s human son; and Bill Nighy shows his bearded-up face for a wee bit as Hephaestus and has fun, makes his wisecracks, and goes on his own way, probably collecting a hefty paycheck or something, and making us all wish that he would just come back and give us more fun and entertainment. Can never get enough of Bill Nighy, now can ya?

Consensus: To say that Wrath of the Titans is better than its predecessor is stating the obvious, but the problems with that first one still do lie within the cracks and creeks of the script here, and are only ignored when there’s loud, hectic stuff happening on-screen, which makes it at least entertaining to sit-through, even if you sort of wish somebody would crack a smile or two.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Two dudes who played Germans during the Holocaust unite!!

Two dudes who played Germans during that Holocaust movie unite!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The World’s End (2013)

Well, if we’re all going to die soon, might as well go out with a bunch of drunken nerds.

After failing to complete “the Golden Mile”, some 20 years earlier, old high school friends Gary (Simon Pegg), Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine), all reunite to try to recreate, and hopefully finish, their epic pub crawl. However, time hasn’t done any of them any good, and they’ve all found themselves losing connection with one another, becoming working members of society, getting old, getting responsibilities, getting kids, getting wives, and etc. Except for Gary, who is a recovering drug-addict that practically forces them into this whole reunion of sorts, which, surprisingly, seems like it’s going well for quite awhile; that is until they all begin to realize that something is rather amiss with their hometown. Not only is everybody acting weird, but everybody they ever knew is still there. What could be the cause to all of this? And hell, what are they going to do to make sure they stay alive throughout the whole night? Eh, just keep on drinking.

Well everybody, there does it! The World’s End marks the end of what everybody knew as “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, and what a trilogy it was! Shaun of the Dead started things off perfectly, not just making fun of horror movies, but showing the heart and the fun that could be had with those certain movies if you took them seriously; and Hot Fuzz pretty much did the same thing, but instead of it being horror movies, this time it was buddy-cop movies, male-testosterone and all. And last, but sadly least, we have this movie and it’s surprisingly different from the other two, and not because it’s a lesser-product, but mainly because it isn’t spoofing any sort of movie genre or idea. It’s basically it’s own wild beast, and for that, it deserves a whole slew of credit.

There's a reference on that map somewhere. I can just tell.

There’s a reference on that map somewhere. Way too much significance placed on it to not be.

But also, more credit should be given to this flick because it’s exactly everything you’d expect from Wright, Penn, Frost, and co.: quick, funny, full of sight-gags, action-packed, witty, and best of all, has an underlining heart and soul to it’s final-product that really helps even it all out. Nothing here in this movie will necessarily surprise you in terms of its sense of comedy, action, or where the story-line goes and why, but what it will surprise you with is how damn dark it can somehow get. And I don’t mean to use the word “dark” in a bad way either, it’s more of a welcome addition to a trilogy that needed some serious dosage of it, especially for the last installment.

For instance, if you take the whole character of Gary King into thought, he is essentially a very damaged, sad and messed-up person, yet, is able to get past on the sure with and charm of Pegg. Gary has not only become a loser ever since his grand days of high school were up, but he’s become something of a explosive device, just waiting for his time to blow up and disintegrate into the air. We see that he misses his lads, he wants to relive those glory days, and will stop at nothing to get them back, but yet, also doesn’t have an ounce of morality located anywhere in his soul, which therefore, makes him a hard character to really root for or connect with. Yet, he’s a human, and you can tell that out of everybody involved, he needs this reunion the most, as if it’s sort of a way to give his life some meaning and a reason to live.

If you haven’t been able to tell just yet, yes, this is some very dark stuff, but Wright uses it to his advantage by touching on all of the emotional-notes that worked so well with the past two, and to make matters even better: The dude seems to really be living it up behind-the-camera.

It’s fairly obvious that Wright is the real deal when it comes to fast-paced, punchy, and movies that MOVE, but here, he shows total and complete in control in his material, and allows for his it to get even weirder and weirder as it runs along. What starts out as a movie along the lines of Beautiful Girls, somehow becomes Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and it’s as bizarre of a transitioning as you’re expecting, except that it’s more fun and entertaining to watch here, rather than what’s probably playing in your head. Once it gets revealed to us just who these “things” are, it’s an all-out fest of jumps, thrills, chills, and epic throw-downs (especially the first scene in the bathroom where it’s 5-on-5, no holds barred), that will probably bring you back to what Wright did 3 years ago on his own with Scott Pilgrim. Just goes to show you that as time goes on and he gets more projects under his belt, Wright is growing into being his own type of director, and showing us that he will continue to do so, regardless of if it’s with his fellow, British pals or not. All we have to do now is wait for what he has in store with Ant-Man, and then he will totally be the finest director working today.

But as I said before, this is sadly the lesser of the three, and I think that reason is because the switch in tone is so obvious and a bit jarring, that it’s too hard not to get past. I won’t give away what happens, or what’s revealed to us when we realize what’s really going on underneath it all, but I will tell you that it definitely changes the way the movie works, and how it becomes serious. There’s an sense of seriousness and heart to this material that shines through in certain spots, but once we realize that something’s wrong with the night’s proceedings, then it gets very serious and dare I say it, “melodramatic”. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was still fun, exciting, and full of yucks and chuckles, but the tonal-change in the middle that we’ve come to see and expect from Wright’s flicks isn’t as subtle here, and it definitely changes the mood and the overall outlook of the rest of the flick.

With that said, it’s still an Edgar Wright flick, and with that being said: The cast is still full of a bunch of heavy-hitters that show they can be dramatic, but still hilarious as well.

"Aye! We're British, and we're here for a couple of pints and a few smokes, lad!" British enough?

“Aye! We’re British, and we’re here for a couple of pints and a few smokes, lad!” British enough?

Case in point: Simon Pegg. Everybody knows that Simon Pegg is a funny guy, and everybody knows that he can use his British wit and charm to his advantage, but what really surprised the hell out of me here was how deep he went with this character, not just showing us a damaged-soul, but one you can feel an ounce of sympathy towards, even if he would never, ever feel it towards you. Pegg really gets to the bottom of who this guy is, why, and where he will most likely be going with his life, but while he’s at it, also seems to be living it up, dialing it up to 11, and totally letting loose on his comedic-chops. Everything the guy says, does, and even thinks about is hilarious, and it shows that not only is Wright growing as a director, but Pegg’s growing as an actor, one that can get to the root of any character, given the right material, time and place.

Same goes for Nick Frost who, believe it or not, is actually playing the straight-man to Pegg’s crazy and wild antics as Gary. Frost has never really shown us resilience in his acting, but he shows it here and makes us realize just what we’ve been missing out on all of these years. He’s funny, sweet, a bit sad, but also a bit bad-ass when the movie needs him to be. and it just goes to show you that Frost is growing up alongside his fellow mates as well. However, Pegg and Frost are just the beginning of what’s a very good, very well-equipped, and very attuned cast to the material they’re working with here, as it seems like everybody else involved knows what they’re getting themselves into with this movie, how to play it off, and why they have to give it their all, and never let up. Not for a second. It’s kind of strange actually, because yes, even though I have seen Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan all be funny and light with some of their roles, I’ve never quite seem them as much in a full-on comedy-mode as they are on in here, and it allowed me to see them in a different light where they can do this funny stuff, but also allow for us to take them in as actual characters as well. Not just a bunch of goofballs, but people, and I think that’s a smart decision on Wright’s part on casting these highly-acclaimed, “serious” British actors. Or at least just Marsan and Considine; Freeman’s more of a clown than those two.

And don’t be fooled either, just because Rosamund Pike is the only gal of the group, doesn’t mean that she goes down without a fight. In fact, just the opposite. Not only is she as knowing of the humor as the dudes are, she also shows that she can mess-around with the best of them, and even get her hands a bit dirty if need be. She’s funny, very sexy, and also, very fiery, and reminds me of the type of chick I wouldn’t dare to mess with. Also, I highly doubt it needs to be said, but I’ll go for it anyway, just be on the lookout for everybody in this cast, because they’re all familiar-faces you’ve seen before and will surprise the hell out of you here, as they are all having a great time, and allowing you to enjoy the whole movie even more than before.

Consensus: The World’s End, or as others will know it as “the inevitable finale to The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, may not be as polished as the two prior installments, but is still full of the same madcap hilarity, fun, excitement, action, and typical glee that we have come to love with these movies, while also offering us some real heart and emotion to the proceedings as well.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

They're all drinking in-sequence! See, I told you they were all buds!

They’re all drinking in-sequence! See, I told you they were all buds!

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

This is 40 (2012)

21 more years, and this is most likely going to be my story. Yay!

This film continues to follow the lives of middle-aged married couple, Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann), as they face the challenges of their lives and also turning forty. They both are dealing with turning forty and each of their jobs and children Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow) also adds stress to their relationship.

Knocked Up is one of, if not, my favorite Judd Apatow movie so-far. It’s not only of the more realistic depictions of a real-life, modern-day relationship between two people and the problems they go through, but also is one of his funnest outings thus far, mainly just because it never stops being hilarious, even when it’s being serious. That’s why I was really looking forward to seeing Pete and Debbie come back to the big-screen, mainly because every scene they had in that movie, they totally stole it away from Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, no matter how hard those two tried to not let it go down that way. Still, even mentioning those two characters from that movie, would probably be selling this flick the wrong way because it is the farthest thing from being romantic. It’s marriage, bitch, and it’s pretty much misery.

If the casting-choices didn’t already make it clear enough to you, this flick seems to be the most autobiographical of Apatow’s whole career and rightfully so, because the topic of marriage and getting older, can be played for laughs but should also be played for all that it is. Maybe I don’t have much room to talk because I am only 19, I am not married (if you don’t want to count that one week in Vegas), and do not have any kids (not that I know of yet), but seeing people that I do know who are married and who are quickly-approaching this mid-life crisis in their lives, I can easily say that I have a general idea of how much it pains certain people, and that’s why this film really stuck with me. Hell, saying the term, “really stuck with me”, in a Judd Apatow movie, of all movies, really surprised the hell out of me and that’s what works so damn well with this flick.

Megan Fox is totally battling-it-out with Rosamund Pike for...well...you know the award.

Megan Fox is totally battling-it-out with Rosamund Pike for…well…you know the award.

As usual, Apatow’s humor never ceases to amaze me as the guy knows how to write witty-dialogue that teeters on raunchy, but yet, is still hilarious. I found myself laughing a whole bunch with this movie because Apatow knows the stars that he’s writing this material for, and he knows their timing and what fits them the best, that’s why every-line of dialogue that these people shoot out of their mouths, feels perfect and for that, is even funnier. Knowing that this is a Judd Apatow movie, you should come to know that there are a shit-load of pop-culture references that some will get and some won’t, but either way, you’re going to laugh and realize that Apatow is on a roll as a funny man, the guy never stops and always keeps us laughing like a bunch of wild hyenas. I felt bad for some of the people sitting next to me in the theater, because to be honest, I laughed at almost everything and quite loudly, too, whereas they just sat there, moped, and probably got freaked-out by how much I thought was actually in the least bit humorous.

But as funny as Apatow’s movie may be, the drama surprisingly hits, and it’s hard. Since it seems like Apatow, as well as many other members of the cast are going through the exact same dilemma’s that he’s going through, it’s only right that the guy give’s his own two-cents on the way he thinks marriages are, how they play-out, what makes them successful what doesn’t, and ultimately, the trick to raising a family and keeping everybody happy in their own, little nook. Being married to Leslie Mann for almost 15 years now, I would have to say that I trust Apatow’s opinions and views a bit more than any others, and the guy shows that as loving and beautiful it may be to have that love and comfort of your own family and home, it can also be a bit of a bitch.

Back in 2007, Pete and Debbie were happy, a bit wild, a bit fun, but also nagging at each other a lot, too. Now in the year 2012, not much has changed but now they have a lot more on their plate in terms of responsibilities, money, food, services, cars, kids, parents, and ultimately, the future. You can totally tell that Apatow feels that a lot of these subjects/elements are touched-upon when you’re in a marriage and seeing how Debbie and Pete react to the stress of them all, is not only very repetitive and constant, but also realistic.

For instance, whenever Pete and Debbie get into a fight, they always get made at each other, piss and moan around one another, barely talk to each other, but in the end, make-up and enjoy their company while they still can. However, it begins to happen again, and again, and again, and they just continue to go through the same cycle and as annoying as you may think that is, it’s sort of the reality of the situation. Not all problems are going to be fixed, not everything is going to be peachy-keen, not everybody is going to happy all of the freakin’ time, and worst of all, not everything is going to be alright. But it’s not about looking at the dark side of things and letting it get in the way of what could be a whole bunch of sunshine and rainbows with the people you love, but looking at how you can make things better, no matter how shitty or miserable life may be at that exact place, or time.

What here does not fit?

What here does not fit?

That idea really touched me because I don’t feel like you have to be married or in a relationship to understand that, you just have to live life and realize that things will get better, if you just trust, trust, and trust the other one your with. This stuck with me and probably will continue to do so, and I think this is why it’s Apatow’s most touching and mature piece of work, because the guy seems like he’s fully beginning to grow-up now and understand the responsibilities that have been thrown onto him. Actually, maybe I wouldn’t say he’s a big grown-up now, but he’s getting there and I think that’s a lot to see and understand, especially when you’re dealing with a subject like marriage, that gets so sensationalized in movies nowadays, when in reality: it sort of sucks.

But no matter how much Apatow may begin to grow-older and wiser when it comes to making movies and making real, honest truths of life, he still has those occasional problems that can only come to a director that has way too much to say, in such a span of time. That may sound like a strange-statement considering that this flick is over 2 hours and 14 minutes long, but trust me, it’s over-stuffed. Apatow touches on so much here and it feels like he had enough material to last him to 2 more sequels of these same characters, but instead, takes the easier-road for himself, and jam-packs it all into one flick where some aspects of the story get fully-realized, and others just sit there and pop-up whenever Apatow pleases.

In a way, I guess that’s sort of going along with what Apatow is trying to get across and how he leaves his final-point, but getting your final-point across by any means necessary, still doesn’t make a flick that I want to spend awhile with, especially when it seems to go onto tangents that last over 5 minutes-longer than it should be. Right now, at this point in-time, I can’t really say what I feel like Apatow should have cut-out, and put more of in, but there was definitely a whole lot of trimming that needed to be done and no matter how much everything on-screen seemed to entertain me, intrigue me, and even make me laugh, I still felt like about 10 to 15 minutes could have been shaved-off and I use those numbers, just so Apatow could have still been left with his usual, 2-hour long comedies that he so rightfully holds close to his heart and trademark. Don’t worry, Judd. I still like you and I still feel like you have the right to keeping up your own reputation as being the only comedic-director left alive, that’s willing to work with 2-hour long scripts. You, and James L. Brooks, but we all know how that guy has turned-out.

Another reason why this movie is so obviously Apatow’s own, autobiographical-take on marriage and growing-up, is because it features his whole-family as leads, with the exception of himself. Paul Rudd takes over, what is essentially the role of Apatow’s life and persona, and to be truly honest, who better? Seriously, if I wanted a movie done about my life, my times, and my mid-life crisis, I would probably want Paul Rudd playing the character of me, regardless of how much he doesn’t look like me. Looks and personas aside, Rudd is still perfect as Pete because the guy is still so hip, still so cool, and yet, still so conflicted from the first movie, that he really never seemed to change, other than the fact that there is more pressure on him to be a daddy and to be the man of the house, aka, the man they can all depend on. This is Rudd’s most dramatic piece of work in quite some time and he handles it with ease, giving us a lot of the goofy, funny-side of his character, but also the more serious-side that keeps to himself whenever anger comes to him, and just begins to build and build up inside of himself, until he just can’t take it anymore and bursts out with rage. It’s a fully-realized character, and a fully-realized performance from Rudd that shows exactly why he is the most likable, leading-man working today. And trust me, you cannot dispute that.

"So, where has your career gone as of late?"

“So, where has your career gone as of late?”

Playing his wife, is Leslie Mann who is absolutely terrific as Debbie, showing that the gal still has some control issues over what she wants done with her husband and her marriage, but at the same time, is still one lovely gal to watch on-screen. Mann is one of the finer, comedic-actresses working today because she knows how to balance-out the crazy-side of her comedic-acting, with her down-to-earth, realistic-aspect of her dramatic-acting, and make it all seem believable. Watching her and Rudd is perfect because they both play-off of each other as husband-and-wife in such a perfect way, for better or worse. When they fight, it feels real. When they make-up and love one another, it feels real. And whenever they just sit-there, don’t talk, and realize that the other is not really happy with what’s going on at that moment, it feels real. I honestly don’t think that anybody else could have played these two characters and as funny and hilarious as Rudd and Mann may be whenever they are together, just clowning-around, they still painfully real and honest, which is why it becomes so clear that these two people, really are, Pete and Debbie.

This idea also extends to the real-life daughters of Mann and Apatow, Maude and Iris, who both play Charlotte and Sadie here, and are still getting better and better as time goes on. It’s crazy to think about it, but they are essentially growing-up, right in front of our own eyes and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, mainly because of these girls are so talented and great at what they do, that it seems more like a wise-decision, rather than a self-righteous one, that Apatow would actually cast his-own kids in a movie, as the children of their own, real-life mother. It’s a bit too surreal, but after awhile, you start to forget about it and realize that talent just runs in the Apatow-genes. I wish I was one.

The whole ensemble works perfectly-well too, and everybody, and I do mean, EVERYBODY, gets their own-chance to shine and make you laugh. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow play the fathers of both Pete and Debbier, respectively, and play them fine with all of their flaws and positives. Brooks’ positives is that he a nice guy and knows the family for all that they are, but his negatives are that he’s a mooch and continues to try and get more money from a family, that really seems to need it more than him, in a way; whereas Lithgow’s negatives are a lot wider, seeing that the guy left Debbie when she was young, really didn’t want much to do with her, and never seems to connect, but later on, we begin to find-out more about that fact and it’s very-touching to see, coming from Lithgow, a guy who really seems to be falling-off the radar as of late. Also, Megan Fox is hilarious here, playing another sexxed-up version of herself, where she is in on the joke, playing everything-up to the point of where you don’t really know if she’s acting or not, and is just perfect with all that she does. I really do hope to see more of her in the future, as well as her body. Hot damn!

Consensus: Though (like the review I just wrote), This is 40 is a bit lengthy and could have been chopped-up at times, but is always funny, always entertaining, and always feels realistic and honest in the way it portrays aging, marriage, and holding a family together, especially in today’s day and age, where it’s harder and a lot more stressful to do.

8/10=Matinee!!

That's a sign of a man marking his territory.

That’s a sign of a man marking his territory. Watch your back, Paul!

Jack Reacher (2012)

Somebody had to go and piss Tom off. Katie, I’m looking at you.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a former Army officer who investigates the killing of five people, murdered by a mysterious sniper for seemingly no reason. But when the suspect is finally nabbed, he remains silent and only says “Get Jack Reacher for me.” Nothing is what it seems and Reacher soon finds himself in the middle of a complex cover-up conspiracy.

After what just occurred in our world on last Friday, I have to say that the first 30 minutes or so of this movie were pretty cringe-worthy. Without giving too much away, there’s a couple of grisly/disturbing killings that happen and reactions to them, that feel like they may hit a bit too close to home. When the Aurora shootings happened back in the Summer, I never really felt like any of the material in the Dark Knight Rises was too hard to watch, but here, I really found myself disturbed and saddened. That’s a terrible thing to feel whenever you go to the movies and try to escape whatever else is happening out there in the real world, but it’s even more terrible to even have to think that still, in the year 2012, something like a shooting would still happen and effect us in our everyday lives. I didn’t really talk much about the shootings and the whole controversy surrounding it, mainly because I knew it was going to be made more about gun-control than the actual killings themselves, but regardless, I still feel for all of those victims and that’s why for the first 30 minutes, this movie was skating on some pretty thin-ice for me, and probably for the rest of the audience. However, once I was able to get out of real-life, and transported into the life of this movie, it all went away and I was finally able to have a damn ball with this freakin’ movie.

"Step out of the car, and strike a pose". That's the way you look sexy, Tom Cruise-style. 50 years and running, baby.

“Step out of the car, and strike a pose”. That’s the way you look sexy, Tom Cruise-style. 50 years and running, baby.

How amazing is it that we are allowed to have two awesome, old-school thrillers come out in less than a month away from one another. Although this flick isn’t spouting the cool, retro-vibe of the 70’s thrillers like Killing Them Softly was, there is still an old look and feel to this movie that had me feeling like I was watching a thriller where people beat the piss out of each other with the usual stuff like weapons, guns, and their own bodies. That’s what I want to see more from thrillers in today’s day and age and it’s so cool that Cruise got director Christopher McQuarrie to hop-on top of this material, because as strange of a choice as he may be (the guy hasn’t directed a flick in over 12 years), he still brings the fun and enjoyment-level to a thriller that could have been plain, simple, and boring.

I will admit, this movie can be pretty stupid and for every moment where you are absolutely “wow’d” by what happens, there’s always a moment of pure-silliness just waiting to sneak right up and catch you off-guard. This definitely isn’t one of those flicks that you watch, keep your brain in, and put your thinking cap on top and look at the logical explanations of what could really happen in the real-world, had this story actually taken place in it, and instead, it’s more like one of those films where you just come to have a good time, see a lot of cool action, and feel on-the-edge-of-your-seat for a good duration of the run-time (with the subtraction of those shaky, first 30 minutes…or so). I know I may bag on a lot of flicks for being just a mindless exercises in fun and action, but this is one of those mindless exercises that’s done the right way. There’s no style that gets in the way of everything that’s happening on-screen, there’s no lame dialogue or characters that are just there to keep the action/plot moving along, and there sure as hell is no sign, whatsoever, of a “Michael Bay explosion”. Yes, thank the High Heavens of Cinema for that.

McQuarrie may not have too much to show, in terms of style or distinct look and feel, but there are still plenty of pleasures to be had in terms of where this story goes, and how original it can be, at times. There’s a car-chase that kept me on-edge the whole time and even though it was obvious that it would never, ever occur in real-life, real-time, or even in the streets of Pittsburgh, it still was a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and one of the better car chases I have seen in quite some time. If there’s been a better one this year, please do let me know because the only one I can recall that was as fun and thrilling as the one here, was the one in the Dark Knight. Anywho, McQuarrie doesn’t bring anything new or original to the table that we haven’t already seen done a hundred times before, but it’s still fun because of how simple it is, yet still, offering us little twists and turns here to really spice the whole story up. Some twists work better than others, but for the most-part, they were fun as hell to have thrown at me. And yes, I am still talking about the twists and turns of the story, not Tom Cruise’s rockin’ six-pack that he probably donned for 5 minutes in his one, shirtless scene.

Oh yeah, and I think "they" deserve a nomination for "Best Distraction in Every Scene She Shows Up".

Oh yeah, and I think “they” deserve a nomination for “Best Distraction in Every Scene She Shows Up”.

Speaking of Cruise, a lot of people were pissing off their hats because they felt like Cruise wasn’t the right pick for a character that was about 6″5, whereas Cruise is roughly around 5″7. Seems like a pretty big difference in terms of keeping with the characters look, feel, and style, but it actually works in making Reacher more of a bad-ass and more unpredictable with what the hell he will do next. Cruise fits this role like a glove because he has all of the charm, all of the wit, all of the smarts, and all of the bad-assery to make a tough-as-nails character like this to work, and never have him come off as annoying or plainly unbelievable. Some scenes seem like Reacher really *ahem* reaches for the sky and defeats the purpose of gravity, but it was okay because Cruise seemed like he was having so much fun with the role, that you just can’t hate on him for it. Maybe the power of Scientology was on Cruise’s side this time again, because he seemed perfect for this role and I don’t think there was anybody else I could have thought of replacing him. Actually, maybe there is but as of right now, I don’t really care about it too much to think that hard and in-depth about it. Fact is, Cruise is great and be happy to see him kicking-ass once again.

Rosamund Pike plays the sassy, but smart defense lawyer that helps him out with the info and details of what’s really going on and has a cool, but believable piece of chemistry with him, almost to where I could really see them working together on cases in real-life. Pike is fun to watch and even though she may be a tad goofy when she tries for the whole comedy-routine, she still does a nice-job of not being lame and thankfully, not being another damsel-in-distress that needs help from Reacher, every step of the way. Even though her goofiness is saved by a strong-arch her character features, I can’t say the same about Werner Herzog in a very unusual, but inspired role as the main villain behind this whole case, known as “The Zec”. Herzog seems like he’s a perfect fit for this role and this character, had it been in an extremely campy, B-movie where he was allowed to be weird, strange, and terribly stupid in the ways he acted. But here, he just seems out-of-place and way too cartoonish for a movie that seems so set in reality, despite having a couple of scenes that defy it. Thankfully, one of his henchmen that’s played by Jai Courtney, takes over things and proves to be more of an intimidating force behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-scenes as well. Suddenly, I’m not all that worried about a new Die Hard movie and having this kid play John McClane’s son.

He's just pissed because he wasn't the one asking the questions for this movie.

He’s just pissed because he wasn’t the one asking the questions for this movie.

Adding some class to this strange bit of a characters, is non other than the likes of Robert Duvall playing a goofy, old man that has a knack for a sniper and made me realize how much I miss this damn guy showing-up in movies, Richard Jenkins as Pike’s daddy that may be on either side-of-the-fence, and David Oyelowo, as a cop that always seems to be at the right-place, at the right-time. Overall, a fine cast that definitely milks this script for all it’s worth, but it’s the action and Cruise who steal the show on this outing.

Consensus: Jack Reacher may be too goofy, too silly, and too stupid for some of the more “demanding” viewers to get through their into their heads and accept, but as for the rest of the of us who like silly, goofy, and stupid movies, then it will definitely entertain, but in a more old-school, 70’s-classic thriller-way that seems to be very reoccurring with most of our thrillers nowadays. Thank the High Heavens of Cinema for that!

8/10=Matinee!!

Yeah, they're pretty shocked too that I didn't make another Katie Holmes-reference. But Tom, on the other hand, well, he knows better. Ain't that right you sly son of a bitch?

Yeah, they’re pretty shocked too that I didn’t make another Katie Holmes-reference. But Tom, on the other hand, well, he knows better. Ain’t that right you sly son of a bitch?