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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: RZA

Wild Things (1998)

Drunk, alone, and horny? Turn this one on and you’ll have a new best friend.

Two high-school girls (Denise Richards and Neve Campbell) accuse their teacher (Matt Dillon) of raping them on two separate occasions. The guy tries his hardest to defend himself against this terrible case, but it’s not quite as it seems as we see from detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon). Even if Duquette himself may be up to no good, either.

To be honest, the only real reason this film is as popular as it once was (and maybe still is), was all because of the infamous threesome and a rare dong-shot all being placed in a big, Hollywood production. Not that there’s necessarily anything daring about two girls and a guy engaging some hot, steamy sex, or even a slight shot of some male genitalia, but being that this was a pretty big movie, it created quite the stir. But is there more here to at least enjoy other than that threesome?

Yeah, but not too much.

Former Bond girl there, folks!

Former Bond girl there, folks!

It’s been awhile since the last time I saw a whodunit and Wild Things is a classic example of a whodunit that’s made to just keep on getting more and more ridiculous as it runs along. The script, for one, is probably not the best out there and can seem really lazy at points. You would expect a sexy little thriller like this to have some ultra-sexxed up dialogue that ladies would be quoting to dudes everywhere, but instead, it just comes off like a corny B-movie flick that goes through the motions with all of it’s dialogue. So, basically everything you’d expect from your ordinary B-movie, you get here and it’s sometimes hard to watch and enjoy because it’s so damn laughable at points. Now, there is a certain thing to be said about that and that’s how I actually found myself having fun with it but still, when everybody is serious and you are pretty much the only one laughing, you have to feel like something was missing here or that these people just weren’t in on the joke. I think I choose both.

As for the little plot twists that seem to come out of nowhere, they’re okay and actually make this story a bit interesting. Since there are so many plot twists to be had here, you can’t help but think that the film sort of loses itself with being a bit too over-exaggerated with itself, but it at least creates a tense mood to surround everything. Some of the twists took me by surprise, and some of them still took me by surprise, but after awhile I started to think about them and realize that they made absolutely no sense to the story at all and may have just been thrown in there for shits and gigs after all. Hey, I’m all down for a couple of neat plot twists here and there to spice up the story, but don’t make it overkill!

Then, there is, of course, the infamous threesome which will probably go down as the film’s biggest claim to fame and I will cut it some slack on, because it’s pretty freakin’ hot.

Usually when I watch films when some raunchy sex scenes are happening right in front of me, I don’t really feel anything since I know that they’re all fake and they aren’t really engaging in any sorts of sex with each other. But for some odd reason, with Wild Things, it all felt too real and it was just as hot and sexy as I remembered it being all those years ago around the first time I watched it. I won’t comment on the infamous dong scene but for all of the ladies out there, you got your six degrees of Bacon, alright!

"What did you say about the Following possibly getting cancelled?"

“What did you say about the Following possibly getting cancelled?”

Speaking of Kevin Bacon (and getting away from his actual Bacon!), he’s actually the best out of the whole main cast because the guy can sell any role no matter what he has to do and you can almost feel like this guy was just laughing at everybody else’s acting in the film by how laughable they can all be. Those ones I’m talking about are Matt Dillon and Denise Richards who could be placed in the “so bad, they’re good” category for the respective performances they give off here. Dillon plays up that macho, hammy bullshit dude that nobody likes and the whole film, just seems like he’s phoning it in from start-to-finish where you don’t really see this guy being an evil genius, you just see him being a total schmuck. Then, you got Denise Richards who is terrible in this role as the main high school girl who starts all of this drama and deliver every line of dialogue as if it were a self-serious soap opera, but without any slight wink to the audience. Dillon has barely any of that, but at least some, as opposed to Richards being such a dull presence to begin with, the fun sort of get sucked-out.

Though these two are pretty bad at what they do here, they don’t fully bring the ship down and leave everybody else to dry. Neve Campbell at least has some nice touches with her sympathetic character that got the best treatment out of everybody here, but still somehow seems like she gets the short end of the stick at the end. But as good as she is, she stands nowhere near to how great Bill Murray is as Dillon’s ambulance-chasing attorney that absolutely takes the film’s script, wipes his greasy hands all over it, and leaves some sort of particles that make the film a whole lot more entertaining whenever he’s up on-screen. I’ve said it many, many times before, but Bill Murray is the freakin’ man and whenever the guy isn’t out chillin’ with RZA, or playing a zombie, the guy can still take small roles like these and make them the most memorable due to that perfect comedic-timing.

Makes me wish he was in the film more, but hey, I guess that’s why we all love Bill Murray in the first place.

Consensus: While it’s hot and steamy for sure, Wild Things does get a bit too bogged-down by its own plot-twists, to make this campy-ride feel like one that’s a bit too rampant and wild for its own good.

5.5 / 10

Keep being you, Bill.

Keep being you, Bill.

Photos Courtesy of: IMDB, Premiere.Fr

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Brick Mansions (2014)

Though parkour got determined “uncool” once everybody jumped ship to this whole YouTube thing.

In a dystopian Detroit (aka, present-day Detroit), numerous abandoned brick mansions have been left for all sorts of criminals to stay, linger and just do what it is that they do best: Commit illegal activity. But since they’re separated from the rest of middle-class society, it doesn’t really matter, which is a strategy the Mayor clearly takes pride in, even if its with rather demented intentions. Regardless, inside these brick mansions lies drug-lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA) who has been looked after by the FBI for quite some time, in particular, undercover agent Damien Collier (Paul Walker). Reason being? Well, let’s just say that Tremaine had a little bit of something to do with the death of Collier’s death; which is exactly why he doesn’t say “no” to a raid that would include Damien taking him down, once and for all. The only hitch is that he has to go in there to detach a bomb, but also, to get a better feel for the ragged, musty apartments he will soon be venturing into, he has to go with someone whose lived there for quite some time. Enter Lino Dupree (David Belle), a parkour champion that wants to get his woman, as well as his respect back, even if it may come at a price by teaming-up with a cop.

It may be no news to anyone out there, but I’m going to restate it again: Paul Walker did in fact pass-away last December, and he left behind this movie as his last, fully-filmed piece-of-work. Sure, he has some scenes in the upcoming Fast & Furious installment, but apparently they’re doing some weird stuff with his brother or something that I’m not too sure will work, but either way, that’s only a few scenes; this right here, Brick Mansions, is a full movie. So for that, it should definitely be seen.

That's not Rick Ross! So don't get your panties all up in a bunch about how RZA's "turning to the darkside".

That’s not Rick Ross! So don’t anyone get their panties all up in a bunch about how RZA’s “turning to the darkside”.

And of course, in most cases, some movie being some person’s final film wouldn’t mean diddly-squat in whether or not it should be seen, but in the case of this, it actually deserves to be seen more for what it does, rather than who is in it.

See, even though this is a movie that is downright, utterly idiotic in every way, it knows it is. So, rather than just trying to go for a heavier-meaning and be something that it’s not, the movie just sticks to the basics: Be fast, fun, exciting and don’t linger too much on the over-the-top plot. And for the most part, the movie does all of that so well that I never cared how preposterous this story got. For instance, there’s a nuke in this that gets directed towards Detroit for no other reason other to than just kill a whole bunch of people. It doesn’t make any sense, and even the villain himself, doesn’t really fully believe in it. But it’s a movie, so why the hell not!

That’s why you can’t go into a movie like this and expect something life-changing or thought-provoking, just go into it expecting to have a great time and not even worry about what else is going on with the world around you. All there is to a movie like this, is what’s in front of you and how well-done the display is. Sure, the camera does get a bit frigidity at times and the dialogue more than often sounds like somebody taped a person’s lips moving, only to then add their own voices in at a later-date (Especially whenever David Belle has to deliver lines), but still, it’s all meaningless stuff that’s easy to get by. So basically, just enjoy the damn show is what I am trying to say. As simple and easy as that.

However, like I was talking about before, the one aspect surrounding this movie that’s a bit hard to get past is the fact that yes, Paul Walker is gone from our world, and even worse, is gone because of a car-crash he was involved in. Which, yes, if you love to be “that guy”, is ironic, but also in the front of your mind when watching something like this, considering he has about one or two scenes where he, and the car he’s driving is in the process of being involve with a crash. Heck, he even screams in absolute fear at one point, if only to make us feel even worse for what we’re watching.

Pssht! I could do that if I wanted to.

Pssht! I could do that if I wanted to.

Though that’s only one or two scenes of this whole nearly-hour-and-a-half-movie, it should be noted that it does make you think about his death and how really sad it is, even if he wasn’t always the best actor out there. But talented actor or not, the guy was fine with what he did, which was just staring into space, delivering a tough-guy line every so often, and doing whatever silly, over-the-top action-stuff he was told to do, with precision that made it seem like he could do that type of stuff for the rest of his life and never get bothered with it. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see that actually happen, but it’s nice to see a movie like this that shows us what he did so well in the first place and why, even though he wasn’t necessarily an “acting legend”, was definitely the kind of guy you could get for this type of movie and actually count on to give you 110%, each and every time.

Yes, I know that some may be wondering if this is actually being written from me or some sort of Paul Walker-sympathizer, but nope, this truly is Dan O’Neill and I am truly sad about the passing of Paul Walker. He wasn’t amazing, but he was able to do whatever somebody threw at him. And in the world of film, that means a lot. A whole heck of a lot, actually.

Consensus: On the outside, Brick Mansions is incredibly dumb, and on the inside, it’s even more dumb, but it doesn’t matter because of how much fun it seems to be having with its B-grade plot, special-effects, action and idea of not wanting to last in your mind long enough, but just wants to give you a good enough time. Also, it wants you to remember Paul Walker, and the talent he was, even if he wasn’t all that flashy to begin with.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Oh, Paul. You were such a hunk. You will be missed.

Oh, Paul. You were such a hunk. Even while carrying a deadly-weapon. You will be missed.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Think of a duel between Don Corleone and Samurai Jack, with the Wu-Tang Clan blasting somewhere in the background. Yeah, pretty weird.

Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) is a quiet, lonely hitman, living in the modern world. Nothing really all that strange about that right? Well, he is a hitman that adheres to the code of the samurai; meaning he doesn’t use technology, has total respect for those who employs him and can only be contacted by carrier pigeon. As odd as this may seem, it somehow has been working for him for the longest time, all until he finds himself in a huge pickle once the mob that hired him to do the job, decide that he botched it up and want him dead. However, Ghost don’t play that shit and they’re going to most likely find that out.

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Jim Jarmusch. The guy seems like he has his own certain style that pretty much leans only towards his audience and kind of says, “‘eff off” to those who aren’t as fond of it, or not nearly as hip as those who do like and appreciate his work. I think I’m a bit part of the latter, which is why I wasn’t really looking forward to watching his mash-up of a gangster and samurai film. Seems a bit of a strange mixture to put together in the first place, and having Jarmusch being the one to combine the two, only made it seem the more odd.

However, it seems like without Jarmusch, this material couldn’t have even worked any other way.

Don't you just hate it when that happens?!?

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?!?

What I liked about this flick and Jarmusch’s direction is that the guy settles things down pretty quickly, and allows us to feel the nature and essence of this story. It’s a pretty standard story of a hired-job-gone-wrong and the people having to pay for it, but the way Jarmusch focuses more on the characters, the style behind the characters, and the setting that surrounds them is something that makes this a tad different than many other crime movies of this nature. There’s a laid-back feel to this movie that doesn’t really kick-start up once the action does; it sort of just moves around. But it’s never boring because of that. Instead, it gave me a clearer-view of whom I was working with here and got me ready for the grisly violence that actually came to be a bit of a shock for me.

Though Jarmusch is, in essence, a very stylish-director, the violence he portrays in this movie doesn’t really have all that much style to it. There’s a lot of guns being touted-around like candy; gun being fired; blood squibs flying; limbs being torn-apart; and more than enough people getting offed in some pretty reckless ways. It’s all standard crime-thriller stuff that we’ve seen a hundred times before, but Jarmusch does something neat with it that makes it work moreso for him and his legion of fans.

That mainly has to do with how Jarmusch is able to incorporate humor and a bit of dark comedy to each scene that features somebody getting shot-up. It almost reminded me a bit of a Coen Brothers movie where somebody’s head could be practically on the ground, and they’d still find a way to make a chuckle or two about it. That’s how Jarmusch is with the violence and material here and even though he isn’t as subtle or surprising with it as the Coens, he still has something to show and provides us with plenty of violence to cure any crime-movie lover’s needs. Still, it’s a movie about a samurai who lives in the current-world, so why the hell didn’t Ghost Dog at least draw the sword every once and awhile on some unlucky piece of Italiano shit? Seriously, I mean we see him practicing with it and laying by it, but it’s barely ever used.

Oh well, the guy could definitely kill me in a heartbeat so I won’t go on any longer.

Even though this isn’t as weird and quirky as most Jarmusch films are, you still can’t help but feel like this guy really carries the film back. For instance, all of the samurai babble that would literally come in every six minutes was okay for the first two or three times it was done, because it made sense to the story and to our main character. But after awhile, when they dived themselves into about 15 sayings that nobody cared about, then I got annoyed. And it wasn’t even that I didn’t try to care about them and pay attention, because trust me, I did but after awhile, I just started to realize that they had nothing to do with the story and was just one way of Jarmusch trying to get us inside of the head of this character that I feel like we connected with already. There’s a whole bunch of other liberties that Jarmusch takes with this movie and even though they didn’t all piss me off, they still made me feel like it was just another case of Jarmusch trying too hard.

Also, I get that everybody loves this soundtrack because it featured all of RZA’s work before he went-off and did the score for Kill Bill, but it is literally the same noise over-and-over again. Every time there’s a sequence of Ghost Dog walking down the street, driving down the street, or just looking plain and simply cool, the film starts to play this over-bearing track of RZA rapping over a bunch of bells and weird drum-beats. Just like the “samurai babble” I alluded to earlier, once or twice is good but after it gets into the double-digits, then I have a bit of a problem. Mixing mobster and samurai movies, to the beat of rap music is a pretty nifty-idea, I just wish there was more rap involved to where I felt like it really made a difference to the story and not just used as a gimmick to show how whack those old, Italian mobsters are because they can’t connect with the modern-world.

From one true samurai, to another.

From one true samurai, to another.

Despite all this, the highlight of this movie for me was probably watching Forest Whitaker (and his lazy eye) just kick total-ass as Ghost Dog. Whitaker is the type of actor that’s all about presence and having a look to him that can scare the hell out of you. That’s what he does here as Ghost Dog, but the guy isn’t one, big walking cliche of the silent stranger who does his dirty work and gets on with his life like a bit of a scarred-weirdo; he’s actually pretty down-to-earth and you like him for that. Yeah, he’s a bit weird because he talks to pigeons half of the movie, but then again, you would too if all you did was kill people, send people messages by birds, and never want anybody to know who you are.

Actually, I think I’d just get a dog instead, but that’s just me.

Anyway, Whitaker is awesome as Ghost Dog and makes you feel like you can stand fully-behind this guy to do the right thing and hopefully, just hopefully, just come out on-top at the end. Watching him kill all of these old, out-of-date mobsters was hilarious because they just fumbled around like a bunch of worthless goons and watching them get taken down by a dude who seemed to be in a whole, different time-zone than they were, really made this a bit more enjoying to watch. Sounds quite morbid, I know, but it’s the simple pleasures like that, which make movies like this a lot better in my mind.

I’m a sicko, I know. It’s what I live with on a day-to-day basis.

Consensus: There’s a couple of instances in which Jim Jarmusch allow his goofiness to get too in the way of Ghost Dog‘s story, but nonetheless, it’s still a neat mixture of everything that mobster movies do so well, along what samurai movies as well.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Beautiful New York: Where African-American samurais run free on roof-tops.

Beautiful New Jersey: Where African-American samurais run free on roof-tops.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

Yo Joe! Get a better release date next time!

After almost all of the G.I. Joe’s are wiped-out after a sneak-attack from Cobra hit them, the ones that are left must build a team, get the professionals, and be strong enough to defeat their mortal enemy. The only problem is that they need help, and with the assistance of the government and a General named Joe Colton (Bruce Willis), they may find a possible way of a victory after all. However, just like you always used to fantasize when playing with the toys: it’s not always an easy match. That is, unless you played with Barbies, then don’t even bother reading this synopsis, this review, or this movie!

No matter what I say about this movie from now until the end of this review, just know that I am so mad at this movie for what it did to me last year. I mean, I not only was really looking forward to it, I even went so far as to put it as one of my most-anticipated for the Summer, IN MY HIGH-SCHOOL NEWSPAPER! That’s right, for all of my high-school to see and then when they actually buzzed out on me and decided to take it back to the next year (meaning today), not only did I look like an ass, but actually was a little upset because I wanted to still see it. But noooooo! Hollywood has to get those bigger bucks, had to make sure everything had an extra dimension, and worst of all, had to make sure Channing Tatum got five more minutes of screen-time. That’s right people: he’s only in this for a total of ten minutes, then gets killed, and is never seen again. Nice job. Glad the re-shoots and delays were worth it.

His 15 minutes of fame, minus 5.

His 15 minutes of fame, minus 5.

I’m not going to lie to you all, I actually liked the first G.I. Joe movie. Yeah, it had it’s fair share of problems, it was corny, it was stupid, and it was sure as hell loud, but it was still fun and that’s all that mattered to me. However, it seems like the people behind this sequel, feel as if that movie was so damn terrible, that they not only need to kill-off almost all of the characters from that movie, but do away with everything else about it as well. The first one had this over-the-cop, campy-feel to it that was surprising, considering the G.I. Joe cartoons and comics have always been serious, but this one sort of loses that edge about half-way through.

For instance, when we are first introduced to Duke and Roadblock, we see them goofing around with one another, spouting-out one-liners, and overall, just having a good time without getting too jokey and forgetting about the action. Then, as soon as the original Joe members are all killed-off, then things get a tad too serious, and not in the fun way either. The jokes are still there, the action is still around, and the over-the-top look and feel is still present at moments, but it’s not what you’d expect.

Where this movie seems to lose itself is that it not only focuses way too much on plot, but also forgets that this is a mindless action movie, made off of what is essentially a bunch of action figures that all the cool kids played with, when the girlies were off making sure that Ken and Barbie got it on. A lot. To try and make a serious story out of something like that, is ridiculous in it’s own right. To lose that sense of fun or craziness, just seemed like a slap in the face to the audience that grew up loving and watching G.I. Joe’s but also a waste of a good budget, and a good cast that knows how to have fun, be witty, and be cool, all at the same time. Jon M. Chu isn’t a bad director to be chosen for this material, but at the end of the day: something felt like it was missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it just yet, but it may have something to do with the fact that everybody seems to melodramatic, without getting loose and shaking things up. The original wasn’t a ground-breaker by any stretch, but at least it had fun for the time being. This one just tried way, way too hard.

But don’t be fooled by all of this shit-talking I’m doing, it’s still a fun movie and will most likely bring out the kid inside of you: for better or worse. Yes men, this is the movie that you want to see with your buddies, whether or you be drunk or not. Just make sure that you don’t bring your ladies or else she may come around the next day, asking for when the best time for her is to pick up her stuff. Trust me, it’s that type of movie. It’s filled with a bunch of fun, action, and excitement, and even though I have to say that almost every single trailer and commercial has spoiled the big,  insane shit that was supposed to wow us into the new year, it’s still fun to watch and enjoy, especially when you’re around as much machismo, as was in this movie. Oh and that is a lot. That’s fo damn sho.

Dwayne Johnson (fine, I guess I’ll take his ass seriously for now) is pretty bad-ass as Roadblock because not only does he have that lovable charm that makes you feel like he could win over anybody with that million dollar smile of his, but the smarts to beat Cobra and take back the country that was rightfully his in the first place. When it comes to the action, Dwayne is awesome and proves us why he is the perfect man for a job when it comes to beating the tar out of people, spitting on their faces, and always having the tongue left to say something witty. I mean, hey, that’s how the guy got famous in the first place, right?

What a dick.

What a dick.

I was still bummed to see Channing Tatum go away so quick, let alone, at all in this movie, but I guess it’s fine for what we see of him. Still, I was pissed that they got rid of him, in place of D.J. Cotrona as Flint who is as dull as they come. He barely has a personality, anything cool or insightful to say, nor does even have a specialty that makes him stand-apart from the group of other Joe’s with him. He’s just regular, old Flint that nobody seems to care about, let alone remember once the shit hits the fan. The one person I did remember was Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye who does a nice job at conveying that sense of what it takes to be a female and still kick-ass, but yet, still have to stay and be able to hang with the big boys in town. She’s actually good in the role and not a joke like she could have easily been. Bruce Willis is also here as recently-retired sergeant Joe Colton and is fine, but this is no John McClane. He’s just there to be old, a bit witty, and the type of guy who can handle a gun. Willis is always likable, but he seems bored here. I don’t blame him.

On the opposite side of the fence, the baddies are okay, but nothing special. Cobra is Cobra and always a bad-ass, who somehow seems to get away just in the nick of time. Ray Stevenson plays Firefly, the type of dude that has a solution to every problem and is good doing what it is that he does. However, the one that really stole the show for me, especially on the flip side of things, was Jonathan Pryce as he played a dual-role as the U.S. President, when he was good and when he was bad. What makes Pryce so much fun to watch is that he seems to be having a freakin’ turkey of a time just being evil, mean, and sadistic, but never goes over-board with it all. Instead, he seems smart, calm, and collective, even when stuff seems to get very serious for him and the others around him. Very surprised with Pryce here and somehow, he made this old dude seem like the type of guy that could get away with this all in the end.

Still have no idea why the hell RZA showed up here in a old-man, kung-fu outfit, but damn does he love his kung-fu or what?!?!?

Consensus: Though it’s a tad bit better in some ways than the first one, G.I. Joe: Retaliation still takes itself a bit too seriously in terms of plot and characters, to be considered an all-out action fest of guns, explosions, bullets, hot ladies, and even hotter dudes, but does what it can and is entertaining for that fact.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"You really expect me to say it, in a PG-13 movie?!?!"

“You really expect me to say it, in a PG-13 movie?!?!”

The Next Three Days (2010)

Save me, Maximus!

Life seems perfect for John Brennan (Russell Crowe) until his wife, Laura (Elizabeth Banks), is arrested for a gruesome murder she says she didn’t commit. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison.

It may seem a bit strange that director Paul Haggis would return to the director’s chair after two character-driven flicks like Crash and In the Valley of Elah, to do something very action-oriented in a way that would remind me a bit of the Bourne movies. Total change-of pace if you ask me, but a pretty intriguing one, none the less. However, this is also the guy who wrote Casino Royale and I think he should have kept it that way and try not to stretch out his action skills anymore teaming up with this dude, because he said he was an “Oscar-winner”.

What I liked about Haggis’ direction here is that he does have a good combination of character-driven drama and a suspense-thriller for a combination that sort of evens each-side out. We first start this flick off by focusing on Crowe, how he’s struggling with being a single father, having a wife put in jail wrongly, and it basically just sets up a lot of sadness for his character and the situation he so sadly found himself so involved with. But underneath all of that, there’s also a very interesting prison-escape drama that shows how Crowe goes around, checking for all of the clues on how to get his wife out successfully without any problems whatsoever, and it’s so interesting and well-done, that it actually made you wonder just how the hell this guy was going to pull it all off in the end, if at all. Prison-escape movies are always fun to watch, but it was really cool to see that aspect, used on the outside, from a guy who’s trying to break somebody out, and not really being able to tell how smoothly everything will go. Definitely a good combo for Haggis, but sadly, it all ends up losing it’s way about half-way through. Oh well, at least it was intruiging for the longest-time.

Mainly the problem with this flick is that it can be very hard to buy at times, especially the main bond between Crowe and Banks. As soon as we step into the movie, we see Banks and Crowe at dinner together, then in no less than 5 minutes later she gets hauled out by cops and that’s pretty much all of the love we get see come from them. That’s right, only 5 minutes of them actually being loving and happy together and we’re supposed to buy the fact that Crowe would go the ends of the Earth to save his wife from prison. Who knows, maybe they had one of the most beautiful marriages that any person has ever seen, but with the very limited-amount of time they have together on-screen, I found it very hard to actually believe Crowe would do what he ends up trying to do for her.

However, that’s not the only part of this movie I didn’t buy. The whole film revolves around Crowe and whether or not he can pull off such a plan as the one he has mapped out on his wall (so original) but I couldn’t really believe much of that either. The film does show him doing certain things to gain pieces of information that ultimately help him out with this plan and gaining more information, but it was never fully-developed to the point of where I understood how he could make it all happen to begin with and even worse, only showed-up every once and awhile. In fact, the whole escape itself by the end was really just based on coincidences that Crowe just so happened to find himself running into by sure luck. Crowe’s character had so much time to think everything through and to get everything right, but by the end, everything just happens in a very messy way and like almost every obstacle he got through was just another piece of perfect-timing, that was just a bit too perfect for my taste, really.

Now I say all of this crap but I did have a certain bit of fun with the very fast-pace this film was going through. As implausible and coincidental things may get for this plot, Haggis kicked up the volume and the speed of this movie and kept it going perfectly where I actually felt like I was on the edge of my seat for a good time. That’s why I can’t go too far into how much this film didn’t make sense to me, because I like prison-escape movies and seeing the sensitive-edge Haggis brought to it, kept me interested. However, a lot of that is lost on some very obvious twists this film goes through.

Russell Crowe is one of the best-working actors today and can make almost any character he plays, work. His performance as John Brennan may be the only exception to that statement. My problem I had with this character wasn’t necessarily Crowe’s performance itself, but it was more or less the essence and nature of the character he was playing here. Brennan is such a meek, awkward, and shy dude that it really seemed “out of his element” and unbelievable whenever he would just decide to g0 around and start doing crazy shit just, in order to help his wife escape from jail. I can understand what a man does and thinks when he’s pushed to the edge, but I never saw that for Crowe and that’s a surprise because this is a guy who’s known for beating the shit out of people in many other films as well as real-life (telephone-throwing joke right there). This performance really surprised me and I think with other actors it would have worked, but when you get a tough-ass like Crowe, ehhh not so much.

One performance that really took me by surprise was Elizabeth Banks as his wife. Banks is always one of those very cute, very funny, and very sexy ladies that pop-up in these raunchy-comedies, but she shows she has a lot of dramatic depth here and makes her character seem a lot more believable than Crowe. Hopefully she continues to get more and more dramatic roles that fit her, and no, I do not mean Man on a Ledge. Liam Neeson is also here as a former prison escapee that helps out Crowe and is easily one of the best and most memorable parts of this flick even though it only lasts for 4 minutes. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is here as the only model, single mom in Pittsburgh. Wilde is a random character to have for this movie and what made it even worse and just added to the implausibility of this movie, was the fact that Olivia Wilde, was playing a single-mom! What the hell! If this is what single moms look like in Pittsburgh, get me my 2005 Scion right now! I’ll be there soon, ladies! Just you wait.

Consensus: The Next Three Days starts off pretty-strong with a great combination action, mystery, suspense and character-drama, but the script really starts to lose itself about half-way through with all of its implausibilities, strange coincidences, and unbelievable character relations, especially the ones between Crowe and Banks, who was supposed to be the core-relationship for us to really connect to this movie and actually give a damn.

6/10=Rental!!

The Man With the Iron Fists (2012)

It would have totally been better if the rest of Wu-Tang was here. Even you, ODB. Even you.

In feudal China, small village’s blacksmith (RZA) is forced by radical tribal factions to create elaborate tools of destruction. When the clans’ brewing war boils over, the stranger channels an ancient energy to transform himself into a human weapon. As he fights alongside iconic heroes and against soulless villains, one man must harness this power to become savior of his adopted people.

With Wu-Tang Clan madman RZA directing, co-writing with Eli Roth, and having Quentin Tarantino produce, The Man With the Iron Fists definitely seemed like something in my backyard. I love the old, kung-fu movies that RZA obviously loves and pay homages to here, and the story itself just seemed like the perfect fit for a mixture of those oldies, with the new, gore-tastic days of today. Sadly, all of that hype and promise lead to it being just another passion-project, that never goes it’s full-distance.

Apparently during post-production of this movie, RZA threw a huge fit because he had to cut-down a 4 and-a-half hour movie, to an hour and-a-half. To be honest, I don’t blame the guy because that is a butt-load of footage and seems like the type of job I wouldn’t want being told to do, especially if it was my own movie. However, I think that’s the problem this film hits in the first-place: it’s WAY too cut-down. What I mean by this is that certain characters will just show-up for 5 minutes, and apparently have some sort of significance to the plot, without us ever realizing it. It almost seems like there were all of these back-stories meant for these types of characters, but weren’t there for the final-cut, so instead, we get a bunch of characters that don’t really do anything for the plot other than just show-up, speak their lines, and get killed.

That element of this movie, and the fact that the story is pretty confusing is the reason as to why the cutting of this film hurts the final-product. Throughout the first hour or so, it’s never made clear as to who the villains are, who the heroes are, and just who the hell this story is going to be focused on. The Man With the Iron Fists himself, doesn’t really get much of a spot-light until the last 30 minutes or so to where he all of a sudden means a lot to the premise because of something bad that happens to him. I mean, there was an idea of who the bad guys were because of who they killed, how they did it, and what their intentions were, but after awhile, it just became a bit confusing and made me wonder just who was important to this story and who wasn’t. Once again, there was probably plenty of footage developing these characters and their story-lines a lot more, but sadly, didn’t make the final-cut and are just kind of left lost on the cutting-room floor. Poor scenes, maybe there’s a director’s cut in the future. Maybe.

Where the story fails, however, is where the action of this movie prevails and definitely made this a lot of an easier ride as it went through. Even though the whole story is filled with little bits and pieces of action here and there, the final 30 minutes is where all of it really comes into play and tears down the house and shows RZA’s true eye for fun and entertainment. The kung-fu is goofy with a lot of wire-work used to the point of where it almost seems like self-parody; the music is a mixture of hip-hop and some score music, even though it’s not entirely like the same soundtrack RZA used for Kill Bill, and gives every scene a pretty cool, retro feel while still keeping it current; and the gore/blood is pretty awesome and shows that there was a huge Roth inspiration going-on throughout this flick the whole time. All three of these factors is why I enjoyed the last 30 minutes of this flick because instead of focusing on a crappy and confusing plot, with crappy and confusing characters, we get what we came for: bloody, crazy, and fun action without any logical-reasoning as to why all of these people are flying in the air other than the fact that they are in a kung-fu movie.

Even though these action scenes are the only times the movie really comes to life, the cast does do their best to try and help-out, but end up getting over-shadowed. Lucy Liu is having the same type of fun with this role, as she had with the one in Kill Bill, and that’s all fine and dandy until you realize that the gal isn’t really trying anything new, other than working with a lesser-script, and no offense bud, but lesser-director as well. The only one who seems to be having the most fun, and brings that out onto the audience is Russell Crowe as an English mercenary, Jack Knife (gedd it?!?). Crowe is such a weird-pick for this role, but seems like the perfect-fit once you see him because he knows what movie he’s in, what role he’s playing, and what’s expected of him to make it work. Even though Crowe kicked plenty of ass in Gladiator, it still doesn’t make him any type of martial-artist master, but still shows that he can be as sinister and dangerous as he was in that classic. Yeah, it’s only been 12 years and I’m already calling that one a classic.

As a director, RZA may not be the unstoppable force to be reckoned with, but at least he still tries to maintain that credit as an actor. Sadly, his role is mainly just him keeping that one, signature, sullen-look we all know and love him for but sadly, doesn’t allow us to really stand-behind automatically, despite him being our main hero that we’re supposed to cheer for. Thankfully, though, RZA knows this and doesn’t take the center spot-light, which is pretty respectable in my opinion. Also, it was pretty neat to see former-WWE wrestler Dave Bautista show-up somewhere again as a bad-ass that can’t be stopped. I miss the hell out of that guy and it’s nice to see him doing movies now, even though a guy who turns to bricks and only has about 12 lines of dialogue isn’t the ideal role out there for a pro-wrestler. But hey, how many movies has John Cena showed-up in this year? Exactly.

Consensus: If it weren’t for the final 30 minutes of this movie where everything finally comes to head and is fun, exciting, and bloody just like we expected, The Man With the Iron Fists would have definitely been a huge-disappointment because of it’s lack of distinctive-style, sense of plot, or sense of characters. Instead, it just comes off as a minor-disappointment.

6/10=Rental!!

Repo Men (2010)

I feel bad for the dude who has to get found out with the organ as his schlong.

In the world set in the not-too-distant future, artificial organs are readily available to anybody with a credit card. But what happens if a buyer falls delinquent on his payments? Jude Law stars as an organ repo man who’s now fleeing his ex-partner after failing to keep up the payments on his own recently installed ticker.

Going into this film, my expectations were totally lowered beyond belief and I was in for some dumb, sci-fi fun, but what I got was better than I actually expected. Love when that happens!

The thing for this film that it has working for itself is the fact that it has a lot of fun elements to it. I have to say that the story will keep you entertained for the most part, there are also some jokes here that will have you laughing, and the action is relatively good which will keep you watching. All of this was going good for quite some time until the middle act comes around, and how bad that really was.

To say the least I didn’t understand just why on Earth I was supposed to care for this “killer”, who all of a sudden gains a conscience and doesn’t feel like killing anymore people. I mean this dude has no problem with killing all of these other people, but when it comes to his own life, aww hell no! I also didn’t really understand why everybody was getting these artificial organs in the first place. I get it that their all easy to find, but why the hell does everyone keep on getting them if they know that they can’t pay and will eventually end up getting killed.

Another problem that this film has is that if you have seen all of the other films that this one has ripped off, it gets really tedious after awhile. The city seems like it’s the same exact one from Blade Runner, and anytime this film over’s up something cool, it’s something we’ve seen before and probably done 10 times better the first time around. The first act also had this really weird vibe going for it, but then by the end, started to get all serious which I couldn’t take into consideration.

However, despite all of these problems with the story, there are some really well-shot action scenes by the end, filled with guns, knives, blood, and gore flying all-over-the-place which made me go “hell yeah” when the scenes were over. The ending will also probably piss some viewers off but I have to say that I liked it, even though it did seem like it was backing out from a sucky story transition.

Jude Law seems like a weird casting for this role as Remy, but somehow he makes it work and for the whole film while were watching him, he actually allows us to sympathize and root on his character. Forest Whitaker is also good as the conflicted thug, Jake, who brings a lot of menace as well as humor to a role that seemed like it was written for cheep jokes. Law and Whitaker have good chemistry and it was pretty much a bummer to see them separated as the film went on. Liev Schreiber, Alice Braga, and RZA are also good in their own little roles, but the script is just pretty lame as a whole.

Consensus: With good performances, fun bloody action, and a surprising twist at the end, Repo Men is what I call a somewhat guilty pleasure that suffers from not-so original writing with plenty of plot holes that seem to over-come this film, and a bad transition into a story that seems lame.

5.5/10=Rental!!

American Gangster (2007)

It doesn’t matter what drug you deal, it all depends on how cool you look when your dealing it.

Armed with ruthless, streetwise tactics and a strict sense of honor, crime boss Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) rules Harlem’s chaotic drug underworld. When outcast cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) sets out to bring down Lucas’s multimillion-dollar empire, it plunges both men into a legendary confrontation.

Looking at this all on paper, you have Oscar winners Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, and Ridley Scott all working together on one film, you should be expecting something perfect, right? Well, not quite.

Ridley Scott does a great job here of directing this thing to the core. Scott keeps the camera on both of these character’s and their own stories, and not once do we lose a sense of what’s happening. He also gets the look for this film, including a very gritty atmosphere behind all the glam and beauty of the drug world, and perfectly captures how the late 60’s early 70’s felt and looked. He also tells the story, not through explosions, and random gun-fights, but through more story and development as time goes on, but he doesn’t lose his pace and keeps this entertaining.

The only problem here is that although Scott is doing a good job of keeping this film entertaining, he’s not necessarily doing much different that what has been done before. I think the main problem with this film is that it’s not to different from any other crime thriller we’ve seen before. Now, there were moments of originality with Washington out-smarting all the cops, but the drug deals, the lines these characters use, hell even the characters themselves all seem like something we have seen before. It’s not to say that this film doesn’t do those things right, because they do, it’s just that it’s nothing different.

Also, with these crime films the tension is always somewhat lacking. We all know how this is going to end, since it is a true story, so your just waiting for the big climax of these two to finally meet, and eventually have the main bad guy get his time in jail. The problem with this film is that we are waiting for almost two-and-a-half hours for that to happen, and although it keeps your interest for the time being, you still can’t help but wonder why the hell it had to be so long to get where it got.

However, this ensemble cast just kept me watching the whole time. Denzel Washington is perfect as mob-boss Frank Lucas. He’s got that swagger that makes him so cool, that brain and wit that has you believe he can outsmart any cop, and just so cool that he’s the most likable gangster ever. I think Denzel should have gotten nominated for an Oscar here, but hey the man is always great no matter what you put in front of him, just ask Ridley’s brother, Tony. Russell Crowe doesn’t get much praise here but he’s also very good as Richie Roberts who is so attached to finding this guy, that he stops at nothing to do it. He also very likable enough to have you root behind as well. The rest of the cast is also very good and just has a bunch of random faces that pop up out of nowhere such as T.I., Chiwetel Ejiofor, Common, RZA, John Hawkes, Idris Elba, Ruby Dee, Josh Brolin, Carla Gugino, and the return to Hollywood acting of Cuba Gooding Jr. God it has been so long since I have seen him in a film that hasn’t been released straight-to-dvd, but he has only a couple of minutes in this film, but he still makes it worth awhile.

Consensus: The performances are great from all over the spectrum, and the direction from Ridley Scott makes this film a gritty but entertaining crime thriller, but never goes anywhere we haven’t seen before, and almost seems like a drag to get to the last scene that we all see coming.

8/10=Matinee!!

Due Date (2010)

These are the last two people I’d ever go on a trip with.

When high-powered Los Angeles business executive Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) gets stuck in Atlanta during a snowstorm that grounds all flights just days before his pregnant wife’s due date, he hitches a ride across the country with slacker Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis). As Peter desperately tries to get home, he must deal with Ethan’s laid-back attitude, numerous delays and several mishaps in this road trip comedy. Jamie Foxx co-stars.

This film is being heavily promoted as the next big from from Todd Phillips, or as you mainstream audiences may know, “the dude who did The Hangover”. However, the problem is that is the only thing going for it.

The problem with this film is that it’s screenplay is terrible. Actually terrible is not right because, occasionally, there are a few funny moments, very few, but they are just watered over, by the sometimes numerous awkward, heavily violent, and lazy jokes that came through with this film. I get the whole concept of these stupid comedies, because in all honesty, I like them, but this film offers nothing really funny, and at times, the comedy just falls short way too many times, and your just stuck wondering, if it was meant to be a joke, or just something you wouldn’t find funny, but because it’s these two, it’s absolutely hilarious. The problem is, I didn’t ponder any of those thoughts at all, this film just wasn’t funny. I almost felt like the creators said: “The Hangover 2 is going to take about 6 months to write, let’s just make a film that will take about 6 minutes to write”.

The places this film takes are incredibly unbelievable. There are moments where these guys almost practically die on the road, because the driver falls asleep, and they do a 360 in the air. I also noticed a lot of comedy directed towards these guys getting there asses kicked, or to them almost dying. There’s nothing funny about near-death experiences people, so stop with the harsh slapstick in comedy.

I was probably more disappointed by the fact that I was expecting so much more from these two. I understand the whole odd-couple mismatch that the film was going for, but in order for that to work, you got to have two actors that can create a good chemistry that will last through out. This doesn’t have that at all. Robert Downey Jr.‘s character disappointed me, because I was expecting him to be a bit more likable, and at least a little funny, unintentionally, but he was just too mean to be likable or funny. I know he was trying to play against type, but for God’s sake man, it’s a comedy, be funny somehow! Zach Galifianakis is funny, but he is just too over-exposed by now, and I really do think he needs to slow down, before he becomes a bore to every film he is in. These two try their hardest to bring laughs, but they just can’t, and I think they would have been able to, with different material. There are also some funny spots from Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, and RZA. But not enough to make this film better, actually not even the master-bating French bulldog can do that.

Consensus: What should have been hilarious, mostly due to the fact of the talent involved, Due Date turns into a unfunny, lazily written, bore-fest, that tries hard to be funny, and just ends up being a huge failure for all involved. Let’s hope Hangover 2 is better.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

Funny People (2009)

I could only wish that everybody was as funny as the title says.

When famous comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is given a second chance at a new beginning, he and his assistant, a struggling comedian, Ira (Seth Rogen), return to the places and people that matter most…including the stand-up spots that gave him his start and the girl that got away (Leslie Mann).

With Judd Apatow’s last two at bats (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) he has shown that he can make hilarious comedies, with heart-felt messages somewhere in between. This is no different, except it kind of is.

Apatow as the writer is perfect. He always fines a perfect balance of heart and hilarity, and this is no exception. The jokes as usual, are hilarious, if you like a lot of boner jokes, and it almost never slows down. The stand-up seems just wreak with hilarity and a lot of originality. When Simmons gets cancer, you would think that the most would slow down, and get very very serious, however, Apatow changes that and never stops bringing out the jokes, and surprisingly a lot of them had me laughing-out-loud. You can tell that he has matured, and his writing makes you have more hope for him in the future.

Although, Apatow as the director, now that’s a stretch. He overuses the slow-zoom to show his characters being emotionally effected by something, it’s almost too obvious at times. Also, the first act between Rogen and Sandler works so well, it was this close to getting a 10/10, then came the next story with Sandler and Mann, then it just kind of lost me. It’s less of a buy-one-get-one-free deal, and more a but-one-and-get-one you really didn’t ask for deal. Both stories just don’t seem connected, and although the jokes kept up during the last act, I still didn’t find a reason for it. Oh, and the film is about 2 hours and 30 minutes, so be ready to be looking at your watch many times.

Apatow does a great job of blurring the line of fiction and non-fiction to create compelling, realistic performances from the cast. George Simmons is sort of the dream role for Adam Sandler. Mainly because Simmons is a goofy comedian, Sandler gets to indulge in that goofy side, we all know and love him for, but he gets to show the characters darker parts, and does a fantastic job at it. Although, I think the film could have done a better chance of showing Simmons in a more positive way sometimes. Simmons is a dick, especially towards the end, but we never get to see him come out of that dark shell, and understand who he has come to be.

The rest of the cast is perfect too. Seth Rogen (who is looking very, very slim) plays probably the least Seth Rogen he has ever played, because he doesn’t do that famous “Rogen chuckle“, and instead he does a character with nervous twitches, and mega-awkwardness. Leslie Mann is funny, but more serious than her usual character, and seems a lot more genuine during the last act, than she has, in a long time (yes, I’m talking about you George of the Jungle). There are other little characters that will make you laugh such as Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, RZA, Aziz Ansari, but the most surprisingly funny one was…………….Eric Bana! He comes in the film and you expect him to play this really deuchy character, cause the whole film they talk about him so badly, then you meet him, and he’s downright lovable. He’s hilarious, sweet, and really cool. Kind of makes me forget about The Hulk.

The film probably should get an Oscar for the film with most cameos, if there ever was one. I mean you got Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, James Taylor, even Tom from MySpace (I don’t know how that guy still has a career). But the funniest one is between Eminem and Ray Romano, that will just have you cracking up, although it does seem really random. Better yet, you never know, Eminem probably wasn’t acting.

Consensus: Funny People is consistently funny, as well as being heart-felt, with great performances from the whole cast, even though the last act may take some away, and not very inspired direction.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!