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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Alright. No more reboots!

After being recruited by the one and only Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and kicking all sorts of ass in the so-called “Civil War”, 15-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland), when he isn’t in school, cutting class, or crushing hard on his fellow classmate (Laura Harrier), he’s throwing on his red and blue jumpsuit, shootin’ webs, and yes, stoppin’ crime. The only issue is that he was given specific instructions not to act out in this manner, or else, he wouldn’t be allowed in the Avengers, something Peter has wanted since day one. But Peter thinks that he can keep a low-profile, until real bad stuff starts happening, like when a low-level arms-dealer (Michael Keaton), begins selling highly illegal and dangerous weapons to all sorts of criminals on the streets. Sure, he was supposed to stay cool and calm, but after awhile, Peter just can’t stand by and let this happen, which means that it’s time for him to get involved and kick some butt. The only issue is that he’s got so much pressure, both at home and at school, that he doesn’t quite know how to juggle everything with his personal life and still, at the end of the day, save the world.

Just your friendly dorky neighborhood Peter Parker, everyone!

Such is a daily dilemma for all superheros, I presume.

So yeah, first things first: Spider-Man: Homecoming is, get this, not necessarily an origin story. Believe it or not, what we got to see of Spidey in Civil War was basically all we needed to know about him; he’s fun, goofy, quick-witted, and oh yeah, brash. That’s basically. Co-writer/director Jon Watts, as well as the five other writers here (Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers) are all smart enough to know that by now, we’ve seen and understood all that there is to know and understood about Peter Parker, his upbringing, where he came from, and all of the backstory that usually plagues another origin-story such as this.

Instead of showing us his first steps, or better yet, the first time he learned how to swing a web, we actually get character-development for Peter, as well as all of those that surround him. Sure, there’s plot about growing up, this baddie lurking somewhere in the distance, and of course, all of the tie-ins to previous Marvel stuff, but really, the movie is all about the characters, how they work with one another, and how exactly they work in this universe. It’s the small things that make these mega-budget, loud, and bombastic summer blockbusters so worth while and it’s why Marvel’s got a solid formula to keep on working with.

Which means that, yes, Homecoming is a swing and a hit. It’s not a home-run, but it’s definitely a solid piece of Marvel entertainment that feels like it’s not just giving us a nice peak inside this already large universe, but also allowing us to get used to these characters for future installments to come. For someone such as myself, who grew up on and adored the Sam Raimi Spider-Man flicks, it’s a little difficult to fully take in this new band of trustees, but after this first showing, they could grow on me. They’re easy-to-like, charming and yes, different enough from the original to where it doesn’t feel like we have to sit down, compare and contrast the two products the whole time.

Wait. Batman? Birdman? Some dude called “Vulture”? What’s going on?!?

Instead, it’s just nice to sit down and appreciate a popcorn superhero flick for being, well, exactly what it sets out to be: Fun.

End of story.

And if we are going to compare, then yes, it’s safe to say that Tom Holland more than fits into the role of Peter Parker because he’s not playing a total and complete dweeb. Sure, Maguire’s take is still heartfelt enough, but really, Holland’s Parker is portrayed more as of a bit of a smart-ass, who also happens to be incredibly smart. Holland’s fun to watch as Parker, but it also helps that he feels and looks like an actual kid; Maguire and Andrew Garfield were both nearly 30-years-old, playing a high-school-aged Parker, seeming like they were just doing dress up for October the 31st. With Holland in the role, he seems like an actual high-school kid, stuck in this sort of situation and because of that, it helps to relate to the kid a bit more.

And really, with our superhero flicks, isn’t that all we want? Someone we can root for, sympathize with, and even identify with? Probably not, but hey, it works for me.

Consensus: Fun, quick, and pretty smart for a superhero flick, Homecoming proves that Spider-Man doesn’t need another damn origin-story, but does need/get/deserve a solid bit of players to look forward to seeing in the near-future.

7.5 / 10

Brought to you by Jansport.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Like they say, “Once you go black, you never go back.”

When we last left Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), things seemed to be going relatively fine. Not only did he save the day, once again, but he got the girl of his dreams, M.J. (Kirsten Dunst), patched things up with his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), and finally told his best-friend Harry Osborne (James Franco) about the fact that he’s not only Spider-Man, but that his father tried to kill him. Sure, the relationship between those two may be strained and even have Harry himself go a bit coo-coo with vengeance, but for the most part, Pete’s life is happy, joyful and one that makes him happy to wake up in the day. However, that all changes one day when he finds out that his Uncle Ben’s killer, believe it or not, is still out there, and he’s going by the name of the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church). To make matters even worse, Peter’s finding it hard to keep things going steady at work, and is finding some stiff competition in the newsroom with aspiring, fellow photo-journalist Eddie Brock (Topher Grace). Also, remember the girl of his dreams that he thought he won, hook, line and sinker last time? Well, she’s starting to get second-thoughts about dating a superhero. Oh, and as if that wasn’t all bad enough for Spidey, for some reason, there’s this black, venomous acid following him around and latching onto his suit, changing up his hair-do, and making him act in a totally different way, that may make him feel great and all, but pushes those whom are close to him, further and further away.

Okay, so yeah, that’s a long premise. But it needed to be because let’s face it: This movie is a total, complete, over-stuffed mess. I knew that the second I walked out of the theater back in the early days of summer ’07, and I knew that less than three or four days ago when I found enough guts to go through with it and actually give this movie another try. Shame on me, but you know what? I gotta do it for all of you.

"Kame me, kame me...huh?"

“Kame me, kame me…huh?”

All you mofo’s better be happy with this.

But, to be honest, even though I’m getting off of on the wrong foot and making it seem like I absolutely loathe the heck out of this movie, I can’t say that I really do. Because somehow, I was able to find little, itty, bitty, pleasures here and there throughout the movie. Now, whether or not these pleasures were indeed intended to be “pleasureful” is totally up to Sam Raimi and the creative-powers that be whom got behind this, but the fact remains: Spider-Man 3 isn’t all that terrible. It’s not good, that’s for certain, but it’s not shitty either.

Confused by what I’m trying to say? Don’t worry, I am too. Here, let me try to explain:

What I like to think of this movie as being is one, big, nearly-two-and-a-half-hour long “fuck you” from Sam Raimi. No, not a “fuck you” to us, the dedicated, lovely audience that spent all of our minimum-wages on seeing his past couple of Spider-Man movies, but more as a “fuck you” to those who tried to get in the way of his creative-vision way too many times before. Maybe I’m just making this all up in my head to make myself feel better, but there’s no way in hell that Sam Raimi, the creator of some of the greatest, most iconic cult films of all time, thought that this was a good idea. Or hell, even this! And oh god no, dare I even talk about this travesty!

No, no, no! I refuse to believe that the some mastermind behind Ash would ever stoop this low and give us something as painstaking as most of this movie can be! I don’t care what anybody says, I will stand by my grave if I have to! They always say that “money can’t buy happiness”, well, nor do I think that it can buy creative consciences either. It’s clear to me that Sam Raimi doesn’t know what to do with each and everyone of these subplots, so instead, he just crams them altogether in a way that’s incoherent, but wholly uneven. One second, you’ll be getting something out of a comedy-sketch in which Peter Parker is walking down the street, dancing, walking all fly, acting cool and hitting on the ladies, while some funky bass-action plays in the background; and then, all of a sudden, the next second, you’ll get a scene or two in which the Sandman talks about his dying-kid and how he does all of this crime and whatnot for her.

One second, it’s a laugh-out-lough, camp-fest; the next second, it’s a total downer that will make you want to say “party’s over”. I’m not saying that certain movies can’t be both frothy and dramatic at the same time, there’s just a specific-balance that these movies are capable of handling and maintaining, and it’s clear early on that Raimi is not able to do that. Whether or not this was him just having an off-day and deciding to hell with it all, is sort of beyond me, but there’s just so much going wrong here, that it’s almost too hard to think of it as anything else other than a ruse played on all of us, as well as the numerous Hollywood producers backing this thing.

Which is a total shame, because with all of the material and promise Raimi had at his disposal here, he could have done some wonders – given that he had a three-hour run-time and at least took away a villain or two. But what happens here is that we get just about three villains, four-to-five conflicts for Spidey (not including his own conflict with himself), three-to-four extraneous subplots that literally add nothing to the story, and a two-hour-and-twenty-minute run-time that goes by quick, but only because the movie is never comfortable enough focusing on one thing. Raimi always has to be moving from one end of the story, to another, which makes a lot of sense since he clearly has a lot on his plate to chew on, but made it seem like it didn’t really know what to do or say with its plot, or any of its characters. So instead, it just fell back on the same old, high-flying, CGI-galore action that was always there to make things better for these movies in the past.

Yup, they're totally boned from here-on-out.

Yup, they’re totally boned from here-on-out.

However, this time around, everything else is so poorly-developed, that it just feels like a cheat to get our minds out of everything else that’s going on so wrong with this movie – especially with the characters. And hell, if there’s anything about this movie that fuels me even more is how they wasted the whole potential that Eddie Brock/Venom had as a villain. Don’t get me wrong, I think Topher Grace is a fine actor that’s been trying his hardest since day one to get out of that Eric Forman-shell that’s been carved for him since, well, yeah, day one, but he’s not right for this role. I get what Raimi was trying to do with the casting of him – make him something of an over-the-top, immoral, sneaky and sly son-of-a-bitch – which yes, does work when he’s being Eddie Brock, the photojournalist for the Daily Bugle, but when he has to transform to Venom with about 15 minutes left of the movie, it feels like an after-thought. Almost as if the producers wanted Raimi to throw him in there for good measure, only to realize that the rest of the movie was stacked with so much to begin with.

And since I’m on the subject of new faces to this franchise, I have to say that I feel very bad for Thomas Haden Church here, because the dude is a great talent who just about makes everything better the minute he shows up in it. The problem with him here, as the Sandman, is that he’s given just about nothing to do. We get enough back-story to his character so that we can sort of see where he’s coming from, but it gets so convoluted once they start talking about how he apparently killed Uncle Ben in the past, that I just wanted them to stop with it all and move on. Give me the action, give me more scenes of Thomas Haden Church actually talking and showing some personality, and give me more of the core that really makes these movies tick in the first place: Pete and M.J.

It doesn’t matter what you’re own, personal opinions may be on Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst as working-professionals, but it should be noted that without them and their chemistry (or in some cases, lack thereof), this franchise would have fallen flat on its face as soon as it hit theaters. There would have been no “superhero movie boom”; no Spider-Man 2; no Amazing Spider-Man; no Amazing Spider-Man 2; nobody remembering who the hell James Franco was; and sure as hell no Spider-Man 3. Maybe we could have lived peacefully with that last aspect being gone and lost forever, but you get the picture – M.J. and P.P. gave these movies an extra oomph of heart and emotion that so many superhero movies try to recreate nowadays, but just can’t seem to get down perfectly.

However, here, the whole idea is that M.J. and Pete stop loving one another and grow apart, which kind of sucks to see since we’ve invested so much of our time in them, but by the same token, needs to happen in order for us to make them just a tad bit believable in terms of character-development and rounding the two out as individual beings, rather than just a couple. If this was done right, it would have been phenomenal to see, in a big-budget, superhero movie no less, but the movie really stumbles when it’s paying dear attention to this subplot. Pete eventually becomes a bit of a dick because of this venomous, gooey thing that keeps on attaching to his suit and making him act differently; and M.J. is coming at a bit of an existential crisis where she wants the focus to be constantly on her, her failing-career as a Broadway actress, and the fact that she’s been so loyal and dedicated to Pete, despite going around and starting to sleep with Harry, once again.

Ain’t nothing like old times, right peeps?

Yes, get as far, far away as you can from this movie, James. Don't just do us the favor, do yourself one.

Yes, get as far, far away as you can from this movie, James. Don’t just do us the favor, do yourself one.

Tobey Maguire, god bless him, tries his heart out but once Peter Parker gets that new, emo hairdo, it’s all downhill for him from there; Dunst looks bad because Mary Jane is so unlikable and unsympathetic in her whiniest performance yet; and James Franco, believe it if you will, probably has the best performance out of everyone here, just by getting a chance to live a little and show some of that Daniel Desario charm that was so absent from the two other movies. Which is strange considering that right as soon as this movie came out, hit theaters, broke a bunch of box-office records and basically ended the franchise that came to be known as “Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man“, Franco started popping-up in some interesting movies like Milk, Pineapple Express and In the Valley of Elah that not only stretched him a bit as an actor, but also showed the world that he wasn’t going to be doomed by his infamous past as “Harry Osborne, snobby, prick-ish son of a crazy billionaire”.

So yes, if there is anything, heck, anything at all good that you can take away from Spider-Man 3, it’s that it allowed James Franco to break-out from his cage and start trying his hand at some weird, quite frankly, goofy shit. But hey, we’re better as a society for it. Because seriously, when was the last time you actually got amped-up for something either Kirsten Dunst or Tobey Maguire were doing?

I rest my case.

Consensus: Long, overstuffed, uneventful, confusing, incoherent, and definitely disappointing, Spider-Man 3 may go down in the history books as one of the weakest superhero movies made in the past decade or so, but it isn’t without its small pleasures found along the way, if only for its most dedicated, easy, and calm viewers.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Shit. Gotta remember to take my suit off next time I tan."

“Shit. Gotta remember to take my suit off next time I’m trying to get that summer glow.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Lions for Lambs (2007)

In Tom Cruise, we trust.

Three separate stories somehow find their ways of connecting to one-another the way you wouldn’t expect (or maybe you’re a movie dick, and do expect it). Robert Redford plays a college professor talking to one of his most-promising students (Andrew Garfield) about what he possibly could and could not do for his future; Meryl Streep plays a reporter interviewing a Senator (Tom Cruise) about a new war-plan in the making; and two soldiers (Michael Pena and Derek Luke) get caught behind enemy lines without a hope or prayer in the world.

If a regular, everyday person gets pissed-off about the war and doesn’t agree with the intentions; then most likely, that person goes on throughout their day, keeping their thoughts and ideas to themselves, and occasionally blasting-out all of those thoughts and ideas whenever they get to shot to, either around a group of co-workers, friends, family, or total and complete strangers. Either way, this is the story of the everyday man who has a voice and that’s it. Hollywood stars are like us in the ways that they too have a voice, but they also have money, powerful friends, and in Robert Redford’s case; a camera, a crew, and a script as well. First problem right there.

Regardless as to whether or not you agree with the war, why we are over there, and whether or not it’s a waste of time and lives, you will find something to take out of this movie. There’s plenty of important ideas the movie is willing to spout-out at you that makes you feel like it knows what it’s talking about, and even better, has the best intentions at-hand. However, like with most movies along the same lines of this one, best intentions don’t mean jack-shit if you can’t give me a compelling story, compelling characters, and just an overall, compelling and entertaining piece of cinema for an hour and a half. That’s all I ask, that’s all I want, and that’s all I need to enjoy myself and if I get that, then hell, go to freakin’ town on the idea-spouting! But, if you can’t give me anything that’s the least-bit compelling, nor can you even give me an hour and a half movie time-limit (this runs a cheap-o 88 minutes), then buzz off!

Oh my gosh! It's Brad Pit.....in 30 years.

Oh my gosh! It’s Brad Pit…..in 30 years.

That’s what I felt like saying to Robert Redford by the end of this movie because everything he tells us and lectures us on throughout this whole movie, is nothing more than that: just lectures. If I wanted to be lectured on how the war is bad, how it’s waste of time for our people to be over there, and how politicians continue to make mistakes about it, then I would have either taken a Political Science course, gone to a student-rally, or just went online, and typed in “Why the war is bad”, and thus, there would have been over 6,000,000 results and all for the price of $0. However, when you ask me to go out of my way, drive to the nearest theater-complex, and actually throw out about $9 or $10 for one of these lectures, then you can just forget it. Thank the high heavens I never payed a dime to see this movie, and according to the box-office results for this thing: apparently nobody else did either. Just goes to show you that the typical, American movie-goer wasn’t as dumb as we all thought they were. Then again, they probably went out to see Transformers that weekend so I guess that statement doesn’t hold much truth.

Also, it’s not even like everything this movie is trying to say is anything new, revolutionary, mind-boggling, or original that we haven’t already heard or seen said before. Watching Fahrenheit 9/11 will probably tell you the same exact stuff that this movie is, but instead, with more insight, more humor, more personality, more entertainment, and just more of a “movie-aspect” to the whole product that will actually have you feel like you really made the right decision to see it. This movie, which is not a documentary, just tells you stuff that you have already heard before and doesn’t necessarily break any new-ground. It’s almost like Redford had this movie in his head ever since the war started, and then had to wait an extra 6 years until it was almost too late to where everything he said was relevant.

Though he shows signs of getting older as a director, Robert Redford still has the knack and talent to make himself work as an actor, and I guess that’s worth complimenting when you take the whole movie into place. Redford has a natural charisma to him, that still lies within himself, no matter how old or wrinkly his luscious face gets. The guy’s got charm to him, and it only gets better with age. However, the one who steals the spot-light away from him is Andrew Garfield, in a very early-role of his career as a student that has promise and has the brain to make a difference in this world, but just won’t take the bait on everything that he’s being taught. The kid’s a bit cocky and over-his-head with certain ideas, but Garfield makes it work and shows that it doesn’t matter if you’re up against a veteran actor like Redford, you can still do a helluva job and get your name out there for the whole world to see. I don’t know if that worked with this movie or not, but hey, at least he’s Spider-Man now, so that’s got to account for something.

"Shit. Now I HAVE to be in the movie."

“Shit. Now I HAVE to be in the movie.”

The other story in this movie is with Streep and Cruise, who show that they have good banter between each other, but still feels like some of their weaker-attempts at making a crappy-script work. Cruise is charming as the manipulative, but well-intentioned Senator that has a tough job and knows it, and shows you that he can play slimy, but still make you like him and feel like he’s a good guy, underneath the whole charade of being way too cool for school. On the opposite-end, Streep is okay as the reporter, but it really feels like a role that should have been played by somebody else, like somebody younger, or somebody that isn’t as amazing as an actress as Streep, mainly because we expect more from her. Apparently her character is a little cuckoo for Coco Puff’s, even though it rarely shows when she’s able to keep her cool with the Senator, but that was probably just another attempt at trying to give us character-development from Redford, that just so happened to not work.

The last story is probably the least-interesting out of all of them, and that’s a real shame too because I like Derek Luke and Michael Pena and I feel like they can be really good in certain movies, when they’re given good scripts to assist them. This is not one of those scripts. Basically, all of the scenes we get with them are either they’re talking to a class about their political-beliefs, or they are stranded in a field, injured, and trying to not get killed. We’re supposed to feel bad for them and get a sense that this is like every poor solider that decides to sign-up for the war: but we don’t. It feels manipulative and shallow, as if Redford tried his hardest to take a jab at the military and also humanize it at the same time, but just comes off as forced.

Consensus: Redford’s intentions obviously mean well and aren’t to make everybody out there that he disagree’s with, look like total and complete a-holes, but Lions for Lambs features nothing else other than a bunch of ideas, lectures, and opinions that aren’t new, aren’t special, and don’t really serve any meaning, other than to show you that A-listers really know what’s up with the world. I call bullshit.

3 / 10 = Crapola!! 

Pictured: Propaganda

Pictured: Propaganda

Spider-Man (2002)

May 3, 2002 will officially go down as the day the nerds came back to rule the Earth, as well as the box-office.

This tells the age-old story of science whiz kid Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), who is in love with his next-door neighbor, Mary Jane Watson (Kirtsen Dunst) and wants to do something successful with his life. That all changes when he gets bitten by a radioactive spider and then he becomes the web-swinging hero who we all know and love: Spider-Man. Problem is, there’s a certain person named Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe) who stands in the way of him.

I don’t even know why I bothered writing out a little synopsis for this flick because all I probably had to do was just say; “this is the story of Spider-Man”, left it at that, and there would have been no confusion whatsoever. But for all of you younglings that apparently loved The Amazing Spider-Man, well, I got a bomb to drop on you: this is better. Yes, Andrew Garfield is a hottie, I’ll give ya that one.

If any of you peeps out there did read my review that I did for that flick, you could probably tell that I held this series up above everything else and that these flicks actually have a close spot to my heart, as I saw them when I was only about 8 and started getting into my movie watching days. However, now that I watch this film, I do realize that some of this may not work-out as perfectly as I thought when I was just a little tike but it still holds up 10 years later and with great reason: it set the bar the for every other superhero flick that came out after this. May have been a little risky saying that but seriously, think about all of the other superhero films that came out after this and just notice the format that they follow.

Director Sam Raimi deserves a lot of credit for taking this film, when it seemed like nobody else would, and gave it that “fun” element that all of the fan-boys craved from this story. Raimi takes a lot of time to develop his characters, their relationships, and what they mean to this story, but he also doesn’t take it too seriously by allowing there to be plenty of light-hearted moments of comedy, that can sometimes border on camp (the good kind, though), and give us some high-flying action we wanted to see in the first-place. There’s a lot of cool scenes with Spidey, flying throughout the sky and even though they may not look all that real, they still are a lot of fun and it’s great to see what it looks like up there whenever he does fly around on his webs. And even when the action kicks in, you can feel a certain amount of fun energy come right from Raimi’s direction. That’s what makes it pretty obvious that this guy loves the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and just cannot wait to get the chance to show us on the big-screen. Sometimes the film may go a bit over-board with it’s goofiness, but it’s all in good, old-fashioned, Raimi fun. And that was A-okay with yours truly, folks.

Could have used more tongue, I always say.

Could have used more tongue, I always say.

But back to what I was talking about before in how Raimi allows there to be a story here, because that’s one of the major assets to this flick. I have always thought that Spider-Man has had some of the most likable and endearing characters ever written for a comic, and it’s great to see that come out so well on-screen. Parker is obviously a loveable kid and you’d have to be the freakin’ devil to find anything wrong with him. He isn’t a Saint, but he’s just a lovely kid that you could have over for dinner, and ask him to clean the dishes because you wanna take an early-nap. Nobody has yet to ask me to do that, so the kid’s gotta special! However, what makes this kid so damn special is the little dramatic scenes between him and MJ that get your heart swooning, the scenes with him and Aunt May that show you that the ladies (young or old) think he’s adorable as hell, and it’s the scenes with Uncle Ben that makes you realize that this kid is going to have a lot on his plate as his life goes on. These little snippets of drama that occur here in this flick, make this story all the better to follow through on and pay attention to because you know that these characters are people you love to watch, and you can’t wait to see how they’re relationships develop over time. Mucho kudos to Raimi for giving us a bunch of comic-book characters that feel more three-dimensional than an actual comic-book. Yeah, that was cheesy but I think you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

Going back to Peter Parker, though, Tobey Maguire was probably the most perfect choice of casting you could ever get and it’s total surprise to me now, why the hell people were so against this in the first place. Obviously Maguire wasn’t a huge name in Hollywood and didn’t even really have a leading role in one until this point, but Raimi saw something in Maguire that made this character work wonders and give us a superhero that is not only loved by all out there, but also one that feels very realistic in the way he acts and how those acts change over time as he grows older. Parker starts out as this nerd who one day dreams of being a huge scientist (much like daddy Parker), but still can’t get past the fact that everybody picks on him and bullies him all for one reason: he’s geeky. But then his life changes once he gets bitten by this radioactive spider and that’s when we start to see a realistic transformation, not only in Peter Parker, but in Maguire’s performance as well.

It didn’t matter which side of this character he was playing, whether he was Spider-Man or not, Maguire owns every layer there is to this character and gives us a hero to root for and feel like is one of us. He’s a nerd, yes, but he’s also a kid that genuinely has good intentions in his life and it’s understandable why he wants to help all of the innocent people he does ends up saving. Maguire handles all of the action elements in this character that makes him somewhat of a bad-ass but also handles a lot of the character elements to him too, that make him seem more like a regular-guy that has to put up with some major responsibilities in his life, all because of one little, radioactive spider. It’s a total shame that Maguire has been trying his damn near hardest to get out of this type-casted role as the lovable geek, but I think with a choice role in Brothers (best part of the movie, in my opinion) and a big role coming-up in The Great Gatsby, he may have finally found a way to break out of that mold and I really do hope that he does because he deserves it. God, I love that kid.

Kirsten Dunst plays the apple of Peter’s eye, MJ, and she does a fairly solid job at a character that could have been one of those annoying, “save me, save me” female characters that these superhero flicks always seem to have. I remember as a kid, I fell in love with her and thought she was the hottest thing to ever grace the screen since Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians (please, don’t ask) and I still think that holds up to this day even if I do think that the romance between her and Peter seems a bit phony. It doesn’t seem very clear why Peter loves her so much in the first place, other than the fact that she’s a hottie that he may actually have somewhat of a chance to be with. Maybe with the rap-sheet that I got, I have no room to be dissing on a guy about what traits about ladies tingle his spider-sense, but this just seemed like Peter wants her only because she’s good-looking and that’s all.

Big pimpin'.

Big pimpin’.

James Franco plays Parker’s nerd-o buddy, Harry Osborne and seems like he’s hamming it up just a bit, but it’s not until later where we see his true colors come out. However, I think that should be saved for another review, my dears. J.K. Simmons was also another perfect choice of casting as J. Jonah Jameson as every-line he says, made me laugh my ass off and even better, he actually looks like J. Jonah from the comics! Perfect choice right then and there!

And the last piece of perfect casting goes to Willem Dafoe for his role as Norman Osborne, aka The Green Goblin. Dafoe is perfect for this villainous role because he just looks like a freak show in the first place, but also plays up a lot of the elements that makes this character tick so much in the first-place. There’s a lot of weird stuff that Dafoe has to go through with this character, but he handles it perfectly even if the big distraction with this villain is that he looks so freakin’ ridiculous. Honestly, with a budget this big, you don’t think they could have come-up with anything better other than a distracting plastic mask that looks like some piece of over-priced junk I’d get at Halloween Adventure for $30! I don’t think I could have come up with anything better than what they got for him here, but there could have been something that looked a little more menacing. Just a little bit more. Machine-guns, maybe?

Consensus: Though it may not hold-up as perfectly as I once imagined it did, Spider-Man is still a fun and entertaining superhero ride from start-to-finish with a light and breezy feel from Raimi that shows his passionate love for Spidey, characters that we actually care about, a story that touches us in a way, and a bunch of performances that are all very, very good, especially Tobey Maguire’s iconic performance as Peter Parker.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Damn Trick 'R Treaters that try too hard.

Damn Trick or Treaters that try too hard.

The Others (2001)

Somebody, anybody, just please! Let there be light!

On the secluded isle of Jersey in the final days of World War II, a young woman waits for her beloved husband to return from the front. Grace (Nicole Kidman) has been raising her two young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), alone in a beautiful, cavernous, Victorian mansion, the one place she believes them to be safe. But they are not safe, or at least, not anymore.

I remember being a little tike and seeing all sorts of trailers and ads for this on TV, and being absolutely scared to death by everything I saw, and mainly, I’m talking about that “I am your daughter” scene that had everybody’s interest from day-one. Basically, it was a movie that was bound to scare the shit out of people and that’s why, even as a little guy, I really wanted to see it and possibly wet my Spider-Man undies (I was so cool back then, not much has changed actually). However, after all of these years of searching, looking around, and waiting for the right time to actually sit-down and enjoy this spook-fest for all that it is, I have to say: I’m pretty damn disappointed at the fact that my Spider-Man undies were not soiled at all, not even once. Oh, and I was disappointed that the movie sort of blew.

And these weird-ass housekeepers said, "Let there be light!" I know, I did this joke twice. It's late.

And these weird-ass housekeepers said, “Let there be light!” I know, I did this joke twice. It’s late.

The film definitely starts off very promising and offers you a different-view and look at what we are usually used to seeing with haunted-house flicks. We get a lot of spooky, atmospheric stuff that makes you feel like you have no idea what’s going on, what’s in the other room, and just what the hell is making all of that noise, and that works exceptionally well here, because director Alejandro Amenábar, definitely seems like the type of guy that’s tired of all of these CGI-fueled, horror-trips. He wants to go back to being old-school where what you did not see, was the scariest thing of all and it continued to work for about, I would say, 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, however, things start to go really, really downhill from there.

Even though it’s apparent Amenábar doesn’t want this movie to be like all of the other haunted-house flicks that it so takes inspiration from, it ends-up being that, albeit, a very dull and boring one. We’ve seen and heard it all before: the floors creaking, the doors mysteriously closing, the spooky children, the weird elders, the lurking darkness, the sound of a piano being played with nobody there, and etc. All of these elements were being used as far as House on Haunted Hill and still, about 40 years later, not much has changed as they are still not scary or freaky, no matter how much of a big-budget you may or may not have. There were so many moments in this flick where I felt like I should have been scared, I should have been freaked-out, and I should have been floored to my seat, but really, I was just bored and as it all came-and-went along, I started to just continue to make more-and-more fun of this movie with my buddy. I get that it’s the type of flick that really scares the shit out of people if you don’t know what to expect next, but I did, and so did my bud, and it just became a bore.

And I hate to say it, but what added insult to injury was the non-stop repetitive motion that this flick seemed to go through. It seemed like every time Kidman’s character was pissed about the shades being opened, she would yell at her house keepers, who would then try to help-out the children, who would continuously bicker and banter with one another about “the ghosts” that they see, and then, get into a loud shouting match, that would ultimately start the whole cycle back-up again. Everybody’s always yelling, everybody’s always fighting, and everybody’s always looking spooky or looking spooked, and it just became tiring and annoying to see that this flick had nothing really cool to throw at us. There were a couple of cool moments where I really felt like Amenábar had a sense of style and detail that he wanted to kick our asses with, but somehow, it just ended-up kicking our asses out of the seats we were in, and into the bathroom as we downed 5 Coca-Cola’s in a row, just to stay-awake for the whole thing, and that was a pretty good choice on our parts, because trust me, the ending is something that you want to stay around for.

Hell, it’s the best part of the whole movie and sure to change your left-over thoughts and opinions about the whole movie. I don’t want to go into anymore detail about this twist and the ending, but it’s very smart, very thought-provoking, and very intelligent with how it constructs itself and the whole flick, in and of itself. However, I still just wish that the rest of the flick was like that and at least tried to keep me wondering and guessing, almost as much as this twist did. Trust me, it’s good enough to make me want to give this thang a positive-rating and that is really, really saying something.

If only she had gotten that date to prom.

If only she had gotten that date to prom.

Maybe I’m not giving enough credit to Nicole Kidman cause despite her seeming like she is way-above the material she is given here, she actually brings a lot to the table and makes her character seem more than just an angry, bitch-of-a-mother that can’t seem to keep her kiddies away from the sunlight. Kidman does all that she can with a script that doesn’t really seem to know what to do with her talents, other than have her running-around, yelling, and looking terrified, but you know what? Kidman milks it all for what it is and in-return, made this movie a tad bit more enjoyable and entertaining than I expected after the first 10-minutes of realizing that this chick was not a happy-camper, and sure as hell not one I would want as my mommy. That’s fo damn sho. Although, maybe a girlfriend instead would be nice? Definitely would.

The two that play her kids, Alakina Mann and James Bentley, are fine and aren’t as unbearable to watch as kid actors because they know what to do, how to do it, and still look creepy and innocent at the same time, while doing it. It’s a pretty rare-achievement to see in kiddie-roles, especially the kid actors/actresses themselves. Also, Christopher Eccleston shows up in this flick and as good as that bloke may be in everything else in the world that he has done, he’s pretty lame here and brings nothing to the table other than more agony and boredom for a bunch of stiffs like me and my pal. However, we come very close to seeing Kidman naked in a scene that he’s in, so that at least counts for something, right?

Consensus: An intriguing plot-twist and fine performance from Kidman save The Others from being just another lame, boring, dull, and obvious haunted-house, horror-flick that’s all about what spooks in the night and lurks in the shadow. However, it definitely is, despite trying to hide it with a couple of neat, style-points here and there. Neat, but worthless on lame-o material such as this.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

I think they're Tom's.

Those kids have gotta be Tom’s. If not, Keith’s? Highly doubting that one.

Life of Pi (2012)

Think of it as Cast Away, with instead of Wilson, there’s a shit-load of CGI.

This is the story an Indian boy named Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) from Pondicherry who survives 227 days after a shipwreck, while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. However, like any 227-day trip with a Bengal tiger, it doesn’t go so smoothly.

An adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel was definitely one that needed to wait-out it’s time. It was called unfilmable for many reasons, but one of the main ones being the fact that the story mainly-revolves around a boy, stuck in a boat with a tiger. The only way you could have ever shot this movie with an actual-tiger still in-play, would be to have it utterly and completely stoned, and I think instead of eating the actor, the tiger would just go for the nearest Cheetos bag. So, obviously filming it conventionally was already-out before anybody could put it in, but what about the art and magic that is cinema? Can all of the money in the world ($10 million to be exact) make a CGI-tiger, look as real as the ones you see eating zebras alive on the Discovery Channel?

The answer to that is with an upstanding yes! Director Ang Lee once again shows that he is able to find beauty in any story he feels the need to tell, and he finds it here in the best-way with some of the most-realistic, beautiful special-effects I have seen in quite some time. With well-established directors like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese both trying their aims at 3-D and doing a relatively nice-job in their efforts, it is so great to see a director that has never messed with this technology before, and just really give-it-his-all and give us a mesmerizing picture from start-to-finish.

And when I mean “start-to-finish”, I mean exactly that. Everything not only looks as realistic as you can get in terms of the animals involved, but the constant-colors that just pop-out of each and every scene really kept me looking the whole-time. You think by watching the trailer that you saw all you needed to see in terms of how gorgeous and stunning this film looks, but trust me, you haven’t. Certain things that you didn’t even think were possible to do with CGI-animation, let alone 3D, is done here and will take you by-storm by just how much effort and energy Lee puts into this new-found love of telling a story. I honestly cannot tell you enough: go see this movie in 3D and realize that maybe it’s the directors like Lee, Scorsese, and Spielberg who should be throwing out 3D movies instead of chumps like Timur Bekmambetov and Scott Speer. In case you couldn’t tell, Speer directed Step Up Revolution (trust me, I have no idea why I saw it either) and Timur directed the OTHER Honest Abe movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Keep on giving 3D to legendary directors that know how to work this kind of stuff, and keep it away from guys who literally are only doing it to “up” their box-office sales. And 9 times out of 10, it doesn’t even help.

But in case you haven’t been able to notice already, I’ve only been mentioning the 3D and visuals of this movie and that’s mainly because the story kind of loses itself, as well as this movie. Watching the trailers, seeing the previews on TV, and even looking at that poster up-above, will already have you know that this is about a boy and a tiger lost at-sea, but little do you know that that whole-factor doesn’t play, until about 30 minutes in and we have to deal with an introduction to this kid’s life that is unexpected and a bit annoying. I think my problem with it was that it constantly went back-and-forth between this person’s child-hood, to the present-day of when he’s talking with this reporter and after awhile, it made me wonder just when the hell the damn ship was going to sink and we could get some straight-up, survival-guide facts at-play.

After that glorious and beautiful-looking crash (gives the infamous one in Flight a run for it’s moolah) ends up happening, the story then kick-starts into what I wanted and for the most-part, it works. I really liked where Lee went with this story, how he told it in a way that didn’t seem to bore the hell out of everybody watching because of it just being a kid and a tiger treading along hopelessly at-sea, and most of all, how he didn’t find himself going back-and-forth between the past and present like he was doing in the beginning. Just let a story tell itself and you’ll be perfectly fine and that’s where the real charm and beauty in Lee’s direction plays-out. Sadly, it doesn’t last forever and the story just finds it’s way back into screwing everything up, once-again.

The problem this movie runs into by the end, without giving anything away, is that it’s ending is a bit too long, too explanatory, and mainly, not needed at all. I don’t want to get into the logistics of this ending and what happens, but it’s the same exact one they took from the book that I apparently heard about, and even though staying close to the source material is something that more directors should take from Lee, they should also take away the fact that sometimes things that play-out well in a book, don’t necessarily play-out very well on-screen. It’s novel-adapting 101: make sure the audience picks-up, what you’re throwing down, just as long as you don’t lose the audience of the book’s near-and-dear faithfuls, but also don’t lose the movie-crowd, as well. I won’t say that the ending and honor to the original source-material lost me, but I will say that it definitely killed any hopes I had of feeling emotionally-connected to this story at all. Sorry Lee, you had me crying over two gay cowboys but when it comes to a boy and a tiger, ehhh, not so much.

New-comer Suraj Sharma does a really great-job with his lead-role as Piscine Patel, and what’s more notable about this performance is how it’s his first-role ever, he had no prior acting-experience, and he was practically all by himself throughout the whole movie, in terms of acting and communicating with others. Yes, in the movie, there is a tiger there that looks just about as real as you can get, but you have to remember, that it is not a real tiger and that this Sharma kid is practically talking to the thin-air or an imaginary object. It’s sort of like how Mark Wahlberg talked to a tennis ball in-place of Ted, in well, Ted, and how he made it so damn realistic, and that’s pretty much what this Sharma kid does. He’s a believable kid that has us believe in him right from the start, he’s a kid that definitely has us feel like he can pull it out in the end, and he’s also one that seems to have a chip on his shoulder, where he knows that it’s probably not right to try and hang-out, kick-back, and try and smoke a couple of doobies with this tiger, because this thing does not play nice.

Even though it is fairly a one-man show, the movie does have some nice supporting roles, as well. Irrfan Khan is very, very good as the older Pi and shows how he has changed into a stronger, but more enthused man about life and by the end, once we learn that there is more to this character, more to him, and more to what’s on-display here, then that’s when he gets good even if the story sort of loses him in the shuffle. Rafe Spall plays the writer that interviews Pi about this miraculous story and it’s a really, really blank role that would have really benefited well if it was originally-given to Tobey Maguire. Yeah, he would have been way too familiar for this role and pretty much take us out of the story, but at least it would have been a lot more entertaining watching Peter Parker get all awkward with some guy about how he saw some of the sickest shit out there at-sea, rather than watching the guy who once-played a fake-Shakespeare. And besides, if you’re not going to put Maguire in the movie because he’s too recognizable, then don’t put Gérard Depardieu in there, either. Everybody knows who that fat slob from French is, and I highly doubt it’s going to bother-us anymore.

Consensus: With outstanding visuals that are probably some of the most realistic I have ever seen put onto screen, as well as some of the beautiful as well, Life of Pi is definitely a spectacle that’s worth venturing out to see in 3D, however, be ready for the visuals to eventually play second-fiddle to a story that isn’t all that strong to begin-with, gets a bit better, and then fizzles out with no emotional-connection whatsoever. Still, deserves to be seen.

8/10=Matinee!!

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Apparently the sun never comes out in this alternate history, either.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them. It ain’t pretty, trust me.

I have never read the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and to be honest, that may have been a good decision on my-part, since I didn’t really know what was happening and also the fact that I had no idea what type of mood it was going to put me in, because damn man, it’s a total downer. No, I mean it. It is a REAL downer.

However, let’s not talk about all of that sadness that goes on here, let’s focus on the finer things with this flick (and in life) considering I’m not ready to walk into traffic just yet. It was really cool to see director Mark Romanek back after all an 8-year hiatus from movies and take a subject matter like this because he fits it’s feel and style very well. This whole film, from start to finish, is absolutely stunning and beautiful to look at. The whole look has this very dry sense of color the whole time, but it also ended up giving some of the most beautiful images of this movie such as onne image that stands out the most in my mind is the shot of a beach and a little old tugboat was lying on its side in the sand, with the orange sunlight just barely shining over it. That’s one-shot from this film that really stayed with me and made me understand just the type of world I was placed-in with this flick. It’s a dark piece of material we have here, but with Romanek on-board, beauty still finds it’s way of climbing back into the story and presenting itself the whole way through.

I also felt that the mood that Romanek set for this film was just the right way to approach this material to begin with. I don’t want to get into too much about what goes on in this flick and how it all happens, but the fate these kids are left to live are pretty damn sad to begin with and Romanek doesn’t try to gloss that up with any unnecessary humor or themes about the joys of life. No siree, instead he makes this a flick about how we as humans, are supposed to live out our lives and be happy even though it may not always go that exact-way we want it to be. Then again, I highly doubt that that is what the central message of this flick is all about, but it’s what I could get underneath all of the sadness that Mr. Romanek used so well.

The problem was that there was also a bad-side to that depressing mood as well. This flick is so based on being a total debbie-downer, that even the parts where the flick tries to bring some little moments of being happy, they don’t really do much because you know that no matter what happens, the violin score will just come right back on and thus bring on back the sadness that we thought we escaped. There’s no problem with a film being sad the whole time, especially if that’s what it’s mood is conveying straight from the start, but it’s a real problem is when it seems like that’s the only thing that the film has any time to focus on and rather than just giving us something to smile and at least be happy about for the meantime, we are instead treated to total and utter depression. I guess I don’t quite get it since I didn’t read the original source material but I seriously could have only imagined how bad that must have been.

What really brought me into this flick though was the performances here by this young and attractive cast that have all proved themselves in their own respective bouts, but come together here and do a nice-job with some dull-ass characters. Carey Mulligan is great as Kathy H., and once again shows that she has the emotional chops and presence to pull off any character and have you know she is always around. The new Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield, is also nice to watch as Tommy and feels like a real kid who just doesn’t know how to act around girls, or anybody for that matter. Then again, he also got jipped out of being the co-founder of the largest social network of all-time so that may add a bit of insult to injury as well. (teehee, Facebook jokes rule) The real stand-out here may be Keira Knightley though, who is very one-dimensional as the bitchy and manipulative chick, Ruth, but is very good at it unlike anyway we have seen her before.  However, her character does end up starting to change and show some real humanity by the end of the flick and was probably the only character I could actually feel something for once everything was said and done. Which brings me on to my last and final problem with this flick.

I get that these characters are here for a reason that I won’t say, but something just felt off about them to the point of where I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel for any of them. Since there was so much depth to the sadness of this whole plot, the characters themselves are sort of just left on the side and are there for you to care about if you want to or not. The film can be a little stuffy, but it barely let me feel anything for them and then when their fate is finally said to them, it was weird how I didn’t feel any emotional connection. Now it would be hard to say that I could ever relate to anything that any of these characters have been and are going through but I still think as a film, there should have been more emotions centered at the characters rather than just their surroundings. Maybe I was supposed to feel this emptiness or maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel anything for them, maybe it was just for the whole situation itself. Maybe. I don’t know really.

Consensus: If you are in happy mood and want to keep that going, then don’t check out Never Let Me Go, because it is sad, empty (in many ways), and doesn’t have any real moments of shining suns in the sky, but it is also beautiful to look at, a very moody piece that can really put you into its setting, and features a fine young cast that does a great job with all that their given.

7/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

You just had to go back to that cabin, didn’t you?

Basically, Dead By Dawn retcons the fact that Ash went with four other college students to the fact that he only went with his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler). It recaps the events of the first film, up until the point where the spirit attacks Ash, which basically means that it’s another night trapped with the horrifying demons of the Necronomicon.

After checking out The Evil Dead for Halloween Horror Movie Month last year, I knew I had to end this year’s one on a bang. And if you have seen this movie, you know exactly what type of bang I’m talking about. In-joke, bitches. In-joke.

If you think seeing this movie as being a part of my little meme for this month means that it’s scary, I will assure you: it’s far from that. Yeah, there is a couple of jump-scares here and there that catch you off-guard in the way most horror movies do, but this is more of a campy, over-the-top horror movie, with slight, comedic undertones, and that’s probably what makes this film so much damn fun in the first-place. Like with the first-movie, director Sam Raimi shows that he loves making these kinds of movies, regardless as to how much money or material is at his disposal. The guy just has a ball with everything that he owns here, and it shows, but in a good-way. So, for any movie-geek out there who thinks that making all of your wildest dreams come true of being a big-time film-maker are lost because you don’t know the difference between a 16 mm and a 70 mm, then have no fear and just take a note out of this guy’s book. Hell, he’s making this crap and no less than 15 years later he was already making a big-budget, Spider-Man movie. Just goes to show you what a bunch of fun and love can do and where it can get you in Hollywood.

Despite being a sequel to a relatively scary movie, Evil Dead 2 pulls no punches in making itself as goofy as can be. You got laughing furniture, prosthetic chainsaws, tree monsters, an evil book of the dead, and plenty of other crazy and goofy stuff that just so happens to show up in this movie, but it all works because it is never, not for once, taken in the least-bit seriously. Everything here is practically a joke and every scene that happens, is just as outrageous and crazy as the last one but who cares? It’s not about scaring the pants off of film-goers, it’s more about showing the audience that you can have a kick-ass time just watching a movie that does not pull any punches with itself, or it’s material.

And when I mean that this film “does not pull any punches”, I mean that it does not linger away from showing you some disgusting, freakishly-weird looking things up on-screen and as dated as they may be, they still are inventive and original, in their own, sick way. There’s plenty of blood and goo that just pops-out of nowhere sometimes so if you’re squeamish, remember, you have been warned to bring your brown paper bag with ‘ya. Then again, why the hell would you be going to see this movie in the first-place if you don’t like blood or gore. It’s called Evil Dead for chrissakes, and better yet, it’s the sequel. More evil, more dead, more blood, and more guts to be seen. That’s how I like my horror movies and that’s why I had a ball with this one.

I know, I know that this whole review has been all about me practically making love to this movie and telling you how much fun I had but when I say that, I really mean it. Yes, it can be perceived as corny-as-hell in most-spots but that shit doesn’t really matter when you have a cast and crew that sort of knows it and is doing it on-purpose. It’s so rare that you can come by a film that just knows what it is, plays around with itself, and makes no apologies for itself either. Trust me, rather than being scared shit-less until your own pants, literally fall-off from so much feces (sorry for the graphic image), you’ll most likely lose them from all of the piss that comes out when you laugh so hard. Seriously, lines like “Groovy” and “Swallow this”, just had me howling in my seat not only because they were corny, but just because they fit the whole tone of the movie and seemed like it served it’s purpose when it was all said and over with. You’re not going to get a more over-the-top and wild movie than this, and that’s a fact, Jack.

And you know who else serves his mother ‘effin purpose? Fuckin’ Bruce Campbell, that’s who! I remember seeing Campbell play Ash in the first movie, and remembering that this guy definitely seemed like he had a mean-streak in him and should totally let-loose against these demonic pieces of shit if he knew what’s best for him. Thankfully, by the end of that movie, he got that memo after all and gets that one right from the start here and it’s freakin’ awesome to see. The guy does a total 180 and starts kicking ass, taking names, saying cheesy-lines, saving dames, and doing everything else, other than chewing bubble gum (that was a They Live reference in case you peeps didn’t know). Campbell is the big reason why so many people love this movie, and exactly why I do too because no matter how many times the guy gets his ass kicked, he always comes back for more and that’s refreshing to see in a horror-genre that’s now plagued by high-school pussies that are more concerned with their virginity than their lives. That’s why we need another character like Ash in today’s day and age to smack some sense into these little pieces of crap. Actually, if there is a complaint I had with this movie was that when Ash does eventually meet-up with other people in this movie, they are annoying, despicable, and do every single, stupid thing that you would normally expect from horror-movie conventions and stock-characters. However, Ash was still there to save the day in the end and that’s all I cared about. Thank the lord for Bruce Campbell!

Consensus: I went back-and-forth on whether or not I should have given this movie an 8.5 or 9, and I just realized that the whole-time, I continued to smile and smile throughout and it’s exactly what I wanted in a horror flick. Pure fun, pure campiness, and pure, over-the-top, goofiness that never steps into serious-territory.

9/10=Full Price!!

Total Recall (2012)

Hey, at least we got the three-boobed hooker.

Colin Farrell stars as Doug Quaid, a factory worker who decides to turn to undergo a procedure to turn his dream of being a super-spy into real memories to escape his frustrating life. But when the operation goes terribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man and the line between fantasy and reality gets blurred.

The original 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Paul Verhoven sci-fi classic Total Recall, was a great movie but it was never screaming “Remake!”. Actually, it holds up pretty well on its own terms but I was able to give this film a try all because of the cool look, awes0me special effects, and two sexy leading ladies involved. The latter one never comes into play unless its with unnecessary remakes like this.

This remake is directed by Len Wiseman and his visual direction, is spectacular. This whole film is one big CGI-trip right from this dude Wiseman’s mind but it looks superb, almost like you’re in this futuristic Earth with these characters. Some people will be bothered by the CGI and special effects and say that it’s there too much, but it never looks goofy and it always makes everything look a whole lot cooler than I expected. Something exactly this film needed in the first place, and thankfully, had.

Other than looking pretty, Wiseman also makes this remake a whole lot of fun that just would not quit it with the action scenes. There’s a lot of mono-e-mono fights that happen here, plenty of shoot-outs, a cool car-chase, and even a chase through an elevator shaft that seems to never end, and they all add a whole bunch of excitement to this film and it never seems boring because of this. Wiseman brings an element of fun to these action set pieces, and because of that, my attention never fully left the screen. Sometimes here and there, it felt like Wiseman was just adding another random scene of action in here just to keep things alive and well, but I can’t really get on his case too much for that since it did so well with what it had and there’s never, ever a problem with just trying to have some fun every once and awhile. It’s not your typical, old Arnie fun, but it’s fun none the less.

Problem is, as fun and exciting as this action may be, there’s always one element that makes it all feel somewhat empty: tension. Seeing the original, knowing everything that happens, and why it does in that movie, I went into this flick expecting no surprises either, which is exactly what I got. There’s only a couple of things that are different from this movie and that movie (no Mars, the explanation of what happens to this guy Quaid and why, etc.) but never was there some sort of twist/turn in the story that I wasn’t already expecting. There was probably only one scene where I actually felt some type of tension in this story as I didn’t really quite know was going to happen next in this situation these characters got caught up in, but sadly, it ended predictably, as this film did. Everything just happened and went by the same exact-formula the original went by and even though not all remakes can just totally change all of their source material just because they want to be different, there still has to be a level of unpredictability to what’s going to happen next and how. But if you don’t have that, then just feast your eyes on plenty, and I do repeat, plenty of eye candy.

It’s also weird that this film is almost exactly like the original, because everybody involved with this film has gone on the record to say that they aren’t going to make this like Arnie’s classic film at all, which is obviously bullshit. The only times that this film actually tries to connect with the original, is when they randomly have the three-boobed hooker show up even though it makes no sense in this story because there are no mutants in this world. Just some very sad and poor people. But what that scene brought, was a certain level of humor to it, the rest of this film has barely any or none of that. It’s a shame too, because as cheesy as some of the humor in the original may be, they still has some classic Arnie lines that are worth reiterating almost 22 years later, but that’s what this film never brings to the table. There’s never any of that wry humor that livens things up quite as well as those classic lines did in the original, and I get it, it would have totally seemed misplaced in a film like this but there could have been something a little light that could have shown up.

I can’t remember the last time that Colin Farrell has ever been the main actor in a mainstream flick, but I can say that I have at least missed him in these types of roles since he’s good here as Douglas Quaid. Let’s face it, Farrell is not as colorful or wild as Arnie, but for what it’s worth, Farrell does a good job at making us like this guy by what he can do with his fists and also at least care for him just a teentsie-tiny bit when the shit starts to hit the fan for him. His character was maybe a little more dull than the original, but then again, I wasn’t expecting to just fall in love with this guy and almost tear up whenever danger came his way. Maybe that’s a little too drastic for a film like this, but you get what I mean.

Jessica Biel cooked some behinds as Melina and may not be as bad ass as I would have liked for her to have been, she still at least had some sympathy to her that made me care for her character and understand why she would do everything in her power to protect this Quaid guy; Bryan Cranston appears in his 200th film this year here with his performance as the evil mofo, Cohaagen, and it’s sad to say that we don’t get enough of him but with what we do get from him, it’s pretty good; and Bill Nighy shows up for about a scene and is good, but just like Cranston, not enough of him either. Still pissed to hear that Ethan Hawke got his cameo cut but hopefully he’ll all show them when it comes time for him and his movie Sinister.

The one high-spot of this whole cast would probably be Kate Beckinsale who plays Quaid’s wife/hunter, Lori. Beckinsale is a chick that I’ve never been too fond of when it comes to her acting, but she’s able to do something great here and that’s play a villain that you can never trust. Beckinsale actually seems like she’s having a ball with this role as the baddy and gets to use a lot of her bad ass fighting skills to show it off and also have that sexy little change in her accent from American to British that always works when it comes to villains. I would like to say that I look forward to seeing Beckinsale in the future, but the fact is, I don’t really care all that much because as good as she may be here, she’s still going to churn out another crappy Underworld movie within the next year or so and I’m going to be sitting there wondering what all of this fascination about her is. Oh wait, she’s really, super-duper hot. Never mind!

Consensus: With plenty of fun action to keep your mind wired and wonderful special effects to keep your eyes glued onto the screen, Total Recall does it’s job in being an entertaining piece of Summer action, but what it does suffer from is barely little or no surprises whatsoever in the story, and just sort of pales in comparison to the original Arnie classic that is still fresh in peoples minds, believe it or not. It’s like re-booting Spider-Man, oh wait….

6.5/10=Rental!!

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Never thought I would say this, but I missed Tobey.

The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. Oh yeah, and he’s also Spider-Man. Can’t forget about that one, little detail.

Before I start this review off, I have to give a little disclaimer and say that I have a special place in my heart for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. That’s right, even the 3rd one to an extent. So this review may be a bit biased in some points and if that is the case, I apologize but I just can’t believe they actually went through with this idea. I mean honestly, you couldn’t wait 5 more years!?!?

Anywhoo, what interested me most about this reboot was the fact that it’s helmed randomly by Marc Webb (director of one of my favorite flicks from 2009, ((500) Days of Summer). When people saw JGL (Joseph Gordon-Levitt for all of you noobs out there) walking down the streets, singing and dancing to the tunes of Hall & Oates, I highly doubt the thing on everybody’s mind was “ooh, I wonder how cool that would be with webs shooting out of that guy’s hands”. What I’m trying to say is that Webb (oh wait, now I get it) seemed like a very random and odd choice for this flick, but I can’t say that he doesn’t bring something fun to this film either. All of that quirky, indie style from his debut is lost here but there is still plenty of room for him to relish in the art of telling the Spider-Man story, the way he thinks is right and do what he wants, just as long as he doesn’t piss off all of the fan boys who want to see this.

The film is claiming to be “the untold story”, when in reality, it’s just a re-working on the same origin story we’ve seen before. Like for instance, instead of a Peter Parker being bitten in the lab because he was on a class field trip, he is in there because he secretly, sneaked into an internship meeting there. Or, instead of having Parker just shoot webs from his veins, he now has mechanical webshooters that pretty much do the same thing. These are the types of “re-workings” we see in this flick and it’s not so bad considering a lot of it makes more sense and gives us a better look at why the Spider-Man superhero is so damn popular and loved in the first place. There is a bunch of humor here, some of which, annoyed the hell out of me, but other times worked and gave this film a fun little feel.

Actually, I can’t really bag on this film as much because it seems like that’s all Webb is concerned about here: having fun. And no matter what the story may be, I’m down with that. There’s plenty of cool-looking action scenes where it’s just Spidey, doing his good olde, mono-a-mono showdown between him and a baddy, and some really beautiful scenes where we see him just fly through the sky, where New York City is pretty much his playground. Some real nifty stuff to see and have fun with here, and it’s also enhanced by some amazing-looking CGI that doesn’t really come off as fake. I saw this in 3D Imax and I have to say, it’s pretty good but I wouldn’t go out and pay for it only because there isn’t so much here that’s worth that extra-dimension. Then again, that could be said for a whole bunch of other flicks with that tagline; “in 3D”.

However, as fun as a lot of the action may be, there’s not as much as you would expect, especially when it comes to a Summer blockbuster. Maybe that’s not the right thing to say, because there is plenty of action and adventure for you to sink your teeth into, but then there are also these other, quieter moments where it’s just focusing on Parker and Stacy’s love relationship that are not only awkward as hell to watch, but don’t feature any type of fun dialogue to keep you interested. They sort of just show up, stay on-screen, and bother the hell out of you because you just want to see The Lizard and Spidey duke it out once again. I don’t mind when a film, let alone a superhero film, is trying to go into more depth about its main character, but when it’s done in a flick where you should be expecting, non-stop action all over the place, then that’s where the problem lies. Basically, just too slow for a superhero film.

What is very watchable throughout these boring scenes, is actually the eclectic cast that Webb has brought together and being lead by Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker. Garfield plays a different type of Parker than from what we saw with Tobey Maguire. Instead of coming off as a total nerd, that can’t do anything right because he wears glasses and loves science, Garfield makes him seem like this lost soul that just keeps to himself and doesn’t really care what goes on around him. Yeah, he’s a little strange because he’s always taking pictures of things, but he’s got a certain edge to him that makes him seem a lot cooler than you would expect Peter Parker actually to seem like in the first place. I think that Garfield goes a little too far with his humor in this film, but then again, that can’t really be blamed on him because he’s obviously doing everything in his soul to be the different type of Peter Parker we are used to seeing.

Emma Stone is here as Gwen Stacy, Parker’s apple of his eye, and does a pretty swell job with what she is given and thankfully, as my friend at the screening I was at pointed out, wasn’t playing the usual “damsel in distress” role that we usually see ladies in superhero flicks usually play. She is actually pretty tough and smart, and can stick up for herself whenever the time comes. Her and Garfield have a little awkward chemistry going on here, but I think that’s what’s the point of this flick. Rhys Ifans does a nice job as our villain, The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors. Ifans can always play these bad-guy roles and this one is no different, except his CGI starts to be a little distracting by the end. Actually, it makes him look like The Hulk and I don’t know if Sony wanted that on their hands after all of The Avengers buzz that still seems to be going on. Seriously, how much more money does that movie need to make?

The casting of Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, seemed like an awesome bit of casting because Sheen just has this “old-timer likability” thing going on for him, that it doesn’t matter what role he plays, you love him regardless. That’s why everybody was so shocked when he got thrown off the roof in The Departed, because everybody loves that guy, who would want to do such a mean and cruel thing to him? Sally Field is here as Aunt May and as hard as she may try, she seems too young for an Aunt and all of the advice she gives out, makes it seem like she’s doing Mamma Gump, all over again. Another bit of inspired casting was actually Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, mainly because the guy shows that he still has the comedic chops to pull off some very funny moments, but can also make a rather, deuchy character, still likable and understandable.

Despite all of these awesome and great elements that this film featured (action, acting, humor, CGI, special effects, etc.), I still couldn’t get past the Sam Raimi movies, and I’ll tell you exactly why. I’m 18 right now, so I was about 7 when the first one came out and I loved it to death. Then that second one came out, and gee-goll-e, did that knock my socks off even more! Then that third one came out, and even though it was definitely not on-par with the other two that came before it, it was still fun and endearing enough to keep me locked on to what was going to happen next with Peter Parker. Honestly, that original series from Raimi will always be in my childhood and I was so mad when they decided to go through with this reboot, really I was. It was a total cash-grab, in my opinion, and as fun as this film may be, I still couldn’t stop thinking about the original flicks. Whenever Garfield was flying through the sky, I kept on thinking about Tobey doing the same thing. Whenever Uncle Ben would show up, I kept on thinking about Cliff Robertson delivering the all-time famous line, “With great power comes great responsibility”. And whenever somebody mentioned Oscorp, Willem Dafoe automatically popped right into my head. Really, the memories from all of my movie-watching from back in the day really made me miss those flicks and also made me want to go watch them again. So maybe this flick wasn’t for me since I loved the originals so much, but honestly, I just wish they never went through this in the first-place. Or at least waited 5 more years so that everybody’s minds were fresh and clear of Raimi and Maguire. Miss them already.

Consensus: The Amazing Spider-Man is exactly what you come to expect from a superhero flick: fun, action-packed, wild and crazy set pieces, baddies doing bad things, goodies doing good things, romantic love story, and some little shots of humor to liven everything up. Problem is, this is a reboot of a series that has already had its movies, and were ones that still stay stuck in my mind no matter what.

7/10=Rental!!

Daredevil (2003)

“He may be blind, but he can still see evil.” Maybe one, of the 100 cheesy blind references this film makes.

Attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is blind, but his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. By day, Murdock represents the downtrodden. At night, he is DareDevil, a masked vigilante stalking the dark streets of the city, a relentless avenger of justice.

Ever since ‘Spider-Man’ came out in 2002, it seemed like the superhero genre had taken off with almost every superhero known to man either getting a film, or in discussions for a film. However, I don’t really think that choosing a blind dude as your next big block-buster was the best idea.

Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson did a pretty good job here with keeping to the whole dark and gritty atmosphere. Right from the beginning, you know that everything is going to be pretty glum and depressing, which is always different to get with a superhero flick and it’s nice to actually see him stay close to that mood rather than trying to lighten it up all that much. The action scenes he has here are also a lot of fun and bring a great deal of eclectic energy to the film when it probably needed it the most. Yes, the are a little confusing to watch with way too many fast-cuts, but they still were fun to watch and really what kept me watching in the end.

The problem with this flick is that when its not sticking to its mood and the action itself, the film starts to get a little goofy and not in a good way. The film does take itself seriously so when you have these people that are moving, jumping, and swaying around a place like they were trained acrobats, it starts to seem a little unbelievable and cartoonish in a way. I mean I get that superheros are obviously a lot more trained when it comes to moving around than the average human but there’s only so much that I can believe and actually take seriously. Still, this is just one of the problems with the script.

Another problem with this script was that it obviously just seems a little too cheesy and poorly-written for my taste. I wasn’t going into this film really expecting a Shakespearean-like experience when it came to these characters speaking but I still would have definitely like to hear a lot less blind references and more focus on the actual plot itself. The lines, as well as the moments themselves, can get pretty cheesy after awhile but where it really bothered me was the romance between Elektra and Daredevil. They obviously have this fire between them that just strikes up sex, but the story never really allowed them to take that route with all of these melodramatic sequences where he would be able to finally see her through the rain. Lame.

This is what also lead into one of my main problems with this flick and that was it’s rating. The film is obviously a lot darker and grittier than a lot of other superhero flicks I have seen as of late but it still had to go for that PG-13 rating to interest all audiences, which is where I think the film itself messed up on. The violence definitely could have been a lot more dirtier and violent and the sexual tension between Daredevil and Elektra should have been so hot, that it would even have me poppin’ a b. I know that there is a version of this film out there that’s unrated, but I just think the film should have been R-rated from the start and at least take a shot at being a more grownup kind of superhero flick.

Ben Affleck bulked up very well for this role as Daredevil and he’s actually pretty good. He seems like a pretty simple, nice, and everyday dude that just so happens to be blind and still have the ability to knock the hell out of mafia members in a bar. Affleck did this character a lot better than I expected and it’s a shame that he may never do this character again because with a better script, he could have done wonders really. Jennifer Garner is ok as Elektra because she does what she can with this role, and the chemistry between her and Affleck was good (so good, that they now are married), it’s just that she gets some pretty crappy writing by the end of the flick and she’s not really the best actress to cover it all up anyway.

Michael Clarke Duncan is menacing and scary as Kingpin and he just feels like one of those villains that’s so mentally and physically powerful, that no matter what happens to him, he always comes out on top. Colin Farrell is also fine as Bullseye because he’s also a victim of some pretty bad writing as well even though he’s definitely an actor that is able to cover it up a lot better than Garner. Sorry Ben, please don’t kick my ass.

Consensus: Daredevil has a dark and gritty tone to go along with it and action scenes that contain plenty of energy, but the script is written too poorly to be any different from any of the other superhero flicks, except the fact that the superhero himself is a blind dude. I also think that this is one of the very rare, superhero stories that could have at least benefited from an R-rating.

5/10=Rental!!

Seabiscuit (2003)

With this and ‘War Horse’, I’m getting pretty sick and tired of all these damn horses!

Former bicycle repairman, Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) made his fortune introducing the automobile to the American West and owned a small knobbly-kneed horse called Seabiscuit. Howard teamed up with a half-blind ex-boxing prize fighter, Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), who became the horse’s jockey and a former mustang breaker Wild West performer called The Lone Plainsman aka Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), who became the horse’s trainer.

Just by looking at this film you should know just what you are about to get right away. Yes, this is another sports film that is of course about the underdog, or in this case, the underhorse and there’s not much different here. Still, it’s a sports film that works none the less.

Director/writer Gary Ross doesn’t try to do anything new or even original with this material, other than just give us a nice story about “the little horse that could” and that’s not all that bad considering it’s a fun film. Everybody loves to see the long shot win so when you watch these characters and of course Seabiscuit himself try their hardest to do whatever it takes to win the next race, you can’t help but root for everybody involved because you know that it’s a true story and a great story at that.

Ross also doesn’t try to be subtle with this, which in most cases would bother the ever lovin’ hell out of me, but for some reason that wasn’t the case here. Ross constantly keeps knocking us over the heads with everything he’s trying to say and get across with this story: whatever mood these characters are feeling, the American public feels as well; Red and Seabiscuit are basically the same characters but in different life-forms; and Red long lives for a father that left him when he was a child which means you can start to see Charles father him. Ross does everything here to get these points and ideas across in the most obvious way possible but I think it added a lot of emotion to the story by making this more than just a flick about a horse that wins races, it’s more about how America felt during the Depression and how events such as a race-horse, gave hope to almost everyone who needed it the most.

The racing scenes I may add are very fun and filmed incredibly well to the point of where it looks like actual footage but there were problems with the fact that they just sound too unrealistic. I know this sounds like a weird complaint but being a person that has and still does play sports all of his life, the fact that you can have some a horse gallop behind you and it sounds like there is about 400 horses doing the same thing kind of bothers me. I get it, they want to capture the intensity of the whole feel and atmosphere of what it feels like to be out on that track but I highly doubt another jokey could hear anybody as perfect as they hear each other, while racing, and there is race going on itself. This isn’t just a problem with this film, it’s a problem with almost all sports film and the fact that the over-emphasizing of sounds hasn’t left that genre yet, still shows us that we still can’t have a realistic sports film that shows you what’s its really like to be out there in action.

Let’s also not forget to mention that this film is an astounding 2 ½ hours, where we don’t even get introduced to the h0rse until 45 minutes in. I kept watching the time and wondering just when I was going to see the horse itself, but I guess Ross was more focused on showing Peter Parker getting the crap kicked out of him playing a boxer. It also sucks that when the film actually ends, its very abrupt and we don’t really get a chance to see what happened to these characters. Usually these types of films end with a few words up on the screen but for some odd reason we were just left with the cold shoulder. Then again, I guess that’s why they call it ‘Wikipedia’.

The cast is also very impressive and carries this film through a lot. Tobey Maguire is a great fit for Red, this angry and frustrated type that seems a little weird at first but actually is a real human-being that actually has faith in this horse, which is just about contagious. Jeff Bridges is a whole lot of fun as Charles Howard who always seems to be so jolly and happy throughout the whole film, but when something bad happens, and oh does it ever, you really feel it coming right from his heart. This is one of those times where Bridges just looks like he’s taking advantage of a role that just suits his likability so damn well. Chris Cooper is also great as Tom Smith, a guy who seems like he cares about horses more than he does humans, but he sort of takes the back-burner to everybody else here and it’s a shame since his character was probably the richest when it came to being passionate. William H. Macy also has a fun little role as a radio announcer, Tick Tock McGlaughlin, and perfectly captures the sound, look, and act of a 1930’s radio broadcaster.

Consensus: Seabiscuit is a flick that is fun, entertaining, inspirational, and very well-acted by everybody involved, but it’s a little too long for my well-being and there are too many opportunities to really capitalize on the emotions here, that sort of just don’t work like you’d expect them to.

7/10=Rental!!

Chronicle (2012)

These guys may be asses, but I could imagine myself doing even worse with these powers.

Three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to them developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities, and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over.

With ‘The Devil Inside’ basically being the nail in the coffin for the “found-footage” genre, it’s a total surprise to see that in just about a month that not only can the genre die but be brought to life by two extremely different flicks with the same gimmick.

What really amazed me the most about this flick was the fact that it’s essentially not doing anything new but in a way it is. The element of gaining superpowers delves from ‘Unbreakable’, the idea of kids becoming superhero’s themselves delves from ‘Kick-Ass’, and the whole idea of the loser nerd becoming stronger than ever before is pretty evident in just about every superhero/inspirational story, but having this format is what sets it apart from all of the others.

The film steps right into showing us these characters for what and who they are, then getting their powers and having a whole bunch of fun doing things that actual normal kids with newly acquired powers like this would probably do. Things like messing around with toys in a Wal-Mart, or lifting up chick’s skirts, or even just trying to show off in front of everybody are all definitely things that teens would do (myself included) and it’s just great to see a superhero flick that goes for more of a realistic feel rather than over-exaggerated one. All of these things I’m talking about though are very fun to watch and have perfect special effects that aren’t flashy or ground-breaking by any means, they just seem real. This is even more true when these dudes realize that they can fly, which provides the best scenes of the whole film because of just how real, beautiful, and seamless they look and feel.

However, what really got me with this flick was that for every happy and fun moment in this flick, there was a darker moment just waiting to happen. The whole film has this real fun vibe to it the whole time, but you know that some crazy ish will happen soon and when it does, it works even more and shows you the negative consequences that can come out of a gift such as this. I don’t want to get into what starts to happen by the end of the flick because I don’t want to spoil anything but the way it all works itself into the film without feeling shoe-horned, had me very impressed. It’s just like the little old saying from Uncle Ben, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.

My only problem with this film is actually the last act though. I didn’t dislike the last act because it got very crazy and dark, because that’s actually something I very much enjoyed, it was more of the whole format itself. Throughout the whole film, the whole first-person camera view works because it gets you inside of these characters heads and makes you feel as if you are right there with them the whole time, however, it starts to get a little out-of-control when they start to show footage from many other devices such as surveillance cameras, news footage, helicopter shots, swiped iPhones, and many other random shots that I couldn’t really understand where they came from in the first place. This just seemed like a huge cheat for me and actually what took me out of the film by the last act, even though I understand that it had to be used to keep the story going. It also made me wonder, just who the hell would find all of the time and space to edit all of this footage together so perfectly?!?

The real heart of this film probably lies in the performances from the three leads, especially the main dude himself, Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer. The kid looks like Leonardo DiCaprio before he got huge and perfectly balances out the whole nerdy aspect of this kid but also the scary and dangerous side of him as well. You know that this kid is messed up in the head and has a lot going on, so it’s really, really hard for you to actually just sit there and watch as he comes closer and closer to just letting all hell break loose. DeHaan embodies what I think is more like Peter Parker mixed with Magneto, perfectly and I think that this kid may just have a bright future ahead of him.

Alex Russell plays Matt Garett, and looks more like James Franco and has the likability to him that matches him as well. This dude is just really cool the whole film but you know he’s a good guy as he constantly turns out to be the moral compass throughout the whole film and gives you this sunny-side, warm vibe every time he’s around. Michael B. Jordan is also great as Steve Montgomery, playing the role as the charismatic and cool kid that has a bright future. He’s good and it’s great to see a role that could have easily been terribly unlikable, go the right way for a dude that seems to smiling more and more as the film goes on. Whenever these guys are together, the film just worked wonders for me because you could totally feel that these guys were friends not just because of the superpowers but because they actually all had something in common together, even as crazy as it may seem. It makes me think about my high-school friendships that I have now and makes me wonder if we need powers to make us get closer. On second thought, nah. I’ll just stick to writing movie reviews and they can stick to whatever it is the hell that they do.

Consensus: Chronicle isn’t anything ground-breaking or new but the whole found-footage format works in its favor with a smart script, fast-paced vibe, and amazing performances by all three of these young dudes who do have bright futures in Hollywood, but then again, you never know.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Basically just don’t eff with gypsies.

After denying a woman the extension she needs to keep her home, loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) sees her once-promising life take a startling turn for the worse. Christine is convinced she’s been cursed by a Gypsy, but her boyfriend (Justin Long) is skeptical. Her only hope seems to lie in a psychic (Dileep Rao) who claims he can help her lift the curse and keep her soul from being dragged straight to hell.

Writer/director Sam Raimi took a break from making horror films for awhile and actually went on to make the Spider-Man films. Although I haven’t really checked out all of his horror films yet, I still get the urge to after seeing a crazy film like this.

The one thing about Raimi and horror films is that they aren’t necessarily scary as much as they are just totally freaky thrill rides. He doesn’t really go for scaring the pants off of the audience, and he just more or less focuses on a way to keep an audience entertained, while giving them some freaky happenings on screen.

I have to say that this is what Raimi does incredibly well here because he seems like he is just having a ball putting this good-looking girl through all of this torture, and adding a nice little funny moment to top it all off. You get a lot of goofy stuff in this film and for other directors it would seem forced and totally unnecessary but the way Raimi uses it to his advantage, works for him because the whole tone of this film is playful rather than being way too serious for somebody to actually chuckle at intentionally.

There’s some pretty disgusting things in this film that may turn some people away like random bugs, rancid meat, and eyeballs but it’s all toned down for at least a safer Pg-13 rating. A lot of those disgusting things that I saw on-screen too had me laughing but I kind of wish they pushed the boundaries when it came to sickening parts of this film. Raimi is a man about gore when it comes to horror (I’m a poet and didn’t even know it) so when I just saw him put little disgusting things here and there, I kind of got disappointed because I knew he could have really thrown it in our faces, but still went with that Pg-13 rating probably because nobody would see an R-rated film from the director of ‘Spider-Man‘. Stupid, but true.

Another problem I had with this film was how it seemed like Raimi kind of focused too much on the whole moral of this story. Well, not really the moral, but the reason all of this crazy stuff is happening to this girl. I mean we get it, it was her decision to not let this old lady have her house back, stop hitting me over the head with this big moral story and just show me this girl getting terrorized by evil demons again.

The acting front of this film isn’t really anything special, but it will hold you over for the whole hour and 40 minutes. Alison Lohman is good as Christine Brown because she just gets tortured the whole film but by the end you see a transition in her that’s really cool and pretty believable. She’s never really been one of my favorite actresses but she does good here. Justin Long isn’t his usual comedic-self as Clay, but plays the loving boyfriend role pretty well although his parents are assholes. Dileep Rao is also pretty funny as Rham Jas, the fortune-teller who seems like he’s out of a comedy.

Consensus: Drag Me to Hell is too toned-down and has problems with its script but when it comes to Sam Raimi’s direction this horror flick is fun, creepy, dumb, and very much what people should expect from him.

7/10=Rental!!

Pineapple Express (2008)

Basically if you smoke weed, you’re going to have a bangin’ time.

After witnessing a murder involving a corrupt cop (Rosie Perez) and a drug kingpin (Gary Cole), straitlaced pothead Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) must go on the run with his dealer (James Franco) to escape the wrath of vengeance-minded criminals.

Many people have problems with stoner comedies because they say their only funny if your baked. However, that’s not usually the case especially here.

I have seen this film numerous times, and I can easily say that seeing it high, you will be laughing your ass off at almost every single line somebody says. Now, for all you sober bulls out there this will actually be funny to you as well, because not all the comedy is stupid, there is some actual wit to it here, and even though this film is quoted non-stop by every kid/stoner I know, the quotes never get old and really are funny.

The action here is also good, and as the plot moves on, so does more detail and more action which will keep anyone interested. I have to give props to director David Gordon Green who hasn’t done anything close to action at all in his career, but makes these sequences fun to watch and work well for the non-high people watching.

However, the main problem here is that although the idea is solid, it all just does seem a bit too messy. The action is good, and the comedy will keep you laughing, but the problem is that the violence is a little too gory, and in-your-face to actually be funny for the most part. The ending is chaotic and fun, but I couldn’t help but think there is a lot of crazy killing going on here, and a lot of blood too. Where is the funniness in any of that? Maybe, I’m just a bit of a softy sometimes, but this seemed a little bit too much of a stretch for me.

Seth Rogen is playing his usual character he plays in every movie again as here as Dale Denton, but it doesn’t get old. Rogen still has a lot of funny lines here, and gives his character that likability that is almost a signature in Rogen’s performances. James Franco absolutely steals the show as the coolest drug-dealer in the world, Saul Silver. I’m glad that James has so much hype around him now, and isn’t just “Harry from Spider-Man” anymore. He’s very convincing as this total pothead, and just carries this overall coolness about him that works through the whole film. Rogen and Franco play well with each-other on screen, and contribute to a lot more laughs than I actually expected from these two. Danny McBride also pops up as Red, and just keeps the one-liners coming the whole time. The bad guys in this movie are also good such as Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Kevin Corrigan, and the always funny, Craig Robinson.

Consensus: The combination of a stoner comedy and a action film may not work out the best, but their are enough gags, and good action scenes to keep any viewer, stoned or not stoned, entertained.

8/10=Matinee!!

A Simple Plan (1998)

What would you do with 4 million dollars?

When two brothers (Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton) find a body and a bundle of cash in a downed plane, they plot to hide the loot and split it later. It’s a simple plan, until things go murderously awry.

Like the Coen brothers’ FARGO, Sam Raimi’s A SIMPLE PLAN is an ice-cold neo-noir as chilling and bleak as its snow-covered Minnesota locale.This a fine suspense thriller that digs deeper and deeper into the values and dreams of these small town characters. A Simple Plan is suspenseful, powerful, and as merciless as Fargo. Its very great to see how all these characters seem so real and you can tell their motives at every moment so every moment that happens seems to have a reason.

The most significant thing about this film is that you can see what leads them to the next step. Each of their ideas are shown at the right amount of pacing so they don’t go to quickly in showing these characters reactions but also don’t take too long in showing. The mood is something else of extraordinary, as you can feel just through the music and the expressions of the characters that this is how you should feel if this was happening to you right then and there.

Director Sam Raimi does a wonderful job at creating the right pace, mood, and overall right script. Much of the movie’s script is very similar to the novel’s script as well. Though some motives and character traits are changed Raimi still sticks close too the novel without getting too obvious. A great directing job from a guy who would later go on to direct the Spider Man movies.

The heart of this movie lies within the strong performances from its trio of leads. Bill Paxton is great as a man who just wants what’s best for his family and Bridget Fonda is his wife who just wants get out of her ordinary miserable life. Much of the acting credit goes to Billy Bob Thornton who’s understated and profoundly moving performance is what gave this movie its heart. Each stars have a chance to show their acting skills and each do very well and fully make this film as effective as it was.

The only problem I had with this film is not that bad at all really. The film being much like Fargo did not have as much comedy in it, if any at all. To be realistic in any depressing situation there will always be comedy to lighten things up and since this was such a realistic movie I wondered where the comedic tone to it was. In my opinion the film was way too dark without any light tone whatsoever.

The film kept me on the edge of my seat and with every twist and turn in the story, I felt myself hooked even more. A Simple Plan is a very simple movie to get used to just don’t watch this after King of Queens myself.

9/10=Full Pricee!!