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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Thomas Kretschmann

King Kong (2005)

He must protect his house.

Carl Denham (Jack Black) is a filmmaker living in the 1930’s, meaning, he doesn’t have a lot of opportunities. And the ones that he does have, don’t tickle his fancy as much as they used to. That’s why, when he catches wind of a mysterious, huge and odd island out in the middle of nowhere, Denham soon gets the ambition and inspiration all over again. So, he assembles a team full of actors, actresses, crew, and handy-men, who know a thing or two about an adventure and are capable of solving issues, should any of them arise. Aboard the ship is leading-lady Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), who also is in desperate need of a hit and will do anything for the spotlight, just one more time. Screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) feels the same way, but also finds himself falling for Ann, leading him to make some pretty rash decisions along this adventure, all leading up to finally meeting, once and for all, King Kong – the giant gorilla who practically watches over Skull Island and kills any sort of threat that may come its way. In this case, it’s these humans and needless to say, not all of them are equipped to take him down.

Why would you want a human, when you could have a Kong?

After winning practically every Oscar that he could for Return of the King, it made sense that he would be allowed to make virtually any movie that he wanted. Cause it’s a known thing in Hollywood: Make a lot of money, win a lot of awards, earn respect, and guess what? You can make your dream projects a reality. And oddly enough, for Jackson, it was remaking the movie he grew up knowing and loving, King Kong. Oh, and by “remaking”, I mean making two hours longer and adding on more CGI, special-effects, and story than you could ever imagine.

But trust me, this isn’t a stab at Jackson.

If anything, King Kong is Jackson getting the opportunity to play in his sandbox, where the world is his oyster, sky is the limit, there are no rules, and even better, everyone’s watching. A lot of people may have complained about the fact that the movie is over three hours long, takes awhile to actually get to Skull Island, and yeah, features one too many monsters and creatures, aside from the titular Kong, but in a way, that sort of makes the movie more epic; it shows us that Jackson isn’t setting out to make a note-for-note remake, but bask in every single bit of this material and be as excessive as humanly possible.

Is it a little draining? Quite possibly, yes, but at the same time, watching Jackson having the time of his life is, in all honesty, a beauty to behold. There aren’t many directors out there in the world with the impressive and ambitious scope like Jackson’s, so when he’s given carte blanche to do all that he wants and not stop, it’s nothing if not entertaining. Also, when was the last time you saw a three-hour movie that goes by in a flash? King Kong should have been a slog, but it’s not and it’s a true testament to Jackson’s prowess that allows for him to make a three-hour movie about little humans and a big gorilla, feel a lot less than that.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Jackson directs the hell out of this thing and it makes sense why he wanted to bother with this story in the first place.

And even getting away from the technical side of the movie, and focusing more on the actual things that matter, like story, character development, etc., yeah, it still kind of works. The story isn’t all that different from before, but this time around, Jackson does up the emotion in a way that’s surprising, mostly because while we’re watching Kong up there on the screen, we’re watching something believable and impressively done – almost to the point where instead of being scared by him, we’re actually connected to him. The whole tale about this gorilla falling in love with a short little blonde thing is, of course, silly, but the movie doesn’t forget that sometimes, the seriousness of a tale like this can actually work, so long as you build enough tension and emotion behind it all.

That’s what Jackson does and it helps King Kong move along, even when it gets away from the gorilla beating the hell out of other monsters and dinosaurs. Cause even during those sequences, there’s a fun, crazy and almost hectic energy that’s a lot like the Lord of the Rings movies, but still its own kind of beast. Even when Jackson does dial it down for the characters, the movie’s still at least somewhat interesting, because we’ve spent so much time and energy with them, it’s hard not to understand them, at the very least.

Jack knows what I’m talking about.

Then again, the ensemble involved does help out with that as much as they can.

If there’s one thing that holds King Kong back from being a truly and absolutely great movie that it sometimes comes close to being, it’s that the performances can tend to be a bit bland, which may have more to do with the script and less to do with the actual actors themselves. Like, for instance, Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody are two perfectly good actors who can work well when given the material, but for some reason, they just feel underdeveloped; Watts gets some chances to be bright and shiny, whereas Brody is mostly just serious and not all that right for a movie that’s so concerned with everything else that’s going on around him. Others in the cast fare better, like Kyle Chandler, Jamie Bell, Thomas Kretschmann, and Colin Hanks, mostly because their characters aren’t made out to be the leads and can benefit from some goofiness, but with Watts and Brody, who are supposed to be our emotional anchors throughout this whole thing, it doesn’t fully work.

That said, the movie does benefit from having a very good, very surprising, and very dark performance from Jack Black. Of course, a lot of people will consider Black’s performance to be channeling Orson Welles, but if so, it’s still a good performance, because we see him lay down all of the usual trademarks and conventions that we’re so used to seeing, and hating with the sorts of characters he plays. What we get here, is a person we grow to love to hate and because of Black’s performance gets better, taking on more meaning as the movie develops and we start to see more sides to this twisted, sometimes sad little man.

Which is to say that I’m still waiting for that battle between Black and Kong.

Black Kong. What a name.

Consensus: Ambitious in scope, epic in its look, feel, and overall mood, King Kong is the movie Peter Jackson deserved to make and absolutely revels in the opportunity to do so, for the benefit of us all.

8.5 / 10

See what I mean?

Photos Courtesy of: Fernby Films

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Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

Video-games should just stay as such.

When he was recruited at an early age, Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) was forced to become a ruthless, emotionless and unforgiving killer. For whatever shady reasons they may have been, he was basically trained to be an assasin, and through plenty of genetic defects given to him over the years, the powers that be have ensured that there’d be no distractions for Agent 47, so that he could keep his eyes on the prize and the job, no matter what may have gotten in his way. Now though, many years into the program and out into the field, he’s assigned a mission where he must use his skills to team with a mysterious young woman (Hannah Ware) to take down the evil Syndicate. For some reason, the said Syndicate wants this mysterious woman and Agent 47, but at the same time, they also want to use the technology used in Agent’s program to build their own army of enemy ruthless, highly-trained killers. Now, being forced with a dilemma, Agent 47 has to think of what’s best for him, this mysterious woman, as well as the rest of the world, considering it’s not just him who will be affected, but the rest of society and if the evil Syndicate has it their way, then the rest of the planet will be bowing down to them.

He can run.

He can run.

Honestly, we probably didn’t need Hitman movie in the first place and we sure as hell didn’t need a reboot made some eight years later, but here we are now. Not only do we have one lame Hitman movie, but we have another one that wastes another talented cast, on material that could be somewhat promising for a movie, but once again, like most other video-game movie adaptations, still suffers from the problems that there’s just no way certain material from a video-game, no matter how good or fun it may be, can translate to the big screen. Sure, you could make the argument that Prince of Persia was at least serviceable, but if that’s the bar, then it’s not a very big one.

And Hitman: Agent 47 doesn’t reach that same bar, but it still shows signs of trying to.

For one, the action-sequences of the movie are very good and feel very much in place with the actual video-game itself. They’re fun, exciting and silly, just as a movie based on a video-game should be. Same goes for the rest of the movie, that not only looks slick and pretty, but also feels like it exists in this imaginary world where people are downright evil and/or plain and simply good; though this is completely over-the-top, weird and unbelievable, the movie is, like I’ve said, based on a video-game, so it makes sense that the world it depicts would not be the same one you or I live in nowadays.

That’s why, for the longest time, all plot-issues aside, I was willing to give Hitman: Agent 47 the benefit of the doubt; it may not be the best movie, but as a late-summer blockbuster, it’s got some fun to it. But really, after awhile, it all goes away once we realize that there’s actually no story to this thing, nor is there actually any characters worth caring about or getting invested in. You could make the clear argument that in some video-games, like in Hitman, you don’t actually care about the characters, their development, or plot progressions, like as you would with a movie, and are more concerned with just getting to the next level and looking cool and skilled in front of your fellow pals, but I’d have to disagree with that. Certain legendary games like Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, Max Payne, and yes, even Hitman, all have certain qualities to them that make it clear that, if anybody wanted to, they’d have enough material for a well-done, interesting and compelling movie, but for some reason, the promise has been lost in the jumble.

Of course, Assassin’s Creed won’t be coming out until later this year so we don’t know how it’ll turn out, Max Payne‘s movie was pretty lame (if a bit of a guilty pleasure for yours truly), and there will probably never, ever be a Grand Theft Auto movie if those within Rockstar Games are still alive and breathing, but the two movies of Hitman, although containing some fine and fun action, still don’t have the right story or character-development to help the movies work fully. And even though there is quite a few action-sequences here in Hitman that do the trick, there’s still not enough to ensure that the fans of the video-game will be able to get by and be happy with; there’s a lot of down time that’s focused on the backstory of Agent 47, his childhood, and just exactly what this shady agency is all up to, but really, it’s all quite boring and just seems placed in here for some perspective. Had these elements been done with at least a little more effort, there wouldn’t have been such a problem, but sadly, it’s just kind of boring and uninteresting.

He can pull out duel-pistols.

He can pull out duel-pistols.

Not at all like the game.

Which is a shame because, given the cast involved, there should be more material here to help make things better. Rupert Friend plays a cold-blooded assassin here, like he does on Homeland, but because this one is far more closed-off from the rest of the world, as well as to himself, he does a lot of brooding and staring – none of which are actually ever compelling. Friend tries, don’t get me wrong, but he’s clearly working with material that’s limited him to just doing certain emotions and leaving it at that. Hannah Ware is pretty, but really, her character is here just to keep the plot moving and that’s about it.

The one I’m most definitely surprised to see here is Zachary Quinto. Quinto’s actually a pretty interesting actor who will, of course, take the occasional mainstream role in something like Star Trek or What’s Your Number, but also has a pretty solid work in lower-key films like Margin Call, or in TV shows like the surprisingly great the Slap, Hannibal, and most especially, Girls. So that’s why, to see him in something as lazy and uninspired as this, you have to wonder: Just how much of a financial bind was he in? Did he think there was something inherently interesting about his villainous character that just ticked his fancy way too much to turn away? Or, was he just so desperate for any sort of money he could scrounge up for the summer? Whatever the answer may be, I’m not sure, but it’s a shame to see him here, even though he is giving it his all.

Something that I wish those behind the actual movie decided to try and do, too.

Consensus: Another video-game, another lame film adaptation, Hitman: Agent 47 works well when it’s kicking butt, taking names and not bothering asking any questions, but when it tries to focus on other aspects that make movies good, like plot, or characters, or emotions, it breaks and reminds us why the video-game itself is so entertaining to play in the first place.

3.5 / 10 

He can even beat up Spock. Hell, Agent 47 can do just about anything.

He can even beat up Spock. Hell, Agent 47 can do just about anything.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Valkyrie (2008)

But I thought Hitler died in a movie theater explosion? Stupid Hollywood and their tricks for making up history as they go!

After permanently losing his right eye and arm, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) is forced to come back to Nazi Germany, with a newfound respect from those around him, as well as a new mission on that he sets his sights on the most: Assassinating Hitler and making Germany a peaceful country once again. The problem isn’t that Hitler’s the most powerful man in Germany, whom almost nobody can double-cross and succeed at doing, but getting each and every person on the same page, so that the plot goes perfectly according to plan. There are people in high places involved, too, it’s just that they are so nervous, that they second-guess themselves so many times, that they either kill themselves, spill the beans to others, or screw up the plan while it’s going on. However, for those who are inspired to take down Hitler, they don’t back down, not even when the slightest misstep rears its ugly head. Which, during this plan, occurs many times – maybe moreso than anybody involved would have wanted. But such is the case when you’re trying to take down the powerful, almighty Führer.

First thing to mention, that is more than likely going to screw people over while watching this movie (if one decides to do so), is that every actor here, whether they be English, French, American, or, obviously, German, has to play a German character. There’s nothing different about that – heck, if an actor is called upon to do some sort of accent that isn’t of their own native-tongue, then there’s no doubt in their mind that they shouldn’t take it. However, what’s so strange here is that almost nobody in this cast, not even the German actors (as hard as they are to come by), even flirts with doing a German accent.

"So, the one Jew says to other Je-...... Oh, I mean, hey, fuck that Hitler guy, right?"

“So, the one Jew says to other Je-…… Oh, I mean, hey, fuck that Hitler guy, right?”

Perhaps the biggest criminal of this is Tom Cruise who, in the first few minutes, does a bit of German to show that he’s got the chops to be on-par with Liam Neeson in every which way; but a mere seconds later, he’s back to his original, American-dude accent that almost everybody is able to recognize right away and is distracting practically the whole way through. It makes sense if you English lads like Tom Wilkinson, or Kenneth Branagh, or even Bill Nighy in these German roles, cause at least they have an accent as is to work with, but Cruise, he has nothing. It’s just him talking, and acting like he’s Jerry Maguire all over again.

Except this time, instead of, “Show me the monaaaaay!”, it’s, “Heil Hitler!” Which, while we’re talking about it, he only does once, so relax over there ya Scientologists!

And it’s not that Cruise is bad really, it’s just that he’s playing Tom Cruise, which is neither good or bad, it’s just Tom Cruise. Especially so here, considering he doesn’t seem like he’s really trying to go for anything else other than the heroic, determined-type we’ve seen him throw himself into role, after role, after role. Nothing wrong with that, because the dude’s a pro at those types of roles, but it does get old after awhile when it seems like all you’re seeing is the same guy, play the same role, in the same kind of movie, except with different scenery around him. In this case, it’s Nazis, but honestly, throw in a scene of Cruise on the hood of a car, with that iconic track playing somewhere in the background, and you’ve practically got another Mission: Impossible movie.

Except, once again, their being Nazis and all.

The rest of the cast is fine, too, mostly because they’re easier to not be distracted by when they’re trying to sound a lick at all like German-folk, but there’s nobody here in particular that’s spectacular. Everybody’s fine and serviceable with what it is they have to do; which, most of the time, just consists of them clicking their heels, staring into space very intently, and sweating bullets, which was probably because Bryan Singer decided to douse all of them with Aquafina bottles before shooting. So yeah, that last part doesn’t count.

And speaking of Bryan Singer (all “under-aged boys parties”-jokes aside), the guy does what he can here with this material. He clearly wants to make this move, sizzle and spice like a Hitchock thriller, while at the same time, still harp on the fact that an evil man like Hitler actually existed and had immense power over thousands and thousands of people. However, what takes away from most of what Singer does here, is that it’s a story we all know the ending to. Okay, maybe not all of the little, itty, bitty, gritty details, but what we know is that the plan failed, Hitler lived, and all of those who were involved with the conspiracy theory in the first place, we’re all eventually killed anyway. So yeah, it sort of ends on a dim note, but that’s the kind of note we can expect from a movie like this, because that’s exactly what happened.

"Stop hanging out with the pirates!"

“Stop hanging out with pirates!”

It’s not like I’m saying that movies that have an ending we already know about, can’t be fun or exciting anyway possible, because they totally can. However, in order to do so, there needs to be a drive, or a certain feeling of emotion involved with the proceedings that makes us feel, even for a split-second, like this story’s outcome could happen differently than what we already know. It’s highly unlikely, but so are plots to plenty of movies; that’s why we need movies to go for the gold whenever they can, having us believe in the unbelievable, and throw all of our cards out on the table, as if we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

The problem is, we know what’s going to happen next, and Singer never gives it that drive. Nor does he do much else to keep the proceedings exciting. Just by-the-numbers, by-the-books, and that’s it.

Yawn.

So in a way, I guess I have to give Singer some credit for at least sticking to history as much as he could for the film’s sake, without ever allowing it to get too boring or preachy, but at the same time, I can’t help but wonder what the point was about this whole movie. We know that it wants to show us that Hitler was a bad man and that nearly everyone close to him wanted to stab him right in the back, but it doesn’t seem like anything new; person gets on top of their throne and now all of a sudden, everybody wants to take the throne away from said person. It’s a traditional story-route we’ve seen done a hundred times before, but I guess the only real aspect of this movie that separates it from the rest is that the person in that throne is, well, Adolf Hitler.

Oh, and also Nazis.

Consensus: Both Tom Cruise’s and Bryan Singer’s intentions are noble and make Valkyrie, for the most part, interesting to watch as the plot unfolds, but the problem is that we get what happens what happens at the end, and we can’t help but not really care for these generic characters more than we need to.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"What are you talking about? These are our TPS Reports. Nothing else."

“Huh? What are you talking about? These are our TPS Reports. Nothing else.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

Open Grave (2014)

First reviewed movie of 2014, and what a bummer it is.

A man (Sharlto Copley) wakes up, after what seemed to be quite the slumber party, in a pit full of mutilated corpses. He has no idea how he got there, who he is, or what he has done, all that he does know is that where he’s at right now is not good and he needs to get out as soon as possible. Eventually, he does and he begins to walk around the wilderness when he spots a deserted cabin in the middle of it all. Inside this cabin, he stumbles upon five other people who have the same problem he has: No memory of who they were, are, or how they even got here in the first place. But to make matters worse for this guy is the fact that he was found at the top of this grave, meaning that he looks a tad bit more suspicious than these others who just woke up and found themselves inside this cabin. Though they definitely are curious about all of each other, the group decides to set-out and figure out where the hell it is that they are and how they can escape, all in one piece mind you. However, strange things begin to happen and sooner than later, people start getting knocked-off one by one, just as soon as they begin to remember things about their previous-lives. Also, there’s a calender located inside the cabin that has the 15th of the month circled. Why is that? Be ready to find out!

"This is to all of those haters who preferred the original Oldboy to the remake!!"

“This is to all of those haters who preferred the original Oldboy to the remake!!”

This not one of those times.

The first 20 minutes of this movie were pretty good because of the way it stuck itself to the former. We literally see this dude wake up, have no clue what happened, find a group of people who are just as clueless as he is, find themselves in a situation, and do the best they can with trying to get out of the said situation, while also trying to remember things about their past-life. It’s interesting to watch, because you could think of all the possibilities of what could happen and why, and director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego definitely seems just as interested as we are with the rest of the movie. But, once we get a couple or so flashbacks inside the mind of these characters, then it all comes pretty clear that not only do we have any clue where this story could go or end up, but neither does Lopez-Gallego himself.

With a movie like this, it’s okay to be as vague and as confusing as you want, but it has to be done in a way that makes you, the viewer, feel like it’s working to something that’s not only going to completely and utterly blow your mind, but change the way you thought about the film prior to this point-in-time. That never happens here and that’s a huge problem because most of these movies bank on that huge, surprise twist at the end that shakes things up. Without giving too much away, there are some brief moments where we see characters start to have their brains racked-over memories they had that could either lead them to understand why they are where they are, or what their relationships were with the others around them. In some rare cases in this movie, this leads to some interesting directions that I didn’t quite see coming right off the bat, but once the first-hour is finally over and said with, the movie’s practically thrown all of those possibilities and ambitions to the side.

Just as soon as the hour-mark passes by, we are then thrown into a “suspense-thriller” that not only has the slightest idea of where it’s going to end-up, but doesn’t care about logic at all. Instead, the movie seems like it’s just throwing one ludicrous idea, one-after-another, almost to the point of where the movie just lost my interest because it just seemed to be pointless. This also substitutes any chance of character-development the first two-halves may have been working with and rather, we’re just left sitting and watching a bunch of characters we don’t feel diddly-squat towards, as they try and figure out who’s bad, who’s good, why they are here, how they can get the heck out of this situation and where the end in sight may be. And even when characters begin to get knocked-off, one by one (as they predictably do in faux-horror flicks like this), there’s no emotional-attachment whatsoever and it just feels more like a good riddance, rather than a piece of us being lost.

Why can't condos be in the middle of the woods?

Why can’t condos be in the middle of the woods?

Because don’t we all just long for a sincere, heartfelt human-connection with anybody? Even characters from a B-grade thriller? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me and my neediness after all!

However, it’s not even like the performances themselves aren’t that good, it’s just that the movie doesn’t really give a lick about them. Sharlto Copley had a pretty stacked-2013 in which he played it so over-the-top in movies like Elysium and Oldboy, you would wonder if he was even allowed in a single public library across the globe (if they still exist). But here, as the soon-to-be-named protagonist, he’s surprisingly effective at just down-playing his act and gives us a guy that you don’t know if you can trust, or even want to be around in a situation like this. Yet, there are brief-snippets of humanity that has this guy go a long while, even when it seems like he is at his most morally questionable. However, the best performance of this cast is Josie Ho as a mute gal known as “Brown Eyes” who, as you guessed it, is able to convey any emotion she may be feeling based solely through her eyes and body-motions. She’s the stand-out here, but considering that nobody else is really given much to do at all, it’s not really worth praising as much as it is noting, I guess. Oh well, she’s good! And I’ll just leave it at that!

Consensus: Starts off moody, interesting and chock-full of promise, but once the clues start to show and the possibilities seem overly-endless, then Open Grave begins to spill-out into nothing more than another typical, run-of-the-mill thriller with a few good moments and performances to be seen along the way.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

If you can get past the horrendous smell of rotting, mutilated corpses, it's actually pretty romantic. Dare I say it, titilating?

If you can get past the horrendous smell of rotting, mutilated corpses, it’s actually pretty romantic. Dare I say it, titillating?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net