Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Tom Holland

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


The Lost City of Z (2017)

Just stay home. Much safer.

At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is an extremely talented and well-known soldier who, by the word of some fellow Britishmen, state that he was “unfortunate in the choice of ancestors”. Whatever that means, doesn’t spell out anything good for Percy who, for some reason, always feels like his life is leading towards something wonderful, but what that is, he hasn’t quite faced or figured out yet. So, when the opportunity to journey into the Amazon, where he is assigned to figure out the border between Brazil and Bolivia. It’s not something he planned on wanting to do, but he takes the opportunity and realizes that there’s truly something more to this land than he anticipated. On his journey back home, he lets everyone know about the evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. However, all those around him shrug him off as a loon and now Percy, along with his wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland), and fellow journeyman (Robert Pattinson), set out to prove them, as well as the entire world, wrong. It’s the decision that would change his life for good.

All that dirt, yet, still so handsome?

The Lost City of Z is a hard movie to really talk about because my feelings are still kind of mixed. For one, it’s a very well put-together movie; big, bold, beautiful, and sometimes enchanting, it has the look and feel of one of those action and adventure flicks from the 60’s-to-70’s, where the jungle had all sorts of dangerous mysteries for man to discover, and even more possibilities for the men to discover about themselves, too. It’s the kind of movie you sort of just sit back, watch and admire, because there’s so much art and craft put into the way the thing looks, sounds, hell, even the way it’s paced.

And of course, all of the praise deserves to go to James Gray who, after making so many small indie flicks, now seems to be making a giant leap towards bigger-budget fare, although, while still containing the kind of artistry we expect from him. We can tell why he took on this infamous story and better yet, you can tell he really cares; it’s not as if it was some hack studio job he did solely for the sake of money. There’s some real feeling and heart to his storytelling, that feels genuine.

That’s why it’s still hard for me to have problems with this movie, even though I definitely do.

See, it seems the biggest issue with the Lost City of Z is that, even despite it being nearly 140 minutes, it still feels underdeveloped and under-cooked. It’s almost as if it could have been a TV pilot about halfway through, where we get an understanding for the characters, the relationships, and the central conflict, and the rest of the movie could have been further explained and given more time to develop over the next 12 or so episodes. However, there’s just so much going on here, with so little explanation, or time taken to put on it, it honestly feels like a rushed job, as if Gray himself felt like he had to hit all the points to make sure he got what he wanted and didn’t leave anything out.

No problem with that if you’re adapting a non-fiction book, but it’s a problem when it doesn’t feel like all we are watching, are events and simply just that. 12 Years a Slave did the same thing where it felt like one thing happening, after another, but that was more meaningful and understood, as that’s probably how it would have been for a slave; a tale as tall and as wide as the Lost City of Z, deserves more momentum building within itself and it just never gets that. Gray tries and tries again, but honestly, there’s just so much on his plate here from Fawcett’s first trip, to his second, to WWI, to his kids being born, to his discovery of the possible “savages” and realizing that they aren’t “savages”, and etc., that it’s just so much, with so little background.

Watch out, Twi-hards.

It’s a PowerPoint presentation, but without any facts or other bullet-points, it’s just the titles and that’s about it.

Then again, it’s still a hard movie to take your eyes off of, no matter how slow or meandering it can get. It also helps that the cast is pretty solid, too, albeit, save for Charlie Hunnam, which I find myself having a hard time to type, because I do truly feel like he’s a good actor. However, with Sons of Anarchy and a few of his latest film-roles since he started work on that show, I’m not quite sure what it is about him that’s not quite connecting with me. He was great when he was younger, in much more comedy-based stuff like Queer as Folk, Undeclared, and even Nicholas Nickleby, but I don’t know, for some reason, there’s just no real conviction to him here, as there may have been in the old days. He tries, but yeah, it just didn’t connect.

Thankfully, it left room for others to work well, like especially, Sienna Miller in one of her best roles yet, as Percy’s wife, Nina, who is so much more than just a stay-at-home, put-upon wife. She’s smart, brave and actually wanting to travel and discover this world with Percy, and the scenes she has with him, honestly, feel as real and as raw as anything else. Robert Pattinson is also quite good because he basically downplays his role and does the best Keith Richards impression ever, whereas Tom Holland is good as the son who rightfully despises his father for leaving him and his family for all those years, away in the sunny-side of England, but for some reason, instantly forgives him and is on the next trip with him.

Yeah, needed more clarification. Or better yet, a longer running-time altogether.

Consensus: Even with the pure ambition put on by James Gray, the Lost City of Z still feels like an under-cooked tale that has so much going on, but without much behind all of the big events.

6 / 10

Dirty, but once again, still so handsome. How do they do it?!?!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Sometimes, you’ve just got to let them fight.

After years and years of constant controversy over their extreme efforts to stop evildoers in the world, the Avengers are now facing public scrutiny. So much so that now, the government wants to find a way to intervene with their ways in how they go about stopping the evil, while also making sure that no innocent, kind citizens get killed in the process. This new rule sets the group apart; while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is all about it for the sake of still being able to stop villains from taking over the world, Captain America (Chris Evans), on the other hand, doesn’t feel the same way. Of course, there are others in the group who feel the same as either side, but they’re coming to a point now where they don’t know if they can stay together as a single unit without someone getting hurt. And now, what with Bucky (Sebastian Stan) back in the picture, Cap wants to protect him in any way he can, even if that means having to take down fellow friends and confidantes that he could once trust.

I know someone in DC who could probably beat all of them....

I know someone in DC who could probably beat all of them….

Which means, yes, they all brawl.

A few months ago, there was a huge backlash against Batman V. Superman. Most of the reasons had to do with the fact that it basically just sucked and that was about it. Of course, none of these people were ever wrong, but for me at least, I was a tad bit kinder on it because it set out to make a superhero movie that, yes, was ultimately messy, but asked certain questions and toggled certain ideas that we don’t typically see in superhero movies. Should there be superheroes in the world in which we live in? And if we can’t help the fact that they are, what can we do to stop them, or better yet, decrease their power and danger to our society? Get rid of them altogether? Or put little rules and guidelines for them to follow, so that they don’t go around killing thousands and thousands of citizens as if it was, yes, 9/11 all over again.

Obviously, these are the same kinds of questions and ideas that Civil War plays with in its own mind, but where BVS screwed-up with, they actually deliver on. Not only do they ask the goddamn questions, but they also seem interested in solving it, even if the only way to do so is basically through fist fights and banter-battles. For once, we see characters and superheros who, for the past few years or so, have been nearly untouchable and almost too close to being perfect, but somehow, Civil War finds a way to have them all shine in different lights. Even though this is supposed to be his movie, Captain America actually comes off more like an unlikable child here who doesn’t get his way, so therefore, has to resort to punches, kicks and throwing his shield.

Then again, nobody else is perfect here, either. And well, that’s sort of the point of this story.

Falcon punch!

Falcon punch!

What the Russo Brothers do the best job of here is that they allow for the story to do its usual checklist of things we see in these kinds of superhero movies, but does them way better than those movies. While new characters and subplots are being brought to our attention, the Russo’s never allow for it to get too jammed-up to where we have no idea what’s the conflict with which character, for what reasons, and when we can expect it all to get resolved. In Age of Ultron, the movie was admittedly way too overstuffed and overlong to really make sense of its mayhem and therefore, it suffered. The action itself may have been fun and well-done, but because there was just so much going on, with so many damn people, it was hard to really care for any of it, especially when you’re still trying to pinpoint who matters and why.

The Russo’s, thankfully, don’t have that problem. Even though they’re working with a wide arrange of characters and stories to work with, they somehow are able to have it all work together in a cohesive manner, that when the action does eventually come around, you care. Not only do these characters get their opportunities to shine and show why they’re genuine ass-kickers, but give us a little background on who they are and their personalities. Even for characters like Hawkeye and the Vision, who you may feel have overstayed their welcome, still come around to show us that they’re around and actually matter to a story as overcooked as this.

Does this make Civil War perfect? Nope, but it definitely makes it the best Avengers movie since the first Avengers.

Which is saying something, because all of the Marvel movies have been fine and done their jobs well. That isn’t to say that they haven’t all felt like they were doing the same things as the one that came before it, but regardless, it still doesn’t matter, because it seems like Civil War gets Marvel right back on-track. Though a lot more is left up in the air this time, the feeling that everything has changed and gotten a whole lot more serious with this universe and these characters is still around and it’s what makes me genuinely excited for what’s next to come.

Cause yes, obviously, we’re going to get more of these movies, whether you like it or not.

Consensus: Exciting, tense, smart, and believe it or not, interesting, Civil War does everything that Batman V Superman tried to do, but hits every nail on the head and reminds us why this universe can be so great to be apart of when they’re firing on all cylinders.

9 / 10

Hey guys, I know you're kicking ass and all, but 2-on-1 ain't cool. Let's fight fair here.

Hey guys, I know you’re kicking ass and all, but 2-on-1 ain’t cool. Let’s fight fair here.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

What a dick, that Moby was.

Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is the first mate of the Essex, a ship that’s set out for the sea where the crew on-board will go hunting whales for oil. While Chase is experienced and inspired enough to be the captain, due to political issues, he is not given that honor – instead, it’s given to George Pollard Jr. (Benjamin Walker), someone who is new to the sea and hasn’t ever captained a ship before. Regardless, Owen and the rest of the crew set out and while along the way, they discover a whale by the name of Moby Dick. Dick is not just huge, but actually quite violent and doesn’t appreciate the mates on this ship going around and spearing his fellow friends of the sea – therefore, Dick lets the crew have it. This leaves the crew, most of whom are awfully unexperienced, stranded and without any food, water, or possible resources to survive. This leads crew member to fend for themselves, start pointing the fingers, and, most of all, try to stay alive, by any means. Which, in this movie’s case, means a whole heck of a lot.


Moby’s got a lot on his plate when he’s going up against Thor…

Oh, and the whole story is being told to us through Brendan Gleeson’s character who, at a very young age (Tom Holland), was actually on the Essex and got to experience this all first-hand. Which, in all honesty, is a bit weird when you consider that Tom Holland is playing Brendan Gleeson, 19 years earlier; meaning that, the near-two decades that has passed, were some really rough and screwed-up ones. It doesn’t make much sense or seem all that logical, but I guess the idea is that, well, the dude saw some pretty screwed-up shit.

And that’s exactly what In the the Heart of the Sea is.

Most of the ads for the movie will have you thinking it’s just Thor taking on Moby Dick for at least two hours, but it’s actually a lot more different and slower than that. Instead, we get a tale that’s all about surviving at sea, and having to make some pretty rough, drastic decisions when push comes to shove and it becomes apparent that, well, you may be dead if you don’t, I don’t know, eat that person’s heart, or, I don’t know, stay on an island while everyone else is leaving searching for more help. Surprisingly, it’s a movie that’s more about human nature and how most humans act in situations that are as deadly and as scary as this.

Problem is, none of the characters in this situation, are actually ever interesting. What Ron Howard tries to do here is give us a small play-by-play of who these characters are, what they do, and just why exactly they may matter to the story. Hemsworth’s Chase is a noble, brave superhero that knows what decision to make at every step and is always down to tango with big whales; Walker’s Pollard Jr. is a bit cowardly, but also doesn’t want to be seen as just “another captain’s privileged son”; Holland’s Thomas Nickerson is such a rookie, that he can’t handle the sight or smell of whale guts and constantly seems to be heading towards for Chase for peer-to-student counsel; Cillian Murphy’s Matthew Joy, is Chase’s best buddy who, no matter what, always has a bottle of some sort of alcohol with him at all times, just in case; and Frank Dillane’s Owen Coffin is, well, just the asshole of the ship who, no matter what circumstance they’re in, always has the gull to open up his mouth and piss everyone off.

Basically, everyone here feels like they’re supposed to be a lot deeper than they actually are, but really, they’re just a bunch of stick-figures drawn onto a big boat and we’re left to watch as they suffer, get skinny, try to eat, grow big beards, stay dirty, and contemplate whether or not it’s time to call it a day and just die already. This all sounds like some pretty grim stuff, which it is, but it’s not really as involving as it should be, given the cast and crew involved. Hell, that cast alone is enough to get me all pumped-up, but the fact that Howard doesn’t really give them much, is a bit of a bummer.


….Abe Lincoln (the vampire hunting version)…

We know they can all do better, so why are they stuck here?

That isn’t to say that In the Heart of the Sea is bad, it’s just a tad disappointing. I’m perfectly fine with the movie being a whole lot slower and more melodic by focusing on what happens to these guys after Moby Dick comes in and ruins their lives, as well as their ship, but in order for it to really connect, it has to be, at the very least, heart-wrenching. There was never that feeling here and it was an issue that constantly plagued this film, no matter what interesting avenues it seemed like Howard was taking.

But really, whenever the movie is focusing on the boys of the ship taking on and, in a way, battling against Moby Dick, it’s enthralling, fun, unpredictable, and most of all, exciting. We don’t know where these bits of carnage are going to lead, who is going to perish, and just what the outcome of it all is going to be, so we sit there, watch and wait to see what happens. This is perhaps where the movie’s most impressive, as it’s not only frequently beautiful throughout, but clearly has a love for the sea that’s hard to ignore.

Not to mention that there’s actually something of a message deep down inside of this movie about hunting whales for oil and it’s a noble one, at the very least. Given that the movie may get a tad preachy by the end, I don’t want to jump into saying that this is, first and foremost, a “message movie”, but there is something here that Howard has to say and it isn’t terrible. It just goes on to say that sometimes, nature deserves to stay the way it is.

Screw with that and well, who knows? Nature may bite back.

Consensus: Given the talented cast on-board, In the Heart of the Sea should be a more grueling and compelling watch, but aside from the sheer beauty and excitement the film has whenever the whales show up, the movie never gets a chance to be.

6.5 / 10


….and most importantly, Peter Parker.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Locke (2014)

As long as two hands our on the wheel, you can do whatever the hell you want.

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) ends the day’s work, gets in his car, and takes a right-turn. From there on, with his Bluetooth handy, eyes on the road, and hands on the steering-wheel, Ivan Locke takes the trip of his life. Where he’s going isn’t quite clear, but just to make sure that everybody knows what he’s doing, he makes sure to call his family, his co-workers, his boss, and even special mystery friend that he may or may not be going to see. Either way, Ivan Locke is a man whose mind is dedicated to this road he is taking and where it’s going to take him; even feeling as if it is something of a “life-changer”. To push him even longer are the conversations he has with his dead father who he clearly despises, and may just be doing this trip to prove a point to him.

That may not sound like the most amazingly epic premise ever created in the history of film, but here’s the whole aspect behind it that only separates it from the rest of the pack of movies just like this, but even makes it better: It all takes place in this one car. That’s right: It’s just us, Tom Hardy, his fresh-to-death ride, and the Bluetooth he uses to make all sorts of calls, for a whole hour-and-a-half.

May sound sort of boring, I know, but there’s something about this movie that really grabs you right from the beginning, regardless of how much or how little you may know about it going in. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t say too much of what Ivan Locke discusses with all of these familiar-friends and co-workers on his car’s phone, but I will try to be as vague as possible, with small details here and there, just to give you enough of an idea of how cool this movie actually is. Because mainly, what separates Locke from all of those other, “trapped-in-one-spot”, is that it never really becomes to be about anything.

Even Tom Hardy hates it when people don't use their turn-signals either. See? He's just like us!

Even Tom Hardy hates it when people don’t use their turn-signals either. See? He’s just like us!

I mean, yeah, sure, there is an under-lining theme here about this man, Ivan Locke, and how he wants to make right with the mistakes he made, more specifically, on this one, make-or-break night of his life, but writer/director Steven Knight doesn’t really throw in any unnecessary curve-balls. Meaning, there’s no rampant serial killer on-the-loose and holding somebody on the other phone-line hostage, nor is there really any crime being committed whatsoever. What we have here is a simple tale of a guy, Ivan Locke to be exact, who has a job, a construction foreman to be exact, and dedicates this whole night, talking to others, helping them out, and even finding himself in some hostile situations. But never so hostile to where it seems like this movie is trying to be some sort of pulse-pounding, adrenaline-rushing thriller that we usually see.

In fact, what’s so neat about this movie is how Knight doesn’t really tell us to do much of anything when watching this movie. I bet he probably wants us to be thrilled and excited by what it is that we’re seeing and hearing, in real-time no less, but it’s not like he’s forcing us to sit in the car with this guy and practically be strapped to the back-seat while he makes all sorts of calls and tries to get his life in check. We don’t have to be there, in that movie theater, listening, watching, and feeling all sorts of things, but we want to, and I think that’s what works so well for this movie. It doesn’t make us do anything we don’t want to right from the start, but instead, just lets its story play-out in a natural, relatively calm and peaceful way, to where we know something bad is going to happen, but we don’t know how, why, when, or where.

All we know is that we’re with this guy, in his car, hearing and seeing his every which move.

And honestly, that’s all a good thriller needs to be. It doesn’t matter if it has a gimmick as tricky as this one does, and it sure as hell doesn’t matter what it’s about – as long as it’s reasonably tense, surprising and unpredictable, then we, as smart, thought-provoking and intelligent audience-members don’t need much else. Which makes it all the more surprising to see this movie released (for U.S., that is) during the very beginning of the summer season; a season in which just about everybody turns their brains off for mindless, mind-numbing idiotic crap that doesn’t last long in your mind, but at least gave you a good enough two-hours and allowed you to wine and dine with an extra large bottle of soda, and an even larger tub of butter-sloshed popcorn.

Not necessarily saying that there is anything wrong with that, because I’m definitely amongst that company of people who enjoy some dumb, but fun entertainment for as long as I can stay awake. But that still doesn’t take away the fact that it’s so refreshing to get a thriller as smart as this, that can trust its audience, and expect just about everyone who watches it to think for themselves, and not need every lesson, twist, turn, emotional-note handed down to them on a silver-platter with note cards. As human beings, we’re supposed to think and process, which is exactly what Locke allows us to do.

But another thing that Locke allows us to do is remember just what kind of a performer Tom Hardy truly is. It’s no surprise to anyone that has ever seen Bronson, Inception, Warrior, or heck, even the Dark Knight Rises, knows that Hardy can act, but we’ve never really seen him where it’s just him, all by himself, and left with not much else to do except sit-down, talk a lot and make plenty of faces. That description may actually make it seem like a bit of a goofy performance, but I can assure you, it’s very far from; in fact, it’s probably the best performance I’ve seen Hardy give since previously-mentioned Warrior, which was a powerful performance in its own right.

A-hole just picked the wrong motherfucker to cut-off.

Dude just picked the wrong motherfucker to cut-off.

And yes, while most movies that feature their leading-roles in a one-man/woman-show type of format, usually have said performer giving a great role, there’s something to be said about Hardy and what he’s able to do with so little we know about Ivan Locke, and how he’s able to have us think we know everything about him by the end of the hour-and-a-half. For one, it’s strange to hear Hardy use a Welsh accent, but somehow, it totally works for this character. It doesn’t just work because he gets to say serious things and sound funny, but because of the way he actually calculates how he says every little statement. There’s a certain attention to energy and prowess that really shook me everytime he had something to say, to whichever person was on the receiving-end of his phone’s line.

I do realize that I sound awfully pretentious and all, but I’m serious, there’s something Hardy does so well with his voice and his accent that just works and has us glued to the screen right from as soon as we see Ivan Locke get in his car and take that right-turn. It also sort of helps that Locke himself is the kind of character we see every so often in a movie where he’s an absolute and total pro at his job, and does whatever he can to make sure that everything goes according to plan, even if he himself isn’t apart of that said plan any longer. And honestly, for a movie in which one of the main characters subplots is concrete-pouring, this totally does make a difference.

It should also be noted that for women who are going to want to see this movie so that they can get a nice shot of that hunk of man we all know as Tom Hardy, well, ladies, I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to be shite out of luck. Not only is Tom Hardy sitting the whole time, but he doesn’t look his best either. I get that probably doesn’t mean crap when compared to a natural, everyday human being, but still, when a movie-star allows for a pimple to remain so noticeable throughout a whole movie as Hardy’s does, then you have to give credit where credit is due. Now, it’s not the pimple itself that allows for Hardy to do great work as Ivan Locke, but it’s definitely one of the aspects that make this his best performance ever and has me even more excited for what he has coming up next.

Then again, I feel like I say that about every Tom Hardy movie I see. Even This Means War. Eck.

Consensus: Small, contained and tense, Locke doesn’t dive any deeper than it needs to, which is enough to make this a memorable watch, as well as to allow Tom Hardy to light the screen up with everything that he’s got, turning in his best performance to date.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No cops in sight, so put that pedal to the metal!

“Shit! DUI check-point up ahead.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

How I Live Now (2013)

Angst-fueled teens vs. the Military. Wonder who will win that bout?

Spoiled, US teen Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) gets shipped away from her dad, all the way to her Aunt’s place in the English countryside where she is uncomfortable, pissed off and annoyed with her surroundings, practically every second of every day. She notices that her cousins are too free-living and spirited for her own good, so therefore, she ridicules them by shouting out insults at them, telling them to leave her alone and basically just having this whole sour-puss feeling towards them whenever they want her to do something fun, exciting or useful with their days that doesn’t just concern sitting at home, listening to hip, cool indie bands and/or going on the interweb and chatting with all the coolies. However, Daisy does begin to lighten up a bit when she catches the eye of Edmond (George MacKay), a house-keeper of the family, and suddenly finds herself happy and pleased with these new quarters she’s surrounded by. Even though Daisy and everything with her cousins seem to be going all mighty fine and swell, it isn’t until a full-blown nuclear war begins and the military intervenes, separating all of them and sending them to war camps where they are practically enslaved by their own government, without much hope of seeing the outside world ever again. Daisy won’t let this stand though, and instead, decides that it’s time to escape and find the ones she was sent to stay with in the first place.

Cut out both of their faces and past Bella's and Edward's on there, and you'll see no difference.

Cut out both of their faces and past Bella’s and Edward’s on there, and you’ll see no difference.

This is one strange beast of a flick for many reasons, but the main which being is its tone. For instance, the first-half of this movie starts off something like a Twilight movie where young teens are seen frolicking around, falling in love, smiling and listening to a bunch of cool songs which, needless to say, got very boring to watch. It wasn’t because it didn’t offer anything new, it was just that it was uninteresting because there was nothing really going on except for a young girl falling in love and somehow coming into her own as a woman. That meant it was only an amount of time before things switched gears and got very, very dark, which is probably where this movie really began to work its magic.

See, about half-way through, director Kevin Macdonald practically pulls the rug out from underneath us by placing us inside this very bleak, unrelenting and grim movie about two young girls trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that’s been shattered by death, nuclear attacks and insane amounts of war. This part of the film is where I really began to be interested, and yet, I still couldn’t get my head around how differently it felt from the first-half. And like I mentioned, the first half was as weak as could be, but once Macdonald switches gears into a sort of war, survival-flick where the tension and will to live is amped-up, it felt a bit jarring, rather than a smart move on his part.

I liked the fact that Macdonald knew where he wanted to take this material, because it sure as hell showed that he had balls to take something that was a young adult romance, and give it a hard-edged spin on its ass, but it didn’t feel right and after awhile, I began to wonder what type of movie it was that I was watching. But then again, there is that thought in my head that knows I shouldn’t be all that mad at Macdonald because at least this switch kept things interesting and compelling; two elements that the first-half sure as hell wasn’t even close to achieving. So with that, I guess Macdonald deserves credit, but maybe a whole film dedicated to what was the second-half would have probably went down a lot smoother than the sudden change-of-plans that he decided to spring right onto us.

But since that second-half is so good, it’s worth mentioning how unrelenting Macdonald gets with his direction, almost to the point of where I was actually scared in believing something like this could actually happen to modern-day society. Without getting too ham-handed or preachy, there’s certain ideas about what this world might come to in case of a nuclear war in this movie that really rang true to me because while Macdonald doesn’t show an awfully negative view of the world, he still realizes that there is plenty of evil out there, regardless of if a war is going on or not. He doesn’t dig any deeper than that, but I think the ideas that were laid-out on the table were enough for me to be fully invested in what happened with this plot, and to these characters that inhabited it.

That said, Saoirse Ronan really does come into her own with this role as Daisy, showing us why she’s one of the best young actresses working today. And heck, she’s not even 20 yet! Though she did have a major set-back with the Host earlier this year, Ronan still shows promise in the way she’s able to carry herself as this self-righteous, spoiled brat that all of a sudden changes her mind once love and war gets in the way of things. The change her character has may have rang a little false, but that’s more of the scripts problem than it is of Ronan’s and I have to give her credit because she makes this character always worth rooting for, even in her most questionable acts and decisions, which come to light many of times throughout the violent last-half.

All they wanted was an autograph!

All they wanted was an autograph!

And everybody else involved with this young cast is great too, except that none of them are really as well-written as Daisy is, and now come to think of it, she wasn’t all that well-written either, it’s just that she had Ronan’s performance to fall back on. These other kiddies don’t fair quite as well as her, which is a bit of a shame, especially for George MacKay as Edmond, the one Daisy takes a liking to. Not only is this kid written like a total dream-boat that’s as unrealistic as you could get, but the romance between these two feels more like an infatuation that would take place over one summer, rather than a full-fledged love story that would have one person dangerously cross the ends of the earth just to be reunited with the other person. Didn’t feel right to me, and while it was easy for me to sort of get by all of that nonsense and pay attention to the harsh world that Macdonald created in front of my eyes, I still couldn’t fully believe in the romance that was supposed to be fueling all of this movie’s emotions and feelings. In fact, I’d wager that if it the story was told the other way around, then it would sure as hell be believable, because what strapping-young lad wouldn’t risk his life and limbs to be with Saoirse Ronan just one last time before the world goes to total shit? Lord knows I would, but then again, I’m a total sucker for young starlet babes, so sue me!

Consensus: The change-in-tone in How I Live Now is pretty jarring, and will most likely confuse the hell out of some viewers, but once this transition does happen, the movie becomes a whole lot more interesting, compelling, emotional and important, especially if you take into consideration the world we live in now, and what could happen if the same consequences presented here were to occur. Think about it, people! Think about it!

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Now, THIS is what real teen romance is like.

Now, THIS is what real teen romance is like.

Photo’s Credit to:

The Impossible (2012)

Apparently the English had it way worse than the rest of Thailand. Apparently.

Based on a real story, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as the parents of three sons as they are all caught in the aftermath of the humongous tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004. They get split-up, with the oldest-boy (Tom Holland) and his mother on one side, whereas the father and the younger-boys are on the other. However, among all of the pain, destruction, and disaster  both sides set out to find one another and do, simply, THE IMPOSSIBLE. Come on, you had to know that was coming up.

The 2004 Tsunami is a disaster that is still fresh and clear in many people’s minds and in ways, still has people feeling the effects, even after all of these years. That’s why making a flick about this monster-Tsuanmi would still seem a little too soon for some, but it’s a lot more tastefully done than the advertising would have you think. To be honest, it’s probably a better use of the Tsunami than that piece of crapola Hereafter was. Hey, if you’re going to cash-in on a real-life disaster, do it the right way, not the Clint Eastwood way. And that’s why director J.A Bayona is suited so well for this material because not only does he handle the subject and topic with a real sense of class and decency, but he also shows it in the way that makes me feel as if I was right then and there while it was happening.

After seeing a whole Summer chock-full of the world being blown-up and countless other areas being turned to shit, I was very, very surprised to see that the very best use of any type of destruction for a movie in 2012 (no, not that Roland Emmerich piece of shite) came from a movie that uses only 10 minutes or so of it, and then it’s practically gone. We only get 10 minutes or so until the actual Tsunami comes and concurs, and it’s just one of those moments that occurred this year where I was grounded to the floor from start-to-finish. The reason that is, is mainly because everything I saw seemed so real with the waves coming in at a very realistic look and pace, and the scariest use of water I have seen in quite some time. You seriously feel as if you are right there with these people as they get hit by the Tsunami and I have to give Bayona a crap-ton of credit for putting me on the edge of my seat and having me feel like I was in for a wild ride of drama, sadness, destruction, and family-matters. I got all of them, but sadly, not the way I wanted.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

After the Tsunami hits and we get to see the shitty situations these characters have found themselves in, everything, slowly but surely, starts to fall-apart. Maybe that isn’t the right thing to say because I was very involved with these characters, this real-life disaster, and the aftermath of it all, but then it almost seems to lose it’s focus. The story that we become first accustomed to is with Watts and Holland as he has to practically be the parent in this situation, because she can barely even walk and practically falling apart. This story-line was interesting as hell because you rarely get to see the kid parenting the parent in movies, unless it’s some teenage daughter teaching her dad all of the cool lingo that the Y-Generation, cool kids use. We see how a parent can put themselves below a child, be tended to, and how a child can actually do that while being successful, and yet, still be a child. It was interesting to see and I could tell that if this was how the whole film was going to play-out, then I was probably going to need to borrow the extra bag of Kleenex’s from the person next to me.

However, I soon forgot about a very key, important-factor to this flick: there’s a whole other side to the family! When McGregor shows up with the two, younger boys, then the flick becomes a bit conventional and melodramatic, almost to the point of where it’s off-putting. With Watts and Holland, it was rich, raw, and gritty, almost to the point of where you were cringing because somebody needed to throw water and soap on them, but when you get McGregor and his story of looking for his family, it takes everything down to something that feels as if it would be from a Lifetime movie or something. The eternal conflict that McGregor has to go through, is that he has to choose on whether or not to abandon his own children, to look for his wife and other child, and that’s it. He has to find them and if he doesn’t, chances are, they’ll be dead. I get that it’s a very real and true depiction of events that probably occurred to a plethora of families around this time, but still, it doesn’t make it the least-bit intriguing or surprising to watch, especially when all that I’m watching is a guy, walking around with a piece of paper in his head and asking people certain names. Yeah, should have just stayed with Watts. She probably would have gotten naked more, too.

The fact that this is a real depiction of something that real people had to go through, just makes this final-product a bit more distasteful in it’s own way. For instance, I find it relatively strange that the flick’s real-life story, concerns a family that was Mexican. Here, they are English and even worse, the rest of the film acts like it was hardest on them the most. Over a million people died that fateful day and some families are still reeling from the effects of that, so to sit-there and make a movie about a little, mighty family of mates that went searching for one another, does seem a bit rude to the rest of the people out there who died and were sometimes under the same circumstance as this very same family. I do have to come and realize that yes, this is a Hollywood production and yes, this is a real-life story about a real-life family, not the real-life event that actually occurred, but still, if I were one of the families who suffered from this Tsunami and saw this movie, I’d be a little ticked-off, quite frankly.

"You think I'm bad, you should see Anakin."

“You think I’m bad, you should see Anakin.”

Even though the actual, real-life family this story is based-off of is in fact, Mexican, the English cast that actually does take over this story still make it worth the while to watch and are easily the best elements to this flick. Naomi Watts is getting all sorts of hollers and praise for her role here as Maria, the wife/mother who can’t fend for herself due to a terrible disability, and it’s well-deserved hollers and praise, in my mind. Watts is always knocking roles like this out of the park, each and every single year, but here, she sort of shows the vulnerable-side to her character that can’t be the leader and owner anymore, and instead, has to sit on the back burner and try to stay alive, while her son cares and tends for her. Maybe it’s not as traumatizing of a performance as the one she gave in 21 Grams, but it’s still the cleaner, more mainstream-version of that same performance.

Ewan McGregor is an actor that has been very so-so over the last decade or so, but I think he’s gotten his career back on-track and is a great actor to watch, especially when he’s in such an act of desperation as his character is here. McGregor definitely still has the lovable sensibility to him that not only makes you feel like he’s a great father that loves his family for what they are, but will ultimately, end-up doing the right thing for every one in the end. There’s a scene with McGregor on the phone and without giving too much away and spoiling it for all of you cats out there, it’s probably his most powerful piece of acting he’s given ever since the days of Moulin Rogue. Maybe to some, that’s not saying much, but to me, it means the whole world. Good job, Ewan! Now stay away from the new Star Wars movies!

As compelling as McGregor and Watts are (and trust me, they are something to watch and behold here), the one who really stands-out the most is probably Tom Holland as the oldest-son. The kid starts off as a bit of a brat that can’t help but being a piece of crap to his parents and to his brothers, but has to change all that up once everything goes from bad, to worse, to absolutely dreadful. Not many kid actors working today could pull-off that transition from spoiled-brat, to powerful, adult-like child, but Holland does it and does it so perfectly that you really believe in whatever this kid does next. He’s a wonderfully kind specimen the way he cares for his mother and looks out for her, especially when she needs him the most, but is even kinder when it comes to helping others out in looking for their families, friends, and loved ones. Holland may, or may not slide-by with an Oscar nomination this year but if he does get one, I will not be mad in the least-bit because he’s never annoying, and he’s always real. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

Consensus: Focusing on one, English-family throughout this terrible disaster that occurred in 2004, does seem a bit insensitive to the ones who were effected the most by it, but The Impossible still provides plenty of rich, character-moments that are made even better by the cast and crew that make this flick, one step above your typical, soapy-drama.


Don't let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.

Don’t let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.