Posts Tagged ‘movies’

2013 Movie A Day Review #1: Young Guns

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm

young guns

IMDB Description:

A group of young gunmen, led by Billy the Kid, become deputies to avenge the murder of the rancher who became their benefactor. But when Billy takes their authority too far, they become the hunted.

An expression you will see a lot in my reviews is “I don’t get it”….this normally will refer to how I can not understand a movie carrying the popularity it does. Young Guns is a fine example of this expression. Not that I thought the movie was bad, it was just I did not think it was THAT good to earn the cult like status is has garnered throughout the years.

Granted, it does have a stellar cast for the time it was made (think of putting Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in a movie together today and that is what the cast of Young Guns was back in it’s time). But to me, only one of the big stars of the movie is properly cast (Lou Diamond Phillips). The other big 3 of the film are totally out of their element. Charlie Sheen is obviously in it just for the payday, Keifer Sutherland looks like he needs to be woken up every time he is saying his lines, and worst of all is Emilio Estevez, who is just flat out annoying.

The best parts of the movie are Terrance Stamp and Jack Palance, but their roles are so minor it is not enough to make the overall viewing experience enjoyable. The secondary love story between Sutherland’s character and the Chinese slave is totally unnecessary, and actually drags the movie to a halt whenever it is onscreen. Plus, the five minute peyote using scene is just typical Hollywood trying to make drugs look funny and cool (a trend that continues to this day in films).

If you have not scene Young Guns, it is worth watching once, because the story of redeeming a father figure is good enough to get you through the movie. But you will most likely not want to go back for a second helping of the film.

2 out of 5 stars


Project 400 In 365 #9: Drag Me To Hell

In Movie Reviews on October 25, 2011 at 12:33 am

One of my friends asked me when I started doing this project if I was only going to do films I had not already seen, or if I was going to do anything no matter if I had seen it or not. I told him anything, because there were some movies that I had not seen since they came out and I wanted to see if my opinions of them now were the same as on my initial viewing. This was one such movie.

This is a storyline you have seen a million times. Cute, somewhat ditzy female has something go wrong (in this instance, a curse put on her) and then spends the movie trying to make things right. It is not really new original concepts at work here. So the question is what can the director do with this material to make it fresh and unique. The answer is, quite a lot.

To really get the full creepiness effect of this movie, you need to watch it either through headphones or a high quality sound system. The ambient sounds and effects are the biggest contributing factor in the scariness. Every little noise is amplified and used for a purpose. Even while dialog is occurring, the background notices take center stage in driving the thriller factor up a notch.

The director also makes excellent use a lighting and shadows. Subtle images flow in and out of the shadows throughout the entire movie, and when you combine these with the background sound effects, it makes for quite an intense viewing.

This film is not without it’s faults though, the foremost being the cast. Justin Long is not made for anything other than romantic comedy, and Allison Lohman is simply overmatched by script. The viewer never truly believes she is in any danger because her face and body language are one note throughout the entire movie. Moments that should be frightening to the viewer are not because of this.

This is a movie which fans of the thriller genre (and I use that term because this is not a horror movie) should enjoy immensely.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Project 400 In 365 # 7: Across The Universe

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm


Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows 2 things:  I think The Beatles are the only musical act to ever matter in history….and I am a musical (Broadway) enthusiast.  When you combine those two things, it is easy to see why I was so excited when I heard this movie was coming out in 2007.  But I must confess, I have not watched it since my initial viewing 4 years ago.

There are several key components to making a good, quality musical film.  The first is of course the music.  Well, really can not go wrong when you are working with Beatles material.  The second is direction.  Julie Taymor is a Broadway veteran who knows how to use the slightest touches to bring out a big payoff.  Her camera work in this film is simply spectacular.  It is true artistry in motion.  The musical numbers are filmed like they are pulled directly from the stage, and the non-musical sequences are done with an eye to detail you simply do not see in most movies today.

Another aspect to create a good, quality musical film is the story.  There has to be something besides the music to carry you from scene to scene (see the movie version of RENT as an example of how NOT to do this).  Here, the viewer is engrossed into both a love story and a Vietnam era peace story.  The Vietnam storyline is the weaker of the two, and would be a slight bit over bearing if it were not for the strong performance from Joe Anderson as Max, the reluctant college drop out draftee forced into duty.  Luckily, Taymor knows just how much is enough, and does not burden the viewer down.

The more compelling storyline is the relationship of Lucy (Max’s sister) and Jude (Max’s friend).  Once the trio becomes entrenched into New York City life, the movie really takes off.  The cast is filled out with a few minor bit players (a Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix close, and a lesbian convientantly named Prudence, which comes in handy for one of the better musical numbers in the film).  But at it’s core, this is a story of Lucy and Jude.

Taymor does a brilliant job of seamlessly incorporating some of the Beatles best work into the movie.  As you watch the film, you feel that the music could actually be spoken as just dialog and still fit right into the script.  This is not an easy task.  The standout example of this is Jude’s blistering rendition of “Revolution”, which to me was my favorite musical sequence in the movie.  The other stand outs are “Let It Be” and “It Won’t Be Long”.

So, is this the first 5 star rated movie for 400 in 365? Unfortunately, no.  And it is because of one thing and one thing only.  There is a 12 minute section of this film which does not need to be there.  It simply adds NOTHING to the story, plot or character development of anyone in the movie.  As much as I love Bono, his “I Am The Walrus” number, and subsequent acid trip bus right scene do no belong.  The scene actually grinds the movie to a harsh stop, and it takes a few minutes to get back into the groove of the film.

Outside of this little section, this movie is absolute perfection.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Project 400 In 365 # 6: Spaceballs

In Movie Reviews on October 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm


I wanted to watch this movie for reason only: to see if it holds up. I remembered this film to be hysterically funny when I last watched it, but that had been about 10 years ago.  So it was time to see if the movie stands the test of time, and can but put into the “masterpiece” category of some of Mel Brook’s other films (Young Frankenstien being at the top of that list for me).

Sadly, it doesn’t.  Yes, there are parts of this movie that are downright laugh riot.  The problem is, those parts are the ONLY enjoyable element to the movie.  Many of the gags that were so funny when you first see the film fall flat on repeated viewings (Pizza The Hut being the biggest one for me).  There are simply not enough high points to match the abundance of low points.

For starters, the acting is just terrible in this movie. If it did not have Mel Brooks name on it, this film would have to be considered one of the worst acted movies in history.  Bill Pullman is sleep walking through his line delivery, and even Brooks himself is almost unwatchable in most scenes.  But the worst part of the entire viewing experience is Joan Rivers.  She is so bad in her role, I was tempted to stop watching the movie several times because I just could not take it  anymore.

Luckily, there are two exceptional performances which kept me laughing enough to continue the viewing.  John Candy is so good as the sidekick to Bill Pullman, I kept thinking to myself the entire movie should have just been him with….Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet.  Moranis delivers his lines so effortlessly and with such great timing, you have to wonder if he was going off a script, or simply making it up as the filming went.  There are parts  where I had to pause the playback because I was laughing so hard at him.

Unfortunately, there was not enough Dark Helmet to make up for the weak performances of everyone else.

A very disappointing 2.5 out of 5 stars.

400 In 365 is returning!

In Movie Reviews on October 11, 2011 at 2:01 am

As some of you may real, a couple years ago, I started a project to watch 400 movies in a year….well I got I so busy, I lost track and could not complete it. But now…I got nothing but time! So tomorrow, I hit reset and start again!

This means it’s time for suggestions. ANY movie suggested will be watched (provided I can get a hold of it), so leave a comment on here or hit my Facebook page up and leave a comment there.

Tomorrow, the reviews begin!

Movie Review: Morning Glory

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2011 at 6:29 am

A couple reviews back, I did my roadmap to making a good “chick flick” (it was the Letters To Juliet review). The concept and formula is not a hard one to follow, and all the enjoyable, entertaining romantic comedies stick to the basic idea. This movie decided to blaze new territory in the genre, and does so with mixed, unspectacular results.

First let me say Rachel McAdams could have a long and successful career playing this type of character. She is what we saw in Reece Witherspoon 10 years ago. In this movie she comes off as a cute, adorable down to earth every girl type, and because of this, I think most everyone can instantly identify with her character. Her performance is without question and best party of this movie, and what made me want to keep watching.

Diane Keaton seems to be typecast now as the neurotic, older lady who is perpetually pissed off at the world. I really have no problem with this, because she does it so well, but her Chinatown days are far behind her when it comes to any substance or depth to her roles. You know what you are going to get with her, and she does a quality job.

The problem with this movie, and where the movie eventually just falls flat on its face, is with Harrison Ford. The idea of the old time real news reporter becoming the anchor of a Regis and Kelly type show has much promise and could be comedic gold…..but not here. The reason is because Ford is completely unlikable in every sense of the word in this movie. There is NO redeeming value or quality to his character at all. In these feel good, sappy movies, it is hard to root for someone when you have zero desire to see their character succeed in any way.

I don’t think it is just the material Ford was given to work with either (although his character is written HORRIBLY). It is actually his performance that most turned me off. He had the ever present ” I really don’t want to be here and am just doing this for a paycheck” look we see far to often on actors faces these days (think Pacino in 88 Minutes). It is sad to watch such great actors just go through the motions to cash a check, and that is exactly what happens here. Ford had NO business being in this movie, and it shows from the first time he is onscreen (Tom Selleck would have been a much more entertaining choice for the role).

There are other issues I had with this movie too. There is no clear timeline set or followed in the film. The viewer is never given a sense of how much time has passed from scene to scene. There are also some bit players (Jeff Goldblum being one) that never have enough time onscreen. You are left guessing what their job is and why they are important to the overall plot.

1.5 out of 5, would have been even lower if not for McAdams entertaining performance.

My Worst Movies of 2010

In Movie Reviews on December 17, 2010 at 3:46 am

After looking over the complete list of movies I watched this year, I came to realize that this was a bad bad bad year for movies. My best of list is very thin this year, and some would just be mediocre in most years. It was incredibly hard to sort out the “worst” of the worst from 2010. The films listed below represent the true garbage of the past year. One thing I will state is that only movies which I have actually had the pleasure (or in this case displeasure) of sitting through go on my lists. So yes, I have actually viewed the films below in their entirety, and somehow managed to still remain in a semi-sane awake state. So now I give you my choices for the worst viewing experiences you can have for 2010! (in order of release date)

Youth In Revolt
Extraordinary Measures
When In Rome
From Paris With Love
The Bounty Hunter
Hot Tub Time Machine
Kick Ass
Back Up Plan
Shrek 4
Prince Of Persia
Get Him To The Greek
Johan Hex
Grown Ups
Knight and Day
The Other Guys
Eat Pray Love
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Life As We Know It

The Social Network

In Movie Reviews on October 5, 2010 at 9:24 am

This David Fincher directed film is best watched with the mindset that you are viewing not the telling of the rise of one of the most dominate forces in our lives today, but instead a spectacular business drama. Trying to gain any meaningful facts on the true creation of Facebook would be pointless at best, and futile at worst. But that is not to say this film is flawed or should not be seen. The exact opposite is actually true.

This movie is so engaging that I would recommend EVERYONE go see it as soon as they can. Jesse Eisenberg is completely brilliant in his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. From the very opening scene, you have are left wondering if he is just a complete social outcast or truly a conceded jerk, and this question continues throughout the entire movie (and it actually never really resolved). Yes, at times he treats people (using the term “friends” would be way to much of a stretch) like just means to an end, but then at other times (pay close attention to the deposition scenes) you can see the real pain he is feeling by having to go through what he is going through.

All of these emotion are slowly brought out through Aaron Sorkin’s spectacular script. There is no question there will be a screen writer Oscar nod for Sorkin. Just like he did throughout his years on SportsNight and The West Wing, Sorkin knows how to draw the viewer in with some of the most biting and jaring dialog you will ever hear. An example:

Facebook Lawyer: Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?
Mark Zuckerberg: [stares out the window] No.
Facebook Lawyer: Do you think I deserve it?
Mark Zuckerberg: [looks at the lawyer] What?
Facebook Lawyer: Do you think I deserve your full attention?
Mark Zuckerberg: I had to swear an oath before we began this deposition, and I don’t want to purjure myself, so I have a legal obligation to say no.
Facebook Lawyer: Okay – no. You don’t think I deserve your attention.
Mark Zuckerberg: I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. [pauses]
Mark Zuckerberg: Did I adequately answer your condescending question?

These type of acid tongue exchanges are a staple of any Sorkin script, and he is at his best in writing The Social Network. Every character seems to shine with the words they are given, from Zuckerberg’s long lost love Erica:

“Listen. You’re going to be succesful and rich. But you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because your a tech geek. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because your an asshole.”

To the surprisingly powerful portrayal of Sean Parker (Napster founder and mentor to Zuckerberg) by Justin Timberlake, in response to someone challenging that he didn’t change the music industry

“Oh really, would you like to buy Tower Records now?”

Fincher takes this masterful script and directs the audience into the story through the creative use of the two lawsuit depositions. The questions from the suing parties lawyers (and subsequent answers by Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg) help narrate the story along at a smooth even pace. You are not overwhelmed with information or plot twists.

If there is one criticism I had with the movie, it is that by the time the credits role, you are left with no one to really root for or care about. Zuckerberg, although not completely unlikable, is in the end shown as a loner with no heart. Even in the final scene, you are not sure if we what he is waiting on is because he is hoping for it to turn out right, or if it is because he just want to gloat a little more.

Sean Parker’s final scene (which to me was completely unnecessary to the overall story) is so open ended, the viewer is left going “what the hell happened to him?!”

And this brings me to Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin. This is the one character in the entire movie which are you supposed to feel compassion and sympathy for. But not even Sorkin’s script and Fincher’s directing to make this kid into a decent actor. Stiff and almost wooden throughout the entire film, there is never any bond formed between Saverin and Zuckerberg to make the audience care what happens to either in the final scene.

But it does not matter, because the movie is so good up to this point. Expect to hear Sorkin’s, Fincher’s and possibly Timberlake’s name on the Oscar ballots.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Hot Tub Time Machine

In Movie Reviews on June 30, 2010 at 7:11 am

Fueled by energy drinks, vodka and nostalgia for their younger, wilder days, a group of aging best friends travels back in time to 1987, where they get the chance to relive the best year of their lives. And their time machine? Well, it’s a hot tub. John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Crispin Glover and Sebastian Stan co-star in this out-of-the-box comedy that takes time travel to a whole new level.

This movie suffers from one of the worst mistakes a movie can make: not knowing what it wants to be. In this case, is the movie a witty comedy about the yearnings for ones youth? Or is a morality tale about accepting what you have in life? Or perhaps it is a reflection on how the friends of our youth do not fit into our adult lives? Or is it all of the above? Or none of the above?

See the problem?

The concept of going back in time has been done over and over again (the best of which is of course Back To The Future) and no new ground is covered here. The cast, led by one of my personal favorites John Cusak, does a good job with what they have to work with, but it not much of a starting point. One of the biggest problems with the movie is that the gags and jokes in it require you to have a pretty deep knowledge of the 80s to even get them. I grew up in that era and even I had a hard time grasping some of the humor they were going for.

Also, there are far to many uncomfortable moments in this movie to make it funny. Scenes like Cusak getting high (a BIG killer for me in any movie). Craig Robinson’s character calling the 9 year old version of his future wife and screaming at her, and Rob Corrdry’s banging of Cusak’s sister as Cusak stands outside the door and listens all put the movie on an incredibly dark level.

Even at the end, where you think that maybe the characters will have some type of redemptive break through on changes to make to their life, you are left disappointed.

2.5 out of 5 stars, not one I would rush out to see, but it is passable if you have nothing left in your Netflix queue.

The Dark Knight

In Movie Reviews on June 28, 2010 at 9:59 am

(this is my original review from Yahoo the day after the movie opened)

Man, how I wanted to see this so bad. I really don’t head to the theater too much (thank you Netflix!), but trekked out to the theater and sat in the packed, sold out theater. An hour in, I was ready to fall aspleep, and not because I was tired.

The story is just totally and completely non-existent. I am talking none, zero.

The acting is average at best. Everyone praising Heath Ledger is simply not wanting to speak bad about someone who passed away. How Maggie Gyllenhaal continues to get work is beyond me. Aaron Eckhart is completely wasted, and Christian Bale (who I loved as in Batman Begins) takes a huge step down.

Most disappointing to me was the direction. Christopher Nolan, who directed one of my favorite films of the last 10 years (The Prestige), can’t decide if he wants to make an action film or a drama, and ends up just making a film with no clear direction at all.

Yes, the visuals are stunning in the movie, and the action scenes are first rate. And I guess that it is why it i getting such great reviews, because we live in an MTV society which wants everything in your face and pounded over your head instead having to be made to pay attention to things like character development and plot.

My advice to you all: skip this one and wait for the dvd.