Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Summary: A newly released convict (Dwayne Johnson) set’s out to avenge the murder of his brother. Ten years ago the brothers were engaged in a heist but were double-crossed by a mysterious gang immediately afterwards. Now a veteran drug addicted detective and an egocentric hit man are both tracking this man hell bent on revenge.

Plot (B+): To say that Johnson’s character is a man on a mission is a complete understatement. He is more like a man possessed by some unholy force and nothing is going to stop him until he kills everyone that screwed him and killed his brother. This is immediately visible during the opening scene as you see Johnson pace back and forth in his cell with intensity. It’s safe to say that Faster has some religious, both dark and light, undertones to the film. The plot itself is a straightforward revenge flick with a slight twist at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and looked forward to seeing it for some time. To clarify, only 2 or 3 people in this film are referred to by their actual names. Johnson’s character is simply referenced as “the Driver” since he was the driver during the heist with his brother. I thought this was very cool because it clearly states that this movie is not solely about the characters per se. It’s about revenge and when someone is bent on getting it nothing else really matters. There is a sub-plot, which centers on the egocentric hit man who is hired to kill Johnson’s character. While I understand the connection between the Killer and the Driver I felt they focused a bit much on the Killer’s personal life.

Action (A): I was very happy to see Johnson back in the action genre saddle because it fits him perfectly. He took a break from starring in action films but this was a great comeback. Most of the action scenes are either gunfights or just watching Johnson blow someone’s head clean off. Lastly, the film had several cool driving action sequences, which kept the movie flowing at a faster pace.

Acting & Dialogue (B+): Dwayne Johnson is a good actor and I don’t give a shit what people say. His transition from wrestling to acting was extremely smooth and natural even if that was years ago. Although, Johnson’s character doesn’t not speak much his body language says EVERYTHING. He walks with a purpose. When he confronts each new target his posture is stiff but it gives the notion that he’s ready to attack then and there. Most of all, his eyes are filled with an intense fiery rage which strikes fear into the hearts of his victims (Note: I’ve seen this look before from his wrestling days and it worked perfectly). This rage has been festering for ten years and it gives audiences the inclination that he is no longer human but more of a dark super natural force. Essentially, he is the bringer of death. Billy Bob Thornton plays the veteran Cop who’s days away from retirement but wants on this case for his own reasons. Thornton was particularly good in this role and played his character much like Robert De Niro played the obsessed psychopath Gil Renard in The Fan. Thornton’s Cop is smart but he can’t catch a break with his estranged wife, their cubby son, his job, and in life.

Sex Appeal (6.5): Maggie Grace (the whinny and stupid daughter from Taken) is stunningly beautiful in this film. She walks around in lingerie and is practically flawless. (Sidebar, I saw her in a flea market in Santa Monica last summer. I was going to “accidently” step on the back of her heel and pretend that it was accident so I could talk to her, however, I sadly chickened out.)

Director (B+): George Tillman Jr. created a fine piece of work and I would say that this is one of his best. The other film being Men of Honor, which starred Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. Tillman also directed Notorious (the Notorious B.I.G movie), Soul Food, and Scenes for the Soul. Tillman’s ability to keep the pace moving and not focusing on one particular thing for too long was executed with great precision. As I said above, Johnson did everything at lightening speed and that was a great metaphor for the entire film. Tillman’s ability to focus in on that really won me over.

Overall: B+

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green Lantern Trailer

Check out the new Green Lantern trailer in the trailer section below! It looks very cool and I really like Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. He brought that cocky attitude as usual but it works for the character because that's who Hal Jordan is. While at first I wasn't crazy about the full CGI costume it has grown on me. With that said, I don't care fore his eyepiece because it looks extremely fake. If anything they could have given me a real one. I'm extremely happy to see a new and very different comic book hero finally come to the silver screen!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Single Man

Summary: George (Colin Firth) is a British English professor living in 1962 L.A. at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Instead of focusing on his job or the looming potential death of the United States his mind and heart are centered on one thing: the death of his lover, Jim. As stated by George throughout his opening monologue, each day is difficult yet typical. However, when we see George he decides to do something a bit different.

Plot (A): Within the opening minutes of the film it becomes very difficult not to feel a deep sense of sympathy for George. It’s even harder to hold back your emotions as you see George lay down next to a dead Jim in a dream. It’s within those opening moments that you understand the suffering the main character internally experiences and yet can't express to the outside world. A Single Man has an extraordinary storyline because it hits so many aspects of life. It’s very touching yet rough for those who are in love and have to watch George's pain for the loss of Jim. For those who grew up during the 60’s, it's reminiscent of what life was like specifically in relation to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, and the constant sense doom that always lingered. Also, for anyone who was gay at that time it expresses how they could not live life in the open thus being forced to conceal their true self behind an illusion. Overall, A Single Man touches on an emotional, historical, and social level of life in the 1960’s.

Action: N/A

Acting & Dialogue (A): The film predominately focuses on Colin Firth’s character and his interactions with the people in his life. Firth is absolutely amazing in his role. He eloquently combined his British charm with the sophistication of an English professor secretly living as a gay man in the 1960’s. As in some of my favorite films Firth’s character discusses his inner thoughts with the audience. This constant running monologue, as always, allows for a deeper connection between viewers and the character/story. Firth’s performance was so highly applauded last year that he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Julianne Moore plays Charley, a former lover of George, but who is now his best friend. And when I say best friend I mean she’s a self-indulgent divorcee with a shit load of money and a drinking problem. Moore is equally superb although her screen time is minimal. For me, it was the way she spoke which stuck out the most. Picture a pretentious WASP from the Upper East Side saying, “That’s marvelous darling.” a bunch of times and then you'll get the essence of her character.

Sex Appeal: N/A

Director (A): This is Tom Ford’s only directing gig thus far and I have to say he made one hell of an entrance. One of the things that I really liked about Ford’s direction was his ability to brighten up the color in George’s face when some memory, smell, or person made him happy. It’s hard not to notice George’s color brighten up significantly when he is happy. The constant recurrence gives the notion that there is hope for him yet. Just like the monologue, and perhaps even more so, this simply action connects us to George’s emotions on a deeper level. Ford wonderfully mixed the present with flashbacks of random events in George and Jim’s relationship: i.e.) when they first met, hanging out on the beach or in their house, and sadly yes, the moment George received the news about Jim’s death (Firth was great in that scene). I don’t see any new projects on Fords IMDB page but that could and probably will change.

Overall: A

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Batman 3 Entitled: The Dark Knight Rises; No Riddler

Director Christopher Nolan has just revealed the name of his third Batman installment and it will be called The Dark Knight Rises.

Collider reports:

Director Christopher Nolan has spilled some revelations to Hero Complex about the upcoming film. First up, the next Batman movie will be titled The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan also tells Hero Complex that The Riddler will not be the villain in the third film. There have been reports that Killer Croc may be the villain, but that rumor came from Mark “in-no-way-trustworthy” Millar.

Finally, Nolan confirms what we already suspected: the film won’t be in 3D. Cinematographer Wally Pfister shares Nolan’s lack of enthusiasm for the technology. However, they’re both fans of IMAX and will “…instead use high-definition approaches and IMAX cameras to strike out on a different cinematic path…” Nolan filmed the intro of the Dark Knight in IMAX.

I'm kind of torn about the Riddler not being in the third film. I think it would have been a nice inclusion and we would have seen another part of Batman's intellectual side. At the same time, the Riddler doesn't pose a big physical threat to him so if Nolan does go with Killer Croc we will see great fight scenes. Actor Tom Hardy (Inception) is officially signed on for the The Dark Knight Rises so he may/probably will be the villain. I'm happy Nolan is staying away from 3D and taking the IMAX approach again. It's definitely more of a compliment to the story and it's not selling out. 3D would just ruin the quality of the film altogether. As for the title I gotta say I'm not that thrilled with it. I mean The Dark Knight Rises? In my opinion it's somewhat boring and unimaginative. It gives the impression that its the first in the series when its really the third. I would have been happier with The Caped Crusader or if Nolan went back to the simplicity of of just Batman with some other catchy word. Who knows maybe I just need some time to let it marinate. Either way I do look forward to this film immensely and cannot wait until July 2012!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jackass 3D

I'm a huge fan of Jackass. I think its extremely funny and highly entertaining. Watching grown men creatively come up with ways to hurt themselves is just highly amusing in my opinion. However, I felt the Jackass crew could have done better this time around. Although I'm not gonna go into specifics I thought some of the pranks/acts didn't live up to the essence that is Jackass. Don't get wrong there are funny, outrageous, and disgusting parts to the film (which almost made me puke...no joke) but I did walk in expecting a bit more. They relied too much on the slow motion shots where regular speed would have been suffice. Furthermore, perhaps some of the overall essence was different because they weren't hammered on the set or used footage while they drunk. This is mainly due to Steve-O's recovery, which in the whole grand scheme of things was a great sign of support and respect so I can't really argue with that. Is Jackass 3D worth seeing? Yes, especially if you're a true fan but I personally felt the first two were better.

Overall: B

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Social Network

After seeing The Social Network it became abundantly clear that as smart and talented Mark Zuckerberg was (and still is) back at his days at Harvard he needed to do something extraordinary in his life in order to feel special and get noticed. Creating Facebook made him shit loads of money, which in turn got him friends, notoriety, and exclusivity, all of which he was completely incapable of doing on his own. Zuckerberg’s social skills were so lacking and his personality was extremely rigid that it seemed as if he had no emotion at all. After finding out the story behind Facebook, even though some of it was glorified for the sake of cinema, I have to admit that part of me doesn’t want to be part of the Facebook world anymore. Zuckerberg’s dedication to the idea of this groundbreaking social media outlet is very admirable but when you see his lack of honor and loyalty to his best and ONLY friend, Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin, it may really disturb you as it did me. I have come to realize that Zuckerberg created something that has profoundly changed socialization forever but he paid a high cost largely due to his inability to connect to people. His actions towards others didn’t even register on an emotional level mainly due to his genius and dedication to the essence of Facebook. Ironic, isn’t it? What I found even more ironic is the fact a young man who was completely inept of socializing with his peers perfectly understood what people his age desired in order to socialize. It is within that critical understanding that I have to tip my hat to the guy. At the same time, Zuckerberg may have 500 million "friends" on Facebook but when your one and only true friend sues you it says something about the person you are. It says that you’re a jealous, low self-esteemed ass fuck with little to no sense of loyalty, which above all pisses me off.

Overall, The Social Network was a very good movie – a solid piece of cinema. Obviously, certain details were left out for legal reasons but the story that was presented was entertaining, thought provoking, and more importantly informative. Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven) flip-flopped between the past, which was the creation of the site at Harvard in 2003, and everything leading up to the present where Zuckerberg is entangled in two separate depositions. One deposition focuses on the Winklevoss twins (who are the EPITMOE of self entitled WASP jocks) who claimed that Zuckerberg stole their initial idea. The second focuses on Saverin’s. As for Jesse Eisenberg’s performance, it was truly exceptional and he did an excellent job displaying Zuckerberg’s genius, his callous and cynical personality, and his social awkwardness. Eisenberg’s ability to shell out hundreds of interrelated thoughts with intellectual superiority was astounding. Justin Timberlake played Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, who at the time was an entrepreneur looking for the next big thing to make him money. When Parker befriends Zuckerberg things change rather quickly both in the positive and in the negative but it’s clear that Parker’s assistance took Facebook to the next level. Timberlake gave a very good performance playing the confidant and cocky Parker. His transition to the silver screen has worked out rather well for him and I have to say I enjoy watching him in the right roles.

Another thing that didn’t set well with me about this movie is the actual existence of these highly elite and exclusive Ivy League final clubs where everyone is preppy, egotistical, and has this arrogant sense of entitlement. Maybe I'm missing something concerning this because that world is very foreign to me. In the beginning of the film Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg stated that these final clubs would lead to a better life and the establishment of new and better relationships for one’s future. While I can't disagree with that latter part of that statement, undeniably networking and connections can get you very far professionally; I'm still in awe of the arrogance. Yes, it’s a privilege to go to any Ivy League school, especially Harvard, but the majority of people don't want to hear how awesome other people and their private clubs are. I couldn’t care less that you have a trust fund, or that your dad works in Washington DC and has several connections that will highly benefit your future, or that you’re a 6th generation WASP therefore you're apparently more American than me. Shit like that makes me fucking sick. I could say a lot more but I think I should end this little tangent now.

Is The Social Network worth seeing? Yes, and I suggest you see it. However, don't be surprised to feel a little dirty and uncomfortable when you walk out the theater. You may feel even dirtier when you log onto Facebook to update your status, tag someone in a photo, or do some other bullshit it offers. Whatever you do you should always remember at Facebook’s core was a lonely and bitter 20 something year old genius who created this phenomenon but burnt practically every bridge to get where he is today. For some that may not matter but for me I hold the relationships in my life with much more importance and respect than money, fame, and exclusivity.

Overall: A-

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Zack Synder Directing New Superman Movie

It's official...Zack Synder (300, Watchmen) will be directing the new Superman movie.

THR reports:

Zack Snyder has been chosen to direct the new Superman movie, which Christopher Nolan is producing for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Negotiations began earlier today.

Snyder, who directed “300″ and “Watchmen,” had been on the list of helmers ensconced in meetings with Nolan and Warners execs, who in recent weeks have talked to Darren Aronofsky, Ben Affleck, Matt Reeves and Tony Scott.

Nolan, who revived Batman, teamed up with David Goyer for a new a way to revive the last son of Krypton. Goyer is writing the script, which is rumored to have, like “Superman Returns,” a Richard Donner Superman connection. In the movie’s case, it’s a villain connection: General Zod.

Nolan is producing with his wife and producing partner Emma Thomas, along with Charles Roven, and Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder’s wife and partner.

Because Nolan was godfathering “Superman,” it initially was though that any filmmaker coming on baord would be someone who would be more of a mentee in a mentor-style relationship. Snyder, however, brings not only box-office clout but also, like Nolan, a reputation for being a visionary.

Snyder, who told Heat Vision that he was “psyched” about the gig, played down potential class differences.

“In the initial meetings, he’s been super amzaingly smart and also amazingly kind, filmmaker-to-filmmaker,” he said of Nolan. “I have great respect for him. The process has been amazing so far, and it looks like nothing but pluses.”

Snyder first met with Nolan about a month ago, and while he didn’t do any dog-and-pony show, “I definitely expressed my love for the character and interest in seeing him treated right.”

Added Snyder: “The character deserves to be loved. It’s his time”

The director said he and the movie’s makers would work on the script a little bit before jumping to the next stage.

“We’re moving quick,” he said.

I'm really excited about this. Synder is a great director and has experience with comic book movies. His style is typically a bit darker than other directors so I'm interested to see how he'll incorporate that into the Man of Steel. Obviously, Superman isn't a dark character in any way but I think he's been missing some touches of darkness all these years. When I say darkness what I really mean is going all out in a fight, holding nothing back, and revealing some emotions. As a true Superman fan that's what I need to see. This is going to be awesome!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Town

Summary: A team of life long friends execute highly planned robberies in the Charlestown area of Boston. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is the mastermind and leader of the group but after crossing paths with Claire Keesey (Rebecca) a bank manager who they took as a hostage he starts to have a change of heart. MacRay must now deal with his growing emotions for Claire, the growing discontent between him and his best friend James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), and the extremely smart and determined FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) who is onto his teams heists.

Plot (A-): What a great movie The Town was! Adapted from Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves the story is filled with nail biting scenes. For a short amount of time there is a sense of calmness that overruns the story but that is short-lived due to the on going cat and mouse game MacRay and Frawley play. From the opening scene to the closing credits I was hypnotized but what I was watching. There is excellent plot development as well as character development, which allows viewers to appreciate the story and its characters. More specifically, The Town focuses on MacRay and his relationship with his friends (specifically Coughlin), his incarcerated father, the FBI, and Claire. Although, MacRay is a thief it’s easy to feel for him on a deeper level. The emotional pain he suffered throughout his life adds several layers to the story thus making The Town more than just a film about robbing banks and armored money trucks. The Town is similar to The Departed in the sense of the emotional roller coaster it puts the audience through.

Action (A-): Although there are only three heists throughout the film they are extremely cool. MacRay’s team are experts in the thievery game and have all the angles covered…and then some. These guys were not some morons who walk into a bank and rob the place. No, they wear masks, gloves, and carry automatic machine guns. They contaminate the crime scene with bleach before they leave so there is not a chance for forensics to establish a lead. Furthermore, their methods of getaway are a highly thought out thus adding to the action sequences. Overall, lets just say that these guys put the Ex-Presidents (Point Break) to shame. The last heist is definitely one that viewers will remember because MacRay’s team decides to steal a shitload of money from Fenway Stadium.

Acting & Dialogue (A): Serious dialogue with light touches of comedy run heavy through The Town forcing viewers to enjoy the film even more. As for the actors every single one gave a dynamite performance. There was a time when Affleck’s career was called into question by many for his choices of roles. In The Town we see a veteran actor give one his best performances of his career. I think what worked best for him, as it did in Good Will Hunting, was that the story took place in Boston. While Affleck did not grow up a thief he did grow up in Boston therefore he fully understood the attitude of not only a Bostonian but the character of Doug MacRay . Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) provided another solid performance. While Affleck played MacRay with touches of compassion and softness Renner’s Coughlin was rough around the edges. The diversity between both characters allowed for a proper balance within the film. Jon Hamm’s (Mad Men) Adam Frawley was a combination of both MacRay and Coughlin. Unwilling to negotiate, highly determined, and extremely smart are just a few characteristics that explain Frawley. Although, I don’t watch the hit show Mad Men on AMC I finally understand why people love Jon Hamm and his character. He simply becomes the character. As for the two supporting actresses in the film Rebecca Hall and the beautiful Blake Lively, who played Coughlin’s drug addicted sister and once lover of MacRay, Krista, their contributions to the film showed a more sensitive side to the character of MacRay. It is abundantly clear that the two women represent his past and his future.

Sex Appeal: N/A

Director (A): This is Ben Affleck’s sophomore film as a director, his first was the 2007 film Gone Baby Gone, which starred his younger brother Casey. Because Affleck is in front of the camera so much you tend to forget he directed the it. However, after the credits roll you’ll remember and then recognize how great of job he did. It is very difficult to write the screenplay, star in the film, and direct the entire production. As challenging as it was on a physical, emotional, and mental level I don’t think Affleck could have done a better job. Affleck has a real knack for directing and I look forward to his future projects as a director.

Overall: A-

Monday, September 27, 2010

Natlie Portman Talks The Professional 2

The Professional (aka Leon aka Leon: The Professional) is definitely in my Top 15, and perhaps Top 10, favorite movies of all time. If you haven't seen it I highly suggest you do. In The Professional we see a 12 year old Natalie Portman give a performance of lifetime next to Jean Reno and Gary Oldman. The Professional is more than just a hitman looking after a young girl. It's about a bond that two unlikely people form, which lasts forever. In a recent interview Portman stated that she would definitely do a sequel only if Luc Besson, the director of the first film, will do it. For years, Besson has refused to do a sequel even though there is a script floating around. Check out the short clip below:

I truly hope this does happen in the near future. If Besson does agree then it would be fantastic. I've always wanted to see how Mathilda turned out. Portman exudes beauty so it would be interesting to see how she would incorporate that into the character of Mathilda. Personally, I wouldn't even want them to call it The Professional 2 but simply Mathilda...but I'd settle for Mathilda: The Professional which would be a nice sentimental tribute to the original.

Ed Norton Up For Batman 3

In a recent interview Ed Norton gave with IGN he stated that he wouldn't say no to doing Batman 3 if he was offered the part.

IGN reports:

Speaking exclusively to IGN to promote new movie Stone, Norton said that he loved playing Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, and that he has no hard feelings regarding Marvel’s decision to go with Mark Ruffalo on Avengers.

“I think I said everything I want to say in the one thing I put out about that” he explained. “It was a great privilege to do it, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of everybody’s support and positivity towards that because I love those films too. And I hate it when they miss. I hate it when they miss on one – it seems like such a wasted opportunity. But the truth is I’m probably more naturally interested in doing something that I haven’t done. I have only good thoughts towards that though.”

Norton revealed that the situation hasn’t put him off the notion of superhero movies however, saying that if a good project came along, he’s sign up.

“Chris Nolan’s making the best ones out there by far” he explained “I’d do one with him. He’s set a new bar for sure, and I think he’s done a great, great job.”

We pushed Norton as to whether he’d be up for playing a villain in Batman 3, with the actor replying “That would be fun, I would not say no to that.”

And more specifically we asked if he’d like to play the Riddler, with the star simply smiling and saying “Your guys can put their votes in on that.”

There is no doubt that Norton is one of the best actors of our generation or probably ever. His commitment and level of seriousness to any film is rivaled by few. I would be more than happy to see Norton in Batman 3. If this does happen the movie could potentially be better than The Dark Knight...yes I just said that. If Norton does get the opportunity to work with Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman then forget about it. Norton is no stranger to playing a character with a dark side i.e.) American History X, Primal Fear, so I have the utmost confidence in him. In no way am I taking anything away from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was rumored to play the Riddler, but lets face it Norton is a HUGE upgrade. As of now this is just talk so lets see what the future brings.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bill and Ted 3!?!?!

You got it! The totally tubular dudes from San Dimas may be returning to for a third time. Bill and Ted's original writing team of Chis Matheson and Ed Solomon are working on a new story so there is a good chance that the Wild Stallions will be making a return. It's been almost 25 years since the original obviously age is a huge factor in my opinion. There was some discussion to handing it over to their kids but that already has been scratched. We've all know what Keanu Reeves has done with his career since the first Bill and Ted, however, Alex Winter has not been up to much. Random roles and voice overs fill up Winter's resume so for him this would be a huge step up. As for George Carlin's character Rufus he will not be recasted due to the death of Carlin. I think that's a smart move because it would be very difficult to replace such an iconic comedic actor. Only time will tell if this movie does get made for sure and part of me is somewhat skeptical of the quality. Bill and Ted was a film that worked for the time it took place in but I could be wrong.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Fighter-Weight Loss and Weight Gain

In the trailer section I added The Fighter. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. I'm not going to discuss anything in relation to story other than it does look interesting. I would like to briefly discuss the dedication of Wahlberg and Bale. Since this film is based on a true story I really don't expect anything less from both of these actors. Wahlberg has always been in good shape dating to the 90's so it wasn't really an issue for him to bulk up like this. As for Bale he is no stranger to losing weight for a role. This is Bale's second time he's lost a significant amount of weight for a role, the first being The Machinist (2004). According to IMDB, Bale would disappear for hours at end in order to prepare for his role. Now, IMDB has been said to give bullshit facts but I really have to believe this one. Bale is a method actor to the core and he takes his roles extremely seriously. Obviously, you all heard his blow up at the director of lighting on the Terminator Salvation set. All that guy did was walk through the scene and Bale flipped out...talking about psychotic dedication. Overall, when I see such dedication like this it makes me happy and my confidence level in the film increases. It's dedication like this which separates actors like Bale and Wahlberg from other actors in Hollywood. Many actors and actresses, especially the young ones, stay in there comfort zone and get type cast...yea I'm talking to you Zac Effron. (Why don't you go pack on 25lbs for a role like Matt Damon did for The Informant then I may consider taking you seriously.) They feel the necessity to constantly work in their demographic, which inevitably hurts them. The ability to put your work before yourself is an essential element to not only gaining success but becoming one of the elite.

The Losers

Summary: A small military group is framed and reported dead after they defy their orders from a corrupt CIA agent who’s really trying to wage eco-terrorism. This group, called The Losers, must now “come back to life” to restore their names and take vengeance on the man who screwed them.

Plot (C+): The general storyline of The Losers reminds me of The A-Team. You know…a small tactical team that has worked together for a long time where each person specializes in a certain area and they get fucked over in some form or another. I was entertained by the story but it didn’t take a hold of me like The A-Team did. Perhaps if there was more depth to the story and characters it would have been better.

Action (B): Standard but well thought out military action scenes run through and through this film. I will say that any action film that has sniper in the group always catches my attention for some reason. I like seeing someone’s head get blown away out of nowhere or through the cross hairs of rifle scope. There’s something sadistically cool about it. There was also a hand to hand fight scene between Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character and Zoe Saldana character, which kind of pissed me off since Morgan is 6 ft something and well over 200 lbs and Zaldana is as light as a feather and probably 5’ 6…if that. It’s just not believable even for a movie. I don’t care how well trained her character is. One good punch from a man that size and you can rest assure the girl isn’t getting up until next week.

Acting & Dialogue (C+): Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) played Clay, the leader of the group. Overall, Morgan is a pretty good actor whose physical presence fit in perfectly with the role. However, he was a bit monotone throughout the film and I felt that he didn’t take on the role of the Colonel as well as he should have. On a side note, the course of the movie takes place in several different locations over an unspecified amount of time but Morgan’s character never changed clothes. Not once! Except for the beginning of the film he’s dressed in a black suit and white unbuttoned shirt. That’s just dirty and didn’t make sense! Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) played Jensen, the computer tech guy, and as usual Evans brought his smirky comments and playful demeanor. While it worked in the film I’m hoping that he steps out of that shell and expands himself a bit more in the future. Evans has begun filming Captain America: The First Avenger so I hope he doesn’t bring the same style of acting to such an American pop culture icon. Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) played Aisha and here is a girl who knows what she’s doing. Saldana is as beautiful as she is talented and I felt that her performance was really strong. She played Aisha as a tough woman who takes no shit from anyone but knows how to be sexy and seductive in order to get what she needs. Finally, there is Jason Patric (Speed 2: Cruise Control, Narc), who played the corrupt eco-terrorist CIA agent Max. Above all, Patric’s character and performance was my favorite. Although, Max was as bad and psychotic as they come he had a funny sense of humor to him, which contributed some comedy to the film.

Sex Appeal (7): Zoe Saldana in a bra and panties = nicey nice!

Director (C): I think this is what the film suffered from most. Sylvain White is pretty much an amateur director. His only directing credentials are Stomp the Yard and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. I have no patience for dancing movies whatsoever due to the fact of the poor acting, the shitty actors, and the weak script. As for I’ll Always Know…I had no fucking clue someone made a third installment of that series. If The Loser was directed by someone with more experience I’m fairly sure it would have been better.

Overall: C+

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Road

The Road is a powerful movie that examines post apocalyptic life. Throughout cinema history there has been several versions of what life would be like after an apocayplse and I would have to say The Road displayed the absolute worst. There is no explanation behind the apocayplse it just occurs. For some people that may be negative factor, while I myself, didn't mind the lack of explanation. It just simply happened. For those who were looking for an explanation I ask you: why? What good would have come out of it? In the case of the story it was something that couldn't have been prevented at all. Perhaps it was just nature taking its course thus turning the world into a barren waste land without sun. Above all, those two factors may haven been the scariest.

The absence of the sun and farmable land has killed any hope to get things back on track. Furthermore, it cemented the way people lived in the film, which was traveling around like nomads in search for food (or humans if you are a cannibal) and a better place. In reality there is nothing better down the road. Its all the same. Everything and place is hell.

What I found to be very interesting were the cannibals. Those who chose to eat humans instead of starving served to be the greatest threat to the main characters. I only wonder how long those people held out before they decided to consume their fellow man. Another interesting aspect regarding the cannibals was their lack morals and mercy. At one time these were just regular people. Maybe some were doctors, lawyers, or whatever, but once they decided to become a cannibal they lost all sense of humanity.

I found the story of Viggo Mortensen's character to be extremely sad and despressing just like the movie. Since the day of his son's birth his life centered around protecting him. He was the one that had to be strong for his son because his wife couldn't deal. I felt so bad for him and the emotional pain he endured daily. The fact that you may have to kill your own son just so he won't be taken by cannibals must be the worst feeling.

Overall, I found The Road to be a good movie but highly depressing. While it may be a bit slow at times the emotional and physical turmoil the characters go through keeps the story moving. This film is a one time see due to the fact that there is little to no happiness.

Overall: B

Monday, September 6, 2010

The American

Summary: An American hitman named Jack (George Clooney) hides out in a small Italian town after an attempt on his life in Sweden. While in Italy he takes a side job crafting a rifle for a hit woman, which a colleague puts him in contact with. During his time there, Jack also develops a relationship with a prostitute however due to his dangerous profession he can’t share his secrets or his inner pain. Although he wants out of this hellish lifestyle it seems impossible for him to escape it and enjoy the simple pleasures of life since death and danger continuously follow him.

Plot (B-): The majority of spy/assassin movies have an intricate plot where you may or may not fully know the protagonists motives. The American does not fall into that category since the story is very straightforward. I could sum up the essence of the film with a few words rather than sentences and it would give you a good understanding of the story such as: survival, guilt, emotional pain, detachment, and love. This is a pretty good movie but it was lacking in one certain area, which will be explained in the Acting & Dialogue section.

Action (B-): This is not like one of the Bourne films where Jason Bourne is fucking guys up left and right in a variety of ways. Other than a few gun shots the majority of the film rests in hands of the actors interactions with one another.

Acting & Dialogue (B-): This is probably George Clooney’s darkest character of his career. He typical picks roles where the characters have life to them which when combined with his own acting talents and charm everything is brought to life. But this is a different character all in all. Clooney plays Jack as a serious man who seems to be tortured by not only the events of the opening scene but his life in general. He only continues to be an assassin because it’s what he’s good at. My biggest compliant with the film was the lack of dialogue. Clooney maybe had 18 lines throughout the whole film and never spoke for more than a few seconds at a time. I feel that if he spoke more the film would have had a bit more life to it. But that’s not the direction the writer and director went for. They wanted a serious and dangerous man who rarely interacts with people and whose emotional pain is visible through his demeanor. To more analytical, his secluded lifestyle is a metaphor for why he keeps people at a distance. This is done out of choice but more importantly out of necessity. The only other actor who shares a fair amount of screen time with Clooney is the voluptuous Italian actress Violante Placido. Placido plays Clara, a prostitute who Jack ends up falling for during his time away. She did a very good job and her chemistry with Clooney was believable especially during the sexual scenes.

Sex Appeal (10): Speaking of sexual scenes there is not only a good amount titties in this film but there’s also some bush. Placido got naked several times, at length, and acted completely natural about it.

Director (C+): Anton Crobijn is still fairly new to directing movies. His resume consists of a few films but is mostly dominated by music videos of bands such as Metallica, U2, and Depeche Mode. Therefore, you can state that he’s still an amateur director when it comes to filming movies. Crobijn did a decent job but I think working with such a good actor such as Clooney was more beneficial to him. It seemed that Clooney took the reins of this film and just went with it. If Crobijn worked with a less talented actor in this film I think he would have run into some troubles. However, I did like the way he filmed the movie. Everything was up close and personal with the actors. The cinematography was great and the setting of Castel del Monte in Abruzzo, Italy was breathtaking.

Overall: B-

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Actor of the Month: James Franco

Why: James Franco is not Hollywood’s go-to actor. Nor he is not the highest paid actor in his profession. But I’ll tell you one thing…he is a damn good actor and you can always count on him delivering. Moreover, Franco is smart about the roles he chooses. Rather than picking some film for decent size paycheck Franco chooses films, which will help define his career and also help him define the movie. I will not argue that Franco has done some less than stellar films, but who hasn’t? It’s his individual performances that truly count. Franco’s first film was Never Been Kissed (1999) where he worked alongside Drew Barrymore, John C. Reilly, and David Arquette. However, he didn’t truly burst onto the scene until he starred in the short-lived cult TV show Freaks and Geeks. Franco was so good in that series that one must see his performances in order to truly appreciate it. In 2001 he starred in the TV movie James Dean playing the title character. Now, I’ve never seen it but IMDB gave it a 7.2/10 stars, which is good. Even without seeing it I feel very confidant that Franco did a good job. He looks somewhat similar to the 50’s icon and definitely knows how to play the cool factor. The following year Franco got his biggest break in Spider-Man (which he starred in all three) as Harry Osborn, son of the Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin. His representation of a son who isn’t appreciated by his father but desperately willing to seek his approval was accurate to the comic book character. In 2007, Franco had a very small role in a good but highly depressing military film entitled In Valley of Ellah starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. Why he didn’t have a bigger part in this film is beyond me, but it was still a good movie and performance nonetheless. In 2008, he starred in the stoner hit-comedy Pineapple Express with Seth Rogen. Franco was great in this film because he showed audiences how funny he can be. I thought he was perfect for the role of Sol the pot dealer because the guy constantly looks stoned much like Jim Breuer. To further show his versatility, Franco starred in Milk that same year. He played Sean Penn’s gay lover. While I don’t know much about the story of Harvey Milk, other than what was portrayed, their chemistry was authentic and added to the validity of the film.

Franco does not pigeon hole himself into a certain genre. He feels the necessity to explore all options, which is why he played a whacky re-occurring character on the daytime soap opera General Hospital from 2009-2010. If you were to Google any episode you may think it’s a joke because his character is called Franco and he’s so strange to say the least. I guess he did that just to mix things up and keep his career fresh.

James Franco is more than just an actor and I don’t think he would define himself as just that. Many do not know this but he is enrolled at Columbia Universities Graduate Program for Fictional Writing and the Graduate Film Program at NYU. Talk about a man who is dedicated to the arts. Therefore, for reasons such as this I name James Franco September’s Actor of the Month!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I Don't Care For the Emmy's

Last night were the Emmy’s and even though I watch as much T.V. as I possibly can and consider it one my oldest friends I cannot bring myself to care about the Emmy’s. It’s not that I don’t want to see my favorite shows do well or be rewarded. My main complaint with the Emmy’s is the habitual nominations and wins of the same people and shows. There is so little variety from year to year that it’s not interesting. I mean how many times can Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, or Tony fuckin Shalhoub be nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy and win? I’m not saying I don’t appreciate those guys in their respected shows I just feel that there is so more out there for people to choose from.

Another thing I don’t like about the Emmy’s is how they ignore the underrated talent. One of my favorite shows, “The King of Queens”, was on air for a decade and it never won a single award. That show, and Kevin James especially, was hysterical. Instead, in 2006 the award for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy went to Shalhoub who had already won the Emmy three times. Furthermore, he has been nominated every year since 2003. Or how about “Lost”? Here’s a show that everyone jerked off to for years saying its so amazing. However, it quickly lost its momentum in the recent years, then had subpar series finale, and was nominated for Best Drama Series, which it thankfully didn’t win.

The Emmy’s need to give other people and shows time to shine. For example, “How I Met Your Mother” is a great show with a funny cast but somehow there’s a need to give another nomination to "30 Rock" or The Office (I love "The Office" by the way I’m just using it as an example). Year after year it’s the same bullshit with the Emmy’s and it’s just not interesting to me. I can appreciate, however, the Miniseries categories, which is always different and unique. This year Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank’s The Pacific won and it rightfully should have. Their recreation of the Marines in the South Pacific in World War II was stellar, accurate, and breathtaking. Another well-deserved win was Al Pacino for Best Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for playing Dr. Jack Kevorkian on HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack, which was sad, dark, and emotional, but highly moving.

While I’m happy Pacino and The Pacific won I’m still frustrated by the generic nominations of the Emmy’s. In my opinion the Oscars has been and will always be superior.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Expendables

Summary: A group of mercenaries is hired to take out a corrupt ex-CIA agent who financially backs a military dictator on a small Spanish island

Plot (B): The plot of this film is extremely straight-forward. There are no hidden agendas or meanings. What I liked about the film and its plot was that it didn't pretend to be something it wasn't. This was a action flick to the core. Was it Stallone's best film in terms of writing? No. But it was entertaining and that's what's important. All in all it’s a good action flick.

Action (A): Obviously, this is where the heart of film laid. From start to finish there was a variety of action. Typically, most action films tend to stick with one type fighting style whether it’s gun shoot-outs, hand to hand combat, or sword fighting. In The Expendables you get a strong balance of it all such as: awesome hand to hand/ martial arts fight, amazing kills with blades, and various deaths using guns. The deaths scenes were creative and in some cases explosive. I really appreciated the variety of action in this film because it kept me interested and on my toes.

Acting & Dialogue (B-): For me this was the weakest part of the film but I’m not saying it was horrible. The acting was good but I did feel that some of dialogue was a bit cheesy at moments. However, it’s clearly evident that this film is not meant to be about the dialogue but more about the events taking place. The Expendables practically hosts every action star from the 80’s to today, which was a real treat especially if you grew up in the 80’s. Stallone’s character was not all brawn and no brains. There was a combination of both which added depth to him. Even though Stallone played one of the main characters he did make sure to not dominate the film. He allowed everyone to have time to shine. I really liked Jason Statham in this movie. He played his character with a sense of calmness and coolness, which worked well when teamed up with Stallone’s. I also really enjoyed Dolph Lundgren’s character even though his screen time was minimal. His character represented the civil disunity that can occur among mercenaries even if they are all close friends. I believe that aspect may have spoken some truth about real mercenaries and that you can never fully trust each other. On a complete side note, it should be known that Lundgren is an utter genius. He has a Master’s in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney and speaks seven languages. Nice job Drago! The films antagonist was played by Eric Roberts, the ex-CIA agent. What Roberts’ lacks in physical presence he makes up with attitude and charisma. His character was smart, deceitful, greedy, and just plain bad. Roberts illustrated those traits well much like he did in The Dark Knight.

Sex Appeal: N/A

Director (B): Say what you want about Sylvester Stallone but that guy is talented and I don’t think enough people give him credit. His scripts are well written and structured. His directing abilities are strong enough that he can balance giving suggestions and commands to others while focusing on other aspects of the film. Most of all he’s vision orientated and smart. He knows what he wants and understands how to achieve it in a manner, which audiences will like. Towards the end of them film I made connection and while its unofficial it makes sense. I think Stallone named The Expendables from Rambo: First Blood Part II. During that film there’s a part where Rambo’s Vietnamese contact asked him why they picked him for the mission. He simply responded that he was expendable and his life didn’t really matter. As I said, this isn’t his best work but it was good enough for me and kept me entertained.

Overall: B

Monday, August 16, 2010

George Lucas Reveals Never Before Seen Opening to "Return of the Jedi"

For a Star Wars nerd such as myself this is as good as porn!!! While it's not a whole lot it's very cool and explains when Luke gave R2-D2 his new lightsaber. Enjoy! Also, CinemaBlend.com as reported that all six Star Wars movies will be going on sale as a package in the Fall of 2011 on Blu-Ray. I think I just went from 6 to midnight!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Other Guys

Summary: Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Farrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) are two mismatched partners serving in the NYPD. Both men seize the opportunity to become a pair of New York’s Finest by solving a case no one else seems to care about.

Plot (B+): In this world of the NYPD there are many different types of cops. There are the go-getters (played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who chase down criminals at whatever cost and are idolized by everyone. They never do any paper work and leave behind millions of dollars of destruction. There are the suck ups and wannabe’s who desperately ache to be like their heroes but fall a bit short. Then there are the other guys who everyone makes fun of and pushes their paper on. Obviously, I’m talking about Farrell and Wahlberg’s characters. The Other Guys is a funny movie with creative and diverse comedic scenes, which properly lives up to previous Farrell/Adam McKay movies. What I liked about the film was how far fetched certain things were. It was clear that The Other Guys was making fun of other cop movies but this was done with such creativity and humor that it worked. The plot itself is pretty easy to follow but it didn’t grab me completely. What I really liked was each character’s past, especially Farrell’s because it was pretty outrageous. It is clear that Hoitz and Gamble are partners who have not been together for years. It seems that they’ve been working together for weeks or a few months so there is a lot of tension particularly stemming from Wahlberg’s Hoitz. It is this aspect that sets the tone for their rocky relationship.

While I’ll definitely say the film was funny I was expecting to laugh harder and/or more. Don’t get me wrong I laughed throughout the entire film and so was the rest of the audience but I guess I was expecting something closer to Step-Brothers where I would have lost my breath at one point. However, I think this film may suffer from the Tropic Thunder Syndrome, meaning it was SO MUCH funnier the second and third time than the first. What definitely hurt the film was its rating. The film was rated PG-13 and I think it would have been a lot better if was rated R. Even though the characters were saying “shit” all the time there wasn’t one F-bomb. Now dropping fuck bombs doesn't mean a movie will be better or funnier but I feel that they could have crossed the line a few times and it would have been golden. But all in all a good film.

Action (B): There was nothing overly fancy about action in the movie. Although I appreciated what was delivered it was relatively standard. Like I said above, certain things were far fetched but worked well for the type of movie it was.

Acting & Dialogue (B/B+): At first people may think that Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg would not work well together as a comedic team. Well, let me be the first to tell you that’s certainly not true. I really liked their chemistry since it was so fresh. Wahlberg is an underrated comedic actor who really knows what he’s doing. He played Hoitz as the traditional tough ass New York cop who was on his way to becoming one of the best the city has to offer until he committed the most unthinkable act against a man who’s so revered and so loved in the Big Apple. As for Farrell, well he’s Farrell. He was great as usual and played Gamble as the most plain and straight-laced detective due to some past experiences in his life. Gamble would rather clean his desk and organize his filing cabinet instead of chasing the bad guys. What will perplex you, as much as it does Hoitz, is that Gamble is the biggest chick magnet ever. Super hot women just flock to him and he’s is completely unaware of his mystical powers, which makes his marriage to Eva Mendes’ character so funny. Their relationship is normal but not normal at the same time. It was this element, which made Farrell’s character so unique. There are also other pairs of comedic team who were funny and entertaining such as Rob Riggle (Step-Brothers, The Hangover), Damon Wayans Jr. (who is a spitting image of his father), and Jackson and Johnson. However, in my opinion, the unofficial shinning star of this film was not Farrell or Wahlberg. It was Michael Keaton. Keaton played Captain Gene Mauch and if you watch his scenes closely you'll laugh pretty hard. He speaks his mind on just about everything and somehow unknowingly relates it to a specific 90’s female R & B group. Keaton has become extremely selective over the past few years with the movies he stars in so I felt it was a real treat to see him in a comedy again. I’ve always believed he has done a fantastic job with comedies and I was happy to see that he still has it.

Sex Appeal (6): Having Eva Mendes reference and grab her breasts deserves at least a 6 in my book.

Director (B/B+): Six years ago Adam McKay graced audiences with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and since that movie we’ve been getting dynamite films from him. His relationship with Will Farrell is something very special. The reason why they continue to work together is that they understand each other and share the same vision when it comes to comedy. While I can’t say this is the best movie of the Farrell/McKay team it was very good and certainly lived up to expectations. Although, McKay doesn’t really dabble in special effects there’s one particular scene that I felt was extraordinary and was labeled by Entertainment Weekly as the Summer Movie Moment. It centers on a night of debauchery between the two main stars. It’s not so much what they are doing but rather how the scene was shot. It was extremely creative and original. Instead of trying to explain it myself I will quote writer Keith Staskiewicz of EW since he wrote it so clearly, “So he (McKay) decided on a single tracking shot that, using a special camera to minimize changes from take to take, depicted the characters’ increasingly drunken revelry in a series of frozen scenes. To film the sequence, the actors had to hold their compromising positions for long periods of time.” This may not make sense to you now but when you see the movie it will and you’ll appreciate it.

Overall: B/B+…Like I said in the Plot section this film may suffer from the Tropic Thunder Syndrome and probably is funnier after repeated viewing so therefore the grade could rise. If you’ve seen it more than once let me know.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Actor of the Month: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Why: Typically, actors that start their careers as children hardly ever last. Somewhere through the craziness of their teenage years and young adult life they tend to get caught up and lost in the Hollywood lifestyle. Growing up famous leads to an early introduction to sex, drugs, and alcohol thus interfering with their career. Some are lucky enough to avoid that dark path completely or have the ability to work through it i.e. Drew Barrymore. While Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been smoking weed since his high schools and calls himself a “pothead” its clear that he never had real problem with drugs (Levitt admitted this in this months issue of Details Magazine), growing up in the limelight, and is nowhere near the likes of Danny Bonaduce, the walking train wreck. (Danny if you ever read this I'm sorry don't hunt me down.)

One of Levitt’s earliest roles was in Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It (1991). Under the direction of Redford he played the role of the elder brother growing up in early 20th century America with style, grace, and simplicity. Levitt then came to have one of the lead roles in Angels in the Outfield (1994). For any young child actor that is a major accomplishment no matter how well the movie does. As he entered his teenage years he landed a part on the hit TV sitcom 3rd Rock From The Sun (1996-2001) co-starring John Lithgow. Working for five straight years along with such an accomplished actor definitely helped Levitt polish his skills. Perhaps it was his time on 3rd Rock, which prevented him from trailing down that tempestuous path that swallows so many. In 1996, he starred in the crime thriller The Juror with Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. Even though he wasn't the main star his performance always left an impression on me. In 1999, he starred in the cult high school classic 10 Things I Hate About You along side with the late great Heath Ledger as well as Julia Styles. This is definitely my favorite film of his from his youth. The innocence in his face and his willingness to go above and beyond for the girl of his dream all clearly represent a teenage boy in love.

During the majority of the 2000’s Levitt worked somewhat consistently but didn’t star in anything the average movie-goer would have seen. However, in 2009 he re-emerged. Levitt starred in the hit indie flick (500) Days of Summer co-starring Zoe Deschanel, which is a wonderful movie about the love and pain of a relationship. The emotions and obsession he displayed clearly hit home for any guy. Also during that year he starred in the action film G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra. The film itself was mediocre but his performance was pretty good as the villain known as Commander. This summer, Levitt starred in the blockbuster sci-fi thriller Inception where he gave audiences another powerful and crisp performance. Working with Leonardo DiCaprio and under the genius mind of writer/director Christopher Nolan solidified him as a quality actor in Hollywood.

Currently, Levitt is being considered for the role of The Riddler in Nolan's Batman 3. His ability to relate to a character and bring the correct emotions and attitude is unbelievable. Levitt is extremely versatile and likes to take on different projects, which help define his career. Hopefully he'll get the part because I know he’ll do a great job. For reasons such as this I name Augusts’ Actor of the Month to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.