JT Film Review

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)

Shoot ‘Em Up Review
Review # 165

3.5/5 stars

Director – Michael Davis

Cast – Clive Owen,Monica Bellucci, Paul Giamatti, Stephen McHattie

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Right from the very first scene, you will know if this movie is for you. Clive Owen (Mr. Smith), an innocent bystander, sees a man threatening to kill a pregnant woman. Mr. Owen then kills this man with a carrot. He is immediately set upon by henchmen/fellow goons of the dead man, and, via a bullet to an oil pan, he creates a makeshift slip and slide to fling himself past them all. In between these two events he finds time to help the lady give birth, and sever the umbilical cord by shooting it.

Need I say more? Do let me continue.

He carries the baby with him through the rest of the movie, because slimy baddie Paul Giamatti wants it dead for some reason. When we are told the reason, we realize it makes no sense and thus we discard it. The plot just doesn’t matter. Luckily the movie knows this, and takes itself exactly as seriously as we take it, that is, not at all. It should also be mentioned that Monica Belucci tags along as a hooker with a heart of gold. She helps hard ass Mr. Smith with such non-manly things as breast-feeding. They also participate in the mandatory sex scene, but one which quickly morphs into a horrific gun fight. You know all you need to know about the tone of the movie when I tell you that they do not stop screwing when the bullets start flying. You get the sense it just spices things up a bit.

Simply put, this movie makes Sin City look like a down-to-earth thriller. Shoot ‘Em Up is preposterous trash, a C-movie with a miraculously high budget. It is lucky to have stars who know the movie is absolute bull shit, and act accordingly. It gets a bit draggy towards the end, but that can be forgiven. The stunts, shootouts, and acrobatics are so absurd we can’t help but giggle, and go along with the fun. And fun it is.

OVERALL

I can not stress this point enough. In Shoot ‘Em Up, Clive Owen kills a man with a carrot. Voila.

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“Shoot ‘Em Up” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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October 25, 2012 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Action, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daredevil – The Director’s Cut (2003)

Daredevil – The Director’s Cut Review
Review #160

3/5 stars

Director – Mark Steven Johnson

Cast – Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau

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A blind Ben Affleck fights crime in 2003’s Daredevil. He is a lawyer, which puts him in an interesting ethical position. By day he defends the down-trodden and upholds justice, and then by night he kicks ass of those he believes are criminals. He isn’t awfully scrupulous about who he beats up, either… in one scene he beats up a whole biker bar to get to someone. He’s a very violent superhero, apparently not as particular about his rules as Batman, for example. Baddies end up kicked off steeples, faces smashed in, and thrown under trains. Hardly in the best tradition of the bar, surely.

Daredevil, or Matt Murdock as he is known at the bench, received his powers as a young boy, after an accident at the dock yards where he is blinded by an unnamed toxic substance. (Smack a “Hazardous Material” sticker on a barrel and it’s amazing what you can get away with.) He finds he is able to “see” with a primitive radar, and finds his other senses greatly enhanced. Soon after, his father, a boxer who is past his prime, is killed after refusing to throw a fight. This spurs Matt on to fight injustice no matter the cost.

On a side note, why the hell does every superhero have to be an orphan? Superman, Spider-man, Batman, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Wolverine… Those whose parents weren’t prematurely killed still have father issues, Iron Man and Thor for example. It seems an oddly specific affliction to give a group of characters. But, I digress.

Daredevil’s life becomes purely dedicated to rooting out evil-doers. His house is full of crime fighting gear and multiple replacement costumes. I sometimes wonder where these people find their tailors. I love it when movies go into a costume origin, ala Spider-man or Batman. Even the Fantastic Four. We don’t get that here, but I suppose we wouldn’t want too much of that. The origin story is (perhaps wisely) whizzed through, gotten out-of-the-way as neatly as possible. That is done well here, and the way Murdocks radar sense is shown is quite interesting. we get right into the story.

The story itself is fairly generic, and I won’t bother repeating it here, especially as its lack of flair really brings the movie down. There are some mildly interesting characters, from Bullseye, an anarchic Irishman with astonishing aim, to Jon Favreau’s character, Matt’s best friend. Some are less interesting, like Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, a rich girl who doesn’t like how her father tries to control her. (More daddy issues…)

The movie works best when delving into the murky side of New York society. There is a great morally ambiguous reporter (played by Joe Pantoliano), who is trying to find out Daredevils identity. The man who “owns the town”, Kingpin, is played excellently by Michael Clarke Duncan, who knows just the right amount of showmanship to bring to the role. There is another great little character, played by Coolio, whom Murdock defends in a murder trial. There is a flashy griminess to the movie that works very well with the source material.

Never in a superhero movie has it been more evident that the superheroes we all know and love are vigilantes, through and through. This is due to the juxtaposition of Murdock’s legal life and his other, extra curricular activities. Does he truly believe that all men deserve a trial by twelve men, good and true? I don’t think he does, and by extension he brings into light that most other superheroes mustn’t either. I suppose the Nolan Batman does bring his catches to the cops… but in general, superheroes seem to be our right-wing feelings brought to the fore. “If we know he’s guilty, just bring him to justice your own way!” The dangerous thing is how right it feels…

OVERALL

Daredevil: The Director’s Cut is an improvement over the original, and has a grimy likability. It’s story falters dramatically, however; it just doesn’t have anything that interesting. The actors bring their best to their parts, but can’t stop some cheesiness that finds its way in. Not an awful movie, but not great. A decent little middle-of-the-roader. I would recommend it to superhero fans, though!

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Up next is X-Men: The Last Stand.

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TRAILER

“Daredevil” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 19, 2012 Posted by | 3 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review
Review #158

3.5/5 stars

Director – Gavin Hood

Cast – Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will i. am, Lynn Collins, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Daniel Henney, Ryan Reynolds, Tim Pocock

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– follows (by release date) X-Men: The Last Stand

– followed (by release date) by X-Men: First Class

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And we’re back, with the least successful movie of the X-Men franchise (both critically and, I believe, financially).

I have to admit, this movie was more fun than I had expected. It is an action movie through-and-through, and more of one than any of the other X-Men series. That is actually its biggest strength, but also what pulls it down. There isn’t as much emotional punch as I could have hoped, and the final sequences struggle to maintain consistency. The movie can be a bit unfocused as well, but there are plenty of good moments. Sure it’s not as coherent as we could have hoped, but there is a certain adrenaline pumped energy to the whole thing that keep us going. I enjoyed myself, in a guilty pleasure kind of way.

Plot-wise, we follow Logan (Hugh Jackman) as he grows up with his brother, Victor (Liev Schreiber), and as they learn to deal with certain abilities they have. They can regenerate from seemingly any injury, and have bone-like projections from their hands. They were born in the mid 1800’s, and participate in all the major wars from then on right up to Vietnam. They are “headhunted” by a military man (Danny Huston) who is putting together a secret team (or some such thing) of mutants. They roam the killing, carrying out missions, and doing a lot of killing. This is right up Victor’s alley, but Logan has reservations about all the bloodshed. This leads to disagreements between the pair. Logan eventually finds it all too much, and despite his incredible killing prowess he loses himself in the Canadian wilderness, re-imagining himself as a lumberjack. (Note: as a Canadian I scream “Stereotype!”, but then move on…) While in the Canadian wilderness, Logan falls in love with a woman and they live happily for years, until she is killed by Victor, who is a little pissed at his bro. Logan goes for revenge.

The opening of the movie, showing the death of Logan’s father, is played too fast, and does not give us much emotional impact, but from there the movie segues into an excellent credit sequence. We follow Logan and Victor from the Civil War to WWI, WWII, Korea, and then Vietnam. This is followed by action scenes that are fast and unique. It feels at times like a demo reel of different mutants abilities, and in a good way. One by one we get to see the individual mutants show off their skills, and it’s quite exhilarating. Logan leaves the group, and the movie changes gear. His life is peaceful and he has found love, but then it is all taken from, him and this time… it’s personal. As it always seems to go.

The movie is fast paced, and this helps hide the lack of a real story. It’s a revenge pic, but it smartly does not try to be much more than that. The action scenes are surprisingly effective. We feel the power of these mutants as they tear into both each other and their opponents. Hugh Jackman proudly stalks his way through the movie, and Liev Schreiber growls like no tomorrow. He in particular transforms from how we’ve seen him before. He always seems to be prowling low to the ground, feral and dangerous. Other mutants appear throughout the movie. Too many really, it starts to get cluttered.  And we start to notice similarities… besides their main abilities (regeneration, teleportation, etc.) they all seem to have super strength too. Still, that is the way with super heroes.

There has been much talk (mainly online, of course) of how certain characters have been changed. Apparently Deadpool’s character is different in the comics, or something like that. There are also some discrepancies with a cameo character at the end of the movie, (discrepancies mainly created in X-Men: First Class). I can’t comment on Deadpool (as I now nothing of the comic books), but other problems to exist and they can’t really be ignored. But I feel that they are made up for by the sheer energy of the movie.

OVERALL

I feel surprisingly positive about this movie. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is no great movie, not by a long shot, but it gets the job done, and does a moderately good job of showing more of a character we all love. It is fast-moving, stylish, and fairly fun; although it can certainly hit a cliché or two now and then. Recommended to the comic book type of folks, and even to those who enjoy a bit of action.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next up on the list is Batman Forever, if I can get through it…

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“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 3, 2012 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fantastic Four (2005)

Fantastic Four Review
Review #157

1.5/5 stars

Director – Tim Story

Cast – Ioan Grufuud, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon

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– followed by Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

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From Ghost Rider, which had a boring story but unique tone, we go to Fantastic Four, which has both a tremendously boring story and tone. With any movie this is a deadly combination, and this is no exception.

The heroes in this film get their powers after they are exposed to a cosmic storm, encountered while doing some very very sciencey stuff on a space station. (The science in this movie seem even more balderdash than usual, even for a superhero movie.) They all find themselves able to do some, well, fantastic things. One can turn invisible, one can stretch, one can fly and burst into flame, and the last guy… well, he gets the short end of the stick. While he finds himself with superhuman strength, his body is hardened and enlarged into a grotesque, rock-monster appearance.

It is this character, The Thing, that the movie centers around. Smartly so. Unlike the others, he cannot go out into public as “normal”, and his wife cannot deal with the physical changes to her husband. He finds himself isolated, and alone. This is the key to a good story line. A big reason superheroes can work dramatically is that their ability to do amazing things is undercut by the distance this creates between them and everyone else. When done well, this can work (some of the Superman movies, for example). It doesn’t quite work here; it’s clumsy and heavy handed. It’s still the best dramatic thing about the movie, which is a sad thing, really.

I wanted to like the characters, and if anything is redeemable about the movie it is that. Ioan Gruffuud brings a good quality to his character, the leader of the group, and Michael Chiklis is both affecting and humorous as needed. Jessica Alba doesn’t come out quite so well, she does her best, but her character is just boring. But Chris Evans… now he makes a great impression. This is one of his earliest hits, and we see glimpses of the star that he would become. He is cocky, funny, and is a highlight of the movie. In the end, if we needed to have Fantastic Four to have the Chris Evans we have today, I’m happy. Well, almost.

OVERALL

Fantastic Four is one of the most generic movies I have ever seen. Save for Chris Evans the cast is adequate, but rarely anything more. The story is deadly dull, and the movie’s cinematography is bight and cheap looking. It reeks of the corporate mindset… “Comic book movies are popular? Let’s make one of those. Just hire somebody, anybody.” It’s just all so adequate, and thus, dull.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next we bring the Snikt! with X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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“Fantastic Four” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 2, 2012 Posted by | 1.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost Rider (2007)

Ghost Rider Review
Review #156

2/5 stars

Director – Mark Steven Johnson

Cast – Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott, Donal Logue, Peter Fonda

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– followed by Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

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Who’d have thought that Nicholas Cages’ most subdued performance in years is as the guy with the flaming skull head…

Ghost Rider is, of course, based on the Marvel comic book of the same name. This particular super hero (who is not as firmly imbedded in the public consciousness as Superman or Batman) is the alter ego of motorcycle stunt driver Johnny Blaze. When angry, or in the presence of evil, he transforms into a skeleton with a flaming motor bike, black leather outfit (with spikes), and of course the aforementioned flaming-skull head. He whips a chain around, can light random things on fire, and is general a goth’s wet dream.

Is he the bad guy? Well, not really, though the movie certainly want us to think he is bad-ass. I mean, he wears leather after all. In practice he is nothing more than a reckless Spider-Man. But he has no unique world view, no over-riding idea to set him apart from any other superheroes. The best we are given is int he movies final lines, where he says he will keep his powers to be a “spirit of vengeance”, wandering around being good. Ghost Rider is so generic and dull in his powers (or at least as he is presented here) that he needs the hellfire and damnation angle just to make him interesting. The same is true of the movie itself. There is a neat little edge to the movie (it is essentially a gothic western, if that is even a term), but without that it is just another origin story of another frikin’ superhero. It has the same plot beats, the same ideas, and we get the same result.

Even Peter Fonda (as the devil) and Wes Bentley (the devil’s son) phone it in. Peter Fonda in particular looks plain bored, and I don’t blame him. He strides into a scene, looks vaguely ominous and then strides out. And it’s always “…blabla the Devil Himself.” Have you noticed that?

OVERALL

Ghost Rider tries for something new in its tone, but forgets to have an interesting story. Combine that with a hammy yet bored-looking cast, and we get a strange mix of dull and bizarre. Not really recommended.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next up is Fantastic Four.

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TRAILER

“Ghost Rider” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 2, 2012 Posted by | 2 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Escapist (2008)

The Escapist Review
Review # 144

3.5/5 stars

Director – Rupert Wyatt

Cast – Brian Cox, Damian Lewis, Joseph Fiennes, Seu Jorge, Liam Cunningham, Dominic Cooper, Steven Mackintosh, Frank O’Sullivan, Jack Walsh

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Don’t you just hate movies that almost destroy themselves with the last two minutes?

The Escapist stars Brian Cox in a stunning turn as Frank Perry, an inmate in an unnamed English prison. Hearing news of his daughters sudden illness (brought on by an unknown-to-him drug addiction), he decides he must see her before she is lost to him. With help from a brash boxer (Joseph Fiennes), an old friend (Liam Cunningham), and a drug dealer (Seu Jorge), he meticulously plans an escape, while trying to avoid the attentions and cruelty of the powerful inmate known as Rizza.

I love movies that confine themselves to one are. A remote manor house with Agatha Christie, a tall tower for John MacClane (before the airport, the city, and then whatever he did in Die Hard 4). The rules are always so clear, bringing great satisfaction when the hero manages to succeed. In this case e are immersed immediately into the rough and tumble world of the prison. We creep through the halls with the characters, and feel just as scared as they do. With rapists and murderers around every corner, we don’t blame Frank for wanting to escape, we would probably even forgive him without his daughter as motivation.

The Escapist structure is based on a bit of time jumping, from plan of escape to its execution, back and forth and so on. While a tad confusing the first time, I loved this device here. Sometimes it can be pretentious or just disconcerting, but it is not so here. It built tension in a very effective manner.

And tension really is the key to the movie. Stakes are high, and people get hurt. Many even die, and when Frank and Co. do make it out of the prison walls, they realize that the worst is yet to come… they must navigate their way through old tunnels and subways, deep underground. We want Frank to get out and meet his daughter for one last time, and it constantly seems like he may not make it out. And then comes the twist…

They say the best thing to do with a “twist movie” is to not only not reveal the twist, but not reveal that there is a twist at all. But what happens when the twist is the only bad thing about the movie? Such is the case here. It destroys the preceding two hours, rendering them absolutely needless. Not only that, but it is a bit vague as well, begging questions instead of providing answers. It’s plain insulting.

OVERALL

The Escapist is an absolutely thrilling and fascinating movie that is wasted with a ridiculous twist that slaps the audience in the face for following the characters as long as they have. Wonderful actors do great work here, but one script change would probably have made this into my favorite prison escape movie. As is, it is just frustrating.

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“The Escapist” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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February 20, 2012 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Thriller, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

136 – In the Loop (2009)

In the Loop REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Armando Iannucci

Cast – Tom Hollander, James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy, Chris Addison, Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee, Steve Coogan, David Rasche

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In the Loop is a pitch black political satire, partially based on the TV show The Thick of It (and starring most of the same actors, playing the same or similar characters). There is not a particular lead character, as it is more of an ensemble nature, but the plot follows Minister for International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) as he blusters his way through the political mire of British-US relations. A comment about war with Iraq being “unforeseeable” starts a chain reaction of events, involving the discovery of an American secret war committee, the destruction/alteration of a paper advising against war, and all sorts of political shenanigans. And swearing. Lots and lots of very creative swearing.

There could not be a bleaker view of politics, this ain’t The West Wing. There are only two people in this movie who are in politics to make positive change, and one of them (Simon) is a bumbling near-incompetent. Neither one achieve their goals; I think that is a main theme of the movie. You can’t win, and you don’t want to end up “in the loop.” The less you know, the less you will get caught up in it all.

The characters in the movie are rich, despite the proportionally small screen time they get. James Gandolfini, probably the best known actor to American audiences, shows up half way through as an American general, and is very funny. Everyone here is, really. In the Loop gives us shocking things to laugh at, and we do end up laughing. This is the kind of movie optimists call pessimistic, and everyone else calls realist.

I plan on re-watching this soon, and I think it will hold up to many repeat viewings. It also makes me want to look up the TV series to which this is a spiritual sequel, The Thick of It. There have been many comparisons between that and the 80’s series Yes, Minister, of  which I am a big fan. Bring it on!

OVERALL

In the Loop is fast-moving, smart, and devastatingly funny. This isn’t a movie for everyone, but anyone who likes dark humour and their politics in satire form will love this. This is a political satire Ricky Gervais would make. (That should tell you right away whether you’d be able to tune in to this movies sense of humour.)

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“In the Loop” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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January 9, 2012 Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Comedy, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

126 – Legion (2009)

Legion Review

 2/5 stars

 Director – Scott Charles Stewart

 Cast – Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Kate Walsh,Tyrese Gibson, Willa Holland, Charles S. Dutton, Kevin Durand, Adrianne Palicki, Jon Tenney, Doug Jones

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 Legion is another of those insufferable pseudo-religious, heavily CGI’ed creature flicks that are sprouting up. You know the type…

This particular story follows a group of people stuck in a roadside diner during the apocalypse. Not just any apocalypse, this is The Apocalypse. God has decided that Mankind has once again fallen from a position of grace, and He must wipe them out, ala The Great Flood. But no natural disaster will do this time (perhaps God has had enough of Roland Emmerich films too), and he decides to take us all out with zombies; and yes, God hates slow zombies too.

An infected sinner may expect to find their teeth rapidly sharpen, their eyes look like a stoner’s, and may even find they can walk up walls and onto the ceiling. An outside wall appears to be a different matter however, especially if there is a main character on the roof. Apparently they can only walk up walls on the inside of a house. It’s all in the fine print.

But there is hope! The child of one of the embattled survivors is… is… well, it’s actually never said what he is, but we are told over and over again that he is the “Only Hope”, that he “wasn’t meant to be born”. This is explained to us by an ex-angel (Paul Bettany) who was told to kill the baby, but disagreed with God and now fights with the survivors. For defying God he has lost his wings, but we know he is good because he wears a white trench coat, instead of the black ones worn by the other angels. Yet we never know who or what the child is… it’s kind of annoying.

The ending could not be more open-ended, but the problem here is that we have so many questions about the movie we just saw that to promise another is ridiculous. We want questions answered now, not in the next movie. I don’t know whether they were actually planning a sequel, but it felt like it. Frankly, we all like seeing Paul Bettany get some work, but a sequel to this wouldn’t be worth it.

I will give Legion brownie points for trying. There is no campiness here; everything is treated with the utmost sincerity. Unfortunately, that approach led to the other extreme. We have numerous boring monologue scenes that do nothing towards advancing the plot or, it could be argued, enriching the characters; we have a tone that starts at depressingly dingy and gets consistently worse; and we have angels that dress like fetish enthusiasts and apparently attend marksmanship and martial arts courses.

If I have to mention some good things about the movie, I would say that one particular sequence involving an ambush at some gas pumps was actually fairly exciting, until the incident with the child, which crossed a line for me. Those who have seen the movie will know what I mean; those who don’t may be able to guess at what type of thing I am referring. Dennis Quaid is quite good here, playing a role that would be expected of a lesser known character actor, and Charles S. Dutton is very likable as a hook handed cook.

Paul Bettany seems to be heading into B-movie territory, which is a huge pity, because he is a talented man. He was great in those two Russell Crowe movies Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and A Beautiful Mind, and more than hold his won against his forceful co-star. I wish his star had risen a bit higher to be honest. He deserves more than this kind of thing.

OVERALL

Legion is a dingy, dark, and joyless action/horror movie. Its cast may be much better than the movie deserves, but even they can only do so much. Too many questions are left unanswered, and the many boring monologue scenes stop the movie dead in its tracks. I can’t really think of anyone I would recommend this to.

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 “Legion” on other websites:

 IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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August 30, 2011 Posted by | 2 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Action, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

123 – A Single Man (2009)

A Single Man REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Tom Ford

Cast – Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult

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A Single Man, is, if anything, too good. If only every movie had this problem…

Colin Firth stars as George, a man whose long time boyfriend (played admirably by Matthew Goode) dies. He decides to end his life, and sets his mind to the task. The film follows him as he goes about his final day, and it turns out he may not have made up his mind as much as he thought he had.

Of course, Colin Firth’s performance is extraordinary. This is a given, we expect this. The surprising performance here is given by Matthew Goode. His mannerisms are subtle and sweet, and we have no choice but to fall in love with him just as much as George had. This is vital, of course, for us to understand George’s heartbreak. Julianne Moore also appears, as George`s friend and past lover. She is a flighty character, but her flightiness is just a cover for her inner turmoil and pain. She is really a tragic figure, and I think this is actually the first performance I have liked her in.

A Single Man looks great; it is restrained and classy, and a little desaturated. It’s look changes a few times, whether going into flashback, to show the beauty of random moments throughout his last day, or even for random dramatic effect. This movie is certainly beyond reproach in that regard. It’s gorgeous. I suspect this may have something to do with director Tom Ford’s “day-job”, as a fashion designer.

In fact one of the main points of the film is the beauty of everyday life. Throughout his day he has chance encounters with a young girl, a young man who wants to pick him up (or be picked up I suppose), a young student etc. Each time he has one of these beautiful moments the film loses most of its de-saturation. The color floods back into the film momentarily, and we really get a sense of George’s feeling. Now this is a bit unsubtle; I wouldn’t say ham-fisted, but it’s damn close. It happens a few times, as well. Perhaps less would be better in that direction.

Despite that, A Single Man certainly makes its point. One of its little points seems to be that gay relationships are just the same as straight ones, and we definitely get that. It is never even mentioned that George is really gay, they just show him with his boyfriend. It’s simple. It doesn’t turn itself into an “issue movie”; it just gets over it so that we can follow the story. We get right to Firth’s heartbreak, and then on to his process of life re-building. It is a very human story. You don’t have to be either gay or straight to get this movie, it’s something we can all feel.

OVERALL

A Single Man is beautiful, both in emotional content and in its look. The acting is note perfect, and while we may get confused as to a particular or tow now or then, it comes together in a wonderful package. Let’s hope Tom Ford continues this other career. Recommended!

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“A Single Man” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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July 17, 2011 Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Drama, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

120 – Hulk (2003)

Hulk REVIEW

2.5/5 stars

Director – Ang Lee

Cast – Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliot, Nick Nolte, Josh Lucas

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Hulk is one of those shiny superhero movies. It fits in right along with Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, Catwoman, Elektra, etc., in that it is colourful, over-lit, and mainly devoid of anything new to offer. Hulk tries to give us something new, I will give it that. It is a pity (and maybe a shock, considering the quality of many of those involved) that it rarely succeeds.

Ang Lee was in the director’s chair. He is most recognized for the excellent Sense and Sensibility, the award-winning Brokeback Mountain, and the exciting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He tries here to replicate the look and feel of comic books, from the cinematography (which is colourful and fairly vibrant), to the (in)famous split screen process which attempted to replicate the frames of comic books. I disagree with the majority, and think the latter technique is fairly succesful. The former is disastrous however. I hate the “plastic-ness” of it all.

All in all what sinks the movie is its insistence on trying to create a deep dramatic weight to Banner/Hulk. This is what sank Fantastic Four, and even though Hulk isn’t as bad as that movie, the same effects are felt here. The flashy mis en scene doesn’t allow for any serious character development, and to add to all that, the writing here is underdone.

This is where the sequel/reboot The Incredible Hulk did slightly better. It skipped the origin story (we all know it anyway), and got right to the movie. It added more (and better) action, improved the CGI (so much so that looks like a ten-year difference instead of 5), and just took more care in general.

The acting is quite good here though, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Eric Bana. He always seems stiff, and either expressionless or over-dramatic. Nick Nolte is his wacky self, and Jennifer Connelly does her “wife to a crazy guy” bit. I really enjoyed Sam Elliot, he brings a surprising amount of depth to an underwritten role. I didn’t actually expect that.

OVERALL

Hulk is a movie that tries but, despite the quality of those involved, pretty much fails in almost every regard. It is too flashy to support the dramatic weight that they want, but not exciting enough to hold interest. The Incredible Hulk is a better effort, even with its flaws.

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TRAILER

“Hulk” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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January 27, 2011 Posted by | 2.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment