Posted on 8/21/14 11:47 AM
Dead Poets Society is a 1989 drama film directed by Peter Weir, written by Tom Schulman, and starring Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Kurtwood Smith, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Norman Lloyd, Dylan Kussman, James Waterston, Allelon Ruggiero, Leon Pownall, Alexandra Powers, Kevin Cooney, Welker White, Debra Mooney, George Hager, Carla Belver, and John Cunningham.
In 1959, Welton Academy is a staid but well-respected preparatory school for boys where education is a pragmatic and rather dull affair. Several of the students, however, have their thoughts on the learning process (and life itself) changed when a new teacher comes to the school. John Keating (Robin Williams) is an unconventional educator who tears chapters of his textbooks and asks his students to stand on their desks to see the world from a new angle.
Keating introduces his students to poetry, and his free-thinking attitude and the liberating philosophies of the authors he introduces to his class have a profound effect on his students, especially Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles), Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero), Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen), Gerard Pitts (James Waterston), and Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman). Keating urges his students to seize the day and live their lives boldly, but when this philosophy leads to an unexpected tragedy, headmaster Gale Nolan (Norman Lloyd) fires Keating, and his students leap to his defense.
Considering Robin Williams has recently passed away, I don't think it would be fair to write a negative review of one of his movies, but I'm sorry, please forgive me, but this movie is criminally overrated. I just need to get this off my chest. Dead Poets Society has Williams' strongest performance, but it's completely wasted in this boring, pretentious, manipulative trite.
I'll get the good stuff out of the way first. The performances are fantastic, and it's a shame to see them wasted. Robin Williams is not only a great comedic actor, but an even better dramatic actor, and to Dead Poets Society's credit, it shows in this movie. He plays off actors like Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard very well. Hawke and Leonard are also really good in this movie as are the other young actors. The cinematography by John Seale is also very strong and the musical score by Maurice Jarre is beautiful.
However, the rest of the movie is boring, pretentious, manipulative, sentimental, and hackneyed. Robin Williams is great, but his character isn't. He's an unrealistically-written poetry nut, and to sum up the classes he teaches to his students, he pretty much just tells them, "Be open-minded! Think like me!" and that's it.
Now, here's the biggest problem I have with this movie. In the words of my good friend Diego Tutweiller:
"Williams does fucking nothing. The film is supposedly about breaking out of molds, ending conformism, and being your own man. Williams encourages one of his students to do this, but the student incurs the wrath of his father, and then (spoiler alert) kills himself. Suddenly, the administration is up in arms and decides to blame Williams and his Dead Poets Society for it. After forcing all of the society members to sign a paper disavowing Williams, he is fired. So what changed? Fucking nothing, that's what. The kid's father, who was the most evil human being in the movie, got away fine. The faculty goes on living their lives. Only Williams is punished. Now, you could make the argument that he somehow impacted the lives of his students, sure. But what evidence of that is there? They all end up being spineless fucks who throw him under the bus at the end of the movie! Ooh, they stood up on desks and saluted him! What a valiant and spontaneous display of individualism! But after Williams walks out of that class, what will have changed? Nothing at all! They will go on being treated like human doormats! The film completely rejects its own premise by allowing its villains to go unpunished and confining its heroes to a lifetime of suffering! THE FUCK?"
I couldn't have said that better myself. That's what I hate the most about Dead Poets Society and that is the number one reason why this never managed to grip me or inspire me and why this truly is one of the most overrated films of all time. Sorry, but this prep school drama just failed most of the courses. Better luck next year, am I right?
FINAL SCORE: 3/10
Dead Poets Society has good intentions. It tries so hard to be a gripping, inspiring, and emotionally powerful film and it fails. It rejects its own premise, it constantly undermines its own message, it's poorly paced, it attempts to be intelligent when it really isn't, and it's not really moving as much as it is manipulative and lacking in heart and brains. Despite great performances, strong cinematography, and a fantastic score, Dead Poets Society is a film that I never, ever understood why people love it so much.
Posted on 8/19/14 06:00 AM
Mary Shelley is spinning in her grave. Full review soon.
Posted on 8/14/14 09:37 AM
Into the Storm is a 2014 found footage action adventure disaster thriller film directed by Steven Quale, written by John Swetnam, produced by Todd Garner, and starring Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Jeremy Sumpter, Nathan Kress, Arlen Escarpeta, Max Deacon, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Scott Lawrence, Lee Whittaker, Jon Reep, and Kyle Davis.
In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople are thrown directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.
Steven Quale first started off as a protégé of filmmaker James Cameron, handling second unit direction on Titanic and Avatar, co-directing the documentary Aliens of the Deep, and editing the special edition director's cut of The Abyss. Quale made his filmmaking debut with the surprisingly enjoyable Final Destination 5, which garnered generally positive reviews from film critics, a first for the franchise. Quade's follow-up feature, Into the Storm, is fun and all, but not worth your money.
The visual effects, admittedly, look spectacular. All the tornado destruction scenes are ridiculously entertaining to watch. Trust me when I say that when shit hits the fan, it really hits the fan. I'm talking Man of Steel-level destruction, folks. The musical score by Brian Tyler is pretty good. The performances by Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield, yo), the gorgeous Sarah Wayne Callies (whom you might remember as Lori from The Walking Dead), and Matt Walsh are decent.
However, Steven Quale's directorial style for this film was a huge problem, which was surprising considering Quale did a good job directing Final Destination 5. About half of this movie is found footage and the other half isn't, and it's very confusing because you can't tell which is which. The cinematography by Brian Pearson and the film editing by Eric A. Sears play a big part in this problem I have with the film.
The characters are stock and forgettable, especially Richard Armitage's sons and one of the sons' girlfriend, and the screenplay by John Swetnam lacks character development. In fact, in some scenes, the characters often do stupid things. The dialogue and plotting are generic, by-the-numbers, and weak. Say what you will about Twister, but at least it had a decent story and at least you cared about the main characters.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10
Into the Storm is pretty much a movie you'd see on the Syfy Channel but with a million times better special effects and a hundred times better acting quality. It's an entertaining picture with fantastic visuals and fun destruction sequences as well as a decent score by Brian Tyler, but it lacks good storytelling and interesting characters. All in all, Into the Storm is a mediocre if visually phenomenal disaster film.
Posted on 8/12/14 07:26 PM
Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, two immensely talented actors, have passed away this year. Last year, we had James Gandolfini, Dennis Farina, Paul Walker, and Peter O'Toole, and now, we have Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams. So, I thought why not review one of their movies to honor them? However, instead of one of their more iconic movies, I'll instead be reviewing one of their more underrated films. That film is Patch Adams.
Patch Adams is a 1998 semi-biographical comedy-drama film directed by Tom Shadyac (The Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar), written by Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura 2, Barnyard, Jimmy Neutron, Cowboys & Aliens), and starring Robin Williams, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel London, Bob Gunton, Harold Gould, Michael Jeter, Alan Tudyk (Firefly, bitches), Peter Coyote, and Greg Sestero (not making it up; he's really in this movie).
Patch Adams is inspired by the true story of Hunter Adams, a.k.a. Patch Adams. The plot involves a man determined to become a medical doctor because he enjoys helping people. The medical community though doesn't like his methods of healing the sick patients, even though everyone else appreciates and enjoys what he does as he is the only one who can do so. Patch Adams attempts to prove that laughter may be the best medicine.
Robin Williams does an outstanding job playing the character of Patch Adams. I've heard of the real Patch Adams, but I don't know much about the guy so I'm unable to point out historical inaccuracies or changes made from true events. Williams is a fantastic actor, and it really shows in this film. The film mainly focuses on how doctors should treat their patients as opposed to how they actually do treat their patients.
Patch takes the time to get to know them, and finds out what's wrong with them in their minds and in their hearts, as opposed to just walking into a patient's room and pulling out an IV or a needle out of nowhere. From what I've heard, over 100,000 medical students have helped joined the real Patch Adams' cause. This is one of the most underrated films I have ever seen in my entire life and I am shocked by how much hatred this film gets.
All the actors do great jobs playing their roles, especially Robin Williams, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Bob Gunton. Potter does a good job playing Carin Fisher, the love interest of Patch Adams. The more Carin believes in Patch, the more Patch believes in himself. One thing people hated about this film was the choice of casting Robin Williams as Patch Adams. They thought he was too over-the-top to play a role as serious as this. I don't recall one scene in this film where he goes over-the-top, so to everybody who hates this film: please explain to me.
Don't get me wrong. Robin Williams can be funny in this film, but he's not Death to Smoochy Rainbow Randolph funny (Death to Smoochy is another highly underrated Robin Williams film). Williams fucking nailed this role. Not one word in the Oxford English Dictionary can explain how much I disagree with the haters on this one. Here's probably my favorite line in the entire movie:
"Why can't we treat death with a certain amount of humanity and dignity and decency, and God forbid, maybe even humor? Death is not the enemy, gentlemen. If we're gonna fight a disease, let's fight one of the most terrible diseases of all: indifference. Transference is inevitable, sir. Every human being has an impact on another. Why don't we want that in a patient/doctor relationship? A doctor's mission should be not just to prevent death but also to improve the quality of life. That's why you treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you win, no matter what the outcome."
FINAL SCORE: 8/10
Patch Adams is a great film. It's well-written, competently directed, well-acted, has genuine emotion, the pacing was good, the plot was well-established, and I love the score by Marc Shaiman. If you're a fan of Robin Williams, check this film out. If you don't like the film, that's fine, more power to you, I can't change your opinion, but like I said in my G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra review, at least give credit where credit is due.
Posted on 8/11/14 11:44 AM
The Expendables 3 is a 2014 ensemble action film directed by Patrick Hughes, produced by Sylvester Stallone, written by Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, and Stallone, and starring Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer, Wesley Snipes, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, and Robert Davi.
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), and the rest of the mercenary team known as the Expendables come face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill...or so he thought.
Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, is now making it his mission to end The Expendables, but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster, and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic, old-school style versus high-tech, new-school expertise in the Expendables' most personal battle yet.
Ever since I was a kid, I've always been a fan of the action genre, having grown up watching classics like Die Hard, Commando, Predator, Lethal Weapon, The Running Man, Rambo, Cliffhanger, Mad Max, The Terminator, etc. and even underrated gems such as Dark Angel (a.k.a. I Come in Peace), Red Scorpion, Joshua Tree (a.k.a. Army of One), Timecop, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Cyborg, Death Warrant, Hard Target, Sudden Death, Double Impact, Lionheart, The Perfect Weapon, and Red Heat among others.
I had a lot of fun with the first Expendables movie. Despite the laughable CGI blood and occasional shaky-cam, The Expendables was a blast, with great action scenes, graphic violence that harkens back to the action genre's glory days, a great cast, good performances, and some witty one-liners. The Expendables 2 was even better, improving upon the camerawork, action, and dialogue, and featuring great appearances by Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger, despite focusing a little too much on the comedic one-liners.
I'm unhappy to tell you all that The Expendables 3 is a crushing disappointment. It's even weaker than the first Expendables movie, and that is seriously saying a lot. Even with Indiana Jones, El Mariachi, Blade, and the older Hank McCoy joining the cast, the director of Red Hill sitting in the director's chair, and the writers of Olympus Has Fallen collaborating with Stallone on the writing, The Expendables 3 isn't really all that fun.
First of all, the PG-13 rating really hurts the film. The first two films were rated R to further promote themselves as throwbacks to 80's and 90's action films. The Expendables 3 is now a bloodless, watered-down PG-13 because Stallone wants the film to make more money at the box office. News flash, Stallone: the new generation you want to appeal to doesn't give a shit about you.
To prove my point, The Last Stand, Sabotage, Bullet to the Head, Grudge Match, and Escape Plan weren't box office successes. Sorry, Sly, but today's generation doesn't care about 80's action stars anymore. To add insult to injury, Patrick Hughes' previous film, Red Hill (which was also his directorial debut), was rated R, and Olympus Has Fallen, which was written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, who co-wrote this movie, was also rated R. Jesus.
Also, the idea of a younger generation of Expendables is absolutely retarded. This misses the point of The Expendables. The point of the franchise was to pay homage to and resurrect the glory days of the action genre, where we had Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Lundgren, Willis, etc. To make matters worse, you don't care about the younger generation of Expendables and they're in the film just to be kidnapped by Mel Gibson's character. Plus, the performances from these younger actors, with the exception of the gorgeous and bad-ass Ronda Rousey as Luna, are terrible.
Thankfully, the older actors make up for them. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, and Jet Li are still fun, although Jet Li still has an aggravatingly short amount of screentime. Mel Gibson hams it up as the villain and he was entertaining as hell. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, and Kelsey Grammer all have fun appearances. However, the presences of Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, and Mickey Rourke are all sorely missed.
The plot is nothing special, but then again, The Expendables franchise isn't exactly known for having great plots, although the first Expendables had a decent-enough story about finding your soul. There's some nice cinematography at points and Brian Tyler does another good job with the musical score. Despite lacking the R-rating, which is annoying, the action sequences are enjoyable...for the most part, anyway.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10
The Expendables 3 is inarguably the worst entry in the Expendables franchise, with watered-down action scenes that lack intensity and brutality, too many characters, a by-the-numbers plot, and generic dialogue. The action scenes are somewhat entertaining, the one-liners are still witty, and the performances are pretty good (with the exceptions of Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz, and Glen Powell, all three of which are terrible), but at the end of day, this definitely wasn't what anyone wanted out of an Expendables movie. I'd call this the Spider-Man 3 of the Expendables trilogy.
BTW, I found and watched the actual movie on Yify.tv, so your question "How'd you see the movie before it came out in theaters?" has now been answered.
Posted on 8/09/14 07:47 PM
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a 2014 science fiction martial arts comedy action film produced by Michael Bay, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, written by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, and Evan Daugherty, and starring Megan Fox, Johnny Knoxville, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Tohoru Masamune, Minae Noji, Whoopi Goldberg, Abby Elliott, Taran Killam, and K. Todd Freeman. The film is based on the TMNT franchise created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
Darkness has settled over New York City as the Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) and her wisecracking cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) to save the city and unravel Shredder's diabolical plan.
As a kid, one of the most important parts of my childhood was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I loved the cartoon, I loved the comic books, I loved the 2003 TV series, and I even enjoyed the video games. In 1990, New Line Cinema made the first attempt at bringing the TMNT to the big screen with a live-action film. The film took the franchise back to its more gritty roots, like in the comics, while also including some light-hearted humor in order to balance the tone. I loved the movie when I was a kid, and I still love it now.
That film wasn't a critical hit, but it was a box office success, so New Line Cinema began work on a sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. The tone was lighter in order to appeal more to kids, like the cartoon. I actually do enjoy this sequel and it's one of my guilty pleasures. Then, the franchise sunk into oblivion with the abysmal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. Fourteen years later, we got a standalone animated film TMNT. This film wasn't really good, but it actually wasn't that bad either.
Now, we have a reboot of the franchise, produced by Nickelodeon and Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came close to being terrible. This came close to raping my childhood. It's not the full-on anus of cinema (although it is safe to say this film is my good friend Diego Tutweiller's next -0/10 rating), but this film was garbage.
Let me get started on some decent stuff. The action sequences are fun and the visual effects are impressive. Originally, I loathed the new Turtle designs but over time, I managed to get used to them. I didn't care for Splinter's design. The cinematography by Lula Carvalho is occasionally cool and the score by Brian Tyler is enjoyable. They got Donatello and Raphael right (despite Donny now being a stereotype) and Michelangelo has a few funny one-liners.
Here's the bad stuff. With the exceptions of the Turtles, Shredder, and Splinter, the performances are weak. Megan Fox as April O'Neil is excellent eye candy. In fact, she looks hotter in this movie than she does in Transformers. But while she isn't grating like in Transformers, she still sucks here. I mean, good God, she's blander than FDR's legs. Why not get someone like Jane Levy or Emmy Rossum to play April? Will Arnett is shockingly unfunny and annoying, and William Fichtner and Whoopi Goldberg look bored to be in this movie.
The screenplay, penned by Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) and Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman, Killing Season, Divergent) is absolutely atrocious. The dialogue is generic and the story hardly makes a lick of sense. Jonathan Liebesman's direction wasn't ungodly terrible, but he was the wrong choice. In fact, Brett Ratner was originally rumored to direct before Liebesman was hired, and to be honest, I would've preferred Ratner.
Plot holes plague the shit out of this movie. For example, William Fichtner's character reveals to April O'Neil that he killed her father, but earlier, we see April's dad dying in a fire. CinemaSins would have a ball with this movie. The Turtles' origins made me cringe. We have a scene where April's watching some videos and we see her, as a little girl, playing around in her father's top-secret government lab and we see her playing with Splinter and the Turtles, and...get this...
...the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Splinter were April's childhood pets.
I'm gonna have to pull a Chase Nyland here.
*flips coffee table* FUCK YOU, MOVIE.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10
The origins are an absolute insult to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lore, the story is terribly written, the dialogue is lame, the human characters are boring, and the climax rips off the first Amazing Spider-Man movie. Despite a nice score by Brian Tyler and fun action scenes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a poorly-written, nonsensical, generic, incredibly dull, predictable, and forgettable reboot of the TMNT franchise. If you wanna see a good Ninja Turtles movie, watch the original 1990 film. Hell, I'd actually recommend you see Transformers: Age of Extinction instead of this...and that film is an hour longer than this.
P.S. Why does Shredder look like fucking Megatron?
Posted on 8/05/14 09:50 PM
Southland Tales is a 2007 science fiction comedy drama thriller film written, produced, and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Miranda Richardson, Holmes Osborne, John Larroquette, Wallace Shawn, Bai Ling, Nora Dunn, Kevin Smith, Wood Harris, Amy Poehler, Cheri Oteri, Jon Lovitz, Will Sasso, Lou Taylor Pucci, Curtis Armstrong, Beth Grant, Michele Durrett, Zelda Rubinstein, Christopher Lambert, Jill Ritchie, Todd Berger, and Janeane Garofalo.
California is at the epicenter of a political and environmental disaster that threatens to destroy the world. In the year 2005, a nuclear attack wipes out part of the state of Texas, and three years later, America is a virtual police state, with the government taking control of nearly every part of people's lives, supposedly for their own good.
A German firm has found a way to generate energy using seawater, but both public and private concerns are desperate to prevent the new technology from being introduced in the gasoline-starved United States. A Marxist underground based on the West Coast is determined to bring down the federal government through violent revolution. In this midst of this chaos, we follow a number of stories that continually return to three principle characters.
Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) is an amnesiac action star trying to secure financing for a new project, but reality keeps mirroring the events in his script and he struggles to hold on to his identity. Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a porn star reinventing herself as a TV pundit offering her views on politics, modern culture, and teenage sex. And finally, Roland Taverner (Seann William Scott) is a Los Angeles police officer whose identity has mysteriously split in two and he struggles to track down his other half.
Once upon a time there was filmmaker known as Richard Kelly, whose debut feature was the 2001 sci-fi drama Donnie Darko. Donnie Darko is a masterpiece of filmmaking. It might just be one of my all-time favorite films. Donnie Darko gave us well-developed characters who served a purpose to the story, top-notch dialogue, great performances, and one mindfuck of a plot. You might need to think about and watch the film again in order to understand it, and if you do, you'll appreciate the film more.
Kelly's next-produced script was the Tony Scott-directed Domino, a biopic about bounty hunter Domino Harvey. Honestly, I did enjoy Domino. It's occasionally messy in terms of storytelling, but man oh man, is it ever entertaining. Four years after Domino, Kelly gave us The Box, an adaptation of the short story Button, Button by the late Richard Matheson. It started off with intrigue until it got a little messy. I could watch The Box as a timewaster. Before The Box, Kelly gave us Southland Tales.
Southland Tales is one of the most pretentious; if not THE most pretentious ass-pile I've ever had the displeasure of watching. Could you believe for a second that this was from the same man who gave us Donnie Darko? Southland Tales is a convoluted, messy, nonsensical, incoherent, incomprehensible, and ludicrous mess from beginning to end. It's mind-numbingly bad.
BTW, the synopsis that lasts three paragraphs (paragraphs 2-4) is taken from IMDb. I can't really explain the plot, and if I try to do so, my fucking brain will explode with chunks of matter and gore flying everywhere. It's not deep, it's not intelligent, and it's not easy to explain. It's pretentious, it's nonsensical, and most of all, it's complicated as fuck. After watching this, The Box, and the director's cut of Donnie Darko, I am sad to say that the theatrical cut of Donnie Darko is nothing more than a fucking fluke.
Seriously, with the exception of Domino, Richard Kelly is just a one-trick pony. Donnie Darko and Southland Tales both deal with time travel and the Apocalypse. The Box started out with intrigue but then turned into a mess when he added padding involving aliens, time travel, and the Apocalypse. Fuck, Kelly's screenplay adaptation of the Louis Sachar novel Holes was a hard-R sci-fi fantasy action script where the holes that the kids were digging contained people that were killed by a nuclear holocaust. As someone who read that draft, it gets a hell of a lot dumber from there.
The performances, much to my shock, are awful. Literally every single actor in this film is either bored, confused, looking for a paycheck, free for the weekend, or so uncaring of this project that they just phone in their performances. Richard Kelly's screenplay is terribly written and his direction is just as bad, if not worse. This fucking sophomoric dung heap of a film is the answer to the question "What the hell happened to Richard Kelly?".
Southland Tales is supposedly a satire. This movie is trying to riff on the Bush Administration that was still in power during the time this movie was made. To make a long story short, George W. Bush brings about the Apocalypse. If you wanna take jabs at the Bush Administration, they've given you a shit-ton of ammunition, Richard. But every attack and threat, every policy introduced in this dystopian near-future, they're all fictionalized events and only serve as a display to how little Kelly knows about the politics, particularly the imagery of elephants fucking. Apparently, Richard Kelly knows nothing about subtlety.
Going back to the acting, the casting choices are fucking bizarre. This has to be the strangest ensemble cast for any movie ever made, and that includes Movie 43. A lot of comedians appear in small roles, promoting Southland Tales as a satire. For example, we have Cheri Oteri and Amy Poehler from SNL as Neo-Marxists, Jon Lovitz (also from SNL) as a racist cop, and Will Sasso from MADtv as some random villainous guy I don't give a fuck about. There's also Janeane Garofalo as a military general, but her scenes were cut from the theatrical cut and were seen in the nearly three-hours long Cannes Film Festival cut of the film.
But, wait! There's more! We have Rex from Toy Story, the psychic lady from Poltergeist, Donnie Darko's gym teacher, and Booger from Revenge of the Nerds as members of this strange cult. And the main actors? Good holy God. Seann William Scott looks confused throughout the entire movie, merely pretending to understand the script he's working off of. Dwayne Johnson playing an action star is believable, but his character is also a screenwriter with a working knowledge of the spacetime continuum? What the fuck? Also, we have Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a porn star. If Joss Whedon saw this movie, he'd kill himself.
Southland Tales is also apparently a Californicated Bush era-set retelling of the Book of Revelations (also known as the Revelation of St. John). The Antichrist is Wallace Shawn's character Baron Von Westphalen, the False Prophet is Holmes Osborne's character Bobby Frost (because Justin Timberlake quotes Robert Frost! It's such a clever and creative pun, am I right?! HAHAHAHA!!!), the Two Witnesses are The Rock and Seann William Scott (God, I wish I was watching The Rundown...you know, a good movie), the Whore of Babylon is Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Our Lord Jesus Holy Christ Almighty is the two magnificent Stiflers.
The Book of Revelations is known for being contradictory, convoluted, and complicated. I haven't read the Book of Revelations in the Bible (because I couldn't give two shits and a fuck less about religion and I'm not a Bible purist), but I've heard about how misunderstandable it is through a review of this film I watched on YouTube. It's because of this that Richard Kelly has no choice but to make Southland Tales so convoluted and so bloody incomprehensible.
There are only three positive things I can say about this movie. First of all, the cinematography by Steven Poster looks fantastic, especially for a film with a budget of $17 million. But then again, Only God Forgives had luscious cinematography and that was also a pretentious fuckfest. Alexander Hammond's set designs look pretty cool, especially the interior sets. The montage of Justin Timberlake's lip-synching of All These Things That I've Done by The Killers was entertaining and easily the best part of the movie. If only the rest of this ostentatious motherfucker was engaging.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10
Southland Tales is a terrible, terrible movie. It truly is awful. On a visual level, Southland Tales is a delight, but from a storytelling standpoint, this film is a pretentious, incomprehensible, inconsistent, ludicrous, incoherent, and flat-out disjointed load of ass. Richard Kelly should be ashamed of himself. How is it that the same man who gave us Donnie Darko, a masterpiece of cult filmmaking, also gave us this illogical, plotless, and nonsensical ass-pile? Unbelievable. Do not watch Southland Tales. It's two hours and twenty minutes of absolute shit.
Posted on 8/03/14 06:37 PM
Guardians of the Galaxy is a 2014 epic space opera science fiction superhero fantasy adventure action comedy film directed by James Gunn, written by Nicole Perlman and Gunn, produced by Kevin Feige, executive produced by Stan Lee, and starring Chris Pratt, Zoë Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Ophelia Lovibond, Josh Brolin, Sean Gunn, Gregg Henry, Laura Haddock, Alexis Denisof, Seth Green, Nathan Fillion, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro. The film is based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name.
In the far reaches of space, American pilot Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) a.k.a. Star-Lord finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). In order to evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a group of criminals including Gamora (Zoë Saldaña), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Groot (Vin Diesel). But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand, with the galaxy's fate in the balance.
James Gunn is pretty hit-and-miss. On one hand, he gave us gems like The Specials, Slither, Super, the Dawn of the Dead remake (Zack Snyder directed it but Gunn penned the script), and Lollipop Chainsaw. On the other hand, he also gave us the Scooby-Doo movies and one of the sketches from Movie 43. When I heard that a film based on one of Marvel's more obscure titles, Guardians of the Galaxy, was in development with James Gunn attached to write and direct, I was quite skeptical. Then, I heard about the cast and I saw the trailers. That's when my expectations got higher.
Guardians of the Galaxy has officially dethroned Edge of Tomorrow as my favorite film of the year. This movie is crazy, funny, stylish, thrilling, exciting, heartfelt, clever, intense, imaginative, and entertaining as hell. Guardians of the Galaxy is pretty much everything you wanted it to be and more. I'll even go as far as to say that this has officially dethroned Marvel's The Avengers as the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, this movie is that awesome.
The characters are all memorable, fun, and given interesting and distinct personalities. Chris Pratt does an excellent job as Peter Quill/Star-Lord. Pratt is very witty and charismatic as Quill and the character is given a genuinely emotional and heartbreaking backstory. Zoë Saldaña also does a great job as Gamora, the adopted daughter of Thanos. Gamora is given a very dark backstory and is a very enjoyable and well-developed character. Also, green Zoë Saldaña is just hot as fuck.
Dave Bautista portrays Drax the Destroyer, who wants revenge on Ronan for killing his wife and daughter. Bautista actually does a very commendable job playing the character and I have to agree with Chris Stuckmann that he's the best wrestler-turned-actor since Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The two actors who steal the show are Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper as Groot and Rocket Raccoon, respectively. These two characters are so fun to watch, especially Rocket. Despite Rocket's sarcasm and witty banter, his backstory, like Quill's, is sad and painful. I loved these characters.
Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, and Djimon Hounsou portray the villains: Ronan the Accuser, Gamora's adoptive sister Nebula, and Korath the Pursuer, respectively. Now, I'll admit, like the human characters in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I wish they could've been given a little more development, but they were still very fun characters in their own right, especially Nebula. Watching Amy Pond fight Uhura was a fanboy orgasm of megaversal proportions. Michael Rooker is enjoyably gruff as Quill's former partner Yondu and the rest of the cast did a good job as well. I also enjoyed Josh Brolin's cameo as Thanos.
James Gunn does a fantastic job directing the film. This is his first big-budget film and this film doesn't even look like he hasn't made one before. This is also his most mature film. The screenplay, penned by Gunn and Nicole Perlman, is terrifically written with sharp dialogue and plenty of funny humor. Seriously, the humor in this film is so funny that I'm convinced this is a legitimate comedy.
The cinematography by Ben Davis and the production designs by Charles Wood look gorgeous. For a tongue-in-cheek space adventure, it's beautiful-looking. The action sequences are awesome, the practical and make-up effects look really creative, and the visual effects and CGI look amazing. This is possibly the most visually impressive film of the year. The score by Tyler Bates is very unique, opting to ignore a more traditional John Williams/Michael Giacchino-esque style of music. I also gotta compliment the soundtrack. It's fucking epic in every sense of the word.
FINAL SCORE: 10/10
Overall, there's not much else I can say that I haven't already. Guardians of the Galaxy is my favorite film of 2014 and my favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's one of the wittiest and most unique superhero films to come in quite some time. It's funny, it's creative, it's clever, it's imaginative, and it has plenty of thrills and heart. The one thing I love the most about this movie is that it takes a simple story and turns it into something very special. Please go see this movie. You definitely won't regret it.
BTW, I gotta spoil something: The post-credits scene has Benicio del Toro's character, Taneleer Tivan a.k.a. the Collector, getting licked by the telepathic Russian space dog Cosmo, and being mocked by one of his collections: Howard the Duck, voiced by Seth Green (a friend of James Gunn). There's also a cameo by Nathan Fillion.
Posted on 7/29/14 06:57 PM
Sabotage is a 2014 action crime mystery thriller film co-written, produced, and directed by David Ayer, co-written and executive produced by Skip Woods, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Mireille Enos, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Martin Donovan, Harold Perrineau, and Max Martini.
Sabotage involves an elite DEA task force that takes on the world's deadliest drug cartels. The team is led by John "Breacher" Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and consists of James "Monster" Murray (Sam Worthington), Monster's wife Lizzy (Mireille Enos), Julius "Sugar" Edmonds (Terrence Howard), Joe "Grinder" Phillips (Joe Manganiello), Eddie "Neck" Jordan (Josh Holloway), and Tom "Pyro" Roberts (Max Martini) among others.
When the team successfully executes a high-stakes raid on a cartel safe house, they think their work is done. That is until members of the team mysteriously start to be eliminated one-by-one. As the body count rises, everyone is a suspect. Wharton must team up with federal agent Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) and work out just what the fuck's going on.
The original screenplay for the film was written by Skip Woods, so I wasn't looking forward to this movie at first. Then David Ayer was hired to direct. It was later confirmed that Ayer liked the idea Woods had but he hated the script, so he re-tooled it from scratch, polishing it as naturally as possible. He pretty much turned it into his own screenplay. Woods got credit for legal reasons. That's when my expectations got higher. When I first saw Sabotage in the theater, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I watched the film online months later and it was less good the second time around.
First and foremost, the good stuff. The cast does a great job, especially Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold plays a different character than before and he does an awesome job playing a character like Breacher, who's rather a flawed human being than an action superhero. The action sequences are very well-shot and exciting. The practical blood and gore effects are absolutely superb. Finally, I really liked how the premise mixes together Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None with a gritty crime thriller plot.
Now onto the bad shit. The bodily humor is terribly unfunny and out-of-place. Within the first twenty-or-so minutes, David Ayer manages to work in a toilet covered and clogged with shit, a piss gag, two fart jokes, a trip to the sewer, and a lengthy conversation involving a piss bottle used on stakeouts. I guess David Ayer added these in to make the film more edgy, but it's not really edgy as much as it is unnecessary and quite frankly, gross.
The characters are really hard to root for, with the exception of Schwarzenegger and Olivia Williams. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed how the actors got in character, but the characters themselves really aren't that likeable, especially Mireille Enos' batshit insane coke-whore. Now, their dialogue can get pretty energetic, humorous, and naturalistic, but the majority of their dialogue makes me feel like I'm watching a Rob Zombie movie. Hell, there's one scene where the beat up a security guard even though he was just doing his job.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10
I had high hopes for Sabotage. I was satisfied at first, but disappointed as of now. The saddest part is that Skip Woods isn't entirely to blame. Sabotage has great action scenes, an interesting premise, and good performances, but it also has poor writing, unlikeable characters, gratuitous violence, and unnecessary bodily humor. You know your movie is disappointing when I liked it less than Transcendence, Divergent, Transformers 4, and Paranormal Activity's Latino spin-off.
Posted on 7/28/14 02:20 AM
Silent Hill is one of the few genuinely good films to be based on a massively popular and critically acclaimed video game, along with Tekken and Final Fantasy: Advent Children. Don't get me wrong, there are fun ones, like Mortal Kombat (only the first one), Street Fighter (the 1994 version), the Resident Evil films directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Apocalypse and Extinction don't count), the Super Mario Bros. movie, Prince of Persia (although it's a 4 out of 10 at best), the Tomb Raider films, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, but they were rather poor adaptations of their respective source materials. This one actually manages to stay true to its source.
I'm a fan of the Silent Hill games. I love the first three games and I like The Room (no, not the Room that you're thinking about), Origins, Downpour, Homecoming, and Shattered Memories. As a fan, other die-hard fans might call me batshit nuts that I like this film. Silent Hill was released in 2006 to generally negative reviews from film critics and harsh reactions from Silent Hill fans. I didn't think the film was that bad.
Directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Crying Freeman) from a screenplay penned by Beowulf and Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary, Silent Hill follows Rose Da Silva, played by Radha Mitchell, who takes her adopted daughter Sharon, played by Jodelle Ferland, to the town of Silent Hill, for which Sharon cries while sleepwalking. Arriving at Silent Hill, Rose gets in a car accident and wakes up the next morning to find Sharon missing. While searching for Sharon, Rose fights a local cult while uncovering Sharon's connection to the town's past.
What I really like about this film is that contains elements from the Silent Hill video games, mainly their emotional, religious, and aesthetic content. Rose Da Silva is a likeable, strong, determined, well-written, and interesting character. Radha Mitchell does an admirable job playing the character, even if the character wasn't from the game. Rose doesn't exactly need to be a fighter or shoot with a cool-ass gun to be tough.
Contrary to most video game movies, this one actually rarely strays away from the template of the games. Laurie Holden also gives a solid performance as Cybil Bennett (a character from the games who's been done some worthwhile justice in this film), another strong, well-written, and likeable character. She's comparable to Alice from Resident Evil, only Cybil is more of an actual character.
There's a scene in which she believes Rose is a kidnapper when she's taking Sharon to Silent Hill. At first, I thought this was incredibly stupid and nonsensical, but her actions later became justified. A few years ago, a kidnapper brought a kid to Silent Hill and dropped him down a mine shaft. Cybil rescued the kid and took care of him for a few days until help came.
The visual designs are terrifying and breathtaking at the same time. The production design crew did an astonishing job creating the town of Silent Hill. The creature effects were handled by expert VFX supervisor and Patrick Tatopoulos. The guy hit the ball right out of the park with the creature effects. I loved the mix of practical effects and CGI, and hell, some of the creatures even managed to scare the hell out of me. The music by Jeff Danna is also very chilling and atmospheric.
As much as I like this film, there are flaws to be found. Some parts of the first act are honestly pretty boring and uninteresting. This is a two hour long movie, but I feel it could've been cut by fifteen or twenty minutes to give the film more of a quicker pace. Roger Avary feels the need to explain almost everything in exhaustive detail in his screenplay and that wasn't needed. The ending was just...stupid. It didn't ruin the film, but it was incredibly stupid and surprisingly murky.
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10
In closing, Silent Hill is among one of three genuinely good films based on video games. Is it a perfect film? No. Was the exposition needed? No. The first act? Some parts can get pretty boring. The ending? Dumb. Just fucking dumb and I couldn't believe the co-writer of Pulp Fiction came up with it. However, compared to most video game adaptations, Silent Hill actually manages to stick true to the templates of its source material.