Ryan Bell's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Lincoln (2012)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

While watching Lincoln I had the urge to hug Ol‚(TM) Hickory. While flawed and filled with some gaseous pomp and circumstance the film still landed for me. Do not go in expecting some huge history lesson but be prepared for more of a character study and some of the best acting that you will ever see. You will be surprised at how funny it is and how often you catch yourself laughing out loud. Finally, as a period piece, this is a beautifully and painstakingly crafted film.
Spielberg got so much of this right that, as a whole, the movie is hitting right at 8.25 for me. He spent 12 years researching and preparing this film and this meticulousness showed. Some of the finest points to mention was that they used the correct wallpaper, the books in Lincoln‚(TM)s library were exact and they even used the sound Lincoln‚(TM)s actual pocket watch for the ticking while awaiting the vote. I constantly caught myself looking into the backgrounds, enjoying the gas lighting and wondering what wonderful furs the hats were made of.
This attention to detail was one of the things that made the film for me and I guarantee that you will have a better time watching it if you keep your eyes pealed. However, the lighting in some points detracted from the overall film. Spielberg was obviously trying to convey the gas lighting and quite possibly the dark times that our country was encountering. This worked well in some dramatic scenes but cloaked others to a point of audience members squinting.
Next we have the acting‚¶ let‚(TM)s go ahead and give Daniel Day-Lewis the Academy Award. He has always been my favorite hyphenated male actor but he just absolutely hit bullseye. He played the man in a charming, witty and caring way that helped audience members relate to how beloved this man truly was. I cannot express fully how well he carried this movie and kept the dialogue-heavy movie entertaining. I have never gushed this much over a performance and I have a suspicion that it will be a long time until I do so again.
Sally Field also excelled in her role as Mary Todd Lincoln. She fought to get the role and she played it with a compassion that made so much sense to me. Mary Todd may not have been the loony bird that history has made her. Anyone in those extenuating circumstances would have been pushed to the brink. Imagining the dashing of one‚(TM)s spirit after losing a son, having a husband with the fate of a nation in his hands and the fear of losing another son to war‚¶ these tribulations far surpass my usual problems with bills, telemarketers and that damn blister on the side of my right foot.
I will stress that all of the acting was top shelf BUT there were some standout performances by James Spader as W.N. Bilbo and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stephens. Spader brought a mustachioed rough comedic commentary of the more shady workings outside of the public eye while, in complimentary contrast, Jones brought the inner workings of politics with his usual ‚Hey, I look like I‚(TM)m made of scrotal skin‚? panache. The insults hurled at the Republicans were hilarious and given with sharpness and vigor.
The complaints that I have of the movie are forgivable. It is sometimes preachy and often has a miniseries feel. Its focus was on this one event and does not go into Lincoln‚(TM)s life as much as I would have preferred‚¶ this is not a movie that would fill much more than a half of chapter in a U.S. History school book. Often characters are not introduced as well as they should be and the audience is left a bit lost. I found myself trying to put things together and then giving up as a new scene developed after the first one confused me.
So, that‚(TM)s about it. I say watch the movie. At this moment Daniel Day-Lewis is rearranging his Oscar shelf and Fields is probably doing the same. It‚(TM)s truly the humanity and the message of the movie that makes it transcend from good to very close to great. As a Lincoln fan I shed a few tears in appreciation of such a wonderful man. If you are unfamiliar with him or this time in history I would highly suggest shelling out a few bucks and smuggling in some beef jerky to the theatre.

Skyfall (2012)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

First, let me get my feelings out of the way√¬Ę√,¬¶ This installment in the Bond series made me feel like a 50 year old debutante remembering her once perky boobs and the long gone gentlemen callers that are now bald insurance salesmen. Okay. Done. Skyfall was a good and solid Bond film with a great villain and one major change in the formula. It√¬Ę(TM)s hard to give it any exceptional marks because it did not fit into any category or have any stand out features to make it great. It√¬Ę(TM)s as though you were given a nice bowl of oatmeal with just the right amount of brown sugar and the raisins are plentiful and the temperature is so perfect that for a moment you forget that, damn it, you√¬Ę(TM)re eating oatmeal. This is the strange tepid limbo that Skyfall landed in for me like a room temperature wet rag falling onto a bare foot√¬Ę√,¬¶ very little effect. The movie oozed with 50th anniversary nostalgia, was overly adorned with Daniel Craig√¬Ę(TM)s concerned duck lips, topped with Bardem√¬Ę(TM)s uber-gay villain Silva and lightly shaken not stirred with some action. I believe that it is appropriate in this instance to start off with the good aspects of the movie since the movie, did indeed, begin with promise. The first chase scene was excellent. The mixture of dramatic and well done cinematography, ability to follow frantic path, change of vehicles, fights, stunts, jumps√¬Ę√,¬¶ made this come together as all GOOD√¬Ę√,¬¶ REALLY GOOD. {Spoiler Alert} --- This culminating with the first time that James Bond has ever gotten shot in a movie was also pretty amazing. I found that beginning the movie with James Bond being shot may have been the thing that kept me interested. Giving 007√¬Ę(TM)s prior immortality, or the inability to be truly injured or even just giving this character the ability to die gave him a depth that I√¬Ę(TM)ve never been familiar with (I√¬Ę(TM)ll not mention his apparent imperviousness to five decades of STDs because I find such jokes to be gauche√¬Ę√,¬¶ Oops). This unfamiliarity played well on the screen as Craig√¬Ę(TM)s aging Bond struggled with this bullet wound near his shoulder that weakened him. The audience sees this weakness and is able to root for an underdog Bond instead of the death-proof superspy that we have come to know so well. This version of James Bond is now a man that is unable to aim his Walther as well, pass qualifications at MI6 and for the first time ever recognizes his own weaknesses and pains. This all plays well with Javier Bardem√¬Ę(TM)s excellent portrayal of the villain Silva, a former 00 agent disenchanted with MI6, and especially M. Silva is so many things as a villain; creepy, intelligent, haunting, violent, menacing and, best of all, gayer than bedazzled Press-On nails on the pink ghost of Liberace. I√¬Ę(TM)ve even read people saying that Silva could be considered as the first male Bond girl. I would like to agree BUT I think that this character lacks a certain sexiness for either males or females that would be a requirement to be put in the sexy category (a category that I have been in for many years). If you should hear a friend mention this deplorable theory with an agreeable attitude then you, as a concerned human, should make certain to check this friend√¬Ę(TM)s basement for human limbs, faces made into masks, boxed sets of the television drama Dexter and OJ-esque bloody gloves. After the basement check you should make certain not to be friends with this person anymore because his or her break with reality is so very severe that a dozen Spanish angels√¬Ę√,¬¶ I digress and continue on√¬Ę√,¬¶ I usually separate my complaints and accolades within these movies to make for an easy read but in this case there are quite a few instances in which the good and bad bleeds together like an untoasted tuna and mustard sandwich on white bread. For instance, even though the entertainment factor of seeing the old DB5, the radio transmitter and the overall goodness-in-traditional-conventional Bond was nice it was still dry humped to death by the fact that nothing new was introduced. I repeat: THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE GADGET. I found this exceptionally silly because a new Q is introduced who only gives 007 a radio transmitter and a Walther PPK. Okay, let√¬Ę(TM)s get on the same page here: the old codger Q, who looks like the older skinnier brother to the guy in UP, gives 007 submarine Lotus√¬Ę(TM), dagger shoes, mini-rocket cigarettes, fake nipples and pen guns WHILE, on the other hand, this young Q (let√¬Ę(TM)s call him √¬Ęq√¬Ę?) gives him the same gun he probably has five of in his friggin junk draw and a radio transmitter that you could get from Wal-Mart? Somebody isn√¬Ę(TM)t trying to make a good first impression. So, yeah, color me pissed off. A James Bond movie with no gadgets is like a strip club with a strictly enforced pantsuit policy. This new q was likeable, charming and even quite handsome. Think British hipster with cool foppish hair in his early twenties. There. You got it. Moving on. This isn√¬Ę(TM)t the only rebranding or throwback-returns-ta-da moment because we are introduced to the new Moneypenny played by Naomi Harris. This is a move that I don√¬Ę(TM)t think anyone was expecting and the large reason for this is: who really wanted Moneypenny back? She√¬Ę(TM)s a secretary that hits on Bond. Now, I must admit that she is fun to look at but I have always had a problem with Moneypenny because of what she is. She is meant to be a serial character that will show up in future movies. This is fine with M because she is not meant to be a sexual character. (Note to self: if there is a movie where Judy Dench plays a sexual character do not go see it. It will be bad. Wait√¬Ę√,¬¶ maybe you should go see it. Could they pull this off? I don√¬Ę(TM)t think so but there is something about her. Also Ryan, don√¬Ę(TM)t forget to erase this part of the article before putting this online. Gosh, that would be embarrassing. Can you imagine? I just laughed. Okay, get back to writing and stop talking to yourself. Okay Jeesh, you can be a demanding jackass.) Women are not a constant in the world of James Bond! They show up, buy him a drink, try to kill him, are unable to kill him, have sex with him and then leave. While Ms. Harris certainly makes me want to shoop here in late 2012 it still doesn√¬Ę(TM)t change the fact that she is 36 years old which means that, much like the Moneypenny of yesteryear, they will still have sexual banter long past the time in which she is viable as a sexual entity. All of you Sensitive Sally√¬Ę(TM)s can call me misogynistic but I would like to point out that we are talking about a movie that is intentionally made that way based on stories from the 50√¬Ę(TM)s and 60√¬Ę(TM)s when life was that way (Note to self: build time machine). Now go change your panties and come back and finish reading this article after you√¬Ę(TM)re able to read through the tears Nancy Drew. Okay, so now that you√¬Ę(TM)ve accepted that Bond girls die before they become saggy old grandmothers with black knee-high diabetic socks at 36 years and 7 months we can make some forward progress. On a completely unrelated note Dame Judy Dench did the usual job of acting without acting. She plays the spy headquarters matriarch in the same pursed-lipped serious eyes fashion that she always does. They try to give her some depth but it falls a little short for me. For real. She has no effect on me and never will. As I conclude the writing of this and look that I√¬Ę(TM)ve gone way over the 1K word mark I realize that this, in itself, is my review on Bond and that with a franchise that you deeply love there is no way that you can get your feelings out of the way. If you√¬Ę(TM)ve loved these movies for a long time then you know that there is a place for all of them separately and as a whole. It is not possible to have a perfect Bond movie and all 24 of them have some good and some bad. Time will tell where this one fits but I√¬Ę(TM)ll tell you now that it√¬Ę(TM)s worth going to see. I give it a solid 8.

Flight (2012)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Overall Flight was a good movie... a little preachy and not very surprising but there were some truly wonderful things that made the movie. We'll get past the fact that it was a morality tale taken straight from an Alcoholic's Anonymous story and get to the things that stand out.
First of all, the flight sequence itself was absolutely brilliant. The intensity of the acting, Zemekis' frenetic and shaking shots and the dialogue had me wide-eyed throughout. These few minutes in the film by themselves make watching this on the big screen worthwhile in my opinion.
Next we have Denzel... oh Denzel, how I love thee, let me count the ways. Okay, so I'm a Denzel fanboy. The man can act. If you've seen Man on Fire then you'll remember his ability to play an addict. He even has that thirsty face on the movie poster. From hangover to fall down drunk this man has it down pat to the point you almost wonder if he is method acting.
His character, Whip, is a total alcoholic who should be loathed by the audience but Denzel gives him some depth that makes you sympathetic. John Goodman plays his drug dealer/best friend as though he channeled The Big Lebowski (not his charater but of "El Duderino" himself). He does this with a humoristic backhanded violence that is always right under the surface thus providing some stress and some comedic relief.
And now for the bad....
The end limps in disjointed like a one-legged ant. You know that it's coming... yeah... it's coming... that syrupy sweet melted Sweet Tart CBS afterschool special ending. I'll not spoil it but it's there and you'll be disappointed. Not get-a -dead-puppy-for-you- birthday disappointed but maybe sit-on-your-balls-just-little-bit-wrong-and-it-hurts disappointing.
Many of the lulls throughout the movie lead up to this. For the story his relationship with the strange looking redhead is maybe necessary but seems as forced as trying to get canned cheese back in the nozzle (ha! "nozzle"!). I found the casting to be poor in this aspect of the movie. Kelly Reilly (Nicole) played a junkie whore in quite a lackluster way. They slapped a few fake tattoos on her and told her not to sleep the night before. I'm not sure if they intended for this character to be sexy but my opinion is this: if Rudy from the movie Mask (yeah, the one with Cher) had a fraternal twin it would be Kelly Reilly.
I have more thoughts on the movie but there is only so much that I want to subject you to. There were some large flaws but they didn't quash the movie. Another plus that I've not yet mentioned is that it will make you not want to go out for drinks afterwards. I just saved you some money fool!

The Man With the Iron Fists
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The kung fu nerd in me forced me to watch this today. I wanted to be impressed. I wanted to be entertained. In the end though, I was left as flat as twelve year old Kathy Griffith.
Before I go any further I want to interject that there was some merit to the movie. There were some nods to the old 70's kung fu movies, a wonderful soundtrack, some humor and a nice tongue-in-cheek performance by Russel Crowe.
And now I go further... The movie tried to be too many things. It was 60% kung fu, 15% Spaghetti Western, 15% blaxploitation flick and 10% homage to Tarantino. RZA, who I truly like, showed many poor choices as a new director and, I hate to say it, but one was casting himself as the main character. His performance was stiff and tired for the most part and considering that he did the narration, played lead and rapped in some of the songs... well, his usually smooth and welcome voice became more familiar than nosebleeds to a Lohan.
I'm sure that proponents of the movie will surely say that the story line was good, the costumes were good, the scenery was good... I scoff wetly in the direction of them. There was no reason for this movie to be lacking in so many different areas.
The main problem with the movie for me is that it is in this strange limbo of not being good enough to be good and not be bad enough to be bad. A truly good movie is entertaining and a truly bad movie is sometimes even moreso.
If you do go see it these are some of the things that I would have you look out for: a declining of Lucy Lui's sexiness, bad CGI, multiple storylines that intersect somewhat poorly, bad cuts, chase scenes with more shrubbery than movement of actors/horses....
Sorry for this but I've forgotten something.... this will take a paragraph but it will be worth it. HALF SCREEN CUTS! Directors have their trademarks whether it is Taratino's foot fetish shots, Lucas' wipes, John Woo's trunk shots etc. Well, the RZA has obviously taken to cutting the screen in half from left to right for shots. This makes for two small slivers of action that are either confusing or annoying.

Well, that's about it. It's a little bit better than a bologna sandwich with absolutely nothing on it when you're just kinda hungry and it's a little bit worse than having a pseudo attractive 60 year old rub up against you in a busy train. I'd watch his next film and hope that this one was just riddled with growing pains. Oh, and RZA, if you're reading this please take it as constructive criticism. Wu-Tang Forever brah!