JASON BOURNE review

Ohhhhh bitch yes, yes, yes, yes!!! *SQUEEEE*

Okay okay, putting my balls back between my legs. The Bourne franchise is probably one of my favorite spy movies of all time. Hell, I might even like them more than the Bond films. At least Bourne is consistently awesome and good despite only having three movies under its belt and one illegitimate one. Weird thing is, I’ve coined the phrase “The Bourne Effect” when it comes to these films: the act of seeing a movie, loving it, but then forgetting everything that happened in the movie a week later. I don’t know why this happens with these particular movies, but I still revisit them, so they’re obviously doing something right.

Quick reviews. IDENTITY. Loved it, turned me on to Matt Damon as an actor, as well as German actress Franka Potente (wish I’d seen more of her stuff). Bad-ass, mysterious, interesting, maybe not as flawless as I remember as a younger man, but watching it still gets me hungry for more… or, maybe I’m just saying that because I really am hungry as I’m writing this. Seriously, I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. And yes, this is important information that needs to be passed on to you readers regarding my opinion of this flick. My state of hunger is vital to my film-analysis.

SUPREMACY: Probably the least good of the Damon-Bourne films (we’ll get to LEGACY in a bit), but it still had a lot of memorable elements and officially brought on the mainstay director of the franchise, Paul Greengrass. SPOILERS if you haven’t seen it, but I’m officially writing these with the assumption that all of you won’t be seeing this latest installment without having seen the first three. Marie, Bourne’s romance interest in IDENTITY was killed off and Bourne seeks revenge against his enemies and Julia Stiles looked like she was really freaking out about having a gun pointed at her head… and I’m pretty sure this was her shortest role in the franchise. I guess she and Potente have that in common. Also: Karl Urban is a delicious hunk of antagonistic Russian bad-assery.

ULTIMATUM: Again, not quite as memorable as IDENTITY, but it has arguably some of the best action scenes in spy-film history. Plus, this really brought forth Joan Allen as a powerhouse actor and probably one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood.

LEGACY: The black sheep of the franchise. The moment the franchise decided to continue on without either Greengrass or Damon, and even nearly abandon its own genre as a spy movie and became sci-fi. I remember the movie tried to make Jeremy Renner’s character take pills to make him as good a fighter as Jason Bourne, but it just didn’t make for an interesting movie or an interesting character. I love me a good Renner performance, he’s a terrific and charismatic actor, but this is completely under the radar. Thank God for the Avengers and the latest Mission: Impossible films.

Both Damon and Greengrass return, which is a huge bonus for fans everywhere. To make matters even more interesting, it looks like Greengrass also co-wrote the script alongside Christopher Rouse, who’d written SUPREMACY and ULTIMATUM (what a testament to how failed LEGACY was that they couldn’t even get its writer back). The return of Stiles is also very welcomed and the inception of probably my favorite actress of last year, Alicia Vikander and her role in the story is only getting me more excited. Needless to say, this is the biggest movie for me of the week. Quite honestly, it’s the only movie I feel like is worth seeing. Been a huge fan of the franchise, so I have incredibly high expectations. Oh, and as of 7/27/2016, IMDb gave this movie a 9.0/10. The next day, it drastically dropped down to an 8.1/10. While I wasn’t expecting the movie to be that good, I’m still keeping my hopes way up high. Is this a welcomed return to the franchise, or was LEGACY the first red flag that this franchise should have ended? This is my honest opinion of JASON BOURNE.

(SUMMARY)

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), formerly known as David Webb, gets called back into action. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks top secret files and manages to uncover files that Jason’s father, Richard Webb (Gregg Henry), might have had a direct hand in Jason’s initiation into Treadstone, the now debunked training program that made Jason the top assassin he now refuses to be. But the CIA knows that the files were taken and Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) with the help of the ambitious and talented Cyber Ops Head Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), try and track down Nicky before she can expose her findings to the public.

(REVIEW)

Bourne is back, baby! Oh, how I missed this character and all his glory.

So let’s get to it, it’s been nearly a decade since Damon was Bourne (there’s a funny joke here, I just can’t think of it), but he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s still kicking ass left and right and beating his enemies down like a boss. It’s still too much fun to watch. The action may not be as amazing as ULTIMATUM, but it’s definitely still a Bourne action-fest. Jones as Dewey, yes and yes. There may be an argument that Dewey himself is just another enemy of Jason’s. “We got a new thing goin’ for us. Oh no, Jason’s here, we have to kill him!” But, like the Star Trek film franchise, despite the recycled bad guys, the actors portraying them are always memorable for their own reasons, even if it’s simply because they were in the movie. Vikander? She’s probably the most interesting new character. She’s basically the nega-Nicky of the movie. Smart, tech-savvy, and ruthless. In fact, she manages to thwart both Nicky and Jason on separate occasions, so this lady is bad-ass. Love her addition and hope she comes back in a future installment if Greengrass and Damon decide to return.

Now, let’s talk about Stiles. Like Damon, she don’t miss a beat. Nicky’s still smart, no-nonsense, and… wait just a gosh-darn cotton-pickin’ minute there, movie! Nicky’s also an asskicker?! You’re meaning to tell me that this woman picked up firearm training and learned to beat a bitch down? Hey, if Damon’s tired of Bourne, can we have a Nicky Parsons spin-off instead? Because I’d be so down for that.

***SPOILERS***

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Of course, if they did do a spin-off, it’d obviously have to be a prequel to this film because MOTHER FUCKING, FUCKIN’ SHIT, PIECE OF ROTTING DICK CHEESE, SONS OF WHORES HAD TO MOTHER FUCKING KILL OFF NICKY!!!

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Greengrass… Rouse… why would you do this my poor Peruvian heart? I loved Nicky. She was the awesomest. But before anyone thinks that I hated this inclusion in the story… I did, but in the positive sort of way. Nicky’s death is a legit tragedy that certainly as fuck got me invested in Jason kicking the CIA’s collective asses. I wanted him to kill a bunch of mother fuckers and see justice done for Nicky. She’s been a mainstay in the franchise since the beginning and has always been a sympathetic or likable character. To see her become almost like a lady-Bourne was such an awesome concept, it really was heartbreaking to see her gunned down so mercilessly and cold-heartedly. After that, I really wanted to see Bourne fuck someone up and leave ’em screaming for their collective mommies. So it shares that similarity with SUPREMACY. It may not have been better than IDENTITY, but it made up for it by anteing up the emotional investment.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

Remorsefully, this may be the weakest of the franchise as the ultimate CIA plan is almost akin to the TERMINATOR: GENYSIS plan that Skynet had: make an app, take over the world. Well, sort of, this feels like a more likely version of that plan. This dude’s dream is creating a server that would make it impossible for the government to spy on everyone using it. Thing is, the government funded his project and that’s exactly what the government will do, despite knowing that himself and still selling it off like it’s the top private server on the market. A scumbag move, to be sure, but lets face it, it’s already a reality and most of us are aware of it. Not exactly a shock or a twist.

Also, I do feel like there was a lot of emphasis on Bourne’s dad that didn’t go amount to much. We aren’t really given a good connection between the two characters. In fact, that’s another kind of weird thing; the many conflicts of the story didn’t really connect. Jason’s out looking for answers about his father, CIA wants Jason dead as well as to spy on everyone through social media, Jason’s not invested in the whole social media thing, so it’s pointless to have that in there.

Unfortunately, I have to dock a point for a pointless plotline, and maybe there’s a couple too many drawn out chase scenes, but it’s easy to see that if the franchise is to continue with Damon and Greengrass in the lead, then this is a welcomed first step back into the fold after such a long hiatus, and definitely makes up for the failure that was LEGACY. If a sequel gets made, I’ll be first in line for sure. I’d love to see Vikander return, I’d love a revisit with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) from SUPREMACY and ULTIMATUM, and it never hurts to just see Damon kick some major ass. Not flawless

My honest rating: 4/5

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Upcoming review:

  • TALLULAH (dramedy)
    • A homeless girl kidnaps a baby from a neglectful mother and seeks shelter with her boyfriend’s mother, passing the baby off as her own.
    • Stars: Ellen Page (FREEHELD, JUNO, and INCEPTION) and Allison Janney (MINIONS, JUNO, and TV show MOM)
    • Directed and Written by: Sian Heder (feature-length debut)
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WSz2s-Gemc

Possible upcoming reviews:

  • BAD MOMS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKCw-kqo3cs
  •  EQUITY
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg2TSp5tJy4
  •  INDIGNATION
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELKsrUssyQE
  •  NERVE
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX1BTiHzq-I
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GHOSTBUSTERS review

Alright, I’m finally writing about the big one of the week. The subject of a ton of controversy. I… want to say more clever things to introduce my review of this movie, but as of this moment, it’s 9:45 in the morning and my creative juices are not awake yet. But get ready for a long review because there’s a lot to talk about before jumping into the review itself.

But here’s what I can talk about: the Ghostbusters franchise. I didn’t see the first movie until much later in life. Sure, I’ve seen snippets here and there, but never actually sat down to watch the movie all the way through until about a few years ago. And you know what? I really liked it. It was well-written, it was hilarious, and it was a ton of fun. Sure, most of the effects are dated now, but some hold up enough to make it a classic.

It wasn’t long after that I caught the sequel on Netflix. I admit that I don’t remember the movie nearly as much, aside from the on/off again romance between Bill Murray’s Venkman and Sigourney Weaver’s Dana, but I remember liking it well enough. Not nearly as good, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Of course, fast-forward to the new millennium, talks about a Ghostbusters III have been circling for years thanks to the efforts of Dan Aykroyd. Even though Harold Ramis sadly passed away in 2014, Aykroyd really wanted to get this off the ground. If I remember correctly, Murray passed on the project for awhile before eventually caving in. But if matters needed to get complicated, the announcement of a Ghostbusters with an all-female cast had cropped up. Considering how much of a surge in gender equality in Hollywood there is, as well as feminism as a whole becoming a household topic of discussion, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. So, wow, both a Ghostbusters III and a reboot? Or maybe it’d be a “passing of the torch” sort of deal? Who knew? Hell, once that first trailer cropped up, “30 years ago, four scientists saved New York” kind of gave the impression that this was going to be a “passing of the torch.” But no other released trailer ever showed hide or hair of any of the original cast. The consensus was that this was a straight reboot and, at best, we’d get cameos.

I think it’s fair to say that we won’t be getting that Ghostbusters III after all. And after seeing more trailers of this movie, this was quickly shaping up to be a bad idea. The effects weren’t very good, the presented jokes were forced and unfunny, and none of it (aside from the famous Ghostbusters theme) really resembled the original in tone or intelligence. It was very understandably getting a thrashing online, both for good and bad reasons. The good reasons: because of how it looked awful. The bad reasons: that it was an all-female cast (yeah, that was a thing).

Look, I’m not sure if I can label myself a “feminist,” mostly because I find it sad that we live in a society where we need a name for “I believe women deserve equal rights in America.” It’s just something I grew up knowing and feeling. Women are awesome, beautiful, powerful, and a slew of other adjectives and adverbs that I can use, so I’ve never understood why they’ve always been objectified and belittled beyond pornography, and even then, that can be debated. To hear so many of the horror stories about how women are treated in the mainstream entertainment industry, it’s sickening to hear. But this is probably a discussion for another time. The point is, I have no problems with an all-female cast of Ghostbusters.

What I do have a problem with is whether or not the script was written with intellect and if it had a solid director and set of actors to bring out the funny. The trailer was not showcasing any of this. But who knows, bad trailers to good movies have happened before. Look at the crew behind this, for God sake! The director is Paul Feig, who directed such hits like BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT, and SPY, all critically praised (and all starring Melissa McCarthy). Feig’s co-writer on this film is Kate Dippold, who has written a few episodes of the TV show PARKS AND REC as well as wrote THE HEAT. Melissa McCarthy is usually a miss for me as far as her work is concerned, but I really liked SPY and she worked with Kristen Wiig on BRIDESMAIDS. So these folks all seemed like they’d work well together, and the inclusion of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE veterans Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones should have made this a solid movie. But how did it hold up? Should we give this new generation a call to bust some ghosts, or are we better off just letting Gozer have his way with the world? This is my honest opinion of 2016’s rebooted GHOSTBUSTERS.

(SUMMARY)

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a university professor up to bat for tenure. But then something happens. An unpopular book that she co-wrote with her friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) documenting paranormal occurrences surfaces. Thing is, that book wasn’t meant to be published. Confronting Abby directly about the publication, she doesn’t care about the backlash and took pride that she took this step. Their altercation is cut short, however, when Abby gets a call from a tour guide of an old house that still has the ghost of its murderous resident. Erin and Abby, aided by Abby’s new and eccentric assistant Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), they confront the ghost, but it escapes. But the confrontation was captured on video and was met with proclamations that the video is a hoax. Soon, an MTA worker named Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) joins their newly established Ghostbusters team after she introduces them to a ghost that attacked her in the subway. It becomes apparent that the city is becoming unnaturally plagued with ghost uprisings and that someone is behind it, unbeknownst to them, the culprit being Rowan North (Neil Casey). So begins a mission to save the city from an apocalypse of apparitions.

(REVIEW)

……………………………………. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

WAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! *sniffle, sniffle*

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Oh my god, guys, it’s awful. Like, really awful. We’re talking FANT4STIC awful. The kind of awful where everyone knew it was going to be awful, but had no idea it’d be that awful! Did I mention it was awful?

Okay, before any of you “pro-males dominating everything and women are inferior” bastards say anything, this movie isn’t atrocious because it stars women. No, plenty of comediennes are funny. Amy Schummer, Iliza Shlesinger, Jen Kirkman, Chelsea Handler, Morgan Murphy, the list can go on. WOMEN WERE NOT THE PROBLEM WITH THIS MOVIE!!! Bad writing was… and that responsibility lands squarely on both Feig and Dippold’s shoulders, which funny enough, is probably part of the definition of equality: equal responsibility when they fuck shit up.

This movie is a product of modern day comedies in believing that all an audience needs a punchline with no set-up, or having a set-up, but a weak punchline. For example, you might remember this scene from the trailer. Abby gets possessed by a ghost and attempts to kill Holtzmann, but Patty steps in and saves her and proceeds to slap the ghost out of Abby’s body. One slap, the ghost is out. So why does Patty slap Abby again? The ghost isn’t invisible when it leaves Abby. It’s cheap slapstick that only children would enjoy. Or there’s this running gag with Abby trying to order Chinese food from a restaurant that always brings, for example, wonton soup that is all broth and maybe one wonton. Abby even comments that this is recurring even before the audience is aware. Hear me out on this one, in real life, if a restaurant constantly gets your order wrong, then you wouldn’t order from there anymore, right? So why does Abby? She never comments how amazing the food is. She never comments what benefits come from ordering there. She just orders food… and it constantly arrives to her wrong. Maybe the visual novelty of seeing a single wonton at the bottom of a a bucket full of broth is humorous once, but the logic of constantly ordering from a place that does this takes me out of the joke. And this happens three times in the movie.

Beyond that, I can tell that the actors are putting forth energy and trying to be funny, but some of the characters are kind of annoying. If constant unfunny jokes aren’t ruining them, character choices are. There’s a scene at a Ozzy Osbourne concert where the ladies are tracking down a single dragon ghost (yeah, explain that one). We get just a little too much screen time with Patty complaining about being a Ghostbuster and making comments on how her job in the subway may not have been perfect, but it was safe. So… what’s stopping her from going back? Even in the middle of the battle, and the dragon ghost (seriously, was this a thing in the original and I just didn’t notice?) perches on her shoulders, Patty just decides that she’s going home. I don’t remember a single character in the original that hated being a Ghostbuster. They loved what they did, they embraced it. Sure, it’d be an update if at least one character had doubts, but it’s literally only this one sequence of events that shows Patty’s hesitation with her new occupation. Why bring it up if it’s never going to be explored?

And Holtzmann… man, I was lead to believe that McKinnon would be the scene-stealer of the movie. She’s probably the most forgettable. At least McCarthy and Wiig have star power on their side to be memorable (granted, not in an exciting way), and Jones is the token black character, so she’s got that going for her, but McKinnon’s crazy and eccentric Holtzmann isn’t given a single memorable line, and any lines that she has are almost mumbled or said so fast that you can’t understand her. I know she’s trying and I’d believe you if you told me that she’s hilarious on SNL, but… it doesn’t translate to a good or memorable performance in this movie. When we’re introduced to Abby and Holtzmann, we’re told by Abby that Holtzmann is loyal friend. Thing is, telling us a personality trait that someone has isn’t the same as showing us who she is. She never expresses her loyalty in any meaningful way. She’s just the crazy yet smart tech expert, but no real personality to show for it.

This is the absolute cardinal sin of the flick: zero effort. Holtzmann is a stock character that you’ve seen before in better and equally bad movies, so is Abby, Erin, Patty, and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). Dragon ghosts and twelve story tall ghosts don’t make sense, plot elements are thrown in and don’t contribute to the plot, cameos are shoehorned in, and once more, THE JOKES AREN’T FUNNY!!!

I’m aware that McCarthy has released statements that the film is great and she had fun doing it. I believe half that; she had fun doing the movie. This cast and crew is probably phenomenal to work with and they’re all probably really good friends. I’ve personally always said it myself, even if you work on a piece of shit movie, but you had such a blast doing it and would do it again, I can’t judge that. I can’t tell McCarthy, or Wiig, or anyone that worked on this movie to be ashamed to be a part of this (despite the tremendous temptation), but this is still the entertainment industry, I consider myself a film critic, and success is determined by popularity, and if something isn’t popular, it’s probably because it sucks. McCarthy, cast and crew alike, the movie isn’t great… at all. Your feelings toward making it are yours to have, I have no right to speak on that matter, but… yeah, this movie was garbage and felt like it was catered to toddlers more than the audience that actually wanted a Ghostbusters movie and grew up on the original. Effects didn’t make the original good, slapstick didn’t make the original good, it was intelligent writing, memorable characters, and a crap-load of enjoyability. This reboot fails on all accounts.

My honest rating: 1/5

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That’s all the movies for this week everyone! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy my thoughts. But the next batch is around the corner, so keep your eyes peeled for the next wave.

Upcoming movies to be reviewed:

  • STAR TREK BEYOND (sci-fi/adventure)
    • Directed by Justin Lin (FAST & FURIOUS, FAST FIVE, and FAST & FURIOUS 6)
    • Co-written by Simon Pegg (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, HOT FUZZ, and SHAUN OF THE DEAD) and Doug Jung (TV shows BANSHEE [2 episodes], and DARK BLUE [creator])
    • Stars Chris Pine (THE FINEST HOURS, STAR TREK [2009], PRINCESS DIARIES 2: THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT [because it’s too hilarious to not point out]), Zachary Quinto (HITMAN: AGENT 47, STAR TREK [2009], and TV show AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Idris Elba (FINDING DORY, THOR, and TV show THE WIRE) and more.
  • ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE (comedy)
    • Directed by Mandie Fletcher (TV shows IN AND OUT OF THE KITCHEN [3 episodes], and ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS [2011-2012; 3 episodes])
    • Written by Jennifer Saunders
    • Stars Jennifer Saunders (MINIONS, CORALINE, and TV show ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS), and Joanna Lumley (ME BEFORE YOU, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, and TV show ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS)
  • ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (animated comedy adventure)
    • Directed by Galen T. Chu (directorial feature length debut) and Mike Thurmeier (ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT)
    • Written by Michael J. Wilson (SHARK TALE, THE TUXEDO, and ICE AGE) , Michael Berg (ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS, and ICE AGE), Yoni Brenner (RIO 2, ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS). Story credit: Aubrey Soloman (PROGENY, TV shows ROBOCOP [1994 – 1 episode], and HIGHLANDER [1993 – 1 episode]) 
    • Stars voice talents of Ray Romano (ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, and TV shows EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND and MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE), John Leguizamo (THE INFILTRATOR, CHEF, and THE SUPER MARIO BROS.), Denis Leary (DRAFT DAY, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and TV show RESCUE ME), Queen Latifa (MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN, ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, and BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE), and more.
  • LIGHTS OUT (horror)
    • Produced by James Wan (The Conjuring films and FURIOUS 7).
    • Directed by David S. Sandberg (feature-length directorial debut)
    • Written by Eric Heisserer (THE THING [2011], FINAL DESTINATION 5, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET [2010])
    • Stars Teresa Palmer (TRIPLE 9, WARM BODIES, and I AM NUMBER FOUR), Gabriel Bateman (ANNABELLE), and Maria Bello (THE 5TH WAVE, PRISONERS, and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE)

SWISS ARMY MAN review

If there was a weirder movie to make… you could still make one, but this was a pretty weird one too. Did anyone else get a CAST AWAY feel to it, except this time Wilson talks? But it’s pretty obvious this is far less dramatic than the Tom Hanks film and looks like it will rely more on comedy and creativity, rather than survival drama. There’s great potential here and I was pretty excited to see what was in store. Plus, Paul Dano is usually in pretty solid flicks, so it’s hard not to be curious. And who isn’t a fan of Daniel Radcliffe? So, does the movie make you believe that a corpse could be your best survival buddy, or should this have been lost at sea? This is my honest opinion of SWISS ARMY MAN.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Hank (Paul Dano), who at some point had crashed his boat and wound up on a small island. With little hope of survival, he decides to try and hang himself. But before he can, he sees a body (Daniel Radcliffe) wash up on the beach. Hoping the man is alive, he races to him, only to discover… he isn’t. But he also discovers that the corpse has a very odd special power… the body vehemently farts, enough for the body to jet-ski across the ocean, which Hank uses to escape his island. Winding up on another beach entirely, but convinced he’s close to home, he still ends up lost. Unable to be alone a second time, he drags the body along for companionship and eventually names it Manny. To make things even more bizarre, Manny starts talking. Unable to decipher if he’s totally insane or not, Hank doesn’t care and eventually embark on a fun and quirky journey back home, and figuring out what life is all about and why it’s worth it along the way.

(REVIEW)

If you looked at this movie and thought it was weird… yes. Yes it is. And if you thought the farting would be there throughout the movie, it’s not. Well… it sure takes up a good chunk of the screentime, and definitely overstays its welcome… without giving anything away, there is an actual point to it all that makes it not only tolerable, but… almost thought-provoking. Summed up, I think this movie is great, but if the weirdness doesn’t engross you in the first ten to fifteen minutes, then your chance to get your refund is after the title of the movie appears. I do however recommend soldiering through it because it is a heart-warming and fun little story.

First of all, like many actors who make a living off of playing the same quirky characters, Dano is wonderfully weird. Which happens to be a theme of the movie: being weird but embracing the unconventional and Dano is flawless. Hank is definitely embodies someone who tries to be more incorporated into what society thinks is normal, often talking to Manny about certain behaviors that “normal” people don’t do, but even when questioned, Hank usually has half-assed or uncertain answers.

I want to continue to talk about Hank, but that’s going to be difficult considering that much of him is brought out by the other half of the movie, Manny. One would think that playing a corpse would be an easy (and quite possibly pointless) gig, but having Manny talk the way the he does when his head is in a certain angle, imposing on his natural speech, it’s unbelievably funny. Manny is a talking dead guy (nope, he’s not a zombie) who doesn’t remember his life and almost serves as the living embodiment of everything that Hank questions in life, due to the many general questions he has. For example, “Life. What is that?” Hank has to really think about it and occasionally justify it to Manny, who is almost always uncertain of Hank’s answer and has a ton more questions, usually to the dismay of Hank.

You can probably tell that the story is very character-driven and Dano and Radcliffe are incredibly funny and share wonderful chemistry, and you feel for Hank who has given up so much on himself and needs this talking corpse to pull him through. You feel for Manny who seems to piggyback on Hank’s memories and gives him a drive to see his life through, despite the hardships and possible rejections. It’s like actually watching two best friends interacting, constantly talking about things you don’t just talk about with random people.I love watching these two interact and their weird connection, it’s wonderfully done.

Now, it’s time to talk about the ending. You know what to do if you haven’t seen the flick. CTRL-F, then type *** until you see END SPOILERS.

***SPOILERS***

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I have to admit, the ending was a little hard for me to swallow. The entire movie, the audience might accept that this body has weird farting super powers because we know that technically, yes, bodies to still crap themselves and release their bowels after death. Not this much, obviously, but… you just sort of accept it (if you’ve gotten past the titles anyway). But the entire movie, you just know that Hank is crazy for thinking that Manny is talking and having conversations with him. You accept this too because, well, when you’re as this detached from society, having such low self esteem, suicidal tendencies after a boating accident, yeah, you can imagine this sort of thing happening. Hell, if we can cry after Tom Hanks loses a volleyball at sea, this seems downright tame.

Here’s the thing, I spent the entire damn movie acting like the “artistic” critic, analyzing the relationship between the two characters, “Oh, this conversation is symbolic of this,” or, “The reason this is happening is for this reason,” you know, that shit. But then the last fifteen minutes happen. I spent the last hour and a half thinking this whole journey in the forest was symbolic of Hank accepting death and as he died hanging himself on the island, it wasn’t his life flashing before his eyes, it was the life he needed. He needed someone to love him, and he found a corpse who became his best friend. And what happens? They make their way back to a suburban neighborhood. They come in contact with real people. To make matters even more confusing, Manny is still talking. As in… the little girl they first meet actually sees him talking. Manny’s liveliness wasn’t imaginary. It was all real.

I mean, later on he’s put in a body bag and Manny never says another word for the rest of the movie, but the people Hank and Manny come in contact with are exposed to his… liveliness. Yeah, I didn’t know how to feel about this at first. I thought it was an artistic cop-out, but… then I started to chew on this ending for a bit on the way home. I was chewing on it the next morning. And then it hit me. This movie had set it up from the start. Think about it. The movie set it up from the very beginning that it would be “that” movie. A man who farts hard and long enough to be jet-skied off of a deserted island back to civilization (kind of)… that’s the opening scene. We accepted the farting jet-ski (most likely), we accepted the talking corpse, we accepted Dano in a dress and a whacked out feminine wig (to be fair, I doubt Mary Elizabeth Winstead could pull off the slow-mo, sunlight lens flare walk half as well as Dano did), so why can’t we accept that the reality they established from the very beginning would turn our expectations inside out like that. In a way, this is kind of a twist for me. I knew Hank was crazy. All conventional stories would have made him crazy. But… he wasn’t. It’s as simple as that. It’s a subtle mind-blow, but it’s a mind-blow nonetheless.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

There’s no skating around it, this is a weird movie. Like, really weird. But you know what, the fact that it’s weird is the whole point. And even the obnoxious farting that I usually hate in movies has a point to it, and a pretty thought-provoking one too. That’s the best way I think of the movie. It’s a challenge. It took a lot of my preconceptions of what the story would be and ended up playing with them. In retrospect, I love movies that do that and still make a fun and unconventional story about friendship and survival. In short, I think it’s great and I really like it. I think if you’re in the mood for an offbeat comedy with a similar premise to CAST AWAY, I think you’re in a good spot. I think it’s worth a shot if only to see what all the hubbub is.

My honest rating: 5/5

PS: Happy Independence Day, America! (Yes, I watched INDEPENDENCE DAY with my family while eating grilled hot dogs. #Murica)

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Upcoming reviews:

  • THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR
  • OUR KIND OF TRAITOR
  • The BFG

RATCHET & CLANK review

As many of you know, I’m something of a casual gamer. I was very familiar with the RATCHET & CLANK video games, even though I’ve only played the Playstation 2 original way back in 2002, but never any of the sequels. When the teaser for the movie adaptation was released last year, I got pretty damn excited for it. It looked like it would have the same spirit of the game, even brought back the important original voice actors. Now that the trailer is out, yeah, it still looks like it could be a pretty fun flick. It certainly was taking a few liberties with its own license, but I was still open to it being good. I still don’t know if the movie will be financially successful, as I still don’t see much in the way of TV spots or a single trailer at the movies, but I guess it’s too soon to tell. It’s a safe assumption that I had high hopes for this movie. So without further adieu, this is my honest opinion of RATCHET & CLANK.

(SUMMARY)

In a distant part of the galaxy, the evil Chairman Drek (voiced by Paul Giamatti) is destroying planets for unknown reasons, alongside the equally evil Doctor Nefarious (voiced by Armin Shimerman). Supposedly, the only force in the galaxy that can stop Drek is the famous and popular Galactic Rangers, led by the rugged, yet self-absorbed Captain Qwark (voiced by Jim Ward). But in order to combat Drek and his forces, they need a new recruit. That hopeful is the form of the young Lombax mechanic Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor). With the assistance of a defected robot made by Drek’s machines, that Ratchet names Clank (voiced by David Kaye), they eventually join the Rangers to help defend the galaxy.

(REVIEW)

Oh boy… so let me just start off by saying this movie is by no means “bad.” In fact, it just might be the best movie adapted video game. Unfortunately, that’s not saying too much for what this movie did. This video game franchise is known for being witty, creative, and fun, while this movie is only “fun,” and caters to a younger audience when the video games hit a much wider demographic.

I really hate to make comparrisons to the video game, but I feel like I’ll be doing that quite a bit in this review, so bare with me. Keep in mind that I am a casual gamer myself and I really want film adaptations of video games to be good.

Let’s start with the title itself, “Ratchet and Clank.” Casual movie-goers may not know this, but Ratchet and Clank from the games are inseperable, with the exception of a few spin-off titles. In the game, Ratchet sure has his own gadgets to make him useful and independant, but with Clank, he is given a wider variety of gadets, like a jetpack that allows him to traverse a level easier, get to places that the player wouldn’t be able to conventionally get to, that sort of thing. They worked together and complemented each other. They may not have always agreed, but they were friends and their friendship was explored over the course of the game. In this movie, you don’t really get a sense of their relationship other than “the title says we have to have these characters, so lets give them screen time.” Ratchet and Clank seldom speak to each other in any meaningful way. Also with the exception of one or two scenes, they don’t even really work together. Ratchet is given this special helmet that allows him to teleport weaponry into his hand and a jetpack that allows complete flight control. So… what’s the point in Clank if all he’s relegated to is the team’s plan-maker? Especially considering the team already has a plan-maker that’s ignored. Clank barely contributes to the function the movie gives him. Having only played the first game, I know the heart of the story is the friendship between these two lead characters. Without it, it’s just a standard kids sci-fi movie and that’s not the kind of movie you want to make. Without that heart, the movie risks becoming forgettable.

The movie also utilizes unforgivable cliches. The story of a wide-eyed dreamer who wants more out of his life. He has dreams of being a hero, gets his opportunity, messes it up, gets another unorthodox shot at being a hero, becomes a hero, something bad happens, he stops being a hero, until the third act when he comes back as a hero. He loves being a hero so much that he doesn’t listen to anyone who might have a good idea for handling the situation. It’s a series of movie tropes we’ve seen a thousand times before. I suppose to credit of the writers, Ratchet isn’t unlikable or too annoying, but because his personality isn’t original, he’s still dull.

I must sound like I hate this movie. I don’t.

If you’re a fan of the franchise and want to see Ratchet and Clank be Ratchet and Clank, you’ll get it, you’ll just get it in a story that you’ve seen before. The side characters are about as colorful as they are in the games, thankfully.

It’s really cool to see many of the original voice actors, for one. Yeah, Taylor has been voicing Ratchet since the franchise’s second installment, RATCHET & CLANK: GOING COMMANDO way back in 2003. And Shimerman reprising his long time role of Dr. Nefarious. I do have to wonder why Kevin Michael Richardson was “quietly” replaced by Giamatti as Drek. I mean, sure, Giamatti is a great actor and would get more people to see this movie due to the name itself, but… a lot of good it’ll do since this movie barely has any publicity. While I do weep for the voice actor’s proverbial slap in the face, it’s hard not to enjoy Giamatti.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2865120/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv

And speaking of Giamatti, he is an absolute joy in this movie as the dastardly Drek. He’s actually really fun to listen to, his comedic timing is great, it’s a good performance. The same goes especially for Ward as Captain Qwark, who is an absolute scene-stealer. Qwark is hilarious as the movie’s personal Tony Stark; in love with his own fame and reputation, yet is still a butt-kicker in his own right. All he cares about is doing the action hero thing, kicking down doors, shooting things with his guns, he’s definitely a lot of fun.

In the moment when I was watching the movie, I was never bored. The humor is pretty solid and did occasionally get a chuckle out of me. Even when it wasn’t making me laugh, it was still enjoyable. It has some great, fast-paced animation, and the actions pretty solid. There is joy to be found in this one and I think it’s hard to completely dislike it. The creativity is there, it’s just not consistently there. I can see die hard fans being disappointed, hell, I’m not really a fan and I was disappointed in some areas, but it’s no where near a bad movie. It’s just nothing new. I think any kid will enjoy it as well as the parents taking them, so it’s worth the two hours of entertainment, but fans of the franchise beware. It’s been pretty split on whether or not it’s been enjoyed by that section of movie-goers. Personally, I’ve only seen it once and I might be open to seeing it again, but it’ll be a mood thing.

My honest rating: a strong 3/5

Upcoming reviews:

  • MOTHER’S DAY
  • KEANU
  • PAPA HEMINGWAY IN CUBA

EYE IN THE SKY review

Right off the bat from the trailer I could tell three things about the movie. A) Alan Rickman = FUCK YEAH!!! B) This is Rickman’s final movie… depression, and C) the Japanese are struggling with canine robotics as it is. You expect me to believe that either the US or English military, two technologically inferior countries by comparison, have fully functional hummingbird and beetle cameras controlled by a Gameboy? As you can imagine, I was looking forward to Rickman and for that matter Helen Mirren, but not having the highest of hopes that the movie itself would be any good. Was it any good? That’s why I’m here, to drop my two cents into the jar of internet declarations. This is my honest opinion of EYE IN THE SKY.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows the exploits of English Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), English Lieutenant Colonel Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), and United States Air Force drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) and his co-pilot Carrie Gershon (Phoebe Fox). They are on the hunt for a few terrorists hiding out in a safe-house in Kenya, a mission that is supposed to result in their capture. However, the plan shifts to an order to kill when they see the terrorists with suicide bomb vests. But the plans become even more complicated when a little girl enters the picture and a struggle between morality and duty begins to consume this once simple mission.

(REVIEW)

I was honestly a little surprised that this movie was better than expected. Not amazing, but certainly not as bad as I thought it would be.

As you can tell from the summary, the basic premise is: terrorists. Kill them here and now with fewer casualties including this little girl, or let the terrorists go, saving the girl, but risk the terrorists detonating those suicide vests and kill many more. Just to lay down what position I fall in, my decision would have been to drop the bomb, kill the terrorists, possibly the little girl too, as the alternative is not preferable. But I have to admit, this is why I’m neither in the military, nor in politics, so I will never have to make these decisions that do clearly need to be debated beyond the immediate repercussions. Both sides of the argument are well argued, even if the argument “if we let them live, they’re going to kill more people” seems to be the only real thing said on that front. Of course, this is a difficult point to completely argue. War is a numbers game and this movie commits to this idea and never loses focus.

I have to say that with this clever writing, it’s clear that there is no clear right or wrong decision. Both have ramifications that could spell disaster, especially with the way that each side is argued. While killing the terrorists outright seems like the most logical course of action, it’s being made by those who seem particularly desperate to make the shot, as if they’re more blood-thirsty than objective. This is obviously not the case, you know why they are stressed out, but it’s an interesting observation regardless.

Also, I have to say, FINALLY! Paul is in a decent role that gave him something to work with. In TRIPLE 9, he was a stereotype mopey drunk. In NEED FOR SPEED, he was a knockoff of every character from the Fast and Furious franchise. Finally, we see a sliver of his talent as a drone pilot that has to be the one to drop the bomb on this building and possibly kill the girl. He definitely doesn’t want to do it and even has the balls to manipulate the rule book and demand a second opinion from the Colonel. While the cast as a whole is pretty damn good, Paul in particular stands out because of his rocky film career post-BREAKING BAD. While this isn’t his career best, and I hope he only gets bigger and better roles in the future, this is a fine launchpad.

But I think as strong as these elements are, there are more than a few little flaws. I won’t get into the fake and non-existent technology utilized, as it is as silly in the movie as it is in the trailer.

No, there are some lazy script elements. One scene, an argument will be presented and then argued. Another scene will take place, and then right after that scene, we go back to the same people who are stating the same exact argument that they did in the last scene they were featured in. In short, someone forgot to edit or get more creative with the physical dialog being exchanged between the characters.

The beginning also kind of drags. We know that these military folks are after some traitors and terrorists, but we aren’t given anything more about them. So there’s a lot of missing context as to why, for example, Colonel Powell is so damned adamant on killing her targets. She just appears obsessive, rather than deeply invested.

The little girl in question, Alia, played by the admittedly adorable Aisha Takow, is sadly not given much of a character. Because she’s relegated as the film’s “plot device” it’s hard to be truly invested in her well-being if there isn’t going to be a well-written reason why. Normally, I would say that would be fine, as the movie is told in the perspective of the military and political characters, and their detachment from her safety would be warranted, but the audience is indeed given a fair amount of screen time to watch her basically hula-hoop and sell bread. We are supposed to care about her, but it’s a chore to get that into her.

Reverting back to Colonel Powell, it should come as no surprise that Mirren is fantastic. Having said that, I feel like her character would have benefited from a  character revision. While she complies with the legalities of every decision made, there’s always someone asking for an alternative. Colonel Powell seems oddly disinterested in obliging. Look, the situation is time sensitive, I get it. But… as the situation stands, these terrorists are sitting around doing diddly. There is clearly time to at least use the waiting that these characters are forced to go through for the big wigs to chime in with their approval to humor the pacifists and consider all possibilities, instead of being so one-tracked about it. It would show that Powell is not a machine and does care about the individual life, but still stands by her decision that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

Now we come to the final minutes of the movie. The decision’s been made to launch the missile and hope that Alia will survive. Bomb’s dropped, goes boom, poor Alia gets caught in the blast radius. Now it’s a matter of making sure the terrorists are dead.

Here are where the problems start. One of those terrorists isn’t dead. How did that happen? The blast radius of the missile demolished that building. This thing didn’t hit outside of the house, it’s just landed in a different room… of this tiny house. On a script level alone, this would have been an adequate place to wrap up the movie. We see Alia barely moving and the house is obliterated. Mourn the damage that was done, leave your post, go home for some serious R&R, and roll credits. Um… whoever wrote this thing seems to disagree with this more simplistic ending and decides, “No! One of the terrorists survives! So we have to drop another missile on top of him to guarantee death! That’ll add to the drama!” Er… it really doesn’t. It’s an unnecessary assault on your emotional balls because we are constantly force-fed shots of Alia caught in another blast radius along with her father. This is literally meant to yank out any additional feels out of you that you barely had to begin with. More tears fall from the characters, more heads are bowed in heartache, it’s a bit much and not in a good way.

And finally, I kind of wish that Alia’s fate was kept ambiguous. As far as these characters are concerned, she was still moving when those bombs were dropped. She was taken to a hospital, and for all they knew, could have survived. While we the audience knows that she dies, I think this ending would have been a lot more powerful if it wasn’t said what happened to her. The true horror of the cold calculus of war is that we really don’t know the lives lost. We can’t really count who died or not. There’s never exact numbers, only terrifying guesses. Alia could have been the face of that fact, but instead, this movie decides that we need to see her die in order to know the price of war. We kind of already know. This movie was hammering it in our heads throughout the past ninety minutes.

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***

***END SPOILERS***

While the problems certainly are many, they’re too few to really deter you from getting drawn into the debate of whether or not the decisions made are for the best. Sure, there’s better war films out there, but it’s still a fairly gripping movie in its own right and carried by such acting giants like Mirren and Rickman, it’s a pretty solid watch.

My honest rating: a strong 3/5.