Monthly Archives: July 2014

We All

While on vacation in Florida three weeks ago, I had a chance to see something awesome.

After returning from the beach, my family and I went to a restaurant called Harry’s Sports Bar and Grill. Do you know that place you always wanted to have as a kid, a joint that sold steaks and burgers and was covered with TVs and sports memorabilia? That was this place. There were  TVs in every booth, on every wall and even two in the floor. You read that right: In the floor.

The day we happened to go, the U.S. men’s soccer team was playing Belgium in their round of 16 match-up. The place was full to the brim so my parents asked me to go in and call them when a table was available. While the rest of my family didn’t get to participate in the events that followed, I did and they were some of the best from our vacation.

I don’t consider myself a diehard soccer fan. I grew up playing like every other kid and then switched to another sport just like every other kid, but I’ve been getting back into it, watching the 2010 World Cup and covering the Waynesburg University men’s soccer team for the paper and broadcasting the sport for the county’s sports radio station. It has a faster pace in college and the scoring is more prominent, making it more of a hockey contest on grass minus the sticks rather than a boring afternoon on fine-cut grass like another sport we all know. It’s grown on me a bit and I followed the World Cup and my favorite team, Germany, as best I could around my work schedule. Germany, if you didn’t know, won it all for their fourth World Cup title in their World Cup-record eighth finals appearance and I would hope you’ve heard of the team’s thrashing of favorite Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals, which has already been called one of the biggest upsets and greatest matches in World Cup history.

I missed the first half of the U.S. game because we were at the beach but came into Harry’s Sports Bar and Grill at around the 70th minute. The whole place was in an uproar, a crazed crowd limited only by their body’s ability to digest alcohol and the laws of gravity. All were at the edge of their seat with the mounting trepidation rising inside each of them, goalkeeper Tim Howard continuing to impersonate a Secret Service agent as he stopped shot after shot from reaching the holy twine on his way to one of the best goalkeeper performances in World Cup history. The oohs and ahhs echoed through the place, broadening the bounds of the acoustics.

My family does not understand the religion of soccer. They do not understand how soccer can transcend past the field of play into such a commitment. They are not the only ones. I’ve met plenty of people who feel the same way. America is a country that soccer has failed to ensnare despite the prophets who visit the land such as Landon Donovan, Mia Hamm, David Beckham, Abby Wambach and Clint Dempsey. Legends like Michael Jordan and Kareem, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, and Joe Montana and Barry Sanders are praised throughout all 50 states and continue to live as enduring legacies in the hearts of both young and old as the names of soccer stars disappear from our memories like the last blockbuster that didn’t bust anything but the producers’ wallets. All of these stars will leave this world one day but will never be forgotten, for their names are already engraved in the American books of history. A soccer player has yet to accomplish this feat. Aside from Pele, the greatest futbol player of all time to the sport’s most loyal subjects, many Americans cannot name you another competitor in the sport. Whether that will ever change or not is to be determined.

What is factual is the religion of soccer is gaining new followers every day here, especially come every fourth summer. To grasp the full gravity of it, you cannot view it. You must be a part of it. Like more established and more worthy religions, watching church on TV and going to it are two entirely different experiences and to try to compare the two is not only unorthodox but unfair. Observing a sporting event on TV avoids commitment, especially when you are viewing it by yourself, but watching with a crowd of people offers the fan experience and atmospheric tinge we all look for.

That day I got to be a part of that in a way I’d never been a part of a sporting event before. Everyone is huddled together, eyes glued to the screen. All employee obligations are void and any plans you may have made for the afternoon and evening are postponed. Everyone shouts at the screen, yelling the number of the open player, some his name. They frantically point at him as if their finger’s direction affects the whereabouts of the ball. Any uneventful passing is met by fan analysis of the last couple minutes, all negotiating with each other what needs to be done to tip the scales in the United States’ favor, only to have someone point at the screen again and yell something inaudible that draws the attention of the fans and reenergizes the mass. This is what the religion of soccer does. Strangers are now friends and sports commentary compatriots.

The people in Harry’s Sports Bar and Grill that day turned into a people, the persons into a person. White became black, black became white. Republicans and democrats, rich and poor, convicts and priests, We All watched that game. What the game of soccer did was bring a group of people of various backgrounds, races and social statuses and united them as one people with one goal: to win. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else affected that goal.

In a country where our politicians constantly squabble and fail to compromise in favor of the greater good, where our social order continues to weigh more partial to one side, where racism and non-acceptance continues to hamper a country that goes by the mantra  “land of the free”, we were for once, as our founding fathers put it, We the People.

In that raucous abode, We All felt that game.

We All watched that game.

We All bore the sting of that first goal against us.

We All bit the bitterness of the second.

We All thought we tasted redemption after the first of our own.

We All shook our heads in defeat and disbelief.

We All only lasted a few hours that day because after the game’s conclusion, the crowd dispersed, becoming individuals and returning to their lives rather than remaining a camaraderie. There I remained, not only because it was time to eat, but because I still wanted We All. I think we all want that unity with our friends, with our family, with our people, with the people, but some of the things that make us us, like the stack in our wallets, the church we go to or the party we affiliate ourselves with get in the way of that. To become We All you don’t have to be less of yourself, you only have to be more of us. Don’t brag how much you make and don’t judge others for not believing what you believe. We All is a belief and an ideal that can be known and popularized by many things but for now it is popularized by one thing. That one thing involves a ball and two teams of 11 people on a pitch. That one thing is soccer and if you take the time to look at it with others, you’ll see just how much it’s capable of.

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Movie Review: Vantage Point

Say hello to international violence, assassination and lots of cameras. It’s all about the view you’re given, your vantage point.

Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) has taken a bullet for the President once. Does he still got what it takes or is he old news? Everyone’s talking about it. What’s the answer? Will we ever find out?

As you can tell, I’m not thrilled about this character and Quaid wasn’t the guy for this role either. Quaid is a guy made for family roles ala The Parent Trap and The Rookie. Quaid smiles, gives us some sentimental sequences and some humor and we enjoy it. What he doesn’t do is scowl, drop cuss words and act overly serious. Want to take a guess which role he’s playing here?

In case you didn’t get the clue, director Pete Travis had Quaid play option two and it’s such a miscast. He takes his job seriously, I’ll give him that, but Quaid is not convincing me here. Too many inorganic lines and not enough fruitful dialogue or time in front of the camera, Quaid probably had as good a chance at pleasing us as anyone else did. Everything he does has Jack Bauer all over it but had they asked Kiefer Sutherland for the role, we’d all feel like we were watching a 24 movie instead of Vantage Point. It’s a role we’ve seen before with an added hitch: there isn’t enough time to complete the act. Even if Quaid had delivered it wouldn’t have been enough because the camera’s viewfinder is always moving to someone or something else. Truthfully, Quaid’s character was the protagonist just as much as anyone else.

The constant reversal of time to show the events from the point of view of others isn’t a bad concept but it does create a disconnect between the audience and its characters. It’s not a bad plot device but it’s detrimental to its set pieces that are left walking in place and uttering the same lines they vocalized ten minutes ago, waiting for when their character might be acknowledged by the camera again. Until then, these actors wait and reread the script again and make sure they play everything the way it was the first time, and the second time, and the third time, etc. We’re gifted with new information each take but not before we have some of the prior information we already know shoved down our throats, when skipping over that information and taking a detour to the new stuff would have kept the story going rather than leaving us with a sputtering engine waiting to re-engage again. It’s tedious. I’ll wait, but I’d like to see some hint or sign that it’s going to pay off in the end and in the precious minutes I’m graced with at the beginning, I received no such confidence from this film. I think Travis just hopes the premise itself will make us wait and it does for a little.

The first viewpoint is like us watching a movie for the first time so there’s nothing wrong with that, although Sigourney Weaver’s in this portion. Ugh. The second part focuses on our protagonist so that’s fine. Then we get this Spanish cop who I guess we’re supposed to care about but I don’t nor does he have any significant interaction with Barnes so it’s just a useless subplot.  The phase only teaches us three things, things that we learn from the next guy we meet anyway so a simple highlight, delete from the script here would have worked quite nicely. Forest Whitaker is the next guy and is probably this film’s most memorable character but he too is a subplot that yet again has little to do with Barnes as a character and the only reason the two interact is because Whitaker decided to bring a videotape to this historic event and get everything relevant on tape. How fortunate, right?

That really is where this film’s viewpoints needed to stop. Whitaker is good here and is helping prop Quaid up, we don’t have the Spanish cop on the screen anymore, let’s just stick with this, okay? However, Travis doesn’t because I think he wants as many speaking characters in this film as he can fit or perhaps he just wanted to be able to put “8 points of view” on the cover. Maybe he thought the number eight would impress us or something, I don’t know but there’s no need for that many when half as many is fine. Further viewpoints only reveal who the bad guys are and end any suspense of trying to figure out who did this and why. Actually, I take back the why part. We never find out why aside from a very short and blase explanation which is incredibly unsatisfactory and unoriginal.

Matthew Fox nearly loses physical form he’s used so little here, which is such a shame, especially if you’ve seen his prowess in the TV series Lost and oh my gosh, how they mistreat the guy here. Like spitting in the guy’s face. If they had given me his script, I would have walked out the door.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Dawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, Secretariat)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(MaleficentRise of the Planet of the ApesTransporter 2Battle: Los AngelesSkyfall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Clash of the TitansA Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark Fury)

My score for Vantage Point: 57.

Too many twists, subplots and sideshows, Vantage Point allows its vantage point to expand too far and drown its characters in neglect and a poor screenplay. While there is some intrigue still remaining after all that, any chance of this movie ending in the 60’s is destroyed by this film’s thrown together ending that was trying to put a bow on the box but ended up smashing the cake.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

So there’s this girl and she’s really annoying, young and stupid. She keeps finding her way into this movie anyway. Well, she is told by Forest Whitaker’s character to stay with the security guard at the embassy. Simple enough instructions that this girl can’t follow. She goes running around the city yelling for her mommy. I’m so not emotionally-attached. Well, the terrorists (because cinema…P.S if you didn’t read my Clash of the Titans review you won’t get that) have the president in the back of the ambulance and they’re away and in the clear and this stupid girl walks in the middle of the freeway and stands right in the middle of the lane yelling for mommy. The driver of this ambulance, who keep in mind is a terrorist, has killed people and has kidnapped the President of the United States of America, has a moral epiphany and spins the steering wheel to avoid hitting the girl while at the same type crashing the ambulance, killing his accomplice and losing the president. If you’re a terrorist and have accomplished all that, you’re running that girl over and continuing on, no remorse whatsoever. The fact this film tries to say otherwise is preposterous.

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Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

A bonus brother edition for this piece of villainous torture awaits. Continue on if you dare.

It seemed, based off of friends, colleagues and public opinion, that people had come to a universal agreement: Clash of the Titans is terrible. However, I’d never seen it. My brother Chris has though but couldn’t remember much of anything from it. Useless as usual. So I did what I usually do: I decided to give something a go and find out for myself.

Watching Clash of the Titans is not “giving something a go”. It’s like subjecting yourself to a terminal disease, a disease that destroys the cells of the eyes, ears and mind all in one fell swoop. It’s so egregious. Sam Worthington was good in Terminator Salvation and Avatar but I guess he wanted to get out of the acting gig or something because if there was a way to put a closed sign on your career, this is a pretty brutal way to do it.

Watch as Hollywooders that I’ve become fond of join forces to give audiences the finger in this colossal clash of ineptitude and incompetence. Worthington lends his services to director Louis Leterrier, who not two weeks ago I commended for his work on the Transporter films and on Now You See Me. Leterrier sent a clone to work in his stead or lost his mind with this dumpster of a film. Don’t blink or you’ll miss one of the worst screenplays brought from print to picture. There is expositional dialogue coming from every cardinal direction and up and down, yet it’s not enough background information because there is still plenty of things left unstated, unexplained and forgotten like the audience had the memory retention of an infant. No laws of physics, human limitation, common sense, or logical input were packed for this voyage across a wasteland weighed by nonsense, fallacy and stupidity, a voyage that can not be forgiven or overlooked because not even the action sequences are mediocre let alone spine-tingling. Any standards you may have for film should be left at the door. This movie has one standard and one standard only: suckage.

Chris: Kristen Stewart’s clone is revealed in Alexa Davalos and her puzzled face while you watch Worthington yell excessively at nothing like a dumb lion. There are many scenes of him staring around as if the story is being made on the spot. Watch 900-year-old Grandpa Hades try to walk around with a broken back.

Tim: Among the many things that don’t make sense that I’d like to touch on: A bad guy’s blood turns into giant scorpions. That’s not the problem with this although it certainly could be in a different film. The problem with this scene is that said bad guy disappears in the middle of the desert but shows up next to Medusa’s temple later for plot convenience even though he can’t fly or summon a Pegasus.

Then there are these guys. What is that supposed to be? According to the film, it’s a non-human desert sorcerer known as a Djinn. However, the designers couldn’t seem to decide if they were trying to make Ents from Lord of the Rings or mummies from The Mummy. Minimal entertainment was to be had with this leader of the Djinn but it was to be short-lived because like the extremely few good things in this movie, he must die.

What is going on?! There is so much “I don’t know what is going on” happening in this film that there’s really no need to have a plot at all. You should just throw it out and throw a bunch of sporadic weird stuff that leaves us clueless. Oh wait, you just did that!!!

Unnecessary scenes flood the running time and oh my gosh, this is so dumb.

Chris: This film is full of unnecessity. There are three witches looking through one eyeball! In another part, Perseus is given a scorpion shield and told it is very powerful, but we just watched them kill that scorpion by stabbing it in the back so, uhh? I felt there were more scenes of Sam Worthington staring at nothing than there was fighting, and that ticked me off.

Tim: Plenty of these unnecessary scenes are corny, overdone and do nothing to push this story forward. It drags it down like an anchor instead. Aside from the Djinn and actress Gemma Arterton, this film has nothing visually that attracts my attention. Medusa’s animation is to be expected, the Kraken looks far too much like a rancor from Star Wars and everything is just so bland and uncoordinated. Clearly they didn’t have a drawing session when they decided to make the rancor, I mean uhh, the Kraken, that’s it. My mistake there.

The gods in Olympus don’t do anything, there’s no mentionable dialogue going on there and Liam Neeson is so underused considering how talented he is and how much of an effect he can have on a film if he’s just used the right way. If you make Liam Neeson look bad in a movie, your movie is pretty bad.

Chris: Liam Neeson must have been drunk or high doing this role, because he should have looked at this script and been like “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, WHAT THE HECK IS THIS?! HOW ABOUT NO!” *walks off set*

Tim: The music is often used in the wrong places as well, making it seem far too desperate. Ralph Fiennes as Hades is probably the most memorable role of the film but his lines, like everyone else’s, lack conviction and dynamics.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Dawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, Secretariat)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(MaleficentRise of the Planet of the ApesTransporter 2Battle: Los AngelesSkyfall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Clash of the Titans: 18.

More than its fair share of poor acting, script mishaps, plot holes, unedited scenes and nonsensical material, Clash of the Titans is a borefest for an action film and as a film in general. Leterrier manages to destroy any fun that could be had with this. Even the ability to make fun of the disastrous contraption is ripped from us by the halfway point. To think, that all goes without mentioning this film features one of the worst third acts I’ve ever seen.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

Why is the third act so terrible? I’m so glad you asked. To start with, Medusa. If you know anything about Greek mythology, you know that Medusa was turned into a woman so ugly that anyone that looked upon her would turn into stone. This is fact. There are no exceptions. Well, this film decided to make exceptions because cinema. Similar to a “because I’m Batman” excuse, this film thought because it was cinema it had the right to do that. This is true. When you make your own movie, you’re allowed to make your own rules. This film decided to follow the mythology we all know, we look at Medusa, we die, blah, blah, blah. Once we’re actually taken to see Medusa, the film adds a rule in the middle of the movie. Apparently, Medusa can only kill humans because Sheik Suleiman, the leader of the Djinn, is captured by her and she stares at him to turn him into stone and it doesn’t work. Suleiman does not turn into stone and his eyes are wide open. In fact, he laughs in her face. Go to the 1:25 mark of this clip and see for yourself. So, apparently Medusa’s head does not work on everything after all which means retrieving her head to kill the mighty Kraken shouldn’t work either. Suleiman wasn’t using any spells or sorcery. He has his hands bound and he sits there and laughs in her face. The whole point of coming to the temple to get her head is pointless. However, this film than retracts that rule and decided that was only for that one instance. It works on everything but it just didn’t work that one time. DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW SCREWED UP THAT IS???!!! That would be akin to making a movie about an everyday guy and having him jump off the Empire State Building and get up and start walking again without any blood loss or discernible injuries but then have a random thug shoot him and kill him!!! Everyone would say “well how come he didn’t die when he jumped off the Empire State Building” and the director’s only excuse would be this: because I said so ergo because cinema. That, my friends, aside from being a cardinal sin in the art of movie making, is so idiotic that words cannot describe it.

And so, Perseus runs to the city and saves the day from the giant mega beast Kraken in a record two minutes by showing him the head of Medusa. Surely that’s not the end though, right? I mean, they have to give us a decent fight scene to send us off, right? Oh, look, here’s Hades, here it is. That is what we all thought before we got this turd. In a mere 45 seconds, most of which is trash talk dialogue, Hades is gone. So, the mighty Kraken and Hades, the god of the underworld, are defeated in a total of a little over three minutes to conclude what is supposed to be the climax of the film but ends up being the exact opposite: a canyon of unending disappointment.

Chris: RAGE MODE – Do you enjoy watching people fight people? Me too! We must be friends. Do you enjoy watching giant monsters fight people? Hell yeah, me too! Then I have good news for you! SURPRISE. The great fight scene you expect to see with the monster and our great hero is all shown in the picture below. Isn’t it nice to see a giant fight in one still picture? -_-

 

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Movie Review: Maleficent

Maleficent focuses on the character of said name from Sleeping Beauty but with a twist: we’re looking at things from her point of view this runaround.

We’re  introduced to a young Maleficent, who becomes good friends with a human from the other side of the treeline named Stefan. However, as time passes by and both get older, Stefan’s ambition gets in the way of their mutual affection and Stefan stops seeing her.

It’s a story that says people we know and love can change on us and become something dissimilar of their former selves, of the people we cared about. We comprehend what feelings are to be expected from someone who suffers such a loss (doubt, depression) but at the same time fans could have felt these feelings so much more if we would have gotten to see these youngsters’ friendship expand past the ten minute mark, if it even reaches that. I know Sleeping Beauty needs to appear eventually but if the movie is going to be about Maleficent, why don’t we spend more time learning how she feels by placing ourselves in her childhood and feeling what she felt? I’m told they become friends and love might have even be in the conversation, but I’d rather see it then be told it, especially since I’m watching a movie instead of being read a storybook fairy tale. This is a film, correct?

Part of me thinks the hesitation and eventual choice of not giving us more here was because doing so might have bored younger audiences and since that was the targeted group for this film, that was the decision they went with. That and more run time means more money.

However, I can’t help but wonder what this film could have been if it would have taken the risk and gone ahead and added some aspects that would have compelled adolescent audiences to see this. I’m not a teenager, but young adult aspects would have made the visit for children’s parents more enjoyable if they could have taken some heart and a message coming out of it. I’m not saying this doesn’t have heart to it, but it’s the difference between a drawing of a tree and a painting of a tree. A tree is something we’ve all seen before. We know what it’s composed of and there’s only so much detail a drawing can deliver, like the boldness of its outline. However, a painting can illustrate color, dexterity, style, poise and attitude. There is so much more time and therefore product to look at and decipher where as a basic drawing with no shading can’t encompass us for long.

Not all children can grasp the advancement that I’m talking about. Financial risk is part of the deal here but you’re in a creative market aren’t you? Isn’t creativity all about taking risks in the first place? Doing something in a way that people haven’t seen before means they might not like it, they might discredit you and call you a phony and you might never get the enjoyment or recognition out of it that you’re looking for. However, if you take that leap and they do like it, life will be kinder to you because they know 1) you gave it your all and 2) they’ll know money wasn’t all that mattered to you. I’m not saying that is the hand director Robert Stromberg was dealt. I’m sure he didn’t have the ultimate choices in a lot of the meetings. Nonetheless, a wider story rather than a vertical one is beneficial to character connection and to fan entertainment so I wish they would have given it a go. Alas, they didn’t and we have what we have.

For all that, it’s not a bad movie or a deficient Disney dabble. Angelina Jolie still gives us a tale of loss with all the stages that transpire with it. She’s angry, she’s hurt and she’s got it all inside her but you can tell that time starts to crumble those walls of hers and make her wish she could take it all back, mainly the curse she put on a girl who was born having done nothing wrong.

The rest of the cast isn’t valuable nor necessary with the exception of Elle Fanning as our sleeping beauty. Sharlto Copley, gosh, I know the guy has talent but he’s just horrible this year. Open Grave and now there’s this role that is filled with so much singularity there’s really nothing Sharlto can do to make this dynamic at all. He can try to play his role from Elysium here but it would be misplaced in this fantasy dream world as well as unnecessarily heinous but I think that’s what Sharlto was told to do because he’s unleashing all the aggressive lunacy he can here but only so much can be accomplished with the meager lines he’s presented on the page. The three fairies are given some dialogue that’s supposed to be funny but is far too kiddish for me to get a kick out of.

The visuals, CGI and special effects are visually appealing and worthwhile. If a film isn’t getting that part right, it better be ready to feel my wrath.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Dawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, Secretariat)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Rise of the Planet of the ApesTransporter 2Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Maleficent: 70.

Despite the negative reviews Maleficent has received, it’s made over $670 million at the box office, putting it at number five in revenue so far this year ahead of Godzilla and the heavily anticipated How to Train Your Dragon 2 sequel. With that said, Maleficent features some poor script writing with some of its side characters but excels with Jolie at the forefront and does give us stuff to think about although one of those things is how much more this story could have taught us with an extension of the film’s 97-minute running time.

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Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as good as it was, reminded me of this film’s existence. I didn’t have the fondest memories of it. Actually, I didn’t really have that much a memory of this one at all. If it weren’t for my want for writing a review, I’m not sure I would have revisited this.

The Planet of the Apes reboot started back in 2011 with this flick, with James Franco at the forefront as scientist Will Rodman, who is attempting to find a cure for Alzheimer’s to help his ailing father and to keep his job at the biotechnology company he works at, Gen-Sys.

It’s being tested on chimps and when the testing produces a violent result, naturally the virus is blamed and the project and Rodman’s hopes are flipped on their head. Rodman finds out that’s not the case when he finds out the ape that went on a violent rampage was doing so because she had just given birth to a baby. For some reason, with all the scientific equipment and primate experts they have at Gen-Sys, no one knew that this ape was pregnant, but okay, whatever, guess this is one of those “just go with it” things. Insert grunting sigh here.

So Rodman takes the baby, which is named Caesar by his intrigued father and our story begins.

Caesar inherits the virus effects from his mother and shows incredible intelligence, which Rodman tracks in hopes he can regain the funding from his project at work despite the fact that he has kept company property for the last few years, which would make any company executive infuriated but I guess the guy’s really desperate in his situation.

Caesar is this movie’s best character by a long shot as you see him begin to realize the situation he’s in, living with a family of humans and never interacting with his own kind, limited by his surroundings and his constant oversight by Rodman. He doesn’t hate the guy, but he knows that it’s time to go home, his real home, in the wild. He can’t do a lot of the things that he wants to do in life, that we all want to do in life: make friends, find “the one”, roam free and do whatever comes to our minds. These are our desires and they’re things we can’t have if we’re cooped up in an attic 95 percent of the time. Facial expression, body posture and a couple hand motions from Andy Serkis will tell you all this as he continues to show he’s great putting on the gilly suits and flaunting them with style and precision. Showing emotions and intricacy through movement: check.

Then there’s the rest of this movie. The pacing is lackadaisical and the film as a whole is pretty uneventful until we reach the final third. Caesar’s mind is thoroughly explored but I can’t say there’s much else to look at here.

James Franco has slowly become one of my least favorite actors, electing to star in brainless stoner comedies instead of pursuing more engaging roles that drill into the minds of audiences like his Spider-Man 3 portrayal of Harry Osbourne, one of the few components critics can agree was enjoyable. It might be Franco’s personality as he does have an attraction to the spotlight but in the last few things I’ve seen him in, it feels like his mind is somewhere else. He doesn’t seem completely engaged. We all have our problems, Mr. Franco. However, you’re in an occupation where you’re paid millions of dollars to be someone you’re not and convince us that is the case.

The rest of them really aren’t doing anything else either. Freida Pinto is the actress from the overrated Slumdog Millionaire and her performance here shows she really doesn’t deserve all the attention she’s getting. So bland, so boring, so much theatrical emotion, just ugh. Please go away. Just walk around Hollywood, wave and smile. Gosh, she’s bad in this.

Finally Tom Felton tries to do something other than be one of the most hated children ever, Draco Malfoy of the Harry Potter films and while he succeeds at being a total prick, he’s been doing that forever and he’s always going to be Draco Malfoy. No matter what he does, he’s always going to be that snotty little rich kid.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Dawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, Secretariat)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Transporter 2Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 73.

The costume design and CGI is state of the art as is Caesar as a character, but the human counterparts as well as the story arc leave this tale void of suspense or any drive to push it forward. It’s not a bad film, but if I have to pick between this and Dawn, Dawn without hesitation.

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Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I remember when I first saw the original Planet of the Apes. I admit I still haven’t seen the original in its entirety, but I was flipping through channels this one day on TV: nothing, nothing, nothing, soap, The View, nothing, apes on horseback, wait, WHAT?!

It was the first time in my life I had ever turned on a TV channel and I happened upon apes on horseback. I was certainly confused and bewildered, but intrigued was probably the best adjective to use. That was quite a while ago and I can’t remember anything from that viewing, but the point I’m trying to make remains: when was the last time you saw apes on horseback?

This is why I don’t understand why making a Planet of the Apes reboot was so difficult. I mean, it’s apes on horseback! How do you screw that up? No one else is doing anything like that. The spotlight is centrally focused on you. There isn’t another studio doing a tigers on rhinos movie, although come to think of it, that might not be too bad an idea considering what Hollywood’s giving us these days.

Planet of the Apes aired in 1968 and after its fourth and final sequel, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, premiered in 1973, the Planet of the Apes disappeared…or at least the idea did. For more than a quarter of a century it waited, waited for someone to stir the pot and make the story come alive once again. “But the Ring betrayed Gollum” (Andy Serkis pun, haha) a.k.a. the series went to Tim Burton and rather than a revival we had an execution followed by a decade-long quarantine of the stench that followed. All was not lost however as a second chance was in the cards, Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. I saw it in theaters and I haven’t seen it since. I bought it the other day so I could relive the experience, if only once more, because truthfully, I didn’t find it all that memorable. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t a great movie either. Indifference was what followed me out of the theater that day rather than a new resolve for a sequel. I didn’t think there would be one.

Then the trailer came out for this sequel and while plenty of YouTubers and my fellow bloggers and friends were borderline cataclysmic for this summer blockbuster, I wasn’t. Among the films I really wanted to see this summer, Guardians of the Galaxy topped the list, with Transformers: Age of Extinction and Godzilla trailing behind. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes didn’t have that same draw for me. I was still going to see it, sure, but I wouldn’t fight tooth and nail to get a seat.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes may not quite live up to the hype that it’s getting, hype paralleled this summer only by Godzilla, but it comes pretty close. The king of computer animated characters himself, Andy Serkis plays our Alpha Male Caesar. You don’t have to be a brainiac to comprehend why the apes follow this guy. He compels a stern, intimidating aurora that reverberates across all who follow him, constantly instilling hope, safety and community. Caesar’s power is no doubt taken from the real Caesar himself, but contains a more humane, compassionate side to him. You rarely see it but you know it’s there.

Gary Oldman sadly goes underused here to an absurd proportion, making me question why he was given a role that lasts no longer than 15 minutes at the most.

The positives continue to roll with this film though to overshadow that, one being a protagonist set up by Jason Clarke. The special effects, costume design and makeup are all very well done and given all that, this film sounds like a good watch, but what really makes this film one of the summer’s best is the story we have and the character of Caesar. I really can’t stress enough how overwhelming a performance Serkis completes here. Both the humans and the apes want to protect their families and it’s all about survival and how to go about doing that, war or peace, etc. Tensions never reach the point of suspenseful upheaval like it could have but you know the clock’s ticking and something is going down. That’s one of the few complaints I have with this film. Aside from the lingering critic in the back of your head re-admitting the fact that this project has to end at some point, the expectancy for what is to come wasn’t all that high for me. I’m interested to see what happens, don’t get me wrong, but I feel that invisible force we call suspenseful anxiety wasn’t present for this production.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisoners)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Transporter 2Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: 91.

Far outperforming its predecessor, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes makes you wonder if Rise of the Planet of the Apes even needed to be made, especially considering the loose attachment Dawn makes to Rise. Aside from a couple nitpicks, most will be pleased and give new hype for the sequel.

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Movie Review: Transporter 2

The sequel to The Transporter, Jason Statham returns as Frank Martin in Transporter 2. An easy job chauffeuring a kid to school, Martin’s doing the quiet and easy. He’s staying out of trouble and taking it easy for a little bit because his last escapade gave him a run for his money. However, he’s still Frank Martin and you know trouble is bound to knock on his car window sooner or later.

As I highlighted yesterday, The Transporter wasn’t a bad movie but it forced limitations on itself by overreaching its creative boundaries with a story that was more complex than it needed to be but overall was still an entertaining presentation.

Transporter 2 is very similar. Statham still has loads of fun with his action scenes and I feel there is some more development for Frank Martin, although that isn’t a major factor in this film. It’s still a movie filmed in the 2000’s that desperately wants to be set in the 80’s when audiences didn’t care all that much about the characters or any sort of conducive story. It was all about the fun, the smirks and the occasional gasp.

That’s all Transporter 2 is trying to do. It knows its precipice isn’t that high but it knows what it is and isn’t going to try to be something it’s not. It’s going to direct according to the action hero playbook, step by step and that’s that.

Personally, taking the path of those before you is the easy way out and doesn’t ride well with me. However, as I mentioned with The Transporter, you could tell the screenwriters tried to add some flavor to it so the dish didn’t taste so bland and for the most part they did a good job. It’s kinda like going to a new restaurant and ordering chicken noodle soup. No one does that because we already know what we’re getting. Chicken noodle soup is something you eat at home. When I watch a movie, I don’t want chicken noodle soup, you get it? I’d like a grilled salmon with fried mangoes and pineapples on top or a pair of pork chops marinated in a teriyaki sauce. Exotic and tasty, not something I can whip up in a microwave, capisce?

Statham gives us the stern faces, the choreographed fight scenes are always a good bite and the plot line should not be expected to be overly complicated although The Transporter came very close to falling into that sand pit.

Transporter 2 has its own sand pits, such as getting a little too ballistic with its action sequences. A blast to view, realism is thrown out the door on more than a few occasions. Still fun but you can tell the laws of physics and normal stunt choreography were left at the door. There’s one scene in particular involving a fire hose. It’s an entrancing series of shots, but what?

Let me put it to you this way: Transporter 2 makes errors where plenty of action movies make errors. They put something on the screen that’s just a little too preposterous for even the irrational action diehard who will more often than not give the film the benefit of the doubt. It has scenes where even these guys are like, “Uhh, no. Just no.” At the very least, we can say the men behind the pen had a clever idea so it doesn’t deserve too harsh a punishment, but when the genre’s most loyal fans are calling you out on stuff, you know you tipped the kettle a little too far. There were also two specific sequences of terrible CGI, which I was very surprised by because the visuals were pretty good until they threw these two dumb things in. One of them could have easily been eliminated from the script so if they didn’t have a good CGI shot I don’t why they didn’t just do that. Seems like common sense to me but I also hear common sense isn’t all that common anymore either so…

As I said above, acting isn’t this film’s strongest play but at the very least it had a more prominent villain who reminds us there is someone else in this film aside from Jason Statham and the Frenchman. I like Statham as much as his most loyal fans, but if we’re watching a movie with a conflict, I’d like it if the conflict had two faces, one for each side of the coin.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisoners)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300Flyboys)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Transporter 2: 70.

It fails to reach the peak of its potential but Transporter 2 learns from the mistakes of the original and convinces audiences that there is more to be had in this series, especially Statham roundhouse kicks and car chases.

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Movie Review: The Transporter

Jason Statham’s breakout film, The Transporter premiered in 2002. Louis Leterrier took the director’s seat and as I mentioned in my Now You See Me review a while ago, I enjoyed the scripting and sculpting he did with these films. Despite that, I have to admit that The Transporter is probably my least favorite of the three.

Statham is a fun guy to watch although I’m not sure how far his assortment of tricks can stretch because it seems he’s typecast as the same guy. It’s not a congruent replica but only minor bumps and moldings make our transporter, Frank Martin, different from any character Statham has played before. With that said, Frank Martin isn’t a bad character and this is the character Statham resides the most with in my opinion. He’s very organized, precise and cautious because of the profession he’s pursuing but you can also pick out he’s all for the quiet life and being left alone when he’s not eluding the police on the roadways. He’s got an anti-hero complex because he’s technically breaking the law but Martin wants all to be right at the end of the day, just his pocketbook’s a little heavier, that’s all.

The film starts with a car chase, which is to be expected because doesn’t nearly every action movie have to have a car chase? I feel it’s almost a requirement now. Directors enter the first meeting pre-production and are like, “So, where are we putting the car chase?”

It’s a job well-done that gives us some sly banter from Martin that gives us a feel for the guy and some dry humor.

Statham’s next job doesn’t go according to plan as he breaks one of his own rules: never open the package. Granted, if a package in my trunk was bouncing up and down and screaming, I think I’d want to check it out, too. Unzipping the bag ends his curiosity and gives his conscience some comfort in knowing he did all he could do but ends up coming back to bite him when his employer gets the sense he knows something and in his employer’s case, knowing something isn’t nothing, and knowing anything means loose ends and loose ends….okay I’m moving on. So our movie begins.

As I mentioned above, not much to complain about in the first half hour. Nothing exceptional but it’s a good time and isn’t that all we’re asking for, especially after an eight and a half hour shift? The portrait doesn’t have to be perfect or pristine, it just needs to be worth the time and energy I’m putting into it. Yeah, sitting around watching a movie probably doesn’t involve a lot of energy but that’s not the point. You know what I mean!

Statham loves doing his own stunts and in an age where it doesn’t seem any actor does his own stunts, I appreciate that and respect Statham all the more for it. Most times, I don’t notice when a stunt double is in front of the camera. I feel if I’m noticing that there’s probably something seriously wrong. When you think about it though, do you know who gets all the credit for those stunts? The actor. Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s some injustice there, credit not being given where credit is due, you know what I mean? Yeah, they get their name in the credits, but those are the credits nobody reads or pays attention to. The true credits come during the presentation. Is it the actor’s fault that stunt doubles don’t get a pat on the back? No, of course not, but I know if I was an actor, I’d want to be enthralled in the project as much as possible. Some stunts are incredibly dangerous and taking the risk is just not worth it, but other stunts, especially considering the safety precautions we have in place, I feel are doable for a main star, so when I notice that isn’t my man up there whooping keisters, I frown, sigh, and droop my shoulders. What does all this mean? It means if you do your own stunts, you get bonus points from Tim! Hear that Hollywood? HEAR THAT?!

So Statham taking on the full plate in front of him does cause the portrayal to suffer I’m sure, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Statham is giving it 110 percent and trying your best is all that matters, right? Unless you make a really bad movie doing so, then you just suck and need to relocate.

The Transporter isn’t like that, thank God, but it’s got its stutters. Our first stutter is probably the budding romance between Statham’s Martin and Lai, played by Shu Qi. Lai’s really vocal, energetic and exuberant, which causes tension with Martin’s calm and collected self. The personalities seem like they would work in a romance but it still seems far-fetched. Why? Because I don’t remember the last time a guy drove a girl tied up in a bag in a trunk, came back and found out he was driving a kidnapped girl around in his trunk and aside from giving her a drink, didn’t do anything about it but yet still got some affection out of it.

Yeah, I’m sure she figured out that Martin’s not a bad guy, but aren’t you angry about what you just went through? She doesn’t once ask him why he was driving her around, what he does, if he does stuff like this all the time, nothing. She acts like she’s kidnapped all the time and that’s when our spiel of real life drama turns into a storybook fairy tale. It’s not that I don’t have fun with this film, it’s just obvious the screenwriters got a little carried away here or they just didn’t know how else to introduce this character. Nonetheless, some more thought or dialogue here would have been appreciated to make this feel like a real situation rather than a quick 92-minute movie.

The action scenes are innovative and give me some things I haven’t seen played out before, but other times they play out forced and predictable. It gives off the vibe of a 80’s action film, minus the awesome and yet so corny one-liners.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisoners)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300Flyboys)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for The Transporter: 68.

Leterrier’s The Transporter is a fun time and with Statham I feel that’s a given 90 percent of the time, but that doesn’t mean a few trips and stumbles were unseen, ones that might have been fixable with a little more taping and editing.

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Movie Review: Planet of the Apes

Tim Burton is an odd fellow who makes peculiar films. We all know this. Burton does not make everyday movies. He’s a creative fellow, I don’t argue that, but Tim Burton makes one kind of film and one kind of film only: a Tim Burton film. When Burton doesn’t have a strong hand in the creative process, the story goes down the tubes and that’s what you see here. A film that was begging for a serious undertone, the producers for this Planet of the Apes remake picked this guy as the director. I’m sorry but does he look like a serious fellow to you?

There’s only one correct answer here: no, plain and simple. Now, he’s behind the camera so he doesn’t have to look serious, I know that, but the guy’s work says, “Why so serious?” all over it and not with the Joker saying it. It has a mysterious, puzzling touch and that’s just what Burton’s good at. There’s nothing wrong with that, but this is not the guy you want to direct a Star Trek film, a Die Hard film or any action film that you want audiences to watch with a straight face.

That’s one of the biggest blunders of this film and the sad thing is that it happened before the film even started. This film wasn’t asking for a creative mastermind like Burton. It was asking for someone who knew how to direct some action sequences and how to make a story flow with some originality but not be overly complicated or utterly boring. Something in the middle of the road would do. Instead we get Burton and an extreme option: unnecessarily complicated AND utterly boring.

Adding insult to injury, Mark Wahlberg was brought in for our lead role. As I’ve mentioned countless times, Wahlberg is low on my acting totem pole. However, I don’t think it would have mattered who they got to play the role of Captain Leo Davidson. There’s no character development and the characters are so poorly written. What should have been an all-star cast of Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan and the Burton must-have Helena Bonham Carter ends up to be a list of wasted talent. Pondering with how to make useless characters useful, our trio gives it the old college try but can’t cover the amount of mistakes in this script with any of the weapons in their arsenal. It’s an impossible task and part of me feels like they all knew their efforts were feeble compared to the size of the problem. The characters are trite and succeed only at leaving grins of pathetic sympathy on the faces of its viewers. Tim Roth’s General Slade, our antagonist, is especially dreadful, with grunts and shrieks being his most meaningful lines of dialogue. No development at all.

Character development should not even be a topic in this review. It shouldn’t play a major role in my enjoyment of the film either, but it does because there’s nothing else to look at. It’s a barren landscape with only one moving figure. The environment is devoid of life and has no attention-grabbing elements aside from this moving figure. This moving figure is our film and this moving figure has the physical capability of a snail. Drooling across the sands in front of me, I’m thinking about almost anything but this visual bewilderment. I’m thinking about why they made this, why they made the decisions they made in the production of this film, why no one could foresee the disjointed material in front of their own eyes.

Our human role players have blank grimaces on their faces the whole movie and act like cavemen rather than futuristic homo-sapiens. They look totally clueless and oblivious and I don’t know why this is the case. They should have a basic idea of what is going on, some comprehension, something. Estella Warren’s mouth-breathing face is chiefly mind-numbing and of no benefit to this film or anything else.

The action is incredibly disappointing and displays special effects and green screen of the lowest platitude. Wahlberg is thrown twenty feet in the air by a swing of ONE arm more than once but gets up with no injuries and that’s not even mentioning the fact that such a thing is physically impossible.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisoners)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300Flyboys)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Planet of the Apes: 36.

A predetermined fate that should have drawn audiences away from the get-go, Burton’s Planet of the Apes is lackluster in so many ways that it’s not hard to see why so many people were disgusted with this film and why so many are excited for the reboot because it’ll be hard to get much worse than this.

 

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Movie Review: Tears of the Sun

I have returned! Great to be back everyone and I look forward to blogging for the next few weeks before another one week hiatus. I’m going to try and post something each day for the next week. Wish me luck!

For over a century, the United States practiced a foreign policy of isolationism, refusing to enter foreign conflicts, instead focusing on the happenings inside their own borders. That changed with World War I. The United States became involved with the foreign affairs of others, taking on a leadership position for the countries of the world who either could not defend themselves or had a dire need for economic assistance. Since World War I, the United States has entered many global conflicts, such as World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. However, we have never given up the right to choose which conflicts we enter and which ones we don’t. We did not engage in the genocide of Darfur nor have we sent troops into Syria even after the UN confirmed chemical weapons were used.

The paragraph above is not what this movie is about so much as the scenario director Antoine Fuqua is trying to depict. A Navy SEAL team is ordered to go into a hostile war-torn Nigeria to rescue an American doctor, two nuns and a priest. Perhaps I’m being overly critical, but does this sound like a likely mission for a Navy SEAL team? It doesn’t to me. That’s not a big deal to me and to be honest, I think Fuqua meant to give us an improbable story because he wanted to show us his cards early so we could see the arguments and allusions being made here. If you look at it as a story and nothing more, you’ll drive into roadblocks but when you know this is a two-hour argument that’s displayed on the big screen, you’ll see the pieces that Fuqua is putting down clear as day. It’s contrived well but it’s not fogged or convoluted so you have to peel back the metaphorical veil to discover it. It’s on a platter and served up well-done.

Now, the arguments that Fuqua enlightens us with are ones we’ve heard in our history classes during high school. We know what they’re going to be, what the sides are, what the consequences of our actions will be, etc. We’ve heard the spiel before. Fuqua doesn’t have any reservations about that. He’s just going to give us that spiel whether we like it or not. To his credit, his spiel is a lot more embracing and thought-provoking then the spiel I heard in high school.

Bruce Willis plays the lieutenant of the SEAL team and I have to admit his performance is stone cold. That’s not a criticism but it’s not a compliment either. He and his squad are what you would expect from soldiers. It’s a mission, stay impersonal and withdrawn from the parties involved and get the job done. There are some changes in the people they are as the film progresses but they haven’t had epiphanies either. Some of them take definite stands on which side they’re on, side as in whether they support involvement or they don’t, but some take the middle-of-the-road fence position, embodying the position of the targeted audience for this film. Some people want America to be the world police and others would prefer it if the country reverted back to its position of isolationism. Fuqua’s saying, “if you’ve made your mind up, that’s fine, but watch this and see if you still feel the same way.”

Fuqua tries to remain unbiased in his directing but struggles to do so considering the material he’s dealing with, which in my opinion is understandable. Unarmed citizens are being slaughtered by militant Muslims. It’s hard to direct something like that and tell the actors, “act as unemotionally attached to the material as possible, borderline inhumane.”

Willis is the Hollywood star but isn’t doing any wholesome acting here. It’s more about the facial expressions than anything else. There’s not a lot of dialogue streaming through him, suggesting he’s more of an accessory to the story than its most memorable member. Aside from the decisions he makes, there’s nothing to give us any aspirations to his character, leading me to believe a lesser actor would have sufficed for the role in question. Monica Bellucci plays the doctor who refuses to leave her patients and the effort is there but the product is not. She’s incredibly blase and the script does nothing to draw my attention to anything she’s involved with, including the attempt at a budding romance between her and Willis’ Lieutenant Waters, a romance that seems doomed from the start and all too predictable.

The action isn’t as prevalent as you would expect from a war film but what is given to us is admirable. The film lends itself to a slower pace to establish the darker aspects of warfare and genocide, aspects that are much harder to paint in a film than in a novel but succeed at a high rate here.

Despite the unripe fruit of our two leading stars, the rest of the supporting cast is solid at pushing Fuqua’s arguments forward and developing the film’s apathy and emotional platforms.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisoners)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Edge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300Flyboys)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Tears of the Sun: 83.

Fuqua’s history spiel has its touching moments, hardcore realism, and military camaraderie illustrated to a high degree. Fuqua’s film approaches the division of feature film and documentary as close as he can without crossing it, drawing us a war-torn country scenario and stirring questions along the way. Where Tears of the Sun struggles is in the writing of its leads, which took a back seat to everything else this film had to offer.

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