Monthly Archives: April 2015

Movie Review: Outcast

Before I start, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who read my piece, Regret, yesterday and today. Thanks to you guys, I set a new record for likes on the blog in one day. I recognize I don’t write life posts half as much as I’d like and I’ll try to make it more of a priority.

The trailer for Outcast looked like garbage. Jon’s least favorite actor is Hayden Christensen of Star Wars infamy. Outcast featured Christensen and Nicolas Cage. We had to see this.

So my roommate and I said we would see it over the summer because that was the impression that we gathered, that it was coming out this summer. Two weeks later, I’m looking through movies at Walmart and there’s Outcast. We split the cost and agreed we’d watch it for the last Bad Movie Wednesday of the semester.

So we watched it yesterday and man, did it suck.

In my last review on Crank, I talked about immediate immersion, inserting an audience into a plot with no context.

Crank did a fair job of demonstrating this type of intro. Outcast does not.

Throwing us into a medieval Crusade fight scene and taping people getting chopped and stabbed is not attention-grabbing. The only way you begin a film with a fight scene is with stellar special effects and awe-inducing stunt choreography.

Outcast does neither and accrues no connection to the characters. Had Christensen or Cage died in the opening minutes, I wouldn’t have cared. The film gave me no reason to, so why should I?

So people die and I have no cares to give and suddenly we’re in China three years later. There is no introduction of our main characters. I don’t even remember a name drop. No “how long have they been fighting”, “what bond do they have”, nothing. Whatever. I’m already cringing.

So now we’re in China and the dying emperor decides he wants his youngest son, who throughout the course of the film will prove his incompetence, inability to listen and irresponsibility, to be his successor. Guess China’s screwed.

Knowing his eldest son, a ruthless warrior, will not agree with the decision, the emperor sends his son and youngest daughter away with the royal seal.

The acting in these opening segments is especially horrid and the dialogue as unoriginal as the song, Happy Birthday. The execution of the lines is so poorly handled. I don’t know how a guy can sit in a director’s chair, listen to this delivery and be satisfied at even a mediocre level let alone a final cut standard.

Which brings me to a quick sidenote: Why are bloggers in the film community on WordPress not getting placed in the director’s chair? We have all seen films that would have been better served in an ashtray and films that shower us with spectacle after spectacle. We know what attracts and detracts. With all of the creative minds on this planet, how are we being skipped for movies when a novice like Nick Powell can direct a film? Makes no sense to me. I’m confident, either individually or together, that we could make a better film than Outcast.

There’s no acting prowess on this screen. I don’t know what happened to Nicolas Cage, if the guy has lost his mind or has simply been taking too many roles for paychecks but the guy’s got nothing. His try-hard British accent is laughable and his best acting moments are the tipping of the bottle. Real hard stuff.

College Humor did a piece a few years ago entitled “Nicolas Cage’s Agent” and the reason it remains so hilarious today is because every cent of it is true. Cage is the real life embodiment of the yes man. I don’t think he’s ever said no once in his entire life. If the guy were just starting out, I would understand his willingness to grab it all. However, Cage has talent in front of the camera. All jokes aside, we’ve seen it before. We know it’s in there somewhere, but for some reason, he continues to scribble over his name and tarnish his reputation for buffalo chips like this. The only role he’s played that I’ve read positive reviews about in the last five years is Joe.

There’s losing your way and then there’s not giving a crap and I’m starting to think Cage is the latter, which really ticks me off because he’s wasting everyone’s time. If you don’t want to do your best in something, don’t do it.

Of course, how can we forget Hayden Christensen and his mohawk. Yes, I said mohawk. For some reason, the crew thought Mohawks were a thing during the 13th century. Pretty stupid. Actually, I think the correct term would be ugly stupid. There’s nothing pretty about that.

So we got Christensen high on opium and yet his character is able to demolish a party of palace guards with his unbalanced vision, including throwing a staff 30 feet into a guy’s eye, inches from the princess’ head. Ummmmmm…..NO.

There’s no thrill to the action, the plot trudges and I really don’t want to talk about the dialogue again.

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. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (EquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands Tall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (BlitzThe PunisherDrive HardRun All NightRage)

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. (CrankErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Outcast: 18.

With a script that would bore third-graders and stunt choreography that is a dishonor to Asian culture, Outcast falls on its sword more times than Cage has in the last two years. In other words, many, many times. However, this will not be the last time you hear of Outcast: two weeks ago, producer Jeremy Bolt announced plans for a sequel. Crap.

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Regret

Life is full of it. No matter what you do, you’ll have it.

It will track you down like a lion tracks a gazelle, grass brushing against its fur, paws clumping in the mud right before the pounce.

In the blink of an eye, you’re down. You don’t even know what happened.

Where did it all go wrong? How did it come to this?

It’ll tear into you, it’ll cut you and you’ll bleed.

You’ll bleed a lot.

You won’t remember the last time you were in this much pain and anguish.

You’ll get angry. The fires of rage will encompass your soul as you curse the person, people or the decision that has done this to you.

For days you’ll rage, smash your whole being against the cage you find yourself entrapped in.

You will pound on those bars until your skin is raw and the blood has dried, until your bones are numb and your muscles tense.

You will tighten yourself, hide who you are, how you feel, what you did.

You will cloud yourself with hate. You will silently curse the person you once cared for, ask for their damnation.

You have no remorse, no solace to retreat to and no love in you.

For days you have lost part of yourself and are half if not less of your former self.

Part of you has entered a coma and your other half hates that half for ever opening up, for ever considering making the decision you made.

It loathes that half. It detests it. It condemns it.

It never wants to be whole again. Neither do you.

After these crucial days, you begin to realize what they did to you and what you did to yourself.

That’s when it first hits.

That’s when you realize the hammer came down.

That’s when you know you didn’t do enough or you did nothing at all.

Opportunity walked up to you and smirked and briskly walked away before you could even notice.

It came right under your nose and you didn’t do a damn thing about it.

You remained frozen like a philosopher, overflowing with “what ifs” instead of opening your eyes.

You allowed Doubt and Fear to handle the joystick.

You didn’t even put up a fight to stop them.

Or perhaps you have regret for something you did. Or for someone.

You should have never said those things you said.

You should have never devoted yourself to someone who not once devoted themselves to you.

Someone who not once reached out first, who not once showed they cared.

You remain isolated like a lost soldier in the snow.

Don’t know what to stand for, what to fight for, what to live for.

You learn from your mistakes but continue wondering how you ever made them.

Continue to ponder if you’ll ever get a chance to start over.

The burden of not knowing if you’ll get the chance weighs down on you like a monsoon.

Drenched, weathered and cold.

Your will is tattered and your soul is battered, but you got to keep going.

You got to push yourself. You got to believe.

Your compass can waiver but it must not fail.

You must give your family and friends an ideal to strive towards.

You must set the example. You must set the bar.

Not just for others but for yourself.

Push the limits. Demonstrate resolve.

Be better. Try harder.

Strive to be a better you each day.

Regret will always persist. It will never leave. The only choice we have is what we do now.

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Movie Review: Crank

If I was asked to describe Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s Crank in one word, it would be “different”.

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) wakes up dazed and confused before he sees a left-behind recording and gets a phone call from Ricky Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo) confirming that Chelios has been poisoned with the Beijing cocktail, which inhibits the flow of adrenaline, slows the heart and eventually kills the victim.

If you’re someone who longs for immediate immersion in your films, you’ll enjoy the way this comes out of the gate. If you have become used to seemingly required backstory at the introduction of films, you may not be as fond of Crank.

I can appreciate both sides of the fence when it’s executed in the right manner. Crank is revving up the engine, which would be impressive if the engine wasn’t a bicycle in first gear, a gear that is great for exercising, not so much for going places.

Opening the door the way it does earns Crank some leeway, however, because Chelios doesn’t know anything either. It provides an audience-character parallel and to a certain point repairs early scars with duct tape. To an extent. This doesn’t forgive a complete lack of introductory outline or audience consideration.

The direction from Neveldine and Taylor emphasizes sharp edits and harsh, rapid cuts, giving visual adrenaline to complement a hurried story.

Shaky cam is a technique that should be used sparingly and viewed like mayonnaise. If you don’t want your serving to audiences to be void of taste, please limit the shaky cam. Shaky cam should be a condiment, not an overdressed salad. Matching the film’s shots to the tempo should not be prioritized over an audience’s ability to watch it, for obvious reasons.

The technicalities of apace film-making flaunted in Crank are oddly charming, however, and after displacing continual missteps from my memory bank, remained entertaining. The unorthodox style intrigues and smacks me in the face at the same time and for some reason, I was okay with that. Not sure why, but from an entertainment perspective, I felt the abrasive approach contributed to what Crank was trying to be…I think.

I’m not sure what Crank was trying to be. The scripting is like an elementary school student who proudly brings home an art project for his parents. He holds it up as he would a championship trophy and while his parents are happy for their son, they don’t have a clue what it’s supposed to be. To them and most everyone else, their son’s masterpiece looks like a mass of muck and pudding.

Which is not to say there isn’t anything worth cherishing in a youngster’s work. Quite the contrary. To continue my metaphor, imagine that same situation but the son is 30. Now you wonder how that guy’s going to make a living.

That’s what I was watching, a shapeless growth with little to no personality being presented as a final project, with no edges or indentations, just a blob of pictures. There’s no form to Crank. It just…is. Crank prioritized being a speedster flick so much, it flew by characters and plot, the pinnacles of story.

Jason Statham, bless his soul, has been struggling of late with the last few films I’ve reviewed, which you’ll see in next week’s round 2 of Winners And Losers (WAL). Crank has many of the same failings: poor story, buried characters and an overall experience that won’t let you breathe.

Crank‘s main failing is its inability to introduce supplementary characters to help Statham, a recurring problem in the Brit’s films. Producers and directors continue to give Statham inadequate material and sometimes even more inadequate actors to play opposite and alongside him, leaving Statham out to dry in the middle of the ocean for the umpteenth time. You would think these producers and directors would watch other Statham films before hiring the guy and think, “man, there’s no one helping Statham here at all. That was actually a pretty bad movie. I think I know how we can avoid that. Let’s get a second good actor for our film. Does anyone else think that’s a good idea? No? Ok, whatever.”

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it is a common phrase, one that many of Statham’s employers have not paid attention to as they continue to utilize the same inadequate actors and same substandard scripts as the producers and directors before them. People that learn nothing from the past and continue to make the same mistakes as their predecessors are known as morons and have no place in the industry, so yeah, you could say I’m pretty angry with Neveldine and Taylor. Stop leaving my man, Statham, out to dry!!!

Thankfully, I need not bemoan Statham’s role in Crank because he came to play with this one. Crank is not one of Statham’s better films and I’ll never recommend it, but I still consider this a W for Statham off the fact that the guy tries so hard to make this lousy script work. Characters cuss a lot more than they need to and coming from someone like me, that’s saying something because I don’t have the prettiest of mouths. Actually I guess I’m not that pretty to begin with but that’s beside the point. The point is that Statham, for all of this film’s 88-minute run time, is running all cylinders at full speed ahead. He’s got a zinger line here and there to deliver with that rasp of his and he does what he can with unambitious stunt choreography. Once again, Statham does what he’s forced to do on a regular basis: get on his knees, have a film placed on his shoulders and try to stand up and support it by himself. If the film was even halfway articulate, it might have been decent but it misfires too many times to put on a good show.

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. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (EquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands Tall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (BlitzThe PunisherDrive HardRun All NightRage)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Crank: 46.

Disorganized, choppy and needlessly vulgar at points, Crank tries too hard to separate itself from the masses and instead becomes a mass itself. Statham adds one to the win column with his spontaneous protagonist but while Crank exceeds in the visual department at times, it cannot escape Shaky Cam Syndrome, blank acting and an eye-drooping plot.

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Movie Review: Blitz

I watched Jason Statham star in Chaos on Sunday night but don’t remember as much from the film as I would like so I didn’t write a review. To make up for it, I scrolled through my Netflix history for films I watched but didn’t review. I give you the cop-killer film, Blitz, starring Jason Statham yet again.

I’m obsessed with the guy’s accent, the power he can bring to a few lines of dark humor and the burlesque films he continually stars in. If you have no idea what burlesque is, that’s okay. I didn’t either. I’m trying to learn new words lately and expand my vocabulary.

burlesque- an artistic composition, especially literary or dramatic, that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity.

Statham’s films have that mocking gumption flavor to them but Blitz plays a stark contrast to Statham’s previous work.

One of Statham’s more memorable introductions is featured in Elliott Lester’s 2011 British crime thriller. I don’t know why but for some reason, this film seems so much older than that. It’s got a 90’s feel to it and perhaps that’s because the script seems so barren, the story so predictable and the acting so devoid of life.

Perhaps that’s being a little harsh but when I first saw Blitz on TV, I hated it. I watched it a second time with my roommate, Jon, during the fall semester and still wasn’t wild about it. I gave it a third try and I’m done with it. It’s just not my cup of tea.

Detective Sergeant Tom Brant has anger management issues, but he’s also really good at his job: getting thugs behind bars. He’s tested when someone starts targeting cops. It’s up to Brant to catch the perp and do it before he finds himself in front of the barrel.

It’s basic enough but not very complicated or intriguing and the cast list doesn’t instill much confidence either which is both this film’s downfall and Statham’s seemingly impassable barrier to becoming a brighter star on the Hollywood strip.

Statham is a hard-working actor that guarantees a genuine attempt at making a film all its own, but he doesn’t have the acting flair required to carry a great film on his shoulders. He’s one of the better action stars of the past decade and some of the stunts this guy pulls off are gravity-defying. It’s when the compass begins to point up and Statham attempts a film out of his genre that the windows fog over.

Crime thrillers are built on a story’s suspension, its ability to remain aloft and out of reach but still appeal to our sense of intrigue while it plays puppeteer upstairs. Thrillers are meant to toy with our minds and thrill us, hence the term thriller. Thrillers are meant to be manipulative. If you watch a thriller and aren’t thinking about it a few minutes after watching it, then the thrill wasn’t there, the thriller didn’t thrill and the film failed at its primary purpose.

Lester seems decided on exploring a variety of topics in his film but runs away from them as soon as he opens the envelope like a kid jumping in and out of puddles or an artist trying to dab his paintbrush in all the colors on his palette. We’ve got drugs, alcoholism and police brutality and rather than have a few minutes to decide how the audience feels about all these things, we’re swung through a drive-thru of cinema and they’re onto the next customer before they served the first one.

For example, there’s a scene where Brant goes to visit one of the new inspectors, Sergeant Porter Nash (Paddy Considine) and confides to him that he’s losing it, that he’s blacking out. Nash tells a personal tale and Brant falls asleep during it for comedy reasons. The discussion of Brant’s “losing it” and “blacking out” is never brought up again. Why’s it in there then?

Blitz teases audiences with relevant material but then, like a bratty sixth-grader, laughs in our face for believing him and instead hands us some more toothless dialogue and unrelated subplots.

Statham’s never given the chance to flex or demonstrate his forte: action sequences. Aside from a long chase scene where Statham shows us he can run and do a little parkour, Statham’s experience as a stuntmaster is never utilized. The stunts are sometimes the only entertainment you can get from a Statham film and Lester finds a way to steal that enjoyment from us, too.

Statham’s got some fun quips and jabs here and there to throw around but there’s no diversity to his character.

The subplots are a waste of time and our villain, played by Aidan Gillen, is a punk. The concept of a character not giving a crap works but the execution here is porous. Gillen is not a talented enough actor to pull this off.

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. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (EquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands Tall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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 PunisherDrive HardRun All NightRageZoolander)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Blitz: 57.

It might say crime thriller on the cover, but Blitz never gets to the point of thrilling anyone. The acting aside from Statham struggles, the villain is out of his league and undercut, the film fails to take advantage of Statham’s stunt aptitude, the subplots are excessively horrid, especially the acting from Zawe Ashton, and there was a need for a stronger costar to stand alongside Statham. Luke Evans was present but given an off-the-street role. Basically, this review is short because I’m tired of devoting any more of my time to this.

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Movie Review: The Punisher

“Go with God.”

“God’s gonna sit this one out.”

Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) is an undercover FBI agent and during a sting, the son of crime boss Howard Saint (John Travolta) is killed. Castle retires and goes to a family reunion in Puerto Rico where the worst happens: his entire family is murdered. His parents, distant relatives, the love of his life and his only son.

Saint’s henchmen and other son do the dirty work and only the grace of their own stupidity saves Castle’s life and allows him his chance at vengeance.

My favorite stories are ones of redemption and rebirth. There is a certain euphoria to be had from the moment of true justice, to be completely devoted to a character, to take part in his pain and then in his glory. These are the stories meant for me. We all weather storms and the most extreme ones illustrated in film rekindle our resolve as well as our hearts to strive on.

The Punisher does not deserve such a lavish intro, for the things that make a character restoration are not to be found here. Character-audience parallels are the unstoppable force in these tales. Without them, a redemption story does not fuse our inner selves with the film. Our need to see that justice wavers, our passion and lust for it dwindles and soon the tale becomes superficial instead of an ordeal we too are going through.

Director Jonathan Hensleigh seems reluctant to enter the deep waters of antiheroes. The notion of antiheroes is filled with darkness, brutality and uncompromising willpower. They’re not pretty but given their histories, the actions they take are understandable albeit reprehensible and barbaric. Antiheroes are not good people but there are mere moments when they show the capacity for good and it is in those brief examples that we put our faith in these characters. People will say the way they kill people is “cool” but that is not the basis of an antihero and anyone that believes that to be the case should go get educated.

So when I see an antihero as underdeveloped as Riddick or in this case Frank Castle and I realize the director/writers don’t even grasp what an antihero is, I wonder why they have jobs.

To make a antihero more than a coffinmaker and instead a legend, you need to show us every detail of his life. There is more substance to antiheroes than killing people and partaking of the bottle. I want to hear the gems of dialogue, see the black in his eyes, the brokenness of his character. Having Castle have a stern look on his face while becoming an alcoholic is a role a homeless man could play with just as much acting prowess as Jane does here. Granted, he tries, but the writers fed him to the wolves with one of the poorest superhero scripts I’ve ever seen. This is comparable to Green Lantern and Ghostrider. It’s that bad.

Hensleigh also decided to put in a supporting cast that feels out of place in a film that should be entering the world’s sludge and instead infuses Castle’s tragedy with neighbors who are completely oblivious to the world around them, which doesn’t make any sense when you see the rough part of town they live in. Our neighbors are played by Joan (Rebecca Romijn), Bumbo (John Pinette) and a young Ben Foster as Dave. Void of dimension and character spurring, useless is an appropriate adjective. They’re gutless, they don’t do anything and aside from a brief showing of courage from Ben Foster’s character, nothing is tacked on to the overall product. It’s more clutter to search through than any audience should have to navigate to find the golden nuggets such films are supposed to offer.

Once again, this leaves Jane with nothing to wrap his hands around and aside from brief action sequences and sitting in his recliner downing bottles of whiskey, moves very little both as a protagonist and in a character sense.

So is Thomas Jane’s acting bad? Yes, yes it is. No question. Not his fault, but still bad. A more experienced actor could have done better. The more and more I watched this film, the more and more I wished Ben Foster and Thomas Jane had switched roles. The Punisher was made in 2004 so Ben Foster had not yet burst onto the scene with films like 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma. However, Foster’s first big role was in 2005’s Hostage, only a year after this was made, which makes me think that Hensleigh would have been better off making Foster his leading man.

However, this is Thomas Jane’s role and perhaps shining moment in his career which is a shame because I think he had a better performance in Drive Hard then this, which is really depressing when you think about it. When you look back at your career and you tell people, “Yeah, my best role was opposite John Cusack”, you know you screwed up. I don’t think that’s something anyone wants on their resume.

John Travolta is The Punisher‘s best gift to audiences as Travolta rarely seems to show up to a film outmatched. Few writings have made Travolta look out of his league or plain stupid. He delivers more often than not. In other words, he’s a winner.

With that said, Howard Saint remains but a model of a character rather than a character in and of himself. It’s all too clear this is a movie.

“But Tim, isn’t it supposed to be a movie?”

Yes, but a movie is not meant just to be a movie. It’s meant to be an experience, a journey, an adventure, a submersion in human emotion. The Punisher offers none of these and really never tried to.

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. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (EquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands Tall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (Drive HardRun All NightRageZoolanderThe Expendables 3)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for The Punisher: 58.

Perhaps not as poor as my memory originally told me it was, The Punisher is deserted like a garden unwatered. Weeds fester and kill the morning glories before the sun is ever given a chance to rise.

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Winners And Losers: Round 1

I’m starting up a new series called Winners And Losers.

It’s actually a pretty simple idea. For every film I see that I enjoyed or was good from a critical standpoint even if I hated it, I consider that a win. It can also be a win if the actor/actress/director delivered a memorable performance even if the overall material was garbage.

It’s a loss if the movie was bad or if the movie was good but the actor/actress/director delivered a “don’t care” or “this is my stupid day” performance. Depending on an actor/actress/director’s win/loss record, I may be more likely to see their films or do my best to avoid them entirely.

Not all the films included in Winners And Losers have been reviewed by me yet, but I have seen them. There are also some films that I haven’t seen in a long time and I don’t feel comfortable grading a win or a loss, so they’ve been excluded from the list. There are also some films that actors have been in but did not play a substantial enough role to be considered for Winners & Losers.

There will be a tab on the homepage for Winners And Losers that I’ll update on a regular basis. Enjoy!

Arnold Schwarzenegger

I’m a huge fan of action films so I thought I’d start this series with the three best action stars of the last 30 years: Arnie, Stallone and Willis.

I haven’t explored Arnie’s filmography even close to as much as I’d like to but so far I’ve amassed eleven titles.

Commando 

This film is way too much fun. It’s got the corny one-liners, the preposterous action sequences that are taken so seriously by Arnie and overall, is just too entertaining a film to forget. Verdict: Win

Predator 

I don’t feel like I should have to explain this choice, but I will anyway. Predator is one of if not the best action film of the 80’s and Arnie’s forever iconic phrase “Get to the Choppa!” has stood and will continue to stand the test of time. Verdict: Win

The Running Man

This film was perhaps over-hyped for me because while I loved the dystopian angles and themes in this film, some of the acting in this film was not there. Thankfully, Arnie didn’t lose his corny catchphrases and while I was certainly disappointed, I wasn’t so disappointed that I didn’t like it. Verdict: Win

Kindergarten Cop

Arnie took a different route with Kindergarten Cop, with it being a family film and yet, it still managed to be a laughfest and have enough catchphrases to want to keep coming back to it again and again. Despite his reputation as an action star, Kindergarten Cop continues to stand today as one of my favorite Schwarzenegger films. Verdict: Win

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

I think the Terminator saga is one of the more popular film series of today, but I’ll admit I feel the idea is more gripping than how it all plays out. If asked today to name films that I think are overrated, my default answer is usually Remember the Titans and the Terminator films. I still haven’t seen the first one, which is why you don’t see it on this list, but Terminator 2: Judgement Day, in my opinion, is the best of the bunch, with a fantastic antagonist role from Robert Patrick to coincide with Arnie. Verdict: Win

True Lies

I had fun with this despite the absurd plot holes and unbelievable events that happened on the silver screen during an inflated run time. James Cameron is one of the best directors of all time, but he also doesn’t seem to know when enough is enough. Verdict: Win

Collateral Damage

This breaks Arnie’s perfect streak because Collateral Damage is just a bad film. It was trying to go with an 80’s formula, but there’s no humor to cause us to overlook the absurd plot points. There’s wasted talent left on the screen and the acting demonstrates a passionless product. Verdict: Your record takes collateral damage.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

This Terminator sequel didn’t hold the same cinematic grip that Judgment Day did, but Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines still had enough bang and boom, aided by some updated special effects, to keep this series going. Verdict: Win

The Last Stand

Up to this point, Arnie’s 7-1, but he drops a huge goose egg with this travesty of a product. Poorly-written catchphrases, stunt choreography and an overall impossible story, the fact that Arnie doesn’t even appear to be trying in this  Verdict: Die in a cowboy shootout. It was your last stand.

Escape Plan

Schwarzenegger tries but his famous voice travels through deaf ears as this film failed to capture any real grasp on my attention. My roommate says he went with me to see this but I don’t even remember that. Shows how memorable this was. Verdict: You failed. You didn’t escape. Two weeks in the hot box.

Sabotage

David Ayer’s spring venture was the exact opposite of Fury. Character writing, acting and theme were all terrible and it rightfully earned a suckage label. Verdict: You tried to sabotage my mind. Go die in a hole.

Terminator: Genisys

The fifth installment proved to be a huge boost to Schwarzenegger’s post-governor career. It’s the first time Arnold seemed comfortable in a roll and truly entertained. The movie wasn’t very good, but the effort and enthusiasm from Arnold was there. Verdict: Win.

Final Record: 8-4, 66.7% WINNER!

Arnie’s dropped the ball on the last few but his prior accomplishments make up for it. For now. While Terminator: Genisys does provide a spark to what was once a dormant actor, you got to wonder whether it will stick.

Wins: 8 (Commando, Predator, The Running Man, Kindergarten Cop, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, True Lies, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Genisys)

Losses: 4 (Collateral Damage, The Last Stand, Escape Plan, Sabotage)

Image result for sylvester stallone rocky free useSylvester Stallone

Rocky

When you google Rocky, this is what you get:

“The film, made on a budget of just over $1 million and shot in 28 days, was a sleeper hit; it earned $225 million in global box office receipts becoming the highest-grossing film of 1976 and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film received many positive reviews and turned Stallone into a major star.

I had no idea this film was shot in 28 days and that only makes me respect this film so much more. A film this successful and this acclaimed is an obvious win. Verdict: Duh, winning

Rocky II

The original sequel with Carl Weathers was just as good. Verdict: Win

Rocky III

Bringing Mr. T on the ride was a great casting choice and gave Rocky yet another formidable opponent. Verdict: Win

First Blood

After creating one of the most popular characters of all-time in Rocky, Sylvester Stallone ascribed to go higher and went for another golden character and succeeded in doing so. The only actor I can think of that has played two such prominent and critically-acclaimed characters is Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Indiana Jones. However, Stallone contributed to the writing of these characters, which in my opinion makes his accomplishment the greater of the two. First Blood became a cult sensation and spawned a few sequels of its own. Verdict: Win

Rambo: First Blood: Part 2

My favorite Rambo, Stallone seemed more comfortable in the role and the plot was more story-based then thought-provoking like it’s predecessor. I approved of the change of pace while not striving too far from its previous theme. Verdict: Win

Rocky IV

My favorite Rocky installment at the time of this writing, Dolph Lundgren’s best role and a fantastic score always stir my will to win and believe by the film’s conclusion. Verdict: Win.

Rambo III

Another successful Rambo installment. Haven’t it seen it in a while, but what I remember is good. Verdict: Win

Demolition Man

Demolition Man is one of the best corny films I’ve ever seen. Original scripting along with character portrayals from Stallone, Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes, Demolition Man is an 80’s film made in the 90’s. Verdict: Win

Judge Dredd

Judge Dredd doesn’t have as stable a plot as I would have liked but it’s still got this beauty. Some laughable dialogue and perhaps a film that takes itself too seriously, Judge Dredd maintains some entertainment value as well as Stallone bringing some vivacity to the character. Verdict: Win

D-Tox/Eye See You

A horror drama isn’t Stallone’s neck of the woods, but Sly showed some acting depth and the story arc was pretty good. Verdict: Win

Rambo

This 2008 installment didn’t hold the same dramatic punch as its older siblings, but Rambo‘s action sequences were top-notch and still made you want to root for the old Vietnam vet one more time. Verdict: Win

The Expendables

This was a film that should have been made years before it was finally taped, but just because this film didn’t offer us the one-two-hook of Arnie, Stallone and Willis doesn’t mean this film wasn’t great. The plot wasn’t revolutionary but it didn’t need to be. All I wanted was to see a bunch of action stars get together for a film and blow stuff up and The Expendables gave me that. Verdict: Win

The Expendables 2

The sequel may have been better than the original. Not going to say it was or wasn’t at this time, but it was up there. Verdict: Win

Escape Plan

Arnie didn’t get a win for this and Stallone isn’t getting a win for this either. The story leaned on character writing that was sub-par at best, giving it no real stilts to rest on. It was okay for a watch, but definitely no reason to watch this again. Verdict: Not even you escaped this, Sly.

Grudge Match

A boxing film wasn’t in the cards for Stallone and I’m still unsure why he decided to try this. He’ll never be able to separate himself from Rocky and to try and put himself in a boxing film removed from the character we all grew up loving just wasn’t a good move. Robert De Niro was given a shoddy role with a wasted subplot and the film overall hit few keys in tune. Verdict: You got knocked out in this one.

The Expendables 3

I read a few reviews prior to seeing this and they didn’t turn me away or discourage me. How could they? The Expendables was such a blast of a saga. They were every film-goer’s dream. Then I saw it and I think inside I was crying because I knew Stallone had thrown my dream down the gutter. He brought in some desolate actors to drive a film forward and it stalled like a Prius. Verdict: Dreams die hard, my friend.

Creed

The newest Rocky addition left Stallone on the sidelines in a dramatic narrative that really added to the film. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Verdict: Win.

Image result for sylvester stallone free useFinal Record: 14-3, 82.4% WINNER!

If you can please me 80 percent of the time, I feel confident in engaging myself in your life. Keep it up, Sly. Don’t make another Expendables unless you’re planning to kill my dreams again.

Wins: 14 (Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood: Part 2, Rocky IV, Rambo III, Demolition Man, Judge Dredd, Eye See You/ D-Tox, Rambo,The Expendables, The Expendables 2, Creed)

Losses: 3 (Escape Plan, Grudge Match, The Expendables 3)

Bruce Willis

Die Hard

Willis’ breakout flick also included the best character of his career. Verdict: Win

Die Hard 2

Probably the least of the original three, it’s still John McClane and his forever iconic catchphrase stopping terrorism. By the way, never watch a Die Hard film on TV because they always censor it out and it ruins the experience, at least for me. Verdict: Win

Pulp Fiction

One of if not the best work from the pen of Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis had a major role in this classic, which is known today as one of the best films of all time. Verdict: Win

Die Hard with a Vengeance

My personal favorite in the Die Hard series combined the acting prowess of Samuel L. Jackson and Mr. Willis and it worked wonders, making me scratch my head and wonder why Hollywood doesn’t try to put big name actors together more often. Verdict: Win

Mercury Rising

One of his lesser known films, Willis stars opposite Alec Baldwin in a film about government corruption and national security. I would go so far as to say it’s a memorable film but it’s one that you know Willis worked at even though as a whole the film was average in execution. Verdict: Win

The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan’s crowning achievement and a threshold he’s been unable to surpass since the making of this thriller, The Sixth Sense has one of the best plot twists ever. Bruce Willis stands across from a young but overly talented Haley Joel Osment in a film that was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. Once again, Willis shines.

Hart’s War

Willis has had plenty of shining moments but this film was not one of them. Void of tone and impact, Willis’ suffers his first defeat. Verdict: You lost the war.

Tears of the Sun

Antoine Fuqua’s themes stand strong but not as strong as its pawns. Willis remained at the top of the pact in a film reliant on ideals rather than characters. Verdict: Win

Hostage

Ben Foster blows minds in his supporting role and overshadows Willis’ performance but that doesn’t lessen Hostage‘s hope-crushing tone and dark motifs. If all hostage films were like Hostage, I’d watch more of them. Verdict: Win

16 Blocks

Each time I watch this the more I enjoy it. Willis showed he still had what it took to make a big budget film and Mos Def surprised me with his supporting role. A good redemption story, which obviously are the best kinds of stories. Am I right? Verdict: Win

Live Free or Die Hard

The wheels could have fallen off of this real quick. I can’t tell you how apprehensive I was to see this. Die Hard is one of the best action empires ever built and to see it being drug through the ground would have been heartbreaking and enraging at the same time, a disservice to the character and the legacy the crew had spent some much time putting together. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Willis still had it. The action was fantastic, some more witty catchphrases and comebacks from our hero McClane and a great wingman in Justin Long really put Live Free or Die Hard up with the rest of them. Verdict: Win

A Good Day to Die Hard

Read the above Live Free or Die Hard explanation. This is that worst fear realized. I don’t think Willis could have made it any more obvious that he was in it for the money. His lack of caring was desensitizing. Willis and Jai Courtney managed to nosedive one of the greatest action phenomena in the history of film. They slapped me a couple times in the face while they were at it because I guess they felt overly courteous during the day I watched this travesty. Verdict: This was not a good day. At all.

Final Record: 9-2, 81.8% WINNER!

Bruce Willis has fallen off the face of the Earth as of late, which makes me sad because I miss this guy’s hey day. Also found out that Willis has never been nominated for Best Actor, something I was genuinely surprised by. However, it’s okay if the Academy doesn’t appreciate his talents. All his fans do and you can mark me down as one of them.

Wins: 9 (Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Mercury Rising, The Sixth Sense, Tears of the Sun, Hostage, 16 Blocks, Live Free or Die Hard)

Losses: 2 (Hart’s War, A Good Day to Die Hard)

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Movie Review: Drive Hard

For my brother. You’re welcome.

My brother Chris and I went to Walmart with my mom and dad the other day. Something we love to do is look at the movies and poke fun at the sludge Walmart calls film. My brother picked this up and we got a good laugh out of this. The front cover of this just screams stupid. The title is the cherry on top. Drive Hard? Really? That’s the best you could come up with?

But it got better still because it had John Cusack in it. No offense to Mr. Cusack, but I hate him, possibly more than any actor in Hollywood today. He has been in so many sewage films that watching a film that opens with John Cusack is like trying to acquire the willpower to put your head in a poop-filled toilet. It’s grotesque, it’s unsanitary and it’s unpleasant and you can’t think of any reason why you’d want to do that and for good reason: normal, sane people don’t put their heads in poop-filled toilets.

We didn’t buy it though because I had already spent money on a crappy movie to watch for you guys, which I’ll be watching and reviewing soon for your amusement.

Needless to say, I pulled an all-nighter the other day. On rare occasions, I find myself with extra energy and just don’t feel like going to bed. When I say rare, I mean like once every two or three months so don’t expect this to happen again for a very long time. Anyway, I watched Equilibrium earlier if you haven’t checked that out yet and I’m looking through Netflix and guess what’s in the New Releases section? Drive Hard.

I don’t believe in coincidences and so I felt obligated to watch this. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. It’s John Cusack, guys. It’s like having diarrhea and vomiting while stepping on LEGOs. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

On the other hand, Cusack actually got a win on the board for his work in The Raven. Not overly memorable, but the guy didn’t push my buttons for once and dare I say, might have tried to act in it. Maybe Drive Hard would grant me such a mercy.

Drive Hard starts with an ad from the Australia Department of Tourism. Not really, but like Peter Jackson with Lord of the Rings, director Brian Trenchard-Smith provides us with a lot of panoramic shots of the city landscape and countryside. Australia looks like a nice place, guys.

The way this story plays out is far less exciting.

Former racecar driver Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane) is now a part-time driving instructor and is finding it difficult to provide for his wife and daughter. His wife didn’t like him driving so he quit and Roberts now has no real motivation to get up in the morning or really do anything with his barren life. It’s evident in the film’s opening scenes that his wife and daughter are embarrassed by him and view him as a nuisance more than a husband and father.

His first client of the day is Simon Keller (John Cusack) and right away you can tell something is off with this guy. Garbed in black with driving gloves on, Keller seems to be taking the whole thing a little too seriously or as Roberts is about to find out, a little too recklessly, but Roberts has no idea how reckless they’re going to get.

Thomas Jane is from The Punisher by the way and if you didn’t know that don’t worry because it didn’t hit me during the entire movie. I’m usually really good with facial recognition but it never hit me that this was the same guy. I’m sure the fact that The Punisher was such a terrible movie probably had something to do with it.

Anyway, Keller has Roberts drive to the bank so he can pay him for the lesson only to come out shooting with a briefcase and suddenly Roberts is a hostage getaway driver.

Drive Hard shoots right out of the barrel but not smoothly. There’s a difference between striving forward and getting sloppy. Drive Hard chose the latter, kerplunking and clanking out of the starting gate in a way films are simply not supposed to go. This film accelerated at a TV show pace like the whole story needed to be told in a half hour.

The blueprint for this film maintains no real intrigue and lacks a hook. The boring plot synopsis coupled with that counterproductive cover poster will most likely leave this film on the shelves in stores to be made a mockery of unless you like to willingly subject yourself to apparent trashy content. I see no real reason why you would want to pick this up. Had it not been for my brother, Chris, pulling this out at Walmart, I never would have watched this. If it looks like a B-movie and it reads like a B-movie, chances are it’s a B-movie.

I’ll admit sometimes it’s worth the risk but my experience is that the risk will end up with the prize at the end of the day. Watch what interests you, don’t pick up things that look stupid. Pretty simple.

It claims to be an action-comedy, yet remove the adrenaline-less car chase and you have little to jump at.

Drive Hard is a character-driven story. Roberts is falling into self-loathing and Keller’s a thief that delivers the pep talks and advice that Roberts so clearly requires.

These characters are not typical yet not genuine either. Keller, despite being a thief, doesn’t kill people and doesn’t lie. He’s an honest guy, something that seems contradictory of what a thief is supposed to be but I accepted it as a road less taken and expected further progression down this road. Drive Hard doesn’t go any farther.

There’s a certain irony in watching a film titled Drive Hard where there is no driving force pushing the story forward. It would be as if a NASCAR driver drove 15 laps around the track and then went for a pit stop. The mechanics fill the tank, tap the back, saying, “go, go, go” and nothing happens. They run to the side and look in the window and no one’s home. The driver has disappeared.

The laidback approach stints the tempo and tone of Drive Hard and at no point did I think anything was going to happen. There’s no engine and no conflict. Keller robs the bank and Roberts eludes the cops, but aside from the continuous dialogue between the two, there’s plenty of land ready for farming that Trenchard-Smith remains oblivious to. Instead, he swerves the camera in the direction of a corrupt police force and money laundering scheme. This refocusing mutated a subplot into a second story fighting for tape time, adding yet another negative to an already error-filled equation.

This is typical of John Cusack’s films and yes, I know Drive Hard‘s faults are not his doing. John Cusack wasn’t a negative. He was a positive.

One of Cusack’s best tools in his acting repertoire is the ability to pander and emphasize things the script doesn’t tell him to. In essence, to extrapolate some sort of character and improvise in front of the camera. Cusack has wit but is generally awkward. Dialogue just doesn’t go through him naturally.

Here, Drive Hard embraces that bumbling and makes it a part of the character rather than a part of Cusack. Keller’s sarcastic, straightforward and calm, composed demeanor will bash against Roberts’ out-of-sorts personality.

As the rubber wears down, Roberts and Keller develop a friendship in the most absurd of circumstances. The conversations aren’t devoid of humor albeit very dry and that quirkiness is what kept this vehicle going even though Cusack and Jane had to push it themselves.

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. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (EquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands Tall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (Run All NightRageZoolanderThe Expendables 3Homefront)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Drive Hard: 53.

For once, Cusack is a highlight of a film and I mean that wholeheartedly, but Trenchard-Smith’s need for directionless subplots is such that Cusack and Jane don’t get the time they deserve or the writing depth they should have had. With no engine and no conflict, Drive Hard is about a friendship made in a getaway car and it would have done the cast and crew a favor to put a cam on the dash and just let them drive rather than continue to try to make a B-movie action flick that all in all was more at a D-grade level.

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Movie Review: Equilibrium

Hey everyone, it’s been a while, I know. Working on it.

You get this gem today and then the new series I’ve been talking about for weeks will finally be getting under way on Friday: Winners & Losers. Enjoy!

“To seek out and eradicate the true source of man’s inhumanity to man: his ability to feel.”

I would argue the true source of man’s inhumanity to man is insensitivity and the inability to feel. The above statement doesn’t make much sense to me. Alas, that is how Kurt Wimmer’s sci-fi unfolds.

Dystopian films are becoming their own genre these days, a genre that I readily engage myself in at every opportunity because I, like most people, find myself obsessed with the future. What does it hold in store for me? What will go wrong or right for the world? Lots of trivial and not so trivial thoughts swirl through the endless recesses of the mind searching for clues to questions that will remain unanswered.

And all of the above is why the genre never gets old for me. The same goes for post-apocalyptic material. Lots of pandering about civilization, societal norms and the necessity or lack thereof for law and order. What would happen if the world went haywire always seems to keep my attention, partly because it allows the viewer to explore the unknown. As much as I love dramas, original scripting is paramount to making an original story and original scripts seem to become as rare as items in the U.S. that read “Made in America” at times. Therefore, land unexplored, such as the futuristic action hook we see here, are much more profitable and entertaining.

To return to my original point though, Equilibrium didn’t start out that great, running with a shoddy premise at best that was a “just go with it” element and if you’ve been reading this blog fairly regularly then you know that I hate such elements. Movies should not require realism to go on a Sheetz run in order to be entertaining.

Laughable stunt choreography emulated lazy work behind the camera and further agitated me, which brings me to my next point.

Thank God for Christian Bale. The guy is cinema gold. Sure, he has a blunder here and there but Bale is one of Hollywood’s brightest stars right now, plain and simple. He’s got plenty of potential and I can’t wait to see what he churns out next.

Here, John Preston (Bale) has the spotlight and will retain it from curtain to curtain, leaving little room for anyone other than expositional characters, narrowing our focus to Preston’s inner turmoil. Preston lives in a society where signs of emotion are a deathly offense and anything that channels emotion, such as love, art or literature, must be destroyed. Medicine must be taken to suppress feelings and individuality is frowned upon. When Preston decides to not take the dosage and begins to feel, he’s unsure which path to choose.

Another Kurt Vonnegut spin-off. Yay!

Jokes aside, Equilibrium isn’t stealing from Vonnegut, although the argument could be made that Equilibrium really wanted to be The Matrix. The idea has a Swiss cheese complexion (filled with holes) but still finds a way to be tasty on occasion. Note that on occasion does not mean regularly.

Because as much as I wanted to like Equilibrium, there wasn’t enough substance to hold me over despite its modest run-time. Christian Bale is great and the highlight of the film, but a lack of secondary depth hurt the final product when a few stand-ins could have ignited the dormant coals in the oven.

The tools to start the fire were there, too. William Fichtner and Sean Bean were present for filming. Giving the guys roles where they did something significant would have been a good start. Instead, Bean plays dead, again and Fichtner’s given a role that could have been given to some guy off the streets it was so meaningless. Wasted talent in films is like benching your star players for the big game. If you benched Mike Trout for the World Series, you’d never have a job again. Even McDonald’s would be like, “Sorry dude, but you’re too stupid for us.” Why directors continue to get away with giving fourth-string roles to capable actors is one of the most perturbing questions on my mind when it comes to cinema. That shouldn’t be a thing.

Something else that shouldn’t be a thing? These action takes. Impossible to be taken seriously and choreographed to be mocked by yoga instructors and physical therapists, Bale’s robotic ligament movements and odd postures make it look like he’s posing for a photo shoot. If anyone actually tried to fight like this, they’d get shot in the face and be left to rot. It was original, Wimmer, I’ll give you that, but the answer is no. No, I’m not watching that with a shred of seriousness and no, it was not a good idea to try to put that on film. You made the great Christian Bale look like a porch monkey. Nice job, idiot.

I laughed at the stupidity and got some entertainment out of it, but it stilted the tempo and the tone of a film that was clearly aiming at a dramatic payoff and missed the mark because of it.

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. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Dead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk Down)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (Run All NightRageZoolanderThe Expendables 3Homefront)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Equilibrium: 76.

Critics bashed the film for stealing material and the argument could definitely be made, but Wimmer tries to flavor Equilibrium to separate himself from his predecessors. In some ways he succeeds, but standing alone on stilts is a hard trick to pull off on a character-driven story and Christian Bale. That said, Bale keeps the film standing long enough to create a fair impression but not one that will grasp to my memory strands for too long.

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