Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Envy

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! My envy comes from the fact that people were doing more important and entertaining things while I watched this one.




Envy – 1 out of 5

Despite my fondness of Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Christopher Walken (true story, I once performed a rendition of Shakespeare’s play that shall not be named doing an impression of Walken the entire time—it was as horrible as it sounds) but, even with this fact of enjoyment over these actors, I never jumped at the opportunity to watch Envy. In fact, I heard such horrible things about it that I put it on my Netflix queue to watch later. I never jumped at the opportunity to view it and every time it came up for delivery, I pushed it back towards the bottom of my queue. However, this last weekend, I gave in and watched it and, I realized, I could have waited infinitely longer.

They are in a car together and there wasn't a "sing along to the radio" scene?
ROBBED!!!


Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller) and Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black) are stuck in a job that feels like it is going nowhere. Nick is a dreamer and is always trying to come up with the next big thing but Tim lectures him that he just needs to focus and do the best with where he’s at. One day, Nick comes up with an idea call the "Vapoorizer," an invention that, when sprayed on dog droppings, will make said feces simply disappear and eliminate the need to pick up dog waste all together. After Nick gets the product made, he becomes a millionaire and Tim is left to his soul-crushing job alone and must look in on the fabulous world of his best friend—and realize that Nick gave him an opportunity to get in on the ground floor but passed on it. Soon, Tim’s jealousy gets the better of him and he loses his job, sees his family ready to leave him, and finds himself being pushed towards revenge by a man who calls himself the J-Man (Christopher Walken).

This is an actual shot from the film...it's not a metaphor, I swear.


I had to watch Zoolander after watching this to remind
me why I am a fan of Ben Stiller.
Envy was pretty much panned entirely by critics and audiences when it came out and was so bad that it was going to be destined to only be released directly on video but was saved in the last minute and sent to theaters for nothing else than to try and make some of the money back. I remember thinking that with Stiller, Black, and Walken in the film, how could it really be that bad? However, the negative reviews still kept me from this film for an entire decade—shit, Stiller and Black actually publically apologized for how bad this film was. Granted, I didn’t think this film was absolutely atrocious but, I have to agree, this movie isn’t good.

Okay, so the movie is literally beating a dead horse...


The main problem with this film is it is just not funny. Yes, comedy is subjective and what one person finds hilarious, another may find mind-numbing, stupid, or even offensive. However, I just couldn’t laugh at this film. Once, at one point with Walken, I gave a small chuckle but the rest of the film was just me sitting in silence. Envy wants to be a dark comedy and have you find humor is locations that normally aren’t a breeding ground for comedy—for example, a major plot point involves Tim’s jealousy releasing itself in the form of drinking and, in his drunken stupor, he kills Nick’s prize horse. Dark comedies are already an acquired taste but this film just couldn’t tune in its humor to make these darker moments work. These scenes come off like first drafts of jokes and gags without any consideration of refining them. A majority of the time, scenes come off looking like someone flailing about desperately to try and get a pity laugh and it makes too much of the film sad and kinda embarrassing.

I still love you even though you were in this film, Walken.


Well, if Walken and Stiller form a band, I already have
their first album cover ready.
Finally, the cast really just looked like they didn’t give a shit. Black and Walken seem to be given their best with what little comedy the script has in it but Stiller just looks like he doesn’t care. I found this odd because Stiller can play the victim quite well but here, it just looked like he didn’t try. Additionally, the wives of Tim and Nick feel a tad superfluous due to their limited appearances in the film (there’s even a side-story that features Nick’s wife Debbie—played by the talented Amy Poehler—running for office but nothing ever really concrete or interesting results from it). Tim’s wife is played by Rachel Weisz but with the lack of any intrigue the character has, having the talented Weisz play the role felt ultimately pointless.  Most of the time she comes off like background decoration of part of the set.

In reality, Tim's wife could have been played by a person with a bag on their
head and you never would have noticed.  That's how little they do with her
in the story.


Pointless also describes the story and plot as the film feels like it is just meandering around an outline rather than an actual story or script. I already mentioned how Poehler’s character has a side-story that just sorta fizzles out with no real fanfare but the whole movie comes off this way. The basics of what is happening is there and you get that Tim is jealous but the movie never really makes you feel like you are going through Tim’s raging and depressing jealousy. It just feels like you are seeing certain segments of this journey and any real development the story needs for the characters is just tossed to the side and forgotten about.

Well, if it's being sold on TV...I'll take 15!

Envy could have easily been a decent dark comedy about one man’s jealously over his friend’s success but the film feels like it has no idea how comedy works, doesn’t really go into any satisfying details of its story and plot, and the cast barely appears to have any interest. I pushed this one off for 10 years but I could have easily pushed it off another decade or just never bothered to watch it at all.

The Judge

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Robert Downey Jr. is in the film?  Shut up, that's all I needed to know.




The Judge – 4 out of 5

Ever since Robert Downey Jr. started to get involved in the social media scene (or when his publicist started to impersonate him on the social media scene, I don’t really know if it is him or not), I’ve been following the guy because I’m a fan. When The Judge was coming to theaters, Downey promoted the hell out of it on Facebook—sharing pictures from the set, sending thinly veiled threats that if I don’t see it I’ll never see my children again, and sharing the trailer. I admit, I was interested but with how expensive it is to see movies in the theaters and with the fact my local theater has gotten wise to the way I sneak into the movies (apparently telling them that I "totes bought a ticket and it is inside the actual theater" no longer fools the ticket-taker), I sometimes have to wait for movies I’m interested in.

I'm guessing he's looking into a mirror and informing his reflection that he is
awesome.  I know I would if I was RDJ.


Hank Palmer (Downey) is a hotshot and silver-tongued lawyer in the big city. One day, he finds out his mother has died and is now forced to return to his small hometown and face the man he doesn’t speak to anymore; his Judge father Joseph (Robert Duvall). While visiting and catching up with his brothers; Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), his father is charged with vehicular manslaughter of a man his father once sentenced. Reluctantly. because of his animosity he feels towards his dad, Hank decides to defend him in court against a ruthless prosecutor (Billy Bob Thornton).

He's Sherlock Holmes-ing the court case right now.


The mainstream critics (read that as the ones who get paid for this and don’t just have a blog where they ramble incoherently about the movie they just watched like anybody really gives a shit) have been mixed on this one. The performances are praised but they said the film is pretty formulaic and cliché. I won’t argue that fact but I sure enjoyed this film.

I wonder if he still enjoys the smell of napalm in the morning...


Like the other critics, I agree that this film has some tremendous performances. Everyone in the film is just amazing and the chemistry that all the actors share feels real. Whether it is a scene between Duvall and Downy or a scene that shows all the Palmer brothers or even a scene between Hank and an old flame played by Vera Farmiga, the performances are incredibly strong and make this film entirely about their growth and their ordeal. The actors take characters that, on paper, could be cliché and nothing really new (like the cocky big city lawyer), and they really make them interesting and easy to invest in. The problem becomes, however, the acting is so good that when the story does little with a character, I felt robbed.

Hey look, Iron Man and the Kingpin are brothers...a bit of a change from the comics.


Jeremy Strong's performance was very strong...
I'm here all week!  Be sure to tip your waitress!
In the film, Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong play Hank’s brothers and both are giving their all to their role. Hell, D’Onofrio, Strong, and Downey all come off like legit brothers and the chemistry shown and teases of their history makes me want to see more development from them. For example, it is teased that Hank and Glen had a dark event in their past and Dale is mentally challenged. These character points made their bond and brotherhood interesting and I wanted to see more that involved the three and their relationship. Sadly, Dale is played only for his handicap and Glen too often gets pushed into the background—and that was a crime because D’Onofrio is a tremendous actor and he is just on fire in this role.

And later in the movie we find out that he's an alien bug in a Edgar suit.


As far as the story being cliché? I wont’ argue that one either. The story throws no surprises at you at all. You pretty much know the path the film will travel but that didn’t limit my enjoyment. What made the formulaic story work and not bore me were the performances and the characters. However, I won’t say that the story didn't have some problems I couldn’t overlook.

I was going to put a "I'm King of the World" caption here but, instead, I'll just
write the word "poop."


I get that Hollywood always wants to insert a love story into all movies and I have no problem with that. The back and forth between Farmiga and Downey is charming and adorable. The problem that occurred with their relationship comes in the form of the (no shocker here) that Hank might be the daddy of Farmiga’s character’s baby. This, too, is a tad cliché and not an overtly bad problem but this film adds another element in the fact that Hank kinda/sorta made out with this potential daughter (in his defense, he had no idea it might have been his offspring and said offspring was played by Leighton Meester). This dynamic alone could have been a movie about a big city lawyer returning home and finding his old flame but it feels shoe-horned into the trial/family-heavy story and, when it is resolved (and sorta weakly), it comes with no real fanfare and is just sort of spat out and forgotten about.

I'm pretty sure if the talented and beautiful Robert Downey Jr. and the
talented and beautiful Vera Farmiga actually had a baby,
it would probably become a god.


Finally, in any court-settings in a film, you need a strong persecutor to go up against the defense. It seems that this film was going to have it with Billy Bob Thornton. He’s filmed as menacing and tough-as-nails and built up to be a true obstacle in Hank’s case for his father but, like the result of the film’s paternity test, nothing really comes of it. While Thornton’s performance is good, he’s just not given enough screen time or enough depth to really be something that stands in the way. It just goes to make the trial that you already have a firm grasp of knowing where it is going be all that more predictable.

The only man named Billy Bob that I wouldn't fear was going to rape me in the
backwoods.

Even with its problems, I really enjoyed The Judge. The story may be ridiculously predictable and the film doesn’t develop the supporting characters enough but the performances are never terrible. Hell, the film even has some very decent comic relief from Dax Shepard as Joseph’s first choice of defense. Even with its issues, I still found The Judge to be a charming and fun film that may not be breaking ground on any new sort of drama (a father and son reconciling their differences over the course of adversity, nothing new there) but it never gets boring or pretentious.

I say this a lot but Dax Shepard needs to be in more films.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Interestingly enough, I call my toilet the throne of Atlantis.




Justice League: Throne of Atlantis – 3 out of 5

Gawd damn, I was excited for this one and for numerous reasons! First off, DC just decimates when it comes to their animated films. Secondly, this one is about Aquaman and that man deserves his own film. And since it is going to be a few years before we get to see Jason Momoa wield the trident and make fish do his bidding, we’re going to have to settle for an animated feature. However, the trailer looked cool and it was based on a pretty badass story arc from The New 52. So, like I said, I was pumped for this one…and then it went ahead and disappointed me.

I should probably start this review with a photo of Aquaman but I decided to show
The Flash where he's losing his dignity instead.


While the Justice League is busy trying to get themselves together and act as a cohesive team, the oceans are boiling with turmoil. The Atlanteans are restless and the royal son Orm (Sam Witwer) is begging his mother; Queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin), to declare war on the surface dwellers. Meanwhile, a mysterious man named Arthur Curry (Matt Lanter) is mourning the death of his father and soon finds himself swept up in the growing turmoil between the two lands. An Atlantean by the name of Mera (Sumalee Montano) takes Curry and shows him the truth that he was born of Queen Atlanna and a land-dwelling man. However, before Curry can take in his birthright and become the legendary Aquaman, Orm assassinates the Queen and he and his co-conspirator Black Manta (Harry Lennix) convince his people that she was killed by the surface and calls his people to war. Now, Aquaman must team with the budding Justice League; Superman (Jerry O’Connell), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), Cyborg (Shemar Moore), Shazam (Sean Astin), and Batman (Jason O’Mara), in order to stop his brother and bring peace to his people.

Why so serious?  Did your parents die or something?

Too soon?


While I didn’t think Throne of Atlantis was bad, it just didn’t live up to what I was expecting for an animated feature that contains one of the most made fun of (but is really badass) superheroes. DC is still the king of animated features and this one is heads and tails better than the last few Marvel have farted out. However, the problem comes with the lack of epic action that was promised in the trailer, an inconsistency with voice acting, and a really messy story.

Also, the film focused a lot on Cyborg.  While I like Cyborg, I came to this parade
to see Aquaman....also, since I'm on the subject, Shemar Moore does the voice
of Cyborg and does anyone else think he should play Jon Stewart in the new
DC movieverse?

First off, the film is very light on the action. Fresh off their last two features, The Flashpoint Paradox and War both offered up the great action that you would expect from the iconic DC heroes. Throne of Atlantis does contain fight scenes and the superheroes doing their superhero stuff but it felt so light and way too much of it is quick and goes by in the blink of an eye (I guess I could have did some reference to The Flash there but what are you gonna do?). For example, when war is unleashed (if you can call it that), Aquaman and Black Manta go toe-to-toe. Black Manta plays a huge role in why this war started and, additionally, he’s one of Aquaman’s most iconic enemies. With Aquaman’s torn loyalties between where he spent most of his existence and the revelation that he is of royal blood from underneath the waves, this fight should have been emotional, gritty, and all kinds of badass. Too bad it ends super abruptly and is easily forgotten within seconds of its ending. Even the battle between Aquaman and his brother Orm feels like it has no sense of urgency to it and that there is no emotional turmoil within it. The biggest appeal of this story arc was the fact that Aquaman was torn between his loyalties and, with changes made to the feature to fit with the direction the animated features are going, this tearing could have still been evident but it just wasn’t.
Mera could play some great pranks in public restrooms if she puts her powers
to juvenile use.
Granted, not all the action is terrible and there are some badass moments, like the Justice League each having their share of the spotlight stopping the Atlantean army or the part where Shazam electrocutes the Trench but these are just droplets in the ocean of potential this film wasted. There could have been some truly epic moments that showed those unfamiliar with the comics and showed off the true version of Aquaman and maybe expose them to how truly badass the man is capable of being. On the flipside, however, even already established badass characters like Cyborg, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman aren’t even given their time to show how tough they are. Granted, this isn’t a bad thing because it is suppose to be an Aquaman feature with the Justice League playing second fiddle but when you can’t even make Batman do anything memorable in a battle sequence, you have failed.

Awesome job, Captain Marvel--or Shazam or whatever the fuck we're calling you now.

Voice acting is very important in an animated film and, for the most part, DC hasn’t had many problems with that department. Sure, it took some time for me to get use to Jason O’Mara and not having Kevin Conroy as every animated Batman to exist and it is something I’ve finally come to terms with but, overall, their choices in voice acting haven’t been that bad. Sure, in War I thought Justin Kirk wasn’t a great choice for Green Lantern and Alan Tudyk might not have been my first choice to play the Man of Steel but they weren’t super distracting. However, this time, there were some casting choices that I just didn’t dig.

"Batman said something mean to me...this was the blackest nights they were
talking about."


Michelle Monaghan doesn’t return as Wonder Woman and is replaced by Rosario Dawson. Monaghan was one of the choices in War that I really enjoyed but Dawson taking over isn’t that bad…but, in fairness, it’s hard to tell because WW barely speaks. Also, Jerry O’Connell comes in to play Supes and I can’t help but think he’s an even less likely actor to portray the Big Blue Boy Scout than Tudyk. However, just like Wonder Woman, Superman barely speaks so you would never know that the guy from Sliders was playing the Kryptonian.

Wonder Woman got her hands on the trident and began her impression of Atlanteans...
It was very racist.


Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of Matt Lanter as Aquaman. He wasn’t a bad voice actor but he just didn’t stand out. This was Aquaman’s movie and you needed an actor to take the character and demand attention with him. Maybe not as grandiose and cartoonish as John DiMaggio did with Aquaman in Batman: The Brave and the Bold but you still need someone who sounds like both a superhero and a member of royalty for an underwater kingdom. Lanter didn’t really capture that for me. While he was adequate as Arthur Curry, he wasn’t exceptional or really standard setting.

I was also a little upset that he never gave his own rendition of "Under the Sea."


One thing I really liked about the cast, however, was the return of Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern. This isn’t the first time Fillion has provided the voice for the man who wields the green ring of Will and he once again proves why they keep bringing him back. He captures Jordan so well and he’s Nathan Fillion, for crying out loud. And, once again, I really liked Sean Astin as Shazam. He really captures the child that is, literally, inside of that superhero. Finally, Sam Witwer has already established that he is a great actor (both in the voice acting realm and the realm that requires using more than just one’s voice) but he definitely was a great choice for Orm. One thing Witwer is excellent at is his ability to capture the emotion needed from the character and he shows that in spades with Orm.

"I look so cool...but I can't see shit out of this thing..."


Finally, the story is pretty sloppy in this film. I think the real issue comes with the fact that this film is trying to juggle making this movie something that is continuing to evolve the DC animated universe while being an outing that brings Aquaman to a mass audience. When the film opens, we see things like the bullheaded nature of Batman and his reluctance to be apart of the Justice League, Cyborg struggling with feelings of anger towards his father, frustrations over the lack of being a cohesive unit in his fellow superheroes, and growing romantic feelings in his iron chest, and we also see the budding romance between Wonder Woman and Superman…and Green Lantern, Flash, and Shazam are just along for the ride. 

"Man, Wonder Woman, it sure is chilly up here.  Maybe comic artists should have
designed you wearing more clothes like they do male superheroes..."


This development, and the building blocks for keeping this animated universe from being episodic and self-contained, dominates the opening of the film. This isn’t really a bad thing but it takes away from the development needed for the war between Atlantis and the surface and takes away from Aquaman truly being the star of the film. This is extremely evident when you realize the film barely establishes that Black Manta was responsible for making the war possible through the use of deceit and deception. While the film does cover it (and then lazily just has Manta openly admit it during his fight with Aquaman), it goes by so quickly and feels like such an after thought that it makes the story feel like it is rushing to get to the end and saying to hell with any further development on any areas that so desperately need it.

What happens if Black Manta sneezes in his helmet?
He takes it off and cleans it out...duh.


I understand that Aquaman is a risky venture because he’s not a mainstream hero that is richly beloved. More comic book fans love Aquaman than your run-of-the-mill non-comic reader. To many, Aquaman is a punchline—hell, even I use to do a joke in my stand up that talked about how people wouldn’t be very excited if Aquaman showed up to the scene of a crime and would probably be heckled, accused of having intercourse with fishes, and then be humiliated when the crowd rejoiced when Namor showed up. The reality is, Aquaman is a badass but wider audiences don’t know that. Throne of Atlantis should have been a forum to showcase that but the film failed in that. I get that Batman is the real money maker for DC and you pretty much need Bats and the rest of the Justice League in an Aquaman film in order to move DVDs and Blu-rays and make that sweet, sweaty cash and I don’t begrudge having them in the film or DC choosing this arc to adapt. In fact, the limited use they tried to bring with Batman and the lot was a smart move but the film failed by having a story that crammed too much into a short time period and didn’t put enough development into the character of Aquaman.

"Alright, are we going to let the fish talker into the Justice League?"


I understand I sound like I hated Justice League: Throne of Atlantis but I didn’t. I still think this is a fun DC animated film and I love how they are creating an animated universe that is all connected and not just tossing out a single story about a single hero. The fact that the events in War had an impact in Throne of Atlantis makes this feel as large and as sweeping in scope as the comic books do. Additionally, the animation is great and keeps the standard that DC has set in the other films. However, I won’t deny that I was disappointed with the film and was hoping for a bigger venture from the king of Atlantis. 

Okay, this was cool, though.
 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ouija

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'll be honest, the word "Ouija" sounds more like an expensive cheese than a conduit for the supernatural.



Ouija – 1 out of 5


I’ve always found Ouija boards kinda silly. Aside from the fact that science has already explained why the planchette moves under "ghostly" power (here’s a spoiler, you’re the one actually moving it and you don’t realize it), the board likes to make an occasional appearance in a horror film. For some reason, ghosts only want to use a novelty/discussion piece from Milton Bradley to do their communicating rather than just speak to us directly. However, despite the fact that the board is a staple in haunting films, we haven’t seen many spooky films that revolve entirely around it since Witchboard came out in 1986. I guess we were due for a film like Ouija.

"S-U-C-K...M-Y...D-I-C--HEY!!!"


This would be cooler if you heard Sauron whispering
"I see you."
Debbie (Shelley Hennig) meets with her best friend Laine (Olivia Cooke) one night and is acting strangely. Debbie mentioned something about the Ouija board her and Laine played with as kids and then, after seeing a horrifying apparition, Debbie takes her own life. Soon, Laine learns that Debbie was using a Ouija board by herself and invited an angry spirit into her home. Laine takes her sister Sarah (Ana Coto), her boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), another friend Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos), and Debbie’s boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith) and, together, they use the Ouija board to try and calm the angry spirit and bring peace to Debbie’s restless soul. Unfortunately, the monster haunting the home is stronger and more vengeful than they realize and it seems it won’t be happy until it claims the lives of all of them.

Look at that!  How can this ghost be evil?


"This isn't a phase, mom.  This is who I am!"
Ouija marks the directorial debut of Stiles White, who worked on The Possession. It’s painfully obvious that this film is done by a first time director because this horror film is weak-sauce (and yes, I just used the term "weak-sauce" to describe this film…I need to appeal to the youth). While the film has a pretty by-the-numbers story that works for what it needs to be and the acting in the film isn’t anything that is outright terrible (but none of it is really memorable either), the film suffers due to its incredibly lethargic pace,lack of any real foreboding atmosphere, and its unremarkable scares. Shit, even the jump scares just sort of slowly lumber into the story and can’t even offer up a single surprise that isn’t seen slowly coming a mile away.


Okay, Ouija, I will give you this one.  That is pretty darn creepy.

I can't remember what this character's name was so I
just nicknamed her "Eyebrows."
 
The film opens very lazily as it weakly establishes the history Debbie has with the Ouija. Even Debbie’s suicide feels like it comes with no ceremony because the entire movie just sorta acts like it is going through the motions in order to make a generic, paint-by-numbers horror film. All the characters fit the prerequisite attributes you would expect to see in the film—including the ethnic character who is an expert on the supernatural and the crazy person who is still alive and is connect to the horrors of the hauntings somehow (played by Lin Shaye, no less…it’s like generic horror film Bingo here)—and the film’s story plays out exactly how you would expect. The film has no surprises nor is really bringing anything new to the genre. This isn’t necessarily the killer but the film’s slow moving pace and the fact the film feels like it is half-asleep during its entire running time is what makes this film completely forgettable and boringly un-terrifying in every way.

Lin Shaye, I love you and want to hug you.  You seem like a good hugger.


She looks less frightened and more mildly worried
that she left a light on in the house when she left.
The only thing that really worked in this film was having Lin Shaye in a small role. Shaye is a very talented actress and she easily overshadows the younger members of the cast who are giving only as much effort as the director behind the camera is giving (which borders on Bare Minimum to No Fucks Given). Secondly, the film actually has a moment or two that is genuinely creepy and/or scary. Sadly, these moments are few and far between and way too much of the story is just these kids kinda lazily wander through their days and using the Ouija board to save their friend’s soul at night—it’s actually strange how these kids, who profess to miss and love their friend—have absolutely no sense of urgency about helping her out in the after life. Had the director handled making the story move fluidly, maybe giving the story a sense of urgency at points, there might have been a feeling that souls hung in the balance but, sadly, this wasn’t present at all.

The ghoul isn't screaming to be scary, it stepped on a LEGO.


Ouija is, basically, nothing special. Aside from one or two moments that were kinda cool with their creepiness, the film has no real scares to speak of and the film’s refusal to get up and get moving made the horror film a tedious task to take in.

Lucy

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The film doesn't go into it but her last name is Goosey.



Lucy – 2 out of 5


Here’s another movie that pushes the myth that we humans only utilize 10% of our brains and that if we were able to use all 100%, we would somehow gain superpowers that would instantly grant use a full free ride to Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The reality is we DO use 100% of our brain and NO we don’t have dormant super powers waiting to be unleashed (and believe me, that last fact depresses the hell out of me). However, movies are work of fiction and I don’t expect reality—I want to be entertained and often people with freakish powers are entertaining as hell. Add to the fact that the person with said freakish powers is the very talented Scarlett Johansson—or as some call her ScarJo…but I call her Lettson—and it seems like I was in for a fun, action-packed romp. The reality? Not even close.

Oh shit, the internet hoax about losing gravity wasn't a hoax after all!


After her boyfriend forces her to make an illicit delivery to a shady man, Lucy (Lettson) finds herself submerged into the world of drug-based crime. An evil drug kingpin named Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi) had his men surgically place a bag of a powerful drug into her abdomen but when Mr. Jang’s men get too rough with her, the bag ruptures and she begins absorbing the drug. She soon learns that the narcotic is opening up her mind and it seems the more open her brain (or brian, if you spelled it wrong) gets, the less limits are restricting her in nearly every aspect of her reality. 

It's a hell of a drug.


However, this comes at a price as the more she is able to use her mind, the shorter her own morality gets. Quickly, she seeks out the brilliant Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) in order to show him what the mind is truly capable of and to try to pass on what she’s learned before she dies. The biggest problem is that Mr. Jang is not happy and he’s doing what a lot of drug kingpins do when they are not happy…if I have to spell out what Mr. Jang plans to do then you haven’t seen many movies.

Wait...this kinda looks like another Scarlett Johansson film...


Lucy starts out decent enough. The film is a tad tongue-in-cheek and has some silly—but fun—foreshadowing gags during the opening sequences. Sadly, that’s about as good as the film got for me because the rest of the time the film sits knee-deep in its bad movie science and pseudo-philosophy.  Then, when writer/director Luc Besson isn’t thinking he’s being deep with the film’s dialogue, the film spends the rest of the time feeling like the beginning of the First Act and can’t quit escape into what needs to be a action-packed Second Act and a completely epic Third Act.

"Hey you guys!!!"

One reason that made the movie feel like it was never really making any forward progress was the fact that the film’s antagonist, Oldboy’s Min-sik Choi, isn’t really developed and I never really got a feeling that he actually had some plan he was enacting. A little mystery is good but when I spend the whole movie saying, "What exactly was his operation to begin with?" it makes for a weak film experience and an even weaker antagonist...which, in turn, harms the protagonist by failing to give them a decent barrier to leap over.

But, at least this time his story didn't end with him having sex with his daughter.


Finally, the film ends on a real light note that's complete with an utter lack of luster and is totally underwhelming. When the end of the film is nearing, it feels like the movie is about to hit its nutso Third Act and shit is about to hit the fan—shit was already getting crazy at this point but it felt like it was building to something even more crazy—but then *BAM* the film fades out and ends. It made the entire film feel very empty and, in retrospect, makes all the minor action and conflict I already witness feel unnecessary and almost pointless.

His "trapped in a box" is second-to-none.


Acting wise, the film is very good. Lettson, Freeman and Choi are all doing very well in the film but their characters don’t have much going on with them. Lucy might be the most dynamic and deepest of them all but as the story progressed and her characters gains more abilities and loses her humanity, she started to lose the potential to be the action badass the trailer and early moments of her drug-induced awakening promised and she became very unlikable to me and any depth she might have held was rendered moot. I get that she’s become more logical and less feeling but the amount of innocent people she was willing to mow down in her journey to pass on her knowledge didn’t really make her that good of a character to watch. While Lettson played the character well (except for the moments she is giving an emotional reaction after the character of Lucy says she no longer feels emotions…but more on that soon), the fact is I just wasn’t interested in her character and didn’t really find her that compelling to watch.  To top it off, she would become less and less interesting as the film went on.  In reality, she should have been more interesting as more of her brain is unlocked.

Her character sucks but she knows how to hold a gun like the cool kids do.


Now, finally finally (I know I said the last paragraph was my final issue but what are you going to do?), this movie has a lot of plot holes. Aside from the fact this film pushes the myth about using only 10% of your brain and the constant showing of emotion after Lucy says she no longer feels those pesky things, there are tons of moments in the plot that make no sense and are counterproductive to the whole "Lucy is becoming omnipotent and knows all stuff." Or the fact that Morgan Freeman's character is suppose to be super intelligent but gives off the wrong estimate that is commonly used by the scientific community about how old the planet is (and is off by a couple of billion years).  Or the fact Lucy is giving off medical expertise of certain body parts from x-rays that don't show the body part.  While this seems nitpicky, it’s a reflection of the whole subject of the story and becomes quite laughable when you realize this film took a decade to make and, the whole time, these moments weren't ever researched or given much consideration.

You just read this caption in Morgan Freeman's voice...or you didn't.
I don't know.


And finally finally finally (yes, I know I already said finally twice already), this film is very light on the action. The trailer and promotional material for this film say it is an "action epic" but, aside from a single fight in a hallway where Lucy doesn’t even bother throwing a punch and just levitates her attackers towards the ceiling, I didn’t really see any action sequence in the film that was that memorable or even remotely interesting. 

"I should be angry but this is funnnn!"

I really wanted to like Lucy because I was sold on the trailer and, honestly, seeing Lettson with kick-ass powers that she uses to kick ass seems like a decent popcorn action film that I can zone out to, kick up my feet, and just enjoy. Sadly, the story is pretty weak, the action isn’t very spectacular, and the film’s numerous plot holes ended up making the film pretty forgettable for me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Drop

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! So...this movie isn't about the bass drop on a dubstep track?  Huh.




The Drop – 4 out of 5


James Gandolfini was, and will forever be remembered, as a fantastic actor.  Forgetting for a moment how amazing he was to watch as the iconic Tony Soprano, the man commanded attention and it wasn’t unheard of him to steal the film and demand all the attention—sometimes this worked when he ended up being the only good thing about some films.  Sadly, this is the last of the films he worked on when he passed and is the last billing his name saw in his talented life.  However, his is starring with Tom Hardy…so, that’s a pretty epic combination to end on, in my opinion.
That's a lot of talent crammed into one tight corner.



Bob (Tom Hardy) is a quiet and simple man who works for a drop bar—a bar that is a point of convergence for money from illicit gains and is picked up there by some members of a organized crime syndicate—and this bar was once the property of Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini)—he’s owns it now in name only as the mobsters are the true owners now.  One day, the bar gets robbed—which, in an of itself, is a stupid move but there seems to be a whole lot more to the robbery than a couple of simple thugs trying to get some beer money.  While this happens, Bob finds himself connecting with a local girl (Noomi Rapace) over an abandoned dog he found.  And, as strange as it all seems, this event has plenty to do with the robbery that took place…
Ever since Prometheus, Rapace is always on the lookout for angry fanboys.

I really enjoy Tom Hardy and I already gave a gushing insight to how I feel about the late great Gandolfini in the opening paragraph, so when these two meet in a single film, I’m pretty much sold.  Don’t bother showing me a trailer, just give me a quick summary of what it is about—hell, lie to me what it is about—and I’ll watch the damn thing.  And, I have to say, The Drop is a great crime drama with some absolutely tremendous performances.
Man, that mobster can tie the fuck out of tie.  That knot is flawless.


The story to The Drop isn’t too complicated but it was really good at keeping me glued to the screen.  At first, the whole aspect of Bob finding a dog and using it to connect with Noomi Rapace’s character sorta feels out of place and I started to wonder what exactly the dog and Rapace’s character played.  Without spoiling anything (we know how the internet hates spoilers), they in fact play a very important role and all the characters and their plotlines connect at the end but, more importantly, was how this element played on the themes of the film—themes like keeping secrets and hidden pasts.
Garbage dogs...so cliché.


Bob is a very quiet, unassuming character who, a little bit, comes off a little simple.  However, the ending shows he is a lot more—after all, mysterious pasts are the name of the game in this film.  One of the strongest aspects in the story was seeing how Nadia (Rapace) dealt with when she learned what Bob is exactly capable of.  This ends up playing very well with the kindness he shows the dog and what he will do to protect both the dog and Nadia.  Bob’s loyalty is another theme the film showcases and it showcases it very well.
It looks like her sweater is trying to quietly sneak away.


And since I’m talking about Bob, I’ll talk about Tom Hardy’s performance.  Hardy is an actor that, no matter what project he is on, I will go out of my way to watch said project.  Every film I watch him in I praise his seamless talent and the way he is able to absolutely submerge himself into the character he is playing and, once again, he has surprised me with how talented he is.  Like I said, Bob seems like a simple character who might not have all the bulbs on his Christmas light string all lit up and it was such a stark contrast to the strong characters that I’m quick to think of when I think of Hardy (I’ll be honest, I think Bane, Bronson, his charismatic performance in Inception, and his role in Warrior first with Hardy before I think about him in something like Locke—even though I loved Locke).  And since he is so ridiculously talented, Hardy pulls this off and I forget that one time he was beating the shit out of Batman while talking in a voice I can’t help but imitate to total strangers.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Oh, nothing.  Just breaking the Batman and stuff."


Honestly, all the performances in the film were great and that’s not really a surprise considering the cast.  Rapace plays tremendously well in her scenes with Hardy and Gandolfini is, once again, awesome to watch.  Cousin Marv might not be as unique as the character of Bob and is, usually, a man of few words, Gandolfini makes him a character to watch because the dude could speak volumes without saying a single goddamn word.  The defeat that Marv feels for being a lackey to the mob in a bar that was once his is palpable and Gandolfini represents in in spades.  This also leads to a great monologue from the man where he rants about how he was once respected and feared and now he’s nothing.  While this role won’t be as memorable to me as some of his other later roles (like his great performance in the romcom Enough Said) it’s still a damn fine role to be credited as your final appearance.  Rest in peace, good sir!
Good night, sweet prince.


The Drop isn’t flashy, the reveal isn’t some jaw-dropping twist, and the film doesn’t have much replay value beyond a viewing here and there but the film has a great, well executed story, interesting characters, and tremendous acting.