Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Giver

Movie:  The Giver

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  There are many visions of what a perfect society would be.  In this one, all memories of a violent past have been erased.  There are many rules that have been established to ensure equality among the population.  No one can tell lies; in games there are no winners or losers; all conflict has been filtered out of their lives.  After high school, jobs and their purpose in life are assigned by a group of elders who govern the society.

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) attends the Ceremony of Assignment following graduation from school, and like his friends Fiona and Asher, he is excited to learn what his future role will be.  To his astonishment, for the first time in ten years he is selected to be a Receiver of Memory under the tutelage of The Giver (Jeff Bridges).   There is only one Giver in the society, and he has the huge responsibility of having access to memories from an earlier time where people had all sorts of emotions to deal with.  The Giver has wondrous memories of oceans, snow fall, music, parties and laughter; he also has knowledge of war, pain and great evil.  All of these positives and negatives have been hidden from the current society, but are about to be revealed to Jonas, the apprentice Receiver.

Jonas is a young man, full of questions and idealism in a society that has squashed emotions, not to mention dissent or individualism.  The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) is keeping a close eye on the new Receiver.  She is a strong believer in the use of the iron fist in a velvet glove.  The Giver, and Jonas, have tremendous freedom in this otherwise straight-laced society, and this kind of autonomy is a source of concern to the Chief Elder.

I really wanted to give this film a higher grade, but I felt somewhat disappointed after it was over.  The movie had a message, and it was perhaps too simplistic when all was said and done.  But any movie with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, two of the greatest actors in this country, is worth seeing.

Huh?  What the ….:  Not sure how the Giver transmitted his memories to Jonas.  It sure looked a lot like a Vulcan mind meld from the old Star Trek days.

Actors to Note:  Katie Holmes was wasted in this film as the mother of Jonas.  Cameo appearance for singer Taylor Swift.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “Sleep period commences in 15 minutes.”

“You had a dream.  A combination of realities, fantasies, and what you had for dinner.”

“When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong every single time.”

“You’re living a life of echoes and shadows.”

Shout Out:    A warm welcome to “The Queen”, a new visitor to this movie blog.  Feel free to contribute comments to reviews and the “What’s Wrong With The Movies” category.

 

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Sin City – A Dame To Kill For

Movie:  Sin City – A Dame To Kill For

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  Sin City, as one character describes it, “Is a place where you go with your eyes open or you don’t come out at all”.  To say it’s a dangerous place is to damn with faint praise.  It always seems to be night time there, and it’s citizens are mostly corrupt, dangerous or both.  But on the flip side, there are many pleasures to be had, if gambling, sex and perversity are your vices of choice.

There are three main story lines going on, with some aspects overlapping each other.  There is Dwight (Josh Brolin), an unsavory private dick who takes pictures through peepholes and skylights to scratch out a living.  To his dismay, he becomes reacquainted with the vampy Ava (former Bond girl Eva Green), who uses her wiles on Dwight to get his help.   Then there is Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young man on the prowl for excitement and a slick card player.  But it is dangerous to cut cards in a backroom poker game with people like Senator Roarke (Powers Boothe).  Finally there is stripper extraordinaire Nancy (Jessica Alba).  She used to be an innocent exotic dancer who loved a cop named John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), but Hartigan died after snuffing out the evil son of Senator Roarke.  Now Nancy still puts on a show and gives the sleazy denizens of her night club their cheap thrills, but she has lost all semblance of innocence.  And then there is Marv (Mickey Rourke).  He is Nancy’s protector, and if you’re smart, you don’t mess with Marv.

This is a high octane thrill ride chock full of violence and mayhem.  Most of the color is leached out, except for certain instances of startling contrast such as Ava’s ruby red lips and laser green eyes.  This is reminiscent of the 1940s film noir classics like Double Indemnity and Out of The Past, where men were quick with their fists and their gun, and the dames were just as tough.  The film noir movies also had the gaudy patter and clever wise-cracks.  They were modern version of Greek tragedies, where you knew things were not going to work out in the end.  Yes, the film technique used in Sin City has the look and feel of a comic book, but it’s not animation.  Just sit back and let this rip-roaring yarn grab you and take you along for the ride (possibly in the trunk of the car).  It’s probably worth spending the extra three bucks for the 3D.

Guys – Jessica Alba’s last dance on stage is worth whatever you had to pay to get into the theater.  Trust me.

Actors To Watch:  Love that Jamie Chung; she does some serious sword-fu in the movie.  Some other interesting cast members include Ray Liotta, Christopher Lloyd, and Lady Gaga.

Huh?  What the ….:  Still can’t figure out how Mickey Rourke changed so much physically since he began his career.  And it has nothing to do with make-up….

Dialogue Nuggets:  “She gave him a goodbye that will still hurt when he comes to.”

“She keeps talking.  Like an idiot, I keep listening.”

“She repeats my name, like a chant to a dark god.”

“The pavement rushed up to give me a big, sloppy kiss.”

“You’d be better off dead, Johnny, but I like you just the way you are.”

“This rotten town.  It soils everybody….”

 

Expendables 3

Movie:   Expendables 3

Rating:  2 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  Uh, Oh.  When the alarm clock rings, a bunch of old geezers (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren etc.) limp out of bed, rub on some Ben Gay, then put on their soldier of fortune gear for another day of shooting up third world bad guys.  That pretty much sums up all the Expendable movies.  The best scene in this action flick is probably the opening sequence where someone needs to be extracted from the infamous Denzali prison.

Then on to Mogadishu for another assignment quasi supported by the CIA in the person of Harrison Ford.  Why the US Government needs to pay Stallone and his Merry Men of Mayhem to do their work, instead of Navy Seals or Army Delta teams, is one of life’s little mysteries.  Anyway, things go to hell in a hand basket in Somalia, and they learn former Expendable co-founder Mel Gibson, presumed deceased, is still alive.  This is bad news, because Mel has become a very rich and very bad boy by becoming an international arms dealer.

Stallone declares vendetta on Mel baby, and retires the old Expendables and brings on fresh blood, including Antonio Banderas and Ronda Rousey (MMA champ).  They all end up in some unpronounceable country (Azmanistan?), and there is lots of bang bang, boom boom that transpires.  Arnie Schwarzenegger shows up long enough to smoke two cigars.

If you liked Expendables 1 and 2, you’ll like a third helping.  Plenty of action, some witty banter, and no discernable plot.

Actors To Watch:  Are you kidding?

Huh, What The ….:  What I want to know is how the movie producers could afford to blow up half of Bulgaria for this film, pay all the big name stars, and still expect to make a profit?

Dialogue Nuggets:  “I heard you killed more people than the plague.”

“A one-way trip is better than a no-way trip.”

“I missed you, too, you demented bastard.”

Mel to minion:  “How hard can it be to kill ten people?  Can you at least wound a couple?”

 

 

Let’s Be Cops

Movie:  Let’s Be Cops

Rating:  3 1/4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  Let’s say you are a couple of guys around 30 years old, one a former college football star who never got to the pros, and the other a video game designer who never sold a game idea.  Your lives have turned into a sad holding pattern of becoming roomies, drinking at the local bar and hoping things will get better, and seeing former class mates and friends with real careers pity your pathetic and useless existence.  That pretty much sums up best pals Ryan O’Malley (Jake Johnson) and Justin Miller (Daman Wayans Jr.); circling the drain of life in LA.

Justin has been trying to pitch his video game idea Brothers In Blue, so he and Ryan end up dressing up as Los Angeles police officers to attend a costume party.  They are wearing authentic uniforms and gear (except guns that can’t fire), and they notice pretty chicks seem to dig them as they walk down the streets at night.  Realizing people think they really are police officers, they engage in some relatively harmless pranks while stopping folks and ordering them around.  Things escalate as Ryan pushes the envelope at what they can get away with while impersonating real cops, and they start going on real disturbance calls.  One of these calls bring the pseudo cops to the attention of a very bad criminal, Mossi Kasic (James D’arcy), who makes it his business to find out who the police officers are who stuck their noses into his business.

There is a minor side romance as Justin, aka Officer Chang, tries to protects a attractive waitress named Josie (Nina Dobrev from Vampire Diaries) at the restaurant where Mossi sometimes makes an appearance.  On the surface this is a harmless guy flick with silly pranks and action sequences that fill up the movie.  But about halfway through the movie you might detect the heartbeat of a decent movie with some acting taking place, and a few mature moments that show these two knuckle-heads are capable of becoming real men.  I found it to be a fun movie that held my attention, with two likeable lead characters.  Be on the lookout for a fairly big name actor to have a decent cameo with an important impact on the plot.

Best Scene:  Ryan and Justin decide to go on a domestic disturbance calls when they hear twenty-something co-eds are involved.  They arrive to a situation involving Precious (Briana Venskus) and JaQuandae (Jwaundace Candece) in a heated argument.  Ryan and Justin do their best to “Control the situation” as the LA police manual states.  OMG!

Huh?  What the….:  The stubble face might be attractive to the babes, Officer O’Malley, but I think LA police officers are required to shave.

Not sure how an out of work guy could afford to buy a former police vehicle on e-bay.

If I had a secret room full of automatic weapons, I’d put a lock on it.  Just sayin’….

Dialogue Nuggets:  “We’re the law, bitch!”

Josie:  “I’m a psycho magnet!”

“I can still taste that guy’s sweat in my mouth.”

“I will slap that little afro off your head!”

“At least three people die at every one of his parties!”

“Park in my spot one more time and I’m going to punch you in the dick!”

“Act like a man for once.  You might like the way it feels.”

Post Credits Stuff:  Yes!  Some amusing clips that didn’t make it into the movie.

Comments Anyone?   Examples:  “Hey, you really nailed this movie!  Good job!  Or, “Dude, you must have been smoking crack when you watched this flick!  No way!”