Archive for Ben Affleck

The Accountant

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.

What people are saying:

“It’s transparent in its attempt both to pimp a future franchise and give autistic kids their own superhero. There’s a genuine sweetness to the latter that converts me on the former. Headshots, math problems, and pained social interactions? Sign me up. Of the two movies Ben Affleck has been in so far this year, The Accountant and Batman V Superman, The Accountant has by far the most franchise potential” 4 stars

“The Accountant should be a straight-ahead thriller, but the film keeps tripping over its own incompetent feet. Maybe it was made for adults, but it sure doesn’t feel like it was made by them.” 3 stars

“It’s not that often a great story gets translated into a classy script and then benefits from top level acting. Thankfully this film manages to do all that and more. The unique story line combined with some excellent acting and action scenes is a triumph and is not just for those who crave some realistic looking action. Ben Affleck does a great job and makes the unusually talented and afflicted ‘Accountant’ believable. After this performance Ben Affleck must surely be at the top of the list to play ‘007’.” 5 stars

“This movie was sooooooo predictable and terrible. It rips off elements from “Jack Reacher”, “Rain Man” and “Grosse Point Blank”. All three of those movies are way better than this piece of turd. I think the PC crowd want to portray this movie as “inspiring” and about “family” or some other B.S. The movie has a message that autistic people have can live a productive life in a manner of a “normal” person. Meaning, we (the non-autistic people) just mis-understand the very special autistic folks. It’s the same formula as you have seen a hundred times. The Accountant is killing the bad folks for the greater good, but he is not an official law enforcement agent. He has to do things secretly, but with the covert help of a couple of legitimate treasury agents. Sound familiar? Kind of like Batman and Commissioner Gordon. (I did that on purpose btw.) Believe me, I “get” this movie. Wooden acting, (exception: J.K. Simmons) stupid, predictable story, and very slow pace. It’s pure garbage. I just read they are going to make “The Accountant 2″ as well. I guess it’s true, you can’t fix stupid” 1 star

“I thought the film did an excellent job of developing and explaining Ben Afflecks character. I also enjoyed the duplicity of his autism and the fighting skills that his father imbued in him and later how he learned to cope with these abilities / disabilities in adult life (quite the paradox). From personal experience: I know that autistic people have a skill sets, its finding it and making it useful too themselves and society that’s difficult. Too many times these people are written off because they are different than normal expectations and thats kinda of the bottom line of this movie. The previous reviewer is a good example of the herd mentality of people that just don’t get it and never will. (Small people with even smaller minds). I also enjoyed his marksmanship skills with a 50BMG Barret rifle, the one mile shots at cantaloupes and how he took out a pickup truck with it by shooting a hole in the engine block, no doubt also inspired by his Army father. In summary this movie is imperfect by design so that only enlightened people will appreciate and get it.” 5 stars

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Armageddon

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

As a massive asteroid hurtles toward Earth, NASA’s head honcho hatches a plan to split the deadly rock in two before it annihilates the entire planet, calling on the world’s finest oil driller to head up the mission.

What people are saying:

“Just when you think you’ve had it with this movie, there comes a farcical, rock ‘n’ roll sort of comedy sequence, or a hilariously goofy line.” 3 stars

“Yes, it’s big. It’s stupid. It’s also completely kick butt. A true adventure film, Armageddon takes you by the throat and won’t let go. For as silly as the script seems, I dare you not to be on the edge of your seat during the tense moments or touched by the admittedly sappy sentimentalism later in the flick. There are too many moments here that are full of sheer joy not to watch this again.” 5 stars

“Now I love movies, I really enjoy action movies, but this….Oh my! This IS one of the worst movies of all times. Mindbogglingly dumb, full of cliches and a meaningless ending. Why so many people adore this waste of time and money, I’ll never understand.
A typical Bay-affair. Still waiting for him to just release a movie with 90 minutes of just explosions!” 1/2 star

“Yeah, gotta go with five stars for this one. Yes, it unashamedly goes for the heartstrings, yes the song is cornball, and yes, it’s full of cliches and REALLY bad science. It’s also action-packed, full of humor, loads of fun, and if you don’t cry at the end, you’re probably not human. This one and Twister are my two favorite cornball ‘disaster’ movies.” 5 stars

“NASA decides to recruit and train a courageous group of drillers to save Earth from a large asteroid. A List movie stars-Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, and a great movie soundtrack “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. Despite the movie having a very serious plot, some characters provide comic relief including Rockhound, Bear, Lev Andropov, and Oscar Choi. One subplot is the conflict between Harry, Harry’s daughter Grace, and AJ (Grace’s boyfriend) which eventually gets resolved. This movie has great footage of NASA’s spacesuits, equipment, rigorous training facilities/program, control center, and space shuttles. It also has superb special effects of the smaller asteroids striking Earth, the team traveling through space to land on the asteroid, and the team on the asteroid. Once arriving in space, the team appears jinxed facing one unexpected challenge or tragedy after the next leading to the courageous climax of the movie that will make viewers cry. This movie has a strong plot and subplot, excellent character choices, is well written to touch the heart and emotions of viewers, and has amazing special effects making you feel like you are there with the team. Most people would not have enough courage to do what this team did in outer space to save Earth.” 5 stars

Good Will Hunting

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Twenty-year-old Will Hunting (Matt Damon) of South Boston is a self-taught, genius-level intellect, though he works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spends his free time drinking with his friends, Chuckie (Ben Affleck), Billy (Cole Hauser) and Morgan (Casey Affleck). When Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) posts a difficult mathematics problem as a challenge for his graduate students, Will solves the problem anonymously, stunning both the graduate students and Lambeau himself. As a challenge to the unknown genius, Lambeau posts an even more difficult problem. Lambeau chances upon Will solving the problem but Will flees the scene. That night at a bar, Will meets Skylar (Minnie Driver), a British student about to graduate from Harvard, who plans on attending medical school at Stanford and gives Will her phone number before leaving.

The next day, Will and his friends fight a gang at the basketball court. Police arrive and arrest Will. Lambeau visits his court appearance, and notices Will’s intellect in defending himself. He arranges for him to forgo jail time if he agrees to study mathematics under Lambeau’s supervision and participate in therapy sessions. Will tentatively agrees, but treats his first few therapists with contempt and mockery. His refusal to open up is met with staunch defiance by the various therapists, who each refuse to deal with Will further. In desperation, Lambeau calls on Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), his estranged and much more grounded college roommate, who now teaches psychology at Bunker Hill Community College. Unlike other therapists, Sean actually challenges Will’s defense mechanisms, and after a few unproductive sessions, Will begins to open up.

Will is particularly struck by Sean’s story of how he met his wife by giving up his ticket to the historic game six of the 1975 World Series, after falling in love at first sight. Sean neither regrets his decision, nor does he regret the final years of his marriage, after which his wife died of cancer. This encourages Will to build a relationship with Skylar, though he lies to her about his past and is reluctant to introduce her to his friends or show her his rundown neighborhood. Will also challenges Sean to take an objective look at his own life, since Sean cannot move on from his wife’s death.

Lambeau sets up a number of job interviews for Will, but Will scorns them by sending Chuckie as his “chief negotiator”, and by turning down a position at the National Security Agency with a scathing critique of the agency’s moral position. Skylar asks Will to move to California with her, but he refuses and tells her he is an orphan, and that his foster father physically abused him. Will breaks up with Skylar, and later storms out on Lambeau, dismissing the mathematical research he has been doing. Sean points out that Will is so adept at anticipating future failure in his interpersonal relationships that he deliberately sabotages them in order to avoid emotional pain. When Will refuses to give an honest reply about what he wants to do with his life, Sean shows him the door. Will tells Chuckie he wants to be a laborer for the rest of his life. Chuckie responds that it would be an insult to his friends for Will to waste his potential and that his fondest wish is that Will should leave to pursue something greater.

Will walks in on a heated argument between Sean and Lambeau over his potential. Sean and Will share and find out that they were both victims of child abuse. Sean helps Will to see that he is a victim of his own inner demons and to accept that it is not his fault. Sean comforts Will as he cries over twenty years of trauma. Will decides to accept one of the job offers arranged by Lambeau. Having helped Will overcome his problems, Sean reconciles with Lambeau and decides to take a sabbatical to travel the world. When Will’s friends present him with a rebuilt Chevrolet Nova for his twenty-first birthday, he decides to pass on his job offers and drive to California to reunite with Skylar. Sometime later, Chuckie goes to Will’s house to pick him up, only to find that he is not there, much to his happiness. Sean comes out of his house and finds a letter from Will in his mailbox, which, much to his pleasure, tells him that Will is going to see Skylar. During the ending credits, Will’s car is seen driving on the highway to California

REVIEW:

The other day, I was watching Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back for the gazillionth time and came across the scene with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are shooting Good Will Hunting 2. Obviously, this was just a parody in the film, but it hit me…I have never seen the source material. So, this afternoon, I am going to sit down and watch Good Will Hunting. Let’s hope I don’t fall asleep on the couch while doing so.

What is this about?

When professors at MIT discover that an aimless young janitor working at the university is also a mathematical genius, a therapist helps the young man confront the demons that are holding him back.

What did I like?

Thrill of the Hunt(ing). For the first few years of their careers, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were seemingly joined at the hip when seen in public, partially because of the success of this film. Damon’s performance knocks it out of the park and it is no wonder that he has gone on to do so many other things. He brings to the screen intensity, drive, emotion, and a variety of other adjectives that you wouldn’t expect from a guy who, at this time, wasn’t anything more than a supporting player.

Have some class. There is a real emphasis on the class division as Damon and company come from the other side of the tracks, but most of the film takes place at M.I.T. and one of the bars they frequent is occupied with students from Harvard, not exactly the cheapest of schools. This division makes for some interesting conversations about the have and have nots…much like one can have today.

Beard. I used to joke that whenever Robin Williams would grow out his beard, we are in for some serious drama. Case in point, Birdcage (no beard), The Fischer King (beard), and August Rush (weird soul patch thingy). Sometimes this isn’t the case, though…see What Dreams May Come. Still, while Williams was known primarily as a comedic actor, it should not be ignored that he has some great dramatic chops, as well. This is one of those rare times where he gets as serious as one can be. A jokey Williams would not have fit within the scope of this film, but drama Robin, works perfectly as Damon’s therapist and confidant.

What didn’t I like?

Drive. Minnie Driver plays a very fine love interest. As an innocent, wealthy British undergrad finishing up at Harvard and getting ready to head to Stanford for her graduate studies, she is given some decent motivation for her character. My problem with her is that she isn’t given enough time for us, the audience, to become attached to her. I say this because there is obviously a connection between her and Damon, but because we don’t get much time with her as a person, it doesn’t mean much when that comes to an end. It is just an event that happens, akin to Damon’s anonymous solving of the math problems.

Hidden genius. How is it that someone with the genius of Matt Damon’s character made it through school, even if he dropped out, without being discovered? It seems to me that someone would have picked up on this. There is no reason for him to be a janitor living in a shack on the southside of Boston with his intellect. The only reason for him to not have been found out is that he may not be a strong test taker, but even then, it would still show somewhat, right?

Predictable. Don’t you just hate films that you can pretty much guess what is going to happen? Well, this is one of those, I’m afraid. Everything that happens to our main characters is telegraphed a mile away leaving the audience with everything but a surprise come film’s end. A little suspense would have been nice, at least in my opinion.

Final verdict on Good Will Hunting? For all the hype and accolades this picture receives, I thought it lived up to it. My expectation was to fall asleep in the first 30 min or so, but instead I couldn’t turn away, save for some down moments here and there. I’m sure you will have the same experience, so I very highly recommend it. Check it out!

5 out of 5 stars

Glory Daze

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A soon-to-be graduate finds he’s having a difficult time letting go of the college life — and decides maybe he doesn’t have to.

What people are saying:

“About some college graduates who after all there time in college still don’t have the slightest clue on what they want to do in life. It was an OK movie. It stars a young Ben Affleck. It was just some mediocre acting, Nothing speacial about this movie. Not worth seeing again.” 2 stars

“This movie practically got me through college. It exemplifies the late 90’s perfectly and has an awesome punk rock soundtrack to boot. I still put it on when I want to smile. Sure the acting sucks and the plot is thin but it brings me back to a time when life was all in front of me and the thought of “growing up” really was scary as hell!” 5 stars

“If you’re insanely bored and it’s raining outside and there is absolutely nothing else to see, well you might be able to stand this one.” 1 star

“If you read the back of the box, this movie is made out to be a hilarious comedy, but I thought it was kind of sad. The best part about this film is there’s a part where Jack (Ben Affleck) is watching a tape of himself having sex with his ex-girlfriend and you can see his nuts.” 3 stars

“Glory Daze is yet another of those “post-college angst ridden party boys get semtimental about moving on” kinda things, one that’s notable solely because of its eclectic cast and very little else.” 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eighteen months after the destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis from Man of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure. Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has moved in with Lois Lane. Billionaire Bruce Wayne, who has operated in Gotham City as Batman for nearly two decades, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. After learning of Batman’s activities, Superman also views him as a threat, and seeks to stop him via the Daily Planet articles under his disguise.

Wayne learns that weapon-trafficker Anatoli Knyazev has been contacting LexCorp’s mogul Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean (results of Zod’s terraforming attempt), claiming to use it as a “deterrent” against Kryptonians. He also makes side dealings with Finch’s subordinate and demands access to Zod’s body and the Kryptonian scout ship. In the next meeting with Luthor, Finch denies his request.

Wayne attends Luthor’s party at LexCorp, where he meets mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, and retrieves data from the company’s mainframe. The data drive, however, is stolen by Prince, who later returns it to Bruce, due to her inability to decrypt the data. While decrypting the drive at the Batcave, Wayne receives a vision of a post-apocalyptic world, where he leads a group of rebels against Superman. He is snapped out of the vision by a mysterious time traveler, who warns him of Lane’s crucial role in the distant future, and urges him to find “the others”. Wayne later realizes that Luthor is not only experimenting with Kryptonite, but also investigating metahumans. One of them is Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Wayne admits to Alfred Pennyworth that he plans to steal the Kryptonite to weaponize it, should it become necessary to fight Superman. Batman pursues the convoy carrying the Kryptonite from the White Portuguese ship to LexCorp, but Superman intercedes and orders him to cease his activities.

Luthor orchestrates a bombing at a congressional hearing, where Finch is questioning Superman on the validity of his actions. The bomb kills dozens of people, including Finch. Frustrated with failing to save people, Superman goes into self-imposed exile. Batman breaks into LexCorp and steals the Kryptonite, in preparation to battle Superman by building a powerful exoskeleton and creating a Kryptonite grenade launcher and a Kryptonite-tipped spear. Meanwhile, Luthor enters the Kryptonian ship and learns of its functions, as well as recorded alien worlds.

Luthor kidnaps and holds hostage Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. He reveals that he has been sending messages to Batman and Superman to heighten their animosity towards each other. Luthor forces Superman to fight and kill Batman, in exchange for Martha’s life. Superman tries to reason with Batman, but Batman initiates the fight and eventually subdues him. Before Batman can kill Superman with the spear, Superman urges Batman to “save Martha”, whose name is also shared with Wayne’s late mother. Lane arrives and explains the situation. Upon learning of Luthor’s plan, Batman leaves to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts Luthor on the scout ship. Luthor unleashes a monstrous creature made from Zod’s body spliced with Luthor’s DNA. Superman, Batman and Diana join forces to fight the creature, but are outmatched by its ability to absorb energy. Realizing that it is vulnerable to Kryptonite, Superman retrieves the Kryptonite spear and impales the creature, while it stabs him with its bone protrusions, killing Superman.

Luthor is arrested and imprisoned. Facing Batman in prison, he gloats that Superman’s death has made the world vulnerable to powerful alien threats. A memorial is held for Superman in Metropolis. Clark is also declared dead and Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Diana attend a private funeral for him in Smallville. Martha passes an envelope to Lane, which contains an engagement ring from Clark. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Diana that he plans to form a team of metahumans, starting from the ones from Luthor’s files, to protect the world in Superman’s absence. After they leave, a faint heartbeat echoes from Clark’s coffin and the dirt around it begins to levitate

REVIEW:

Let’s get ready to rumble! The fight every comic book fan and superhero nerd has been waiting on is about to go down in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The question on everyone’s mind, though, is with Zack Snyder directing will this be more flash over substance? Also, would it just be better to wait for the “main event” coming next month in Captain America: Civil War?

What is this about?

Following his titanic struggle against General Zod, Metropolis has been razed to the ground and Superman is the most controversial figure in the world. While for many he is still an emblem of hope, a growing number of people consider him a threat to humanity, seeking justice for the chaos he has brought to Earth. As far as Bruce Wayne is concerned, Superman is clearly a danger to society. He fears for the future of the world with such a reckless power left ungoverned, and so he dons his mask and cape to right Superman’s wrongs. The rivalry between them is furious, fueled by bitterness and vengeance, and nothing can dissuade them from waging this war. However, a dark new threat arises in the form of a third man: one who has a power greater than either of them to endanger the world and cause total destruction!

What did I like?

It’s all about the game. Batman has always been a badass, even in his campier days, but in this flick, he takes it to another level. There is a scene near the end of the film where he swoops in and, like a ninja takes out a room of about 12 guys with guns. It is a sight to behold and, those of us that have played the Arkham City franchise of Batman games may recognize that the fighting style is very similar. Whether that was done on purpose or not, I cannot be sure, but I liked it!

Clash of the Titans. Say what you will about Man of Steel, it brought Superman back to the forefront of the DC cinematic universe. A place he should have stayed, but they just couldn’t resist having Batman in there. So, here we go, a fight for supremacy, Superman vs. Batman. I would have preferred this be Christian Bale’s Batman, though, for continuity’s sake. No offense to Ben Affleck, he did perhaps the best Batman we’ve seen since…well, since Kevin Conroy in the animated series. The fight between these two pushes them to their limits, which is what we would expect.

She’s a Wonder. I do not believe Wonder Woman has ever graced the big screen with her presence. We all know of the infamous TV series starring Lynda Carter, her appearance in the Justice League animated series, and various other incarnations, including her own animated film. Word just dropped that her film was moved up to next summer, which is sure to have feminists and fans of the Amazon warrior happy. For me, I’m just glad we finally got to see her. Now, whether or not this is what she should look and act like is a different topic for another section.

What didn’t I like?

Contrast. Batman and Superman are both heroes to their cities and whatnot but it is their methodology which causes them to butt heads often. If you expecting to see that in this film, you will be sadly disappointed. The best way I can put this is that dark needs light and vice versa, but when you have two dark characters they cancel each other out. For this to have truly effective, we needed the Superman we all know, love, and deserve. A character steeped in goodness, truth, and is a beacon for right. Instead, we have a Superman who really isn’t that different from Batman, and that is why during the fight I found myself enjoying it, sure, but not really cheering for either one, because there was no clear side, save for the consequences should one or the other lose.

Riddle me this! Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Justice League cartoon, but when I think of Lex Luthor, I see a cold, calculating, brilliant businessman. That is not what we get here. Before I begin my rant on Lex, it should be known that none of the other films have produced one that is equal to what we got in animated form, including the original Superman franchise. None of those, however, insulted their audience with this version of Lex who might as well have been playing The Riddler, because that is what his mannerisms felt like. I kept expecting him to throw a riddle or two out at any moment. That didn’t happen, so we are left with this crazed, ADHD version of Lex who seems like a kid playing with his inheritance and brilliance. Oh, and don’t get me started on the casting of Jesse Eisenberg. It is well documents that any film with him is automatically starting out in the negative, but apparently the filmmakers could have cast Bryan Cranston, but instead they cast this punk and…ugh…let me stop before I throw my computer across the room.

That Gal. Give credit where it’s due, Gal Gadot put in the work to bulk up for her role as Wonder Woman. It just isn’t enough, as she still looks anorexically thin. I’m sure that I am not the only one that thinks this, but when I envision Wonder Woman, I think of Lucy Lawless during her Xena days. Can’t you just imagine her, or some equivalent, as Wonder Woman?

Anything Marvel can do. By now, everyone knows that this is a) not the sequel Superman deserves and b) is nothing more than a setup for a Justice League movie. Here’s the thing about that, Marvel meticulous took their time setting up The Avengers. It was something that had never been done before. Now everyone is trying to set up their own cinematic universe. Hell, even on television (ironically DC isn’t doing too bad in that department), they’re doing it. For me, I feel as if this is just something being fast tracked because they feel they are behind Marvel and need to play catch up.

Final verdict on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice? There are good and bad parts to this film. First, the additions of Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman work much better than what everyone who initially criticized their casting thought they would. There is a scene where Batman perches on the side of a building and it looks like it is straight off the cover of one of the graphic novels! On the other side of the coin, this is a film that should be fun, with two uber popular superheroes duking it out for superior, but that level of fun never shows. Instead, we get a film that is so dark, it almost makes you want to slit your own wrists! DC really needs to lighten up. I also question the casting of Jeremy Irons as Alfred. He just seemed to not fit. All in all, there are more faults in this film than reasons to watch, but do I recommend it? Reluctantly, yes…it is still a high quality superhero movie. I don’t think I’ll be rushing to see it again, though.

4 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Dogma

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon) are fallen angels, banished for eternity from Heaven to Wisconsin for insubordination after an inebriated Loki (with Bartleby’s encouragement) resigned as the Angel of Death. When the trendy Cardinal Glick (Carlin) announces that he is rededicating his cathedral in Red Bank, New Jersey in the image of the “Buddy Christ”, the angels see their salvation: Anyone entering the cathedral during the rededication festivities will receive a plenary indulgence; all punishment for sin will be remitted, permitting direct entry into Heaven. They receive encouragement from an unexpected source: Azrael (Lee), a demon, once a Muse, also banished from Heaven (for refusing to take sides in the battle between God and Lucifer); and the Stygian Triplets (Barret Hackney, Jared Pfennigwerth, and Kitao Sakurai), three teenage hoodlums who serve Azrael in Hell.

Bethany Sloane (Fiorentino)—a despondent, infertile, divorced abortion clinic employee—attends a service at her church in Illinois. Donations are being solicited to help a hospitalized, comatose homeless man—known only as John Doe Jersey (Cort)—who was beaten senseless outside a skee ball arcade in New Jersey by the Triplets. Later that day, Metatron (Rickman)—the Voice of God—appears to Bethany in a pillar of fire and declares that she is the last relative of Jesus Christ. He explains that Bartleby and Loki cannot be allowed to succeed: By re-entering Heaven, they would be overruling the word of God, thereby disproving the fundamental concept of God’s omnipotence, and nullifying all of existence. She, together with two prophets who will appear to her, must stop the angels and save the universe.

Now a target, Bethany is attacked by the Triplets, and is rescued by the two foretold prophets—drug-dealing stoners named Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith). Azrael then summons a Golgothan (a vile creature made of human excrement) to find and kill Bethany, but Silent Bob immobilizes it with aerosol deodorant. Other allies in Bethany’s mission are Rufus (Rock), the thirteenth apostle (never mentioned in the Bible, he says, because he is black), and Serendipity (Hayek), a Muse with writer’s block.

On a train to New Jersey, a drunken Bethany reveals her mission to Bartleby, who tries to kill her; a melee ensues, and Silent Bob throws the angels off the train. Bartleby and Loki now realize the potential consequences of their scheme; and while Loki wants no part of destroying all existence, Bartleby remains angry at God for his expulsion—and for granting free will to humans while demanding servitude of angels—and to Loki’s horror, resolves to proceed.

Bethany and her allies discuss the situation: Who is really behind the angels’ plan, and why has God not intervened? Metatron explains that God’s whereabouts are unknown; he disappeared while visiting New Jersey in human form to play skee ball. At the cathedral, the group attempts in vain to persuade Cardinal Glick to cancel the celebration; Jay angrily steals Glick’s golf club.

At a nearby bar, Azrael captures Bethany and her protectors and reveals that he is the mastermind behind the angels’ plan—he would rather not exist at all than spend eternity in Hell. Silent Bob kills Azrael with Glick’s blessed golf club. Serendipity tells Bethany to bless the bar sink, turning its contents to holy water, and Jay, Rufus and Serendipity drown the Triplets in it. Bartleby and Loki reach the cathedral; Bartleby kills all the celebrants, and when Loki attempts to stop him he tears off Loki’s wings, making him mortal. When the protectors block Bartleby’s entry into the church, Bartleby kills Loki and fights off Rufus, Serendipity and Bob, but as he flees, Jay shoots off his wings with a machine gun.

During his latest of several attempts to seduce Bethany, Jay mentions John Doe Jersey. Realizing that the homeless man is the mortal form that God assumed, Bethany and Bob race to the hospital. Bethany disconnects John Doe’s life support, liberating God, but killing herself. As Bartleby again attempts to enter the cathedral, God manifests before him as a woman (Morissette), and kills him with the power of her voice. When Bob arrives with Bethany’s lifeless body, God resurrects her and conceives a child within her womb. God, Metatron, Rufus, and Serendipity return to Heaven, leaving Bethany and the two prophets to reflect on what has happened.

REVIEW:

Sometimes when I watch a film that was released in my lifetime, I don’t look back on it with nostalgic longing, but instead I am in awe of how far the cast and crew have come (or fallen) since its release. Dogma was the last time Ben Affleck did a Kevin Smith film., until he was brought back in for Jersey Girl and there was a cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back2 as a matter of fact). For this one, he even brought in his buddy Matt Damon. The two of them haven’t worked or have been seen together since, that I can recall. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for this film, but maybe that was just a falling out behind the scenes.

What is this about?

Fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), a gnarly demon (Jason Lee) and a half-baked apostle (Chris Rock) walk among America’s cynics and innocents and duke it out for humankind’s fate in director Kevin Smith’s 1999 comic meditation on religion. A modern-day battle against evil takes place in suburban New Jersey, after an abortion clinic worker (Linda Fiorentino) gets a higher calling from two clueless prophets (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).

What did I like?

Religious satire. Hard to believe in this era where everything offends everyone that people actually had a sense of humor. Religion is one of the institutions that tends to be held to a higher standard. No one really touches it , especially the Catholic faith. Kevin Smith, though, had the balls to take on the church and their rules. All throughout the film, characters joke about how depressing it is to go to church, how Catholics think they are the only ones that are right, etc. It is true that this could not be done with another religion, like say Islam, but Smith, being a Catholic, himself makes jokes that come from the heart and aren’t meant to be malicious and that may be why this film succeeds in its humor.

Story. Two angels get kicked out of heaven and have to live on Earth for eternity, in Wisconsin! Azrael, a demon, plots to get them back in, thus negating all of existence just so he can stop living in torture. With God missing, thanks to being mugged while playing skeeball, the only one that can stop all of this is the last Scion, a couple of prophets, the 13 th apostle, and a muse. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but Smith is such a capable writer and this cast has enough talent and chemistry, that this insane story, which should have been a disaster, comes together brilliantly. I do wonder, though…the angels were banished after Sodom and Gomorrah. That was way before Wisconsin was any near becoming a state. Did they just get banished to the woods, or whatever was up there, until it became Wisconsin? I’ve always wondered that.

No one is safe! Not only does Smith attack the Catholics, he goes after atheists, pro-life/pro-choice, feminists, racism, etc. I think the only group he didn’t get were politicians. In attacking everyone, Smith shows that he is an equal opportunity offender, not just one joke that lasts for two hours. “Variety is the spice of life!” they say and that applies towards comedy, as well.

What didn’t I like?

Fading chemistry. As I mentioned in my opening, there was a time when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were inseparable. I believe that it was around the time of this film that we started to see them go their separate ways. It is obvious that something changed in their dynamic as the film progresses because they maybe have a handful of scene in which they are both on the screen. The few scenes in which they are both on, it is like an uncomfortable dinner with your ex who you just broke up with. Maybe I’m just seeing something that isn’t there, though.

Lead, lady, lead. Call me crazy, but I feel that a leading actress should make you take notice of her, regardless of what her character’s characteristics are. Linda Fiorentino doesn’t really do that. Nothing about this woman is particularly special, and that may be why she was cast. As a leading lady, though…well, there’s a reason she hasn’t been in more stuff. She is constantly overshadowed by the rest of the cast and, if not for her character being so necessary to this plot, one has to wonder why she’s even around. Since Janeane Garofalo made a quick appearance, I wonder if she would have made for a better leading lady, or perhaps one of Smith’s usuals from the ViewAskew-verse?

Alanis? The thought of a female version of God scares some people. That was part of the controversy surrounding that song in the 90s, “One of Us”. Chris Rock’s character sums it up best when he says God isn’t a she or he, not anything. In essence, he says God is what you make him out to be. Apparently, Kevin Smith thinks Alanis Morissette is God. Some people would have picked Charlton Heston, Lynard Skynard, Ronald Regan, Morgan Freeman John Ritter, etc. Myself, I’d have gone with Louis Armstrong. I guess it’s just a matter of personal taste. Why she was skipping around like a flower child is a mystery to us all, though.

Kevin Smith has said he feels Dogma is one of his most personal films. If I’m not mistaken, this is also his first film to not be released as an independent. My final thoughts on it are it does what it sets out to do, make a smart satire about Catholic dogma and the way Smith feels about, having grown up in the church. Will people be offended if they watch this? Probably, and other will enjoy the ludicrous situations. It all is a matter of personal opinion and tastes. Do I recommend it? If you’re a conservative bible-beater, this is not for you. I’ll say that right away. For everyone else, this is a fun ride from start to finish with interesting and insane situations as well as an inspired story. Yes, I do recommend it, very highly as a matter of fact!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Jersey Girl

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on September 8, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Oliver “Ollie” Trinké (Ben Affleck) is a powerful media publicist in New York City whose wife, Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez), dies during childbirth. To avoid his grief, he buries himself in his work and ignores his new daughter, Gertie, while his father, Bart (George Carlin), takes a month off from work to care for her, but returns so that his son is forced to live up to his responsibility as a parent. Under the stress of a botched diaper change and a baby who will not stop crying, Ollie trashes his client Will Smith for his soon-to-be released film Independence Day in front of assembled reporters. The outburst costs him his job, so he moves in with his father in New Jersey. He eventually apologizes for ignoring his daughter, and attributes his public outburst to his grief.

Blacklisted by all of New York City’s public relations firms, Ollie has to work as a civil servant in the borough where he now lives with his father. Seven years later, Gertie (Raquel Castro), now in elementary school, often coaxes him to rent films to watch. At the video store, they meet Maya (Liv Tyler), one of the store’s clerks, whose uninhibited probing into Ollie’s love life almost leads to them having casual sex. She soon becomes a part of their lives.

As part of his job in the borough, Ollie speaks to a group of outraged citizens to win over their approval for a major public works project that will temporarily close a street in the neighborhood. His successful and enjoyable interaction with the crowd leads him to realize how much he misses the public relations work. He contacts Arthur (Jason Biggs), his one-time protégé, who sets up a promising interview.

The prospect of moving to New York creates tension among Ollie, Gertie, Bart, and Maya, especially when he says that his interview is on the same day as Gertie’s school talent show. She yells at him, saying she hates him and that she wishes he had died instead of her mom. He claims he hates her right back, and says she and Gertrude took his life away and he just wants it back. He immediately regrets it and tries to apologize, but the damage is done and she pushes him away and runs to her room, crying. A few days later he and Gertie finally patch things up, and she accepts the fact that they will be moving to New York. While waiting to be interviewed, he has a chance encounter with Will Smith (playing himself), the man he trashed at his public outburst years before. Smith has no idea who Ollie is, but the two spark a conversation about work and children.

Ollie is able to make it to Gertie’s Sweeney Todd performance at the last moment. The film ends with him, Gertie, Bart, Maya, and the rest celebrating at the bar. He and Maya hint at possible feelings for each other before being interrupted by Gertie. He holds her and says that they are staying in New Jersey because he did not take the job. She asks why he did so if he loved it so much. He says that he thought he did, but he loved his new life more because being a father to her was the only thing that he was ever really good at.

REVIEW:

One of the hottest directors of the mid 90s and early 2000s was Kevin Smith. He brought something new to films that hadn’t really been seen since the days of Woody Allen, a love for his hometown (or state in this case) and a passion to show real people problems not some exaggerated lifestyle like we normally see in movies and television. All this is not to even mention Jay and Silent Bob! However, as stated in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith couldn’t rely on “dick and fart jokes the rest of his life.” Jersey Girl was his first foray outside of the ViewAskew universe. Was it worth the trip, or should Smith go back and stay there?

What is this about?

When a music publicist suddenly faces single fatherhood and a defunct career, only a new love and his daughter’s courage can help him bounce back.

What did I like?

The feels. Remember Up? Almost everyone I know (male and female) have breakdowns watching the first 20 minutes or so of that film. You know the part where they show Ellie growing up and eventually passing away. That same sucker punch to the gut happens in the beginning of this film. We get to know a little bit about Jennifer Lopez’s character, how she met Ben Affleck’s characters, their relationship, etc. Then, tragedy strikes! I guess if you consider Kevin Smith’s other films up to this date, he needed to do something to have people take him and this film seriously. If that is the case, then this is a great way to start!

With a little help from your friends. In every Kevin Smith movie, with the exception of Red State and perhaps this new one he has coming out soon, you can be guaranteed to see certain actors because of his friendship with them. Ben Affleck and Jason Lee are the most closely associated with this phenomenon, if you will. Lee has a small cameo in here (with Matt Damon), but this is the second film where Affleck is the star. The other being Chasing Amy and a case could be made for Dogma. Isn’t it good to have friends like Affleck, Damon, Lee (who was just starting My Name is Earl when this was filmed, I believe), and can call in names like Jason Biggs, George Carlin, Jennifer Lopez, dig up Lady Aberlin from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and somehow land Will Smith in your film?

Meat pies. One of the reason I knew anything about Sweeney Todd when it was released, was because of this movie. The fact that an 8-year-old girl knows about this musical and wants to perform it on stage was awesome. Never mind the fact that it was, as best as I could tell, a Catholic school. Now, try getting away with that today and they’ll have the parental units tarred and feathered, but when everyone is doing “Memory” from Cats, you’re more than happy to make an exception. I’m sure glad Smith decided to not make us listen to all those renditions. I’m not sure the audience could take it!

What didn’t I like?

Liv a little. Liv Tyler is one of the most beautiful and talented actresses around, even if she can’t sing. You would think that since she’s the new found love interest for Affleck’s character, she’s have been given something juicy to do, but that is not to be the case. She has one “typical female” scene, as a friend called it when we saw this years ago, where she spews out a string of emotions toward Affleck. Other than that, she is mostly used as a female presence to replace Jennifer Lopez.

Cameo. The whole reason for the fall of Affleck’s character (he loses his job and has to move in with his father in New Jersey) is because he has a complete blow up in front of a room full of impatient, petulant reporters clamoring for Will Smith to show. Near the film’s conclusion, Smith makes a cameo appearance in a waiting room. This seems like it would be the perfect place for a confrontation, with vitriol coming from one side or the other. Instead, it just turns into a couple of guys talking about their kids, which isn’t bad, especially because of what happens because of their little talk. It just seems that there should have been some kind of conflict there, especially from Affleck, but maybe that’s just me wishing for a fight.

He’s just not ready. Before this, Chasing Amy was Kevin Smith’s most “mature” picture, and even that has ass and titty jokes, not to mention all the juvenile ways it went about discussing the varying acts of love making as a lesbian. That point aside, there is obvious growth between then and this film, but I still don’t think Smith is ready to make these serious pictures. The man obviously knows how to tell a story, even one that tugs at your heartstrings, but the whole time I was watching this I couldn’t help but think that with all the comedy, he was holding back something vulgar or obscene. A couple more films like this, though, and Smith should be ready to be taken seriously.

Here’s a tidbit of trivia for you all. The titular Jersey Girl, played by Raquel Castro, appeared on a season of The Voice. If I’m not mistaken, she was chosen for Christina Aguillera’s team, but didn’t make it to the final. So see, even though critics panned this film almost as much as Gigli (I guess they had something against Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez), it hasn’t hurt anyone. Hell, Affleck has gone to become one of the best directors around today and is about to be Batman, so there you go. As far as this film goes, for me it is one of those films you never forget. Is it the best? No, but in the same breath I have to say that it is far from as bad as the critics want you to believe. I enjoy this film everytime I watch it and recommend that you give it a shot sometime.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars