Archive for Christoph Waltz

Big Eyes

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Directed and produced by Tim Burton, BIG EYES is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. BIG EYES centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.

What people are saying:

“”Well-acted, thought-provoking, and a refreshing change of pace for Tim Burton, Big Eyes works both as a biopic and as a timelessly relevant piece of social commentary”. 3 1/2 stars

“Middling drama from Tim Burton, based on some real life art controversy. There’s some nice integration of pop art into the visuals and some evocatively cartoonish recreations of the era, but there’s something decidedly underwhelming about the film as a whole. Amy Adams is good as always if not always well served by the script, but Christoph Waltz can’t save a character that sadly descends into caricature well before the end. Not up to Ed Wood or even Big Fish standards (comparable as this is another rare film where Burton drops his gothic schtick – although you can clearly see that his animated fare owes something to the big eyed waifs featured in this). You can do worse. You can also do much better.” 2 stars

“Bright yet disturbing, Big Eyes is both an indicator of just how far women have come in the past 60 years and a comment on the commercialization of pop culture.” 4 stars

” It’s not a bad movie, but it is slow (I fell asleep twice). What to say… it’s an interesting story, but it’s just not told in a very riveting way. I wanted to like it more than I did, especially as I usually enjoy Amy Adams. But she seems to be somewhat “dialing it in” these days. I miss the performances of her early career. She amazed me in “Catch me if you can”, and again in “Junebug” (a rather odd little film but fascinating character study). This film can be summed up in one word: “Meh”. ” 2 1/2 stars

“Big Eyes certainly isn’t what you’re used to. It’s unique, it’s compelling, and its cast, led by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, make it entertaining from start to finish. As my girlfriend, Katie, said, “Some of it left me speechless.” Waltz plays the villain so well in every film, and especially in Big Eyes, where you do not realize he is the villain till later on. The story itself is fascinating, and unpredictable, and the “paint-off” at the end in court is the climax that the audience deserves. Although it is not perfect, it definitely shows glimpses of brilliance, which Tim Burton always provides the audience. It will certainly be remembered as one of Tim Burton’s most interesting and realist films, and will also be remembered when it comes to the topic of women’s rights and feminism. It is a sad story, made happy, and was a good film to start of my year at the movies.” 3 1/2 stars

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The Legend of Tarzan

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Margot Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz). But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.

What people are saying:

“The site’s critical consensus reads, “The Legend of Tarzan has more on its mind than many movies starring the classic character, but that isn’t enough to make up for its generic plot or sluggish pace” 2 stars

“Enjoyed it fine. Not gonna change your life; just some fun entertainment. Keep your expectations within reason for this one.” 3 stars

“Must say disappointed with the movie. Thought the gorillas were well done but the ending was absolutely ridiculous. Too many animals fighting against the bad guys. Never knew Tarzan could communicate with alligators. Jackson and Waltz were good as always, but they couldn’t save this. You can survive a fight with an 800 pound angry gorilla, but you have trouble with a lone man. Give me a break! ” 2 stars

“For the knowledgeable Tarzan fan (reader) the story is total crap, however it may be the most watchable Tarzan movie ever. This Tarzan is the real deal, not that crybaby monkey-boy from the Highlander guy. Margot Robbie is exquisite as Jane, and Samuel L. Jackson plays pretty much the same character he always does. Don’t be afraid to give this one a try while waiting for someone, someday, to do Tarzan by the book.” 4 stars

“They’ve turned Tarzan into something of a cross between Spider-Man and Batman although I’m not so sure that old Spidey could of kept up with the vine swinger or that Batman could have laid as many blokes low without his utility belt. With Margot Robbie, as Jane, it would’ve played a whole lot better if they had just got Jason Lee to play Tarzan and called it “Tarzan; Earl of the Jungle” and made a parody out of it as the likes of something Monty Python would’ve done if they had been given the chance. It was so close to a parody that it wouldn’t have taken very much more effort and would’ve probably done much better at the box office. They relied so heavily on CGI that most of the time I thought that I was watching anime rather than a motion picture. But, the question that is really dogging me is why there wasn’t the Tarzan yell in the flick? I’m pretty sure that Alexander Skarsgard is now the 22nd actor to have played Tarzan in a motion picture…but Johnny Weissmuller is still number one in my opinion. I give it one and a half stars but if you were to ask me on a better day I might had gave it two.” 1 1/2 stars

Horrible Bosses 2

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nick Hendricks, Dale Arbus, and Kurt Buckman decide to start their own business after tiring of working for ungrateful bosses. Their idea is a car-wash-inspired shower head called the “Shower Buddy”. They have trouble finding investors until they are approached by Bert Hanson and his son Rex. Bert admires their commitment to manufacturing the product themselves, while Rex prefers to outsource to China, and agrees to invest if they can make 100,000 units. Taking out a business loan, the three rent a warehouse, hire employees, and manage to produce their output. However, Bert backs out of their deal at the last minute, claiming that he never signed an agreement, and he plans on taking their inventory in foreclosure and selling them (renamed the “Shower Pal”) himself, while leaving the three in $500,000 debt with their outstanding loan.

Seeking financial advice, Nick, Dale, and Kurt visit Nick’s old boss, Dave Harken, in prison, who says the three have no feasible legal options to recover their losses. The three then resolve to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom. They seek the help of “Motherfucker” Jones, who says the best way to kidnap someone who knows them is to keep the victim unconscious for the duration of the kidnapping. The three create a ransom note asking for $500,000 and go to the office of Dale’s old boss, Dr. Julia Harris, to steal a tank of nitrous oxide. While there, Kurt and Dale are almost caught by Julia’s sex addiction group meeting; after the group leaves, Nick has sex with Julia, providing the distraction that allows Dale and Kurt to escape the building. The trio goes to Rex’s house, but while they hide in the closet, Dale accidentally turns on the tank and they pass out. When they wake up in the morning, they find Rex gone.

When they arrive back at the warehouse, they find Rex tied up in the trunk of their car. Rex gets out and reveals he found them hiding in his closet, but decided to stage his own kidnapping with them due to his strained relationship with his dad. Rex sent the ransom note to his dad and increased the ransom to $5 million. The three are uncertain of Rex’s plan, but Rex threatens to go to the police if they back out. They call Bert to inform him of Rex’s kidnapping, threatening to kill Rex if Bert calls the cops. However, the police, led by Detective Hatcher, subsequently arrive at their warehouse to question Nick, Dale, and Kurt due to their involvement with Bert. When the police leave, Rex breaks down, knowing Bert cares more about his money than his son. Now sympathetic to Rex, the trio agrees to work with him in the fake kidnapping, and all four devise a plan to outsmart the police and take the ransom money, utilizing untraceable phones, a basement garage to block out any tracking signal, and Kurt disguising himself as Bert.

While the plan is in motion, Nick, Dale, and Kurt find that Kurt left Bert his own phone instead of the untraceable one. They nevertheless call Bert on Kurt’s phone to give him the instructions. Before they leave, Julia arrives at their hotel room and demands to sleep with Dale or else she will report them for breaking into her office. Dale’s wife Stacy, whom Dale has three daughters with, arrives, and believing Dale is cheating on her with Julia, storms off. Dale angrily locks Julia in the bathroom so the three can leave. In the basement garage, Nick, Dale, and Kurt, wearing masks, tell Bert to give back the cell phone. Bert is killed by Rex, who reveals that, after seeing that his father did not care about him, he decided to kill Bert and frame Nick, Dale, and Kurt in order to inherit the family business. Rex forces Kurt to switch pants as Rex’s pants have Bert’s blood on them.

As the trio are about to be cornered by the police, Jones arrives, as he anticipated that the three would be betrayed and killed and was seeking to claim the ransom money for himself. He attempts to help them get back to the warehouse where Rex is supposed to be tied up, with the police chasing them, before Rex does so they can prove their innocence. When they get back to the warehouse, Jones escapes with the money and the police arrive to find Rex tied up. Before the police arrest Nick, Dale, and Kurt, Kurt’s phone rings in Rex’s pocket, and the police recognize the ringtone as the same phone that was left to Bert by the kidnappers. Rex tries to claim the phone is his, but when Hatcher asks why Rex did not bother to call the police if he had a phone, Rex takes Hatcher hostage. Dale attempts to attack Rex, but Rex shoots him, which distracts Rex long enough for Hatcher to subdue him.

A few days later, Dale wakes up to find out that the three did get in trouble, but because Dale helped save Hatcher’s life, the police dropped the charges. He also finds out that Julia helped make amends with Stacy, although she hints at having had sex with him during his coma and promises to have sex with his wife as well. In the aftermath, their business goes into foreclosure, but is subsequently purchased by Harken in prison, who allows the three of them to stay employed. Jones, meanwhile, uses the ransom money to invest in Pinkberry

REVIEW:

What do you do when you make a small film that turns out to be an unsuspected success? Of course you quickly churn out a sequel, because that is how business is done in Hollywood these days. Whether audiences want it or not, we get remakes, reboots, sequels, and prequels, just so studio execs can keep their billion dollar lifestyles. Unfortunately, Horrible Bosses 2 is one of those films that should not have been made, at least not as quickly.

What is this about?

In a renewed attempt to escape their employers’ abuses, the oppressed heroes of Horrible Bosses open a business together. When a slippery investor torpedoes their dream, the boys strike back by kidnapping his son.

What did I like?

Voice of reason. In almost every movie he is in, Jason Bateman plays a no-nonsense, stick in the mud character that is usually the least likable of the cast, or at least one of the least liked. There are times, though, that those same characteristics can work to his advantage. Take for instance this role in which he is paired with two morons, as is said about his partners multiple times throughout the film. Bateman’s character isn’t necessarily the brains behind the operation, but he is the voice of reason, keeping everyone grounded. I shudder to think of where this might have gone had he not been there.

In the cards. Reprising his role from the first Horrible Bosses, Kevin Spacey appears in a couple of quick scenes. I wager these were all filmed the same day when he wasn’t on set for House of Cards. Spacey knocks it out of the park in what may very well have been the performance of the film. He has a Hannibal Lecter type of sophistication about him, mixed with a dose of crazy, thrown in what random bits and pieces that Spacey came up with. It was a joy to watch, especially in the epilogue, but I won’t spoil that.

She can be my dentist. Whew! Jennifer Aniston with dark hair is just…there are no words! Brad Pitt, what were you thinking? Do you not get the picture that you downgraded to that big lipped skeleton you’re traipsing around the world with adopting kids? Anyway, Aniston is not just tasty eye candy, but her character is a little more fleshed out, as we learn she has a sex addiction, which explains a lot of her actions from the first film. Also, she has a collection and needs Charlie Day’s character to sleep with her so that she can complete it. Yeah, she’s still a bit psycho, and the audience loves her for it!

What didn’t I like?

Yammering. I mentioned earlier how Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis’ characters were called morons for a good part of the film. If I recall from the original, that is no change for Day’s character, but Sudeikis was a bit more competent. What happened that turned him into a grown up frat boy, for lack of a better term, I wonder? Why is it that he and Day constantly yammer on about random stuff and the most inopportune moments? Is this supposed to be funny?

Waltz from days gone by. Christoph Waltz has not had a bad performance. Even in bad movies like The Green Hornet, he seems to be a bright spot. That record will not be besmirched by this film, though it is close. I have issue with the way Waltz was portrayed. Obviously, he has a very thick German accent. It is what has made him such a hot commodity. I’m not sure if he was supposed to have been covering it up for this character, or playing someone who was making an attempt to cover up where they were from. Also, this look…it wouldn’t have bothered me, except every time he was on screen, I felt like I was back in 6th grade with my beginning band director, Mr. Ramsey. I wonder if I should tell him that he resembles Christoph Waltz in disguise.

Length. I feel as if this film went on way too long. This is a comedy, there is no need for it to go much past an hour and a half. Truth be told, I lost interest about 10 minutes or so into the picture, and didn’t really come back until the security tapes of Aniston and Bateman were on display. What would I cut to make this shorter? Perhaps cut down the chase scene. This is a comedy, not an action comedy. No need for all that. I’d also cut out all the rigmarole in the last act. It just seemed as if they were talking in circles, which is mostly what this film does, now that I think about it.

Everything that Horrible Bosses was, Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t. This film isn’t funny, charming, witty, innovative, interesting, or anything. It is one of those sequels where the studio noticed that something they just threw out to the wolves, so to speak, made a lot of money, so they want even more. This caused the writers to half ass throw together a script, then we get this rushed product that is far inferior to its predecessor. I liken it to this…when you put toast in the toaster and pull it out before it is toasted, you’ll have somewhat toasted bread, but it won’t be full toast. This film was that partly toasted bread, not quite toast. I don’t have much to say on the positive side for this film, I’m afraid so, as you can just about guess, this is not getting a recommendation from me. You’d be better served torturing your own boss like they did in the first film.

2 out of 5 stars

Epic

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Seventeen-year-old Mary Katherine, or M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), moves in with her eccentric scientist father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), who has been searching for tiny human soldiers called Leafmen. They protect the forest Bomba lives near from evil creatures called Boggans and their malevolent leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). An independent young soldier, Nod (Josh Hutcherson) decides to quit, much to the ire of the no-nonsense Leafmen leader Ronin (Colin Farrell).

The queen of the forest, Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), must choose an heir to her throne and goes out to a field of leaf pods, guarded by a laid-back slug named Mub (Aziz Ansari) and a wannabe Leafman snail named Grub (Chris O’Dowd). Immediately after she chooses a pod, the Boggans attack. Tara flees the area with the pod, and though her bodyguards do their best to protect her, they are soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of Boggans. Eventually, Ronin arrives for her and the pair fly off on his hummingbird mount. They are then attacked by Mandrake and his son Dagda (Blake Anderson). Dagda is killed by Ronin, but Tara is fatally wounded when Mandrake shoots her with an arrow.

Meanwhile, M.K. decides to leave. Before she can leave, the family’s one-eyed, three-legged dog, Ozzy, runs into the woods. While looking for Ozzy, M.K. sees Tara falling. Dying, Tara gives her the pod and uses her magic to shrink her. She tells M.K. to take the pod to a Glowworm named Nim Galuu (Steven Tyler) before she dies, and M.K. joines Ronin and the Leafmen, along with Mub and Grub. Ronin discovers that Nod has entered a race against other creatures and bugs on birds. He goes back on a deal with a tough bullfrog named Bufo (Pitbull) to lose the race. Before Bufo and his two henchmen can kill Nod, Ronin intervenes and orders them to leave. A reluctant Nod joins him, M.K., Mub, and Grub after hearing about Tara’s death.

They eventually find Nim Galuu who leads them down to the scroll library, where M.K. discovers Tara’s brief message before shrinking her, and a message that will get her back to normal size. When Ronin leaves, Nod takes M.K. on a deer ride, and they begin to fall in love. Mandrake (to whom Bufo fearfully reveals the location of the pod, which he overheard from Ronin and Nod) arrives and kidnaps Mub and Grub and imprisons them, along with the pod, which he hopes to bloom in darkness then to use to destroy the forest. To get into Boggan territory undiscovered, M.K., Nod, and Ronin set out to Bomba’s house to get some disguises, where M.K. learns that the Leafmen have deliberately been leading Bomba off their trail.

When they reach the Boggan land Ronin distracts the Boggans while M.K. and Nod rescue Mub, Grub, and the pod. They are eventually found out by Mandrake, who summons the Boggans to stop them. M.K., Nod, Mub, and Grub escape alive, but Ronin sacrifices himself to ensure their escape. Before the full moon can sprout the pod at Moonhaven, Mandrake’s bats block the light, causing the pod to begin sprouting in darkness. As the Leafmen set out to fight the Boggans, M.K. sets out to get her father for assistance. However, upon regaining consciousness, Bomba believes that he didn’t really see M.K. and that he has been insane all these years, and shuts down all his cameras, but changes his mind when he sees a red push-pin that M.K. had put on his map while they were getting disguises.

Bomba is overjoyed to see that he has been right and when he follows M.K. to Moonhaven, he uses his iPod to make bat sounds, causing the bats to follow Bomba. Meanwhile, Mub and Nim Galuu try to stop Mandrake from reaching the pod, but are unsuccessful. Just then, Ronin appears, bearing scars and bruises from the Boggans. Mandrake manages to outdo him, but Ronin is defended by Nod, who finally realizes the importance of teamwork. Before Mandrake can obtain his victory, the moonlight takes over the pod before it blooms in darkness, causing it to bloom in light and defeat the Boggans.

The chosen heir is the flower child who helped save Tara earlier in the film. Grub becomes a Leafman, Nod and Ronin reconcile, and Nod and M.K. kiss before M.K. is returned to her original size. After reuniting with Bomba and becoming his assistant, the human family still keeps regular contact with their small friends as they continue the research of their world.

REVIEW:

With a title like Epic, one would expect some sort of epic adventure, right? That is what this picture intends to be, but I’m not quite sure it accomplishes that goal. Still, I am curious as to the journey it takes us on, not to mention the fact that this film was advertised for like a year, and never seemed to be released until it could be buried amongst the summer blockbusters, rather than coming out at another point in the year, where it could capitalize on the family market.

What is this about?

Magically transported to an enchanted forest, a teenage girl joins forces with a scruffy group of residents fighting a battle against evil — and soon realizes they must win to save both their world and hers.

What did I like?

Scum and villainy. The thing any epic film needs is a great villain. Since this film involves a mysterious heir to the throne, you just know there has to be some bad guy out there who wants the crown to himself. Enter Mandrake, the evil Boggan leader, voiced by Christoph Waltz. Character-wise, he is the typical bad guy, but when you throw in the vocal stylings if Christoph Waltz, there is just a new level of sophisticated evil that wouldn’t be there, otherwise.

Animation. This is some truly breathtaking animation. Seeing the world from the viewpoint of someone who is 2 inches high and then the human world from her viewpoint, as well, was imaginative and impressive. It is amazing to see how far  inferior computer animation (I still prefer traditional hand drawn and/or stop-motion) has come over the years.

What didn’t I like?

Voices carry. Have you ever listened to someone on the radio without ever seeing them, and then suddenly you get the chance to see what they look like and it is nothing like what you expected? Well, this film is the exact opposite. While the voice cast is pretty good, I didn’t feel as if many of the voices fit the characters, save for Beyoncé as the Queen and, as much as I hate to say this, I believe that was only because of her race. Surely, they could have done a better job with the voices than this. Christoph Waltz was one of the few exceptions, as were a handful of others, but for the most part, this was bad casting.

Is it over yet? So, I was sitting through this film and I couldn’t help but notice that for the gorgeous spectacle that this is, the film itself is not even close to be interesting. It doesn’t matter how much action, stunning visuals, or what have you is put into a film, it still has to be entertaining and not coma inducing. Apparently, these filmmakers didn’t get that memo.

Epic is a film that can best be summed up in two words…epic fail. For all its efforts to capture the kind of charm that Pixar and DreamWorks films receive, it fails horribly. For me, this just didn’t work, but I can see how kids and younger audiences would have a blast with it. Do I recommend it? Yes, if you’re into this kind of film, but I have to also say there are much better flicks than this.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Django Unchained

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Django (Jamie Foxx) and his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) are sold at a slave auction. While Broomhilda is sold to an unknown buyer, Django is bought by the Speck brothers (James Remar and James Russo). When Django and a number of slaves are being transported across the country, the Brothers are confronted by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter who uses his former profession as a dentist as a cover for his bounty hunting activities. Schultz frees Django and kills the Speck brothers. He reveals that he sought out Django because Django can identify the Brittle brothers—Ellis, Big John and Little Raj—a band of ruthless killers with a price on their heads. Schultz and Django come to an agreement: in exchange for helping locate the Brittle brothers, Schultz will free Django from slavery entirely and help him rescue Broomhilda from Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a plantation owner who is as charming as he is brutal. On his plantation, Candyland, male slaves are trained to fight to the death for sport, while female slaves are forced into prostitution. Django agrees, and the two go after Candie and the Brittle gang. Shultz confesses that his profession of bounty hunting is opportunistic but he also mentions to Django that he “despises slavery”.

After hunting down and killing the Brittle brothers, Schultz takes on Django as his associate in bounty hunting. Django is initially uneasy about his newfound role, but soon proves himself to be a talented bounty hunter. After collecting a number of bounties over the course of the winter, Schultz and Django confirm that Calvin Candie is Broomhilda’s current owner. After scoring an invitation to Candyland, they devise a plan where the two of them pose as potential purchasers of one of Candie’s slave fighters in order to reach Broomhilda. Upon their arrival, Schultz introduces Django as his equal, which causes hostility at Candieland, where racist attitudes are considerably more pronounced than on other plantations. They are shocked to witness Candie execute a slave by having attack dogs tear him apart, but quickly come to an agreement to purchase a fighting slave. Schultz improvises on their plan and also purchases Broomhilda, claiming that as a fortuitous coincidence he noticed that Broomhilda speaks German and felt that she would help alleviate his nostalgia for his mother tongue.

The plan goes awry when Candie’s head slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) realises that Schultz and Django are more interested in Broomhilda than purchasing a fighter. Correctly deducing that Django and Broomhilda are husband and wife, Stephen informs Candie, who, armed with this information, demands $12,000 for Broomhilda or else he will kill her in front of Django. Left with no other choice, they agree, but Candie’s humiliating behaviour enrages Schultz, who kills him after the paperwork finalising the sale is completed. Schultz is shot as Django tries to escape Candyland, slaughtering most of the household before being subdued. As punishment, Stephen arranges for Django to be sent to a coal mine and worked to death. En route to the mine, Django convinces the slave drivers that he is a bounty hunter, showing them the handbill from his first kill as proof of his claims. Once freed, he kills the slave drivers and rides back to Candyland.

Once inside the plantation, Django continues his slaughter of the household, planting dynamite as he goes. He leaves Stephen alive inside the mansion and takes the certificate of freedom that Candie signed for Broomhilda as part of the purchase agreement before his death. Finally free, Django and Broomhilda ride away from Candyland as the dynamite explodes, killing Stephen and wiping Candyland off the map.

REVIEW:

This time last year, there were three movies that I was super excited to see. One of them got pushed back to the coming spring, while another went on to be the summer’s and one of the year’s biggest hits, The Avengers. Then we have Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s ultra violet, controversial, spaghetti western. A flick that I’ve been looking forward to since I found out what it was about.

What is this about?

Former dentist, Dr. King Schultz, buys the freedom of a slave, Django, and trains him with the intent to make him his deputy bounty hunter. Instead, he is led to the site of Django’s wife who is under the hands of Calvin Candie, a sadistic plantation owner.

What did I like?

No fear. Earlier this year, when Red Tails came out, the African-American community all but crucified George Lucas for basically making a film about how they were treated when he wasn’t of the same race. The same kind of thing is going on here with Tarantino and his handling of slavery and people’s attitudes during the time, but I’ll get to that a little later. Personally, I don’t care what color the filmmaker is, as long as he makes a good film. Tarantino is one of the few in Hollywood with the balls to try this.

Leo. I remember when he was nothing more than a recurring guest star on Growing Pains. Now, Leonardo DiCaprio is a bona fide movie star, arguably one of the biggest names in Hollywood. He turns in a great performance as Calvin Candide, the sadistic plantation owner. Not only is his performance over-the-top, in terms of southern charm, but the intensity he brings to the table (figuratively and literally) is something that we haven’t really seen from him before. A critic I was reading the other day said that this is the performance of his career and that this could possibly get him that Oscar nod, if not for the controversy this film is steeped in.

Story. Quentin Tarantino has never been known as someone who can’t tell a great story. Look at his other films, if you question his story telling. You can argue the point that this may very well be his best work, in terms of storytelling, and many would agree with you. I’m not sure where I stand on that, but it definitely is up there. He really knows how to mix comedy and the more serious tones that were taken in parts. The yin and yang, if you will, make for an entertaining time.

Jackson Waltz. Christoph Waltz is one of the actors who has really gained fame here in the last few years, along with the likes of Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender and, to a lesser extent, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. As we saw in The Green Hornet, he does have some comedic chops to go with his immense acting talent. While Jamie Foxx’s character is a man of few words, Waltz takes lead and carries the film, until the time when Foxx grows some balls and gets excited about “getting paid for killing white folks”. Samuel L. Jackson (how can this be a Tarantino film without him?) gets to really flex his more comedic chops as the head house slave. I really think they didn’t even write some of these lines and he just ad-libbed most of his lines.

Bloody. Let me be perfectly clear on this. If you cannot stomach seeing people get their heads blown off and copious amounts of blood, then there really is no reason for you to be watching. I’m not one for blood and gore, but when it is over the top as it is here, I’m all for it, plus this is a western, so I was loving it from the get go. I know some people are going to say that the gushing blood was too much or that it was unrealistic, but for me, it was perfect! There are plenty of other “real” things going on in this film.

What didn’t I like?

Length. Every one of Tarantino’s films has been way too long for its own good and this is no exception. Someone needs to get ahold of that man and shake him until he stops dragging these things out so. There was no need for this to be nearly 3 hours long when he could have very well just cut out a good 30-45 minutes worth of useless filler.

Big Daddy. Don Johnson was a great southern plantation owner, not as good as DiCaprio, though, but I have to wonder why this career comeback he’s on has him playing these racist characters. First, he was all about killing Mexicans in Machete, and now he’s all about owning slaves.

Music. Tarantino is known for not using original music for his films, which is fine. It actually sets him apart, but there is a scene here where they are riding through the countryside, but they play some kind of rap song. I’m not a big rap fan in the first place, but this really seemed like it was out of place, even more so in a western. If he wanted to use that song, then the credits would have been the place to use it.

N word. The elephant in the room is the frequent use on the N-word. Tarantino is known for using it in every one of his films, but for some reason he tries to pull a Randall from Clerks 2 and apparently take it back, since he uses it some 200 or so times. There have been some critics tearing the use of the word. Spike Lee, he of such upstanding racial views, has said he is boycotting because it offends his ancestors. While I don’t particularly care for using it so many times, this is a movie about slavery, so you can’t expect it to be used a few times. Also, if two prominent African-American actors don’t have any issues with it, then why is everyone making such a big deal about it? The N word is one of those that stirs up lots of emotions and Tarantino should have known better than to use it so much.

Django Unchained has been one of the films here at the end of the year that has become a critics’ darling, along with Les Miserables. I totally enjoyed the hell out of this film, with its mix of action, comedy, suspense, drama, and a slight love story. I would love to recommend this to everyone, but I can’t. This just isn’t the flick for everyone, as it has a few elements that are sure to offend. For those of you that aren’t easily offended, though, I highly recommend it. As a matter of fact, why aren;t you rushing out to see it right now?!?

5 out of 5 stars

The Three Musketeers

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Venice, the Three Musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans), with the help of Athos’ lover, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), steal airship blueprints made by Leonardo Da Vinci. However, they are betrayed by Milady, who gives the blueprints to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Upon returning to France, the Musketeers are forced to disband by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) for their failure.

One year later, the young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves Gascony for Paris in hopes of becoming a Musketeer, like his father once was, only to learn that they no longer exist. D’Artagnan ends up challenging Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the leader of Richelieu’s guard, to a duel after being offended by him, but Rochefort merely shoots him while he’s distracted. In an attempt to get revenge, D’Artagnan offends Athos, Porthos and Aramis for petty reasons, and schedules duels with each of them, at the same day and at the same place, but in different times, not knowing who they are.

Before they can duel, however, D’Artagnan and the Musketeers are attacked by the guards for breaking the law by having a public duel. They fight the soldiers off, at which point D’Artagnan discovers their true identities, but end up being captured and brought before the young King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) and his wife, Queen Anne (Juno Temple). Richelieu attempts to convince them to execute the four prisoners, but they are too impressed, and congratulate them instead, much to Richelieu’s anger.

Later, Richelieu meets with Milady, who is actually working for him. He orders her to plant false love letters among Queen Anne’s possessions and steal Queen Anne’s diamond necklace and hide it in the Tower of London with the objective of framing Queen Anne of having an affair with the Duk of Buckingham, who is in France on behalf of the King of England, and who has built a fully armed airship using the designs stolen from the Musketeers. The affair would force King Louis to execute Queen Anne and declare war on England. At this point, the people would demand a more experienced leader for the country: Richelieu himself. Before leaving, Milady demands that Richelieu gives her an authorization declaring that she was working on behalf of France’s best interests.

However, Queen Anne’s lady-in-waiting Constance Bonacieux (Gabriella Wilde) discovers his plan and pleads with the Musketeers to stop Richelieu. They follow Milady and Buckingham to London, while Constance is kidnapped by Rochefort for helping the Musketeers to escape from him. Meanwhile, King Louis finds the false letters and is advised by Richelieu to set up a ball in which Queen Anne would be forced to wear the necklace. If she doesn’t, then her affair is real, and there will be war.

In London, Milady warns Buckingham of the Musketeers arrival, claiming that they want revenge for being outsmarted by Buckingham one year prior. Buckingham captures D’Artagnan and prepares to interrogate him when D’Artagnan reveals that he was acting as a decoy to allow the Musketeers to steal Buckingham’s airship. They rescue D’Artagnan and capture Milady, who gives them the authorization in an attempt to have her life spared. Upon realizing she failed, she jumps out of the airship into the English Channel.

The Musketeers recover the necklace and return to London, only to be attacked by Rochefort, piloting an airship secretly built by Richelieu, who was given copies of Da Vinci’s blueprints by Milady. Rochefort feigns an attempt to exchange Constance for the necklace in order to capture D’Artagnan, but the Musketeers come to his rescue and the two ships crash in the Notre Dame Cathedral, where D’Artagnan fights and defeats Rochefort, rescuing Constance, who returns the necklace to Queen Anne.

The Musketeers arrive at the ball and, for the sake of King Louis’ and his people, lie by saying that Rochefort was trying to sabotage an airship that Richelieu built for them, for the purpose of identifying a traitor. To convince King Louis, Athos presents Milady’s authorization, which King Louis accepts. Richelieu, satisfied, offers the Musketeers a place in his army, but they refuse, which infuriates Richelieu, who swears revenge.

Meanwhile, in London, Milady is rescued by Buckingham, who reveals that he intents to avenge her and destroy the Musketeers. It is revealed that Buckingham is advancing towards France with a massive fleet of airships and sea-faring ships

REVIEW:

One review I heard about this film said that it was “yet another in a long line of unnecessary (modern) interpretations on the classics [sic]”.

I have to agree and disagree with that statement. On one hand there have been countless takes on The Three Musketeers, most of which are forgetful. On the flipside of things, this version is a new take on the Dumas classic.

It has been some time since I’ve read the actual novel, so details are a bit sketchy, at best, in my head, but with a few exceptions, I think this kep pretty close to the source material, which is a huge plus. It is a well-known fact that I don’t particularly care for massive deviations from the source material.

Now, this film was another of those wonderful 3D flicks (not the sarcasm, there). No, I didn’t shell out the extra $$$ for it. I did think about it, though. For some reason, I was thinking the Milla Jovovich scene would be great in 3D. Strangely enough, the few scenes that looked like they might be worth seeing in 3D were all contained in the first 10 minutes of the film.

One would thing with all the swordplay that should be  encompassed in a film like this that some thrusts and parrys towards the audience would be great use of the 3D. Not to mention those death-defying traps Milla had to twist and turn through in bullet time. I guess that would just make too much sense, though. At least, to my knowledge, it was converted at the last minute.

The action scenes in the film are great. Of course, it is kind of hard to screw up swashbuckling sword fights and an occasional pistol thrown in there for good measure.

The airship scenes are amazing. Whether you like this film or not, that climactic battle is a must-see.

If there is a drawback to the action part of this flick, it has to be the overuse of bullet time. This is something that has been plaguing films ever since the release of The Matrix. For some reason, filmmakers have felt that since it worked so well there, they need to keep it going ad nauseum. While in some instances, it is a good technique, there is sch a thing as too much.

The plot, as I mention, is very close to the actual novel, so I can’t fault them for that, but I think that they didn’t spend enough time developing the musketeers. I say this because it seemed like every other scene was either the Cardinal or Milady (who just happens to be married to the director).

I have a bit of an issue with the cast. The film is set in France, and yet almost every member of the cast has a British accent! WTF?!? That isn’t right!

On top of that, the way Louis and Anne were portrayed irked me. I know he is supposed to be something of a petulant child and whatnot, but his obsession with fashion and his mannerisms led me to believe that he was homosexual.

With Queen Anne, I couldn’t help but think of the child-like princess from The Neverending Story or the empress in Dungeons & Dragons. This is not to say that is a bad thing, especially given that she was youthful, I just think she looked a little too young.

The musketeers, on the other hand,m were perfectly cast, though I couldn’t help but think of Aramis, played by Luke Evans, as some kind of mixture of Antonio Banderas and Orlando Bloom.

Logan Lerman, who you may know better as Percy Jackson, really shocked me with his acting chops in this film. I honestly wasn’t expecting him to be as good as he was. Tell me again, why they didn’t want him to be Spider-Man in that unnecessary reboot?

As D’Artagnan, he has that youthful exuberance and cockiness we have come to expect from the character, and he seems to have some really good chemistry with the musketeers which is what was really necessary to make this believable

One review I read called Orlando Bloom’s performance as the villainous Buckingham “cartoonish”. Well, you know what, for the tone of this film it really works! On top of that, how often do we get to see him as a villain? If he wants to go all Snidely Whiplash with his villanous exploits, then by all means, don’t criticize the man. I think he did a good job.

Christoph Waltz was great, but there were times when it seemed as if he was making an attempt to channel John Malkovich with his speech patterns. It was kind of odd.

Milla Jovovich, for all her beauty and hotness, just did not belong in the world. There are some actresses that just seem like they were made for period roles, Milla is not one of them. On the other hand, though, she did a decent job portraying the duality of Milady and her deceptions, as well as pulling off those stunts, but let’s be truthful here…if not for her husband directing, she would not have been in this role.

One more note about Milla…she apparently has been criticizing Summit Entertainment for marketing this as a “family film” and accusing them of only promoting the Twilight films, while all the rest of their films have to fend for themselves.

I see where she’s coming from with the second half of that accusation. There wasn’t much promotion on this side of the pond. I think the only interview I saw for it was Orlando Bloom on Chelsea Lately, which isn’t exactly the most influential audience (even if it does include me). Yet, when that new Twilight flick comes out they’re sure to shove it down our throats.

As far as the family film aspect goes, I don’t recall them ever saying this was a family film. If they did, it was only because it was one of those previews before something more family friendly and was just a break from the animated trailers. I  don’t know how well this is doing at the box office this weekend, but my guess si that it isn’t doing as well as she thinks it could be, given the scathing reviews its been getting.

Despite those reviews, I checked it out myself and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is what you might call a popcorn film. Lots of action, a little romance, a little comedy, and some explosions. What else do you need, seriously? By all means, yes, you should rush out and see this, just don’t pay for the 3D, it won’t be worth it.

Now I want a 3 Musketeers candy bar!

4 out of 5 stars

The Green Hornet

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) is a mobster who wants to control crime in L.A. He speaks with Danny “Crystal” Clear (James Franco), a crystal meth dealer and club owner in L.A. Chudnofsky asks Clear to make him the owner of his club. Clear disagrees and says that Chudnofsky is boring and not scary. Chudnofsky kills Clear’s men. Before leaving, he asks what he could do to become more intimidating. After Clear gives him a suggestion, Chudnofsky leaves and bombs the club.

Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is the 28-year-old son of James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), publisher of the Los Angeles newspaper The Daily Sentinel. Britt is an irresponsible playboy who throws wild parties to embarrass his father, a stern disciplinarian who has always been disappointed in him. However, Britt’s attitude changes when James is found dead from an allergic reaction to a bee sting. After the funeral, Britt fires the staff except for his maid and Kato (Jay Chou), James’s mechanic and a skilled martial artist.

Britt and Kato get drunk together and, upon agreeing that they both hated James, visit the graveyard to cut the head off James’ memorial statue as payback. After they succeed, they see a couple being mugged and rescue them. Britt and Kato are themselves mistaken by police for criminals and chased through the streets, but Kato evades them and they return to the mansion.

Britt convinces Kato they should become crime-fighters who pose as criminals in order to infiltrate the criminal underworld, and also to prevent their enemies from using innocents against them. Kato agrees and develops a car outfitted with several gadgets and weapons, dubbed Black Beauty. Britt plans to capture Benjamin Chudnofsky, a Russian mobster who is uniting the criminal families of Los Angeles under his command, and whom his father was trying to expose. To get Chudnofsky’s attention, Britt uses the Daily Sentinel as a vehicle to publish articles about a “high-profile criminal” — the Green Hornet.

Britt hires criminologist Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) as his assistant and researcher and uses her unwitting advice to raise the Green Hornet’s profile. Britt and Kato blow up several of Chudnofsky’s meth labs, leaving calling cards so Chudnofsky can contact them. Throughout all this, Daily Sentinel managing editor Mike Axford (Edward James Olmos) fears this single-minded coverage will endanger Britt’s life and District Attorney Frank Scanlon (David Harbour) frets over public perception that he cannot stop the Green Hornet.

Britt asks Lenore out, but she rebuffs him and instead invites Kato to dinner, making Britt jealous. Kato learns from her that mobsters often offer peace summits to rivals in order to get close enough to kill them; Britt then tells Kato that Chudnofsky has offered them such a meeting. Kato tries dissuading him, but Britt, feeling overshadowed, follows his instincts. Chudnofsky tries to kill them but Kato’s quick thinking saves them.

Barely escaping to the mansion, Britt and Kato fight. Britt fires both Kato and Lenore, whom he believes to be in a relationship. Kato receives an email from Chudnofsky on the Hornet’s calling-card email address, offering $1 million and half of Los Angeles if he kills Britt. Meanwhile, Britt discovers Scanlon is corrupt and that he tried to bribe James into downplaying the level of crime in the city in order to help his career.

Scanlon invites Britt to meet in a restaurant, where he reveals he murdered Britt’s father. Kato arrives, and instead of killing Britt, he attacks Chudnofsky’s men, allowing him and Britt — whom Chudnofsky deduces is the real Green Hornet — to escape. They head to the Daily Sentinel, where Britt intends to upload a recording of Scanlon’s confession onto the Web — and belatedly discovers he did not manage to record it. Chudnofsky and his men follow the duo there and a firefight ensues. Kato ultimately stabs Chudnofsky in the eyes in self-defense and Britt guns him down. A SWAT team appears and fires at the Green Hornet and Kato, while they use the remains of their nearly demolished Black Beauty to run Scanlon out the 10th-floor window, killing him. The Green Hornet and Kato flee to Lenore’s house, where she learns their secret identities and that she has been the accidental mastermind behind the Green Hornet’s plots. She is furious, but nevertheless helps them hide from the police and tends to Britt’s shoulder gunshot wound.

The next morning, Britt promotes Axford to editor-in-chief and stages being shot in the shoulder by Kato, further establishing the Green Hornet as a threat (and allowing Britt to get treated by professionals in a hospital). Later, the two weld James’ stolen bust back onto his memorial statue. Now with Lenore to aid them, Britt and Kato vow to continue protecting the law by breaking it.

REVIEW:

It is actually kind of funny that I watched this today. Yesterday morning, while watching an episode of Fat Albert, there was an episode of The Brown Hornet (a parody of The Green Hornet), on there, and this morning while watching episodes of the old Batman series, The Green Hornet and Kato guest starred. I guess some things are just meant to be, huh?

So, what is The Green Hornet about? Well, as with moth superhero films, we have to start with a tragedy that molds them into a superhero. In this case, it is the death of Britt Reid’s father, by what we assume to be a bee, but know better. After some loathing, and tasting some horrible coffee, Britt calls in Kato and hires him to come in and make coffee. In the process, he learns that Kato is more than just a mechanic and superior barista, but basically a mechanical genius.

After this revelation, the two realize that they are wasting their potential, and decide to go out and do something about it, such as cut off the head of Britt’s father’s statue. This leads them be thought of as criminals, which gives Britt the idea that they could be superheroes, while everyone else thinks they’re villains.

In their “normal” lives, Britt has taken over his dad’s paper, The Daily Sentinel, and is running almost nonstop stories on the Green Hornet. Enter Lenore, the obscenely hot temp, who really serves no purpose than to just be hot.

While all this is going on, the villainous, not to mention comical, Chudnovsky is planning a big coup of all the gangs in L.A., but to do that, he wants the Hornet eliminated, and this is where we get the film’s climax.

Oh, and somewhere in there was some friction between Britt and Kato involving Leonore.

Let me say, first of all, that I had very low expectations for this film. I mean, The Green Hornet show never really impressed me. Second, Seth Rogen as the titular character, just didn’t bode well.

However, I have to say that I was a little more than impressed with the finished product.

The action scenes were great, especially the ones involving the cars. One can even go so far as to say the car is the real star of this film.

I wasn’t too crazy about the bullet time targeting thing that Kato had going on, mainly because they never really explained it. Well, I guess they did, but it just seemed like that was just tacked in there to make the conversion to 3D worth it.

Speaking about 3D, I didn’t see this in theaters, and quite frankly, I didn’t see anything that would justify me spending the $$$ to have done so. I believe this was one of those post production conversions to 3D, but I didn’t see anything that looked like it should have even been thought about being in 3D. The filmmakers would have done just as well leaving this film in 2D, and save everyone the headache, but of course, they seem to believe that the only way they’ll make money nowadays is if it is in 3D.

Let me get off my soapbox and back to the film. The cast was ok. I commend Seth Rogen’s committment to this role. He even lost alot of weight so he could play this role. Now, that point aside, anyone could have done this role a thousand times better. From what I know about Britt Reid, he’s not a sarcastic class clown like they made him here, so they messed that up. However, they nailed Kato.

Jay Chou is not a name we know here in the states, but after seeing him in the role, I think  we may have found the next Jackie Chan, Jet Li, or….dare I say it…Bruce Lee! Yes, he is that good!

Christoph Waltz is the real highlight of the cast. His mixture of ruthlessness and comic relief made for arguably the best character in the film.

Cameron Diaz, for all her hotness, was just wasted here. I seriously belive they could have gotten any hot chick to play this role and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Here’s a little game for you, see if you can find Edward Furlong. I’ll give you a hint…Chudnofsky kills him after his lab gets blown up by the Green Hornet and Kato.

I have to say one thing about the score to this film. The best thing about The Green Hornet show was the theme song. You’d think they’d have found some way to incorporate that into this somewhere. Heck, the thins is in Kill Bill vol. 1, and they did try to get the original Hornet to appear, but scheduling conflicts kept him out. If you’re going to remake an old TV show, it is best to pay homage to the orignal as much as you can, in my opinion, and the theme would have been the penultimate way to do so.

So, is this a superhero film that deserves your attention. No, as a matter of fact, The Green Hornet doesn’t do anything memorable. The credits might very well be the most eye-catching part of the film, which is quite sad. Now, don’t get me wrong. This film isn’t horrible, and it is far from being the worst superhero film ever made. It just isn’t that great. I would say you should see it if you want, but don’t go in with high expectations. This is just an average flick, for a superhero that not many people know about.

3 out of 5 stars