Archive for Jordi Molla

Blow

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Johnny Depp turns in a quietly powerful performance at the heart of this Ted Demme-directed drama as real-life coke smuggler George Jung, who rises from poverty to become one of the biggest drug dealers in America before his eventual downfall.

What people are saying:

“Johnny Depp shines in this amazing film. Depicting the rise and fall of real life coke smuggler George Jung, this film tells an amazing true life tale with the right amount of humor, drama and ultimately sadness. Not too many films can effectively make you root for the bad guy. The fact remains… Depp gives the right amount of sympathy and charisma to the character of Jung that it’s easy to forget his real life crimes and empathize with his decisions. At times inspirational and ultimately tragic, this movie is a winner on all levels. Look for a hysterical cameo by Bobcat Goldthwait. This film is a gem.” 5 stars

“Comes off like a flamboyant cartoon, another film about the deglamorization of glamorous people living it up in the glamorous world of drugs.” 2 stars

“Yes it’s cliche and yes it does appropriate from other movies, however it works. Depp commands the screen and the subtle plot and theme shift from ambition to o a more sentimental lesson – Blow, is still a thoroughly enjoyable ride.” 3 1/2 stars

“Blow is an excellent absorbing crime drama with a good cast. Depp is good, but his smaller bit players like the actress who plays his Mom or Diego or Paul Reubens are very memorable too. The movie paints the crime smuggler in a sympathetic light, which may ring false to some but ultimately its a well acted drama with a talented cast. Cliff Curtis and Emma Roberts were good too.” 4 stars

“Much better than I expected. Rather than over-glamorizing the life of a drug lord, it shows Jung to be just a regular guy. But a regular guy with an exceptional story. “Blow” reminded me not to judge people soley on their actions, because you never know what pushes people to do what they do. It really makes you feel for a man who, as a high-volume drug dealer with multiple arrests, would often be dehumanized. On a less emotional note, don’t let the R rating scare you. It’s mostly for the drug references & a prevalent use of the “f” word. Only one major sexual scene (which can be skipped without losing any of the plot), and little violence (none that’s graphic), especially for a film about drug dealers.” 5 stars

Advertisements

Riddick

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Five years after The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick has become increasingly uneasy in his role as Lord Marshall of the Necromonger fleet. His refusal to swear into the Necromonger faith has caused dissent among his subjects. Riddick strikes a deal with Commander Vaako; the location of Furya and a ship to take him there, in exchange for Vaako becoming the next Lord Marshall. Led by Vaako’s aide, Krone, Riddick and a group of Necromongers arrive on a desolate planet. Recognizing it is not Furya, Riddick kills most of his escort when they attempt to assassinate him. In the chaos, Krone causes a landslide and buries Riddick alive.

Emerging from the rubble with a fractured leg, Riddick manages to reset and splint his broken leg and fend off native predators: vulture-like flying animals, viper-like swarms of water animals and packs of jackal-like beasts. Needing time to heal, Riddick hides himself within some abandoned ruins. Riddick later sees a vast savanna beyond some rocky cliffs, but the only passage through is guarded by poisonous, scorpion-like creatures called “Mud Demons” which inhabit several muddy pools. As he builds an immunity to the Mud Demon’s venom, Riddick improvises melee weapons, while raising and training an orphaned jackal-beast pup. The two eventually succeed in defeating the Mud Demons and reach the savannah. Riddick soon realizes a massive series of approaching storms are unleashing countless more of the Demons, who must keep their skin wet at all times to survive. Needing to get off-world, Riddick activates an emergency beacon in an empty mercenary station, which broadcasts his identity and presence on the planet.

Two ships promptly arrive in answer to the beacon; the first a group of bush-league bounty hunters led by a violent and unstable man named Santana, and another better-equipped team of professional mercenaries led by a man who is not initially identified but is named Boss Johns. Riddick has left them a blood message vowing death to every merc unless they leave one of their ships and depart the planet on the other. Rubio, Nunez and Falco are killed during the first night, forcing a reluctant Santana to cooperate with Johns. Riddick later manages to steal power nodes from each of the teams’ ships and then approaches Johns and Santana to strike a deal for their return. However, the conversation turns out to be an ambush. Johns’ second-in-command, Dahl, shoots Riddick with powerful tranquilizers. In an effort to defend his master, Riddick’s alien jackal brutally attacks Santana, but is shot multiple times in the throat.

Back at the Merc Station, Johns interrogates Riddick about the final fate of his son, William J. Johns (the mercenary from Pitch Black). When the storms finally reach the station, large numbers of Mud Demons emerge from the muddy ground, and besiege the station, killing Lockspur and Moss. Johns agrees to release Riddick in order to locate the hidden power cells. Santana stops him and attempts to kill Riddick, who is worth twice as much dead as he is alive. Riddick instead beheads Santana thus keeping his earlier promise to kill the merc and avenge the death of his pet.

They then fight their way to the ship which houses the hover bikes with Vargas being killed. Johns, Santana’s man Diaz, and Riddick leave the ship together on hover bikes on a mission to retrieve the power nodes. During their journey, Diaz knocks John’s bike over the side, causing him to crash. He is then picked up by Riddick. After they reached the power nodes, Riddick reveals to Johns about his son’s addiction to morphine and a spineless attempt by his son to utilize a child as ‘bait’ for the hostile animals on the world they were stranded on ten years prior. With both of them distracted, Diaz attempts to kill Riddick and Johns. Riddick fights and kills him, but not before unintentionally damaging the only working hover bike (Diaz had already disabled the other one).

Riddick and Boss Johns fend off a seemingly endless horde of Demons while running back to the station. Riddick is severely wounded. Johns takes both nodes and abandons Riddick. After treating his wound, Riddick begins to fight a futile battle against the advancing Demons. Just when it seems he is about to be killed, Johns arrives in one of the ships and shoots the creatures while Dahl descends to rescue Riddick. Riddick then takes the other ship and—as he flies away from the planet—he is stopped by Johns in the other ship. Johns asks Riddick where he will go, but thinks better and decides to not know. Riddick praises Johns for being a better man than his son and departs into deep space. In the theatrical version, this was the end of the movie, while in the extended version, there is an additional scene which takes place aboard the Necromonger ship.

REVIEW:

Vin Diesel really loves the character of Riddick. He has had a major part in everything from the design of the guy to scripting at least one of the films. It is refreshing to see an actor put that much work into one character, even if it is one that isn’t as popular as he could/should be. Riddick brings the night vision having badass back for another adventure, but do audiences want to see him?

What is this about?

In this extraterrestrial sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick, Vin Diesel returns as the grim antihero, who finds himself marooned on a lonely planet. Hoping an emergency beacon will save him, Riddick instead attracts deadly aliens and mercenaries.

What did I like?

Back to basics. There is a reason Riddick hasn’t been on the screen in quite some time. Well, two reason, actually. First is because Vin Diesel has been busy with the Fast & Furious franchise. Second, anyone that know what an abomination and insult The Chronicles of Riddick was will tell you how much of a miracle it is that this film even made it past the rumor stage. Thankfully, Diesel and the writers were able to take this back to what worked so well for this guy back in Pitch Black. Not to steal a comparison from another movie review site, but he is like Wolverine. The first time we saw him in X-Men (this happens in film and print), he was a bad ass, but they watered him down and “caged the beast”, if you will, with the second film, effectively taking away everything that had worked so well.

Intimidation plays a factor. These big bad mercenaries land on this planet and are more than determined to collect the bounty on Riddick. However, they find collecting that bounty is easier said than done. He single-handedly, well with a bit of distraction by his alien jackal pet. They never do manage to catch him, so this leads to Riddick walking up to the mercenaries’ camp. After a pretty intense showdown, they put him in chains and interrogate him. After all this is done, he manages to get a machete lodge it in the ceiling, then when it falls, he balances it on his foot and then kicks into one of the mercenaries’ throats, slicing it in half. All this is done in 5 seconds! Not bad for a guy who can’t see in the daylight, huh?

One-liners. The previous two Riddick films were so serious that they were no fun. I don’t know about you, but I need some levity in my sci-fi action. Luckily, Vin Diesel knows how to deliver some quick quips. His emotionless deadpan delivery makes these one-liners all the more funny. Also, it should be noted that the writers were smart enough to not go overboard with the jokes and inserted a couple here and there just to lighten the mood.

What didn’t I like?

Dry run. I went into this, based on opinions from others who had seen this already, expecting a fun action flick. There were fun moments and the action is there, but nowhere near as many as I was led to believe. The whole first hour or so, give or take a few minutes, had me half asleep and looking at my watch (besides the fact that it needed to be reset because of Daylight Savings Time). If I would’ve seen that in the theater, I would have been pissed that I wasted money to watch. Thankfully, it does pick up, but I’m not particularly sure it makes up for the beginning scenes.

Let it go. No one liked The Chronicles of Riddick, and yet this film shoehorns a plot device involving Karl Urban’s character. I think the extended version also has a scene at the end of the film. Thing is, without those scenes, this could very well have taken place anywhere in Riddick’s timeline. Maybe they should have taken a hint from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and avoid any mention of its predecessor except for what was absolutely needed.

Starbuck. Katee Sackhoff is not bad looking, as most people would agree. There was some hype about her “nude” scene. It was nothing more than a quick shot of her left breast. That isn’t my complaint. What I have issue with is how she is used. I can’t really picture Sackhoff as some sort of damsel in distress. As a matter of fact, give her dark hair and we may have a proper Wonder Woman, rather than the stick that will be masquerading as Diana in Batman vs. Superman. What is the issue, though? Well, it seems to me that this is a character very similar to what she did on Battlestar Galactica. I don’t think she should be typecast in these similar roles, though. This is something very similar to what I said regarding Lisa Kudrow in my review of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. However, Kudrow has gone on to break the mold and create a bevy of her own characters, Sackhoff seems to be destined to do the same thing over and over again, even in her voice work.

As I sit here thinking of what I ultimately thought of this film, one thing comes to mind. Vin Diesel really loves this characters and wants audiences to embrace him. That is fine and dandy, I just don’t think this is the film to bring in new fans. That being said, I could be wrong. While this film didn’t light up the box office, it did stick around for a few weeks, so maybe there is more interest there than presumed. Do I recommend this? Yes, but not strongly. It is good enough, but like the other films in the franchise, it doesn’t do anything to make Riddick a memorable character.

3 out of 5 stars

Revisited: The Alamo

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins in March 1836 in the Texas town of San Antonio de Bexar (now Downtown San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas), site of the Alamo, where bodies of Texan defenders and Mexican attackers are strewn over the Alamo. The film then flashes back to a year earlier. Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) attends a party where he tries to persuade people to migrate to Texas. He meets with Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton), recently defeated for reelection to Congress. Houston explains to Crockett that as an immigrant to Texas, Crockett will receive 640 acres (2.6 km2) [a square mile] of his own choosing. Crockett, with a grin, pointedly asks Houston whether this new republic is going to need a president.

Meanwhile, in San Felipe, Texas, the Texas provisional government is meeting to discuss what action to take after the recent capture by the Texans of the Alamo and Bexar from Mexican forces at the first Battle of San Antonio de Bexar. Texas having rebelled against Mexico and its dictatorial president Santa Anna, who is personally leading an army to retake the Alamo, the Texan War Party calls for the Texas army to depart Bexar, cross into Mexico and confront Mexican forces at the town of Matamoros. The Opposition Party seeks to rebuild the Texan army and establish a permanent government to be recognized by other nations of the world. The provisional government votes out Sam Houston as commander of the Texas army. While having drinks with Jim Bowie later, the disgusted Houston tells Bowie to go to San Antonio and destroy the Alamo.

William Barret Travis (Patrick Wilson) is also in San Felipe, reporting for duty. His character is quickly established as a man who seeks respect as a uniformed military officer, a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army. Interlaced scenes show him granting his wife a divorce (for his adultery, abandonment, and “barbarous treatment”), and seeking to begin a new life in Texas. The Texas provisional government orders him to take command of the Alamo. There he meets Col. James Neill (Brandon Smith), who informs him that Travis will be in command of the Texas Army regulars while Neil is away on leave. Travis, alarmed that the Alamo’s small force cannot withstand the Mexican Army, which is rumored to have thousands of foot soldiers, plus the formidable Mexican cavalry. Again he sends a rider to deliver his plea for reinforcements. More small groups of Texan men arrive, but not enough for the impending battle. Travis oversees preparations for defense against inevitable attack, in hopes that enough reinforcements will arrive.

Crockett arrives in San Antonio, where he tells a crowd, “I told them folks they can go to hell, I’m going to Texas”. He is told that the other defenders are impatient for Santa Anna to arrive now that Crockett is on hand, and Crockett replies, “I understood the fighting was over… Ain’t it?” For the first time in any film about the Alamo or Davy Crockett, the viewer is shown the political aspirations of Crockett and possibly his real intentions for traveling to Texas: not so much to fight for freedom, but to seek new opportunities. The movie implies that he’s caught in the middle and cannot escape. Santa Anna soon arrives in San Antonio, much to the surprise of the Texan fighters, who were not expecting the Mexican Army to arrive until late March or early April. The Texans retire to the Alamo compound despite its vulnerability, and begin fortifying it as best they can. Amid the chaos Travis writes letters asking for reinforcements. Only a couple dozen men arrive to join them.

Santa Ana’s army surrounds the Alamo compound and the siege begins. Bowie leaves the Alamo to meet with Mexican General Manuel Castrillón (Castulo Guerra) to talk things out before they get out of hand. However, an incensed Travis fires the 18-pound cannon on the south-west wall, thus cutting short Bowie’s impromptu attempt at diplomacy; this virtually ends the chance to the forestall the Mexican attack. Bowie returns to tell Travis that Santa Anna has offered surrender at discretion. Travis offers all within the Alamo an opportunity to leave. Almost to a man the defenders decide to stay and fight to the end. At least one woman remains, Mrs. Susanna Dickinson (Laura Clifton), whose husband, Lt. Almeron Dickinson (Stephen Bruton), has decided to stay. Bowie becomes debilitatingly ill and lies in a cot in one of the buildings. For the next several nights the Mexican Army band serenades the Texans with the “Degüello” (slit throat), followed by an artillery bombardment of the surrounded compound. Convinced that the Texans will not leave the Alamo, Santa Ana orders a blood-red signal flag to be raised, the sign for “no quarter”. The flag is visible also to the Alamo’s defenders, who know its meaning.

Bugle calls along the Mexican front line in the predawn darkness awaken the Texans, who rush to their posts. The Texans also hear the battle cry of the Mexican soldiers: “Viva Santa-Ana!” After a long brutal battle the Mexicans, despite taking heavy casualties, breach the north wall of the mission. Travis is killed, shot in the head by a young Mexican soldier storming the north wall. A small group of Mexican engineers, armed with axes and crowbars, assault and break down the boarded-up doors and windows of the west wall, while another small group storms the southwest wall. The few surviving Texans fall back to the buildings; they are all killed. Attackers discover the bedridden Bowie in his room, where he fires his pistols and attempting to fight with his knife. Crockett is taken prisoner. He promises Santa Ana to lead him to Sam Houston for the Mexican Army to surrender and maybe survive; Santa Ana refuses the mocking offer and orders Crockett to be executed.

Days later, after hearing that the Alamo has been taken, Houston, once again in command of the remnants of the Texan army, orders a general retreat eastward. His army and the families of most of the soldiers flee. They are pursued by the victorious Mexican Army, led by the confident Santa Ana. (Historians call this near-panic flight the “Runaway Scrape”.) A few weeks later, Houston halts his retreat near the San Jacinto River (north of the future site of the City of Houston), where he decides to face the Mexicans in a final stand. With the support of two cannons and a small group of mounted Texans (“Tejanos”), Houston’s army surprises Santa Ana’s army during its afternoon siesta. During the ensuing short rout (called by the victors the Battle of San Jacinto), the vengeful Texans massacre at least two hundred Mexican soldiers and capture General Santa Ana—whose identity is given away when Mexican prisoners respond to his presence by whispering “El Presidente”. Santa Anna surrenders to the wounded Houston, and in exchange for his life agrees to order all Mexican troops to withdraw from Texas and to accept Texan independence. The last scene in the movie shows the spirit of Crockett playing his violin on the top of the Alamo and then looking out on the horizon

REVIEW:

Being a native Texan, I have a soft spot for the history of my home state, specifically the story of the great battle that took place at The Alamo. Everytime I’m in the city of San Antonio, there are two things I make sure to do, buy a Spurs shirt and visit the Alamo, complete with historical tour. Does this film inform and entertain the masses about that bloody battle, though, is the question.

What is this about?

Based on actual events, this period drama tells the story of a small Texas mission where, in 1836, nearly 200 men stood their ground for two weeks as they were attacked by Mexican forces led by President Santa Anna.

What did I like?

Story. If you’re watching this film, then chances are you are more than likely doing so because you have at least a fleeting interest in the Alamo and the history surrounding it. This film manages to gives us an interesting take on the bloody battle the spurred and sparked the Texas Revolution. I think some of the facts and whatnot were obviously changed for movie purposes, but this isn’t a documentary, so it can be forgiven to a point.

Sam Houston. Dennis Quaid gives one of the best performances that I’ve seen from him as General Sam Houston. Being a native Texan, it would appear that this was a bit of a passion project for him. He may not have been on screen much, but when he is, you pay attention, especially when it comes to his speech before leading his troops off to the Battle of San Jacinto.

Battle. While it may not have been the best battle scene on the big screen, you cannot deny that when we finally get to the battle for the Alamo, it is intense and powerful. Whether you care or not for these characters, is irrelevant, partially because you know they all die, but it is like a car or train wreck, you can’t help but look in awe. I think the bloody nature of this battle was captured masterfully.

What didn’t I like?

Crockett. I have no problem with Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett. The guy is a native of Tennessee playing a folk hero from that state. Like Quaid with Sam Houston, I believe it was a dream role for him. However, I felt that the film focused too much on him, when it should have been focused on the battalion as a whole. Sure, Crockett and  Thornton are big names, which means they are going to get some major time on screen, which I accept, but there are limits. I don’t think Davy Crockett was conveniently the last survivor, for instance.

Exposition. As a fan of old westerns, I appreciate how this film seemed to be taking that approach used by those films, which is to save everything for the big climax. However, it seemed like this was nothing but senseless exposition. Yes, it developed our major characters and explained the ins and outs of why this battle is important, but it just didn’t seem to resonate with me that way it should. Mayhaps I was just ready for the big battle to happen.

Slaves. This is a minor complaint, but the slaves, actually I think they were servants. It was mentioned that at least one of them wasn’t a slave, but wasn’t free, either. At any rate, the scenes with them seemed to be a bit odd. It felt like the director was trying to go with some comic relief, but it didn’t really work out the way he thought it would.

When all the dust clears, bodies counted, and the armies have moved on, it is clear that The Alamo is not a film that will go down as the greatest ever. Having said that, had a few things been tweaked here and there, it very well could have been. Personally, I love this film, but I love all stories involving the Alamo and Texas history, so there is a bit of a bias there. I implore you to check this out sometime as it is definitely a film you should see before you die!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Bad Boys 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Eight years later, Narcotics cops Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) head a task force investigating the flow of ecstasy into Miami, after breaking up a Ku Klux Klan rally where in Mike accidentally shoots Marcus in the buttocks which, combined with Mike’s apparent propensity for violence, becomes a point of contention between the two throughout most of the film.

Meanwhile, neurotic Cuban kingpin named “Johnny” Tapia (Jordi Molla)’s plan to control the city’s drug traffic has touched off an underground war with the local Russian Mafia. The Russians, Alexei and Abdulla, receive drugs from Tapia to run their nightclub businesses, but had to give nearly half of their profits to Tapia. Their attempt to renegotiate ends in Josef’s death and loss of their business to Tapia.

Meanwhile, a relationship starts to form between Mike and Syd (Gabrielle Union), Marcus’ sister, who also happens to be undercover with the DEA as a money laundering agent for the Russians. During her first assignment the Zoe pounders, a Haitian gang, attempt to hijack the transport and kill Syd. A massive fire fight ensues between the gang members and the Miami Police/DEA and devastates the local area. Marcus and Mike, who happened to be observing the Zoe pounders, learn of Syd’s actual work, and Marcus is not happy.

Marcus and Mike confront the Haitian gang leader and find out about The Spanish Palms Mortuary, a business run by Tapia’s Mother, is being used to smuggle drugs in and out of Miami. Disguised as pest terminators, they penetrate Tapia’s mansion and find out that Tapia is using dead bodies in the mortuary to smuggle his drugs and money to Cuba. Syd, still undercover with the DEA, has successfully charmed Tapia but is found out, captured and taken to Cuba.

Mike and Marcus, along with their team,composed of ex-Delta Force commandoes prepare a plan to recover Syd from Tapia’s capture. A long gunfight ensues and eventually the Cuban military arrive outnumbering the team. As Tapia’s newly built house is destroyed by a bomb with his Mother and Daughter inside, Mike, Marcus and Syd manage to escape, pursued by the infuriated Tapia. After a lengthy car chase they end up at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. As Marcus and Syd plead with the soldiers, a gunfight erupts between Tapia and Mike. Marcus gets the opportunity to fire his last bullet and shoots Tapia in the head, narrowly missing Mike’s. Tapia’s body falls on a mine and his corpse explodes.

Later, at the Burnett house, Mike has bought Marcus a new pool, and Marcus finally comes to peace with Mike dating his sister, Syd. He even tears up the transfer papers he was going to put in, which would have ended their partnership. However, the pool breaks again, washing the two into the river, as they sing the “Bad Boys” theme song from ‘Cops’. (still forgetting the actual words like before).

REVIEW:

Micheal Bay’s entire directorial career has been all about blowing stuff up and corny humor that doesn’t quite sit right with the tone of the film. Bad Boys II is no exception, but that doesn’t mean it’s not any good.

Both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return for the sequel to 1995’s Bad Boys. Their characters haven’t changed much, except Smith is a little more mature, while Lawrence is even more of a nervous wreck that he’s had to go to therapy. If cop movies have taught us anything, its that odd couples work the best. You would think after 8 yrs, the chemistry would have staled, especially when you consider the different directions these guys’ careers have gone, but it is still as fresh as it was in the first film.

Why make a sequel if you’re not going to insert some new blood, right? Well, this is no doubt the reason Gabreille Union comes in, not to mention the fact that she’s uber hot! I would love to sit here and heap the praises on her, but I just can’t do that. It’s not that she isn’t convincing, but rather the fact that she’s underused. In her first scenes, she’s made out to be an independent woman who can hold her own, but it ends up with her as a damsel in distress. Usually, I’m all for the damsel in distress and all, but it was a bit confusing trying to figure out which they were going for here.

A movie that deals with drug smuggling has to have a good drug boss. This honor goes to Jordi Molla, who plays Johnny Tapia. Tapia is violent, but caring. He goes out of his way to protect his daughter from hearing foul language and keeps his drug lord lifestyle from her. Initially, I thought he was doing the same with his mother, but turns out she’s in on the whole thing as well. Tapia is such a caring guy, you almost feel sorry for him in the end….almost.

The action scenes and the inserts of comedy are what really make this film. It doesn’t go into that dark place that many cop and drug films tend to. However, I did feel it was a bit long. There were just some scenes tht seemed like they were meant to be included in an extended cut or on the extra on a DVD, such as the scene where they take the video camera and talk about their feelings in front of a camera, or where they meet Marcus’ daughter’s date. Both scenes are pretty funny, don’t get me wrong, but they just seemed to not fit in with the rest of the film.

This is a really good action film. Say what you will aout Michael Bay, he knows how to direct action…and blow stuff up. If you’re looking for mindless fun, then this for you, just be ready to enbdure the 145 minute running time.

5 out of 5 stars