Archive for Matthew Modine

The Dark Knight Rises

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City is in a state of peace. Under powers granted by the Dent Act, Commissioner James Gordon has nearly eradicated violent and organized crime. However, he still feels guilty about the cover-up of Harvey Dent’s crimes. He plans to admit to the conspiracy at a function celebrating Dent, but decides that the city is not ready to hear the truth. While following a lead in the abduction of a congressman from the function, Gordon’s speech falls into the hands of Bane. Gordon is shot in the process, and he promotes patrol officer John Blake to detective, allowing Blake to report directly to him.

As Batman has disappeared from Gotham City, so too has Bruce Wayne, locking himself inside Wayne Manor. Wayne Enterprises is crumbling after he invested in a clean energy project designed to harness fusion power, but shut the project down after learning that the core could be modified to become a nuclear weapon. Both Blake — who has deduced Batman’s identity — and Gordon implore Bruce to return as Batman, but Alfred Pennyworth objects out of concern for Bruce’s future and resigns in a failed attempt to dissuade him.

Bane stages an attack on the stock exchange and uses a stolen set of Bruce’s fingerprints to place a number of risky investments in his name, bankrupting Bruce and forcing him to relinquish control of Wayne Enterprises. Correctly suspecting that his business rival, John Daggett, has employed Bane to aid in this aggressive take-over of his company, Bruce entrusts businesswoman Miranda Tate to keep full control out of Daggett’s hands. Bane, however, has other plans, and kills Daggett to take control of his infrastructure.

Following a trail left by cat burglar Selina Kyle, Batman confronts Bane, who says that he has assumed the leadership of the League of Shadows following the death of Ra’s al Ghul. Bane reveals that he was using Daggett’s construction firms to stage a heist on Wayne Enterprises’ Applied Science Division. He steals three Tumblers before crippling Batman and detaining him in a prison from which escape is virtually impossible. The other inmates relate the story of the only person to ever successfully escape from the prison: a child driven by necessity and the sheer force of will, said to be the child of Ra’s al Ghul, leading Batman to believe that this child became Bane.

Bane lures the vast majority of Gotham’s police force underground and sets off a chain of explosions across the city, trapping the officers and turning Gotham City into an isolated city-state. Any attempt to leave the city will result in the detonation of the Wayne Enterprises fusion core, which has been converted into a bomb. Bane publicly reveals the cover-up of Dent’s death, and releases the prisoners locked up under the Dent Act. The rich and powerful are dragged from their homes and put before a show trial presided over by Jonathan Crane. After an attempt to sneak Special Forces soldiers into the city fails, the government blockades Gotham and the city further regresses into a state of anarchy.

Meanwhile, Bruce recovers from his injuries and retrains himself to be Batman. He successfully escapes Bane’s prison to return to Gotham, enlisting Selina, Blake, Miranda, Gordon and Lucius Fox to help liberate the city and stop the fusion bomb before it grows too unstable and explodes. Batman confronts and subdues Bane, but is betrayed and stabbed by Miranda as she reveals herself to be Talia al Ghul. It was she who escaped the prison as a child, before returning with her father and the League of Shadows to rescue Bane, the one person who aided her escape. Talia plans to complete her father’s work in destroying Gotham, while exacting personal vengeance against Bruce for Ra’s death.

Gordon successfully cuts off the bomb’s ability to be remotely detonated while Selina kills Bane, allowing Batman to chase Talia. He tries to force her to take the bomb to the fusion chamber where it can be stabilized, but she remotely floods the chamber. Batman shoots her truck off the road and Talia dies in the resulting crash, confident that the bomb cannot be stopped. Using a helicopter developed by Fox, Batman hauls the bomb beyond the city limits, where it detonates over the ocean and presumably kills him.

In the aftermath of the explosion, Batman is praised as a sacrificial hero and Bruce is believed dead as a casualty of riots. As his estate is divided up, Lucius is shown completing work on the Bat, realizing that Batman may have escaped the detonation after all due to the fact the autopilot was fixed by Bruce many months before. Alfred is also shown holidaying in Italy, where he sees Bruce and Selina having coffee together at a nearby table. It is also revealed that Blake’s legal first name is Robin (comics), as he inherits the Batcave

REVIEW:

When The Dark Knight came out a few years back, everyone seemed to all but bow down and worship it because it was supposedly the best film ever made. I was one of the handful of people who didn’t seem to see it that way. A few friends have wondered if I am going into The Dark Knight Rises with similar disdain. The answer is no, but I do have my reservations.

Before I go any further, I feel I should make a statement about the tragedy that has befallen the small town of Aurora, CO, following the shooting. For those that don’t know, a gunman went in the theater to see this film, and opened fire, effectively killing and wounding quite a few people. I don’t know if this film had anything to do with this happening, but it truly is a shame that it happened. My heart is heavy and mourning for those affected by this tragedy.

So, what did I like?

3D. Or should I say lack of 3D? With seemingly every film released these days being released, made, and/or post converted to 3D, for the sole purpose of making more money, not a better film, mind you, I tip my hat to Christopher Nolan and his decision to not film this in 3D, nor did he cave in and convert it. There are plenty of scenes that may have looked great in 3D, but, at least for me, there hasn’t been anything to justify making that switch. I really can’t tell the difference, other than paying for some rented sunglasses!

Tone. I had one major complaint with the last film, and that it was a little too dark and serious for my taste, which is kind of ironic, since they used the Joker as the main villain. This film, though, lightens things up, and actually feels like a comic book film. Yes, it has moments that are dark, but as a whole, this is a more pleasant viewing experience.

Continuity. Film series these days seem to think about moving forward and making more and more money, but not many of them seem to remember things that went on in their universe. So, you can imagine my delight to see some moments from the previous films as the trilogy comes to climactic conclusion.

Cerebral. Christopher Nolan is no dummy, and neither are his films. He brings this level of cerebral thinking to a villain that, for the most part, isn’t really known for his brains, Bane. The complex plots he hatches are impressive, to say the least, just watch the opening scenes and you’ll be more than aware of what this guy can do.

Bane. Speaking of Bane,  I remember when he debuted in the comics and broke Batman’s back, which led to a replacement Batman for a while, but that’s neither here nor there. I was wondering if they were going to use that in the film, and they sort of did, but not to the full extent, I would have liked, but I guess I shouldn’t complain. At least it was in there, unlike the venom that pumps him up, for instance.

Catwoman. I love Anne Hathway. I have since the first time I saw her in The Princess Diaries. However, I”m not quite sure  she works as Catwoman. That being said, I give her all the credit in the world for making this her own character and not trying to be Julie Newmar, Halle Berry, Lee Meriwether Michelle Pfeiffer, or Eartha Kitt. While this may not be the most memorable Catwoman, she is the closest to the source material in the Nolan universe.

Talia. Marion Cotillard is a vision of loveliness and if you ever seen Talia al Ghul in the comics, then it isn’t very hard to see why she was chosen to play her. I’m not too crazy about how little she was used, but the misdirection was quite impressive. It sure had me fooled!

Action. The action in the flick is awesome, if I do say so myself. They really upped the ante. I literally got goosebumps when they are driving though the tunnel and all of a sudden the light go out and Batman takes out the crooks one by one. The fight with Bane, the chase scenes, oh…and the scene at the stadium. Awesometacular, but the final fight, that was a thing of beauty!

What didn’t I like?

Voices. First we have Christian Bale doing that raspy thing. It didn’t work in the last film, what the hell possessed him to think it would work this time? He really should have gotten the memo. Also in the category of bad voicing is Tom Hardy’s Bane. When the first trailer was released his voice was a raspy and a little hard to understand, but it worked. For some reason, someone decided to change it and give him this Sean Connery-type voice that doesn’t really work. It comes off as cartoonish as Batman’s voice did annoying.

Batsuit. We’re in the third film, you’d think by now the Batsuit would look like something more than some kind of exoskeleton by now. The part that sticks out to me the most, though, is the next. Something didn’t quite look right, I think it was something to do with the neck piece and the way the cowl is made. It gives the illusion that Batman is a sort of bobblehead.

Alfred. He’s only in about 10% of the film, but that whole time he’s bitching and moaning about how he doesn’t want Bruce to be Batman anymore, and then leaves. WTF?!? Why in tarnation did the decide to make Alfred such a whiny little bitch? He’s never been one of those characters that kicks some ass, obviously, but he’s loyal and unquestioning. This just goes against everything Alfred stands for!

Too much Wayne. So, it is eight years after the events of the last film, and Bruce Wayne has hung up the cape and cowl. That’s fine, he has to get back to being Batman. Bane breaks him…same kind of thing. Somewhere in there, though, shouldn’t someone have thought there was a little bit too much Bruce Wayne? No one is interested in Batman because of Bruce Wayne. We got his story in Batman Begins, and that was enough. While I’m thinking about it, how is it that he can grow a fully stylized beard in a desert prison, yet it wasn’t that long ago, when he was in Tibet, that he had a full on, scruffy, shaggy beard.

Villains. In all the Batman films, there has been at least one villain that is a strong presence, be it the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, etc. However, I found that Bane, while physically imposing and such, he just didn’t come off as strong enough to carry the film. Catwoman and Talia were nothing more than villainesses with a purpose, but nothing more. Considering how much they shoved Catwoman down our throats during the whole marketing campaign, I was expecting more.

Ending. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but there is a character reference that just makes you wonder, wouldn’t it have been better to have it happen earlier on in the film, or maybe even at the end of the last film, rather than the last thing you see before the credits roll.

The Dark Knight Rises has apparently pissed some people off that have said anything negative about it. Why else would Rotten Tomatoes have shut down the comment section of their review of this film. Luckily, I don’t have much negative to say about this film. All my complaints are minor. I really did enjoy this film and think it may very well be the best Batman film since Batman (1989). Definitely a fitting end to the trilogy. Sure, some people are going to be disappointed, but that’s because they hold the last film to such impossibly, unwarranted high standards. I highly recommend this film and think you should get off that couch right now and go see it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Full Metal Jacket

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

During the Vietnam War, a group of new United States Marine Corps recruits arrives at Parris Island for recruit training. After having their heads shaved, they meet their drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). Hartman, tasked with producing battle-ready Marines, immediately begins abusing his recruits in an attempt to harden them. The film focuses its attention on Privates “Joker” (Matthew Modine) and “Cowboy” (Arliss Howard), while the overweight Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D’Onofrio) draws the wrath of Hartman, who nicknames him “Gomer Pyle”.

Unresponsive to Hartman’s constant discipline, Pyle is paired with Joker. With this help, Pyle begins to improve, but progress is halted when Hartman discovers a jelly doughnut in Pyle’s foot locker. Feeling that the recruits have not helped in motivating Pyle properly, Hartman decides to adopt a policy of collective punishment: For each time Pyle makes a mistake, Hartman will not punish Pyle, but will punish the rest of the platoon. As a result, during one night the platoon hazes Pyle with a blanket party, pinning him to his bunk with a blanket and beating him with bars of soap wrapped in towels. Joker reluctantly joins in and beats Pyle several times. In the following weeks, Pyle undergoes a transformation, becoming a model Marine, which impresses Hartman. However, Pyle also displays signs of mental breakdown – including social withdrawal and talking to his M14. This leaves Joker concerned for Pyle’s well being.

After graduation, each recruit receives an assignment to an occupational specialty, with most, including Pyle, being sent to the infantry, though Joker is assigned to Basic Military Journalism, which earns him the ridicule of Hartman. On the platoon’s last night on Parris Island, Joker is assigned to fire watch, during which he discovers Pyle in the head loading his rifle with live ammunition. Joker attempts to calm Pyle, who begins shouting, executing drill commands, and reciting the Rifleman’s Creed. The noise awakens the entire platoon and Hartman, with the latter confronting Pyle. Pyle fatally shoots Hartman, then aims his rifle at Joker, who pleads to Pyle to “go easy”. Pyle finally manages to calm down, but, being shocked at murdering Hartman, commits suicide.

The film jumps to January 1968; Joker has become a corporal and a Marine Combat Correspondent in Vietnam with Stars and Stripes, assigned to a public-affairs unit with Private First Class Rafterman (Kevyn Major Howard), a combat photographer. Rafterman wants to go into combat, as Joker claims he has done, though one of his colleagues mocks Joker’s inexperience, claiming he doesn’t have the thousand-yard stare. The sound of nearby gunfire interrupts their argument: the North Vietnamese Army has begun the Tet Offensive and attempts to overrun the base.

The journalism staff is briefed the next day about enemy attacks throughout South Vietnam. Joker’s commander, Lt. Lockhart, sends Joker to Phu Bai, a Marine forward operating-base near Huế. Rafterman accompanies him to get combat experience. There, they meet the Lusthog Squad, where Cowboy is now a Sergeant and second-in-command. Joker accompanies the squad during the Battle of Huế, during which the enemy kills their commander, Lt. Touchdown (Ed O’Ross).

During a patrol north of the Perfume River, Crazy Earl (Kieron Jecchinis), the team’s new squad leader, is killed by a booby trap, leaving Cowboy in command. The squad becomes lost in the rubble, and Cowboy orders Eightball (Dorian Harewood) to recon an area, where the latter is shot several times by a sniper. Fearing that the squad is walking into a trap, Cowboy calls for a tank via a radio. Fearing that Eightball will not make it, the squad’s medic, Doc Jay (John Stafford) attempts to retrieve Eightball against orders, but is shot numerous times in the process. The sniper refrains from killing the wounded men with the intention of drawing more of the squad into the killing zone. Cowboy learns via the radio that the tank is not available for assistance and orders the team to prepare for withdrawal, but the squad’s machine gunner, Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin), disobeys Cowboy’s order and moves up to the open to try to indicate the sniper’s location. Animal Mother learns that there is only a sniper and no other threat in the area, but Doc Jay and Eightball succumb to their wounds. Animal Mother requests to the rest of the team to move up. As the squad maneuvers to locate the sniper’s hidden position, Cowboy is shot and killed.

With Cowboy dead, Animal Mother assumes command of the survivors. Under the cover of smoke grenades, the squad advances on the sniper’s position where Joker locates the enemy soldier on an upper floor. His rifle jams as he tries to shoot. The sniper, revealed to be a young girl, hears Joker’s gun clicking and opens fire on him. Joker takes cover behind one of the building’s support beams, which barely provides enough protection. Just as it appears that Joker is going to be killed, he is saved by Rafterman who shoots the sniper and kicks her gun away after she falls to the ground. As Animal Mother and other Marines of the squad converge, the mortally wounded sniper begins to pray and repeatedly begs for death, prompting an argument about whether or not to kill her. Animal Mother decides to allow a mercy killing only if Joker performs it. After some hesitation, Joker shoots her with his sidearm. The Marines congratulate him on his kill as Joker stares into the distance. The film concludes with the Marines marching toward their bivouac, singing the Mickey Mouse March. Joker states that despite being “in a world of shit” that he is glad to be alive, and is unafraid.

REVIEW:

A good number of my friends from high school chose to forgo/postpone college after graduation and head to the Marines. Now that they’ve finished they’re time in the service, they all seem to be putting a little bug in my ear to watch this film, so I finally caved.

Full Metal Jacket is a war drama that is told in such a way that you would think it is two separate stories. Before I go on, let me clear up that the title has nothing to do with Full Metal Alchemist (it’d be cool if it did, though, huh?), but rather it is a term for the magazines of a rifle that Marines use.

The first half of the film is spent allowing the audience to watch a platoon of cadets go through basic training. It seems like that would be uninteresting, but the nonstop barrage of insults that the Sgt., played by R. Lee Emery, hurls at the men, especially “Gomer Pyle”, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, really makes it quite entertaining.

The second half is a bit more serious, as we follow Private (now Sergeant) Joker, played by Matthew Modine, as he is now on assignment in Vietnam as a reporter. Eventually, he is reunited with Cowboy and the audience is exposed to what it ‘Nam was like for them.

If you listened to 2 Live Crew back in the day, then you may recognize some lines that came directly from one of the prostitutes in the film.

This film does something that many war flicks don’t do and that is it doesn’t glorify war and/or basic training. It is gritty and violent, especially for 1987, but even though there are comedic moments, one does not forget that this is a war flick.

Some have said that the comedy was too much. I don’t really know what’s wrong with them. It fits perfectly and doesn’t take anything away. If you want a totally serious war flick, then go watch Saving Private Ryan.

So, what is my final opinion about this flick? It is a really great war film, perhaps even the best that I’ve seen. Sure, it has its flaws and all, but don’t all films? I highly recommend this film. you won’t be disappointed!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Any Given Sunday

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film deals with the fictional Miami Sharks, a once-great team now in turmoil and struggling to make the playoffs. It examines many different aspects of American football, including the players, staff, front office, politicians, and press, and the pressures that they face.

In the final game shown on screen, Miami manages a come-from-behind win in the final seconds against the Dallas Knights, winning the first round of the playoffs. Off-screen, Miami beats Minnesota in conference championship, but loses to San Francisco in the Pantheon Cup Championship.

At D’Amato’s final press conference as head coach, all feuds have been resolved or at least put on hold and he leaves on a positive note, being thanked by owner Christina and the media for his contributions to the team. D’Amato is then expected to announce his retirement, but then drops a bombshell and announces that he’s been hired as head coach and general manager of the expansion Albuquerque Aztecs. Then he says he just signed Willie Beamen as his starting quarterback and franchise player. Despite the initial hysteria among the media and owners, the general consensus that this is the best solution because D’Amato and Crozier (backed by Christina) cannot co-exist. As the scene ends, Christina and the other executives are angrily asking Crozier how he could have let Beamen finish the season without re-signing him to a longer contract for the Sharks.

REVIEW:

There are a number of football films out there, but none that chronicle the meteoric rise of a backup quarterback ans his relationship with an aging coach, while at the same time dealing with an overzealous owner. Any Given Sunday does just that, and then some.

If I’m not mistaken this is Jamie Foxx’s breakout role. Before, or maybe at the same time, he still had his own show on the WB, The Jamie Foxx Show. While this is a dramatic role for him, and maybe a precursor of the great things to come, there are comedic and arrogant moments, but what do you expect from a showboating quarterback, right? He also makes contributions to the film’s soundtrack.

Al Pacino…need I say more? The man continues to prove why he is one of the greatest actors to ever grace the screen. As Coach Tony D’Amato, he is conflicted with trying to keep his old school ideals while at the same time dealing with a changing game and constant pressure from the team’s owner. Pacino gives some of the greatest speeches in the film, though, that’s for sure.

Cameron Diaz is usually cast as some sort of sexy, often ditzy, blonde in her roles. That is not the case here, as she portrays the callous, cold hearted team owner, who, as the league commissioner puts it “…would eat her young if she had any…” Not exactly the kind of character you expect Cameron to be playing, but she does a good job with her, and as a matter of fact, she is one of, if not the most unlikable characters in the film.

James Woods plays the teams physician who has become corrupt becuse of the the team’s winnign ways and will risk the health of the players to keep winning. That is, until his intern, played by Matthew Modine uncovers the secret. Ironically, he faces the same situation near the film’s end.

LL Cool J, Dennis Quaid, and Lawrence Taylor all play important roles in the film and Willie Beamen’s progression from unsure 3rd string qb to cocky starter, and back to earth.

Screen legends Ann-Margaret and Charlton Heston make appearances as Cameron Diaz’s mother and the league commissioner respectively.

A number of NFL players appeared in the film, most notably Terrell Owens, whose character doesn’t seem to be any different than his current personality (remember this film was released in ’99, before he became T.O.).

This film is filled with lots of excellent game scenes, but it must be remembered that even though this is a football film, the focal point is on the drama the main characters are going through. Oliver Stone developed a great film here that gives us some insight into what goes on behind the scenes. A perfect choice for any football fan.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars