This adaptation of Harry Potter's 5th year at Hogwarts marked the… MoreThis adaptation of Harry Potter's 5th year at Hogwarts marked the start of David Yates's tenure as director for this series, and it's a position he'd have for the rest of this epic story's duration. It's also the second shortest film in the series, which is a troubling thing considering it is based on the longest of the books.
Things are starting to get real, and really series for Harry following the events of the previous outing. The wizarding world is in a curious state about the return of Voldemort, with a lot of people torn about whether it's really going on or not.
As a result, Harry finds himself in a difficult spot as he struggles to deal with these problems, as well as the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. As the bureaucratic powers that be begin to crackdown on growing suspicions about the return of Voldemort, Harry and his loyal friends start taking matters into their own hands, knowing that it's pretty much the only way to get anything accomplished, despite all the risks involved.
This is a bit of a tough one for the series. As I said, this film is the second shortest, and it's based on the longest book. Unfortunately that means that the film is an extremely streamlined adaptation, with few of the subplots, and a fair amount of condensing of the main story. It also continues the tradition of having a darker tone, though there are still some lighter moments and fun things, though not a nice blend of menace and whimsy like previous entries accomplished.
The core cast return and continue to get better and better. New additions like Helena Bonham Carter and Imelda Staunton are fantastic additions, and make for some gloriously scene stealing villains that are an absolute joy to watch. The music, though not done by Williams, is decent, though I wish they could have stuck more with the type of scores from other films.
The cinematography however, is something I really don't have any complaints with. It's moody, atmospheric, and gets the job done nicely. I think that Yates is a bit wobbly here at times, but can't get too mad as this was his first crack at the series.
All in all, this is a decent movie, but it could and should have been far better. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the book, I'm not sue it needed to be as long as it was. That being said though, I can understand why this film had to get some things, though I wished they could have done a better job at selecting what to keep and what to toss.
I should probably hate on this film a little more, but I find that a little hard to do. I mean yeah, it's flawed, but it's also part of an already ambitious series, and it does get a fair amount of stuff right, so I'll let it slide with the slightest possible 3.5/5 possible.
Roughly a decade or so after the courtroom slaying of crime boss Papa… MoreRoughly a decade or so after the courtroom slaying of crime boss Papa Joe Yakavetta, the MacManus Brothers and their dad are living quiet lives as shepherds in Ireland. When a Boston priest is killed in the trademark style of execution used by the Saints, the boys come out of hiding to set things right. The film also goes more into the past of Il Duce. And, as you might imagine, the two plot threads are connected in some way.
It was great to see the boys back in action, but this one was a big step down. On paper, the concept is cool, but the execution of it is where things falter. The film takes all of what was both good (and bad) about the first, and cranks it up to maximum. In a lot of ways, it feels basically like the first one all over again, only with more money and far more excess.
There's not much of the charm from the first one here, things feel like they're coasting on fumes, and the humor, while occasionally funny, mostly falls flat and feels tired. The acting and the action are quite ridiculous and over the top, but these things can, depending on your pov, either add to the fun, or add to the tedium. I mostly enjoyed the action, and think this is the film's strongest point. The performances are...okay. Like I said, it's the first movie, but on steroids. Flannery and Reedus are good, as is Connolly, but, as much as I like Clifton Collins Jr. I think he went way too over the top here. It was nice to see Judd Nelson come out of wherever he's been, but even he gets a little too off the rails at times.
I think this film is probably best enjoyed if you watch it hammered, but that's just me. I'm glad they finally made it, and, though I have my reservations, I do want to eventually get a third film to cap things off. However, I hope that if a third one gets made, that they cut out the excess, beef up the story, and deliver something truly compelling instead of just half-assing it.
Two Irish Catholic fraternal twin brothers, inspired by the divine,… MoreTwo Irish Catholic fraternal twin brothers, inspired by the divine, embark on a mission of bloodshed throughout Boston's criminal underworld as a flamboyant government agent tries to apprehend them while simultaneously taking their side in the stylish, memorable, and wildly entertaining cult favorite.
Oh man, how times (or at least me) have changed. When I first saw this, I was blown away. I thought it was an amazing work of art and it proved pretty influential to my life, at least for a while. Now, after revisiting it nearly a decade after first seeing it, I find myself more critical, less impressed, and having a more nuanced reaction.
The MacManus Brothers seem like vigilantes who only go after serious sinners, but no, they're not true vigilantes. If anything, they're more like psychotic religious zealots who go on serial killeresque rampages. Sure, they're doing good, but, when you really think about it, they're pretty messed up guys themselves.
I still like the religious elements, and the questions of morality and moral ambiguity, but, while I generally like antiheroes, this is a case where the moral ambiguity kinda makes me feel uncomfortable, and it disturbs me some. However, since the film is really idiosyncratic, stylish, and super cool, I can't hate on it too much, as it is entertaining. Yeah, it's pretty derivative, and maybe tries a bit too hard, but I think it still kinda works, even if it is messy, and has become ridiculously popular.
Yeah, I'm complaining, but I'm still giving this a pretty high rating because, well, it is fun, it is entertaining, it does raise good questions and makes you think about things, and well, I dunno. It just has this odd appeal to it. Plus, the casting and acting (namely Dafoe, Flannery, Reedus, and Connolly) are solid, and, when the film works, it works well. Yeah, sometimes it goes a little overboard, but it mostly holds it all in.
Bottom line: see this thing already. I know it's become a cliche to love this movie, and I admit to blindly going nuts for it, but I have since matured, and, while I know it has a lot of problems, it's still a good movie. Plus, sentimentality is a bitch. I can't hate on something too hard that helped shaped who I've become.
An eccentric actor specializing in voice over work takes drastic… MoreAn eccentric actor specializing in voice over work takes drastic measures to be with his kids after a bitter divorce from his nagging shrew of a wife gains sole custody of their three children. His solution: get his makeup artist brother (and the brother's partner) to make an impressive set of clothes and prosthetics to become Mrs. Doubtfire-the new Scottish nanny hired by his ex-wife to take care of the kids and the house while she focuses on her career.
It's a high concept film that really works. It was great in the 90s, and it still holds up quite well over 20 years later.
Chris Columbus is a rather hit and miss director at times, but this is easily one of his best. It's funny, memorable, highly quotable, and really does a good job at dealing with tough topics. Divorce is hard on kids and their parents, and the film shows this, but does so in a way where the comedy and drama are mixed pretty evenly.
Robin Williams puts his talents to very effective use, and it seems to me as if this role was tailor made for him. He gets to run wild with his shtick, yes, but he also shows his true acting chops when needed as well, and, though he is immature, he changes, and it is earned. Sally Field, good actress though she is, is rather one note here as the nagging wife. She gives the role a bit more weight due to her skill, but sadly it's still not the most developed or fleshed out role. The three kids (including Mara Wilson in her film debut) are fine enough, though the older daughter can be a really unlikable bitch at times. Also, it cracks me up how the boy kinda looks like Dave Grohl to an extent.
Other people who show up are Pierce Brosnan as a well-to-do snob trying to take over Williams's role as family man, Robert Prosky as Williams's boss at his court-appointed job, and Harvey Fierstein as the makeup artist brother.
The film does run long, and, as I said, some of the characters are not all that likeable or developed, but overall, this is a well meaning, enjoyable, and pretty memorable blast.
Of all the movies from Adam Sandler's prime era, this is probably the… MoreOf all the movies from Adam Sandler's prime era, this is probably the one I'd say is both the best, and my favorite.
Perpetually slacker/idiot manchild Sonny doesn't want to grow up.He starts to see the need to change as all of his friends begin to move on, including his latest girlfriend who demands he make some changes. Conveniently enough, a little kind named Julian is left on his doorstep. A letter he's carrying claims that he's the biological son of SOnny's roommate Kevin. Kevin is out of the country on business, and, given his girlfriend's ultimatum, Sonny decides to pass himself off as Kevin and adopt Julian as his own.
When things fall apart with his girlfriend, Sonny finds himself now stuck with Julian, and is forced to finally become a responsible adult.
Despite the fact that this film is tonally uneven at times, and has a climactic courtroom scene whose conclusion and change is a tad too rushed, this is a pretty funny, sweet, and enjoyable film.
Sandler's shtick hadn't yet gotten too tiresome at this point, and the film does feature his character make legitimate changes, even if, as I said, some of it is uneven. It's not totally buyable, but it's more convincing here than in something like Chuck and Larry.
Many Sandler regulars show up here, and they do decent jobs with what they'e given. Rob Schneider is enjoyable as a restaurant delivery guy of vague Eastern European origin, and Steve Buscemi is a scene stealer as a homeless guy. I can't remember the guy's name, but the actor who plays the old drunk man is a riot, and he's easily my favorite character here.
As Julian, twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse are quite good, and you really can't tell who is playing the character at any given time, which is impressive since they traded off every other scene. Leslie Mann is a delightful bitch, and Joey Lauren Adams is a sweet love interest for Sonny.
Like a lot of Sandler productions, there's a vast amount of product placement, and here, the recurring one is Hooters. There's also heavy motifs involving lawyers and Styx. Overall, I think these things work, and don't stick out in a distracting way.
The film is filled with great quotes and memorable moments, many of which have become prevalent inside jokes between a good friend and myself, namely "Hell yes!", "capetiller", "that's a shitload of piss", and many, many more.
All in all, this is a decent movie. It's not perfect, but it manages a passable mix between sentimentality and crudeness, even if it isn't totally balanced.
This is the final film in the lead up to The Avengers, and I must say,… MoreThis is the final film in the lead up to The Avengers, and I must say, I'm very happy to report that this one really delivers, and is possibly my favorite in the Marvel film canon so far.
It's kinda funny too, considering how as a kid I was never blown away by Captain America, and how during my cynical phase of my teenage years I rolled my eyes at the overload of patriotism and propaganda the character represented. I've matured though, and have learned to put things in their proper context. Yes, Captain America was definitely a product of the times during WWII, and yes, he was undeniably used as a tool (He punches Hitler on the cover of his very first issue, so yeah.) However, since then, the writer's seem to have done a good job of updating the character to fit the times, and have tweaked the patriotism and propaganda aspects accordingly.
Thankfully, Joe Johnston was able to surprise me with his directorial skills (the man has a very up and down track record), and he does an excellent job of handling the various facets of the character. It's all about context and tone, two very important things, and not just for filmmaking.
Steve Rogers starts out as a scrawny 90 pound asthmatic weakling, but, thanks to a special experimental government program, he's injected with a serum that turns him into an all American badass ready to do the bidding of the government, which, in the film, primarily concerns dealing with HYDRA, a radical, science based offshoot of the Nazis, and their leader Johann Schmidt, AKA the Red Skull, a twisted psycho hell bent on global domination.
The first half of this film is just top notch near brilliance. It handles all the backstory and "origin" elements with the perfect touch on all fronts. The montages where Captain America is used as a promotional propaganda tool/USO type of figure are just wonderful, and an absolute joy to watch, When the typical comic book type plot kicks in during the second half the film loses some steam, and isn't quite as fun, but it doesn't quite stumble enough to knock the film down totally. The actions scenes are good, and they are fun to watch, but the film feels more on auto pilot. That, and they way they handle the ending, particularly the last line, really sticks out to me, and not in a good way. But, the post credits teaser is good, so that makes up for it a bit.
As far as the production values go, this film is great. The period stuff looks really good, and blends with the futuristic, sci-fi comic elements better than I expected (again, Johnston has a mixed body of work). In a lot of ways, this felt like a slicker, stronger, and less hokey version of Johhnston's earlier film The Rocketeer, but still in the same ball park. The cinematography is quite good, the score (especially the musical numbers) is terrific, and the special effects, namely how they made Evans look like a weakling is unbelievably amazing. How they handled the look of the Red Skull is okay, but somewhat silly looking.
Now onto the casting and performances: I dug 'em. Chris Evans makes for a wonderful Steve Rogers, and his work here makes up for Fantastic Four. I used to not give him much credit as a performer, but somewhere along the line, something happened, and he managed to prove himself as someone with capability and talent. Hugo Weaving is okay, though unsurprising as the Red Skull. Tommy Lee Jones is in full Tommy Lee Jones mode, but he's still entertaining and has some of the more entertaining lines. Hayley Atwell manages to make something more out of what is usually an underused type of role, and that makes me happy. The film manages to make a genuine emotional connection work towards the end, and you actually care about her since they show her as more than eye candy. Stanley Tucci is great in his supporting role as the man who makes it all happen for Steve. Toby Jones is also nice as Schmidt's nerdy science lackey.
The only part of the casting that bugs me is how they handled the Howling Commandos- Cap's squad of soldiers. The casting is good, especially Neal McDonough as 'Dum Dum' Dugan (complete with trademark mustache and bowler), but they could have used more scenes and development, especially given the diversity of the group (including a token African American and a Japanese American). Yeah it's fun to see them kick ass, but in this day and age, it's harder to get by this sort of thing without an explanation. That's mostly just the intellectual in me complaining, but seriously, there's some great stuff there they could have addressed while still keeping the film a fun comic book movie.
All in all, this is a rip roaring, exciting, and super fun film filled with a good story, a great mix of humor, pathos, and action, and even a tad bit of substance. The film does start to lose some of its magic in the second half, but as someone who is a little leery when he's sees Johnston's name on a film, I was exceedingly happy and quite surprised with how well this turned out. There just may be hope for him as a director, yet.