Captain America: The Winter Soldier nails practically everything it… MoreCaptain America: The Winter Soldier nails practically everything it sets out to accomplish. As a comic book film, it's a ton of fun. As a political thriller, it calls attention to current events and real-world issues. As a science fiction film, it constantly presents interesting and cool gadgetry. I love the first film more than most seem to, but The Winter Soldier easily outdoes it, and ranks among the top films in the MCU.
This is a narrative that's constantly moving forward with a building intensity, as we see Cap's world come crashing down around him. It's directed by the Russo Brothers, of Arrested Development and Community fame. Both are two of my favorite shows ever, so these guys being on board was a huge plus for me. Casting Robert Redford was a stroke of genius, in my opinion. He's certainly had his share of fine political thrillers, and had the weight needed for the role he played.
The references to classic political thrillers such as Three Days of the Condor and Marathon Man are just a fraction of what made this film special to me. There just isn't much more I could ask for from a solo Captain America outing. My only real gripe is the climax. The Russo Brothers kept me on the edge of my seat the entire film, then finished with an all too typical spectacle of a final battle. What I am grateful for from the final battle was getting to see Falcon, a character I never thought I'd see on the big screen, do his thing. There is also some really good stunt choreography to be seen here.
This is just a great all-around film. The Blu-ray looks gorgeous and has a robust audio track. My only complaint would be the lack of substantial extras, but there is a great commentary track and a 10 minute 'Making Of' featurette. I couldn't recommend this enough.
"Cut the check!"
Spike Lee is one of those directors that many people love to hate, but… MoreSpike Lee is one of those directors that many people love to hate, but his quality films cannot be denied. My favorite films of his are Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Inside Man, and the documentary, 4 Little Girls. I picked up the Spike Lee Collection Vol. 1 on Blu-ray out of a urge to revisit He Got Game during the 2014 NBA Finals, and a curiosity about this film that most people in the forums I visit were interested in, 25th Hour. Boy am I glad I did. I actually preferred this film over the one I bought the double feature for most.
The film follows Monty (Norton) as he prepares to go to prison for a seven year sentence the following day. He's highly respected among New York's seedy underbelly, and he has to come to grips with the decisions he's made and effects they are having on his friends and family. This is truly a performance driven piece, and said performances are all top notch. Edward Norton leads a stellar cast in this gripping dramatic tour de force. He's joined here by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson, Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and an exceptional Barry Pepper in what may just be his best performance to date.
A few things to note here are the amazingly gorgeous visuals and the fantastic score by Terence Blanchard. The cinematography by Lee and Diego Prieto (The Wolf of Wall Street, Argo, Babel, and many other beautiful films) is washed out, with high contrast, and looks damn near painted on a canvas. There is true technical prowess on display here. I recommend seeing the film for its visual and auditory artistry alone. And definitely on Blu-ray if possible. It has a top notch transfer.
I do have some complaints, but they are few and far between. Some of the characterizations seemed pointless and out of place, like Paquin's character for example. While her performance was rock solid, her role seemed unnecessary. Whatever message her relationship with Hoffman's character was meant to convey, it was lost on me. Perhaps with time and revisits that will become more fleshed out in my mind. Another complaint I had was that it seemed to meander a bit towards the end, and the curve ball they threw was somewhat unsatisfactory. Even with those complaints, there is a lot to love here. Great film.
"You'll be the only person who was disbarred, without being a lawyer… More"You'll be the only person who was disbarred, without being a lawyer in the first place."
Sydney Lumet is a brilliant director, probably known best for his classic courtroom dramas like 12 Angry Men and The Verdict. To see him direct a totally different take on the sub-genre caught me a little off guard and ended up being a very pleasant surprise. Find Me Guilty is funny. Vin Diesel leads the charge in this dark comedy that's based on a true story. I can confidently say that this is his best work.
He's a scumbag, but he oozes charm. Despite being based on a true story, the story leaves a lot to be desired. It's a fairly shallow affair, but it is never boring. I recommend the film for Diesel's performance at least, if nothing else.
Revolutionary Road is one of the best Soap Operas out there. It's… MoreRevolutionary Road is one of the best Soap Operas out there. It's worth watching just to see Michael Shannon and Leonardo DiCaprio chew the scenery. Kate Winslet is effective as a downtrodden suburban housewife longing for a more fulfilling life. Aside from the great performances, Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins's cinematopgraphy is the film's most notable attribute. It's a beauty.
You know how they say you can't polish a turd? Well, I'd like to… MoreYou know how they say you can't polish a turd? Well, I'd like to respectfully disagree, because that's exactly what Peter Berg has done with Battleship. It's an abysmal trek through stupidity and mind-numbery, but it's always pretty to look at. Universal clearly made Berg take Michael Bay 101, but it just isn't the same. I know this isn't going to make me any friends, but I like most of Bay's films (most). Bay knows how to frame and follow action. His characters can be poorly written, but his films always have a decent cast.
Maybe I'm forgetting, but there's no equivalent to Rihanna in any of his films. She's so terrible in a film full of terrible performances that I had to single her out. This movie just gives me a headache. Rihanna's acting skills are no joke though, but somehow they still make me laugh. I guess if there are any positives to this film, they'd be the humanoid alien designs, which are cool when they aren't wearing Halo armor, and Brooklyn Decker. That's about it.
Classic line: "You aren't going to sink this battleship. No way."
R.I.P.D. was made for one reason: To remind everyone how great Men in… MoreR.I.P.D. was made for one reason: To remind everyone how great Men in Black is. Funnily enough, Men in Black is sixteen years older and probably has more convincing visual effects. At least Jeff Bridges got to reprise his role as Rooster Cogburn. I kind of feel sorry for Ryan Reynolds. He's talented, but continuously stars in terrible movies. I can only feel so sorry for him when he's the one agreeing to these scripts though.
The funny thing is, even as a blatant MIB ripoff, I could see this being fun if it went for a more mature rating and utilized practical effects. It flopped anyway, so it's rating did nothing for it. Had they really gone for it, it could potentially have attracted a cult following over time. Ah, who cares? This movie is isn't worth diagnosing any further. Don't waste your time, unless you have as much on your hands as I do.