Thursday, March 29, 2012

LAMBs in The Director's Chair Series Spotlight (Sam Raimi): Darkman

Darkman (1990)

Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by Chuck Pfarrer and Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi and Daniel Goldin & Joshua Goldin

Story by Sam Raimi

Stars: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, and Larry Drake

I have heard of Darkman, but I have never seen the movie until yesterday. Truth be told,  I tried to watch the movie earlier this week, but I knew that I was going to hate the movie, that I stopped watching it after ten minutes. I went a little farther this time, but I couldn't stand the movie.

The story centers around a scientist, Peyton Westlake (Neeson) who is developing a way to make liquid skin that can help people with various disfigurements. His experiment works, but only for 99 minutes. After that, they dissolve into mush. Then, he discovers that the skin can hold up after 99 minutes if no light is exposed to the liquid skin.

Meanwhile, Peyton's girlfriend, Julie (McDormand) is caught up in a case where a ruthless land developer named Robert Durant (Larry Drake), who would go to any lengths to get what he wants including bribery and murder. An incriminating memo sets into motion the events that leads to Peyton's accident in the hands of Durant's henchmen. Peyton seeks revenge.

First, I want to say that the "bad guys" in this movie are ridiculous. Really? A land developer? This guys that cuts his victims fingers off with a cigar slicer. Come on.

I was laughing so hard at this movie. What is supposed to be take seriously? Was it supposed to be like Evil Dead? Was it supposed to be campy and low budget? Either way, I thought the plot was trash. I didn't care about what was going to happen. You can only suspend your disbelief so much.

The "action sequences" were so staged. Nobody will believe it. This guy, Peyton is going to impersonate the people that have wrong him. Boring. I couldn't stand watching the movie anymore. I stopped halfway through it. It was my intention to finish watching it, but why? I hate the movie. It was a waste of my time.

I wonder if Mystery Science Theater 3000 has done a commentary on this movie. It might make it more enjoyable to mock it.

My Rating:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Green Lantern

Green Lantern (2011)

Directed by Martin Campbell

Written by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg

Story by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Jay O. Sanders, Taika Waititi, Geoffery Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan.

I caught a snippet of Green Lantern when I was flipping through the channels. I looked through the information about it and it has a low rating. I heard that the movie was okay, but I didn't think that the movie was going to be that bad. When I saw the entire movie while I was waiting for DC Universe Online to download on my PS3, I thought the movie was truly awful.

As I said when I was reviewing X-Men: First Class, that I am a big comic book geek. Not a much as my older brother, but I know a thing or two. I am bigger fan of the DC Universe than Marvel. I was following this movie since it was in its casting phase when everyone was wondering who was going to play Green Lantern. Anybody from Bradley Cooper to Nathan Fillion were being mentioned. When Ryan Reynolds was cast, I was fine for the most part. Even though he played a hero in Paper Man and Deadpool in Wolverine and I made a big rant about it, but another than that, I was fine.

For those who don't know about the Green Lantern lore, a dying alien Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) comes to Earth to find a successor. He finds it in cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) who gives him the ring and the lantern to power his ring. With the ring on, Hal can create constructs by using his mind against his enemies. The movie stumbles as it shows that Hal Jordan tries to be a part of this elite intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps, but is underestimated by the Corps.

My first impressions of the movie was the movie was so boring. A yawnfest! The first half of the movie meanders about the relationship between Hal and Carol Ferris (Lively). Whatever. There is also the weak relationship between Sen. Hammond (Robbins) and his son, the mad scientist Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard).

I thought that the bad guy of the movie was going to be Sinestro (Strong) like it was in the comic books, but turns out to be Parallax. Wow. This dust cloud with a head is the bad guy. Really? I guess, Hector was the bad guy as well. The Elephant Man was going to bring down Green Lantern with his ET finger. Please! The way that Hector screams in an operatic tone made me laugh out loud when he was infected by Parralax.

I thought that the movie was going to be like Iron Man. It was going to have cool special effects, dialogue or action sequences; it didn't have any of that. I was not thrilled with the action, which was clunky. The dialogue was laughably bad that I could not wait to mock it. There were four people that wrote that brick of a script. I expected more out of Greg Berlanti. I love his work. It saddens. I did not care about the characters, the action, anything. They made high ranking Lanterns, Kilowog (Duncan) and Tomar-Re (Rush) into bit players. WTF!

The only good thing about this film was that you get to see Ryan Gosling in tighty-whiteys twice. That is not enough to save this abomination to celluloid. This movie is worse than Catwoman and that is saying a lot. If you will excuse me, I have to wash the bile from my mouth.

My Rating:

Monday, March 26, 2012

LAMBs in The Director's Chair Series Spotlight (Sam Raimi): The Quick and the Dead

The Quick and the Dead (1995)

Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by Simon Moore

Stars: Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Gene Hackman, Tobin Bell, Keith David, Lance Henriksen and Gary Sinise

I have heard of the movie, but have never got the chance to see it. Seeing that Sam Raimi has directed the film, I had no chance but to watch the movie. Yeah... I understand the movie was supposed be groundbreaking for having a female gunslinger as the lead, but the movie is not good.

As I said, the movie takes place in the Wild West where a female gunslinger, Ellen (Stone) comes into town to be a part of a quick draw contest. The contest is sponsored by Herod (Hackman) who rules the town with an iron fist. Ellen has an ulterior motive for revenge, because he was the man that killed her father (Sinise) years earlier.

I know the movie was supposed to be different but it followed the same tropes as any other western. There is the good guy, Ellen and the bad guy, Herod who has to kill him in the end to get revenge. I was not impressed with the way the film was shot. It has these Dutch angles that were unnecessary. I was not surprised that all of the guys were dirty expected for Ellen. Not an ounce of dirt on her.

I was bored with it. I cannot be bothered talking about this movie anymore.

My Rating:

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine (2010)

Directed by Derek Cianfrance

Written by Derek Cianfrance and Joey Curtis & Cami Delavigne

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, Ben Shenkman, Faith Wladyka and John Doman

I really wanted to watch Blue Valentine for a long time, but I did not get the chance to watch it in the theaters. When I saw that the movie was on VOD, I jumped at the chance to see it. I am glad that I did.

The movie shows the beginning and the ending of the relationship between Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams). The action takes place in flashbacks when the two met and fall in love with each other. On the other hand, it shows in t he present when Cindy is done with Dean who is very lazy and has no ambitions in his life. Her revelation occurs during a seemingly harmless romantic getaway to a space themed motel room.

The movie reminds me of Closer where it dealt with the beginning and ending of the relationships of the people involved, but I think this movie dealt with it in a raw level. Closer dealt with it on the surface.

I think that Gosling should have gotten an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Dean-- he got an Omie Award instead-- for playing a guy that has no clear path to life when he meets Cindy. Everything seemed clear that he wanted to be with this woman forever. The love doesn't last when when you are growing older. Sometimes, the things that you love about that person would get on your nerves.

Williams deserved her nomination for playing a woman that is very driven woman that is sideswiped by the charming Dean, but when she believed that Dean would have some ambition in his life instead of being drunk and painting houses for a living.

Together Cindy and Dean gave every emotion known to man. They were not afraid to look vulnerable onscreen. Their story was life affirming, heartbreaking and gut wrenching. Now, I understand the title after watching the movie. What would you do when the love is gone?

My Rating:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

LAMBs in The Director's Chair Series Spotlight (Sam Raimi): For Love of the Game

For Love of the Game (1999)

Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by Dana Stevens

Based on the novel by Michael Shaara

Stars: Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, Jena Malone, John C. Reilly, JK Simmons and Brian Cox

I have to admit when the LAMB announced that the next person in LAMB Director series was Sam Raimi, I only knew that he did the Spider-Man movies and the Evil Dead series. I was really surprised that he directed the 1999 release of For Love of the Game. This is the second of Kevin Coster's baseball trilogy which included Bull Durham and The Upside of Anger. I have to say that this is my least favorite of  them.

The movie is supposed to be a love letter to America favorite pastime: baseball. It deals with Billy Chapel (Costner), a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who is in the crossroads of career. He is 40 years old with a bum pitching arm, his mentor Gary Wheeler (Cox) has sold the team who has a decision to retire or be traded, also his girlfriend of five years, Jane (Preston) is leaving for London. The main action of picture deals with the seemingly the last game of his career. During the game, Chapel gets flashbacks of what lead him to this pivotal part of his career.

I thought that the movie was going to be about making people appreciate baseball, but the thrust of the movie meandered about Chapel's relationship with Jane and some random reconciliations that he had during the course of game. It was filler. Costner's characterization of Billy Chapel was very charismatic, but that doesn't get you anywhere with me. The dialogue felt like it was taken for a romance novel. It made me gag. I was not invested in the characters or the plot. I wish the movie ended differently, instead of a sickly sweet ending that we have seen a million times. I was bored. The movie should not have been two hours.

My Rating: 

Monday, March 19, 2012

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn

Story by Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer

Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Nicolas Hoult, Álex González, Jason Flemyng, Caleb Landry Jones, Edi Gathegi and Lucas Till

I have been a big fan of the X-Men movies ever since the first movie that came out in 2000. The franchise held different meaning for people that have ever been bullied or judged because they were different. The last two movies The Last Stand and Wolverine were not the best movies, because they jam packed mutants into one movie. They was no room to breathe. It was like the opposite effect with this movie. I wish they had better characters to pull out of the Marvel vault.

Being the comic book geek that I am, I have read the "X-Men First Class" comic series. The original first class dealt with the original X-Men in their early days at the Institute set in not so distant past. But for the big screen adaptation everything is transported to the 1960s where a pre-bald, walking upright Charles Xavier (McAvoy) explains his theory about genetic mutations. Meanwhile, Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender) is on a mission to kill the man that manipulate his magnetic powers in a concentration camp, Sebastian Shaw (Bacon). they what the two men don't realize is that they have common enemy when Shaw wants to bring on World War III.

This movie has its good moments and some of its meh moments. First, I want to say that Fassbender's portrayal of young Magneto was great. I understood why Magneto thinks the way that he does. It was exactly Shaw's way of thinking. I have to say that Shaw in this movie was not evil enough for me. He was like Timothy Olyphant's bad guy in Live Free or Die Hard. I didn't believe it for a second.

I thought the first half of the movie was very solid and engaging. I think when they newly formed X-Men were focusing on Shaw, that's when it went off the rails. Besides, you have these people that nobody knows; Banshee, Havok, Darwin or Angel. Come on. Their powers were really lame. The part that really killed it for me was the ending. It had to wrap up everything in a new little package for the other movies to exist in continuity. The movie did ret-con a couple of characters and situations that had me scratching my head.

Lastly, there were two memorable cameos that had me laughing out loud with I saw them. You have to see it to get my mentioning of that.

My Rating: 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Game Change

Game Change (2012)

Directed by Jay Roach

Written by Danny Strong

Based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

Stars: Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, Woody Harrelson, Ron Livingston, Sarah Paulson and Peter MacNichol

It has been a while since I have reviewed a movie. I heard that people really responded to HBO TV movie, Game Change that was loosely based on the book about the historic 2008 campaign season. I;m glad that I got back in the thick of things.

The movie focuses mainly on campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt (Harrelson) meeting with Arizona Senator John McCain (Harris) about who will be the pick for his running mate as Vice President. By pulling a candidate out of their ass aka YouTube to find the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin (Moore). She is a fish out of water when she is catapulted to the national stage. It seems that her lack of foreign policy knowledge made her a joke to political pundits and SNL.

I remember when I first heard about Sarah Palin, I knew that the McCain campaign was trying to bridge the gender gap that was left when Hilary Clinton dropped out of the race for her bid as President. People didn't know anything about this woman with the bouffant and the weird accent. Everyone thought that she was a joke. Watching the movie, she was a great speaker, but the media tries everything that they can to make a mockery of her.

I learned that she was not a punchline. She was plucked out of obscurity and put in front of microphone. I don't blame her for flying off the rails or "going rogue" toward the tail end of the campaign. Julianne Moore was a dead ringer for the former Alaska governor. It was scary. Harrelson was phenomenal in his role. He was perfectly frazzled and want to correct his mistake of picking  Sarah. Ed Harris was fine as John McCain, but it's nothing to write home about. The rest of the cast was fine, but they seem to be overshadowed by Moore and Harrelson.

My Rating: