QUICK REVIEWS is back in action! This time, I’m taking a look at The Departed, another action crime drama from Martin Scorsese. Man, nobody does mob movies like Scorsese. The screenplay is by William Monahan (this is probably his most famous movie) and starring… well, everybody. The Departed stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson and Alec Baldwin. You think they got enough stars? I bet a lot (half?) of that $90 million dollar budget went to salaries! It’s not Scorsese’s best movie, but I’m a fan of The Departed.
That’s a good question. What is Scorsese’s best movie? Goodfellas?
Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I keep watching these movies? Morbid curiosity, I guess. This time, I saw it for free on a plane, so that’s not much of a sacrifice on my part, and I guess this Transformers movie is better than the other ones, but that’s not saying much. Read the rest of this entry
As you may already be aware, Lone Survivor is an adaptation of Marcus Luttrell’s book regarding his experiences during a SEAL Team operation in Afghanistan. Given this, I don’t have any intent on analyzing the plot because to do so feels disrespectful, but instead, I’ll take a look at how the movie itself functions. Read the rest of this entry
I remember when I used to like Family Guy… way back when it was staffed with writers trying to produce quality jokes rather than just trying to shock me. But, it’s impossible to talk about Ted without talking about Family Guy – particularly since they both have similar problems.
Seth Macfarlane is the voice of Ted, a teddy bear that comes to life after a friendless boy (Mark Wahlberg) makes a wish. Book-ended with narration by Patrick Stewart (which is funny, but kinda useless), we catch up with the pair of best friends all grown up – at least they’re over 30 now. Wahlberg’s girlfriend (Mila Kunis) is desperate for Wahlberg to move on with his life, get the promotion at work that’s his for the taking and move in with her and not waste hours upon hours smoking weed and getting into trouble with Ted. Hilarity and conflict ensues… sorta. Read the rest of this entry
Having seen two buddy movies of the cop variety within a few days of each other, I can’t help but compare and contrast Cop Out and The Other Guys – it’s time for a Buddy Cop Movie Smack Down!
The IMDB description of The Other Guys reads, in part: “Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up like the city’s top cops whom they idolize — only things don’t quite go as planned.” I take exception to that; I didn’t find Will Ferrell or Mark Wahlberg to be especially mismatched. Both characters were extremely weird – going into the film, you expected Ferrell to be the crazy guy and Wahlberg to be the straight man, but it’s not like that; neither of them play the straight man, they’re both just crazy. While Ferrell’s character tries to control his inner demons by insulating himself from the outside world, Wahlberg’s character just screams at everybody, unable to harness his anger into anything constructive. They play off each other well as actors, but the script never defines their roles – the characters are too similar, despite Wahlberg’s barking and Ferrell’s straight faced insanity; you end up with Wahlberg’s character complaining that he’s stuck with Ferrell’s, while Ferrell’s would be equally justified in voicing similar complaints.
I saw the unrated version and frankly, I think this was just a marketing ploy – it was just a version of the movie that was not rated by the MPAA; there wasn’t anything racy in it; I’m guessing it was longer than the theatrical version, and if that’s the case, watching this version was a mistake, because the movie is just too long… yep, here it is: 107 min rated, 116 min unrated… but even 107 minutes was too long. The movie just isn’t paced well.
Now that’s not to say there aren’t laughs, because there are a ton of great jokes running through the entire film, and with two cameos by Derek Jeter, how can you go wrong? Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say they got it right, because the movie is a comedy and it’s funny, but I certainly wouldn’t watch it again.
My Rating: 3 out of 5
A few nights later, I saw Cop Out, and given my high expectations by the joining of three of my favorite talents (Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan and Kevin Smith), I wasn’t disappointed. Tracey Morgan sets the tone for the movie right away as he interrogates a criminal with a series of quotes from various movies, much to the delight of his coworkers. This opening sequence, including before the interrogation, during which Morgan’s character gives Willis’ character an anniversary card celebrating their partnership sets up the entire movie: sure, both characters are silly, but Morgan is the executive in charge of insanity in this flick. Willis makes jokes, sure, but he’s the straight man and Morgan is a maniac, running around in a cell phone costume and planting a nanny cam in his bedroom to check if his wife is cheating on him. As an added bonus, supporting actors include Kevin Pollak and Guillermo Díaz (he’s Scarface in Half Baked, amongst many other acting credits and just being one of the funniest guys around – in a rare roll here as the bad guy), who bring a level of depth to the movie I did not expect. And just to add a little somethin-somethin, we also get Jason Lee, Rashida Jones and Seann William Scott. Beyond the performances, the script is well crafted and the movie is well paced and edited. And, I can’t believe I’m saying this about a Kevin Smith movie, but the flick actually looks pretty good; the camera moves around, there are reveals… stuff I didn’t know David Klein was capable of. There was a weird helicopter shot at the very end of the movie, but whatever. I really liked this movie, and I’ll watch it again, no doubt.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
In my view, Cop Out kicks The Other Guys’ ass, and easily at that. The version I saw of The Other Guys was only 9 minutes longer than Cop Out, yet Cop Out moves so much faster and is just straight up funnier, has better action sequences and overall flow. Sure, The Other Guys is a decent enough movie, but it’s just not in the same class as Cop Out. Who knows, over time, i wouldn’t be surprised if I raise Cop Out’s score a bit; I think I was disappointed Jason Lee wasn’t in the movie more, and that might have held me back a little – so an update to 4.3 or 4.5 could happen as time goes by and I see Cop Out a second or third time.
And that’s what it comes down to – Cop Out is so good, I’d watch it again. I’m not mad I sat through The Other Guys, but I don’t see myself sitting through it for a second time..
Every once and a while an actor will take a role and produce a performance that will make you realize that you may have underestimated their capabilities. I think Christian Bale has done this in The Fighter.
I do want to take a moment and be absolutely clear that I am a HUGE Christian Bale fan and that nothing the man does surprises me. Whether he’s playing Jesus or John Conner, the guy gets it done. The screenplay doesn’t even have to be that good; check out Equilibrium, for example – the director allows him to play moments out on his face, and Bale carries the movie on his back like Forest Gump rescuing the guys in his squad during the Viet Nam sequence. He’s been making movies since the 80s and continues to stack up a pile of rave revues for his performances and, obviously, the guy is BATMAN, for pete’s sake! But along comes Christian Bale as Dickie Eklund in The Fighter, and I’m feeling that everyone is at least a little surprised. They shouldn’t be – Bale does not fuck around! Now that’s not to say that Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, or Melissa Leo aren’t delivering great performances in this movie, because they are – but Bale is better. Bale is Better! That should be the rallying cry all the way to his acceptance of every possible award for best supporting actor, because the guy steals every scene he’s in.
Now that I’ve droned on and on about the performances, let me get back to the movie as a whole. For an inspirational sports movie, it doesn’t have a ton of sports in it and is surprising character driven (although I guess you yourself aren’t surprised it’s a character driven movie after my long diatribe about the performances or if you’ve already seen the movie). The movie has this gritty strength to it that really serves the subject matter and the characters well. Bale is once again doing one of his lose a ton of weight, gain a ton of weight things – this time, he’s lost a ton of weight for his role as Dickie – not be confused with his bone thin portrayal in The Machinest or his bulked up style in the Batman movies. Mark Wahlberg is especially diesel in this movie, although I guess that dude is always huge… in any case, Wahlberg gives a fine performance, but Bale is all over this movie’s grill. There is also a strong argument for Amy Adam’s performance, who also shows up and does something a bit unexpected – in fact, I was happy with the overall portrayal of her character as they didn’t try to glam her up and make her look like – well, a movie star, which is what she is (just the thought of the commercial for Leap Year is enough to make me start screaming), but she looked like a real person in The Fighter, and it’s a welcomed change to see a woman in a movie not look like a Vanity Fair model.
I really enjoyed this movie, and I’m not a big fan of the inspirational sports genre. It helps that Micky Ward’s story isn’t one I’m familiar with, and I didn’t feel like things were predictable – speaking of predictable, the swing in this movie from the second act to the third was so smooth, you barely new it was happening – and the third act is a bit longer than it usually is in most movies, although the third act in inspirational sports movies is usually pretty long – yet the movie clocks in at under two hours.
The Fighter is a situation where everyone did everything right: the performances, the directing by David O. Russell, the screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson, the photography by Hoyte Van Hoytema, the casting by Sheila Jaffe, the film editing by Pamela Martin… everybody brought their A game, and it shows.