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Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

cape-fearSo this is kind of weird for me. I saw this movie a couple of months ago and started writing a review where I was telling you how God awful bored I was at watching this supposed thriller.  But I didn’t finish the review and now its two months later and so I decided to watch this movie again so I could refresh my memory and I found it to be not as horrible as the first time I watched.  It is still bad but not as bad as I thought.

After serving 8 years in prison for assault and battery, Max Cady , played by Robert Mitchum (The Longest Day,) tracks down Sam Bowden, played by Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird,)who Cady personally blames for being in jail because Bowden intervened during the attack and testified against him.  Once Bowden realizes Cady is in town it becomes a game of cat and mouse as Cady stalks Bowden and his family but makes sure to never cross the line and break the law or gets caught breaking the law.  Bowden begins to lose his grasp of right and wrong as the family dog is poisoned and his daughter Nancy is hit by a car running away from Bowden.    Bowden decides to set a trap for Cady on a house boat on Cape Fear River where he can take care of Cady once and for all.

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Expectations are a funny thing.  When I watched this film for the first time I had high expectations because back in the early 1990’s I remembered the hype of the remake of this film and all I heard was how intense it was and how much of a bad ass Robert Mitchum was as Cady.  As I was watching the movie for the first time I was stunned at how slow the pace was from the beginning.  It reminds me of what my movie cohort Benn Farrell usually says about all of these movies made before the 1960’s.  Many of the scenes looked as if it was shot on a theater production stage as opposed to an actual movie stage.  The only time we had any wide shots were when there were scenes shot outside.  Almost all of the inside shots were close up shots that just give you the feeling that they are shooting in a box.  One of my biggest issues with this production was the use of the music in the film.  When I first heard it during the opening credits and establishing shot I was thinking that this was perfect mood music to set the movie up.  The only problem is that it seems like the music never disappears.  It got so bad that the more I heard it I was saying to myself, “Here comes the bad guy about to do bad things.”    The use of music reminded me of movies from the 1940’s on how music was used to set the music of every scene.  The last thing I will say about the production is that I know that this movie was made in 1962 but we never really saw the character Cady do bad things until the final act when he killed a cop in a stakeout.  Other than that, we heard a lot about how bad a man he was, and when he was about to do something bad in the movie, like beat up the woman he picked up at the local bar in his apartment, we see the girl look at Cady who has malicious intent in his eyes and she gets up to run…somewhere…and he grabs her as she grabs a swinging door and then all we see are shadows moving beyond the swinging door.   Mind you this entire time there is menacing bad guy music the ENTIRE time.  No words are spoken at all.  I know he is a bad guy but something to prove it in the beginning would be nice other than stories and mean music.

Despite the fact that the music was in the way and the production didn’t help, Robert Mitchum was still pretty awesome as the bad guy Cady.  He was menacing without the music and was very believable as a person who would appear to hate women in general.  Gregory Peck was pretty awesome as the desperate lawyer who wanted to protect his family.  I would say that the acting overall was pretty good.  I will say that with the exception of Mitchum the rest of the actors seemed to almost pantomime their acting.  I guess what I mean is that during the many times that there were no speaking parts and the camera was just panning between the actors only Mitchum seemed to be acting with his body and the rest, especially the ladies, all looked like either angry or shocked mannequins.

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I mentioned earlier that when I had high expectations for this movie I thought it was painfully slow and it was.  I kept waiting to see this suspenseful thriller about a killer stalking a family instead I go a slow and slumbering story about a guy who was more creeping on the young daughter and less scary stalker.  I will say that the costume department did a wonderful job of making a 15 year old girl look 1960’s naughty and by that I mean she was constantly wearing short skin tight shorts as well as a tight blouse…almost all the time.  By our standards today that would be nun-like but in 1962 that is terrible.  So the creeper factor was there every time Cady was looking at her in bad ways.  But it still didn’t make up for the slow pace of the film.  Basically every time Cady would do something to taunt Bowden there would be a 10 minute discussion as to what to do about it.  It got tiresome after an hour.

Lastly I will say that I also mentioned that the second time I watched this film and with no expectations I was able to pay attention to it more.  I can’t tell you why other than I kept thinking that the first time I saw this film it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I thought it was worse than it was and that’s on me.  There are a lot worse films from this time period but it just wasn’t as awesome as I was expecting.

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13hours.jpgThere are three reasons to see this movie the first of which being that considering how political this topic is in our county there is no politics in this movie. So if you didn’t want to see this film because you believed it purposely painted President Obama and/or future President Hillary Clinton in a bad light because of their many failures of these people you can put your mind at ease, there is no finger pointing or Fox News talking points in the film.  The second reason is that this film, surprisingly for me, is directed by one Michael Bay of Transformers Movies fame and after a quick gander at his list of movies he has directed I discovered that most of his movies keep me entertained but aren’t very good.  I can tell you this movie is, in my opinion, his best film he has ever directed.  The third reason is that an American Ambassador and Foreign Service officer were killed in the attack and two CIA security agents were killed the second attack and politics aside you should due the bare minimum to honor their service by watching a fairly reliable telling of the Benghazi attacks.

In the evening of September 11th, 2012 in the city of Benghazi, Libya, the compound housing the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, played by Matt Letscher (Her,) was attacked and overrun by elements of the terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia that forced the Ambassador and his security team and one other foreign service officer into hiding.  One mile away at a secret CIA compound a group of CIA Global Response Staff (GRS) members, which is a CIA security force full of former U.S. Special Forces members, led by Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods, played by James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3,) and Jack Silva, played by John Krasinski (TV’s The Office,) want to get a group together and head over and rescue the ambassador.  However the GRS group is forced to wait because the Chief of the CIA compound, Bob, played by David Costabile (Lincoln,) can’t get authorization from anyone in the US government.  After several pleas for help by the Ambassador and members of his team Rone ignores Bob’s orders and takes a group to the compound to try and rescue the Ambassador and bet back to the CIA base to protect it from the inevitable attack that will happen latter that night.

So like I said in the beginning there are no politics in this movie.  At no point does the story or direction point to the complete cowardice of the Obama administration in its response to the situation or the complete political cover-up that came right after the attack when they said it wasn’t terrorism but a spontaneous…let me see how Wikipedia states it, “Initially, top U.S. officials and the media reported that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous protest triggered by an anti-Muslim video.”  In fact the only mention of this is towards the end of the movie when the agents in the compound are listening to the news of what’s being told in the rest of the world, while they are living it.  In fact my two sentences above have more politics in them the does the entire movie.  The movie just tells the story of what happened from the point of view on the guys on the ground and keeps the politics out of it.  The story is a very entertaining telling of the battle with excellent action scenes, no surprise with Michael Bay, and enough breaks in the action to create some character development.  If I wanted to be nitpicky I would say that the beginning is a little slow in the build up to the story and lots of character development but it didn’t bother me; others may be annoyed by it but not me.

When I say Michael Bay movies entertain me I mean they are fun to watch.  I loved Transformers even though outside of the many explosions and hearing father Optimus Prime speak in the film, a lot of the story made me giggle at the ridiculousness of it.  But the action was good and I felt good in the end when the good guys won.  I shall not comment about the rest of the Transformer movies other than to say lots of action, yeah Optimus.  Pearl Harbor was difficult to swallow because of the love story which drives me crazy.  As with Transformers the action scenes in his films are outrageously over the top in it explosions.  Pick a scene from any transformers movie and you will see just the most awesome explosions ever as well as the entire attack sequence in Pearl Harbor.  Surprisingly in 13 hours he brings the explosions down to a level that would be much closer to realism than I have ever seen with him.  Plus he does take the time to tell the story of these six men who risk their lives to save the Ambassador.  I would argue we learn more about Krasinski’s character in two hours of this film then we learn of Shia LaBeouf’s character in 3 Transformer movies.  But then again John Krasinski is a good actor and Shia is…an actor and major tool.  So I would say if you have been waiting for a good Michael Bay film then this is your movie.

The last reason I give for seeing this film is that no matter the politics of this movie, an American Ambassador was killed doing what he believed was right as did the two GRS members who were killed defending the compound during the second attack as well as the tech guy with the foreign service who was simply there to make the Wifi better, at least that is how the movie portrays him.  As I said this movie does a nice job of presenting what happened and I think attention needs to be paid to the film to honor those who died.  It’s hard to watch the good guys get their ass kicked a little bit but it happens.  Overall as a war film I would rate this in the same category but a step below Black Hawk Down.

I nitpicked a little earlier about some spots that were slow and if I wanted to nitpick about anything else I would question if the CIA station Chief was as big of an asshole as the movie shows him to be as well as borderline incompetent.  I get that he has orders but he was portrayed as someone who clearly couldn’t handle stressful situations and the position seems like it needs someone who can be the eye of a hurricane.  I also wasn’t sure of the purpose of the two people the CIA GRS teams were protecting at the beginning of the film before the Ambassador shows up but that could be because my hearing sucks and I hadn’t but the subtitles on during that part of the film. In fact my only complaint is that the scenes that had lots of dialogue with no action were too quiet for me and I couldn’t understand what was going on until I had turned on the subtitles.  Not a huge issue but an annoying one for me.

Please see this film if you have ever watched war movies or action movies in the past.  It is an entertaining film and the best film made by Michael Bay.  Ignore your politics and see this film.

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contagionI remember watching a movie called Outbreak in the 1990’s in a movie theater and about ten minutes after the scene in which the infected person coughs in a movie theater and the movie shows the germs spreading to other people, a person in the movie theater I was watching the movie in coughed and you could hear the entire theater kind of give a quiet giggle. I wanted to see this in the movie theater but it was in and out so fast that I missed it then I forgot about it.  Since we are doing Disaster Movies as a theme this month I decided to grab this movie and check it out.  It is no Outbreak, and that’s both a good and bad thing, because the movie has its plusses and minuses.

Beth Emhoff, played by Gwyneth Paltrow (Mortdecai,) flies back home to Minneapolis from a business trip in Hong Kong with the flu.  A bus boy from a Hong King restaurant is so sick as he is walking along a street that he falls into the street and gets hit by a car.  A Japanese business men passes out on a bus in Tokyo.  A young woman goes home sick from work in London, England and never makes it back while her sister is found dead in a hotel room.   All of these people are sick from the same virus that is spreading around at unprecedented rates.  The CDC, led by Dr. Cheever, played by Laurence Fishburne (Batman v Superman,) and scientist Dr. Hextall played by Jennifer Ehle (Fifty Shades of Grey,) try to map out the virus to find a cure.  Dr. Cheever also sends out Dr. Mears, played by Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs,) to Minnesota to begin research on Beth and try to contain the outbreak there.  The World Health Organization trying to find patient zero sends Dr. Orantes, played by Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Returns,) to Hong Kong to find out how Beth Emhoff catches the virus.  Meanwhile internet blogger and conspiracy nut job Alan Krumwiede, played by Jude Law (Spy,) is breaking the internet with his conspiracies of the CDC and WHO working with the pharmaceutical Industry hiding the cure so they can profit from it.

So before I start with my likes and dislikes I would like to say that I this movie provided the most hilarious quote that I have heard in a long time.  It comes from Dr. Sussman played by Elliot Gould, (Ocean’s Thirteen,) when he is telling whack job Krumwiede what he thinks of internet bloggers, “Blogging is not writing, its graffiti with punctuation.”  This is easily one of my new favorite lines that has a lot of truth in it.

From the very beginning of the film I had a like/dislike feel for the film.  I won’t say love/hate because I don’t feel that strong for the film either way.  It had a CSI feel to it from the beginning in that the film took the time to show each person who was sick touch something or someone and then gave the impression that there was a sense of doom about it.  After watching ten minutes of the film I texted a friend-ish of mine who has a horrible germ phobia and told her to never ever, ever, watch this film.  But within like five minutes of the beginning of the film I thought that it was severe overkill.  I got tired of watching the camera stay an extra second on the glass, or the hand rail, or the credit card.  The problem is that this happens throughout the entire movie and it kind of makes the CSI aspect of the movie painfully repetitive when it shows up about every 5 to 10 minutes.  We get it the virus moves by infected people touching things and healthy people touching those things.  It would have been much better if the movie just showed the beginning where the initial people infected spread it and then towards the end when they were CSI’ing everything and showed how it started.  It was just overkill.

In fact that best describes this film with regards to the non CSI element in the film, overkill.  I get the point of the film is to show how society starts to break down a little bit when safety starts to be threatened but it is just too much.  The largest example is the douchebag blogger conspiracy theorist that shows up every ten minutes with some bullshit to make things worse and acting holier than thou in the process, so you know, like your basic American Liberal Progressive.  He is an unlikable character who we get way too much of and I was kind of hoping he would get the virus and die.  There was also the lady in Minnesota who was some sort of a politician and she was constantly being a bitch in some capacity.  Then as the virus spread and more and more people got sick we began to hear about nurses going on strike and everyone starting to look out for themselves.  It makes sense but again, there is so much of it.  We hear about the nurses, we see Beth Emhoff’s husband Mitch, played by Matt Damon (Syriana,) who is immune from the virus became very overprotective of his daughter, Dr. Cheever tells his wife to leave Chicago before the Quarantine takes place hours before it becomes public, how Dr. Orantes is kidnapped by the Chinese agents she is working with to find where patient 0 is because they believe the idiot blogger who says the US and WHO have the cure but aren’t giving it out to everyone yet.  We get it, everyone is going to be a selfish bastard if this happens but it slows the movie down and breaks up the intensity of the virus and the finding of how it started and the cure.

It’s just all overkill and it slows the movie down and it ruins scenes that would otherwise be powerful. There is a scene where Dr. Sussman has been told to destroy his samples because his lab is too low level to risk the study.  While he is out having dinner in a restaurant he is watching the other guests and the camera pans to a woman who is sick touching a glass, to the bartender with a slight cough who is cleaning another glass, to a mother feeding her daughter by putting a cracker in her mouth.  The next scene we see Sussman working on the virus without permission and he ends up finding a way to grow samples so they can study it and find a cure.  This would have been so much better if it wasn’t for the constant scenes earlier I feel it would have been more effective.  There is another scene that shows Dr. Mears in the hospital because she has become infected and the local guy she has been working with is explaining to her how he is trying to get her back to Atlanta or to a hospital in a special ward but it is impossible for blah, blah, blah.  She even looks like she is tired of his exposition so imagine how I feel as I have been watching it for over an hour.

I do like the film but it could have been so much better. It does meet the requirements of a disaster movie in that it is all star cast and it is will acted. It is worth seeing once but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it.  I would also not watch it if you are afraid of germs and how they are transmitted.

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towering infernoFor me this is the movie that is the measuring stick for all disaster movies ever made. This is the granddaddy of them all.  The original The Poseidon Adventure may be older, and very good may I add, but Irwin Allen’s film of a fire starting in the world’s tallest building is the best disaster film that has been made.  This film is over 40 years old yet I would argue that today’s computer generated special effects would not make this film any better than when it was made back in the 1970’s.

Doug Roberts, played by Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,) is a soon to be retired architect who has designed the world’s largest sky scraper building in downtown San Francisco built by Jim Duncan, played by William Holden (Network.)  During the morning of the grand opening of the tower an electrical problem causes a fire on the 81st floor of the building that goes unnoticed by staff and security due to mounting electrical problems. That night as the grand opening celebration party begins on the 135th floor dining room, the fire that started earlier in the day begins to spread and is compounded by the electrical issues running through-out the building.  By the time Chief O’Hallorhan, played by Steve McQueen (Bullitt,) he not only has to deal with a fire that has begun to spread but a building owner who doesn’t believe that the fire is serious enough to close down the party and move it to the bottom floor.

One of the many great things about the disaster films of the 1970’s is that there was an all-star cast in most of them.  This particular movie had 5 Academy Award winners, 1 Academy Award nominee, 3 Golden Globe winners and 2 Golden Globe nominees, and one actor/football player who murdered his ex-wife and her boyfriend.  This movie actually did earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the then 75 year old Fred Astaire which ended up being his only nomination in his very long and celebrated career.  The movie did earn 3 Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Original Song along with 5 more nominations including Best Picture and Best Music, which was done by John Williams.

When I think of the story of this movie I can’t help but also think of the 1997 James Cameron epic Titanic.  My biggest problem with Titanic is the complete waste of what seemed like 8 hours of my life that involved the fake love story between Jack and Rose.  It causes me to think of the movie with great amounts of hatred.  Titanic became a movie about a tragic love story around the sinking of the most famous ocean liner instead of what it should have been which was a movie about the tragic sinking of an ocean liner with a love story being one of the many stories around it.  The Towering Inferno doesn’t make that mistake.  The story and action revolve around the main characters of Doug Roberts and Chief O’Halloran in dealing with surviving and fighting the fire.  But we also get interesting sub stories involving the conflict between Roberts and the electrician for the building Simmons, played by Richard Chamberlain (The Swarm,) the conflict between Duncan and Simmons, who also happens to be his son-in-law, and the story of Harlee Claiborne, played by Fred Astaire (Royal Wedding,) who is a con man trying to swindle a wealthy widow Lisolette, played by Jennifer Jones (The Song of Bernadette,) who both are at the party on the night of the fire.  There are more stories as well but the great thing is that the writer gave us enough information on some of the supporting characters to make the audience care about them and worry if they would live or die in the fire.  At no point did I laugh at a death of a character in The Towering Inferno.  To this day I still laugh out loud every time that guy falls off the back of the Titanic and hit the propeller and flips into the ocean.  F’ing hilarious.  That’s why Titanic is a sham of a disaster movie and The Towering Inferno is the best.

There are some logic issues in the story.  I don’t quite believe that the security team for the building wouldn’t have at least go to check the storeroom when the computer system reported the initial fire and I don’t believe that it would have taken all day for the smoke to finally start showing up underneath the door.  I also don’t quite understand how blowing up water tanks at the top of the building would send a million gallons of water down the right areas of the building to put out the fire.  I feel that most of the water would fall outside of the building or escape in the elevator shafts or stair wells and just make everyone down below wet.  But I am willing to suspend my disbelief of those issues to enjoy the film.

Considering that this movie was made in 1973 the special effects are awesome for the movie.  When you see a character in the movie on fire, chances were pretty good that you saw a real live human stuntman on fire.  This movie played on two fears, the fear of being burned to death and the fear of heights.  I was really surprised at how nice the effects were dealing with the height of the building and real it looked.  There were only a few scenes that looked like they were large green screens.  One was the scenes involving the buoy chair and the other was the scene when the fire fighters enter the office area of the character Dan Bigelow, played by Robert Wagner (Austin Powers,) whose office was basically a big wall of fire.  Other than those scenes I thought the special effects were really awesome.

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This is just a wonderful action disaster film with a little bit of heart an emotion thrown in to the mix.  As I said this is the flag bearer for all disaster films and the one that all are measured against.  I don’t imagine any future disaster films being better than this one just because they are so much more focused on special effects then they are on telling a story.  Telling a compelling story that will make you care about the characters will make you feel something for them and care for them and hope that they don’t die in whatever apocalypse they have to deal with.

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moneymonsterHating on Wall Street is a popular thing to do with most people but especially if you belong to one side of the political spectrum. If you believe what Bernie Sanders says, Wall Street is one of the root causes of all evil.  Hollywood, in all of its irony, has also been kicking Wall Street while it’s down, even though I’m sure a lot of them invest in the same Wall Street.  Most of the movies are garbage like the Wall Street sequel.  A few are excellent like The Big Short.   The rest are either fairly good with some bad spots or fairly bad with some good spots.  For me Money Monster is entertaining but not the best story but does have a twist in the middle of the film that is hilarious.

Lee Gates, played by George Clooney (Hail, Caesar!,)is the TV host of a Mad Money like TV showed called Money Monster where he makes financial predictions on the stock market with an over the stop show business atmosphere.  While in the middle of his stock tip of the day, the director of the show Patty, played by Julia Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding,) notices a delivery driver milling around on the back of the stage.  Thinking this was part of the act, Patty turns one of the cameras on him and brings Lee to his attention.  The driver, Kyle, played by Jack O’Connell (Unbroken,) puts the packages down, pulls out a gun and takes Lee hostage.  Kyle is upset with Lee as well as his guest Walt, played by Dominic West (Chicago,) who is supposed to be on the show.  Walt owns the company IBIS Clear Capital and on his show Lee recommended his audience to buy stalks in the company.  Kyle listened to Lee and lost everything when the company’s stock dropped.  Kyle shows up on the show to seek answers and retribution.

My problems with the movie center on the way the story was developed.   I know the film was not meant to be an expose on the corruption of Wall Street.  But a lot of the detective work in the movie to find out how IBIS Clear Capital’s stock collapsed so quickly was done off camera.  While Walt’s aide and CCO of the company Diane, played by Caitriona Balfe (Escape Plan,) did get some dirt on Walt when she realized that he was playing her and the rest of the company on camera, the bulk of the cool discoveries were found by people who we were introduced to but didn’t get to watch them do the detective work.  I feel that the story would have been much better if we saw at least a little of the digging into the bad guy so he would be more evil.  We didn’t get to see that because the bulk of the movie was in the TV studio.  It wasn’t horrible but I thought it could have been better.

Another issue I had kind of correlates with my last topic in that once we realize that Kyle really isn’t the bad guy, we really don’t get one until the final act of the movie.  So for a while as the movie’s story was looking for the bad guy Walt, I felt I was looking for a bad guy to root against.  News was trickling into the story that Walt was doing something shady but we didn’t get to know until the third act so while the third act’s revelations were cool, it would have been nicer to see more of the stuff off screen to make me feel more invested in rooting for the kid.  Because for most of the story I kept looking at Kyle and thinking that here is another whiney millennial who is looking for someone else to blame for his decision.  He didn’t have to invest in the company but he did.  Sucks that the stock dropped and he lost all that money but he didn’t have to invest in stocks.  He could have thrown in it the bank and used it to make life better slowly.  But once we get to the third act and clear shenanigans took place then I could sympathize, a little.

Actually my sympathy for Kyle came right in the middle of the movie and for me was probably the best part of the movie.  ****Big and possibly the only spoiler in the movie is ahead.****  It turns out that Kyle invested this money because he knocked up his girlfriend Molly, played briefly but awesomely by Emily Meade (Thanks For Sharing,) and was trying to get ahead.  The police dig her up and bring her to the police station to try and talk him down.  Well I won’t give it all away but let’s just say that she doesn’t exactly come and help the situation and when Clooney’s character Lee tells Kyle that we all have been there, I think every male in the audience quietly shook their head.

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Speaking of Clooney I can say that for me this is the first time in a long time that he was pleasantly wonderful.  Maybe being typecast as an insufferable arrogant douchebag is what made him so charming.  But he did have a lot of funny bits spread out, especially with the girlfriend scene.  As for the rest I have already mention that Emily’s brief cameo was awesome.  I am not and have never been a big fan of Julia Roberts so I can only say that she really didn’t annoy me in the film, so that’s cool.  I mean she didn’t do a bad job or anything, quite the opposite actually but I would have been happy with other actresses in that role.  Actually everyone had nice performances in the film and helped make up for the story.

I can say that if you are not a fan of super hero films and want to go see a movie this weekend I am sure there are worse out there than Money Monster.  The story is lacking but the performances made up for it, even George Clooney’s.

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the Raven

When I saw the trailers for this movie I was excited because as a teenager I was an Edgar Allan Poe fan and I have always like John Cusack. At this time Cusack had been on a roll starring in the disaster movie 2012 and the ridiculous comedy Hot Tub Time Machine.  So I was excited to see this film but work kept me from seeing it opening weekend.  By the time I had time to see the film it was gone and I was like WTF?  So The Raven had disappeared and I with the attention span of a 6 month old had forgotten about the movie.   Fortunately there is the HBO network and it was on the other night and I was able to watch it finally.  While I liked the film I can see why it failed at the box office and most of the critics as well.

During the last days of his life Edgar Allan Poe, played by John Cusack (Hot Tub Time Machine,) is broke and trying to survive day to day life, his alcoholism, and the father of his love Emily, played by Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness.)  Poe is given a new reason to live when his poems become the inspiration of a serial killer in Baltimore.  Poe teams up with Detective Fields, played by Luke Evans (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smog,) to try and capture the man who not only is killing people but has kidnapped Emily and will leave her to die if Poe doesn’t solve the riddle of the killer.

Being a fan of detective type mysteries is one of the reasons why I like this film.  It is by no means a difficult mystery to solve but it is fascinating to watch it unfold.  But I like how Poe and Fields work together to solve the riddles one by one.  It would be easily described as a poor man’s Holmes and Watson.   I also enjoy the look and feel of the film.  I love the look of 1840’s Baltimore and how many times I had to remember that this wasn’t 1800’s London.  I don’t know what it is about the time that I like so much about it.  Maybe it’s the use of horses and gas lamps and the Victorian dresses the ladies wear.  We rarely see films of this time in US history that take place in the eastern part of the States.  Most of the 1800’s films are westerns or Civil War era and I would like to think that there are many stories to be told from 1800 to 1850 New York, Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Anyway I liked that the time and location of the story because my lack of knowledge of the period helped in the overall story telling.

I mentioned earlier this entire film is basically a poor man’s Sherlock Holmes.  This is what I feel is the death of this movie.  Anyone who has seen the Robert Downey Jr films will look at this film and see the Holmes movies as the better film and not think much about telling people to see this one.  I don’t know if that is completely fair considering Holmes is a fictional detective and Poe is a writer of dark stories turned fictional detective.  But that is the direction the writer took and so that is the path that is logical to follow when watching this film.  I think the writer could have bailed himself out if he had made the story more about the Poe poems with detail.  Instead we only see them used as a rough outline with the exception of The Pit and the Pendulum.  The other murders have pieces of other of Poe’s works but did not dig deep into them.  I would have liked to see the movie story wrap itself around the Poe films similar to the way the movie Seven had the seven deadly sins so interwoven in the film.  The Raven doesn’t do this and I feel that this is the biggest failure in the film.  Not that this is a bad story, it just could have gone to a wonderful place if written properly and it wasn’t and instead we get an average film.

I do not know if I will own this movie on Blu-Ray or not.  Maybe if I can get it dirt cheap at a used store.  I like the movie enough to own but I if I get it I don’t know how many times I will watch the film.  This movie also appears to be somewhat of a career killer for John Cusack.  Mind you this would be the second time that happened to him.  Since this film I haven’t seen a single film of his that made it to the big screen and the two that did were both small films.  I worry that Cusack may be disappearing again and that would suck because I find him to be an enjoyable to watch.  Anyway, I say watch the film it is entertaining but should leave you wanting more.

 

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SpectreSo I should never get my expectations high for a movie because rarely are they met when they are high. Although, truth be told, some parts of this movie met and exceeded my expectations.  But then again a lot of the movie had me shaking my head with a quizzical look on my face.  So while I liked the movie, and I have it on Blu-Ray, it left me wanting a lot more.

James Bond, played by Daniel Craig (Golden Compass,) is back and after years of trying to find the organization responsible for his beloved Vesper Lynd’s death as well as the old M.  It looks as if he is finally making headway after the old M, played by Judi Dench (Casino Royale,) leaves a death message via video to tell him to find a particular man in the event of her death.  Despite the orders of the new M, played by Ralph Fiennes (Hail, Caesar!,) not to go anywhere he begins the final hunt to find the organization known as Spectre and its leader Ernst Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Bastards.)

The first ten minutes of this movie sets up my emotions for the entire film.  The opening scene, which is always that trademark James Bond action sequence, is probably the best Bond opening in the history of Bond movies.  It was ridiculously exciting watching these two guys fight in a flying helicopter.  I can’t remember a scene that was that fun.  Even before that when he shoots a briefcase in a building that ended up having a bomb in it which destroys that building that causes it to fall on the building Bond is in, which collapses the roof and sends him sliding down and ultimately land comfortably on a sofa was hilarious.   So the beginning was starting off brilliantly.  Then as if to ruin everything we get the opening title sequence with three minutes of tentacle porn ( to give credit where credit is due, the phrase comes from Screen Junkies Honest Trailer Spectre, but it’s awesome so I am using it,) with a title song that just gave me derp face.  I was sitting there listening to this song that musically was wonderful and Bond like, but then Sam Smith started to sing and my face went blank (not a fan of his voice at all.)  Then the lyrics sounded as if we are giving a eulogy to Bond…The Writing are on The Wall…really?  Compare this one to the one from Skyfall from Adele and it’s no comparison.  Yet the Academy nominated this song for Best Original Song.  I don’t get it.

But again, this is the whole movie for me.  Time after time I am watching this great action scene and then it’s followed up by borderline boring plot and story development.  The first time we get to meet the bad guy is at a meeting which is painful to watch but then right after it, we get awesome car chase in the streets of Rome ( I think its Rome.)  Another time we get 10 minutes of heading to and meeting the new Bond girl, Madeleine, played uninspiring by Lea Seydoux (The Grand Budapest Hotel,) which is slow, but then we get awesome chase scene where Bond rescues her from the bad guys by chasing their cars while he is in an airplane.  Awesome stuff!  So the entire movie I go from excited school boy to watching something akin to Pride and Prejudice where I have a permanent confused look on my face.

Perhaps the biggest travesty of all is the final scene.  We have 20 plus minutes of great action where Bond saves the girl again.  Bond tracks down the bad guy and shoots down his helicopter and Blofeld is literally on the street, waiting to be taken out by Bond.  New M has sealed off the entire block, Bond can gleefully get revenge for the man responsible for killing his love Vesper and his boss and making his life hell.  All he has to do is pull the trigger and bam, we have come full circle and closure.  What does he do?  Looks at annoying new Bond girl who is judging him for wanting to kill the bad guy and decides to throw his gun down and walk away.  Really? So all those deaths mean nothing now?  Can we get no revenge or satisfaction?  Apparently not.

This movie also committed a foul with its bad guys.  I didn’t get enough of Blofeld and I wanted more of him.  I get that if you go back to the old Bonds, you rarely see him.  But in the Danial Craig Bonds we get to see the bad guy a lot so I was hoping to see him more.  Blofeld’s henchman Hinx, played competently by former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy,) was killed off ¾ of the way in the movie.  It was a great fight between him and Bond, but I was hoping to see him make it to the final fight and it didn’t happen.  The last comment about the bad guys is that I do not know if there has ever been a more obvious bad guy in the history of bad guys then the character C, played by Andrew Scott (Pride.)  After his first scene, I felt like he was going to be one of those annoying politician types that get in the way.  But after the second scene he was in I realized that he was totally a part of the world wide evil organization.  It was obvious and yet we had this big reveal at the end of the movie that I assumed stunned no one.  It’s just odd to have that obvious of a bad guy who I think wasn’t supposed to be that obvious of a bad guy, if that makes sense.

As much as I am hating on this movie, I did like it.  The action was really fun and the story, as slow as it was, seemed to follow a logical conclusion, except for the whole revenge killing of course.  I loved the supporting cast of Q, played by Ben Whishaw (The International,) and Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.)  Don’t mean to interrupt the love with more hate but I did not like seeing and old looking Monica Bellucci in the film.  I know she was supposed to play the grieving widow but…yeesh.

bellucci

Anyway, I like it enough to own the movie.  I am interested in seeing if Daniel Craig does indeed follow through with his promise of not doing anymore Bond films.  If that’s the case I will be mildly interested in seeing where they take it.  As much as I didn’t like the direction they took the film when Casino Royale came out, it has grown on me and I am more of a fan of the Daniel Craig Bond then I was in 2006.  But Clive Owen still would have been a better Bond.

To see my movie review compatriots review of Spectre click on the link here.

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