Public Enemies centers around the capture of John Dillinger, a notorious bank robber who, during the great depression, became known for robbing banks, killing police officers and escaping prison (twice). The movie picks up well into Dillinger’s bank robbing career just prior to the time when he’s killed. Dillinger is portrayed as suave, confident, organized and admired by those around him (he was thought of as a Robin Hood of sorts). He’s consistently on the run and hiding out as he’s wanted on a federal level for his crimes all which took place during the development of the FBI headed up by J. Edgar Hoover.
Michael Mann is at the helm on this one both directing and contributing to the screenplay. The screenplay is pretty well written with much of the emphasis placed on Dillinger, his exploits and escapes in addition to Dillinger’s relationship with his girlfriend, Billie Frechette. Unfortunately the story falls a bit short in terms of character development but keeps things moving with action and some controversy with an FBI subplot in the background. This was a time before the internet, cell phones, etc., so tracking down criminals was much harder which made Dillinger’s rampage a bit of an embarrassment for the police and the government. The FBI’s formation and their efforts to catch Dillinger add a nice dynamic to the film and while this helps make up for some of the slack, it’s also one of the contributing factors to not having enough time for character development.
There’s some great talent in here with Johnny Depp playing John Dillinger, Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover, Christian Bale portraying Melvin Purvis (the man who brought down Dillinger) and Marion Cotillard as Billie Frechette. The cast is rounded out by Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Dorff, Leelee Sobieski, Stephen Lang and others. All the talent give solid performances, unfortunately the only one that gets to really get his hands into his character is Depp as the others get some on screen time but not really enough to appreciate the depth of the person they’re portraying. Crudup as Hoover is one of the more compelling performances but Bale doesn’t really get to assert himself that much with Purvis as his on screen segments are kind of short and on the move. Same goes with most of the other characters as the focus lies mainly on Depp’s Dillinger.
The visual style is interesting since Michael Mann has fully embraced high-def in lieu of film, which gives the movie a more “real life” quality, almost documentary-ish. This style tends to make you feel a bit more like you’re there rather than being removed watching in your living room. The set and costume design are spot on with the 1930’s time period; it’s especially impressive considering the scale of this project.
The movie is a little long (140 minutes) but for the most part goes by at a good pace. If you’re into historical/period piece movies and can appreciate gangster films, you should give this one a try.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror follows in the serial styled footsteps of the movie Creepshow and the TV show Tales from the Crypt (which gets a nod in the theme song) with 3 stories rolled into 1 collection. Each story is tied together with Snoop serving as the devilish host as well as some anime segments in between to fill in some story gaps. The anime is really nicely done by the way, make sure you don’t go for the bathroom break during those segments.
The individual stories themselves are fun and cheesy as you’d expect from a movie like this with a bit of a tongue in cheek attitude not to be taken too seriously. The first story features revolves around an artist seeking revenge on local gang bangers only to fall victim to her own acts in an ironic twist of fate. The next segment involves a group of veterans that is brutally taken advantage of by a ruthless landlord that gets his just desserts. The final installment features a rapper who’s out of control ego ultimately leads to his demise (Kanye West anyone?).
The writing is average with no surprises and the acting is ok overall but downright bad at times. It seems as some of the actors were phoning this one in or just goofing around having a good time. Then again, they’re not trying to do The Exorcist here – this one is purely for the fun of making a horror film – bad acting, cheesy effects, and some corny story lines are all part of the good times. The cheesy effects are especially fun – I mean c’mon, death by falling on a 40oz. malt that drives through the guy’s head! It doesn’t get any cheesier/better than that, right?
There’s some pretty good names in here acting-wise with the talents of: Snoop Dogg, Ernie Hudson, Billy Dee Williams, Jason Alexander, Method Man and Aries Spears (from MAD TV) included among others.
All-in-all, I wouldn’t bend over backwards to see this but if you happen to be up late at night and there’s nothing else on, it’s worth checking out on Showtime.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
Based on the video game of the same name, Bloodrayne revolves around a half-human vampire hybrid that seeks revenge on her maker for the murder of her mother.