Tag: russell crowe

The Nice Guys

by on Feb.26, 2017, under Movie Reviews

the nice guysSet in 1970s Los Angeles (but shot in Georgia ironically) The Nice Guys pays homage to the detective/buddy cop flicks of the same era. Written and directed by Shane Black and starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling you’d think this would’ve been a sure fire hit but the film fell pretty shy of its $50M budget. Let’s see what happened…

Crowe and Gosling play competing PIs who team up on the same missing person case. Crowe is the heavy who mostly has his shit together where Gosling plays the charmed goofball / comic relief guy who’s also a lousy father and brings his daughter to crime scenes instead of getting a babysitter. The story revolves around the death of a porn star and a missing person on the run who knows too much.

While the setup of the story is pretty good and the film has some solid moments, it suffers from a series of “are you serious?” number of moments. One such moment includes a struggle for a gun that results in a neighbor getting killed and there’s no mention of it after it happens. It’s a really bizarre kind of insert into an action scene. I think it was supposed to be funny the way it was presented but it comes off tragic and dismissive. The film has a strange sense of humor sometimes that don’t seem to really hit the mark. Then there’s the believability of the head of the justice department and her motivations. I don’t’ want to give up any spoilers so you’ll have to see the film to see why I question the validity of her intentions.

The production of the film looks great, the wardrobe, sets, cars, everything hits the 70s on the head. It was fun to look at the various marquees and signs to see the listings of that time. The music is fun and authentic too as were the parties featured in the movie. It’s a shame some of the writing and directing is what ultimately kind of hurts The Nice Guys along with too much presence of Gosling’s daughter’s character. She got kind of annoying after a while.

The cast includes Kim Basinger, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, and Gil Gerard.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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by on May.17, 2015, under Movie Reviews

noahI’m not Christian so I come from a non-religious standpoint on this one, just FYI… I’d put this film in the same classification as a film like The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Cleopatra and the like; basically an epic with religious overtones. Taken from the bible (with some creative license), Noah focuses of course on the man and his family responsible for building the ark that saved the innocent when God was on a bit of a rampage to cleanse the world of the wicked.

I know there were various groups in a tizzy for a number of reasons – religious groups being pissed about inaccuracies and non-religious types bent out of shape because Darren Aronofsky made a film based on a story from the bible. Can’t people just enjoy a film because it’s entertaining? And if it’s not entertaining, maybe just don’t watch that one. It doesn’t seem like a hard choice to me.

Ultimately, I thought the film was pretty well done. Aronofsky brings his usual creative flair to the film with some moments that feel like they have his specific touch, much of it just feels like an epic without being attached to anyone in particular stylistically speaking overall. The story is decent although at times a bit preachy (it is a Bible story after all) but the moral messages are somewhat universal nonetheless. The dialog seems mostly natural but there are some points that feel stiff in terms of wording and delivery.

The visuals are mostly pretty decent. I say mostly because there are few moments that look super-digital which was a distraction. The look and feel are well designed for the most part although I did have some questions about the authenticity of some of the clothing which again proved to be a bit of a distraction. Noah and his family’s clothing seemed almost like the designer version of the rags they were supposed to be wearing.

The actors bring strong performances to the table but again are stiff at times due to some of the dialog delivery. I felt that Russell Crowe delivered a passionate performance as the tortured Noah making some impossible decisions along with another passionate performance by Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s equally tortured wife. The lineup includes Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Douglas Booth.

If you like epics, give this one a shot, it’s worth a viewing.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Man of Steel

by on Jun.21, 2013, under Movie Reviews

I really, really wanted to love this movie but I can’t say that I do. I like it, but I don’t love it. The trouble for me when seeing it was that for every great thing about it, there’s something equally as bad…

Let’s start with the script. The story is one we all know, the character is one we all know which is why the filmmakers wanted to inject their own vision and make it something different. The trouble is that different isn’t always necessarily good. I like when filmmakers put their own stamp on things, what I don’t like is when they do it just for the sake of making something different, which is what was done here to some degree with the way the Superman character is written. He does some things that are very decidedly “un-Superman like”. An example is the fight with Zod and his cronies where pretty much 10’s of thousands of people would have died during this fight due to the destruction of Metropolis collapsing around everyone from Superman and Zod wailing on each other. There’s also something Superman does with relation to Zod at the end that makes you turn your head a bit. Superman was always about saving people, not allowing them to be decimated while he’s confronting the bad guy. There’s also the fact that the general public would probably be a bit pissed at the man in the cape after the annihilation of the city that he helped cause as a result of not taking the fight away from the people. Oh, and there’s that whole thousands of people dying thing too…

Then there’s Pa Kent (played by Kevin Costner) that in an effort to protect his son’s identity hints that he maybe should’ve let that bus load of kids drown so he can stay hidden. Hmmm, that seems like kind of a stretch to me, like it was inserted intentionally just to be different. I think they could’ve found other ways to be different without going so far off the grid. They did that well in certain scenes like when Superman is a young kid sitting in school freaking out because his x-ray vision is kicking in and he can’t figure out what’s happening to him. That was a great segment that told some of the backstory in a way that we haven’t seen before.

Then there’s the way the story is told. Instead of a linear timeline as we’ve seen in other iterations, it’s got kind of a jerky, disjointed quality where he’s 5, then he’s an adult on a fishing boat, then he’s a teenager, then he’s at a new job, then we’re somewhere else; it got hard to keep track of. Just when you were sinking your teeth into something, everything changed and you were trying to figure out where you were again. I like those kind of flashback-back-and-forth kind of stories, I’m just not so sure the Superman story is best told that way.

The action and effects are huge as you’d expect starting with Krypton (which seems to be modeled after a Star Wars / Avatar kind of vibe). I really liked the interpretation of Krypton, it was the first time we’ve seen a movie spend this much time there and while the sequence was a bit long, it was still enjoyable to see more of this end of the story told the way it was. The problem I had with the action is that it’s shown in the style of ultra-shakey cam with close-ups, making it hard to see what’s going on in the actual fights between Superman and Zod. I hate this! Too many filmmakers are incorporating this in such an overdone way that it’s hard to actually enjoy the action since you can’t see half of it. Zack Snyder directed and didn’t pull that crap with 300, I have no idea why he thought it was a good idea here.

The acting is great, no complaints there, it’s a strong lineup and includes Henry Cavill as the man of steel along with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Ma Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Michael Shannon as Zod. Cavill plays Superman passionately, I really liked him in the role.

Chris Nolan produces here which may be one of the reasons why the story and character goes in a darker direction that you may be expecting.

This is worth seeing and making up your own mind about as the merits of the film are there if you can get past the weaknesses of it.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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The Man With The Iron Fists

by on Nov.10, 2012, under Movie Reviews

Co-written (with Eli Roth) and directed by the master-mind behind the Wu Tang Clan the RZA, The Man With The Iron Fists is his version of a martial arts B film that you would rent or catch on late night cable. I love these films too, I used to work at a TV station that showed them at night so I’ve seen tons of these flicks.

If you’ve seen movies like Fists of Fury or Master of the Flying Guillotine than you know what I’m talking about. If not, films in the Kung Fu / Martial Arts genres are definitely a look see for their physical prowess and intensity. You’ll see a lot of influence on modern day films such as The Matrix.

RZA’s vision works well within the genre he’s going for. It falls short in some areas so let’s start there. The story is fun and familiar – humble blacksmith makes weapons for bad people, he gets sucked into it and seeks revenge on his former clients who consist of warring clans going after the same stash of gold. While the story allows you a sense of familiarity which is nice, the dialog is often clunky and a little catch-phrasey at times. The actors often do well with the dialog but sometimes get their performance stunted when they hit certain points in it. It interferes a bit with how you’re watching it.

It’s bloody in some very gratuitous ways (keep an eye out for the flying eyeball, pun fully intended). There was even a point where the whole movie audience started laughing because the blood shooting out was so over-the-top. Shakespeare this ain’t…

RZA acts as the main character and isn’t a great actor. He’s very flat and one-dimensional (even when he’s supposed to be showing emotion), he always just kind of looks tired. Even though some of the characters in here come off as something you’d see in a comic book (the main bad guy’s body turns bronze), RZA’s blacksmith doesn’t have the umph behind his performance to make him seem heroic. Luckily, he’s got some great talent beside him, especially Russell Crowe (who looks like he was having a good time with his character) and Lucy Liu as the madam who runs the brothel where most of the story takes place. Liu’s performance is always tight and reminiscent of her character in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series. Tarantino also helped bring this film to life as RZA was his understudy, you can clearly see the influence here.

The music is great and adds a nice underlying bed to the visuals. The visual design is engaging with a bright color palette, exotic locations, beautiful women and elaborate costumes (including the lion clan’s 80’s hair dos).

Worth checking out if you’re into action/martial arts movies. If you’d rather watch The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep and eloquent dialog, you might hate this.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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