Detect. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson): You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’, partner?
Detect. Danson (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson): Aim for the bushes?
(They fist-pump as they jump off the building…) More
Don’t fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all.
The Director: Peter Berg
The Cast: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven
The Release Date: 2007
The Runtime: 110 Minutes
After a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia kills one of their own, four FBI agents head to foreign territory and try to investigate what truly went down
In the post 9/11 world there have been a good deal of films released about terrorism. Some movies take it really seriously and are depressing as hell. Others take the pure action route. The Kingdom falls somewhere in the middle. This film succeeds in being both a political “message” kind of movie, but also has some pretty sweet action sequences.
On top of that, though, the film is also a “police procedural” as well. Once the FBI agents get to Saudi Arabia, it follows their process and investigation to find out just what the hell blew up their friend, and who was responsible for it. And it tops it all off with an incredible action/chase sequence that is incredibly suspenseful. One of the agents is kidnapped and is about to be executed on camera… can the rest of the team get there in time to save him? Pretty tense shit right there.
The film is incredibly well cast as well. Foxx really dials down his normal tendencies to over perform and delivers a really kind of stoic, bad-ass performance. Chirs Cooper and Jason Bateman are pretty much great in anything they do. Jennifer Garner isn’t great, she’s not bad, but not great either. However, she’s hot… so can you really complain? The only real complaint about the cast is Jeremy Piven who is playing the same character he plays in everything he’s ever done.
Don’t be afraid that this movie is going to preach to you. It won’t. At the end of the day it does have a “message,” but it’s not over the top. But if that kind of stuff does bother you, you still get a really good action thriller.
Fact is, all lies, all evil deeds, they stink. You can cover them up for a while, but they don’t go away.
The Director: Spike Lee
The Cast: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer
The Release Date: 2006
The Runtime: 129 Minutes
Four masked criminals take control of a bank in the middle of New York City and it’s up to Denzel Washington to take them down. But what are they REALLY after?
Spike Lee can be kind of an annoying little turd. There, I said it. Sometimes the shit that comes out of his mouth makes you want to slap him. But God damn it, he makes great movies.
Inside Man is a heist film. And we all love heist films, right? They’re a hell of a lot of fun. But this one is different. While the ultimate goal for these bank robbers is to make money, they’re also out to prove a point. What that point is, well, we’d enter into spoiler territory if I revealed that. Needless to say, this isn’t your average heist flick. In most heist flicks you see the “band” getting put together, you see the planning, and finally you see the execution. This isn’t anything like that. Spike Lee just throws you in the middle of this thing and the whole time you and Denzel are trying to figure out exactly what the balls is going on.
Which leads me to the performances. Denzel isn’t doing anything he hasn’t done before in his movies. He’s a cop with an edge, but he’s really charming and kind of a cocky douche. We’ve seen him do this multiple times. Clive Owen ain’t breaking any new ground either. Bad ass Brit with a gun that’s cool under pressure? Been there and done that. But you know what? It’s still entertaining as hell to watch them play off each other. The movie rounds things off with a good cast in Jodie Foster and Christopher Plummer as well.
This film is fun as hell, and the whole time it keeps you thinking “How the hell are they going to get away with it?” And when everything is revealed at the end… brilliant.
Listen, don’t take my word for it. Go rent it.
Basic Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Tim Conrad (played by Paul Rudd) is an ambitious executive who, after securing a negotiation (and the potential business) of Swiss mogul Mueller (played by David Walliams), is invited by his boss to what is known within the company as the monthly “dinner for winners,” (Tim later learns that it is more accurately a “dinner for idiots”) in which each invitee must find a “unique person with a special talent” and bring them to the dinner – the most unique of the bunch is declared the “winner” and the executive who brings him/her secures bragging rights among his peers. The next afternoon, Tim meets Barry Speck (played by Steve Carell) after accidentally running him over. After getting to know Barry’s weird antics and hobbies, he invites him to the dinner the following evening. But as Tim gets to know Barry, he starts having second thoughts as to whether he should go through with the dinner at all…
The Pros: Once again, Steve Carell comes through with a performance that is not only noteworthy, but one that single-handedly SAVED this film. However, while his performance was most definitely exceptional, it was a contributing factor as to why I didn’t like the film all that much (more on that later). Slowly but surely, Steve Carell is becoming one of Hollywood’s “go-to” guys for any and every role – he currently has TWO films in the Top 5 at the box office – Schmucks and Despicable Me – films that appeal to two VERY different audiences. Anyway, back to the pros – there were a few hilarious lines in this film that I’m sure I’ll hear at least once before the end of the year (“I thought the clitoris was in her purse”). Finally, Stephanie Szostak, the chick who played Julie (Tim’s girlfriend) in the film – TOTAL BABE.
The Cons: First off, I was very disappointed that the Paul Rudd of old was nowhere to be found here. Now granted, I understand that he was trying to play a more serious character, but in my opinion, the guy simply came off as very unlikeable – even in scenes where the audience is SUPPOSED to like and sympathize with him. Secondly, the pacing of the film was WAY OFF (the aforementioned “dinner” does not take place until near the end of the film). Next, a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of the comedy came off forced and unfunny – in fact, there were LONG periods in this film where I found myself sitting on my hands NOT laughing, and asking myself, “isn’t this supposed to be a comedy?” And when I finally DID laugh, it was at Steve Carell, which is the final gripe I had about the film. Not to take away from Carell’s performance at all, since like I stated above, I think he SAVED this film, HOWEVER, I think this film sent a very mixed message as far as how we are supposed to react to these so-called “schmucks.” Throughout the entire film, we are subjected to the Barry character’s bizarre antics, to the point where the film is expecting us to laugh at him. Yet, at the end of the film (not to give anything away, but it is fairly OBVIOUS how it all ends), the audience is indirectly chastised for laughing at these “schmucks” when THE FILM HAS BEEN DOING EVERYTHING BUT MAKING US DO IT FOR THE PAST HOUR-AND-A-HALF.
Conclusion: I had high expectations going into Dinner for Schmucks, and those expectations were somewhat let down. While the film looks like your standard buddy-comedy fare from the outside, it’s actually a film that really doesn’t know whether it wants to be pro-or-anti-“schmuck” – in other words, lacking an consistent identity (much like TNA Wrestling, but that’s another issue altogether). Yet, through that mess, Steve Carell delivers YET ANOTHER terrific performance that gives life to what would otherwise have been a mundane character. Recommended for Steve Carell fans only – otherwise, WAIT FOR THE DVD.
Final Score: *** (3/5)
Look out for my review of Salt, starring Angelina Jolie, tomorrow afternoon (8/05).
Until then, I’m out!
The Man With The Golden Gun
A duel between titans… my golden gun against your Walther PPK.
One bullet against my six?
I only need one, Mr. Bond.
The Director: Guy Hamilton
The Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize
The Release Date: 1974
The Runtime: 125 Minutes
James Bond investigates a notorious assassin, Francisco Scaramanga… or, the Man with the Golden Gun.
Yeah, I know… another Bond movie. But I’ve been watching a lot of Bond movies recently. So, screw it, here’s another one. (Besides, we’re all men here. Who doesn’t love Bond?)
So, I’m assuming most of you have played Goldeneye for the N64. If you haven’t… well, reach into your pants and see if your testicles are still there. It only happens to be one of the best games ever. And what makes it so damn fun is the player vs player mode when you can run around military bases and shoot your buddy’s head off. Ah, such innocent fun. Well, one of the modes in the game is “Golden Gun.” In this mode you have to find the Golden Gun and when you shoot your opponent, one shot is all it takes because then the SOB is dead.
Well, they got that concept from this movie. The golden gun in question belongs to Francisco Scaramanga, an international hitman with an island full of gadgets, half-naked women and a midget. Scaramanga uses said golden gun to kill his targets, and he NEVER misses. One shot is all it takes. So, this makes him already one of the coolest f’ing Bond villains ever right? Well it gets better, because the Man with the Golden Gun is played by none other than Christopher fucking Lee. Yeah. Chew on that one.
It’s not a perfect Bond movie, by any stretch of the imagination. It is Roger Moore after all, so expect lots of goofy campy fun. But really you’re watching this movie for Christopher Lee playing the heavy. Can’t get much better than that.
Do yourself a favor and throw this in your Netflix queue. Or if you can’t be bothered, there’s a Bond marathon seemingly every few months… watch it when it comes on.
With no power, comes no responsibility.
The Director: Matthew Vaughn
The Cast: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Clark Duke, Nicholas Cage
The Release Date: 2010
The Runtime: 117 Minutes
Comic book nerd Dave Lizewski wonders why exactly no one ever tried to be a superhero. So he makes a costume, grabs some weapons and becomes Kick-Ass! But when he enters a world filled with gun-toting vigilantes, gangsters and foul-mouthed deadly little girl… he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
Kick-Ass is the, err, well, kick-ass movie based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar & John Romita, Jr. Superman. Batman. Spider-Man. All great characters with great movies dedicated to them. (Granted not all of them are great, but still.) But how many of them actually kick ass? Yeah, if Batman actually existed he’d probably make me shit my pants… but there’s still some unbelievability in the character.
Enter: Dave Lizewski. Lizewski is just a kid, he orders his entire costume and weaponry off the internet and he goes out and kicks ass. Well, really… he gets his ass kicked… a lot. And this is exactly what would happen in real life. Regardless, this film takes everything we love about comics and turns it on its head and shows us: “See how ridiculous this is?” But whatever… it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Dave’s storyline is an ultimate comic geek’s dream. He becomes a super hero, he fights the bad guy… and he gets [the ridiculously smoking hot] girl. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty simple male-fantasy fulfillment storyline. But screw it, so is James Bond. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
The supporting cast is awesome. You come for Kick-Ass… but you stay for Hit Girl. Hit Girl is one of the most bad ass characters to come out of movies in the last twenty years. The best part? She’s a 12 year old girl. And what a mouth on this little broad. Hi-fucking-larious.
And of course, how could we forget about Big Daddy? Big Daddy is what would happen is Batman taken to the absolute extreme. Hell, he even runs around with an underage sidekick. The best part is Nicholas Cage’s acting choices. He plays him like a fucked-up Adam West and the results are brilliant.
Kick-Ass gets released on DVD this Tuesday, August 3. Buy it. Don’t rent it. BUY IT. You’ll thank me.
Now I know what you’re all thinking, “SportsGuy, why the fuck are you reviewing a KIDS movie here on SuperfriendsUniverse.com, “The Epitome of Manliness”? Well, a couple of reasons – first off, because deep down, every single person on planet Earth enjoys a good, intelligent kids movie once-in-a-while (see: Toy Story 3) and if you can’t admit this then you’re just lying to yourself. Finally, it’s my column, so I’ll review whatever the fuck I want – and I’ll be getting Despicable Me out of the way first since this is probably the one you are all LEAST interested in, so I’ll try to make this as short-and-sweet as possible (but feel free to skip ahead to the Inception review if you must…you soulless bastards…kidding!).
Basic Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: The main character, Gru (voiced brilliantly by Steve Carell) is a super-villain extraordinaire who finds himself getting one-upped out of the “super-villain” business (I guess that’s what you would call it, right?) by up-and-coming super-villain Vector (voiced by Jason Segel). So in order to prove that he still has what it takes to hang with the young super-villains of tomorrow, he decides to stage his greatest heist to date – stealing the Moon! However, everything starts going wrong for him when he adopts 3 orphan girls (I will not spoil why this happens as it’s a semi-important plot detail) and they, little by little, start interfering with his super-villain ways, but (as he ponders throughout the rest of the film) it for the better or for the worst?
The Pros: Despite being billed as a kids movie, this is a film that actually, in my opinion, appeals to more than just kids. Why do I think this? Because a lot of the gags in this film would only be understood to teens/adults, as evidenced by MANY of the gags going RIGHT OVER the kids’ heads, and hearing only “mature” laughter during these moments, which I thought was interesting. Also, it’s an entertaining ENOUGH story that it shouldn’t put anyone below the age of 80 to sleep in the theater. Finally, the performances by many of the cast, especially Steve Carrell, who like I mentioned earlier, pulled off Gru brilliantly, are not to be underestimated. For a kids movie, they (especially Carrell) seemed to put more effort in getting their character across than I have seen in other kids flicks.
The Cons: For a 95-minute running time, the movie did drag at a few points, which shouldn’t happen for a movie that short. Also, I realize that this is a kids movie, so suspension of disbelief is a necessity when viewing these types of films, but some of the stuff being thrown at me I just could not buy. Don’t get me wrong – the movie is smart when it comes to character development in relation to plot, but there were just some scenes (just s few) that I just couldn’t accept. I know that’s just me nitpicking, but that’s only because there could have been a smarter way to write that scene than what was ultimately shown on screen – and you’ll know exactly which scenes I’m talking about when you see them.
Conclusion: Despicable Me is a fun ride that not only kids, but the entire family can enjoy. While the movie drags at certain points, and it may be hard to suspend disbelief with a couple of select scenes, overall it is a smart film with brilliant voice-acting that should not be overlooked. Recommended for all ages.
Final Score: **** (4/5)
P.S. If you have an iPhone or any mobile phone that can receive the Best Buy Movie Mode app, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – sure, all it can do is translate what the minions are saying at the end of the film, but trust me – you get more out of the film that way – a sort of interactive experience to close out the film – plus, a lot of the translations are PRICELESS – and the app is FREE!
Live and Let Die
A man comes. He travels quickly. He has purpose. He comes over water. He travels with others. He will oppose. He brings violence and destruction.
The Director: Guy Hamilton
The Cast: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris
Release Date: 1973
James Bond’s mission: take down a powerful heroin drug lord with a complex world-wide network, psychics and voodoo at his disposal.
Unlike previous DVD of the Day entry, Licence to Kill, Live and Let Die is pure and utter campy goofiness. And you know what? Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Each and every Bond, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, has given their own spin and interpretation on the character. Roger Moore is no different. Moore’s take on the character is someone with kind of a dark sense of humor, but ultimately all of the Moore Bond films are a little silly and a little campy. This being the first of the 7 times he played the character, the camp isn’t quite as over-the-top, but it’s still there.
I mean, come on… the 70s was full of Blaxploitation films like Shaft and Superfly, and for some reason, someone at MGM thought it’d be a good idea to make a Bond Blaxploitation film. The results are kind of hilarious, with the word “Honky” being tossed around like it was going out of business, a voodoo witch doctor, and James Bond running around Harlem… how could you not love this movie?
Live and Let Die marks the beginning of the Moore era. A lighter, campier, goofier Bond. But hey, it’s still James Bond. You still get cool car chases, explosions, hot women and lots of bad guys getting shot. At the end of the day, isn’t that all you really need from a Bond movie?