Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Draft Day (2014)
You Can Enjoy This Even If You're Not A Football Fan
Be warned off the top: this movie is a little bit niche-ey. It's about the pressures and the wheeling and dealing that takes place on NFL draft day. You don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy this, but it does help a little bit. I'm not much of a fan of the NFL to be honest, but I am a hockey fan, and draft day for the NHL has a similar feel to it, so I could easily get into this. My wife, on the other hand, isn't a sports fan at all, but she enjoyed the movie, periodically asking me questions about the draft and how it works. So, this being a bit of a niche-ey movie, my advice to a non-sports fan who watches it would be to watch it with someone who knows a bit about how draft day works and can explain a few points now and then.
The story itself revolves around Sonny Weaver, Jr., played by Kevin Costner. In the context of the movie, Weaver is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. He's got a high draft pick, but not the top draft pick, when an unexpected opportunity arises to trade for the top pick. He has doubts, but he's pressured by an owner who wants him to make a big splash at the draft, and he's pressured by a head coach who wants to win now and not build for the future. In the midst of it all he's also dealing with his girlfriend, who's pregnant and also works in the Browns front office, and he has his mom on his back, with his father (a former Browns coach whom Sonny, Jr. actually fired) having recently died. So, while this is mostly about the ins and outs of the draft, there's also some personal melodrama involved.
It's a good movie. It presents a realistic look at exactly what goes on in a team's "war room" on draft day as decisions are made regarding young players who are about to become very wealthy young men. It also has a really good (and even exciting) ending as Sonny works on the big deal and makes his final decisions. It's a bit niche-ey, perhaps, but it still has enough for everyone to enjoy. (7/10)
Decent Enough Mystery With A Nice Twist At The End
One thing this movie does well is point out the potentially tragic costs of revenge. Paul Maguire is a former gangster who has reformed and become a leader in his city's business community. Then one night, his daughter is kidnapped and later found shot to death. The movie is a bit of a whodunit, with Maguire and some of his former henchmen seeking out the killer, with all signs pointing to the Russian mafia.
Maguire was played by Nicolas Cage. Cage is an unpredictable actor. He's done some very good work, and he's done some very bad work. This was a middling kind of performance. He wasn't bad, but I also found it hard to take him seriously as a former notorious gangster.
The mystery of who killed Caitlin was pretty good, and included a twist at the end that I for one didn't see coming. What was sometimes lacking was a consistency or flow to the story, and it was excessively violent and bloody, often for no apparent purpose other than being violent and bloody.
Still, it held my interest, and the twist as the identity of Caitlyn's killer was revealed was a good one. This really isn't as bad as some reviewers make it out to be. (6/10)
Artificial Intelligence Turned Out To Be A Bit Of A Drag
"Transcendence" gets off to a decent enough start. Not long into the movie, there's a very dramatically portrayed series of attacks by an anti- technology extremist groups at labs throughout the United States that are working on artificial intelligence. That seemed to set the stage for a very exciting, action-themed movie. And then, for whatever reason, it just seemed to sputter along. There were brief moments of excitement, but they were well scattered, and for a movie that seemed filled with the potential for some philosophical consideration of the issues surrounding the development of artificial intelligence, there really seemed to be little of that. I was really left feeling that this was a movie that didn't seem to know where it wanted to go or what it wanted to accomplish.
It has a decent cast. Johnny Depp was in the lead role as Dr. Will Caster, one of the leading researchers into A.I. Poisoned and slowly dying as a result of those opening attacks, a way is discovered to place his mind and his knowledge into a computer, where it's joined by basically all the knowledge that there is. It raises the question (one that is raised more than once in the movie) of whether this is really Will or not. And there is the whole problem of what Will (or whatever it is) is going to do with this newfound knowledge. But nothing seemed explored too deeply.
Nor did I think the performances were especially outstanding. The movie as a whole was surprisingly cold and passionless, and that pretty much summed up my feeling about the performances. This movie lacked any sort of reason to connect emotionally with any of the characters. It was really hard to care about them.
There was some potential here, but unfortunately most of it was unrealized. (3/10)
The Raven (1963)
An Interesting Cast Makes This A Curiosity
In 1935, Boris Karloff starred in a movie called "The Raven" - a movie that had little to nothing to do with Edgar Allen Poe's poem. Fast forward 28 years. In 1963, Boris Karloff starred in a movie called "The Raven" - a movie that had little to nothing to do with Edgar Allen Poe's poem. Let's talk about the '63 version.
Your first thought about a movie called "The Raven" (and that stars Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, along with Karloff) is that you're going to find a horror movie, or at least a decent mystery or suspense thriller. Those expectations are dashed quickly. This is, after all, directed by Roger Corman. There's nothing frightening or mysterious about this. Instead the movie goes for laughs, as two rival sorcerors/wizards/magicians (Price and Karloff) go head to head with each other, with Lorre stuck in the middle - sometimes a raven, sometimes a man, sometimes a bit of both. Yes, it's a rather silly movie, which unfortunately creates expectations by being named after Poe's poem. From time to time it works in that it brings forth a few chuckles - but it doesn't accomplish much else.
To give them credit, the cast seemed to take this seriously enough and played their parts well, although I understand from what I've read that the three leads did recognize the sheer silliness of it all and had their share of fun while making it. But a few chuckles and a decent cast aside, this just isn't a particularly good movie. In the end, what's most interesting about it is probably an appearance by a very young Jack Nicholson as the Lorre character's son. In terms of quality, his performance wasn't notable, and to be honest I didn't even recognize him until I saw his name in the closing credits. That, along with the team of Price, Lorre and Karloff) makes this movie a curiosity, but it doesn't make it good. (3/10)
A Bad Movie Falls Apart Even More At Its End, But It Does Have A Few Laughs
As a big fan of the original "Anchorman" I was very hesitant about this sequel. First, sequels almost never live up to the original on which they're based, and, second, as much as I enjoyed it the original "Anchorman" was not without its share of weaknesses. Unfortunately, those weaknesses were on display again in a movie that was, overall, far less satisfying.
One of those revisited weaknesses was the sheer length of the movie. The original - much funnier - was far too long at about 1:45. This one went on for almost two painstaking hours even though there was nowhere near enough substance to fill that time. Even by the end of the first hour I was getting antsy. By about 1:30 it was getting painful to keep watching. Then, for reasons I'll never understand, much of the last 20 minutes or so was taken up (like the first movie) with a huge news team rumble that was silly, even for a movie designed to be silly. Really, this was a huge mess of a story from the start. The chemistry that I thought existed in the first movie between Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate (as Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone - now, in this movie, married) was noticeably absent in this, and while the first movie made no attempt to be serious, this one added an unnecessary angle about Ron trying to be a good father to his son. Nothing much in this story worked. But ...
As weak as the story was, it did have me laughing out loud a few times, with many of those laughs being produced by Steve Carell, who was back as the laughably incompetent weatherman Brick Tamland. As far as performances were concerned, Carell's was the obvious highlight here, albeit in a supporting role. A movie that makes me laugh out loud can't be all bad, even if it does have a lame and often incoherent story. (3/10)
It Was OK
Ben Stiller was very good in the title role. That's the first thing I'd say. From my perspective, it was one of his better performances. As Walter, he plays the head of the negative assets department for LIFE Magazine, which is about to publish its last print edition before becoming an online only magazine. In that position, Walter is responsible for a series of negatives from a hotshot photographer (who would ultimately be played by Sean Penn in little more than a cameo), one of which is to be the final cover photo. But one of the negatives (#25) is missing, and the movie revolves around Walter's wide-ranging search for it.
Walter is a likable character. He's a guy who's largely bored and unsatisfied with life, who spends a lot of time daydreaming about what could be - some of his daydreams are realistic, others not so much. That sometimes gets a bit confusing, since it isn't always clear whether what we're watching is real or whether it's only happening in Walter's head. And as likable as Walter may be, I just didn't find myself caught up in the search for negative #25. It did give the movie the opportunity to go to some interesting places. You really don't see many movies that are set for significant periods of time in places like Iceland and Greenland - although whether those places were portrayed at all realistically is doubtful. Still ... Iceland and Greenland. But aside from the curiosity of the setting, the search for negative #25 rather bored me.
There was also the problem of Ted Hendricks. Played by Adam Scott, Ted was the mean and nasty boss in charge of the transition from print to online, apparently delighting in telling people they would lose their job - heartless, callous and unfeeling. Yes, it happens, and the powers that be aren't always kind and compassionate, but Ted was too much of a caricature for my liking.
This is certainly worth watching for Ben Stiller's performance, but for me at least the story left a lot to be desired. (4/10)
Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
Nicely Done Little Movie
Aside from the opening narrative and the closing "pinishment poll" (in which the audience, presumably at theatres, was invited to decide whether Sardonicus should be punished or shown mercy) from director William Castle - neither of which were necessary - "Mr. Sardonicus" is actually a pretty smart movie that moves along at a nice pace and is at times tense and that even manages to fit in some rather twisted sexual innuendo in such a way that it fit the story perfectly.
Sardonicus is a Central European baron who spends his life wearing a mask to hide his grotesque face, frozen by a traumatic incident years earlier. Convincing the English Dr. Cargrave to come to him, Sardonicus ensures the doctor's co-operation with threats against his beautiful wife, with whom Cargrave had a previous relationship.
The story is decent. The makeup for Sardonicus is a bit silly but workable, and it does offer the viewer a bit of a start when his appearance is first revealed, and there's even discussion of psychosomatic illness included. All things considered, it's a pretty well done movie. (7/10)
The Last Days on Mars (2013)
Zombies On Mars
In a way you could call this movie "Zombies On Mars," because that's essentially what it is. Set at an unspecified point in the future, it revolves around an international crew of astronauts spending their last days of a long mission on the Red Planet, and preparing to go home. Things go horribly wrong, though, when they discover a Martian bacteria that begins to infect them. It makes them appear dead, but they eventually revive as apparently unfeeling and mindless killers. Thus - basically - zombies.
I didn't find this particularly spellbinding. It has some moments of high excitement, and the first sight of one of the infected crew causes a bit of a jump, but those kinds of moments are unfortunately few and far between, and staying riveted to the story wasn't always easy. Watching the characters respond in unique ways to the crisis was kind of interesting, and I thought the movie did a good job of creating the Martian setting. It just didn't have enough sustained excitement.
The movie features a fairly low profile cast, with the best known being Liev Schreiber, but they were fine. They just needed a bit of a better story to work with. (4/10)
Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
Not Jim Carrey's Best, Not Jim Carrey's Worst
I have very mixed reactions to Jim Carrey's work. Sometimes I think he's quite good, other times both his performances and his movie leave something to be desired. On the other hand, I adore Renee Zellweger. She can make even a bad movie worth watching - for me, anyway. So, Zellweger was in this. It was worth watching.
It was a decent movie and sometimes quite funny. Carrey's character Charlie is an officer with the Rhode Island State Police - "the best law enforcement agency in the country" as we're told many times. But after a marriage breakup, Charlie's life begins to fall apart. He's left with his three black sons (his wife had an affair and then dumped both Charlie and the kids) and just tries to get through life. Then he meets Irene (Zellweger) - a fugitive from justice who Charlie has to return to New York State. You see where this is going - and then comes the twist, as Charlie suddenly develops a split personality, as the arrogant Hank makes his appearance. Irene and Charlie (and Hank of course) end up on the run from corrupt cops.
It's a fun movie. It's no comedic masterpiece, and it's a little too long for this type of movie (almost 2 hours), but it's quite watchable. It's also very crude at times. Charlie's three sons have an obviously favourite word (let's say it starts with "mother" and includes two more syllables and it occurs over and over and over.)
Basically, it's neither Carrey's best movie, nor is it his worst. (6/10)
OK ... Well ... That Was Weird
I'm aware of some pretty scathing comments coming from the Christian community about this movie. And I'll state outright - I'm a Christian, and a pastor. Even with that background, this movie didn't offend me from a religious perspective. I understand it's a Hollywood production. I also understand the criticisms. You expect that a movie called "Noah" is going to have something to do with Noah. You know. The biblical story. From Genesis. This movie has little to do with the biblical story. It's definitely Hollywood's account of the great flood and what led up to it. But I could accept that. Embellishing the biblical story to make a mainstream movie is fine. But only if it makes a GOOD mainstream movie. This was anything but. It was just a bad movie. A silly movie even. It seemed cartoonish much of the way through. It has some decent cast members. Russell Crowe in the title role, Jennifer Connelly as his wife, and even Anthony Hopkins in the role of Methusaleh. I can only assume that either they were all in desperate need of paycheques or that they didn't bother reading the script. If I were an actor, I sure wouldn't want this on my resume for the rest of my career.
The poor script and inane dialogue aside, let me deal with the issues of cartoonishness and silliness. Who were "The Watchers"? Those strange light beings apparently imprisoned in rock by God because they didn't do such a good job of looking after Adam and Eve? Was that the explanation? They made no sense. They were poorly (and very poorly) animated. They appear very quickly and their very appearance caused my evaluation of the movie to drop almost right away. And they stayed around - for the whole messy thing. There was no escape from them. And my eyes rolled every time I saw them.
You know what? You could actually make a pretty decent movie out of the story of Noah. You know what else? This ain't that pretty good movie that could have been made. For the sheer amount of creativity in coming up with some of the non-biblical embellishments (especially The Watchers) I suppose someone deserves some credit - even if much of this was downright silly. That little bit of credit explains why this gets 2/10 from me.