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Derek237

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111 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
No belly laughs, but good., 29 August 2013
6/10

A not-so-well-remembered SNL movie based on a not-so-well-remembered SNL sketch. I watched it last night, and I don't think I've ever seen it before so it was kind of surprising at how unfunny it was. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it just felt more like an offbeat drama than a comedy. It dealt with real issues and didn't have pristine solutions and I've left it feeling contemplative and, to be honest, a little sad, which is sort of a compliment and sort of isn't. But the acting in the movie is great. I have this idea in my head of Al Franken as this gruff, intense comedic force but here he's so soft-spoken and calm so you gotta hand it to him, the guy is COMMITTED. Laura San Giacomo is also excellent and has a heartbreaking little speech. And Vincent D'Onofrio as the pothead slacker brother is good stuff. I don't know. Not sure how I altogether feel about it. I'd probably give it a 6/10, not great but by no means bad. I think it's on Netflix. Check it out.

The Fighter (2010/I)
61 out of 88 people found the following review useful:
Fighting in and out of the ring, 17 December 2010
10/10

Wow, what a movie. It's an inspirational true story of a boxer finally getting his break. It's also a story of addiction, and how it can affect loved ones. And above all, it's about family. There are some great boxing scenes in THE FIGHTER, they feel authentic and brutal, but the true fight is really outside the ring. Which is not to say this is an overbearing melodrama, no, far from it. It handles the subject matter gracefully. It has a lot of heart and can be quite funny, and there are some humorously absurd moments, something director David O. Russell has proved to be very good at providing.

Mark Wahlberg gives a great performance playing the lead character, Micky. This is Wahlberg's most reserved and complex role to date. Micky has an unbreakable devotion to his family, which both strengthens and cripples him. He never really speaks for himself, and would rather suffer than upset those around him. Through the course of the movie the character really grows, thanks to the help of a good woman by his side. Mark Wahlberg shows a side of himself we've never seen before, this isn't the over-the-top badass THE DEPARTED Wahlberg, which don't get me wrong, is awesome too, but he finds a different range here. Truly the guy has come a long way from The Funky Bunch.

Christian Bale is absolutely phenomenal in his scene-stealing role as Micky's drug-addicted brother. This is such a great character that Bale really brings a lot of depth to. Dicky's easily angered, often detached and oblivious to how his affliction is affecting his life. He's also ashamed and vulnerable. He's not the most reliable guy in the world and he's in need of a serious wake-up call. But the thing is...you can completely understand why Micky would stand by him for so long. Underneath it all, he really is a great guy, full of energy and affection- somebody you'd really want in your corner. This is sure to go down as one of Bale's most remembered roles, and hopefully his enormous talent will finally be recognized by winning an Academy Award for it.

Behind every great man is a great woman, and Amy Adams also delivers a fantastic performance as Micky's girlfriend, who really helps him develop some backbone and at the same time is able to find some clarity in her misguided life. She's great in her role, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't thoroughly enjoy the eye-candy she brings to the movie. She has her fair share of revealing outfits and in one scene is shown wearing a see-through bra. Now THAT'S great filmmaking!

Also notable, just because it stood out to me, is that Conan O'Brien's sister, Kate, has a role in the movie, playing one of Micky's sisters. I sort of wish I wasn't privy to this information before seeing it because her resemblance to the goofy talk show host is uncanny...and a little disturbing.

I don't know why a lot of the most involving sports movies happen to be about boxing, I guess there's just something so primal and against all logic about people that get the crap beaten out of them for a living. It's worth knowing what makes these people tick. Yes, this is based on a true story, but I'm sure it's been tailored to fit Hollywood needs. Events have likely been rearranged and certain moments probably fabricated or altered, but THE FIGHTER doesn't attempt to portray the family shown here in a completely positive light. Nobody is a saint here, and everyone has their faults. When it finally arrives at its conclusion it is relieving, satisfying, and yes, inspiring. This is ultimately a happy story well deserving to be told on film but the sad reality is that there are no doubt hundreds and hundreds of similar stories that didn't end up quite as well. I can't tell you what exactly makes the family depicted in this movie so special. Maybe they're stronger, and more willing to compromise, and just maybe a little lucky, too. But I was left recalling a scene from the movie THE STRAIGHT STORY, where Richard Farnsworth lays down some wisdom upon a teenage runaway: he told her how he would give each of his kids a stick and ask them to snap them, which was easy. Then he'd give them a whole bundle, which couldn't be broken. "That's family."

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Freddy for a new generation., 4 July 2010
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like it or not, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010 speaks to a new generation. This is a sad generation of repression and apparent Attention Deficit Disorder, with sad, stupid parents, who would rather pump their kids full of pills than confront any issues head-on, and would rather burn an alleged pedophile to death than, you know, even think about calling the police or anything like that. It's a stupid movie about stupid people, and I couldn't have possibly cared any less what happened to any of them.

We learn that this Freddy Krueger fellow was a gardener who lived in the basement at a preschool (as most gardeners do), and he may or may not have molested the kids. Spoiler alert: he did. Surprised? The parents tracked him down and burned him to death without any evidence or police involvement whatsoever, they somehow got away with it scott-free, and as the years went by, the kids not only forgot all about Krueger, but also forgot they even knew each other. As we all know, repressed memories can come back to haunt you in terrible ways, and this case is about as bad as it gets because Freddy Krueger comes back as a ghost or something with the ability to kill them in their dreams for some reason. I suppose he wants revenge. His plan is to pick off all the kids that he molested in the past. Does he enjoy it, does he get some kind of satisfaction out of it? What does he do in his off-time? What will he do once his mission is complete? I haven't the foggiest idea.

There's a lot of problems with this movie. Mainly with the script, which is desperately adapted from Wes Craven's original (ahem) HORROR MASTERPIECE of the same name. Strange, arbitrary changes are made to the Freddy character which immediately strip him of any mystique (an impressive misstep when you think about it, it usually takes about 3 or 4 sequels to do that), key moments from the original are reassembled out of context and make little sense and feel forced (God forbid they'd try to come up with their own iconic imagery), and the dialogue is so full of exposition, it would have Bond villains shaking their heads in disbelief.

There's very little I liked about A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010, though I did like Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy, and when you get right down to it, the only reason you're seeing a 'Nightmare' film is for Freddy anyway, and an interesting plot with likable characters would probably only serve as a bonus, so, in that respect, they got the job done with the casting of Haley alone. I'm not the kind of person who would whine that Robert Englund is the only person who should play Freddy, though I know he planted the flag and he will always be the best, but he and Wes Craven helped create a character that became much bigger than the actors who portray him, so I couldn't think of a better choice than Haley to temporarily fill the shoes. He does a great job as Freddy. He very obviously put a lot of effort and respect into the role; it's apparent every second that he's on the screen. It's just too bad the movie was lousy.

There's always the temptation to get a little nostalgic when it comes to all these remakes, but I'm not a purist, I was actually very excited about this movie but was ultimately let down. I can remember sitting there in that dark theater, trying to convince myself that what I was viewing was really good. I lost that battle. It wasn't good. Remake or not, sometimes a bad movie is just a bad movie. The original 1984 film was limited by its budget, so maybe the special effects don't hold up spectacularly well by today's standards, but you could tell the movie had heart. Wes Craven made a film that delved much deeper than the average slasher flick. Surely the concept of dreams wasn't just an interesting gimmick for new ways to kill teenagers: they were used as an arena where the dreamer is left completely alone, forced to explore and confront their deepest fears. Here we have the polished 2010 update, with all the money in the world a film with such imagination could hope for, and it's really just content to pop up and yell, "boo!" How disappointing.

Bee Movie (2007)
64 out of 94 people found the following review useful:
[ Insert "bee" pun here ], 1 December 2007
6/10

Bee Movie has its moments of brilliance, but they are few and far between, and I think what weakens this movie the most is the fact that most other movies have already beaten it to its punches. There's nothing too original here. Most notably, it bears many similarities to the 1998 animated film, Antz, starring Woody Allen as the insect living in a perfectly functioning society who begins to question his importance in the greater scheme of things. And much like DreamWorks' previous animated film, Sharktale, featured many fish-themed puns, Bee Movie tries the same thing, except with bee puns, and you'll learn fairly quickly that there's not a lot to work with in that area. And, let's face it: Larry King has appeared as himself in so many movies that the gimmick itself has become an irritating cliché. Here he is, in complete bee form. I think they've taken him as far as he can go.

Altogether, though, Bee Movie is not without its charms. It does eventually find itself in some odd, uncharted territories (could a bee really fall in love with a human?), there are plenty of funny moments, and yes, even some of those puns work. Jerry Seinfeld, who has taken a lot of pride in writing, producing, acting in, and promoting the movie, does do a very good job voicing the main character. You sometimes feel like these actors doing voices for cartoons are just phoning it in, but Seinfeld gives a surprisingly energetic performance. I could picture him mimicking Barry B. Benson's movements in a recording booth as I heard his voice; it's obvious he was passionate about every aspect to the movie. The rest of the cast does a good job, too: Renee Zellwegger, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton, as well as John Goodman in a brief role, who once again proves what an amazingly talented voice actor he is. Whenever there's a need for a big, burly character, John Goodman is the go-to guy, because, well, he IS a big, burly character. Ray Liotta's cameo was also a highlight, and much more inspired than King's cameo.

It may not be a perfect movie, or the most original, and for a 90-minute run-time, it kind of drags on a bit, but for all that it is, I can't say that it wasn't entertaining. It won't go down in the history of greatest animated films, but it may be a decent way to spend a rainy day, when you can't go out and fly.

My rating: 6/10

P.S.

If you're knowledgeable about your animated films, you may remember the slight controversy surrounding Finding Nemo, which inspired a few children to flush their fishes down the toilet so they could "free" them into the ocean. Bee Movie just may plant some worse ideas in kids' heads. Keep an eye out for news stories about children getting stung by bees after trying to make friends with them once they see the movie. Maybe Larry King could do a special about it.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Five reasons to watch The Wicker Man, 9 July 2007
4/10

The Wicker Man, starring Nicolas Cage, is by no means a good movie, but I can't really say it's one I regret watching. I could go on and on about the negative aspects of the movie, like the terrible acting and the lengthy scenes where Cage is looking for the girl, has a hallucination, followed by another hallucination, followed by a dream sequence- with a hallucination, etc., but it's just not worth dwelling on when it comes to a movie like this. Instead, here's five reasons why you SHOULD watch The Wicker Man, even though it's bad:

5. It's hard to deny that it has some genuinely creepy ideas to it, the only problem is in its cheesy, unintentionally funny execution. If nothing else, this is a movie that may inspire you to see the original 1973 film, or even read the short story on which it is based.

4. For a cheesy horror/thriller, it is really aesthetically pleasing. It's pretty obvious that it was filmed on location instead of using green screen or elaborate sets, so we get to see some very great scenery. There are also many nicely composed shots. It is a very good looking movie.

3. Nicolas Cage is not so much an actor as he is a force of nature. Whether you're a fan of his or not, it seems as if it's impossible for Cage to play a "normal guy". There is always some kind of eccentricity or nerdiness he brings to the characters he plays, and personally, I am always fascinated by watching him in any movie he does. Whether Nicolas Cage is great or terrible, he always brings his unique energy into play, and he is never boring to watch. He is terrible in The Wicker Man, but in the most wonderful kind of way.

2. A student could probably write a hell of a paper on this movie, as it seems to be the strongest anti-feminist movie ever made. "See?" you could write, "this is what happens when women are allowed to run a society!" Also, the similarities between this "Summersisle" society and a bee colony are pretty interesting and worth noting.

1. If you're reading this, there's probably a good chance you may have seen a YouTube video that has become very popular: a collection of "highlights" from the movie, including Cage running around in a bear suit, and of course, the infamous "AAGHH!! THE BEES!! MY EYES!!!" line. These scenes are hilarious out of context, and they are still fairly funny while watching them in the film's entirety.

I bought the used DVD at Blockbuster for about 5 dollars...when you work that out, it's about a dollar per reason. It's a pretty good deal.

NOTE: The Unrated version of the movie is the best to watch, and it's better to watch the Theatrical version just for its little added on epilogue, which features a cameo from James Franco.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An entertaining and thrilling film, 13 February 2007
9/10

The Last King of Scotland is not a film about the ruthless, sadistic dictator Idi Amin. It is actually about a lost youth, who lives with such a reckless abandon that he does not care whose lives he interferes with, as long as he fulfills his hedonistic desires. It's no surprise that in the rush of things after he whimsically decides to practice medicine in Uganda (anything is better than becoming an exact duplicate of his father), he unknowingly becomes best friends with the devil.

Most of the politics of Amin and his rule are side-stepped in order to focus on the story of this fictional character, Nicholas, played by James McAvoy. Some may think this is a bad idea, and in a way it is, but surprisingly, the film works incredibly well as this morality tale, as well as a very intense thriller. I felt it was something of a mix of Wall Street and Midnight Express, and you can't really go wrong there.

Forest Whitaker plays Amin, and even though his character is not the central focus of the story, he certainly steals the show. This is one of those rare, amazing performances that always leaves you anticipating the actor's next scene. It's such a delicious role that maybe if Amin actually WAS the focus of the story, it just might not pay off as well. In the case of Whitaker's perfect, career-defining performance, less has proved to be more.

This was not exactly the kind of film I was expecting, but I enjoyed it thoroughly nevertheless. Both Idi Amin and Nicholas are well fleshed out characters. Amin's charm and madness are hypnotic to behold. Nicholas' journey from being a naive fool to finally taking some responsibility unfolds very well and convincingly. He may be fictitious creation, but what is said to him by a certain character at the end, about the role he must finally play, is completely plausible.

The Last King of Scotland features incredible work by Whitaker, all-around great acting, and it always kept me on the edge of my seat. It may not have had much of a political agenda, but it was still one hell of an entertaining film of the highest quality.

My rating: 9/10

13 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
A lifeless, moronic mess, 29 January 2007
4/10

Joe Carnahan's Narc was such an impressive achievement because it breathed new life into a genre that was pretty much dead on its feet. The cops in the film (played by Ray Liotta and Jason Patric) were complex and flawed, and even though they were like characters we've seen in movies before, they exceeded their stereotypes and were fully realized, human characters. In Carnahan's new film, Smokin' Aces, cops play an important part in the story as well, but unfortunately they have about as much depth as extras lifted from a TV crime drama.

This is a kind of movie I just hate: the kind where characters just drone on and explain and explain and explain. They speak lazily and monotonously, as if they want to seem cool and collected, when really just seem to be sleep-walking through a contrived movie. Think of a Quentin Tarantino script devoid of any lively dialogue or pop culture references, and you get the basic idea of what Smokin' Aces is. For a movie that literally spends more than half its time on build up, there is really minimal payoff. We're given extensive background information on nearly every single character but in the end they're nothing more than cardboard cut-outs. The out-of-their-league Bail Bondsmen/ex-cops, the black gangster girls, the sadistic rednecks, the master of disguise, and so on. That's about as far as we can distinguish them. It's a celebration of violence and carnage, but never once tries to have any kind of fun at all. There are very specific characters who are meant to be the comic relief, but the movie itself wants to be taken seriously, which makes it all the more laughable.

This is such a dull, lifeless movie. Alicia Keys' and Taraji P. Henson's acting is about on par with a high school play. Ben Affleck constantly looks about ready to call it a day and ask for his cheque. Ryan Reynolds puts a ridiculous amount of effort into a role that is poorly written. The only role I even liked was Jeremy Piven's character. Maybe because his character is in varying stages of inebriation, he felt the need to actually display some emotion. Piven makes the movie better than what it deserves to be and is the only character in the movie I found to be at all convincing.

Then there's the ending. Oh boy. There's a good way to distinguish good twists and bad twists. If there is some sense that a movie is leading toward this conclusion, like say, it has any importance at all, and perhaps the movie is always unraveling towards it or even dropping clues for it, then the twist is justified. Narc had a twist kind of like that. Smokin' Aces has a moronic, needlessly complicated twist that only exists because Carnahan probably couldn't think of an interesting conflict for the climax. It's not so much a twist or any kind of important revelation as it is merely a curtain call.

Smokin' Aces is a complete mess. There is about 30 minutes worth of good action, and the rest, I guess, is filler. It's an idiotic, pointless movie that has no depth at all, which would always be forgivable if it weren't for the lack of a sense of fun, either. There are too few redeeming factors and there are far too many better movies out there.

My rating: 4/10

Date Movie (2006)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bottom of the barrel, 25 January 2007

Date Movie is the kind of piece of garbage that makes Scary Movie 4 look like intelligent satire. It's the kind of movie that makes Fatal Instict seem like it's actually worth remembering. And it's the kind of movie that makes Airplane look like freakin' Gone With the Wind.

It doesn't really poke fun at the genre of "date movies" as much as it plainly and simply emulates popular movies from the past few years and succeeds brilliantly in making them less funny, more stupid, and disgusting. There's a scene in Meet the Parents where Greg Focker opens a bottle of champagne and accidentally knocks over an urn which holds the remains of Jack Brynes' mother. The Byrnes' family pet, a cat named Mr. Jinx, pees on the ashes that are scattered on the floor. So how can Date Movie top this? For one thing, the character in Greg's place now has the surname "Fockyerdaughter." And instead of ashes, the entire decayed body falls out. The cat has sex with it. Fantastic.

That is just one example out of a sadly large, large number of scenes that are just as bad and even worse. Years from now, film scholars could go through this movie scene by scene and lecture on just how terrible it is.

The jokes are bad, most run too long and become not only unfunny, but genuinely irritating. It's clear that the makers of Date Movie are just cashing in on popular movies by mixing them together. The upcoming release of Epic Movie is further proof of this.

I think I laughed once during the movie. It was when Alyson Hannigan is dancing in her fat suit at the beginning: a construction worker nails himself in the head with a nail gun so he can save himself from having to see her dance. In hindsight, I should have done the same and saved myself from watching this terrible, terrible excuse for a movie.

My rating: 1/10

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"The best cocktail party story you've ever met", 24 January 2007
9/10

So, a salesman and a hit-man walk into a bar in Mexico City. The salesman, Danny, is worried about a big deal in progress, and the burnt-out hit-man, Julian, is drinking alone on his birthday. They strike up a conversation and develop an unlikely bond. Over the weekend they attend a bullfight and Julian reveals his profession. Later, he asks for Danny's help in a 'job.' Danny is offended that Julian would ask that of him. Julian is offended that Danny won't help him, feeling as if he's merely a novelty ("the best cocktail party story you've ever met"). They part ways. Later that night, Julian knocks drunkenly on Danny's hotel door, apologizing and pleading. Fade to black. Cut to 6 months later: Julian, in worse shape than ever and with a price on his head, has tracked Danny down and asks for his help.

The Matador is a relatively simple movie that proves to be more about its characters than anything else. Thanks to some switching around of the chronology of certain events, there is always something we're itching to know and it is able to hold our interest. We're tricked into thinking that the one final hit that Julian needs Danny's help with would be the climax of the film, but surprisingly, it is only half of it. The real satisfying revelation that occurs at the end of the film is the flashback to what happens between Julian's drunken knocking at Danny's hotel door and the "6 months later." We find out what truly has made these two guys friends. And that's really what we want to know when it comes to a tired genre like this. The priorities are given to the characters, not the complications of the story.

Peirce Brosnan is perfect in his portrayal of Julian, completely demolishing his Bond persona, and he has eliminated any future typecasting. With a role like this, Brosnan has shown he has a true gift for conveying depth to his character, as well as great comedic timing and eccentricities.

The Matador is a very entertaining movie, and much better than I expected it to be. Not only is it very funny, but it also has some sweet moments, particularly the ending that features a very nice final shot. I'll admit that I'm a sucker for movies about unlikely friendships, and even though the hit-man/regular guy thing has been done before, The Matador does everything- EVERYTHING- right with this concept. It, of course, would be nothing without Pierce Brosnan's performance, and judging by his work here, it's clear his best has yet to come.

My rating: 9/10

The Queen (2006)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It could have been a melodramatic TV movie; instead, it exceeds any and all expectations and is one of the best films of 2006, 18 January 2007
10/10

Queen Elizabeth's actions in response to ex-HRH's Diana's tragic death were held in such a crucial regard that the very Monarchy was is jeopardy. I didn't know this. If information like this doesn't interest you in the slightest, you might not enjoy The Queen as much as I did. Either way, this is an excellent drama. It is framed between two different meetings between Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth. The first meeting is when Blair first becomes Prime Minister, the second meeting occurs a good deal of time after the turbulent week following Diana's death. This is a wonderful film about the changing of times and values, about crucial decisions, and about the importance of compromise. The process of the film is really remarkable. It takes something that essentially could have been a Hallmark movie of the week, but it rises so far above it: there is a lack of pretension in its urgent, quiet scenes. It is a sincere film with a valuable political message that is not at all preachy. I'd compare this to 2005's Good Night, and Good Luck.

Needless to say, the performances here are pitch perfect. Hellen Mirren, obviously, leads the show with a performance that is sure to win her an Oscar. It's more than just imitation of a public figure. She gives life to this role and creates a strong, genuine character. And how sad is it that these days in mainstream movies we have to have an actress play a QUEEN in order to display any kind of strength? It's nice to see a strong female character that isn't overcoming sexism, or the supportive wife/girlfriend, or enduring unimaginable suffering, or battling aliens or vampires. Mirren is just simply breathtaking: she's intimidating, but also warm, and is always true to the character. There is one scene in which she breaks down and cries, but wisely to the part of the filmmakers, we only see her with her back facing the camera.

The rest of the cast is terrific as well. There isn't a single actor or actress in the main cast that doesn't steal the show at some point. James Cromwell plays the frustrated Prince Philip wonderfully("Look at them, pulling out their hair and sleeping in the streets for someone they've never even met-- and they call US mad!"). Slyvia Syms provides some delightfully unexpected comedic relief as the Queen Mother. And just as Mirren perfectly embodies Queen Elizabeth, Michael Sheen also does so with Tony Blair, in a great supporting role for which I hope he also gets an Oscar nomination.

The Queen much deserves the praise its been getting. It is actually a very surprising film. You may expect a melodrama, but you would be completely wrong. You may expect to not be interested in its politics but they are more accessible than you may initially think. Whether you like the movie or not, though, there is no disputing the greatness of Mirren's performance. I hope she wins an Oscar this year: after the perky blonde winning last year, I think it's time for Mirren to distinguish the line between movie star and accomplished actress and bring home her gold.

My rating: 10/10


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