The Sixth Sense

Year: 1999
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where it all started for M. Night Shyamalan and as far as I am concerned it was where everything went wrong for him. He burst onto the scene with this fantastic thriller that had a twist that really shocked everyone. That shock was his undoing though as it spawned certain expectations the director would never fulfill in the future. This was an incredibly successful movie but each succeeding film has been less profitable and less of a success with the audience. I don’t think it is Shyamalan’s fault and in fact like him quite a lot as a director.

I think that the shocker at the end of this movie gave people the idea that every film he made would feature something on par, and the studios tend to market Shyamalan movies like that. More often than not this is not what Shyamalan movies are meant to be like. His movies are more about human nature than anything else but people expect something much different. The expectations generated from this first film coupled with how the films are marketed make people really grow to hate Shyamalan. For more on why people hate M. Night Shyamalan see these reviews of his other works: The Happening, Lady in the Wateror Devil.

I have often written about how occasionally two movies of similar premise come out at the exact same time. To name a couple of examples: Dante’s Peak and Volcano, Armageddon and Deep Impact, A Bug’s Life and Antzthis list can go on and on. Point being, when this anomaly happens I only ever watch one of the films. It just so happens that The Sixth Sense came out at the same time as another movie that was very similar, Stir of Echoes.  While I was aware of The Sixth Sense I had no interest in seeing it after watching Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon. Knowing I didn’t intend to see it one of my friends who was, like everybody, awed by the film excitedly told me the big shocker at the end. I will discuss more about the similarities between these two movies when we get to the one I liked more.

So this movie never got to knock my socks off with the big surprise. I had known what would happen long before ever actually sitting down to see it and the movie was never one I really cared for. That being said, I think it has everything to do with why I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. By the time his next film Unbreakable came out I had not had my expectations raised to unreasonable levels. I really enjoyed the movie that many found disappointing and continued to enjoy his movies as everyone else finds them flawed. I think it’s because I don’t expect the big shocker, I sit back and enjoy his movies for what they are.

This movie is actually one of my least favorite Shyamalan movies. I think Bruce Willis is great and Haley Joel Osment was outstanding but the movie just never really interested me much. There was the one scene with the kid who had committed suicide and that bothered me as a teen. I had a friend once who had ended his own life in much the same fashion seen in the film and it was just too soon for me. Put that together with the fact that I knew what the big shocker was and this whole film was lost on me. The thing about a big shocker is it only really gets you once and afterwards the lack of surprise equals a lack of excitement. I have found so many Shyamalan movies to be the type I love to watch multiple times, specifically The Village, which is my favorite of his films.

Haley Joel Osment was such a renowned child actor when I was young but he really grew up to be an unfortunate looking adult. All the youthful cuteness that he has in this movie faded away with puberty and today he is doing things like Tusk. There are plenty who would suggest that isn’t pathetic but I found that movie to be so ridiculous. As great as Osment was in this movie he was arguably even better in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Under the direction of the child whisperer Steven Speilberg, Osment gave such an eerie performance you might believe the kid actually was a robot. It’s a shame he couldn’t carry that talent into adulthood.

Despite the lack of positive reviews M. Night Shyamalan continues to make films and in fact his newest one Split looks really cool. Although to be fair, all his movie look really cool. I hope that this movie turns out to be as devious as it looks and is not simply the trick of misguided marketing. Check out the trailer below to see what he has coming up. Otherwise I have never vouched for this movie and won’t start now. If you haven’t seen it you are in the minority because it was that big of a film. However, I do not personally think it is worth your time if you have seen it. If you haven’t and somehow manage to not know the big shocker at the end then by all means seek this out and let it blow your mind.

NEXT MOVIE: Slackers (2002)

Sin City

Year: 2005
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, special guest directing by Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Frank Miller

RYAN’S REVIEW

In the decade prior to the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first Iron Man movie, comic book films were growing in popularity. You had the properties owned by Fox hitting the big screen with titles like X-Men, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and Daredevil. Though only X-Men could be considered a success. You had Warner Brothers still pushing Batman and Superman movies with no continuity between them; they would show up egregiously late to the Cinematic Universe party. Then you had movies like this one. Gritty adaptations to darker comics like 300, and The Spirit. All of these films helped build the momentum that would carry the movie industry into the huge market of films based on comic characters.

Beyond the R rated New Line films featuring Blade this was far and away the darkest of all comic book films that had been released. Not only was it dark but it was violent and graphic in ways nobody had seen before. Twice in this movie Bruce Willis destroys the genitals of a sex pervert, which specifically stood out as a new and obscene type of violence. This movie truly lived up to it’s name with all the evilness going on within the movie. There are sex criminals, cannibalism, corruption, betrayal, prostitution, and brutally satisfying violence. Shot in black and white with specific uses of colors all this sinful behavior is on beautiful display to dazzle the audience. I have never understood why it took nine years to make a sequel and why it wasn’t as successful.

I have never taken the time to see the sequel because I have never heard anything positive about it. I didn’t want a subpar sequel to disappoint me in what I had once hoped would be a successful franchise. I think waiting too long can sometimes hurt a franchise. For example, I couldn’t get into The Hobbit movies because I felt like too much time had passed. The time to make those movies were in a reasonable time frame after The Lord of the Rings finished up when it was still fresh on all our minds. I feel like that is the same reason I haven’t seen the sequel to this movie. Nine years is too long to wait on a sequel and by the time it finally came interest had waned. I wish Robert Rodriguez had continued this franchise in lieu of diving into the Machete movies. However, I have yet to see the sequel and if anybody wants to vouch for it please leave a comment. I only need to be slightly motivated to sit down with it.

This movie is a beautiful adaptation because it looks like the pages of a comic book came to life and started moving around. Shot nearly entirely against a green screen this movie is so clever with its use of color. Only specific items in the film are seen in color and their presence creates such a sharp contrast to the film noir setting, making the movie all the more beautiful. I do not know if the colors show up in Frank Miller’s actual comic because I have never taken the time to read it. Rodriguez is on record stating that he doesn’t really consider this film a adaptation and instead sees it as a transition of the page to the screen. That makes me think that the colors are part of the comic, and maybe one day I will find out for myself.

Robert Rodriguez has always been good at assembling a great cast in his movies and this one is no different. The cast of this movie is truly exceptional in all main roles as well as supporting roles. I have long considered this to be one of the last exceptional movies featuring Bruce Willis with few exceptions like Planet Terror or Moonrise KingdomSpecifically this is before he decided to go back to the Die Hard franchise and destroy the legacy of John McClane. Mickey Rourke enjoyed a nice resurgence in his career around the time this film came out and his role as Marv had a lot to do with that. He was viewed as perfect for the part by creator Frank Miller. In the last of what constitutes the main roles I really liked Clive Owen as Dwight. Owen had burst onto the scene around the time this movie was coming out and just as quickly fell off the map. He is still active as an actor but isn’t anywhere close to the spotlight he found himself in ten years ago in the aftermath of playing King Arthur.

The supporting cast of this movie would just take far too long to cover in its entirety. I think special mention should go to Elijah Wood who is undeniably creepy and evil as the silent cannibal Kevin. Rosario Dawson is overflowing with sexuality as the leader of the Old Town whores, Gail. Benicio Del Toro is barely recognizable in make up for the role of Jackie Boy, which was originally offered to Johnny Depp. The late Michael Clarke Duncan was perfect as the golden eyed Manute. I think he was a tragic loss but find the replacement actor, Dennis Haysbert a good choice to play the same role in the sequel. Josh Hartnett looks quite dapper in his beginning scene with Marley Shelton and I specifically like how he shows back up in the end as kind of a bookend to a movie that bounces around in storylines. I have always been a fan of Powers Boothe, and he plays a great bad guy. As Senator Roark he is specifically scary with his efforts to protect his sex criminal son, even suggesting that he would make him President. Last but not least I feel compelled to mention Carla Gugino who is just unbelievably hot in this movie. I’m a big fan and don’t understand why she doesn’t have a more stacked career.

The special guest direction from Quentin Tarantino seemed more like a favor to me than anything else and it turns out it was. Rodriguez did the soundtrack for Kill Bill Volume 2 for one dollar and Tarantino returned the favor by directing a scene in this one. This was during the time I specifically began to despise Tarantino and thought he brought nothing to the table. He directs the scene in which Dwight is driving the bodies to the pit and he has a conversation with a dead Jackie Boy. I didn’t think the flashing colors worked with the continuity of the film and I felt the whole scene was too full of dialogue. That’s Tarantino’s thing though, give him a window and he’ll drone on forever with needless conversation.

This movie wasn’t the start of something greater as I had hoped but it stands on its own just fine. The sequel came out far too late and without the same enthusiasm that was put behind this one. Again, I haven’t seen it so anybody who has please share your thoughts. I think this movie is one of the finest adaptations to a comic I have seen and it was an important film for the future of the comic book era of films. I don’t know what went wrong with the sequel and can’t vouch for it but this movie is easily worth your time. It’s not for the faint of heart but if you have an appetite for something devious than you can’t do much better than this one.

NEXT MOVIE: The Sixth Sense (1999)

 

 

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Year: 2016
Directed By: Zak Snyder
Written By: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is not nearly as bad as it was received when it became the expensive flop of the summer. After my initial viewing of the movie I completely agreed with the poor reviews. It took a while for my disappointment to simmer down and now that it has I can watch the movie more objectively. I have found that it holds up better after multiple viewings, especially with the extended cut. That is not to say that this movie did things right and there is plenty wrong with the film, but there is still enough to build on and hopefully Warner Brothers learns from its mistakes and starts to do better as they work to build a DC Extended Universe.

The big problem this movie faced was the fact that it was coming late to the cinematic universe party. Marvel on the other hand has an eight year head start and they are weaving together characters with phenomenal success in the MCU. More importantly Marvel is making incredible movies that are regularly surprising the audiences. Specifically, they are finding great success with relatively unknown characters like Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-ManBoth of which had no business being so successful but they were just that good. In their effort to compete with Marvel this movie failed miserably but the dice has been rolled and there is no turning back now. The DCEU is here and it is going to grow. The studio is scrambling to right all the wrongs and only time will tell if they are successful in that endeavor.

To discuss this movie I think the best way to do it is going over what was right and what was wrong with the movie. So without further adieu:

What they did right

Batman

This is the trickiest part because they were recreating a character that has been recreated more than any other on the big screen. That being said they were most successful with this rendition. I was very against the casting of Ben Affleck when the news initially dropped but I think he gave us one of the finer versions of the character. I liked the older Batman modeled after Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Affleck pulled it off well. As Batman he was excellent in utilizing tools and tech to take out bad guys. One of the greatest scenes in the movie wasn’t the fight between Batman and Superman but the rescue of Martha Kent. I loved when he dismantles all the guns from above while all the criminals think he is still below. As a human Batman has to be a step ahead of everyone he faces and we see his preparation in this movie. When Superman shows up Batman is ready for him with a variety of weapons designed to hurt the Kryptonian God, and he ultimately wins the fight because he is prepared. The difference in Batman and Superman is that Batman is actually a fighter, Superman is simply so superpowered nobody can stop him. When the odds are leveled out it is easy for Batman to pummel Superman because Superman always relies on his powers. I think Ben Affleck’s Batman is easily the best thing this new DCEU has going for it so far.

The Cinematography

Say what you will about Zak Snyder, and I have said plenty, but the man is an artist behind camera. I felt he was really the wrong choice to direct this movie but one thing you can’t take away from him is everything is aesthetically pleasing. Synder movies may suffer in several categories but at the very least it will look really good. This movie looks awesome and that is a reflection of Synder.

Wonder Woman

While she doesn’t play the largest part in the movie the introduction of the character was really cool. Gal Gadot looks stunning in her combat gear and she shows up ready to fight. I like that they didn’t waste any time with character set up, simply having her in the mix was a good idea and kept the film shorter. The early looks at the coming Wonder Woman movie have all been really cool and that movie is shaping up to possibly get the DCEU back on the right track. This movie introduced us to her as a powerful warrior that we will all be interested to learn more about when her solo film hits theaters.

The Destruction of Metropolis from Bruce Wayne’s Point of View

This was a really great way to start the movie because it flipped what we had already seen in Man of Steel and it showed us what that fight with Zod was like from the ground level. Superman may have saved the day but a lot of innocent people got killed in the process. Bruce Wayne is badass driving through the destruction of the city and he is heroic when people are in danger. This scene also gives us a clear idea of why Batman does not like Superman. He is emotionally invested in the fight having lost so many employees due to the destruction of Wayne Tower.

Knightmare

I don’t know how much of this is actual foreshadowing but Batman’s apocalyptic nightmare is one of the coolest parts of the movie. Superman’s own private army that bows down to him is really cool and more importantly an evil Superman proves to be really badass. Unmasking Batman before ripping his heart out of his chest. The scene is also really important for setting things up in the DC Extended Universe. It shows the Omega symbol that alludes to the coming of super villain Darkseid as well as giving us a glimpse of the Parademons who fight alongside Superman’s private army. It’s also great to see Batman going full commando as he shoots and beats up several people. Afterwards the appearance of The Flash is also significant. I cannot imagine that Superman is actually being set up to be a bad guy but if he is then we got a small taste of what it would be like and it was delectable.

What they did wrong

Lex Luthor

This is my biggest problem casting wise. While Affleck was able to live up to the greats that came before him I just don’t think Jesse Eisenberg did so. I think his hipster Lex Luthor is a poor villain for such formidable foes and I don’t think he lives up to the Luthor’s we saw from either Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey. He is too young for one and seems too erratic. To be the man of superb intelligence he wasn’t calculating enough, and had no intimidation factor whatsoever. What’s up with him blowing up Mercy Graves when he’s trying to set up Superman? Even in the end when he looks truer to the character having his head shaved he doesn’t measure up. Instead of looking like an imprisoned Luthor he looks like a pipsqueak neo nazi being threatened by Batman. They should have cast someone larger, and someone we could buy into as the mastermind behind bringing down Superman.

Superman

He is just really lacking character in this movie. He spends all his time obsessing over Batman and completely doesn’t notice he is being set up as a villain to the public. His girlfriend is even investigating everything Luthor is into yet he stills seems aloof and disinterested in the real threat to him. The fight seemed ultimately unnecessary too when it plays out. He starts by trying to reason with Batman but so quickly goes to fighting him. Batman has obviously showed up to fight, it just seems he could have shown more restraint given the circumstances. I didn’t really like how the whole fight was set up anyway. There just could have been a real reason for them to come to blows and not over a misunderstanding involving his mother.

Martha

“WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME!!!” This was a weak end to a weak fight. I’ll get to my problems with the fighting choreography in a minute but here you have these two guys actually trying to kill each other one minute and the next minute they’re buddies. “Oh you’re Mom’s named Martha? So was mine, let’s not fight anymore.” It just didn’t make any sense and the writing is really the flaw.

The Fight Choreography

I think this is one of the most important aspects to any film and the only time they did well in this movie was when Batman fights in the warehouse to save Superman’s mother. The fight between Batman and Superman was not awful but it wasn’t as cool as it could have been either. When it came to the battle at the end against Doomsday I felt like I was trying to watch a Michael Bay film. There’s just too much going on and it’s hard to absorb. Marvel does a lot of things right and one of the most important things they do right is their fights are always awesome. A good fight scene can make or break something, especially a movie about super heroes duking it out. Captain America: Civil War for example was full of fantastic fighting, with real reason behind it too mind you.

The Killing Bat

I didn’t have a problem with it, but the Batman purist out there were screaming about all the people Batman kills in this movie. Traditionally that is the one thing that separates Batman from his villains. He doesn’t kill people and he doesn’t go too far. That’s not the Batman we see in this movie who has no problem killing anybody in a variety of ways. The ones he doesn’t kill he brands, giving Lex Luthor an opportunity to make him look like even more of a killer. In the extended cut you can see that the guys getting locked up with the bat brand are being targeted by killers paid off by Luthor. An even greater affront to the purist may be Batman’s use of a gun. In that awesome Knightmare sequence Batman uses a couple different guns when he goes commando and starts killing big time. Batman is a character that walks a fine line between good guy and bad guy. He fights for good but as a vigilante he is just as much a criminal as the men he fights. Not killing is the one thing that separates him from them. In this movie he actually qualifies as a murderer and that’s a problem.

The Death of Superman

It’s too soon to play out the death of Superman plain and simple. We haven’t had enough time to become emotionally attached to the character for one. Another is it really doesn’t make sense how he would come back to life even though we all know he will. General Zod didn’t come back to life after Superman broke his neck so why would Superman be able to survive being gouged by Doomsday? I think they could have easily made a climax that didn’t involve killing off such an important character. Doomsday clearly isn’t capable of flight in this movie, only jumping really high and far. So why not end it with Superman punching him deep into space after a big and epic fight. That would at least allow for the eventual return of the villain. Killing him off instead was an empty gesture, especially after he failed to impress in this movie. I think it’s obvious to all there will be a return of the character sometime during the Justice League and the inevitability of that only makes it all the more fruitless to have done.

Cutting Steppenwolf

If you shoot a scene that builds to the next movie and alludes to the villain our heroes will unite against why cut it? I think this was a ridiculous thing to cut from the movie. It couldn’t have been due to time restraints because the scene is very short. Certainly they could have cut a Perry White or Lois Lane scene instead. The scene not only gives a rudimentary glance at the next villain but it suggests what he is coming after by the three Mother Boxes floating in front of him. I think the extended cut of the movie is a better version but this was the only scene I felt really should have been part of the theatrical release.

Conclusion

The DCEU passed the point of no return long before this movie came out so there is no turning back and no rebooting here. The movie made a pile of money but it hardly got the return the studio was hoping for. It was released in late March to get a jump on the summer movie season but instead of owning the box office during that time it was topped in week three by Melissa McCarthy’s The Boss. That was just embarrassing, and it never would have happened on Christopher Nolan‘s watch. The studio has clearly felt the negative response the movie received and they are working to fix the problems for the future. Only time will tell but I hope they get it right. It could and should be a lot of fun to see these new characters brought to the big screen.

There is no arguing that this could have been a better movie but I think time will prove that it was good enough. If Warner Brothers can get it together and make some solid movies for the DCEU then all the things wrong with this movie won’t matter. They swung for the rafters but barely made it to first base at this first at bat. They’ll need to knock us out of the park with the Justice League, and the sooner we get a solo Batman with Ben Affleck the better.

Hope hangs in the balance as we wait for what else is in store for the budding DCEU. I will admit that the trailers for both Wonder Woman and Justice League looked really cool and got me excited for what is to come. This movie will serve as a trial and error process if they are able to make those movies work.

I think this movie is worth your time but if you are going to watch it I would suggest the extended cut. It gives the movie more depth and a little bit more understanding about why Superman and Batman have such a problem with each other. It also gives you a really cool glimpse at what else Lex Luthor is doing inside the Kryptonian ship. In the end when he is screaming at Batman about the coming threat there is context to go by. The extended cut of the movie is easily worth your time even with the added time stretching it to just over three hours long.

The Simpsons Movie

Year: 2007
Directed By: David Silverman
Written By: 15 credits from The Simpsons team including Matt Groening and James L. Brooks

RYAN’S REVIEW

I grew up watching this television show and for a long time collected the series on DVD. I think I have the first 13 or 14 seasons but somewhere along the way simply outgrew the show. I never imagined it would happen but somewhere in the year or so preceding this film I just lost interest in what Homer and his crew were up to. I did and do however love that they made this movie because it was something I had always hoped for. All throughout college I spent so many hours with this show and even though I don’t watch it now I still consider it something special to me.

There is really little beyond length, and nudity, that separates this movie from the television show. There is nothing wrong with that though, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The Simpsons have been making people laugh for twenty five years now and there is no end in sight. It’s incredible really and as my time of fandom has passed it’s really not something I have any business talking about these days. As for the movie I have little to say.

I like this movie and enjoy watching it, but it inspires nothing in me worth writing about. The Simpsons are as American as apple pie and that’s awesome. I think any fan should check this out and even if you’re not a fan it’s still a funny movie to sit down and enjoy. The Simpsons will typically only take a half hour of your time but this movie makes about three times that much worth it to watch.

NEXT MOVIE: Sin City (2005)

 

Silver Linings Playbook

Year: 2012
Directed By: David O. Russell
Written By: Matthew Quick (novel) David O. Russell (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I read recently that this movie was over rated and undeserving of all the awards it amassed. I could not disagree more, if for no other reason than I think the content is important for audiences to understand. The movie comes off a bit different but it reflects what the characters are going through and what they are going through is an increasingly prevalent problem in our society. This day and age more and more people are being diagnosed with mental problems and the answer seems to always be the same. Take this pill or that pill. To the point that we have heavily sedated the person and populous.

In this movie we see that Pat doesn’t want to take his pills because of the way they make him feel. He spends eight months in a mental health facility after a violent incident brings light to an undiagnosed case of bi-polar disorder. He needs those pills and it’s more obvious than ever in the scene when he can’t find his wedding video. Pat prefers different methods in his quest to find a Silver Linings and I think he is on the right track. Keeping to a schedule, staying physically active, and rediscovering who he

is are all great ways in which Pat works to overcome his issues. I think that while medication is necessary we can still all learn something from Pat and get our own lives in order by practicing some of his techniques.

The truth to it is that the way Pat does things are the harder way. Yeah he’s totally unhinged and a little bit crazy but he’s working as hard as a person can to better himself. His ultimate goal is a blinded effort at something unrealistic but it keeps him working to get better. It’s an easy out to simply take pills and forget about what’s really in front of us. So many have problems and it’s just too easy to swallow those problems away with medication. How often would exercise turn things around before it came to medication? Who knows but I like the way Pat does things and I take joy in how his story ends.

This movie was the one that won me over on Jennifer Lawrence. I had stubbornly avoided The Hunger Games, often joking that “I had seen The Running Man before.” I also really didn’t like her portrayal of Mystique in X-Men: First Class. So I hadn’t given her the time of day as an actress but in this movie my opinion changed dramatically. She is fantastic in this movie and I specifically love the scene when she confronts Pat about missing their dance practice and argues with his father. While I still prefer Rebecca Romijn as Mystique I have since watched The Hunger Games and agree that it is a good movie too. I will watch anything that Lawrence does now and I think we have a lot to look forward to from the young actress.

I’ve always loved Robert De Niro but his career has dropped off so much in the last decade or so. He is really quick to do just about anything these days despite his prestige. Yet I think this movie offers one of his finest performances ever. He is so emotionally captivating as Patrizio and proves to be capable of the magic he delivered in his youth. He had terrific chemistry with his costars and I specifically liked his relationship with Jacki Weaver. I think under the direction of David O. Russell that De Niro is as good as he was under the direction of Martin Scorsese.

I used to be such a fan of Chris Tucker, and then he got into the Rush Hour movies and just fell off the map after that. I liked him before his collaborations with Jackie Chan when he was playing parts like we saw in Dead PresidentsMoney Talks, or The Fifth Element He has a wildly funny personality and showed so much promise in his youth. I caught his stand up routine on Netflix last year and thought it was awful. He didn’t sound funny at all but seemed depressed and desperate instead. In this movie I just think it is cool that he is involved and he has a really funny part the way he just shows up and gets taken away again later.

The article I read recently said that this movie was great but that didn’t make it a good movie to watch. Having just finished it I kinda agree but mostly disagree with the statement. It suggested that the way the movie was shot reflected the feelings of the characters and that it took away from the movie. I feel like it gives you such a better insight into these characters and actually enhances the film. I find this movie to be so uplifting because Pat and Tiffany are such sad characters who manage to overcome so much. When they dance at the end it’s so much fun as a prelude to their moment of understanding when they accept that they are in love with one another.

I think this a a great movie that was well deserving of all it’s awards. David O. Russell has collaborated with many of these actors multiple times now and they obviously work really well together. This is the type of movie that can turn your spirits around and influence you to do things differently. I think it is an excellent movie that is easily worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: The Simpsons Movie (2007)

 

Silence of the Lambs

Year: 1991
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Thomas Harris (novel) Ted Tally (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I distinctly remember the first time I saw this movie. I was about 10 years old and staying at some relatives house who were cool enough to let me watch the grown up movie. Unfortunately the grown up movie was this one and for some reason I thought it was based on a true story. My Uncle may or may not have told me as much. I will never forget lying awake afterwards in straight up fear. Lying in the dark just staring at the ceiling, my ten year old mind unable to process anything beyond the horrible Hannibal Lecture being lose in the world. Where else could he possibly be on a late summer night besides right outside the door wanting to kill me???

In less than 25 minutes of screen time Anthony Hopkins not only earned the Academy Award for Best Actor but he scarred my prepubescent self to a new level. I would feel foolish about my youthful fear but in truth Hannibal Lecter still scares me. Nothing is quite as intimidating as superior intelligence and Lecter brings more to the table than just that. Lecter won’t just outsmart you, he’ll bite your face and then cut it off of you. If he has enough time he might even eat you! Add that to the fact that the man never blinks and I challenge anybody not to be scared of the guy. Imagine thinking he was a real person, loose in the world with the freedom to kill and eat anybody he wanted, and maybe you can relate to the 10 year old Ryan who laid awake in fear for an entire night some 20 something years ago.

For somebody who was born out west, Jodie Foster has always been able to pull off a hell of a southern accent. Though she won the Academy Award for this movie and is the hero I tend to think she is overshadowed by her co-stars. I have also always held it against her that she didn’t return to the sequel with everybody else ten years later with Hannibal. Even though I think she was overshadowed I still think this is one of her finest performances but that is coming from a specific non fan. She has had a long and distinguished career but few of her roles have ever really gotten to me on a fan level.

The obvious person who overshadowed her was Anthony Hopkins who gave the performance of a lifetime but I also think Ted Levine stands out more than she does too. As Buffalo Bill he is a combination of several real life serial killers and he is absolutely terrifying. He has a voice that will haunt you in your worst nightmares and his dress up scene will make your skin crawl. Even scarier is the persona that goes with that villainous voice. A man who captures women and drops them into a pit is something to fear and he makes my skin break out in goose flesh every time I see him. Unfortunately I have never been able to separate Levine from this role and no matter what else he is in I keep waiting for him to say, “It puts the lotion in the basket.”

As bad as my fear was that this movie was based on a real story I think I have been more terrified to know about the men the movie was actually based on. Buffalo Bill is a combination of a few serial killers who actually did most of the things we saw in the movie. The skinning of victims was actually done by a serial killer so fearsome he has become legend. Ed Gein is the basis for not only part of Buffalo Bill but also Leatherface and Norman Bates. He would dress up in his dead mothers clothing, dig up corpses to steal skin, and the women he actually did kill were hung up and gutted in the same fashion hunted animals are. Ted Bundy would use a cast on his arm to lure women into his van and then use it as a weapon to knock them out. The scariest thing though, if not Ed Gein, is the fact there was a serial killer who had a pit he kept women in. Gary Heidnick terrorized six women during the 70s and 80s doing many awful things, including keeping them in a pit. The things he did were so awful and unbelievable that when one of his victims escaped and told police they didn’t even believe her story until seeing physical evidence. Each one of these men are terrifying in their own rite but put together they created a haunting villain in Buffalo Bill.

This movie went through pains to be legitimate with all the actors doing their due diligence in research. Hopkins studied several serial killers and even attended some trials for violent crimes when trying to get into character. The not blinking thing was his own idea as he knew a person who never blinked and it freaked out everyone that talked to him. Ted Levine also did plenty of research into both serial killers and the transsexual community. There was also an actual FBI Agent on set in a consulting role to help make sure everything went right. I think all these efforts went a long way to making the movie so great and memorable.

There were few lasting effects from my fearsome evening with this movie for the first time but I will never forget it regardless. It was simply the product of my youth but I still have doubts that just any other movie could have elicited such a response out of me. This movie is awesome hands down and it’s one that hardly needs my stamp of approval. The efforts to bank on its success afterwards including both a sequel and a prequel could not match what was done with this film. There are memorable parts in both Hannibal and Red Dragon but some things simply can’t be replicated and the same type of magic wasn’t present in those films. This is a movie that nearly everyone has seen but if you somehow missed it then you need to go back and check it out. This one is definitely worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Silver Lining Playbook (2012)

 

 

 

 

 

The Siege

Year: 1998
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Written By: Lawrence Wright, Menno Meyjes, and Edward Zwick

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an interesting film because it centers on terrorism in the pre-War on Terror world. The New York skyline is even topped by the Twin Towers in many shots. It’s interesting not only because of how the War on Terror actually unfolded but because the movie still serves as a warning for what could happen. In today’s climate there is just as much danger of this movie becoming a reality as there was during the decade after 9/11.

I have never liked the stereotyping of Muslims into terrorist because you can’t let radicals from any religion cast a net over the entire populous. Yes there are radical Muslims that want to do harm, but by the same token there are radicals in all religions that are all equally as dangerous. When you let xenophobia and racism take the front stage you are going to have a lot of innocent people caught up in the middle. When the focus turns from the actual perpetrators to an entire demographic of people then it simply becomes a witch hunt and in this country we should know the dangers involved in such a thing.

Muslim does not mean terrorist, just as terrorist does not mean Muslim. When people lose sight of that difference we are in danger of seeing what happened in this movie become real life. During the War on Terror the U.S. did detain plenty of terror suspects but they never went as far as to set up camps in the middle of the city and start locking up every person that fit their demographic. With the way the current popular presidential candidate talks we may still have to fear this movie turning into reality.

I hate the current talk about both immigration and Islam because it is being fueled by a “political” leader. I live in the south where so many rednecks are being egged on and amped up in their natural racist mentality. Not all people around here are like that but even the quiet racists are starting to feel comfortable voicing their opinions when out of ear shot of  specific people. It bothers me as a human being because what used to be nothing more than a joke with these people has turned into hopeful longing. As if it is even appropriate, or even practical, to shut down immigration and try to block Muslims from entering the country. These ideas set us back as a country and civilization to such an unfortunate degree. The U.S. is a nation made up of immigrants from all over the world, and not just the white ones. People need to be reminded of that and not exasperated to thinking we should build walls or bar entry to anybody over religious alignment.

This movie shows us a perfect example of the innocent victim that can get caught up in the middle of this scenario. Tony Shalhoub plays the part of an FBI Agent of Arabic descent whose son is locked up after martial law is declared in New York. It doesn’t matter that he is a federal agent, it doesn’t matter that he and his family are US citizens, and it doesn’t matter if he or his family actually did anything wrong. His son fit the demographic so he was caged like an animal in the camps set up by the military. There are people just like Shalhoub’s character all over this country, but there will be no way to differentiate once profiling takes the center stage. When Brown equals bad it doesn’t matter who anybody is because they are nothing more than a suspect at that point.

While this movie has really interesting content matter I don’t think it translated into a really great or memorable film. Denzel Washington does his best but I have never been sold on the guy and this movie is no different. I think Bruce Willis in his smaller part actually brought more to the film, as did Shalhoub. I don’t really care for Annette Bening’s character cause she is just too all over the place and sleeping with the enemy to boot.

This movie may not really be worth your time if you are looking for something entertaining but the lesson that it bears makes it worth it. It’s a lesson that only grows more important as time goes on. We can never go forward as a nation and civilization by taking steps backwards. Subjugating people is something we should have learned from in the past and movies like this can serve as a reminder that it’s a really bad idea. For that reason alone I think this movie is worth your time and that is why I own it.

NEXT MOVIE: Silence of the Lambs (1991)