Adrien Brody

Predators

Year: 2010
Directed By: Nimrod Antal
Written By: Robert Rodriguez, Alex Litvak, and Michael Finch

RYAN’S REVIEW

I remember when it was first announced that there would be a new Predator movie penned by Robert Rodriguez. As a Rodriguez fan I was instantly stoked at the idea of what he might do with it. Somewhere along the line I lost track of it and the movie seemed to fly under the radar during development. A year or two came and went seemingly before Predators was finally made and I don’t remember reading much about it before it was suddenly ready to hit the screens. I could have just forgotten but I remember nothing about the development of this movie beyond my initial excitement at its announcement. I consider that odd because when I’m interested in something I follow its development fervently. Despite my interest in the film I didn’t make it out to the theater to see it on the big screen, such luxuries perish with parenthood, but I bought it as soon as it was available. Trusting, that without having seen it, I was making a sound investment in a movie I would undoubtedly love.

I can say that I made a good investment. I consider this to be a perfect sequel to the original film, if you were to just forget about all the others. The original sequel and the offspring of the franchise are all hit or miss but this movie mirrors the original with an interesting idea that makes too much sense. In the first movie the Predator comes to Earth to hunt, in this one he simply grabs his prey up and drops them, literally, on to the hunting grounds. Perfect idea, and they obviously had a lot of fun with the story. The group chosen by the Predators is as interesting as the men who played the parts. You have military badasses from America, Russia, Israel, and Africa, but you also have criminals. There is the Yakuza enforcer, the Mexican cartel lieutenant, and the prisoner about to be executed on Death Row. Then there is a doctor thrown in the mix for good measure, a medic that can make the hunt more interesting, or so it seems at first. Like the first movie, they took a group of badasses, gave them really cool weapons, and dropped them in the jungle. Although in this one they kick it up a knotch by actually dropping them into that jungle.

I wasn’t sold on the idea of Adrien Brody being the hero in this film. I specifically remember seeing this in the beginning and thnking “really?” However, I think Brody pulled off badass soldier fairly well and I was quite surprised. Adrien Brody often surprises me in this way, aside from that awful thing he did in Splice, I am usually impressed with him. Not only did I like what Brody brought to the film but I felt the cast as a whole was terrific. I am a big fan of Walton Goggins and though he plays the character easiest to despise in this movie he plays the character well. It wouldn’t be a Rodriguez movie without an appearance by Danny Trejo, and who better to play the part of the Cartel man? Laurence Fishburne has a nice part as the survivor that has outlived his sanity. Fishburne can never be Morpheus again, but I still think he brings a great presence to the movies he is in today. I have never been a fan of Topher Grace, and frankly I find his continuing career so perplexing. There’s nothing wrong with him in this movie though. His whinny voice actually enhances his performance as the weakest yet secretive character of the out of place doctor.

This movie really brings it with an exciting and action packed story but more importantly it adds depth to the Predator lore. Through Laurence Fishburne’s unbalanced survivor we learn things about the Predators that have never been revealed before. The Predators use the planet as a hunting ground to enhance and utilize new hunting tactics. They only come to the planet in groups of three and there are two different types of the Predators. He explains that there is a blood feud between the larger and smaller Predators which explains the captive Predator the group comes upon earlier. Later Brody uses this knowledge to his advantage. Freeing the captive Predator to battle the only remaining hunter of the three while he tries to escape on the Predator spacecraft. Sensing a trap he doesn’t board and shows up just in time to help his last comrade after Topher Grace reveals himself to actually be a murderer who wasn’t simply a doctor thrown in for good measure. Adrien Brody’s battle with the Predator can never match up to the original ass whooping Schwarzenegger took but he holds his own well with interesting tactics that make for a great climax.

I started this review weeks ago and had to do a little research in order to finish it. Found out some interesting things though. This movie was actually written way back in 1995 when Rodriguez was working on DesperadoIt was considered too expensive at the time and laid dormant for almost 25 years before the studio decided it might have potential to relaunch the franchise. The movie was re-written to specifically distance itself from some of the other installments such as the AVP films. It doesn’t discount the underwhelming Predator 2 but doesn’t acknowledge it either. This movie was meant to serve specifically as a sequel to the first one and in that it was tremendously successful as far as I am concerned. As an effort to relaunch the franchise I at least hope it succeeds. There has been talk of another Predators film but talk means nothing until something is in production and that hasn’t happened yet.

If you are a fan of Predator then this is a must see. A sequel that does everything right. A cool group of characters in a fun and exciting scenario with plenty of action to keep our attention. According to Rodriguez the studio does want to do a sequel and this film was made smaller in scale simply to be built upon in the future. Five years have passed with no activity though so it’s hard to say what might happen. It took ten years for him to give us the long awaited follow up to Sin City. Yet only a year or so before we saw another Machete. That makes it hard to say what will happen but in the event we don’t get more at least this movie gave us something to enjoy. This movie is worth your time and it’s a must see for fans of the franchise.

NEXT MOVIE: The Prestige (2006)

King Kong

Year: 2005
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. Original Story: Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was Peter Jackson’s next venture after creating the incredible and historic Lord of the Rings trilogy. No matter what he had decided to do there were going to be very big expectations.  I don’t know that anything he could have possibly done could have measured up those expectations but this movie came pretty damn close.  It is another epic film that runs a lot longer than anyone likes but it’s what Jackson thrives at.  This movie does offer some of the most exciting action sequences you will ever see and the visual effects are spectacular. It took on the responsibility of rebuilding a Hollywood legend and it carries that legend to another level.

When Peter Jackson finished with his epic goldmine trilogy he could have done anything he wanted to.  He could have chosen any project on the table but to his credit, he chose to take on a challenge.  King Kong goes back to very early in the film industry being made in 1933.  It had a legacy that was going to have lots of needs and expectations to fulfill when the remake was attempted. I think Jackson lived up to those expectations and even exceeded what some of us could have imagined. He had built his name making some of the biggest epic movies of all time and chose to follow up with the first epic ever made.  There could not have been a better choice to helm the project of bringing back that epic that still stood significant after more than 70 years.

I think this was an incredible movie but I have never felt it was as good as it could have been.  I have always thought the greatest flaw of the movie was in its cast.  With a picture like this, that is going to have all the hype in the world behind it, I just really thought they should have went big with the actors they chose.  The thing is, I like most of the actors in this movie but still, they could have gotten bigger people to play the part.  I really like Jack Black. I think he is an incredibly talented entertainer but when this movie was made I didn’t think he was a great choice.  I think he played the part well, but I really don’t think he was at the right place in his career to carry a movie this large on his shoulders.  Despite this opinion, I do think he was great in the movie and I think he acted his ass off.  The same goes for Adrien Brody. I like Brody despite some of his creepier movie roles over the years, but I don’t think he was a great choice to play the hero in the movie.  He has proven me wrong as a hero before, specifically in Predators but I just don’t see him as a serious choice for that role.  I think he is a talented actor and I don’t think he was bad in this movie but I have just never felt he was right for the part.

Naomi Watts was cast as the starlet of the film, the beautiful damsel in distress that captures the heart of the monster.  I think she did an incredible job playing the part and could not say a criticizing word about her performance.  I thought she showed a lot of talent and had to do so most of the time against a green screen which makes the performance even more impressive.  Yet I still have the same feeling about Watts as I do about Jack Black and Adrien Brody.  She did a great job but I think this movie would have been more successful had a more popular actress been cast in the part.  I don’t know why I feel this way because I honestly do think she played the part to a T and did a great job.

I think the greatest role in this movie was actually the one performed by Andy Serkis.  I don’t mean the part of the cook which he also played but that of King Kong.  Just as he did for Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as the creature Gollum; Serkis again donned the motion capture suit and performed the actions of the legendary ape. It is a talent he probably won’t be able to get enough out of because these types of roles are rare but Serkis really has a specifically awesome gift.  King Kong in this movie is incredible and a lot of that has to do with the work put in by Andy Serkis.  He went the extra mile studying apes and their behavior to prepare for the part and it paid off handsomely.

This movie also sported a very good supporting cast aside from the other actors I have mentioned.  When this movie came out I had really high hopes for Colin Hanks.  The son of the legendary actor seemed destine for great things but that just hadn’t happened yet.  I had hoped that this movie would put him on that path but I was wrong.  Colin Hanks has only gotten older over the years and never really stepped out of his father’s shadow to make anything significant of himself.  I liked seeing him in Mad Men a few years back but by then his part in the show only reminded me of the high hopes I had for him years before. Jamie Bell has a role in this movie that I didn’t think was that great but want to mention it simply because it came off the heels of his performance in The Chumscrubber, which I really liked.  I am not a fan of Kyle Chandler but he has continued to do great things despite what I think.  I think he fit his part really well in this movie though and it seemed to do more for his career than anyone else’s part did.

I have always been under the impression this movie failed to live up to expectations but like I said I think the expectations were insurmountable.  I may be critical of the cast myself but I don’t know that I could really be critical of the movie itself.  I think the cast could have been better but they all did an incredible job in their roles.  I think this movie offers some of the most incredible action sequences ever filmed.  The attack of the savages, the stampede in the gorge, and Kong vs. the T-Rexes just to name a few were mind blowing and seem to get better with every viewing. What’s so awesome is that even after those mind blowing scenes are over there is still so much of the movie left, so much more action to look forward to.  This movie runs way too long really, but it doesn’t stop with the intensity or the action.

This is an awesome movie and I think it packs a pay-off that makes it worth anybody’s time to see it.  That says a lot given the movie runs for over three hours but I don’t think you will be disappointed investing that much time in the film.  It is an epic movie and made by the master of epics.  Peter Jackson really knows how to make these kinds of films and he did an excellent job with this one.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is a lot of fun. It’s an adventure throughout and I usually like watching it any time I find it on television. I think the new version is a nice adaptation and has really nice visual effects.

kingkongThis poster is a little boring. I think there were a ton of ways to make this more iconic and visually appealing graphically. There were tons of directions you could go and people would have automatically known what the movie was going to be. King Kong is already so iconic. The designers could have had a lot of fun with this but they lost the chance to do that. There are weird Photoshop glows everywhere too. I think it’s just sloppy. Too bad.

NEXT MOVIE: Kingpin (1996)

The Jacket

Year: 2005
Directed By: John Maybury
Written By: Tom Bleeker, Marc Rocco, and Massy Tadjedin

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a weird movie but when I was in college I saw something in it that I liked.  It does have an interesting story that will keep you guessing but frankly that isn’t really enough now.  This movie has a strange tone to it and an awful music score that creates a mood I’m not able to pinpoint. I can’t figure out if I’m supposed to be sad, scared, confused, or interested at different times throughout the film. There is this one musical note that plays over and over continuously at different stretches throughout the film and it’s just unnerving. When we started this movie I was excited because it had been a long time since we had seen it and I couldn’t remember much about it.  All I remembered was that I liked it enough to buy it and I was looking forward to seeing what it was that I liked about it years ago.

We are now over half way through the movie and I have conceded to Amber.  She has been sitting here the whole time telling me this was a stupid movie and I told her to simply be patient.  She is right, when she’s right she’s right, and in this case I have had to relinquish.  This is a stupid movie, it’s really really stupid.  Yet it has woven a story that I feel compelled to see an end to all the same. Check that, the farther we get into the movie the dumber it all seems.

First of all, despite Back to the Future 2I think the idea of time travel into the future is ridiculous.  The future hasn’t happened yet.  In the already ridiculous idea that time travel exists I think that going forward is totally out of the question.  That’s just a pet peeve and I could be totally wrong about it as well, I’m no physicist. I think that the idea in this movie, that Adrien Brody time travels to the future under the circumstances he is in, is completely ridiculous and I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking when I bought the movie.  The idea of him falling in love with this girl in the future, having sex with her, and then visiting her as a little girl in the present is weird.  In fact that is borderline creepy and possibly toppling over into the full blown pervish zone. This doesn’t even cover all of it but I feel like going deeper would be a waste of my time.  This movie is ridiculous in so many ways that I feel embarrassed and can only chalk it up to ignorance in adolescence as to why we own it.

I have to seriously re-evaluate my opinion of Adrien Brody.  I had reluctantly become a fan over the years but since Splice I just haven’t been sure what to make of him. What is it I came to like about this strange looking guy and the weirdo movie roles he chooses to play? There is a point in this movie when he is talking to Keira Knightley, who plays the adult version of the young girl we met earlier in the film, and he keeps asking her “don’t you remember me?” What he should have been saying was, “look at my nose, you don’t forget one that looks like this, was there any other time in your life you saw an adult male as skinny as me?” How did this guy get into the business of acting anyway and how did he headline so many movies? I will say for the record too, that had Brody not banged the freaky monster in Splice I wouldn’t be so critical of him, or his role in this movie. He has made many films I have enjoyed but I find myself second guessing him now despite his better roles.

As for the rest of the cast I think they all look good on paper but didn’t really fit right in the movie.  I have always only seen Keira Knightley as a poor man’s Natalie Portman.  I was never a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean  movies and outside of that I haven’t seen anything she has done that one would call distinguishing.  She doesn’t do much in this movie distinguishing either simply playing the part of a miserable bitch who had an unfortunate hand dealt her in life.  Kris Kristofferson may have been great as Whistler but otherwise I haven’t been impressed.  In this movie I think he is out of place and has a weird way of doing things as a doctor.  Daniel Craig sure has come a long way in the last eight years from where we saw him in this movie.  I think he was one of the better actors in this movie and I liked his role but he is better than this.  It was early in his transition to an American star and certainly played an important part as a stepping stone for him in that process.  He is a big time actor now and I am a fan of what he has accomplished.  I’m not a fan of his Bond movies but nevertheless think he was a great choice for the role.  Jennifer Jason Leigh plays an important role in the movie and does it well enough but I don’t think she ever really fully reached her potential as an actress.  She was very talented and showed a lot of promise over the years but never really got to the top.  Blink and you will miss him in this movie; Brad Renfro plays a really small but significant part as well.  The boy that America fell in love with after The Client never could really get it together. Unfortunately he died young only a few years after this movie was made.  If I’m not mistaken I think it was a drug overdose that did him in.

This movie gets a relatively high rating on IMDB but take it from me, this is a stupid movie.  If you are reading this as a big fan then by all means leave me an argument in comments and tell me I am wrong.  I at one time too was a fan of this movie so you will find me sympathetic.  If you haven’t seen this movie then don’t waste your time because it’s not worth it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

What. A. Stupid. Movie.

jacket

I hardly even want to write about this poster. I have had a hard time watching anything with Adrien Brody ever since we watched Splice.

Ok. I don’t like the poster. There is this feathery glow around their faces and then it just cuts to another photograph at the bottom. The transition is rough and doesn’t flow well. And I really hate the typography of the title. I think you can be a little less cliché and still put forth a thriller movie vibe. Bad movie, bad poster.

NEXT MOVIE: Jackie Brown (1997)

Movies Not To Watch

Splice (2009)

It has been a while since we have seen this movie. We watched it shortly after it came out on video and that was months before we started this blog.  I have done my best to forget this movie up until now.  Someone I work with watched it this past week and when she mentioned it all the painful memories came flooding back.  I will say this about the film, I thought it was scary. I am a fan of both Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, and their performances were not bad.  However this movie goes quickly from scary to creepy and then straight into disturbingly weird.  Too weird if you ask me. I think most of the film is understandable up until a certain point where Adrien Brody make an unusual decision.  If you have seen the film you know what I am talking about and if you haven’t seen the film I strongly suggest you don’t try to find out.  Everything that happens from that point on just gets weirder and stranger then ultimately unsettling. Their efforts to set up a sequel storyline frankly made me more than uncomfortable.

This is a movie I spent a while warning people against after I saw it and having been reminded of it this week wanted to give you the same warning. Avoid this film at all cost or be prepared for scenes you might not be able to forget. I have yet to find anyone that actually liked this film but if you are out there feel free to argue your case.  I will not be seeing any sequel if one is in fact made, and hopefully I never come across this disturbing film again.

The Darjeeling Limited

Year: 2007
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson

RYAN’S REVIEW

Some movies can just speak to you in ways that you can’t really put into words.  Sometimes a film can coincide with your life so well that you feel an instant bond with it. Wes Anderson films typically revolve around people with suppressed emotions and difficulty coping with dramatic circumstances.  I was going through similar issues in 2007 and while my issues were completely different from those in the film it put me at ease nonetheless. Wes Anderson movies do that to me though, he has an interesting method when it comes to storytelling.   This film is also set in India, which is another reason I really like it.  There is a lot of emphasis in the film on India culture and I have always been very interested in India.  It is a very rich and diverse culture that has been cultivated for thousands of years.

Wes Anderson is the kind of director that draws a lot of talent to any project, even when he travels to the other side of the world.  This film has many of his regular stars.  Bill Murray makes a small cameo in the beginning, this was his fourth collaboration with Anderson.  Anjelica Huston in her third film with Anderson as the mother of the three brothers.  As the brothers he has Owen Wilson, who has worked with Anderson on all of his films. Jason Schwartzman plays the youngest brother, he also frequently works with Anderson. I am a big Jason Schwartzman fan, he is a really talented and funny entertainer.  Adrien Brody plays the middle brother and I am a big fan of his as well.  I didn’t like Brody at first but he has continued to impress me with his range as an actor, he just keeps making good movies.  What really makes Wes Anderson movies great is the fact that they get better each time you see them.  He is a true filmmaker, being involved in all aspects of production.  It’s the movies that are made by men like Anderson that tend to be my favorites.  In many ways he is very similar to the Coen brothers that way.

This is a really good movie but it isn’t one I usually recommend to anyone.  Wes Anderson makes such a unique film that I never feel confident trying to persuade someone to give one their time. My favorite Anderson film is far and away The Life Aquatic, but I love them all and this one is probably either second or a close third behind The Royal Tenenbaums. If you give this one a shot I hope enjoy it as much as I did.  This isn’t really a good enough review for a movie I love so much, you will have to excuse me.  I have  recently cut caffeine out of my diet, it blows.

AMBER’S REVIEW

If you know anything about us, you should know this. We are HUGE Wes Anderson fans. I believe the first one I ever watched was The Royal Tenebaums and I have been in love with his films ever since. This one is a more recent installment compared to the rest that we own. The whole concept of this movie is very strange and weird in true Anderson fashion. Most of his films revolve around weird and unusual family situations that are completely outside of the normal family unit. In this one, their father dies and their mother has joined a convent. The three borthers (Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody) go on a journey to bond and to try to find their mother that left to become a nun and didn’t attend their father’s funeral. The movie is filled with strangeness that cannot be explained and is completely worth watching.

One of the best things about Wes Anderson is that he loves working with the same people. He takes these actors that I feel he finds “worthy” and uses them in different films and in different scenarios. It always works out and they always perform so well and different every single time. He loves Schwartzman, Wilson (both of the Wilsons), Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, and has even made Ben Stiller into someone he usually is not. I love this film and this guy. All of his films are worth watching and this one is no exception. You have to see it, it’s not even a suggestion.

NEXT MOVIE: Darkman (1990)