Alfred Molina

Spider-Man 2

Year: 2004
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Four different writers, based on characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

RYAN’S REVIEW

This has always been acclaimed as a really exceptional sequel but I have always thought it was overrated. It’s a cool movie but it has too much story and not enough action. It does a great job of character development and takes us deeper with all the main characters but that’s never been what I wanted. It makes for a great story but I always want more excitement in a sequel. I want any sequel to equal more of everything you loved about the first. I have simply never felt like this movie capitalized on that opportunity.

In the world of sequels this movie is much more Godfather II and not enough Terminator 2. By that I mean that it’s boring, at times in this case at least. This is a long superhero movie and there is not nearly enough action to break up the long retarding points. The Godfather II is impossibly long and devoid of action whereas I have no idea how long Terminator 2 is. Nobody knows how long it is without checking the runtime because it’s so exciting the time flies by.

This movie has some really fantastic fight scenes but there just weren’t enough of them. I criticize this movie but that’s not meant to suggest I don’t respect it. This movie has some seriously awesome Spidey action. You just have to sit through all his internal struggles in order to see them and that takes forever.

I know that it came straight out of the comic but I have always hated the segment when Peter quits being Spider-Man. It’s great for Peter to get his life in order and it makes for a nice story but it only gets in the way of Spider-Man time. I don’t care if Peter meets his personal obligations. I want to see Spider-Man swinging through the street and webbing up bad guys.

I think one of the most important themes in Spider-Man has always been that it’s hard to be a superhero. It takes sacrifice to do what’s right and an honorable character to make the decision to do it. This movie really captures that quality of the character. Not only is it hard to be a superhero but nothing ever goes Peter’s way. Poor Peter, the love of his life is marrying someone else, his best friend is mad at him, people can’t walk by without bumping into him or knocking his stuff to the ground. Big deal, you have to counterbalance all that stuff that sucks with the fact that you get to be Spider-Man.

While everybody else was beaming over this movie I was twitching with growing frustration because I just wanted to see Spider-Man doing his thing. However, when the movie finally does get to the action it does not disappoint. When I was in college I would sometimes pop in the DVD of this film and just skip to the fight scenes. I would watch the battles between Spidey and Doc Ock over and over again because they were awesome. As frustrated as I have been with this movie I still deny it nothing. It was better than the first one and when it got going it went somewhere exciting.

This movie was just as impressive as its predecessor when it came to box office returns and that was an exciting thing to watch. The first film had set records and this one broke them as Spider-Man proved to be the most lucrative franchise since Star Wars. I have always had an interest in box office statistics and that interest made this movie even more exciting for me as a fan.

While my overall tone here has been disappointment that isn’t altogether accurate. Do I wish the movie had more action? Yes, but I think the action that is on the table lived up to my expectations as a fan. This wasn’t my favorite Spider-Man film but it was a good movie nonetheless.

Alfred Molina made for a great Doctor Octopus and it was awesome to see the character on screen. The effects used to make his tentacles move were very well done and he looked fantastic in fight scenes with Spider-Man. I do wish they had given the character a different ending because it would have been great for him to have the potential to return. It sucks seeing the same thing done again but I would still love to see a new version of Doc Ock eventually. He’s just too cool a villain to sit on the sidelines forever. It would be great for him to be a new villain introduced into the MCU.

Aside from the lack of action the only problem I had with this movie was Spider-Man takes his mask off far too much. Spidey was unmasked frequently in the comics but everyone always assumed he was an impostor when they saw Peter Parker. This would explain to them how Spider-Man was defeated at all because it wasn’t the real Spider-Man. In this movie he is just taking that mask off far too much. Spider-Man’s secret identity is one of the most important aspects of his character because his villains are always after Aunt May or one of his girlfriends.

For most people this sequel outshined the original and they loved it. I like it but do not agree. That isn’t to say it’s not a good movie though, I personally just wanted something different. Nevertheless this is a movie that is worth your time to see if for no other reason than to see some really awesome fight scenes.

NEXT MOVIE: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

 

Maverick

Year: 1994
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Roy Huggins (TV series the movie was based on) William Goldman (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I sat down to watch this movie for review I already had many thoughts about what I would write.  Things along the lines of “really fun movie but not to be taken seriously” or something like that.  However having finished it now I find myself wondering why we ever owned this movie to begin with.  Yes it’s a fun movie to a degree but more of a product of its time than anything else.  I don’t think this movie really has any lasting power and on top of that it is about 30-45 minutes way too long.  This movie is light-hearted and fun but jumps between something silly and something serious far too often.  I found the experience of watching it again to be painfully boring at times and I doubt I’ll watch the movie again for a long, long time, if ever at all.

It probably comes as a surprise to any younger person out there but there was a time when Mel Gibson was the darling actor of this country.  In the 1990s, and for a while after, the man could seemingly do no wrong. America has always loved Australian actors and before the days of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and the like Mel Gibson was that guy.  He had inspired us all with his “brave heart,” stole the heart of our famous Native American with his voice (despite how wrought with inaccuracy that Disney film was), and he….”knew what women wanted.” In truth, his popularity at the time is specifically why we own this movie and why I enjoyed it so much when it came out.  The mere fact that this movie was so successful is specifically because everyone loved Mel Gibson.  The movie brought in over 100 million in the US box office and that was nothing to sneeze at in 1994.  That’s crazy, trust me.  You might remember this movie fondly, just as I did, but this is no longer the era of “Mel Gibson is the greatest” and it really isn’t that good of a movie.  It’s cool to see Mel Gibson and Richard Donner reunite for something fun and the moment between Gibson and Danny Glover during the bank robbery is quite funny.  However that doesn’t make it a good film and as much as I liked this movie when it came out I still found it unbearable to watch this time around.

This film is specifically one of my favorite roles from Jodie Foster.  Foster has had a terrific career and has made many notable films but in this film I just thought she was smoking hot as the southern belle. I am not saying this is her best movie, it does not even come close.  Speaking in purely acting terms this movie isn’t even on the list of her best parts, but I just thought she was so good-looking in this movie.  To think that she made this film the same year she made Nell is crazy because the exact opposite can be said about how she looked in that film.  I am not really a Jodie Foster fan but she is such a fascinating person.  She recently officially came out as a lesbian and I think I may have been the only person surprised by that news because everybody else seemed to already know.  When I think of Jodie Foster I always instinctively think of John Hinckley Jr.  How insane it must have been to be her after that man shot the President.  For those who don’t know Hinckley was a crazy man who was in love with Jodie Foster and for some reason thought shooting Ronald Reagan would gain him the attention he wanted from her.  Seriously crazy guy that she had absolutely nothing to do with but still that realization must have affected her in some way or another.

The coolest thing about this movie, aside from the moment between Gibson and Glover, is that James Garner was cast in a significant part.  The film was based on the television show by the same name from the late 50s in which Garner starred as Bret Maverick.  I have never seen an episode of the show and don’t know how it correlates with the movie but having the original star involved gives it a certain level of credibility.  Beyond that I think there is little to say about this film.  It’s way too long at 2 hours and seven minutes.  After the big card game the film specifically drags out too far in an effort to set up a sequel that ultimately never happened.  As I said in my intro the tone of this film is all wrong as well.  It seems lighthearted and silly throughout most of the film but occasionally people are killed and it gets real.  It’s always confusing to “get real” during this type of film and I think it sullies the whole thing.  Granted it is only the bad guy and his associates that are killed but still, you can’t be silly when you are killing people even if they are the bad guys.

Having said all of that I don’t think this movie is worth your time and I wouldn’t bother seeing it if I were you.  It can be fun with all the card playing and the parts that are humorous but it’s not worth the time it takes to watch it.  This movie could have been cut by at least 45 minutes and been better.  It was all good in the Mel Gibson hey day but that day is over and now it has little to offer.  It does not even belong in our collection and I only took the time to actually review it because otherwise the time I spent watching it again would have been a complete waste.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I was not interested in this movie. I didn’t even know we owned it. Mel Gibson is not my favorite nor Ryan’s so I still don’t really get why we own this movie. I paid attention, somewhat to the movie, but I didn’t really like the plot, or the actors roles in the movie. Having said that, I really didn’t pay that close attention to it, so what I say isn’t really fair. It had a hard time capturing and keeping my attention.

maverick

There is just so much going on this poster. It has no focal point whatsoever. There is a background that fades into the skyline of the mountains? The are posed like they are in a photo featured on awkward family photos. They too are faded at the bottom into a mountain scene. There is nothing really good about the typography of the title. I don’t even want to give this one any more time. The poster does for me about what the movie does and that’s not much.

NEXT MOVIE: Meet Joe Black (1998)

Magnolia

Year: 1999
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’m going to take a bit of a different approach in reviewing this film.  I think it is an incredible movie and a tribute to the talents of Paul Thomas Anderson and the actors he cast in the film.  To begin this review I am simply going to start by answering the biggest question the film poses.

Why do frogs fall out of the sky?

For a long time I thought this was just an ironic scene and gave it no more thought than that.  I found the movie to be so compelling that when this scene came up out of left field I just went with it.  It’s an interesting scene in which I have never seen any like it before and thought it was incredible even without understanding.  When watching the movie again for this review I was able to find a definite answer after minimal research.  The movie makes well over 100 references to Exodus 8:2 all throughout the film.  In the Bible, Exodus 8:2 states “If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country.” I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the deeper meaning of this verse and how it plays into the movie.  Who exactly is refusing to let go to the point that frogs fall from the sky? It’s clearly not Julianne Moore’s character because she goes the extra mile letting go.  The molesting game show host Dad practically let’s go of his secret that he actually did it.  Is it Tom Cruise refusing to let go of his hate for his father? Is Claudia refusing to let go of her drug habit? The hate she has for her father? I turned all these questions over in my head before going to the internet for outside answers.  After a quick and easy search I found this quote from Anderson on the matter.  The page has great info on the biblical verse and how it plays into the film.  However, after reading what Anderson said I am convinced that the verse doesn’t actually have anything to do with what the characters are going through.  I skimmed the quote but if I got it right he simply wanted the bizarre element of frogs raining from the sky and kind of worked backwards with the 8 and 2 references. As far as I am concerned none of this really matters.  I thought it was awesome when it started raining frogs and could really care less what the meaning behind it was.  This is a movie on a platform all by itself and I felt like something this out there fit in nicely.

With that big topic safely taken care of it’s time to cover the rest of the film.  I am a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson and this is far and away my favorite film of his.  I loved his choice in music and how effectively he synced it into scenes and kept the flow of the movie going.  I thought he wrote an interesting story rich with compelling characters that all tie together in interesting ways.  This movie is incredibly powerful from beginning to end and the strength is from the writing.  Anderson poured a lot of heart and soul into this script and he handpicked the actors that would bring that script to life.  This is an excellent movie and that is usually what happens when a filmmaker is given the kind of free reign Anderson was allowed when making it.

I think one of the greatest performances in this film has to go to Julianne Moore.  I have not always been her biggest fan but in a role like this you simply can’t argue with her talent.  She plays character so torn over the circumstances her life has reached.  She married a rich man for his money but fell in love with him as he was dying.  She has fallen so deeply in love with him that she can’t forgive herself for her motives in the past, and the actions that came in conjunction with those motives.  She doesn’t want his money she just wants him but she can’t get what she wants.  Her guilt drives her desperation and ultimately leads her to the decision she makes in the end.  Powerful performance by Julianne Moore, I don’t know how she got snubbed for an Oscar nomination.

Tom Cruise wasn’t snubbed and I have always considered his role of Frank TJ Mackey to be what made me turn my tune on the guy.  I had liked a few of his movies over the years but I had never considered him a serious actor despite that.  In this movie I felt he played a drastically different part as well as showing an emotional range I didn’t know he was capable of.  He plays the kind of man that I think we are all programmed to hate but as the movie progresses you see sides of him that make it difficult to hate him.  He is a douche bag trying to teach other douche bags how to manipulate women but underneath all of that he is a man running from who he is.  At a young age he was thrust into a situation that not many young people would be ready for and he grew up with hate in his heart.  The pain of watching his mother slowly die of cancer coupled with the hate he had for his father when he ran out on them turned him into the person we saw on stage in the beginning. When he finally reaches his father as he is dying the emotions that pour from him are nothing short of powerful.  In the end he mans up too to do what needs to be done, and I specifically like that about the character. Going to the hospital where his father’s wife has been taken shows he has let go of some of his hatred and suggests his life will probably be different going forward. It may not have been enough for everybody.  I’m sure plenty of people left the theater hating the man whose slogan was “respect the cock, tame the cunt,” but it got me to come around.  I hate that slogan though; cunt is an awfully ugly word.  Cruise did get nominated for best supporting actor for this part but lost that year to Michael Caine for his role in Cider House Rules.  I specifically remember watching the Oscars that year and Caine calling out Cruise. Telling him not to be upset because winning the award for supporting actor would probably mean a pay cut for him as a leading man.

I can’t stress enough how much all of the actors played such great parts but after the top two already named my third favorite role has to be that of John C Reilly.  I think Reilly is an incredible actor although he is prone to lowering himself to stupid roles such as the ones we saw in Step Brothers or Talladega Nights.  When he plays a part like this I think I am always blown away by what he is actually capable of.  I love his cop monologue in the beginning because the whole time you assume he is speaking to someone but when the camera zooms out he is just there alone, being weird.  He’s a weird guy in this movie but that is what I like about him.  A good cop but not one good enough to be taken seriously by his peers.  He is a man looked over by nearly everyone despite his efforts.  He is lonely, and as lonely people get he is desperate for companionship to the point that he will ignore a woman’s blatant drug problem to spend some time with her. So many of the characters in this movie are desperate and Reilly is right up there.  I really happen to like his relationship with Claudia and thought it was a nice part of the story.  They are both people ashamed of themselves and looking for someone in one another that they need so badly.

Both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and William H Macy should not go unmentioned here.  I think both brought a lot to the table in this movie but their parts are overshadowed by others to an extent.  Hoffman more so than Macy because I didn’t find anything particularly compelling about his performance.  Hoffman is a great actor and always great to have on hand.  Even without doing much his presence alone brings weight to the film.  Macy had a much more interesting character and in truth I really like the part.  I am not a big fan of Macy but can’t deny his talent.  My favorite part of his in this movie is when he talks about being struck by lightning and how much it hurt.  Also the random moment in the beginning of the film when he so casually drives his car through the window of a store, hilarious. Melora Walters played the part of Claudia and although I have never seen her in anything else I really thought she played a terrific part.

Rounding out this terrific cast were Philip Baker Hall and Jason Robards playing the hated and dying father’s. As all people want near the end they are looking to make things right in their lives before it’s finally over.  The sins of these two were unforgivable and both men went to their graves without being exonerated. Even in small roles this film found great talent to the cast.  Alfred Molina is in a small role as Donnie the Whiz Kid’s boss Solomon Solomon.  Luis Guzman, who has appeared in a few Anderson films now, played one of the adult contestants on the game show. Patton Oswalt played the scuba diver seen earlier in the film who is accidentally picked up and dropped onto a forest fire by a fire fighter. Robert Downey Sr. can even be seen in the background of this movie as well as many others that would take forever to name individually.

This is a beautiful film that has a voice of its own and it can speak directly into your soul. It’s about irony, fate, desperation, longing, regret, and death.  It’s a glowing example that life is different for all of us and all of our story lines pose problems that are more important to us than any other.  Life is challenging for all of us and though our problems are all very different they are no less real and overwhelming for us in our darkest moments.  This movie captured life in a very accurate way for me and then capped it off with something crazy, because that’s life, it’s crazy.  Sometimes we all hit the boiling point at the same time and when that happens it’s raining frogs, whether it’s only metaphorically or not.  This is an incredible film and although it is very long it is worth every minute of your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie truly is an interesting and intriguing movie. This is the film that made me literally hate Tom Cruise. Is it just me or does anyone else think that he was just a little too believable in this role? Like enough to not be a role at all, but more like real-life? It is a sort of compliment. I mean, the dude is amazing at what he does; I just hate that damn character so effin much.

magnoliaI just couldn’t bring myself to write another review of yet another cast montage poster, so I decided not to show the infamous one with the big magnolia flower with the cast in the leaves. Instead, I found this gem. I really, really like it so much better. This is a teaser poster and it really does its job. It just shows a bunch of falling frogs and has the title, which has no apparent relevance to the falling frogs. I’m intrigued, anyone else?

I am a HUGE fan of design not following grammar rules. YES titles are “supposed” to be capitalized, but when it’s designed on a poster, NO it doesn’t HAVE to be. I think it makes the design softer and prettier. I wouldn’t like to hang this one up or anything, but I like it so much better than the magnolia leaf design.

NEXT MOVIE: The Majestic (2001)

The Da Vinci Code

Year: 2006
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Dan Brown

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I sit down and give it some serious thought, I can’t really figure out why we own this movie.  I think part of me felt compelled to see it when it came out because of its controversial nature.  I think I later bought it because I found a good deal but in truth I do not really care for this film.  I think it is a great movie made about a dull book.  I have read the book and found it boring.  I am interested in all the things here.  Christian history and the conspiracies that revolve around it, a scary albino bad guy, and in the movie they cast Sir Ian McKellan.  For all practical purposes this book and movie should be right up my alley but I just don’t think it is really good.

This movie is made by a great filmmaker in Ron Howard and it sports a great cast.  Tom Hanks is the headliner here but I am actually talking about nearly everybody else when I say great cast.  Tom Hanks has been on a downward spiral since losing the Academy Award for Cast Away.  He has failed to make a difference for most of the past ten years and this movie is no exception to that.  He has virtually no chemistry with Audrey Tautou, who is equally as bad in the film.  Paul Bettany however is unbelievable as the albino Silas.  He is scary in a way I did not know he was capable of.  His performance actually gave me hope that he would be cast as the Joker in The Dark Knight before Ledger was cast.  Jean Reno is great and appropriately cast as the French commanding police officer.  Alfred Molina was a good choice to play the Archbishop.  I think that Sir Ian McKellan makes every movie he is in better and we have to cheerish everything he continues to gives us at this point in his career, he is 72.

I think the information in this film and story is very interesting but I don’t find the story itself to be up to par.  I don’t really like the character of Robert Langdon and I think it is ridiculous to treat this Harvard professor as a murder suspect when you can easily verify his alibi.  People argued about this film to no end too and for what?  Yeah all the info in the book and movie wasn’t completely accurate. Go figure, you picked it up off a shelf labeled fiction.  I think what bothers Christians the most is that it brought up enough that was true and in the end of the day they really don’t know enough about the history of their own religion.  I am no person to speak on such things though, and my opinion should be of little significance here.

This is a good movie, Ron Howard is worth his weight in gold, but I don’t really think it is worth your time.  By now no matter who you are you have heard of this film or book and know what it is about.  You either saw it or you didn’t for reasons that were your own.  I am telling you it isn’t worth your time not for any personal motive but only because I actually don’t think the movie was that great and I’m questioning why I own it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am not a fan of this movie. I know that its popularity reigns from the popularity of the book that it is based on, but I find it boring for the most part. I think that I used to like it when we first bought the movie, but after watching it again for this post, I don’t even know why it is in our collection. In theory, it should be a great film. Ron Howard is extremely talented and I usually like the majority of the projects that he is a part of. Tom Hanks is also one of my favorite actors, but in this film I find him boring, That would be my review for this film. Boring. It isn’t really worth your time. If you happen to be religious, it just might piss you off. I don’t have that problem, but nevertheless this movie is not worth the time.

NEXT MOVIE: Dawn of the Dead (1978)