Bokeem Woodbine

Devil

Year: 2010
Directed By: John Erick Dowdle
Written By: Brian Nelson (screenplay), M. Night Shyamalan (story)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I ordered this movie specifically for this month because I just wanted a reason to write about it. I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan and have liked most of his films. I am alone in this reality though and many people choose to hate on the guy. If you would like my thoughts on why people hate him so much check out our reviews for The Happening or Lady in the Water. The fact that people are overly critical of his films directly lead to what made this one different and that is what I find interesting about it.

I specifically remember how much people hated The Happening. I actually liked the movie but I have found few people who share in my feelings for it. I remember reading somewhere that the movie was so poorly received that Shyamalan would not be allowed the same autonomy he had with his films that he had enjoyed since the phenomenal success of The Sixth Sense Shyamalan had until then done everything himself with his films serving as writer, director, and producer among other things. That kind of freedom is allotted to some directors who really please their studios but as time went on things weren’t going that way for Shyamalan. Critically and financially his movies were getting worse with each new film and in 2010 when this film was released with a different director and screenwriter I took what I had previously read as truth. It’s not really true as Shyamalan has continued to make films such as The Last Airbender and After Earth. However both were largely disappointments and his career has continued to stay in limbo.

After Earth made its money back overseas but domestically it was an incredible flop. Even I, as a Shyamalan fan, couldn’t really appreciate that film and it will be interesting to see where his career continues in the aftermath. Regardless how things unfolded behind the scenes I think the fact that other people directed and wrote one of his films is a clear indicator that he has fallen out of grace with his employers. Devil was supposed to be the first of “The Night Chronicles” but no other such chronicles have been made. I think calling them that was only a way to appease and save face for Shyamalan who probably didn’t like the idea of handing over his work to be done by someone else. I consider this movie both good and bad but can’t say one way or another if it would have been any better, or worse, had Shymalan been able to do it all himself as he usually does.

I think this movie is a really cool story but there are parts I just find silly. The legend overtone is clearly there and that is practically a calling card for Shyamalan. That tone is carried over in large part by a security guard who sees the devil’s face and continually talks about it. Even at one point getting on his knees and praying while insanity brews within the elevator. What bothers me is the fact that nobody is telling this guy to shut up and get out. Why are any of them listening to him at all? Yeah there are unexplainable things going on in the elevator but if Bokeem Woodbine’s character can’t be trusted because of his employer then why are the police listening to any of his fellow security guards? I think the superstitious security guard brings down what would otherwise be a much more exciting movie.

I like the movie despite that element though and enjoyed seeing it again. It’s a scary scenario that keeps you guessing and can surprise you by the end. This isn’t a Sixth Sense shocker but I still think it’s fun. I think it’s unfortunate that the ending appears obvious because as a Shyamalan fan it can be spotted simply. He appears to have a pattern at this point and the linking of the last survivor and the lead detective is a bit predictable.

Despite the inactivity of the “Night Chronicles” there is still plenty of possibility to see more and who knows, maybe even a sequel to this movie one day. I continue to find the career of Shyamalan an interesting one and will always see anything he is involved with. My faith in him has waiver after his last film some but I think he is talented enough to keep doing great things. He has a new movie called Sundowning in post production now. I will see it and I can only hope that with this film he begins to change the way people are beginning to perceive him.

There are plenty of options when choosing a movie to set the mood for Halloween and I’d call this movie a safety net if nothing else is available. It’s a good movie with parts that will make you jump and keep you on the edge of your seat. Enjoy the holiday this year and check out this movie if you are interested.

AMBER’S REVIEW

What a cool movie this one is. I am sucked into this movie from the very beginning. I love how they take being stuck in an elevator (an already terrifying situation for most) and mix it in with the Devil being there to torment these people. It all connects really well, and tells and interesting tale about how the Devil likes to torment us all when we fall short of morality. I think this movie is an original horror flick and that always make me like a movie, any movie. It’s a simple premise and it all takes place in an elevator, one scene. This can definitely be slated as one of my favorite scary movies for sure.

Dead Presidents

Year: 1995
Directed By: Albert and Allen Hughes
Written By: Albert and Allen Hughes

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie screamed out to us over the weekend from one of those convenient $5.00 movie bends Wal-Mart sticks all over the store these days.  Honestly I was just happy to find a movie I wanted. We own so many movies now that something that used to be so much fun often ends in disappointment now. I used to love looking through the media section of Wal-Mart and find DVDs at a good price I could add into the collection.  These days the only movies we buy are the new ones though and we hardly ever come across an older movie we both want.  I had seen this movie after it came out when I was much younger and always liked it.  Amber had never seen it before but had always wanted to see it so the decision was made.  Having re-watched it now with much more mature eyes I am really glad we decided to add it into the collection.

I was about 12 years old when I saw this movie for the first time and admittedly, there was plenty I wasn’t old enough to understand.  In all honesty it was a movie I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to watch but it had no nudity, which seemed to be the standard for what my parents would and wouldn’t let me to watch. This movie tells a story that has been told before, but this time through the eyes of an African American veteran.  Soldiers all around have a hard adjustment coming back to the world and that seems to be the ultimate theme to the movie.  While it is through the eyes of an African American there are not any real themes of racism throughout the film and I like that about it.  Racism was a real and serious issue at the time but it is an awful reality I don’t enjoy seeing brought up in films.  We all need to understand the dangers of such feelings but there are plenty of films out there that convey those messages, they don’t all need to and I am thankful this one chose to tell a different story.

In this movie Larenz Tate plays a young African American who grows up in The Bronx and is drafted into The Vietnam War.  He spends four years there serving multiple tours and distinguishing himself well but when he returns back to the world he has trouble adjusting as so many soldiers do. He has a girlfriend that he got pregnant before leaving but she has had to survive without him while he was overseas.  To support her child she had to turn to a less than savory man to provide for her and that is specifically hard for him to deal with.  He has difficulty getting a job and the job he manages to get isn’t good enough.  When he gets laid off from that job he turns to crime in his desperation.  Tate plays a character we can relate to and understand. What he does is wrong, but he didn’t deserve to be called a disgrace by the judge who sentences him in the end played by Martin Sheen.  Sheen’s comment that he was a veteran himself who fought in “a real war” speaks volumes to the way many saw the conflict in Vietnam.  Tate’s character is given no mercy in his sentencing and is destine to spend the rest of his life in prison serving time for the country he fought for in a thankless and unappreciated effort.  Tate does a great job in the lead role and I have always liked him.  I know him better from his role on Rescue Me when he played “Black Shawn,” a great show that fell apart in its closing seasons.

I really liked the supporting cast around Tate as well.  I have always liked Chris Tucker although I don’t know what has happened to him lately.  He plays a soldier that begins using heroin while in the service and comes home to become an all out junkie, a problem shared by many vets returning from Vietnam.  I think Keith David is awesome in everything he is in from Platoon to There’s Something About Mary. In this movie he plays a Korean vet who mentors the younger guys going into Vietnam.  Bokeem Woodbine plays a soldier who is completely insane in the jungles of Vietnam but comes home to be a preacher, although he still joins his old comrades in the illegal heist.  Freddy Rodriguez plays one of Tate’s childhood friends who serves in a different unit in the war and comes home with only one hand.  The only other movie I have seen Rodriguez in was Planet Terrorbut that one is real high up on my favorites list.  N’Bushe Wright looks awesome dual wielding pistols in this movie; the only other film I have seen her in is the first Blade. She is a very beautiful woman; I’m not sure why I haven’t seen her in more films.  There is a really young Terrence Howard in this movie playing a rival of Tate’s who has stayed in The Bronx during the Vietnam War and works for the man who took care of Tate’s family.

This movie is loosely based on the real life experiences of a soldier who came back from the Vietnam War but I don’t know anything about how accurate it was.  The real story can be found in the book Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans written by Wallace Terry.  If you are insterested in it I would suggest you find the book and find out for yourself how much this movie correlates with real life.  The soldier the events were partly based on was named Haywood T. Kirkland.  Whether the movie is accurate at all hardly matters here though because the story it tells is true enough.  Veterans from all wars have a hard time coming back to the real world and this movie does a great job of highlighting the many difficulties some of them face.

I am really glad we decided to buy this movie over the weekend and I really enjoyed watching it again.  It tells an interesting and important story about Vietnam as well as delivering on action and drama alike.  If nothing else the robbery scene is awesome.  The way the robbers paint their faces are distinctly memorable.  This is a good movie and I would recommend it to anyone, it is worth your time if you have an opportunity to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before. I know that many friends have talked about this movie and I have even seen people dress up like these guys at Halloween. I was sucked into this movie from the very beginning. I really liked the main character in Rescue Me, so I was curious to see him in a different role.

Here is the poster for Dead Presidents. This came out in 1995. I feel like the poster resembles its time. I like the photo on the front. It intrigues you in some ways to wonder what this is about, which is ultimately the point of most posters. I am not a huge fan of the font choice, which is simply the font for American money. I felt like that was a little cliché.

This movie is well worth the time.