Chris Evans

Street Kings

Year: 2008
Directed By: David Ayers
Written By: James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer, and Jamie Moss

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out at just the right time to get my attention. My favorite TV show of all time, The Shield, aired its final season in the fall of 2008. When this movie came out in the spring of 08 I was eagerly waiting to see how it all finished up. This movie was very similar and gave me a dirty cop fix when I was itching for some corrupt action.

Keanu Reeves played the Vic Mackey part in this movie and the movie starts right off trying to establish him as this anti hero we see so often in television. The guy has issues. He gets out of bed fully clothed, pukes a little bit, and then cleans his gun before hitting the liquor store. Then it’s straight to the streets to do the job. He’s only a little boozed up but good to go with his street talk as he enters the dirty deals that go on late in the streets. He has no problem taking an ass whooping in order to set up the bad guys. When he goes to take care of business the action doesn’t disappoint as he Vic Mackey’s the bad guys and the crime scene. Maybe this guy has unorthodox methods, maybe he drinks too many of those tiny booze bottles, but when women are trapped in closets he’s the one whose going to save them.

I love these dirty cop stories but they are all too similar more often than not. Bad cop sets up the bad guys, kills them all, plants evidence, and saves the innocence. In the aftermath there are investigations and eventually some larger conspiracy going on. The irony is that bad cop isn’t bad enough to consider joining the conspiracy and he becomes determined to bring the whole thing down. I’m always pulling for the bad cop. What they do is wrong, but who among us wouldn’t do the same thing? It’s easy to say you would always do the right thing but at one point bad cop was probably a good guy too. He started out as a good guy and got hardened by the realities of the job. After so many years on the job he’s just out to cut through all the red tape and do what needs to be done.

Terry Crews plays the inevitable Serpico good cop who still cares, or is out for revenge. It hardly matters which when he’s snitching on our anti-hero. He seems to be doing pretty good for a cop given he’s driving a Cadillac SUV, but he doesn’t make it long. As Ice Cube once said “snitches get stitches,” or in this case about a thousand bullets to the chest. Nevertheless this murder doesn’t fly with bad cop Keanu, and there’s your larger conspiracy. I think it’s a bit strange that Keanu, as the best bad cop, wouldn’t have been involved in this larger conspiracy of bad cops.

Forest Whitaker is fantastic in this movie. I specifically like it because he plays a role that is the complete opposite of the role he played on The Shield. He was a real badass on The Shield, an Internal Affairs detective out to get Vic Mackey and he had us all scared for a while. It was season 5 and Vic was really going down, no way he could get out from under Forest Whitaker. As bad ass as he was though, he couldn’t catch Vic. He got to play the bad cop in this movie and that’s one of the things I really liked about it. I’ve never been a fan of Forest Whitaker but I loved him on The Shield and have been more of a fan since then.

The cast in this movie is really deep and that’s another thing I like about it. Not a fan of Hugh Laurie because I never watched House but he brought some cool charisma to the cast. Chris Evans is always great and I like him partnering up with bad cop Keanu as he investigates whose really bad. Jay Mohr is great in the background as the mustache cop whose is quietly more of a bad cop than bad cop Keanu. This guy is always around, he was named Ronnie on The Shield. Cedric the Entertainer makes a cool appearance and so does Common. I have always been a fan of Common and I think he makes for a cool gangster.

As far as bad cop movies go this one isn’t really exceptional but there are a lot of things I still like about it. It makes for a cool action movie with plenty of exciting scenes. Holy shit the heat really rises quickly when Chris Evans takes one in the throat. Great shoot out scene that ends with Keanu using a refrigerator as a shield and shooting Common in the face.

Uh oh, he’s been set up, classic. Common and his associate were undercover cops? His friends are suddenly arresting him and probably taking him to his execution. They of course explain everything before killing him but of course bad cop Keanu has a cuff key. Bad cop Keanu has transitioned from bad cop into badass rogue out for justice. Ready to die in a blaze of glory in order to do whats right because doing what’s right is all he has left. Even tied at the hands and ankles he can overcome certain death. All the badass rogue needs is a shovel and a real bad guy’s gun to fall right into his hands.

I’m really impressed with Forest Whitaker going toe to toe with Neo in a fight scene. Of course badass rogue’s fight to the top leads to his mentor and boss. Oh how typical these stories go but it’s a cool fight scene and this has been a cool action movie. Even when Forest Whitaker is caught the sad reality is he is too powerful to tear down. He’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings of Oz. Badass rogue can’t let such a man get away, he’ll never be brought to justice because justice is corrupt. Gotta kill the bad guy and I like that about this movie too. Although the movie should end with his arrest I like that Hugh Laurie is able to save him in the end.

This is the exact movie that gets lost in the library of time. Nothing really stands out about it and not many people watched it. It’s a cool movie though and I stand by it. It may be typical but sometimes you just need to sit back and watch a little action. This is a good movie for that. I think it is worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stripes (1981)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Year: 2014
Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

RYAN’S REVIEW

To date, I think this is the best sequel made by Marvel Studios. Granted I haven’t seen the newest Avengers film yet but by comparison to the Thor and Iron Man sequels I’ve seen this one is way better. I think there are some minor problems with the story of this film but more importantly the action is awesome and nonstop. This movie has a certain distinction for me as it was the film Amber and I attended to get off the street one night while we were in Denver. We were in the city for my birthday and conveniently near a theater when a cool down was needed. It’s also a movie I watched while recovering from a significant concussion recently and I feel like I kind of bonded with it during that vulnerable time. Nevertheless, aside from having specific reasons for being biased towards it I will stand by it in any argument because I think it is an exciting film and it furthers the Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline in a significant way.

I’ll start with what I think is wrong about this movie that I enjoy. I think it is difficult do make solo films for the heroes of the Avengers because the threats that they face alone seem like something that they should all be involved in. Take this movie for example, how is it that SHIELD faces a threat of this magnitude without Iron Man showing up? That’s just a general problem I have but I’m willing to excuse it because I like it and the kid in me will settle for nothing less than loving these movies. The real problem I have with it is I just find it a bit too much that SHIELD is infiltrated to the top position. If the super secret almighty SHIELD can be infiltrated to such a degree isn’t the whole thing in general just silly?

There is one more thing too. Admittedly I hadn’t realized it myself until a friend pointed it out. Why do all the Marvel solo heroes have black sidekicks? How is it Marvel Studios and their parent company Disney could present such a foolish and obvious cliche that won’t sit well when publicly noticed? Iron Man has War Machine, Thor has Heimdal, and Cap has Falcon. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that is going to sit well given the racial climate within the country of late. I have faith Marvel will straighten it all out with the soon to be introduced Black Panther character.

Nevertheless my biggest hang up with this movie is the story but so what? It’s a comic book film right? Why criticize it when it is only made to be fun and enjoyable? Regardless who the bad guys are they are there to present a challenge to our hero and this film does that in spades. Captain America is faced with devastating odds and rises to the occasion as a badass. I think Chris Evans is perfect as Captain America and I like what he brings to the part. He can be both funny and stern which I think is necessary for the character. When the action starts it’s absolutely amazing how well they choreograph fight scenes to incorporate that shield. You wouldn’t think a guy could do so much with a shield but for the third time around in this film Cap defies any reasonable odds. It seems you can do just about any damn thing with a shield if you know how to wield it.

I really like the addition of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon. Something else that gets me about this film is his character. I am a regular quitter of smoking and often find myself wearing a nicotine patch in efforts to quit. Well patches can give you crazy dreams at night and for an extended period of time I had a recurring dream in which I had the wing pack thing the Falcon wears and I spent my nights flying through the air. Aside from that random tidbit I think Falcon is a really cool character and like what he brings to the film. However, his exceptional ability again brings to mind why wasn’t a call placed to Tony Stark when things got dire in this movie? Iron Man certainly wasn’t a member of SHIELD and would be in a better position to aid Cap and Black Widow. That’s just a frustrating aspect of these stories being put into film because now there are contracts and money to consider when doing them.

Samuel L. Jackson is awesome, per usual. He’s been so good as Nick Fury that his likeness made it’s way into the comic somewhere along the line. Having just written about Jackson in our recent Pulp Fiction review I won’t reiterate myself here again about how awesome I think he is. I do like that this movie gives him a really great action scene.

I remember reading the news that Robert Redford had signed on for a role in this film. For me that showed the power of Marvel. I thought it was a big deal when the first film cast Tommy Lee Jones but to get Robert Freakin Redford for the second film seemed huge to me. If you want legitimacy you can’t go wrong with the Sundance Kid as your wing man. I was really surprised in the way his role turned out in this film though. I figured he would opt for hero and not ultimate villain.

In the roles of other bad guys I really like how the Winter Soldier was done and how Brock Rumlow was set up to be a bigger villain in the future as Crossbones.  The next Captain America movie is going to be huge and as I understand it they will both be involved in the next installment. The next installment, Civil War, is primed to be the most awesome film Marvel Studios has made and I can’t wait to see it. When it’s all said and done this trilogy will be the best Marvel has to offer. Iron Man is cool but his movies weren’t all as cool as Cap’s.

I like this movie and I enjoy watching it now and again. It seems destined for significance for us because as we were watching it for this review we got a call with great news. That news and the good feelings it had will now be something else we can associate this film. Nevertheless, on that note I’m going to go ahead and scratch this off my to-do list. We’ve owned it for a while now and it’s been one of several we’ve been trying to find time to work in. Cool movie that is worth your time.

 

Not Another Teen Movie

Year: 2001
Directed By: Joel Gallen
Written By: More names than I want to list.  Five different writers credited.

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a low point of the collection.  Even in 2001 when I was seventeen I felt like I was above a movie like this.  Yet, at the same time, I had seen all the movies this one was making fun of and I found myself laughing at it.  I found that I liked it just enough to add it to the collection when I found it for a really cheap price. This movie is just funny enough and I enjoyed everything it parodied.  High school movies can define a generation, in the late nineties and at the turn of the century this was fully realized and everybody under the sun was trying to make the next high school classic. This movie, and truthfully many that it parodied didn’t make their mark quite like some of the real classics. Nevertheless you have to appreciate the effort, and this movie was a comedy about the efforts of so many to make that next John Hughes like film.

I just watched the movie last night and this should be easy, but in no discernible order here is a list of films this movie parodies that I noticed:

American Beauty
American Pie
She’s All That
The Breakfast Club
Varsity Blues
Cruel Intentions
Pretty in Pink
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Risky Business
Can’t Hardly Wait
10 Things I Hate About You
Grease
Footloose
Dazed and Confused
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Porkys
Rudy
Road Trip
Sixteen Candles
Never Been Kissed
Bring It On

There are undoubtedly references to even more films that I either didn’t catch or didn’t recognize.  If you notice one not on the list feel free to leave a comment and add to it.  Obviously this isn’t a movie that I, or anybody for that matter, can take seriously.  It’s more stupid than funny too with lots of bad sex jokes and toilet humor.  I find it somewhat nostalgic despite this. I own several of the movie it references and I saw the large majority of them when I was younger.  I was in the target audience when this movie came out to and obviously it got me.  Today I would never see a movie like this.  These parody monstrosities continue to come out with a variety of different themes but I have seen enough with this one. I can honestly say that I have probably viewed this movie for the last time in my life because I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason.  It will only remain on our shelf simply as a reminder about another time when life was different.

On that note there are a few quick things I want to note about the movie because I am like to forget them otherwise.  Memory space stretches and makes room for everything but anything about this film will only be taking the place of something more valuable. First, I had completely forgotten Chris Evans was the star of this film. I didn’t even recognize him until half way through it with that black hair and because he looks so much younger. I like Chris Evans as an actor and it was cool to see him being funny long before he became Johnny Storm and then Captain America.

Secondly, I have never liked Jamie Pressly despite how hot she is.  I just literally find her to be a bit too scary as a woman and have never seen her play any other part than the ones kinda like she has in this film. She has a voice that can cut like a knife and just seems like the kind of woman I would never want to meet in person.  I find it hard to believe she is doing a lot of acting either, and that in real life maybe she is just a mean and bitchy beauty.  I know nothing of the sort, just an impression I get from her.

Third, Amber and I recently burned through the whole series of How I Met Your MotherSo something I never would have noticed in 2001 I saw last night for the first time. Josh Radnor has a small part in this movie.  What I find funny is how many of the things that he said seemed so much like something Ted Mosby would have said.  Given his limited acting career I think that maybe Josh Radnor is Ted Mosby and he is simply a guy that only knows how to play himself.  I think he’s funny but that’s just because of the attachment you develop to any character after you get invested in their show.

This is a forgettable movie and I don’t recommend it to anybody.  You will find some laughs here but I can’t say with a straight face that it is worth anything, especially the time it would take you to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie can put me in a good mood every time I watch it. We still quote it today, randomly. It takes everything from all those cheesy movies we watched growing up in high school and shortly after and exaggerates them, and always taking it way too far, which I always love.

not-another-teen-movie-movie-poster-2001-1020215968

There really isn’t much I can say about this poster, it truly just “is what it is.” It isn’t special, it isn’t groundbreaking design. It does what it is supposed to do. It’s a parody of a bunch f different teen movies, and they include all of those character and give them high school cliche titles. It’s nothing special. But the movie is great. If you have seen at least three to four of the movies that Ryan listed above, you should get a kick out of it.

NEXT MOVIE: Nothing to Lose (1997)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Year:2011
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (screenplay) Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (comics)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was a film Amber and I actually ventured out into the theater to see a few years ago which has been a rarity since 2008 when our first child was born.  We still get out to the theater as often as we can but are very selective on what we go see because opportunity is more limited now.  This was an easy decision as I spent many years waiting on The Avengers and specifically made a point to see every film that led up to it.  When we went to see this film we made the mistake of going to see it in 3D.  After the phenomenal success of Avatar  every film under the sun was “converting” to the 3D format whether it was a good idea or not.  In this film it was not a good idea and so much of it was blurry on-screen as opposed to being three-dimensional, despite the fancy shot of Cap throwing his shield right at us.  That experience initially gave me the impression that the movie was only so-so and because of that it was never added into our collection until now. In preparation for the sequel, which looks awesome by the way, I finally broke down and bought this film to give it another shot.  I can attest now that my initial reaction to the movie was incorrect and I found the second viewing to be a drastic improvement over the first.

I did not like the casting of Chris Evans in the part of Steve Rodgers.  It’s not that he isn’t right for the role because in fact I think he is but I think it was an awful decision to reuse an actor who had already been used in the Marvel film universe.  Of course the big difference is that FOX owns the rights to The Fantastic Four while Marvel owns Captain America.  Nevertheless I thought Chris Evans was great as Johnny Storm and one of the few highlights to an otherwise weak film in general.  Using him again as a different character meant that we wouldn’t see his Johnny Storm again and despite how bad those movies were I still held out hope for a successful sequel in the future.  It all matters little now as The Fantastic Four is in the process of being rebooted and Chris Evans is entrenched as the leader of the Avengers.  As it goes with playing the part of Captain America Evans has everything required.  He couldn’t look more all-American and he is a physical powerhouse.  So while I wasn’t happy about the casting when the news first dropped years ago I feel much differently now.  Evans has won me over and I look forward to seeing his next portrayal of the part in The Winter Soldier.  

When you cast a bad guy for a movie you simply can’t go wrong when you choose Hugo Weaving for the part.  I thought his portrayal of the Red Skull was awesome and he looked really villainous in the make-up, which was done perfectly.  I have never been a big follower of Captain America but I have always been a fan of Marvel comics and you can’t be such without knowing a little bit about the Red Skull.  As far as Marvel villains go he is one of the biggest and baddest so casting the part was a difficult thing to do.  However, as I said, you just can’t go wrong using Agent Smith as a bad guy.  I always like a movie that utilizes Nazis as bad guys because nobody is easier to root against.  These guys aren’t just Nazis either, but a much worse off shoot of them in HYDRA.  I absolutely love the scene in which Cap chases down the HYDRA assassin only for him to lick one of his front teeth out and kill himself with it.  I have seen examples of bad guys killing themselves in this fashion before by crunching a planted poison caplet in their mouth but never quite like that and I thought it was awesome.

I miss the days when Tommy Lee Jones was a bankable star that appeared in many films on a regular basis.  So I was really happy to see him cast in a significant role for this film and I really liked what he brought to it. He has made a bit of a comeback in recent years from the time when I thought everything was going downhill for him.  When he made Space Cowboys in 2000 I took it as a sign that he had already resigned himself to the “old man parts” that his co-stars in the film already had locked down and I thought it was too soon for him.  I think Jones is awesome and consider it unfortunate that we won’t be seeing him again in any Captain America sequels.  Speaking of the sequel I do look forward to seeing Sebastian Stan in The Winter Soldieror (brace yourself for a possible spoiler) I suppose I should say as the Winter Soldier.  For those who don’t know, Bucky survives the fall we see in this movie and is systematically brainwashed over the years by bad guys to be a bad version of Captain America so to speak. I’m sure we are in for an emotional and troubling scene for Cap in the sequel when he realizes the bad guy he faces is his long-lost friend Bucky, who probably for some reason blames Cap for what happened to him.

The rest of this cast all did well but it was a one time deal as they all played characters in a timeline we won’t be seeing again.  Stanley Tucci is a relentless worker who appears in nearly everything these days, and he was good as the wise doctor who created Captain America.  Toby Jones was good his role as the Red Skull’s sidekick Arnim Zola.  I am a fan of Neal McDonough because he was phenomenal in the season three of Justified and while his role in this movie was small I think it was good.  Dominic Cooper was good at acting like Robert Downey Jr while playing Tony Stark’s father but I wish they has used John Slattery again for the part as the did in Iron Man 2.  Not only for continuity reasons but because I specifically like Slattery. Hayley Atwell did nothing wrong in her performance but I don’t give it much thought because she is just filling in that role of “necessary love interest.” These comic heroes always have to have some woman they are in love with whether there are practical reasons for that love or not.  In this film Atwell was simple the pretty face who got called when one was needed.

I do think this movie could have been a bit better but overall I think it was a great beginning to something that can be much greater.  I think the preview for the coming sequel looks awesome, so awesome in fact I felt I had to buy this movie simply to have the right reference in place for it.  The sequel has a different set of directors in Anthony and Joe Russo.  While I am not familiar with their work I feel like they have to be better than Joe Johnston.  Nothing against Johnston, he has made a few films I thought were good but I think he was over his head with a film of this magnitude. He doesn’t have the longest track record and nothing else he has done has been as big as the first film in a franchise that is something as big as Marvel has going on now. Still, he made a good film and he does deserve credit for it.

I use to rate comic book movies against one another and tell people which were the best in my opinion.  Now there are so many of them that I couldn’t even begin to consider where they stacked up against one another.  These days the big budgets go to the films about super heroes.  It become so dominating in the movie industry that the dust can’t even settle on a specific character before he is thrust (“rebooted”) out there again.  The immediate examples being Spiderman, The Hulk, and Superman.  They are not alone though because we already have a new Fantastic Four on the way and it’s only a matter of time before Ben Affleck takes his Batman into solo features. Yes it is a comic book movie world we are living in but I’m not complaining.  I comic book guy at heart and I can never get enough of them.  I would say this film is exactly what I have come to expect from the growing genre.  The movie is fun, exciting, and interesting.  I wouldn’t call it better or worse than what I think is a standard for a great group of movies.  This film did exactly what it was supposed to do and it gave us more to look forward to.  I genuinely enjoyed watching this movie again and I cannot wait to see the next one.  This movie is definitely worth your time and you should probably see it before Winter Soldier comes out this summer.

The Avengers

Amber and I just finished watching The Avengers and it was incredible.  I have been following the movie since they decided to do it a few years ago and it has more than exceeded all my expectations.  I had my doubts over the years because they were putting so many large personalities onto the screen at the same time but they made it look easy. This was easily one of the best films made after the Marvel characters and that is saying a lot with such great movies to compete with like X2 and the Spiderman franchise. I found myself disappointed with all the recent Marvel movies so this really was a pleasant surprise.  I did enjoy both Thor and Captain America but I had expected them to be better, and I all but hated Iron Man 2 and X-men First Class.  The Avengers simply couldn’t have been any better though.  It was action packed, all the stars were on point with their performances, and it was surprisingly funny.

I openly criticized the choice of Joss Whedon to direct this powerhouse when it was announced a couple years ago.  Clearly I grossly underestimated him and should have done my homework on him before jumping to conclusions.  He had an extended hand in the making of the film getting a writing credit to go along with his role as director.  He made a great movie and should be seeing a lot of doors opening up for him in his career now.  Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic and seemed to really shine in his role as Iron Man.  He is Tony Stark, and he is only getting better at playing the part.  I think Tom Hiddleston was awesome as Loki, really really great as the main antagonist of the film. He is so villainous yet such a joker all the same.  The whole movie he has that sinister smile on his face as if he is humored by a joke that only he knows and it is the entire world.  Samuel L. Jackson had to do little here but stand tall and look cool, but who better to do so?  This was the largest role Jackson has had as Nick Fury now and I think he is great at it.  Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johansson all did well reprising their roles as Captain America, Thor, and Black Widow.  I thought Jeremy Renner was really good playing the part of Hawkeye.  I didn’t know what good a guy with a bow and arrow would be against an army of aliens but I was really surprised by how much I liked the character.  I wish Ed Norton had returned as the Hulk but Mark Ruffalo wasn’t bad.  I really liked Norton’s The Incredible Hulk but he ended up battling with the studio over a writing credit after the movie came out and they ultimately decided not to bring him back for this.  Not to mention that The Incredible Hulk wasn’t exactly considered a successful film, I thought it was really good though.  I think this movie made great use of the Hulk, and Ruffalo did a good enough job playing Bruce Banner that it didn’t matter that the character was recast.

All of these actors had fantastic chemistry in this movie, and I am very hopeful they will all be able to come together to do it again in the future. They had great dialogue that really reflected their comic book roots with a lot of witty banter and goodhearted humor. Ruffalo and Downey Jr. particularly had good chemistry together, but you really get the feeling that all of these actors liked one another.  I was so surprised by how funny the movie actually was; I found myself laughing out loud from beginning to the very end. If you wait through the entire credits you see the movie end on a really funny final scene. The whole movie had such a casual and natural feeling to it, that surprised me too although it shouldn’t have.  This has been something like six films in the making with buildup coming in nearly every Marvel film since Iron Man came out in 2008. All the characters were well established before this movie even started production so they didn’t have to waste any time introducing every character. That allowed them to do so much more with the script and I think that made this an exceptional comic book film.

Amber and I both loved this movie, if we had the freedom to do so we would have gotten right back in line and watched it again. However we had a lot to talk about on the way back to pick up the kids, there was so much to like about the movie.  I hope everybody out there goes to see the movie because it is worth your time and money. Given the opportunity Amber and I might even go back to the theater and see it a second time on the big screen. We did not watch the film in 3D format, opting for the safer 2D choice.  The last two films we saw in 3D looked awful, but I cannot say how good or bad they might have been in this movie. If you saw it in 3D leave a comment and let me know how it looked.  If it looked good I might check it out the second time around.

UPDATE #1

Santa Claus was awesome this year and brought us a copy of this movie to add into the collection. I enjoyed this movie just as much the second time if not more.  It is a fun and exciting movie that couldn’t have been made any better.  I look forward to the next installment as there will undoubtedly be one, and can’t wait to find out who might be joining the team.  Until then I look forward to the next Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man movies that will be hitting screens this upcoming summer.