Djimon Hounsou

Guardians of the Galaxy

Year: 2014
Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out before I really understood and appreciated the scope of the MCU. I knew that all the comic book movies Marvel was making would eventually tie together and I thought they were all good. Yet when this movie came out I gave it a pass. I have been a comic book fan my whole life yet had never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The previews did nothing to encourage me as I distinctly remember wondering what was up with this movie. There was a talking racoon in it and this big tree thing that was voiced by none other than Vin Diesel. They had a WWE star in the cast! The fat guy from Parks and Rec was playing the lead. There was just no way this movie would amount to anything more than an experiment Marvel lost money on.

Well, I like to admit when I am wrong and from the very beginning of this movie I could instantly tell I was not only wrong about it but I was in store for something spectacular. Starlord dancing around during the opening credits is so engaging and fun. It instantly sets the tone for what turned out to be a really engaging and fun movie. That tone is also set by an awesome soundtrack that would top the charts for many weeks on end.

It turned out that fat guy from Parks and Rec lost a ton of weight and was kind of a hilarious badass in his own way. The talking racoon was not only not stupid but managed to steal the show. He is incredible and awesome in every single scene he is part of. Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot arguably showed more range than Vin Diesel as the actor in popular over explosive movies. I knew nothing about Dave Batista other than him being a WWE performer. Just when that seems like enough I see something like this that throws the whole world off balance.

I thought Dave Bautista was not just good in this movie but outstanding. He is so funny with his literal one liners and lack of understanding when it comes to metaphor or sarcasm. “Why would I run my finger across his throat?” He’s just so unexpectedly hilarious I absolutely cann0t wait for the sequel because I want more of this guy. I wrote him off for no other reason than the fact that he was a pro wrestler by trade and that seemed to be a gross miscalculation.

Chris Pratt blew up into a star following this movie and when you watch the movie it’s easy to see why. He is undeniably likable in this movie and brings a wit to the character that makes him hilarious. I really like Chris Pratt from his days on Parks and Rec where after a while I thought he was the only good thing about the show. I only refer to him as “the fat guy” because I have heard so many people describe him that way. I found it really impressive how he got himself in shape for the role. He did so on his own volition too which shows a lot of dedication to the character.

I can’t think of anything to say about Rocket other than he is just hands down awesome. His dialogue and delivery are so funny. He didn’t have time to work out the “minutia” of the plan, he called Stan Lee a “class A prevert,” and he got Starlord to take that prosthetic leg for his plan to escape the prison. He’s just so funny and I was thoroughly surprised by the character. He is so much more than simply funny as he is a tiny little badass that you just don’t see coming.

By saying no more than three words throughout the movie Vin Diesel actually managed to impress me. I have never been a big fan of the guy and don’t consider him to be a good actor. I can’t stand an actor that has to go over the top trying to be cool. If you have to try to be cool you are simply missing that element that makes it natural. In this film though, with his three words, it’s the coolest I think he has ever been.

Zoe Saldana seems to be part of every sci-fi franchise lately after significant parts in Avatar and the Star Trek franchise. In this movie she looks really good with green skin and I like her character quite a bit. She’s a beautiful woman but I feel like I would’t recognize her in anything else. She has over 40 acting credits but usually when I see her she is either CGI or in tons of make up.

Most of the characters in this movie are in a ton of make up or done by CGI but my favorite is Michael Rooker with that bright blue skin. I am a big fan of Michael Rooker going all the way back to Cliffhanger and before. I love his perception in this movie that Starlord owes him something because he stopped his people from eating him as a child. The arrow that he uses with his whistling is awesome and I can’t wait to see more of it in the sequel.

The rest of this cast is full of great actors in supporting roles. John C. Reilly is great in everything and he manages to be really funny in a small part. Glenn Close brings credibility as the leader of the Nova as does Benicio Del Toro as The Collector. My favorite supporting character is Korath played by Djimon Hounsou. He just looks so wicked in costume and I love the part of the film in which he called Quill Starlord and the response is a delighted “finally.”

I really liked the villains in this movie. Ronan was really wicked from the beginning with his dressing ceremony up to his disgust at Peter Quill dancing. Played by Lee Pace it is hard to recognize him at all in all the make-up but the make-up that hid him was excellent. He is a ruthless villain and thus far one of the better villains in the MCU who haven’t really measured up in the villain department quite like they have in the hero. This movie also gives us our longest look at the coming big bad guy Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. He has merely a cameo in this movie but it offers us a good look at what is to come. I also liked Nebula with her jealous streak and ability to just bounce back into form robotically after being blasted by an explosion. Looks like she will be switching sides in the next film and it will be cool to see her kicking ass for the good guys.

I had never seen anything by Director James Gunn before but I will have an eye out for his work in the future. I think the script he wrote for this movie was just so incredibly funny. I am regularly impressed with the people Marvel finds to helm their movies because often I am unfamiliar with them. They manage to make it all work great though with fantastic continuity for the expanding cinematic universe. No matter who is at the helm all of these movies manage to feel like they are on the same page. It’s an impressive thing and evidence of the genius behind Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige.

I think I have rambled on sufficiently for this movie but I could never say enough about how much I enjoy this movie. I love when I have low expectations of something and it manages to blow me away. If you have preconceived notions about this movie I understand, but I sincerely encourage you to give it a chance and find out as I did how great it is and what you are missing. This movie isn’t just worth your time but worth plenty of your time as it gets better with multiple viewings.

 

 

The Island

Year: 2005
Directed By: Michael Bay
Written By: Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman, and Robert Orci

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is pretty much a conglomerate of all Science Fiction movies merged together. Themes upon themes upon themes repeated and taken from other classic films.  Yet despite what many critics think I happen to be a fan of Michael Bay.  His movies may not have a whole lot going on sometimes but they are action packed and this guy has a gift for special effects and action sequences.  It’s why Bad Boys was so cool; it’s why the first Transformers movie was so good.  Yeah the guy is overseeing many remakes of timeless classics and butchering them, but he can make a cool action movie.  This is a stupid movie and a rip off at that, but that doesn’t make it any less cool or exciting does it?

I really don’t want to go into the specifics of which movies this one reminds me of because frankly I’m just not in the mood to think that hard.  If you see it yourself and you are a seasoned viewer you will recognize the many recycled Science Fiction themes all throughout the film.  I don’t think any of that matters with this movie because I happen to like it despite all of that.  Like I said, it’s a cool film and sometimes that is all that matters.  I have always been a sucker for special effects and nobody does them quite like Michael Bay.  Michael Bay has this real douche bag aura about him. The type of guy that wants to pretend he is in his 20s forever.  The kind of adult male that goes to a tanning bed and gets his hair done by a professional.  He might have a hand in many movies that make me shake my head in despair but I also think he has a specific talent that works out for him when he gets behind camera. He makes fun and exciting movies plain and simple. So despite his flaws and the movies that make me shake my head (the Friday the 13th remake, or…well Transformers 2……maybe also 3) I still like him and appreciate some of the movies he makes.

I am not particularly a fan of either of the two stars in this film.  Ewan McGregor has always been a solid actor but I haven’t liked many of his movies. Scarlett Johansson was really starting to explode around the time this movie came out but I have never been a big fan of hers either. Despite my opinion of the two stars they aren’t bad in this movie and they work with a fantastic supporting cast. I think Steve Buscemi is awesome and always have.  I have been really happy to see his career only get better and better over the years. I think he is great in Boardwalk Empire and I think he has been awesome in every single movie I have ever seen him in.  I have literally never seen Steve Buscemi in a movie and thought jeez he played an awful part but he is just that damn good.  I also think Sean Bean is awesome, one because he played the part of Eddard Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and two because of all the other parts he has played over the years. Michael Clarke Duncan also has a small part and may he rest in peace.  His unfortunate and premature death left the movie industry with a significant loss.  He was a good actor and made many memorable characters over the years, he will be missed.  Djimon Hounsou has a significant role and I really liked him a lot while his star was shining bright. In very small roles are two characters from shows that I love. Kim Coates from Sons of Anarchy and Yvette Nicole Brown from Community both play small bit parts and it’s cool to see them in a big time film. I seem to see Coates all the time but this is a rarity as far as Brown goes.

I don’t usually like a movie that is like another movie but I made an exception in this case after first seeing the film.  I realized how cliché it all was but liked it despite that and added it to the collection early on; buying it nearly right after it was released. Watching it now I think the decision was justified, and am glad I chose to get it.  It’s a cool movie that has great effects and an exciting, fast paced story line. Aside from being a sucker for great special effects I am also a big sucker for the elaborate chase scene.  This movie has some great ones and that is probably what swayed my opinion in the end when I first bought the film.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I feel like this is an interesting movie. Wouldn’t it be crazy if that were our insurance policy? A complete clone that is just waiting to help us with whatever ails us or happens to us. I think this film is a really interesting look at a possible future.

theisland

When I searched for this poster, I was honestly expecting the worst. I actually like this poster. The image in the typography is a nice touch and the typography is nice. Although, if I were really, really picky I hate that ESCAPE is on the bottom and it is supposed to be holding the weight of PLAN YOUR. That’s super picky and subjective. The Island typography is cool and futuristic, but it doesn’t really go with the main font very well. It seems I am a little back and forth here. Heh.

NEXT MOVIE: It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)

Gladiator

Year: 2000
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: David Franzoni, John Logan, Willian Nicholson

RYAN’S REVIEW

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” I’ve always thought that quote was incredible and it set the tone for this movie. This movie blew everybody away in 2000 and won all the awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe. I was in high school at the time and it set quite an impression on me. It immediately became my favorite epic film of the “swords and sandals” genre as I have heard it described.  It had that effect on nearly everyone, it is a powerful movie. It’s about powerand revenge, and like all good “swords and sandals” movies it’s about courage and honor.

This movie made Russell Crowe a superstar, he had been on the rise for some time but this was what put him over the top.  I think he has made many great movies since but in my opinion this was his peak as an actor.  He might have made many great films since but none so great as this.  As Maximus he commanded respect on and off the screen.  I think people started to think that he was the great and noble character that he played in the film.  I remember when he started beating people up in the real world it was such a shocker, but I happened to think that worked well for him as it encouraged me to see his upcoming film Cinderella Man. With this film Crowe used up the last of his youth, I have always felt he looked so much older since.  I can say that he got the most out of it though, he gave a great performance that was due all the credit it got.  Crowe has worked many more times with Ridley Scott but they haven’t been able to match what they did with this movie, although they have made some good films since.

As great as Crowe was in this movie I have always thought Joaquin Phoenix brought just as much to the movie. He was terrific as Commodus and despite all his problems he is a great actor.  I am always afraid that there will suddenly be breaking news that he has died just as his brother River Phoenix did.  Phoenix obviously has had serious problems with drugs, but he has always managed to keep it together for his movie roles.  I think he thrives playing really complex characters and this film is no different.  Commodus is a child in a man’s body, a little boy that desperately wanted his father’s approval and failed to achieve it.  He is angry and cruel, he is weak but unpredictable in a way that makes him very dangerous.  He has the power and nothing is scarier than power wielded by someone like Commodus. Phoenix lost the Academy Award to Benicio Del Toro for his role in TrafficI have always thought that was a load of crap, the award should have went to Phoenix, he deserved it.  I like Del Toro but you can barely understand anything he says and I have always thought Traffic was overrated.

This film is not even remotely historically accurate but I don’t think that matters, it doesn’t in any way claim to be based on fact.  There was a real Marcus Aurelius and a real Commodus but none of this happened the way we see it in the movie, or at all. Richard Harris did a great job playing Aurelius.  He has a noble aura about him that makes him great for roles like this.  I think the Harry Potter films really suffered when he died, he was great as Dumbledore and left big shoes to fill.  Djimon Hounsou was great as Juba.  I thought bigger things were ahead of him when I saw him in this film but he hasn’t lived up to my initial expectations.  Connie Nielsen looked the part and performed admirably as the lone female role in the movie.  Oliver Reed also played an exceptional part in the role of Proximo.

This is a great movie and it will always be important to me for the lessons it taught me as a teen.  Russell Crowe’s character of Maximus sets a good example for all young men.  He is heroic and brave, he does what is right instead of simply what he is told, and he perseveres when things get difficult. Those are qualities that we should all study and take something away from.  This kind of epic movie is the type that always appeals to me so I fit nicely into the target audience.  If you like these types of movies then this is definitely worth your time, and if it isn’t your type it would still be worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Some movies really speak to people and some movies don’t. This movie speaks to Ryan. I cannot say the same. I have tried to watch this movie so many times and every single time I get bored and stop paying attention. This is yet another movie that I don’t like that makes people look at me and say, “Really?” I don’t know anyone else that doesn’t like this movie, so I know that I am the odd ball out.

The scenery looks amazing and so does Russell Crowe, but like I said, I get bored every time. The movie poster for this movie is actually quite nice, however. There is a lot of symbolism. Notice how he is large compared to The Colosseum. They are trying to portray this idea that even The Colosseum doesn’t amount to this Gladiator’s glory. He is larger than life and can’t be stopped. The costume is perfect, the color is great and the typography of  “Gladiator” is a nice serif font with an ever prevalent movie style texture to the font, which stands there just as boldly as The Gladiator himself.

NEXT MOVIE: The Godfather (1972)