Laurence Fishburne

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)

The Matrix

Year: 1999
Directed By: Andy and Larry Wachowski (Larry is now Lana)
Written By: Andy and Larry Wachowski

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s such an interesting experience to watch this movie now.  I remember so clearly how it felt when I was 15 and watched it four times in the movie theater.  I remember clearly how it felt when I watched it over and over again with my brother when it came to video and I was 16.  Watching it now is so different though.  The world has changed so dramatically in the last fifteen years.  Looking back now at what was cutting edge technology in 1999 is an unusual feeling.  This franchise may have fallen apart when it came to sequels but this movie was so important to my generation.  This was our Star Wars when it first came out.  It was a film that changed the way movies were made.  The slow motion effect during action sequences was a big deal that was copied by everyone at the time.  This movie added a new special effect to the table that was utilized and mimicked on a regular basis.  The story left the door open for so many possibilities and for a few years our imaginations ran wild. We didn’t know that they would totally destroy this franchise when they continued it, but what we had seen already had blown our minds and we couldn’t hope but to expect the greatest thing ever made.  Oh how we were disappointed, we will get to the sequels in time, but for now the focus is on this film.  This film was incredible, and while there is plenty to pick apart today it was like nothing else we had ever seen in the late 90s.  It was a film that combined action, style, and philosophy.  It blew our minds and gave us something to think about after seeing it.  It also sported some of the best fight scenes, action sequences, and monologues of all time.

This movie did blow minds in when it came out in 1999.  I can LITERALLY attest to that.  As I said I saw the movie four times in the theater and it was the fourth time I saw it that something happened.  I remember it being during the scene in which Neo first dodges bullets.  On screen Neo was leaning back in an unnatural stance while bullets passed over him in slow motion.  A man sitting in the row directly in front of me and only one seat to the left suddenly stamped his foot three times and laid his head on the shoulder of the girl next to him.  He made a moaning sound and the girl looked over and started screaming. This started a commotion that at age 15 I could do nothing more than sit there and marvel at.  I had never seen such a thing happen before, the man had gone into a seizure.  Eventually paramedics came and the girlfriend had to admit to them that the two of them had dropped acid before coming in to see the film.  He was eventually wheeled out on a stretcher and I have no idea what happened after that but I will never forget it.  I have been telling the story for years and about how the special effects in this movie put that man into a seizure.  The drugs obviously played a part too but I have always thought the effects were messing with his head a bit.  Of course that’s based on the observation of a 15 year old who had never seen anything like that happen and had no scientific knowledge for the theory, but it made the movie sound better that way.  “This movie is so awesome it put that guy into a seizure!” I used to tell people in my youthful ignorance.

This wasn’t the first film made by the Wachowski brothers but it was the film that made them a household name. In truth, my knowledge of the Wachowskis is limited beyond the movies I have seen from them.  I know that one of the brothers is now a sister as Larry has become Lana.  From what I know that decision on Larry’s part was supported by her brother Andy and that’s cool.  They are still working together but are no longer listed as the Wachowski Brothers, as they were when this film was released.  Some people may take issue with the transgender change from Lana but I think any hater out there should take the time to appreciate their work despite any preconceived opinions.  I will be the first one to say they made horrible mistakes when it came to continuing this franchise but I still admire them as filmmakers.  On my to-do list is eventually reviewing one of their most recent films, Cloud Atlas. I thought that film was nothing short of amazing and should eventually change the way movies are made.  Unfortunately when it comes to that film I think it went way over the heads of too many people.  That was a problem with The Matrix as well. It was a film that went way over the heads of plenty of people but when it comes to this film people accepted that anyway because the outstanding action dazzled their eyes enough for them to not care.  I was really disappointed with the Wachowskis with their sequels to this film but Cloud Atlas restored my faith in them and I look forward to anything else they might do in the future.

I say that this movie confused people because I feel like I was explaining it to people for years.  Some people just could not grasp this concept of The Matrix.  It was a deep film and I remember hearing that there were actually college classes that focused specifically on the movie.  It combined elements of theology and philosophy and either one of those two things can sometimes be enough to confuse a casual film viewer.  I hate philosophy because I think it more or less amounts to thinking things that don’t make a damn bit of difference one way or another.  It will certainly give you plenty to think about and the term philosopher sounds really intelligent but beyond that I have never thought there was much to take from it.  Philosophers have in the past spent a great deal of time trying to determine what is and isn’t real.  We see that in this movie as Morpheus asks Neo “what is real?” What I ask you is, “what the hell does it matter?” In fact I don’t even get why there is a human resistance in this movie.  Why go to the real world when the real world sucks? What good is fighting a resistance when your resistance fighters want to go back into The Matrix? Everyone besides Cypher seems gung-ho in what they are doing but Cypher’s feelings would not be exclusive to him.  I imagine in this scenario it would be a common problem.  What’s so bad about The Matrix anyway? You don’t know you are there and you get to live a better life than what you would have outside of it.

I mentioned it so I’m going to go through some of the theological references in this movie, and please keep in mind I’m going to write this from memory so if I make a mistake feel free to correct me.  The name Neo is simply an anagram for One, as Neo is Jesus. This is obvious with his virgin birth, resurrection from death, and his being the savior for human kind.  There are other times throughout this trilogy when this correlation is clearly seen by Neo being laid down in the “Jesus pose.”  The ship that Morpheus and crew travel on is called The Nebuchadnezzar, a name that is in the Bible.  Cypher’s name was created by simply taking the L U off of Lucifer and for the cleaver viewer this was foreshadowing that he would be the traitor to the cause.  I don’t remember specifically reading this but I have to think the name of Trinity is a reference to the Holy Trinity.  Beyond that there are no doubt several I have forgotten and managed to overlook while watching the film again.  This film is deep on a level that I don’t care to put the thought into.  If you are interested in the influences behind this film and what it all means I suggest you research the matter yourself.

I thought it was a peculiar choice to cast Keanu Reeves in the lead role of this film.  Despite Speed I had never really seen him as an action star doing the kind of fights scenes this role called for.  After all, these are some of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed, incorporating a variety of different fighting styles and techniques.  Reeves did much better than I would have thought, and I liked his performance in the part.  He was not the first choice for the film because somewhere along the line I remember someone criticizing Will Smith for passing on the role.  It was before the sequels came out and in anticipation for the next two installments there was no shortage of hype.

The weakest link in this movie, in my opinion, was Carrie-Anne Moss as both an actress and a character.  Moss was never able to turn the success of this film into more opportunities for her career and I think that is because she just wasn’t that good in it.  I don’t know if it was her acting or if it was simply that her character is only there to complete the “trinity” and be a love interest for Neo.  The love between the two seems so forced. She had no chemistry with Reeves and her character is only in love with him because the Oracle told her she was supposed to be.  I had never given it any thought when I was younger but while watching the movie for this review I can’t find one reason why these two would be in love. Trinity wasn’t so bad in this one, but I think she simply started a downward spiral here.  The character is so much worse in the sequels, specifically in the third film.

The exact opposite can be said for Laurence Fishburne.  This was the greatest role he ever had and he was absolutely awesome in it.  He has a great voice that literally makes everything he says sound so wise. The Morpheus character in itself was just really cool.  So cool in fact that after ten years he was brought back for one of the big time Super Bowl ads this year.  Morpheus also had a seat at the high council table in South Park’s Imaginationland episode trilogy, because he is awesome. Joe Pantoliano may have looked silly with his bald head and facial hair in this but it takes nothing away from him as an actor.  He is great as a bad guy and I liked him as Cypher, despite his regular complaining.  Even though Cypher is a bad guy in this movie I still like him because he is the only one that seems to have any sense when it comes to fighting this war. As he said, “ignorance is bliss” because the truth behind it all is that your alternative is living in a cave and eating slimy proteins three times a day. Who really wants that anyway?

Now, to the greatest role in this movie…Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith.  Weaving had been acting for 18 years before this movie came out with little success but that all changed once people saw this.  Weaving has since graced the film industry as many different great characters but I will always think of this as his greatest role.  Agent Smith is interesting because he is simply a computer program but as we hear in his monologue to Morpheus late in the movie he has plenty of human qualities.  It’s interesting and ironic that he wants to complete his task simply because he doesn’t want to be in this world created for the humans anymore.  His classification of humans as viruses was such a compelling argument that I think it got all of our attention.  The scene in which he says these things while interrogating Morpheus is one of the best parts of the movie short of all the outstanding fight scenes we see.

This is the most significant film of this franchise and the best of the three films.  The sequels had some flashes of excitement here and there but this is the only complete film in the trilogy.  It came out right before the world changed so dramatically with the technology utilized in the film.  Both cell phones and the internet exploded after this movie came out with technological advancements and mainstream usage.  It makes looking back at the film interesting because when the film came out everything they used was top of the line.  For younger people this can be a glowing example of how quickly the world changed and where we were right before the turn of the century.

I have read recently that the Wachowskis have discussed the possibility of a new Matrix trilogy.  I can’t stress how bad of an idea I think that would be for a number of reasons.  Number one being that this movie is still great and I don’t think anything great should ever be messed with.  I also think that the bad taste the franchise left with viewers as a whole will transition into bad impressions for a new trilogy.  I think the time has passed for this franchise and I can’t stand the trend in Hollywood where instead of doing something new they simply reboot or remake.  Having said all that, I still have plenty of faith in The Wachowskis and would keep my mind open whether I think it was a good idea or not.  In closing I will just say that this movie is easily worth your time.  It will both give you something to think about and something to enjoy while you are watching it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The first time I watched this movie I had two words. Mind. Blown. I thought: “what an interesting way to look at everyday life.” It was such a different twist on an apocalyptic story. On top of that, to make Keanu a good actor, he needs as little lines and acting period. I think he did really well in his action scenes and fighting scenes, but when he talks I just want him to shut up. The writing for the dialogue in this movie is super simplistic, and sometimes it feels dumbed down. Overall, I really like this movie, it is fun and brings back a lot of memories.

matric_poster

I actually really like this poster for The Matrix. It shows more than one character, but in a good way. They all are representations portryed from themselves, so of course they are all wearing sunglasses, even thouh it is probably night time. I like that the binary code is making up the walls in the background and that the title has become very recognizable as the Matric font. This poster is really blue and purple, which is a strk difference from the green color that takes over the movie, especially the second one. Overall I think it does a good job of alluding to the movie and getting you interested, so not bad.

NEXT MOVIE: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Event Horizon

Year: 1997
Directed By: Paul Anderson
Written By: Philip Eisner

RYAN’S REVIEW

I watched this movie when it first came to home video in 1998 and it scared me so bad it’s taken me 15 years to come back for seconds. I was 13 or 14 when I first saw it and at that age I would never admit how bad it scared me but I can admit it now.  This movie literally scared the ever loving shit out of me and watching it last night did bring some of that fear back to me.  Of course I’m not scared now the way I was when I was young but there was a nostalgic feeling of fear that came over me while we watched it. There are so many creepy things in this movie and I can really see why and how it got to me so bad as a kid. There are a few things wrong with this film but that doesn’t change the effect it will have on you.  This movie is scary as hell, literally, and that makes it an excellent movie for the season.

In this movie we see the fears of the characters come to life right before their eyes.  For reasons they don’t understand they are suddenly having hallucinations of their greatest fears.  With a variety of different fears the movie is able to hit on several levels to get to everyone in the audience one way or another. If the burning man that appears before Laurence Fishburne or the kid that Kathleen Quinlan sees don’t get to you then Sam Niell’s eye gauging definitely will.  For me, one of the scariest parts was when Neill is down in that tiny tunnel and starts hearing things.  He looks around in this small space that he could easily get lost in and he isn’t sure if he is actually hearing things or if he is just panicking.  That kind of fear, the type when you are all alone in a scary place and unsure what’s going on really gets to me.  The not knowing if something is really there or if it’s all in your head is terrifying under those circumstances.  After all these years it still makes me cringe.

I heard once that there was something like 30 minutes cut from this film specifically to get it down to an R rating.  I don’t know where that time would have fit in but if I had to guess I would think it came from the video of the lost crew.  When they finally clean up the image enough to see what happened what they see if horrifying.  There is a man who has pulled his own eyes out and is holding them in his hand while chanting creepy Latin phrases. There appears to be some raping going on, everyone is screaming, and flames blaze in the background.  These people had accidentally traveled into Hell and the consequences were frightening.  I imagine there was plenty in that scene that might have been deemed too much for the theater audience by the MPAA.

I think where this film goes wrong is in the ending, but I’m inclined to chalk it up to being a product of its time.  In the end the tone changes to something like Laurence Fishburne vs. Sam Neill when that shouldn’t be the case.  Yes Sam Neill was simply the image taken by the ship but there should be no one against the other.  There should only be Neill i.e. the ship dispatching Laurence Fishburne in horrifying fashion. How could anybody hope to fight back against a ship that has transformed into an evil object by travelling to Hell and back? It shouldn’t be possible and there should be no room for the type of heroics we see from Fishburne in the end.  I like that in the end the ship is still alive and the nightmare continues for the survivors, but what precedes it almost makes it loose its flavor.  There is a theme in far too many horror films that the good guy has to win.  Freddy is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments, Jason is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments, Mike Myers is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments……..Laurence Fishburne needed to have a fist fight with a demonic Sam Neill in the climax of this film.  That’s just how it was done in the 90s.  I tend to find the no win scenario much scarier and we see more of that these days.

I think Laurence Fishburne was great in this movie, until the end when he has his hero moment that is.  I have always been a fan of Fishburne because I come from the generation of The Matrix, and Morpheus can do no wrong.  Of course that isn’t true though; Fishburne has become irrelevant over the years as Morpheus got further and further away in the rear view. He got an important part in Man of Steel though, and whether he was the right choice or not is irrelevant.  It’s an opportunity, and I hope it gets him back into the limelight in the future. Sam Neill just has a look to him that really shows the potential for being evil.  I thought he was awesome in In the Mouth of Madness and I think he specifically looks wicked in this movie both with and without eyes. With the lacerated face he looks beyond wicked and something more like demonic. Neill really hasn’t had many memorable roles in his career but when he gets a good one he plays it to the fullest.  This film is a good example of that.

Aside from those two there are several other cast members who many will recognize.  Of course Kathleen Quinlan tops that list.  She was past her prime when this movie came out but she is a great actress with a long and distinguished career.  Lucius Malfoy is also seen in the background long before he was made relatively popular by the Harry Potter films.  I am talking about Jason Isaacs, who recently starred in a network TV show I didn’t watch, I think it was called Awake. Joely Richardson has one of the more significant roles in this film being one of the two final “survivors.” I was a big fan of Richardson from her work on Nip/Tuck. That show went on for far too long and her character was not always written in the brightest light. That’s putting it nicely really, they writers loved to make this woman about as slutty as she could get.  I think if they could have gotten away with it she probably would have engaged in a relationship with her own son.  Still, for a long time I was a big fan of the show and I liked her role on in despite what they had her do.

This is a scary movie.  In fact it is probably far and away the scariest of all the movies we have watched for this month so far.  It has a bit of a science fiction feel to it that but that doesn’t take away from the horror effect.  Science fiction and horror are often intertwined together with great success.  This movie doesn’t qualify as a success because it was a box office bomb but it succeeds where it matters.  Check this one out if you are looking for something to scare you as Halloween approaches and you won’t be disappointed.   

AMBER’S REVIEW

Apparently this was a horror movie. I am almost certain this should be qualified as a sci-fi movie. Of course, I fell asleep before it all went horrible, infinitely, wrong. (See what I did there?) I didn’t get to see all the gruesome horror, but apparently it must be a gory movie because under the Halloween titles in Netflix, they have this one listed as bloody and gory.

event-horizon-poster-2 Here is the poster for this movie. They made the characters blue and faded them out. I think you guys know how I feel about floating people. However these floating people are technically in space so that provides a little bit of self controversy. I don’t know what to think about that. I hate, however, HATE that they colored the whole poster blue to create that mood. You can do that without colorizing the whole thing people. Stop taking the easy way out. The font isn’t anything special, just another techy font. You can find them for free all over the place. I just realized there was a planet behind their heads. I HATE THIS POSTER. What a terrible way to try and get people in to see this film.

Man of Steel

Amber and I had the opportunity to get out to the movie theater today for the first time all summer.  We haven’t had the chance to see many summer blockbusters yet but this weekend this movie was an easy choice.  I’m not going to go too far into it right now other than to tell you that it was worth it and it was awesome. Of course it was right? Warner Brothers knew what they were doing when they put Christopher Nolan in charge and when this is all said and done I think it will have paid off handsomely

I expected this movie to be good. I have the utmost respect for Christopher Nolan and David Goyer both, I think Zack Snyder is an OK director but regardless what I think his future is a lot brighter now. I think you can clearly see Nolan’s influence in this film and that is a great thing.  Henry Cavill impressed me, Kevin Costner impressed me, and Christopher Meloni really impressed me.  I thought Michael Shannon was every bit as good as I expected and of course Russell Crowe always brings it, he brought a lot to this film.  Amy Adams was OK, Laurence Fishburne has gained a lot of weight, and it’s a sad and unfortunate reality that Diane Lane has aged enough to play the role she had in this movie(she is still a gorgeous woman and she was great in the movie but I will miss her youth). I have never seen Antje Traue in anything else, but as Faora she was a complete and utter badass.  Now this isn’t enough about any of these people.  They all deserve more here but all that will come in time. I am already reserving a spot on the movie rack for this movie and can’t wait to see it again and give it a better review.

A lot hinges on the success of this movie.  More or less this movie represents the future of films about DC Comic characters.  Warner Brothers owns the rights to these people and they have got to be interested in one-upping Disney and what they did with The Avengers.  This movie is the first step in what will ultimately be a goal of making an equally successful Justice League movie.  Along the way we should see films about The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and the inevitable next Batman reboot. These movies will be on a new platform and set up to all tie together, or at least that should be what is done.  In the end we will hopefully see something really incredible in Warner Brothers answer to The Avengers. This was an awesome movie and a nice step in the right direction.  If you are on the fence about it at all let me erase any doubts you have and please share your own thoughts on the film.  I will give it a much deeper review when we buy it, until then let me insist that this is a movie worth seeing in the theater and encourage you to get out there and see it for yourself.