Mark Wahlberg

The Fighter

Year: 2010
Directed By: David O. Russell
Written By: Scott Sliver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington

RYAN’S REVIEW

Amber brought this movie home from a trip to Wal-Mart a couple of days ago and I was glad to see she had picked it up.  We watched this movie when it became available a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.  It clearly belonged in the collection and it was only the matter of time waiting for the price to be reasonable enough for purchase.  Amber found it in the $5.00 bin and I will say that the movie is much too new to be marked down that much but can’t argue with the opportunity.

This movie surprised me in many ways, as boxing movies often do.  I think boxing movies are great and I have written why several times now.  They all follow such a similar story line yet usually manage to bring something new to the table.  This movie is as much about drug addiction as it is about boxing but the two are blended together in a great way that gives the film a clear direction.  I am unfamiliar with most professional boxers and knew of neither Micky Ward or Dicky Ekland before watching the movie.  I don’t know how accurate their portrayal is in the movie but given they were both involved with the making of the film I think it’s a safe bet it got their stamp of approval.

Of course the strength of this film comes from the performances of the cast.  Christian Bale is absolutely incredible in this movie and it is probably his finest role.  Bale won the Academy Award for his role in the movie and it doesn’t take long to see why.  Something about the look he has in his eyes all throughout the film says it all.  I am a big fan of Bale and continue to be impressed with the performances he gives.  I despise Mark Wahlberg but he continues to make good films.  He is well cast in this movie and does a good job but he is the weakest link of the cast.  He plays a character in this movie that is so much like a victim at the mercy of his overbearing family. For more about why I don’t like Wahlberg you should see our review of The Departed.  It has nothing to do with his talent but only the person he was before hitting it big.  I think Amy Adams is a terrific actress and she was robbed of the Academy Award for her role in this movie.  She is a beautiful actress and as an awesome perk you can see her in a great scene in this one where she is wearing see through undies.  Her accent in this movie was great and she had a look of a real hometown local.  Her diversity as an actress continues to be impressive and I look forward to what else she has to offer.  This summer we will be able to see her playing the part of Lois Lane in the new Superman movie.  I have never seen Melissa Leo before but she was incredible in this movie playing the tough and no-nonsense mother.  She rules her family with an iron hand and intimidates the hell out of everyone.  I also want to mention Jack McGee because I think he is awesome.  I was a big fan of his character in Rescue Me, and I have enjoyed many of his roles in film.

David O. Russell directed this movie and although he doesn’t have a large body of work under his belt he has plenty of success to back himself up.  He hit it big this year with Silver Linings Playbook being nominated again for Best Director but not winning.  He was also nominated for this film but lost like many did to The King’s Speech which I didn’t think was that impressive.  The only other movie I know by Russell was Three Kings and I have always like that one as well.  I look forward to seeing Silver Linings Playbook when the opportunity comes and I’m confident it will be great because it was made by such a good director.

This is a movie that follows two themes that are usually always redundant but it manages to set itself apart nevertheless.  Movies about drug abuse and boxing always tend to follow the same patterns but not in this one. We see the damage drugs can do to a person’s life and the lives of those who care about the person while also following the inspiring struggle that boxers go through. The struggles in this movie also extend to the family and how they affect Micky Ward in his effort to make something of himself.  Movies about struggles like this always have something to teach us and give us a chance to learn from the experiences and enhance our own lives. Not everybody sees movies like this but I always have and try my best to learn from the experience.

There is apparently a sequel for this movie in the works that will follow the next stage of Micky Ward’s career and I think there is a lot of potential there.  You don’t often see sequels to movies made based on a true story but I think it’s a good idea in this case.  If we learned anything from the Rocky franchise it’s that the audience is more than willing to see a boxer glove up and do it again, and again, and again. So I hope the sequel to this is made and look forward to seeing what happens.  This movie is good enough for a sequel I think.  This movie is more than worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

The Happening

Year: 2008
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is more or less M. Night Shyamalan’s movie about the environmental problems our planet faces.  A message about the damage we are doing to this world and the danger we would be in if it were able to fight back.  This movie received a very critical response from fans and critics alike but I enjoyed it; as I enjoy most of Shyamalan’s films.  People hated this movie, but if we are being honest here, people have progressively hated nearly everything he has made since The Sixth Sense blew everybody away and became such a big hit.  I think because of the shocker that The Sixth Sense offered at the end people have always expected too much from him.  Not only that, but the advertising for all of his films has always been misleading in order to get people into the theater.  They intentionally lead the viewers to believe that his films will offer similar shockers and thrills but he hasn’t made a movie with quite the same bang to it at the end.  His movies are usually a metaphor for something else and people don’t understand that.

I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan and ironically it has nothing to do with his first film.  I wasn’t always the biggest fan of The Sixth Sense. I chose to watch Kevin Bacon’s similar Stir of Echoes that year and enjoyed it quite a bit.  By the time I got around to seeing The Sixth Sense the ending had already been spoiled for me and I thought it was too much like a movie I already liked.  What made me a fan of Shyamalan were all his films after.  I love Unbreakableit may have been slower but it was a good movie.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Signs because I thought it was too religious but that was what it was about.  The movie is more about Mel Gibson rediscovering his faith than it is about aliens, and I fell victim to the misleading advertising in that case. The Village is one of my all-time favorite movies; it is a great story about fear and love.  I may have been the only person but I loved Lady in the Water too, it really hit me hard in the theater and the story touched me on a personal level.  This film was admittedly not his best movie, but I like it nonetheless.  Like I said, people expect too much from Shyamalan.  The idea that plants could turn on humanity seemed so ridiculous to most of the people I knew at the time but I didn’t think it was that far-fetched. Yeah, it is unlikely to happen, but that is what makes watching movies great.  They allow us to see the things that are unlikely to happen in real life. I do not care what anybody else thinks, I think M. Night Shyamalan is a terrific filmmaker and I will always take the time to see and enjoy his movies.

At one point in the film they are running through a field and pass a sign advertising real estate development coming for the area.  On the sign you can plainly see the phrase “you deserve this.” It is meant to imply that as humans we are being too greedy in exploiting the Earth and destroying nature.  We deserve what is happening to us now as the plants have found a way to fight back. It’s very subtle and I’m sure it completely escaped the attention of the average viewer but it is those subtle things in Shyamalan movies that make them exceptional.  Shyamalan makes great movies but he attracts the wrong kind of viewer by and large with the studio advertising for the film.  With plenty of the wrong viewers sitting in the audience these kinds of subtle effects are missed while most of the audience is just waiting for the next person to kill themselves.  When you go to Shyamalan movies looking for shock and awe you walk away not only disappointed but missing out on the message of the movie all together.

I thought the acting was specifically bad in this movie.  I am no fan of the racist ex-con Mark Wahlberg but I will admit when he does a good job acting.  That isn’t called for after his performance in this movie though; he is as bad as he gets in this one.  I also thought Zooey Deschnal and John Leguizamo were bad in their roles.  None of the actors really seemed invested in the film or story.  It was cool to see Ferris Bueller’s Alan Ruck in a small role as the school principal. Shyamalan usually has a better cast on hand but maybe the casting in this film reflects his dwindling clout within the industry.  As I said earlier his films have been progressively hated and I have heard the studios are getting tired of it.  I am under the impression he was not allowed to direct what would have been his last film, Devil (2010).  He was credited with writing the movie, which I thought was really good and Shyamalan-like but the directing duties were given to someone else. I hope I am wrong about that however and we continue to see more movies from him in the future.

I do have to take a quick moment to give some credence to the critics of this film.  This movie absolutely does fall to pieces in the end, and the story is never really resolved.  I completely understand why so many people hated that and I don’t really like it myself but I have seen worse endings.  I liked that Shyamalan sort of left it open for speculation.  Was it a government accident and cover-up or did nature in fact turn violent against humanity? Of course he screwed it all up with the last shot of the film.  It really doesn’t make much sense for the scare to stop in one place just to start up somewhere else if nobody gets the message.  Are the plants compassionate? Is that it? Were they moved by the love between the two main characters? It doesn’t really make sense and I think that is pretty lame but I still enjoy the movie despite it.

In closing I will simply say that anybody you happen to ask will probably tell you that this was a really bad movie and not to waste your time on it.  I am telling you different though, this isn’t the greatest movie ever but it wasn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It does kind of fall to pieces in the ending but the movie as a whole makes up for it. I think it offers shocking images, an interesting story, and a compelling idea about our relationship to the planet.  This movie is worth your time if you can be patient enough to appreciate what it is saying.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I think Ryan and I are the only ones on the planet that actually like M. Night Shalalalalalallalalala. I think all of his ideas are completely original and speak on a much larger level. This is one of those films that try and teach us that we need to start taking care of the planet or the planet is going to get back at us. I think he did it quite literally. The plant life literally starts attacking the humans. I can totally understand why people wouldn’t like this movie. I don’t think a lot of people have any faith in Shyamalan anymore and automatically go into it thinking this is going to be horrible.

I identify with this movie because it has to do with saving the Earth. I won’t preach here, but we have a serious problem on our hands with the planet, and we need to figure out a better plan and alternative.
There were three different posters for this movie and I think this one was the better one, but I still don’t really like it. I think that they could have come up with something a lot more interesting. This is pretty cliché for an apocalyptic themed film. This looks very similar to the design for The Walking Dead, the color filters are just different. The typography for the movie title is nice. I like a clean sans serif. But the placement of the just seems too easy and boring.

NEXT MOVIE: Happy Gilmore (1996)

The Departed

Year: 2006
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: William Monahan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was considered by some to be the pinnacle of Martin Scorsese‘s career after it won the Academy Awards for best direction and best picture, among others.  It won those awards honorably because this is an exceptional movie and aside from the fact that he had such a great cast to work with Scorsese has just gotten really good at what he does. I don’t think this is Scorsese’s best, as good as it is it’s still a recycled movie, and I think Scorsese has made much better films. I call it recycled because this movie is based off of a Hong Kong film that came out years earlier. I am disappointed with the idea that we have to borrow ideas from the other side of the world in order to have hits, but it’s hard to argue with such an exciting and entertaining movie.

Scorsese did do a great job making this movie but I think he had a lot to work with as far as script and talent go.  He gathered a great cast of very talented actors and some of them really distinguished themselves with this film.  Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of his generation, he outdoes himself with nearly every film and has been doing so since a young age. I think he is terrific in this film but I think he and Scorsese’s best collaboration was Gangs of New York in 2002.  I am not the biggest Jack Nicholson fan but I think he did do a great job in this movie. He was given a lot of freedom with his character in order to make him more provocative and unpredictable. He used the freedom to great benefit for the film.  Ray Winstone as his right hand man Mr. French is awesome, I am a big Winstone fan.  Matt Damon is good and well cast in his part.  Alec Baldwin is great in his small but important role.  Martin Sheen was cast when Robert De Niro had a scheduling conflict and that’s too bad. I am a fan of Anthony Anderson but I don’t know that he was appropriately cast in this film.

I think the actor that distinguishes himself the most in this film is Mark Wahlberg, who really stood out among such an elite cast.  I do not like Wahlberg but cannot deny his talent due to roles like this.  I have had a problem with Wahlberg since seeing a documentary about him a while back.  When I found out that Wahlberg had spent time in prison for what pretty much amounts to a hate crime I developed a different attitude toward him.  When he was younger he was arrested for beating a Vietnamese man almost to death with a blunt object in order to steal a six pack of beer from him while screaming racial slurs. He spent some time in jail for that and when he got out of jail his brother was part of New Kids on the Block.  He became the opening act as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  Later he was discovered by Calvin Klein and used as an underwear model.  He soon began an acting career and the rest is history.  Today he is not only a superstar actor but a successful producer involved with HBO.  I have to admit he is talented but I really despise a racist douche bag and hate it every time I have to accept that he was good in something. Despite all his success he has never made an effort to make amends with the man that he blinded for life.  I consider it unfortunate when that kind of person reaches the level of success that Wahlberg is at, but it happens all the time.

This was a great movie and given that it won best picture of the year plenty of people saw it and offered their opinions.  You don’t need me to tell you this was a good film because you have probably already been told.  I don’t think this movie is quite as good as everyone makes it out to be but I do think it was a really awesome movie.  It is worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of those movies that will suck you into the story line. It is filled with stars that everyone knows, and it truly is an unforgettable movie. You can’t really guess what is going to happen and as soon as you think you have it figured it out, it changes and leaves you guessing again.

This movie is filled with attractive actors and seasoned pros. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it. It was very, very popular when it came out and I haven’t met anyone that has seen it that doesn’t like it.

NEXT MOVIE: Desperado (1995)