Val Kilmer

Heat

Year: 1995
Directed By: Michael Mann
Written By: Michael Mann

RYAN’S REVIEW

When Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight this was the movie he turned to for inspiration, the bank robbery scenes anyway.  That was a big part of why The Dark Knight was so awesome and it says something about how awesome this movie is in its own right.  Movies about cops and robbers are always popular and this is one of the best ever made regarding the two.  It was made by a great filmmaker, it had an outstanding cast, and it doesn’t fail to deliver on the action.

In 1972 Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were both part of the same movie, The Godfather: Part IIAlthough they played characters living in completely different time periods and never shared any screen time together.  For the next 23 years both of their careers ballooned and they were the go to guys for mobster parts.  Yet in all that time they both made many mobster movies but never collaborated.  After all that time it became a really big deal that they were in this movie together and their first collaboration did not disappoint.  In fact I happen to think the scene in which they meet for the first time is one of the coolest I have ever seen.  There is so much build up, the music is just right, and then they are finally face to face and everything seems so natural and perfect.  I happen to think they did really well working together but they are both grade A professionals when it comes to acting and know how to do their jobs. This movie was almost twenty years ago now and these two men have continued their careers throughout that time.  Not with quite so much success mind you but they still wield a certain level of power in their industry.

I read that this was a movie Michael Mann spent over ten years trying to get made.  When you put that much time into something you really have to make sure you have the right people and I don’t know that a finer cast was ever put together.  The good guys and the bad guys alike could not have been better cast in any part.  I really like Mykelti Williamson and Wes Studi as Al Pacino’s main guys on his side.  Ted Levine has always creeped the hell out of me but he manages to play a convincing good guy in this one.  Val Kilmer plays one of his best roles in this movie. He is a total badass as De Niro’s right hand man. When you are casting bad guys I don’t know that you could have done much better in 1995 than Tom Sizemore and Danny Trejo.  Sizemore is one of the most intimidating guys ever.  He has an absolute look of insanity in his eyes; he fits into this movie nicely. There is one scene where a guy takes notice of the crew and Sizemore just stares him down and the guy quickly looks away. Sizemore wasn’t who the witness wanted having a good look at him.  I am a big fan of Danny Trejo; I have really enjoyed his rise to fame in recent years.  Jon Voight, Dennis Haysbert, and William Fichter are all great as well and bring a lot to the film.  There is a really young Natalie Portman here proving that she was always an exceptional actor.  Ashley Judd is smoking hot in this one and that served her well during the late 90s. I do not like the part that Hank Azaria played in this one but I am a big fan of his and love how often he pops up in different types of movies. He shot his scenes for this movie during his days off while filming The Birdcage, one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

In preparation for this movie Michael Mann did a lot of research.  The story is somewhat loosely based on a real relationship between a high profile cop and criminal that took place in the 70s.  I don’t know much about the real story but it was one that Mann was always personally interested in.  When prepping his actors for their roles he actually arranged for the good guy actors to have dinner and interact with real police officers and also had the bad guy actors meet with real life criminals. This kind of preparation went a long way as we can clearly see by the performances of the actors.

This was a really awesome movie that I always enjoy.  It’s a long movie and has slow points here and there but the action makes up for any boredom that might be incurred. I would recommend this movie to anybody and it is definitely worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan makes me watch this movie all the time. Well, not really…but since it is so freaking long it feels like forever every time we watch it. It’s a great movie with a good storyline and amazing actors. It takes forever to finally get there, but it can be worth it to sit through the movie. If you like movies like this, go for it.

NEXT MOVIE: Heist (2001)

Felon

Year: 2008
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh
Written By: Ric Roman Waugh

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie was brought to me one day by a co-worker on a burned disc and I took it without having any idea what it was about. I watched it on my own with little expectations about something I had never heard of and was really surprised at how good the movie turned out to be. This movie has a very real feel to it and the main character is in a situation many of us can see ourselves in if certain circumstances took place. It’s a fascinating movie that offers a look into a world most normal people know nothing about. This movie looks a little low-budget at first but it draws you in and the story hits home on such a personal level. If nothing else, this is an exceptional prison movie because no raping is involved.

When I saw this movie for the first time we were dealing with a lot of break-ins at work and I got to speak to the police regularly during that time. I distinctly remember thinking that Stephen Dorff‘s character should have hit the criminal while he was in his house and not out on the lawn. We have weird laws in this country where people go to jail for defending their homes and criminals are protected. The innocent find themselves defenseless at the hands of criminals when it turns out there is little the police are allowed to do. It’s part of “the pussification of America” no doubt. This movie hits home hard because it is something we can all relate to. Who of us wouldn’t defend our homes and run the risk of accidentally killing the criminal we were victimized by? Then having to face the world of prison that most normal people know nothing about. Prison is a different world all together and most of us can’t even hope to know how to get along inside. There are many little pseudo-societies like this that many of us take for granted. Hobo camps being another example, it must be a different kind of world in that place that most of us can never understand and know nothing about. It’s a place for people that have been forgotten by most and many don’t give them any thought at all.

Part of this movie is loosely based off of actual events that went on in a California prison in the early 90s, but I haven’t done any research into what actually went on there. If any reader does know by all means leave a comment and let me know about it. This movie was written and directed by long time Hollywood stuntman Ric Roman Waugh. Obviously he learned a thing or two about film making during his time working on set, because he put together a great film. Stephen Dorff played his part well but for some reason I keep finding myself just feeling grateful the part went to someone other than Jason Statham. Val Kilmer did extensive research on his role and I think that shows in his performance. I have always like Kilmer, it’s because I grew up idolizing Madmartigan. I was a big 24 fan and for a time Marisol Nichols was part of the show. So when I first saw this film I thought it was cool to see her topless, although it was kind of an uncomfortable scene. That is just the shameless pervert inside talking though, the scene really hits home hard for women that find themselves in that position.

Overall I think this is a movie that is more than worth your time. I took a chance on it and was pleasantly surprised; I doubt I will be alone in that experience.  This is a movie that hits home for all of us and we can all relate to it in one way or another. What I find most interesting about it is that Amber was real reluctant to watch it but when we finally watched it together she got sucked in and seemed to really enjoy it.  This is a good movie and you should check it out if you have the opportunity.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie and I was a little apprehensive about watching it for some reason. I honestly thought it was going to be a cliche movie about doing jail time. I was wrong and I really actually liked this movie a lot. The key to this movie being good is that we can all relate to it. What sends him to prison could actually happen to all of us. That’s what makes this movie so relatable. For me, when a person does something to be in jail I believe that they deserve to be there, but in this instance the man accidentally killed an intruder in the heat of the moment of trying to catch him. They then send him to prison for three years where he gets caught up in prison politics.

I recommend watching this movie if you have never seen it. It can hold your attention the entire time and give you a sense of what jail might be like for a non criminal type like the majority of us out here.

NEXT MOVIE: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

The Doors

Year: 1991
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: J. Randall Johnson & Oliver Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

Ten years ago this was one of my favorite movies and I watched it all the time.  In hindsight, that was probably part of my problem in my late teens. I haven’t seen this movie in several years since I took a ride with it and it led me to a dark place.  This is a great movie made by a guy that was really really high when he put his vision together.  You can be stone cold sober and still feel like you are tripping when you watch this movie, but that’s part of what makes it exceptional. The soundtrack is also noteworthy.  I am still a fan of The Doors and their music plays throughout the entire film.

Oliver Stone has always been one of my favorite directors and he made many great movies in the 80s and 90s.  Stone has never been any stranger to drug use and I think that is more than obvious in nearly all of his films.  Even in the beginning of his career he was writing the screenplay for Scarface and basing it partly on his own personal experiences.  He was getting really high while making his Academy Award winning film Platoonalso based in part on personal experiences in the war.  He has been busted numerous times over the years for using drugs as well.  I don’t think there is really any problem with an artist finding his creative motivation with drugs though, especially if he is making something great.  I do think he made something great with this film too, but at the same time I must admit it didn’t do me any favors in my youth and I consider it a disruptive influence for anybody young.

Stone was a fan of The Doors and he put a lot of effort into this film.  He did a lot of research when writing but took many liberties with the story nonetheless.  Stone does that; he makes an effort to tell the truth but inevitably deviates from the plan in order to tell the story he wants to tell.  Jim Morrison‘s real life girlfriend Patricia Kennealy served as an advisor on the film and even played a small part as the priestess in the Wiccan wedding ceremony.  Yet she still had a problem with her portrayal in the film and Stone later admitted that he wrote her as a combination of many women and should have renamed the character.

Stone was initially reluctant to cast Val Kilmer in the role of Jim Morrison.  Kilmer was persistent in his efforts to get the role and personally financed the recording of him singing songs by The Doors.  He played a tape for Stone saying that some of the songs were him and some were Morrison singing.  When Stone couldn’t tell them apart Kilmer got the job and what a job he did.  This is easily one of the best performances of Kilmer’s career and he did a great job of looking and sounding just like Jim Morrison. Meg Ryan may have had the leading female role but I actually think Kathleen Quinlan played a better and more significant part. The film also has a great supporting cast including Michael Madsen, Kevin Dillon, and Michael Wincott.

I don’t watch movies about musicians and bands very often because they all seem to tell the same story.  The musicians that get films made about them are all self-destructive and arrogant people that don’t look so good in the feature.  I’m thinking mainly about Johnny Cash and Ray Charles in addition to this film about Jim Morrison. These men were all heavy drug users who took advantage of others around them and I think the movies about them actually tarnish their memory instead of honoring it.  I don’t like watching films that I feel like I have seen before so I specifically didn’t like Ray or Walk the Line. I’m afraid I only have room for one film about a self-absorbed and out-of-control musician in our collection and this is the one that got my attention early. It has ruined me on all the other films like it.

This is a great movie but it does drag out a bit too long at two hours and twenty minutes.  There are only so much drugs and alcohol you can watch Morrison ingest during that time and it gets to be too much at times.  If you are a fan of the music made by The Doors then you should definitely see this film because most of their best songs are played.  Otherwise I don’t know that there is much point to seeing this film.  I think it’s a good one and I still like it but it is only in our collection as a relic from our youth.  This one takes us back and reminds us of times when we lived a wilder life but we are different people today. So I will only tentatively recommend this film and warn you of its well deserved R rating, this film is good but buyers beware.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Gah, I don’t want to even write about this movie. It takes me back to college and the days I don’t talk about anymore because, well I am a mother now and moms don’t talk about their crazy college days. This movie is by the great Oliver Stone, and I am sure Ryan expressed his undying love for above. It is beautifully made and captures a time in history of chaos while following the life of Jim Morrision. I love the way they played the music throughout the film. It had all of the iconic songs and more of the ones you know if you are a Doors fan. This is a really cool movie, and it was obviously made for people who are on drugs. It is really trippy, just like the time, the person and the music.

NEXT MOVIE: Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)

Batman Forever

Year: 1995
Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Written By: Lee Batchler

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where it all went horribly wrong.  The studio wanted a more family friendly Batman and they made a movie that Adam West must have admired.  I remember when this movie came out and remembered it fondly.  Watching it now I see that it was only cool then because I was only eleven years old.  This movie is ridiculous from beginning to end and I can not vouch for it.

Tim Burton was still on board as a producer but I can’t see much of his influence in the film.  When Warner Bros gave the keys to the Batman franchise to Joel Schumacher they deserved all the embarrassment and failure that he bestowed upon them. Schumacher took the dark Batman that Burton had created and he made it flamboyant, Batman should not be flamboyant. Why didn’t anybody take a step back and ask themselves if it was really a good idea to put nipples on the batsuit?  I have always wanted to know what the hell the studio was thinking, this was one of the worst ideas of all time.  The cast was ridiculous, alot of big names inappropriately cast or out of place.  I guess Jim Carrey was ok as the Riddler but I wouldn’t call him great.  Why did Tommy Lee Jones look so pink and colorful? I don’t really get the casting of Kilmer as Batman, I am a Val Kilmer fan, but as Batman? Who was responsible for that decision.  Chris O’Donnell wasn’t that bad but the circumstances of his character are a little too stupid.  First of all, why would a criminal organization hold up the circus to rob the pockets of the audience? Also, why would the unarmed acrobats think they were qualified to deal with the situation?

I have always said that the 4th Batman film, Batman & Robin was one of the worst movies of all time.  While it is still easily the worst of all the Batman films it does merely follow the footsteps of this movie.  This movie is much worse than I remembered it being and I do not think you should waste you time watching it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ugh, I don’t even want to write about this one. It is extremely hard to even sit though this one. Why do we even own it? Ryan said it is so different because they went towards a more family friendly Batman. But come on, crime fighting just isn’t family friendly. Jim Carrey was in his prime of his comedy career at the time of this film, but I thought he was misplaced and was annoying throughout.

Since I am the woman voice on this blog, I also must add that Val Kilmer makes an AWFUL Batman. He is not sexy as Batman, and what is the point if Batman is not a sexy hero? I mean, he only has to be sexy from the nose down really. His lips are all pouty like a woman’s.

This film is just a no-go for me. Anytime you add in Robin I automatically think back to the cheesy Adam West stuff, and I can’t take it seriously. Watch the others, skip this one and Batman and Robin, and then pick it back up Batman Begins.

NEXT MOVIE:  Batman Begins (2005)