Movie Review: Good Will Hunting

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Good Will Hunting directed by Gus Van Sant

This was the movie that was the launching pad or maximum altitude for many careers.

Robin Williams won the Academy Award (comedians acting serious tend to make better films than when they try to act funny, the same phenomenon with Will Ferrell)

1997 was the rare breakout and crash of Minnie Driver’s career (despite her also being fantastic Gross Point Blank). I coin this as breakcrashing. Name me other actors that pull off the rare feet of breaking out in two iconic breakout roles, only to have their career blow up the other way. For example, F.Murray Abraham goes from Scarface to winning an oscar for Amadeus, then faded to career oblivion. Anyone can screw up after a big hit or breakout role, but to have two in a row, then blow up is another talent all together.

Stellan Skarsgard plays himself. I truly think so. He has played pretty much the same character in every film I’ve ever seen him in. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Avengers; it doesn’t matter. He is the opposite of Mini Driver in a way. His maximum altitude peaked 20 years ago and he keeps on coasting along in some imaginary typecast glider of solitude.

Then there was Gus Van Sant. He hasn’t been trusted to make a big budget movie since, and in his relative creative hibernation has chosen not to make any good indie movies ever since. He even reteamed with Matt Damon in Promised Land, an boring movie about the dangers and corruption of fracking, but he forgot he needed a good script. There was some critical acclaim for Milk, however, I believe this has less to do on the merits of the film rather than being the “agenda film” of the year and having Sean Penn go all-out for the role. By both box office and rotten tomato-rating, his career never surpassed Good Will Hunting.

For Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, and Matt Damon, they took all the good leaf clovers in Boston and stuck it down their pants. This was superfly TNT in a jar. It was the launching pad to solid careers, in terms of commercial appeal and longevity. Ben’s career is just as successful as Matt Damon’s, with box office returns and critical acclaim. Branching out to directing has been a solid move. Say what you want about Casey Affleck not getting any huge breaks for summer tent pole releases, but he did mighty fine in the Ocean’s 11 series and did a wonderful job acting as the coward Robert Ford. The opening and closing narration scenes of that film is heavy and deep and epic, something I would imagine a literal adaptation to a Cormac McCarthy novel would be.

The movie itself is wonderful. You all know this. You’ve watched it on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, HBO, CBS, TNT, and for you younger folk probably even watched it in High School as some inspiring tale of overcoming obstacles. In a way, this film stretches reality a bit farther than his potato movie in a series of coincidences. Not only is Matt Damon a gifted genius with unparalleled mathematical talents, but just so happens to be recovering from an abusive past, in a bad neighborhood in Boston (a southie). But because he is in Boston and not say, Wichita, Mumbai, Bogota, Timbuktu (the Wichita of Mali) he chooses to work as a janitor and solve equations at MIT. He doesn’t put his skills to use earlier for reasons unknown. Nope, the magic happens when he wears those overalls and works with a mop. Then he also chooses to solve the unsolvable after already solving another problem, except this time, he chooses to do it while he knows people are in the building, Ok. I get it, the movie needs the plot to move forward. Then it just so happens an old friend (aka the last resort) of the professor is Robin Williams. Fine. Coincidence. Just like when Matt Damon finally meets a nice girl, it is during his counseling, not before or after and as a side plot point, she just so happens to go to Harvard. The entire film is like this, but to tell you the truth, I don’t care. The movie works. I want to hear the stories in the bar, I want to hear Matt Damon tell off that snobby elitist student, just like I want to tell you to see this movie if you are one of the few who have not seen it already.

How about them apples?

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 Apples

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Movie Reviews: Batman v Superman

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Batman v Superman directed by Zach “CGI” Snyder

This is going to be a spoilerific review that is pretty much going to tear apart this film. If you haven’t seen it, then please don’t read what is about to follow.

We last left off the story of Superman in “A Man of Steel” which was itself a pretty weak movie in regards to the actors (Superman is played by an actor who plays him robotically). At least Christopher Reeve added some campiness and humor when he played Clark Kent. Much the interplay between Lois and Clark is missed because an origin story is told, but not really, because it is all told with interspersed flashbacks. The movie was not without failure. They got the villain down pat. Zod was awesome. His henchman and henchwoman were particularly cool to watch. And Russell Crowe pretty much steals the show every second he is on screen (I would have rather watched “Father of Superman” in retrospect). The middle was particularly boring except for the campiness thrown in (throwing logs in the semi-truck at the restaurant) which should have been with Lois (Why not do a bunch of amazing things happen around her). But no, the movie destroys the cannon (Father gets killed because he doesn’t want his son to reveal himself to be a savior, although he is faster than a speeding bullet so who would see him anyway). I did dig the older Lois version as a reporter with some experience rather than what they went with in “Superman Returns.” (I shake my head at that too).

So where are we? Well, Marvel (Disney) has the Avengers, so DC (WB) pretty much said they need their own version. They added Batfleck to the cast playing Bruce Wayne, and to me, he did the best he could with the role. He is a net positive for the film because he is the main character and does something different. The movie opens with him as Batfleck Guiliani running toward the infamous Superman-Zod Metropolis fight trying to save his people. It was awesome to see the movie open like this and gave a little weight to why he was pissed off at Superman. Through the film, he is a little bit dark, but does what he can in his singular pursuit of the man in the red cape. I didn’t dislike Batfleck as much as I thought I would.

What I did dislike what just about everything else in the film. The plot as a whole was dumb as hell. The villain isn’t Lex Luthor, it is his son? Played by a guy who is acting spastic the entire time (more like a pre-Riddler) or something. Eisenberg was horribly miscast and isn’t really menacing at all. I have no idea why they didn’t get Bryan Cranston for the role. He would have been a counterweight to the plot. So Eisenberg wants to secretly make Batman angry at Superman (although he was already pissed about the Zod-Superman attack) and have them battle to the death, so that he can then what? Create a monster nobody can control and destroy Earth? Why go through all that trouble creating a Doomsday? Why wouldn’t he just weaponize kryponite to destroy Superman? Lex Luthor was usually all about power and some financial gain. His son? A bombastic jokester idiot I guess.

People make a big deal out of Wonder Woman showing up. I thought she was a highlight of the film, but not because of the reasons people saw. She was a good counterweight when she played cat and mouse with Batfleck. Everyone knew who she was Wonder Woman because the trailer ruined it for everyone (the trailer pretty much ruined the entire movie anyways). I thought she was horribly played as soon as she entered the battle. She looked pretty good as Wonder Woman, but Zach Snyder pretty much used her for eye candy. She uttered so few lines and pretty much just fought Doomsday. She had all those powers and that awesome sword, but there was no sense of vulnerability to her. She says something to the effect of having killed other things not from earth, and I rolled my eyes. She isn’t scared at all? She then gets hit and smacked up and doesn’t have a scratch on her. (Okay, whatever, she is a wonder-being or whatever) Did you watch her face though? She was smiling and acting like she was enjoying it, which took me out of the it. It’s like Zach Snyder just told her to “act hot” much like the actresses in “Sucker Punch.” Compare the two films. His direction to Wonder Woman was pretty much the same I think. Even when Superman dies, she doesn’t give a shit. Batfleck is brooding, while she is just standing over the body looking off in the distance. Since her appearance was ruined in the previews, why couldn’t they have included her from the very beginning and given her something more to do? Why couldn’t it have been her that hacked Luthor’s database? She has been alive for-who-knows-how-long yet only Batfleck can’t break into the “military-grade” encryption. Give me a damn break. She can’t find any hackers?

Jeremy Irons was okay as Alfred. He is a little jaded at Batfleck’s new pursuit but if the rumors are true that the graffitied costume was indeed Robin’s (presumably from the Joker) then why wasn’t that mentioned? Irons seems underused and mostly as a way to add a British accent to the film. All his advice fell on deaf ears and I didn’t sense there was any love from the caretaker who raised him. I think he brings him one trey of food the entire film. Michael Caine acted like he loved him as a son, which one of the key relationships in the Christopher Nolan universe (still the gold standard for comic book films).

And what about the end? To be honest, I didn’t give a shit. As soon as the monster was called Doomsday I knew it was the end of Superman. I don’t know why they needed to use the damn Spear of Krypton in the fight, because I always liked the uppercut & over-the-back fist-pound from the comic books. People know he will come back, so what was the big deal? We already saw Superman heal in space from a nuclear explosion. What was he saving? Wonder Woman was clearly enjoying her sparring match. Batfleck (after getting tossed around in his fight with Superman, and a fight saving Martha) seems to be looking fresh as he dodges death rays. Batfleck was supposed to be acting human, but I guess with a grappling hook you can be faster than a speeding bullet.

As a plot:

1)WTF-how many times does Lois have to be in danger in the film? The first time we see her in the desert, getting tossed from the building, and getting trapped underwater she needs saving from one person. Damn, Lois is really
“growing” in this film.

2)WTF-Why doesn’t Batfleck make kryptonite bullets for the confrontation? Wouldn’t that end it there? He knows damn well bullets won’t work.

3)WTF was with the Batfleck Rocky training montage? Did I need to watch him train up for the fight because the suit was large and clunky (he could still most fast as shit though with that super-grappling hook). The myth that Batfleck is human was kind of ruined in the movie.

4)WTF didn’t they move the ship out of Metropolis? Couldn’t they have asked a certain red caped person to take it to the desert? What about all the crash sites?

5)WTF wasn’t the other wreckages explored by Governments within 18 months after the attack?

6)WTF was Wayne Manor burned down? Are we kind of taking the events of Batman Begins and saying this is a Christian Bale type universe (but then again, there was no robin in a suit yet).

7)WTF didn’t Superman just kill Batfleck? His mom was in danger.

8)WTF was up with Luthor doing the research to find all the other Metas but doing nothing about it? Wouldn’t he have tried to recruit? Or is he better at detective work than say a certain man in a bat suit who unlimited funds.

9)WTF was up with Luthor being able to find Clark Kent’s identity and where his mom lived? Batfleck couldn’t have done this, or is the spastic-Luthor just so much better at finding shit out.

10)HTF are nukes going to track aliens fighting in space? When Superman fought Zod, the military wasn’t launching nukes because aliens were fighting. Dumb continuity.

11)WTF did they go through all the crap about Superman’s funeral being at two places (not sure the Government who launched a nuke at him, who just had the capital building blown up the same time he showed up would not check the coffin). There was some nonsense of needing to find the others and Batfleck punching a wall in Luthor’s cell (why was this even in the film?). Then we see some dirt rising from the coffin. Did they not think they would already piss off fans from the first 2 and a half hours of shit? It’s like the end of Sherlock Holmes 2 when they have to reassure people the character isn’t dead. This basically undoes any suspense. It’s like everyone is too chickenshit to be be bold and just kill a character.

12)WTF couldn’t have Superman tracked down those Luthor agents early on in the film? They were only on motorcycles.

13)WTF is Metropolis across the bay from Gotham? I’ve  never heard this shit before.

Cool shit:

1)The new Bat cave looked awesome. Maybe the best bat cave yet.

2)Wonder Woman was the best looking eye-candy woman in a Batman or Superman movie yet. Too bad Zach Snyder didn’t want to give her a brain.

3)The future apocalypse scene was cool (Although dream sequences happened too many times in the film)

4)The Batfleck Guiliani opening scene was cool.

5)The piss-tea reveal was pretty neat. It was still a surprise when I watched it.

Matt’s Overall Rating: 3/10 Kryptonite Spears for Plot, 7/10 Piss-teas for Eye Candy visuals

ADRIAN JONKLAAS’ COUNTERPOINT REVIEWBatman-v-Superman.jpg

What a powerful start to the movie. Seeing the destruction of Metropolis and Gotham city – a clever touch, placing the two cities across the water from each other – from the perspective of a human on the ground. Gods battling in the sky, Superman vs. Zod, pummelling each other through buildings and searing each other with heat rays; all to the sound of the Kryptonian world engine as it pulses energy into the ground shattering the city and the belief that we, puny humans, are in control of our destiny. God’s walk fly amongst us.

This reminder of our mortality as he watches Wayne Tower come down in a plume of dust, eerily reminiscent of 9-11, is what drives Bruce Wayne on his mission of ultimate risk management; Superman must be destroyed. Trusting that this alien god being, Superman, is good is not enough; if there is even the slightest possibility that Superman operates by his own rules, it is too much of a liability for the safety of the human race.

The golden tinged god created in the Man of Steel movie is shown worshipped by humans who have built an idol of his likeness in Metropolis. This is what worries Bruce. What if God is really the Devil who will subjugate us under his iron thumb? What if most of humanity goes along with it? Human’s have a history of being attracted to strongmen and dictators after all e.g. Genghis Khan, Hitler, Trump. Does Superman value the sanctity of human life that way Batman does / did?

Bruce himself is ageing and cynical; beaten down by the endless darkness that plagues the underbelly of Gotham and the human condition. He fights his own inner demons, branding bad guys, sexual predators specifically, knowing they will be killed in prison. Perhaps it is the existential threat of a tyrant Superman that saves Bruce in the end, forcing him to pull himself out of the darkness into which he is sinking and giving him moral clarity once again.

A nice touch by the script writers to create Doomsday, the films other villain, from Zod’s body. Even nicer that the script follows (some of) the DC canon that Superman can indeed bleed and…

The casting:

Ben Affleck may be the best Bruce Wayne / Batman ever. And Jeremy Irons is arguably a better Alfred than Michael Caine. Yes, I said it.

A less controversial statement would be that Batman is the clear star of the show. It’s a nice touch by Synder to carry over the gravelly voice, the look and feel of the Batmobile (the suped-up, stealth dune buggy look), and the sound effects of the Batmobile from the Dark Knight movies. There is a general sense of continuity between the Batman in BvS and the Dark Knight trilogy.

The least successful casting is Eisenberg as Luther Jr.  Perhaps the intention of casting Esienberg is to further the impression of a mad Zuckerberg: a brilliant billionaire millennial gone bonkers. He plays the role a bit too twitchy and manic to my liking…more the Joker than a Luther. Eisenberg had the opportunity to play the definitive Luther (I would argue Michael Rosenbaum’s Luther on Smallville is a better version than Hackman’s in Superman I, II, and IV), which is unfortunately not taken.

Long limbed Gal Gadot is stunning as Wonder Woman and carries her own against the men, toying with Bruce Wayne at Luther’s party and kicking ass in the final battle against Doomsday. We see too little of The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman to get a sense of how they will be played by Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, and Jason Momoa respectively. First impression is that Jason Momoa will make a great Aquaman, physically intimidating to say the least. Ezra should be a good casting too, bringing the humour to the Justice League.

An aside:

The dream sequence with the Flash (coming back in time?) to warn Bruce that Lois is the key was intriguing. Is this from some alternate reality DC universe such as the Injustice: Gods Among Us mini series where Superman becomes a tyrant after he is tricked into killing Lois by the Joker? I am curious to see if this is resolved in future Flash / Superman / Justice League movies.

Nevertheless, the promise of the Justice League vs. the ultimate DC villain bad guy (and my favourite comic book villain), Darkseid, hinted at by the parademons in Batman’s dreams is tantalising. Imagine Omega rays being unleased on the Justice League.

Note to the uninformed, the Marvel supervillain Thanos in the Infinity Wars arch was created by Marvel as a response to Darkseid i.e. Thanos is the poor man’s Darkseid 😉  I hope I haven’t triggered some epic fanboy battle with that statement!

In conclusion:

Needless to say, Zach Snyder’s CGI heavy action sequences are spectacular; in particular, the titular confrontation between Batman and Superman. Though it is clear that at first Superman is holding back the fact that Batman wins through clever use of technology and tactics is believable.

All in all, its almost refreshing to see DC continue the dark themes, look and feel of its movies from the lighthearted fluff that Marvel has been serving up especially with the Avengers franchise.

BvS is not a great movie but a solid one; it is powerful enough to leave you breathless at the thrilling action as well wondering whether to watch it again to get some of the deeper heavier political intonations. “Given the politics of our times, particularly the debates surrounding the value / perceived threat of aliens and immigrants, this movie is relevant.3.5 out of 5 stars.

Comment below on who is more convincing.

NOW SEE A MOVIE REVIEW OF A GREAT FILM

OR CHECK OUT 10 Things Adrian liked about Star Wars Episode 7

Movie Reviews: Gone Girl

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Me: Did she just do that?

Wife: Yep.

Me: She is completely psycho.

Wife: Yep.

Me: You wouldn’t do something that crazy, right?

Wife: Are you going to cheat on me like Ben Affleck did to his wife?

Me: *looking behind me* Um … no … never honey.
Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher is kind of a romantic thriller wrapped in a horror film. Fincher’s cinematography is as clever as ever as he chooses the right color pallets and lighting to help tell this dark tale.

Based off a novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl continues the streak of good movies Fincher has made (his weakest being panic room, and strongest being Fight club in my opinion). The story is about relationships and lies and the lengths people will go to spite another when they feel put in a corner. Nick gets away by shutting out his wife and cheating on her. Amy gets away by staging her own death and framing her husband. We all cope in different ways … right?

The performances are good. I personally think Ben Affleck has put up maybe 5 good performances ever: Good Will Hunting, Argo, The Sum of All Fears, Armageddon, and The Town. After watching this, I have to say he now has 6 good performances. As for Rosamund Pike, I’d only remembered seeing her in one other film, Hector and the Search for Happiness, which she kind of players a more subdued crazy girlfriend. I have to give her credit; she has a talent for playing crazy. I read she was also a James Bond girl back in the day, but to be honest, I have not gone back to Die Another Day since I tore up my ticket in the movie theater after watching it. There is only so much wind surfing one can watch in life.

The favorite scene for me was when Amy shows up for the first time and shows exactly how she set Nick up.

The movie is definitely worth seeing at least once, especially if you are a Doogie Howser fan.

Movie Rating: 6.5/10 (when watching as a man) and 9.5/10 (when watching as woman with scorn)

This movie is scarier than any of the Holloween or Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

TV Reviews: Daredevil (Pilot)

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When I heard Netflix was launching Daredevil as a TV series, I was seriously a bit Marvel’d out. Already getting slammed by Affleckdevil and Garnelectra, I wasn’t much interested in watching more of our favorite blind super hero.

But I was wrong.

I knew it from the opening two minute sequence showing the entire origin story right there. Boom. Get me right into the story. This is something many superhero reboot or origin stories need to learn from. We don’t need to spend the first act of every super hero movie finding out how they got their powers.  Just throw me in the damn story and trust the audience is smart enough to follow.

The protagonist is very likeable and believable (in comparison to say … The Rock wanting to play Jack Burton in a Big Trouble in Little China reboot), so the audience roots for him early on. The opening episode ends with the antagonists meeting to discuss the situation without Kingpin and leaves us wanting more, which was the point of the pilot.

Future episodes with Fisk, Stick, Father Lanton, Turk, Wesley, Jack Murdock, Melvin Potter, Claire Temple, Karen Page, Nobu, and Madame Gao would have to wait. I was hooked, and resisted the urge to stay up to 4 am to binge watch the whole thing.

I only wish other Marvel franchises took the same approach. Focus on character development and plot. Comic book series were printed over a long time and all of key details and suspense is lost when it is crammed in 2 hours in a PG setting.

Now, when will Netflix make Neil Gaiman’s Sandman?

Pilot Rating: 9/10