Hey, yo, how’s yous doin’? This is Moviegoer Grim Back at ya this month to review a brand spankin’ new movie, as well as three films that have just been released on DVD, so let's get to it.
First movie I would like to cover is M. Night Shyamalan’s bedtime story called, “Lady in the Water.” Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world.
There was a lot of outside talk with Shyamalan’s fifth film, originally set up at Disney (which produced Shyamalan's previous four films), but M. Night Shyamalan departed from the studio over "creative differences" and brought it to Warner Brothers. People wondered (including myself), was this plot line so farfetched that even the producers that had been backing him for so long raised an eyebrow at it?
After watching the movie, I understood the different direction the story takes as to his previous films, but that did not make it a bad flick, no, not at all! I personally found the new idea fresh and novel--it was well thought out along with a great cast. This was defiantly the makeup film for his last movie! So for M. Night Shyamalan’s, “Lady in the Water,” I give three and a half howls of pleasure !
Next movie I would like to go over with you this month is Nicholas Cage in a remake of the 1973 horror film, “The Wicker Man,” based on the 1978 novel by Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaff. While recovering from a tragic accident on the road, the patrolman Edward Malus (Cage) receives a letter from his former fiancée Willow , who left him years ago without any explanation, telling him that her daughter Rowan is missing. Edward travels to the private island of Summerisle , where Willow lives in an odd community which plants fruit, and she reveals that Rowan is actually their daughter. Along his investigation with the hostile and unhelpful dwellers of the island, Edward discovers that the locals are pagans, who practice old rituals to improve their harvest and Rowan is probably alive and being prepared to be sacrificed. When he locates the girl, he also finds the dark truth about the 'wicker man.'
Despite the fact that Nicholas Cage played the lead roll in this film, it was horrible! It was a sick and twisted take on Beltaine, a pagan time for celebration. But besides the obscured views of the film, to me it felt that the rest of the cast gave a rather weak performance, combined with a shaky and at time confusing story line. I can only give “The Wicker Man” a full hangman’s noose !
The third film on the list is now a classic that can be found on DVD, starring Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger in a Ron Howard film, “Cinderella Man.” Crowe plays James Braddock, a supposedly washed up boxer who came back to earn a shot at the champion and an inspiration in the 1930s.
During the Great Depression, a common-man hero, James J. Braddock--a.k.a. the Cinderella Man--was to become one of the most surprising sports legends in history. By the early 1930s, the impoverished ex-prizefighter was seemingly as broken-down, beaten-up and out-of-luck as much of the rest of the American populace who had hit rock bottom. His career appeared to be finished, he was unable to pay the bills and the only thing that mattered to him--his family--was in danger when he was forced to go on Public Relief. But deep inside, Jim Braddock never relinquished his determination. Driven by love, honor and an incredible dose of grit, he willed an impossible dream to come true. In a last-chance bid to help his family, Braddock returned to the ring. No one thought he had a shot. However Braddock, fueled by something beyond mere competition, kept winning. Suddenly, the ordinary working man became the mythic athlete. Carrying the hopes and dreams of the disenfranchised on his shoulders, Braddock rocketed through the ranks, until this underdog chose to do the unthinkable: take on the heavyweight champ of the world, the unstoppable Max Baer, renowned for having killed two men in the ring.
This was only of the best movies I have seen in a long time, and certainly the best movie I saw this year. Fantastic acting with a heart wrenching plot line, and the fact that it was based on a true to life story was just the icing on the cake. So, for “Cinderella Man,” I give it four and a half howls of pugilistic pleasure !
Speaking of Pugilistic pleasures, that brings me to my last movie which just hit theaters that was written, directed, produced, and stared Sylvester Stallone as “Rocky Balboa.”
"Rocky Balboa" examines one of America 's greatest icons at a vulnerable period in his life--middle age. A former heavyweight boxing champion, known and renown throughout the world for going the distance, Rocky finds a new venture: giving back to his community. This is where he once more finds himself at the opposing side of opportunity, not unlike the one he saw decades ago. Heavyweight champ Mason Dixon and his representation offer Rocky a shot for the title. For Balboa, it'll be one last hurrah he'll never forget, but with his glory days far behind him can he withstand the inevitabilities of what's to come? A look at going full circle and wanting more, when life turns out how you least expect it and then some.
As I sat and watched the sixth and (hopefully) final Rocky movie, I couldn’t help but think back at the other five movies and how everything fit together. This movie was the complete story of a man and his life of pain and fame. In "Rocky Balboa" Stallone takes the viewers on a completely different ride, unlike anything before. Rocky is no longer the fan favorite and is now known as the underdog. Another thing the film talks about is how things are in a constant state of flux--life around us never stays the same. At the end of the film was a heart-wrenching conclusion to the “Rocky” saga. So, for "Rocky Balboa" I give Four Howls of Pleasure !
Well, that's it from me, this month. Remember, the best opinion is your own, so go out there and review the movies I've covered and then let me know your thoughts.
Until next time, this is Moviegoer Grim, saying, Happy New Year!
'Hey Gang, it's Reaper Rick here! Welcome to a New Year and hopefully some Great Movies.
Personally, I didn't feel there was much out there recently that
warranted review, but here are a couple of quickie pans.
Remakes are rarely better than the original--be they from former movies
or old TV shows--and here are two that prove my point. I reviewed the
original movie "The Wicker Man" some time ago and gave it a Very Good
review. Never knowing when to leave well enough alone, recently
Cage starred in a remake of this movie, also called "The Wicker Man,"
it easily could have been called, "We ripped off the idea for this
but didn't feel like even trying to make it worth watching." This
version was extremely poor (not even worth talking about) and I have to
give the latest 'Wicker Man' One Hangman's Noose , which is better than
what Cage got in the movie.
Another remake letdown was the new, "Miami Vice." Some of you readers
may not be old enough to remember when Don Johnson (the original Sonny
the original TV show, 'Miami Vice') started a new fashion trend by
wearing a light jacket (usually white or some pastel color) over just a
T-shirt, with the sleeves of the jacket pushed up to his elbows. It was
very 'cool' look back then, but my forearms are so thick I could never
get my jacket sleeves pushed up much higher than a few inches, so that
was another 'trend' that passed me by. Anyway, I was expecting
pretty good from this remake, but was sadly disappointed. While I
upon the gratuitous sex scene in movies (hey, if it doesn't move the
along, dump it--if I want to watch soft core porn, I can find a much
better way to see it), but this movie not only had One gratuitous sex
scene, it had Two of them and neither did anything for the movie except
to prolong the agony. The plot was hard to follow in some sections and
the only saving grace for this flick was that it did have some nice,
bloody action sequences and some really hot, 'go-fast' boats. All in
all, I have to give the new "Miami Vice" One lowly Howl of Pleasure ,
some good 'shoot'em up scenes.'
Okay, now on to some flicks I actually enjoyed, but I had to go back in
time to find some of them. First of all, I want to look at an older
sci-fi/adventure movie, "Outland." The story takes place on one of
Jupiter's moons, Io, where a mining colony has set up a small city.
time you have lots of tired, frustrated and bored people, you need some
sort of law to keep the drunks and bad guys under control. Enter Sean
Connery, who is a U.S. Marshall with a bad attitude and was assigned to
the mining colony as a form of punishment. He and everyone else on Io
are stuck for a work rotation of at least a year before going back to
Earth. No one likes being at the colony, but there are a few ways to
amuse yourself--like getting high on a synthetic speed concoction which
keeps you awake and working far longer than anyone would normally want
to. But that makes the boss happy (played by the late Peter Boyle),
because more work means more production in the mines. The only
to taking the high-end speed is that after about nine months, you go
slowly crazy and many workers end up killing themselves in very
imaginative and bloody ways.
This has been going on for quite some time and no one seemed to mind
until Marshall O'Neil (Connery) comes in and begins to investigate all
the unusual deaths at the mine. He then goes up--and stands
alone--against the mining company and the drug dealers and there is a
final showdown when the Company sends out a hit squad to remove O'Neil
from the picture.
Someone once told me that this movie is essentially a remake of "High
Noon" with Gary Cooper as the sheriff who stands alone against a wild
outlaw gang. Maybe so, but "Outland" does not take place in some
desert town out in the middle of nowhere, it happens in a small city
complex on the moon Io, which is...well...Way out in the middle of
Nowhere. Regardless of the similarities, "Outland" is a classic
Sci-Fi/Western shoot out with the bad guys and although it was made in
1981, it is still worth a viewing, for Sean and Peter if nothing else.
give "Outland" a high flying Three Howls of Pleasure .
To stay within the theme of 'one man standing alone' against a horde of
bad guys, the next movie I want to review is "Last Man Standing." This
1996 flick stars Bruce Willis as a hired gun in the 1930s who is
to Mexico to get away from some people up north who want him dead.
Unfortunately, he takes the wrong road and ends up in a broken down
border town where two rival bootleg gangs are trying to control the
southern rumrunning business. Bruce Dern is the ineffectual sheriff of
the town and is paid off by both gangs to sit back and not interfere
their illegal activities.
Willis (as John Smith) immediately pisses off one of the gangs--a bunch
of Irish mob wantabes--and in a quick draw contest, Smith kills one of
the bad guys with a pair of .45s he keeps in shoulder holsters. He is
then asked to join the other gang--the Italians, who have backing from
Chicago--and since he is a bit short of cash, Smith begins to play one
gang against the other to see who will pay him the most to stick around
and kill people. Enter Christopher Walken on the Irish side, who is
their main hit man, and things become even more interesting.
Without getting into too much detail, this movie has more lead flying
bodies dropping than many a Bruce Willis movie has previously shown,
yet Willis still maintains his 'cool guy' persona, manages to save the
damsel in distress, and in the end gets to Mexico after all. A really
good 'shoot'em up' flick, I give "Last Man Standing" a rousing Three
a Half Howls of Pleasure .
And finally, to round out my 'man standing alone against impossible
movie reviews, I watched a more recent flick, "Crank." For those of
not in the know, 'crank' was street slang for the drug speed, although
now it is usually called 'meth' or 'crystal' (for crystal
methamphetamine) or, depending on your choice of poison and locality,
'Hawaiian Ice'...uh, so I've heard. Anyway, "Crank" stars Jason
of "Transporter" and "Transporter II" fame as a hit man (Chev Chelios)
who is poisoned for taking out a local mob leader. The kicker is he is
poisoned with a drug that will kill him in an hour if he allows his
rate to slow down, so he spends the entire movie attempting to force
adrenaline into his system to keep his heart pumping while he hunts
his killer. (This actually sounds rather like a modern remake of the
1940s movie, "DOA," but I don't even want to get into that right now).
Dwight Yoakam even has a small part in the movie as Doc Miles
While "Crank" may seem like a typical 'find the bad guy and kill him'
flick, it is much more than that. True, the filming is sometimes
with starts and stops--but that is intentional (although hard to
as Chev himself slows down and speeds up over and over during the movie
as he tries to stay alive long enough to kill the guy who poisoned him.
Not only is "Crank" action packed, it is a very funny
laugh out loud funny. And the ending is a real surprise--not what I
expected, at all.
This movie is not for everyone, however. There is quite a bit of
violence, but what top rated movie today (above a PG 14 rating) doesn't
have that? So for fast-paced action, bloody violence and side
humor, I have to give "Crank" Three and a Half rollicking Howls of
Okay, so that's it for me this time. I'll see you back next issue for
(hopefully) some more good reviews. Oh, and a belated Happy New Year