Movie Review: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Boxing. Two people standing in a small arena, trying to punch the shit out of each other. Yeah, I don’t understand the point of it. That said, I don’t know what the point of any sport’s existence is. Feel free to hate on me for not understanding the appeal/purpose of sports… I don’t care.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Million Dollar Baby”.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) is a woman determined on becoming a great boxer, so she starts training at a gym owned by old and hardened boxing trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). And soon Frankie takes Maggie under his wing to help her become a great boxer. The story follows them as their relationship evolves while they also go through stuff. While the ideas presented at first glance are very basic and familiar from other boxing movies, the execution of said ideas is much better than a lot of other movies in the genre. Seeing their relationship evolve over the two hour runtime is quite fascinating and it makes for a really solid plot that actually delivers a few devastatingly emotional punches (pun intended) at the right times. So yeah, the plot here is pretty great.

The characters in this movie are all fleshed out and quite interesting. Hilary Swank is terrific as Maggie, perfectly playing this determined woman. She wsa believable in the role and I really cared about her. Clint Eastwood is great as Frankie, giving us the perfect blend of classic Eastwood gruffness and relatable vulnerability. Morgan Freeman (AKA god) plays an employee at Frankie’s gym (while also providing the movie’s narration) and he is absolutely terrific in the role. We also get a bunch of great supporting performances from people like Anthony Mackie, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Brían F. O’Byrne, Michael Peña, and Margo Martindale. So this is a pretty stellar cast.

The score for the movie was composed by… Clint Eastwood? Really? *Does more research*. Yeah, Clint Eastwood composed the music for this movie… surprise. Jokes aside, he did a pretty great job with the music. It’s dramatic, it’s emotional, and it just fits the movie perfectly. Good job, Mr. Eastwood.

This movie was directed by Clint Eastwood and he did a great job. The shots look great and every shot is at the perfect length. Now, since this is a boxing movie we should talk about the boxing scenes. So how are the boxing scenes here? Yeah, they’re pretty great. They’re exciting, intense, and kind of brutal. It all feels quite realistic.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10 and is ranked #202 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscar in the categories of Best picture, Best Actress (Swank), Best supporting actor (Freeman), and Best director. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Eastwood), Best adapted screenplay, and Best film editing. 

“Million Dollar Baby” is an absolutely fantastic sports-drama. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Punch*. My final score for “Million Dollar Baby” is a 9,88/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Million Dollar Baby” is now completed.

Is this one of Eastwood’s best films? Hell yes.

Movie Review: Southpaw (2015)

southpaw

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger

Ladies and gentlemen… “Southpaw”.

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is boxer, and a damn good one at that. I mean the guy is the junior middleweight world champion. Well, he is that until something happens. Something that makes him lose everything. So now he has to find a way to work his as back up in life, and for that he takes help/training from Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). And I have to say that rarely have the plot of a movie depressed me as much as “Southpaw”. Without spoiling anything, let me just say that Billy’s life goes from fine, to bad, to shit, to lowest low. And with his life falling down, so goes your emotional dominoes. That’s right, the plot made me feel like shit and I think that is a bit of a plus. I even have to admit that there were a few points where I almost teared up a bit. Sure, the story is cliché in a lot of ways, but the movie uses those clichés to it’s advantage and that is a good reason for me to like it.

I think it goes without saying that Jake Gyllenhaal is fucking phenomenal in the movie as boxer Billy Hope. Te guy has proven himself time and time again that he is one of the best actors working today and this is jsut another example of his talents. He commits to the role both physically and mentally and is perfect in the role. Forest Whitaker gives one of, if not the best performance of his in recent years. Rahcel McAdams is also really good as Gyllenhaal’s wife. 50 Cent is also in this movie, basically playing Jake Gyllenhaal’s manager and he is actually realld good in the role. In the movie we also have relative newcomer Oona Laurence playing Gyllenhaal’s daughter and I would say she gives a damn fine performance. I rarely like child performances, but she was really good in the movie. Everybody did a great job in the movie.

The score for the movie was provided by the late (and great) James Horner. It is emotional, it is a little thought-provoking and it is pretty damn good. And the use of all the licensed rap songs is perfect. Sure, if you’re not a fan of rap music then you might not enjoy them, but I liked the songs and I thought they fit perfectly.

This movie was directed by Antoine Fuqua and you notice that he was very passionate about this project. You can see how much effort he put down to make sure this movie was as well directed as possible. The overall direction is great, but where it excels is in the boxing scenes which are intense, fierce and brutal. I especially kind of love the first-person shots they sometimes do where you see the actor throw punches at the camera and you see it weave away and dodge, those shots were really cool. Here is a little fun fact for you: This movie was intended as a follow-up to “8 Mile”, this movie was even set to star Eminem. But since there were some scheduling conflicts, Eminem had to drop out and the part went to Gyllenhaal, which may or may not have been for the better.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 59% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Southpaw” is a movie that features a pretty cliché story that actually uses the clichés to it’s advantage while also having great emotion, great acting, great music and great directing. Time for my final score. AAAAAAAHHHHHH! My final score for “Southpaw” is a 9,84/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPOVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

Review of “Southpaw” is now completed.

Did you see how much Gyllenhaal beefed up for this? Jesus Christ.

Movie Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

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Don’t you just love it when a movie gets very mixed reviews and it makes you think “What will I think of it”? That have happened to me a good amount of times. Sure, it has decreased recently…but this movie has been nibbling my mind for a few months now. This movie has gotten both good and bad reviews all over the fucking place. But what did I think of it?

Men and women…”Out of the Furnace”!

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) does not have it easy. First he was in a traffic accident where he accidentally killed a child, sat in jail, his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Zaldana) left him and his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) got involved in illegal bare knuckled fighting. The reason Rodney fights is to make money to pay back a debt to John Petty (Willem Dafoe). Also his father is sick and dying (actually he dies when Russell is in prison). So the only family he got when he gets out is his brother and his uncle Gerald “Red” Baze (Sam Shepard). Russell also works at a steel mill. When he finds out his little brother Rodney is taking part in these fights, he of course wants him out…and Rodney starts yelling and swearing at him. A little while later Rodney wants to start getting involved in even more illegal and dangerous fights that are supervised by the fucking psychopath Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). When Rodney then goes missing, Russell starts taking the investigation into his own hands. That was difficult since that is the main plot without spoilers…and writing it out without spoilers is more difficult than it seems (at least with this movie). The story in it’s basic state, is simple. But the way this movie is directed makes everything a whole lot more interesting, especially since it has a kind of slow start. But the story is good…but gets boring every now and then, which is not the best for your movie Mr. Scott Cooper. Otherwise, good story.

The characters are so flawed, you have no fucking idea how flawed they are. But it’s what makes them so great to watch. A lot of the characters I want to punch in the face at one point or the other. And the fact that a fictional character can get under your skin that much is just a proof of how great acting we got here. All characters here are incredibly well acted. For example: With Christian Bale’s character Russell you don’t see Batman or Patrick Bateman…you see this steel mill worker. Casey Affleck also gives the best performance I’ve ever seen from him (take into account that I have not seen “Gone, Baby, Gone”). But the best in this movie goes to Woody Harrelson as Harlan DeGroat…what a disgusting piece of shit he is. And that Harrelson can make me feel that way about a character he plays is just incredible. I mean, he just makes this drug addict pyschopath so believable and just the highlight of this movie…he really stole the show. I also have to give some credit to the fantastic chemistry between the Baze brothers (Bale and Affleck). They make it so believable that I just love it. It also feels great seeing Christian Bale relaxed and happy in a role as you see in a few of the scenes.

The music is one of the best parts of this movie. It relies heavily on the guitar…but not too much. The soundtrack is what gives this movie its edge and great feel of subtlety. It works out great to give the feeling it wants to give you. The soundtrack by Dickon Hinchliffe is just fucking excellent. I love it.

Fun fact: for the role, Christian Bale actually learned how to operate a furnace, so the work he does at the steel mill in this movie is legit and believable. Here is a thing, the imdb synopsis says “When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn’t follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.” But that don’t happen until a good 50 minutes into the movie. Just warning you. I can also mention that this movie looks beautiful. And, oh yeah! The final shot in this movie just seems weird and I don’t know why it’s there. Not saying what it is…you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. And one more thing (sorry). This movie is violent, so don’t watch it if you’re squeamish.

Like I previously mentioned, reception for this movie was very mixed. Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a 52% rating which is not the best sign. Metacritic however gave it a 63/100 which I find odd since they usually have lower scores than Rotten Tomatoes and everything else. While I couldn’t find any Roger Ebert thing about this (Mainly by the fact that he had passed away before this came out), I still found a good quote for this movie.

“While it may not make the most of its incredible cast, Out of the Furnace is still so packed with talent that it’s hard to turn away.”

It got an imdb ranking of 6,9/10.

Based on what I have said from my perspective of this movie you’re probably sitting there thinking “Markus, it really sounds like you really like this movie! You’ll probably give it a high score!”. Ehhh, I really want to…but I can’t. This movie had so much going for it, it really did. But it just falls short based on how boring it is at times and of how much more complex they have to make this simple story! This movie gets a 7,52/10 (that is fairly low in my book). What carries this movie mostly are its strong performances and amazing soundtrack. So I suggest you rent it, this movie is not a buy.

I have pulled this review Out of the Furnace (sorry for the pun).

See ya.