Movie Review: Jarhead (2005)

*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Jarhead”.

Anthony Swofford is young man who recently enlisted with the United States marines. And we follow him in the time leading up to and during Operation Desert Storm, and how much damage it does to him psychologically. There’s a lot of interesting scenes throughout that does develop the story, and I was somewhat interested in everything that was going on. But I never really felt as engaged as this type of story should’ve gotten me. There was never that emotional hook that a story like this should be able to get. Now, I’m not saying it needs to make me cry, just that it needs to grab me and hold onto me really tightly… which it never really did. I remember some really well done moments throughout, but never was I fully invested in it all. Overall, a fine story.

The characters in this are all assholes… but in a believable way. I really believe that this is what one would become if going through all of that. And I find them all to be quite interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal (as previously mentioned) plays Anthony Swofford, a smart young man who goes through the ups and downs of marine life. Seeing a good guy like him tested like this is quite interesting, and it makes him a pretty compelling character. And Gyllenhaal is of course fantastic in the role. And throughout the movie we get supporting performances from people like Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Evan Jones, Brian Geraghty, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It takes some inspiration from rock and a few middle-eastern influences, all of which comes together to create an interesting atmosphere for the movie. It’s tense, fun, and just overall pretty cool. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, all of them pleasing to the ear, and all of them working quite well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Sam Mendes, and I think he did a good job. When he wanted to make me feel uneasy, he made me feel uneasy. When he wanted to build some suspense, he built some suspense. Mendes has a good eye for these things. And speaking of seeing things, the cinematography by Roger Deakins? Absolutely fantastic (what else would you expect from that man?).

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Jarhead” has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s far from perfect. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down quite a bit by a lack of a good emotional hook in the story. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jarhead” is an 8,54/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jarhead” is now completed.

Bang a gong, get it on…

Movie Review: The Dark Tower (2017)

Right up front, I adore Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” books. They’re epic, unique, engaging, and just awesome. So I was worried about the series being adapted to film. Then the trailer came out and it looked like shit. But now we’re here, reviewing it. Comparisons to the novels are inevitable, but I will do my best to not rely on that stuff. Try to judge this on it’s own. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Dark Tower”.

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has been having dreams/visions of a strange land filled with strange stuff. And one day he finds an actual portal to that world. There he meets Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), AKA the gunslinger. And they meet up to try to find and stop the evil wizard known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) from destroying the one thing holding all the universes together… The Dark Tower. So now we have our adaptation. And it’s not a direct adaptation of any of the books, but rather mixes the stories of all of them into one thing. And it feels quite messy. Cramming a ton of stuff into a 90-minute runtime. So you get a rushed mess that has stuff from all the books, but only feels very surface-level. And even if you take the books aside for a second, it still feels rushed and messy. And not very interesting. At best the plot is meh. But for the most part it is not good.

The characters here show potential to be interesting, but never reach that full potential for me (at least I didn’t dislike them, I guess). Idris Elba plays Roland, a gunslinger. Quick lesson: A gunslinger is a sort of guardian who has sworn to protect Mid-World and the Dark Tower. And Roland is the last of the gunslingers because someone (the Man in Black) was a dick. But you can see some history with him and that there’s some pain behind those eyes. But they never go and fully develop him. But Elba is really good in the role. Tom Taylor play Jake Chambers, the young man who gets visions of Mid-World and Roland and all the shit going on with the Dark Tower. He gets some backstory, and you get a decently clear idea of who he is as a character. And I didn’t hate him, he was probably the most well developed character here (even if it’s not full-on development). And Taylor was really good in the role. Matthew McConaughey (alright, alright, alright) plays the Man in Black, the big threat to Mid-World, our world, and all worlds that are connected by the Dark Tower. He’s a wizard of sorts who can tell you something and you do it. He’s like a less interesting version of Kilgrave from “Jessica Jones”. And while McConaughey is clearly having a lot of fun in the role, his performance isn’t great. It’s average-ish. The rest of the actors in this movie range from fine to good. Serious waste of Jackie Earle Haley in this.

The score was composed by Tom Holkenborg (AKA Junkie XL) and it was okay. Bit generic, often reminded me of “The Da Vinci Code”. It’s not bad, but nothing stuck out to me as great or memorable. Most of it is just fairly typical stuff. Takes cues from action, horror, emotional drama, and more in the various tracks. It’s overall… fine.

This movie was directed by Nikolaj Arcel, and I think he did an average job. It’s clear that this movie was rushed into production, so a lot of the less than stellar stuff in direction and such might not be his fault. There is almost no tension here, and the movie looks really generic. For one of the most unique and interesting fantasy franchises, the adaptation sure looks bland. Admittedly there are moments in this movie where I had fun with some of the action. Mainly in parts where action gunslinging was happening, I kind of enjoyed those bits. But there’s also some action here that leaves no impact and just comes off as… meh. Let’s also talk about the visual effects. Some of them look good, and some were kind of bad… distractingly so. It’s kind of like what I said about the plot… messy.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 16% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 34/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

As an adaptation of Stephen King’s books, “The Dark Tower” isn’t good. As a movie on it’s own, it’s slightly better but still not that good. Good things include a couple of performances, the character of Jake Chambers, and a couple of action moments. But the plot, most other characters, the music, and directing/cinematography/action range from meh to bad. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Dark Tower” is a 4,65/10. I didn’t want to dislike it… but I kind of did. I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Dark Tower” is now completed.

I didn’t wanna dislike it. I wanted it to be good. *sigh*. At least I can still read the books.

Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

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Time to return to the world of comic books! Or to be more precise, graphic novels… but you get my point. You might remember that last year I reviewed the original “Sin City” and really liked it a lot. So now it is time to review the sequel. Will I like it as much as the original? Let’s have a look.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”.

On a quick sidenote, there will be some minor spoilers from the original “Sin City” in here, so tread carefully if you haven’t seen it.

Once again we have three separate storylines featuring some characters. Let’s start with the main one, the one that the movie is named after (A.K.A. “A Dame to Kill For”). This story is a prequel to the first movie and follows Dwight (Josh Brolin). He has tried to put his violent past behind him and now works as a private detective. But his past comes haunting him as he gets involved with his old lover/girlfriend Ava Lord (Eva Green). And I’m not gonna say more about it because that would be jumping into spoilers. The sad part is that despite this being the main story, it is the least interesting. I felt like it dragged on longer than it had too and it was overall not very interesting, especially since it had a few weird side-plots that were a little unnecessary.
Next up is the plot called “Nancy’s Last Dance” which follows the character of Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba). Also, this is where we got some minor spoilers for the first movie so… stop reading if you haven’t seen it. Anyway, this is set after the first movie and follows Nancy a longer while after John Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) death. So now Nancy is a drunken stripper planning revenge against the man who caused Hartigans’ death. And that man is none other than Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). And this segment I thought was really good. So it is a little sad that this is the shortest segment out of all. But in this Nancy is a broken mess with some psychological issues and that makes for some interesting watching.
The final one is “The Long Bad Night” that is about newcomer Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a really lucky/skilled poker player who gets in over his head when he wins a game against… Senator Roark. Apparently Roark is everybody’s favorite target. Anyway, this segment might be my favorite one out of all three. It is suspenseful, it is funny and it is just really well executed. Interesting how the segment about a new character is the one I enjoyed most.
And if you’re wondering… yes, Marv (Mickey Rourke) has a segment too. A really short one in the beginning of the movie. But for the most part he plays a big(ish) part of all other segments.

All characters are interesting in some way. And all performances were really good… except for one, but I’ll get to that. Josh Brolin as Dwight was great, Jessica Alba as Nancy was great too which is really cool because she wasn’t that interesting in the first movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also great as Johnny. And it was awesome seeing Mickey Rourke once again kick tons of ass as Marv. And Powers Boothe as Senator Roark was one of the most badass villains ever, I loved him in this movie. However, the one performance which was the worst, not bad, just not as good as all other ones was theo ne of Eva Green. And that is weird because she was one of the actors I had the most faith in, but here she just didn’t really fit too well as her character.

The soundtrack for the movie was done by Robert Rodriguez (Sidenote: Also the director of the movie) and Carl Thiel. And once again the music was really good and fit perfectly in the movie. It was badass, it was cool and it was just overall great.

This movie is as visually spectacular as the first one with it’s unique style of “black and white with some occasional color”. It looks great and it still helps hold the movie up a bit. The direction overall was great. And the action was just as brutal and violent as it was in the first movie. And that also means that the action was just as fun as in the first movie… especially when Mickey Rourke is involved. I can’t help it, he is awesome!

This movie was not very well-received, it was even a bit of a box office flop. Anyway, on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 43% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 46/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

Despite having a main plot that is not very interesting and a weak(ish) performance from Eva Green, I can’t deny the fun I had with “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”. Most stories were great, most performances were really good, teh music was great and the gritty, brutal and unique visuals are as awesome as ever. Time for my final score. *Grunt* My final score for “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is an 8,95/10. I do think it is worth buying.
Worth buying

Review of “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is done.

I don’t know what else to say.

 

Movie Review: Goodbye Bafana (2007)

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Nelson Mandela (R.I.P) was a great man. He fought for equal rights of black and white people in South Africa. He was imprisoned for 27 years (Damn) and was released in 1990. Unfortunately we lost him in December of 2013. He inspired a lot of people. There have also been a lot of movies and books about his life. One of the books, written by the prison guard who watched him during all these years(ish) got popular enough to get a movie. A movie that got released a few years back. But did this reviewer like it? Let’s find out!

Ladies and Gentlemen…”Goodbye Bafana”.

Like I said, this movie follows the book which told the story of the real life prison guard James Gregory (Joesph Fiennes). This movie like I said is an adaptation. It follows Gregory as he is stationed on Robben Island with his wife (Diane Kruger), his son (played by 2 different actors through out, so I’m not mentioning them because I’m lazy) and his daughter (like the son, too lazy). Gregory gets the mission on the prison to watch over the recently captured Nelson Mandela (Dennis Haysbert). And the story follows these two men’s relationship from “prisoner and guard” to “friends”. Yep, I just spoiled it. But that is because this is a biography which you can look up anywhere. This is truth that you will find out anyway. It’s not like a fictional work which you haven’t seen before. But I found the story and the evolution of the story to be extremely intriguing and gripping. It even made me tear up at one point. Not gonna spoil which moment, don’t worry.

The characters…incredibly realistic (No shit). Not just because they are based on real people, but also because the actors felt so real. They did a fantastic job. And the writing was really solid as well. I was really impressed on the character part.

On the music…it was really good. Not that I wass surprised…just sayin’ it was good. It really set the mood, not jsut for the movie itself but also fit the scenes fantastically well! Loved it!

The camera work in this movie was…great. Sure, it was not the most original and visually stunning that I have ever seen…but it certainly holds its own. The times where you got to see some landscapes in the movie…fantastic. Also, this movie is not always easy to watch…believe me on that. Not saying that it is as disturbing as maybe “Requiem for A Dream”, but it is not always the most fun to watch. Did I also mention that it made me tear up at one point? What? I did? Damn.

Reception for “Goodbye Bafana” is something that is not easy to find, becuase not many people saw this film. But I’ll try my best. There is none of the “Critic scores” which I usually post here for Rotten Tomatoes, but there is at least the “Audience score”. Audiences like it and it has an 82% rating on RT. Next thing is imdb.com which (based on less than 9000 votes) a score of 7,1/10. That is really all I could find for “Goodbye Bafana” when it comes to reception. I’m sorry…I have failed you.

“Goodbye Bafana” is a gripping, deep, thought provoking, incredibly well-acted movie with a great soundtrack and Dennis Haysbert playing Mandela (Seriously, he was born for this role). So…time for my final score on this short review. My final score for “Goodbye Bafana” is a 9,67/10 which gives it the rights to the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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“Goodbye Bafana” is now reviewed.

Shame on you people! More people should have seen this amazing thing!