Movie Review: Leaving Las Vegas (1996)

I don’t have anything clever to say here. Sometimes a movie just breaks you. And that’s what happened to me here. So let’s just get into the review itself.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Leaving Las Vegas”.

After he loses everything due to his alcoholism, screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) moves to Las Vegas to try to drink himself to death. But those plans get a little halted when he meets and forms a bond with a prostitute named Sera (Elisabeth Shue). But don’t think that this is some happy redemption story, because it fucking isn’t. It’s a tragic and depressing character study about a very self-destructive man. And god damn, it is incredibly well handled. It deals with its subjects with a lot of subtlety and nuance, making it feel very grounded. There are moments throughout where it looks up for a bit, but for the most part it’s a heartbreaking story that honestly made me tear up at multiple times throughout. So while the story made me feel like shit, I still found it to be pretty fucking great.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, nuanced, and just overall feel fairly realistic. First up we have Nicolas Cage as Ben Sanderson, a screenwriter who gets the boot due to his devotion to the bottle. He is a surprisingly self-aware man, he knows that what he’s doing is bad for him, but he’s just kind of accepted it as his reality, fully embracing the self-destructiveness of his behavior. Not saying it justifies it all, but it makes him quite an interesting figure within the whole “characters who are alcoholics” spectrum. And Nicolas Cage is fantastic in the role. Yeah, you read that right. There is some of his quirky expressionism sprinkled in throughout, but for the most part this is a relatively subdued and almost haunting performance. Next we have Elisabeth Shue as Sera, the prostitute that Ben meets forms a bit of a bond with. She of course already has a bit of a tragic existence, involving the life she’s been leading. And seeing how it alters when she meets Ben makes her quite an interesting character too. And Elisabeth Shue is great in the role. She doesn’t always show it in big, loud scenes, but you can read every emotion she has to portray in her eyes. We also get supporting work from people like Julian Sands, Graham Beckel, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Mike Figgis and Anthony Marinelli, who I think did a brilliant job with it, weaving sad and tragic piano pieces with some chaotic jazz and haunting blues to create a vibe that suits the story of a man’s downfall, while also kind of fitting the Las Vegas environment. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout that work very well in their respective scenes.

Based on a novel by John O’Brien, this movie was written and directed by Mike Figgis, who I think did a brilliant job with it. He gives the movie a very unpredictable vibe that both made me feel relaxed and uneasy. Relaxed in the sense that it’s not too chaotic in camerawork, and uneasy because it doesn’t really pull punches with this tale of self-destruction. While there is some style to it all, Figgis still presents everything in an honest, exposed way that makes it feel real.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best actor (Cage). It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best actress (Shue), Best director, and Best adapted screenplay.

While it’s far from an easy watch, I still think “Leaving Las Vegas” is an absolutely fantastic film. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Leaving Las Vegas” is a 9,89/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Leaving Las Vegas” is now completed.

Usually Cage makes me laugh or at least feel entertained… but today he made me cry.

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

What really is there to say about Spider-Man at this point? He’s one of the most well known, beloved, and profitable superheroes of all time. You all know who he is, so nothing really has to be said, I am excited to talk about this different take on the franchise.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is just your average guy, except for the fact that he’s been bitten by a strange spider and has received Spider-Man-ish powers. And at the same time as he’s trying to get the hang of these new abilities, he discovers that Spider-people from other dimensions have shown up. So now Miles has to team up with his inter-dimensional namesakes to save the multiverse. And I absolutely loved the story here. It’s a fast-paced and fun comic book adventure that flies by fast than you can say “thwip”. It manages to be a good origin for this character that a lot of mainstream audience members might not know anything about, while also presenting a big multiverse adventure that should please a lot of comic book fans. But even amidst the fast-paced insanity, it knows when to slow down a bit and let the dramatic moments simmer a bit, making this whole ordeal a bit more engaging. So yeah, this is a great plot.

The characters in this are colorful, unique, fun, and just really interesting. Shameik Moore plays Miles Morales, this average guy who has a bit of trouble fitting into his current life. And when the Spider stuff comes into his life it forces him to evolve a bit as a person, and the development Miles gets is quite interesting. And Moore does a really good job voicing him. Jake Johnson plays Peter Parker, a cynical slob who’s also god damn Spider-Man. Not gonna say how he got there, but it’s funny and interesting, and he too gets some good development here. And Johnson does a really good job in the role. Next we have Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy, another interesting character who gets some decent development. And Steinfeld does a great job voicing the character. We also get supporting performances from people like Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney, LIev Schreiber, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Kimiko Glenn, Kathryn Hahn, Chris Pine, and MANY more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Daniel Pemberton, and I think he did a great job. While there of course is a lot of the heroic orchestral stuff throughout, Pemberton also mixed in stuff from hiphop, electronica, jazz, and even rock to create a sound that is both familiar and unique, which gives the movie its own sound. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and while I personally wouldn’t find myself listening to them on my own time, I thought they worked very well within the movie.

So this is an animated movie, and I seriously loved the animation here. At first some of it might look like it’s missing frames, but it didn’t take too long for me to get over that. And from that point on I got to experience one of the most visually stunning things ever. I don’t even know how to fully explain it, it’s just like someone put a fucking comic into a machine that would make the panels fully animated. It’s colorful, it’s fluid, it’s stylish, it’s unique, and it’s just some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking at. Which also makes for some truly amazing action scenes. The movie also has a lot of comedy throughout, and all of it made me laugh, this is absolutely hilarious. Some of it subtle dialog, some of it broad slapstick, and some in-between stuff.

This movie just came out, but it has already been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #30 on the “Top 250” list.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is an absolutely magical movie, filled with great stuff for both comic book fans and casual movie goers. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, amazing animation/action, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a 9,90/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is now completed.

2018 is a great year to be a Spidey-fan.

Movie Review: Lord of War (2005)

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I have a weird interest in illegal business practices. And before you call every safety organization on me, I don’t mean it like that. I don’t have an interest in conducting illegal business, but I am really interested in reading about it. Have I calmed your tits now? Excellent! But these kinds of illegal businesses can range from drugs to murder, but today we are taking a look at something less… mainstream, in lack of a better word. Of course it occurs a lot in our big world, but not as many people look into it as the other ones I mentioned.

Ladies and gentlemen, load your guns, aim and fire, because this is “Lord of War”!

This movie is about illegal arms-trader Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) and his rise to become the best at his craft. And with him (for the most part) is his brother Vitaly (Jared Leto). But it isn’t easy supplying guns for our “heroes” as they have problems with a rivaling arms-dealer (Ian Holm) and a tenacious Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke). And that is interesting in itself of course, but the plot gets even more interesting since Yuri through the plot starts questioning the morality of his work more and more. And to be completely honest, I find the plot really interesting and engaging. There wasn’t one minute of the plot that wasn’t interesting to me. It was so well-written and suspenseful that I just didn’t find anything uninteresting in it.

The characters were all really well-written and never felt out of place or even unrealistic. And I am so happy to see Nicolas Cage give a really good performance. Now to be fair, I have for the most part only seen over-the-top performances from him and the only legitimately good I have seen from him prior to this was “Joe” where he was amazing. But I know he got it in him to be great and here he proved it. Jared Leto was also great in the movie as his brother. And Ethan Hawke as Interpol agent Jack Valentine was also really good.

The score for the movie was done by Anthony Pinto and was in my opinion really good. There was a lot of use of piano and acoustic guitar which helped build a lot of suspense and emotion which is exactly what was needed. The music was also part of helping hold up the thought-provoking plot and characters by having that type of vibe (if that makes any sense).

The movie was both written and directed by Andrew Niccol and he shows that he got a knack for both. The writing (Both plot and dialogue) is excellent and the camera work/direction of the movie is really good. The movie is visually impressive, especially during the movie’s amazing opening credits which follows the life of a single bullet, featuring the excellent song “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. Watch it here!

This was movie generally well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. Roger Ebert gave it a score of 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Lord of War” got a well-written and thought-provoking plot, terrific performances, a great soundtrack/score, great direction/camera work and one of the best opening credit sequences I have ever seen. Time for my final score. Holy crap, Jeff… you’re actually on time for once. Envelope? Thank you! You can go now. My final score for “Lord of War” is a 9,82/10 which of course gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “Lord of War” is completed.

There’s something happening here, for what it is ain’t exactly clear…

 

Movie Review: The Rock (1996)

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Michael Bay is one of those few directors that I don’t know what to say about. On one hand he made some decent movies like “Armageddon” and even the first “Transformers” movie. But on the other hand we have the “Transformers” sequels and “Pain & Gain”. His track record for me is something that have split me when it comes to my opinion on the guy. So now I am checking out one of his more well-received and popular ones. Yeah, people actually seemed to like this. But what does this guy think? Do I like it? Well I’m not telling you, you’re gonna have to read.

Men and women… “The Rock”.

“The Rock” is about an angry (and possibly crazy) marine general by the name of Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris). He has with the help of a rogue squad of military men taken over Alcatraz island and imprisoned the tourists there. He also threatens to send a bunch of missiles filled with incredibly lethal gas towards San Francisco unless he and his troops get 100 million dollars. Of course you would want to take care of that situation if you were part of the FBI, right? But how would you do it? Well in the movie they decide to use a chemical weapons specialist (Nicolas Cage) and a 60-year old ex-con (Sean Connery) together with a team of people to take care of the situation. Why an ex-con? Because at one point he apparently escaped Alcatraz. To be honest… this plot is genius. It is simple in what it is but adds a few more details to it. Let me show you. Basic: Man takes over Alcatraz and threatents to send missiles on San Francisco if he doesn’t get money. Team of people have to stop him. Then they add some more layers to it with for example the fact that the missiles contain lethal gas and that one of the team members once escaped Alcatraz. I find it genius… even though there isn’t too much brain to be found here. I liked it though.

The characters are all interesting in one way or another. Our chemical weapons expert is played by Nicolas Cage, so you know he might act a little nuts every now and then. But by far the most interesting one is John Mason (Connery). Like I said before, ex-con, but he also has some of the best lines in the entire movie. He is also a badass who does badass stuff. Yeah. Overall the characters in the movie are all great and all actors did a great job.

The music was done by several composers. The main ones were Nick Glennie-Smith (Home Alone 3, Lion King 2), Hans Zimmer (Inception, Batman Begins) and Harry Gregson-Williams (Metal Gear Solid 2, 3, 4). The soundtrack consists of epic orchestra and some guitar (yeah!). It really works for the movie and fits perfectly. There was also a little help from Don Harper (Twister) and Steven Stern (The Asassination of Richard Nixon).

The action in this movie is fucking awesome! Yes, a Michael Bay movie with awesome and actually visible action! It does exist! It was fun to watch and the good thing is that there is plenty of it in this movie. The camera work overall was really good. Remember, this was before shaky-cam really existed. Also on a sidenote, this is the second review I’ve done this month featuring “The Rock” (A.K.A Alcatraz, also roll credits).

Like I said in the beginning of the review, this movie was well-received. Might even be Michael Bay’s best received movie. Anyway, time to look at the scores from different sites. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a score of 66%. On Metacritic it has a 59/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars in his review. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best sound.

“The Rock” is a cool, slick and visceral action movie with good acting, good music, a good story and some great action. Time for my final score. My final score for “The Rock” is a 9,73/10 which as you may know gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “The Rock” is now completed.

Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen. 

Movie Review: Joe (2013)

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For a few years now, movies that have featured Nicolas Cage have been…less than stellar. But you don’t need me to tell you that! Not with movies like “The Wicker Man” and “Stolen”. But the reason I was able to watch them was because of this great guy. He just makes them a hell of a lot more amusing and entertaining. He is also a weird fucking guy. Did you know he ate a live cockroach in a scene in “Vampire’s Kiss”? Seriously, Cage! Ew! But back to the actual topic…a movie featuring Mister Cage in a movie that have gotten people saying he is back in the saddle again. Well, let’s see if this reviewer rides along or just want to kill himself with laughter.

Joes and…Jos…”Joe”.

The movie follows 15-year old guy Gary (Tye Sheridan) who is looking to get something out of life…mainly a job so he can make money for his family. So he goes to ex-con Joe (Nicolas Cage) who does forest work. And what that forest work is, that is pretty interesting. They poison old weak trees and cut them down to get place for new healthy trees to be planted there. So Joe hires this kid he has never seen before. And they bond, kind of like father & son. But what gets in the way of that sometimes is Gary’s father Wade (Gary Poulter, R.I.P). There is also this rapey douchebag known as Willie-Russell (Ronnie Gene Blevins) who wants to kind of,,,rape Gary’s mother and sister. And he gets his ass kicked early on in the movie by Gary and Joe…at different points. Another vital point to mention about this movie is how Joe got a lot of built in rage, and when that rage gets released…shit gets real. And throughout the movie a lot of dark and disturbing shit happens. So based on the sort of basic story of the movie, it got a lot of similarities to “Mud”. Not only in the story, but also the irony how the story combined with Tye Sheridan playing the main kid in both movies make them similar. I guess you could say that this is a more dark and disturbing version of “Mud”. The difference however (except for the obvious one of Cage-McConaughey) is that “Mud” got a little more of a focused story. I mean, this movie feels like it’s everywhere it feels like. “Mud” had more of a progressive story…and you noticed that. But in “Joe”…not so much. But overall…pretty good…maybe a little disturbing.

The characters are dark and honestly a bit depressing. The only one I don’t wanna punch in the face is honestly Joe since he is a sincere, kind and just cool guy. I also don’t wanna punch Gary. Why? Because he does everything he do for his family to help out, but his abusive/alcoholic dad is in teh damn way all the time. But the characters like I said…dark, a little depressing…and what I did not mention, layered. They have many layers of their personalities and that is what makes them more complex and watchable than expected. Godo job actors and writer!

The music is like the movie…Dark and Disturbing. And that is what makes it so good. It is a mix of this sort of…southern state style…but also the bone-chilling style that you heard in “Requiem For a Dream”. So in general…the music is really good.

I usually say “something fun about this” in this section…but this time it is not fun. It’s just depressing. The guy who plays the alcoholic father, Gary Poulter played fantastically. And while that sounds all fine and dandy, it’s not. In the movie he plays this alcoholic with a piece of crap home. In real life, he is an alcoholic homeless man. That’s right, director David Gordon Green pulled a homeless man of the streets to play a character that was a more dark version of himself…and he did great. The sad thing is that a few months after they were done filming the movie, he was found dead on the side of the road, in a shallow body of water. Depressed yet? Good. Now to mention something more amusing…Nicolas Cage legitimately picks up a poisonous snake in the movie.  Not kidding, watch the thumbnail for this review. Fun fact: Nicolas Cage likes dangerous snakes, they are apparently his friends…I told you he’s fucking weird. Also, this movie looks stunning…not kidding.

Reception for “Joe” was generally good. Rotten Tomatoes currently holds the highest overall score for this with an 83% rating and certified it “Fresh”. Metacritic gave this movie a 73/100 rating (at the time of this review). And since Roger Ebert had passed away about five months before the release of this movie, he has no review for it. But some other dude on his site has a review for it.
imdb.com currently holds the rating of 7,2/10.

So now I have given my opinions on different aspects of “Joe” and I’m ready to give it a score. I am giving this movie the score of 8,94/10. This movie is worth a buy whenever the hell it comes out. It also contains the best best performance I have ever seen from Nicolas Cage. Reason the score is under 9/10 or even 10/10 is because of how dark and disturbing it is at times.

“Joe” is now reviewed.

Rest in peace Gary Poulter…you did a great job in this movie.