Movie Review: The Last Castle (2001)

I don’t have much to say here. Not because the movie flabbergasted me or broke my soul in two. I just don’t have anything clever to say. So I guess we should just get into the review.

Ladies and gents… “The Last Castle”.

Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford) is an army general who has been court-martialed and sent to a military prison. But it doesn’t take long for him to notice how corrupt the entire place is. So he decides to rally the other inmates to rise up against the prison and its crooked warden (James Gandolfini). I like stories of revolutions. And setting one of those within a corrupt prison is an idea that I find pretty fucking clever. However, they only do the bare minimum with that idea, going for surface level ideas instead of giving us the kind of nuanced story one could expect from this kind of idea. That said, it’s not bad. Surface level isn’t exactly what I’d call a bad thing here. The story does entertain throughout the two hour runtime. I just wish it had a little bit more nuance to it.

The characters in this are… fine. Often they boil down to stereotypes we’ve seen before. Asshole, big dude, young/underestimated guy, etcetera. Robert Redford plays General Eugene Irwin, the highly regarded army man at the center of the story. He’s a good man, never bent, always doing what’s best for him and his men. He may not be the deepest character ever, but Redford’s performance really makes it feel a bit deeper than the writing would have you believe. James Gandolfini plays Winter, the colonel who’s in charge of the prison. He seems a half decent fellow at first glance, but it doesn’t take long for his crookedness to be clear. He’s a decent matchup for Irwin, and Gandolfini is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mark Ruffalo, Clifton Collins Jr, Delroy Lindo, Steve Burton, Brian Goodman, Michael Irby, Robin Wright, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The music was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it was good. Plenty of military-style trumpets, some emotional strings, and some heavy and dramatic percussion. It is a little bit generic at times, but overall it’s well composed and works quite well for the movie. There’s also one or two licensed tracks used in the movie, and that works pretty well too.

The movie was directed by Rod Lurie, who I think did a pretty good job here. There’s a surprising amount of fun camerawork throughout, and he does have a decent sense of dramatic flair. Whenever the writing is a little bland and uninspired, his direction sort of helps out in making it a bit more interesting.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 43/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

While not a perfect movie, “The Last Castle” is still a pretty entertaining prison drama. It has an okay plot, meh characters, really good performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Last Castle” is a 7,23/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth renting.

My review of “The Last Castle” is now completed.

Do you think Ruffalo played a former pilot because helicopter blades go “Ruffa ruffa ruffa ruffa”?

Movie Review: The Next Three Days (2010)

What would you be willing to do if a loved one was falsely imprisoned? How far would you go to get him/her out? Ponder this as you read this review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Next Three Days”.

After his wife (Elizabeth Banks) gets arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, John Brennan (Russell Crowe) aims to do anything in his power to get her out. so now we have our little drama-thriller. And is this plot any good? Kind of. The idea itself is pretty interesting (if unoriginal), and there are some solid dramatic moments throughout that made me feel really invested in the story, but the plot does have some issues. For one, there are a whole load of implausibilities in this movie, situations where the outcome makes no fucking sense. And the pacing at times isn’t very good. Both of these problems drag the plot down quite a bit, but not enough to make me think that it’s total shit. Just that it could be better.

The characters here are good. There are none that I feel are bad, but not everyone gets the same amount of development. Russell Crowe plays John Brennan, the man at the center of this story. Over the movie you seem him go from the average, loving, family man to something else due to this whole crazy situation with his wife. It’s an interesting character journey. And Crowe gives a really good performance. Elizabeth Banks plays Lara, John’s wife and the woman who gets falsely imprisoned. I’m not gonna say too much about her development, as that’s best left experienced rather than explained. But I can say that Banks is great in the role. Then you have Ty Simpkins as Luke, the young son of John and Lara. Sure, he doesn’t get that much development here, but he still works pretty well among the characters. And for someone so young, I thought Simpkins did a really good job in the role. Then we have Lennie James as a cop who gets involved with all this. Again, not that much development there, but his characters still works very well within the plot here. And James is really good in the role. Then you get a bunch of really solid supporting performances from people like Olivia Wilde, Daniel Stern, Jason Beghe, Aisha Hinds, Liam Neeson, and more. It’s a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Elfman, and it is quite good. It’s emotional, tense, and overall well composed. Sure, it’s not necessarily one of Elfman’s best, but it’s certainly really good. The movie also uses a whole bunch of licensed tracks throughout, with Moby being the most frequent artist used throughout. And all the tracks work pretty well for the movie to elevate their respective scenes slightly. Good music.

This movie was written and directed by Paul Haggis, and is apparently a remake of a French movie called “Pour Elle”. Now, I haven’t seen that French original, so I don’t know how accurately this represents it, but as a movie on it’s own I think Haggis did a good job. The movie is pretty well shot and everything has a pretty nice flow to it in general. He even manages to create some half-decent tension in some scenes throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 52/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

While it’s not anything truly great, “The Next Three Days” is still an enjoyable drama-thriller. It has an okay plot, okay characters, great performances, really good music, and good directing. As for flaws, there are points in the plot where it’s a bit implausible, and the pacing is a bit draggy at times. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Next Three Days” is an 8,11/10. While flawed, it’s still definitely worth a rental.

My review of “The Next Three Days” is now completed.

This is the third movie in a row I’ve watched/reviewed where Jonathan Tucker has popped up. It’s like that guy is following me everywhere… and it’s a bit eerie.

Movie Review: A Perfect World (1993)

Don’t commit crimes. It’ll only lead to bad stuff. Like prison. But if you do commit a crime (or two) and go to prison, don’t try to escape. You did the crime, so you should do the time. Don’t commit crimes.

Ladies and gents… “A Perfect World”.

After he escapes from prison, Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner) takes a boy (T.J. Lowther) hostage. And during their journey through the back roads of Texas, the two form a bit of a bond. All while a Texas Ranger (Clint Eastwood) heads the search for Haynes. So now we have our little crime-drama. And I found the plot here to be quite engaging. Admittedly it does fall into a couple of cliches throughout, but it’s not enough to ruin it for me. The journey of Haynes and the kid is endearing and it’s one I found myself really caring about. It’s a lot more slow-paced and concerned with the emotional journey than chases and shootouts. And it makes it feel a bit deeper than other movies with similar premises.

The characters here are layered, interesting, and overall entertaining. Kevin Costner plays Robert Haynes, the recently escaped prisoner. The movie makes it clear that he’s done some bad stuff, but he still feels like he’s a good person when he needs to. He’s charismatic and seems like he really cares about the kid. He feels a bit more real than other movie criminals. And this might be the best performance I’ve ever seen from Costner, he’s great here. T.J. Lowther plays Phillip, the kid that Haynes kidnaps. He’s a young and naive kid that sort of quickly accepts this journey he’s been put on, but it’s still interesting seeing him interact with Haynes and what happens during their journey. And Lowther is good in the role. Not saying it’s the greatest child performance ever, but he’s definitely good. Costner and Lowther also share a very likable chemistry that was enjoyable to watch. Then we have Clint Eastwood as Texas Ranger Red Garnett. It’s basically Clint Eastwood, but slightly less gruff than usual. And he’s so good at that type of role that I can’t help but enjoy it. Then we have Laura Dern as Sally, Garnett’s new assistant. And she’s tough and determined without turning unlikable. It’s fun seeing her more or less own the other guys in the room, showing that women can be badasses too. And yeah, Dern is great in the role. Then we get some solid supporting performances from people like Bradley Whitford (who’s a total dick in this), Keith Szarabajka, Ray McKinnon, Jennifer Griffin, and more! ’tis a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Lennie Niehaus and it was good. It was sued relatively sparingly, but it worked well for the movie, elevating certain moments throughout. There were also a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout and they worked quite well in their respective scenes.

The movie was directed by Clint Eastwood and I think he did a great job. His direction here is a bit more understated than in some of his other movies, but it works so damn well to make this movie stand out and have a unique feel. He also manages to build some really good suspense in certain scenes, properly showing how to make a scene tense. And the cinematography by Jack N. Green is pretty fucking good. There were times where it actually made me go “Wow”, which doesn’t happen too often.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“A Perfect World” is a really great movie. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Perfect World” is a 9,63/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “A Perfect World” is now completed.

Definitely an underrated gem in Eastwood’s filmography.

Movie Review: Shot Caller (2017)

Don’t commit crimes, kids. It’s bad for you.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Shot Caller”.

Jacob (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) used to be a successful businessman, but that started changing after getting thrown in jail because of a DUI. And he soon starts getting involved with the gangs inside of the prison, turning him from a successful business person and loving father, to a stoic and ruthless gangster. And I thought the plot here was pretty good. It’s told in a semi-non-linear way, in that it jumps between past (ending up in jail) and present (out of jail) and shows how Jacob changes over that time, and I thought that was quite interesting. And overall there is some decent tension throughout the plot, as well as some pretty good dramatic moments spread throughout. My problem with it is that I felt like the pacing dragged at times. I’m fine with a movie that can move at a somewhat slower pace, but this at times just decided to drag it’s feet rather than move at a decently steady pace. It’s not a constant ass-drag, but it is noticeable in parts. So overall the plot here is pretty good.

The characters here are pretty good. Some more interesting than others. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays the main character Jacob (or Money as he’ll be known as later). Seeing his progression from good-natured businessman and loving father to this cold and ruthless gangster is endlessly fascinating. And you can tell that even when he’s become this cold gangster, he’s a bit conflicted, like there’s still good in him. And Coster-Waldau is great in the role. Then we have Jon Bernthal as a guy called Shotgun, one of the gang members that Jacob gets to know. As the movie goes on we get to know some interesting things about him that makes him feel a bit deeper than a lot of other ones in the movie. And Bernthal is great here. Then we get Emory Cohen as Howie, a young man who’s part of Jacob’s gang. And he gets some interesting development here. And Cohen is really good in the role. Then you get some really solid supporting performances from people like Omari Hardwick, Evan Jones, Benjamin Bratt, Lake Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Holt McCallany, and many more. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Antonio Pinto and I have mixed feelings about it. There are some great tracks here that are very well composed and work to elevate the scenes that they’re used in. But then there are some tracks that aren’t particularly well composed and feel distractingly out of place in certain moments. So at best I guess the score could be summarized as okay.

This movie was written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh and I think he did a pretty good (there’s that phrase again) job with it. Scenes have a decent flow and have a decent amount of tension to them. And while this isn’t an action movie, when the shit does hit the fan it is badass, exciting, and violent as fuck. And the cinematography from Dana Gonzales looks good.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Shot Caller” has flaws, but it’s still a good movie. It has a pretty good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, okay music, and good directing/cinematography. My flaws are that the pacing drags at times, and some of the music is kind of distracting in how it doesn’t always work. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shot Caller” is an 8,51/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Shot Caller” is now completed.

They might as well rename it to “Cops, Crooks, and Facial Hair”.

Movie Review: Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

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I hope I never do anything stupid that would put me in jail. I wouldn’t make it a day in there. The only way I want to see the inside of a prison is either through a screen or if I ever go and visit Alcatraz (still a tourist attraction?). But prisons aren’t really a new thing when it comes to the big (and small) screen. A prime example that I think most people can agree on is “Shawshank Redemption” which is a great movie. Another good one is the TV-show “Prison Break”. As you may have noticed those two have something in common… they are both about breaking out of prison. Today we are taking a look at another thing that relates to that theme.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Escape from Alcatraz”.

The story is about the very real (and possibly) successful escape from the big and highly secure prison done by three men (Clint Eastwood, Jack Thibeau, Fred Ward). I know that sounds like a major spoiler (which it kinda is) but it is something you can look up anywhere.  But does the movie portray that story in a good and entertaining way? You bet your ass it does! It shows the careful planning done by these men over the course of two years and then of course the execution of said plan. We also get to see how prison discipline and everyday life in Alcatraz was like (brutal). The story is in other words really well done and will keep you invested.

The characters are all very interesting and are all portrayed excellently by each respective actor. For goodness sake, Clint Fucking Eastwood is in the movie, you know he is a great actor! All the other actors also do a great job of portraying all of these characters.

The score for the movie was good. It was nothing overblown and action-y. It was more dramatically based but stuck to a pretty subtle style. I barely noticed it (maybe I’m just deaf). But it was good.

The camera work in this movie is really good. Nothing mind-blowing, but it was still really good. It was done by Don Siegel who also made the crime/action classic “Dirty Harry”. I also have to mention that this movie got one of the most suspenseful final acts I have ever seen. Not only suspenseful but also really great. I would say it’s up there with movies like “Drive” in how much I liked the ending. It is so ambiguous. It’s kind of like real life since you don’t know if they actually made it and survived or if they died. I like the ambiguous things that movies can offer sometimes.

How was this movie received by critics and people? Pretty damn well as far as the internet tells me. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating. Strangely enough it has no score (or even an existence) on Metacritic. Roger Ebert I can on the other hand mention gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Escape from Alcatraz” got a superb story, great acting a good score, some good camera work and one of the best final acts I have ever seen. It also got Clint Eastwood… yeah. So now for my final score. *Ahem* My final score for “Escape from Alcatraz” is a 9,72/10 which as you know gives it (say it with me) the “SEAL OF APPOVAL!”
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“Escape from Alcatraz” have been reviewed.

This was “Prison Break” before “Prison Break” was “Prison Break”.

Movie Review: The Green Mile (1999)

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Stephen King is one of those authors that writes stuff the majority of people who read it like. Personally I am a big fan of his “Dark Tower” series. Most people know King for his horror novels like “The Shining”, “It” and “The Monkey”. What some people maybe didn’t know is the fact that he also writes drama…yeah. Does “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” sound familiar? Well if it doesn’t, then you have missed out on the thick words there and with that, something great. But today we are taking a look at another one of his dramas, in movie format.

Ladies and gentlemen, the most voted movie in my poll…”The Green Mile”!

Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is a guard on death row. More specifically he is a guard at the death row called “The Green Mile” (Roll credits). He works there with his colleagues Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison). They have a bunch of different criminals in there. But one day they get a special new addition to the group of criminals in there…a huge black man named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan, R.I.P) who was arrested for the (this is not fun to say) rape and murder of two young girls. Sounds like a scary guy huh? But when he walks in he acts like the biggest softy ever (Scared of the dark, very polite and doesn’t seem like a troublemaker at all). Soon after, Paul and crew will find out that this man has a mysterious “gift”. Now that is all I can say about the plot without going into too many spoilers. Now, like most Stephen King stories, this is incredibly complex. And for you people out there who think complex only means “Mindfuck”…you’re wrong. For a story to be, all it needs are several layers…not necessarily mindfucking. And with that I have to say that “The Green Mile” succeeds with it’s multi-layered story and general well done execution. Not only is it a good story on paper, it is also really well done. But that is something director Frank Darabont is really good at (See “Shawshank Redemption”). With an original plot by Stephen King, an adapted screenplay and direction by Frank Darabont, the story comes together nicely.

The characters in this movie have more layers to them than a wedding cake. Not only are they incredibly well-written, but the actors are fantastic! I was especially impressed by Michael Clarke Duncan…that dude did a fantastic job in this movie. I was also happily surprised to see Barry Pepper in a really good role (considering he would do the worst movie I’ve ever seen one year later). One thing when it comes to the actors really surprised me. One of the inmates at the place was played by Sam Fucking Rockwell…wow. I am a big fan of his, so seeing him in this movie (pulling off a fantastic performance). You really thought he was this psycho hillbilly. So in general, characters have many layers and the actors are fantastic.

The music…oh my fucking god, the music. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman is fantastic. I am really surprised it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. It is your typical oschestral/beautiful drama soundtrack…but that is why it is as fantastic as it is. It is your typical thing…but it is so well done that I don’t mind. It is as I always say…the idea can be as generic as it can get, as long as it is executed in a really good way.

The camera work…nothing special there. It is good, nothing more. I can also mention that this movie left me crying. If a movie can make me cry…good job you bastards (who worked on the movie), you won! Also, did I mention Sam Rockwell was in this movie? What? I did? Oh well, rather one time too much than one time too few. I was also very surprised how funny it got at a few point in the movie…good job Frank Darabont, your comedy in your drama doesn’t feel forced. Might also be good to mention that it is three hours long…so prepare.

Time for the reception of this little movie. Let’s see here…we have an 80% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a “Fresh” certification. Metacritic is by far the lowest with a score of 61/100 (damn). Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars, and I quote

The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years.

This movie has a score of 8,5 on imdb.com and is ranked #46 on the Top 250 list (as of this review). The movie was also nominated for 4 Oscars. Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Clarke Duncan), Best adapted screenplay, Best sound.

This movie has a lot of depth in it’s story, the actors are fantastic, the music in fantastic, the camera work is good and it has Sam Rockwell (Okay, I’m done with that now). The only thing dragging the score down a bit is the knowledge of this movie being three hours long…even though it only feels like two and a half. But it also gets a pat on the back for making me leave it with tears in my eyes. And now I am ready to give this movie my final score. “The Green Mile” gets a score of 9,72/10 which not only requires you to add it to your collection, but also gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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Review of “The Green Mile” is completed.

I should probably go find the book somewhere. Also, R.I.P Michael Clarke Duncan.