Movie Review: Four Lions (2010)

Terrorism. A horrible thing that I wish wouldn’t exist in our world, but unfortunately pops up a terrifying amount of times every year. Hopefully we’ll one day be free of it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Four Lions”.

The story follows a group of British jihadists who plan to commit an act of terror, and we follow them as they train and prepare to commit this horrible act. Luckily they aren’t the most competent of people. And that’s really it. You’d think a concept like this wouldn’t very good, relying more on tasteless shock humor for the sake of shocking audience members. But this is an incredibly clever, funny, and fascinating plot that has a surprising amount of heart to it. It very much has the feel of “The Thick of It” or “In the Loop” (makes sense given some of the crew members), and I think that is awesome. It’s a cleverly satirical plot that kept me entertained and interested from start to finish.

What is interesting about the characters here is that they’re really just a bunch of bumbling idiots. They’re not your typical “scary muslim” type characters that you see in so many movies featuring terrorism. They are just average people/idiots who feel like they should commit some horrible acts, somehow endearing us to them and their quest. I’m not gonna go in-depth with all of them as I don’t want to spoil some fun stuff, but I will talk about one of them. The one I want to talk about is Riz Ahmed who plays Omar, who is more or less the main-main character of this movie. While he is up for this quest and has some great comedic chemistry with the other “Lions”, we do get to see some other, somewhat emotional sides to him when he’s with other people. He’s a well-rounded, and interesting character that I cared about. And Ahmed is great in the role. As for the other characters, they don’t get the same depth as Omar, but I don’t think they need it as they have more focus on their outrageous personalities. Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, Adeel Akhtar… I salute you. Everyone in this movie is great.

The interesting thing about the music in “Four Lions” is that there is no real original score here, just a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout the movie. And I think that works really well, since they have found some really solid tracks to use throughout the various scenes here.

This movie was written and directed by Chris Morris (with several other people helping out with writing), and I have to say that I’m impressed with all that stuff. Sure, they don’t go for some grand, sweeping epic here. As a matter of fact it feels very low budget (which it probably is), but I like that. As previously mentioned, it very much has the feel/style of “The Thick of It” and “In the Loop”, even having a similar documentary-esque directing style that I think often elevates a lot of the scenes. As for the comedy here (since it is a satirical comedy), I think it is fucking hilarious, I laughed quite hard at it. Admittedly the humor here is very dark and will most likely put some people off… but I loved it.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Four Lions” takes a serious and disturbing subject and turns it into one of the funniest movie this decade. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Four Lions” is a 9,88/19. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Four Lions” is now completed.

Don’t blow people up, kids.

Movie Review: Falling Down (1993)

Sometimes life can be fucking weird… and horrible. Just look at the guy in this movie.

Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Douglas is… “Falling Down”.

William “D-Fens” Foster (Michael Douglas) is an unemployed defense worker. And during a really hot day he is trying to get to his daughter’s birthday party. And on the way he runs into several infuriating situations which causes him to irrationally lash out at the world. So now we have our plot. And is it any good? Sort of. There are some neat ideas at play, and the final act manages to create some pretty damn solid moments, but for the most part I didn’t feel fully invested. It was interesting enough to not be called bad, and there were scenes spread throughout that had some really interesting things happening in them, but for the most part I just felt like I was simply along for the ride, not getting fully invested in it.

Most of the characters are just there, not having too much to do, simply filling a role. But there are a couple that I thought were good. Let’s start with our main “hero”, played by Michael Douglas. You can tell that he is a very troubled man. He seems like a nice guy, but he can be prone to bursts of rage. There’s a lot of layers to this character, and Douglas is fantastic in the role. Robert Duvall plays a soon-to-be-retired cop who is investigating these seemingly related cases, as a sort of last hurrah before retirement. He has a lot of old man charm, and Duvall is great in the role. Then the supporting cast is rounded out by people like Barbara Hershey, Rachel Ticotin, Tuesday Weld, Frederic Forrest, and Raymond J. Barry (among others), all doing a good job.

The score for the movie was composed by James Newton Howard and it was really good. Not among his best, but definitely a good one. It helps to create a lot of tension and drama throughout, thanks to a lot of intense beats and other sounds. It does really help elevate certain scenes in the movie.

This movie was directed by Joel Schumacher (oh boy…) and I think he did a really good job here (wait, what?). Yeah, go figure that the man who directed two of the worst superhero movies ever could direct a good thriller. His shots look great and manage to create a feel of unease whenever we follow Michael Douglas throughout. And there are also some really suspenseful moments throughout the movie that actually made me tense up a little bit. There’s also an essence of dark, mildly satirical humor to it, which I thought added to the movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 73% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Falling Down” is not perfect, but it is a pretty damn good movie. It has a pretty good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. My flaws with it of course come from a plot that isn’t very investing, and a lack of interesting characters. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Falling Down” is an 8,72/10. While flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Falling Down” is now completed.

The summer sun, it blows my mind
Is falling down on all that I’ve ever known

Movie Review: M*A*S*H (1970)

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War is hell, simple as that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “M*A*S*H”.

In this movie we follow the staff of a field hospital during the Korean war. And with that we get to see how they all handle these tough times by taking part in a bunch of different types of hijinks. But this movie isn’t just used as a way to simply bring laughs out of the audience, but it was also made to comment on the insnaities that we call war and death. And I have to say that it was done surprisingly well. And by surprisingly well I mean that they fucking nailed it and it is perfect satire of it by doing a perfect blend of serious realism and dark humor. And I would say that the plot here is at the perfect balance of comedic and brilliant.

The characters are all unique, interesting and entertaining as hell. What was fun about them too is that they were for the most part played by (at the time) relatively unknown actors who later went on to become pretty big names. Let me mention some of the names and see if it rings and bells in your heads. Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt, Robert Duvall, Fred Williamson. Yeah… those were pretty small(ish) names once upon a time. And they were all great in this movie. They all fit their respective characters perfectly and gave us some great performances.

The score for the movie was provided by Johnny Mandel and it is preatty great. It’s fun, big, whimsical and at times pretty dramatic. It is based in your typical orchestrations but it all comds together pretty damn well. And I feel like I have to touch upon the original song that spawned form this movie which honestly is one of the best songs I have ever listened to. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s called “Suicide is Painless” and was written by Mike Altman, the son of the film’s director, Robert Altman. And the lyrics are both kind of, sort of funny but also pretty deep and thought provoking and helps make this song as great as it is.

Like I just said, the movie was directed by Robert Altman who at the time of making the movie was a bit of a maverick in the movie making scene, and when making “M*A*S*H” it was no different. He did a lot of shit when making the movie that would’ve pissed off studio people if they actually had any idea what he was doing. I don’t feel like explaining what he did but I will say that it can be found out on one of the special features on the DVD. But everything he did was worth it because it is a very well directed movie that looks really good and flows perfectly even though it really doesn’t have a story that you follow straight up from point A to point B, but instead just relying on a seemingly unconnected series of events featuring these amazing characters. It’s also interesting how they never really followed the script that they had been given. They just kind of improvised for the most part and it turned out pretty great… funny how that can happen.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 4 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Sarah Kellerman), Best Director and Best Film Editing. 

“M*A*S*H” is a classic movie featuring a loosely connected yet well crafted and satirical plot, great acting, great music and great directing. Time for my final score. *Cough*. My final score for “M*A*S*H” is a 9,87/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “M*A*S*H” is now done.

THIS ISN’T A HOSPITAL… IT’S AN INSANE ASYLUM!