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: 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: Soldier (1998)

Space… The final frontier. And that’s it, no more “Star Trek” for you. You’re instead getting a different type of space thing!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Soldier”.

In the not too distant a future, an aging soldier (Kurt Russell) finds himself abandoned by his superiors, now having to live in a colony on a distant planet. And soon he finds himself having to defend his new home when genetically engineered super soldiers attack. So yeah, this plot isn’t original or very engaging. It has a lot of familiar elements. Bit of “Shane”, bit of “Universal Soldier”, bit of other things I can’t think of right now. So yeah, not very original, but it’s executed decently enough to be considered passable.

The characters in the movie, while not the most layered, are entertaining and interesting enough to watch. Kurt Russell plays the character of Todd 3465 very stoically, but not 100% uninterested/dead, For pretty much the entire movie he has a blank facial expression, but if you look into his eyes you can see that there’s rage and fear in there. And by fear I mean fear of failing his superiors. Blank expression but his eyes say everything… that’s some great fuckin’ acting! Jason Scott Lee played one of the next-gen super soldiers and he was really badass. Sean Pertwee played one of the men that Todd gets to know on this strange planet, and he is really good in the role. Connie Nielsen plays Pertwee’s wife in the movie and she’s really good. Jason Isaacs plays the obvious dickbag in the movie and he’s great… he’s just great at playing villainous characters. We also got Gary Busey as one of the superior officers in the movie and unlike most of his other performances, he is not playing a crazy and over-the-top character… he’s playing it very straight and he does a really good job. Yeah, this movie has some really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Joel McNeely and it was really good. His score was fun, exciting, and just fun. I really can’t say much else. It doesn’t do any unique things and it doesn’t make me feel various emotions… it’s just a simple action movie score that sounds good and works for the movie.

This movie was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and I think he actually did a solid job here. The shots look really good and the action scenes are very well handled. My biggest gripe with his directing comes with something that occurs in pretty much all of his films… slow motion. I do think it has a place in movies, but the use of it here is not really that good. For one, it is used at some really baffling moments, and it also looks kind of bad. And like I kind of said, the action here is really good. It’s badass. Speaking of visual things, the effects (for the most part) look great! The sets that they built look awesome and the mix of practical/CGI looks good for the most part. A few of the effects in the movie look a little wonky, but overall the effects in this look really good. There are also quite a lot of references to “Blade Runner” in this movie… just thought I’d mention it.

 

This movie has not been too well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 10% (ouch) positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“Soldier” is a surprisingly solid action movie. It features an okay plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, really good music, and really good directing. However it loses a few points with the plot being quite bland and the slow motion in this movie being pretty bad. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Soldier” is an 8,65/10. So while it is flawed, I’d say it’s worth buying!

My review of “Soldier” is now completed.

*Looks at box officer numbers* OUCH! That is kind of sad.

Movie Review: Lone Survivor (2013)

lone-survivor-trailer-2-feat

*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*. That was fun. Now, onto the review!

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… “Lone Survivor”.

A group of American soldiers (Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch) get sent on a mission in Afghanistan to take out a Taliban leader. And soon they find themselves pinned down in an intense battle with the Taliban. And the plot here, while simple in idea and execution is very intense and exciting. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the runtime and it was overall very tense. What I also appreciate is that they show how grey this entire situation is. It’s not just like “‘murica good, Afghans bad”. The Americans ar shown pondering a difficult decision where one option is a big dick move, and the other is not really a dick move. It also shows how there are both good and bad people among the Afghan people (Civilians and Taliban). So there’s a surprising amount of nuance to the plot here, which I appreciated a lot.

The characters in this movie are all somewhat interesting and they have good chemistry with each other. However, I never truly cared about them when things started happening to them. Mark Wahlberg is great, Ben foster is great, Emile Hirsch is great, Taylor Kitsch is great, Eric Bana is great… all the actors in the movie did a great job.

The score for the movie was composed by rock band Explosions in the Sky and composer Steve Jablonsky, and it was really good. It was intense, emotional, and overall fit the movie very well. And while we’re on the theme of sounds, the sound design in this movie is pretty great. I very rarely pick up on sound design in movies, but here I did and it was actually kind of impressive.

This movie was directed by Peter Berg and he did a great job. His directing here is very intense, making the action scenes in this movie pretty fucking heart pounding. Speaking of the action, this movie is very violent. You see people get shot and blood blasts out. Not in a Tarantino-esque way, but in a very realistic way. With that said I also have to give major props to the makeup crew that worked on this movie, because the makeup in this movie looks incredible and actually made me a bit queasy at times. And I can usually stomach gore in movies very well. Good job, makeup crew… you bastards.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best sound mixing and Best sound editing.

“Lone Survivor” is a really good action-drama. It has a really good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and great makeup. However I am bringing it down a little bit because I didn’t care too much for the characters. Time for my final score. *Bang bang bang*. My final score for “Lone Survivor” is an 8,99/10. While not perfect, I’d still say it’s worth buying.
worth-buying

My review for “Lone Survivor” is now completed.

Full disclosure: I am not talking smack about the actual people that this movie was about. I’m just judging the movie versions of them.