Looper (2012)


It’s Going to Happen to YOU, It’s Not Going to Happen to ME!

Looper (2012)When I originally heard about today’s movie, I had exactly zero intention of watching it.  It reminded me of the movie Premium Rush in more ways than just sharing a main actor.  It also just seemed like a super basic action movie that really had nothing to set itself apart from any other random action movie I could choose to watch instead.  But, as my end of the year review was coming up, my friend Greg told me that this movie would probably have to be his movie of the year, even after we had both just seen Django Unchained, which ended up making third on my list.  I decided that I had to see it, and was actually able to accomplish that before the year ended, it just still didn’t make my list in any capacity.  And, since it didn’t make top or bottom of 2012, what level of mediocrity did this movie attain?  We’ll find out as I review Looper, written and directed by Rian Johnson, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan, Xu Qing, Paul Dano, and Piper Perabo.

In 2044, Joseph Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for the mafia as a “looper.”  With Minority Report going on, the only way to kill someone is to have them sent through time with silver strapped to their backs to be killed and disposed of by Loopers so that no one would notice, since they weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.  The only caveat is that their contract will eventually end as well.  They know that their contract is at an end when the older version of themselves is sent back with gold strapped to their backs to be killed by the younger version of themselves.  When this happens, they are no longer Loopers and live with this gold until someone takes them and sends them back to the point when they kill themselves.  But this creates a lot of problems if the Looper fails to kill themselves, as Joseph finds out when his friend Seth (Paul Dano) fails to close his own loop, leaving the mob boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) to have to take care of the situation in a brutal way.  That doesn’t really help Joseph learn from his mistakes though because Old Joe (Bruce Willis) gets sent back and knocks young Joseph out.  Joseph has to fix the problem before Abe takes it into his own hands.

This movie was pretty fantastic.  It wasn’t quite able to make its way into my top list of 2012, but it was not far off.  The surface of the movie feels like a pretty standard action movie, but the science fiction stuff compounded with the time travel stuff makes this movie have a lot more going on under the surface than I would’ve expected.  Time travel always tends to leave a lot of plot holes in a movie, but I felt like this one was handled so deftly that I didn’t notice any plot holes at all.  I’m not saying they weren’t there, but I was so riveted by the story that I wasn’t bored enough to pay attention to trying to find any.  And parts of it were just shocking.  Like what Bruce Willis sets to doing when he gets loose back in time and decides he needs to stop the Rainmaker.  I couldn’t believe they went there.  The story actually has a lot of surprises in it, all the way up to – and including – the end of the movie.  The situation did make me laugh a little bit just because it seems the character Joe would fall in love with anybody as long as they helped him recover from his addiction.  Old Joe fell in love with the Asian lady because she helped him out with that, and Joseph falls in love with Emily Blunt because she helped him through his withdrawals.  Thank God Joe never met Dr. Drew.  That could’ve turned out weird.

The effects and action in the movie were all solid.  The look of the future was never over the top like Back to the Future Part 2 makes it look like it will be in 2 years, but they had enough going on that it didn’t seem exactly contemporary.  The most futuristic thing was probably those jet motorcycles they used.  Those seemed almost over the top, and also sounded like the land speeders from Star Wars.  There were parts where they looked a little goofy, but never enough to take me out of the movie.

The performances in the movie were all pretty great, but none of them ever really did much to give me cause to talk about them.  I heard a lot of talk about Joseph Gordon-Levitt and how he did such an amazing job becoming Bruce Willis, but I didn’t really notice that.  He did a good job in the movie, but he actually felt more like DeNiro than Willis to me.  I also heard a lot about how good the kid, Pierce Gagnon, did in the movie.  That one I totally agree with.  That kid was pretty crazy.

My expectations for Looper went from complete disinterest because of the trailers to expecting a lot because of the opinions of my friends.  In the end, Looper ended up being a fantastic movie that far exceeded my original expectations while not quite making it to the point where they met up with the hyperbole my friends used.  The story was fantastic and surprising, the action and visuals worked really well, and the performances were all completely solid.  I can understand not completely trusting this movie enough to purchase it straight away, but I imagine any rental of it stands a good chance of leading to a purchase.  Check this movie out.  Looper gets “I’m from the future.  You should go to China” out of “This time travel crap, just fries your brain like an egg…”

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Die Hard (1988)


Now I Have a Machine Gun.  Ho Ho Ho.

Die Hard (2012)I found myself at a loss on Christmas last year.  I felt like I should review a Christmas movie, but I wasn’t really able to think of any Christmas movie that I liked in any real way.  So, in lieu of a Christmas movie, last year I reviewed the Harry Potter series.  Small parts of those movies take place on Christmas.  This year I really thought about it.  What is my favorite Christmas movie?  I considered the Grinch, I considered Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and I of course considered Jingle All the Way, but none of those really stood out.  And then I thought of it.  A movie that takes place on Christmas and always fills my heart with cheer.  There could be no greater Christmas movie than Die Hard, based on a novel by Roderick Thorp, written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton, Hart Bochner, Alexander Godunov, De’voreaux White, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush, and James Shigeta.

On Christmas Eve, NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in Los Angeles with hopes of reconciliation with his wife, Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedelia).  McClane is greeted by a limo driven by Argyle (De’voreaux White) and is taken to Nakatomi Plaza, where Holly is attending an office Christmas party.  While McClane changes in Holly’s office, the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his heavily armed group of goons, with intentions to steal $640 million dollars in bearer bonds from the vault.  Turns out that there’s only one person in the world oozing with enough badassitude to stop these guys, and he’s shoeless in the building’s duct system.  Yippee Kay-Yay, mother fucker.

This movie has well earned its classic status.  This is a fantastic Christmas movie.  And a fantastic action movie as well.  I guess most people would probably be more comfortable calling it an action movie, but it takes place in Christmas times, there’s some Christmas music in it, and McClane writes “Ho Ho Ho” on a corpse in the movie.  I think I rest my case.  And I don’t think it’s even worth bothering to argue this movie as an action movie.  I think I actually appreciate this type of action movie more than most others in some ways just because of the main character.  As much as I like a good, over-the-top, superhero action movie, there’s something special to a movie about a regular, everyman kind of character overcoming insurmountable odds with nothing more than some ingenuity and some massive balls.  John McClane is just what a man should strive to be.  He’ll fight terrorists and walk over glass barefoot just to do what’s right, even if it isn’t technically his problem because he’s way out of his jurisdiction.  And he keeps that mentality even if the LAPD that should be helping him is so ridiculously stupid that one should be more surprised that they got their shoes on the right feet when leaving the house in the morning than the fact that they weren’t willing to help McClane.  The FBI came off like frat boys that just wanted to shoot something and the Deputy Chief of Police was so dumb that I half expected him to be occupying himself in the background with a paddleball like Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles.  The look of the movie worked much better than one might expect from an 80’s movie, even if the look of people getting shot can most closely be compared to someone throwing Jell-O squares at people’s chests.  The action is also always enjoyable, and rarely too far away.  Once the movie gets started with the action, it doesn’t get sidetracked any more than it has to.

What is there to say about the performances?  Bruce Fucking Willis.  The end.  Bruce Willis is so amazing in this movie that I find it difficult to put it into words.  He plays the everyman very well; almost as well as he plays the badass.  He seems just as comfortable with a wry comment as he does with an SMG.  Alan Rickman could also be well-served with having his middle name replaced with “fucking.”  He’s exactly the badass villain to counter the badass hero that is John McClane.  He’s charming and intimidating, sometimes simultaneously.  Bonnie Bedelia wasn’t the biggest part of the movie, but I found that what she did had some resonance.  She seemed like exactly the kind of tough chick that would attract a John McClane, while also being the kind that wouldn’t put up with his shit, and also exactly the kind that would eventually get divorced from a John McClane.  Reginald VelJohnson is also very likeable in this movie as the one member of the LAPD with a heart and a brain.  They also had two fantastic douche nozzle performances in this movie from Hart Bochner as Harry Ellis, the douche druggie who’s scheming on McClane’s lady, and William Atherton as the piece of shit reporter who doesn’t understand where to draw lines when involving people’s families into stories.  I had prior history with Atherton as I already hated him so much from his time in Ghostbusters, but I think Bochner might actually take the douche crown from him in this movie.  I was very surprised when anyone in that office was at all a.) surprised that his scheme would eventually get him killed and b.) saddened when he died.  My reaction would probably be more along the lines of, “Yeah, well that’ll happen, I suppose.”

I’m well aware of the fact that there is no point in reviewing a movie like Die Hard.  Everyone has had more than ample time to find out that this movie is awesome.  I really only chose to review it as a Christmas present to myself.  The story isn’t the most spectacular thing ever, but it’s probably upper echelon when compared to typical action movies, and there’s not a lot more satisfying than being able to relate to the hero of your movie because he’s just a regular guy, but then choosing not to pay attention to the fact that you would be nowhere near as awesome if you were in the same situations.  Great movie.  Watch it.  Own it.  Merry Christmas.  Die Hard gets “You throw quite a party” out of “It’s gonna need a paint job and a shit load of screen doors.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Expendables 2 (2012)


I’m Not Gonna Hurt You.  I’m Gonna Take Your Life.

The Expendables 2 (2012)The reason for watching today’s movie was clear.  Why did I watch it?  Because fuckin’ man-tits-balls-ass-‘splosions Mountain Dew!  That’s why!!  Also, I reviewed the first one and the second one just came out in RedBox.  These two movies were very popular with men far more manly than I am, and the first one didn’t do much for me, but it wasn’t bad and had good action.  When they came out with a sequel, I wasn’t really inspired enough to see it in theaters even though Rotten Tomatoes told me it was better than the first.  I knew its time would come eventually.  And that time is now, so let’s get into my review of The Expendables 2, written (allegedly) by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone, directed by Simon West, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Liam Hemsworth, Yu Nan, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Adkins, Jet Li, and Charisma Carpenter.

Though it has nothing to do with the story proper, The Expendables – leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), knife-thrower (and brother of Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber) Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), heavy-weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitionist Toll Road (Randy Couture), crazy dude Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), and the new guy sniper Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) – go to Nepal to rescue some doctor and the captured mercenary Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  Yang inexplicably leaves the group and doesn’t return.  CIA operative Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) replaces one Asian for another – a technical expert named Maggie Chan (Yu Nan) – and sends him on a mission to retrieve something out of a safe.  While they go, Billy goes through a checklist of all the things he can say that means he’s going to get killed soon.  The team then encounter Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who shockingly kills Billy.  After they recover, the Expendables set out for revenge.

I find that I am not nearly manly enough to forgive the problems of a movie like this.  The action is good, but the story is really predictable and the dialogue is painfully bad in parts.  The most predictable thing in this movie by far is the death of Liam “Handsome McSnipey” Hemsworth.  Generally I would expect movie makers to try to avoid clichés, especially if they’re going to want something to have some emotional impact in a little while.  But they did the whole checklist.  It was like the scene near the end of Black Dynamite, except this movie wasn’t a parody.  It was like, “I know I’m the new guy on the team that the audience would be less attached to – and I’m also the least famous person in this jet right now – but I’m so happy we’ve all gotten so attached so quickly that you guys will take it really hard if I die.  Not that I’m going to, though.  I have so much to live for.  This is my last mission until I retire and return to my girlfriend who loves me.  I can’t wait to not have a knife kicked into my chest by Jean-Claude Van Damme!”  After that, the rest of the movie could be summed up with “Revenge.”  I guess technically the entire story of the movie could just be summed up with, “New guy gets killed.  Team sad.  Revenge.”  A predictable action movie story is … well … predictable to me.  I guess bad dialogue is as well, but this movie still caught me off guard with how bad the dialogue was.  The cheesy “Chill out” from Batman & Robin lines are one thing, but they really hit us hard with the bad jokes about these action stars past careers.  You get “I’m back” and “You’ve been back enough” for Schwarzenegger, someone says “Yippee Kay Yay” to Willis, and they even drop a Chuck Norris fact or two for the be-bearded one.  I do appreciate having their careers referenced, but I would rather they do so with funny lines, not ones that may have given me an ulcer.  I don’t know if it’s an ulcer, I just know I’m shitting blood after watching it.  Perhaps I’ve disclosed too much …  I did get a minor smirk out of the Chuck Norris fact they used, but there’s also a very good chance it was just on the website and they just took it.  It was, “I was bitten by a King Cobra once but, after 5 days of agonizing pain, the Cobra finally died.”

One thing about this movie that I would not argue with would be that the action is interesting.  I know Stallone didn’t direct this movie, but the way action is done in his movies ever since the newest Rambo movie seems to be at his influence and I really appreciate how it looks.  It’s some strange mixture of realistic and gruesome while simultaneously being over the top and bombastic.  Shooting an enemy turns them into a bag of blood and gore and they get knocked back 20 feet by a single bullet or a hand-thrown knife hitting them in the chest.  The gunplay – and even the knife-play – was interesting to watch.  Some of the hand-to-hand stuff was interesting, but strangely it was worse when it involved the two best fighters: Randy Couture and Jet Li.  I don’t think Stallone knows how to set up martial arts, but he puts someone like Jet Li in a movie anyway.  In the first movie, I recall finding Jet Li’s fight scene disappointing, and I don’t even recall Randy Couture having one.  In this movie, Jet Li starts off with a decent fight in the beginning, but never again.  And the only thing I remember Couture doing that was vaguely in his ballpark was pinning a guy against a wall and throwing an elbow at his head.  Kind of underwhelming for the shit I’ve seen those two guys do in the past.  I would say that I appreciated most of the fight between Stallone and Van Damme.  It was pretty well done.  There were also some cars that were totally Mad Maxed out in the beginning, and there was also a part where they seemed to steal a scene from another movie.  It was when Stallone was surrounded and out of ammo and he acted like his finger was a gun, only to have his fake shooting backed up by a real sniper killing the guys.  I’m pretty sure that was something Chris Evans did in Losers.

The performances were what you’d expect.  Maybe a little better.  Not great, but I could imagine going into this movie thinking that these guys couldn’t even string words together.  But this movie is so gangnamed dripping with testosterone that I failed a random drug test after watching it.  I WOULD’VE WON THE TOUR DE FRANCE!  But everything in this movie is Orange County Choppers and Ed Hardy shit with skulls all over them.  Stallone even uses a pen in this movie that looked like he soldered trinkets from Hot Topic all over it.  Of course, the biggest thing to say about the cast of this movie is that it’s slathered with big name action stars.  The problem with that is that most of them are really showing their age.  Most of them still look ripped physically, but Stallone’s face looks like he got mauled by bees and Van Damme has alien eyes when he takes the sunglasses off.  I was also confused by Yu Nan.  She did a fine job in the movie, but I was confused about why he didn’t go for some JCVD version of an Asian actress for the role.  There are much bigger Asian actresses he might have been able to get!  He could’ve gotten Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Q, Michelle Yeoh, or any number of Asian actresses that were already known to Americans.  She just seemed out of place.

The Expendables 2 was roughly what I expected out of it.  Good action, soaked in testosterone and explosions on one hand, and the other hand is filled by blunt writing and dialogue so bad it gave me an aneurism.  And there’s really nothing to say about the performances in this movie; everyone in the world should have seen at least one movie with most of these guys featured.  And if you haven’t, then you’re probably not going to see this movie no matter what I say.  Otherwise, it’s fine enough for a watch.  Especially to make fun of.  The Expendables 2 gets “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man … and knife” out of “Who’s next, Rambo?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

RED (2010)


I Am Getting the Pig!

I vaguely remember someone I work with suggesting that I watch today’s movie, but I don’t really remember who.  I think it may have been Eric.  Who suggested it was fairly irrelevant to me because I’m always down to check this movie out.  I don’t remember the circumstances that first lead to me watching this movie.  There’s a possibility that I randomly purchased the movie without having seen it; something that is a rarity for me to do.  I may also have RedBox’d the movie and liked it so much that I immediately purchased it.  Either way, to fulfill this mystery request today, I needed only to walk to my DVD shelves and grab the BluRay.  Doing so brings us up to speed, so let’s review RED, loosely based on a comic book series created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, written by Erich Hoeber, directed by Robert Schwentke, and starring Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Julian McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban, Brian Cox, James Remar, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ernest Borgnine, and Audrey Wasilewski.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) leads a pretty boring life in his retirement.  So boring, it seems, that he entertains himself by tearing up his pension checks so that he can call Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service agent at the pension office, and talk with her for a bit.  The hum-drum life he leads is interrupted when one day he goes downstairs and a hit squad appear to attack him.  He kills the bejesus out of them with extreme prejudice and sets off for Kansas City.  CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is tapped to hunt down Moses and kill him.  It turns out Frank is no ordinary bald dude, but he’s a former black-ops CIA agent who has been tagged “R.E.D.”, or Retired, Extremely Dangerous.  Frank is forced to kidnap Sarah for her own safety and the two set out to get the band back together and find out what’s happening.  With the help of other RED agents – Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox), and Victoria (Helen Mirren) – they find out that their deaths are part of a cover up for the CIA involving people high up on the ladder.  They will most likely kill the shit out of them too.

I really dig this movie.  It suffers a bit from a pretty predictable and familiar story, but saves itself from being too much of the same by telling it in a different and superior way.  The action is over the top and awesome, the movie is a lot of fun for something that’s basically about killing, the performances are delivered by people way over-qualified for such a movie, and the dialogue is very charming.  The action in this movie is a lot of fun.  It’s pretty much all over the top and exciting, and usually framed with some funny dialogue.  I really like the scene you probably saw in the trailer for this movie when Bruce Willis steps out of a spinning cop car and starts firing at Karl Urban, Willis’ legs narrowly being missed by the back of the spinning car.  John Malkovich also shoots a rocket out of mid-air, causing it to explode backwards and kill the person firing it.  I’m sure the Mythbusters would wipe their ass with this notion, but I thought it was awesome, so who cares if it makes sense?  The movie ends on a 20 minute or more action scene of the RED people doing a heist of sorts, but I never got sick of the action because it went on too long.  The movie also had a very satisfying ending.  The throwdown between Willis and Urban in Urban’s office served no purpose to the plot and also seemed a bit out of character for Moses to jeopardize the mission to show Urban that he was better than him, but it was a pretty awesome UFC style throwdown that was amped up by Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle”.  Pointless, but awesome.  Part of what made this movie work for me was the way it was filmed.  They used lots of creative camera angles and cool transitions to make it a very stylized movie, setting itself apart from other action movies.  These were small things that you might not necessarily pay attention to, but subconsciously stick in your mind.  Things like Bruce Willis’ eye transitioning into a bullet in the opening of the movie and John Malkovich flipping off a satellite, transitioning into Karl Urban watching the monitors.  I also liked the postcard things they used to show that we were switching locations.

The cast of this movie is probably the whole reason I went to see it in the first place.  There are so many big names and diverse actors in this thing that I just had to see how it worked out.  Well it worked out amazingly well and impressed me more when I saw who else was in this that was not top-billed.  Bruce Willis is one of the biggest action stars in the world, but he is aging a little by now, making him perfect for this movie.  He didn’t play it like a super-badass action hero, even while he was doing super-badass action things.  He played it more like a quiet, shy dude that was crushing on a girl he met on the phone … oh yeah, and also I’m a total badass.  I didn’t really know who Mary-Louise Parker was before going into this movie because most of her film credits are movies I would not be interested in, and also I never saw Weeds, but she could not have been cuter in this movie, both in looks and in personality.  She was totally fish out of water amongst the crowd Willis gets her involved with, but she had a lot of sass to her and I really dug her in this movie.  As much as I liked her, she had the misfortune of going up against John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs, and she could not compete with that character.  I don’t know that I had ever seen Malkovich do comedy before I saw this, but that dude was great.  He was so awesome and hilarious as the uber-paranoid Marvin.  He was crazy and paranoid so people rarely took what he said seriously, even though he turned out to be right more often than not.  He was the one throwing in the most jokes in the action situations, and if he wasn’t actually saying them, he was making me laugh by being downtrodden in the background holding a pink, stuffed pig.  Morgan Freeman was fairly underused in the movie, but was great in the parts he was in.  He was the one that had the part that bummed me out in the middle of the movie, but I got through it.  I don’t care how old Helen Mirren is, I think I would still throw down with her if she wanted.  Something about that lady is just sexy, especially if you have her shooting a 50-calibur machine gun wearing a white gown.  Karl Urban has played a badass before, but didn’t really go above that character to impress too much.  But I guess he was the bad guy for the most part, so you don’t want him to be too charming.

I dig RED a lot.  It’s not the smartest movie you can watch, and you won’t learn anything from it, but you will watch a stylishly-filmed movie with great performances, charming characters, funny dialogue, and over the top, fantastic action.  However I came to see this movie the first time is irrelevant.  I liked it enough to immediately purchase it on BluRay, and I feel comfortable saying you’ll have fun renting it.  SO DO IT!  RED gets “You guys want to get pancakes?” out of “I trained Kordeski.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Pulp Fiction (1994)


And You Will Know My Name is the Lord When I Lay My Vengeance Upon Thee.

I sometimes get worried when I start a review after watching a movie that caused me to take almost no notes whatsoever. This usually doesn’t happen when watching a crappy movie because I think of lots of jokes to take down during those; this mainly happens during good movies. What is there to say about a good movie? Well, let’s find out. This movie was suggested by my friend Chris, a young crippled boy who probably submitted his request through the Make A Wish Foundation. Or he posted it on my Facebook page. Either way, this movie is a classic movie, much beloved by many people I’ve spoken to about it. As with most movies with such a pedigree, it took me a while to see it for the first time, but once I had, I loved it and bought it on DVD. When it was requested, I busted out that bad boy and sat down to write what you are presently reading. This movie is Pulp Fiction, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Maria de Medeiros, Harvey Keitel, Peter Greene, Duane Whitaker, Alexis Arquette, Steve Buscemi, Kathy Griffin, Phil LaMarr, and Christopher Walken.

This here is a difficult movie to summarize, and even more without spoilers. So there will be spoilers, but I’m going to try to do this chronologically. Two hit men, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), go to an apartment to pick up a briefcase with mysterious, shiny contents. They kill the people in the apartment and leave with their informant, Marvin (Phil Lamarr). On the drive, Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the face. They go to Jules’ associate’s, Jimmy’s (Quentin Tarantino), house to clean up the situation, but his wife, Bonnie, is coming home and they need to get it done by the time she arrives. The Wolf, Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), is called in by their boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). He takes care of the situation and Vincent and Jules go to breakfast. Here, they get involved in a hold-up at the restaurant by Ringo (Tim Roth) and Yolanda (Amanda Plummer). Because Jules is reluctant to give up Marsellus’ case, it devolves into a Mexican standoff between the four. Jules defuses the situation and Vincent and Jules take the case back to Marsellus. Here, they see Marsellus paying off boxer, Butch (Bruce Willis), to take a dive in his fight. After turning over the case, Marsellus asks Vincent to take his wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), out for dinner that night to occupy her. He does, they have a nice night of dinner and dancing, and he returns her home. While he’s in the bathroom, Mia finds a baggie of heroin in Vincent’s jacket and snorts it, mistaking it for cocaine. She immediately overdoses and Vincent must rush her over to the house of his drug dealer, Lance (Eric Stoltz), and his girl, Jody (Rosanna Arquette). They are able to revive her by administering an adrenaline shot directly into her heart. Later, Butch does not take the dive in his match. Instead, he kills his opponent in the ring. His intention is to take the money and his girlfriend, Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), and run away. But Fabienne has forgotten his watch, given to him as a child – along with a disturbing story of a POW camp and anal storage of said watch – by Captain Koons (Christopher Walken), who was in the POW camp with Butch’s father. Butch returns to his apartment for the watch and kills Vincent, who was there looking for Butch. On the way back to Fabienne, Butch sees Marsellus in the street and hits him with his car. Marsellus chases Butch into a pawn shop owned by Maynard (Duane Whitaker), who stops Butch moments from killing Marsellus. Maynard knocks out Butch and Marsellus. They wake up to find themselves tied to chairs with ball gags in their mouth. Maynard called in his buddy, Zed (Peter Greene), and they decide to rape Marsellus. Butch escapes but decides to go back to save Marsellus with a katana. Marsellus tells Butch to never come back to LA, which he happily does with Fabienne.

That is basically the entire movie, condensed to a paragraph. You get a two and a half hour movie out of that by filling it with lots and lots of dialogue. Normally, this would make for an excruciating movie, but this is written by Quentin Tarantino. Much like the oft-mentioned Kevin Smith, Tarantino is an expert at taking scenes where nothing is happening beyond people talking, and that conversation has nothing to do with moving the story along, but make it super compelling so you don’t mind or get bored. The dialogue is definitely the most appealing part to this movie, but that is not to say that the story should not be lauded. Take out all the dialogue and you’d still have a good movie, but not a great one. It’s funny in a lot of parts, dark and violent all over the place, and always intriguing. Though it works in this movie, I’m generally not a fan of the movies being shown out of order. In this movie, it’s fine, but it also makes it a little hard to follow the order of things. But now I’ve written it down in chronological order, so all is well. As with most Tarantino movies, the music is fantastic as well. He loves to throw in those old songs, most of which probably wouldn’t be remembered now were it not for him. Take Miserlou, for example. I like the song, but there is no way I would know that song if it weren’t for this movie.

The acting is pretty much all the way perfect in this movie. John Travolta was a quiet badass who remained calm throughout the greater majority of the movie, even with Bruce Willis pointing a gun at him moments before his death. The only time he lost his shit was when Uma Thurman was dying in front of him, and that was more about getting killed by Marsellus than it was about her death. Samuel L. Jackson was really intimidating at most parts of this movie, more so when he was staring a gun down it’s barrel in the restaurant and when he was quoting the bible at people he was about to kill. “I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration?” Priceless. Uma Thurman was probably as hot as she’s ever been in this movie, and very real as well. I’m not usually one to dig on Uma for whatever reason, but something about that hair do worked for me. Ving Rhames was a great, powerful character in this movie that had that power taken away by a good ass-raping. And he reacts to that much as I assume I would: with a shotgun blast to the rapist’s penis and a threat against anyone who may mention it ever again. I could go through everyone in this movie, but I’ll have the same thing to say about every character from the biggest to the most minor: very real, very good. I think the person that impressed me the most was right in the opening scene of the movie: Amanda Plummer. She comes off first as a sweet lady out to eat with her boyfriend, talking innocently about robbery possibilities. When it’s time to bust out the guns and rob the joint, she is frightening as hell. And later, when Roth has a gun pointed at him, her tough persona cracks drastically as she is terrified she’s about to lose her man to this endeavor.

No surprises here, people. If you’re looking to be shocked by my reviews, keep walking. But I can’t hate on every movie, people. I like stuff too! WHY DON’T YOU GET OFF MY BACK!?! …Sorry. Anyways, great story, fantastic dialogue, and amazing performances land this movie firmly in position for you to own it. Everyone either does or should. So go get it or watch it. Pulp Fiction gets “I want that trophy, so dance good” out of “I don’t need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

The Sixth Sense (1999)


Bruce Willis Was Dead the Whole Time!

I decided to end the October Horror-thon with my favorite scary movie, one that is apparently not a horror movie according to the websites I’ve checked.  But fuck ’em, there are dead people in this movie so I’m counting it.  This movie is The Sixth Sense, aka “The Best Movie M. Night Shyamalan Had in Him.”  This is the movie that did the special twist ending so well that he felt every movie he made had to have a much worse version of it.  Let’s find out how well The Sixth Sense holds up, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, and Mischa Barton.

Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is drunk and boring his wife, Anne (Olivia Williams) by incessantly bragging about receiving an award for being a really good child psychologist.  They go upstairs to get a little freaky naughty and find a window broken and a strange, mostly naked man in their bathroom.  Malcolm figures out that this guy is a former patient named Vincent Grey (Donnie Wahlberg).  Turns out Grey is not happy because Malcolm wasn’t able to help him with his problem 10 years earlier, so he shoots Malcolm in the stomach and blows his own brains out.  Cut to next autumn, where Crowe is creepily watching his next patient, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment).  Malcolm has taken a particular interest in this young boy because of his tight, form-fitting jeans and his similarity to Grey.  “This time,” he resolves, “I WON’T get shot.”  It takes some time for Malcolm to gain the confidence of Cole, but when he does, Cole tells Malcolm his secret: Cole sees dead people.  Malcolm wants to give up on Cole, but he also doesn’t want to get shot in 10 years.  The movie continues on to it’s resolution of Cole’s problem, the classic Shyamalan twist, and the credits.

When this movie first came out, it was a phenomenon, and with good reason.  Not only was it a well-made movie and a well-written story, but the twist at the end was so epic and so well-hidden that it was a gigantic faux pas for someone to ruin it.  I hadn’t remembered it, but my roommate told me that he remembers ruining it for another one of our friends and that getting them really pissed off.  I, however, got to witness it without my douchebag roommate’s spoilers and so I enjoyed the movie immensely.  The story is a fairly classic one that happens in a lot of ghost movies when someone is the sole person that can see them.  The twist is what separates this movie from the others.  The atmosphere is also one to be appreciated.  It’s quiet and slow as it builds the tension and, though I grant that it does go for a lot of startling, the mood it creates elevates those scares when they happen.  Things like the cabinets opening when the mom leaves the room, the lady in the kitchen with cuts on her wrists, and the boy with the head wound all get a nice jump out of the audience.  But someone needs to talk to these ghosts about first impressions.  When Osment decides to try to help the ghosts, the first one pops up out of nowhere and vomits at him.  Why don’t you throw up BEFORE you go talk to him, and maybe wave him over from across the room.  And was it necessary to grab his leg out of nowhere when he was in your room to help you?  Not cool, Mischa Barton!  The use of color was also very nice as the objects that are red are usually things that you should pay attention to because they have significance later on or indicate a heightened emotional state.  The ones I can remember are the red doorknob and the wife, Olivia Williams.  After the events of the first part of the movie, she’s usually seen wearing red and, at the end of the movie, you figure out what the heightened emotional state she’d be in would be.

The only negative I’d say about this movie is that, once you’ve already seen it, the movie isn’t nearly as special.  Even though it’s over 10 years old, and I would assume almost everybody has seen it by now, I refuse to put the spoiler ending in this review.  I think it’s a huge douchey move to ruin it for someone too.  Eventually, there will be people who haven’t seen this movie because they’re only just coming to the age where they can watch it and I don’t want to be responsible for ruining it.  This is a fine movie with some good chills and creepiness that is a perfectly good movie to watch, but watching it for the first time when you don’t know what’s going to happen is sublime.  The first watch of this movie made it my favorite “horror” movie, but subsequent watches leaves it as only enjoyable and not nearly as epic.

The performances in this movie are also top notch.  Bruce Willis puts on by far his greatest performances to date.  He has to be serious, charming, and devastated at different times in the movie and I’ve still never seen him put on such a show before.  He’s great in action movies and all, but it doesn’t require nearly as much range from him so I would have suspected he wouldn’t be capable of it.  This movie also made Haley Joel Osment a household name for a good long time.  He was the pinnacle of the child actor until he pretty much fell off the face of the Earth and was replaced by dual Fannings.  He was absolutely fantastic in this movie.  He seemed constantly depressed and on edge, and his character would have good reason to be.  It’s a shame that he seemingly made such poor movie choices after this movie, and that his body grew up and his face didn’t, which makes him strange to look at today.  But he was an adorable kid that first showed up in the awesome movie Forrest Gump.  But besides Forrest Gump, The Sixth Sense, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence (though I’ve never seen that), he’s never been in a movie rated higher than 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, and seemingly stopped working about 4 years ago.  I’m sure he’s plenty rich though, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.  He was nominated for an Academy Award, though, along with the person playing his mother, Toni Collette.  And with good reason there as well, because she was also fantastic as the working mom just trying to make it work with her outcast child.  But it may not have been that realistic of a performance because, if I had a kid that could talk to ghosts and I was dirt poor, my first thoughts would be “I’m gonna exploit the crap out of you, boy!”  Olivia Williams had a small part to the movie, but she did great at it.  On first viewing, I would’ve said she was a bitch to Bruce, but once the twist is revealed, you get to see the nuance to her performance and appreciate it much more.  Donnie Wahlberg deserves an honorable mention for his commitment to the part as well.  He lost all kinds of weight for the role; so much so that I didn’t even recognize him when I saw it.  He was very good also.

So there it is.  The end of the October Horror-thon with my favorite horror movie, The Sixth Sense.  The mixture of is fantastic story, epic twist, outstanding performances, and terrific cinematography will probably keep it my favorite horror movie of all time, regardless of the questionable nature of it’s “horror” title that I’ve bestowed on it.  The only problem I can think of to this movie is that it isn’t nearly as epic when you already know the ending.  So don’t be a dick and ruin this for someone if they haven’t seen it.  Look, I just did a review of over 1000 words and didn’t spoil it, so you can too.  And after that, just hope that Shyamalan can pull off another good movie before his career is over with all them Airbenders and Water Lady’s.  I give The Sixth Sense a “It’s getting cold” out of “Some magic’s real.”

Hey, peeps.  Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh?  And tell your friends!  Let’s make me famous!

The Expendables (2010)


Welcome to the third installment in my “Prove I’m Not Gay” movies, following the back to back reviews of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sex and the City.  This particular movie could be argued as being the anti-chick flick.  Make a movie that includes almost every action star you could think of, add lots of explosions, forget to write a story, and even throw in a little love story for no reason and you have this movie.  This movie is The Expendables, starring … well … think of an action movie star and input their name here.  And, just to be helpful, it stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, David Zayas, Steve Austin, Charisma Carpenter, Eric Roberts, Giselle Itie, and have Arnold Schwarzenegger (yeah, I copied it off of a website.  Who wouldn’t?), Bruce Willis, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.  Any action stars you thought of that weren’t here will probably be in the sequel.

This story should be easy enough.  Stallone, Statham, Crews, Li, Lundgren, and Couture are the Expendables, an elite group of mercenaries.  In the beginning, they get onto a boat and kill a bunch of pirates holding hostages.  Lundgren goes a little nuts and tries to “break” someone, and if he dies, he dies.  Rambo has to kick him out of the group.  Then the Transporter’s girlfriend dumps him for a douche.  Black Mask wants more money.  Couture is sad about his ear.  Crews makes his tittie muscles dance.  So McClane gives Rocky a mission to kill a general somewhere and John Matrix turns down the mission.  So Judge Dredd and Chev Chelios go there and find out Eric Roberts, with his bodyguard Stone Cold Steve Austin, are really bad, and Cobretti falls in love with the general’s daughter.  Then they go back and kill everybody.

This movie is exactly what everyone expects it to be.  Dumb but exciting.  There is kind of a story to this movie, but it’s very typical and entirely predictable.  Surprising as it may be, Stallone actually has the ability to write some good dialogue from time to time.  He didn’t do that here.  It’s either really cliched or very confusing.  There were times that I was wondering “Why are they talking about this right now?”  And there’s a black guy that’s one of the pirates in the very beginning that both cannot act and cannot be understood.  I think that was a wise choice.

The cast is probably the biggest draw of this movie.  As I said, practically every living action star is in this movie at one point, and the ones that weren’t probably just couldn’t find the time to get in there.  They should’ve just had Van Damme walk by in the background at one point.  Sly looks really weird to me in this movie.  I know the man’s getting old, but he’s still ripped to shreds in this movie.  There are so many veins in this man’s arm that I would argue he had to have some surgically implanted.  But his face looks like he’s had Cher-esque work done.  The rest of the cast is exactly what you expect from them.  Except, maybe, for Jet Li.  For some reason, Jet Li gets his ass kicked in this movie by most people.  If you ask me, I bet Li could beat down everyone on this cast save for maybe Randy Couture.  The other person here is Mickey Rourke, who actually puts on a pretty good, emotion charged performance at one point, regardless to how shitty the dialogue he’s delivering is.  You should give the man an Oscar just for that.

The action is the other draw to this movie.  The fight scenes are pretty good, though I’d actually expect better from such a cast.  But they go more for gun play than for fights.  The other nice thing about this movie is that Sly wanted as many of the explosions and action scenes to be practical as they could manage.  So the shit that blows up into gigantic fireballs actually happened, and looks like it.  Also, I don’t know how he managed, and I believe it started with the newest Rambo, but Sly’s movies pull off some really brutal deaths.  I’ve seen it in things since but I don’t remember it before Rambo where it started to look uncomfortably realistic at times.  I’m cool with it though.  Good work.

So that’s that.  As I said, this movie is exactly what you expect of it.  It’s kind of worth seeing, but you probably won’t be impacted that much by it.  It’s explosions and deaths are cool, but everything else kind of sucks.  I give this movie “Rent it once, and then again in a few months when you’ve forgotten everything about it” out of 786.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.