4 years ago
“Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.”
Taken from the film’s IMDB page, that synopsis is all that you should know before watching Cabin in the Woods. Without being facetious, I almost want to say “just go see the movie. Trust me on this,” as it would be a crime to spoil any one of this film’s surprises. That being said, it’s time to rise up to the challenge and review this thing. Somehow.
One of the most endearing aspects of this film is its self-awareness, which primarily shines through the dialogue between these five friends. Each of the actors fit neatly into their respective archetypes, with Fran Kranz stealing the show as the gang’s stoner. More than just another token, however, the character actually ends up being considerably deeper than I initially expected. The same holds true for both Richard Jenkins’ and Bradley Whitford’s characters, though I won’t elaborate on those two any further for the sake of spoilers.
The bulk of Cabin serves as both a parody and an homage to classic horror movie tropes, with the sharp, witty writing of Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard carrying the day. It’s the climax, though, wherein the horror film genre is turned completely upside down, that the movie elevates to a whole new level. Simply put, shit hits the fan.
While single-handedly destroying the genre, Cabin in the Woods provides for one chaotic ride. Not since last year’s Hobo With a Shotgun have I had this much fun at the movies. I just about permeated this review with insufferable hyperbole, so I might as well end it with some more: nothing can prepare you for this movie.
Seriously, though, don’t let anyone spoil it for you.
4 years ago
Y'know, I'd actually planned on posting this list up at the end of 2011. But I didn't... Yep.
I feel like, of all of the films leading up to this summer’s Avengers, this one had to be the most difficult to translate to film, particularly because of the elaborate costumes and the element of magic in this heavily science-based universe that Marvel set up. Virtually all of it worked, though, from the rich mythology, to the thrilling set-pieces (even though that aspect hits its peak during the opening frost giants sequence), to surprisingly relatable characters in both Thor and Loki. Easily my favorite of the Avengers set-up films.
9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Talk about a shocker! After the crapfest that was Tim Burton’s reboot, this franchise would need something special to pull it out of the toilet (cue punch line drum). Admittedly, Rise is carried largely by Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performance as Caesar. But, damn, is it one hell of a performance! I’m not typically one to critique the list of Oscar nominees each year, but I seriously feel as though Serkis was snubbed.
8. Midnight in Paris
This is one quirky, fun movie! Owen Wilson hasn’t been this likable in, well, ever. Cinematography aside, the beauty of the film is in its poignant message in regards to how people view the past with rose-tinted glasses. Oh, and props to Rachel McAdams for being pretty freakin’ detestable.
7. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
From The Incredibles to Ratatouille, Brad Bird has quickly become one of my favorite directors. Ghost Protocol hits just the right balance of oh-my-god-did-you-just-see-that moments and good, ol’-fashioned character development. Jeremy Renner takes a particularly surprising turn as agent William Brandt. At no other point in this series has the spy element been this prevalent, which is just one of the reasons why I think that Ghost Protocol stands as the perfect Mission Impossible movie.
It must have been a real challenge to put this screenplay together. Too comical, and it ventures into the realm of just being mean-spirited and in bad taste. Too serious, then the few bits of comedy may not be as effective. But, as with many of the films on this list, 50/50 hits its sweet spot. This movie is filled with memorable characters and provides just as many laugh-out-loud moments as it does genuinely moving ones. Inspirational stuff.
4 years ago
5. The Muppets
Just in terms of the sheer number of times that I laughed my ass off, this may be my favorite comedy of not only 2011, but of the last two or three years. There’s this infectious self-awareness to it that just doesn’t show up in many comedies. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the musical numbers are catchy as hell.
4. X-Men: First Class
Not as big of a surprise as Planet of the Apes, as director Matthew Vaughn had proven himself with Kick-Ass the year before. Still, though, after the last two X-Men films, I was not expecting this one to rejuvenate the franchise to such a degree. It even de-canonizes the crappy movies, it seems. Love the comradery among the crew – Charles and Eric’s relationship, especially. And Kevin Bacon makes for one scary villain.
3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
To be honest, I don’t think that this movie is particularly remarkable in regards to the story itself, as it’s a pretty typical “who-done-it” tale. No, it’s the way that the story is told that distinguishes Girl With the Dragon Tattoo from other films of its ilk. It relies pretty heavily on atmosphere – Trent Reznor’s haunting score, the drab color pallet, taking place in the dead of winter. Then there’s Rooney Mara’s performance as the titular character, which elevates the film by several new levels.
2. Hobo With a Shotgun
Yeah, I probably shouldn’t even be putting this movie on this list, let alone at the number two spot, but I just had an absolute blast while watching it. Everything about this stupid movie – the grindhouse aesthetic, the over-the-top performances, the intentionally heavy-handed message, the insane, yet strangely likable hobo – it all works. Oh, and something happens – some characters are introduced – in the last third of the film. This scene and every one that follows it make no sense whatsoever, but for this movie, it comes across as unmitigated brilliance. I’m not trolling, either. Hobo with a Shotgun reminds me just how much fun that the movies can be. And how much of a sick bastard I am for liking this kind of stuff.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
This is just pure, classic storytelling. Good versus Evil; themes of loyalty, friendship, standing up for what’s right. The trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione continue to be some of the most endearing characters that I’ve seen on film, and Alan Rickman’s performance as Snape provides a new perspective on the series as a whole. On top of that, there’s this awe-inspiring sense of scale that really sells the idea of this being “2012 with wizards.” I laughed, I cried – felt just about every emotion that I would want to feel from a film. Mr. Potter, I salute you.
4 years ago
5. Portal 2
This is one of those rare puzzle games for me that, while being increasingly challenging, never managed to feel irritating. It’s the perfect blend of having fun while thinking that you’re a rocket scientist. What really puts Portal 2 so high on this list, though, is the witty script, as well as the insanely memorable characters – all few of them.
4. Batman: Arkham City
Entries 4, 3, and 2 on this list are so closely tied that I’d almost like to say that they’re in no particular order. I will say that, of all of the games on this list other than Mortal Kombat, Arkham City represents the most substantial leap forward in quality when compared to its predecessor. While I love Arkham Asylum, this sequel just dwarfs it, to the point where I’m not sure if I could go back to the original game. Obviously, Arkham City isn’t the most expansive open-world[ish] game out there, but I think that a case could be made for it being one of the most detailed. Not only is there more freedom in the way that you tackle the main game, but the stellar voice work and gritty art direction really sell the world of Arkham City. Oh, and making you feel like Batman is a pretty big accomplishment, too.
3. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Hyperbole comin’ at ya: This game’s got it all, from the tight platforming, to the jaw-dropping set-pieces, to the bombastic, yet still inspired musical score, to what are probably the most awe-inspiring visuals that I’ve seen all year. And it’s all grounded in a very introspective tale that puts both Drake and Sully, especially, in a new light. If you like video games, just go play Uncharted 3.
2. Gears of War 3
These last two spots will be a bit tangential, so bare with me. The final installment of this trilogy, while playing it safer than most of these sequels in terms of gameplay, is a hell of a blast for someone who thoroughly digs the established Gears mechanics. The single player campaign is absolutely thrilling, with seemingly innumerable set-piece moments. While the dialogue between each of the characters can get a bit grating at times (“Putting it scientifically, we need to blow his brains out his ass”), I was surprised to find that a few scenes had me getting a bit misty-eyed, and one in particular that put me in stunned silence. From a Gears of War game, I know. Wasn’t expecting to react to it that way, either. Additionally, Horde Mode has consumed at least a few days worth of hours of my life, which is something that very few multiplayer games are able to do. Overall, it’s just a brilliant capper to the trilogy, and – again – probably the game that I played the most of in 2011.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The funny thing about Skyward Sword being number one is that I seem to have more problems with it than any of the other games on this list. Similarly to Dragon Age II, Skyward Sword is limited to just a few different locales, so variety isn’t exactly the name of the game as far as the environment is concerned; there really isn’t any control over the speed of the text when conversing with another character; the game feels the need to essentially pause and alert you that you obtained an item, even if it’s one that you’ve already picked up; Link’s companion, Fi, feels like a step back from Twilight Princess’ Midna (though perhaps it’s unfair to compare her to my favorite video game character); and the story, when placed into the context of the larger Zelda universe, seems to bring forth more questions than it does answers.
Yet, those are just nitpicks when compared to the things that this game gets right. The painterly, impressionist art style feels right at home within the game’s whimsical aesthetic; the dungeon design is among the best in the series, with equally impressive boss fights; the soundtrack has an identity all its own, without relying on more than a couple classic Zelda tunes; and the characters – I think – will end up being some of the most unforgettable of the series. Groose, along with being one of the relatively few Zelda characters with a genuine character arc, is absolutely hilarious. Ghirahim represents a refreshing new take on the Zelda villain, rather than just being another Ganon. Even Fi, despite being the paragon of stating the obvious, is actually pretty endearing in her own way.
Really, Skyward Sword just made me feel like a kid again, and not so much because of its references to prior games in the series, but just in the overall presentation. Seriously, check it out if you haven’t already. It’s not half bad.
4 years ago
I don’t typically put together these kinds of lists, primarily because – most years – I’m compelled to play through about only ten games. Even then, I find only a few of them to be truly memorable and worth paying recognition to. 2011, however, was littered with exceptional games, to the point where it was actually a bit difficult to narrow my favorites down to ten. Now, while that’s not to say that this year didn’t have its share of disappointments (I’m lookin’ at you, Duke Nukem Forever), I would argue that 2011 was perhaps – just in terms of the breadth of remarkable content – the best year in gaming.
So, let’s get started:
10. Super Mario 3D Land
Serving as yet another reminder of just how timeless the series’ core mechanics are, Super Mario 3D Land is good, ol’ platforming bliss. The imagination behind the level design is among the best that I’ve seen from the portly plumber’s adventures, and while I’m not exactly the biggest fan of 3D, the way in which it’s used here is surprisingly effective. My perceptions of what could be accomplished on a handheld system were challenged on more than several occasions, which has me feeling pretty hopeful about what the future holds for the 3DS.
9. Mortal Kombat
Talk about breathing new life into a series! Bloodier and gorier than ever, this title brings the series back to its roots. On top of that, the story mode – set in an alternate reality a la J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot – is cheesy fun that feels like it came straight out of the ‘90s. And even though Shao Kahn is among the cheapest of cheap bastards, the overall experience is just the kick in the ass that Mortal Kombat needed.
8. Dead Space 2
As with the majority of the entries on this list, Dead Space 2 takes more evolutionary steps forward than revolutionary ones from its established formula. Virtually everything that I loved about the original 2008 title – the foreboding atmosphere, the management of resources, the nightmarish enemy encounters – are all back and more refined. Admittedly, though, I couldn’t really recall any survival horror games that have scared me enough to have one of those scream-loud-enough-to-wake-up-the-family-at-two-in-the-morning moments, as fun as they may have been. That is until I played Dead Space 2, and had my first encounter with the Stalkers – those enemies that’ll hide behind crates, then ram at into at full-speed when you’re not looking. Thanks for that.
7. Dragon Age II
This game’s a polarizing one, from what I’ve seen; to be sure, I’ve got my own problems with it. Being confined to only a few locations throughout the entire game is frustrating, my decisions don’t exactly impact the world as much as I’d like them to, and there’s a character shift towards the end of the game that’s just hilariously stupid. However -- when thinking of Dragon Age II -- what immediately comes to my mind is the rewarding combat, the rich mythology, and Bioware’s trademark dialogue tree system [that I sometimes wish was in every video game]. Also, despite BioWare being responsible for who I consider to be some of the most endearing characters in the medium (particularly with the Mass Effect series), I was still surprised by how much Hawke’s companions grew on me. Especially Varric. Dude’s a champ.
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
This is just a freakin’ monster of a video game. I’ve heard the phrase “no two people will play this the same way” for other games before, but here, it’s especially applicable. It’s the sort of game where you can spend a good three hours just wandering around – not doing any quests – and by the time that you’re back in the real world, you’ve got at least five entertaining stories to tell your friends in regards to all the weird things that you came across. Magic swords, talking dragons, annoying internet memes – it’s the stuff that legends are made of.
5 years ago
- The Social Network
- Hot Tub Time Machine
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- The Kids Are All Right
- True Grit
10. The Fighter
Since the plot of The Fighter is, admittedly, nothing earth-shattering for the genre, the two elements of this film that cause it to stand out are the stellar performances from the entire cast and the authentic sense of place. And while it is Christian Bale who gives what might be the most memorable performance from an actor this year as Dicky Eklund, there hasn’t been a whole lot of attention given to Marky Mark’s portrayal of Micky Ward. Some argue that he was essentially playing the same Mark Wahlberg from all of his past films, but I maintain that the film would not have worked nearly as well without him. Personally, I feel that he really captured what was necessary for us to root for his character --- to hope that he would eventually become his own man and overcome the obstacle that is his own family.
9. The King’s Speech
This is a film where the main driving force, for me, is in the relationship between the two main characters. Honestly, there really isn’t anything that I can say about the performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush that hasn’t been said already. It’s just great to watch the two of them play off of eachother – to watch this member of royalty and this commoner treat one another as equals. If there are any male performances that I would say are on par with Christian Bale’s, it’s those two. Oh, and it’s also nice to see Helena Bonham Carter play a normal person for a change.
8. How to Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon, while including a surprisingly engaging, character-driven story, is an awe-inspiring experience. Similarly to 2009’s Avatar, while the basic story may not be the most original, what these artists do with it makes it extremely lovable. On top of that, the characters are particularly endearing, and the visuals are used to actually enhance the story (all of which are qualities that are rarely seen in a DreamWorks Animation film).
The first of two films on this list that earns its spot by encapsulating the purest essence of fun, Kick-Ass is a film in which just about everything works, from the Superbad-esque humor, to the often over-the-top action sequences, to the surprisingly believable cast of characters. Nicolas Cage also reminds us that he’s capable of delivering top-notch performances with the Adam-West-Batman-inspired Big Daddy, and Chloë Moretz’s introduction as Hit Girl is sure to go down as one of the great character intros.
Here’s a movie that, while being an absolute blast to watch multiple times, still manages to have something to say. Whether you agree or disagree with where the film’s coming from in terms of its statement regarding the United States’ immigration policy, Machete is undeniably bold. While it’s certainly lacking in subtlety, the film’s heartfelt rage and frequent ultraviolence compliment eachother brilliantly. Easily the most fun that I had at the movies in 2010.
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Definitely my biggest surprise of 2010. This, to me, is the gamer’s movie, expressing an understanding of the culture to an almost scary degree. Scott Pilgrim is among the most unique movies of the year, with its sharp, witty dialogue (making it the funniest movie of the year), and a visual style that gives the film an identity all its own.
4. Black Swan
“What the hell was that?!”
- Audience Member as the credits for Black Swan started rolling
Despite a mildly slow beginning, Tangled is one of the most entertaining, as well as one of the most emotionally resonant, movies that I've seen this year. Directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno (who were also behind 2008’s Bolt, which – I dare say – is my personal favorite animated film of all time) prove themselves to be more than just one-hit wonders by providing a film with mesmerizing visuals, extremely catchy musical numbers, and a cast of characters that is almost entirely memorable.
From Memento, to The Prestige, to The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan is quickly becoming one of the premiere directors of intellectual, yet crowd-pleasing entertainment. Inception definitely continues this trend, while demonstrating more creativity than perhaps any of his other films. With its challenging narrative structure, likable characters (if somewhat lacking in depth), and sheer visual splendor, Inception is easily among my favorite movies of the year. It was a pretty rough summer movie season in 2010, but thankfully, both Inception and my #1 pick were there to remind me why I dig this medium so much.
1. Toy Story 3
I've said this before, but I'll say it again: Pixar has shown with their initial ten films that they haven't the faintest clue how to make a bad movie. And yet, somehow, I always find myself feeling doubtful whenever a trailer for one of their new films is released. With Toy Story 3, I got the impression that it would be just another adventure with Woody and the gang for the sake of having one.
5 years ago
10. Saw 3D
A film that barely manages to make this list, Saw 3D is the movie that a small part of me feels a bit reluctant towards even mentioning here, as I, admittedly, consider myself a fan of this series. As ridiculously labyrinthine as the plot had become, I had been more than mildly interested as to how it would all pan out, as the filmmakers assured fans that they had a plan set out in terms of how they wanted to end the series. Too bad that that plan entailed having a series of subplots that had no connection to one another, some laughably horrible performances (even by this series’ standards), and a twist ending that fans had jokingly guessed about since the release of Saw II. Even as far as the traps are concerned, Saw 3D still doesn’t deliver. Aside from one particular scenario involving a car seat and a ton of super glue, all of them feel uninspired, and, in some cases, pretty silly. The series has had its ups and downs (and, personally, I feel that only the first one stands as a legitimately great film), but this entry just takes it to embarrassing new lows.
Don’t have a whole lot to say about this one. Angelina Jolie does the best job that anybody could do with a character such as Salt, and really, there isn’t anything in the film that’s particularly horrible. It’s just the ultimate, mediocre material that bugged me, with a ludicrous plot that I found a tough time getting in to, and plot twists and character betrayals that could be seen from a mile away.
8. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
I’m still not even sure if this movie belongs on this list, as I was having a fun time with it from virtually beginning to end – just probably not for the reasons that the filmmakers intended. The way that Bella Swan manipulates Edward and Jacob – these two boys who are in love wit her – easily makes her one of the most monstrous lead characters who I’ve seen on screen in a while. And the fact that the movie wants us to buy her as this sweet, innocent girl makes it all the more hilarious. Beautifully bad stuff.
7. The Wolfman
This is a movie that really only suffered in one department – the most important one for a movie like this: suspense. While none of the performances stuck out, they weren’t horrible either; and despite all of the grandeur of the special effects, the surprising lack of thrills really kept this film down for me.
6. Green Zone
This is one film that I initially had some hope for, what with Matt Damon reteaming with Paul Greengrass after the satisfying conclusion of the Bourne trilogy. But with the clichéd script and hollow characters (particularly the almost cartoonishly evil villain), I really found it difficult to get into this film, even remotely. Similarly to Salt, it just boiled down to being a dumb action movie, though without anybody to really root for, or even any semblance of fun.
5. Shrek Forever After
This is the first movie on this list that I’d go so far as to say that I really hated. The movie just screams “direct-to-DVD sequel” throughout, as it just rehashes elements from the previous films. And while the first two entries stand among DreamWorks Animation’s best films, by this point, the pop culture-laden humor has begun to feel so tired that it’s actually cringe-inducing.
A movie that occasionally shows hints of something remotely interesting, yet never follows through with any of them, Skyline further proves that special effects don’t compensate for unlikable characters and uninspired storytelling. The movie at least has its moments of unintentional hilarity, so it’s not completely irredeemable.
3. Vampires Suck
Another spoof movie by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the diabolical masterminds behind Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Disaster Movie? Vampires Suck was almost destined to make this list. Even after three movies, this duo continues to surprise me by how often they fail to make me laugh, with pop culture references that are thrown in simply for the sake of having pop culture references.
2. The Bounty Hunter
This is a film that just meanders its way to the 111-minute mark, unsure as to what to do with its story or its two lead characters. Neither Aniston nor Butler display any chemistry together, and the story is formulaic to the point of almost being physically uncomfortable. Whereas Vampires Suck at least got a couple of chuckles out of me, The Bounty Hunter failed to do even that.
1. The Last Airbender
Otherwise known as Exposition: The Movie, M. Night Shyamalan’s most epic disaster yet was the one movie of 2010 that I was almost unable to finish all the way through. The Last Airbender commits the worst crime that any movie can: it’s boring. This movie fails to provide so much as a laughably over-the-top performance, or a protagonist to despise, as this movie has no characters, but merely cardboard cutouts of people who serve no other purpose than to expose the details of a story and a world that I have no investment in. With supposedly tremendous problems being discovered and solved within a matter of seconds, the gravity of each and
5 years ago
“The classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale gets a lavish CG makeover as directors Glen Keane and Dean Wellins team up to tell the tale of a fair-haired beauty (voiced by Mandy Moore) with long-flowing locks, a gallant hero with a heart of gold, and the evil witch who plots to keep these lovelorn innocents apart.”
With John Lasseter having gained creative control over the studio several years ago now, it’s more than fair to say that Walt Disney Animation has become a force to be reckoned with in the industry. While I felt that Meet the Robinsons was a fairly middling entry in the “classic” canon, it was 2008’s Bolt that proved that it was still capable of creating films on par with those of its sister studio, Pixar. For me personally, it was the film that quickly found its way among Pulp Fiction and The Big Lebowski as one of my all-time favorites. So, when I heard that Tangled (or, as it was initially titled, Rapunzel) would also be under the helm of Byron Howard, along with Nathan Greno, Bolt’s head of story, I naturally got pumped. Thankfully, Disney Animation’s 50th feature continues the trend of excellence set by the duo’s last project.
If there’s one area where Tangled challenges Pixar, it’s in the animation. Much like in the studio’s previous computer-animated entry, all of the environments in the movie, while looking incredibly realistic, don’t contradict the cartoon-esque design of the characters. The film also provokes feelings of nostalgia, due in part by the painterly backgrounds that are reminiscent of films from Disney’s first Golden Age.
As far as the plot is concerned, it’s more or less what one would expect. That said, what Disney Animation tends to do best is have characters that are so relatable and different from one another that they make an otherwise traditional, borderline-formulaic tale feel virtually brand new. Definitely, that’s pulled off here. The two leads, Rapunzel and Flynn (played with genuine sincerity by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, respectively) make for one of the most likable Disney couples, and the two side characters that accompany them along their journey are just as endearing. Often, when going into an animated film in particular, I’m afraid of running into agonizingly annoying “sidekicks.” However, Rapunzel’s pet chameleon, Pascal, got quite a few laughs out of me, and Maximus, the horse of the Head of the Palace Guard, pretty much steals the show. The less said about him, out of fear of spoiling anything, the better.
You probably wouldn’t know it based on the way that this film was marketed, but Tangled is a musical. While I don’t see the soundtrack as a whole going down in history as one of the studio’s greatest, there are a couple of truly memorable musical numbers, one of which coming from the film’s villainess, Mother Gothel. Voiced excellently by Donna Murphy, she’s a character who constantly kept me guessing. If Gothel isn’t on par with Keith David’s Dr. Facilier from last year’s Princess and the Frog, she’s close.
Despite a mildly slow beginning, Tangled is one of the most entertaining, as well as one of the most emotionally resonant, movies that I’ve seen this year. Directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno prove themselves to be more than just one-hit wonders by providing a film with mesmerizing visuals, catchy musical numbers, and a cast of characters that is almost entirely memorable. If nothing else, it’s the first film since Inception that’s reminded me why I dig this medium so much.
5 years ago
"Sylvester Stallone gears up for a men-on-a-mission film with the Nu Image/Millennium Films war picture The Expendables. Jason Statham and Jet Li co-star alongside the brawny filmmaker as a group of mercenaries who undertake a near-impossible operation to overthrow a dictator in South America. Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Terry Crews, and UFC star Randy Couture co-star.'
For anyone growing up during the '80's and early '90's, the notion of having a film including all of Hollywood's most legendary action heroes seemed like little more than a pipe dream. So, when I initially heard that Sylvester Stallone was going to be putting together a movie titled The Expendables for just that purpose, I literally freaked out. But does this supposed "culmination of wishes' deliver the goods? Absolutely.
One thing that I was worried about going into Expendables was that, despite how exciting the idea of having all of these guys together sounded on paper, the filmmakers wouldn't be able to give each of them the amount of screen time that they deserved. Personally, very seldom did I find this to actually be the case. Perhaps one or two members of the crew could've received a bit more time in the limelight, but on the whole, I thought that they balanced the focus considerably well, without making the whole venture feel like a cluttered mess.
Say what you will about Stallone as a director, but the man knows how to handle action. Not only do these heroes of yesteryear provide the film with such a tremendous sense of nostalgia, but the action sequences, as well as the way in which they're shot, harken back to their time as well, before - and I know that I'm about to sound like a curmudgeon here - action scenes were plagued by the infamous shaky-cam. I won't go into describing how any of these sequences play out, but suffice it to say, it's some delightfully brutal stuff.
Now, as far as the plot is concerned, what you read in the synopsis is... Well, that's pretty much it. Sure, there are a few twists and turns along the way, but if you've watched any action hero classic, you'll see them coming from about a mile away. On top of that, I found the main villain to be pretty silly, and a good portion of the dialogue is just hysterically awful. But, admittedly, that's kind of the fun of the whole experience, as I simply looked at it as a cartoon. A very gory, decapitation-heavy cartoon, but nonetheless!
Overall, I got just about everything that I could want out of a movie like The Expendables: sheer badassery. Sure, the plot is paper thin, and the scene involving a couple of cameo appearances felt just a little anticlimactic, but as far as mindless action films go, this one's tough to beat, at least compared to what else we've been given this summer.
5 years ago
Ã¢â‚¬Å“NYPD Detectives Christopher Danson and P.K. Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) are the baddest and most beloved cops in New York City. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get tattoos Ã¢â‚¬" other men get tattoos of them. Two desks over and one back, sit Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen them in the background of photos of Danson and Highsmith, out of focus and eyes closed. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not heroes Ã¢â‚¬" theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe Other Guys.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ But every cop has his or her day and soon Gamble and Hoitz stumble into a seemingly innocuous case no other detective wants to touch that could turn into New York CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest crime. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the opportunity of their lives, but do these guys have the right stuff?Ã¢â‚¬Â
From Anchorman to Talladega Nights, the duo of Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay has become one of my favorites Ã¢â‚¬" comically Ã¢â‚¬" in the industry as of late. And based on the trailer for The Other Guys, the quirky spirit of those two films in particular seemed to be relatively intact, but does it hold up over the course of the entire film? Unfortunately, no.
To start off with aspects of this film that I enjoyed, virtually every cast member involved does a solid job in their respective roles. Both Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play off of each other much better than you might expect as the titular characters, and Michael Keaton Ã¢â‚¬" once again, this summer Ã¢â‚¬" steals just about every scene that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in as the GuysÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ more-calm-than-he-probably-should-be captain. Also, for what little screen time that they have, both Sam Jackson and Dwayne Ã¢â‚¬Å“The RockÃ¢â‚¬Â Johnson shine as the two celebrity-status-garnered cops, being responsible for what could be the funniest movie moment of this year so far. Even Eva Mendes (who IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m typically not the biggest fan of) shares a couple of enjoyable moments with Ferrell as his purposely-out-of-his-league wife.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unfortunate, then, that the plot of The Other Guys is an absolute mess. After about the first forty-five minutes, the movie begins to shovel in unnecessary parts of the story, and by the time that the climax hit, there was simply too much going on for me to even care (despite some surprisingly well-shot action sequences). Also, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t confuse this with last monthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Inception, whose complicated narrative was used to challenge the viewer.
Still, though, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a firm believer in that, no matter how much I may not like the plot of a comedy, if it makes me laugh, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s done its job. A similar rule goes for horror films in my book, where the primary goal should just be to frighten me. Even in this area, The Other Guys only succeeds during its initial half. Similarly to Knight and Day from earlier this summer, once the second half rolls around, most of the appeal is lost, and the movie becomes more of a financial thriller than a buddy-cop comedy.
The Other Guys, while still enjoyable to a degree, with the laughs being nearly consistent throughout the first forty-five minutes, is yet another film from this summer in which a significant chunk of its steam is lost within the latter half. Overall, my suggestion would be to pay half of the ticket price to see half of the film. DoesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sound too unreasonable, does it?
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