Gamer is kind of a cross between last year’s flop, Death Race, and the 1980s Arnold hit, The Running Man. It takes place in the future when the technology of gaming is far more advanced than it is today. Imagine a video game where instead of controlling a CGI character you actually control a human being. In Gamer, that human being is Kable (Gerard Butler). Kable is a death row convict who is controlled by a 17-year-old gamer named Simon. The convicts all have been fitted with microchips in their brains that force them to do exactly what the gamers tell them too. Basically, Simon tells Kable where to go and who to shoot. There are a total of 30 rounds where the convicts battle the other convicts. If a convict can survive all 30 rounds, then he will be given a full pardon and released.
The movie tries to make it seem as though there is more of a story than there really is. For example, the film gives Kable motivation to be set free by letting the audience know he has a wife and daughter on the outside.
To clarify, Gamer had so much going against it that it is hard to believe it is not a total waste of time. That said, it is not a completely lovable movie either. The acting was extremely bland. As an audience member, you really have to force yourself to feel even the slightest emotions toward the characters. Normally, I like Gerald Butler but in Gamer, he seems to just be sleepwalking his way through the role. It’s almost as if he knew Gamer wasn’t going to be a big hit. Amber Valetta, who plays his wife, is smoking hot in this movie but even that cannot save her performance. The worst performance came from Alison Lohman. She was just downright awful. If you want to see her in a good movie, see Drag Me To Hell.
All of this makes it sound like a terrible film but it is not. It might be worth a watch for those who enjoyed The Running Man, Death Race, or even Blade Runner. I give Gamer a C+.
Get Him To The Greek
In Get Him To The Greek Russell Brand reprises his Forgetting Sarah Marshall role, international rock star Aldous Snow. While Jonah Hill was also in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he plays a completely different role in this spin-off. In Get Him To The Greek, Aldous Snow releases an album that ends up becoming the biggest flop in years. In order to revive his career, he reluctantly agrees to travel with a record company intern (Jonah Hill) from London for an Aldous Snow comeback show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.
To be perfectly frank, when I first heard the premise of this film I didn’t think much could be done with it. However, I was delightfully mistaken. During their journey halfway around the world, Aldous Snow and the intern hit many obstacles including the typical rock star kryptonite, sex and drugs.
In his latest humorous outing, Russell Brand only solidifies his stance within the comedic world of filmmaking. Jonah Hill, on the other hand, proves that he really works best as the best friend of a main character, not as a leading man himself. In his first role as a leading man, he becomes stale halfway through the film. Luckily Russell Brand and Puff Daddy, who cameos as a music label mogul, make up for Jonah Hill’s downfalls.
All in all, Get Him To The Greek is a great film to go see with your friends if you are looking for an above average comedy. Unfortunately, it is not a good as Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I give Get Him To The Greek a B+.
Up until seeing Ghost Rider, I had been on a three movie winning streak. Black Snake Moan, Zodiac, and Breach were all great films. I knew my movie-going bliss had to come to an end sooner or later but I just didn’t think it would come with Ghost Rider.
Teenager Johnny Blaze and his father are a father-son stunt motorcyclist team that travel around performing at carnivals. One day, the young Johnny Blaze finds out that his father is dying. Not long after discovering the truth about his dad’s health, he is visited by a stranger who says that he can help. In short, Blaze makes a pact with the devil (Peter Fonda). Thus, the devil (aka Mephistopheles) gives his father his health back, but only for one day. Blaze’s father dies and Blaze shuts himself off from the rest of the world, including the love of his life, Roxanne.
Several years pass and Johnny Blaze is still a stunt motorcyclist but now he is a big star. Although he is a successful celebrity, he has never been able to get over his father’s untimely death. One day, Johnny prepares to perform a very dangerous stunt because he believes it would make his father proud. Before the stunt, Roxanne walks back into his life in the form of a news reporter. From this moment, Johnny tries to make up for lost time with Roxanne but just as he believes he is getting his life back in order, the devil shows up and tells Johnny that now it is his turn to hold up his end of the bargain, much to Johnny’s dismay. Mephistopheles tells Johnny that he must become the Ghost Rider and collect souls to be sent down to hell. The rest of the film follows Johnny Blaze trying to collect these souls while battling Blackheart (Wes Bentley), the son of the devil himself.
While the effects in Ghost Rider were mediocre at best, an original story was completely lacking. The story of Ghost Rider is based on the Marvel Comics superhero by the same name. Most other movie adaptations of comic book characters provide at least something new and exciting to the character but this one was just flat out boring for the getgo. I was expecting the acting to be at the very least a bonus for the movie but even that let me down. Ghost Rider starred Nicolas Cage as the adult Johnny Blaze.
I knew going into the film that Nic Cage is a self-proclaimed Ghost Rider buff. He even has a tattoo of the Ghost Rider which required makeup to cover it up for the film. So with this in mind, I figured this would be one of Nic Cage’s best performances because of his interest in the subject matter. Actually, it turned out to be one of his worst acting performances. Cage seemed completely detached from the role. It seemed like he didn’t care about the quality of the film at all. The only person in the film who seemed like they were really trying to act was Eva Mendes playing the part of the adult Roxanne. Even one of my favorite character actors of all time, Sam Elliot, didn’t perform up to his full potential. The actor who gets the hardest slap on the wrist, however, is Peter Fonda. Shame on him for letting his legendary star status go to waste on such a poor film.
If there was any indication to how mind-numbing this film was going to be it was going to be one of two things. Wes Bentley being cast in this film, or any other film, is always a big mistake. I cannot really say to much about this man except that I have yet to see him in a film that I like. It seems that whenever he is in a movie, I dislike it. Coincidence? I think not. The director of Ghost Rider, Mark Steven Johnson, would be the other clue that this film was going to be a waste of time. He is the director of other horrible films based on comic book characters such as Daredevil and Elektra. Daredevil was so bad I actually walked out on it.
To say the least, Ghost Rider came off as some second rate sci-fi film that may as well have just gone straight to DVD where it should never be rented. I give Ghost Rider nothing better than an F.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
G.I. Joe, for those of you who don’t know, used to be a popular TV show and had a very successful line of action figures. The Joes, as they were called, were a secret group of technologically advanced militia who fought crime when all else failed. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has one of the most simplistic plotlines of any movie I have seen in the last decade. Basically, it is about how the Joes have to prevent an evil madman from taking over the world. Granted, there are a couple of plot twists and moments that make you say, “Oh, I get it now.” But then you realize you didn’t even care in the first place.
The ratio of the good aspects of G.I. Joe to the bad ones is ridiculously lopsided. The acting was horrendous. Sienna Miller should never try to act like a villain ever again. The computer graphics were some of the worst I’ve seen in years. None of it looked realistic. On top of all of this, the soundtrack could not have been any more bland or cliché.
I never played with the G.I. Joe figures or watched the show growing up but I am sure anyone who was a fan of it in the 80’s is going to be sorely disappointed with this 2009 recreation. The only reason why this movie is getting a C- is because of Brendan Fraser’s cameo and the attractive addition of Rachel Nichols to the otherwise disposable cast. However, even a C- is being generous.
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard stars Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) as Don “The Goods” Ready, a smooth-talking car salesman-for-hire. Don Ready and his crew of misfits are called to Temecula, California to help a struggling dealership sell enough cars to keep its lot from being bought out. As the three-day event unfolds, hilarity ensues and problems arise.
As mentioned earlier, The Goods is not that bad of a movie. In a way, I feel bad for the movie because it really did not have much going for it to begin with besides Adam McKay as a producer and Will Ferrell making a relatively brief, but amusing, cameo. The rest of the cast was filled with a bunch of “I’ve seen that guy before!”-type actors. Also going against the film was its director. The Goods is helmed by Neal Brennan, a man who has only ever directed a made-for-TV movie and a few episodes of “Chappelle’s Show.”
It truly pains me to say this, seeing as it is such a cliché, but the funniest parts of the movie were shown in the trailer. Everything else was just mediocre. The characters were extremely one-dimensional and the majority of the jokes were run-of-the-mill, at best. Kudos, however, is due to two particular characters. Ken Jeong, the Asian guy from Knocked Up and The Hangover, plays an employee of the failing dealership and, as always, gives a pretty funny performance. The other great character was played by Charles Napier, another dealership employee who is as racist and foul-mouthed as they come. I give The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard a C.
Dirty Harry is back! Of course, not literally but certain scenes are reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of the iconic badass that made him famous. However, this is the only similarity between Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character and his portrayal of Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino.
In this movie, Eastwood plays a lonely, bitter, racist, Korean War veteran. When a Hmong family moves in next door, Kowalski has nothing but the utmost distaste for the Asian family. He tries to get them to leave by taunting them with his guns and insulting them with every derogatory slur in the book. The daughter of the Hmong family takes a liking to him anyway. However, the rest of her family feels he is rude and unkempt. The son, Thao, becomes pressured by his gang member cousin to join his gang. As an initiation rite, Thao has to steal Mr. Kowalski’s most prized possession, his 1972 Gran Torino. Kowalski catches Thao in the act but instead of beating him to a pulp, he decides to help the teenager become a respectable person and a decent citizen. Throughout the course of the film, Thao and Kowalski become close as student and mentor. However, Thao’s cousin has other plans. The end of the film is sure to make you think for days after leaving the theater.
I have not seen all of Clint Eastwood’s movies but I have seen enough to believe that this has got to be one of his best performances ever. It is a joy as a moviegoer to see an actor with these kind of acting chops give such an outstanding performance, especially at his age (Eastwood is 78). Even more enjoyable is seeing Eastwood go from being a rude, hateful man to a caring, mentoring man.
The performances by the rest of the cast are nothing special. In fact, the performances by the Hmong brother and sister are actually kind of boring. The truly special aspects of the film are the script and the performance by Clint Eastwood.
I would certainly recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of Clint Eastwood’s classic tough guy roles. Eastwood is truly a badass in this movie. He may be 78 but I would hate to cross his character in this movie. Eastwood’s Kowalski character is someone who does not take crap from anyone. Even his own children are fed up with his negative attitude.
The only people I would not recommend this movie to are the ones who are easily offended by racist slurs. I give Gran Torino a B+.