This was a bad week in DVD for me. Outside of Casino Jack, I really can't recommend anything I watched last week, and even that's not a strong recommendation. If fact, I would strongly recommend that you avoid most of the movies I'm talking about in this post.
Based on real events. This is the tale of Jack (not Sparrow) Abramoff who was known as the 'super lobbyist'. It basically follows his involvement with members of Congress, Indian gaming, his purchase of SunCruz casinos and leads up to his eventual conviction.
Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff is really good here, but after a while, this movie felt like a vehicle simply for Spacey to show how many impressions he can do. While his impressions are actually quite good, it got kind of annoying after a while. It turns out the real Jack Abramoff was a one-time movie producer known for being a movie lover and actually doing impressions all the time, so it it actually makes sense in the context of the movie. Still, it felt like it was done a little too much.
The movie is actually pretty easy on the guy. It shows him as a charming, movie-loving guy, but if you compare this to Casino Jack and the United States of Money, he's much worse. I have to credit Spacey for making this a likeable enough guy.
Overall, the story just wasn't told very well. It didn't seem to focus on anything enough and jumped around too much to my liking.
However, I still think it's worth a rental just to watch Spacey's performance. If you're a fan of his anyway, you'll likely like the movie just for him.
Season of the Witch
Nic Cage and Ron Pearlman star as Knights fighting in the Crusades. However, they desert the Knights once they see that the Knights are massacring civilians. You know, cause they are honorable and stuff. Now they are on the run, but eventually captured by the Church. The Church asks them to escort a girl believed to be a witch, and the cause of the plague, to another monastery. They agree provided their charges as deserters are dropped and the girl gets a fair trial, cause, you know, honor and fairness.
Anyway, the quest ensues and the movie proceeds to suck the life out of you. It's joyless, coupled with bad effects and nothing to care about. You don't even get over the top Nic Cage here, which would have helped immensely. This is a movie that should have been made to be campy and funny, but you don't get any of that. This was clearly a lower budget movie by the quality of the effects, so it seems odd that it is trying to take itself seriously.
The climax of this movie just felt like a bad cartoon.
I say pass. There's just nothing here.
"Embrace the suck." This is actually a line of dialog from the beginning of the movie. No truer words have been said though. It's amazing that a movie actually warns you that it's going to be bad in the opening minutes.
This is one of the worst films I can remember. It's just an awful retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The characters are poorly written, seemingly contracting themselves at various times. The plot is so 'what the hell?' that I can't even believe it's for real.
The opening scenes are just so awful that you're like, "How could anyone like this guy!" He announces to the class that he's rich, popular and good looking and you should all vote for him just because (I'm not even sure what he's running for. It didn't appear to be for class president). The student body erupts in applause when he says this. What?! Is this a school full of shallow idiots? It doesn't help that the setting of the school looked like a frigging ad agency, like it's the richest private school around. It probably was actually shot at an actual ad agency, seeing that this couldn't have had much of a budget based on the bad actors and story here.
The lone goth chick at the school, played by one of the Olsen twins, is actually a witch and nobody seems to be bothered by this fact. Yeah, and everyone knows she's a witch apparently, since they are just so causal about it. Anyway, the asshole lead character, played by Alex Pettyfer, is rude to the witch again at a party, but this is the last straw! She casts a spell on him to make him ugly and she says he has a year to get someone to tell him that they love him.
After this whole thing happens his Dad takes him to a doctor and they just go, "Sorry, there's nothing we can do." I guess doctors accept that there's magic in the world and nothing they can do about it. After this, his Dad sets him up in his own apartment with a maid and a tutor and buys him a motorcycle. What the fuck? Am I supposed to feel bad for him yet?
Also, is he really all that ugly on the outside? He's still rich and in shape, and they remind you of that constantly with seemingly endless montages of him without his shirt on. You see chicks go after dudes that are all tatted up with piercings all the time, so I don't see that being an issue. There are plenty of people where that's their thing, He could have just hung out in goth bars or something. Learn to sing or play an instrument and join a band and then there would be scores of women that would just throw themselves at him.
Then, in another tired trope in movies like this, the 'ugly', unpopular girl is played by Vanessa Hudgens. I guess in this world, she's 'ugly'. However, in a movie that's trying to say that being shallow is bad, she basically admits to being shallow, too, when she talks about how she used to have a crush on Alex Pettyfer even though he was mean.
Alex Pettyfer should never be in another movie. He's just an awful actor. Even his voice is annoying. Granted, there's only so much you can do with a poorly written character. He has no real growth at all and he never actually learns why he's an ugly person. There's never a single moment in the movie where he seems to get this.
What the hell was up with Neil Patrick Harris in this? He's plays the tutor that the Dad sets him up with. His character trait is that he's blind, yet consistently making eye contact with the actors. It's like he kept forgetting that he was blind. Who was directing this crap anyway?
Daniel Barnz wrote and directed this. I don't get it, he directed Phoebe in Wonderland, which I always recommend to people as a great movie to watch Elle Fanning in. How is this the same guy? There were four years between movies though. Maybe he had a lobotomy or something.
Everything about this movie is awful. I don't know how this got past anyone, let alone got a theatrical release. This wasn't even worth the money spent to put this on DVD.
This was made by CBS films, which reminds me of that old 'Men on Film' from In Living Color joke, "That's all you C...BS."
Pass on this with a vengeance.
The Warrior's Way
The movie stars Dong-gun Jang as a sword fighter who, as the film starts, has just become the best sword fighter in the world. However, they don't actually show much of him fighting. You just see like a flash of movement and then everyone he fights dies. Exciting, huh? Anyway, after killing all of his enemies, he hesitates to kill the last daughter of his enemy, who is just an infant. Instead he takes the child and flees to America to a town where an old friend of his lived. This does not sit well with his boss. I guess he's likes killing babies or something.
Once he reaches the town, he finds that it is run down and his friend has passed away. He takes over his friends laundry business, which may have been appropriate for the time, but isn't that a little too stereotypical? The town has become run down because of some thug, gang leader played by Danny Huston, but he's not around at the beginning. You see some flashbacks at how he ruined the town and the lives of some of the people that still live in the town. You have Geoffrey Rush playing the town drunk and this role and performance is just beneath him.
Kate Bosworth, who I still find cute as hell, just seemed corny to me. I'm not sure it was her bad southern accent or just that I have a hard time believing her in the action scenes holding her own with supposedly the best sword fighter in the world. She just didn't work in this movie for me. To be honest, everyone in The Warrior's Way just seemed corny or cliched.
As I mentioned earlier, for a movie that's about the best sword fighter in the world, there just isn't that much action. Most of the early action is over in an instant, it's basically a flash and the fight is over. There's nothing compelling about the action cause it all too easy for him. Then, once he reaches America, nothing at all happens and the movie is actually just kind of boring. When we finally get to the main action sequence at the end, it's just unsatisfying and too cartoony.
I will say that the sets are very colorful, but it also has that too much CG look. It feels like the whole movie was shot against a green screen.
This is a rental at best, but I would save it for streaming.
Kat Dennings and Josh Lucas star in some movie about nothing. At least that's what it feels like. Kat Dennings and her father move back to some small town where everyone appears to be on drugs and all the girls in the school think she's a slut, because they are all mean, I guess. After like school has been in session for a week, she hits on her teacher, played by Josh Lucas, and they start an affair. I guess hitting on a teacher in his 30's proves she's not a slut, right?
After a while, she realizes he's mental and breaks it off. Then, she actually starts to date someone age-appropriate. Josh Lucas goes off the deep end tries to sabotage her new relationship, which isn't weird at all.
I just kind of thought this was all over the place. There's some weird subplot about a serial killer in a white suit that's been abducting and killing children. However, if he's killing the children, then how does anyone know he wears a white suit? It's a small town. Maybe they should round up people walking around in white suits? It doesn't make any sense.
Josh Lucas' character is mental, yet I still didn't get his thought process.. He sleeps with his underage student, but initially resists it because he knows it's wrong. Yet at the same time, he has an age-appropriate teacher, played by Rachel Blanchard (from TV's Clueless), who is clearly into him and seemingly normal. Does he date her? No he chooses to sleep with a minor anyway. Then he gets whupped on the underage girl. I can't get behind his character at all.
The movie is slowly paced and just drags on. It's one of those movies that feels longer than it is. I really didn't like anything about it.
I say pass.
I heard all of these great things about this one. It stars Carla Gugino as a 'retired' porn star that is pregnant with the child of some dead rock star. She is now teaching a sex class and writing a book. Sound great, huh? Well, that's about all I got out of it.
It's a shame because there are a lot of people I like in the movie (Timothy Olyphant, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Malin Akerman), but the movie just didn't do anything for me. This movie is billed as a comedy, but I didn't find anything funny about this. It just dragged on and just wanted it to end.
This is another pass.