Hancock Review

January 30, 2009

hancock3Reviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Hancock (Will Smith) is a one-man wrecking crew. He has super powers, but he can’t seem to figure out how to use them effectively. When the city turns against him, Hancock hires Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) to help upgrade his image.

Review: See that picture I posted? That’s what this film did–fell flat on its ass. It was awful–just awful. The premise is a sound one–the person with superpowers has a volatile relationship with the public–and as such, he needs a publicist. However, the execution of this premise is unimaginative and unintelligent. Let me present this to you (the list contains some plot details, but you should read this rather than see the movie–believe me).

  • Hancock rips the roof off of a car traveling on the highway and takes a seat in the back. He then continues to carry on a conversation with these gentlemen, one of which continues to drive the car. There is absolutely no wind during the whole high-speed scene. They might just as well have been in a library.
  • During this conversation Hancock tells the gentlemen that he is going to take one of their heads and shove it up another one’s butt. Not only is this the worst line ever, he actually proceeds to do so later in the film. It was the goofiest movie moment since Rocky tried to save the Soviet Union by punching a guy really hard.
  • Mary Embrey (Charlize Theron) does not want anyone to know that she has the same abilities as Hancock. So what does she do hide her identity? She starts by tackling Hancock through her kitchen wall and destroying a few of the cars in the neighborhood. Then for a follow up she flies through the city–and once to an extraordinarily well-populated part of the city she engages Hancock in a fight, utilizing all of her super powers. Which, coincidentally, lands right at the feet of her husband–the person she was trying to keep the secret from most.
  • The two men who were engaged in the head-up-butt exchange later decided that they needed revenge on Hancock. They were in jail at the time so what they decided to do is break out of prison and take their personal revenge. Do you see any flaw in this plan? These thugs are going to find Hancock and do what? He’s got super strength, super speed, and what’s that other thing–oh yeah, he deflects bullets and all sharp objects. What exactly is this master plan going to be? Now, there may be a logical explanation for all of this, but the movie goer would never know it–therefore it does not really exist.

Also, I like Will Smith–but is inept at playing the introspective, tough-guy character. Someone should inform Mr. Smith that pursing your lips together does not convey anything except that you have spilled your milk.

Now that I’ve outlined some of my criticisms, let me divulge the upside of this movie–Jason Bateman is kind of humorous. Did you get all that? In a movie that is poorly thought out and poorly acted, Bateman is the only bright spot. Theron is one of our finest actresses, but in a role that demanded nothing, there was little for her to contribute.

Rating: 1.7

Recommendation: I’m not going to say it’s the worst film of they year because I assume that title goes to Bride Wars, what I am going to going to do is travel to my backyard with a shovel, bury this film, tell Netflix it must have gotten lost in the mail, and then never speak of this movie again.


Starting Out in the Evening Review

January 28, 2009

startingoutReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Frank Langella plays Leonard Schiller, a once great author who is mercifully approaching the end of his life. While working on her thesis, Heather (Lauren Ambrose) has the opportunity to work with Leonard, who has long served as her literary hero. As expected, the two form a friendship that is simultaneously beautiful and somewhat inappropriate.

Review: What a great movie title–Starting Out in the Evening–that is the reason I watched this movie. Well, that and Frank Langella. This is a familiar story in some regards–the elderly genius is rejuvenated by the young love interest. Although, the plot is not quite that simple because Leonard is not quite that simple.

Langella’s performance is really what saves the film. He plays the character perfectly–taking Leonard from typical to exceptional–from static to dynamic.

One more thing that I’d like to note is that I did like that the movie didn’t wrap up in a nice bow. Leonard doesn’t meet Heather and be cured of all his recent writing ailments. Heather helps him to enjoy the last chapter of his life–not write a new one.

I could go on, but to be truthful–I don’t have much else to say about the movie and I don’t wish to waste the reader’s time. I will say this one last thing–at one point Leonard references a book critic who describes his style as just trying to “read the hell out of the book.” I think that’s a great quote–I’m going to try to watch the hell out of some movies. That is all.

Rating: 6.1

Recommendation: If it’s on tv and you like to watch movies about the human drama then go for it. Otherwise you’re going to want to avoid.


Revolutionary Road Review

January 25, 2009

revolutionary_road_hautReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Based on the Robert Yates novel, Revolutionary Road tells the story of the Wheelers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett) as they experience life’s struggles.

Review: Let me first say this–from the previews it seems like all the Wheelers do is argue, and while there is a great deal of back-and-forth between the couple–it’s not all the movie has to offer. The Wheelers live in the suburbs of Connecticut and in doing so are quite out of place. While they are admired by the neighbors, they have always dreamt of a bigger life, a better life. Their discontempt with this suburban lifestyle, complete with two kids and a bad career, is driving an insurmountable wedge between the marriage.

The performances of Winslett and DiCaprio are noteworthy, but Michael Shannon absolutely steals the show. He plays John Givings, the psychotic son of the Wheeler’s neighbors. His role is to deliver the ultimate truth–and he does so with no apologies, no sincerity, and no regard for human feelings. I have to say that I love this character. I wish everyone was more like this psychotic ox of  a man–and I think the Wheelers share my sentiment. At one point they even reference the absurdity of living in a town where the person they most relate to is on short-term leave from the town’s mental institution.

This is a solid film strictly due to its wonderful acting. As mentioned, outstanding performances were turned in by Winslett, DiCaprio, and Shannon–but also by Kathie Bates and Dylan Baker. The story is interesting enough, but this could have easily become a film in which you have to sit through the dry, boring story to benefit from the courage of this plot. However, with this great ensemble–the audience feels bound to the success of the Wheeler family–cheering when they succeed and sorrowing when they fail.

Also, the score for this film is wonderful. I cannot believe it was nominated for an Oscar. It is one of the few times I have ever noticed a score, but I think it is a huge part of this film. It’s almost like an additional character. Look forward to it.

Rating: 7.8

Recommendation: If you’re a dialog fan like I am than this is a movie for you. There are great life truths embedded throughout the picture. If you’re taste is more tied to action or comedy than you need to avoid this film at all cost–although, John Givings does deliever one ridicilously funny line to Mrs. Wheeler–so that’s something I suppose.


Oscar Nominations: Analysis, Snubs, Predictions

January 23, 2009

Average Joe and Mr. Film Snob make their radio debut with The Net Flicker’s inaugural radio show entitled … Yeah right. We didn’t think to title it. Maybe next time.

The two prolific film critics discuss the Oscar nominations for best supporting actress, best supporting actor, best actress, best actor, and movie of the year. The 30-minute clip features analysis, predictions, and potential snubs.

Check out the show and give us feedback because we want the next one to suck a little less!

Until I can get the embed to work out, check out the show by clicking here.


Frost/Nixon Review

January 23, 2009

frost-nixon-cp-2825677

Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: After three years of silence President Richard Nixon agrees to a one-on-one, all-inclusive interview with British television personality David Frost.

Review: Yeah. I know I thought the same thing. I anticipated good acting from Frank Langella (Nixon) and Michael Sheen (Frost), but a very wordy, slow and boring movie. To my surprise (and maybe it shouldn’t have been with Ron Howard at the helm), I was enthralled by the suspense throughout.

The movie uses 1st person interviews from supporting characters to advance the spots where it could potentially lag. Speaking of supporting characters, both Kevin Bacon and Toby Jones were solid, but I was especially impressed by Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of crack researcher James Reston Jr.

The analogy is completely overdone, but since I’m just an Average Joe I will tell you upfront, this movie is like watching a brilliant boxing match, but not necessarily of two heavyweights, as most people would have you think.

No, Nixon was a once esteemed prizefighter grasping to his legacy and yearning for one last battle that will enable him to avenge the end of his career (i.e. Watergate). Frost was a journeyman, having achieved solid success, but certainly never held the crown. But like most fighters, he had one astounding performance in him, and needed the right competitor to bring it out.

It’s easy to see why Nixon wanted this battle. Tricky Dick would easily out manipulate the aloof television personality and restore his place atop the elite. What some people won’t understand is why Nixon fueled the fire to ensure an epic battle. (Side Note: This was a brilliant rant that Mr. Film Snob will probably appreciate). The short answer is that competitors want competition; it’s more gratifying if you had to let it all hang out to prevail.

The best part about the movie for me wasn’t even the carefully crafted dialogue (I’m telling you Film Snob – you’ll appreciate it), but the subtleties and nuances that drive the suspense. I loved the stare down between the two camps, the reference to getting punched in the face, and the significance of the shoes (you’ll see what I mean).

Nixon’s incapable of being ‘human’ until he’s free from his burden, and Langella conveys this struggle to the point that even those that thought Nixon was a monster might empathize (or at least come to understand) why he was the way he was. Credit Langella for a brilliant performance, one worthy of his Oscar nomination.

If I have one nit-pick it might be that it was actually a little anti-climatic after being built up well; so strategically.

Rating: 8.9

Verdict: Go in like I did with expectations of a wordy, boring, slow movie, and come out feeling impressed and energized by one of the top 5 films of the year. Witness a solid story, great acting, and make sure you aim to catch all the subtleties of this surprisingly suspenseful tale of Tricky Dick’s prizefight fight with Frost.


Defiance Review

January 20, 2009

defianceReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: The Bielski brothers avoid German capture, and lead by Tuvia (Daniel Craig), the brothers form a band of resistance fighters. As more individuals are looking for an escape from the Jewish Ghetto, the band’s numbers increase. With mouths to feed and German soldiers to avoid, the gang works to defy death during the second world war.

Review: Here it is folks, we have it–ladies and gentleman–Defiance is the best film of 2008. That’s right, my best film of the year has achieved a whopping 53% on the Tomatorater. Even one of my favorite critics, A.O. Scott, says that “the film unfairly implied that ‘if only more of the Jews living in Nazi-occupied Europe had been as tough as the Bielskis, more would have survived.'” Hey A.O.–if that’s the perception that you were left with than you missed the whole point! This movie was as much about toughness and defiance as it was about choices. These hunted Jews didn’t know what to do, who would? They were being hunted, their families were being hunted, their way of life–their religion was being hunted. The movie does not attempt to portray Tuvia Bielski as a know-it all hero who used his wisdom and muscle to lead his people to safety. Rather it emphasizes the dubious decisions these people were forced to make. In fact, there is one exchange among the Bielski brothers where they wonder aloud why they survived while so many of their loved ones had died. There’s also one moment where a group of Jews are deciding whether to remain in the Jewish Ghetto or flea to the forest. How do you know what to do? They obviously didn’t know their end fate. The film does not EVER question the toughness of the Jewish people–instead it tells what a coin flip these decisions were. There were 4 or 5 life-altering decisions that come about–decisions that no human should have to make. So no, it is not about muscle, it is about chance. These decisions were a coin flip. This particular group was lucky enough to have happened to choose the right path, many others were not afforded such an opportunity.

The film also has a bit of a biblical flare, as it relates this story to Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt and away from its tyranny. While Tuvia is no Moses, certain parallelisms do exist. I suppose you can either see this as a story of chance or a story of personal faith. Either way, it’s a great tale to tell.

Rating: 9.6

Recommendation: Go to your local cinema and check this one out. It’s apparently not for everyone (53% Tomatorater), but  I thought it was the best of the year. Don’t expect it to be 100% historically accurate–yet it is a great story–I mean just an absolutely wonderful story. Some critics are also discouraged by the way the film was shot, I am not one of them. The story is too good to care too much about such trivial details.


The Edge of Heaven Review

January 19, 2009

edge-of-heavenReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: A few people have sad stories.

Review: I know I know–this the review you’ve all been waiting for. This foreign film had a quite release in the U.S., but has earned solid reviews from film critics. I just don’t get the appeal. The movie tells the stories of six individuals—each of their stories has a sad twist to it. The only problem is–who cares? I found these characters to be without substance–I could not care less about their fates.

I really don’t know what this movie was trying to accomplish. Again, the critics like this movie–Robert Ebert said he found the characters to be fascinating. Let me say this–having a sad story does not make a person interesting! You want to know what happens in this movie–let me tell you–a few people die and a few more mourn their death. That’s it. And I would be fine with that–if only they had anything interesting to say! Some of my favorite movies consist of nothing more than people talking for 90 minutes, but you see here’s the difference–they actually talk about something! This was two hours of talking, yet nothing at all was said. You know what I felt at the end of this film–mercy–that’s what I felt–mercy that it was finally done with. I am mystified about what the attraction is for these critics. I think they confuse a sad story with a good story–just because a character has suffered in their life, this doesn’t make their story worth telling.

You know what the upside to this movie is? One of the characters looks like Topher Grace, that’s it! baki_davrak_11And what sticks me is that I like foreign movies and I like movies that tell the human story–and that is exactly what this film is–the problem is that they did a terrible job of telling the story–because the plot goes nowhere–at the end of this thing you are aware of this sequence of events that happened, but you have nothing to do with it–I watched it, thought “ok”, and turned the tv off–having been no better off for the experience. I could just outline the plot for you right here and you will have the exact same experience that I had–except you would have yourself the two hours.

Rating: 2.9

Recommendation: Please don’t waste your time with this thinking it’s a story about the human element, what it’s about is wasting two hours, nothing more.