24 August 2006
Last night I had the privilege of seeing the new movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson., Gridiron Gang. I did not expect much going into it. It looked like Remember the Titans meets The Longest Yard, but with different gang members as opposed to different races. I enjoyed the movie; make no doubts about that. It just did not have anything new. We have all seen this story before. Kids with nothing, who hate each other, come together to achieve a goal. It is based on a true story, which was played, in part, during the credits, a great and emotional part of the film.
The Rock stars as a juvenile detention center “guard/instructor.” He and his co-worker, Xhibit, decide that after their latest delinquent is released and killed a short time later, that they are not making a dent in these kids and getting them straightened out. So, they decide a football team will help them. Of course, there is opposition from one of the staff members. The team is made anyway, and they train in three weeks for their first game. They lose, horribly. This shuts down the program, but the kids bring it back. They lose again, but they decide after this loss that they need to come together in order to win. After that, they begin to win. Gang wars begin. The kids are torn between their “hood” and their love for football. Guess which one wins over?
One problem that the movie faced was that the poor writing. The script seemed childish. It sounded like a few middle school kids wrote it. They gang talk was decent, but the adult dialog was terrible. Another problem was that they tried so hard to be funny at times that needed to remain serious. I think that it would have pulled more heartstrings if it kept the serious tone. It could have been a better movie, too.
Verdict. I did enjoy myself. I liked it more than Take the Lead. Which was the same story, only they were not in jail, just detention, and they danced. Gridiron Gang is worth the watch, but do not expect to come out it with a whole new outlook on life.
21 August 2006
This weekend, I chose to stay home and watch one of the 30+ titles I have on DVD that I have never seen instead of go watch another piece of Hollywood drab. Unfortunately, I chose The New World. This was a very long, very boring, very uneventful movie. At no point in the movie was I entertained or mildly amused. Terrence Malick managed to bore me as much this time as he did last time I watched one of his historical "epics, " The Thin Red Line. I have to say that I was surprised at how boring and uneventful the movie was. I saw the preview while working in a theater, but it never opened wide enough for me to have a chance to see it. I thought the preview made it look excellent, so "Kudos" to whoever did the preview, you got me. I don't even know what to say about this movie. It chronicles the life of Pocahontas, though they never mention her by name. John Smith, played by Colin Farrell, was a soft spoken, hard to hear character that seemed to be the central character until he leaves 80 minutes into the movie. Then enters Christian Bale as John Rolfe, who ends up marrying Pocahontas. He is equally soft spoken and hard to hear. There really was no character that could be heard. The whole movie moved as the speed of snail, and was hard to follow due to the inability to hear the dialog.
Verdict: I do not reccommend this movie to rent, purchase, watch on HBO or even TBS. I can't even count how many times I looked at the DVD player to see how much more pain I had to endure.
08 August 2006
Miami Vice, not Miami Nice
“Hey, Crockett! Where’s Tubbs?” A great line delivered by James Gandolfini in the 5th season of The Sopranos. It is very applicable to the new movie as well. I thought that Michael Mann’s take on his precious 80’s hit show, Miami Vice, did not have enough Tubbs. The scenes that they shared on screen were great. I thought that they had good chemistry. I was hoping that Mann’s new film would be better than his last. Collateral was a dark, gritty, hardcore movie that was made even better with the great acting thanks to Mann veteran Foxx and Tom Cruise. Foxx having worked with Mann on two previous engagements, Ali and Collateral, gave me even more hope of this film being awesome. I am a huge fan of the show. I am a huge fan of Heat, also by Mann. I like Farrell a lot as well. After seeing his performance in his last TV–show based movie, S.W.A.T., I thought he would make a good vice cop.
I read on www.IMDB.com stated that Edward James Olmos turned down the role of Lt. Martin Castillo. Why? What does he have going on? The next season of Battlestar Gallactica? The site also listed that the composer of the show, Jan Hammer, turned down doing the score. Again, I ask, why? I went with my Miami Vice t-shirt on, and bought my ticket with pride. I still went into it with high hopes. Well, I got a 7.5 maybe an 8. I also got an old couple that talked through the whole movie and did not follow it. They didn’t understand that this was not Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas.
In an issue of Entertainment Weekly, they had an article that discussed all the problems with the filming that went on during the shoot. They also dispelled a lot rumors. What I found interesting was that it said that Mann removed the original opening of the film. It was supposed to be a boat race in the daylight. He took it out to keep the movie in darkness, for the most part. Another interesting thing the article mentioned was that Mann was torn about using the Nonpoint recent cover of Phil Collins hit song “In the Air Tonight” before the final showdown. Collins’s song played before the finale of the pilot episode. Well, he decided not to go with it. With Olmos, Hammer, and “In the Air Tonight,” Mann succeeded in making this completely different than the TV-show.
Yet, there was a lot that was the same. The duo was chasing a drug dealer. They used lots of boats. There was lots of gunfights, womanizing, and explosions. Crockett still had his Ferrari, but no boat or Elvis. Zito, Switek, Trudy, and Gina were all there, but not necessarily mentioned by name. And the ultimate similarity: the bad guy does not get away. There was an impressive opening scene with car chases, gunfights and the like. Then the plot sets in. Then there is about 90 minutes of set-up until the finale. This middle ground was too long. Some scenes were not needed and moved the plot nowhere. This caused some people in the theater to start talking and get irritated. But then, when the final showdown goes down, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind, that we were watching Michael Mann on top of his game.
During the movie, I noticed that a majority of the scenes from the previews were not in the trailer. This only makes me want to get the extended DVD whenever it comes out. Mann also shot the whole movie in HD, so, it looks like I will be buying an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray DVD player, whichever format it goes with.
I think that I need to see this movie again, without the old people talking, to catch the whole dialog and entire movie. There is one scene where Tubbs sets up to find the leak in the agency. I don’t know where the leak was thanks to the old people. I would say, go see this movie. It needs to make $150 million or there will be no sequel. And lets face it, Miami Vice was a more beloved TV-show than Mission: Impossible. They have made three of those movies, so far. It was also more recent. What happened here? I liked the movie enough to want to see more. I still do not understand why they never made another S.W.A.T. movie. It made a fortune.
Verdict: I would like to see this become a franchise. Well worth my $10. But it does have a 146-minute running time. Look at it this way, more bang for your buck. It would be a better use of two and half hours of your time than Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.