X-Men: The Last Stand Review

X-Men: The Last Stand movie posterSynopsis
When a “cure” for the mutant gene is developed, the mutant population must decide their fate. Meanwhile, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) is becoming more powerful and Magneto (Ian McKellen) hopes to use her powers in the fight against the humans and their cure. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his X-Men must stop Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants before they create an all out war between the humans and the mutants.

It was bound to happen. After the success of the first two X-Men movies, the studio couldn’t help themselves and stepped in and meddled in the story and development of X-Men: The Last Stand. It’s certainly not the first time it has happened in Hollywood and it was far from the last, even in the X-Men franchise. It’s hard to say how X-Men: The Last Stand would have turned out without Fox’s interference but it couldn’t have been worse than what was created in the end.

As with many sequels, this film tries to do too much. Writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn set out to tell the story of “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, written by Chris Claremont and one of the most beloved storylines in X-Men comics history. Anyone familiar with the source material will tell you how emotional and grandiose that story is. This movie doesn’t even begin to capture the impactfulness of the comic. This particular story for some reason becomes the B-plot of the film. How can such an iconic story be regulated to the background? That’s just criminal.

One of the strengths of using the X-Men, and more largely, mutants, is it offers many opportunities to tell philosophical stories while still being exciting. X2: X-Men United did this beautifully. The mutant cure plot, based on Joss Whedon’s “Gifted” storyline, was a perfect chance to do the same thing with different themes. However, this is not fully explored because this movie had to balance so many other aspects. Plus it introduces a ton of new characters, not unexpected given the X-Men universe’s large roster of characters. Combine this with the Gifted and Dark Phoenix Saga plots, and you just have a mess. There is just so much going on that it becomes extremely clustered and nothing gets the attention or development it deserves.

This paragraph contains spoilers. Besides introducing a plethora of the characters, it also kills off several main characters. First up is Cyclops (James Marsden). Given Marsden’s availability due to his casting in Superman Returns (the film Bryan Singer declined directing this film to direct instead), he was killed off early and, more tragically, off screen. A fan favorite character such as that does not deserve the kind of end this movie gave him. Besides Cyclops, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) also bit the dust (literally). I am still upset about Professor X being killed off. However, the reason for his death actually serves a good story purpose and has an emotional impact, so I’m not bothered by it as much.

Many blockbusters try to maximize their run time and don’t fully grasp when it becomes too much. As a result, they end up becoming too long. X-Men: The Last Stand doesn’t have that problem; it actually has a relatively moderate run time. However, this is one of the few cases where I wish the film would have been longer. As I said before, it tried to cram two stories worthy of their own films and include many new characters, and yet, among all that, ended up focusing largely on the action. If this film wanted to incorporate as much as it did, it needed more time to flesh everything out more. I appreciate the writers and directors not wanted this movie to overstay its welcome but that conservative attitude ended up hurting the film more than helping it.

I thought X-Men: The Last Stand was OK 😐 Like many sequels, it attempts to fill its runtime as much as possible. As a result, it halfheartedly tells two stories rather than tell one great story. In what would become a trend in many successful superhero franchises, studio interference created a rushed and sub-par movie that failed to keep the momentum set by its predecessors.

Budgeted at $210 million, this was, at the time, the most expensive movie ever made. (Via IMDb)


Cast & Crew
Brett Ratner – Director
Simon Kinberg – Writer
Zak Penn – Writer
John Powell – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan / Wolverine
Patrick Steward – Charles Xavier / Professor X
Halle Barry – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Famke Janssen – Jean Grey / Phoenix
Anna Paquin – Marie / Rogue
Shawn Ashmore – Bobby Drake / Iceman
Ellen Page – Kitty Pryde / Shadowcat
Daniel Cudmore – Peter Rasputin / Colossus
Kelsey Grammer – Dr. Henry ‘Hank’ McCoy / Beast
James Marsden – Scott Summers / Cyclops
Ben Foster – Warren Worthington III / Angel
Ian McKellen – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Rebecca Romijn – Raven Darkholme / Mystique
Aaron Stanford – John Allerdyce / Pyro
Vinnie Jones – Cain Marko / Juggernaugt
Dania Ramirez – Callisto
Eric Dane – Multiple Man
Michael Murphy – Warren Worthington II
Josef Sommer – The President
Bill Duke – Trask
Shohreh Aghdashloo – Dr. Kavita Rao
Cameron Bright – Jimmy / Leech

Night at the Museum Review

Night at the Museum movie posterSynopsis
When Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) starts his new job as the night security guard at the Museum of Natural History, he learns that the museum holds an extraordinary secret: everything comes to life at night.

Compared to some of Ben Stiller’s other films, Night at the Museum is pretty tame. I guess considering it is rated PG, it is aimed towards a younger audience. Regardless of the mildness of the action and fairly subdued humor, there is still plenty to enjoy. Stiller shows the range of his comedic chops. In something like Zoolander or Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, he is more eccentric and exaggerated, whereas here, he acted more like the straight man. He is given several people to play off of, such as Robin Williams and Owen Wilson, but the chemistry isn’t there to make any particular moment stand-out. One of the main focuses of the story was Larry Daley (Stiller) trying to connect better with his son, Nick (Jake Cherry), after his divorce. When the story focused on that aspect of the story, I found it flat and tedious. The story that interested me more was the museum exhibits coming alive. It has a Toy Story vibe, like “what would happen if these inanimate objects came to life?” As someone who likes to visit museums when I travel, this was exciting to me. Since it carries the PG rating, the action, like Stiller’s comedy, was fairly mild-mannered, at least for someone like myself who regularly watches action heroes get beat to hell and blow everything around them to smithereens, but I can see how the younger demographic could find it exciting.

I thought Night at the Museum was GOOD 🙂 While it offered nothing too notable, it is not completely forgettable either. Both the comedy and action feel mellow if you fall outside of the films target demographic. However, it still offers an enjoyable experience if you roll with the lightheartedness of it all.


Cast & Crew
Shawn Levy – Director
Robert Ben Garant – Writer
Thomas Lennon – Writer
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Ben Stiller – Larry Daley
Carla Gugino – Rebecca
Jake Cherry – Nick Daley
Kim Raver – Erica Daley
Dick Van Dyke – Cecil
Mickey Rooney – Gus
Bill Cobbs – Reginald
Robin Williams – Teddy Roosevelt
Owen Wilson – Jedediah
Steve Coogan – Octavious
Patrick Gallagher – Attila the Hun
Rami Malek – Ahkmenrah
Pierfrancesco Favino – Christopher Columbus
Mizuo Peck – Sacajawea
Easter Island Head – Brad Garrett (voice)
Ricky Gervais – Dr. McPhee
Paul Rudd – Don
Pat Kiernan – TV News Anchor

The Wind That Shakes the Barley review

This movie was recommend by Kira from Film and TV 101 as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley movie posterSynopsis
During the Irish War of Independence, the O’Donovan brothers, Damien (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy (Padraic Delaney), join the fight for Irish Independence from the United Kingdom.

I think I can honestly say this is the first Irish independent film I have ever watched in my life (at least that I can recall). And I’ll be honest, I don’t know how I feel about The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Going in knowing nothing about this other than it was a war film, it wasn’t the war film I expected it to be. Most of the time when I think of a war film, it is covered in violence and regular action pieces. Maybe that’s a mistake on my part for setting that expectation in my head but that is not what this was. There were action scenes intermittently throughout the film but the main focus was on the O’Donovan brothers, played by Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney.

The drama between the two brothers drives the film, the war is simply the backdrop for their story. Murphy and Delaney expertly navigate the audience through their turmoil. Murphy is an actor that has mostly flown under my radar. I’ve seen many of his films but he isn’t necessarily one to be the reason I watch a film. That might’ve changed after watching this movie. His performance as Damien O’Donovan might be his best performance I’ve seen. While this is Delaney’s first film I’ve seen, consider me a fan. These two together made a great pair.

I thought The Wind That Shakes the Barley was GOOD 🙂 I said at the beginning that I didn’t know how I felt about this film but now I know. While the story might not be my normal cup of tea, the performances from Murphy and Delaney and the emotion they each brought to the film made it enjoyable and worthwhile.


Cast & Crew
Ken Loach – Director
Paul Laverty – Writer
George Fenton – Composer

Cillian Murphy – Damien O’Donovan
Padraic Delaney – Teddy O’Donovan
Liam Cunningham – Dan
Orla Fitzgerald – Sinead
Laurence Barry – Michael
Mary Murphy – Bernadette
Mary O’Riordan – Peggy
Myles Horgan – Rory
Martin Lucey – Congo
Roger Allam – Sir John Hamilton
John Crean – Chris
Damien Kearney – Finbar
Frank Bourke – Leo
Shane Casey – Kevin
Mairtin de Cogain – Sean
William Ruane – Johnny
Fiona Lawton – Lily
Sean McGinley – Father Denis
Kevin O’Brien – Tim

United 93 Review

This movie was recommend by Rob from MovieRob as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

United 93 movie posterSynopsis
During the 9/11 hijackings, the passengers of Flight United 93 stood up to the hijackers to prevent them from reaching their target.

The September 11th terrorist attacks is one of those events that if you remember it, you remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news. It was an emotional time and for many it still is. Five years later, in 2006, United 93 was the first movie to attempt to tap into the emotions of that day. Throughout the entire film, the movie is reflective. It looks at the events sincerely. What’s more, it paints the terrorists as the villains but doesn’t demonize them. Director Paul Greengrass is able to do this because the bombers are not the focus of his film, the men and women on the plane are. Greengrass does a fantastic job of portraying the passengers of flight United 93 as heroes and the sacrifice they made that day for their families and their country.

I don’t watch many biopics because more often than not, they don’t keep my attention. There are exceptions but unfortunately this is not one of them. For me, most of the emotion didn’t come from the film, but rather remembering that day and bringing back the emotions I felt that day. The material wasn’t there to make this a two-hour long movie. For the majority of the film, it felt like it was dragging on. This would have been more impactful as short film or an hour-long television special.

I thought United 93 was OK 😐 While it did a good job evoking emotions from the day of the attacks, the amount of material doesn’t justify the run time. However, for the first film based around the September 11th attacks, it offers a reflective and sincere look at what happened that day.


Cast & Crew
Paul Greengrass – Director / Writer
John Powell – Composer

Christian Clemenson – Tom Burnett
Cheyenne Jackson – Mark Bingham
David Alan Basche – Todd Beamer
Peter Hermann – Jeremy Glick
Daniel Sauli – Richard Guadagno
Trish Gates – Sandra Bradshaw
Corey Johnson – Louis J. Nacke, II
Richard Bekins – William Joseph Cashman
Michael J. Reynolds – Patrick Joseph Driscoll
Khalid Abdalla – Ziad Jarrah
Lewis Alsamari – Saeed al-Ghamdi
Jamie Harding – Ahmed al-Nami
Omar Berdouni – Ahmed al-Haznawi
Opal Alladin – CeeCee Lyles
Nancy McDoniel – Lorraine G. Bay
Peter Marinker – Andrew Garcia
David Rasche – Donald Freeman Greene
J. J. Johnson – Captain Jason Dahl
Gary Commock – First Officer LeRoy Homer Jr.
Polly Adams – Deborah Welsh
Chip Zien – Mark Rothenberg
Erich Redman – Christian Adams
Kate Jennings Grant – Lauren Grandcolas
Starla Benford – Wanda Anita Green
Simon Poland – Alan Anthony Beaven
Trieste Kelly Dunn – Deora Frances Bodley
Jodie Lynne McClintock – Marion R. Britton
Marceline Hugot – Georgine Rose Corrigan
Rebecca Schull – Patricia Cushing
Ray Charleson – Joseph DeLuca
Tom O’Rourke – Donald Peterson
Becky London – Jean Headley Peterson
John Rothman – Edward P. Felt
Libby Morris – Hilda Marcin
Denny Dillon – Colleen Fraser
Susan Blommaert – Jane Folger
Tara Hugo – Kristin White Gould
Lorna Dallas – Linda Gronlund
Masato Kamo – Toshiya Kuge
Liza Colón-Zayas – Waleska Martinez
Olivia Thirlby – Nicole Carol Miller
Leigh Zimmerman – Christine Snyder
Joe Jamrog – John Talignani
Chloe Sirene – Honor Elizabeth Wainio
Patrick St. Esprit – Major Kevin Nasypany
Ben Sliney – Himself
Tobin Meller – Himself
Rich Sullivan – Himself
Tony Smith – Himself
Col. James Fox – Himself
Staff Sgt. Shawna Fox – Herself
1st Lt. Jeremy Powell – Himself
Curt Applegate – Himself
Greg Callahan – Himself
Rick Tepper – Himself

Lightning Review: Grandma’s Boy

Decades Blogathon 2016 banner

This review was originally posted for the 2016 Decades Blogathon, hosted by Three Rows Back and Digital Shortbread.

Grandma's Boy movie posterSynopsis
When video game tester Alex (Allen Covert) gets kicked out of his apartment, he moves in with his grandma (Doris Roberts) and her roommates. Meanwhile, at Alex’s work, Samantha (Linda Cardellini) has been sent by the company’s corporate office to oversee the final stages of production of their latest video game.

Grandma’s Boy isn’t going to get any recognition for being overly creative or groundbreaking, but dammit does it make me laugh. There is something about toilet humor that always tickles my funny bone. The characters are constantly berating each other, cursing up a storm, making sex jokes and getting high. Despite all that, it has charm behind it. Allen Covert and Nick Swardson are so much fun to watch together on screen. Some of the best lines of the film come from when these two are bouncing off each other. The plot is super simple, not providing any twists or turns that allow the film to focus on the comedy. Grandma’s Boy revels very much in making as many obscene jokes as it can. Some of the jokes hit because they are funny but others hit because you can’t help but think “they did not just do that.” The late Doris Roberts may seem out of place in a stoner film with her sweet grandma persona and all but she holds her own and meshes surprisingly well with the rest of the cast, like Covert, Swardson and Peter Dante, who fit perfectly well into the molds of their characters.

I thought Grandma’s Boy was GOOD :-). Its brand of comedy may not be for everyone but if you sit back and relax, you might find yourself having a good time.

Favorite Quote
Jeff: What does “high score” mean? New high score, is that bad? What does that mean? Did I break it?


Cast & Crew
Nicholaus Goossen – Director
Barry Wernick – Writer
Allen Covert – Writer
Nick Swardson – Writer
Waddy Wachtel – Composer

Allen Covert – Alex
Linda Cardellini – Samantha
Nick Swardson – Jeff
Doris Roberts – Grandma Lilly
Shirley Jones – Grace
Shirley Knight – Bea
Joel David Moore – JP
Peter Dante – Dante
Kevin Nealon – Mr. Cheezle
Jonah Hill – Barry
Kelvin Yu – Kane

Inside Man Review

This review was originally posted for MovieRob‘s heist-themed Genre Grandeur (which was chosen by yours truly 😀 ).

Inside Man movie posterSynopsis
Hostage negotiator Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) gets called in when a Manhattan bank gets taken over by bank robbers, led by Dalton Russell (Clive Owen). Russell claims to have planned the perfect heist and is always one step ahead of the police. Meanwhile, the bank’s owner (Christopher Plumber) hires Madeleine White (Jodie Foster) to speak with the robbers and retrieve his prized possession contained in one of the safe deposit boxes.

For my entry in this heist-themed Genre Grandeur, I was going to pick my favorite heist film, Ocean’s Eleven, but didn’t choose it for two reasons: 1) I’ve already reviewed it (which you can check out here), and 2) I’m hoping someone else chooses it for their Genre Grandeur entry. Instead, I opted to go with another one of my top heist films: Inside Man. Inside Man may not have the same fun atmosphere as Ocean’s Eleven but what it does have is a heist where the audience only has what little information the main characters have.

Heist films can be told from either the robbers’ perspective or the police’s perspective. Most often, whichever perspective the movie is told from, chances are that is who will prevail over the other. However, it is very hard to tell who will win the cat-and-mouse game in Inside Man. The movie is told from the police’s perspective but the robbers always seem to be one step ahead of them. As the audience, we are kept just as in the dark about the robber’s true motives as Detective Frazier (Denzel Washington) and the rest of the police force. It really keeps you engrossed in the film and on the edge of your seat if you don’t already know what is coming.

Denzel Washington and Clive Owen are both fantastic in this film. I wouldn’t say it is one of their best films for either actor but they are both able to take their parts and run with them. I liked Owen better, but only slightly, because he had the calm and collected thief mastermind shtick down. Washington and Chiwetel Ejiofor are so much fun to watch on screen together. They make a perfect pair of detectives, easily bouncing off each other and clearly having fun.

This film utilizes a seldom-used technique of flash forwards. These are used to get the some of the hostages’ perspectives about the bank robbery, as well as offer some exposition and even foreshadow events that are to come. Like I said, this technique isn’t used very often in movies and I thought it was used to great effect here. However, I wish it would have been used more because it only occurred a few times randomly in the middle act of the film. It could have been used more frequently to see more of the robbery from the hostages’ point-of-view. Maybe it was a time constraint (the film runs over two hours) or Spike Lee not wanting to offer too much of a good thing and leave us wanting more.

I feel like Jodie Foster’s character wasn’t necessary to the plot. She mainly served as exposition for what the robbers were going after and why it was so important to the bank owner, Arthur Case (Christopher Plumber). This information could have been given through Case’s discussions with the police or by Owen’s character, since it is the item he is trying to steal.

I thought Inside Man was GREAT :-D. Washington and Owen steal the show with their performances in a film with many other big names. The third main character, played by Foster, doesn’t feel completely necessary to the plot. Flash forwards are a cool effect used in the film that I wanted to see more of. Inside Man keeps you just as off balance as the other characters without becoming too complicated it trips over itself, creating a fantastic payout in the end.

Favorite Quote
Detective Mitchell: Let me see your shoe.
Detective Frazier: Huh?
Mitchell: Let me see your shoe.
Frazier: Why?
Mitchell: ‘Cause I have never seen anybody put their foot that far up a guy’s ass.


Cast & Crew
Spike Lee – Director
Russell Gewirtz – Writer
Terence Blanchard – Composer

Denzel Washington – Detective Keith Frazier
Clive Owen – Dalton Russell
Jodie Foster – Madeleine White
Christopher Plumber – Arthur Case
Williem Dafoe – Captain John Darius
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Detective Bill Mitchell
Carlos Andres Gomez – Steve
Kim Director – Stevie
James Ransone – Steve-O
Bernie Rachelle – Chaim
Peter Gerety – Captain Coughlin
Victor Colicchio – Sergeant Collins
Cassandra Freeman – Sylvia