collage no names

REVIEW: “The Martian”

 

Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

Andy Weir sent his novel’s manuscript out, and was rejected by everybody.

So… he self-published his sci-fi novel.

TM1His book took off, and then the offers came in.  He was on NPR talking about how he turned down a seven-figure offer because he was making more money than that on his own.

Anyway, I read his debut novel The Martian, in three days.  I do not read fast.  Not even close.  But, I devoured The Martian, and told everybody they need to read this amazing book.  I found out on day two of reading that Ridley Scott was making it into a movie with Matt Damon as the hero, Mark Watney.

Call me stoked!  I followed the production closely, and couldn’t wait to see the finished product.

The Martian opens on Mars, where the Ares III team is forced to evacuate the planet due to a huge storm.  As the crew makes their way to their ship, Watney is struck by debris and assumed to have been killed.

Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) makes the tough decision to leave him behind.  All the sensors in his suit say he is dead, and the sandstorm makes locating his body impossible.

Of course, Watney does not die.  As the preview states, he is in a habitat designed to last for 31 Sols (a day on Mars which is slightly longer than that on Earth) with the remaining 13 sols of food for six.  He will have to grow food on a planet where nothing grows in order to stay alive for four years until Ares IV lands 3200km away.

Oh, and NASA doesn’t know he is alive.

Back on Earth, satellite analyst Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) deduces Watney is alive days later, and alerts Ares Mission Control Supervisor Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ekiofor) who then tells NASA head Teddy (Jeff Daniels).

Now, NASA and the engineers try to devise a way to contact Watney and let him know that they can see him and are trying to work out a plan to keep him alive.  Meanwhile, Watney uses science, and trial and error, to stay alive and devise a way to contact NASA.

As I mentioned, I loved, LOVED, the book.  As with every great book, there is some apprehension when seeing it as a movie.  But, it is great, in its own right.

Ridley Scott, who I had written off, is back in true form.  He proves he still has what it takes to make a compelling sci-fi film.  At first, I was not sure about Damon playing Watney, but thankfully, he proves me wrong.  Damon captures Weir’s hero to perfection.

All the supporting characters and actors are as great as they are numerous.

TM2Harry Gregson-Williams’s score stands out as well.  He is a veteran composer that does not stick out often, but I am glad he chose this film to start.

My only real beef with the cinematic The Martian stems from its focus.  Weir’s book is witty and hilarious at times.  It is told through the mission journal entries by Watney.  I laughed out loud at times while reading the book.

Drew Goddard’s screenplay downplays a lot of the humor to focus on the drama and the peril.  I get it, but some of the great humorous lines, including my favorite, are missing.

I loved the book.  Have I said that yet?

I got my mom, wife, mother-in-law, sister, and my brother (who hasn’t read a book in a decade) to read it.

I loved the film.

The Martian is Apollo 13 meets Cast Away, pulling the best aspects from these great films.  See this movie. Read this book.  Don’t pay for the lame pointless 3D. For those of you that have read the book, I leave you with this:

( . Y . )

RATING: 9/10

 

(Adam Collins ARCHIVES: http://www.thekmfp.com/author/adam-collins/)

REVIEW: “The Age of Adaline”

 

Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

Few films of the past few years have been as overly sappy as The Odd Life of Timothy Green.  To be honest, I had completely forgotten about the 2012 Jennifer Garner/Joel Edgerton film until I was sitting in the darkened theater this week watching Lee Toland Krieger’s The Age of Adaline.  I really had no desire to see this film, as I am not a Blake Lively fan, and had not bothered to watch the trailer.  But, then I saw it directed by Krieger, who helmed 2012’s underseen Celeste & Jesse Forever.  So, I decided to give it a chance.

AgeD4-090.dngThe Age of Adaline is an entertaining film with many faults.  It follows the life of Adaline Bowman (Lively), as she is born in 1907, and through a freak accident, cannot age past 29 years.  She has a daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) before her accident, and Flemming ages normally.  This causes problems for Adaline, and she decides that she must keep moving every ten years or so, so as not to draw attention to herself.

Of course, this all goes to hell when she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman), a rich man that takes a fancy to her.  Taking her daughter’s advice, Adaline decides to give love and life a go with Ellis, only to discover that her past has finally caught up with her.

While the story is intriguing, the pacing and the tone of the film never settle into anything comfortable.  It tries to do too much in too little of time and many stories and characters are lost in shuffle.  There is an FBI story at the start, but it is quickly forgotten, as is Adaline’s blind friend Regan (Lynda Boyd).  Kikki (Amanda Crew) is Ellis’s sister, and she is a fight the power/against the man character.  Why?  That part must have been left on the cutting room floor with the rest of her scenes that make her relevant and necessary.  The potential is squandered.  The voiceover pops in and out, and serves only to try and make you laugh by telling you what is going on in a funny manner.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that The Age of Adaline was either too separate scripts that weren’t long enough individually, so they were smashed to make one film.  Or, it was a pilot for a television series that was not picked up, and the cut stuff out of the first four episodes to make one movie.  Either way, The Age of Adaline did not work as a whole, but it is better than it is bad.  There is just too much going on and not enough time devoted to each thing.

Blake Lively does a fair enough job playing a woman who is 108 years old, and has seen a century of change.  Harrison Ford plays the father of Michiel Huisman’s Ellis, and he steals the show once he enters the film.  It is nice to see him in a role that he has to work for, and not just growl and grumble.  The Age of Adaline would be best viewed from the comfort of your couch on Redbox, or even Netflix sometime at the end of the year.  It is just too over the top sappy and too blatant in its attempts to pull at your heart strings.

RATING: 6/10

 

(Adam Collins ARCHIVES: http://www.thekmfp.com/author/adam-collins/)

REVIEW: “Get Hard”

 

Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

“Hot and Cold”.

This term is befitting of the stars of this film, and the film itself.  Will Ferrell’s films tend to be box office hits or duds.  He rarely has an average film.  Kevin Hart is the same way.  He had Ride Along, but that followed The Grudge Match.

GH1Neither actor is a guaranteed bankable star.  Yet, both are comedic powerhouses.  Sometimes too much of a good thing….

Millionaire stockbroker James King (Ferrell) is convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin.  James swears he is innocent of these charges.  His fiancé/boss’s daughter Alissa (Allison Brie) leaves him.  His boss/ex-soon-to-be-father-in-law Martin (Craig T. Nelson) swears that he will have a private team looking into the fraudulent transactions.  Of course, Martin is the one who had James framed.

Anyway, James has thirty days before his incarceration.  So, he hires Darnell (Hart) to help prepare him for prison.  Why Darnell?  Because James assumes Darnell has been to prison because Darnell is black.  The next hour of the movie is Darnell, who has never been to prison, trying to prepare James via various gimmicks: fighting hugely buff guys, learning to talk shit, and when all else fails, giving head.

As you can imagine, Get Hard walks the line of being highly racist and offensive.  No one is safe.  Blacks, Mexicans, Gays, Rich White Guys, and Skinheads are all represented, or misrepresented.  There are so many stereotypes perpetuated, that I am not surprised of the recent backlash.  Then again, it is a movie, and you don’t have to see what you don’t want to.

Personally, I just didn’t think the movie was as funny as it should have been.  Don’t misunderstand me.  There are scenes that are gutbustingly hilarious.  Then, as is the problem with a lot of comedies these days, there are scenes and jokes that go on too long and become unfunny.  Some may even go too far.

In the end, the simplicity of the story is what left me wanting.  There is nothing else going on but this simple plot.  Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are funny, and work well with each other.  The side cast steal the show in their scenes, especially T.I and Erick Chavarria.  Sadly, you would be better off staying home this weekend watching the NCAA and giving Get Hard a rent in a few months.

RATING: 5/10

 

(Adam Collins ARCHIVES: http://www.thekmfp.com/author/adam-collins/)

Worst 3-Movies of 2014!

 

Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

Thinning the pack down to the worst three is never an easy feat.  That is compounded when multiple people are involved in multiple shitty movies.

WT1So… here it goes:

3. – Arnold Schwarzenegger – He makes this list twice for his terribleness in both Expendables 3 and Sabotage. Neither film was worth a damn. Actually, both would have made me walk out and ask for my money back.

Here’s to hoping “The Govenator” has a better 2015.

In Sabotgae, Schwarzenegger leads this cast of decent actors in one of the worst excuses for an action movie I have seen in years.  The atrocious story cannot be saved by any amount of action, and they tried.

After I heralded his The Last Stand as criminally under seen last year, I must admit, the paltry $10-million box office take is criminally too high.

As for Expendables 3, neither of the first two films of this franchise are anything too special, but they are at least watchable.  This latest entry is not.  The story is barely above the level of shit, but the rest of the movie is not even polished shit.

The cast didn’t even try other than Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas.  Rhonda Rousey might have a film career if she can get out of the shadow of this box office dud.  There is no reason to see this.  Stallone can blame the illegal leak all he wants, but if you make a subpar film, people aren’t going to want to watch it.


2. – Transformers: Age of Extinction
– On the other hand, Michael Bay can continue to make shitty films featuring robots fighting and destroying cities, and people will line up to see them.

A whole new cast led by Marky Mark cannot save this dying franchise from its massive suckage.  The domestic box office performance might be the worst of the franchise, but its worldwide take is second only to the terrible third installment.

I wanted to leave this movie so bad, but I didn’t drive.  And I paid extra for the D-Box experience. Both bad ideas.


1. – Luc Besson
– Wow, did he have a bad year. Three films that were all garbage.

WT2First off, Brick Mansions gets a place mainly for ruining the original District B13.  This is a shoddily made US remake of a great French action flick.  Even the so-so sequel is better than this remake.  It is sad that this was the late Paul Walker’s last full film role.

Next, 3 Days to Kill made me sad to think this was the worst movie of the year.  It was so bad, I didn’t even finish writing my review based on the theory “They didn’t try to make a film.  Why should I try to write a review?

It is so bad I wanted to get up and walkout.  Instead, I sat there and laughed at the stupidity on display in front of me.  No redeeming factor whatsoever.

And finally, the truly worst of cinema this year……………….. Lucy is by far the worst movie of 2014.  It tries to act like it is so smart, but it is so dumb.  It baffles you with bullshit, and makes you dumber for watching it.  If you did see this sorry excuse for a movie, I only ask, “Why?”

 

(Adam Collins ARCHIVES: http://www.thekmfp.com/author/adam-collins/)

Movie Review – “The Gambler”

 

Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

With fresh and new ideas running thin in Hollywood, they have once again looked to the past for inspiration.  This time, we get a remake of the 1974 James Caan and Paul Sorvino film, The Gambler.  This is not to be confused with the 1980 Kenny Rogers film based on his classic song.

The Gambler opens on Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) losing $10,000 at a Korean high stakes underground gambling establishment.  He then loses a game of cutting a deck to Baraka (Michael Kenneth Williams) before borrowing and losing $50,000 more.  That brings Bennett’s debt to $260,000 between what he owes Mr. Lee (Alvin Ing) and Baraka.  He is given one week to pay up.

TG1The next day, Bennett gives his literature lecture to his students.  One of these students is smitten for him, Amy (Brie Larson), while another one is a college basketball star looking to go pro, Lamar (Anthony Kelley).  During his lecture, Bennett inundates his students with life truths and harsh realities.  These life altering lines are drivel: You are not special.  You are not a genius.  Life is hard.  Blah.

So, as the days count down, Bennett confronts loan shark Frank (John Goodman), but refuses his terms.  He then turns to his rich mother Roberta (Jessica Lange).  He promptly goes and gambles all of that away, too.  Jim Bennett will gamble anytime, anywhere, and anything.  But, he maintains he is not a gambler.  As the debt increases, Bennett maintains his nonchalance about it despite the threats and physical violence.  After an odd 100 minutes, the film reaches its anti-climactic end.

The Gambler starts off great, but then just dies as it gets caught up in its own supposed greatness and philosophical genius.  Rupert Wyatt’s direction seems frantic.  The movie is a mess at every turn.  If it weren’t for the amazing villainous Frank, this would have been a complete and utter waste of time.  John Goodman was the best part; I just wish that he wore more than a towel in a majority of his scenes.

Many people around me liked the movie, but I just couldn’t get in to it.  The music choices were fun, but it was heavy handed.  The lines of dialog were just these overtly prophetic lines.  Half of Wahlberg’s lines were rushed through, as if Marky Mark had somewhere else to be.

Honestly, with all this suckage coming out around the holiday’s I can only suggest you take this time to catch up on the Oscar hopefuls, and enjoy your family.

RATING: 3/10

 

(Adam Collins ARCHIVES: http://www.thekmfp.com/author/adam-collins/)

Movie Review – “Wild”

Written by – Adam Collins (Profile/Bio: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

Last year, Jean-Marc Vallee directed Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscar glory in Dallas Buyers Club, based on the true life events of Ron Woodroof.  This year, he aims to do that for Reese Witherspoon in the real life tale of Cheryl Strayed in this weekend’s Wild.

Nick Hornby adapted the memoir book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail written by Strayed.  I read this book a few months back, as did The Wife, and we both loved it.  We waited anxiously for the release.

MR1Wild follows Cheryl’s (Witherspoon) 1000-mile hike up the Pacific Crest Trail through California.  During her trek, we learn of her life leading up to this point.

Her mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern), raised her and her brother Leif (Keene McRae) alone after leaving her abusive husband.  Her mother later died of pancreatic cancer.  This sends Cheryl on a spiral of self-destruction that ends her marriage to Paul (Thomas Sadoski).

Her best friend Aimee (Gaby Hoffman) helps her through another rough patch, and then, she sets her mind to hiking the trail.

During her journey to find herself, Cheryl quickly discovers that she has not properly prepared for the ruggers of her ambitious plan.  She meets many people, mostly nice ones, which help her and teach her.

I really liked Wild.  The book was fantastic, and the film is too.  I found a lot of what Hornby decided to cut and keep as interesting.  There is so much more in the book, and I feel that a lot of it was cut because it might have actually seemed untrue in the film.

Other things, I am not sure why they were cut. Despite all that was left out, the finished film does not violate the source material.  There are two scenes that I wish were kept, as both were absolutely gut-wrenching in the book.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s direction is fantastic.  He captures the expanse of the desert, and her loneliness.  This is achieved by both far wide shots showing no one else, and close-up shots trapping her in the frame.

You start to feel for Cheryl as she strives to find herself and set herself back on a good path in life.  Reese plays this role superbly.  She draws you in with her despair and her broken moral compass.

In the end, Wild left me wanting to leave everything behind, strap The Kid into the Ergo, and start the journey with The Wife.

Why?  More like, why not?

I recommend seeing this film, and reading the book.  Both are fantastic in their own right.

8/10

Review – “Sabotage”

One movie… two reviews.

DPAWill they agree… will they disagree… will they MF each other and take this “Dueling Pianos” section to “must read” status in no time at all?

Hell, I don’t know – what I do know is these are two really good dudes who love film, love to write about it, and – MOST IMPORTANTLY – know much more about this shit than I do.

 

by Justin Tucker

Other than maybe Michael Jackson, I can’t think of another personality that has emerged in the past fifty years that has so permeated the popular culture of the world more than Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).

The man needs no introduction because everyone knows who he is and we’ve seen him a bazillion times in the movies, on television and in politics.

So engrained into the world’s collected psyche, he automatically becomes an incredibly self-aware presence whenever he appears.

This has never been even more the case since returning to Hollywood, after serving as the governor, and he’s certainly using that self-awareness, as in The Expendables series, as a defining attribute of his resurgence.

This is also the case for Sabotage, the latest display of stylized violence for the 66-year-old.

In one scene, Investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) looks at some photographs on the wall at the home of Breacher, Schwarzenegger’s elite DEA agent character. There are photographs of him, some of them real, with the presidents from Reagan to Obama.

Only Schwarzenegger could pull that off and it was one of many hilarious moments in the film.

DP1

Breacher is the leader of a brute crew of agents (Sam Worthington, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway and Max Martini) that are in too deep in the battle against the Mexican drug cartels.

During a raid, they rob the cartel of millions of dollars, but the death of a teammate and the discovery of the missing cash leads to an investigation that suspends team’s activity. When the investigation ends, they regroup for more action, but just as soon as they are ready to get their hands dirty again, they soon begin to be killed off one by one.

As the cynical Breacher, Schwarzenegger plays a character that goes against everything audiences have associated him for his entire career.

He’s a tattooed, corrupt fellow who is very liberal in his use of the f-word. Because of this contrast, his self-awareness is even more evident. His rapport with Williams, whose uncertain Southern accent is made up for with her charm, is rather interesting, pairing up the burly he-man with the sophisticated darling.

His interactions with his team, especially Worthington, Enos and Mangeniello, are often funny, making this rough crew of dirty agents likeable.

The gritty, naturalistic style of director David Ayer (End of Watch, Harsh Times) keeps things grounded for the most part, but as the story goes along and character motivations are revealed, things get convoluted and begin to fly off the handle a bit.

This culminates in a lackluster third-act that is over-the-top and amorally violent, but I guess if Schwarzenegger is involved, a little ridiculousness is to be expected.

(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)
(Justin Tucker PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/justin-tucker/)

 

by Adam Collins

Schwarzenegger reminds us once again this weekend why his 66-year-old ass cannot headline a film.

Sabotage is a mess from the word “go”.  It is sloppy storytelling at its best.  Nothing makes sense.  The characters are not that likable, despite their awesome names: Breacher (Schwarzenegger), Smoke (Mark Schlegel), Pyro (Max Martini), Grinder (Joe Manganiello), Monster (Sam Worthington), Sugar (Terrence Howard), Tripod (Kevin Vance), Lizzy (Mireille Enos).

So much of this film is a waste of time.

There is no need to watch Arnold’s Breacher make Pop-Tarts, workout, or take a piss.  But, we get to see all of those.

DP2The film opens with a drug bust by Breacher and his team, where they skim a cool $10-million from the drug money before blowing the rest of it up.  Yet, somehow, the DEA knows that they took $10-million?

How?  It is blown to shit.

Anyway, when the team goes to collect their money from the sewers Ninja Turtles-style, it is gone.

Then, one by one, the team starts to turn up dead.  Some investigator discovers the link between the hits, and she sleeps with Breacher.

Why does she sleep with him?  No idea.

When this box office belly-flop finally reaches its first apex, it is in the form of the dumbest car chase/shootout ever.  Physics hasn’t been this defied since Fast 6.

Then, when the story is fully explained, I was left pounding my head into the seatback.  This is all followed by yet another ridiculous shootout.

For an action movie, there is a lot of downtime, stupid character development, and odd gratuitous nudity.  This is not worth time or money.  Sorry, Arnold.  I think it is time to call it quits

(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)               

(Adam Collins PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

Review – “3 Days to Kill”

One movie…two reviews.

DPaWill they agree…will they disagree…will they MF-each other by week-3 and really take this “Dueling Pianos” section to “must read” status in no time at all?

Hell, I don’t know – what I do know is these are 2-really good dudes who love film, love to write about it and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, know much more about this shit than I do.

 

by Adam Collins

3 Days to Kill opens with a quick background session with the CIA and Vivi (Amber Heard).  They tell her that a known bad guy mastermind, “The Wolf”, will possibly be where another bad guy, “The Albino”, is selling a dirty bomb.

She asks who is on the ground in the field.  The answer: Ethan Renner (Costner).

The mission goes awry, but we get that Ethan is a badass and absentee father and husband.  He is then diagnosed with some form of terminal cancer.

So, he moves back to his shitty apartment in Paris where he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) and wife Tina (Connie Nielsen).

He promises his wife that he is out of the business, and she grants him time with their daughter before his three to five months of life are over.

DP1Of course, he is confronted by Vivi, and blackmailed into going after “The Albino” (Tomas Lemarquis) and “The Wolf” (Richard Sammel).  Vivi believes that Ethan is the only one to know what the elusive terrorist looks like, so he is dragged back in.

Every scene that does not feature Kevin Costner killing someone is a waste of film.  Every scene with Kevin Costner killing someone feels neutered due to the PG-13 rating.

It took less than fifteen minutes for me to hate this film… and it only gets worse.

McG tries to direct the action sequences with some gusto, but they are just flat.  Costner’s aim is perfect while picking off henchmen by the clip-load.  But, when it comes to shooting any of the main bad guys, he misses miserably.

Hailee Steinfeld was solid in True Grit, and has just floundered since.  Every story arc with her seems cliché at best.  The whole story seems clichéd.  His French films are quirky, funny and action-filled.  This felt like one of those that missed the mark in every way.

… What a painful way to spend two hours.
(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)
(Adam Collins PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

 

by Justin Tucker

Poor Kevin Costner…

For almost the past quarter-century, since Waterworld and The Postman, he seems unfairly written off by some audiences.

I, on the other hand, have continued to admire him as an actor and director. I’m not going to let a few Razzie nominations spoil the rest of Costner’s work for me. The guy was Jim Garrison and Dances with Wolves for crying out loud!

Hello, Field of Dreams anybody? Do we really have that short of a memory? Sure, he’s had successes since then, but still marginalized.

For example, the responses to my question “Do you want to be my ‘plus-one’ for the new Kevin Costner movie 3 Days to Kill?” were met with unanimous negative enthusiasm from my friends. I couldn’t find a single person to go with me.

DP2It’s a shame because the film is a warm, diverting Euro-style spy actioner with the grey-haired Costner as a badass CIA super-agent, and some audiences may snicker at that very thought.

The story, by action tycoon Luc Besson (creator of La Femme Nakita, The Fifth Element and Transporter), is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s because of Costner’s classic charm that gives the film its kick.

He plays Ethan Renner, who retires from the agency after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Since he is only given a short time to live, he moves back to Paris to reconcile with his estranged teenage daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) and ex-wife (Connie Neilsen) before he croaks.

Meanwhile, he is approached by the seductive agent Vivi (Amber Heard), who offers him experimental cancer treatment to pull off one more mission. Now he must punch, kick, shoot and chase bad guys half his age so he can live longer and make a new life with Zoey.

A lot of the action is overly ridiculous and over-the-top, but is amusing because it’s against type for the aging Costner.

In fact it seems like Besson wrote the role of Ethan for Costner, going so far as to have one of the characters refer to him as an “American cowboy” and giving him a chance to indulge himself in senseless action.

3 Days to Kill is by no means an achievement or even Costner or Besson’s best work, but because Costner is outrageous – as well as earnest – the film stands apart from similar films of its type.

Myself, and hopefully some of you naysayers, will be reminded of what makes Costner such an amiable presence.

(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)
(Justin Tucker PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/justin-tucker/)

REVIEW – “Jack Ryan”

DPIOne movie…two reviews.

Will they agree…will they disagree…will they MF-each other by week-3 and really take this “Dueling Pianos” section to “must read” status in no time at all?

Hell, I don’t know – what I do know is these are 2-really good dudes who love film, love to write about it and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, know much more about this shit than I do.

 

by Justin Tucker

There is a scene at the beginning of 1990’s The Hunt for Red October where CIA analyst Jack Ryan, played smoothly by Alec Baldwin, gives a briefing to top military and intelligence brass about the Red October, a Soviet stealth submarine heading across the Atlantic toward the United States.

Jack tells it like he sees it. He is blunt and direct about the situation, confidently making an accurate assessment while shooting down objections of the generals.

Two years later, Harrison Ford took over the Jack Ryan character in Patriot Games, while Baldwin was getting more prominent grounding in Hollywood.

That same year, Baldwin showed audiences the finest moment of his acting career starring as master salesman Blake in the film adaptation of David Mamet’s seminal 1983 play Glengarry Glen Ross.

Though his character appears in less than ten minutes of actual screen time, his classic monologue contains some of the best and most colorful dialogue in the history of cinema, giving the lexicon such phrases as “Coffee’s for closers only!” and “Always be closing!”, Blake works as character in part because Baldwin’s brusque interpretation of Jack Ryan gave him the practice he needed.

DP1The Hunt for Red October was also a favorite film of my father’s, as he served on the submarine U.S.S. Queenfish during the Vietnam War.

Like many of the movies in our family’s collection, Dad had recorded it off of HBO onto a VHS tape and put it in next to Das Boot, another terrific submarine movie. He would also play PC submarine games in the days before Windows 95 or the internet.

The dude loved submarines.

Now the really interesting thing about all of this is that Baldwin eventually started to look like my father. The resemblance was truly uncanny and Dad could have easily fit in with the rest of the Baldwin clan, though he would have been the most handsome and classy of the bunch.

Where am I going with all this?

If the dots are not connecting with you, that’s okay. Writing about your deceased father whom you miss dearly can make for an unfocused article without a concise thesis.

So basically it comes down to this:

1. Alec Baldwin was awesome in Glengarry Glen Ross because he was awesome in The Hunt for Red October.

2. Alec Baldwin resembles my dad, whom really loved The Hunt for Red October.

… And this is why Alec Baldwin is the best Jack Ryan in my humble opinion.

 

(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)
(Justin Tucker PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/justin-tucker/)

 

by Adam Collins

James Bond is the epitome of longevity.  He has survived six authors, seven decades, twenty-three films and six actors in the mainstream media.

There have been plenty of attempts at copying that success, but nothing has survived.

Tom Clancy’s character of Jack Ryan is the closest one, and he has only had one author, three decades, five films, and four actors.

George Lazenby is the only actor to portray 007 once, while Harrison Ford is the only actor to play Jack Ryan twice.  There are heated debates as to who the best Bond is, but who is the best Jack Ryan?

DP2While I think that The Hunt for Red October is the best Jack Ryan film, Alec Baldwin had not really come into his own in 1990.  Harrison Ford played a very human, very fatherly Jack Ryan, but he only really brought his famous growling to the role.

He was also 50-years old when he took on the role, as opposed to Baldwin who was 32.

Ben Affleck’s solo shot in the 2002 reboot was decent enough.  The movie made the money, but Affleck was taking a lot of shit in the media for his relationship with Jennifer Lopez, then Jennifer Garner.

He had a string of box office bombs (Changing Lanes, Paycheck).  Despite The Sum of All Fears’ box office success, a sequel was never commissioned.  Affleck, like Baldwin, had not come into his own at the time of his film, partly due to being only 30.

Since that time, Ben has become a multi-award winner.  Not that he was bad back in 2002, but he wasn’t what he is today.

Chris Pine recently took over the helm of the USS Enterprise as Captain James T. Kirk.  That has helped give him exposure to both the humility and the action hero sides of a mainstream character.

While Pine’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit may be the weakest of the Jack Ryan films, his portrayal is the best and most relatable.  His girlfriend/fiancé/wife sucks, and is by far the worst (I really don’t like Kiera Knightley), and being able to act like you love her proves your acting ability… but I digress.

Pine makes the CIA analyst believable, and accessible.

Yes, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a mess of a film (http://hairymanreviews.blogspot.com/2014/01/jack-ryan-hot-mess.html), but now that the backstory is out of the way, Pine’s Jack Ryan should be given a second chance.

Like Baldwin, Pine is 32, and could ride this character for a few more films.

Will Jack Ryan ever truly be the “U.S. James Bond”? No way.  But, he deserves a shot at it.
(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)
(Adam Collins PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

REVIEW – “The Nut Job”

DPOne movie…two reviews.

Will they agree…will they disagree…will they MF-each other by week-3 and really take this “Dueling Pianos” section to “must read” status in no time at all?

Hell, I don’t know – what I do know is these are 2-really good dudes who love film, love to write about it and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, know much more about this shit than I do.

 

by Adam Collins

What happens if you make an animated movie that is devoid of all things funny and original?

Answer, you get Open Road’s The Nut Job.  It is so unfunny, I did not laugh once.  I saw this movie back in 2006 when it was titled Over the Hedge.

The Nut Job centers on Surly (Will Arnett) as he is banished from The Park by the rest of the animals that live there.  They are led by Raccoon (Liam Neeson), who is manipulative, but no one can see it.

Anyway, Surly finds the Nut Shop while being banished to the city.  It is the answer to his hunger prayers.  The Park sends Andie (Katherine Heigl) and Grayson (Brendan Fraser) to the city to find food.

NJ1They come across Surly.  Together they devise a plan to rob the shop.  The front, however, is a front for a mobster and his goons who are planning a heist of their own.

I can only assume that the $40-million budget went to pay for its voice cast and the rights to “Gangam Style.”  It certainly wasn’t in paying for a decent writer or story.

I know it is animated, but it irritated me that some of the animals talked, some did not.  Some had names, others went by their animal.  I don’t understand why some of the pigeons talked and others just looked dumb.

The animation is nothing special either.  The 3D was decent, but it is expected in an animated movie.

The Nut Job simply is unoriginal and unfunny.  Even the little kids that were in the screening with me didn’t laugh unless it was a fart joke or Psy and his annoying “Gangam Style” song.

There really is nothing more to say about this film.  I went in without knowing anything about the movie other than seeing the poster and knowing that Liam Neeson and Will Arnett were voices.

I cannot recommend seeing this.  I left the theater 85-minutes later very underwhelmed.
(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)
(Adam Collins PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/adam-collins/)

 

by Justin Tucker

Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) is among the many animals that live in an urban park.

While the others are stockpiling what little food there is around the park for the upcoming winter, Surly and his rat friend Buddy decide to find their own food and share it only with themselves.

In the process, Surly causes a mishap that depletes their stockpile and is banished from the park to the city by Raccoon (voiced by Liam Neeson), the collectivist leader of the park animals.

Surly and Buddy hit the jackpot when they stumble upon a nut shop owned by bank robbers who are tunneling their way to a nearby bank vault.

NJ2The two rodents run into squirrels Andie and wannabe hero Grayson (respectively voiced by Katherine Heigl and Brendan Fraser), on a mission from the park to search the city for more food.

The selfish Surly reluctantly agrees to work with the others, and as they plan to steal the nuts, the robbers are about to pull off their heist.

Meanwhile, Raccoon tries to stop the rodents from succeeding so he can use a famine as a way to seize more power for himself.

That’s the plot of The Nut Job, the first animated film of 2014 to feature anthropomorphic animals.

Adapted from his 2005 short Sulry Squirrel, director, co-writer and Disney veteran Peter Lepeniotis makes a lackluster debut. His character designs lack any sort of distinctiveness that would give his animation its own style and branding.

In fact, Buddy looks very similar to Remy from Ratatouille, Precious the pug (voiced by Maya Rudolph) looks like Percy from Pocahontas, and Surly, though a squirrel and not a meerkat, reminds me of Timon from The Lion King.

The plot is paper-thin and derivative but could have been forgiven had the film’s jokes actually been funny. The only slightly amusing part of the movie is an animated cameo by South Korean K-pop megastar Psy performing his hit “Gangnam Style” with the cast…and that’s during the end credits.

If the reaction from the screening I attended is any indication, children may not even thoroughly enjoy The Nut Job either.

Though they are young and inexperienced, they know what’s legit and what’s drab.

They’ll get excited, enthusiastically put on their 3D glasses and hope for the best. Instead they’ll see that the film is humdrum, get bored, kick my seat and tell their mother how bad they have to go to the bathroom.

 

(ADDITIONAL Reviews: http://www.thekmfp.com/category/dueling-pianos/)
(Justin Tucker PROFILE/BIO: http://www.thekmfp.com/team/justin-tucker/)

collage no names