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Miami Vice

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Being a film written & directed by Michael Mann (Public Enemies, The Insider, Ali) makes it an automatic watch for me with him being behind the camera of two of my favorite films (The Last of The Mohicans & Heat). His style of direction changed with his previous film Collateral which worked but my initial viewing of this 4 years ago when it was released did not work for me too much. He reused it again on last year’s film Public Enemies starring Christian Bale (Reign of Fire, The Machinist, The Prestige) & Johnny Depp (Benny & Joon, The Astronaut’s Wife, The Ninth Gate) and I liked how he handled it with that film and thought I’d give Miami Vice another chance. One thing I also remembered from my first viewing was that I thought the chemistry between the two leading actors was horrible and non-existent. Nonpoint’s cover of ‘In The Air Tonight’ was a plus though.

The opening scene gives us a small taste of the Miami nightlife but turns out to be rather pointless to the story other than showing us our main characters; Sonny Crockett, originally portrayed by Don Johnson on the 80s television series and now being played by Colin Farrell (American Outlaws, The New World, In Bruges). Ricardo Tubbs, originally portrayed by Philip Michael Thomas and now being played Jamie Foxx (Bait, Any Given Sunday, The Soloist) in his second film with director Michael Mann after starring in 2004’s Collateral with Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder) & Jada Pinkett-Smith (Reign Over Me). We also get introduced to their team; Naomie Harris (28 Days Later…, Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End, Ninja Assassin) as Trudy Joplin, love interest to Rico as well as being on the team. Justin Theroux (Zoolander, Mulholland Dr., American Pyscho) who recently turned into screenwriting and has two films under his belt (Tropic Thunder & Iron Man 2) as Larry Zito. Elizabeth Rodriguez (Blow, Dead Presidents) as Gina Calabrese who has possibly the best line in the movie when face to face with a hostage taker. The team is closed up by Domenick Lombardozzi (Find Me Guilty, Phone BoothS.W.A.T.) as Stan Switek who would later star in another Michael Mann film, Public Enemies.

But then the scene is interrupted by the actual story of the film when he receives a frantic phone call from a former informant, Alonzo Stevens, played by John Hawkes (American Gangster, Identity, The Perfect Storm). Tubbs joins Sonny outside and they begin their case first calling the FBI and getting in contact with Agent Fujima, played by Ciaran Hinds (The Phantom of The Opera (2004), Margot at The Wedding, Munich) and fear that his men’s cover, currently in the process of making a deal, have been blown. Tubbs tries calling Lucianna, Alonzo’s wife, with no luck and we get a scene of a tattoo-covered man looking through the fridge.

We are then given our first action scene with the undercover agents completing the process of the deal but come to the realization that their cover is blown when dealer in charge asks “How long have you been working for the FBI?”. Their escape is stopped quickly as two hidden snipers obliterate them and their SUV in a rather sweet looking visual.

Sonny & Tubbs meet with their superior, played by Barry Shabaka (Four Brothers, Rush Hour) in his third Michael Mann film, & Agent Fujima where they become tasked with the undercover operation to infiltrate and bring down the Aryan Brotherhood, led by Jesus Montaya (Luis Tosar). The FBI can no longer trust any agency currently involved on the case and therefore they enlist Miami Vice and Sonny & Tubbs are temporarily deputized as FBI agents. They quickly begin by getting in contact with an old informant to set up a meeting with the cartel and they get their new identities created. This is when we also come to find the romantic relationship between Tubbs & Trudy.

We get a pretty intense change of words when Sonny & Tubbs meet with Yero (John Ortiz; American Gangster, Fast & Furious, Pride and Glory) who ends up, unknowingly to Sonny & Tubbs at first, not being the head of the cartel but the leader’s counter intelligence here to make sure of the two “drug dealers”. The banker for the cartel is present as well, Isabella (Gong Li; Hannibal Rising). After hours of waiting they finally are taken to meet Jesus Montaya and come to find they are very hi-tech as their cell phones are being jammed at the place of meet. Montaya agrees to use them as transporters but expects results and makes an indirect threat to their respectful families. Upon the cartel’s departure, Tubbs desperately tries to get a hold of Trudy and finally the jamming signal on his phone goes away. Quickly they find out that they are already being watched as flowers were successfully delivered to her, first assuming that Tubbs had sent her the flowers.

The movie runs rather slowly throughout and I still don’t feel the chemistry between our two leading characters and it kinda feels like they are in their own movies but on-screen at the same time. We get some scenes of distrust between the cartel and the stars of the movie to add tension and build-up to the final showdown. Along with a romantic development that spawns from a staring contest between Sonny & Isabella which of course will eventually bring us a scene in which her lover finds out. In this case it’s the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood and Yero shows him a video feed of the two together in a non-casual manner.

A rescue scene involving the Miami Vice team tracking down and retrieving Trudy sets us up for the final scene. This is when the best line in the movie comes to be and is spoken by Elizabeth Rodriguez’s character, Gina Calabrese.

“That’s not what happens. What will happen is… what will happen is I will put a round at twenty-seven hundred feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won’t even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that?”

Queue Nonpoint’s cover of ‘In The Air Tonight’. The song, originally performed by Phil Collins, was featured prominently in the TV series. I really enjoy the sound during this final shootout since it’s realistic and doesn’t have the added booming sound effects you typically get in action movies. You actually feel like the other shooter is at a distance rather than next to your face. Which I’m not saying is a bad thing and I do enjoy it but I just liked that fact in this situation and it keeps along with how the rest of the movie is directed.

I enjoyed the film better with this second viewing and Michael Mann’s current style of directing looks pretty good on Blu-Ray. This style is one that I don’t think can be appreciated rightfully on a standard DVD viewing and probably hurt its appeal. Rating: 5/10

Colin Farrell & John Ortiz also appeared in the film Pride and Glory with Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk) & Jon Voight (Anaconda)
John Ortiz & John Hawkes appeared in Ridley Scott’s (Kingdom of Heaven) American Gangster starring Denzel Washington (Glory) & Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man)

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Bradley Cooper

March 4, 2010 Leave a comment

His star is quickly rising in the Hollywood circle as a possible headline actor in many films since his appearance as the handsome groomsman Phil in last year’s The Hangover. Bradley was even considered for the role of Hal Jordan in the Warner Bros. adaptation of DC Comic’s Green Lantern. That part ended up going to Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, Van Wilder). This summer he will be headlining, along with Liam Neeson (Great Expectations, Rob Roy), in the film adaptation of the 80’s television show The A-Team. He’ll be playing the role of Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck and co-starring with Jessica Biel (Rules of Attraction, London), Sharlot Copley (District 9) & UFC’s Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.

I first came across Bradley Cooper on the ABC television show ‘Alias’ starring Jennifer Garner (13 Going on 30). He played the role of Will Tippin, the unaware boyfriend of Jennifer Garner’s character Sydney Bristow. I didn’t start watching this show until I bought the 1st season on DVD during it’s 4 year on the air. I have to say I didn’t like his character until he became aware of who his girlfriend really was and he lightened up more and even helped her out on a couple of her plights before leaving the show in the 3rd season. He would appear once more during the show’s final season. While playing catch up on this show I saw him play the role of the asshole husband-to-be in the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson RomCom Wedding Crashers. He played the unlikable role well and would be seen in small supporting roles in the following years, such as The Comebacks & The Rocker, as well as starring in the short-lived tv series ‘Kitchen Confidential’.

He followed up Wedding Crashers with the Matthew McCounaghey (Sahara, Frailty) & Sarah Jessica Parker (L.A. Story) romantic comedy Failure to Launch as Demo, one of McCounaghey’s best friends. His future Hangover co-star, Justin Bartha (National Treasure), would also star alongside as ironically a best friend. Bradley would once again play a friend to the lead role in Jim Carrey’s Yes Man, while being on screen again with his Failure to Launch co-star Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer, Almost Famous).

His first venture into the horror genre would be in 2008’s Midnight Meat Train directed by horror master Clive Barker (Candyman, Hellraiser). Bradley would be the headline to this direct-to-dvd feature co-starring with Vinnie Jones (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels) as the villain and Leslie Bibb (Iron Man, Law Abiding Citizen) as his girlfriend. I took advantage of Comcast’s On-Demand Free Movies feature and caught this over Halloween and I enjoyed it. The film was well done for a direct-to-dvd feature and the fear factor was there although overall not that scary. Worth a watch though and Vinnie Jones plays his role well although the ending is kinda cheap. His second horror film, and only other one to date,  would see him co-star with Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) in 2009’s Case 39.

Mr. Cooper would appear in an episode, on and off again, for a couple years on FX’s ‘Nip Tuck’ and we would soon become witness to the start of his “15 Minutes of Fame” in 2009. First starring in the anthology film New York, I Love You that gives us 10 different segments of love stories. In his segment, he co-starred with Drea de Matteo (Assault on Precinct 13, tv’s ‘Sopranos’). Followed by starring in the adaptation of He’s Just Not That Into You, based off the novel written by Greg Behrendt & Liz Tucillo, that followed a group with interconnecting story arcs. His story being that he’s married to the character played by Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond, A Beautiful Mind) and would fall in love with Scarlett Johansson’s (Eight Legged Freaks, Iron Man 2) character. Not a bad situation to be in at all. But then his face became nationally recognized when he starred as Phil in the acclaimed Comedy of The Year The Hangover. He had a little let down to finish the year when he headlined the movie All About Steve, playing the character of Steve, with co-star Sandra Bullock (Speed), a hiccup for her as well in an otherwise successful comeback year.

Currently he is starring in Valentine’s Day, out in theaters now. Then appearing this summer in the before mentioned A-Team movie. Bradley has three projects on his slate as of now which includes headling the thriller Dark Fields with co-star Robert DeNiro (Heat) who came on board the project today. It tells the story of a New York writer who comes into possession of a drug that gives him newfound intelligence and successes. DeNiro plays a financial mogul on the pursuit of his character. A sequel to The Hangover is also in the works as well but I don’t know why this is happening. I could only see this being plausible if Ed Helm’s character got married to Heather Graham’s character and a bachelor party is rightfully thrown. It would also have to take place somewhere exotic, probably Paris, to avoid any redundancy of Las Vegas….. hmmmm

Keep an eye out, we’ll be seeing him on movie posters at the local theaters for a few years to come at least.

Star Wars I – The Phantom Menace

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I had the sudden urge to watch the first 3 Star Wars films, don’t know why but there are some parts of these films I really enjoyed. I always enjoy Liam Neeson (Batman Begins, Taken) in any of his roles and I may have to say that he may be my favorite part of this first film.

The visual effects are astounding but nothing beats the real thing which is what made the original Star Wars trilogy so enjoyable for me. Yes some scenes aren’t going to be brought to the screen correctly without CGI, but there is such thing as going overboard and not being believable. I give much more respect to films when people actually put the time into making these ships, droids, and when people wore the alien costumes. It had that realism to it and didn’t have that glossy look  or where it just looked like the human actors were looking into whatever direction they were told to and a CGI creature was inserted later. Like all the scenes with Jar Jar Binks.

In the opening lines of this film, a kid says “With all due respect.” It just made me laugh because all I thought about was Talladega Nights.

Ewan McGregor (Big Fish, Moulin Rouge) does a find job of playing Obi-Wan in this film, but it annoys me everything he had a smirk on his face after a really bad joke or smiled. Alec Guinness never did that in IV-VI to my recollection. I absolutely hated Jake Lloyd in the role of Anakin Skywalker, it may be unfair for him though because I just straight up didn’t care for seeing Darth Vader as a kid. But since this movie is about him, I don’t like him and he annoys me when he talks. We also get Samuel L Jackson (Shaft, Pulp Fiction) as Mace Windu, a Jedi Knight. His role in the trilogy is small in this film but expands in the next two installments. His light saber got the letters BMF inscribed on it, BAD MOTHER F*^*^*.

I remember when I was younger I was so excited to see this film and was glad to hear when Natalie Portman (V for Vendetta) was casted in the movie since I’ve always had a crush on her since first seeing her on film in Heat & Leon: The Professional. But what I also got was seeing Keira Knightley (Pirate of The Caribbean Trilogy) for the first time. She plays Sabé who is  a decoy for Queen Amidala, played by Natalie Portman that sits in her place to protect her.

The biggest part of this movie could arguably be the Pod Race. Now when watching it, it feels like one big commercial for the Nintendo 64 racing game that came out which I probably played just as much as I watched this movie. The announcers for the race annoy me too. At the beginning of the race we see Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick in The Harry Potter Films) who played Willow. I don’t know how much this is common knowledge to the Star Wars fans out there but he played Wicket in Star Wars VI – The Return of The Jedi, the main ewok.

Another actor got his break with this film as well. Ray Park, who plays Darth Maul. Who played the headless horseman in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Toad in Bryan Singer’s X-Men & Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe: The Rise of  Cobra. So the only time I can remember actually seeing his face in something that I’ve seen is on the tv show ‘Heroes’ where he plays Edgar. Yoda looks horrible. The end is a little ridiculous, Anakin just accidently destroys the main reactor from the inside, that’s convenient. The light saber fight between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn & Darth Maul was pretty to watch except the final death-blow was weak.

Overall, if this movie along with the two following installments were handled a lot better I would include these films in a day where I would watch all the Star Wars films….. I like to pretend that this trilogy is a stand-alone in the Star Wars universe. Rating 5/10