Film Review: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Release Date: August 11th, 2008 (Westwood premiere)
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Written by: Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Etan Cohen
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Cast: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Coogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Brandon T. Jackson, Bill Hader, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise, Brandon Soo Hoo, Reggie Lee, Trieu Tran, Tobey Maguire, Tyra Banks, Maria Menounos, Martin Lawrence, Jason Bateman, Lance Bass, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Alicia Silverstone, Christine Taylor, Yvette Nicole Brown, Sean Penn, Jon Voight, Justin Theroux

Goldcrest Pictures, Red Hour Films, Dreamworks Pictures, 107 Minutes (theatrical), 121 Minutes (Director’s Cut)

Review:

“I’m just like a little boy, playin’ with his dick when he’s nervous.” – Kirk Lazarus

Tropic Thunder is only thirteen years old yet it definitely isn’t a movie that you could make today.

Things have really changed in American culture and this picture now feels like it was Hollywood’s final attempt at a giant middle finger to the sensitive bitches that they knew would dictate the direction of cinematic art going forward.

While I haven’t seen this since it came out, I loved it pretty immensely at the time. I wasn’t sure if it would be as good as I remembered but man, I really should’ve been watching this fairly frequently over the last several years. I miss movies like this where nothing was sacred and you could make fun of anything and people still laughed.

There is a stark contrast between the world in 2008 and 2021. It’s fucking worrisome, as we live in a time where everything is fucking offensive and because of that, comedy is dead. I mean, when’s the last time a new movie made you laugh as hard as this one? These films just don’t and can’t exist anymore.

Not only is this hilarious, it’s pretty superbly acted for a comedy movie. The cast is pretty stacked with talent and all of them commit to the bit in every single scene. Frankly, there isn’t a weak link in this flick and I say that not being a big fan of Ben Stiller or Jack Black. Sure, I like some of their films but they were never guys I went to the movies for.

That being said, this might be the greatest thing that Ben Stiller has even done, as he doesn’t just star in it but he also co-wrote and directed it.

With that, the concept for the film was great and Stiller’s direction was just on another level, here. He showed that he can handle action, as well as comedy, and he got some fantastic shots in this picture.

The more I reflect on this, after my first viewing of it since the ’00s, it might very well be one of the all-time greats, as far as ensemble comedies go. While it’s not quite on the level of Ghostbusters, it’s not too far behind it, honestly.

Rating: 8.75/10

Film Review: Contact (1997)

Release Date: July 11th, 1997
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: James V. Hart, Michael Golden
Based on: Contact by Carl Sagan
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Cast: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Angela Bassett, David Morse, Jena Malone, William Fichtner, Jake Busey, Rob Lowe, Geoffrey Blake, Max Martini, Steven Ford, Tucker Smallwood

South Side Amusement Company, Warner Bros., 150 Minutes

Review:

“I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that’s an understatement. What you don’t know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world.” – David Drumlin, “Funny, I’ve always believed that the world is what we make of it.” – Ellie Arroway

Man, since the first time that I saw this movie, I just loved the hell out of it. I really should’ve seen it in the theater but it came out just after I graduated high school and that summer was insane, as I was in an alcohol, weed and/or opium induced state for months while also trying to conquer Final Fantasy VII between parties and festivals.

Throughout high school, I was a big fan Carl Sagan’s work. As a kid, I had seen his original version of the Cosmos television series but it wasn’t until high school when a good science teacher handed me the Cosmos book that my mind delved deep into the man’s written work. I’ve since gone back and read most of his books multiple times.

The story of Contact‘s genesis is an interesting one, as Carl Sagan and his future wife, Ann Druyan, wrote an outline for the film’s story way back in 1979. There were issues trying to get the picture off of the ground, so Sagan instead reworked it into a novel that was published in 1985. After that, buzz picked up around the idea of making it into a film, once again. However, after a few directors came and went, it didn’t get rolling until Robert Zemeckis took the helm in 1996.

The movie, on its surface, had everything going for it. It had Zemeckis as its director, Jodie Foster in the lead role, as well as James Woods, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Angela Bassett and David Morse. It also had Matthew McConaughey and William Fichtner in prominent roles, as both men were just really starting to carve out their long, great careers. In fact, I’d say that it was this movie and A Time to Kill, which came out just before it, that brought McConaughey into the mainstream and really launched him to new heights.

The story is also wonderful and it makes me wish that there were still movies like this that pushed wonder and the pursuit of real truth. It’s films like this that inspire and create the next generation of dreamers but I feel like that is something that’s been lost and I honestly can’t think of a movie since this one that had that sort of aura about it. But this was written by Carl Sagan and that man knew how to inspire and how to create genuine wonder in the hearts and minds of those he spoke to.

I love this story, I love these characters and I love the journey Jodie Foster’s Ellie goes on throughout the entire picture, from childhood-to-adulthood and then into uncharted territory through the cosmos itself.

The film is also just beautiful to look at and it came out in a time when digital effects were really starting to come together. Seeing this now, the special effects have aged well and this is still a great looking picture.

What’s most interesting about the digital effects is that they were created in a collaborative effort between Sony Pictures’ Imageworks, Peter Jackson’s Weta, George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic, Effects Associates and Pixar. That being said, this combined effort came together beautifully.

Now I know that this film gets criticized for its ending and it’s considered a disappointment and anticlimactic by some but I think the film’s ending is absolute perfection. It’s beautiful, meaningful and true to the spirit of Carl Sagan’s message.

Contact is truly an experience, a very human one. It connects to its audience in a way that’s becoming much rarer in today’s Hollywood output. I want motion pictures to make me feel like this again. But I guess I can still revisit films like Contact whenever I want. It’s just sad that this is nearly a quarter of a century old and it’s one of the last films to really capture my imagination in such a deep, heartfelt and sincere way.

Rating: 9/10

Film Review: Dazed and Confused (1993)

Release Date: June 4th, 1993 (Seattle International Film Festival)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Music by: various
Cast: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Sasha Jenson, Michelle Burke, Christine Harnos, Rory Cochrane, Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Marissa Ribisi, Catherine Avril Morris, Matthew McConaughey, Shawn Andrews, Cole Hauser, Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams, Christin Hinojosa, Parker Posey, Deena Martin, Nicky Katt, Esteban Powell, Jason O. Smith, Mark Vandermeulen, Jeremy Fox, Renee Zellweger

Detour Filmproduction, Alphaville Films, Gramercy Pictures, 102 Minutes

Review:

“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” – Wooderson

I always viewed this movie as a spiritual successor to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Mainly, because it is a coming-of-age high school movie but it is just as serious, as it is comedic. While it is goofy and funny, it’s a much better film than what it appears to be on a surface level, similar to Ridgemont High.

Also like Ridgemont, it has a stacked cast that features a ton of young stars. These stars would become big names as the ’90s rolled on and the turn of the new millennium took many of them to the heights of Hollywood. There are future Academy Award winners in this cast.

It’s also directed by Richard Linklater and it has similar beats to his other coming-of-age films, although it doesn’t have as hard of an edge as the really dark, SubUrbia.

The story starts on the last day of school and it follows several characters over the course of that day and night. Each one is faced with an uncertain future, new changes and challenges on the horizon but ultimately, everyone wants to forget about their problems and just enjoy the night.

The film takes place in the mid-’70s, even though it came out in the ’90s. But it’s also timeless and regardless of the timeframe in which it takes place, it’s also really true to what the ’90s were like. I know, because I was this age in the ’90s. I can’t speak on how this will play for modern high school students but the world is a weird, incredibly soft place now.

What makes this movie so much better than most of the films like it is the performances of the cast and how genuine everything feels. Linklater obviously wrote this based off of his own high school experiences and his personal intimacy with the material comes through in every scene. And frankly, there isn’t a single unnecessary or dull scene in the entire film.

Additionally, all the big plots are well-balanced and organized, as the night plays on and several characters weave in and out of the larger story, overlapping.

Dazed and Confused has stood the test of time incredibly well. I feel like it’s material will always be relevant and because of that, it is one of the greatest motion pictures of its type.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other Richard Linklater coming of age films, as well as other good coming of age high school movies.

Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Release Date: December 9th, 2013 (Paris premiere)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Terence Winter
Based on: The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
Music by: various
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Jon Bernthal, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Aya Cash, Christine Ebersole, Shea Whigham, Katarina Cas, Stephanie Kurtzuba, P. J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Ethan Suplee, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Belfort (cameo), Spike Jonze (cameo, uncredited)

Sikelia Productions, Appian Way, Red Granite Pictures, 180 Minutes, 145 Minutes (cut version), 240 Minutes (rough cut)

Review:

“Let me tell you something. There’s no nobility in poverty. I have been a rich man and I have been a poor man. And I choose rich every fuckin’ time. Because, at least as a rich man, when I have to face my problems, I show up in the back of the limo, wearing a $2000 suit and a $40,000 gold fuckin’ watch.” – Jordan Belfort

Even though I love finance industry movies and the work of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, I didn’t have much urge to see this back when it came out.

Reason being, I read the book and it read like a load of bullshit. Sure, it chronicled a guy’s life but it was so over the top and exaggerated that it read like some narcissistic fantasy where the author was jacking off to his own words about himself.

People then came forth and debunked a lot of the over the top stuff, once the book became popular and everyone was talking about it. The problem with that, was that the movie was already in production and I assumed the script was written and we were going to get the book adapted as-is and not with a dose of reality actually thrown in.

Well, being that I do love finance industry movies, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, I thought, “Fuck it, just watch it to review it.” Plus, I wanted something else to watch after recently revisiting the two Oliver Stone Wall Street movies and the underrated Boiler Room.

I’ve got to say that I was actually impressed by the picture enough that I sort of just turned my brain off and watched this like a normal drama movie and didn’t get fixated on the validity of the source material. At the end of the day, it was an entertaining film that was bolstered by several great performances and the stupendous craftsmanship of Scorsese behind the camera.

Now I can’t say that I liked this as much as 1987’s Wall Street but it is as good as the other great movies that are just beneath it.

In fact, my only real complaint about it was that it was too long. I guess the rough cut was four hours and Scorsese lobbed a whole hour off of it but even then, I felt like a good extra half hour or more could’ve been left out. Granted, I would still watch a four hour Director’s Cut version if Scorsese ever decided to do one. But I think that this beefy story may have actually worked better as a miniseries. I guess you can’t simply throw DiCaprio onto the small screen, though. 

As should be expected, this movie was a beautiful, visual feast. It featured impressive cinematography and even the CGI parts fit well within the overall look of the film. Really, there was just one big CGI sequence when the main characters wrecked their giant yacht at sea.

The film didn’t have a traditional musical score and instead, sprinkled in pop tunes from the years that this film’s story spanned. That was fine with me as it almost went unnoticed.

In the end, I enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street quite a bit. I don’t think it’ll be one of those films I cherish or revisit all that often like Wall Street but it certainly deserves its fanfare.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other finance industry films like the two Wall Street movies, The Big Short, Rogue Trader, Boiler Room, etc.

Film Review: Serenity (2019)

Also known as: Obsesión (Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay)
Release Date: January 24th, 2019 (Greece, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia)
Directed by: Steven Knight
Written by: Steven Knight
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou

Blue Budgie Films Limited, Global Road Entertainment, IM Global, Starlings Entertainment, Nebulastar, Shoebox Films, Aviron Pictures, 106 Minutes

Review:

“Okay, Dill. Say fate gave you the choice: you can get the lady, or you could catch that tuna that’s in your head. Which one would you choose?” – Constance

What in the Pat Sajak fuck did I just watch?!

Okay, I can’t talk about this movie and its weirdness without spoiling the plot, sorry. So, turn away now if you want to watch this shipwreck of biblical proportions.

You still here? Well, that’s on you.

Anyway, I seriously don’t know what I just watched. I wanted to check this out because the cast seemed decent and this was marketed as a modern noir thriller that takes place in a beautiful tropical setting. It kind of gave me Key Largo, To Have and Have Not and His Kind of Woman vibes.

But then, from the opening scene, I knew something was weird and off about this movie.

It starts with Matthew McConaughey trying to catch an unrealistically large CGI tuna. This whole sequence was bizarrely shot and presented. But as the film goes on and the big twist happens, this all makes sense. But that doesn’t mean that it had to be utterly fucking strange and the type of moldy cheese that makes one cringe just from the thought of the diarrhea it most assuredly will bring.

The next big red flag happened when Anne Hathaway shows up. Her entrance was done in an overly dramatic and goofy way that wrecked whatever solid acting might have been happening. To be clear, I don’t blame any of the actors for the failure of this film, I blame the script, the direction, the editing and the bad stylistic choices made to try and plant seeds for the eventual twist.

To top it off, the dialogue sounded like the screenwriter listened to a book about writing for noir fiction that he downloaded for free on Audible.

The plot is pretty simple, or at least it is until the awful twist.

Hathaway shows up, asks her ex-hubby McConaughey to kill her current hubby, Jason Clarke playing an absolute scumfuck, by taking him out on a fishing charter and then feeding him to the sharks. Cool, sounds like a solid film-noir setup.

Of course, ex-hubby is apprehensive about committing murder for the femme fatale bitch that left him but then she throws in the part about how Scumfuck abuses their son. One awkward sex scene later reveals the Femme Fatale’s scars and McConaughey decides to maybe kill Scumfuck.

So they go out on the boat where Scumfuck lives up to his namesake but nothing really happens.

But then a weird dude that has been oddly following McConaughey around, conveniently just missing him, gives him a special fish finder to catch the giant CGI tuna and he guarantees he will catch the fish with the aid of this MacGuffin device. And this is where shit gets really, really goddamned weird.

DrunkConaughey demands to know what this weasely weirdo knows, as shit seems off. We then discover that DrunkConaughey is a character in a video game created by his son to escape into. As long as he catches the fish as his digital dad, he won’t kill his stepdad Scumfuck in the real world.

Yes, this is the big twist and where the real plot comes in, more than halfway into what I thought was a typical neo-noir thriller.

Everything goes completely off the rails; the movie becomes batshit insane. DrunkConaughey kills Scumfuck by letting giant CGI tuna drag him to the bottom of the ocean and then in the real world, the abused kid gets up from his video game, grabs a butcher knife and goes to stab Scumfuck to death.

The end is then a news report about a super genius kid killing his abusive stepdad while we see DrunkConaughey’s video game world evaporate into CGI shards, presumably killing him too because he wasn’t real in the first place. The real DrunkConaughey died in a war over a decade ago according to the voice-over of the newscaster.

Despite its f’n oddness, I was at least pulled into the story up until the shocking and baffling twist. It wasn’t great noir but it was an interesting setup. The acting was competent, as was the cinematography and overall look of the film despite the CGI weirdness with the fish.

But this is a shipwreck, totally and utterly.

Now I get that the filmmakers wanted to do something different and thought that they had an interesting idea but this felt like an idea for a Black Mirror episode that was left on the cutting room floor while planning out the next season.

The idea didn’t feel like it was fully realized and that this kernel of a cool thought wasn’t developed and refined, it was just rushed into production and actually found funding, is insane.

I kind of feel like they were in such a rush they gave McConaughey half the script, omitting the twist, and told him they didn’t have the kinks worked out. He was intrigued by the setup and then later came to realize that he was trapped in a total dud that his agent couldn’t get him out of.

The filmmakers lied to their audience in how this movie was marketed. Had I paid to see this in the theater, I would’ve been pretty pissed. Now, in their defense, I realize that alluding to anything regarding the twist would’ve wrecked the surprise but let’s be honest here and point out that the surprise wrecked the whole movie.

Sometimes a mindfuck is just a clusterfuck. This usually happens when filmmakers sniff too many of their own farts.

Serenity thought of itself as a smart film. In reality, it’s one of the dumbest new pictures I’ve seen in quite awhile.

Rating: 3.75/10
Pairs well with: cheap rum, really bad cocaine and Sega Bass Fishing.

Film Review: The Dark Tower (2017)

Release Date: July 31st, 2017 (Museum of Modern Art premiere)
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Written by: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel
Based on: The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Music by: Tom Holkenborg
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley

MRC, Imagine Entertainment, Weed Road, Columbia Pictures, 95 Minutes

Review:

“You can’t stop what’s coming. Death always wins.” – Man In Black

Idris Elba is a bad ass. Matthew McConaughey is a bad ass. Both men are also super smooth, great actors and the apple of many people’s eye. Then you have Abbey Lee, a woman I just can’t help but be mesmerized by, even if she is just emotionless window dressing in a scene. Throw in the always perfectly sinister Jackie Earle Haley and you’ve got my attention.

Unfortunately, only one word can really describe this film and that is “mundane”.

The Dark Tower was a gigantic missed opportunity. Here, you have a massive and lush universe created by Stephen King over the course of nine books. While I am not a big fan of King, I’ve heard for years that these books are some of his best work and they have become the stories that seem to be the most beloved. From what I understand, this movie was not based specifically on any one of the books but was instead a sort of sequel to them.

The film initially started out with promise but as the picture rolled on, it got worse and worse. In fact, there were some absolutely horrible creative decisions made on several levels of this film, especially if it was going the PG-13 route in an effort to capture the widest audience possible.

I don’t really know anything about the director but the execution was terrible. The acting was mostly good but suffered from the direction and often times, McConaughey’s lines came out pretty wooden. At this point, in his storied career, McConaughey is never really an issue in a movie. I have to put the blame on the director, who apparently wanted McConaughey’s Man In Black to be so cold that he was absolutely emotionless in his line delivery.

The movie introduced a lot of ideas and concepts to filmgoing audiences that might not be familiar with the books but it barely scratches the surface with any of it. There is all this cool shit happening but you never really understand or grasp any of it. The mythos needed to be better established and explained.

The whole film is setup in order to lead to the big final confrontation between the Gunslinger and the Man In Black, something I am assuming literary fans have been waiting for. What we get in the big finale is friggin’ dog shit. Just imagine a wizard versus a gun happy cowboy. The cowboy goes ape shit, blasting off dozens upon dozens of rounds and trick shots until the wizard finally gets duped and shot through the heart. Up until that point, the wizard is using rubble and glass to block shots and even catching bullets in the chaos. It just comes off as hokey and stupid and McConaughey looked baffled by the whole thing as he was doing it. Although, Idris Elba looked like a mastodon of a man as he blasted off hundreds of shots while looking stoic and cool.

I think, based off of the ending, that the film anticipates sequels. I’ll be shocked if that happens because this was a silly and disappointing train wreck.

Rating: 4.5/10

Film Review: Interstellar (2014)

Release Date: October 26th, 2014 (TCL Chinese Theatre premiere)
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Matt Damon, Timothée Chalamet, Wes Bentley, William Devane

Legendary Pictures, Syncopy, Lynda Obst Productions, Paramount Pictures, 169 Minutes

Review:

*Written in 2014.

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down, and worry about our place in the dirt.” – Cooper

Man, where to begin?

Let me kick this off by saying that overall I did like this film. It wasn’t this generation’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, as I had hoped and granted, those are massive shoes to fill, but this was a fairly okay effort by Christopher Nolan at trying to emulate Stanley Kubrick. And I say that because this film felt like Nolan trying to create his 2001 and his brother, who co-wrote the film, admitted to channeling 2001 while penning this story. Unfortunately, it fell short of coming close to the level of grandeur and wonder that is Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also, it falls short of what Nolan has proven his skill level is capable of.

As far as visuals and sound, this film knocks it out of the park. I deliberately didn’t see this in IMAX, as I wanted to be wowed on a regular screen because that is how the majority of eyes will see this picture and to compare it to the amazing visual effects of other films throughout history, I wanted to see it on a level playing field and not on steroids. And truthfully, I’ve come to look at the IMAX thing as a fad like 3D. Until it is the norm in every theater, it isn’t what I consider the industry standard. It’s certainly a cool experience but films that rely on it, as greatly as Nolan has been over his last few films, just tell me that they are pushing their visual style and effects over their film as a whole: sparkle over substance. And that is what this film was. I got to the point where I was like, “Fuck these bells and whistles, just show me the damn film!”

There were amazingly shot sequences that used practical effects, which gave a lot of the important visual elements a sense of realism that can’t be manufactured digitally. This didn’t feel like a cartoon like the recent Star Trek films, it felt cold, dreary and authentic. In that regard, it had the real organic and realistic soul that 2001 had in 1968.

The score to the film and the sound in general were perfect. It definitely has an Oscar-caliber vibe to it and if the film isn’t nominated for the score by Hans Zimmer and for a best sound category, that would be a pretty shitty snub by the Academy. Additionally, it definitely deserves a nomination for visual effects.

The pace and editing of the film was pretty disjointed as things would pop in and out of the film that just didn’t seem to fit or be necessary. I feel like a two hour version of this film would play much better. The time spent with Matt Damon’s character on a dangerous planet is way too drawn out.

When delving into the story of this film, it is a convoluted mess. Yes, things are pretty straightforward but there are a few minor plot twists and developments that come out of nowhere and don’t fit the overall narrative of the film. For instance, Matthew McConaughey’s character Cooper has a son who, for whatever reason, is obsessed with staying on his M.I.A. father’s farm even though it is killing his wife and child. This is a bizarre side story that just doesn’t fit within the film. And after his sister burns his crops and tries to kidnap his family, after he punched her husband in the face, he just stands there like a mute retard when confronted by her babbling about her dad’s magic watch sending Morse code through space and time through the power of love. It was reminiscent of the plot to a bad 80s music video.

Another bizarre plot twist that we are introduced to is when Anne Hathaway’s character Amelia Brand uncharacteristically pushes for the explorers to use the last of their fuel to visit the planet with her former lover on it. After being a hardcore scientist and being bred for this mission, probably all of her adult life, she is willing to throw all of humanity away on her own selfish heart. This just doesn’t fit her character leading up to that point and this also leads to the film pushing the concept that love is a dimension that can transcend space, time and every other barrier. Love is a force similar to gravity. The film lost me with this mystic woo. It suddenly felt like a Manga written by a 12 year-old girl.

And speaking of mystic woo, we come to discover that getting sucked into a black hole brings a person to some weird alien-crafted maze of windows that look into Cooper’s daughter’s bedroom at different points in time. This led to Cooper reaching out through love to send messages to his daughter years prior, which earlier in the film, were dismissed as a ghost. Cooper discovers that the ghost was real and he was the ghost. Cue panic-ridden crying and yelling by McConaughey for fifteen minutes as he is stuck behind his daughter’s mystic bookshelf in the center of a black hole.

The film confusingly represents love as a force like gravity and somehow love can make a wristwatch’s second hand talk to someone in the past with Morse code.

What is somewhat irritating is that Christopher Nolan consulted with a very knowledgeable physicist on this film but the scientific accuracy was pretty shitty. What I had hoped would be a scientific film where we might encounter another intelligence beyond our scope of comprehension, was instead a fantasy film wrapped in fairy tale where the superior intelligence was just fifth dimensional human beings trying to help their own race evolve and get off of a dying planet. I’d have to write a series of blogs or a book even on the amount of paradoxes here.

In regards to the black hole sequence, Nolan used his physics expert to help him create a realistic scenario and to make the sequence visually authentic. What we got was neither. Now while the black hole looked absolutely fucking amazing and grandiose, when McConaughey flew into it, we never experienced spaghettification. Also, black holes are so powerful that even light cannot escape them, hence the name “black hole”.

As McConaughey pilots his craft into the core of the cosmic maelstrom, we can still see things and the lights inside the ship give a nice cool glow in the cockpit. Maybe it is hard to tell a visual story in darkness but I feel like a black screen with the sounds of a ship being torn apart would have been more haunting, more realistic and added more credence and authenticity. What we got was Nolan’s version of the lone astronaut entering the monolith, except this one finds himself behind his daughter’s bookshelf. It wasn’t anywhere near as cool and epic as where David Bowman went in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hell, it wasn’t even as cool as where the crew went in Disney’s 1979 film The Black Hole. At least they flew through Hell filled with evil robots.

It is worth noting that this film also borrowed from 2001 in the character of the computer/robot named TARS, who was this film’s version of HAL 9000. Except TARS didn’t kill astronauts, he just joked about it and served more of an R2-D2 role.

In the end, Matthew McConaughey’s mission is a failure, in a sense, but I guess it inspired his aging daughter to work hard on equations and save humankind from their dying world. Her work leads to humans ending up on some Saturn-orbiting space station that is a complete rip-off of the cylindrical spaceship Rama from Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama. Being that Clarke penned the original 2001 novel and all its sequels, this brings Nolan’s “borrowing” of Clarke’s ideas and concepts full circle.

What you have, in my estimation, is a good looking, often times visually amazing film, that unfortunately sells itself short by tapping into the Stanley Kubrick/Arthur C. Clarke well too often. The major difference, is that Kubrick took risks and did things that challenged filmmaking and changed it forever. Nolan played it safe and didn’t leave us with anything daring, as he seemed to be more interested in making a commercial success and an homage, as opposed to something more authentic and true to his heart. However, this is the difference between Kubrick and Nolan. One is the professor, the other is a really good student that idolizes the professor a bit too much.

Is the film worth a watch? Definitely. Is it destined to be a beloved classic? Probably to some but it lacks the depth and originality to truly make it stand on its own legs.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other Nolan films that don’t feature Batman.

Film Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

Also known as: The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Release Date:
 October 7th, 1994 (limited)
Directed by: Kim Henkel
Written by: Kim Henkel
Music by: Wayne Bell, Robert Jacks
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Marilyn Burns (cameo)

Genre Pictures, Return Productions, Ultra Muchos Productions, Columbia Pictures, Cinépix Film Properties, 94 Minutes (original cut), 87 Minutes (re-release)

texas_chainsaw_massacre_next_generationReview:

This is the fourth and worst installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. The reboot after this was a big step-up.

I rewatched this and the third film Leatherface for the first time in over a decade. Leatherface was really bad, this is worse. To be honest, it isn’t as bad as I remembered it but that is only because it has a few positives that none of the other films have. The main thing is Matthew McConaughey.

You can never accuse McConaughey of not giving 100 percent to a role. He played his part here, at about 150 percent. He was turned up past maximum volume and it was extraordinary. Sure, his material, his dialogue and his character were a ridiculous mash-up of awful but he shined with absolute insanity. I love McConaughey in this role and he owned it like no other previous psycho in this franchise.

Well, there actually isn’t another positive. McConaughey was just so good it is the equivalent to three positives.

So what’s bad? Quick answer: everything else. Long answer: initiate rant paragraph. Go!

The film starts with an animated logo that is pixelated and a credits sequence that has unintentional optical glitches. The dialogue was some of the worst I have ever heard and I watch a ton of Mystery Science Theater 3000 reruns. Some of the scenes made absolutely no sense… actually, all of the scenes. No, really… all of them. The acting, apart from McConaughey, was so bad that “atrocious” can’t quite define it. Renée Zellweger is the star of this but she just couldn’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit, especially with McConaughey’s mojo cruising through outer space. The conspiracy theory plot twist was one of the dumbest things I have ever seen play out on film. Leatherface was just a cross-dressing, wailing banshee that didn’t do a damn thing except scream the entire picture. The two other psychos were so uninteresting and unintelligible that they are only memorable because I just watched this. But the worst thing was Matthew McConaughey’s robot leg and how Renée Zellweger immobilized him with a television remote… a television remote! And then he is murdered by a low flying secret society airplane propeller that chops through his head. Then you find out that all along, all this Texas Chainsaw Massacre stuff was some sinister government plot to scare people so much that they had a “spiritual experience” before dying. None of it makes any fucking sense. None. And this was written and directed by one half of the creative team behind the original movie! So it is canon, right? Right?!

Rant paragraph over.

This film is so bad that even McConaughey’s complete awesomeness still puts this behind Leatherface. If you get this far into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre film series, you must be a glutton for punishment like I am. Or you were the kid who burnt their hand on the stove even though your mother told you it was hot. Or maybe you are just curious and want to see the greatest Oscar caliber performance in one of the worst motion pictures of all-time.

I don’t think words can really illustrate the experience that is Texas Chainsaw Masscare: The Next Generation. But words can’t really illustrate the feeling of being shot, you kind of just have to jump in front of the bullet.

Rating: 3/10