Movie Review: The Martian (2015) – A Sharp, Clever Movie That Is Free From Sappy Sentimentality


The Martian, featuring Matt Damon, is crushing it at the box offices and pleasing critics alike. So what is it about this space based flick that has so many people rushing to the theaters, while calling it Scot Ridley’s best movie since Blackhawk Down? Let’s find out.

The premise is a bit of Cast Away, without the crippling depression and soccer ball friends. Matt Damon plays Matt Watney, an astronaut who went on a mission to Mars, only to get left behind after his crew gives him up for dead following a storm. The movie is surprisingly simple, with Watney trying to find a way to get home, while the people back at NASA try to get him back. There’s also a lot of film time that features the crew that left him behind. Despite three different storylines and scenes going on, they manage to match it all together pretty seamlessly.

Matt Damon is pretty impressive in this movie, playing the affable and sarcastic Watney with cocky vulnerability. He plays his part with enough humor to keep this from turning into a heart pounding Gravity copy, and instead, making it a bit lighter and fun. 10OCT2015

What I loved about this movie was the complete absence of clichés. The only thing working against Matt was time. There are no evil politicians plotting against him, no crazy space aliens or weirdly nefarious rivals bent on his demise. Instead it’s a space movie that focuses on the science of space, rather than the fantastic.

That allowed Matt’s character to create his own urgency, rather than driving it with a cliché like a wife pining away for him at home, or a precocious kid begging the president of NASA to save his daddy. Instead they made Matt likeable enough in his own right to make people root for him.

Both Jessica Chastain and Jeff Daniels play leaders in their own right, with Chastain running the return crew and Daniel’s running the home base in NASA. Both leaders are compassionate and competent, devoutly devoted to bringing Mark home, even as time works against them. 10OCT20151

The movie is contained entirely within NASA. There’s no clichéd outside pressure or unnecessary characters. Instead, it plays out much in the same way I’d imagine a real space disaster would play out. The movie allows us to focus on that, without dragging us away into too many superfluous side stories.

For such a serious premise, the movie is surprisingly funny, with more than a few laugh out loud moments. The laughs come from a genuine place and fit in seamlessly, thanks to the excellent writing and surprisingly bare bones premise. It’s a sharp, clever movie that is free from sappy sentimentality.

It’s not just worth the watch. This is a must watch. For anyone who has ever doubted Matt Damon’s acting talent, this movie will make you look at him in a new way. This is a clever, refreshing intelligent movie that doesn’t try to be to high minded. It simply works that way because it was intelligently written.

four and a half stars

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the-martian-movie-poster - 10OCT2015

Movie Review: Hercules (2014) – Dwayne Johnson was better than the film he was in.


Thanks to all the hype from Hercules, I didn’t volunteer to see it. I was required to see it. Two government agents dropped by my house, put me in a car and delivered me to the movie theater. Currently sitting at number 2 in the box office, Hercules was beat out by Lucy but still seems to be appealing to fans.

This Hercules boasts a new swing on an old premise. In this version, Hercules (played by Dwayne Johnson in a bad wig) isn’t the son of Zeus. He’s an orphan. He’s simply been cashing in on his reputation over the years in order to make more money as a mercenary. This is an ongoing conflict throughout the movie. When Lord Cotys of Thrace (John Hurt) is about to fight a civil war with a sorcerer, Hercules, along with 5 friends, is quick to take on the task. Then, massive battle scenes ensue and Dwayne Johnson grunts and yells a lot.

First, I love the premise because it’s the most believable version of Hercules I’ve ever seen. It really is an interesting take, regulating the character Hercules to nothing more than a Jersey Shore cast member. Hercules was famous for being famous and cashing in on that fame. Unfortunately, this clever premise is never really examined and instead, the move focuses on CGI and epic battle scenes.



As it goes on, it gets more and more improbable. Usually, I wouldn’t have a problem with this in a Hercules movie; after all, the whole story of Hercules is completely improbable. But this movie promised a realistic premise at the beginning and didn’t deliver in the end.

On the upside, Dwayne Johnson can act. I will say that I think he’s one of the best Hercules’ I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot. What can I say? I like a muscular man running around with his shirt off. Johnson gives a new depth to a character that most actors tend to play as a one dimensional golden boy. Johnson was better than the film he was in.

The problem with this film is that instead of exploring an excellent premise, which even give a decent back story, it instead dissolved into self-empowerment psychobabble. At one point, Hercules proudly declares , “you just have to believe you’re a hero.” Oh good lord, insert eye roll.

If anyone should have been conflicted over whether he was a hero, it should have been Hercules himself. Is it weird that I think the screenwriter missed the point of their own script?

The battle scenes and CGI are well done. It’s not silly, like the previous bomb involving the legendary hero, The Legend of Hercules, released this past January. The special effects department was clearly working overtime on this one. The battle scenes are bloody and pretty conventional, with lots of death and lots of people getting hacked up.

I will say Hercules is an entertaining movie. It’s enjoyable to watch and Dwayne Johnson is just as charismatic as he’s always been. My big problem it that this movie could have been so much better if they had focused on the premise of legend over fact, rather than tried to turn the story into an inspirational self help book.

WE GAVE IT: 3.5  Stars: Official Movie Trailer and Movie Poster Below


3.5 stars


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The Rock Shows us What Hercules Should Look like in new Official Trailer!


Here we go. After all of the tweeting and Instagram from The Rock, we now have an official trailer.  If this trailer is any indication on how good the movie is going to be then I’m in.  Boy O’Boy am I in!!

The Rock’s version of Hercules is based on the graphic novel “Hercules: The Thracian Wars”.  When you see the words “Graphic Novel” then you should immediacy dispel any Disney Hercules comparisons and after you watch this trailer you will see that this is clearly much more graphic much darker and possibly a whole lot awesome-er then any of the past Hercules movies or TV series.

After Twightlight Star, Kellan Lutz poo-pooed all over “The Legend of Hercules” earlier this year, The Rock’s version promises to deliver on the title.  In the trailer you will see Hercules go toe to toe with some insanely well done mythical creatures.  The Rock is larger than life, the creatures are captivating and the love interest appears to be Russian super model Irina Shayk.  If this movie had a plot it would be a bonus.

The film is scheduled to be released on July 25th.  Watch the Official trailer below.

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