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The Constant Gardener (2005)

Do you no good to go poking around under rocks, Justin. Some very nasty things live under rocks, especially in foreign gardens.

— Sir Bernard Pellegrin

2005 was my snobbiest year to date, because I didn’t see that many of the Oscar nominated films of that year. When Brokeback Mountain came out, it was the end-all-be-all for me. The adaptation of John Le Carré’s book, The Constant Gardener was nominated for 4 Academy Awards and won Rachel Weisz Best Supporting Actress. The movie is a solid effort that swept under the rug.

after coming from his Oscar nominated direction of the seminal movie, City of God, Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles followed up with this movie. A diplomat from the British High Commission, Justin Quayle (RalphFPiennes) leanrs of the death of his wife, Tessa (Weisz) from his colleague, Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston). They go to a morgue in Loki, Kenya to identify her body. People think that it was an accident, but others think that it was an assassination.

Quayle is reminded to the times that he has had with Tess. He was filling in a lecture for his friend, Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy) when the idealistic Tess challenged him about the actions of the US to go to war with Iraq. They have a mutual attraction with each other and quickly marry. Tess wants to go to Africa with Justin so she could do something about the AIDS crisis on the continent.

After Tess’ death, reports surface that Tess was supposedly having an affair with her African escort, Dr. Arnold Bluhm (Hubert Koundé). Quayle wanted to know why Tess was killed. It could have been from her probing into the pharmaceutical  companies of KDH and Three Bees who are using the African people as lab rats. She wanted to expose the companies for suppressing clinical trails, especially the adverse side effects, for a drug called Dypraxa that would suppose to treat tuberculosis. Justin wants to continue Tess’ crusade and investigate her death when everybody in his life is telling him to leave well enough alone.

I didn’t know what to think of this movie when I was watching the first half of the movie. I have seen movies that are heavy-handed with political messages like Syriana, Rendition or In the Valley of Elah. They will jump a subject down your throat, and you want to turn off the movie. Don’t talk at me. Let me understand what you are saying. When the conspiracy begin to unravel, the movie really started become intriguing where Justin’s life could be in the same peril as Tess’.

It did make me think about how the African people are portrayed as a continent of expendable people. With the rampant AIDS infections, famines, rebel child soldiers, and the ethnic cleansing; it shocks me that almost nothing is being done to help the African people. It makes me sad and angry that they have to fend for themselves.

Judgment: A taut thriller through and through.

Rating: 8/10

Children of Men (2006)

I can’t really remember when I last had any hope, and I certainly can’t remember when anyone else did either. Because really, since women stopped being able to have babies, what’s left to hope for?

— Theodore Faron

I have meant to watch Alfonso Cuarón’s adaptation of P.D. James’s novel, Children of Men. I have heard nothing but good things about this movie. It is now the 189th Film on the IMDb Top 250 Films list. It was nominated for three Oscars including Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. I wondered at the end of the movie, why the hell didn’t I see this movie sooner?

The movie’s setting takes place in the dystopian world of 2027 London where the world’s population is descending into chaos after the world became infertile. The reason for the phenomenon has not been known until certain events could shed light on the plight of humanity’s survival. There is a countrywide crackdown on illegal immigrants that are brought to refugee camps.

The main person that we fellow is a former activist, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) who is working soul-sucking 9-to-5 job where he was almost killed in a bomb blast getting coffee. The world is in mourning over the death of the youngest person in world who was a little over 18. He skips out on work to visit another former activist friend of his, Jasper (Michael Caine) is a hermit living in the middle of woods growing marijuana in his house.

Jasper tells Theo about “The Human Project” which is a secret government project that could help cure the infertility in women. Theo doesn’t believe a place existed. When Theo world is rocked when he is abducted by Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Patric (Charlie Hunnam) and Ian (Paul Sharma) who are members of the Fishes, which is an underground guerrilla group that is fighting for the rights of the immigrants.

The leader of the group is actually Theo’s ex, Julian (Julianne Moore) who wants Theo to do a big favor for her. She wants Theo to get transit papers for a “fugee girl” that is trying to get out of the chaos of London. Theo is resistant to do it when Julian offers him $5,000 pounds, he reconsiders it. He goes to his cousin, Nigel (Danny Huston) to ask for the papers. All Theo could get is joint transit papers, which means that he has to go with the girl.

Julian brings Theo to the place where the girl, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) is hidden away at with her guardian, Miriam (Pam Ferris). The group, including Luke ride out to a checkpoint to get her on a boat away from the place when the car is attacked by rioters and Julian is shot. Things go from bad to worse when Theo realizes that Kee is pregnant. Now, he knows that stakes and lengths that people would go to get close to Kee and her unborn child.

At first, I didn’t know what to make of this movie because the beginning of movie was fine, but nothing exciting was happening. Then when the revelation of Kee’s pregnancy happened, I was hooked right in. It was a tense=filled ride for that time forward. I wanted characters to be all right. I was afraid when danger would come knocking on their door. I have never been so moved by an ending like I did this one.

The movie felt a lot like The Road is some respects, but this movie had hope and heart it in it. The allegories of the concentration camps, Abu Ghraib, September 11th, the war in Iraq were not lost on me. It reminded me of another movie, Blindness that I didn’t care for that much. This world felt like modern times that it eerily gave us a glimpse into a possible future. After you read this review, go and buy this movie. Watch it, experience it. You will not regret it.

Judgment: I didn’t know how could I recommend this movie highly enough?

Rating: ****1/2

Edge of Darkness (2010)

Well, you had better decide whether you’re hanging on the cross or banging in the nails.

— Thomas Craven

Edge of Darkness is the first movie Mel Gibson has starred in over eight years, since leaving acting directing foreign language movies, get drunk, going crazy, sugar tits, the whole bit. The movie is compared to Taken, a movie that I enjoyed for great action sequences in a mediocre movie. The comparisons end at the trailer. This is a subdued movie that I didn’t care that much about it.

A veteran homicide detective Thomas Craven (Gibson) waits for her daughter, Emma’s arrival (Bojana Novakovic). She is sick. On the drive to his house, he believes that she is pregnant, but she tells him otherwise. He feels that she is keeping something from him, but she doesn’t want to say. She coughs up blood and they are about to go to the hospital when an assassin blows a hole straight through Emma.

Coping with his daughter’s sudden death, he beings an investigation into who could kill her. There some terrible sequences of Emma’s voice speaking to him and he responds to her or the younger Emma pops up. Urgh! I hate it.

Collecting Emma belonging in her room, her cellphone rings, but the caller hangs up. Searching further in the room, Craven discovers a guns which he traces to her boyfriend, David Burnham (Shawn Roberts). When Craven confronts him, David tries to tell him that he is digging himself into a hole that he can’t get out of.

A mysterious man named Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) approaches Craven to tell him that his daughter was flagged as a national security risk for her role in the knowledge of her employer, Northmoor, manufacturing weapons for foreign countries. She might have been killed for the potentially being a whistle-blower. For the rest of the movie, Craven tries to figure out the players that were instrumental is getting Emma killed and deliver his own brand of justice.

The trailer for this movie made it seems like a non-stop action movie. It was an introspective movie that plotted along slowly. I didn’t understand the motivations of Jedbrugh. Was he a good guy or a bad guy? It was unclear. I thought the ending was laughable.

Judgment: Not the greatest comeback in history. I only recommend this movie for Gibson fans only.

Rating: **1/2

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

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I’m coming for blood, no code of conduct, no law.

— Logan

Warning: The following review will contain plot points and spoilers for the movie that I am discussing. Be advised.

I was not looking forward to this movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, because I thought it would destroy the mystery surrounding Wolverine in the X-Men trilogy. Why should you tell his origin story? It’s not that interesting watching it in retrospect. Why should it even been told?

I ranted about the behind-the-scenes chaos of the re-shoots, the limitless retcons, Fox wanting to have more mutants in the film, and the work print leaking online on April’s Fool Day on a previous entry. I will not get into that on this review.

I have to clarify that the reason for the re-shoots was that Ryan Reynolds was filming this movie and The Proposal at the same time.

The movie starts off wrong with the action taking place in Northwest Territories in Canada, circa 1840s. (If you have read Roger Ebert’s review of the film then you will know why.) A young Logan aka James Howlett (Troye Sivan) sick in bed. Comic book geeks, help me out here, how could somebody that could heal himself and never die, get sick?

An incident happens that reveals the identity of James’ true father. He discovers that he has jagged bone claws sprouting from between his knuckles. (I will poke a hole in this theory later on in the review.) His brother, young Victor (Michael James Olsen) whisked him away from the home. They spend the next century fighting in the different wars. Why am I getting a “Button” feeling in my gut?

After the two brothers survive a fire squad execution during the Vietnam War, James (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) are approached by Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston) that wants to recruit them into a special team for incorporate their powers.

On a mission in Nigeria, the group consisting of super-strong Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), the teleporter Wraith (will.i.am), the expert marksman Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), the mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds)– who is doing the same shtick from Blade: Trinity— and one that could manipulate machines, Bolt (Dominic Monaghan) break into a building to find a meteorite. (Wait, this is important later on.)

The group tries to coax a tribe leader to spills information about the meteorite. Stryker order the group to kill the villagers. James doesn’t want to do that and leaves the group.

A couple of years later, we find James– now going by “Logan” — living back in the Canadian Rockies with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). He works as a lumberjack. Is doesn’t surprise me. His past comes back when Stryker comes back to warn about Victor, now Sabretooth, killing off some members of the team. Kayla is caught in the middle.

After her death, Logan goes back with Stryker to seek revenge on Sabertooth. The rock that the team took from Nigeria was the adamantium, the super-steel that infused to Logan’s skeleton was make him virtually indestructible.

After the procedure is done, Logan now coined himself “Wolverine” overhears Styrker’s plot to inject Logan’s healing ability into Weapon XI, a “super mutant killer” that will have to powers of Wraith, Logan, Bolt and a high schooler, Scott Summers’ (Tim Pocock) optic blast.

Wolverine breaks out of the tank with his new smooth adamantium claws. In the beginning of the movie, his bone claws are jagged. When the adamantium is fused to his bones, the claws are smooth and sharp. Somebody please explain that notion to me.

Agent Zero shoots at him. Dummy, get can’t killed. No matter how many regular bullets you pump into hm. He jumps out, streaking the entire facility and an elderly couple driving by.

Logan goes to Las Vegas to visit his old friend, Dukes who is not “The Blob.” He reconfirms Wolverine’s suspensions about Stryker creating a super mutant on “The Island.” Thank you for the “Lost” reference. Blob tells him about a mutant that escaped from there, Remy LeBeau aka Gambit (Taylor Kitsch). He goes to New Orleans to track him down.

Another action scene happens, Gambit and Wolverine end up in Three Mile Island by a dinky plane of Gambit’s. Wolverine discovers that Victor and Stryker have been working together. He discovers that Kayla is alive. Now, looking back at the scene where Logan discovers Kayla, he didn’t bury her if she was dead. If you loved her so much, he could have had the decency to bury her.

Wolverine fights Sabretooth of the last time in this movie. Blah!Wolverine frees the other trapped mutants including Scott and Kayla’s little sister, Emma Frost (Tahnya Tozzi). Having Professor X show up with whisk the children away was cool.

Then, here’s comes Deadpool aka Weapon XI aka Wade Wilson with his bald head, tattoos, and sewn mouth. It looked so awful that I laughed. They fight. It was quite good, then Sabretooth shows back up to fight alongside Wolverine to defeat Deadpool.

The moments of the movie when Stryker shoots Wolverine with the adamantium bullets to make him lose his memory, Kayla, with her power of persuasion, orders Stryker to walk until his toes bleed. It was so melodramatic. Do we really need that? No.

You heard the news that Fox has attached multiple endings to movie including ones with Stryker, Wolverine, and Deadpool. It was unnecessary. My version was Stryker’s. Whatever.

I was surprised that this movie is rated “PG-13.” This film was pushing it to an “R” with two minute nude scene of Wolverine, the cursing, endless headshots and people’s heads getting chopped off. You allow this movie to be “PG-13”, MPAA? Have you lost your minds?

It is not the director, Gavin Hood’s fault that this movie sucks. It’s the studio’s. They are trying to turn this movie into another “X-Men” like movie, cramming too many characters in here. It doesn’t work. The story is muddled down. The others are barely a blip in the movie. Why waste their time and yours watching this train wreck?

That’s too harsh. The movie is not awful. The actions sequencers were descent and the nude scene with Hugh Jackman were the only good highlights of this hot mess of a film. I did not buy the love story with Logan and Kayla

Judgment: The only reason to enjoy this movie is getting an adamantium bullet shot into your brain to forget that you ever saw it.

Rating: ** 1/2

FB Recommendation: 21 Grams (2003)


I know I haven’t posted in a couple of days. I have seen some shitty movies that I dare not write about, because of their mediocrity. I heard on a blog that I frequent that 21 Grams is being shown now on Hulu. I was happy. I have the film at home.

This was a vastly under appreciated movie when it came out in 2003. It only got two Oscar nominations for Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro. It deserved alot more than that. The script by Arriaga should have gotten a nom.

The movie is about three broken people that intersect. Naomi Watts plays Cristina, a former drug addicted mother that recently suffers a loss when his entire family is killed in a traffic accident by Jack Jordan (Benicio del Toro).

Toro is an ex-con that has found Christianity, and is trying to find some redemption for his past deeds. Eddie Marsan plays Reverned John, his mentor that is tried of him being a loose cannon. When Jack comes back home to his wife, Marianne (Melissa Leo), they try to cover up the crime.

The last piece of the puzzle is Paul Rivers (Sean Penn), a mathamatician that is in the middle heart failure when he recieves a heart from Cristina’s late husband, Michael (Danny Huston). He goes to seek out the family of the man that gave him life. He watches over Cristina that is regressing back to drugs. He falls in love with her.

Tragic consequences happen in course of this movie. Check this movie out. I couldn’t stress that enough.

My rating: ****1/2 stars.

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