J. Edgar Film Review
IMDB Score: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%/100%
Directed by: Dustin Lance Black
High hopes and Leonardo DiCaprio made J. Edgar seem like a sure thing but the audience was left hanging as the film read more like a textbook than a blockbuster.
The film was directed by Clint Eastwood and with the recent run of success that he has had evolving his acting career into behind the camera work coupled with DiCaprio’s rise to the top ranks of the a-list this film looked to be a no doubter.
Unfortunately intrigue and context seemed to be lost in translation.
In the early onset of the film all seemed to be as expected. A grey tone and realistic style of filmmaking enhanced DiCaprio’s narration of J.Edgar Hoover’s early years and rise through the ranks of the FBI.
Soon however this act became tired as the film failed to back up the historical timeline with any sort of action or deep analysis of the true magnitude that J.Edgar had on the time period. Apart from the frustratingly slow plot development the filmmakers also failed to emphasize the intensity of the protagonist’s anxiety and fears, whether the aim was subtlety or they simply overlooked the need for more elaboration the film fell short of doing DiCaprio’s portrayal justice.
I wouldn’t argue that the film was poorly acted or that it was cast ineffectively but the end product left the viewer wanting more.
Instead of focusing on the mental strains that were placed on J.Edgar by his job, his closet homosexual tendencies, or the desire to be a revered comic book like figure in the eyes of the country the film seemed to gloss over the most intriguing aspects of the narrative.
The film still could’ve have been worth watching if they would’ve focused on J. Edgar’s crime fighting career, which was extensive and intriguing. However because Eastwood straddled the fence between a biographical snapshot of Hoover’s internal struggle and the seemingly downplayed depiction of his more notable achievements as the head executive of the FBI, they succeeded in doing neither.
Early on the film all of the points of interest were laid out in a bland and casual manner that made the rest of the film longwinded and repetitive. It was clear within the first half hour of the film the J. Edgar was socially awkward, possibly homosexual, not particularly well respected by his peers, and despite that was a very effective crime fighter.
Due to the fact that the filmmakers didn’t seem to elaborate on any of these issues in an interesting manner nor did they give adequate context to make J. Edgar’s internal struggle compelling I was frequently checking my phone at about the hour mark to see when the film was going to finally draw to a close.
Whether Eastwood took and exhilarating glimpse at a conflicted public figure and mishandled it or the story was not a particularly interesting one to begin with this film was one of the least engaging I have seen in quite some time.
Take your money and go see Immortals.
IMDB score: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 58%/100%
Directed by: Shawn Levy
By Ben Dauber
All of the punch and only some of the expected, Real Steel is worth your time.
The film combines the nostalgic and inspiring feel of a sports movie with some high tech upgrades and a genuinely warm backstory that make it a truly entertaining and innovative spin on the typical action flick. Admittedly a bit predictable, the film is still able to deliver the big hits and happy ending to make it a solid watch.
Hugh Jackman plays Charley Kenton, washed up boxer and small time robot fight promoter that has run out of luck. After getting his last machine junked in a rodeo stunt in small town Texas, Charley is tracked down by custody officers who inform him his ex-wife died. This throws Jackman together with the surprisingly charismatic Dakota Goyo, who plays his 11-year-old son, Max Kenton, and then the real fighting starts.
As the two begin their journey towards the WRB (World Robot Boxing) title the movie begins to drift into a typical action movie feel. Montages, family bonding, and classic sweat suit themed boxing training mark the typical heroic journey towards the championship. They eventually take their undersized and unskilled robot Atom from the bottom of the junkyard heap to the height of robotic boxing, all the while growing closer together as father and son.
The plot of Real Steel itself is unremarkable, however the flashy special effects and fight coordination supplemented by a strong supporting cast make it a successful reinvention of action movie nostalgia.
The robots themselves are excellently animated. Huge and imposing with a variety of different fighting styles and appearances the bots are very entertaining to watch do just about anything, let alone fight each other. The near-gore that robotic fighters allow the filmmakers to get away keeps the dismemberment and decapitation in the film without the stigma of an R rating. Dripping with mechanical fluid, limbless and sometimes headless the bots beat the crap out of each other in brutal and fast paced fights to the death that keep the audience hooked.
The heartthrob of the film to keep us young men interested is Lost’s Evangeline Lilly. Taking a departure from her TV role she is the supportive and long time friend of Jackman who ends up falling for him at the end of the film. With the sexiness accounted for the casting remained excellent with the additions of other key character actors. The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie, modern action must-have Kevin Durand, and believably evil Olga Fonda filling out the ranks Jackman and Lilly certainly aren’t out there alone.
At face value Real Steel is a glossy and high tech remake of Rocky with more girls and way more robots. However despite its simple nature the film delivers the character development and nuanced reinvention that make it a solid 7.6 out of 10 on IMDB.com. Its truly rare that you can grab some friends and go watch robots beat the crap out of each other and feel good doing it, so don’t let this opportunity slip away.