Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Rush, The Family

Partly because I’ve been having so many issues lately I have not been able to get pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) and partly because I’ve been trying to get this Battle of the Atom thing going on I haven’t written as much on other subjects lately, namely movie reviews which are pretty much my bread and butter on this blog. I aim to fix that but I have to say that I feel like I may need to speed through them more so than normal or else I may never actually finish writing them. So today we’ll be reviewing two movies in my “Mini-Review” format that I do every once in a great while.

So this will be pretty similar to past Mini-Reviews: limited ranting, more to the point commentary of what I liked and didn’t like. I may be a bit more detailed since I’m only reviewing two movies this time but, again, I’m trying to get through this as fast as possible.

A review of Rush and The Family after he jump.

Rush (Film)

Director: Ron Howard 

Screenwriter: Peter Morgan 

Starring: Chris Hemsworth; Daniel Brühl 

Based on real life events the film follows the six year rivalry between James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Brühl), two race car drivers who personalities could not be any more different. Hunt is a womanizing daredevil who recklessness can borderline on the suicidal at times while Lauda is a careful and calculated loner. They have three things in common: 1) they are both supremely confident in their skills, 2) are justified in that confidence as they are both extremely talented and 3) they share mutual determination to defeat the other.

Sports movies often strike a nice chord with me, which you might find surprising if we’ve never met (Remember the Titans being one of my favorite films of all time). So because of that the tropes, perhaps a bit familiar, really worked for me. I enjoyed the rivalry between the two principle characters and, indeed, I was pretty invested in their story as well. The differences between the two drivers, and more importantly their similarities, really carry the story. Since the story boils down to “who can drive in a car the fastest” this is a pretty important thing, otherwise it’d get old pretty fast. This is largely due to the acting from the two lads, especially Brühl who I really hope we see more of in the coming years. Aside from that the script is pretty well written and I was engrossed more so than almost any of the Summer blockbusters I reviewed this year. Good direction, good writing, and good acting; this is easily one of the better films of the year so far.

Hunt and Lauda, arguing over who's the biggest asshole
On the other side of things this movie suffers in the form of its supporting cast as absolutely no one outside the two leads matter to the story in the slightest. You could replace the whole cast and it would make no real difference. Even their respective wives are little more than plot points. Also at the end of the day I don’t think there’s much character growth with the leads as when the film does end they don’t seem to be any different than when they began. This likely is the result of it being based on a true story.

Rush is a good film. I enjoy Ron Howard films more often than not so it’s not too shocking. In a serious way this film kicked off the Oscar Bait Season that usually takes place in the fall. It’s a pretty good start.

I give Rush 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


-Good directing

-Good acting

-Good script


-Supporting cast might as well not exist

The Family

Director: Luc Besson

Screenwriter(s): Luc Besson; Michael Caleo 

Starring: Robert De Niro; Michelle Pfeiffer; Dianna Agron; Tommy Lee Jones; John D'Leo

Based on the French novel Malavita by Tonino Benacquista the movie follows ex-mobster Giovanni Maznoni (De Niro) who, along with his family, is in Witness Protection due to Maznoni ratting on his organization years earlier. However the former Maznoni family are a volatile bunch and routinely blow their cover due to their rage issues and tendency to the break the law. They have now been  relocated to Normandy and are trying to blend in. It doesn’t work well.

This is a fun movie and I really enjoyed it. The best thing about this film is its characters, specifically the titular “family”, who are pretty strong and certainly interesting. I’m not sure I’m supposed to like them as all four of them seem to be charismatic but not really the best people as they solve all their problems with violence waaay out of proportion to the initial slights against them (Mostly; I’m pretty sure that Belle’s reaction to the group of boys trying to gang bang her were pretty appropriate). Even so they carried this film completely as, well, aside from that the movie is kind of typical.

The major issue is that by the time the flick ends nothing feels like it’s been accomplished. Not only does no one grow or learn a lesson but really everyone is right back where they were at the beginning of the flick. It feels kind of pointless. I enjoyed the ride but I almost wonder if it was s really worth the time invested. What was so special about this point in the family’s lives? Nothing else in the film really does much; the secondary characters are simply there and the plot can get a bit ludicrous as far as believability goes. There’s also a really odd scene where Robert De Niro’s character watches Goodfellas in a meta/ironic moment that doesn’t really work at all. Now it nowhere near as ridiculous and insulting as Julia Roberts playing a character posing as Julia Roberts in Ocean’s Twelve, but goddamn it’s still annoying.

That all said I found myself really into this film. I was so into the characters that it, when I saw it in theaters, I walked out thinking very highly of this flick and it’s only looking back with a critical eye do I realize there wasn’t a whole lot of substance attached. This will be one of those cases where I liked a movie but scored it not based on my enjoyment but rather based on the quality. Still if you want to see a fun black comedy where Robert De Niro again tries to deconstruct the genre that made him famous check it out.

Also I hate to admit this but I found Dianna Agron, who I never really looked twice at before, shockingly attractive in this movie. Thankfully it turns out she’s about ten years older than her character so I think that absolves me from being creepy. Hopefully. 

I am weirded out by how much I enjoyed watching her beat up suckers

I give The Family 3 out of 5 Adorable Pandas


-Great cast and great characters 


-The plot has some silly aspects 

-The story lacks substance

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