Tag Archives: Jeff Daniels

Speed (1994) Review

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Speed

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & Offensive Language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Officer Jack Traven
Dennis Hopper as Howard Payne
Sandra Bullock as Annie Porter
Joe Morton as Lieutenant Herb ‘Mac’ McMahon
Jeff Daniels as Detective Harry Temple
Director: Jan de Bont

A young police officer (Keanu Reeves) must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.

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Speed is one of the most iconic and influential action movies from the 90s, with a memorable premise, great action sequences, and it was overall really good. I decided to rewatch it recently, it’s still really entertaining and it surprisingly holds up pretty well for the most part.

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The concept of the movie is fairly simple: if a bus drops its speed below 50 mph, it will explode. It works greatly in its simplicity and it’s brilliantly executed. The plot has plenty of creative ideas and situations that prevent the film from being repetitive. It might be a pretty standard plot nowadays in terms of action movies, but the high concept within Speed is sort of action movie genius, especially for the 90s. It’s engaging from its opening moments taking place in an elevator shaft, and remains tense throughout its runtime. The pacing is fierce, aside from its final 15 minutes, it’s perfectly paced. It is breathlessly energetic and intense, and there’s a lot of escalating suspense throughout, never letting you stop for a moment to catch your breath. It drags the audience from one disaster to the next, engaged in such a confined environment. The last act isn’t quite as strong as the first two acts, but it was entertaining enough. It’s definitely a 90s action flick, and with that comes all the typical cheese that similar movies have. This isn’t exactly an intellectually challenging feature, but it was never expected to be that. It fully commits to its ridiculous premise and that’s what makes it both charming and exciting. The dialogue is goofy but quotable nonetheless, and the characters are very cliché but still work well for this movie. Sometimes things happen that don’t make sense as to be expected. Physics and realism aside, the motivations of the villain are kind of shoddy and aren’t really that fleshed out for example. However it’s entertaining enough that it makes up for any problems you might have with the plot. It’s also a very rewatchable movie.

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Everyone gives the exact kind of performance you expect from them. The characters are all stereotypes but it doesn’t matter that much, and the actors are all good in their parts. The role of lead character Jack is right for Keanu Reeves, cocky and impulsive, but smart and engaging. Sandra Bullock also does very well here in her part, she and Reeves have some great on screen chemistry in this movie. Dennis Hopper plays the villain, while the character himself isn’t that great, Hopper is effectively chewing every scene he’s in. He makes the character feel crazy yet threatening and in control with all these bombs scenarios he set up.

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Jan de Bont directs this movie incredibly well. There are so many memorable action sequences, de Bont knows how to keep the tension at a high level throughout. It’s impressive how many different set pieces he’s able to pack into just one location. The opening on its own, the elevator sequence, was a great way of introducing the audience to the kind of tension they’ll be feeling for the rest of the movie. But of course it’s the majority of the movie taking place on the bus that’s so impressive, with some insane practical stunts. The editing is effectively tight, and the intense score from Mark Mancina is memorable and fits the movie well.

Speed de Jan de Bont (1994)

Speed is pure high energy action cinema at its finest, and a near pitch perfect 90s summer blockbuster. It’s not only influential and iconic for its time, even today it still entertains and thrills with a simple and over the top yet effective script and plot, likable and memorable characters and acting, and impressive direction. I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

Looper (2012) Review

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language.
Cast:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe
Bruce Willis as Old Joe
Emily Blunt as Sara
Paul Dano as Seth
Noah Segan as Kid Blue
Piper Perabo as Suzie
Jeff Daniels as Abe
Pierce Gagnon as Cid
Director: Rian Johnson

In a future society, time-travel exists, but it’s only available to those with the means to pay for it on the black market. When the mob wants to eliminate someone, it sends the target into the past, where a hit man known as a looper lies in wait to finish the job. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one such hired gun, and he does his job well — until the day his bosses decide to “close the loop” and send Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) back in time to be killed.

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I remember seeing Looper years ago around about the time when it came out. It was the first movie from Rian Johnson that I saw, so I was naturally excited when he was announced as directing a Star Wars movie because of his work here (and yes, I’m still very much love how The Last Jedi turned out). Because Johnson’s latest film Knives Out is coming out soon, I thought it was a perfect time to revisit this movie. Looper still holds up pretty well. There might be a couple things that don’t work perfectly, but on the whole it’s still great.

First of all with Looper, I liked how the movie portrays the futuristic world. It’s definitely a science fiction reality, with some advanced technology, new drugs and the like. However it doesn’t have flying cars or anything like that. There’s even some people in this movie who have the ability of telekinesis, but it’s pretty small and can only really be used for levitating small objects, not a significant superpower by any means. The movie also isn’t just science-fiction, it’s also a crime movie, and through Joe’s (Joseph Gordon Levitt) narration, we hear about how this criminal group operates. Rian Johnson is great at blending different ideas together and Looper is no exception, it’s quite an original movie and if you haven’t seen it and don’t know much going in, I’m pretty sure the experience will be better when you do. With any movie involving time travel, there’s going to be some holes and things that don’t quite make sense, and Looper isn’t immune to that (especially towards the end). The characters who even know vaguely about the time travel do at least acknowledge that the time travel is confusing, and I still really liked how the movie portrayed and utilised it, so I was able to look past some of the more confusing elements. While I liked the ending (even though I’m not exactly sure if it’s right), I feel like it could’ve been like a minute longer at least, it somehow felt a little abrupt.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives probably his best performance yet in the role of the main character of Joe, a hitman of sorts. Bruce Willis here really gave one of his best performances in years, he really seemed dedicated to his performance here, significant given most of his recent work has just been straight to DVD action flicks. Something they did with Gordon-Levitt is that they put makeup on him to make him seem like a younger Willis. While its effective and definitely looks a lot better than it sounds on paper, I do find it a little hard to buy that they are the same person. JGL looks like himself but slightly Bruce Willis-ish, but the with the way they act you don’t really buy that they are the same person. However you can look past that and roll with it. Emily Blunt shows up in the latter half in the movie and is very good in her role. The same is said for Pierce Gagnon who plays Cid, Blunt’s child who seemingly a lot more than he initially appears to be. Other supporting actors like Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels also add quite a lot in their screentime.

Rian Johnson has really progressed as a filmmaker, going from a smaller gritty noire set at a high school, to a bright Wes Anderson-esque conmen comedy, to Looper, a science-fiction crime movie. Visually it looked great. I mentioned earlier how I liked the portrayal of the future, and that extends to the direction. The locations for the most part look very similar to places to today and was rather gritty in parts, but with some futuristic touches. The soundtrack by Nathan Johnson was also very effective.

Looper is an original science-fiction crime movie, very well written and directed by Rian Johnson, and the cast were good, particularly Gordon-Levitt, Willis and Blunt. Despite some of the issues I had with some aspects of the plot which didn’t quite work, I think it’s really great. Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Allegiant (2016) Review

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Allegiant

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Shailene Woodley as Beatrice “Tris” Prior
Theo James as Tobias “Four” Eaton
Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior
Zoë Kravitz as Christina
Miles Teller as Peter Hayes
Jeff Daniels as David
Naomi Watts as Evelyn Johnson-Eaton
Octavia Spencer as Johanna Reyes
Maggie Q as Tori Wu
Bill Skarsgård as Matthew
Ray Stevenson as Marcus Eaton
Director: Robert Schwentke

Tris (Shailene Woodley) escapes with Four (Theo James) to journey beyond the wall that encloses Chicago. For the first time, they leave the only city and family they have ever known to find a peaceful solution. Once outside, they learn shocking new truths that render old discoveries meaningless. As the ruthless battle threatens humanity, Tris and Four quickly decide who to trust to survive. Tris must ultimately make difficult choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

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I’m not a huge fan of the Divergent series. It’s not bad, it’s harmless but I’m not excited to see every instalment that’s coming. So naturally, I wasn’t looking forward to Allegiant, it didn’t help that this is another young adult third book series split into two parts (they obviously tried to cover that up with the title), and I expected Mockingjay Part 1 all over again. After seeing it, I can say that Allegiant isn’t bad, it’s above average but I can’t in good conscience call it a good movie. The acting is fine, the action is fine and the story is full of plot holes and problems, it’s a Divergent movie, it’s exactly what you expect.

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Although I read the two previous books, I haven’t read the final book, so I can’t comment on the accuracy and/or what was left in, I can only comment on Allegiant as a movie. I have to say, this movie does have some pretty boring moments at times. Like with the previous movies there are still plenty of plot holes, inconsistencies and some of the characters aren’t very well written, which would make it hard for the actors do perform well (which I’ll get into later). The way the movie ends feels like it’s the end of a series, but of course that’s not the case, this is only part 1.

'The Divergent Series: Allegiant'

Acting effort is stronger here than in Insurgent. However a lot of the characters are badly written so they don’t really have much to work with. Tris not well written and isn’t as smart as in the previous movies, Shailene Woodley really doesn’t have much to work with. The film constantly tries putting her and Four (Theo James) together for romantic scenes and it seems completely forced. The other supporting actors are fine. Jeff Daniels is a great actor, but his character is so uninteresting and as a result, the movie just doesn’t give him a chance to shine. The one actor who I think did quite well was Miles Teller, his character was written finely enough and Teller did put quite a bit of effort into it.

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The action like in the previous movies is fine and mildly entertaining. Some of the CGI is fine, other times it is so obvious and quite fake. Also a lot of the designs are so generically futuristic and uninteresting, so it doesn’t really help matters. There are many times when it’s quite clear when characters are in front of a green screen, it was almost like I was watching the Star Wars prequels in that aspect.

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If you are a Divergent fan, you might like this movie. However if you don’t really like the previous movies and are hoping for an improved movie in the series, you won’t get that. It’s quite similar to the previous two movies in terms of the level of quality, when it came to the story, acting and direction. However due to the fact that I felt bored during certain sections of the movie, I’d say it’s slightly more flawed than the others. Now with the final instalment titled Ascendant coming out next year, I’m not looking forward to it. But if all the previous instalments have proven anything, it’s that these movies will always end up as being ‘okay’, so I don’t expect this last movie to be bad.

Steve Jobs (2015) Review

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Steve Jobs

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs
Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman
Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak
Jeff Daniels as John Sculley
Director: Danny Boyle

With public anticipation running high, Apple Inc. co-founders Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and Steve “Woz” Wozniak (Seth Rogen) get ready to unveil the first Macintosh in 1984. Jobs must also deal with personal issues related to ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterson) and their young daughter Lisa. Eventually fired, Jobs launches NeXT Inc. and prepares to release a new computer model in 1988. Ten years later, Jobs is back at Apple Inc. and about to revolutionize the industry once again with the iMac.

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This movie had been going through many changes, with names like David Fincher considered to direct and names like Christian Bale considered to star. Despite all this controversy and work around the project, for whatever reason Steve Jobs was a box office flop, which is a shame because this movie was really great. Steve Jobs had great performances, especially from lead Michael Fassbender, a pretty good direction by Danny Boyle and a fantastic script by Aaron Sorkin. All this culminated in a great movie that shouldn’t be missed.

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Before going in, you should know that this movie isn’t a biopic of Steve Job’s life, this takes place in three points of his life. Some may be disappointed in this but I felt that the moments were well chosen, connected well and were the most interesting and relevant parts of his life to tell. Even though the film doesn’t explore his past, it does explore who Steve Jobs is as a person. One thing I liked about this movie is that it doesn’t really sugar coat who Steve Jobs was as a person but it also allowed us to see why he thinks how he thinks. When the Steve Jobs movie was in development, I immediately thought that the best writer for the script would be Aaron Sorkin due to his work on The Social Network and surely enough, that’s what happened and once again Sorkin is as much of a star as the actors were in the movie. This is a dialogue driven movie and Aaron Sorkin absolutely excels at that. As this is a dialogue driven movie, not everyone will love it, and I can see how some people might get bored if that’s not the sort of film they like. As someone who really likes well written dialogue driven movies, I personally loved it.

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Michael Fassbender is phenomenal as Steve Jobs and this is one of his best performances, and that’s saying a lot. It wasn’t overly showy like it could’ve been, it was just right and felt completely natural. I did not see Michael Fassbender playing Steve Jobs, I just saw Steve Jobs. Other actors like Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels were also excellent in their roles, and despite Fassbender being the star, they pull off solid performances and are memorable when they were on screen.

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This being a Danny Boyle film, you can expect that this movie will be very stylish. Even though this is the case with most of his movies fortunately he held back with Steve Jobs and allowed the actors and Sorkin to take centre stage instead of his style and direction. One decision I loved was the change of lens the first act of the movie was shot in 60mm, the second act was shot in 35mm and the last act was shot in digital, as it showed a progression in technology as time went on. Little things like that make this movie even better.

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Steve Jobs has great acting, an excellent script and great direction from Danny Boyle. It was a shame that this movie didn’t get more attention when it came out because it definitely deserves it. If you get a chance to see it, do so. But if you do decide to see it make sure you know what you are in for.

The Martian (2015) Review

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The Martian

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Mark Watney
Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis
Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose
Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders
Michael Peña as Major Rick Martinez
Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen
Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson
Sebastian Stan as Dr. Chris Beck
Aksel Hennie as Dr. Alex Vogel
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor
Director: Ridley Scott

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

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I was interested in The Martian ever since I heard about it, mostly because of the cast, director and the praise about the book which I haven’t read. When it comes to director Ridley Scott, even though I liked Prometheus, most of his recent work hasn’t been that good (The Counsellor). The Martian is a return to form for him and it’s one of the best films of 2015. The Martian has excellent special effects, an interesting story and great acting from Matt Damon and the rest of the cast. After everything I’ve seen here, I want to check out the book.

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The film jumps between Mark Watney, the people on earth and Watney’s old crew who are now on a different mission. All of these stories I thought were well done but the most interesting and overall best one out of all of them is of course is the one involving Mark. One thing I liked about this movie is that it could’ve just been dark, gloomy and depressing but it’s actually kind of a funny movie. It also helps that Mark is quite a likable character, and we are on board with him as he tries to survive all of this. Also the fact that he is a competent character helped, which separated this movie from a lot of the other stranded survivor movies. I also don’t know if this film is scientifically accurate in the things that Mark does to stay alive but the film does make it all feel real, which is one of the highest praises I can give to a science fiction movie.

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Matt Damon is fantastic in this movie. In this sort of movie you need a lead actor who can hold so much of the story on his own and Damon does that and much more. Also like I said before, his character is very likable and it works to the film’s advantage as we are with him pretty much through the entire film. The supporting cast which consists of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean and others add quite a lot to this movie. Every actor gets their chance to shine but it’s really Matt Damon’s show here.

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The special effects are excellent, The Martian overall is a beautiful looking movie. A lot of the environments on Mars looked so real. I might even go so far as to say that it was actually worth watching this movie in 3D, which is such a rare thing for me to do. The 3D really captured what it would be like to be on Mars, and of course it’s mainly to the credit of the movie but the 3D should really be mentioned as well.

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The Martian is definitely worth watching and is a return to form for Ridley Scott. I haven’t read the book that it was based on but after this movie, now I really want to. Matt Damon, the rest of the cast and Ridley Scott have made a really great Sci-Fi movie that I want to revisit. The Martian is definitely one of the best movies of the year and is definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.