Tag Archives: Topher Grace

Under the Silver Lake (2019) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Cast:
Andrew Garfield as Sam
Riley Keough as Sarah
Topher Grace as Man at Bar
Laura-Leigh as Mae
Zosia Mamet as Troy
Jimmi Simpson as Allen
Director: David Robert Mitchell

When his beautiful, mysterious neighbour (Riley Keough) disappears without a trace, Sam (Andrew Garfield) tries to find the parties responsible, unravelling a string of strange crimes, unsolved murders and bizarre coincidences in his East Los Angeles neighborhood.

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Under the Silver Lake was a movie that I heard about for a little while. I knew that Andrew Garfield was in the lead role and came from the director of It Follows, and I also knew that the release date kept being pushed back. It left the people who have watched the movie rather polarised and I was curious to see what the reaction was about, and having seen it I can see why people left split about it. While I wouldn’t say I loved it or anything, I liked it quite a bit.

Under the Silver Lake is sort of a throwback to noire and conspiracy films, and if you’re a big fan of either of those genres, you are probably going to like this movie quite a bit. You can heavily feel the Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch influences, and it never once feels like a rip-off, it feels like its own original movie. This movie goes to some pretty weird places, it’s the strangest movie I’ve seen in a long time. If you’re a third of the way into the movie and find it weird already, you haven’t even gotten to the weirdest parts yet. The only movie that I could compare Under the Silver Lake to is Inherent Vice, with the offbeat tone, writing and both being in the same genre and all. It’s a little unfocussed and messy, a little too confusing at times, and as a result it took me out of the movie at some points. Because I wasn’t entirely invested with the movie, I really felt the 2 hours and 20 minute runtime drag at points. With that said there are a lot of things about the writing that I liked as well. I felt like it was trying to really say something, even if it doesn’t completely succeed at that, I do like where they took the story and themes. Really I liked the story as a whole, even though it could be a little messy at times.

Andrew Garfield gives probably his strangest performance yet here as the lead character, who becomes obsessed with some sort of conspiracy. He’s not exactly the most likable of characters but the film seems to know that at the same time, it’s rather critical of the character. Garfield shines in the role, it really is his movie throughout. There is also a supporting cast which includes Riley Keough and Topher Grace and while they are good in their scenes, they don’t appear in the movie a lot. It really is Garfield’s movie throughout, he’s in every single scene.

One of the reasons why It Follows worked so well was the direction by David Robert Mitchell and he once again does some great work here. This is a stunning looking movie, they really captured Los Angeles incredibly well. There are times where you can tell Mitchell was clearly influenced by classic noire movies with regards to the editing, use of music, and the way certain shots were filmed. Also returning from working on It Follows is Disasterpiece, who provide the score for Under the Silver Lake, which was really good and worked for the tone and vibe of the whole movie.

Under the Silver Lake is definitely not going to work for everyone. As messy and unfocussed as it could be at time, I liked it. Andrew Garfield was great, the direction by David Robert Mitchell worked really well and the writing was unique and wonderfully weird, and as someone who likes noire, I enjoyed it. Honestly there’s no way to tell if you’re going to like this movie or not, you’re just going to need to go into it and see it for yourself.

BlacKKKlansman (2018) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language, sexual references & content that may disturb
Cast:
John David Washington as Detective Ron Stallworth
Adam Driver as Detective Flip Zimmerman
Laura Harrier as Patrice Dumas
Topher Grace as David Duke
Jasper Pääkkönen as Felix Kendrickson
Ryan Eggold as Walter Breachway
Paul Walter Hauser as Ivanhoe
Director: Spike Lee

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate (Adam Driver), who eventually becomes head of the local branch.

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BlacKKKlansman is a movie I had been hearing about for a while: a black police officer successfully infiltrates the KKK is definitely a memorable premise with potential. With that premise and Spike Lee helming it, it looks like it could be something fantastic, and it certainly is that and more. However it still surprised me at how phenomenal it turned out to be. Excellent in its writing, acting and direction, BlacKKKlansman is entertaining, masterfully done and really is an essential viewing, and one of the best films of 2018.

I was entertained and interested in BlacKKKlansman. As far as accuracy goes, while I’m not certain, from what I can tell I think most of it is accurate, save for certain aspects that have been changed (like Laurie Harrier playing a character based on multiple real people) to benefit the movie overall. This movie does have a lot of comedy, as to be expected with a premise about a black man infiltrating the KKK. One of the best things about BlacKKKlansman is that it knows how absurd and insane it is, it pokes fun at the things that happened (such as the fact that the lead character, Ron Stallworth used his own name when contacting the KKK instead of using a fake name). However at the same time it takes things very seriously. The scenes of tension, mostly consisting of whether or not the KKK will realise that they have been duped, are really done well. One criticism that I know a lot of people will have is the lack of any subtlety. Spike Lee is known for not being the most subtle of directors, and BlacKKKlansman is not really any different, however I do think it really works very well here. A lot of the absurd things that happens, really did happen, so it’s not like Spike exaggerated a ton of stuff for entertainment or anything. Also, it’s impossible to be subtle about a lot of what happens here, especially with everything that has been going on nowadays. And in case you haven’t figured it out earlier, yes, BlacKKKlansman is a very political movie, there’s a reason why this movie was released a year after Charlottesville. There are reminders throughout the movie amongst the comedy that what happened here is real and it’s not afraid to delve deep into the unpleasantness of what happened/is happening. There are some direct references between what happens here to what happens in present day, no a lot of them aren’t subtle but it’s hard to be subtle with all this. The ending is going to be a topic of discussion, without delving deep into it (it’s not really a spoiler), it connects things to real life. A lot of people are not going to like it but even though you could cut it out and the movie would still work, I feel it was warranted because it takes you right back to reality in an incredibly sobering way. It leaves you with an absolutely shocked reaction, reminding you that no matter that Ron Stallworth duped the David Duke and how fun the ride was watching it, we aren’t done with racism and bigotry today. BlacKKKlansman is sure to provoke a lot of controversy and discussion.

John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, and he did a great job. He has such a great amount of charisma (yes there are times where you can really see a lot of his father Denzel in him) and gives everything to this role. One interesting aspect is when it comes to him being a cop and black at the same time, and how that can result in some conflicts sometimes. This is particularly apparent when it comes to his interactions with Laurie Harrier, who is also good in her role. Harrier plays an amalgamation of different people but in the movie she’s the president of the black student union, and there is a bit of conflict between them regarding cops, because of course with racist cops abusing black people, and it was an interesting dynamic to watch. Also, the film doesn’t give a definite answer whether black people being cops is right or not, it shows the debate and allows the audience to decide for themselves. Adam Driver is also good as the white police officer who meets with the KKK in person acting as Ron Stallworth, who’s more reluctant to get involved with it than Ron. Driver proves himself to be once again one of the best actors working today. Topher Grace plays David Duke, the grand wizard of the KKK and you don’t see a ton of him but he was great. He seems so unassuming and seemingly charismatic on a surface level, yet he is shown to be clearly reprehensible. Portraying such a person is not easy and as uncomfortable as it was, Grace pulled it off really well. The other Klansman members, played by actors like Jaspar Pääkkönen, Ryan Eggold and Paul Walter Hauser are also great in their roles. Other actors like Michael Buscemi and Corey Hawkins are also good in their roles as well.

Spike Lee really does a fantastic job at setting the movie in the time period, with the costumes, production design, locations, music and more, the movie feels right in the late 70s. His style, direction and the editing really added to this movie incredibly well, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. The editing in particular should be praised, it led to some great sequence. For example there is one instance where they cut between scenes of the KKK and the black rights movement in the third act and it was really effective and impactful.

BlacKKKlansman is funny, shocking, important, entertaining, gripping, and all around fantastic. All the acting, direction and writing come together to bring a great movie and one of Spike Lee’s best (and that’s a lot considering some of the films that he’s made). BlacKKKlansman is not just one of the best movies of 2018, it might actually end up being the best so far.

Spider-Man 3 (2007) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
James Franco as Harry Osborn/New Goblin
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman
Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom
Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
James Cromwell as George Stacy
Director: Sam Rami

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) seem to finally be on the right track in their complicated relationship, but trouble looms for the superhero and his lover. Peter’s Spider-Man suit turns black and takes control of him, not only giving Peter enhanced power but also bringing out the dark side of his personality. Peter must overcome the suit’s influence as two supervillains, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), rise up to destroy him and all those he holds dear.

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Spider-Man 3 unlike it’s previous entries has received a lot of negativity from critics and fans alike. I’m part of the minority of people who really like this movie. I liked the story, the acting, and Sam Rami’s direction, just like with the previous Spider-Man movies. But of course I’m not going to act like it doesn’t have a lot of problems, there is way too much in this movie, which ultimately holds back the movie from being as great as it could be. Despite this, many aspects of the plot itself are great, and it’s a solid movie overall.

Tonally, this is the most serious of the Rami Spider-Man movies, and with Peter going through different stages of his life throughout these movies, it did feel appropriate. There are some moments of humour though, some of them worked, others… not so much. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long, I was never really bored throughout but I definitely felt the running time, which is ironic since this movie might’ve actually needed more time. Ultimately the biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is that there is way too much going on. There’s Peter and Mary Jane’s romance, Sandman’s story which ties into Peter, the symbiote black suit that Peter comes in contact with and changes him, there’s Harry and Peter’s story, there is so much going on. If you want to know what went wrong, Sony basically forced Sam Rami to put the character of Venom into the movie, which is an incredible major plotline as it meant having a segment of Peter wearing the suit and also Venom being created, and there’s already so many plotlines in the movie. If Spider-Man 3 just had Mary Jane and Peter’s romance, Sandman’s story and Harry’s story, that would’ve been enough. But because of the amount of stories going on, the handling of the plotlines at times can be clumsy and poor. There are some really bad plot decisions made in the handling of the stories sometimes, for example early in the movie there’s a fight between Peter and Harry which results in Harry losing his memory, basically putting his revenge storyline on hold or about an hour, while all the other plots and subplots continue. It feels lazy and almost like a slap in the face after the buildup for this story in 2, here it almost feels like an afterthought of a subplot. There are two moments of conflict between Peter and Harry which are done very well, which shows hints of what could’ve been had that aspect been handled a lot better.

Another point of criticism is that this movie has 3 villains and while I like each of these villains, yet again, the film felt overstuffed with them. It’s like all these plotlines and villains are taking turns to have the spotlight, first its Harry, then it’s Sandman, then it’s Harry again, then it’s Venom and Sandman, it’s very jarring when it just keeps switching plotlines when the former plotlines are like put into hibernation or something. Speaking of Venom, an infamous part of the movie is how it handled the black suit plotline. Sometimes the black suit plotline really worked, like when it ties into Sandman. However it generally doesn’t reach its full potential. The film does partially take this in a more comedic direction. For example, after wearing the suit for a long period of time, Peter becomes ‘Emo Peter’, culminating in him acting all ‘edgy’ and ‘badass’ and ‘cool’, a lot of this is done for comedy. For example there are a couple of over the top scenes, one is a montage (set to the tune of ‘People get up and Drive your Funky Soul’ by James Brown), which despite it’s over the top nature I enjoyed because it is probably what would happen if a nerd like Peter grew an ego and thought he was cool. The other is full on dance routine in a Jazz Club, which is quite possibly the worst Spider-Man scene ever filmed. So obviously, mixed results. Not to say that I didn’t like it but the black suit arc really could’ve been done better. The last act, while enjoyable, is pretty rushed. Even the couple of very brief scenes after the climax seems to end incredibly quickly. Honestly while I liked all these plotlines, they definitely feel like they didn’t meet their potential, due to all of them crammed into one movie. I know I probably came across that I hated them, but the truth is that they could’ve been done a lot better.

Tobey Maguire once again is Peter Parker/Spider-Man and once again he is really good. I will say that I found myself not liking Peter early in the movie (even before he gets the black suit), especially when it came to Mary Jane, but I felt that was intentional (possibly because he was gaining a bit of an ego as Spider-Man) however that really didn’t get explored because of all the other plotlines. Now as for those 20 minutes where Peter is ‘Emo Peter’, even if you hate what was done with him, you gotta give credit to Maguire for throwing himself into what he was told to do, literally dancing in the streets with absolutely no shame at all. I even started to like Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. The romance aspect, while not exactly good, is done a lot better than in the previous movies. Mary Jane isn’t used as a ‘superhero girlfriend’ like she was in the first two movies (she only needs saving once in the entire movie), here they actually start to somewhat develop her. But the romance can be a bit frustrating, not for any cheesiness but because Peter and Mary Jane do make some bad decisions in their relationship, so the romance isn’t that good. James Franco is once again good as Harry Osborn. Unfortunately for him, after a few scenes early in the movie, once Harry loses his memory he doesn’t get much to do until like the second half of the movie. Thomas Haden Church is Flint Marko/Sandman, who is for me a very underrated comic book movie villain. Like Doc Ock, he is a lot deeper and sympathetic as a character, with Marko trying to help his dying daughter. He’s also a lot more consistent with his actions, there’s no moments where he’s gleefully committing evil deeds just for the fun of it (which Doc Ock occasionally did in Spider-Man 2). Out of the three villains I felt that he was used the best. However I will say that some aspects of the resolution of his story (particularly his last scene) did feel open and not fully concluded.

Topher Grace is Eddie Brock/Venom and I’m not quite sure how to feel about him. While his human form Eddie Brock is given motivations which work okay, he’s not that compelling as a character, nor does he have enough screentime. I think the biggest problem with Venom is that Brock wasn’t that interesting or deep of a character before he turned into Venom. Also once again, Rami didn’t even want Venom in the movie, so he does feel a little out of place and is probably why we don’t get a whole lot of time with him. At the very least though, Grace acted the Eddie Brock role fine and seemed to be having a great time playing Venom, I don’t think any of the issues of the character are on him. The other supporting cast are pretty good with Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell and others. J.K. Simmons once again returns as J. Jonah Jameson, very enjoyable and entertaining as always. One role that did feel out of place was Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), Bryce was fine in the role but Stacy didn’t really have much point to be there in the film (and she is a big deal in the comics). And I thought I’d mention, Bruce Campbell has the best cameo in the entire Spider-Man trilogy, he deserves a mention because he’s Bruce Campbell. And he’s awesome.

The quality of the CGI in Spider-Man 3 is around the level of Spider-Man 2. There is some noticeable green screen and fake CGI at times, but then again Spider-Man 2 did have some moments of fake CGI, so I will overlook it (not to mention Spider-Man 3 was made a decade ago). I will say that the CGI slightly worked better in 2 though, probably because it wasn’t on that large of a scale with what they tried to create and have. The CGI for the black suit and Venom was really good, visually he looked great. The action scenes were all around filmed really well, from the first fight between Peter and Harry to the climax with Spider-Man, Harry, Venom and Sandman. The last act is entertaining, aside from the CGI for Sandman, what they did with him in the third act was really over the top, and ended up being kind of silly. I liked all the soundtracks for the Spider-Man trilogy, but 3 has quite possibly my favourite from the whole trilogy, this time it’s done by Christopher Young.

I will not deny that Spider-Man 3 could’ve and should’ve been a lot better. It had a lot of potential and great ideas but they’ve all been shoved all into this movie and the film became so bloated that they had to alter and change the plotlines so that they could fit in, which really negatively affected the film overall. With that said, the movie is good, and it honestly does have some great parts to it. All the issues aside, a lot of the aspects from the first two movies with the acting, direction and even some of the story are here, so I don’t notice that much of a difference from the first two films. The storylines are at the very least okay, and the action is really great. I consider this movie on par with all the other Spider-Man movies except for 2 (2 is still by far the best Spider-Man film yet). It had some of the elements and potential of being the best Spider-Man, but having too much really held it back.

American Ultra (2015) Review

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American Ultra

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & drug use.
Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg as Mike Howell
Kristen Stewart as Phoebe Larson
Topher Grace as Adrian Yates
Connie Britton as Victoria Lasseter
Walton Goggins as Laugher
John Leguizamo as Rose
Bill Pullman as Raymond Krueger
Tony Hale as Peter “Petey” Douglas
Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Small-town stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) spends most of his time getting high and writing a graphic novel. What Mike doesn’t know is that he was trained by the CIA to be a lethal killing machine. When the agency targets him for termination, his former handler activates his latent skills, turning the mild-mannered slacker into a deadly weapon. Now, the utterly surprised Mike must use his newfound abilities to save himself and his girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) from getting smoked.

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American Ultra was a movie I was interested in ever since checking out the trailer, and I thought it would be interesting to see Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in this sort of action movie. After seeing it I can say that this movie was a lot of fun and I think it should’ve gotten more love and attention than it received. The actors was great, the writing was good, the action is fast paced and it was quite a fun and entertaining movie. It’s not anything special but it’s worth checking out if you find it interesting.

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Just a heads up, even though this movie is marketed as a stoner comedy action movie, American Ultra really isn’t that. The two main characters are stoners and that’s about it, so don’t expect Pineapple Express. The writing for this movie by Max Landis is what really makes this movie great. Even though the movie is silly and has some over the top moments, it’s serious and takes its characters seriously enough and gave them enough development that it makes us care about what is going on and the characters, it’s not a complete cartoon. But at the same time the movie is fun and its enjoyable seeing Eisenberg and Stewart in all of these situations. This movie isn’t one of the best action movies ever made but this movie knows what it is, and for what American Ultra was going for, it achieved it.

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Jesse Eisenberg was really good in this movie, I know that a lot of people have pointed out that usually he acts the same in every movie he’s in but his acting surprisingly really worked for this film and his character. Kristen Stewart was also great, and proved with this film as well as Still Alice that she actually is a good actress. I think she’s repairing her career and starting to get good roles in movies after Twilight really damaged her career. Both of them had great chemistry with each other and also are believable in the action scenes. I felt that Topher Grace did his part as the villain but I felt that he was a little over the top, probably a little miscast. Other supporting actors like John Leguizamo and Walton Goggins also did well in their roles.

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I really liked how the action scenes were filmed and choreographed. They were fast, thrilling, bloody and all around entertaining. Of course they are all over the top and very silly at times, but it still doesn’t go full Shoot Em’ Up or Commando levels of ridiculousness and as I said earlier, American Ultra doesn’t go so left field that it becomes a cartoon and you do actually care about what is going on.

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American Ultra isn’t a film that’s essential to see, it can be very over the top and silly but if you are into action films and are looking for a fun time, it’s a pretty entertaining watch. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart were really good and worked well with each other, the writing was good, the action was fun and the movie is all around really entertaining. It’s not a great movie and it won’t go down as one of the best action movies of all time but it’s a fun movie, and I do think it’s worth a watch.