Tag Archives: William H. Macy

Air Force One (1997) Review

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Air Force One

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] 
Cast:
Harrison Ford as President James Marshall
Gary Oldman as Egor Korshunov
Glenn Close as Vice President Kathryn Bennett
Wendy Crewson as First Lady Grace Marshall
Liesel Matthews as Alice Marshall
Paul Guilfoyle as White House Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd
William H. Macy as Major Norman Caldwell
Dean Stockwell as Defense Secretary Walter Dean
Director: Wolfgang Peterson

The president of the USA is returning home from Moscow when his plane, Air Force One, is hijacked and he finds himself in a do-or-die hostage situation.

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Air Force One is one of the most over the top action movies from the 90s and that’s saying a lot. It is far from the peak of 90s action but it is entertaining for what it is.

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Air Force One is very much a silly action flick from the 90s. The storytelling wasn’t the best, the motivations of the villains aren’t that well thought out. The plot is also very cliché, it boils down to Die Hard on a plane, its shameless even. Just replace a hotel with a plane and John McClane with the President of the United States. A lot of the tropes of the genre are recycled here. Its just as well that it has the right tone, it is very cheesy especially with how over the top patriotic it is. Thankfully it is very self aware, almost bordering on self parody at times. There are some really silly and wonderful moments including the one liners; ay movie where Harrison Ford as the president says “Get off my plane” was going to be at least somewhat enjoyable. I will say that it is a bit overlong at 2 hours long, it could’ve been a little shorter. Still it very rarely dragged, and it is consistently entertaining throughout.

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Harrison Ford made for a convincing action lead star and is reliably good here as the President of the USA. Gary Oldman made for a very fun villain, delivering a wonderful hammy performance. The character isn’t good, he’s quite generic, and his plan is silly. However, Oldman makes it work, or at least fun to watch. The acting from the rest of the supporting cast including Glenn Close is decent, but don’t quite come close to Ford or Oldman.

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Wolfgang Peterson did a good job directing this, it is well crafted. The visual effects are a bit outdated and overused, especially the external plane shots. The action is entertaining, well shot, and quite fun to watch. The score from Jerry Goldsmith is bombastic and over the top 90s, but it suits this movie.

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Air Force One is not one of the best action movies, not even when you limit it to just the 90s. The plot isn’t the best, the characterisation is flawed, and it is very derivative of other action movies. However, the cast are solid especially Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, the action is entertaining, and the plot is simple and silly enough. So it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Jurassic Park III (2001) Review

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Jurassic Park 3

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains medium level violence
Cast:
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
William H. Macy as Paul Kirby
Téa Leoni as Amanda Kirby
Alessandro Nivola as Billy Brennan
Trevor Morgan as Eric Kirby
Michael Jeter as Udesky
Director: Joe Johnston

Paul and Amanda Kirby, a wealthy couple, offer research funding to Alan Grant, a doctor, on the condition that he accompanies them to find their missing son on a deadly island.

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I had been making my way rewatching the Jurassic Park movies. I seemed to recall the third film being the worst of the Jurassic movies but didn’t have much memory of it beyond it starring Sam Neill and being the first film in the series to not be directed by Steven Spielberg. After rewatching it, I definitely think it’s the worst of the series, even though I have some enjoyment with it.

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Jurassic Park III’s plot is a bit weird when you compare it to the previous movies. It plays out more like a creature feature B-movie than a Jurassic Park movie. Not that there isn’t some positives in that, the plot is a relatively and refreshingly simple and straightforward monster movie. It’s also short at around 90 minutes in length. However, the plot just isn’t substantial, it’s a bit too simplistic, dull and is rather paint by numbers. The Lost World increased the number of dumb decisions made by characters, and Jurassic Park III increased them even further. This is especially the case with the Kirbys (as played by William H. Macy and Tea Leoni), who are very likely the worst part of the movie, quite irritating and hard to like. The plot connivences can also be a lot, even the reason to bring Sam Neill’s Alan Grant to the dinosaur island is just so contrived. It is definitely a movie where you need to suspend your disbelief even beyond everything happening with the dinosaurs. There are some very silly moments and aspects. For example, there are times where raptors almost seem to be talking to each other in dinosaur language or something. Sometimes the film can be funny though (intentional or not), like infamous scene in the first act where Alan has a dream, which has become the biggest joke to come out from this movie. It is worth noting that there were issues during production, with the script being written while they were filming, and it certainly shows. Not to say that it is not enjoyable. It does work as a B level monster flick at times, and it can be entertaining. It helps that the plot is fairly tight and is told at a high pace, not letting itself drag. It is basically a slasher movie with dinosaurs and plays more like a Syfy channel flick, and as that, Jurassic Park III does the job alright.

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There is a talented cast involved, unfortunately the characters aren’t interesting. Sam Neill returns as Alan Grant in the lead role and reliably gives a good performance, it was nice to see him again. Alessandro Nivola was a nice addition, he especially works well alongside Sam Neill. Those two were the two performances and characters I actually liked. The Kirbys as played by William H. Macy and Tea Leoni are rather annoying characters who weigh heavily on the plot, despite the talent of their actors. Leoni in particular is reduced to screaming throughout the whole movie and is very likely a strong contender for the worst major character in a Jurassic Park movie. However, the worst handling of a character in Jurassic Park III would be Ellie Sattler as played by Laura Dern, who returns from the first movie but only has a couple of scenes here, she’s barely involved with the plot. It was so minimal it honestly would’ve felt less offensive if she wasn’t in the movie at all.

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Instead of being directed by Steven Spielberg like the last couple movies were, Jurassic Park III is directed by Joe Johnston. He’s certainly no Spielberg, but his work on the whole is fine, the technical aspects are pretty good. The cinematography is nice enough and the production design is impressive. There are also some stunning visual effects, even if they aren’t quite as good as in the previous couple of movies. The action sequences are generally solid and tense, a highlight being a scene later in the movie involving a large bird cage. While the dinosaurs are portrayed okay enough for the most part, they just lack the magnetic screen presence that they had previously. I remember a scene where it tries to replicate the feeling of wonder from before, like when we first see a dinosaur in the first Jurassic Park, with the main characters watching in awe as the John Williams score swells. In the third movie however, it just doesn’t have nearly the same impact and instead comes across as hollow. The deaths are probably the most violent of the whole series, possibly even more so than The Lost World, sometimes it is like its from a slasher movie, just one involving dinosaurs.

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I don’t dislike Jurassic Park III, but its easily the worst of the Jurassic movies. Not that it doesn’t have some positive things; I liked some of the actors (mainly Sam Neill and Alessandro Nivola), the simple approach, and some of the action. However with its messy script, annoying characters and underwhelming (if competent) direction, its just feels subpar compared to the previous two movies. However, as a dinosaur slasher flick, it works. Its no surprise that after Jurassic Park III, there wouldn’t be another Jurassic Park movie until 14 years later.

Boogie Nights (1997) Review

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Boogie Nights

Time:  155 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, offensive language and sex scenes
Cast:
Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams/”Dirk Diggler”
Julianne Moore as Maggie/”Amber Waves”
Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner
Don Cheadle as Buck Swope
John C. Reilly as Reed Rothchild
William H. Macy as “Little” Bill Thompson
Heather Graham as Brandy/”Rollergirl”
Nicole Ari Parker as Becky Barnett
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Scotty J.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), who transforms him into adult-film sensation Dirk Diggler. Brought into a supportive circle of friends, including fellow actors Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), Rollergirl (Heather Graham) and Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), Dirk fulfills all his ambitions, but a toxic combination of drugs and egotism threatens to take him back down.

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I remembered going into Boogie Nights for the first time only knowing it as “that one movie about 70s porn” and being quite surprised at how great it actually turned out to be. Having watched it a second time, I can very much say that it is one of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s best movies.

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First of all, the script from PTA is fantastic. The story is set against the backdrop of the low-rent machinery of the adult film industry, and it was quite interesting to watch. Boogie Nights is known as that one movie about porn, and while porn that plays a notable part in the plot and the characters are involved with it, it’s not essentially at the core what the film is about. Essentially it is a story about fame, its highlights but also the downsides of fame, and how it doesn’t last. The story starts off in the 70s, in which you see the more extravagant and outlandish side of the business. However halfway through, it moves to the 80s, and there’s a distinct tonal shift. Everyone’s depressed and drugged up, and it’s a much darker look at life. The characters are trying to make normal livings for themselves, but their pasts are lingering over them and makes things difficult for them. The transition from the light hearted high on life and fast paced comedy to the emotional, serious and dark drama is done greatly, and doesn’t feel tonally inconsistent, you can tell it is still very much the same movie. Something that benefits this movie is the memorable and well-developed characters, who really shine. It’s also a very entertaining movie, there’s some good humour throughout much of it, there’s a lot of quotable dialogue, and it’s quite fun to watch. Despite the very long length of 2 hours and 30 minutes long, the script is very tight and not a single scene is wasted.

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This movie contains a strong ensemble cast, and each of them deliver masterful performances. First of all, Mark Wahlberg gives a career best performance as the lead character of Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler. Wahlberg did great at portraying the up and coming star in this movie, over the top when he needed to be, and also grounded in the more serious moments. The supporting cast are fantastic too, with the standouts being Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Even some of the actors who are only in a few scenes make an impression, Alfred Molina for example is very memorable in his scene later in the movie. All the actors had great and believable chemistry together, with Wahlberg and Reynolds really sticking out for me.

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Paul Thomas Anderson already showed himself a confident director with his debut film Hard Eight, and his work here is even stronger, it is astonishing on a technical level. The cinematography is amazing, the camera movement is quick and feels alive in this movie, especially during its numerous long tracking shots. Every scene is shot to perfection, feeling so electric it was hard to not be engaged. That paired with the exceptional editing really made it quite an experience to watch. The 70s and 80s were captured perfectly in this film from the environments and costumes to the music. Speaking of which, the soundtrack was phenomenal and the songs were utilised very well in the scenes.

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Boogie Nights is an incredibly well made movie on just about every level. The story was engaging and entertaining, the characters were memorable and well acted, and the direction was phenomenal. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Psycho (1998) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates
Anne Heche as Marion Crane
Julianne Moore as Lila Crane
Viggo Mortensen as Sam Loomis
William H. Macy as Milton Arbogast
Director: Gus van Sant

Marion Crane (Anne Heche) steals a lot of cash from a man whom her boss is in business with. On the way to see her boyfriend (Viggo Mortensen), she stops off by an old motel, run by the odd Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn). She is murdered in the shower. Her sister (Julianne Moore), boyfriend, and a private investigator (William H. Macy) try to find out where she is, while we learn more about Norman Bates.

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Remakes of movies generally are a bad idea, remakes of classics are often a terrible idea. There really was no reason to remake Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, it was such an iconic film that changed film forever. With that said, when it comes to remakes, if they can find a way to make some change to make it stand out from the original, it could be something. I think one of the worst sins for a remake to do is to stay too close to the original, so that there was no point for said remake to happen in the first place. Gus van Sant’s Psycho did something worse however, it wasn’t just too close to the original, it was literally a shot by shot remake. Aside from some two good performances, this remake really has nothing to offer that the original didn’t already have.

This movie literally a shot by shot remake by Psycho. If you’ve seen the original, there’s nothing interesting you’ll find here. The only difference is that its done much more poorly. Honestly there’s really nothing to say about the writing, the structure and scene order is the same, the dialogue is the same, the characters are the same, it does absolutely nothing new with the material. Even a different portrayal on some of the characters would’ve been somewhat interesting but nothing like that is present.

Vince Vaughn despite most of his performances, is a talented actor and I respect him for going against type but he really didn’t work here as Norman Bates. While he certainly pulls off being crazy, there is no subtlety to his performance at all and just becomes laughable, especially when compared to Anthony Perkins’s performance in the original. Anne Heche plays Marion Crane and she’s not that great, to be fair to her all the direction she’s given is to pretty much just act like Janet Leigh in the original Psycho, so I don’t blame her or really anyone who acted in this movie. The best part about this movie is Julianne Moore and Viggo Mortensen, they were actually quite good in their roles, maybe even slightly better than the actors in the original. Other performances from actors like William H. Macy were fine but really nothing special.

Gus van Sant is a talented director but none of his talents shown in his other films are apparent here. Again, the entire film is just a recreation of the original movie and there’s nothing that great. It feels like a bunch of film students tried to recreate the original movie in colour instead of an established director. The original had some degree of tension, there is no tension whatsoever here. The recreations of some sequences like the shower killing sequence can be absolutely laughable at times because of how poorly done they were. The shower scene was particularly weird because during it, it was cutting to random things like clouds. Another thing worth noting is that this movie is in colour, this really took away from the tension. Ironically for the major issue of the movie being the lack of new creative decisions, the distinct changes from the original actually works against the remake.

There’s really no point in watching the remake of Psycho. The original is much better and the remake is pretty much just the original, just done poorly. Sometimes there can be some unintentional comedy with how poorly the recreations can be, and Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore were actually quite good in their roles (maybe even slightly better than the original) but that’s it. I guess if you’re curious enough check it out but you should watch the superior original film first, then again I don’t exactly know why you would want to watch the remake afterwards.