Seven Pounds – A Movie Review

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May 062009
 

Seven Pounds PosterBen Thomas is an IRS agent (?) with a fateful secret who embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.

Genres: Drama and Romance; Running Time: 2 hr. 3 min.; Release Date: December 19th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content and a scene of sensuality.

Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Robinne Lee

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino

I watched this on DVD a week ago. Last week when I was catching up on movie reviews, I basically forgot to write this one.

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice the central character demands the payment of a pound of flesh from those who are in debt to him. The ‘pound of flesh’ refers to an onerous debt, one that is either unable to be paid (but demanded), one that is far in excess of the amount owed, or one in which the payment is set to adamantly exacting standards. Ben Thomas (Will Smith) has a debt to repay for the seven lives he took in a car accident, and so the phrase is both metaphorical and literal since six of the debts are repaid with his actual “flesh”.

First, I did like this film. It was well acted by all.

I quickly realized where the plot was going. Obviously there were obvious clues in the trailer, but still, despite it seeming obvious, I kept watching. There were enough twists to the plot to keep things interesting. It was nice to see how everything played out, filling in the details and the character motivations in later scenes.I don’t hate it when I guess the ending early in a film. I only hate it when the road to resolution is lined with boring scenery.

Will Smith’s screen persona is just likable, even when he’s playing such a troubled character. He’s energetic and believable in everything that I’ve seen him do. Seven Pounds is another fine performance.

Rosario Dawson is a solid performer, portraying a quirky, rather upbeat character despite a terminal heart condition. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and with Rosario, if you don’t find her gorgeous, you should think about replacing your eyes.

It was nice to see Woody Harrelson back on the screen. I haven’t seen him much lately, but that could just be me. Woody didn’t have a tremendous amount of screen time, but he sold his jolly, piano-playing, blind man character for all it was worth. Excellent.

Overall, I have to recommend this film not for the plotting, but for some very good performances, and for the fact that it tends to evoke some of the tragic emotions that we generally try to avoid.

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Hancock – A Movie Review

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Jul 092008
 

Hancock Movie PosterThere are heroes… there are superheroes… and then there’s Hancock. With great power comes great responsibility — everyone knows that — everyone, that is, but Hancock. Edgy, conflicted, sarcastic, and misunderstood, Hancock’s well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. The public has finally had enough — as grateful as they are to have their local hero, the good citizens of Los Angeles are wondering what they ever did to deserve this guy. Hancock isn’t the kind of man who cares what other people think — until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey, and the sardonic superhero begins to realize that he may have a vulnerable side after all. Facing that will be Hancock’s greatest challenge yet — and a task that may prove impossible as Ray’s wife, Mary, insists that he’s a lost cause.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama and Romance; Release Date: July 2nd, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and language.

Cast: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan and Charlize Theron

Director: Peter Berg

This was basically the Will Smith show again, just like “I Am Legend”. I thought Will stepped outside of his normal good guy role this time. His potrayal of an all around, highly intoxicated, grade A, professional as*hole was very good! His piss poor attitude was only out matched by his supreme arrogance! I thought looking into the mindset of a superhero who suffered from the same emotional pitfalls as other humans was definitely a different take than what we are used to seeing in typical superhero flicks, but that’s about it for the plot. The ending was mediocore! There was no real enemy here. They were their own worst enemies. And what was with the tornadoes during the fight scene, what purpose did that serve? I thought a super villian was about to arrive so Hancock and the blonde could team up to fight it.

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Pursuit of Happyness, The

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Jan 222007
 

The Pursuit of HappinessA struggling salesman (Will Smith) takes custody of his son (Jaden Smith) as he’s poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor.

Directed by
Gabriele Muccino

Genres
Biography, Drama

Cast
Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe, James Karen, Dan Castellaneta, Kurt Fuller, Takayo Fischer, Kevin West, George Cheung, David Michael Silverman, Domenic Bove, Geoff Callan, Joyful Raven, Scott Klace

Here’s the deal: It’s real, it’s heavy, and it’s inspirational, but NOT AT ALL cheesy. Don’t like that? Don’t see it. I won’t say much else. I will say that Will Smith was shockingly good now that he’s paid his dues with “Men in Black” and “Bad Boys.”

I was very happy that this film never got political and blamed Reagan for the number of “down on their luck” people that were shown, nor was the race card ever pulled out. It was also refreshing that Smith’s character never blamed anybody for his troubles.

On one hand, the film reinforces the great American myth of the self-made man and equal opportunity. Myths are not necessarily false simply for being myths–we can make some of them true by choice, and our belief in this myth still helps make America great. Free-market capitalism is not the cure to all ills–surely it is the source of many ills–but it does open social doors that nothing else can even budge. On the other hand, if you can leave this movie without a burning indignation that any American child of any race should have to struggle just to have a place to sleep, you must be cynical indeed. This movie doesn’t get on a soapbox, not even for a second–it just tells a real-life story that owns you before you know it.

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Bad Boys II

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Jul 252004
 

Bad Boys II (2003)

Two loose-cannon narcotics cops investigate the flow of Ecstacy into Florida.

Directed by
Michael Bay

Genres
Action, Comedy, Crime, Thriller

Cast
Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Jordi Mollà, Gabrielle Union, Peter Stormare, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Shannon, Jon Seda, Yul Vazquez, Jason Manuel Olazabal, Otto Sanchez, Henry Rollins, Antoni Corone, Gary Nickens

DVD

If you liked the first Bad Boys film, chances are you’ll also at least accept this one. If you didn’t like the first one, you’ll hate this sequel. Everything is basically the same in Bad Boys 2 as the first film, with humorous comments and and jokes about masculinity and other sensitive areas of manhood. Will Smith is the cool, slick, attractive hero while Martin Lawrence is the comic side-kick. Some of the jokes and witticisms are spot-on and you are guaranteed at least a few laughs, as long as you’re not an overly serious and sincere upper- class human being with no ability or trait to once in a while appreciate the face-value humour of an action-comedy film like this one. When you get comfy and ready to watch this film, don’t expect miracles. It’s dumb, silly and highly foreseeable, but yet enjoyable enough as headless, unintelligent candy for the bitty, little stupid thing inside us that occasionally screams for a dose of heroic maleness, fast-paced adventure, and adrenaline rush. This is pure and utter brainless Saturday-night popcorn-entertainment, expect nothing more.

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