Name: sproque

Most Recent Reviews by sproque

Rocky Balboa

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Reviewed by sproque

“Rocky Balboa:” Inspirational yet Uninventive

“Rocky Balboa” is a crowd-pleasing and inspirational film about following your dreams, achieving your best, and not letting anybody push you around. Rocky (Sylvestor Stallone) for the last time puts on the gloves and enters the ring, proving to himself and to his brother-in-law Paulie (Burt Young) that he’s still got something left in the 50+ year old tank. Rocky’s wife Adrian is dead for a few years and Rocky struggles emotionally throughout the film while coping her loss. Her memory helps drive him through the grueling bout.
Stallone wrote, directed, and stars in this film, and after seeing many of his movies, I can really tell this film was personal and is a good representation of the person that Stallone is. He is a positive and inspirational force. He warns his son that the world is cruel, and he has to stand up for himself to be somebody. He scolds the boxing commission to do the right thing by granting him a boxing license. He persuades his mentor/love interest Marie (Geraldine Hughes) to leave behind an old trashy bar and work in his restaurant. The movie is powerful in these regards. In a world of insecurity, corruption, and despair, Rocky is a shining light. He encourages everybody he’s around, he doesn’t let anybody push him around, and he proves to himself he can still fight another round.
Stallone uses a lot of handheld camera shots in the movie, and I couldn’t help but think of NBC’s “The Office.” This modernized style made the film feel a little to unsteady, and as a result did not capture the authenticity of the original. Though it was wintertime in Philadelphia, the modernized filming techniques, overplayed soundtrack, and heavy editing took away the cold crispness of the season. The original “Rocky” was so good because the viewer could vicariously experience the coldness of Rocky’s world, and his witty commentary was refreshing. In this film, Rocky has plenty of witty lines, but they are not as effective as they are in the original because of these reasons.
Paulie is as disgruntled and mean as ever after thirty years since the original. He is still working at the meat factory, and is the main motivation for Rocky to get back into the ring. He overacted a little bit, but at the same time expressed himself as a deep and emotional character. For instance, he confessed concerning how poorly he treated his sister by telling Rocky, “you treated her good, and I treated her bad.” This line says a lot about the two characters. Rocky treated her good, and is therefore rewarded with success and fame. Paulie treated her bad, and is cursed with a job as a meat packer.
Antonio Tarver plays the opposing boxer named Mason “the line” Dixon. He is portrayed as a stereotypical African American (hip hop music follows his every step), and he was relatively underdeveloped as a character. He lacks the charisma of Apollo Creed (“Rocky”) and the commanding presence of the Russian from the fourth film. He is seen very little in the film up until the fight, but was convincing enough when the fighting commenced.
“Rocky Balboa” is a truly inspirational film. It lacks the freshness of the first film, but what more can be expected from a sixth installment? Stallone is as buff as ever, and the ending fight is entertaining. The story is pretty simple but the message is good: “don’t let anybody stop you from attaining your dream.” A rant from Stallone is always good. The audience is expecting him to stay something really stupid because he looks and sounds like a bonehead, but he says profound things. Rocky is the ultimate underdog. Even though he is a success, he doesn’t get respect. What he lacks in stature, brains, and charm, he makes up for in genuineness of heart. The “rags to riches” idea is as old as story itself, but it is still very effective. “Rocky Balboa” is not the most well-crafted film you’ll see, but is definitely one of the most inspiring.
Three stars. PG for some language and boxing violence

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Deck the Halls

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Reviewed by sproque

Run For the Hills Before You See “Deck the Halls”

“Deck the Halls,” directed by John Whitesell and starring Matthew Broderick and Danny De Vito, in short – sucks. The acting, story, music, and overall Christmas spirit in the film – sucks. There are so many bad things to say about this film that I cannot fit into one article, but I’ll point out the most glaring.
First, the story. Danny (played by Danny DeVito), moves into a suburban neighborhood right across the street from Steve (played by Matthew Broderick). Steve is known around town as the Christmas guy, and is very proud of that fact. Danny quickly takes over the coveted crown of Christmas King by putting so many lights on his house that it will be visible from space! Oh, boy! As Danny increasingly puts lights on his house, Steve gets angry because he suspects Danny is stealing his power, and he’s annoyed because of the light shows that Danny puts on for the whole world to see. As people stop looking to Steve for Christmas advice and start turning to Danny, Steve takes offensive measures. Danny retaliates, and the neighborly feud begins.
Think about the premise of the film for a second, some dude wants to put a bunch of lights on his house so it’s visible from space. How ridiculous! How rank! How retarded! Steve’s efforts to ensure that never happens are uninventive, clumsy, and predictable. In one scene he dresses up like Tom Cruise from “Mission Impossible,” sneaks over to Danny’s house, and throws snow in his electric box. The audience was prepared for an acrobatic entrance by the aging Broderick, but instead receives one of the lamest assaults ever displayed in cinema (the “Home Alone” pranks look like feats of science compared to this garbage). In another scene Broderick flies over a car in a sleigh gone awry, and a kid in the car looks up and exclaims, “There really is a Santa Clause!” Okay, objects flying over cars and kids pondering the existence of fairytales should both be outlawed from movies.
The acting in this film probably couldn’t have been much worse, especially when one recalls the fine histories of De Vito and Broderick. Okay, Broderick wasn’t that bad. He’s looking old and wasn’t very funny, but his performance isn’t what I’d call a step forward in his career. De Vito was dopey. He waddled around and was very enthusiastic about everything like always, but he was annoying. The main problem with Steve and Danny is that you didn’t empathize with them. The story was so stupid that the audience wasn’t engaged, and as a result the main characters were unlikable. The despicable performances came from the supporting cast. The wives were shallow and fake. Danny’s daughters acted like a couple Paris Hilton clones and recruited Steve’s daughter to form a dance trio that looked like auditions for the Pussycat Dolls, and Steve’s son was just a brat.
The numerous attempts at comedy fell short and the sexual innuendos flourished in this supposed family comedy. Innuendos in the forms of a bra and thong sporting middle aged male cop, risqué paintings of Danny’s bimbo wife, and a scene with Steve and Danny unknowingly groveling over their daughters: “Who’s your daddy…I’m your daddy!” Steve shouts. This junk looks like bits that you might find on Conan O’Brien…if every writer on the team had writers block. The jokes were forced and telegraphed. I’d rather listen to Alex Trebek recite knock-knock jokes or watch Rosie O’Donnell walk the runway.
Don’t see this movie. You’ll leave the theater feeling less in the Christmas Spirit than before you came. Personally, I’d rather watch the “The Santa Clause 2”…and I hated that movie. 1 star. Rated PG for mild language, and more crude and sexual humor than you’d expect.

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The Guardian

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Reviewed by sproque

"The Guardian" Needed a Guardian Angel

“The Guardian” could have been a good film. It begins as a spectacular piece of cinematography as Sr. Chief Randall, played by Kevin Costner jumps out of a Coast Guard helicopter and saves a couple from drowning in the Baltic Sea. A little while later he’s back at it again, only to be faced with disaster (everyone knew that was coming). What makes the movie not so good is that after being smashed in the face (somewhat literally) with heartbreak, tragedy, and age, he gets sent to some Naval Academy to teach Coast Guard class (initiation) to eager early twenty-somethings. And there, he encounters standout, star, stud? swimmer “Fish,” played by grandma groping punker Ashton Kutcher. Ashton can’t act, he looks like a swimmer though, he’s pretty lanky (more like stretchy, like silly putty). He locks horns with Randall at the academy, breaks all of his swimming records, and is at first cocky, then becomes humble, blah blah blah. Fish’s growth is not important here. What is important though, is the love relationship that he attains while at the academy (I didn’t know trainees were allowed to court). He meets a girl and they start corresponding at bars, and it is painful to watch. Kutcher! You’re a comedian! (I guess). I don’t wanna see your mug on the silver screen!
The movie just gets a lot less interesting once it adverts to Coast Guard school. It could have been a heroic, sea thriller that honors the brave men and women of the Coast Guard, but instead, the body of the film is an eighty-minute “Annapolis.” Costner (contrary to popular opinion) is a good actor, but he can’t shout! He’s supposed to be some sort of drill instructer/teacher, but he can’t raise his voice. It’s agonizing, all the other instructors were yelling, screaming, and humiliating the students, but Costner lacks the tracheatical capability. This vocal deficiency may sound like a forgivable deficiency, but it is just a glaring deficiency here.
Since Kutcher is a big shot, little emphasis is placed on the other members of his class. We see the class a lot, but only like four of them have speaking parts (it’s probably better they don’t have speaking parts, come to think of it) because their acting was horrific. In short, the movie should not have transferred to Coast Guard school. It is so cliché, it’s been done so many times, it’s a flippin copout if you ask me. The film should have been about the Coast Guard, taking place in the Baltic Sea, with Costner as the old veteran and Kutcher as his sidekick. That could have made for a great movie. But instead, we get a clunky story, some good acting (Costner, a couple others), and some horrible acting (Kutcher in terms of his little love relationship, all the students at the academy except one). Also the film is about 35 minutes to long, it’s like 140 minutes.
At the end of the film, we’re back at the Baltic Sea (we never should have left, did I mention that?), and the films end relatively well. To sum up, good suspense, bad acting, good tribute to the coast guard, bad story that could have been good, and a fine score. “The Guardian” is too long, but it is uplifting. A decent rental if you’re bored. 2 ½ stars. Pg-13 disaster related peril, brief strong language, and mild sexual content.

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