It’s Tuesday which can only mean one thing and that is that it is time for Based on a Truesday Story. Based on a Truesday Story is a segment I did on my other blog where we watch films that are based on a true story and for today we are doing American Gangster. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is an African American drug lord from Harlem, New York who decides that the best way to take over the competition is to fly directly to the source in Vietnam. He quickly becomes the drug kingpin of New York, but that attracts the wrong kind of attention. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an honest cop who gets put on the case to track down Frank Lucas and shut him down completely and anyone else corrupt as well. The film also stars Chiwetelu Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as Huey Lucas, Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Trupo, Lymari Nadal (The Blackout) as Eva, Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs) as Lou Toback, Roger Guenveur Smith (He Got Game) as Nate, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Freddie, RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists) as Moses Jones, Carla Gugino (Watchmen) as Laurie, Idris Elba (Thor) as Tango, Common (Selma) as Turner Lucas, TI (Ant-Man) as Stevie Lucas, Armand Assante (Judge Dredd) as Dominic Cattano, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Alien).
What happens when you put Denzel Washington in a leading role of a film? Well, I hope that you are preparing yourself for one hell of a performance because that is exactly what you are getting with this film. The thing I loved about this film is that you sort of get two stories in one where you have one guy who wants to make his teacher and his family proud by being at the top of his game while you have another who feels that honesty is the best policy and it will lead him over the dirty cops. I have to be honest in saying that if I found a million dollars as a cop, I may skim a few off the top of it. It’s kind of the story of the two roads with the one less traveled and you can guess who took which road in this film. There are so many actors that appeared in this film that I couldn’t fit above that deserved honorable mention like Cuba Gooding Jr., Ruby Dee, Jon Polito, John Ortiz, and many more who do a terrific job in the film. Now we all know that Hollywood takes some civil liberties with their films, but this one seems to have a lot according to an article on historyvshollywood.com. One story is that Frank says in the film that he drove for Bumpy for 15 years. Reports indictate that Bumpy was released from prison in 1963 and he died in 1968 leaving only a five year window. Check out more of the facts vs fiction in that article that I provided. The film is excellent with a very good story, amazing cinematography, and it’s the kind of gangster movies we love here in the states. So, what more could you possibly ask for? I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
I had been putting off today’s film for quite some time because I don’t believe in the idea of releasing a sequel or reboot of a franchise that was popular thirty years before. Nevertheless, for today I decided to check out 2015’s Vacation which follows in the footsteps of National Lampoon’s Vacation. This time around, Rusty (Ed Helms) is an adult with his own family which includes his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and his kids James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). Things are pretty bland for him as he works for a crap airline and things at home just look like they need some sprucing up. So, he decides to take his family across country to Wally World like his father did thirty years before. The film also stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as Stone Crandall, Leslie Mann (Knocked Up) as Audrey Crandall, Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) as Chad, Catherine Missal (Natural Selection) as Adena, Ron Livingston (Office Space) as Ethan, Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu) as Jack Peterson, Regina Hall (Scary Movie) as Nancy Peterson, Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) as Trucker, Chevy Chase (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) as Clark Griswold, Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s European Vacation) as Ellen Griswold, and the film was directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein who both made their feature length directing debut with this film.
I am going to start off saying that I wasn’t completely let down by the film because it was a good film, but a little too late for it. The film just didn’t have anything that made me laugh my butt off like the original films did. It was like they tried a little too hard to be as goofy and oblivious as the original film, but just couldn’t hit the mark. I really like Ed Helms as an actor, but I thought it was Stu from The Hangover out there the whole time while he is supposed to be Rusty Griswold who I don’t remember being that clueless. The best part of the film in my opinion was the relationship between the two brothers because those gave some great moments in the film and I can’t speak highly enough of Chris Hemsworth. I think once he is done being Thor, he seriously needs to continue his career in comedy. They tried to be like the original without really being the original even teasing you with some scenes that were similar to the original. For example, there is the scene where beautiful supermodel and actress Hannah Davis is driving in a Ferrari which is similar to the scene in the original with Christie Brinkley driving in the Ferrari with different end results to make it new. That was a cool nod, but let’s move on. I loved the scene though with the four cops (Nick Kroll, Tim Heidecker, Kaitlin Olson, and Michael Peña) who were from four different states that couldn’t stop arguing with each other. That was fresh and different, but here is why this film fails in comparison to the original. John Hughes was the master at writing and he wrote the original film and Harold Ramis knew comedy and he directed it. It’s hard to live up to those names, but at least they tried. I am going to give Vacation a grade somewhere between a C+/B- and only because Holiday Road was in the film.
I think I have discussed this before where there is so much anticipation for a film that I just have to see it when it comes out. As far as Disney Animated films are concerned, Zootopia was definitely a must see film for me. Zootopia is a place where predators and prey can live in harmony among each other in this big city. For Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), she has dreams of being a cop in the city of Zootopia and not being just an ordinary bunny. When she finally achieves her goal of being a cop, she is not taken seriously among her colleagues. That is until she is told to solve a missing animal case, but there is a catch to it. She has 48 hours to solve the case or she has to turn in her badge, but she’ll do it with the help of a sly fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). The film also stars Idris Elba (Thor) as Chief Bogo, Jenny Slate (The Lorax) as Bellweather, Nate Torrence (My Best Friend’s Girl) as Clawhauser, Bonnie Hunt (Cars) as Bonnie Hopps, Don Lake (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) as Stu Hopps, Tommy Chong (Up In Smoke) as Yax, J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as Mayor Lionheart, Alan Tudyk (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) as Duke Weaselton, Shakira as Gazelle, Maurice LaMarche (Futurama) as Mr. Big, Raymond S. Persi (Wreck-It Ralph) as Flash, and the film was directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush.
This is by far the number one movie for the month of March and it is giving Deadpool a run for it’s money on the Top 25 of the year. This film is a classic case of what you see in the trailer is exactly what you can expect from the film. The film is full of laughs as well as the necessary drama that all Disney films have and it has it’s heart warming moments as well. While all of the animals in the film are living in an anthropomorphic world, they are very true to their animal like selves if you get what I am saying. The foxes are sly creatures in real life and Nick Wilde is exactly that. You would kind of expect a Yak to be a free spirited yoga obsessed animal with flies that won’t leave him alone. The city of Zootopia is even divided by sections like the rainforest section or the desert side and you should see how they have it work. There was a lot of detail that was placed into the film and it pays off because it’s cool and very fun to watch. There are references to famous TV Shows and films like Breaking Bad and The Godfather (not that kids will know what that is) which is a little treat for the parents to enjoy while watching it with their kids. This film is definitely one of the best animated films out there in the past year or two. I definitely suggest watching it and with that being said, I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.