Author Archives: Jonathan MacFarlane

The Devil’s Advocates Have Moved!

DAMRB has a shiny new home on the internet, over at MovieAdvocates.com! In addition to looking different, we’re also making improvements to site navigation, adding a couple new features, and more. Head on over there and check it out!

Director Spotlight: Panic Room

Panic Room, the 2002 film by David Finch, is a prime example of a close-quarters thriller. Now I am biased in favor of this type of movie—limited set and location, small cast, tight focus—to begin with; Sleuth, from 1972 and again in 2007, is another excellent example. It forces the filmmakers to focus more than usual on their craft, storytelling, acting, etc., and less on spectacle. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s Playground: Movies to See Before Ixpiyacoc Comes

Friends, Ixpiyacoc is coming. The world is supposed to end on December 21 of this year (12/21/12, get it? Get it?), so you have only a short time left to watch movies. What I have for you here is a schedule for your pre-apocalypse film-watching schedule. You do four/month, then two in December. You can do it; I believe in you. I believe in you so hard. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s Playground: 2011 Top 10

Welcome to my first weekly column. You may know me from being the goofy one on many of the fine Devil’s Advocates podcasts featured on this very site. Here I will talk about movies; you like ’em, I like ’em, they sometimes like us? (I don’t know where I was going with that.) Basically, this column is a way for us to get outside the normal site format of just reviewing movies. We’ll talk about what makes ’em tick, weird trends and habits, all kinds of fun stuff.  Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Warrior

Warrior seems to be an attempt to create a modern-day Rocky; a less kind reviewer might say it’s trying to ride the coat tails of last year’s The Fighter. It is not successful. That being said, it is not a terrible movie, just one lacking in (maybe too) many areas.
Read the rest of this entry

Genre Spotlight (Secret Santa): The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element is a weird movie. Almost every aspect of it is bizarre, and, for the most part, I can’t tell if it’s intentional or not. With a few caveats, it’s awesome. Read the rest of this entry

Genre Spotlight: Homeboy

This was supposed to be a review of Raging Bull. I’d seen it before, but couldn’t remember if I liked it or not, so I figured, hey, why not revisit it for the theme month? Then I started watching it and remembered I really don’t like Raging Bull at all. So I hopped onto Netflix to find a different sports movie to watch; I settled on Mickey Rourke’s 1988 film Homeboy. You may be thinking, Homeboy? I’ve never heard of that. I assure you, there is a reason. In short, I had made a terrible mistake.

Read the rest of this entry

Warrior

Warrior seems to be an attempt to create a modern-day Rocky; a less kind reviewer might say it’s trying to ride the coat tails of last year’s The Fighter. It is not successful. That being said, it is not a terrible movie, just one lacking in (maybe too) many areas.
Read the rest of this entry

Genre Spotlight: Sin City

Hey, everybody, remember when Robert Rodriguez made movies that weren’t supposed to be bad? Before he pretty single-handedly started this “ironic movie” thing that’s currently happening? Yeah, me neither. But at some point before these dark days, he made Sin City, based on the comic series of the same name. And it was fantastic.

Read the rest of this entry

12 Days of Christmas: Die Hard & Harder

Die Hard is, without a doubt, a shining example of the 80’s action genre. Is it, or it’s sequel, Die Harder, a Christmas movie? Not strictly speaking, but they do take place on Christmas Eve, and Die Hard almost entirely at a Christmas party. And one of it’s most memorable lines says “ho ho ho.” So that’s something. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: The Other Guys

The Other Guys is the fourth collaboration between actor Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who previously brought us solid comedy gold with Talladega Nights, Anchorman, and Stepbrothers. I went in with high hopes, and those hopes were mostly fulfilled. It is a consistently funny movie, though with several, and perhaps, to some viewers, crippling, flaws. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: The Expendables

The Expendables is a movie made by men, for men. I’m joking, of course. You ladies are more than welcome to enjoy it with us manly men, growing our beards as we take in the visual testosterone. The pet project of Sylvester Stallone, this is a movie that celebrates, and employs most of the actors from, the action movies of the 1980’s. A plot is there, but it’s bare bones, and most of the focus is on blowing stuff up and killing dudes. It is, in a word, awesome. It’s not winning any Oscars, Roger Ebert no doubt will spit hot, vitriolic fire at it, but by God it was a fun time at the movies. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Splice

“What’s the worst that could happen?” is a reoccurring question in Splice, and can almost be answered with “something extremely disturbing and/or gross.” This is not horror as we’ve come to define the genre in the age of slashers and torture-porn, but horror in the truest sense of the word: a story designed, not to scare, but to horrify. There are very few–perhaps 2, all told–jump scares in the whole movie, but the entire story is building a sense of disgust and unease throughout.

Splice is the fourth feature-length film from director Vincenzo Natali, who is perhaps best known for his 1997 psychological sci-fi thriller Cube. He does a great job of creating what seems like a very in-depth world with what turns out to be a very small cast and only 4 locations. Adrien Brody, Adrien Brody’s Nose, and Sarah Polley star as geneticists Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast, who specializing in splicing bits of DNA from different organisms together in order to createnew organisms, specifically to harvest chemicals and proteins for pharmaceutical use.  Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Karate Kid (2010)

Before I get into the review of The Kung Fu Karate Kid, let me premise this by saying that I am not someone who automatically hates movies because they’re remakes. I look at movie remakes as being the same thing as a different theatre company performing a play: just another interpretation. Some are successful, some aren’t; some surpass the original, some don’t; but they are all opportunities for a new audience to discover a story. Also, I am not really a fan of the original Karate Kid. Once I get done ducking from the stones being hurled my way, I’ll continue. Read the rest of this entry

Machete (Devil’s Advocate Review)

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a fan of Robert Rodriguez and his oeuvre. I am one of very few who enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Mexico; I greatly preferred Planet Terror to Death Proof; I even own his band Chingon’s album, Mexican Spaghetti Western, which I occasionally inflict upon friends and relatives (it’s very good, I highly recommend it). All of that being said…Machete was rather disappointing. Perhaps it’s my fault for going in with raised expectations due to the sheer crazy awesome of the trailer, maybe it’s Rodriguez’s fault for not making a better film. No, it’s definitely his fault. Allow me to explain. Read the rest of this entry

The Expendables

The Expendables is a movie made by men, for men. I’m joking, of course. You ladies are more than welcome to enjoy it with us manly men, growing our beards as we take in the visual testosterone. The pet project of Sylvester Stallone, this is a movie that celebrates, and employs most of the actors from, the action movies of the 1980’s. A plot is there, but it’s bare bones, and most of the focus is on blowing stuff up and killing dudes. It is, in a word, awesome. It’s not winning any Oscars, Roger Ebert no doubt will spit hot, vitriolic fire at it, but by God it was a fun time at the movies. Read the rest of this entry

The Other Guys

The Other Guys is the fourth collaboration between actor Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who previously brought us solid comedy gold with Talladega Nights, Anchorman, and Stepbrothers. I went in with high hopes, and those hopes were mostly fulfilled. It is a consistently funny movie, though with several, and perhaps, to some viewers, crippling, flaws. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is half awesome, half boring as the growing grass. As someone on Twitter commented to me, it should be called “Half-Assed.” For me, the far more exciting second half was enough to overcome the turgid beginning, but that may not be the case for audience members less swayed by over-the-top violence and fun stupidity. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Repo Men

Repo Men, based on the novel Repossession Mambo, is an odd movie. At turns both awesome and befuddling, the film demonstrates influences from classic sci-fi b-movies to more modern action thrillers. The cast, with one exception, is strong. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker play Remy and Jake, who are the titular repo men. They work under Frank, played extremely well by Liev Schreiber, for an artificial organ manufacturing company called “The Union.” When customers fall far enough behind on payments on their organ(s), repo men are sent to reclaim said organs. As seen in the film’s trailer, Remy suffers an on-the-job accident, and receives an artificial heart, for which he is unable to pay.

Read the rest of this entry

Predators (Devil’s Advocate Review)

Finally, after what seems like at least 3 years, another Predator movie. This time, however, we’ve lost the Alien component, gone back to the jungle, and also gone back to people who know how to make good movies, namely Robert Rodriguez (executive producer) and Adrien Brody (star).  While they do succeed in many regards, Predators does have its flaws. Weaknesses which the titular hunters will use to their advantage. There, in the tree! Read the rest of this entry

The Karate Kid (2010)

Before I get into the review of The Kung Fu Karate Kid, let me premise this by saying that I am not someone who automatically hates movies because they’re remakes. I look at movie remakes as being the same thing as a different theatre company performing a play: just another interpretation. Some are successful, some aren’t; some surpass the original, some don’t; but they are all opportunities for a new audience to discover a story. Also, I am not really a fan of the original Karate Kid. Once I get done ducking from the stones being hurled my way, I’ll continue. Read the rest of this entry

Splice

“What’s the worst that could happen?” is a reoccurring question in Splice, and can almost be answered with “something extremely disturbing and/or gross.” This is not horror as we’ve come to define the genre in the age of slashers and torture-porn, but horror in the truest sense of the word: a story designed, not to scare, but to horrify. There are very few–perhaps 2, all told–jump scares in the whole movie, but the entire story is building a sense of disgust and unease throughout.

Splice is the fourth feature-length film from director Vincenzo Natali, who is perhaps best known for his 1997 psychological sci-fi thriller Cube. He does a great job of creating what seems like a very in-depth world with what turns out to be a very small cast and only 4 locations. Adrien Brody, Adrien Brody’s Nose, and Sarah Polley star as geneticists Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast, who specializing in splicing bits of DNA from different organisms together in order to createnew organisms, specifically to harvest chemicals and proteins for pharmaceutical use.  Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Edge of Darkness

Mel Gibson is back! After a 7 year absence from the big screen, apart from cameo appearances, the man who made being the scary cop cool has returned to us, with Edge of Darkness. Also starring Danny Huston and Ray Winstone, Edge of Darkness is a remake/update of a 1985 British television mini-series by the same name; the original series’ director, Martin Campbell, also directs this new version. (I was not aware this was a film remake until the end credits; possibly a marketing fail?) Read the rest of this entry

Kick Ass

Kick-Ass is half awesome, half boring as the growing grass. As someone on Twitter commented to me, it should be called “Half-Assed.” For me, the far more exciting second half was enough to overcome the turgid beginning, but that may not be the case for audience members less swayed by over-the-top violence and fun stupidity. Read the rest of this entry

Repo Men

Repo Men, based on the novel Repossession Mambo, is an odd movie. At turns both awesome and befuddling, the film demonstrates influences from classic sci-fi b-movies to more modern action thrillers. The cast, with one exception, is strong. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker play Remy and Jake, who are the titular repo men. They work under Frank, played extremely well by Liev Schreiber, for an artificial organ manufacturing company called “The Union.” When customers fall far enough behind on payments on their organ(s), repo men are sent to reclaim said organs. As seen in the film’s trailer, Remy suffers an on-the-job accident, and receives an artificial heart, for which he is unable to pay. Read the rest of this entry

The Wolfman

I went into The Wolfman with mixed expectations. On the one hand, I like werewolf stories, love Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins, and am quite alright with looking at Emily Blunt; on the other, I have a strong dislike of Benicio del Toro, and director Joe Johnston is an iffy proposition in my book. That being said…I loved it. Read the rest of this entry