5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Footloose Review

It’s time to look at one of the most influential musicals of the old days. This film redefined the genre as we know it and brought in some good tunes. It’s a little better than I would have expected although it still does make enough wrong turns to keep it from being real solid. Fans of the musical genre should get a kick out of it and at the very least you will enjoy the soundtrack.

The film starts off with a kid named Ren who moves into a new town with his mother. This town is pretty well insulated from the rest of society as they have decided to come up with their own rules. One of them is that dancing is now banned within town limits and everyone must only do things that are deemed acceptable by the adults. The council is only made up of old adults so these limitations end up being quite strict on the town including a curfew although this is just a “suggestion” and not a law unlike the dancing one. Ren is quickly shown the fact that he is not wanted in the town as everyone bands against him and he decides that he can save the town with dancing. He will have to endure a lot of oppression both physically and emotionally as the town bands together against him, but he does have one friend in Willard and that will have to be enough.

The town definitely appears to be quite corrupt and unfair to Ren right from the start. I’m not too surprised at this though because I feel like a lot of towns probably would not have liked newcomers back in the day. It does get to be a bit much though when they start framing him for drugs, fights, broken property, etc. It seems like the teens were already rebellious before Ren showed up so I don’t see why his presence accelerated it so much. Take the early scene where Ariel and the other kids went to the fast food place and got caught by her father Shaw. They were all rebelling and dancing and this was completely without Ren’s influence. They always seemed a bit rowdy and Ren just took the fall for this.

I suppose they just wanted a scape goat though and in that sense this did work out. Ren’s a pretty reasonable character for the most part. One thing I do like a lot is the fact that he stands up for himself. A lot of other characters would have simply retreated or tried to move out, but Ren confronts the bullies directly. He doesn’t back down and I suppose it does help that he is physically fit which is why he can’t be intimidated so easily. He does really well in the final fight and he did ace the game of chicken even if the situation was forced on him. The guy’s a solid lead.

Then you have Shaw who is the main antagonist. He starts out as a preacher who seems to have the town’s best interests at heart, but slowly it seems to become more of an issue of pride, which his wife exposes. I like the idea of the character, but by the end you definitely won’t be on his side even a little bit. For the most part he keeps his emotions in check, but he does lose it with Ariel once and isn’t always all that open to dialogue. I would argue that a lot of this is also Ariel’s fault for the lack of communication, but she is the kid in this context so it is really up to Shaw to take the high road. Striking Ariel under any circumstance was not that right path.

Then you have Ariel who is the main heroine, but I can’t say that I liked her all that much. She seems to be playing the field with everyone in the village so right away she doesn’t seem very faithful. She is very quick to try to get together with various people and that’s why I’m glad Ren played hard to get for a little while at least. I don’t think they should have gotten together at all to be honest as that romance just didn’t work. By the end of the film Ariel starts to get a little better and this is all clearly rebellion against her father, but it does happen at the expense of her character. After a while your motivation becomes less important and you just have to consider how much damage you’re doing.

Her early scene was already a red flag as she nearly gets a few other teens murdered by pulling a really dumb stunt with a few cars. She definitely had no regard for their safety and I feel like their friendship should have ended after that. The characters never really appear again after that so maybe they did distance themselves a bit. It’s hard to say though.

Then you’ve got her current boyfriend who is the bully of the school. The guy’s just not a good person and relishes his various power trips. He definitely gets a beating by the end of the film in the solid action scene. Considering how skilled Ren appears to be it isn’t surprising that he claimed the win. Bullies usually spend a lot of time talking and likely don’t have the discipline to stick with a professional fighting style for long.

Willard is Ren’s main friend and he does pretty good. He may not know how to dance, but Ren works on fixing that pretty quick. He also does good to stick to his deal of no fighting for as long as possible, but depending on the situation that simply isn’t possible. If a group of guys are attacking you then you’ve simply got to make a move. Ren certainly didn’t hesitate and Willard quickly joined him there. Fights can be defensive and if the heroes didn’t fight back things would have gotten ugly.

There are quite a few songs here but the big one is definitely the “I need a hero” song. There are a ton of “Hero” songs out there and originally I thought that the skillet version was just a remix or vice verse as opposed to being totally different. It’s definitely got a retro vibe to it and the song she’s well to this day. It definitely makes the tractor scene a little more hype then it would have been otherwise. I do prefer the song selection here to Dirty Dancing and in general I would say that the film was a big improvement. I know these tend to be rivals and I’ve definitely got my pick here.

The film can be pretty surreal and the characters are fun, but ultimately the romance does hurt it quite a bit. It doesn’t help that I really didn’t like Ariel, but the whole town basically being villains was also annoying after a while. A missed opportunity here was not seeing more of the Mom. I imagine she was feeling a lot of the backlash as well and this is hinted at when she is fired from her job which was likely the latest instance of this. Surprisingly she has no presence in the film and I would have liked to have seen her defend Ren more. Why they even moved in with these other guys is beyond me. I think the film briefly touched on it at the beginning, but none of them seem particularly nice so it’s a rough situation.

I’m also not sold on the writing. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it came across as a little cheesy in some areas, but half heartedly. It wasn’t exactly Adam West Batman or the old creature feature films. The character lines just felt like something nobody would say at times like when Ren tried to explain why he is doing this in the first place. It was all pretty vague.

Overall, Footloose has its moments and is definitely a powerful musical title. I did like some of the songs (particularly Hero) and it also had a solid character cast to back it up. The heroine and some of the supporting characters hold it back along with some missed opportunities on the film’s part, but if you like musicals a lot then this is for you. I’d be interesting to see a remake of this. I could see big improvements in some areas, but some would be hard to top. You don’t really see floaty fight scenes like these quite as much anymore. The film struck a good balance between being realistic and quick without being too gritty or drawn out. It was a dancing fight scene to an extent although not as dramatic as West Side Story which I will get onto pretty soon.

Overall 5/10

8 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

A Few Good Men Review

This review is of the edited TV 14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such since a review of the unedited version would likely be more negative.
It’s time for a classic film and one that’s more critically applauded when compared to Galaxy Quest. Even the title can be seen as deep because you have to decide who the title is referring too. I personally think that it shouldn’t really go towards the two guys who choked the poor victim so I’d place it on Daniel and his partners, but I suppose that it’s ultimately your choice there.

Dawson and Downey are two U.S. Army Marines who have been charged with murder of another cadet in a hazing incident. They have pleaded innocent as the other cadet was murdered, but they claim to have been ordered to haze him. Their superior officer has given another story so it is time to go to court. Daniel has been assigned to the case, but while he is known as a skilled lawyer who can reduce a client’s sentence quite easily, he likes to take the easy way out. If a deal is offered, he’ll take it. JoAnne doesn’t want this to happen since she thinks the two guys are totally innocent and assigns herself as Daniel’s partner. There’s also a third partner who is involved, but he’s not thrilled at the prospect of helping these two bullies.

Before getting into anything else, I will say that I definitely agree with the third guy. Dawson and Downey are in the wrong here and spending a lifetime in prison is essentially what they deserve. Knowingly or not, they did murder someone and took away his chance at a future. They may say that they were ordered to put him into a suffocating position long enough to strike fear into him, but that’s essentially torture and any amount of common sense will tell you that this isn’t okay. When you’re in the Marines you’re expected to follow orders no matter what. Well, then you’ve got to set the example for the others or allow yourself to be discharged from your post. Assaulting a defenseless person is definitely not the right choice to make in any situation. It doesn’t make it any better when you consider that it was 2 vs 1 and the fact that these guys were supposed to be friends. Yeah, Dawson and Downey got no sympathy from me.

It doesn’t help that they don’t make it very easy for Daniel either. They hide crucial bits of information from their allies until the prosecutors bring up the evidence in court. (It’s way too late by then of course) They also don’t seem all that sorry about their actions either. There is basically no remorse for a while. They even say that they have a code. “Units, Corp, God, Country.” So, God’s third on that list and your Unit is above your Country? The priorities are really messed up here and when you put the Unit above morality then you know something is going to go wrong. As it stands, I was basically rooting for the opposing team although naturally I wanted the lie about not giving the order to come out.

Nathan is a pretty good villain and I instantly recognized the villain from the Shining. The actor’s voice is certainly iconic and he does a good job of playing the role here. Nathan is pretty confident and in his old age he really wants to command respect from just about everyone that he talks to. He has no respect for anyone but himself and he is committed to doing things his way. His personality is ultimately his downfall, but this was a villain that I could get behind.

Daniel’s a pretty good main character. I like the overconfidence and the fact that he treats everything like a game. It’s ultimately a front as he shows on different occasions that he actually has a good grasp on everything so it seems like he just has fun trolling everyone. His superiors clearly see his talent as they chose him…or that’s what he wants to think. They probably just wanted someone who would roll over when they attacked in court. Daniel’s only downfall is the fact that he panics a lot. When he panics, Daniel gets drunk and then he’ll start running around and yelling. This happens to a lot of main characters to be honest, they’ll just panic and then try to get sober in time for the climax. It may have been discouraging as the case had a lot of set backs, but getting drunk won’t help.

JoAnne’s a good heroine and she certainly does a good job of digging up a lot of info on her own. Without her prodding, the heroes would have definitely lost the case as she is the one who started to make Nathan look suspicious and Daniel would have given up several times if not for her. JoAnne is strong willed and you always need that in a lawyer. I’m also glad that the film avoided the predictable romance between her and Daniel. They ultimately stay in the friend zone and that’s the realistic way to handle this. Getting together after a few days of working on a case would have been dicey.

Daniel’s rival was a pretty interesting antagonist and he was actually reasonable, which is something that usually doesn’t happen. They were fighting as part of the case, but off the record they were still pals and even went out for drinks. They would feed each other info and the banter was always good. Meanwhile, the hardened secret agent was a bit of a let down. He talked tough and he got a lot of hype as well, but when the going got tough he decided to get out of there. By “there” I mean life and it was a rather anticlimactic way to go. There was really no point to doing any of that and it just made the guy look weak.

Of course, the main reason why this film was a lot of fun was the court room scenes. I always enjoy those and a good part of the film took place in court once the action started. The Judge kept them all honest as he overruled some of the objections. He also wouldn’t stand for any insults and not even Nathan could get away with any rudeness here. The court scenes were where you could really see what the characters were made of. Who had the skills and who simply did not. Daniel snatching away the rule book and bringing up the lunch room question was certainly one of the highlight moments in the court. He certainly did a great job debating even if the evidence was stacked against him from the start.

Overall, A Few Good Men is a solid film. There really isn’t much negative to say about it. The ending was satisfying since Dawson and Downey didn’t get a super happy ending. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just as guilty as anyone else. The characters were all pretty charismatic and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Nathan at the base. A few more scenes over there would have definitely been a blast. If you want a solid strategic film with good dialogue throughout, this is the film for you. You know that Nathan is lying from the start so you just have to wonder how the heroes can prove it. To an extent, the ending involves plot hax since there is no other way that the heroes could have made it, but it’s still pretty fun and the debate doesn’t use any hax until the very end so the rest is all very legit. We need more good court room films.

Overall 8/10