SOUTHPAW (2015)

Directed By: Antoine Fuqua 
Written By: Kurt Sutter 
Cinematography By: Mauro Fiore 
Editor: John Refoua 

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Beau Knapp, Miguel Gomez, Dominick Colon, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Victor Ortiz, Rita Ora

*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from IMDb among other sources In this review

As tragedy strikes him in his prime, famed boxer, Billy Hope, begins to fall into a great depression. Once the decision regarding the custody of his daughter is under question, Billy decides to get his life back on track by getting back into the ring.


Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is the strength of the film and provides a kind of new type of performance from him. That makes him seem more brutal and streetwise. Speaks as more of a brawler. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t give him much to work with nor does it rise to the sorts of depth that he tries to showcase. As the film ends up becoming more of a combination of well-intended and dressed-up cliches. That makes the film constantly feel familiar, yet ends up becoming formulaic.

As soon as Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson shows up we know all we need to know about his character and where most likely the story is going. As everyone seems to play their character by the book. Which again makes the film come off as paint by numbers. Where here they try to color outside of the edges time to time to throw off where the movie is going. For instance a scene or two where it seems like the film might go the revenge route and quickly drops that side of the story. I am guessing as to his spiritual well-being and beating up the guy’s friend in the ring will be the ultimate revenge?

His wife’s murder subplot is a major point of the film. As it introduces the revenge-justice angle of the story but after that, it never answers many of the questions the audience has. Like what happened to the guy? Was he caught as the entourage seemed to rush him out. Also, I know it is easy to set his opponent up as a major villain, but his look of shock could have opened up the movie dramatically as to what he is going to do about this. Turn his friend in? Hide him And disavow him. That is a major dramatic opportunity dropped. We never even really see it affect him other than that moment and leaves you to wonder if he was just shocked, thinking they were just busting each other’s chops and this fool brought it to a place it didn’t bleed to be or wondering will this hurt his career? As is it only sets up a well-earned rivalry. As it is Gyllenhaal enemies’ camp fault for the death.

So that it seems the film keeps coming up with interesting ideas and abandoning them. To either keep the movie streamlined and moving forward or were scared to go off the path that might have added something new to the mix and made it at least more noteworthy.

It seems the child bonding scenes are here to give the main character something to strive for and keep him going throughout. As well as show his sensitive side and add a heartwarming element to the film.

Strangely the film seemed to be set up to be an awards season challenger and THE boxing movie of the year, but CREED seemed to be the one that no one saw coming to take that title, An underdog itself.

While that takes shape on the side the film adds a child surrogate for him to bond with as it ends up having little to no reason. As it eliminates it later for emotional manipulation, but as it was never built too strongly. So that it just adds up to a challenging scene that asks us to get emotional for something. And someone that wasn’t properly or strongly introduced in the first place. That just seems to reinforce the fact that these are some mean streets. Embrace them, but try to get away from them also. In other words, don’t forget where you came from.

We envy get the grizzled old trainer played by Forest Whitaker whose character is tough but loving and likes a drink now and then.

The film uses the fight as a representation of revenge and redemption. It also encourages the reunion with his child. On that end the film again becomes not only cliche but convenient as the social worker he is dealing with at first seems gruffer with him. Though all of a sudden with no real reason, she does an about-face and is one of his biggest supporters. A dramatic decision that isn’t seen or earned.

The film has plenty of workout scenes to show the brutality of trading but gives the men credit for the toughness and bravado shown. Letting the audience have a more physical reaction to the actors physical (it seems) transformation. I am sure it also helps to convince the audience to be attracted to the star even more.

The boxing scenes are more about brutality and seem to want to come off more as street fights that is how vicious they look at times.

Though the film eventually becomes monotonous as it seems to get in its own way too often that not even the impressive visuals can save.

“Southpaw” is the term given to unorthodox stance (left-handed) boxers. However, Jake Gyllenhaal is right-handed, therefore orthodox. He only adopts the southpaw stance in the final fight, under instruction from his trainer Which even seems like a premeditated conclusion for the title.

As the film was first offered to star Eminem as an unofficial follow-up to 8 MILE. One can see how as the character has many similarities to him as far as the public knows about him and fits the themes of his songs. Closeness to his daughter, growing up on the mean streets, becoming successful and still not being entirely happy, having many enemies who seem to come for him. Having an entourage, going down the road of drugs and booze that seems to almost destroy him, making a comeback. Though Eminem did work on the soundtrack and wrote 2 songs for the film

It’s a film that could have been interesting, but we have seen it way before. Even if it tries to offer a different take then ROCKY a more street smart, tougher and violent one. It just offers nothing new. Other than an opportunity to see a movie star stretch.

Maybe as it seems to try and at the time seek out awards contention. That might be the reason the film feels so stuffed. As it goes overboard in trying to impress the audience. Instead of just being itself and going where the story could naturally lead.

Grade: C-

SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)

Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Written By: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham & Simon Kinberg
Story By: Michael Robert Johnson & Lionel Wigram
Cinematography By: Phillipe Rousselot
Editor: James Herbert

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, James Fox

In London, Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. John Watson captures the follower of black magic and serial killer Lord Blackwood that has already killed five women when he is near to kill his sixth victim. Blackwood is sentenced to be strung up and Dr. Watson attests his death. However, Blackwood mysteriously returns from the afterlife and Inspector Lestrade summons Sherlock Holmes to help the Scotland Yard in the investigation. Meanwhile Dr. Watson intends to get married of the gorgeous Mary Morstan while Sherlock is visited by his former lover Irene Adler that has a secret agenda.




 I should have liked this film, but the film is too big, too many action set pieces, Too many explosions. Not enough Mystery. It’s like everything has to be bigger and better like it’s some kind of sequel or Michael Bay movie with better style and some sensibility.

It’s not good enough for Sherlock Holmes to be a good detective but must also be tough by doing bare-knuckle fighting, being a master of disguise, and always having a weapon handy. Like a victorian era super spy.

Once in a while, we get to see how Holmes’ mind works with deductive thinking. While having a semi homoerotic relationship with Dr. Watson, Who he is jealous of because he is not only moving out of the house they share but also getting married. The case they try to crack involves a woman from Holmes past who is lively and almost as cunning as he is and at first the case seems based on the supernatural. Than along the way becomes more logical.

The chemistry between Downey Jr. and Jude Law seems false and more manufactured than it should and makes you wonder if Jude Law was insulted as being the natural-born brit and having to play the sidekick to the American actor taking over a notorious British character.

The film isn’t horrible and it’s nice to see what director Guy Ritchie can do with a sizeable budget, but as I said before everything feels overblown and like it goes out of its way to keep reminding you this is the NEW Sherlock Holmes.

The leads are both charming and mark Strong is a good villain and the film’s more interesting scenes are when he is on the screen or exploring his character and it’s a conspiracy.

While the film is a good popcorn film afterward you start to feel the fat and the grease and wonder why this movie really needed to be made. Again it’s not horrible it’s not bad either. It’s ok and has some things going for it, but the end feels unnecessary and unremarkable. It keeps your attention as any time the film seems to begin to slow down another action sequence pops up. Not always for a good reason, But for the most part everyone involved seems to be having fun.

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GRADE: C

GAME NIGHT (2018)

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Directed By: John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein
Written By: Mark Perez
Cinematography: Barry Peterson
Editor: David Egan, Jamie Gross & Gregory Plotkin 

Cast: Jason Bateman, Billy Magnussen, Rachel McAdams, Jesse Plemmons, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Danny Huston, Michael C. Hall, Chelsea Peretti, Kylie Bunbury, Natasha Hall 


A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery when the shady brother of one of them is seemingly kidnapped by dangerous gangsters.

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