Movi-Man Stan Top 10 Films of 2013


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Movie Review

The recent death of Mr. Nelson “Madiba” Mandela has the potential to draw many out to theaters world-wide, to watch director Justin Chadwick’s (The First Grader, 2010) nearly two-and-a-half-hour masterpiece biopic about the anti-apartheid activist and former South African president. On the other hand, with so many vivid eulogies and intricate documentary accounts in the news media, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom can easily be dismissed as just another effort to capitalize on the larger-than-life icon. In any case, any film that tries to encompass most of Mr. Mandela’s long life carries an enormous burden of expectation and would probably be better off in the format of a TV miniseries instead of a two and a half hour feature film. This notion simply begs the questions, how can one film do the man justice? And in attempting to do so, how can it be vital and compelling rather than merely well-meaning and educational? Well, having seen many accounts of Madiba’s life story through varying media outlets; arguably this latest effort is, by far, the best attempt to account for his life-story to date.   




Gravity Film Review

Let me kick-off my critique by saying that we all know that we're able to consume media content in many different ways, and that it’s almost a chore in it of itself to decide which format to follow (and for some, that's probably a good thing). However, I’ll do the leg-work here and assert right now that there's only one truly correct way to experience Alfonso Cuaron’s amazing flick, Gravity. That way is in a theater, on a huge screen, in 3D. Did I mention 3D? Yes 3D, even for all you “3D-naysayers.” Having said that, let’s not confuse my position here, I for one will usually be the first to say not to waste the extra money for the 3D version because most flicks are a misguided effort in that format; However in this particular case, this is the movie you must see in 3D. So much so, that I would advise against seeing it in any other format. I’ve only said that about one other film of which many of you might agree – that’s Avatar (2009). 




Captain Phillips Movie Review

Here we go again, with yet another presentation of Hollywood’s never-ending parade of “fact-based movies.” Even with Tom Hanks starring in it, I was a tad bit concerned that with my knowing too much about the story from the news (the outcome, the details); the truth would get in the way and hinder my enjoying it. However, to the contrary, it is very much skillfully crafted by director Paul Greengrass (United 93, and the first two Bourne films), expertly drafted by writer William “Billy” Ray (The Hunger Games, 2012) and seamlessly executed with the likes of Tom Hanks, and newcomers Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, and Mahat M. Ali. 




Enough Said Film Review

The catch-22 for most sitcom or television stars who want to become movie stars is that the very thing that makes them TV favorites (the exaggerated qualities of the characters for which they have become beloved and wealthy), is precisely what strangles them on the big screen. David Schwimmer, Ellen DeGeneres, Kelsey Grammer are perfect examples of folks that seems restrained by the success of their TV personas. Studio movies written for them inevitably turn out to be movies in which stars play weak variations of their TV selves, only just not as endearing. I’m not implying that it’s impossible to break out, of course and as a matter of fact we have many fine examples with the likes of Tom Hanks and others whom have done just fine. 



5. 2 GUNS  

2 Guns Film Review

Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?. 



6. IRON MAN 3  

Iron Man 3 Film Review

Well folks, it’s finally here! The long awaited third installation to Disney and Marvel’s Iron Man series. After a little research, I’ve come to find out what makes this super sequel extra special. It is most certainly exceptionally done this time around and I would attribute it to the return of legendary screenwriter/Director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon movies, 1987-1992). After the disappointment of 1996’s The Long Kiss Goodnight (one of the most expensive screenplays in history, according to Wikipedia), and then making a mediocre return attempt with the 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Black is finally debuting his craft that once placed him atop the Hollywood’s A-list writer/directors. His take on this release is in-your-face obvious and is unmistakable. One of the most obvious traits is his comedic element that usually follows his characters and if you have ever seen any of his previous flicks, you’ll remember things like characters sitting on toilets, while the house explodes (literally being caught with their pants down).




World War Z Film Review

I think Brad Pitt has out done himself with this latest “zombie” effort. Before the screening, it was quite difficult to imagine a Brad Pitt character fighting off the catastrophe of zombies taking over the world. However, boy was I in for a pleasant surprise!?! Pitt and Director Marc Forster, et al, delivered above and beyond expectations here. I guess Forster’s Monster’s Ball (2001) and Quantum of Solace (2008) experience has prepared him for this action thriller. Based on World War Z, a 2006 apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks, this Hollywood blockbuster might be a bit late to the zombie party, but it arrives just as everyone has gotten in to the whole bath-salts and zombie craze. This, precisely it seems, is when audiences are most receptive to a well-done Hollywood production as we have here.




12 Year a Slave Film Review

Some may ponder what qualifies Steve McQueen to bring us such an epic and historically relevant story; however, some may exclaim that he’s the ideal director for the telling of this extraordinary event, in American history. For reassurance, one has to look no further than his 2008 Hunger flick which depicts the martyrdom of Bobby Sands whom led members of the Irish Republican Army on a hunger strike in a Northern Ireland jail. Simply put, McQueen’s directorial voice gives us a cold, extremely unadulterated, and deterministic, sequence of events that keeps it from attaining the kind of elegance that we the audience have become accustomed to appreciating and then forgetting, in short order. Nevertheless, in this case and because of such focus on being true to Solomon Northup’s recollection of events, this McQueen effort resulted more in playing out like a crude, but well scripted documentary, rather than a big studio Hollywood production. It’s simply a case of excellent material being presented in the wrong format. I’d like to proclaim that it can be likened to Steven Spielberg’s 1997 Amistad, about a mutiny on a slave ship in 1839, but it simply has too much a documentary feel to it.




Fast & Furious 6 Film Review

Who knew? Who knew that a series that seemed ‘fly-by-night’ and disposable, by the third installation, could find itself in to its sixth release and still setting the tone for what a bona fide, amazing and relevant blockbuster should look and feel like? Well, if you asked me, it’s a no-brainer. With elements of muscle car action, brawn, brain and comedic action, coupled with lots of super hot ‘chicks-on-chicks’ action (ok, not that type of action, but more of the female MMA-type action), in some exotic locales, then I would say we have a recipe for longevity in the film industry. Kinda’ like that British-export series we have all come to know as “Bond, James Bond!” Needless to say, this franchise is evolving to stay relevant. They started with a “pimp-my-ride” type of appeal, then moved on to a racing phenomena, called drifting (this was the in-thing for a while), then on to the tried and true cops and robbers/drug dealers, genre. Now in 2013, we have moved on to international conspiracies and terror plots (which is very relevant, I might add) and teeters on the edge of infringing on triple “X,” the Vin Diesel original. That evolutionary style of film making hasn’t let them stray too far from what they know as their strengths. They still rely on big ‘smash-em-up’ car chases, lots of hand-to-hand close-quarters combat, and its characters' ‘go big or go home’ enthusiasm for all of the above. Great recipe for continued growth, I would say.



10. RUSH  

Rush Film Review

Famed award winning director Ron Howard teams up with Chris Hemsworth (Thor, 2011), and Spanish-born German actor Daniel “Bruehl” Bruhl (who happens to star in one of my favorite German movies called Good Bye, Lenin!, 2003 – Though most might know him from Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and in a minor role in The Bourne Ultimatum), to bring us one of the year’s most powerful rivalry-centric bio-pics. From a distance, Howard’s take on the rivalry seems to be geared toward promoting Formula 1’s (F1) history and presences in the automotive racing world, however, as the two hour flick plays on, one quickly realizes that this movie is about more than just racing… it has a real human side to it and it’s a real story about real characters that had real life-changing rivalries.



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