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Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)


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Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

The movie should have just been called The Butler, but director Lee Daniels somehow felt that he had to put his name in the title.  I’m not sure if there is a real reason for his name being in the title, but to me, it just seems a little narcissistic.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is very, very lightly based on the life of Eugene Allen.  The film changed Allen’s name to Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker).  The film paints a pretty disturbing picture of the struggles and pain that Gaines and his family faced during his childhood and throughout his life as a butler at the White House for 34 years.  The movie showed how the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement had a major impact on his life.

Lee Daniels' The Butler Whitaker serving Williams

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr., David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, John Cusack, James Marsden, Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Clarence Williams III, John P. Fertitta, Colman Domingo, Yaya Alafia, Minka Kelly, and Nelsan Ellis.

The movie modifies many of the facts about Allen’s life in order to make it more entertaining and therefore less true.

I left the film wondering just how much of it was true.  After doing a little bit of research, I found out a number of things about the movie that are completely fiction.  It’s a little upsetting to me how this film tries to pass itself off as based on a true story.  I don’t want to spoil anything about the movie for anybody, but let me just say that a lot of it is pure fiction.

Lee Daniels' The Butler Whitaker Gooding Jr.

I really felt for the main characters after seeing what they went through, and thinking how terrible things were for them.  After finding out that a lot of the details in the movie are made up, I question just how honest the rest of the movie is.  I feel like I was a little duped.  I felt bad for Cecil Gaines, but that was not even his real name.  I felt bad for some of the things that Gaines went through, but found out that some of those things didn’t even happen.  Because the writers and director played so fast and loose with the facts and tried to pass it all off as truth, they succeeded in ruining the movie for me.

The film was very slow and dragged on at times.

There were so many big names in this movie that a few of them were underused.  A lot of the supporting characters do not get fully developed.  They are in the film in almost cameo-like roles, and then they are gone.

Forest Whitaker is superb in the lead role.  His performance alone is enough to make the film worth watching.  Even at the film’s slowest and almost boring parts when the movie seems like it is unraveling, Whitaker is enough to bring everything back together again.

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Oprah Winfrey was miscast.  Her character hardly seemed believable and this took away from my enjoyment of the film.  The rest of the supporting cast all did a fine job.

Overall, I felt like the movie was too slow at times.  If they had trimmed some of the fat and gotten rid of a few scenes, the film could have been better.  I am a little annoyed at how many facts were changed as they are trying to pass this movie off as inspired by a true story.  Most people read “true story” and think that it is true.  If they dressed this movie up to make it more entertaining, I cannot imagine how slow it would have been if they had stuck more to the facts.

The Butler (2013) Forest Whitaker (Screengrab)

Setting all of the things about this film that I did not like aside, Whitaker and most of the rest of the cast all do a great job.  It’s fun to see all of these big names in the same movie even if some of them are not in it long enough.  The film does an excellent job of showing people overcome hatred and violence and that is always a good shot to the arm for the human spirit.

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.

The Wolverine (2013)


The Wolverine Poster

The Wolverine (2013)

Recently I watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) for the first time and this made me more enthusiastic about seeing The WolverineHugh Jackman’s Wolverine has won my vote for best X-Men character.

The Wolverine Hospital Bed

In The Wolverine, Wolverine (Jackman) is summoned to Japan by an aging, old friend whom he saved during the war.  The old man has become very rich and powerful and he wants to repay Wolverine for saving his life so long ago.  However, he may have ulterior motives.  When he reaches Japan, Wolverine becomes caught up in a war between his old friend’s empire and the Yakuza.  Wolverine becomes weakened and for the first time faces mortality.

The film was directed by James Mangold and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Hal Yamanouchi, Ken Yamamura, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tee, Will Yun Lee, and Famke Janssen.

The Wolverine Jackman

Some of what I especially liked about X-Men Origins: Wolverine is also what I liked about The Wolverine.  The film was concentrated mostly on the life of just one X-Men character and therefore it was more enjoyable.  You are able to feel more for Wolverine because you get to see his whole story.  There is much more character development than the first 4 X-Men films and this allows the viewer to become more attached to the characters and the problems that they face.  Also, not every single character in the movie was a mutant and that made the ones that were mutants more unique and therefore more likable.

The Wolverine face peel

In comparison to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I felt that The Wolverine was a slight step down.  It was a little bit longer than it needed to be and it lacked the star power.  The supporting cast does do a quality job, but there is not another actor in the film that can compete with Jackman.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine had Liev Schreiber and Danny Huston.  The bad guys in The Wolverine were not bad enough.  They did not have as much of a screen presence.  Jackman dealing with his own mortality was almost more intense than the enemies that he faced.  Don’t get me wrong.  The film was still very fun to watch, but bigger stars could have helped make it more powerful like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman kept reminding me of a young Clint Eastwood at times throughout the film.  He was a fierce cold-blooded loaner ready to do whatever he felt was right and not caring who got in his way.  Jackman is 2 inches shorter than Eastwood, who is 6’4’’, but maybe it was Jackman’s haircut, facial hair, and attitude that was reminiscent of a middle-aged Eastwood.  The slight resemblance contributed in making Wolverine a helluva bad-ass to be reckoned with.

In my opinion, The Wolverine is the second best X-Men movie to date.  X-Men and action movie fans alike should approve of the quality of the film.  The special effects are sharp, the action is extreme, the characters are entertaining, and the movie as a whole is a blast.

The Wolverine Jackman Train

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Click on the link below to see a picture and read about the time when my wife and I and some friends got into a fight with Wolverine and Iron Man.

We Got Into a Fight with Wolverine and Iron Man

If you liked The Wolverine, then you should certainly enjoy X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)


X-Men Origins Wolverine Poster

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

With the release of The Wolverine (2013) this weekend, I thought that it was about time that I watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  I have seen all of the other X-Men movies and I used to watch the cartoon as a kid, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to watch this movie.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as a child and his earlier life prior to the other X-Men films.  Wolverine and his brother Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), both mutants, are forced to leave home together at a young age.  They fight through a number of wars together until they are recruited by Colonel Stryker (Danny Huston) to become part of an elite unit made up of all mutants.  Eventually Wolverine disagrees with what the unit stands for and decides to leave.  He moves away, falls in love with a woman, and leads a simple life.  Time passes and Wolverine’s life gets turned upside down when his old unit wants him back.

X-Men Origins Wolverine Huston Schreiber Jackman

The film was directed by Gavin Hood and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Durand, Will.i.am, Taylor Kitsch, Daniel Henney, and Dominic Monaghan.

After watching this film, I am sort of kicking myself for not watching it sooner.  It does an excellent job of showing where Wolverine came from and why he is the way that he is in the other films.  After the movie, I gained a greater respect for Jackman and his Wolverine character.

X-Men Origins Wolverine Jackman Water

This is my favorite X-Men movie so far.  What I especially liked about the film is that it concentrated on the life of one of the X-Men instead of overflowing the movie with tons of mutant characters with too many stories to go around.  This made it possible for greater character development and helped to create a more meaningful story.  Of course, there are a number of X-Men characters in the film, but they didn’t try to tell the story of each one of them.

X-Men Origins Wolverine Gambit throwing cards

Gambit/Remy LeBeau was one of my favorite X-Men characters when I was a kid, and it was fun to finally see his character in a live action film.

X-Men Origins Wolverine Jackman Schreiber

Jackman and Schreiber both brought a level of fierce intensity to their characters that were very exciting to watch.  This, in conjunction with the solid supporting performance by Huston and the film’s awesome special effects helped to make X-Men Origins: Wolverine the sharpest X-Men movie in the box.

I rate this movie an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Click on the link below to see a picture and read about the time when my wife and I and some friends got into a fight with Wolverine and Iron Man.

We Got Into a Fight with Wolverine and Iron Man

Note: Jackman and Schreiber were both in Kate & Leopold (2001) together.

If you enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, then you will probably like The Wolverine (2013).

Movie Picture of the Day 7/23/13


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Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber in the incredible movie that is based on a true story, Defiance (2008).