*** This review contains minor spoilers ***
If you’re going into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice expecting an epic fight between the world’s two biggest superheroes (as the trailers and promos would have you believe) you’re walking right into an epic disappointment. “The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world”? Hardly. Don’t let the film’s title fool you. Their fight is short, lopsided, and poorly conceived. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve already seen the bulk of it, as well as any other noteworthy parts of the film for that matter. Rather than being a legendary match-up between these two heroes, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is instead an excruciating exercise in patience, without much of a payoff.
Maybe you’re okay with that. Sure, it’s disappointing, but far from being a deal-breaker considering we all knew full well they’d make up and become friends before the movie was over. Frankly, Batman v Superman has far bigger issues than its failed fight night. For starters, it’s a painfully slow-paced film without much in the way of entertainment. Where’s the action? Where’s the excitement? Where’s the edge-of-your-seat suspense? Wait, isn’t this supposed to be a superhero movie? What the Hell?
Okay, so Batman v Superman isn’t your traditional superhero movie. I’m fine with that too. I’m also certainly not opposed to a slow build-up or delayed gratification. It can work wonders when done right, but it’s a delicate procedure that requires precision and planning. Batman v Superman, though, is ham-fisted, sloppy, and disjointed. They’re cramming so much into the movie and jumping all over the place while so little of anything important actually happens. Heck, Batman has two nightmares thrown into the mix just so there’s some semblance of action in the film’s first two hours.
I have two big problems with those dream sequences, by the way. First of all, I refuse to believe a 40-year-old Batman is still that haunted by nightmares. Come on, he’s Batman! The guy gives other people nightmares for a living. Secondly, one of those nightmares would have surely been among the best parts of the movie if it would have actually happened. Instead we’re left with a frustrating and arguably pointless tease that makes this variation of Batman look fearful and weak.
You know, now that I think about it, there was also a Batmobile scene early on, but it’s so forgettable that just hours later I can’t seem to recollect anything about it other than how stupid the new Batmobile looked with its orange light reflectors. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but why in the world would you put light reflectors on a vehicle that’s not supposed to be seen? What? Batman couldn’t get his car registered at the Gotham DMV without them? I don't know, but regardless, when compared to the Tumbler from Batman Begins, the new Batmobile looks pretty mediocre.
For a movie that’s this ambitious, Batman v Superman wastes way too much time with unnecessary scenes and with director Zack Snyder’s trademark brand of excessive slow-mo. So much effort was put into getting everything on screen that it seems like no one ever took the time to see if any of it was actually good. The result is a weak and messy plot that’s juggling multiple different narratives. First and foremost, you have Bruce Wayne’s perspective on the ending of Man of Steel wherein Superman’s battle with General Zod destroys much of Metropolis, including a Wayne tower. Seeing that this happened outside of Gotham, I wonder if Batman would have done anything about it at all if not for his own building being collateral damage. Regardless, he’s pissed, and Superman’s going to have to pay for this.
Then you have Superman’s asinine plot in which he is wrongfully accused of killing African terrorists and must stand trial in America. Wait a minute, what? Superman kills terrorists and is being criminalized in AMERICA? Are we on Earth or Bizarro World here? Since the world is already anti-Superman after the Metropolis disaster, they’re going to attempt to hold him publically responsible for these deaths. Did I mention that these terrorists were killed with gunfire? Yes, gunfire! The obvious weapon of choice for an all-powerful God who can shoot laser beams from his eyeballs. Right!
Next up we have Lois Lane on her much-too-long quest to prove her boyfriend Superman’s innocence, by investigating the origins of an unusual bullet she found in the aftermath of the aforementioned gunfire. If she can trace its origin, she can find out who is responsible for these murders. #TerroristLivesMatter. By cornering and questioning military officials in the men’s room, Lois Lane attempts to clear Superman’s scandalized name. Ultimately, this whole tactless and contrived subplot seems like it was added just for the sake of giving Lois Lane some screen time and something to do. It adds nothing to the movie whatsoever.
Then there’s Lex Luthor and his absurdly elaborate plot to kill Superman that starts with retrieving and weaponizing kryptonite. His plan is a bit inconceivable but it wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that Lex Luthor is easily the most dreadful aspect of the film. He’s an obnoxious and annoying brat of questionable intelligence who flat out ruins every scene he’s in. To make matters worse, he’s the character that ends up linking all the pieces of the story together as he has his hands all over everything.
Even then, with all that said, this is just a basic outline for the heavy-handed but paper-thin plot. There’s also the introduction of several new heroes who will comprise the Justice League in their own film a few years down the road. Wonder Woman is the most prevalent hero among them, but she seems to be thrown into the mix here just for the sake of bringing together the trinity of Batman, Superman, and herself. Though I’ll admit the uniting of the trinity was an undeniably cool moment, and Wonder Woman, despite little screen-time, ends up stealing the show as the biggest highlight of the film. I just wish we would have gotten to know her a little better, but at least now I’m excited to see her standalone movie due out next year. As for the other three Justice League additions, it’s abundantly clear that they were just lazily inserted into the film in post-production. Not only are these characters being sold short, but they’re simultaneously being used to clutter an already congested film.
Now I’m going to switch gears for a moment to talk about what I think worked in the film. For the most part, director Zack Snyder does a remarkable job with the film’s visuals. Anyone who’s seen any of his previous work knows he has a great eye behind the camera, and he excels at bringing comic book pages to life. Sure, the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents is a redundant inclusion, but I don’t blame a visionary director like Snyder for wanting to try his hand at it, and he actually does it really well. The special effects are solid, though given that they’re so excessive, there were occasionally noticeable drops in quality. As I mentioned previously, Wonder Woman is great. I love the superhero costumes, especially Batman’s. Lastly, the final battle with Doomsday is far better than anticipated, and offers some much needed redemption for the abysmal beginning and middle of the film.
Beyond those few things, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is one big-budgeted mess of mediocrity. Perhaps that’s largely due to DC rushing their cinematic universe to compete with Marvel’s, but seriously, what’s the hurry? They’ve got the world’s two biggest superheroes under their sleeve, and with that advantage they should have very little to worry about. Instead of building up to an Avengers-like culmination, DC foolishly tackles it all head-on at once, and they ultimately screw up the groundwork for their future films. To call Batman v Superman ambitious would be an absolute understatement. It’s trying to catch up to Marvel in the present while skipping over almost a decade of the trials and tribulations it took for them to get there. It’s no wonder this movie is a failure.
In terms of the acting, the only characters that really stood out to me were Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Affleck was better than most people probably expected when he was controversially cast in the coveted role of the Caped Crusader. However, anyone who tells you that he’s a better Batman than Christian Bale is completely out of their element. Yes, he gives an adequate performance (which could have been better with a stronger script), but he’s not even half the actor Bale is. Meanwhile Gadot doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but still manages to establish herself as a strong female presence who is deserving of your full attention.
Henry Cavill appears to have bulked up his physique quite a lot since Man of Steel, but the same can’t be said about his acting talents. He’s still as flat as ever. The rest of the characters, played by a strong array of actors including Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, and Holly Hunter just never get all that much to work with. It’s hard to really make a statement when you’re sharing almost the same amount of screen-time as a jar of pee. Hopefully they’ll be better utilized in the upcoming sequels.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is a different story entirely, and as far as I’m concerned, he is just awful. He has the meatiest role in the entire film, and yet he’s nothing if not annoying. He’s appears to be trying so hard to give a performance of equal caliber to Heath Ledger’s Joker, but he ends up failing miserably. Though I can’t disparage his performance too much without acknowledging that most of this could likely be attributed to having a poorly written character. He does demonstrate at least a modicum of acting talent, but his quirky, bratty character leans far more towards the side of being obnoxious than interesting. Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame was originally cast for this role and I can’t help but think that in his hands, Batman v Superman’s Lex Luthor could have actually been amazing.
In the end, we’re left with a sloppy movie that has pacing issues, underdeveloped characters, a poorly-devised plot and piss-poor dialogue (pun intended). In three years the dialogue has gone from tinkling in a metal bucket to tinkling in a glass jar and calling it “Granny’s Peach Tea”. What kind of a sick pee fetish do these writers have? Stop it already, you’re embarrassing yourselves! Oh gosh, and don’t even get me started on the “Martha, Martha, Martha!” nonsense. That was another painfully low point for the movie. What we have here is a movie that’s all flash and no substance, with Zack Snyder emerging as the second coming of Michael Bay. There are plot holes aplenty, there’s no sense of humor, and the entire film is severely lacking in any depth. There is nothing to sink your teeth into in this sad, shell of a movie other than the ways in which it all went wrong.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film that let me down tremendously. It was poorly marketed and even more poorly planned out. It doesn’t deliver on its title bout, and it wastes so much time and energy on cramming in unnecessary elements. Time that could have been much better redirected into fleshing out the film’s characters and giving us a proper Batman versus Superman showdown. I’m certainly not calling Batman v Superman the worst movie ever, but when it comes to superhero movies, it is unmistakably one of the worst big-budget ones I’ve seen.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Something about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has always piqued my interest. I was far too young to watch it when it first came out, but of course that didn’t make it any less intriguing to me. Now that I’ve actually seen it, I feel like I might never be old enough for this film. Whatever the case may be, this clearly is not a movie for me. Being the straight-laced, drug-free guy that I am, I feel like it’s hard for me to give a proper assessment of this movie, but I’ll give it my best shot.
First and foremost, I should state that I don’t typically watch these type of stoner movies. I’ve never seen more than a couple minutes of Half Baked, or Pineapple Express, or Cheech and Chong, or the like. Those kind of movies just don’t interest me. What made Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas different and appealing to me was its silliness and its impressive visual and artistic style. It looked like a truly unique experience, and in truth it is one, though it’s not exactly pretty.
I actually read a good portion of the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a few years ago and I was really enjoying it until loads of schoolwork got in the way. That makes it all the more surprising how much I disliked the film, considering it actually seems like an admirably faithful adaptation.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a film based on the novel written by famed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson that was inspired by his trip to Las Vegas in the early 1970s with his good friend and attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta. It’s an exaggerated tale of their exploits in Vegas, written under the character names of Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, where Thompson was reporting on an annual off-road racing event known as the Mint 400. What ultimately ensues, however, is an excursion of increasingly excessive drug use and debauchery.
The film follows Raoul and Gonzo on their wacky, drugged-out adventure through Las Vegas, and their exploits become more sadistic and haunting as time goes on. From hotel room antics, to major drug binges, and even kidnapping, Raoul and Gonzo stir up a whirlwind of trouble but somehow they miraculously continue to evade the consequences through ingenuity and sheer luck. It feels like there’s never a moment in the film when these two junkies aren’t busy taking some sort of drug. They refuse to get off their high and eagerly go from one drug to the next. It’s an exhausting and tiresome experience just to watch, and I found it to be far more sad than funny.
The movie tries to present itself as a comedy, but apart from an unexpected grapefruit to the head, I don’t think I ever laughed. It has a very offbeat approach to humor. The disappointing thing about it is that I actually found the novel itself to be rather amusing. I suppose sometimes things are just better left to be read than visually seen, as the story and characters are far funnier on the written page than they are in the movie. No matter how comical and ridiculous they might act, it’s hard to laugh at them given their state of being. There’s something about watching this pair of violent, narcissistic degenerates that’s deeply unsettling and unfunny to me. It would be easier to laugh at them if I could brush them off as being idiots, but I can’t because frankly they’re not. These are two very intelligent characters who just happen to be constantly stoned out of their minds by their own volition.
With all that said, I do think that both Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro give really strong performances as Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo. Both of them really seem to embrace their roles and have a fun time with reveling in the absurdity of these characters and their actions. Therefore any grievances I have with the film are no fault of their own. For the most part, they’re just bizarre and silly and deranged. Personally, I felt as though Johnny Depp was essentially channeling Jim Carrey in his attempt to be comical. The key difference being that I never found Depp to be all that funny, yet I think the darker and more twisted tone of the film is more to blame for that.
At the very least, I can commend director Terry Gilliam for crafting a highly creative and unique picture. With all of their drug binging, the characters experience a plethora of hallucinations, making it a goldmine for creative visualization. The style, the sets, and the cinematography are particularly noteworthy. There are several well-realized, iconic shots throughout, yet it’s not always appealing to look at, as it descends from the glitzy, glorious lights of the Vegas strip into a dark, disgusting, and grungy nightmare. It’s a social commentary on the disillusionment of this so-called American dream. Perhaps that explains the film’s overall pinkish hue, as if it is sarcastically showing you the story through rose-colored glasses.
In short, while I can respect the artistic representation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it most certainly does not mean that I also have to enjoy it, nor that I would recommend it. This is a film only for the most adventurous and daring of movie viewers. It’s likely to be too trippy and twisted for your average person, but those of you who are open to an unabashed, immoral, artsy acid trip of a movie might just like it more than I did.
There’s no denying the talents of Ethan and Joel Coen. These Academy Award winning brothers have written and directed an extraordinary body of work, most notably including No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, and Fargo. Their names alone are enough to get me excited about a movie, as they are practically synonymous with quality. Such was the case with their latest film Hail, Caesar! which boasts a robust and talented cast. Regrettably, even with the skill of the Coen Brothers, impressive production values and all of the big names attached, Hail, Caesar! is a long, and often arduous affair. Much like the film’s movie within a movie, from which Hail, Caesar! gets its name, it has all the right pieces for success, but still ultimately fails to satisfy or even thoroughly entertain.
The film stars Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix, the head of production for Capital Pictures, which was a premier movie studio in a fictional 1950’s Hollywood. Mannix spends his days tirelessly working to keep the studio’s reputation picture perfect, despite a plethora of problems that exist beneath the surface. When the company’s biggest movie star Baird Whitlock, as played by George Clooney, is suddenly kidnapped for ransom by a mysterious group known only as The Future, it’s up to Mannix to keep the incident under wraps while trying to rescue his prized star.
On top of Baird’s abduction, Mannix is also dealing with protecting the pristine image of famed actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) who is pregnant out of wedlock, appeasing acclaimed director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) whose lead role has been horribly miscast, and fending off a feverish pair of twin reporters (Tilda Swinton) who have become aware of Baird’s absence, all while facing the pressure of an alluring new job opportunity. If you’re gasping for air after that overly long sentence, just imagine how Mannix must feel with all of that on his plate. Yet he takes it all on like the consummate professional (well, apart from his tendency to smack people around).
Given the busy nature of Hail, Caesar! as it encompasses the hustle and bustle of a major Hollywood studio, in addition to a star-studded kidnapping and Communist conspiracy, we don’t get to spend a lot of time with the majority of the film’s characters. Yet despite many of them being little more than one-and-done roles, the characters themselves are still mainly quite good. Additionally, as expected, the performances by this blockbuster cast are commendable, although I wouldn’t go so far as to call any of them award worthy.
Josh Brolin gives a respectable performance in his starring role, showing that Mannix is a reputable man of action and taking care of business. Relative newcomer Alden Ehrenreich is a show-stealer as Hobie Doyle, the beloved western movie star with exceptional agility and lasso skills but no discernible acting talent. Doyle is helplessly and comically clueless as he finds himself placed in the lead role of a serious drama. Ralph Fiennes plays Hobie’s director in this film and he struggles to keep his composure while instructing him in one of the movie’s more memorable scenes.
Tilda Swinton excels in her double performance as self-centered journalist sisters. Scarlett Johansson does an admirable job portraying the double-sided nature of her character, who is presented as a silver screen darling, despite being a foul-mouthed broad. Channing Tatum leads a catchy homoerotic song and dance number in what is probably the best sequence of the movie. Lastly, of course, is George Clooney as the iconic but somewhat idiotic Baird Whitlock who does a decent job but ultimately has little to work with.
The comedy in Hail, Caesar! is mildly amusing at best. It musters a few smirks but never got any real laughter out of me. I can admire some of the attempts at humor, but they still left much to be desired, just like the majority of the film itself. Frankly I found the whole experience of watching Hail, Caesar! to be predominantly boring. The story isn’t especially interesting and the conflicts, including the kidnapping caper, are disappointing. For a movie that’s trying to bring life to the good old days of cinema, it sure makes them look dull.
After watching Focus, I thought back to a great line from Will Smith’s con artist character Nicky Spurgeon, in which he proclaims, “There’s two kinds of people in this world. There’s hammers and nails. You decide which one you want to be.” It’s a powerful and chilling line of dialogue that emphasizes Nicky’s need to exert power and control over others in order to be successful in his indecent business. The problem with the film, however, is that it treats its audience like we’re all as dumb as nails.
Unfortunately, therein lies the film’s biggest problem. While I do think there is some merit in its depiction of the con game, Focus for the most part is unconvincing. Not only did I feel like I was being conned by the characters, but I felt like I was being conned by the legitimacy of the cons themselves. Most of them are quite a stretch, to say the least, but more troublesome is that their successful outcomes don’t ever feel truly earned. Everything just cleans up too neatly, due to some inane level of planning that relies on far too many improbable factors and additionally treats every mistake as if it was part of the plan all along. Therefore, trying to take Focus seriously is something of a brain-numbing exercise. While the film itself is fairly entertaining, it’s not nearly as smart as it thinks it is.
As a viewer, it feels like there’s not much of a pay-off in watching them pull off their successful schemes, and that’s largely because we’re left out of the loop. We the audience are being played the whole time. We’re not given any room for our own participation and guesswork because the movie gives us no clues to help us solve the puzzle. Yet it’s inviting us to look for answers by emphasizing the importance of being focused and aware, while withholding any and all necessary clues to help us make sense of what is happening along the way.
In Focus, Will Smith plays con-man Nicky, who meets a beautiful woman named Jess (Margot Robbie) while dining alone one night. After inviting Nicky to her hotel room, Jess attempts to con him with the help of a friend, but ultimately fails. After all, you can’t hustle a hustler. Being eager to learn more, Jess wants Nicky to take her under his wing and teach her the art of his craft. What ensues is a steamy relationship and a partnership in deception.
Jess proves to be a natural in the con game, quickly earning the respect and admiration of Nicky, who allows her to join his thirty-strong crew. This team of crooks racks up millions through swindling, hustling, and pickpocketing. It’s fun to watch the action unfold, but a little disconcerting that it glorifies these criminals while they’re plainly stealing from innocent strangers. Make no mistake about it, Focus portrays them as the good guys, and offers little to no consequence for their devious actions. Still, it’s hard to root against this cast of con-artists, and you’ll want to see how they manage to get away with it all.
Instead, Focus tries to make you believe there isn’t any con in play at all, only to later pull out the rug to reveal a highly ludicrous scenario. It feels dishonest and cheap, like it’s essentially cheating its way to the desired outcome without doing the work to get there. It’s selling its own capers short and taking the fun out of them. Thus even the climax of the film feels disjointed because we can’t believe what we’re seeing and just have to watch incredulously as we wait for the inevitable far-fetched explanation.
Despite the shortcomings of the cons, I would like to express that the film still does plenty of things right. First and foremost, Will Smith shines in his performance, adding enough perplexity to his character to keep you on your toes. He makes it hard to tell whether or not his character Nicky is bluffing, which helps add to the tension of scenes. Even when Nicky appears to break character and let his guard down, I still found myself guessing about his true intentions. While the movie is overall somewhat of a letdown, I can safely say that Will Smith absolutely nails it.
The only issue I had with Will Smith is his character’s obsession with Margot Robbie’s Jess. I’m sure many guys could attest to a Margot Robbie obsession, but I’m not one of those guys. While the chemistry between Smith and Robbie was fairly good, it did seem more than a tad blown out of proportion. The romance between them felt rushed and more lustful than loving. Still, Robbie gives a respectable performance of deception and allure.
I would like to particularly applaud the work of B.D. Wong, who plays a high-stakes roller that gambles with Nicky during the Super Bowl, in what is my personal favorite scene of the movie. The tension between Wong and Smith is absolutely electrifying, and they play off of each other extraordinarily well. I was on the edge of my seat throughout their whole encounter, only to have the moment spoiled by an absurd and unlikely final outcome.
The other performances are all adequate, though most of the characters are given little screen time, aside from Nicky’s perverted, overweight associate Farhad (Adrian Martinez) who musters up a few laughs. The dialogue can be pretty hit-or-miss, and the plot is rather thin, but the production values are outstanding. This is a film that is unmistakably beautiful to look at, with gorgeous sets and superb camera work. One particularly admirable scene has the camera placed in the passenger seat focused on a man who is gearing himself up before he deliberately crashes his car head-on into another. It’s a moment that feels like a strange detour, and yet it’s so bizarre and memorable that it just works.
Focus has the makings of an excellent film, but it regrettably drops the ball by fumbling the con game. If only the cons themselves weren’t so far-fetched and sloppy, the whole movie would have been a whole lot more effective. Despite the film’s insistence that you look closely, its most pivotal moments don’t hold up to any sort of analysis or scrutiny. In other words, this is a film that would be best enjoyed out of focus.
I believe that there's a desire in all of us to achieve greatness. A deep, internal yearning for importance, respect, and acceptance. We want to be remembered and we want to fulfill a sense of purpose in our lives. For Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller), the central character in the 2014 Best Picture nominated film Whiplash, that desire is to be one of the all-time great jazz drummers. Of course, he knows that accomplishing such a goal will require a firmly fixed focus, an uncompromising dedication, and endless hours of practice. What he surely wasn't expecting was to run into a teacher like Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who will stop at nothing in order to push his students to strive to be their very best. Whiplash makes for a painfully tense and terrifying learning experience that is nothing short of cinematic brilliance.
Andrew is a first-year student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York where the presence of their great head music conductor, Terence Fletcher, looms over everyone. Fletcher is well-known, respected, and feared. More importantly, he is their ticket to success as musicians. Landing a spot in his band is a coveted high honor. Earning his respect is even greater. Though under Fletcher's guidance, success doesn't come easy. He rules over the school like a maniacal dictator and he demands absolute perfection from his students. After all, he has a highly revered reputation to preserve, and he's not about to let anyone jeopardize it. Andrew finds himself lucky enough to be chosen to rehearse with Fletcher's band, but he's soon tested, humiliated, abused, and pushed to the limit by his short-tempered instructor.
Already something of a loner, Andrew delves even deeper within due to pressure from his teacher, turning his passion for music into an unhealthy obsession. He cuts off contact with others and devotes himself entirely to practicing. With fingers bloodied from extensive drumming, he simply bandages them up and keeps at it. Not only is his music playing taking control of his life, but it's also clearly taking a toll on his mental health. Even more troubling for Andrew is that no matter how hard he tries, Fletcher is never satisfied, and he torments his students until they get things right, even if it means practicing all night. Resentment and tension rapidly rise for Andrew as he approaches his breaking point, resulting in the film's unforgettably tense conclusion.
Whiplash is no walk in the park. It will have you sitting on the edge of your seat in suspense and terror, with your heart still pounding even after it's over. It's an emotional horror for young Andrew who is put through Hell by his mad musical conductor. I was legitimately in fear for his life and sanity. While the movie has given me a greater respect for musicians, and jazz bands in particular, it sure makes me feel glad that I was never in band!
Whiplash is remarkable in its design and execution. The film's cinematography shows a wonderfully adept eye for camera angles, and gives this low-budget film a distinguished look. The director revels in the closeness of the scene, putting us right alongside Andrew as he comes face-to-face with the ever-menacing Fletcher. It's unbelievably tense and uncomfortable to watch while he's being verbally and physically assaulted right before your eyes. The film's Oscar-winning editing finds the right tempo with knowing when to cut and when to linger. It also expertly accompanies the music with its barrage of clear, fast-paced shots. Of course, Whiplash is also very respectful to its music sources, and it does an amazing job in showcasing the outrageous musical talent on display.
The performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are sensational. It is estimated that roughly forty percent of the drumming you see by Andrew in Whiplash was actually performed by Teller. Considering the ridiculous amount of skill involved in these jazz band classics, that statistic should not be understated in the least. Teller puts on an incredible display and pours his heart into this movie. He carries the film, appearing in every single scene, and makes for a believable transition of character under the strict discipline of Fletcher. Even more extraordinary is J.K. Simmons, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor with this performance. Simmons injects his character with an intense ferocity that demands your attention. He terrorizes his musicians while conducting with an iron fist. Yet there's far more to his character than just being a bully. While I disagreed with his abusive methods, I couldn't argue against his intended result. His character's extreme conduct will no doubt take things too far for some viewers, but despite all of his anger, I still found Fletcher to be remarkably fascinating. In the end, as deserving of hatred as he may be, I couldn't help but feel some level of respect for him, and I think that really speaks to the quality of the film.
Whiplash is an emotionally stirring masterpiece that questions how much is too much when it comes to pushing someone to be their best. It also explores the emotional and psychological harm that can result from that level of pressure and abuse. The movie is bolstered by two tense and energetic performances from Miles and Simmons, who are deserving of all of their praise and accolades. You don't have to be a fan of jazz music to enjoy this phenomenal film. I found the music to be intoxicating, but the real strength of the movie is the teacher and student dynamic between Andrew and Fletcher. With a diabolically delightful and brilliant ending, these two characters have achieved an esteemed level of movie greatness that make Whiplash a must-see!
5 Minute Movie Guy
I'm just a movie crazed dude, with a love for Tom Cruise.