Double Feature: 21 (2008) & Hancock (2008)

At the end of March, there was a whole bunch of movies expiring on Netflix.  It was ridiculous.  So, in an effort to minimize backlog, here’s a double feature.  Plus, I’ve been slacking off on reviews.  I’m a little late on today’s post as well since as my vlog earlier this week explained, moving weekend. I have only a little moving but there’s a whole lot of spring prep and organizing plus, finally some nice weather today.  13 degrees Celsius felt like summer after two months of -30 Celsius weather. That’s probably why EVERYONE was out! Anyways, no complaints!

Moving along…

The first two I saw my list to expire was 21 and Hancock.  I remember 21 only because one of my friends was madly in love with Jim Sturgess at the time this came out in theatres back in 2008 and she was so excited to go see this.  I didn’t go with her but somehow this movie stuck in my head, although there was a time I confused this with 21 Grams, which is a completely different story.  It had nothing to do with each other.

Either way, lets check out these two 2008 movies!

21 (2008)


Director: Robert Luketic

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo, Liza Lapira, Josh Gad

“21” is the fact-based story about six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings. – IMDB

I’m just going to write this.  I’ve written and rewritten how to begin this review for the fourth time now. Why? Its because after 2 weeks of seeing this, I’m still really in between on what I feel about this.  I disliked the length.  It just dragged on and on, trying to pile on drama and relationships and whatever else.  Seriously, it didn’t need that.  My guess it was to better understand each of the character’s and the role they play, especially with the main character, Ben, played by Jim Sturgess.  I hate it when I watch movies that are like that because I think they could condense it by like 30 minutes and build the intensity properly to get it moving along to where it all matters. But it didn’t do that and its a shame.


21 has a great cast.  Jim Sturgess is really good at Ben, math genius, aspiring doctor, financially struggling student, and then adding on the natural counting cards ability.  He grabs the role really well.  Then we have Laurence Fishburne in the supporting “villain” role because he’s just the guy who is trying to keep his job going because of his abilities to catch people trying to con the casino with whatever tricks.  Then behind this whole counting cards crew is their leader, professor and passé counting cards “master”, Prof Mickey Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey.  Let me tell you, Kevin Spacey is a kick-ass actor.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell many of you but I think of everything that he’s done (that I’ve seen), I don’t think there’s been one disappointing role.  On the flip side, I’m oddly a fan of Aaron Yoo.  He’s not in a lot of movies but somehow, he’s pretty whacky in what he does.  I like his vibe, I guess.  Nothing significant but just thought I’d mention it.


So, while the story was poorly executed, the length was ridiculous, the cast was great and the concept of this story (which is inspired by true events) is pretty fun.  This makes it sadly average.  I wish it was better. All it had to do was cut the drama.  That’s really strange coming from me, because usually I kind of like drama and romance but it just felt so pointless.

 Hancock (2008)


Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan

Hancock is a superhero whose ill considered behavior regularly causes damage in the millions. He changes when one person he saves helps him improve his public image. – IMDB

I’ve gained a really incredible love for superheroes.  Not that I didn’t before but I only knew about Superman, Batman and Spiderman.  Its not what I grew up watching but now that’s all changed, which is a great thing.  Plus, I used to be pretty impressed with Will Smith. I’ve skipped pretty much everything since I am Legend.  Hancock was released around that time more or less, maybe a year difference.  I only remember this one because I remember my best friend seeing it and telling me it was decent.  Still, I wasn’t convinced for some weird reason.

Seeing it for myself the other night, the beginning sequence was a little iffy.  I’m going to be honest.  I almost wanted to shut it off after the first 10 minutes.  Hancock seemed REALLY over the top.  Like, they were trying too hard to make him an anti-hero because he’s just incredibly destructive and yet he doesn’t seem to think anything is wrong with it. That’s a little weird also.


But, it does turn around.  The turning point has to be Jason Bateman entering the scene as Ray, a guy that he saved and wanted to help him be seen as a hero while hopefully changing his image.  Of course, this is where there’s a tad bit of sarcasm and some destruction, a little difference in opinions and some action plus a little bit of laughs from all that mixed together. It changes the dynamics a little and that helps.  I found Jason Bateman’s character really enjoyable to watch.

The story is a little all over the place though.  It starts at this weird vibe for Hancock as a character that really doesn’t seem like a hero and then gives him some dude that convinces and tries to create a new image and then they add in a twist that really was out of nowhere.  Which worked well as a surprise thing.  It felt out of place but it did give his character of Hancock some substance and origin story and that works.

While it could have been better, I did get a few laughs from it.  I’m not so sure about Hancock as a superhero but I totally think Jason Bateman was great and there’s also supporting role by Charlize Theron and we all know there’s nothing to criticize about her. And that second half (or maybe third) was pretty good. 🙂

OVERALL…these 2008 films were rather average.  Both are watchable but both were flawed in their own way. It makes me think, what else was released in 2008? I’ll have to research that a little 😉

Have you seen 21 or Hancock? Did you like either one of these? 

Hope everyone has enjoyed Good Friday! 🙂

P.S. Movie reviews slacking ends now! This long weekend, other than moving, Fast and Furious marathon and first Disney theme: everything Snow White! 😉

Upside Down (2012)

I’m not totally sure if it considers as a recommendations BUT to me, Terrence at The Focused Filmographer totally sold this movie, Upside Down, to me.  I ended up going to the store to pick it up that following weekend and never got around to watching it so decided to watch it this weekend 🙂 Lets check it out!

upside down posterDirector: Juan Solanas

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, Timothy Spall, Blu Mankuma, Kate Trotter, Larry Day

In a world where there is double gravity pulling in opposite directions, Up Top is ruled by the rich whereas Down Below is filled with the poor and less fortunate.  The two sides of the world is connected through a tower between that riches both sides, however, due to the gravity, there are serious consequences to attempting to cross to the other gravity force.  As young teens, Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) fall in love despite their gravity differences however, in the attempt to see each other, they are found and Eden crash lands back onto her world. Assuming that Eden had died, the authorities took away his family as a consequence.  Ten years later, as he slaves away to find the anti-aging serum, he sees on television that Eden is still alive.  Fully convinced that he needed to reconnect with her, he gets a job at Level 0 research labs and launches his own plan to penetrate to the other side to see her and regain the love that he had lost for so long.

upside down scene

Upside Down is a fantasy romance drama. With that said (and the picture above), this movie is full of computer graphics or VFX, whatever the term is.  I’m not a ever technical person so I’m not well-versed in those terms, but you get that idea.  But guys, c’mon, just look at that picture and tell me you don’t think this movie is visually stunning! Upside Down has a beautiful concept behind it all and the love story is quite good, granted I figured out the ending 15 minutes before it actually happened.  Still, I buy it! Its cute and sweet and just so romantic.

upside down jim sturgess

Adam is played by Jim Sturgess.  I don’t know about you but I first saw Jim Sturgess in Across the Universe and I can’t seem to remember if I’ve seen him in anything else.  My impression of him is that he’s great at playing a hopeless romantic and if you take the vibe and stick it into his role, he was totally awesome! The model star-crossed lovesick romantic whose determination to see the one he loves is just unstoppable.  You can give me some more of his sweet charisma any day! He was fun and adorable for the most part and very convincing, I think I almost fell in love with him.

upside down kirsten dunst

Quite opposite of Jim Sturgess, I’ve only seen adult Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman trilogy or at least in a role that I remember off the top of my head.  I’ve never been really impressed with her, not that she’s not pretty or something but she has something that doesn’t really connect with the characters she plays.  In Upside Down, living Up Top, Kirsten Dunst plays a very charming and beautiful Eden.  The character she had to act was beautiful and deep as she had to deal with the aftermath of the accident and she did a decent job portraying all that.

upside down office level 0

The character that really impressed me a lot was Timothy Spall though.  He plays Bob, a coworker from Up Top of Adam’s.  I think his character was the best in the movie with inspiring dialogue and the whole nine yards.  As much as this movie was filled with a wonderful and talented cast, it did have a bit of flaws.  You know what I felt was that this movie never really had a climax, nothing really hit a peak and intense part.  We just landed there BOOM really quickly and then 5 minutes later, it was the end of that scene and it tried to do a little twist effect that actually made me realize they were going to do that ending.  Thinking about it, the ending didn’t completely make that much sense but then the characters didn’t really know that much about the boundaries of the double gravity atmosphere to start with.

Overall, like any other movie (especially fantasy), you just have to buy the premise of it and for the most part, I did and this really worked for me.  Sure it had its flaws but what movie doesn’t? Upside Down has a lot of positives: captivating visuals, talented cast for its great characters, a beautiful love story and an original premise.  The whole interaction upside down was hard to adapt to at first but you get to used to it.  Its really a charming little movie.  I would definitely recommend it!

A huge thanks to Terrence at The Focused Filmographer.  Please go check out his blog! He features lots of fun stuff like news, polls, trailers and of course reviews.  He’s covering the White Sands International Film Festival so maybe that will interest you as well.

Are you a fan of fantasy films?