Tag Archives: John Ortiz

Jamie Foxx is Tubbs, Colin Farrell is Crockett in MIAMI VICE, directed by Michael Mann for Universal Pictures.

Miami Vice (2006, Michael Mann), the director’s cut

Michael Mann’s director’s cuts are sometimes large and sometimes small. They usually include music changes. In the case of Miami Vice, he adds an opening, changes some music and does a few little things. It’s too bad, because even though it having an opening works out nice, neither of these major choices seem to be good ones. The opening introduces the cops’ speedboat racing team. They later use the same boat while undercover. It’s got their team name on the side. The change of music at the end starts out all right, but leaves the big shootout with some terrible scoring after the song runs out.

Watching Miami Vice on HD-DVD, it almost looks worse than it did in the theater. The DV makes it look like a sitcom. This viewing made it crystal clear what the big deal is about Mann using the DV. The actors have to work two or three times harder–only Colin Farrell manages it with any dignity–while Mann gets to cop out and do whatever he wants with the DV. There are some cool sequences in Miami Vice, but they never look good in high-def. They look like CG or the new “Grand Theft Auto.” The only time it ever looks good is the night shooting, when the sky is visible and the DV actually can photograph the differing colors well. I’ve seen DV well-lighted–from art school students no less–and it is not well-lighted in Miami Vice. Dion Beebe is an exceptionally unimpressive cinematographer.

The real problem is Mann’s script. He makes everyone in the movie, when he’s not borrowing his Manhunter lines, talk like Al Pacino and Robert De Niro do in Heat. Farrell can manage, so can Jamie Foxx to some degree (it’s sort of amazing how little Mann gives Jamie Foxx to do in the film), but when Naomie Harris starts doing it? It’s silly. There’s lots of bad acting in Miami Vice too. Barry Shabaka Henley stumbles through Mann’s dialogue, while Li Gong tries but just doesn’t work. It’s not believable her character wouldn’t speak English better.

John Ortiz’s evil villain starts out okay, but Mann reduces him to comic book status later on and it’s just bad.

I don’t know if I was expecting the director’s cut to help much–there’s still absolutely no partnership between Foxx and Farrell in the film–but I was expecting hi-def to make it look better.

I also don’t know how I feel about Mann always screwing up the music in his revisions. He kills the momentum at the end of Miami Vice and doesn’t even bother saving it from a jarring cut between the final shot and the credits.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Mann; screenplay by Mann, based on the television series created by Anthony Yerkovich; director of photography, Dion Beebe; edited by William Goldenberg and Paul Rubell; music by John Murphy; production designer, Victor Kempster; produced by Mann and Pieter Jan Brugge; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Colin Farrell (Sonny Crockett), Jamie Foxx (Ricardo Tubbs), Li Gong (Isabella), Naomie Harris (Trudy Joplin), Ciaran Hinds (Agent Fujima), Justin Theroux (Zito), Barry Shabaka Henley (Lt. Castillo), Luis Tosar (Montoya), John Ortiz (José Yero) and Elizabeth Rodriguez (Gina).

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Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007, Colin Strause and Greg Strause)

Surprisingly, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem does elicit some conversation. Or, at least the first forty or so minutes of it does. The rest might elicit armed revolt, I’ll never know.

The movie’s interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s atrocious. From the incompetent direction–the Strause brothers apparently couldn’t handle a Doublemint commercial–to the cheap CG (maybe the worst I’ve seen in a theatrical release in years) to the totally unknown cast (picked from the finest Canadian used car dealership advertisements, I’m sure) to the script. But the script brings up the second point (but does not provide a convenient paragraph break apparently).

The script owes more to early B-movies than it does to either of the film series or anything else. It’s like a cheapie from 1938, complete with contrived story lines for a number of people (ex-con, soldier returning, teen in love). Instead of being in a bus depot, however, these people are in a small town–well, not so small, the aerial shot reveals its quite large. When Requiem started, I figured–given the cast of idiot teenagers–it was going to turn the franchise into a slasher movie. Unfortunately, it does not (the slasher take would be a lot more interesting). Instead, it’s scene after endless scene of these idiotic people leading their contrived, TV movie lives. As far as I can tell, there probably isn’t even the payoff of watching the aliens eat these morons.

And that sentence brings me to my final point (I can’t waste time doing a paragraph about the music). It’s boring. It’s a movie called Aliens vs. Predator and it’s boring. Nothing happens. There’s one Predator. Whoop-de-doo. They show the Predator planet, which should have been interesting, but instead is certainly not. The aliens never invade, which is dumb. Here they’re afraid of the light too, which makes no sense because they don’t have eyes. The Predator has this computer and it literally has a function for everything he could need.

The first movie’s no good, but it’s fun and cheaply imaginative. This one is putrid garbage of an inconceivable level. I think I kept it playing because I couldn’t believe someone would greenlight a movie called Aliens vs. Predator where most of the story plays like a soap.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Colin Strause and Greg Strause; written by Shane Salerno, based on characters created by Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Jim Thomas and John Thomas; director of photography, Daniel C. Pearl; edited by Dan Zimmerman; music by Brian Tyler; production designer, Andrew Neskoromny; produced by John Davis, David Giler and Walter Hill; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Steven Pasquale (Dallas), Reiko Aylesworth (Kelly), John Ortiz (Morales), Johnny Lewis (Ricky), Robert Joy (Colonel Stevens) and Ariel Gade (Molly).

Colin Farrell is Crockett, Jamie Foxx is Tubbs in MIAMI VICE, directed by Michael Mann for Universal Pictures.

Miami Vice (2006, Michael Mann)

DV Michael Mann–because there is a difference between Michael Mann on film and Michael Mann on DV–doesn’t bother giving Miami Vice a first act. I suppose he intends the absence to be some sort of cinema verite thing, but it doesn’t work, it just gives the audience no characters to identify with. Lethal Weapon 2 did the same thing, except it was a sequel. So, maybe Mann intended the audience to just assume Miami Vice the movie follows up “Miami Vice” the TV show, but I doubt it. Some of the film’s problems stem from this lack. Colin Farrell flounders through the first half hour (or hour, time stands still during Miami Vice) because his character is never defined. Mann even gives him a character arc, only leaving off the front part of it. A houseboat and a pet alligator might have been useful. Poor Jamie Foxx, despite being top-billed, is barely in the movie. He dominates the beginning, the pre-Farrell story parts, when Miami Vice seems like Mann’s greatest stylistic misfire. The film barely ever feels like Michael Mann, but once Farrell’s story takes over, it gets closest to it. Even the awesome gunfight at the end is lacking any of the depth Mann usually brings to a film. The difference in Miami Vice is the bad guys. Heat had one, maybe two, bad guys, everyone else was gray. Miami Vice has seven good guys and thirty bad guys–and the bad guys are real bad (which makes the end a lot of fun, but not really dramatically solid).

Rating Mann’s use of DV is difficult. At the end, he seems to be going for ultra-realism (which, I imagine, is why the supporting cast is made up of low profile actors, no one famous), but during the film, he doesn’t embrace it. Miami Vice occasionally looks like a documentary, but never plays like one. The quality of the DV shots change from time to time, especially at night, or in contrast-heavy lighting. Maybe Mann needs to shoot in studios and do CG backdrops, something besides the DV, which simply does not look good.

I hoped Miami Vice would be a soulless, blockbuster version of Heat but Mann had different ideas. There’s some evidence he had more story for Jamie Foxx, maybe an examination of his relationship with fellow officer girlfriend Naomie Harris (who’s good). It’s also possible I’m just making excuses for Mann, because he didn’t even see the need to make Farrell and Foxx convincing partners. He still casts right (Li Gong impressed me, even with the pigeon English) and Colin Farrell can actually smile with his eyes, which is a neat trick. I went from–at the beginning–thinking Mann had finally lost it. By the end, I decided he still had something left, just not a lot. He probably should stop writing, but he definitely needs to drop the DV.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Mann; screenplay by Mann, based on the television series created by Anthony Yerkovich; director of photography, Dion Beebe; edited by William Goldenberg and Paul Rubell; music by John Murphy; production designer, Victor Kempster; produced by Mann and Pieter Jan Brugge; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Jamie Foxx (Ricardo Tubbs), Colin Farrell (Sonny Crockett), Li Gong (Isabella), Naomie Harris (Trudy Joplin), Ciaran Hinds (Agent Fujima), Justin Theroux (Zito), Barry Shabaka Henley (Lt. Castillo), Luis Tosar (Montoya), John Ortiz (José Yero) and Elizabeth Rodriguez (Gina).