Movie Reviews

Paul’s reviews of “Gone Girl” and “The Judge”

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“Gone Girl” (2014)

It has been a long time since I have watched a movie that has taken me on an emotional ride like “Gone Girl.” This movie is able to balance so many despicable characters who do terrible things to the people they “love” only for them to be redeemed in the eyes of the audience and have a new person to hate.

Like with other mysteries such as “Prisoners,” it can be difficult to keep up the level of intrigue and excitement in the audience, especially when trailers can give away some of the movies biggest plot twists and tell the audience essentially what will happen. But “Gone Girl” takes a different route than most others with its point of view storytelling.

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is celebrating his fifth wedding anniversary with his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), by spending the morning at the bar he and his twin sister own. When he comes home, expecting their annual wedding scavenger hunt to begin, he finds their home is wrecked and Amy is missing. Nick immediately calls the police, who discover traces of blood all over the house and begin to fear that something terrible might have happened to Amy.

I dare not say anymore on the plot, because that would give away the many twists and turns “Gone Girl” has to offer.

What I can say is that I found myself root for and against every single character at least once over the course of the film. At times, Nick is sympathetic for having his wife taken from him like that, but other times we learn just how terrible of a husband he was and you want to slap him.

But at no point was I tired of watching these people and their struggles. If anything, showing both the good and bad sides makes these characters all the more interesting and relatable. It is only natural to hide secrets and hold back those bad thoughts and moments that we all have. And “Gone Girl” is all about those secrets.

I can honestly say that I was never bored with “Gone Girl.” Every scene had a reason to exist and added to the tense and gripping atmosphere. The actors did a wonderful job at making these multi-faced characters worth watching, even Tyler Perry who plays the lawyer defending Nick and has a retainer worth $100,000.

David Fincher adds his usual charm to the film, making the unnerving atmosphere even more creepy and unsuspecting. It makes the film more unpredictable, which is great for a mystery.

I can’t say much more about “Gone Girl” without spoiling it for you, so go out and see this one for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Final Grade: A

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“The Judge” (2014)

I despise courtroom dramas.

Most of the time, they are simply two people talking back and forth over a crime that we most likely did not see, spouting legal jargon that I do not understand nor care about. Very rarely is there a courtroom drama that breaks free of this, but when it does it is films like “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “12 Angry Men” which break away from the tedious nature of the courtroom.

“The Judge” is a fine example of why the courtroom drama is boring and repetitive. Though the film has a stunning all-star cast, with Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thorton, Melissa Leo and others, they cannot save a doomed script, riddled with clichés and unnecessary plot elements.

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is one of the best defense attorneys in Chicago and seems to keep his Tony Stark-like ego of being the best at everything. That all changes when his mother passes away and must attend her funeral in Carlinsville, Indiana, a place he had hoped he’d never return to, mostly because of his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall). He tries to consul his family, while avoiding his father, and get out of there as fast as possible. But things change when the police find a dead body in the road and traces of his blood on the hood of Joseph’s car.

Though that is a rough explanation of the plot, there is so much more going on, including a subplot about Melissa Leo’s character, a former love interest of Hank, and the brothers of Hank who have their own problems to deal with. All the while, we’re never told why Hank and Joseph hate each other so much, until the last ten minutes of the film.

Another problem with “The Judge” is its pacing. So many scenes drag on for longer than they need to be, all to give us clichéd dialogue and characters that have no reason to exist. The film takes its sweet time to get into the courtroom, as it would rather spend time in bars and looking at old film.

“The Judge” is two and a half hours long. In a story that could have easily been told in an hour and a half. The conflict between the leads is so forced and non-descriptive that it becomes infuriating to watch Duvall and Downey Jr. butt heads for all these unexplained reasons.

Overall, “The Judge” is cliché, poorly paced, unoriginal and far too long for its own good. While the cast does well with what they have to work with, they can’t bring this film back. It’s like trying to plug up the holes in an already sunken ship; it does not do you any good.

Final Grade: D-

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