Hello all, and welcome to my first movie review! This time around I’m reviewing Savages.
Starring: Blake Lively (Ophelia aka ”O”), Taylor Kitsch (Chon), Aaron Johnson (Ben), John Travolta (Dennis), Benicio del Toro (Lado), Salma Hayek (Elena)
I have read many reviews where the reviewer loved or hated a movie, and I felt the complete opposite about it. Nothing wrong with it or those particular reviews, just a different appreciation for certain aspects of a movie’s plot/characters/effects/acting. So, because everyone’s different, and has different tastes, before I get too far into the actual review part of it, I’ll tell you a little about my own movie biases. That way you’ll know what angle I’m writing my reviews from.
Things I Like: Romance, action, adventure, special effects secondary to plot, movies based on books/comics/games, heroes/heroines or anti-heroes/anti-heroines with depth, justice which can also mean vengeance, strong lead characters
Example Movies: Underworld (all), The Illusionist, Unleashed, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alien (all), Pride and Prejudice, Resident Evil, Labyrinth, Singing in the Rain, The Rite, Silence of the Lambs, The Avengers, Iron Man (all), Spiderman (all), Batman (all), Lockout, Sleeping with the Enemy, Malice, Mirrormask, The Dark Crystal, Harry Potter (all), A Haunting in Connecticut, Gothika, Ghost Town, Ace Ventura (all), Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, City of Angels, He’s Just Not That Into You, Scrooged, Ghostbusters (all), Stir of Echoes, Undercover Blues, The Notebook, The Mothman Prophecies, The Sixth Sense, Fright Night (all), Kiss Me Kate, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Avatar, The Matrix (only the first one)
Things I Don’t Like: Tragedy with only a couple exceptions, a lack of justice in the ending, characters I like dying for no apparent reason, having my romance messed with in general, plot secondary to special effects, plot secondary to shock value, violence for no apparent reason
Example Movies: Unfaithful, The Lady in Black, Crank, Saw, The Bridge to Terabithia, Immortals, The Lovely Bones, The Last Exorcism, Memento, V for Vendetta, The Order, A Scanner Darkly, Donnie Darko, The Matrix (two and three)
I tend to like more than I don’t.
And here is my rating system, to make it seem all official-like:
Epic: This movie is so mind-bogglingly awesome that I may go see it twice. This one will have a place of honor on my shelf.
Cash-Worthy: Good stuff. This will most likely find a place on my shelf.
Meh: Rent it first. You may love it or hate it, but I’m indifferent probably because it’s not my type of movie. I’m glad I saw it, but it won’t end up on my shelf.
Emergency Cake: I have an emotional reaction to movies sometimes, especially to tragedies. If a movie makes me sad or angry, sometimes it will stick with me for a while. At these times, only chocolate cake can save me. Chocolate cake makes everything better. No shelf for you. Ever.
Alrighty, now that that’s out of the way, lets get to the actual review! I will do my best to avoid all spoilers.
Plot (taken from Yahoo):
“Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable Buddhist, and his closest friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry–raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town…until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena, and her brutal enforcer, Lado, underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon–with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent–wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.”
Benicio del Toro (Lado) stole every scene he was in. He played such a disgusting villain that I was always looking at him because I never knew what he would do next or who he would kill.
Salma Hayek (Elena) played a villain that I ended up feeling just a little sympathetic towards, so I wasn’t nearly as worried about what she would do. Her interactions with “O” (although not always believable) and her daughter made me the most sympathetic. Poor, misunderstood cartel leader… ??
John Travolta (Dennis) played a great sleaze. This guy had no loyalty, except to himself.
Aaron Johnson (Ben) played my favorite character in the movie, mainly because he was calmer, and seemed to have more of a moral take on things. Uumm… Well, aside from the whole drug dealer thing. Yeah. But other than that, he was cool.
Taylor Kitsch (Chon) played a character with issues, which made him more violent. He had a much less optimistic view of things than Ben, and was willing to take bigger risks. He was not nearly as intimidating as Lado, however.
Blake Lively (Ophelia aka “O”) played a character I was mainly sympathetic towards. She was kind of dazed and oblivious for most of the movie though, which was a little annoying. And there were a couple times where she made some demands of her captors that made me think she was a little spoiled, not to mention foolish for asking.
Honestly, I really didn’t think I’d like this movie. A couple friends really wanted to see it, and it did look interesting, so I went along. But I did not have high expectations. Mainly, I didn’t think it would be my type of movie because I usually don’t end up liking movies with drug dealers, and I thought they were messing with my romance because I knew from the previews that ”O” was with both Chon and Ben.
But somehow it worked.
And that was impressive.
The violence and action were handled well, aside from an extraneous eyeball in one scene that I did not feel was necessary to make the point. There were several quick, unexpected moments that made me jump even though I was kind of expecting them. It was a little hard to believe that Chon had an elite squad of Navy SEALS waiting for his orders though, and that they’d all go rogue.
The sex scenes were handled okay, except for the cringe-worthy line about “war-gasms.” *rolls eyes* I couldn’t help it. I laughed. Especially when it was said in such a dead-pan monotone, with that particular… erm… setting… *cough, cough*
As much as I didn’t think the relationship dynamic would work with having the two guys involved with the same girl, it worked in its own strange way. I did like “O’s” thought that the two guys made one complete man because of their differences, and how they each approached their relationship with her. And throughout the movie I could see that in other ways as well, when they handled negotiations or made their plans towards the end.
What I did love was how the ending was handled. They surprised me – both with how it turned out (because they didn’t give the ending that I expected) and how much they managed to make me care about how it turned out. Considering that I didn’t expect to like the plot or the characters, I thought that was really well done.
There was one loose end, however - you’ll know when you see it – where I thought there needed to be an extraneous eyeball scene for one particular character. My thirst for vengeance was not satisfied in this case, and there was mental cussing.
My rating for Savages: Meh – It was alright. I did like it more than I thought I would, but I’d say rent this one first.