First Look Studios | USA | 121 mins

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is one of the most entertaining and engaging films of the year. It’s consistently hilarious, involving and features a career-shining performance from Nicolas Cage. This is a very loose remake that only contains a few similarities to Abel Ferrara’s equally effective 1992 film, so it would be too unfair to compare the two.

Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) was once a respected and medaled cop. That isn’t the case anymore. Once his back problem kicked in he turned to hard drugs to ease the pain. Now he’s either coked up all the time or all whacked out from his medicine. At the worst time possible he is given the responsibility of taking down a heavy drug dealer (Xzibit) who slaughtered an innocent family. McDonagh isn’t in particularly good shape with his coke problem, gambling problem, and the fact he also has to deal with some thugs who are messing with him and his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes).

The story more or less follows a downward spiral. As events move along Terrence is thrown into worse and worse situations. He’s an underdog that you’re not suppose to root for nor like. There’s nothing about it meant to make him likable, he can be charming at times, but he’s purely painted as a reck of a person who’s lost touch with his innocence. Despite his dirty cop nature he’s still committed to his job. Its obvious, by a specific choice at the end, that McDonagh is driven to taking down these killers. All the subplots have to do with his shortcomings as a person, they’re all weighing him down. When he succeeds at the end it can be interpreted as to whether or not he will actually change. The final moments of the film are meant to get this across. While last few minutes feel like a handful of alternate endings tied together, the message still carries impact.

Cage hasn’t delivered a performance of this caliber since Adaptation. If one was to take his character from Wild at Heart and multiple the eccentricity by a thousand it would equal McDonagh. While the actor is always hilarious, saddening and instantly involving in the film, McDonagh isn’t a good person and Cage never tries to spin it any other way. Too many films attempt to make their shady lead likable and fail miserably, not here. His series of questionable acts, which lead to his final triumph are portrayed perfectly. Cage never shows that McDonagh has truly learned a lesson by the end. This idea ultimately depends on one’s interpretation of the final scenes. The rest of the cast is filled with an impressive supportive cast, most notably Mendes and Val Kilmer. Mendes plays the coke-addicted girlfriend in a convincing fashion while the strange (and strangely great) Kilmer is sadly wasted as fellow cop Stevie Pruit.

The always impressing Werner Herzog presents his unique sense of style while also putting his own stamp on the noir genre. Herzog, in broader terms, has also made a parody of the dirty cop genre. He pokes fun at plenty of reoccurring cop movie conventions and they all work splendidly, especially a hilarious moment towards the end. All of these moments succeed in the end, since Herzog doesn’t always play it with a straight face. While underneath all the dark humor there is a sense of sadness, he never allows it to become a straightforward run-of-the-mill cop drama. Its all pure madness that he conveys perfectly through all the madness he presents.

With Cage’s bravo performance to Herzog’s splendid direction, almost every aspect works in the best way possible. While it is unfortunate that Kilmer is reduced to nothing more than a footnote and that the final moments feel episodic, they still do not detract from the work as a whole. This is one divisive dark comedy that’s one of the year’s best.

The Twilight Saga: New Moonis a slight improvement over the first installment, yet still remains a void of pure mediocrity. This forgettable sequel features the same formula as the first film with similar character dilemmas brought on by cringe-inducing relationships. It’s all the same, only with a bit more umph.Bella is still in love with Edward and he is still in love with her. Despite his excessive old age and gloomy persona, she is crazy for him. So when he has to leave after a freak accident (one of the Cullen’s attacks Bella after a paper cut gone wrong) everything goes bad. This demolishes Edward to the point where he feels obligated to leave to keep Bella safe. When he does finally leave, Bella turns to a life of moaning and recklessness. After months of depression she decides to turn to her old friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the new love interest. There’s just one minor problem: he happens to be a vampire-hating werewolf.The set-up of Bella and Edward torn apart is done rather quickly, and then the other non-involving love story starts. The relationship between Jacob and Bella replicates her relationship with Edward. The same conflict is present: the guy’s different and feels conflicted. There’s plenty of back and forth between them and none of it works. The lack of chemistry and genuine involvement with these love triangles is almost uncanny. Edward is practically non-apparent except for a few useless spirit-like sequences. He’s more of a footnote with no genuine involvement with the overall story, he just supplies Bella with her motives.  The real focus is Bella’s downfall of not having Edward around, there’s plenty of very (unintentional) misogynistic undertones spreaded throughout the film.

Kristen Stewart proved herself as a strong actor in this year’s excellent Adventureland, but here she’s completely wasted. Some of the blame lies in the Bella character; she’s a terrible protagonist. She’s moronic for one, isn’t compelling and is completely unlikable, unable to function without having a man to rely on. Most of the film she’s stuck to looking sad or to acting continuously whiny. There’s nothing particularly interesting or involving about her. Robert Pattinson on the other hand actually fares better this time around. The cheesy slow motion model scenes certainly aren’t flattering on an acting level, but he handles all the quieter moments in a respectable fashion. The rest of cast including Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, and a creepy Dakota Fanning are the true highlights but are unfortunately underused.

Many of the film’s problems stem from director Chris Weitz. He paints the film with a visually dull aesthetic and his framing and camerawork choices are also quite questionable. The film is shot in a bland, formulaic manor with choppy action sequences and a horribly overdramatic use of slow motion. The first action sequence including the werewolves is completely incomprehensible. Weitz shoots plenty of the action in a boxed-in manor, employing far too many close-ups and jarring jump cuts. It also doesn’t help that a few of the CG shots feel unfinished and cartoonish. There’s also the issue of Weitz’s unrelenting use of montages. There all heavy handed, cheesy, and unnecessary.

There is potential in this franchise still (the concept remains interesting) but so far all of its ideas have gone to waste. Every creative attempt has been underwhelming and mediocre. There’s a few redeemable moments here and there (a la the juicy, if sparse, supporting roles) but nothing can save New Moon from the awful characters, hamfisted dialog and the sluggish pacing of an already slim plot.

3.5 out of 10

What did you think of The Twilight Saga: New Moon?


Related posts:

  1. Second Trailer for ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ (28.355)
  2. ‘New Moon’ Sets Advance Ticket Record (18.749)
  3. DiCaprio’s Twilight Zone Gets A Writer (10.053)
  4. [Review] Moon (9.173)
  5. Chris Weitz Has Next Film Planned (8.429)

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Jordan Raup


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thefilmstage The D.E.N.N.I.S. System is FLAWLESS: 5 minutes ago reply

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thefilmstage [Review] The Twilight Saga: New Moon: 19 minutes ago reply

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thefilmstage tonight’s episode of It’s Always Sunny was complete gold. I can see the D.E.N.N.I.S. posters lining all the college dorms now. 43 minutes ago reply

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thefilmstage Avatar has officially wrapped up post-production as of today! (via Market Saw) 45 minutes ago reply

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thefilmstage When In Rome wasn’t the worst movie Josh Duhamel has been in recently. The movie itself was fine for what it was, some fun moments. 2 hours ago reply

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thefilmstage one of the many reasons I hate New Moon. It is replacing A Serious Man at my local independent theater. #whyihateNewMoon 4 hours ago reply

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thefilmstage the security for When In Rome is crazy. I had to pass through 4 security guard checkpoints. Who the hell would want to pirate this movie? 4 hours ago reply


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