Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - The Magnificent Seven

Many people who go to see this star-studded western will have no idea this is a remake of a movie from about 50 years ago of the same name.  Same basic premise, but not the same movie.

The M7 from the 60's was even more star-studded at the time than this one, and was a big hit. But this time Denzel Washington leads a strong cast, in this really well done remake directed by the ever improving, Antwon Fuqua. 

Sadly, for some reason westerns in this era don't do the box office they should.  Yes, this did open number one but this is certainly a hit, and absolutely very good.  This is far more like Tombstone (1993), True Grit (2010), and Unforgiven (1992) than the original M7 in its feel, look and overall presentation.  Our stars are great, and Washington continues his march on, as a reinvented tough guy in his second career.

This stars Washington, also Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and many others, in this story of revenge and redemption.  A poor western city is being taken over by a horrible bunch of terrible people for profit and a few members of the town hire a few strong gunmen to push back.  It's a classic formula, and it works.  It pits really tough, and bad men, against really tough worse men.  A feel far more authentic than the 1960's John Wayne classics of simply good versus bad. 

This is very well done, with incredible character development, and a story that is timeless. This is also filmed beautifully in the wonderful mountainous backdrop of the American west.  The music soundtrack is strong and our performances same.  This is also shot in the classic western style of Clint Eastwood style of westerns. Many very tight facial shots, with strange characters to showcase the tension in the room.  This technique was certainly researched before shooting, and works very well still. Tombstone used the same formula and was great there too.

Yes this is violent, but not bloody or gratuitous.  This is powerful, and exciting with a strong plot, and a very nice payoff.  Kudos to our supporting cast, sets and costuming, all extremely good and really adds to the entire project.

The Magnificent Seven. Terrific!

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Clint Eastwood directed it, Tom Hanks stars in it, and the true story supplies the backdrop for this bio-pic of Captain Sullenberger. The pilot at the controls of the US Airways flight that went into the Hudson a few years ago.

Since the actual flight only lasted 208 seconds, there has been a lot of speculation if there is enough story to make this as a feature movie. What this is, is the back story of the investigation that followed the accident where every single person got off safely.  Some of this you know, and some you don't.  I always think that is a sign of good movie making, where you have a story where you know the eventual outcome, and still have it being compelling and interesting.

This is Eastwood's real first wading into the CG world, and being honest, the scenes where the landing is showcased are quite good.  It successfully puts you on the plane, and in the cockpit, a place few of us seldom get to go.  Might be interesting to see how actual pilots view this, but from a citizens view, it looks pretty good.  But I, and every other critic can't honestly tell you if it's authentic or not.

This movie also understands well, that this has a story to tell, and says it in about a hour and thirty-five minutes.  Good move.  They take this about as far as it can go, and this does not get old and repetitive. Hanks is very good and the supporting cast, although small, is well cast and quite good. 

Is this fantastic?  No, but it is interesting and sometimes it is nice to see a movie that showcases an actual event that does have a good ending.  Even though the plane is ill-fated, the eventual outcome is basically a happy one. This is not too intense for most, it is compelling and done tastefully where essentially anyone can go. One of the more tame Eastwood flicks ever.

Sully.  Available to you in IMAX as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - Hands Of Stone

This movie goes into wider release this weekend, and may be worth a look.

This is the story of the very flashy boxer from the late 1970's and 80's, Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) and his hectic career. Based on a book of the same name, and is written from Duran's point of view.  This is a sympathetic piece towards Duran and attempts to explain the reasons why Duran was the way he was.

This takes us from his very troubled youth in Panama, until basically his famous "no mas" fight with Sugar Ray Leonard.  And then on to his eventual comeback a couple years later. This is an interesting movie that continues in the really nice new trend of sports movies, that uses sport as a backdrop, but tells the story of the man first and sports second.

This also showcases the relationship between Duran and his reluctant trainer Ray Arcel (Robert DeNiro).  There are some really nice aspects to this, but this does have its troubles.  As well as this is filmed, especially the fight scenes, much of this looks like a ton of other boxing movies. There is a formula and they follow it.  Being totally fair, this would be a very nice 30 For 30 on ESPN.  This is a story worth telling, but I'm not so sure there is enough to carve out a 2 hour theatrical presentation.

But there is a bunch of good here. Both Ramirez and DeNiro give great performances. The fight scenes are very well done and authentic.  The supporting cast is fair, and the overall picture is decent.  I won't say this is a opportunity missed, but I will say there just may not be enough there to support this movie in his form.  Seems here we say the same thing a few too many times.

Hands Of Stone.  Nothing really wrong here, just nothing great either.

Monday, August 29, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - Don't Breathe

There is no question that this has it's share of problems, but being suspenseful is not among them.

In a nutshell, this is the story of three young amateur thieves in the worst part of abandoned Detroit who are pulling off small time home robberies. They decide to try to pull off a huge heist that seems easy to the naked eye. But they soon learn that it is anything but.

They hear of a former US military veteran, who is blind, having a minimum of 300 grand in his house as a result of a lawsuit from the car crash that killed his daughter.  So our thugs, 2 guys and a girl go in for the job at 2AM in the worst part of Detroit where the veteran lives.  What ensues is a vet, who is cunning, well trained, angry, and ready to defend what he has left.  And once they find their way in, our crooks find it impossible to get out. 

This is very well written, and quite interesting. There are a few twists you will not see coming that keep this 1 hour 30 minute flick moving along nicely. This also does not wear out it's welcome.  Does this make some mistakes? Well yes. There are a few moments of silliness that I quite frankly don't understand, because it didn't need them in the story and don't make this better.  But this is filmed well, acted well, and doesn't go over the edge with gratuitous violence.  This remembers that the story is what brought this to the dance, and that was a good decision.

Stephen Lang is great as our blind hero, who comes off as completely credible.  There is just enough here to keep you on the edge of your seat, and stays the course. This is well done, and for once, pretty intense in a genre lately that has increasingly become less intense and simply more violent.

Don't Breathe.  Quite good for what it is.

Monday, August 22, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS - New In Theaters

War Dogs

This is a very interesting movie, that if it wasn't true, you would never believe it.  Jonah Hill, Miles Teller and Bradley Cooper star in this stunning story of two 22 year old dudes somehow become incredibly wealthy international arms dealers, supplying weapons to the US Military with virtually no experience or accreditation. What a story!

All of our stars are great here. The writing is slick and this moves along nicely.  Cooper is especially good here as a real dirt bag of a character running weapons all over the world and getting insanely rich doing it.  The good thing here, is that they never forget who the star of this movie really is. The story - period! Hill, and Teller are willing to let the story play out, and shine, all the while not getting in the way with wayward performances, or overacting.  Great soundtrack, fair amount of action, shot in great locations and that gives this a real nice look and feel.

War Dogs.  This is darn good, and well worth your time.

Hell Or High Water

When a movie stars Jeff Bridges, I feel it is mandatory viewing, and this is. In fact, this is one of the best movies of the year so far.  This also stars Chris Pine, and Ben Foster and they both deliver incredible performances. There isn't anything about this that isn't great.

Pine and Foster star in this terrific story about two brothers living in thoroughly depressed West Texas, go on a poorly thought out bank robbing spree.  Bridges is a soon to be retired Texas Ranger who is out to catch them before he hangs it up.  Why is each side doing what they are? That's the story, and it's great.  While Pine and Foster are great in their large roles as close knit outlaw brothers, Bridges is simply amazing again. In the right role, he is simply Hollywood's best actor these days.  This also one of those movies, where every single person in it, no matter how small the role, is perfectly cast.

This is exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, and funny at times.  This is about as well written as it could be.  The characters are well defined, and the story is topical, relevant, and exceedingly believable. 

Hell or High Water. Go watch great actors be great.  One of the best movies of the year. First class project.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - Sausage Party

Some may say why review this movie?  But I say this movie could be a real turning point into the next big trend in movie going.

As you can clearly see, even the title suggests that this is not going to be the slightest bit family friendly even being a completely animated flick.  This is the brain child of Seth Rogen and others to do an extreme parody of  very friendly Pixar animated movies.  And being honest, they do that very, very well here.  This really makes fun of the Pixar formula.  And this absolutely has serious political and social over and undertones.  Some of that quite well done as well.

But this is also raunchy without end, very direct and flat out offensive for many -  in many regards.  Easily the mildest part of this is the incredible harsh and never ending foul language.  There is a constant sexual undertone throughout, and this again glorifies harsh recreational drug use and that entire lifestyle.  And with that said, some of this is still quite funny.

This movie brings to life, food, in a grocery store and the life it leads.  Sound way out there? It is. Talking, walking, drug ingesting, sexually active and down right horny animated food.  You may have caught on, this is not for youngsters. This is the hardest of R ratings.  In fact, I saw a theater where NO ONE under 7 would be admitted under any circumstances.  I have never seen that before. 

What Sausage Party may do though, is usher in a new line of movie making if it makes a ton. Mainstream, extremely naughty, harsh, and unfriendly for kids animated movies.  I think it is safe to assume that there will be more movies like this from various movie makers. Is this a good idea?  Doesn't make any difference, if there is big money in it, it will happen because of all the platforms we have to view it. 

Sausage Party.  Not for the kids at all, highly adult, funny in spots. It seems a new era may be born.

Friday, August 5, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS - Various Out Now


This is a very interesting movie that has come out to very little fanfare, but is not a bad night at the flicks. This is a fictional story about an interactive video game called Nerve.  It seems a quick way to make money if you do the "dares" that you are challenged to do as a "player."  Then the "watchers" follow the players, and drive the game.  The more followers you get as a player, the more you can make and the more your popularity soars. But there are problems.

The game becomes a mind control and life controlling entity that makes it impossible for you to get out of it, unless you win it outright.  It is an identity stealing, harsh game that is driven by the watchers desire to see more and more graphic and live content.

This is good original story and a nice performance from our star Emma Roberts who is becoming more of a star all the time.  It showcases, certainly in an extreme form, the public's appetite for fame, voyeurism, greed, and the need for acceptance in social media. Very topical, and a real eye opener, and this could be the precursor to actual events in the future.  Well done.

Bad Moms

This is an all star cast of many of today's most popular female Hollywood stars in a parody of being a mom in today's very difficult environment.  This has been referred to as the "Hangover" for girls and for the most part it is true.  This is a hard R rated movie that shows a group of moms, who have had it with the politically correct world they are forced to live in, while raising young children.  And for the most part, there are some really good laughs here.

But in addition to the laughs, there are also gaffs.  This is a good idea that veers off the tracks at times and goes a bit too far, drifting into areas that are no longer funny.  But they don't wreck the ship. There is a bit too much harsh language and a few too many redundant scenes, but this is a good day, especially a group of women to go together and laugh out loud.  Kudos too, to Kristen Bell, who is really funny in her supporting role.  Easily the funniest thing I have ever seen her do.

Bad Moms. Target audience will LOVE this!