Tuesday, February 2, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - The Finest Hours

Sometimes this time of the year can lead to some really bad movies in theaters.  But The Finest Hours is not among them. This is a darn good movie.

National critics have been marginal on this one, and quite frankly I don't get it.  This is based on a true story from 1952, and a story you don't know that's told quite nicely.  It's the story of a very daring Coast Guard rescue of 32 guys trapped on an oil tanker that has been ripped in half by a winter time hurricane off the Massachusetts coast.  This movie breaks between the rescue on land, and the dire situation on the ship.  As well as taking the time to develop some characters involved.  In short, this is not Oscar winning, but few are.  But this is really pretty good.

This stars Chris Pine who I think is simply becoming more of a star every year.  This also stars Casey Affleck, Eric Bana and a nice supporting cast that bring this to life.  Being honest, there just isn't a lot to not like here.  Being tough on this is just looking for something to criticize, in a season at the movies where there is not lack of really deserving cinematic targets to hit way harder than this.

This is exciting, and very well done at times. The scenes on the ship and the rescue are very compelling and extremely well done.  Terrific sets, and costuming too take us back very comfortably to 1952.  In a time of year where there are a dozen dogs at the theater, this is way above the bar. This makes you feel good, and makes you proud there are still good, strong stories to tell of our neighbors who do incredible things.  And this made the theater clap at the end.

The Finest Hours.  Pretty darn good.

Monday, January 25, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - New From The Weekend

A few flicks came out this weekend, and both fizzled horribly.  Let's look at the damage.

Dirty Grandpa 

It is hard to fathom that the great Robert DeNiro made this movie.  Dirty Grandpa stars DeNiro and Zac Ephron.  This is the story of a very, dirty old man who hangs out with this young grandson in Florida, all the while doing as many drugs as possible and trying to get lucky with college aged young women.  All who seem want to sleep with him. -Right!  This did not screen for critics and after seeing it, you can see why. This is just wrong.

The list is endless of things I saw in this movie that somehow I am going to try to figure out how to un-see so I can finally eat again without heaving.  And they ain't pretty.  Truth is, DeNiro has reinvented himself in comedy for the past number of years and at times has been incredibly funny. This though shows just how far from the great, great work he has done.   He really was in a bunch of great movies.  

Dirty Grandpa. This is vile.  Just awful.

The 5th Wave 

I like Chloe Grace Moretz.  She is a really nice young actress that can, and has done great work.  I loved every frame of her in The Equalizer and others.  And she's good here.  It's just a shame this script is so insulting. 

The 5th Wave is the latest "end of the world" flick of which we are simply over saturated with.  This is supposed to be a series clearly, as it is set up for more. Featuring a strong young woman in the lead ALA Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent. But this is silly, and so incredibly predictable there was no one in the theater that didn't know what was coming next.  After a few compelling minutes this falls into the really bad realm and cannot recover.

I hope Moretz has better projects on the horizon, as she is really a wonderful young actress. But this reeks of been there, done that long before, and way better.

The 5th Wave.  Please stop!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


The new Michael Bay flick, 13 Hours:The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is out this week to less than a stellar opening at the box office.

But as low as the first week take was (about 16 million) the national critics liked this, and so did most of the people who saw it. But this may be a case of time of the year, and maybe people being a bit war-weary.  But in all honesty this is worth seeing. Although this is good to a degree, this doesn't have the teeth it could have had, which would have made this a better movie.

This is the story told through the eyes of six very brave soldiers contracted by the CIA in Benghazi in 2012 who showed incredible bravery and saved a ton of lives when the attacks happened there on September 11. We all know that 4 Americans were killed that day and the lack of response from the USA was less than good.  What we have never learned in total is why that was. And after seeing this, we still don't.  If you're going to see this to learn why things went poorly the way they did, you will not. And to me that is the weak link by far in this movie.

But the action and the story here is totally worth telling. These guys holding off a huge flock of terrorists over the course of a long day and night.  These guys were flying below the radar, and were  not even officially supposed to be there in any way. And that was part of their problem.  They were denied.  But what is absolute, without them and their amazing skills, a lot more Americans would have been killed that day.

This is long on action, and the story is true. So there is an emotional response received here that is strong.  These are just guys, doing a job in one of the worst places on earth.  This moves along nicely, but could have been a bit shorter and been more effective. The star of this movie, is the movie. As with most Bay flicks there is tons of action.

13 Hours.  Could have been a more poignant movie, but they sidestepped that and went to action. Good, solid movie.  Should have been braver in its overall storytelling.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

MOVIE REIVEW - Ride Along 2

Kevin Hart continues to make movies that critics hate, and audiences love. And Ride Along 2 keeps that tradition going.

Ride Along 2 picks up where the original left off, which is good for all of us.  If you didn't see the original and want to see this one, you won't be lost because this is simply mindless fun.  And let's be clear. This is fun.  Let the national critics lambaste this thing all they want, it's an easy target.  I know it's well below the lofty standards of the elite who generally only like Meryl Streep,Superhero and teen action/romance flicks.  But so what?

There is a long list of these new action comedies out there and many of them border on the raunchy and the disgusting. This, yes has its moments that don't work well, but this does stay on track and entertains in its own way.  We still have out bumbling rookie cop (Hart) and our well established Atlanta detective (Ice Cube) trying to solve a crime case together and both for different motives.

This has a strong supporting cast that includes Benjamin Bratt and Olivia Munn that help make this fun, and give it a bit of cred.  Yes, this is more of the same, but so what?  This is not offensive for the most part, and silly for almost the whole part.  Hart is a funny man - period.  Cube plays a great straight man and lets Hart shine. This sails along at about 1 hour and 40 minutes and it makes you laugh for a great deal of it. 

Ride Along 2. Is this perfect?  Heck no.  But it's not supposed to be. This is supposed to be an hour or two of fun, in the dead of winter and loosen us up a bit. And it does.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - The Revenant

The new Leonard DiCaprio/Tom Hardy flick, The Revenant is out this week.  Right off the bat that actually means - "A person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead."

This is a very good, very interesting, but very harsh movie that is based on "true events" dating back to the 1820's.  It's a story of extreme survival, and amazing heart as a tracker is left for dead by his crew after being mauled by a grizzly bear, and being attacked by Indians whose territory the commercial hunting expedition has been breached.

DiCaprio plays the tracker, Glass who has to endure the attacks, and the extreme elements of the western United States to get back to find the man, Fitzgerald (Hardy), who left him for dead, and killed his only son in the name of money.  This movie is a bit western, a bit adventure, and bit Castaway, and a bit heavy drama.  And to its credit, for as long as this is, at two and a half hours it moves along nicely and is compelling.

This is a different kind of role for DiCaprio with much of this without dialogue as we follow him through his left for dead journey in no man's land.  He endures about every imaginable problem one can have. But the revenge in him, to find his way back to avenge the death of his son keeps him going.

Hardy is great as our villain and plays these kind of roles very, very well. He is completely despicable as a man driven by anger and greed and wants his bounty at all costs.  This is exciting, it is powerful and this is is graphically violent at times.  Although not gratuitously so. As graphic as this is, it may not be for everyone. It shows very well the make up of the men that made up the early days of the unsettled American West where there was literally no law, and no order.  Oscar worthy? Probably this year, but his has been a slow year for critically acclaimed movies. This may finally be DiCaprio's turn to win, as the field may be weaker than normal.

The Revenant. Very solid. Strong movie.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It Happens Everywhere

Man, the Browns made a bunch of news this week, canning the coach and GM.  Plus a few other moves have the area talking big time.  And the old sentiment is back of, "Only the Browns, only Cleveland, only us."  And yes, there has been our share of heartbreaks, but nothing in those statements could be further from the truth.

First off, I am a Browns fan, Indians and Cavs fan too. Have been all my life.  I have lived what you have, and in many cases more than others. I know the pain from all the teams.  I also can remember the truth that most don't want to admit about Browns and other teams.

Let's take the Cardinals, Chiefs, Panthers, Vikings, Bengals, and even the Patriots.  All are in the NFL playoffs this year so they have that in common.  They also have something else in common. They have all been through long, and agonizing losing era's before the pendulum swung back the other way. The Cardinals have been in 3 cities, and have won a couple of post season games in countless decades of play, now they threaten to win it all.  The Bengals went through many arduous years, about as long as the Browns trying to get it right.

The rest have similar stories including the mighty Patriots.  They, in the 1990's had a brutal stretch including a 1 win season, until Tom Brady showed up with the right coach. And I would even say Brady was a stroke of luck NO one saw coming, not even the Pats. The Panthers have had a 1 win season, and a two win season.  Even the mighty Cowboys have had brutal stretches including a 1 win season. and THIS season was horrible for them.  BTW the Browns have never had a 1 win season. - 70 years.

The difference is, it's just more satisfying for the small minds at ESPN in Connecticut to pile on a city they don't care for.  Sports networks don't care for the Midwest in general, and it's more fun to take swings at a seemingly downtrodden city like Cleveland (in their minds) than give an name to a horrible loss that Peyton Manning took to the Ravens in the playoffs a few years back.  Or the Steelers getting beaten by Tim Tebow - again in the playoffs.  The list is endless of most NFL teams with brutal stretches and losses.  Ask Seattle about last year in the Superbowl.  They don't have names like The Drive, and The Fumble, for those games but they were just as, if not MORE brutal than the Browns losses.

The truth is, hard luck follows most teams for there is only 1 champion every year.  The Browns will eventually get this right and contend. They all do in time.  Let's remember, the Saints and Bucs did, winning a Superbowl each, and they are a combined 250 games below .500 all time.  No one is excusing the Browns and this debacle that has ensued the past few years, but if history is our guide, way better days are ahead.

Just a bit of perspective. It's hard to wait, but it will happen.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino always makes you kind of wince and laugh all at the same time, and that's the same formula here in his latest flick.

This is another story that is long and drawn out like many Tarantino flicks putting you on a slow burn for much of the time.  This is a western of sorts, all taking place basically in this lodge deep in the Wyoming mountains during a blizzard in the late 1800's.   It's a bunch of bounty hunters, and thugs marooned in this lodge because of the extreme weather.  There, it becomes a tale of greed, violence and baggage that runs deep in the minds of these men, as the Civil War is still fresh for all of them, who had a part in it from both sides.

This spends about the first half putting together a nice story, and developing some powerful characters And the last half it becomes the classic Tarantino highly and graphically violent piece that is his staple.  For some, this will simply be too much as all his movie can be.  But this does take on the classic Tarantino irony, and almost cartoonish feel as the violence is so over the top and so extreme.

Is this one of his best movies? Well, no.  And that's a shame as it boasts a real nice cast with Kurt Russel, Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum, and others.  Most of his movies are a bit drawn out, and usually that's okay, but here it's belabored.  It simply takes too long to get where it's going.  Russel is simply terrific in this as a ruthless bounty hunter who is very complex.  Jackson too is great as our principle character.  Major kudos too to the incredible supporting cast who all are strong. 

This movie has a nice look to it as the sets are great and the costuming is Oscar worthy.  This overall is good and entertaining.  If you have never seen a Tarantino flick, might be a good idea to Netflix one to see if the style is tolerable for you.  I am a fan of many of his movies, but they are certainly  a niche style. 

The Hateful Eight.  This is good, but not my favorite Tarantino flick.