Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a strange breath of fresh air in 2014. A strange mix of Bond parody while maintaining its own serious qualities of a film. It wasn’t outright joke-y, but it did have plenty of jokes and extremes when comparing itself to Bond films.

I mean, outside of its very stupid ending (Which again, was just going to extremes), it almost felt like a perfect film. So many people were excited about Kingsman: The Golden Circle, heck, I was too. I just…didn’t see it.

So again, we find ourselves with a perfect film for “Things I should have watched and reviewed last year,” a theme title too long to tag, especially since I keep changing the wording. All of that is part of the theme title. It came out during a stronger time for movies, so the makers were certainly confident in their own work, that’s a good thing.

Rope
Just like they are confident enough to feature a lot of people wearing glasses.

A lot has changed for The Kingsman group since Galahad (Colin Firth) died and the whole world ending stuff from the first film. For example, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now in a committed relationship with the Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström). Merlin (Mark Strong) is getting in more of the action now too, and we learn he loves John Denver, how quaint! John Denver was featured heavily in Free Fire and Logan Lucky as well, so 2017 was like a love song to him, but you know, with movies.

Either way, they are going to have to deal with The Golden Circle, the world’s biggest drug organization. Why do they have to deal with them? Because they are planning something big soon to take out most of the world’s inhabitants. You know, like the last movie had a similar thing going on. But also because the organization took out basically all of the Kingsmen, except for Eggsy and Merlin, including their headquarters. That is totally not cool.

Following some clues, they head to America, to find The Statesmen, the American version of their organization. They are disguised as a brewing company in Kentucky. Well, disguised, and also do make the alcohol. In fact they have cute code names that are alcohol based. We get Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Champ/Champagne (Jeff Bridges), and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). The two sides agree to work together, after some shenanigans and reveals to help bring The Golden Circle down, before calamity and stuff.

Also starring Julianne Moore and Elton John.

America
America has more cowboys and cowboy accessories.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is 141 minutes long. 141 minutes long. The last one cracked two hours as well, but at no point did it crack 2 hours like this film. Sure, both run times include the credits, so we can subtract about 8 from each and still wonder what the hell was so important in this film for it to be so goddamn long.

And one of the biggest issues with this film is that it certainly drags and just has too much extra information that really doesn’t add a lot extra to the plot. It is in desperate need of some editing.

The characters still maintain some of their charm. I think too much of the film is spent trying to bring back some memories of a character. The action is okay, the overall plot isn’t. It feels way too similar to the plot of the first film, given the goals associated with it.

Overall, this is an average movie and not really worth the time it was given. Outside of Merlin, the other characters really don’t have much growth that you would expect in a sequel. It didn’t feel as funny or unique as the first film either. Basically, it is a lamer and longer version of the first film, pure and simple.

2 out of 4.

Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh is a sunuvabitch. And I mean that in a loving way. After finishing strong with Side Effects and Behind The Candelabra, he said he was retiring from directing, and the world was sad. Sure, he gave us some of The Knick, but it wasn’t the same.

And then I saw a trailer for Logan Lucky. Soderbergh. Was. Back. He didn’t last long in retirement, a project pulled him out, described as a sort of redneck Ocean’s Eleven.

I didn’t need to see the trailer multiple times. I didn’t have to look at the cast list with glee. They just had to tell me that SS was at the helm and I knew I would not be missing that film.

Speedway
Also, add in one of the greatest known actors to man, then you are just asking for Oscars.

In West Virginia, part of the Blue Ridge mountains, with the Shenandoah River, bunch of country roads that are basically heaven for the inhabitants, live the Logans. A family that some individuals think are cursed or unlucky. There is Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), the one who was going to be a big football star, but got a leg injury leaving him with a limp before he could make it big. He also was fired recently as a construction worker in NC, so there is that. His brother is Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), soft spoken, ended up going to the Army after his brother’s accident, and in Iraq, he lost his hand and part of an arm. Now he is a bartender. Their extended family has some issues too, but their younger sister, Mellie Logan (Riley Keough), has been relatively unfazed and is a hairdresser.

Anyways, Jimmy has a family. Notably, a daughter, (Farrah Mackenzie) and an ex-wife (Katie Holmes), and he just wants to do right by them. But getting fired, not being rich, these are big problems. So he has had it. He wants to steal from a vault. He needs a giant payday, and from his construction, he knows how the money is moved at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. He has a big plan and everything to get the money and out without people knowing about it. Heck, he is even going to pick a small weekend where there is little security and not a big monetary loss to the company. They aren’t bad people, they are just…unlucky and in hard times.

They just need some help. And they want to enlist Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a man from that area who is knowledgeable about getting into vaults. But he is also in jail. So they need to break him out, do a heist, and break him back into jail without knowing he was gone. Ah yes, good times.

And rednecks. Good times with rednecks.

Also starring Seth MacFarlane, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson, David Denman, Jack Quaid, Jim O’Heir, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank, and Dwight Yoakam as the warden.

Incarcareted
No touching!

This film was very hard for me to review. Days later it still has resonated with me, one touching scene in particular. It has brought me closer to John Denver more so than any other film before it. You know how these movies work. Have a dad, have a relationship with his daughter, have touching moments, and you will have me there in the theater crying.

I love the cast. I love how into the characters everyone was, no matter how big or small. I loved how everyone played it straight. They weren’t mocking southerners, they were embracing the culture. Sure it was amusing, but it was still handled with a lot of class. They were just people trying to do something for their families and not trying to hurt anyone along the way. They were good people in somewhat extreme circumstances. And everyone was just so good at their roles. Even the people who were dicks.

Before I forget, this film also featured the BEST Game of Thrones reference ever in a film. It was something that made me cackle with glee. To be honest, the list of “films with Game of Thrones references” is probably pretty short, but no way could anything before have topped this one.

BUT YET THERE IS SOMETHING THAT IS HARD TO DESCRIBE. There are slower moments. There are things rushed. There is confusion at just how far away they live from Charlotte. I have to assume like 3-4 hours, which makes the timing of this film a bit awkward and harder to grasp. The later reveals of heist didn’t feel as extravagant as I had hoped. And the ending just sort of ending.

It isn’t the perfect film that my mind has made it out to be. I still can love it, I can accept its faults, but that makes me put an honest rating. You know, a brain rating and not just a rating in my heart.

If my heart was rating this film, it would maybe be a 5 out of 4.

3 out of 4.

The LEGO Batman Movie

If you are new here, I have rallied against animated films so far this year. We just had a summer with Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3, both incredibly bad to super bad films. And these are our tent pole films for the year more or less!

There is very little hope of animated films saving it by the end of the year, but I openly acknowledge that I had not yet seen The LEGO Batman Movie. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, our first LEGO movie since The LEGO Movie.

But I am one of the people who only gave The LEGO Movie a 3 out of 4, it was no where close to being my favorite animated movie of the year, but it was quality and hilarious, I give you that. Despite that, I was never looking forward to this movie. I was disappointed to hear it as a sequel.

I want some new original LEGO content, not relying specifically (mostly?) on pop culture content from a single established franchise. I also acknowledge that the previous LEGO film was FULL of pop culture content, but it wasn’t entirely. This just feels…well, unoriginal.

Robin
Now that brightly colored chap, he seems like a great way to take any brooding franchise.

Ah yes, Gotham, city of villains and crime and 1 super rich dude and some vigilantism. Batman (Will Arnett) is the best and everyone loves him! But he lives a life alone, mostly hanging out in his house, sometimes interacting with Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). But you know, just being a lone with all his money, cool gadgets, and lobsters.

He is still really good at fighting crime though, and even when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) gets a shit ton of villains to work together to blow up the city, Batman still stops them. Even worse, Batman refuses to acknowledge the Joker as his greatest villain, his foil, his reason for Batmanning. So now the Joker feels bad. Batman just shuts the door on everyone!

However, with a new commissioner in Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), they are going to focus less on Batman and more on actually catching these bad guys who still terrorize the streets. And you know, maybe focus on getting them fixed instead of just imprisoned. And shit, it starts to work, so Batman has even less to do and no one to hang out with in his increased downtime. Except for Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom he accidentally adopted.

Of course eventually some stuff happens and things get really bad, but Batman has to learn to work with others if he is going to defeat this new threat!

Featuring an incredible slew of famous people doing extremely minor voices, because YOLO. Seriously, most of these people have like, 1-2 lines, or grunts, or one scene.Again most, there are like two people thrown in here who have slightly more lines. Totally pointless for the most part still, so, whatever. We got Adam DeVine, Billy Dee Williams, Channing Tatum, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Eddie Izzard, Ellie Kemper, Hector Elizondo, Jason Mantzoukas, Jemaine Clement, Jenny Slate, Jonah Hill, Kate Micucci, Mariah Carey, Riki Lindhome, Seth Green, and Zoe Kravitz.

Joker
And just think, that wall of text is just the famous people you know who did voices.

Right away in the film, we get introduced to the Joker and his plans to take over Gotham once and for all, with a giant team of villains on his side, which are all presumably real Batman villains. Action, fighting extreme. I was shocked it happened so early, but since this film mostly deals with Batman’s loneliness, we needed to just get him doing Batman stuff, so we could see him existing waiting to do more Batman stuff.

And that part was just…okay. It didn’t connect with me on an emotional level or anything, because this is a film focused on comedy, so it went for quick jokes instead. And to contrast the opening, the ending is long and even more action packed. Even more villains, many more than you’d expect in a Batman movie, and explosions, and action and…

Being overwhelmed. That is what this movie felt like. It went to the extremes early on, then it went to the extremes in the end. In the middle, it is mostly lowkey, plot stuff. My body didn’t enjoy the “rollercoaster”. It failed to find a middle ground, and frankly, basically all of the action felt so excessive that it was not enjoyable from my point of view.

The best parts of the film were just Batman interacting with Robin and Barbara, regular dialogue for regular jokes. But the majority of the plot was off, along with my earlier complaint. It was an okay film when it comes to entertainment, but not one I am rushing off to buy and talk about over and over, like The LEGO Movie.

And now, also this year, we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie? This is based on their own IP, so hopefully they stick to their own stories to give a good film and don’t rely so heavily on other franchises pop culture references.

2 out of 4.

Hail, Caesar!

Fuck yes. I am hyped. I am beyond hyped. I am too hyped.

I am hyped because I am excited to see Hail, Caesar!, potentially the first great movie of the year. We are out of January, and things can start to look up, if only for a little bit.

But hold the fucking phone. Two years ago, on the first Friday of February 2014, a different movie came out that I was super hyped for. That was The Monuments Men. I assume everyone knows that The Monuments Men ended up being one of the most disappointing films of that year, given that it had such an excellent cast and potential, but it was entirely squandered.

And George Clooney starred in both of them. Arguably there is more talent behind the scenes this time, but he has let me down before almost two years to the day.

So I am going in a bit timid. Excited, hoping for the best, but weary nonetheless.

Cloon
BUT CLOONEY IS THE GREATEST ACTOR OF ALL TIME.

In the 1950’s, Hollywood was a rough place. It was chaotic. There was no CGI. The sets were big and the egos were bigger. Heck, people were talking and singing in movies now. In color. Everything is splashy and outlandish.

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a man who loves his wife and kids and is a devout Catholic. But he is a hard ass and he knows what needs to be done. He is one of the heads of Capitol studios, the biggest studio in Hollywood, and he is a fixer. He works long hours, looks at the film dailies, and make sure everything goes according to plan. That means makes sure the actors are where they are, finding replacements, protecting the image of everyone working there from a potential disaster. He is a one man wrecking crew, but like, the opposite of wrecking, because he saves everything.

So when Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) goes missing from his set of Hail, Caesar!, a giant historic epoch of a Roman general who met Jesus before he was crucified and became a believer, Mannix was on the case.

Mannix will also have to deal with a western actor being forced into serious drama (Alden Ehrenreich), the acclaimed director who cannot stand it (Ralph Fiennes), a singing swimming starlet whom is pregnant but unmarried (Scarlet Johansson), gossip columnists (Tilda Swinton), and maybe leaving this job behind for a similar, better paying, easier job in the tech industry. He doesn’t have to worry about Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) though, he’s perfect.

Also featuring Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, and Alison Pill. They all basically have only one scene. But Heather Goldenhersh has a bunch, still minor.

Mermaid
Every good film has a mermaid in it.

Oh you Coen brothers. You sly devils. I originally watched the trailer for Hail, Caesar! assuming it would be a period peace film. I love Ancient Rome things, and I would love it if they decided to put their hats into that ring. But it wasn’t about ancient Rome, it was about Hollywood and many film genres of the 1950’s. They decided to go meta with it, allowing multiple story lines and themes, providing a bit of satire along the way.

Well, I still hope in the future they give me a movie about Ancient Rome with George Clooney in it. I will be wait. Thankfully, Hail, Caesar! was a great movie to watch to help pass the time.

H,C! was hilarious. It really had my funny knee in stitches. I might be getting some of that terminology wrong, but I giggled quite hard many a time. In particular, I loved the religious round table, the scenes between Ehrenreich and Fiennes, and the song and dance numbers. Ehrenreich killed it in this film, despite still being relatively unknown. He has the same sort of vocal twang he had in Beautiful Creatures that made me so happy, so I was glad to hear it again.

Brolin did a nice job of carrying the film, although his character felt like a lot of his previous roles. Clooney and Tatum were also swell.

What can I say? The Coen brothers are a great team. They know how to write together and direct together. They consistently put out high quality entertainment, even though not everything is a guaranteed hit, you know there is a good chance it will at least still be zany.

4 out of 4.

The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino is a crazy sunuvabitch.

He has passion, you gotta agree with that. He loves movies and wants movies to be real. Christopher Nolan and him are some of the only reasons film is even relevant anymore.

Tarantino had a lot of problems leading up to The Hateful Eight. Like when his script was leaked before they even began filming, causing him to cancel it completely. After awhile, he apparently changed some things and did it eventually.

He also wanted to film the whole thing on 70mm film, but barely anyone had a projector that could play it. So he decided to just provide free cameras to almost a hundred movie theaters across America, just so people everywhere could see his film in the vision he had in his mind. I can respect that, but I also think he is a single man on a mission to move a mounain. So we will see if his lunacy gets us anywhere. Until then. H8FULL8.

Snow
“Replace more parts of words with numbers, I dare you.”

Set a few years after the end of the Civil War, and thus, after Lincoln’s assassination, The Hateful Eight is about a group of would be killers, maybe killing each other.

Namely, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), rocking the same facial hair he had in Bone Tomahawk, is bringing a bounty to Red Rock to get executed. Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a very bad murderer and she has a $10,000 bounty on her head, dead or alive. Well, Ruth brings them in alive, because they deserve to have justice done to them. By hanging. Hanging justice. He is nicknamed The Hangman.

Unfortunately, they are currently racing against a mighty big blizzard and his driver, O.B. (James Park) is hoping to get him to Minnie’s Haberdashery before it hits so they can have a place to stay until it all melts. Along the way though, he runs into Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a bounty hunter with his own set of bodies heading to the same place. He is able to get a ride. But they also run into Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), son a Rebel leader who claims he is going to be the new Sheriff of Red Rock!

But when they got to Minnie’s, Minnie wasn’t there. She apparently was away to visit relatives and left Señor Bob (Demir Bichir) was left in charge. Other patrons included Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), a British literal Hangman, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a cow puncher visiting his mom, and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), from the Rebel side looking to bury his son.

Ruth thinks someone is lying. He thinks someone here is not who they say they are and looking to free Daisy and kill all the witnesses. People are lying, and now everyone might die because of it.

Also featuring some less hateful people, Dana Gourrier, Gene Jones, Zoë Bell, and Channing Tatum.

Roth
Tim Roth is actually just playing the real life Christoph Waltz.

The Hateful Eight feels like a play, and I love plays. It is definitely the best part of the film and it is why I might want to watch it over and over. The action is of course another big part, graphic and very violent once it gets going. Not as violent or crazy as his previous films, but it is still pretty up there.

The 70 mm version of the film, which is what this is based off of, did not feel too long at over 3 hours. It went quickly because there was rarely a dull moment. And hell, an intermission meant I could buy a drink and not torture myself for two hours refusing to leave my seat. The overture was a nice touch and of course the music throughout.

The film is tonally different over its two halves and I wasn’t as excited during the second half. The whole thing is set up as a mystery as to who is a liar and a cheat. Without spoiling, let’s just say the whole thing let me down. It was unexpected surely, but not in a good way. There were still some great acting moments in it, and some of the scenes were very tense, but damn, it just wasn’t that sexy of a reveal.

I cannot say for certain of the 70 mm actually added a lot to the film, it’d be hard to without seeing both versions. I believe the digital version is about 20 minutes shorter including the intermission, but I have no idea what they’d cut out of it.

Not Tarantino’s best work, and worst of his most recent films, but still quite memorable and worthy of multiple viewings.

3 out of 4.

Magic Mike XXL

There comes a time in every reviewers life when they have to watch a movie about Male Strippers. It isn’t a common topic. We got The Full Monty in the 90s, and then Magic Mike a few years ago, so we all just assumed it would be another decade and a half before a new one came along.

But Magic Mike was certainly popular and certainly made a lot of bank. And for good reason! It was the beginning of the Matthew McConaughey road to greatness. And it was directed by Steven Soderbergh! And yes, sure, some good dancing.

That doesn’t mean I am not worried about the sequel, a continuation that is loosely inspired by Channing Tatum‘s real life story. No McConaughey for one. And instead of having the director of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen, we are instead stuck with the ASSISTANT DIRECTOR of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen.

And to top it all off, Soderbergh is only the Executive Producer, Cinematographer, and Editor of this movie.

Yep, clearly Magic Mike XXL is going to be a wildly different film.

Beginning
This scene is like an even more male focused erotic 80’s metal music video.

Three years have passed since the dangerous and deadly events of the first film. Mike (Tatum) is no longer magical, after leaving the world of Male Entertainment behind and focusing on starting his own business, making things with wood. After these few years, he has one employee and times are still tough. But at least he gets to keep his clothes on, and only has to dance in his workhouse, alone, late at night.

But then the gang is stopping by the city. I’m talking Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias), and of course Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello). No, not Dallas or the other guy. They apparently closed shop and moved over seas for that foreign money, leaving the rest of the gang jobless and forced to find new passions in life.

However, before reality sets in, they are going to the Male Entertainment competition conference thing in Myrtle Beach, where groups of men dance and strip for hundreds of ladies. It is a big event and they want to go out with a bang. And you know, tons of dollar bills.

They just have to get there first. And this road trip will have them stop at a few different types of clubs, meeting new people for their crew/team, and maybe even having the men discover what they want to do after they are done male entertaining.

Also featuring Stephen Boss, Donald Glover, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Andie MacDowell, and Elizabeth Banks.

End
I didn’t actively avoid shirtless pics, but the one group shot the internet has sans shirts is terrible!

Let me start this out by saying that Magic Mike XXL is a better movie than Magic Mike. And I have quite a few reasons too!

1) The sequel has more dancing. That is fantastic news, because that is one of the main focuses of the film. The worse Step Up movies are the ones that try to have too much plot and not enough booty shaking. I want to see awesome dances to hot beats, damn it, and there is a whole lot of that in this movie.

2) There is no Cody Horn in this movie. None. Not even a picture. Just a few references. She is out of the picture and was by far the worst part of the first film. And the film elevates because of it.

3) The other dancers have personality. This could be partially true about the first film, but I don’t remember that much at all about our other male dancers. It was all about Magic Mike and that new guy. The other dancers all feel like real people, and it was fascinating seeing them all get their moments, have their own unique dances at the end, and really bond with them. The male bondage in this film is extraordinary. They all feel like real friends and they have great chemistry.

And really, that is all I need. Sure, some parts of the movie get really awkward, and maybe some of the dancers are far far too sexual for my tastes, but I am able to forgive most of that. The romance in this film was bad, but not as bad as the first.

This film actually left me wanting more from these dudes, seeing how their lives turn out since they are more than just background characters now. Especially Big Dick Richie, who had the best subplots in the film.

3 out of 4.

Jupiter Ascending

I don’t think I am ready for this Jelly.

When I first heard about Jupiter Ascending, I was a bit worried. It seemed too far out there, with questionable stars, and a questionable plot. But hey, summer blockbuster, whatever.

JUST KIDDING. It got switched from June to July. But in June, it got pushed back to FEBRURARY 2015. Whoa! That is intense. Blockbusters don’t exist in February. Shitty terrible CGI movies exist in February. This one is going to have a lot of CGI! Ahh!

Apparently it was to finish special effects. They were behind schedule. Right. More likely they moved it back for some terrible reason, like, no faith that it would make money and they just wanted to hide it. Not to mention their awkward Sundance story, they have everything working against them.

Redmayne
The real reason they moved it back was to not ruin Redmayne‘s chance at an acting Oscar.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) always thought she was going to do something with her life. But now she is a grown woman, still living with her mom and extended family in Chicago, technically illegal aliens from Russia. She scrubs toilets and dreams of the big life.

And then, aliens from not Earth are trying to kill her! Oh shit!

Here’s what you need to know. There is some space royalty out there. And the mother, the main ruler just died so her kids have inherited a lot of the universe. The oldest, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), the middle female, Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and the youngest, Titus (Douglas Booth). They are humans, they have been alive for thousands of years, and they look young as fuck.

But now Balem has “control” over Earth (and Jupiter, I guess). And he wants Jupiter Jones, specifically, dead. And maybe the rest of the earth. Jupiter has no idea what is going on, just that aliens are real, Caine (Channing Tatum) has weird ears and keeps saving her, and shit’s crazy.

Also featuring Sean Bean, lizard men soldiers, crazy visuals, pew pew pews, bees, and more pew pew pews.

Car
And the coolest (technically still slow) form of transportation sense the hover board.

Jupiter Ascending was weird. And I really can’t tell if that is a good weird or a bad weird.

Easy enough of a solution, let’s get my pros and cons on.

Pros: There is a unique story behind everything. Some of the special effects are really polished and amazing. Sean Bean is in it. Channing Tatum isn’t terrible. Mila Kunis isn’t terrible. The lizard dudes out of no where are pretty well made and bamf. Roller skating/gravity boots. Bureaucracy. And it is definitely more polished than a shitty January/February CGI movie release.

Cons: The entire romance plot feels forced. Some of the special effects are piss poor and terrible. The sound quality in some scenes make a few actors hard to understand (Bean, Redmayne, occasional lizardman). Entire movie feels rushed, like it was actually supposed to be thirty minutes longer. Like some executive said “Fuck this rescue scene. We know they will save em. Let’s just get the plot going!”

And then there is Eddie Redmayne. Every time he was on screen, my head was tilted just trying to get it. Everything about him is just so weird. His character has an awkawrd soft/whisper voice for most of the film, outside of the three or four times he yells completely out of nowhere. Also tons of quick cuts.

Ugh. But also the story was interesting and I cared about what happened.

There are a lot of things wrong with Jupiter Ascending. Acting decisions, editing, cuts, kind of lame ending. But also some really great action scenes, cool visuals, and interesting universe.

Fuck.

2 out of 4.

Foxcatcher

Tally-ho!

It is really hard to find a time to properly use the exclamation Tally-ho, so when I find an appropriate time, I kind of go all out. For those not in the cool kids club, tally-ho was a cheer for Fox hunting, a noble British sport about sitting on a horse while a dog finds a fox and you kill it.

Err yeah, not as popular nowadays I guess, but a sign of someone who has a lot of money back in the day.

Foxcatcher, taking a similar approach, is about rich people and men’s wrestling. Yeah, that makes sense.

Shirt
I do believe that shirt is NSFW.

Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). Brothers, both of them gold medal winning Olympic wrestlers. That is pretty good, especially since they almost kicked wrestling out of the Olympics for 2020 games and on, but those guys fought hard to keep it in, so we are still good. They both won gold in the 1984 Olympics, and they also won medals at World Competitions, World Championship games, and Pan American games. They were the cream of the crop.

Dave actually won a bit more than his younger brother Mark, so Mark usually felt like he was the lesser of the two, even if technically he was a bigger and stronger guy.

They were also living paycheck to paycheck, wherever they could make money at. Inspirational speeches, teaching camps, whatever. So when John du Pont (Steve Carell) invites Mark over to his mansion, of course he goes. du Pont is loaded, from a rich family of horse breeders, and for whatever reason really likes Olympic wrestling. Namely, he would love it if American could whoop Soviet Russia. So he wants to invite Mark down and a whole lot of other hopefuls for the Olympics to train at his facilities, live rent and utility free, AND earn a bi-weekly pay check at the same time. They can train for qualifiers and then hopefully the Olympics.

He wants Dave too, but Dave doesn’t want to uproot his family and move from his home. Other than that though, seems sweet.

But du Pont has a lot of secrets. He is already a very eccentric and strange guy and he acts like he is maybe fulfilling some weird fantasy that he never got to experience as a youth. Or maybe something even darker! Who knows!

Nose
Goodness gracious I think his nose can be used to literally catch foxes in!

So, this story is based on a story written by Mark Schultz of his life with du Pont. It was taken by another guy, written better, and the movie was based on that book. Originally, Mark Schultz was all about this movie. Loved how much of it was based on his notes and scenes he saw were based off of things he directly wrote about.

But now? Mark Schultz really really really hates this movie. He went crazy on facebook and twitter, click the link if you want some spoilers. He is all sorts of pissed about how it made him look and implied scenes that went on the film.

Despite this, he still wants to make sure the actors win some stuff though. And that is because the acting was definitely the best part of this movie.

Steve Carell is not Steve Carell in this movie. He also isn’t Michael Scott, and he definitely isn’t Brick. He is a completely different person, with a prosthetic nose, mannerisms, walk, voice, everything. I LOVE it when comedic actors go serious, and it is definitely an incredible performance.

It is a good story, but I feel like too much of it is focused on the not so important aspects of du Pont, and not the really really bad stuff. The really really bad stuff seems rushed and time wise, it makes it seem like in real life they happen quickly after the rest of the movie, when in real life, it is many years difference.

And you know, not knowing the real life stories of the Schultz and the du Pont brothers, it took a long time for me to realize just what the point of telling this story all was. It could have definitely been improved by some telling out of order, I think I would have had a deeper emotional level connection to the film.

But despite the issues, it is still a very well acted movie, and an interesting black spot on the sport of Olympic Wrestling.

3 out of 4.

The Book Of Life

When I first saw a trailer for The Book Of Life, I was taken aback with the animation styling. And the story line. And everything about it. Well, everything but one thing.

Guillermo del Toro‘s name was attached to the picture. Really? I like del Toro, so I found that surprising because it didn’t seem like something that he heavily influenced. Outside of the Mexican influence, it just didn’t seem like his work. But I decided to give it a benefit of the doubt. There is reasoning behind the animation style, there is some cultural significance to the whole picture, and damn it. It might be excellent.

If you didn’t know, this movie has something to do with the Day of the Dead, which takes place from Halloween to Nov 2. In particular, they call Nov 2 the Day of the Dead, as that is the day that they celebrate the gravestones of their family members and party in their remembrance, the central theme to the story.

The non central theme hopefully is searching for this mythical Book of Life that gives everyone super powers. I hope.

Books
Oh shit, those kids found it! Run! Chaos everywhere! Ahh!

Mexico in this case is the center of the universe, not only that, but the center of Mexico is a place that looks like a guitar surrounded by water, in San Angel. That is where a lot of shenanigans take place, given its central location. I guess I should explain the afterlife. Get ready for some facts. Everyone knows that once people die, their spirits go to a really sexy place where they party all day and all night and live with their families and friends! La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) rules the Land of the Remembered and it is totally fetch. But there is another afterlife place. The Land of the Forgotten, ruled by Xibalba (Ron Perlman). That is not a fun place. You see, if people in the Land of the Forgotten ever forget about someone that has died, the spirit gets moved to the Land of the Forgotten for the rest of eternity. Not a fun time at all. 🙁 🙁 🙁

Xibalba of course doesn’t like his job and wants to rule the cool place, so they make bets and wages all the time over the lives of humans to determine who rules what.

So they see these three kids running around. Manolo (Diego Luga) with his guitar and sensitivity, Joaquin (Channing Tatum) who likes to sword fight and wants to be a soldier, and of course, sweet sweet Maria (Zoe Saldana) the object of their affection and daughter of the general.

Bets! They place them. Xibalba picks Joaquin to eventually marry Maria, and La Muerte picks Manolo. If Xibalba wins, he gets to rule the Land of the Remembered, but if La Muete wins, Xibalba has to stop interfering with the lives of humans. Oh golly.

The fate of so much on such a little arrangement. And who is to say the girl will marry either boy? Pfft. Gods.

Also featuring the voice acting talent of Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Carlos Alazraqui, Danny Trejo, and Hector Elizondo.

Hair
Not to be weird, but that is the sexiest hair I have seen on a CGI wooden puppet ever.

Turns out, del Toro didn’t have a lot to do with this movie. Sure, he was involved on some level as a producer, but he wasn’t even the executive producer. He probably provided some nice funding and helped design the Land of the Remembered, because it was vibrant and unique, but not sure what else he might have done.

A lot of music in this movie, and about half of it (or more) were actual songs but with a lot more mariachi feel to them. We got Creep and I Will Wait and much more. I think there is also unique music, but I just might not be hip enough on the music scene to get the references.

I think this is a hard movies for kids to follow. A lot is going on, a lot of characters are good and just misunderstood. After all, Xibalba isn’t a bad guy, just looks bad. Joaquin isn’t a bad guy either. The only bad guy is a bandito who doesn’t show up til the end, and I will say, he had very entertaining fight scenes.

The movie has a lot of spirit and energy, but I just found it hard to really relate to anyone. Or the story itself. It just ended up on the “okay” spectrum, which was disappointing, as I figured this one would be one of the best films of the year. Maybe I made a mistake in picking The Book Of Life over The Boxtrolls. I hope not!

2 out of 4.

22 Jump Street

If I told you four years ago that not only would a 21 Jump Street comedy be made, but that Jonah Hill would be involved, and they’d have a sequel called 22 Jump Street, you would have kicked me in the nuts. Then publicly shamed me for being a terrible person. You also may have been slightly confused at the oddly specific-ness of that foretelling.

For all intents and purposes, 21 Jump Street should not have done as well as it did. But it ended up being funny, making a lot of money, and here we are. And this time, they don’t care what you think.

Fuck You
Picture speaks for itself.

College! That is where our heroes, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are going. Same aliases. There is a new new drug that has its own list of side effects that killed a girl. So they are going to infiltrate the dealer, find the supplier and take them down. Hmm, same plot too.

But this time it is different. Because in College, people can be free thinkers. You also don’t need a hall pass.

This time, Jenko is going to try out for football looking for dealers, where he meets the quarterback Zook (Wyatt Russell), who is basically Jenko’s clone and instant best friend.

Schmidt is going the art kids route, looking for drama and poetry geeks who might be hitting the WHYPHY up hard. That is where he meets Maya (Amber Stevens) and gets a girlfriend out of it. It isn’t creepy like the last movie, because she is of age.

But no! It is not just the same! After all, their bosses are still played by Ice Cube and Nick Offerman. Because that makes sense. But the new thug bad guy is Peter Stormare. That is different. Not to mention we have people from Workaholics, like Jillian Bell and uhh. That might be it.

Basically, what is important though is that they have the same blanket set as I do in real life.

Rocket Car

After viewing, I determine that 22 Jump Street was like one very long and elaborate inside joke. That would be annoying normally, but here is the good news. You are in on the joke, too. It all makes sense, because you are a person who saw the first film and understands that everything probably has an extra layer of meaning to it.

That’s right. This film is really aware of itself/meta/whatever you want to call it. And it will beat you over head with the jokes and at least for me, it didn’t get stale at all. Not only did it just keep building and building, along with an increase in action, but they didn’t even stop when the movie ended. It had to be one of the more amazing/funny credits I have ever seen. And they didn’t even fill the credits with dumb outtakes or anything.

Tatum might just be a comedy guy. Hill’s character had its moments, mostly dealing with one fight scene near the end and his interactions with Ice Cube, but Tatum had so many laugh out loud lines and moments. Only a few were shown in the trailer. The “lightbulb” scene with Tatum might be the funniest thing I have seen in a movie in over a year. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

I feel like I am giving out this rating far too much over the last few weeks, but seriously, movies are really earning their keep this summer. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are comedy gods and they should be worshiped as such.

4 out of 4.

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