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.

Spectre

Bond Bond Bond. In case you missed my other reviews on the subject, I have no craps about Bond growing up. My parents didn’t care, so I didn’t get him in my impressionable youth phase, so the only Bond films have had Daniel Craig at the helm.

Casino Royale was okay, Quantum of Solace was terrible, Skyfall was interesting, and now we have Spectre. The internet tells me that the wiki page has spoilers on the subject and the trailer gives too much away. Apparently Spectre is a reference to an older Bond villain from a past film and they are redoing it. I think?

The good news is, I won’t have to compare it to something decades ago. Like always, I will just look at this film and see if I like it as a stand alone action spy film. And for those who are counting, this is the FIFTH Spy movie of the year. After Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and of course, Spy. Strangely enough, the other 4 were all good movies. This might be the best year of Spy film ever recorded. Assuming the grand daddy of spy films can end the streak with a bang.

Chess
I’m sure this is just a metaphor.

Do you remember the last three films? Because you will need to. You especially need to know that M (Judi Dench) died in the last movie, and now there is a new M (Ralph Fiennes). The 00 program is potentially going to get shut down, what with half of their building destroyed in the last program and all. They have a new commander, who we will call C (Andrew Scott), who is going to bring all of the British agencies together and more transparent.

Bond (Daniel Craig) don’t give a damn. He opens the movie in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, killing an assassin and a few other people who planned on blowing up a stadium! This doesn’t help his cause, and he gets house arrested in London for the time being, complete with GPS nanobot tracking in his blood. But like I just said, Bond don’t give a damn. He was told to kill the assassin, Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona), by M (dead one) herself! She sent him a video from beyond the grave to get it done, should she die. So of course he followed orders.

However, in killing Sciarra, he stumbles upon a large and secret organization calling itself Spectre. His only clues involve using Sciarra’s wife, now widow, Lucia (Monica Bellucci) to find the organization and find The Pale King who is also involved in their bad evil guy plans…somehow.

Spectre is led by the mysterious Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) who seems to know an awful lot about Bond. We also have returning favorites, Q (Ben Winshaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Tanner (Rory Kinnear). Also returning is Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) from the first two films, and introducing his daughter, Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). And of course Dave Bautista as scary intimidating no talking killer, Hinx.

Church
This is…also a metaphor? Is Bond getting religious?

Spectre is not what it is hyped up to be. Heck, if you look at my reviews for the other spy movies that came out this year, you will see that they all earned higher marks, making Spectre, technically, the worst spy film of the year. The good news is that it is still at least okay or average and not complete shit.

Here is what is wrong with the film. Bellucci is used in like one scene, and never seen from again. Most of the actors don’t seem to be giving it their all. They really forced the love interest in this film, none of it felt believable and trying to make it a for sure thing is just lazy writing. A lot of lines I couldn’t even understand, due to mumbles or louder sound moments, allowing me to miss jokes and important plot points. There are plot twists, technically, but everyone you can see coming from miles away in the first 20-30 minutes.

But most of my complaints revolve around Waltz and his villain. First of all, Waltz is normally fantastic, but again, his character was always reserved and never felt scary or intimidating. His character also felt like he was barely in the film until the end. We needed a lot more of him for him to reach his true big bad scary levels. Most Bond fans know everything about the villain already, as there is only one notable Spectre leader. However when the reveal occurs, it is also mumbled quickly and then ignored. So for a non serious Bond fan, it does nothing, and for the serious ones, well, they knew it was coming all along.

They connected the villain from this film to the last three, but it all felt shoe horned, offering only a quick explanation and then moving on. More details would have helped understand the bad guys motivations, outside of the vague backstory they gave him. The villain also had a cool brain altering needle that would just take out important functions for whoever is getting tortured. Well. Bond had two pricks, and basically everything that was said would happen, did not. What the hell even was the point?

And the ending itself felt forced and dare I say, heavy handed.

Not saying there weren’t moments I didn’t like. I loved the intro, both in Mexico City (which opened with a very long shot), and the credits, with all the octopus imagery. Q and M were good. The Rome car chase, the train fight scene, and the plane ridiculousness were all very entertaining and well shot. Classic Bond moments from them all.

2 out of 4.

Skyfall

I have set my standards far too high! For most movies that are coming out in theaters, I have been reviewing them the next week. But for Skyfall, I waited two. My bad, I had to watch the previous two as you knew. Not to mention my general Bond apathy, but don’t let anyone here that. Daniel Craig is a scary man, who might come after me.

Bike it
There is no way I can outrun that shit.

Speaking of running, like all Bond films (maybe?) this one begins with a chase! Bond is in pursuit of some shifty eyed guy, along with another field operative Eve (Naomie Harris). Why? Because that guy was able to get his hands on some data, basically all of the secret agent identities involved with the MI6. Oh jeez, that shouldn’t even be a file! But even worse is that while on a moving train over a river, Eve misses the kill shot and hits Bond instead, causing him to fall to his demise and the bad guy goes free. (She didn’t feel lie re-firing, in shock).

But yeah, Bond being dead screws up some stuff. M (Judi Dench) gets into a lot of trouble with the government. They don’t like secrets being stolen OR dead agents. So Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) is brought in to help her into retirement and smooth out the transition.

Oh what’s that? Bond isn’t dead? Just hiding out considering retirement? That’s cool. But when his colleagues are getting killed from that list, he reluctantly comes back in to find that man and who is causing all this shit and why. Spoilers? I don’t think so. But Silva (Javier Bardem) is that man, and also a former agent of MI6. He is fed up with their operation, mostly at the way M has treated them. He has felt betrayed at the institution that created him and is looking for redemption. Huh, he is actually pretty similar to Bond when you think about it. Hopefully he isn’t too charismatic.

Don’t fret, we also get a young Q (Ben Whishaw) with “new” and “innovative” gadgets for Bond. Will Bond realize how much of a bitch M has been to them, and get the hell out of Dodge? Also, why not bring up a lot more of Bond’s past as an orphan, those kind of tales are always exciting.

Javi
“Tell me more of how no one has ever truly loved you, James.” Silva, while stroking Bond’s hair.

Whoa whoa whoa. I know my selections are limited, but this has to be my favorite Bond movie. Of all time. Ever. Out of the three. So there is that. I also remember a lot of the plot, while in the first two I can’t even remember who played the bad guys. Maybe they just weren’t famous? I can tell you they were not memorable.

Javier Bardem was fucking memorable. So fucking charismatic. His opening scene was one long take/speech and just perfect. Everything he said was so believable, and humorous as well.

Craig also brought his A-game, but I couldn’t help but think of the movie The Mother during some of those scenes with M. If you know what I mean. (You probably don’t, in The Mother, Daniel Craig fucks a grandmother. A lot).

The action was great, the drama was great, and hell, there was even a giant Komodo Dragon (maybe. A lizardologist can correct me later). Bad ass lizards are my favorite.

The final fight scene really put some nice closure on this part of the Bond era, an I believe Craig is signed on for at least two more movies, and I can actually say that I am excited to see them.

3 out of 4.

Quantum Of Solace

Shocking to probably no one, I don’t know a lot about Bond. While growing up, my parents didn’t like it, so I never was exposed to it and didn’t care. I knew the basics, I played the GoldenEye game. I know his favorite drink…kind of, and know he is friends with letters. But that is about it. I watched my first James Bond movie ever a few weeks ago, Casino Royale. I bought Quantum of Solace a year ago, just couldn’t watch it without Casino first! But I figured with Skyfall, I better get to getting, or else you will all leave me for another site.

But yeah. JameS Bond trivia. I am the suck at it. I thought Casino Royale was decent, took too long to get to the Casino for my taste though.

Desert 1
Watching my second James Bond movie? Excuse me while I get all hot and bothered. And dry. Dry from the title.

Hey guys James Bond (Daniel Craig). He does Bond things. Someone tries to kill M (Judi Dench) but Bond is like, no, and kills him first. But they find out he is a hitman and was also hired by Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) to kill his then girlfriend Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko).

I am doing so bad at this plot already. But that Dominic Greene guy? He is our major baddie. But the girlfriend is not our bond girl. For that, we have Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), another MI6 agent. Calm down everyone, he can only seduce so many women at a time.

Either way shit happens, eco-terrorism, groundwater, whatever. Felix Jones (Jeffrey Wright) is back in this, and his handler (David Harbour) who I only bring up because he looks funny.

Greene is a member of Quantum, an environmentalist group. Got the name now? But they are trying to get some Oil stocks in Bolivia, weird.

Desert 2
If you google image searched this movie, you would think this is all that happened.

Alright, second Bond movie I’ve ever seen, and well, it was alright.

I still don’t see the major appeal. After all, the James Bond lifestyle is so ingrained in our culture now, it is hardly as impressive. I thought the speed boat chases early on were pretty cool. But man, the scenery? Could have been a lot better, the desert was very unattractive to be in for that long. And man, the title! The title doesn’t make me curious, it makes me weary. It feels like random words put together, and doesn’t actually mean anything. I don’t like that feeling.

But since I am rambling and just saying nothing, I should end this madness. Probably necessary if you want to see Skyfall, obviously. I think I liked Casino Royale more.

2 out of 4.

The Adventures Of Tintin

When I thought about The Adventures of Tintin as a crazy CGI movie, I didn’t think much of it. I thought it would probably cost a lot of money and not do so well. I also knew that he probably wouldn’t go to Africa, given his old comics being racist and stuff.

Basically what you need to know about Tintin is he is a guy with a dog, that goes on adventures. He is a journalist, which means he gets around, investigates, and can also solve mysteries. He also knows how to do tons of things, like pilot all types of transportation sources. He probably speaks a lot of languages too, but doesn’t show off. What a well guy

tintin
Minus that guys nose, look at that “realism”!

Tintin (Jamie Bell) is just hanging out in Paris. The first time we seem him is actually hilarious. But I don’t want to spoil that joke for you. While looking for his dog, he finds a model Ship made by Sir Francis Haddock (Obvious reference to Drake is obvious), who was a famous sailor and rich, and had a ship named a Unicorn. Immediately after purchase, a guy tries to buy it from him (with a warning), then Rackham (Daniel Craig), an old rich guy tries to do the same. He seems evil, and this is a CGI movie, so he is.

Eventually Tintin finds a note stuk in the ship, written in another language and a poem. Eventually he also finds out that Rackham has a ship identical to his with a different note. Can these notes combined lead to a secret buried treasure?

Shooting, and kidnapping, and escaping happen, and Tintin finds himself on a boat (motherfucker, on a boat) where he meets Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). The captain of the baot who is locked away in his room after a mutiny, with nothing but his rum. They eventually escape and realize there is a third clue. Also, clearly the Captain is a descendant Sir Francis, and wants to help out Tintin. But they have to race against Rackham and his crew, who want to stop them, and find the treasure first.

There is also Thomson (Nick Frost) and Thompson (Simon Pegg), two very similar bumbling constables, who want to help Tintin. I think?

T and T
Seriously. No idea if they are out to get him, or help him, or if all of their success is stealing the work he does and captures people?

Did you like that shitty plot description? I skipped a lot and left a lot out because A LOT OF THINGS happen in this movie. Holy crap, is there action.

Oddly enough this film is PG. The Captain is drunk 90% of his screen time, and one of the major plot points in the desert is that he gets sober and can’t remember certain things so they have to find him alcohol. What!? Also lots of guns. People in the movie die to guns, even. No blood spatter. But shot. In a pg movie! And smoking! I guess you can do anything in CGI eh?

I liked it all though. It was crazy to watch. Chase scenes, different countries, and a pirate hallucination that was super epic.

My one big complaint, which is true of the comic too (and thus true to the film?) is the dog. The dog just felt like one giant Deus Ex Machina, again and again. The dog was responsible for most of the plot advancement, randomly running away, randomly finding things etc. Just felt lazy that it kept happening over and over.

But really, it was a pretty nifty adventure that Tintin guy went on.

3 out of 4.

Dream House

Dream House? I never saw a preview for this movie. Just new it was “thriller/horror” based, had james bond, and the poster involved two girls wearing outfits that looked like wall paper.

Alright. Sounds like nothing new, but lets see what happens!

Images!
Something religious, maybe?

Daniel Craig is a writer, but he is done with that shit! He wants to move with his wife (Rachel Weisz) and two kids to a non city area, and write! Oh yeah, he isn’t done with writing, just wants to help raise his family better. Suburbs are good for that. Write novels at home and stuff.

Well, his daughters start to see things. A man in a window? And there is someone they sometimes see outside? Turns out five years prior, a MURDER happened in their house. The wife and kids were killed by the dad who was taken to a mental institution. After further research, he was released not too long ago! He tries to get more information out his neighbors, Naomi Watts and her husband Marton Csokas, but they seem uneasy, and unwilling to help.

At this point have you figured the whole movie out yet?

Well yeah that is true. But then there is more. After all “Dream House”. The things that happen in the house, how much of it is real, and how much of it is fake? Thankfully every question is answered in the movie. Whether or not you accept the answers as good enough is the bigger question.

Dream House
There goes the wallpaper clothes. Is that supposed to be scary? Just seems like they’re poor.

The movie is only about 90 minutes and can easily be broken up into about three parts. The first part is the boring set up, possible weird stuff going on, without anything actually being scary. Second part is the investigation and realization. Third part is the confusion of what is real, what is fake, and the wondering of why any of it matters. The ending of the movie is a complete mess. Confusion is what they were going for, but even when you should know what is going on, you will be confused because of poor design.

So what am I left with? A thriller that isn’t thrilling, and a lame conclusion / obvious plot line (that they try really hard to muck up). Blah.

1 out of 4.

Cowboys & Aliens

I assume most of you while growing up (if you were male at least), played some form of cowboys vs indians with your fiends. Why not? Violence is fun, and team sports are fun. Of course there is a lot of other versions of this game, Cops vs Robbers, pirates vs ninjas, terrorists vs anti-terrorists or even Texas vs Mexicans.

Cowboys & Aliens tries to take the rivalry concept a step further, by having a clearly more advanced side (instead of relatively even sides (ignoring pirates vs ninjas (go pirates) ) ). Also technically this could just be a rewording of Texas vs Mexicans, but that came out after this movie, so it isn’t thievery.

fair fight?
Picture: Not a fair fight.

The movie opens with Daniel Craig lying in the desert, alone, and thankfully fully clothed. Sure, he doesn’t remember anything, and he has a weird device on his arm, but at least he has clothes. Eventually he finds a town, and apparently he is a wanted outlaw. Despite still being confused, turns out he can kick an ass or too, assuming that ass is male. Because out of no where Olivia Wilde fucks him up (with a cheap shot) and he gets thrown in jail.

At the same time, far away, Harrison Ford is all upset about missing workers and dead steer. Bright lights? Sounds like bullshit to him! He goes to the town though hearing that Craig is there, and he wants to punish him himself, as he stole his gold! Conflict happens in the town, fighting over prisoners. But then! Bright lights (See above picture) and explosions! Thankfully his mysterious arm attachment can create its own booms, and they don’t get obliterated or all captured.

They make a posse to go get those aliens (try to follow their tracks), to free the hostages and you know, figure out what the hell is going on. Oh yeah, Sam Rockwell plays a doctor too, and I am pretty sure this is the only movie where he doesn’t dance.

But how was it? Visually it was good. Nice CGI, nice desert contrast to go with the explosions. Craig and Harrison both go through character transformations in the film, so by the end you like both people, so that is good. Olivia Wilde felt out of play the whole movie though. Seriously, if you looked at a picture of all the cast and her, you’d just assume she was an alien.

O wilde
Or at least the nakedest one.

Plot is very straight forward, but I didn’t find it engaging enough. Sure, I would have liked better answers for some things. I believe I am told why they are there, and why they captured some humans, but that why isn’t explained at all. Just makes them seem like a nuisance. There is a lull in a lot of the action scenes with aliens, because there are other threats out there (Indian tribe, the outlaw gang) etc, but nothing between them really escalates or feels threatening, because we also know there is damn aliens out there! People won’t kill other people if they can help fight aliens, just a fact.

I thought most of the acting was bad. The realest people to me were random extra outlaw members. The story overall never grasped my full attention and care, so although I thought some parts were cool, it fell flat for me in a lot of other places.

2 out of 4.