Wind River

For awhile, I was up in Northern Minnesota. This is real life, true story. How north, you ask? Well, apparently a 45 minute drive would have taken me to Canada.

I bring this up for two reasons: One, it made me miss quite a few screenings, because they show movies up there months after everyone else saw them, certainly not before. And two, the movie Wind River is set in the wilderness.

Not almost Canada, but cold enough in the months of “barely Spring” Wyoming, in the mountains.

So basically, I am this story. If you squint really really hard.

Hunt
Oh hey. Avengers. I see you upgraded weapons.

Set in the titular Wind River, Wyoming, this takes us to a big reservation city where people want to just be left alone, raise their families, and not be fucked over by the white man. Basically like a lot of people in the world.

Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a cool white guy though, as you can tell with his white name. He is okay, because he works to help the area. He lives alone and is a hunter, and he works for the government sort of, taking out wolves or lions or whatever that are messing with people’s farms. He has an ex wife (Julia Jones) and a son (Teo Briones) that he has visitation for sometimes. Definitely some backstory there. Would be awesome if a new character was brought in so that it could be addressed at some point.

But before that, DEATH. Because while out looking for a momma lion and her cubs, he stumbles upon a dead body. A girl, Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) that he knows, barefoot, and miles away from any house. His plans have changed, and now they have to wait for an FBI agent to get there to investigate the possible murder. Which is where we meet Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), girl totally not used to the cold, here to check things out. Despite bad things that have clearly happened to the girl, specifically physical stuff, the death cannot be ruled a murder but natural causes. Weather is a goddamn bitch.

Banner doesn’t have a lot of time to investigate this before she will be called back to a new job, so she enlists Lambert’s help in order to get someone who knows the area and land to maybe make some leads quickly before she has to run off again. Can they figure out the mystery behind her death?

Featuring the awesome Graham Greene as the local cop, and Gil Birmingham as Natalie’s dad. Also all of these people: Apesanahkwat, Eric Lange, Tantoo Cardinal, Althea Sam, Tyler Laracca, Martin Sensmeier, Tokala Clifford, Jon Bernthal, James Jordan, Austin R. Grant, Blake Robbins, Hugh Dillon, Ian Bohen, and Matthew Del Negro.

Grief
And Birmingham’s face was played by William Wallace.

After watching, Wind River seems like one of those movies that I really love for basically every aspect, that other movie watchers will find to be boring or dumb. I hate it when that happens. I want those people to open their minds and realize they just witnessed something epic, so I write about it (while begrudgingly say that yeah, everyone can have an opinion), and make sure people get out there.

But honestly I can’t see that happening. I can’t imagine people going to watch this and not being impressed with it. It is just so damn good. There is no way this can have a disconnect between critic and the average movie goer. Anyone should be able to go in, see how much Renner, Olsen and Greene brought it the entire time they weer on the screen. They should be able to see how much Birmingham did with a lot less screen time. They should be appreciative of the cast that was very racially sensitive to the area.

And they should be able to see how well the plot unfolded. When the movie decided to reveal the secrets, they should feel how their stomach turned and their anger increased. The emotions would be on a ride if someone just let them.

Sure, Wind River started off a little bit slow, but once we get dead body, it should captivate the viewer, and you will see definitely one of the best films of 2017.

4 out of 4.

Arrival

To be honest, 2016 has been an above average year for Sci-Fi. And no, I am not talking about Star Trek Beyond or Star Wars Rogue One.

But the Science Fiction films that make you think, that assume you are paying attention to the film and are here for a ride. Sure, we were given Allegiant, The 5th Wave, Independence Day: Resurgence, but they aren’t the only films out there. We were also given Midnight Special, which I gave a 4 out of 4 to, and 10 Cloverfield Lane, which I only had minor issues with.

And yet despite the better than average year, Arrival raises the bar higher and blows them all away.

Fog
That is important. That means something.

Arrival of course opens up with a parent losing her child, because movies want desperately for me to be sad always. We see a quick montage of Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) narrating over brief glimpses of her daughter, Hannah, and eventually succumbing to cancer in the late teens of early twenties. Fuck. Okay, let’s start off somber.

Dr. Banks is a linguist and teaches at a university level. She knows quite a few languages and just how they develop better than almost anyone. She has some government clearance too, thanks to helping decode some terrorist messages. So when the aliens come, she is quickly swept up to help figure out their language. The aliens are in twelve giant intimidating oval shaped pods around the world, with the only one in the US landing in Montana. Banks quickly determines that the best way to communicate and learn from them is an attempt to communicate both vocally and through a written language.

Her science team is lead by a theoretical physicist, Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), with the head military guy being played by Forest Whitaker, the head of operations guy being played by Michael Stuhlbarg, and of course, Tzi Ma, playing a Chinese general.

Suit up
Suiting Up is always important when meeting someone new. Even if it is a biohazard suit.

Denis Villeneuve is a god amongst men. Sure, he didn’t come up with Arrival on his own, it is based on a book Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang. But Villeneuve is consistently doing films that seemingly no one else is attempting. He is not defining what is right or what is wrong. He is not holding your hand to give you all the answers in his stories. This is true for Enemy, Sicario, and Prisoners, and now it is true for Arrival. Many other directors would have made the film a lot more in your face, but Villeneuve assumes we are smarter than that and wants to focus on the experience and narrative, rather than pointing out the subtleties.

After the director it is hard to say where else I should go with this. The cinematography is beautiful, a lot of longer shots. We even get the indie “camera following the main character walking” shot a few times, which I normally get annoyed at, but this time it seems to work really well. The aliens themselves are stunning and a bit scary, shrouded in their mystery. And the music is a hard thing to ignore, all over the place and really putting the watcher in the right mood.

Adams pulls off a hell of a performance and is likely to be nominated from it. She is such a different person in this movie, even though she clearly looks like Adams, she feels like someone else. A lot of the crazier moments come up through and about her character and it is thrilling ride the entire time. Adams made me cry. Multiple times.

The film addresses a lot of powerful themes, and to talk about most of them would feel like a spoiler. Such is the problems of a reviewer.

Arrival is the sort of film that will actually get better with subsequent viewings. It ends up going places I didn’t think possible, and will stay with me for quite a long time.

4 out of 4.

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: The Winter Soldier before 2016 was the best Marvel movie to date. It was solid all around, had the best action, the biggest stakes, and was nearly perfect. Before that, Captain America: The First Avenger was probably the second most solid solo film of Phase 1, behind Iron Man and also behind The Avengers.

Despite the resounding success of Captain America films and the Russo Brothers at directing, I was worried about Captain America: Civil War. Like, really really worried.

First of all, it is one of the only full plot lines I have actually read the comics for, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Second, I had seen a few trailers and I was worried about a lot of things. If the trailers gave too much away. That the plot felt forced (unnatural) and the big fight between the two groups would be cheesy. That the previous films didn’t set things up enough for the resentment to be believable.

A huge list of worries. I only need to state them out clear so I am not shown to be a fanboy. Especially after Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was ready for disappointment.

Shield
And no matter what happened, I would be Team Cap all the way.

This movie will make more sense if you saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. I assume you did, because come on, Marvel.

The film actually starts out, after some flashbacks, in Lagos, Nigeria! Some current avengers (Captain America (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)) are staking out important buildings, looking for Crossbones (Frank Grillo). Needless to say, not everything goes perfectly and some civilians get hurt. Namely, a group of missionaries!

Based on those events, the events in NYC, in Sokovia, and more, the world has decided to stand up in unity and demand action. Over 100 countries have signed the Sokovia Accords, which states that the Avengers will now only act if they have permission from a UN Panel, and of course, have to act if they deem it necessary. A few of the Avengers agree with these accords. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is feeling guilty and War Machine (Don Cheadle) is on his side. Hell, even Vision (Paul Bettany) feels it is necessary to avoid problems in the future.

But not Captain. He has trust issues with these sorts of groups now, and doesn’t want to be forced to step aside if he sees wrong doing, or be forced to do something he sees as wrong. So he doesn’t sign the papers. The papers are led by the King of Wakanda, T’Chaka (John Kani), who is especially pissed that their primary export was used to make Ultron. And sure enough, more bad things happen. Apparently The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is at it again!

Fuck, so much shit. Captain believes Bucky is just brainwashed and wants to protect his old friend and not let the government kill him. So yeah, there is some conflict here. Captain and a few others agree to help him out, to get to the bottom of all of this, while the other guys have to stop them for negligently doing bad things to the UN and other officers. Fuck, who is right, I don’t know?!

Also featuring the return of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp). And of course, introducing Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo. William Hurt plays the Secretary of State and Martin Freeman as the head of the UN Avengers Council thing.

Shield2
Shit Spider-Man, why do you gotta go and steal my boy’s shield like that?

Captain America: Civil War is two and a half hours long, but I found myself wanting more. I needed more. More of everything! I could spend the next 500 words just comparing it to BvS, but that wouldn’t be a review of this film, it’d just be a shitty comparison. So I will keep it short: Civil War did a lot of things right that BvS did not.

Civil War turns out to be a fanboy’s wet dream. The action is incredible throughout most of the film. For each and every spout of athleticism, you can understand the fight. There aren’t a thousand quick cuts or shaky cameras. You will not only see well choreographed fighting skill sets before your eyes, but each character fights true to their persona and powers, so no one ends up fighting the same. Of course, a lot of heroes end up fighting and battling with other heroes. We also get tons of team ups you haven’t seen before. All of this creates for some intense scenes with a whole lot of fan service.

Now now, I know what you are thinking. If basically everyone is a good guy with future films, the tension can’t be real. Well, for the most part you shouldn’t expect people to die. Because it is a comic book movie and all that reason. I am not saying people don’t die, but I am saying for sure a lot of people do get hurt, both physically and emotionally. This is not a movie that wraps up everything with a nice big bow, it changes the future landscape of the films…much like The Winter Soldier did.

On another note, Civil War doesn’t go the obvious route throughout the plot. It didn’t go the typical Marvel movie route. It didn’t just keep escalating the odds to ridiculous levels. It had emotional backing behind it, on every side and even on the villain side. Some can complain that the villain is too calculating, but when I compare his plan to someone like Lex Luther’s (fuck I did it again), his makes a lot more sense without ridiculous stretches.

Shield3
Thank’s Black Panther. You are clearly just aggressively giving the shield back here.

Now here, allow me to hype things.

Black Panther HYPE! What a great introduction to this guy. He was shown to be strong, agile, moral with conflicting issues given his royal upbringing. His inclusion in this film was well written and explained, along with why he chose to fight. He is in this film a bunch, more than most of the other Avengers. I am so excited for this eventual film and future roles.

Spider-Man HYPE! Spider-Man was in this film a lot more than I expected as well. We got to see him as Peter Parker a bit as well for an introduction. His fighting was very spider like, along with his normal combat quips. They also showed his age really well, when compared to the old ass fuckers on the team, giving a clear and distinct gap in knowledge bases and general attitude.

Future films HYPE! I can’t wait for more. Like I said originally, I wasn’t looking forward to Civil War. After BvS, I certaintly wasn’t looking forward to Suicide Squad. All of my hopes were riding with X-Men: Apocalypse, which I don’t see as being good as the last two, and Doctor Strange, which I am pretty excited for. But now I have higher hopes for the future of Marvel films. Higher than I already anticipated.

On a final note, despite the large cast and significance of the plot, Civil War was worthy of being called a Captain America film. It wasn’t just Avengers 2.5. His characters was largely the focus of the film, but at the same time he wasn’t a simple protagonist. Chris Evans is GOAT, hooray movies.

4 out of 4.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

There isn’t much new to say about the Mission: Impossible series that I didn’t already say in my Ghost Protocol review weeks ago. I watched the other four movies in the series, some were good, some were bad. More importantly, the last one was good, so the series is on an upswing and I can be excited!

Tom Cruise puts out exciting movies. He can be a bit crazy, but by damn does the man know how to entertain an audience.

Part of me secretly hopes that this time, in Rogue Nation, the mission actually ends up being impossible and they lose. That would be a nice plot twist and a fantastic way to end the franchise. A bit of a downer, but man, what IDGAF attitude they would have!

EXPLSOSIMS
Your mission should you choose to accept it: Die in the movie and NOT return for a sequel.

Remember the Syndicate? Of course you don’t! They were mentioned at the end of the last movie but vaguely and that they were bad people. Turns out they are very, very bad people. So bad that Ethan Hunt (Cruise) got captured by them relatively early on in the movie, with innocent people being killed. He doesn’t know a lot about them, they are a very secret organization, led by some guy (Sean Harris) that he of course knows next to nothing about.

All he knows is that he only is able to escape thanks to the help of a woman (Rebecca Ferguson). But just like previous films, due to all of the chaos of events going around the IMF, they officially get disbanded. The head of the CIA (Alec Baldwin) has brought all usable resources into his division, including Benji (Simon Pegg) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner). Luther (Ving Rhames) figured he’d rather retire than work for the CIA.

And now Ethan is on his own, being hunted by the CIA and the Syndicate, the latter of which no organization actually believes exists. A typical Tuesday for him I’d imagine.

Also featuring Jens Hultén as henchman who speaks and Saif Al-Warith as henchman who doesn’t speak, but has a nice beard.

Action
If you look closely, you will notice reversed gender roles!

M:I 5, if I can call it that, was an action movie done right. We don’t have lamely on a mission killing an entire island worth of henchmen, or people running around just yelling shitty puns. No, the action scenes in this film have depth. It helps that a lot of the stunts are done by Cruise himself, which just adds to his action star credibility. The plane scene is the famous stunt scene, which is funny in context of the film based on how little it matters. The underwater scene was one of the best scenes, as well as the motorcycle/car chase.

For the plot, it has the normal twists and turns that the franchise tends to offer, but I think it falls apart a bit near the end. Things get almost too convoluted. Thankfully it doesn’t completely ruin the film which spends the rest of the time before it building up your good graces with cool scene after cool scene.

Ferguson plays the best Mission: Impossible lady star of the five films. She is a kick ass, bad ass woman, who has her own motives for doing everything. She isn’t just a lame plot device for Hunt, like a Bond girl.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is definitely one of the best action movies of the year at this point, and probably one of the better non Superhero action movies from the last few years. Go and see and be entertained.

3 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Movie confession: I was born in 1989, and it took until the summer of 2015 for me to watch the first four Mission: Impossible films. I have definitely never seen the TV show (and don’t plan on it). I really wanted to review Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation when it was in theaters though, so I had to gain copies of the first three films.

Oh, I had Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on Blu-Ray already though. Bought it three years ago for about $3 and put it on my “eventually” shelf.

Well the time is now! And as a way of catching up, I thought the first one was good, the second one was really really terrible and took me five days to finish it (watching a little bit each day), and the third one was decent, thanks a lot to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Good, we are caught up. On with the recent film!

Girl
I have learned to not get attached to the female lead. She totally won’t make the next film.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is now locked away in a Russian prison. He has been there for years! Some say he killed a bunch of Serbians, some say it was due to the death of his wife. Some say he is there on a secret mission. All they know is that they have to break him out right away. So a team featuring Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg), who has his field badge finally break him out. They also help break out some dude named Bogdan (Miraj Grbic), because he helped Ethan out, despite not knowing he was secretly an American.

It turns out they really really needed Ethan to break into the The Kremlin to find out the identity of a man named Cobalt. The IMF was close to figuring it out, but one of their agents (Josh Holloway) was killed by an assassin (Léa Seydoux) before they could get too close.

But then shit even goes wrong at the Kremlin. Turns out Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) was there first and frames the IMF/USA into doing some bad naughty things in the Kremlin. In response to that, the president has disbanded the entire organization, as a way of appeasing the Russians. However, our three crew members were still ordered, on their own, to stop Cobalt and get the USA out of the bad position it is in. But hey, they also an Analyst (Jeremy Renner) on their team, so that is cool! And you know, having to also escape the special agent Russian forces looking to track them down, led by Sidorov (Vladimir Mashkov). Man, there is a lot of hard shit going on.

Oh yeah, and if they fail, probably a nuclear war will happen. Jolly good, righto. Also featuring Samuli Edelmann and Ivan Shvedoff.

Climb
Camera angles intentional to show how crazy the stunts are in this tower scene.

Comparing Ghost Protocol to the other three films, it is far better than 2, better than 3, and I would say on par or even better than the first film. Ghost Protocol came out 15 years after the first film, and I am generally skeptical of 90’s movies getting sequels way later. You know, like Jurassic World. Sure, there were other films, but there was still a large gap between films 3 and 4 of those series. I assume they are making a movie not because of having a great idea (just late), but instead hope to ride the nostalgia of movie goers instead of making a new property. Remakes remake money, after all.

I couldn’t be happier to be wrong on my assumption about this film though!

I was on edge of my seat throughout the film, and not just because I also had to deal with a crying baby while I watched it. The plot was intricate, but easy to follow. And there is a ton of action to entertain. The skyscraper climbing scene was better than advertised and one of the highlights of the movie. Both the climb and the descent. Despite knowing that our hero wouldn’t die obviously, it was tense enough to scare me both times. But it wasn’t the only tense moment! The final fight scene in the strange parking garage was colorful and had such well done cinematography.

Despite his real life personality, Tom Cruise makes excellent action movies. His last seven movies, including the Tropic Thunder cameo I have given good or better reviews to. We shouldn’t care about what an actor does in real life (unless it is killing babies?) or if he has a short person complex if he can consistently entertain and put out wonderful characters and work. Needless to say, I am appropriately pumped for the next Mission Impossible and whatever future films he wants to partake in.

3 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Do I even have to write an intro? Yes? Well. Fuck. Okay.

The Avengers was stupidly successful. I knew it would be in 2008 or so. Everything Marvel has done has been covered in molten gold, but in a good way, not a Game of Thrones way. So of course everyone is excited about Avengers: Age of Ultron. Honestly, I am more excited about the next Captain America movie and some of the new heroes like Black Panther and Doctor Strange.

But hey. Ultron is cool too. I will take what I can get before we get 3 Marvel and 3 DC movies a year, plus random other franchises.

Ultron
Cool to the touch that is. HA HA HA HA HA.
Shits crazy. If you haven’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet, then I can’t really help you. Spoilers on that front.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone, unless you watch the TV show then who knows. Hydra is fucking shit up. The Avengers have gotten together to stop them.

Our friends are all back, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

Remember the twins after the credits of the movie I just mentioned? Well, Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) are also thrown into the fray. An evil fray.

Here’s the important facts though. The Avengers get Loki’s staff back pretty dang quick. And using its power, Tony Stark wants to return peace to the world. He would love to disband the Avengers because he doesn’t want there to be a need for them. So he uses the staff to help begin to build some AI to help protect the world from more outside threats. Shit goes badly. We got a robot that wants to take out all the Avengers now. The Avengers bring threats. They are dangerous. Without them the world would be better. Tony accidentally made an Ultron (James Spader).

What? Is that not enough characters for you? Well fine. We have some other appearances of course, and I won’t tell you how big or small their roles are. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Heimdall (Idris Elba), and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). We also have newbie, Dr. Helen Cho (Claudia Kim), and of course Paul Bettany and ANDY SERKIS.

Thor
But Thor is my favorite so he gets his own picture, damn it.
For movies like this, there is no way I can get through these things without rambling and talking so much. So fuck it. Let’s go classic here. A simple pros and cons list of the movie. Well, a likes and dislikes. Yeah. And with fancy bullet technology!

Likes:

  • Hawkeye. They heard the complaints about him in previous films and they made sure he was an important character. A lot was added to him. He had probably two of the best lines, did cool things, and was fantastic. Everyone should love him.
  • Hulkbuster. Hulkbuster guys. Hulkbuster. Amazing fight.
  • The plot elements in the film are definitely related to the first Avengers. Characters decisions are constantly determined to make sure they don’t redo what was done in NYC.
  • Characters shared the screen. It wasn’t just a one man show and his friends. A lot of characters got a lot of screen time. Most of the new guys got their motivations and back stories. Everyone got to fight and everyone fought hard.
  • It wasn’t an exact repeat of the first movie. There are similar elements, but the threats feel different, the arguments are different, and the jokes are different.
  • They didn’t dick around in the beginning, it starts with action and goes quickly into Ultron time.

Dislikes:

  • Um. Ultron. I think. I mean. It is iffy. But from the many trailers, I expected him to be a bit scarier overall. He had creepy elements. Especially early on. But then he seemed to turn into a mostly joke cracking villain without the fear.
  • Vision. I liked him but I don’t think they did a good enough job explaining him or giving him more things to do. He felt a bit wasted.
  • Time. The movie is 140 minutes or so, but there are several times when the thing still feels rushed, especially in the 2nd and 3rd acts. There is a lot going on and a lot I liked, but some things made no real sense. Better explanation or more cutting would have helped a ton.
  • Love. There is a romance in this movie. It feels…forced and awkward the entire time. It helps lead to some of these moments where you’d like more explanation.

Also, under both categories I could say the Future. This movie does a lot to set up future movies. Future Thanos battle. Elements for the Black Panther movie. Elements for the next Thor and the Civil War (Although I thought they should have gone way stronger on that side). At the same time, this film kind of feels like a big stepping stone for the future instead of its own amazing event. Too much focus on the later movies, which we know the next many years for and not enough about Ultron.

Overall, AoU is really fucking entertaining. Make no mistake. It was a nice ride, and good action and all of that. The characters are the ones we love with new ones you will love as well. But I think it had enough disappointing aspects associated with it to make me not as excited as I had hoped. With all the set up, I think the Civil War movie will be the one that all this hype has been leading up to. Makes sense, because after it is when we start getting all the new characters outside of Ant-Man.

Go see it. Go see it multiple times. I will buy it as soon as I can for sure. But you know, not perfect.

 

3 out of 4.

American Hustle

A lot of hype went into American Hustle and rightfully so. After all, it is the third movie from David O. Russell in four years, with the last two (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) being wildly successful and nominated for numerous awards.

Not only that, but he took the two best people from each of his previous two movies (Sorry Marky Mark), and put all four of them together in this to create some sort of mega-moviestar-zord.

Body
Featuring Bale, who has once again recklessly warped his body for a role.

One reason why I really enjoyed American Hustle is that I could never tell what was going to happen next. They had very descriptive trailers, but the plot was left vague so you could still experience the movie. So I will try to be vague here as well.

Ever since Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) was a boy, he was a con man. His dad owned a glass company, and he broke windows. So he grew up gaming the system and perfecting his craft. Next thing you know he stealing money to give out make believe loans to the crooked and desperate. Easy cash for the late 1970s. But then he meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), and he realizes she is special.

Soon they start scamming together, but eventually they get too big and reach too far and get busted by the FBI. Next thing they know, they are taking orders from rambunctious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), who has big lofty goals of getting even more criminals taken down. The only way Irving and Sydney walk, is if they help out. But Richie has big dreams, can ever really be satisfied?

Oh yeah, and Irving has a wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and kid. That is important, I guess.

Jeremy Renner plays a small town mayor who gets mixed up in the bribing network, with Michael Pena as another FBI agent, and Louis C.K as a local head of FBI. Yeah, really, Louis C.K.

Costume
Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook was my Halloween costume in ’13.
Will this be my Halloween costume in ’14?

American Hustle truly was an experience. Despite the fact that it was over 2 hours in length, I still am a bit surprised at how much material was fit into that movie. Tons. A lot. I remember a specific scene that felt like the final climatic show down, that actually ended up being the halfway point of the movie. It blew my mind, in the best way possible, that it continued to go and tell the story. I was shocked that the story continued to build and reach new heights. That somehow, I couldn’t for the life of me guess correctly what would come next.

After all, this is a con movie at its core, so you are going to expect a lot of twists and turns of the plot. The biggest problem with a con movie is that if it all relies on a twist, sometimes future viewings are dampened, already knowing what to expect. American Hustle feels like a film I could watch over and over again, never getting tired of it, thanks to the brilliant acting and writing that went into the movie.

It is based on/inspired by/whatever by the actual Abscam operation that occurred in the late 1970s, for those history buffs out there.

For those of you out there who already like David O. Russell movies, you will probably like this one too. For those of you a fan of any of the actors/actresses mentioned, you will definitely find their role awesome. If you don’t like David O. Russell movies or the actors/actresses involved in this one, well, your opinion is wrong and you will like this movie too.

4 out of 4.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

One of the advertisements for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters basically said “a classic tale with a darker twist!”.

Fuck that. Hansel & Gretel is one of the darkest fairy tales out there. Parents abandon their kids in the wood because they are too poor to eat. Only have some bread. They go to a house, made of candy. They get all excited. Oh no, locks and chains, girl forced to be a slave, boy force to eat. Witch is going to cook and eat the child, but they fuck up her shit and lock her in the oven in an escape. That is dark. I don’t think you can go too darker than that.

But I will say this tale probably has more foul language, nakedness, and blood.

Explosions
Not to mention 325% more explosions!

For whatever reason, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are immune to witch magic. With great immunities come great responsibilities, I think the saying goes. So they were orphaned in by a local town, as they were now heroes, and kind of just started killing all the witches. Unfortunately Hansel also developed super diabetes from all that candy. If he doesn’t get a shot of (somethingvague) every (someamountoftime) he will fall to the ground and die quickly! All that candy, damn.

They get brought into a new town by the mayor, because 11 or so children have been kidnapped recently and they don’t know by who! The Sheriff (Peter Stormare) doesn’t like the idea of other people doing this in his town, but since he was about to kill Mina (Pihla Viitala), wrongfully accusing her of witchcraft, they really really needed to step in. Also, money.

Eventually they find out that a blood moon is happening soon, and a lot of witches are going to convene for some sort of special ceremony, lead by grand witch Muriel (Famke Janssen). Shit. That is a lot of witches. And you know what they say, witches dig ditches. Okay, no one says that.

Also featuring Thomas Mann as their crazy obsessed super fan and Derek Mears as Edward the Troll.

Twins
I am not sure if attached to the back is as effective as they would have hoped it to be.

Whoa H&G, where did this come from? Not only are you rated R, it is a hard R. I was joking on the nakedness, but it is there. Fbombs a plenty, and the death scenes are pretty dang gruesome, for witch and human alike. The blood looks fake as crap, but there is a lot of it, and there is a lot of murder. I was a bit surprised.

In case you are curious, I doubt there is any real difference between 3D and 2D, so save the money in difference.

The movie was less than 90 minutes in length, and it did feel pretty rushed to me. I think they could have explained certain things better. Just because something is called a White Witch, doesn’t mean I should have to think of it as a good witch. Specific lineage plot points were also a bit strange to me, but I don’t know a thing about this world’s genetics, since they didn’t tell me.

In terms of entertainment, the fight scenes are pretty good. The acting from secondary people not as much. Also, H&G seem to make pretty crappy witch hunters. You don’t see a single hunt of theirs that actually works as planned or goes well. Yes, they always survive, but come on, prep better. I don’t want my heroes to barely survive every bout, you gotta be able to take these witches down.

2 out of 4.

The Bourne Legacy

Confession time! From the original Bourne Trilogy, I only really saw the first one and I am pretty sure that was ten years ago. I just didn’t care that much, thought it was too slow. But you know, okay. So I had to rewatch it last week, and for the first time the second and third ones to make sure I was prepped for the newest installation, The Bourne Legacy.

Smile beard
Smiling Bearded Jeremy Renner wants to be your friend. Not really a joke, just a fact.

Remember everything from the first three films? Well too bad, not much of it matters. Basically, this movie takes place around the same time as the events of Ultimatum. Jason Bourne scared a lot of people when he showed up out of nowhere in NYC and started messing with them all. So much, the CIA went into lockdown.

Potentially a spoiler, but I think knowing the next part helps a lot.

A different program, called Outcome, was similar to the Treadstone program of the first three films. Instead of taking individuals who were already skilled to turn them into agents, they are taking individuals on the bottom of the totem pole and enhancing them artificially with pills.

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is currently fucked, because he is almost out of pills. On a random mission in the Alaskan mountain range, he lost a bunch of his blues/greens, and is almost out. Even when he gets to the outpost and meets another agent (Oscar Isaac), he can’t get any extra from them. Have to file a report. Without the pills, his body will go crazy and crash. No good.

Too bad, thanks to CIA head person Eric Byer (Edward Norton), they have decided to wipe out the existence of all of the Outcome agents. Gotta kill em all, most by switching their pills, but, wouldn’t you know it, Aaron Cross escapes! Still needs the Blue/Green pills though. So he does the only thing he knows, kicking ass, to find Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who might know how to get more pills.

Or even better, a way to not need the pills anymore. Can he survive long enough to find a solution, when people with guns and other super agents chasing him? Can he stay ahead of the entire CIA and all of its surveillance long enough? Does the fact that Stacy Keach and Dennis Boutsikaris play other head of operation people actually matter to Edward Norton?

Two Guns
Whoa, two guns Renner? Amping up the violence here, eh?

Fuck. Not even a spoiler, but Extreme Ways by Moby does end this movie as well. Gah, when I first heard that note, I had a silent rage in my seat. I really don’t like that song.

But hey, other than that, I really like it. There were issues of course. I didn’t like the way it was spliced in the beginning, making sure you had no real knowledge of what was going on for awhile, and setting it up. Bump that, just tell me. I liked Aaron Cross better than Jason Bourne. Jason Bourne was almost emotionless, while, as you saw above, Aaron Cross at least smiled. The relationship between him and Marta also made more since than Bourne’s relationship.

When they are eventually in the Philippines, there is one chase scene that is incredibly long. Way too long. They split it up to involve different aspects (foot, vs motorcycle, vs what is chasing after them) but I felt like it got above ridiculous at that point. Either way, besides that, found it all pretty entertaining. Even the parts where Renner had that bad beard.

3 out of 4.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

I had a mini theme day yesterday. Realized I had a long block of time, very long, and to make the best of it I wanted to watch some long movies.

So I figured I might as well start with a long movie with a long title, hooyah! The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, and that is one of the last times I have to type it all out. Yes. For those curious, I then went The Patriot and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Yes, seeing both for the first time as well, shut up).

read those papers
Just a normal day in the life of Jesse James. Getting stared at by Robert Ford, obsessively.

You know whats awesome? Kind of spoiling the ending. Jesse James (Brad Pitt) totally dies in this movie. So if you have a collection of movies where Brad Pitt dies in them, this better be in it.

The movie takes place in the last few months of Jesse James life, including his last train robbery. He has the last remnants of his gang, including Frank James (Sam Shepard), Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider), Wood Hite (Jeremy Renner) and Ed Miller (Garret Dillahunt). Eventually they are joined by the likes of the Ford brothers, Charley (Sam Rockwell) and his younger brother Robert (Casey Affleck).

Growing up, Robert was obsessed with the tales of Jesse James and his gang of outlaws. He knew all about them, from the trains taken, to Jesse’s shoe size. He was his hero! Which is why he was in a situation where he finally got to join the gang and go on a mission with them, despite the fact that everyone else found his obsession a bit creepy. The robbery doesn’t lead to the riches they thought were coming, leaving a very disappointing final heist.

Then in the final months, we have Robert Ford getting to spend time with his FAMILY. He has kids! And a wife (Mary-Louise Parker)! What! But that ends eventually too, and he then lives with a few of the previous mentioned former outlaws.

But over the final months, Jesse finds himself a bit more paranoid with less people he can trust each and every day. So some people die. Some people get arrested. And Robert Ford is left with an ultimatum, kill or arrest Jesse James himself, or find himself in prison.

Cinematography
LOOK AT THAT CINEMATOGRAPHY. Look at ittt.

“Wait a minute! That movie is 160 minutes! You barely gave any plot? Does it move slow?”

Well technically, and despite the fact that you already know what it is about (The Death of Jesse James), I didn’t feel a real need but to introduce the characters and the first few scenes.

Why is this movie so long? Probably because this director loves him some detail. The camera works was almost orgasmic on Blu-Ray, and all the scenes gorgeous, but not over the top. But even better than that was, surprisingly enough, Casey Affleck. Yes, Ben’s younger brother. He made this movie his bitch, and was so damn good at the role. Brad Pitt, also excellent in this film, both surely scene steals, but the level of detail that went in from Casey was just astounding. It all felt so real, which made it all a bit more eerie and awesome.

All of the acting was really well done, and I was very interested in the story line. Of course, one other problem with it could be just that it is…well very damn long. Hard to justify watching this movie a lot, without wanting to just skip around to a few scenes. Also super dramatic. Not a wild wild west shoot em up. Only a few shooting scenes really.

3 out of 4.

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