The Journey

Think about a movie called The Journey. What sort of genre would you think that movie is?

Well, first, I know I would think of maybe…adventure? Yeah. Adventure. If not an adventure film, maybe a war/action movie. If not a war/action movie, then something spiritual, a religious film. If you thought historical drama, I would think you were a liar, and I would no longer make bets with you.

And that is what The Journey is. A “True story” or, a true-ish story. But I will get into detail on that.

Walk
The journey they speak of is more of a drive and a walk through the woods.

Northern Ireland and Ireland have had a lot of issues in the past. Religious stuff which led to extremism which led to people bombing places, straight up government based military groups, to get people to see different points of view and you know…go on a war basically. It also led to this song from The Irish Rovers about a dysfunctional marriage.

This is set after a lot of the physical conflict, when people were still pissed, in the mid-2000’s. The territories were on the verge of creating a new agreement, to put a lot of the past behind them. Not rejoin as one unified country or anything, but at least start working together better and look more unified (I think, hard for me to tell as a non European).

Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) is the head of the Catholic people, and Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), former member of the IRA, is I guess leader of the protestants now. Honestly the whole thing is fuzzy to me what their titles are, but they have the ability to enact change. On the verge of the agreement being signed, Paisley has to return to his home for a celebration on his 50th Wedding Anniversary. The other side is worried that when he gets back with his people, they will convince him that the agreement is bad and he will pull out last minute.

Thank the weather gods, they have cancelled Paisley’s flight, and to show a sign of goodwill, the other side agrees to let him use their plane in Edinburgh for him to get home. But, McGuinness argues he must join him on the trip. Due to rules of travel, if both leaders are in the same vehicle, it is unlikely that anyone will try something nefarious. McGuinness and others think that if they get Paisley talking, they can find common interests between them and really work out and finalize this agreement.

The problem is, these gentlemen have never talked before in their lives. But this journey to their airport, and plane ride, will be their last chance to pull this thing together.

Also starring Freddie Highmore, John Hurt, Toby Stephens, Ian McElhinney, Ian Beattie, and Barry Ward.

Bate
And if they don’t agree quickly, Norman Bates will finish the job!

In real life, this agreement did take place. And in real life, these two people never talked to each other or cared for each other. In real life, they did take a car ride and plane ride together, and in real life, they suddenly became really close friends. And in real life, both of them are now dead.

The things that might not be real include their stops on their journey and the events that happened to them along the way, like the flat tire. The things that definitely did not occur is any of the conversation they decided to highlight in the film. It is a complete guess, it is where the storytellers can become storytellers. To guess the sort of conversation these great men might have had, how they would have acted towards each other, and how they would have slowly come to terms.

I am not saying it is bad that they are guessing, just setting the picture, because I obviously don’t need my movies to be 100% factual all the time. I do like my movies to be entertaining, or at the very least feature some nice acting moments.

I went in expecting I would be bored out of my mind throughout this film, but it surprisingly kept my interest once it got going. It wasn’t entirely easy to follow all the time, because of referring back to historical events that have no effect on my upbringing, but that is okay. I became involved with what they were saying and felt like a passenger in the vehicle.

And yet I could still only describe this film as okay. I would never watch it again, and I would never really recommend it to anyone. Spall and Meaney do some pretty good acting based on their previous works that I know of, and definitely give it their best jobs. But I am still just left asking why this movie was made, as, historical, this significance doesn’t mean squat to me.

2 out of 4.

Jackie

Has there been any movies out about JFK yet?

Just kidding. Outside of JFK itself, we have had Thirteen Days, Bubba Ho-Tep (technically), and recently we had Parkland, about his assassination.

But what is with all the focus on the dead president? What about the lives that were left behind?

Jackie wants to give us an important look on his wife, Jacqueline, also told from the perspective of her life before, during, and after the assassination on her husbands life. And when I say it wants to focus on her, we mean mostly every single possible shot and with her stories.

Blood Red
See? No one else in the camera, this is about Jackie not her husband!

For the story, it takes place after the death of John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson), where Jackie (Natalie Portman) is now living out side of the White House in a big private estate. Some journalist (Billy Crudup) is invited to get an interview/update with her, knowing that she has full control over what actually gets written. And then the stories all come out.

Most of it is about what little time she had in the White House to actually try and make a difference. Jackie under went a full restoration for many parts of the white house, bringing back original antiques. And she also brings back art in the form of live entertainment, musicians at the top of the careers and instrument group, bringing back culture. She even did a show for PBS giving a tour of the White House on those new fangled television sets.

And then there is the death. The after math. Lyndon B. Johnson (John Carroll Lynch) getting sworn into office, dealing with the logistics of a funeral, telling her two kids about what just happened, while also having not a lot of time to suddenly move out of her home. I think it is great that such normal problems can elevate so much when talking the highest government position in our country.

Also featuring Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy, Beth Grant as Lady Bird Johnson, John Hurt as a priest, and Greta Gerwig, Mac Casella, and Richard E. Grant.

Blood
If you look close, one of these pictures is a blood red dress, the other just has red blood on it.

Jackie was not what I expected. A drama about a woman in distress. Sure, technically that is what the film delivered. But it had another element attached. A scary element. And it all started before the first real frame. The film began with a dark screen and incredibly jarring music. It made me nervous, not just in its intensity but thinking this film might turn into a real art house flick. The same sounds continue at various parts of the movie, adding a sense of panic to a story that you already know the outcome.

Portman was of course superb. I quickly forgot it was her, she embraced Jackie with her voice, her smile, and even down to the way she presented herself in front of others. I am weaker at the Best Women acting categories (like every year), but I have to imagine her chances are the highest for the Academy. They love biopics.

I was also impressed with Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy in this movie. I don’t know a lot about him, I haven’t even watched Bobby, but he did a significant amount in this movie to not make this 100% about Jackie. I also wonder if John Carroll Lynch ever thought he would get to play a real US President in a film one day.

Jackie is not your standard biopic. Is it downright almost scary at points and shows that not all griefs are handled equally.

3 out of 4.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Vampire movies.

A pretty popular subject subgenre of film, most of them all showing vampires in a different light than the accepted myths. Yes. Twilight is basically to blame for these last 8 or so years. I mean, shit, we even have a Dracula movie coming out later this year, about the “True legend” of Dracula. A misunderstood villain movie! How original. How different.

Then we had Byzantium, a very serious different vampire movie that was praised and I just kind of…could never get in to it. This is all important lead up to say that for Only Lovers Left Alive, I know it is another serious vampire movie. One about love. And I am just afraid I won’t be able to get into this one either.

Which is why it took me about or month or more to watch it!

True Pain
Maybe I am just afraid I can’t experience true pain, like this clearly emotional vampire here is feeling.

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) has been around for a long time. He is so bored with it all, with humanity (Which he refers to as Zombies), that he has turned into a stay at home recluse. In order to not be bothered, he moved to the most decrepit and abandoned by society place he could find, Detroit, Michigan, to live out his lonely existence. And make music.

His only contact with others is a young rocker lackie, Ian (Anton Yelchin), who gets him things during the day for fat cash and has a clause to not tell people of his whereabouts, and a doctor (Jeffrey Wright), who he visits at night to buy blood from, no questions asked.

And just when he is thinking about ending it all, his wife calls him. Eve (Tilda Swinton) has been living in Tangier. They are still in love, just spending hundreds of years with a person can be a lot. So they do their own travels and discovery a lot. Either way, he convinces her to travel to him, so they can be in love and reminisce and relive the glory days.

But with Eve, her sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) eventually shows up. She is immature and bad news and what leads to just the beginning of Adam and Eve’s problems.

Also, John Hurt is in here as another, much older vampire, that is a spiritual adviser to Eve.

Blood Orgasm
Ever wonder why one of the blood types is O? Stands for Orgasmic.

My biggest fear was…essentially reached.

Only Lovers Left Alive is not really a bad movie, it is just another movie that I had to struggle to really get in to. It is definitely a slow feeling movie, probably because for people with eternal lifespans, time tends to not be super important.

Only Lovers Left Alive is also a really well acted movie. Both Swinton and Hiddleston are fantastic. They had to convey a lot of their emotions through their actions and it showed. But time and time again has shown me that a well acted movie does not necessarily make a great film. Also, shout out to Yelchin, who I had no idea was playing the rock groupie.

The movie tells a decent story, that is for sure. The pacing just kills me at times, which of course also factors into the entire length of the story. Based on the actual plot points of the film, I wouldn’t expect it to be two hours long. But it lingers.

Does it have to? Does it have to let it linger? Not in my mind, but then I think I am a minority here.

Not a completely unique take on Vampires, as a lot of the traits are still there, but a decent adaptation of them in a modern shitty world society.

2 out of 4.

Hercules

2014 was going to be the year of the Hercules movies. Two films, doppleganger movies, going head to head, months apart, to see who could make the best Hercules based movie. Kind of silly, when nothing could ever beat the clearly superior Hercules Disney movie from 1997. Zero to Hero, bitches.

But two things were odd about this competition. One, the releases were almost 7 months apart, January to July. And two, holy shit, The Legend Of Hercules was very very terrible. Yes, it came out the second week of the year, but it firmly established itself as the worst movie of the year, and at this point, still has to be top 5 worst films of the year on most people’s lists. So no matter how janky this version of Hercules would be, it would probably be the superior film.

Because everyone know, with doppelganger films, one has to be good right?

Roar
They did pick a fantastic person for the role though, no lion about that.

This story begins quite annoyingly going over the Legend of Hercules (Dwayne Johnson), not the other movie, the actual legend, and the 12 Great Deeds he had to do to get Hera off his back. But what if Hercules isn’t a demi-god, but just a mercenary with a great storyteller nephew (Reece Ritchie) to talk him up and make him seem more awesome than he actually is?

Well, according to this movie, yeah. And Hercules has friends! Including Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), an orphaned Spartan warrior, who likes to joke around, make money, and throw daggers. And Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), an Amazon warrior, so of course she uses a bow. And Tydeus (Askel Hennie), of Thebes, who is now more animal than man and quite vicious. And of course, OF COURSE, Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), a seer who saw his own death already, so a fearless warrior in battle.

Yeah, Hercules and his band of merry men, or something like that.

Well, Herc and his mercs for hire get offered a shit ton of gold to help the nation of Thrace defend its borders from warmongering centaurs and some super evil dude. This means they have to train an army of farmers, so that Lord Cotys (John Hurt) can bring peace and prosperity to the kingdom.

But can Hercules do it? Can he? Punk? I don’t know that one for certain, but I do know that The Rock could probably do it.

Rebecca Ferguson plays the daughter of Cotys and Joseph Fiennes as the King of Athens.

Boar
“You’re a phony! A big fat phony!”

I think this movie actually had an interesting take on the Hercules mythos. A lot of what you see in the trailers is actually just from the first few minutes, going over his deeds and accomplishments. A lot of the story had been left out of the trailers, giving an almost fresh experience when I went in, not sure what to expect. I like what they did with it, and because it specifically said it wanted to attack the legend of the man, it made it seem like they were taking explicit jabs at the other film this year. Which is kind of hilarious.

The action scenes were pretty on point. The Rock did make a good Hercules, but he wasn’t the best part of the film. Ian McShane stole every scene he was a part of thanks to the comedy of the seer role and Rufus Sewell was pretty on point as well. The plot wasn’t too unique, could guess how it would play out and for the most part kept in line.

Outside of the action, most of the film just felt okay. It felt pretty short for the scope that it was going for, so that was disappointing. It had interesting characters to relate to though, so that is one redeeming quality.

Basically, what I am saying is that if there is a sequel, which there easily could be, I’d be glad to watch it. Obviously I’d watch any sequel, given the point of reviewing movies, but I wouldn’t go into this one with disdain.

But until that happens, looks like there is a shitty Asylum version of this movie too, Hercules Reborn, that I can spend my time with.

2 out of 4.

Snowpiercer

I first heard about Snowpiercer like a lot of people when I was getting insulted by people with a lot of money.

Despite making boat loads of money in South Korea where it debuted, The Weinstein Company wanted to delay its release in the US, like everything they grab. Why? To make cuts to the movie. The original movie is right at two hours, but Harvey said no, 20 minutes have got to go. Why? So that the film “will be understood by audiences in Iowa… and Oklahoma.” If you don’t get it, that means he is saying that the average American couldn’t handle this film and it has to be dumbed down. You know, to take out some drama and story elements and giving us a shorter film that is much closer to a regular run of the mill action story.

Fuck that. Fuck that so much. That is one of the most insulting things I have ever heard from a movie executive. He says Americans are dumb and won’t like the movie that way. Just how patronizing can a person be?

Well, it turns out, as much as they want because the American viewer cannot do a damn thing about it. The director, Joon-ho Bong, was able to hold out though. After months of arguing, he was able to get the full version released to the American market. The only issue is, it is now limited release instead of wide release. Well, sucks for those guys in shitty markets, but as long as I get the full cut, I won’t be mad.

Lady Fingers
Well, I guess I could still point some blame towards Harvey.

In the future year of 2014, Global Warming is scary. So scientists have made a chemical that can reduce the effects of the gasses and counteract the rise in the temperature. They released too much though, causing the world to go into a very quick ice age, killing most of the life on the planet.

The only survivors are the people who made it onto the Snowpiercer train. It is a perpetual-motion engine so it can run forever. It travels the entire globe and also takes a year to return to a past point. That last part isn’t plot important, just kind of cool.

But life on the train isn’t all peaches and cream. A caste system was quickly formed, with a majority of its inhabitants taking up cramped quarters in the tail of the train. They are fed protein bars and occasionally some kids are taken from them. They have to learn their place. Past riots and attempts to move on have failed. But this time? This time, they are ready.

It will be lead by Curtis (Chris Evans), influenced heavily by Gilliam (John Hurt) an old wise man in the train car. Their plan involves breaking into the train “prison” to release a man (Kang-ho Song) who helped make the security between the cars to help move them through.

Featuring a lot of people, such as Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ah-sung Ko, Ewen Bremner, Ed Harris and Alison Pill.

Clock Rapper
How cold is it? Flavor Flav has turned white!

For those that hate cramped conditions, you might feel a bit uneasy in a movie set entirely on a train. However, for those who like trains a lot, like Denzel Washington or that guy from The Railway Man, this would be the perfect movie for you.

For having an entire film set in a train, they did a real good job of not making it feel incredibly repetitive. The train itself is very long, housing a large number of people with quite a few amenities, so there are several different places we get to go.

I thought Snowpiercer was downright incredibly. It has some powerful themes that are pretty easy to relate too, resounding in the United States with the occupy movement still in recent memory. They aren’t anything new, but I really just loved how it was presented in this movie.

The issue with my review is that I just loved so many aspects of this movie, I am finding a hard time using words to describe just what made this movie so great. From the acting, to cinematography, to the action and drama, to the twists and turns. Just all aspects were phenomenal. Tis a good movie. Glad it didn’t get cut up.

4 out of 4.

Recount

This is going to be one of those slightly different reviews folks.

Not only is it based on true events, but most of us know about it all. Okay, I mean we are aware of the events around it, without knowing both sides and all the problems and complications. I am talking about the Recount of the 2000 Presidential election ballots in Florida, the decision between who would be the next President, Bush or Gore.

Recountsz
This is not Bush and Gore.

Not sure what I am talking about? Here is some light reading (and thus plot review of the movie!).

TL;DR Florida done fucked up. Some of their ballots were confusing, some machines didn’t punch through enough, the sheet had a front and back, etc etc. Bush supposedly won the state and thus the election, but according to AP news the votes was too close to call, and Gore canceled his concession. Then lots of court stuff. Lots of stuff no one understood, but man was making fun of it easier.

And the whole thing is explained in this nice Hollywood rendition! Woo woo! So yeah, fictionalization happens, but the events are roughly correct, if I have been told correctly.

Kevin Spacey plays the main guy, some Democratic guy. I could tell you everyone’s role, but really I don’t remember them much since they are all real election political people. The closest thing to a villain is Laura Dern as a Florida Secretary of State.

We also got roles for other people! Roles everywhere! For Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Denis Leary, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, and more.

Female Evil?
Major woman character is the biggest villain? Don’t blame Hollywood, blame politics in 2000.

Given that I was 11 or so when this Florida stuff happened, I must say I really didn’t understand it at all. I just assumed Gore was being a baby and demanding recounts, I didn’t know what a Chad was. Easy to joke about, and I guess my perceptions were just based on where I lived. I am glad this HBO movie was done as a movie and not a documentary. It made it a lot more exciting and natural feeling to me.

Technically both sides are shown, but it is clear the Democrats (I think) are supposed to be the good side, when both sides had good and bad people in them. Can blame that one on Kevin Spacey probably. But overall it is very informative and entertaining.

Now I feel like I could answer maybe one more question on Jeopardy, thanks to this movie.

3 out of 4.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

SPY MOVIES.

But this is not your James Bond type of Spy Movie. This is the more subtle, information based spy movie. Of course more secret government organizations. But it is also British, and with other European people. As a hardcore American, that is a negative to me. Because we are the best.

But honestly, I knew absolutely nothing about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy before I watched it, just that it was probably a book.

TTSS
Reading is sooooo European.

The movie begins with Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) sent to Hungary by the head of the Circus (British Intelligence nickname?) (John Hurt) to meet a native to buy secrets! Too bad he gets shot and captured though. That is not the plan, so the head gets canned, and his aide, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) get into forced retirement, and the head dies soon after from being old.

They get replaced by Tinker (Toby Jones) and his new right hand man, Tailor (Colin Firth) and also Soldier (Ciaran Hinds) and Poorman (David Dencik ) also move up the ranks. Bet you thought that last code name would be Spy? Yeah, what teases. Spy would also be a poor code name.

Speaking of poor nicknames, they move up the ranks due to Witchcraft! Russian secret intelligence they have found and traded to the Americans for even more intelligence. Smiley is brought back out of retirement from Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy), as there are reports of a mole in the British government, someone who has been there for quite some time.

He has obvious suspects, but starts with those who left around the same time as him and works his way inward. He gets a team of people, including someone played by Benedict Cumberbatch, to do some secret espionage stuff to find out who the mole is, and if the initial outing of Smiley and others was all part of someones plan.

Other secrets to find out! Just what the mole was doing, the true purpose of the Hungary visit, and how jerky some peopl can be.

TTSS
LOOK AT HIM. Not even an unrelated caption. Just do it.

In other news, this is efinitely not a movie I could watch again and again. It is a slower pace, obviously, and strictly feels like a very tame game of chess. The actors involved all do wonderful jobs, but personally I didn’t see a need to give Gary Oldman more props than the rest of the cast (Nominated for Best Actor for the film). When everyone does a fine job, I just find it harder to praise a single person.

However the plot I never really seemed to care for. Couldn’t relate to older British intelligence officers, go figure. I was just hoping the American’s wouldn’t get screwed over or made seem stupid in the movie. And well, it kind of happened. Whoops.

Decent movie, but just not my kind of film.

2 out of 4.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Hellboy II: The Golden Army made one of the worst mistakes ever. The worst being releasing your movie the same date as The Dark Knight.

So instead it id the second or third worst mistake ever. It released in theaters the week before The Dark Knight. Sure, all the fanboys would go to see both. But people who only watch once a month, or random viewers who had to choose between two “comic book movies” meant Hellboy II would lose every time.

This is a shame, because Hellboy II ended up being better than Hellboy in every way. (If I had to review Hellboy, I’d probably give it a 2 out of 4. Interesting, but not my favorite. Cool concept, falls short.)

Hellboy II
That outfit? All make up, no CGI. What!?

Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is up to his same antics. He hates being locked away, wants to be free. Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), who can ignite herself and other objects on fire, is now his “girlfriend”, but they are fighting as they live together. Why? Because she is pregnant (awkward). It is causing things in the B.P.R.D. to be quite a mess. Abe (Doug Jones), the fish man and Tom (Jeffrey Tambor), the director, are worried the antics will cost them jobs.

Well Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), an ancient elf is pissed off. He wants to return to the surface world, reignite the golden army of indestructible robots, and kill all humans. His race disagrees, so he kills a bunch of them. Not his twin sister, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton) though, because if one of them gets hurt, so does the other. So he causes problems and Hellboy uses this opportunity to join the world!

This causes a new director to come in, Johann Krauss (Voiced by Seth MacFarlane), an old being who is now all gaseous and shit. And German. Now they have to run things by the book, and figure out how to find out whats going on with the elves.

More fights happen, unexpected love between fish and elf, giant plant beasts, close deaths, certain destruction, and golden armies.

abe hellboy
And probably the best version of “Can’t Smile Without You” of all time!

As expected, I loved this movie. As I said, the action is better, the story is better (general rule in the sequel, since you don’t have to waste as much time with origins), it is funnier, and introduces great new characters.

It might be closer to the comics too, but I still haven’t read them. I am anxiously waiting an ending to the saga with a Hellboy III. It might be a few years from now, but they keep claiming he will eventually destroy the world, as that is why he was summoned in the first place, so that shit needs to almost happen.

Oh yeah, and I am pretty sure Hellboy is how Ron Perlman normally looks, and every other time is him in make up.

4 out of 4.