Tag: Woody Harrelson

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I try my best to avoid most trailers for films, but I give myself some exceptions. I will watch a real teaser trailer occasionally, as they are the ones who don’t spoil the whole thing. Teaser trailers especially for superhero films or Pixar/Disney stuff, even though some of the teasers are downright terrible.

But sometimes a film comes along with such a unique name, that I just need to know what it is about, right away. I will watch it right away, intrigued, which is what a movie title should do. Unlike every other film I review this week after this movie, because all of their titles are shit, regardless of film quality.

Only some offense meant for the films this week that I won’t name. Back to this title. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri just grabs the viewer by the balls and tells them to get ready for a very fucking specific story.

Even better, despite being an original story, it might have been inspired by a true event. In Minnesota last year, a citizen took out a billboard calling out the sheriff with vulgar language. If you read a news article, it seems like a completely bull shit story, so who cares about that guy. But when I saw it in person I had my wife look it up on her phone (I was driving) because the gossip just had to be too good.

Again, a shit story, but it felt juicy, so I am glad to see this film do something much better with the concept.

Billboards
And I will only show you one of the billboards in this review, neener neener.

Mildred (Frances McDormand) has a problem. A problem letting go and moving on with her life, after her dad was found dead, burned alive, after being raped. A heinous, terrible crime, and honestly, it makes sense for her to not get over it. Her daughter was still a teenager and they are in such a small town, it is inexcusable and unprecedented for this to have happened.

But what is even worse, in her mind, is that the local police force seems to have given up on finding the killer. She hasn’t heard from them in 8 months and she is rightfully pissed off. So she spends most of her savings on renting out three billboards near her home, ones that have been seemingly forgotten about, to call out the local Sheriff (Woody Harrelson).

This causes quite a stir, more so than the rape/murder. The town likes the sheriff, he is a good guy, and he has goddamn cancer. Mildred doesn’t care, she just wants answers to her questions, even though she knows it will not bring her daughter back. Mildred is going to be burning several bridges to get what she needs, metaphorically and slightly literally (buildings are like bridges, right?). Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Also starring Caleb Landry Jones, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Amanda Warren, Malaya Rivera Drew, Peter Dinklage, Sandy Martin, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, and Clarke Peters.

Cops
Two Cops near a billboard outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Three Billboards is a hard movie, with a hard topic, with, you guessed it, hard characters. It earned a hard R rating, when it comes to language, violence, and the occasional gore. No, not on any hardcore graphical porn level, sorry folks, just everything else.

McDormand carries the film on her poor fragile shoulders where the whole thing just feels incredibly realistic. Her grief and anger can only be described as real grief and anger. Harrelson as a supporting character still feels a bit like Harrelson, but from a different angle that I haven’t seen much before. Rockwell does one of the biggest changes, as he puts all of his charismatic roles in the past to play this disgusting, morally terrible individual. He is racist, xenophobic, crass, yet caring in strange ways. Oh, and he doesn’t even dance. Can Sam Rockwell be in a film where he doesn’t dance?

The story is an emotional and moving piece. After all, everyone deals with loss in their own ways, and McDormand’s character comes from the place of a woman who feels like she has nothing left to lose (except her son, which she admittedly forgets somewhat about). But again, it is more than just her story in this small town of individuals. At least four or five other characters get shining moments, even if just a little bit, as parts of their stories fortunately (or unfortunately) intersect with her own.

I would describe only one scene that I did not like at all, and it involved a flashback. The words used were too specific and forced, they instantly drew me out of the movie. Thankfully the strong story and characters were quick to draw me back in.

Living in a small town, like a real small town, will get quite annoying when everyone knows everyone’s business, including the law enforcers. I didn’t grow up in an environment like this personally, but based on what I have seen in other films and stories from others, it definitely seems to grasp that feeling.

Three Billboards is not a film for everyone, which is shame, given how likely it will end up on my end of the year list.

4 out of 4.

War For The Planet of the Apes

The “of the Planet of the Apes” films have been met with some pretty critical acclaim in the last few years, especially after the rebooted Planet of the Apes film was so dismal.

And hey, for Rise? I totally agree. An amazing film, great acting and a plot that made me cheer for Apes instead of just humans. Just a silly romance subplot stopped it from being a great film.

Unfortunately, Dawn just didn’t really do much for me. It was an okay film, but I believe it received more praise for being a pretty standard plot, but with Apes instead of tribal humans. Some cool moments sure, but it was also forgettable.

I had no idea what to expect for War, but I would hope with a long run time, it would put an end to humans once and for all, so the Ape society can begin to grow into what we already know is the end goal.

Ride
Which is horses and apes riding horses in the future, right?

War is set only a few years after Dawn, where the apes have mostly gone into hiding in the woods. Koba (Toby Kebbell) is the one who started the fighting with the humans, and Caesar (Andy Serkis) ended it. A few apes are still pissed off and left to rabble rouse, but the rest of the apes just want to live alone. However, humans don’t give a fuck, blood was spilled, and they want revenge. So they keep venturing into the woods, hoping to take out Caesar and the rest of the apes will scatter.

Thanks to a scouting mission, a few apes found a desert on the other side of the mountain where the apes would be able to flourish. Humans are super dying out so they are likely to leave them alone.

But leave them along they don’t. A small raid enters their compound hoping to get Caesar, but get some other apes instead. Boo, hiss. Caesar mad. Caesar wants revenge on the soldier in charge of the humans in the area (Woody Harrelson). So he takes his very small band of soldiers on a potential suicide mission.

Starring Gabriel Chavarria as a human soldier, Amiah Miller as a human deaf girl, and a whole lot of people as apes. Like Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Aleks Paunovic, Devyn Dalton, and Karin Konoval.

Gun
“Well, are you feeling lucky…Ape?”

Trilogies usually go one of three ways. There is the the rare but incredible trilogy that is amazing with every iteration. There is the more common trilogy where the sequel surpasses the first and the last film is a let down. Or there is a trilogy where it starts off good, and each iteration loses a bit of its soul, giving us a worse and worse film.

And a lot of you would assume this might be the second trilogy because people loved Dawn, but to me, this is the third type of trilogy. Dawn was okay, War was kind of shit.

At almost 140 minutes with War in the title, you would expect a giant battle to, most likely, bring about the end of mankind to start this whole Planet of the Apes thing. Maybe. Well, the Caesar journey with his band takes awhile to follow the humans. On the way, they have another Ape who can talk who joins them, and a deaf girl. This part drags, and even when they make it to the human encampment it drags. I found myself falling asleep, despite being an early screening and having finished an energy drink before it.

The ending is about the apes being enslaved and needing to get to get broken out of a prison system where they are slaves, and the humans are fighting with each other. There is also a new iteration of the Simian Flu, that causes humans to lose their voice and potentially become aggressive, reverting them back into a more primitive form.

The ending break out is not a brilliant plan. It involves the humans being incredibly incompetent. When plot necessary, apparently no one is standing guard at the military compound, so a little girl can walk in and have a long conversation. When necessary apparently a guard will behave like someone who has no military training, and no one else will be on guard duty. When necessary, the fighting between humans will stop enough so that the humans can fire on some apes that none of them were able to notice even escaped. This scene includes a soldier that is so upset with these apes, that he cannot stop firing despite a looming other human threat, that he cannot turn around to get his own grenade launcher. When necessary, an ape looking for redemption will use a weapon to take out a single human, instead of just doing the more obvious move to complete the task that Caesar was trying to complete. When necessary, a giant deus ex machine straight out of Mulan will save the day, but this time no daisies are involved.

The ending is a mess, the middle is a bore, and the beginning is predictable. I didn’t even get into the ridiculousness of the Simian Flu change, and deciding to have a girl who was deaf for real, not deaf for flu reasons. War for the Planet of the Apes is a waste of a film that tried to go a deeper, personal route, and just left feeling a bit superficial.

1 out of 4.

LBJ

How many times do I have to watch JFK get shot? I mean, I am a young guy, so not as many times as some people who were alive back in the early ’60’s. But just last year we had Jackie, Parkland was about his death, and he probably died in The Butler.

And now we have a film about a president, who has been in other films recently, like Selma, All The Way, and uhhh, The Butler, again. But usually he is a smaller part. This movie, LBJ, is about LBJ and only LBJ.

Just kidding, a lot of it is about JFK getting shot, because it is super important to him getting presidency. Sucks to not be the 100% star of your own film. But LBJ would look at this and probably say something like “Doesn’t matter, Had Presidency.”

Sworn In
Blood still on the coat.

In Dallas, JFK (Jeffrey Donovan, Mr. Burn Notice himself), is shot and soon dead in a hospital. His wife (Kim Allen) is in shock, his brother Bobby (Michael Stahl-David) has become withdrawn, and a nation is on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next.

And in walks Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson), vice president, Texan, to swear himself in during a tumultuous time. And not just because of an assassination. Civil Rights riots are at an all time high, and the Southern Democrats are not willing to let the equal rights act go through. But it was one of JFK’s visions, and the best way to honor him would be to get his vision into reality.

But Johnson isn’t just some goddamn JFK puppet. He is a doer, not a talker. He ran the Senate well and made sure things happened. So even though he was never voted the president, he is going to rock that White House, pass some bills, and try and make America better.

Also starring Bill Pullman, Brian Stepanek, C. Thomas Howell, Michael Mosley, Rich Sommer, Wallace Langham, Richard Jenkins, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Ladybird.

JFK
“You know presidents, bunch of bitchy little girls” – Bruce Campbell, probably.

LBJ is not a linear film nor does it actually begin with his death. We get to see parts of Johnson’s life before he decided to run for president as Senate majority leader, losing to Kennedy in the primaries, agreeing to accept the VP position, attempting to bring about the Civil Rights Bill as VP, then the president dying, taking over his duties, and trying to be president. Technically, just a few years of his life, and a lot of it is focused on his relationship with the Kennedy brothers.

And again, that is all out of order, telling the story of the last president to voluntarily not run for a second term.

In terms of acting, Harrelson knocked it out of the park. He still had a bit of his woody crude streak going on, but for all I know, maybe LBJ was just like that. The make up work done to him was incredible and he really transformed into this president, I quickly forgot it was actually Harrelson. A very well done performance. Jenkins and Stahl-David also do relatively good performances, and I am still on the fence as Donovan as JFK. It is one that is just very hard to see.

The story is the weaker aspect of the film. It is a very standard feeling biography. It is only on the most important years of his life, it hits upon a very big current issue, and it puts a weird spin on it with him just wanting to be loved. Apparently. I don’t know how much of it is true, but it comes across as false. Thankfully the film is only a little bit more than 90 minutes, which almost seems strange to have it so short despite being a presidential bio film.

For LBJ, stay for the acting, but maybe read up on a history lesson to get a more complete view of the man that isn’t bogged down on specific themes.

3 out of 4.

Wilson

Who the fuck is Wilson? Is this a movie about a volleyball?

Those were the only thoughts I had going into this movie. And when I saw one poster, that it would be able a creepy dude. Not just any creepy dude. A creepy older dude, with glasses, and a beard.

I also quickly learned that the movie would be a weird movie, because it was directed by Craig Johnson, who directed The Skeleton Twins. I didn’t love that one, but man, it was weird.

Shock1
How shocking, that it is about a real person, not a volleyball.

Wilson (Woody Harrelson) isn’t actually creepy, really. He is a bit weird. He is weird because he hates the way the world is changing. He hates that everyone is so anti-social nowadays. He wants to communicate with people, even if they are strangers. He wants to just say what is on his mind and let other people say what is on their minds. He isn’t going to be trapped on his phone, or sleeping on the train, he just wants to experience the world. If he doesn’t slow down once in awhile, he might miss it, after all.

And then his best friend moves away, without any warning. Now Wilson is all alone. He has no purpose. Just his dog. No family, nothing. Well, he does have an ex-wife. Pippi (Laura Dern) was with Wilson for a few years, a real piece of work. Then one day she up and left him. Got an abortion and moved far, far away. But it turns out she is in the area again! So maybe he can try and see how she is and get to know her again. Maybe start a relationship so that the hole in his life can be filled.

Speaking of filling holes, turns out she didn’t get an abortion. She put the kid up for adoption and the girl is like, 17 now, living in the same city this whole time and he had no idea! Now Wilson has a family. He has a purpose. He just has to bring it all together.

Starring Isabella Amara as the daughter, along with Brett Gelman, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale, Cheryl Hines, and Bill McCallum.

Shock2
Apparently this is also the most shocking movie ever, from his point of view.

Wilson was a surprise hit, and surprisingly hysterical at points. The man was just so absurd and so socially weird it was constantly surprising. The main poster shows him standing next to another person at a urinal, with a ton of open urinals. The biggest social faux pas you can do in a restroom, outside of also hold a conversation with them, which he does. And it is a nice scene about families and how to raise your kids. And it ends with one of the funniest, unexpected yet completely expected lines ever. I was laughing way too long at it.

Wilson was great. As a person and a character study. A movie I could watch over and over again and still crack up. An instant classic on just its humor.

But its story could use some work, a lot of work. It feels so long but the movie is only about an hour and a half. It takes awhile to get to the point, and then it goes in several weird directions. Including jail, which lasts a long time for that late in the film. And we even have a post jail tiny plot to take care about. It is a bit disjointed in these regards.

Harrelson does a great performance though and always seems to find new ways to entertain me.

3 out of 4.

The Edge of Seventeen

Coming of age films are a dime a dozen, and I don’t really understand if that means they are common or just cheap.

But they are easy to cater to large audiences. Most adults used to be children, so at some point, they must have come of age. Put in some embarrassment, some universal feels, and hey, people will relate, like it, laugh, and enjoy.

I will be honest that I never really was able to connect to a female coming of age film really before, given my lack of ovaries, and some of the growing up experiences become a bit different. Despite that, I was still excited about The Edge of Seventeen, because I ended up seeing the trailer at some point and hey, it looked funny, crude, and real.

Romance
As a bonus, everyone looks awkward.

When Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) was just 13 years old, her father (Eric Keenleyside) passed away. Which besides sucking for the obvious reasons, was extra bad because he was the only person who seemed to understand her. He was the reason Nadine and her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) could live under the same house, as they got on each others nerves.

Also Nadine is sort of miserable. She is sarcastic, she jokes around, she is vulgar. She is the star of every teenage coming of age film about a loner, except this time she is a girl not a boy. But somehow she still has a friend. Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) is only a little bit weird, but she puts up with Nadine’s shit because she is a good person. But apparently Krista was just waiting 15 or so years to secretly ruin her life. After a night with their mom out of the house, drinking, fun, Nadine wakes up to find Krista in bed with her older, perfect, brother Darian (Blake Jenner).

Yep. Now Nadine’s life is ruined. The only way to end it has to be suicide. There is no way her life can get worse. Sure, there is a boy in History class (Hayden Szeto) who seems into her, but he is only cute in a pity way. Her one confidant left is her teacher (Woody Harrelson), who has resolved to fighting her sarcasm with his own. And she is madly lusting after a boy in her school that she barely knows (Alexander Calvert) because he is mysterious.

Gossip
Nadine is a bit mysterious too, because she does not have blonde hair.

As I already alluded to in the review, I loved that our main character felt like one of the many guy leads that normally have this movie. Women leads like this are rarely so crude and unlikeable, so it was a fresh change of pace. And like our lead, most of us have still done stupid things like her before, so yes, she was easy to relate to and cringe along with.

Steinfeld hasn’t been this good of a lead since True Grit (which I am still annoyed the movie put her under Supporting Actress). Most of the rest of the cast isn’t given a lot to work with in comparison, but Harrelson always brings a laugh whenever he is featured in his scenes. Jenner has had a really good year, with this and Everybody Wants Some!!. And I haven’t seen Szeto in anything else before, but I couldn’t help but sort of melt into his awkwardness.

I don’t think it is hard to see why people love this movie. It is quirky, it feels real, and it brings up that nostalgia that we all love to remember.

I am not saying it will go out and win a lot of awards, but in terms of over all feeling good (While also dealing with a LOT of dramatic elements), it keeps a nice balance and really takes the viewer on a teenage ride. A fantastic film, and one is keeping the coming of age story fresh and relevant.

4 out of 4.

Now You See Me 2

Right off the bat, there is a big problem with Now You See Me 2. The big problem is that it is called Now You See Me 2.

How in the hell do you have a movie named Now You See Me, and then fail to call the sequel Now You Don’t? It is a really popular phrase, everyone knows it, and you give us this even more generic sequel name. It is like they aren’t trying to be cool.

I didn’t expect there to even be a sequel to the first film. Yes, I gave it a 2 out of 4, but it had one of the worst twist endings of all time. They picked a character that would produce the most confusion and failed to make a movie that made sense. They also blurred the line between real magic and explaining the tricks, because the writers had no idea what to do. They went for cool and splashy and couldn’t pick a side. The only reason I probably gave it an average rating is because it came out the same day as After Earth.

Now, sure, a lot of movies are coming out on this day as well. That is why I saw this one weeks in advance to make sure I had a clear mind before writing the sequel’s review.

ASS
Ass shots for everyone, not just the lady, hooray!

Set a year after the events in the first film, The Horsemen have gone missing. Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) is still looking for them, just badly to cover it all up. This angers his boss (Sanaa Lathan) and coworker (David Warshofsky) who think he is a bumbling fool almost. This is all a ploy though, in order to finally bring them back out at a big phone tech reveal.

This Octo company, led by Owen (Ben Lamb) is unleashing some super sexy phone tech, however it will also steal all information from the users and sell the data on the black market. So The Eye has told Dylan to get The Horsemen together to crash the event. You know, Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Wilder (Dave Franco), and Lula (Lizzy Caplan). Wait a minute! She wasn’t a horseman! She is a replacement for Henley, who in the movie wanted out in the year in isolation, so they replaced her. I think the studio was hoping you wouldn’t realize it.

However, bad things happen during their surprise show and the group find themselves now in Macau, China (basically their Las Vegas with a big Magic scene), in the clutches of some rich dude named Walter (Daniel Radcliffe). There is more behind the Octo tech, Walter wants his hands on it and wants The Horsemen to steal it! Oh the layers!

And then, you know, shenanigans.

Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine return, along with Jay Chou and Henry Lloyd-Hughes.

HP
GET IT? He is Harry Potter! In a different magic movie! DO YOU GET IT!?

Now You See Me 2 tried to answer some questions its predecessor failed to do so. The key word being tried. Good. The first one explained how The Horsemen did the first trick and didn’t really explain anything else after that. This time they put a lot more effort into explaining how things work, at the bare minimum some tech terms and concepts, to show hey, this isn’t real magic, it is just tricks.

Except, you know, some of the bigger tricks like Atlas falling backwards into a puddle and disappearing completely except for his clothes. They don’t try to explain that, because the writers put it in because it is cool and have no idea how to actually make it work. This is an example of a movie pretending to be a super smart heist movie, but when they get to complicated matters, they shrug their shoulders, say magic and move on.

So everything is just special effects in real life, unless it is actually magic. You know, like speed hypnotism or whatever, which is used constantly in the film. They refuse to make up their mind.

This film has a big twist near the end too, all about who belongs to the mysterious Eye organization and what their purpose is. Well, the reveal isn’t actually a big surprise, it is a let down, but at least it makes more sense. In fact, it is the type of reveal that would have been better at the end of the first film, not the end of a sequel no one wanted.

Here is a positive. Yes, it was awkward that Caplan was suddenly in this film, but her character was the best and funniest with the most personality to boot. If they decide to punish our life more with a third film, it should be called Now You Three Me and star her with completely new cast besides her.

1 out of 4.

Triple 9

Say what you will about Triple 9‘s vague title, but I think we can all agree that it is a better title than just 999.

This is one of the rare fun times where I actually know nothing about the film outside of movie posters and actors involved! But the director is John Hillcoat, who also directed Lawless and The Road, two films I adore.

And the cover gives a nice terrorist/angry gunman feel to it. A bit dark, something that feels more like a September film, not a February film.

Cops
Some rumors say this is actually the real True Detective Season 2.

Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his group (Norman Reedus, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jr.) are robbing a bank. Why? Well, working for a client. They are all friends, but more importantly, they are all ex-military, special forces, or cops. Current cops.

So they know how to get shit done. However, when they deliver the package to Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), they don’t get paid, she demands a second, harder job (for more money), and also ends up killing one of the crew to shows he is serious. Michael can’t walk away, because his son is basically a hostage in this situation.

However, the second job involves breaking into a Department of Homeland Security building. They have guards, private security, and the cops have it on speed dial. So they decide that the only way they can pull off the heist is to do a code 999. Kill a cop. Then everyone in the area will report, because every cop wants to get a cop killer. They know who to pick too. Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), who is one of their new partners, just transferred over, and the son of Sergeant Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) who is also on their case.

But can they do it? The team is a unique group of individuals. Some are shit, some are good guys deep down in bad circumstances, and some are just train wrecks.

Also starring Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer, E. Roger Mitchell, Luis Da Silva Jr., Michelle Ang, and Michael Kenneth Williams a transgendered prostitute.

Heist
That last note is really all the reason you need to see this film. Even if it is just one scene.

First of all, let me just talk about Kate Winslet. She is a goddamn chameleon. I had no idea it was her in this movie. Just like I had no idea it was her in Steve Jobs. Her role wasn’t as good as it was in Steve Jobs, but it was unique and I just couldn’t tell it was her at all. I love these surprises in the credits.

Triple 9 has a lot of twists and turns, and honestly, most of them were not easy to predict at all. It was keeping me on the edge of the seat throughout the film. In fact, it begins like we are already in the middle of a story. It can take awhile to catch up, but it gradually gives you bits and pieces to help put the whole story together, to find out why these men know each other and why they are in this situation.

It is a great way of doing things, but it is perhaps its biggest downfall.

Triple 9 is also a crowded film. There are a few plot lines going on, all at the same time, and not everything makes sense. Not just unexplained plot points, but character actions. For the life of me, I don’t understand how a criminal organization, wanting an almost impossible job to be done, would kill one of the five member crew before hand to show they are serious, making it even more impossible. Dumb criminals are the worst, especially when on screen they are played off as being intelligent and calculating.

Harrelson was also disappointing in this movie. His character felt like a shit version of his character from True Blood. Less accent, but all the self destructive behavior. There was no way this man was the lead detective for any precinct, as he acted like some beat cop the whole time.

The action is great, the twists are good, but in all honesty a lot of the plot is generic/incomprehensible. Worth watching at least once, just from the comfort of your own home.

2 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Hooray another franchise is over! After Harry Potter, I am grateful book series are still afraid to break from the trilogy format. Or else we’d get these yearly movies that drive up the box office and everyone freaks out about and so on.

You know, like Marvel movies. Or the upcoming Star Wars films. One a year. Fuck.

Of course, this time it is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. The studios will say over and over again it is because the last story needs all that time to tell the story, but it is just for money grabbing purposes. It is putting a pause in the plot, usually meaning neither half are a complete film and overdrawn.

Part 1 was the worst film of the franchise. It had about 30 minutes of plot spread out over two hours. And because of that, Part 2 is almost definitely going to suffer for similar reasons. Even if Part 2 is great, the fact that Part 1 exists and is bad, instead of one coherent picture, means both are weaker than they should be. Happened with the final two Twilights, happened with the final two Harry Potters, and will probably happen again here.

Grope
You know, Katniss, this is the last time I might get to dress you.” – Creepy Effie

Katniss Katniss Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). Katniss found herself choked up over the fact that they saved Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the Capital, her emotions all over the place. She knows one thing now. She will help Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and the rebels in any way she knows how. The Capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) must fall! And die!

Got it? Good. I’m done with that point of view. Lets change it up.

My man, Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) is still a bad ass mother fucker, cool spear trident weapon thing. No one can take him one on one. Except one girl. That’s right, Finnick is getting married. They will have ginger babies. Apparently they are all Irish, and Irish is a thing in this world, because their wedding has Irish violin music and jigs and shit. But that won’t stop him from putting his life on the line to take down the bad guys, YEAH!

Okay okay one more. Caesar Flickerman (StanleY Tucci) is the best host in all of the districts. He has flair, hair, and style. Unfortunately in this movie, he only has one scene as a shitty news anchor person. We don’t delve more into his life. Sad news.

Alright, everyone else in this movie are played by the same people you have seen before. Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Patina Miller, and of course, Elden Henson as the best video camera man in the world. Formally best at shooting the puck really hard.

Walk
“What are you going to do, just walk up to the door stop and kill him?”

I felt a bit silly typing up the plot outline for this film, as you may have guessed. They are finally doing that fight thing. No longer is this about the hunger games, it is about a revolution, damn it. They should really assume the viewers are smarter and just call it Mockingjay without THG.

Part 2 ended up being a lot better than Part 1, but not as good as the first movie or Catching Fire. The ending wasn’t full of epic moments, but just a slow fuse that slowly ran out of steam. And then a couple more scenes, and an epilogue. Hell, the ending was very confusing just in terms of time. I can’t be more specific without bigger spoilers, but the events being shown and that were talked shouldn’t have overlapped as such.

There were some decent action scenes in the middle though. The best was the sewer scene, although it was also confusing. Dark places means they don’t have to make coherent action, which might just be an allusion to the first film where they just changed the camera angles a lot and shook the camera. They threw in zombies out of no where, which is I guess the cool thing to do in a teen book franchises (see Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials). I am sure technically they are not zombies, but they came out of no where and never were really explained, so that is all I can really call them.

When I think back on the Hunger Games franchise in the future, I will just think about the first two movies. As long as you accept that Catching Fire ends with a crappy cliff hanger and doesn’t resolve anything, it will save you from the extremely mediocre two film filler after the fact. With only a handful amount of Finnick scenes to get you by.

2 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Ugh. So here we go.

Brief recap of the series from my POV. Hunger Games – Too much training, not enough games. Too much shaky cam, not enough actual action. It is okay. 2 out of 4. Catching Fire – Figured the plot would be contrived and forced to be similar, but it wasn’t. A much better movie, less shaky cam, better acting. 3 out of 4.

So that is some of my biases coming in to this movie. Or should I call it half a movie? After all, The Hunger Games Mockingjay, the final book, was split in half for movie sake. Oh joy. Just like Twilight. Just like Harry Potter. I am sure Divergent will split the final book into three parts. Hell, this is becoming so annoying, The Maze Runner got praise for saying it wouldn’t split up any of the books! Yay!

It should be noted, I really really really fucking hate this. It is just a franchise milking more money before it becomes irrelevant. If they can fit the other X books into one movie, they can do it for the final one too. And the first of the two always ends up being weaker. It was the worst Twilight film, and a more boring Harry Potter. That is because it is all set up for the final more exciting part, and usually bullshit.

But at least Harry Potter had the decency to release the films within a year of each other, about 7 months apart. Part 2 of Mockingjay won’t come out until next November, a whole year later, making it seem like another complete movie and not a continuation.

I guess I am mostly mad because for a movie, I want a complete story and not just crappy tv show cliffhangers. Catching Fire ended on a crappy TV show cliff hanger, and this one will give me only part of a story and make me wait a whole year to see the second half. That is abusing the part 1 and part 2 system and is malarkey. The only reason to wait that amount of time is to make more money, and unfortunately it will make it too.

Conference
Rough plans for their new conference center to discuss ways to make money once this franchise is done.

For those that aren’t in the know, Catching Fire ended with The 75th Hunger Games ending prematurely. Shit broke, lot of chaos and anarchy, people got left behind, and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in the once thought destroyed District 13. Looks like they have had a rebel group in here for some time. And so many people are a part of it!

Like, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman)! And Gale (Liam Hemsworth)! And Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks)! Although their involvement may have been less than voluntary.

Katniss has been brought here for one main reason. To help lead a revolution to take down the capital, to unite the districts as one, and to be the face of PR and propaganda. However, when they rescued her, they notably left a few people behind, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a couple other tributes. She doesn’t want to get involved in this war, she just wants to save Peeta. But she gets sucked into it anyway once she finds out that all of District 12 was basically destroyed.

And that’s that! Let the PR campaign begin! Yay warring governments,even if the District 13 President (Julianne Moore) is kind of boring.

Also featuring a whole lot of other people of course. Most returning. Like Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright and Willow Shields. But there is also Mahershala Ali and Natalie Dormer guys. Don’t. Forget. About. Them.

Desolate
They asked the extras who wants to be Jennifer’s BFF.

I don’t want to sound like a self fulfilling prophesier, but…

I think Mockingjay Part 1 is easily the worst film in the series. And the good news is I gave the recap on top of the other two, so I don’t have to explain their advantages, just talk about this film! The good news is that this film is only 2 hours long, not 140 minutes like the last two. It makes sense, as it is only half of a book anyways. And another good aspect of this movie is that it actually tells a complete story, more or less. We have goals at the beginning of the movie, and by the end, those goals are accomplished in a few ways. They just create a couple more issues and lead up to a bigger and more intense thing.

My issues with the film still relate to the parts though, I guess. Despite its shorter run time, this felt like 30-45 minutes of plot spread out over 2 hours. Everything felt slow, much slower than normal. I can only watch so much angst.

In additional, I cringed quite a few times at lines and actions of characters. They felt so unbelievable or unrealistic given the circumstances that I had to roll my eyes. I found it had at times to really get lost in the movie and allow time to go by easily.

It is still not a terrible film or anything, I just think it didn’t get anywhere close to its full potential. Oh well, we will see how I feel a year from now when I can finally get the end to the story.

2 out of 4.

Out Of The Furnace

Out of the Furnace has the honor of being the only movie coming out this week, in a month that is typically packed to the brim with movies to take advantage of those holiday sales.

It also has the honor of making me think of the Meatloaf song, “Out of the Frying Pan,” so much that whenever I hear the film’s title, I can’t help but sing “And into the fire!” in my head.

Lollipop
This is an actual scene of the film, lollipop and all.

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) is your average factory worker living in Pennsylvania. He is a man who works for a living, a guy who will never be rich, but overall, a very caring and loving man. He has a lady (Zoe Saldana), a younger dumber brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) in the army, and his father is getting sick. But after a night of trying to do good and a few mistakes, Russell finds himself behind bars after a drunk driving accident.

Now, years later, his life has changed drastically. His father: dead. His woman: left him for a cop (Forest Whitaker). His brother: suffering from extreme PTSD after four tours in Iraq. Rodney is also deep in gambling debt and starting to take up illegal bare knuckle boxing to pay his debts. But when he gets involved with the Appalachian hill folk and their leader, Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), his life is going to make a change for the worse.

It is up to Russell, a good man who hasn’t done a lot wrong in his life, to potentially give up his moral convictions, his good nature, and his innocence, in order to avenge or save his brother… You know, depends on what they do to his brother first.

Willem Dafoe is also in here as a small town loan shark, and Sam Shepard plays a family friend.

Gun
Here’s a hint. That gun is not for hunting. Okay, normally yes for hunting, but right now it isn’t. Shut up.

Out Of The Furnace might feature some of the better acting performances of the year. There is a scene with Bale and Saldana on a bridge and it absolutely tore my heart up. It was very unexpected and it felt incredibly real. This is the best performance for Affleck since The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. If it wasn’t for Harrelson’s goofy looking head, I wouldn’t have recognized him speech wise as the incredibly corrupt hill folk.

Unfortunately, the great acting is the only real thing I like from this movie.

It is definitely a slower moving film, as it wants to build up the fact that Russel is a great human and just trying to live his life. A lot of intense scenes involving others are spliced with Russel hunting and working, just to show how un-extreme his life is. In fact, the movie goes to incredibly lengths to make that point during the ending, which seems to drag on forever. On top of that, the ending almost feels a bit dreamlike, including an ambiguous final scene that I am unsure of its purpose.

I believe this film has a lot of symbolism incorporated within it, but potentially too much symbolism, and not enough entertainment.

Fantastic acting, a good idea for a story, but just a dull way to deliver that story.

 

2 out of 4.