MY COUSIN RACHEL review

How is this movie rated PG-13?! It’s cousins having sex, getting married, and possibly killing each other! What the hell?! Fine, whatever! Different time period, different location!

So news to me, this is actually based on a book, which was adapted once before back in 1952. To my understanding though, the incest was heavily cut down to near-nonexistent. I guess that’s why this movie was made: to faithfully adapt the novel this was based on. But really… were we really clamoring for this? Oh well.

To be fair, before seeing this, I was only interested because… “My Cousin Rachel”… starring Rachel Weisz? There were jokes waiting to be made! But this was a serious and dark kind of story and cousin-on-cousin screwing aside, it didn’t look… awful per se. In fact, elements were intriguing. The movie was about this married couple and the husband passes away. Our main hero suspects that his cousin Rachel was responsible. However, upon meeting her, he becomes infatuated with her and begins to fall hard… though she doesn’t seem to share the same feelings. Yup! It’s that kind of movie! Hence, why I was actually pretty excited for this. I could always afford to see a bat-shit crazy movie like this.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring, we obviously have Weisz (DENIAL [2016], CONSTANTINE [2005], and THE MUMMY [1999]) and Sam Claflin (THEIR FINEST [2017], ME BEFORE YOU [2016], and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES [2011], where he also played a character named Philip.). In support, we have Holliday Grainger (THE FINEST HOURS [2016], CINDERELLA [2015], and ANNA KARENINA [2012]) and Iain Glen (RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER [2017], EYE IN THE SKY [2016], and TV show GAME OF THRONES).

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Roger Michell, known for HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012), MORNING GLORY (2010), and NOTTING HILL (1999). Composing the score is Rael Jones, known for a ton of short films and documentaries. Finally, the cinematographer is Mike Eley, known for NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS (2010) and a ton of short films and documentaries.

Overall, I’m sadistically looking forward to this. I love a fun and insane movie, so bring it on! Sanity’s overrated anyway.

This is my honest opinion of: MY COUSIN RACHEL

(SUMMARY)

Philip (Sam Claflin) was an orphan, until his older cousin adopted him and raised him as his own. After traveling afar, the cousin met up with a mutual cousin of theirs named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). The two married and before long, the cousin fell ill and eventually died, but not before sending a cryptic letter that seemed like he was in trouble and it’s later decided by Philip that Rachel is responsible for his death. Soon, he receives word that Rachel is visiting and Philip intends to confront her. However, when he meets her for the first time, he is immediately struck by her beauty and becomes increasingly convinced that she may not be what he initially thought and the two strike up a benign relationship… until he starts to develop feelings for her.

(REVIEW)

Hmm… it’s about as bat-shit as I thought it’d be… and yet, it wasn’t. It’s kind of weird.

Here’s what I mean, the movie is almost ripe to be self-parody, but the movie treats its own subject matter like it’s the norm. Suddenly, the cringing isn’t as strong because everyone has a nonchalant attitude toward cousins marrying and having sex. Again, I emphasize that I understand different times periods and places, so certain taboos today may not have been so taboo… whenever this movie takes place. I think that’s one of my initial pet peeves with this movie: the year is never specified. I mean, there’s horse-drawn carriages and not a single motorized vehicle ever makes an appearance, so… presumably pre-1880’s? I have no idea, y’all. But I guess the exact date doesn’t quite matter.

Let’s get some of the positives out of the way. The acting is quite good. Weisz is amazing in anything that she does, so she’s a class act here. And was she really speaking Italian? There’s a scene where she was speaking to an Italian character and she looked damn comfortable speaking it. Any who, Rachel is this woman who is clearly grieving over her dead husband slash cousin, but she constantly conducts herself as a pleasant and self-sufficient individual. She even vehemently protests when Philip secretly gives her an allowance, claiming that it makes her look like a beggar and that she’s only there for his money, which isn’t the case. But she is a sweet woman who cares deeply for her cousin and eventually cares for him in all the wrong ways.

Philip is… another story entirely, and I quite honestly don’t know how to feel about him. At first, his actions and motivations seem like they make sense. Who wouldn’t have guessed from the ramblings from the cousin that Rachel was responsible for his death? However, from the moment he met Rachel, I’m somewhat lost. I know the implication is that Rachel is so damn attractive that he’s totally entranced by her beauty, therefore forgets to question the death of his cousin. So the story essentially loses focus because… THE POWER OF BONERS CANNOT BE DENIED!!!

Now I’m not entirely sure if the rest of the movie is either that brilliant or that unfocused, but here’s what I’m getting out of this. Bare with me, this might get more convoluted than the movie intended. While Philip is being all hypnotized by Rachel, I feel like the way the movie’s shot and written is trying to keep the audience distanced from anyone’s particular point of view. I feel like we’re supposed to know that Philip’s infatuation is moronic and the audience is expected to maintain our suspicions of Rachel and make the deductions ourselves. I suppose that’s where most of the fun of the movie came in for me, which is odd to say because this movie isn’t meant to be “fun.” I honestly didn’t know what to make of Rachel. She seemed pleasant enough, but any really good murderer would be charismatic and unassuming, but it’s not like she doesn’t feed us suspicions. She’s incredibly persistent when it comes to serving tea to Philip. Kind of makes you wonder certain things. You keep your caffeinated horse piss to yourself, lady! Actually, I’m a “soak it with honey” kind of guy, but no one cares about that. My little theory that I went into could entirely be me grasping at straws, finding something good to say about it, but it’s entirely possible that this movie abandons its murder-mystery premise in lieu of an icky cousin-cousin romance, then dear God, what kind of sick novel was this? In order to preserve my sanity, I’m going with my theory.

I’m honestly trying to come up with a legit problem with the movie. I feel like the unfocused stuff that I mentioned earlier does feel like an issue and even my excuses for why that is feel like I’m just apologizing for the film in some way. On the other hand, that does feel like the point of the film. On the other other hand, does that mean this story is pure shock value? Throwing in an uncomfortable scenario for the audience to cringe at as opposed to actually making educated and logical guesses as to whether or not Rachel killed her husband?

I’m sure I’m missing something. This has to be a popular book for it to be adapted to the big screen twice. But honestly… yeah, this wasn’t something I could get into. And I wanted to this to be grotesquely enjoyable. Instead, I felt more confused than anything else. I can’t pretend that this was the worst thing in the world because I do enjoy the lead actors very much. I also can’t deny the gorgeous costumes and I do find my mind remembering the cinematography quite a bit, as well as the ending being deliciously nuts. However, this movie wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It’s not the worst watch, but I think it’d help audiences interested in seeing it to not go in expecting a one-hundred percent bat-shit insane movie that would get a cult following like I did. I’d say unless you’re a die-hard fan of Weisz, save this for a either a discount theater viewing, or better yet, a rental. It’s not the strongest recommendation, I certainly don’t see myself revisiting the film, but I won’t pretend to have gotten nothing out of it.

My honest rating for MY COUSIN RACHEL: 3/5

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Quick Review: CHURCHILL

I hate to do it this way, but I have a lot of reviews ahead of me and I haven’t gotten my initial impressions down for them, even for movies that came out last week, which I still have to see. Thanks a lot, INJUSTICE 2. You made me a procrastinator!

Before seeing it, I thought the movie looked great. Brian Cox, John Slattery, what wasn’t to like? I saw it and thoroughly enjoyed it. But then I saw the reviews and ratings for it. They were not favorable. Many of the problems from what I read were about certain events that didn’t take place during the time that the movie depicted, heavy dramatization of Winston Churchill’s problems with Operation Overlord, which is what this movie leans on, among other things. A great deal of scrutiny came down upon the writer of the movie, Alex von Tunzelmann, whom is a historian herself for getting facts wrong.

While I can’t deny that does seem like a strange choice to make, I still can’t bring myself to dislike the film. While I won’t likely get the truth from this film about the great historical figure, I enjoy this movie in the same way that I enjoyed MISS SLOANE (2016). Sure, the subject matter may be distorted, but the acting is what sold me on both films. Cox and Slattery are amazing. Any scene they share together is phenomenally enjoyable. Even Ella Purnell stole the show a couple times, playing Churchill’s secretary. I won’t pretend that this movie was an emotional powerhouse, but it’s still worth seeing if you’re a Cox or Slattery fan. The story itself, Churchill voicing his concerns against Overlord mere hours before its execution, requires more suspension of disbelief than I was willing to suspend, but the talent made this movie enjoyable. I will let the history buffs hate the film, as I can’t tell them they’re wrong, but I enjoyed the performances, if nothing else.

My honest rating for CHURCHILL: 4/5

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WONDER WOMAN review

Oh man is there a lot to say about this.

So, as many of you know, I’m not much of a comic book reader. So I can’t say I know anything comic-related about Wonder Woman. I’ve never even seen the 70’s TV show of the character. I grew up watching the animated TV shows JUSTICE LEAGUE and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. That was the extent of my knowledge. I was also a fan of the animated movie that came out, WONDER WOMAN (2009) and even owned the DVD. What can I say, Nathan Fillion is a favorite of mine.

But as anyone can tell you, a live-action movie has been in production hell for years. Again, for those of you that don’t know, Wonder Woman was about to get the big screen treatment with now geek-god Joss Whedon at the helm. A list as long as travel time on the 405 freeway of who would play the character was being considered, but the project was ultimately killed off. Whedon would obviously go on to do great work with Marvel, but keep in mind, this was around the year 2007! Maybe even earlier than that! Holy crap, it looked like we’d never see this superhero brought to life outside of animation. Hell, Hollywood tried to get yet another live-action TV show of Wonder Woman off the ground back in 2011 starring Adrianne Palicki and Elizabeth Hurley, but that was so critically thrashed that not even one episode was ever aired.

But thanks in large part to the success of MAN OF STEEL (2013), Warner Bros. and DC comics were ready to ride the waves that THE AVENGERS (2012) started and wanted to get their own cinematic universe created, culminating into a Justice League film. Despite BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s (2016) financial success, it was horribly beaten down by fans, and it was around this time that DC would get a huge overhaul in their infrastructure and a new team of creators would be carrying this franchise forward. Though that would mean little to BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s messy and senseless story and wasted potential, many couldn’t deny that Wonder Woman’s brief appearance was arguably the saving grace of the film, and I am totally in agreement.

Fast-forward past SUICIDE SQUAD (2016), and it’s mixed popularity, we are given a kind of last hope for this series of films and I have to say, much like the rest of the movies that came before, I am pretty excited for this, and early reviews and ratings sure have me riding on high hopes. I want this to be good guys. I want to love this movie. I really do.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring as the bad-ass Amazonian warrior princess is Gal Gadot (KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES [2016], FAST & FURIOUS 6 [2013], DATE NIGHT [2010], and the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017]). Although I can’t say I’m her biggest fan, in that I’ve only seen so much of her work and she’s barely had a starring role to really showcase her talent, I am perfectly fine with her as Wonder Woman. No, her résumé isn’t spotless of bad movies, but she’s not usually the reason why. I look forward to seeing her performance here and 100 percent support her. At her side is the ever amazing and charming, Chris Pine (STAR TREK BEYOND [2016], JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT [2014], and THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT [2004]). What can I say about the man? He’s funny. He’s awesome. He can perfectly play comedy and drama. I love his work… moving on. In support, we have Connie Nielsen (3 DAYS TO KILL [2014], GLADIATOR [2000], TV show THE FOLLOWING, and the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE), Robin Wright (EVEREST [2015], UNBREAKABLE [2000], TV show HOUSE OF CARDS, and the upcoming BLADE RUNNER 2049 [2017]), Danny Huston (BIG EYES [2014], animated film JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX [2013], and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE [2009]), David Thewlis (ANOMALISA [2015], HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN [2004], and TV show FARGO), and Ewen Bremner (T2 TRAINSPOTTING [2017], AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR [2004], and TRAINSPOTTING [1996]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Patty Jenkins, known for MONSTER (2003). Penning the screenplay is Allan Heinberg, known for TV shows: seven episodes of GREY’S ANATOMY, eight episodes of THE O.C., and four episodes of SEX AND THE CITY. Composing the score is Rupert Gregson-Williams, known for HACKSAW RIDGE (2016), BEE MOVIE (2007), and HOTEL RWANDA (2004). Finally, the cinematographer is Matthew Jensen, known for FANT4STIC (2015), CHRONICLE (2012), and eleven episodes of TV show TRUE BLOOD.

Overall, STOKED! I needn’t say more.

This is my honest opinion of: WONDER WOMAN

(SUMMARY)

Diana (Gal Gadot) is the Princess of the hidden island paradise of Themyscira, raised around an all-female elite class of warriors, trained by the greatest of their warriors to be the best in the off chance that their greatest adversary, Ares, the God of War, should ever return. However, everything changes when a mysterious aircraft crashes into Themyscira’s ocean, carrying an American spy named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), pursued by German forces. Despite victory against them, Steve is taken prisoner and reveals that he’s fighting in a war, a great war supposedly to end all wars. While Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) believes it’s simply the natural chaos that men bring, Diana believes that it’s Ares influencing the war. Taking weapons and armor, she takes Steve back to his war as long as he promises to take her to where the war is at its most intense.

(REVIEW)

YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAH!!! About damn time, DC!

Yes, folks, this is an awesome movie. A legitimately good film. I’m not just saying that because I’m lying to myself. No, I really do think this is one that shouldn’t be missed.

Right off the bat, the movie does a great job of world-building the Amazon world. Themyscira is a beautifully designed island and really does feel like a paradise. The gorgeous scenery alone almost feels like a character in itself, thanks in no small part to the wonderful cinematography. But more than that, once they introduce the Amazon warriors, you’re immediately enthralled by them. These women are pure bad-asses and in no more than two minutes, you know you’d never want to get on their bad sides. A detail that I found particularly remarkable in this brief introduction is just how good the extras look. No, I’m not talking aesthetic beauty, I’m talking about how these extras actually look like they’re having intense sparring matches. You know how in almost every great sword-fighting movie that it’s always intense thanks to great stunt-work and choreography? It looks like that’s what’s happening with these extras. Each sparring match looks intense and probably took a great deal of time to perfect and look great on screen. So believe me when I tell you when I look at an eight-year-old Diana (Lilly Aspell) looking at the warriors in awe, trying to mimic their fighting techniques, I’m right there with her, and I’m a twenty-eight-year-old grown-ass man… er, mostly grown-ass. Bottom-line, this intro is awesome.

But it’s not just pure, unrelenting action with no character. Quite the contrary, every character is simple, but easy to identify. Young Diana wants to train just like the rest of her Amazonian sisters, but her mother won’t allow it, believing that no threat will come their way in their lifetime… however long that is. Yeah, it’s never made clear if these women are immortals or just have really long life-spans, but whatever! No one cares! But of course, Hippolyta knows that her daughter has a strong will and eventually concedes that if she must be trained, then she must be trained to be better than the greatest of their warriors. And who better to train her just for that than their greatest warrior, Antiope (Robin Wright). I feel like in a lesser script, they could have easily made Antiope a reluctant teacher, jealous of Diana’s eventual combative prowess. But maybe that’s the cynic in me because you see that she has long desired to train Diana and even trained her in secret before her mother found out, eventually caving in to both of their desires to see her become a warrior like them. Even when Diana is an adult, she’s clearly a great warrior, but still has enough to learn.

Oh, and don’t worry, these ladies aren’t just here for practice fighting either. They get their moment to shine as an army right as soon as Steve arrives. German forces find Themyscira and invade the shores in pursuit of the American. They start bungee jumping off the side of cliffs and ride in on horseback, arrows flying like a cloud of locusts, a fair number of Germans are killed. But even the Amazons aren’t invincible as a few of them get killed too, which does feel like a loss that carries weight. I mean, these are warriors through and through. To be taken down by a projectile weapon that you can’t see just like an injustice (no pun intended). But at the same time, you know that these are warriors who know the score and know that death is a possibility, so there’s even this subtle sense of pride that they’re going out doing what they do best. I do kind of wish that this sudden realization of how advanced mankind’s weaponry has grown since their last encounter with men would be more of a shock to the Amazons post-battle, but I guess that wouldn’t have kept the story in focus, so it’s probably for the best that it becomes a cliff-note to be ignored, so no brownie points lost.

Honestly, I could probably go on forever talking about everything on Themyscira. But there’s a ton more to talk about and it’s also worth geeking out over.

How about the lady of the hour… or the, two and a half hours? Gadot is phenomenal as Wonder Woman. Despite never having read the comics, it’s pretty clear that if you’re going to make a Wonder Woman movie, she needs to stand for justice, strength, independence, compassion, and probably a myriad of other adjectives and adverbs that I don’t know about. Well, I would say this movie did all of that justice. She understands that this war has taken lives of noncombatants and wants to be a part of ending it. But when she gets up close and personal to the carnage, both outside and inside of the fighting, she’s horrified. She spends half the movie being kept away from the direct conflict and constantly told no. So when she, Trevors, and their ragtag team arrive at the trenches, and Diana is faced with a woman who begs her for help, which would entail storming No-Man’s Land across German machinegun fire into a German-occupied town. Of course, Steve tells her that it’s impossible to cross and that no man can do it. Aside from my mind immediately turning to LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003) and realizing that bad guys are defeated by grammatically political incorrectness, Diana says, “Nuh-uh, bitch, I ain’t no man. I’m Wonder Woman. This is what I do.” I… might have paraphrased a bit. In any case, this is the scene that many will be talking about because it’s such an awesome piece of runtime. She deflects bullets with her bracers and stands her ground as an unrelenting barrage of machinegun bullets pepper her shield as the Allied forces charge behind her and they take on the German forces, pushing through and saving the nearby town. It’s the first time we see Wonder Woman in her full garb and it’s about as bad-ass as you can imagine. This piece of superheroism should be remembered big time.

But more than her bad-assery, Diana is still a person who takes time to understand the world that she’s stepped in to. Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that she hesitantly accepts the way things are. I don’t think it’s quite as well done as it was in THOR (2011), as Thor simply accepts the way things people do what they do, whereas Diana can complain a little bit. Not to the point of annoyance, thankfully. Her motivations are understandable, but there is that impatience that rubs me in the wrong way. But only a little, so I don’t really dock points for that. Still, she plays along, is respectful of customs for the most part, and only challenges the norm when the need is truly understandable.

I’ve only known a couple takes on the character of Steve Trevor. There’s the World War II version from JUSTICE LEAGUE the animated TV show, and there’s Nathan Fillion’s take in the animated movie WONDER WOMAN, which took place in the present day. It’s pretty clear that Trevor’s character is always a cocky and joking kind of guy, but still fiercely committed to his causes and beliefs with an unshakable conviction. If I were to hazard a guess, he’s basically the DC equivalent to Captain America if he were a supporting character. But I have to say, this is probably the best iteration of the character that I’ve seen yet. If there was anything I disliked about the animated film’s version is that he does attempt to get Diana drunk in order to get lucky. I don’t know, every other version seemed to be a gentleman and knew better than to make neanderthal decisions like that. Granted, it was probably unintentional and he was simply too drunk to think clearly, but it’s still kind of a weird moment for the character. Pine’s Steve Trevor is more akin to the animated show’s iteration. He’s a gentleman, funny as hell, charming, and kind of a dork. I mean, it’s a character we’ve seen before and seen Pine play before, but he’s so good at it that it never gets stale. To me, it makes sense that everything he and Diana go through would create this bond that would ultimately lead to a romance. It’s not forced and it feels very organic. They don’t always agree on their respective methods, but they both want to end the war and want the senseless killings of innocents to stop.

The supporting characters are hit and miss. Bremner’s Charlie is the most standout. He’s a drunken sharpshooter who is the comedy relief, but it’s revealed that he suffers from PTSD. And even though this is obviously been done before in just about every war film to exist, Charlie is such a likable kind of fool that when you see that vulnerability in his eyes, Bremner really sells it and you empathize with him. The others get the shaft a little bit. Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) is the well-meaning flirt and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) is the Native American of the group. Beyond that, they don’t really have a discernible set of personalities that will make them all that memorable. Luckily, they’re not annoying, so you don’t hate seeing them on screen, so I let that go.

The villains are… serviceable. While I really like the design of Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) with her prosthetic left-side jaw, I have to say that they’re something of a bore. Sure, their actions are the driving force of our heroes, the bad guys making all new gases that threaten hundreds of lives, but they themselves don’t leave an impact. Although, there is this one deliciously evil scene where Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Dr. Maru meet up with some German generals or whatever, and when they disappoint him, he locks them in a room with a single gas mask and gases the entire room. Although, earlier we learned that their newest gas weapon eats through the masks. Dr. Maru exclaims, “That mask won’t help them!” But then Ludendorff says, “They don’t know that.” And then the two laugh maniacally and run away like a couple of kids that played a prank. It’s… bizarrely out of place. Neither character acted like that before this scene, nor do they ever act like that afterward. Once more, I’m letting this slide because the moment barely lasts a minute and… it was kind of funny.

As you’ve probably noticed throughout the review, I’ve mentioned some moments that I’ve let slip and don’t let myself dock any real points from the movie. I bet you think I’m just making excuses to give this movie a perfect score, aren’t ya? Well think again, you damn dirty nay-sayers!

Remorsefully, it’s not a perfect film. My itty bitty gripes are proof enough of that. But I do have some legit problems with the movie that I couldn’t let slide. They’re smaller problems, but still distracting enough to warrant a few eye-twitches. Some will remember in the trailer, there’s a scene with Diana wearing a blue dress in a gala with her sword sheathed in her back, and that bit was criticized for, “Does no one see that sword?!” Well, sadly, that scene is actually even stupider even with context. I suppose you could have made the very, very, very thin argument that she could have said that it was just a decorative piece in the shape of a sword’s hilt for fashion purposes, but… no, that thing sticks out like a sore thumb and you’re left wondering why this isn’t causing a panic. In fact, I’m pretty sure you can see another woman eyeing Diana’s dress from the back and for all intents and purposes should have seen the sword hilt. But no. They just… don’t.

***SPOILERS***

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Also, I’m pretty sure I missed what the hell those pills that Ludendorff took were for. He takes these pills that make the inside of his skin glow silver, but I’m not sure if they really did anything. Were they supposed to make him immune to the gases they were creating? If so, why did he need to leave the room full of German generals that he killed? Were they supposed to give him super strength? It barely matters in the end because when Diana meets up with him, he’s killed off pretty quickly and in an anti-climactic way. So… whatever those pills did either didn’t work, didn’t work very well, or didn’t affect anything in the long run.

But by far the ultimate sin of the movie is this. We learn that Ludendorff wasn’t Ares the whole time like Diana thought, but in a twist, we learn that Ares was actually Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) of the Imperial War Cabinet. They have an epic fight, as all climaxes need ’em in superhero movies, but what made me nearly scream at the screen was when we learn that the “God-killer” sword that Diana’s been wielding this entire time wasn’t actually the God-killer. Turns out, Diana’s heritage as a demi-god was kept from her and she’s the God-killer. Wanna know how we learn that? Because Ares doubles as the God of Dumb-asses because he tells her right her face that she’s the only one that can kill him! This is the same damn problem that I had with THE CONJURING 2 (2016). What kind of bad-guy with a weakness just tells the heroes how to kill them?! I said before in that review, so I’ll it here. A vampire isn’t going to tell you to open the blinds on a bright and sunny afternoon, a werewolf isn’t going to hand you a loaded shotgun with silver shells, the Wicked Witch isn’t going to beg for a yacht party in the middle of the ocean, and zombies won’t be wearing bulls-eyes on their foreheads while giving you advice on aiming accurately. So why is this turning into a trend?! You know if he didn’t open his gob, he would have won that fight. Or more likely and impressively, Diana would have fought him to a stalemate and he would have fled, while still keeping her demi-god status a mystery and we could have kept Ares on as a sort of nemesis for Diana in future solo films. But nope, like a dumb-shit he is, he tells her his weakness and she exploits it and kills him.

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, this movie is definitely a must-see for everybody. Men, women, boys, and girls. Especially girls because not only is this the first female-lead superhero film, but it’s done such great justice for the character and I feel like there’s something that everyone can cheer for. It’s got a little bit of everything. Comedy, drama, romance, war, it’s a really good film. Sure, it could have benefited from a bit of tweaking in the script, but what few problems I have with the movie, both small and big, don’t hold it back any more than a German sniper holding back Wonder Woman from toppling a roof on him. I may have only seen it once so far, but I plan on seeing it again. Highly recommended at your biggest theater with your loudest screens, wherever it may be and I can’t wait to own this on Blu-Ray when the time comes.

My honest rating for WONDER WOMAN: a strong 4/5

UPDATE (MORE SPOILERS): I am changing the rating to a 5/5. I have officially seen the movie three times in theaters now and there’s one thing that tipped this over for me. When Diana and Steve are in the boat, sailing away from Themyscira, they have this bit where they’re talking about marriage. Steve’s line goes something like, “…to love, honor, and cherish ’till death do you part.” It took me three viewings to see the immense weight his final scene really has. After he sacrifices himself, Diana eventually flashes back to the words that Steve said during her ears-ringing moment. His lines go, “I can save the day, but you can save the world! I love you!” I feel like what makes this moment so fantastic is because even though it’s not a wedding happening, he’s breaking this preconception of marriage. Here’s what I mean. What is he doing right at that moment? He’s loving, honoring, and cherishing her, and death parts them. He even goes so far as to give her his watch, a band that wraps around an appendage… kind of like a… okay, I know I’m grasping at straws here to make this scene more powerful, but that’s honestly what I’m taking away from that whole thing and it’s so well-subtly backed that I can’t help but fall in love with this movie because of it.

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Alrighty, get your fingers ramped up for hate messages because I’m about to speak blasphemy. *le sigh.* I AM NOT A FAN OF TARANTINO!!!

I know, I know, shut it. But let me be clear, I don’t HATE Tarantino. I have seen most of his movies and I have never hated any of them. My reaction to his movies range from a shrug and “it’s good,” to a nod and “it’s pretty good.” What’s my problem with Tarantino? His movies are unnecessarily long. “Seriously, Daniel? You hate his movies because they’re long?” First of all, I don’t hate his movies. Second, I said UNNECESSARILY long. Long movies don’t bother me. But when your scenes DRAG the fuck on and don’t serve a real purpose other than to showcase how good a writer you are, that bothers me and nearly all of his movies are like that. I get from a story-telling standpoint that it’s a good idea to linger on your primary characters for a bit so the audience can identify with them and, essentially, give a shit about them. But traditional movies will do that and move on with the story, putting these characters in a situation that we want or don’t want to see them get out of, depending on the angle you’re going for. Tarantino movies do this obviously… but taking FOR-FUCKING-EVER. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009), for example, were chock-full of this and it kind of annoyed me. So many scenes could have been cut and the movie would have not only been shorter, but far more entertaining with greater incentive to rewatch the movie at a later time. I think the only two movies that I’ve seen before HATEFUL EIGHT that strayed from that Tarantino-tradition was the Kill Bill movies and DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012). Yeah, he would linger on the characters for awhile for us to get to know them, but then he would do away with all the pointless dialog and just progress the damn story. So it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that KILL BILL would be my favorite movie of his. Shorter than usual, identifiable characters, faster pacing, everything I like in a movie.

Now, again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t HATE any of his films. I don’t even dislike them. With the possible exception of DEATH PROOF, I don’t even think his movies are “okay.” They’re all really good, even great, movies. They’re enjoyable, they’re fun, they’re intense, they’re funny, they’ve got a little bit of everything that makes a movie great. But, like I said, when he DRAWS out so many scenes, guess what eventually happens to me? I notice. I am suddenly aware of how long this movie is. I liked DJANGO, but after awhile, I knew this movie was long instead of losing myself to the story. I liked BASTERDS, but I kinda just wanted Christoph Waltz to shut up and get on with it in that first scene. The scenes themselves are enjoyable to watch, he does write interesting and smart dialog, but by the mercy of Jesus, I am not fooled by how he’s trying to make his scenes seem shorter by having his characters talk with that good dialog.

Like most, I will always go and see a Tarantino movie. He’s got some of the maddest talent in Hollywood, but I will never be as excited to see a movie of his as everyone else is. Was HATEFUL EIGHT the exception? No, but my parents bought these tickets, it’s Christmas and I didn’t want to NOT spend time with them. I couldn’t deny there were worse ways to spend this holiday. HATEFUL EIGHT it was.

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [2016], BIG GAME [2015], and upcoming films THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017] and THE INCREDIBLES 2 [2018]), Kurt Russell (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 [2017], DEEPWATER HORIZON [2016], and DEATH PROOF [2007]), Jennifer Jason Leigh (MORGAN [2016], ANOMALISA [2015], THE HUDSUCKER PROXY [1994], and the upcoming AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING [2017]), Walton Goggins (AMERICAN ULTRA [2015], DJANGO UNCHAINED [2012], MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA [2008], and the upcoming TOMB RAIDER [2018]), and Tim Roth (HARDCORE HENRY [2016], THE INCREDIBLE HULK [2008], and TV show LIE TO ME)

Directed and written by: Quentin Tarantino (DJANGO UNCHAINED, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS [2009], and PULP FICTION [1994]). Composed by: Ennio Morricone (MISSION TO MARS [2000], CINEMA PARADISO [1988], and THE THING [1982]), Robert Richardson (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], HUGO [2011], and CASINO [1995]).

(SUMMARY)

It is post-Civil War in Wyoming and two bounty hunters, Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) cross paths. John has a prisoner chained to his wrist, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), whom he is set on seeing hanged for her crimes as a murderer. Marquis hitches a ride with them till they hit the nearby rest-stop, Minnie’s Habidashery. Along the way, they meet Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a racist possible-new-sheriff of the town everyone is heading to, and other colorful characters who may not be who they say they are and may be in league with the murderess Daisy.

(REVIEW)

Yup, prepare to love Tarantino all over again, fans, because this is about as Tarantino as you’re gonna get. Long dragged out scenes that are interesting to watch and fun ways the characters work off of each other, it hits all the right notes. So, as you can expect, I just think the movie’s good. Not great, not even okay, just… good.

Honestly, I summed up everything I think about Tarantino above and… well, that’s pretty much my review of the movie. Granted, I saw it in 70mm, so I think it’s a longer version than its standard digital cousin, but it’s over three hours long. Even with an intermission I was completely aware of how long this movie was. Yes, the scenes are interesting, yes, Tarantino writes good dialog, but… still not fooled. I still wish these characters would get on with it.

The performances are as usual, stupendous. Jackson is a barrel of fun, of course, Russell is a surprise douche bag in the best of ways, everyone is just so much fun to watch from an acting standpoint. The writing is top-notch, the cinematography is annoyingly fancy… standard Tarantino fare.

You know, I didn’t get into this in great detail above, but I want to talk about WHY that KILL BILL was my favorite movie of Tarantino’s and a movie like HATEFUL EIGHT isn’t something I can get into. KILL BILL is about a woman who is trying to leave her life of murdering people when she becomes pregnant. But this isn’t news supported by her former boss, lover, and father of the child, Bill, who sends people to kill her, her husband, and family on her wedding day. She wakes up from a coma and seeks vengeance on those that partook in the incident. See what we have here? A sympathetic character. Someone to root for. Someone we want to see succeed. It’s a classic revenge story with a likable character. Where is that in HATEFUL EIGHT? Who am I supposed to care about? Why do I not care about anyone? Because EVERYONE is a rotten and unlikable character. There’s no one to invest in, no one to root for. There’s just watching the minute hand until someone gets axed off. And while audiences are cringing from the violence and death, I’m sitting in my seat going, “huh, 140 minutes in to this movie. About fucking time. Next scene, please.” I have no real investment, no real care to see anyone live. Therefore, no reason to really care about the movie.

Except for that score. That score by Ennio Morricone is unbelievably amazing.

It’s by no means a bad movie, if this is your thing. It’s a damn solid film, I just can’t get into it.

3/5

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IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Chris Hemsworth. Um… yeah, from initial standpoint, that’s all this movie had going for it as far as any desire to see it. I love how the story is… well, the story that inspired Moby Dick instead of adapting the actual book. Yeah, the movie looked good, and Ron Howard is a popular director (I’m personally not the biggest fan), but Hemsworth was my selling point. What can I say? I think he’s a fine actor. Anyway, off to the summary and review.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth (THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR [2016], THE AVENGERS [2012], STAR TREK [2009], and upcoming films THOR: RAGNAROK [2017] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]). In support: Ben Whishaw (A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING [2016], THE DANISH GIRL [2015], PADDINGTON [2014], and upcoming films PADDINGTON 2 [2017] and MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]), Brendan Gleeson (ASSASSIN’S CREED [2016], HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 [2010], IN BRUGES [2008], and the upcoming PADDINGTON 2 [2017]), Benjamin Walker (THE CHOICE [2016], ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER [2012], and FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS [2006]), Tom Holland (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR [2016], THE IMPOSSIBLE [2012], and upcoming films SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING [2017] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), and Cillian Murphy (FREE FIRE [2017], BATMAN BEGINS [2005], 28 DAYS LATER… [2002], and the upcoming DUNKIRK [2017])
Directing: Ron Howard (INFERNO [2016], RUSH [2013], and APOLLO 13 [1995])
Written by: Charles Leavitt (WARCRAFT [2016], SEVENTH SON [2014], and BLOOD DIAMOND [2006])
Composed by: Roque Baños (DON’T BREATHE [2016], EVIL DEAD [2013], and THE MACHINIST [2004])
Cinematography by: Anthony Dod Mantle (T2 TRAINSPOTTING [2017], SNOWDEN [2016], and 127 HOURS [2010])
(SUMMARY)
Based on true events, the story is told via flashback. In 1850, future Moby Dick author Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) who wants to know what happened to the whaling ship Essex and its crew. He approaches one the survivors of the ship, the reclusive Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson). He begins to recount his experience aboard the Essex back in 1820, and the ship’s first mate, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth). Owen, a loving husband and future father, wants to be the captain of his own ship, but those in big wigs tell him to be first mate on a ship captained by an inexperienced sailor with a wealthy family named George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). Owen unhappily agrees, but the ship sets sail in search of whales for their profitable organs. Among the crew is the young Tom Nickerson (Tom Holland). As they set sail, whales seem to be pretty hard to find. After catching a tip from a rather grief-stricken sailor of legions of whales way out in the ocean, commenting about a “demon” that drove them away, Owen and George take the tip and go for it. As fate would have it, there are legions of whales around and the men of the Essex have a merry time catching them. But things turn sour as an unnaturally large white whale begins to attack the ship, effectively destroying the Essex and the men are stranded at sea. It’s the tale of how the crew went to desperate measures to survive, both against the fury of the open ocean and the wrath of an angry whale.
(REVIEW)
I liked it. It’s not perfect, but it’s a decent flick.
What do I like about it? Well, the movie is gorgeous. The practical sets are beautiful to look at. Chris Hemsworth is certainly as engaging an actor as he’s ever been. In fact, one of my favorite scenes with him is when the crew is getting a little cabin fever-ish and one of the crew holds a pistol up to Owen. Owen’s been a little too calm with the situation and the crewman demands that Owen admit that he’s scared. But Owen, never saying a single word, just looks at the guy and turns his back on him. He gives zero fucks as to what this man thinks or feels and just continues to focus on the job. I thought his performance in this one scene spoke so clear to what Owen was all about. The unspoken captain of the ship. The more we see Owen interact with the crew, the more we kind of start to get frustrated with the way Captain Pollard runs it. His inexperience is apparent and we wind up sympathizing more with Owen wanting to be the captain of his own ship.
However, while the movie does focus a lot on the great sets and Hemsworth’s performance, a lot of other areas are surprisingly lacking.
For one thing, the set up itself is… well, let me explain. Older Tom has never spoken about the events that transpired thirty years ago, not even to his wife. I have to assume that Melville isn’t the only reporter/story-seeker that’s tried to question him, and they’ve all been turned away. Well, here comes Melville and he just sort of… bribes. Less than five minutes later, the old coot sits down to tell his story. That was… easy. Seriously, no one else before him thought to do that? Bribe the owners of a struggling business? Kind of… a lame set up.
But that’s a knit-pick. Is there anything truly bad? Not really, but there are plenty of misleading elements, which can be a bit of a cheat depending on who you are. All of the advertisements make the movie out to be a little faster paced and will focus heavily on the Essex’s crew battling the white whale. Pretty sure the whale doesn’t make an appearance until AT LEAST forty-five minutes into the movie. Again, this isn’t a bad thing as the movie does spend time developing the core characters (except for Cillian Murphy’s character… I don’t even remember his role other than be the token awesome actor but isn’t actually given anything awesome to do). But if anyone says that the movie is slow, I can see where they’re coming from. They were probably expecting more of a rivalry between Owen and the whale. But that’s expecting an adaptation of Moby Dick rather than the story that INSPIRED the novel.
***SPOILERS***
***
***
But now we get into the more sinful moments. Essentially, the film wants to show this film more of a survival story. Sarcastically, think of CAST AWAY meets JAWS. However, the survival aspects, while touched upon… that’s the problem right there. It’s only TOUCHED upon. No real delving into it or how it really affected everyone. I mean, Gleeson delivers a powerful performance when it comes to his reaction over resorting to cannibalism, but you don’t really see how it affects anyone else. It’s shown maybe once or twice. Is this an adventure story? A survivalist story? It stops being an adventure story as soon as the Essex goes down, and the survival story only has an accumulation of ten minutes out of two, two and a half hours worth of a movie.
I think another complaint I have is that the movie sort of ends. There’s no build up to the ending or anything. It’s just, “damn, we’re stranded, skinny, and unshaven. This sucks the big one. BAM! Randomly saved. Huzzah!!” Yeah, it seemed like a really rushed ending.
Final complaint, I think the more I see movies being told through flashback, it just saps out every ounce of tension. We know Tom is going to survive, and because the ending is so damn sudden, there’s no tension over whether or not Owen or the rest will survive. This is a real shame because the characters are so likable, but their struggles aren’t intense enough.
***
***
***END SPOILERS***
This movie has some serious imperfections, but as I am a fan of Hemsworth and the CG is phenomenal, but damn it’s just not enough to prevent it from being a very good movie.
A weak 3/5
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THE PROMISE review

So… a fictional story set around a non-fictional event. Interesting. To my understanding, this is a romance triangle movie set during several points in time, like during the start of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and then at the beginning of World War I. Most of this information is ripped from Wikipedia and I hesitate to believe everything I read there. Not a fan of the romantic triangle though. I mean, I have a hard time believing that anything could be as remotely bad as Twilight, which killed this bullshit sub-genre of romance for me, but someone’s always more of an asshole than the other and yet the story will always make it out like the one caught in the middle can’t pick between the two.

Well, no matter what, I know I’m gonna be pretty bias toward the cast, so let’s get to the mentionings and possible gushings. Christian Bale (KNIGHT OF CUPS [2016], THE BIG SHORT [2015], TERMINATOR SALVATION [2009], and upcoming film THE JUNGLE BOOK [2018]), arguably my favorite actor in the film. Despite certain incidents in his career, I think he’s a reliably amazing actor in anything that he’s done. I know his record isn’t spotless, but even in his worst movies, it’s never bad because of him. I know I’ll love him here, no matter what the reviews say. Next, climbing the ladder of must-see actors is Oscar Isaac (X-MEN: APOCALYPSE [2016], STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS [2013], and the upcoming STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI [2017]). Talk about charisma. This guy could sell water to a fish. I know his mainstream popularity is only just now taking off, and a lot of his films pre-2015 are only known by a few, but here’s hoping he continues to get great work under his belt. Arguably the most underrated actress in my nonexistent-list of favorite actresses working today, Charlotte Le Bon (ANTHROPOID [2016], THE WALK [2015], and THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY [2014]). Ever since HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, this woman has completely drawn me in. Aside from being impossibly beautiful, she’s got just as much charisma and charm as any of her male counterparts. She commands the screen with her innocent features, soft-spoken voice, she is a rising treasure whose work should be more prominent. Granted, she’s still a fresh face, having only been in a handful of films since 2010, and even fewer are known by American audiences, like Isaac, here’s hoping she gets more and even better work so that her name becomes household. Last, but certainly not least, Shohreh Aghdashloo (STAR TREK BEYOND [2016], THE LAKE HOUSE [2006], and video games MASS EFFECT 2 [2010] and MASS EFFECT 3 [2012]). Once again, an actress I often overlook when naming my favorites, I couldn’t even properly explain why I love her work so much. Well… being in one of my favorite video game franchises certainly boosts her “cool” levels to the roof, but more than that, I have never seen a movie with her in it that didn’t benefit from her mere presence. She has this elegance and grace whenever she’s on screen and even though it’s sometimes hard to understand her through her Iranian accent sometimes, she’s a tremendous actress, whether she’s showing her face in a movie, or lending her voice to another project.

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Terry George, known for HOTEL RWANDA (2004) and HART’S WAR (2002). His partner-in-pen is Robin Swicord, known for THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (2008), PRACTICAL MAGIC (1998), and MATILDA (1996). Composing the music is Gabriel Yared, known for AMELIA (2009), 1408 (2007), and COLD MOUNTAIN (2003). Finally, the cinematographer is Javier Aguirresoarobe, known for THE FINEST HOURS (2016), THE ROAD (2009), and THE OTHERS (2001).

Overall, I don’t know how bad this movie could be, what with its less than positive reviews so far. Maybe a few historic inaccuracies, or cultural misrepresentations, you know, the things I wouldn’t know about. So maybe I’ll be in the minority for liking the movie for what it is. Lets find out.

This is my honest opinion of: THE PROMISE

(SUMMARY)

Set around and during the Armenian Genocide. Mikael (Oscar Isaac) is a medical practitioner, and after marrying into a wealthy family in his village, the dowry was enough to pay his way to a prestigious medical school. While living with his wealthy uncle, Mikael soon meets Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), a woman involved with an American journalist named Chris (Christian Bale), who is reporting on the escalating conflict in the Ottoman Empire. But as the Armenian people get rounded up, soon begins a struggle for survival for Mikael as he tries to reunite and protect his family from the ensuing bloodshed.

(REVIEW)

Alright, so before I get into this review, some background on me for those of you not in the know. I am uncultured swine. I was a piss-poor student in school and if you wanted to know what subjects I failed the hardest in, it’d be history. So I didn’t know anything about the Armenian Genocide in school… or maybe I did and didn’t pay attention. Who knows? I’m pretty sure I was at least aware that it happened, but didn’t know any particulars. With this in mind, I ask for some understanding for why I don’t share much of the outrage that is directed at this film. This was probably the most insightful source into this moment in history that I’ve been privy to, which may not be saying much since, you know, Hollywood’s creative liberties and such.

As for what I think of this film, yeah, it’s not good. You can list the historical and cultural inaccuracies in the comments, but I’m going to dive into the story itself, which is the main fault that hurts the movie.

It’s probably a good idea to address that, even though I’m not a historian, even I can tell you that this movie doesn’t do the best of jobs letting you know what exactly the Armenian Genocide was, other than a bare-bone basic “The Ottomans killed a bunch of Armenians.” None of the politics or reasons why. I think with even the less-than-dollar-tree-worth research I did on Wikipedia, the movie barely mentions the more historically important moments of that time, like the death marches to Syria, or anything involving concentration camps. From memory, there’s only one scene where you see Chris looking on a small death march where… you know, I’m not entirely sure what happened. A mother and a daughter fall behind the group and the mother is murdered by an Ottoman soldier and the daughter is forced to leave the mother behind and rejoin the group of marchers, resulting in soldiers seeing Chris and a chase scene ensues. If you’re going to tackle a subject as touchy as the Armenian Genocide, you need to show the Armenian Genocide. You can’t gingerly tell us something that happened. If you want audiences to feel the outrage and weight that the Armenian people are still feeling even to this day, you have to give us a reason. A few deaths and a microscopic death march isn’t enough to get our blood boiling.

Now, this may have been forgivable to a certain extent if the romance triangle, the very heart of the film, was truly powerful and compelling. It is not. In fact, the true insult of the film, storywise that is, is giving these wonderfully talented actors a set of characters that are only just better than Twilight’s. Yeah, it’s that boring and even frustrating. Remember above when I said that romance triangles are never to rarely done right? The very meat of them should be that whichever character is caught between two romantic interests has to have an equal amount of and differing reasons to be attracted to each interest; IE, the audience has to like both interests as well, and the one caught in the middle has to be charming enough to warrant the affections of both interests as well. However, they go about as cliché as you can possibly go with it.

Let’s start with our “middle”: Ana. She’s almost too perfect. She dances and teaches children to dance and protects them in times of conflict. She’s passive and doesn’t like violence. She’s almost always smiling, laughing, and offering support to the men who love her, even at a cost to her. She hasn’t a flaw. Christ, slap on a pair of wings and a halo and Ana’s character will suddenly make a little more sense. In fact, she’s so unbelievably perfect that you’re sitting there wondering, “Why stop at two men?” Why doesn’t Ana have a line of men and women behind her wooing her for her hand in marriage? You see what I’m getting at? She’s so angelic and flawless that she is beyond uninteresting.

How about the two men vying for her? Are they any charming or better? No! Mikael is almost exactly the same as Ana. He’s too perfect. He’s a medical student. He’s loyal to his family. He avoids conflict. He’s a devoted family man. Oh my god, if Ana’s an angel in disguise, then just call Mikael “Jesus.” It’s the same damn perfection that’s beyond stale. It’s not even a different kind of bland either.

But in order to talk about the final nail in the coffin, let’s bring out our final man: Chris. At this point, Christ ought to be just as perfect as both Ana and Mikael because then we’d get real uncertainty over who Ana would eventually pick to pursue. It’d be boring and there wouldn’t be any suspense over the choice she’d make, nor would we truly care about the guy who got cock-blocked, but we’d at least be able to claim that we wouldn’t have been able to predict the outcome. Instead, we get an immediate knowledge on how this romance will end: he’s a bearded brute who is politically charged and will not shut the hell up about “The people must know!” Seriously, do reporters really sound like that? But here’s the kicker. You ready for this? Ana suffered a personal tragedy in the past and it was Chris that helped her though it. “I don’t know what would have happened if Chris wasn’t there.” And yet from how inattentive he is toward her throughout the film, you’d think that he was there at the time of her tragedy to interview her about what happened and she mistook the interview for a date or something and he just rolled with it because, you know, hot French chick. About the only time he does pay any real attention to her and show any affection is when she’s in direct trouble. But of course, we can’t have a triangle without a dick-measuring contest and Chris is certainly ready to challenge Mikael any time they share the screen together.

And that’s the problem with this triangle. I had the resolution to this crap pegged the moment the triangle was formed: Chris is going to be too macho at some point and Ana’s going to choose Mikael because they’re too damn perfect for each other. At no point do we see Chris at his most romantic toward Ana. Sure, she looks pretty and has her arm wrapped around his some times, but that’s not romantic. That’s plot-device, and not a very good one either. Of course that’s how it’s going to end up because… clever writing: What’s that?

The sad truth is that there could have been a great movie here. If the creators wanted to use this romance as a vehicle to guide the audience through these unimaginably barbaric and tragic events, a much more clever writer could have made that work. Maybe, like, a Ottoman soldier fell in love with an Armenian woman and he’s torn between his political family over the woman that he loves… eh, okay, that wouldn’t have been good, so maybe a romance movie during a GENOCIDE isn’t the best story idea! It’s pretty disrespectful toward millions of men, women, and children that brutally and pointlessly lost their lives. It’s basically saying, “Surely two men fighting over a woman is more powerful and interesting than the Armenian Genocide.” If you wanted to create a story about two men fighting over a woman, that’s great. Watch THIS MEANS WAR (2012) with Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, and Chris Pine. It’s enjoyable and leaves out the senseless deaths of people who deserved to have their story told in a tasteful and informative way. And I’m sure there’s plenty of smarter people who have seen this movie and have much better things to point out as to why this movie is bad. Look, I’m not Armenian. Maybe if you are, you could watch this movie and get something out of it. Hell, the auditorium I went into was packed and got a round of applause when the credits started rolling. But for me, there has to be better movies made about this subject matter and did it more poignantly and had real justification for existing. While I do love the core actors, it’s not enough to truly save the movie as a whole. It clearly means well enough, I mean it’s obvious that it’s not trying to say anything bad directly about the Armenian Genocide, but it’s focus isn’t where it should be. I can’t recommend this to anyone, not even a rental in the future. This is a pass, even if you’re a fan of the talent like I am, which is heart-breaking enough as it is. I hope this flies over the radar and doesn’t affect anyone involved in this project because everyone here deserved better.

My honest rating for THE PROMISE: 2/5

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THE LOST CITY OF Z review

WHAT IS THIS MOVIE?!?!?! Is it a fantasy?! A new-age Indiana Jones thing?! What?! WHAT?!

Well, that came off a little premature. Turns out, this movie is an adaptation of a book of the same name and is about a famous explorer, Percy Fawcett, who went in search for a lost city in the Amazon and disappeared. Well, for those of you that are not in the know, I’m uncultured swine! I don’t read the books! *Gollum voice* IT BURNS US!!! TAKES IT OFF OF US!!!

…. I need to get out more…

But back on track. Yeah, I’ve seen this poster everywhere for the longest time and it took me only until now to know anything about it. You ever have those things that you’re atrociously curious about… but never curious enough to whip out your phone and Google for information because that requires taking precious microseconds out of your day? That was this, for me.

Here’s the ensemble cast! Charlie Hunnam (CRIMSON PEAKS [2015], PACIFIC RIM [2013], TV show SONS OF ANARCHY, and the upcoming KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD [2017]), Robert Pattinson (the Twilight movies, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS [2011], and HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE [2005]), Sienna Miller (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], BURNT [2015], and G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA [2009]), Tom Holland (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR [2016], IN THE HEART OF THE SEA [2015], THE IMPOSSIBLE [2012], and upcoming films SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING [2017] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), and Ian McDiarmid (the Star Wars prequels, STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI [1983], and TV show UTOPIA).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is James Gray, known for THE IMMIGRANT (2013) and WE OWN THE NIGHT (2007). Composing the music is Christopher Spelman, known for THE IMMIGRANT. Finally, the cinematographer is Darius Khondji, known for IRRATIONAL MAN (2015), ALIEN: RESURRECTION (1997), and SE7EN (1995).

Overall, I have no idea what to say other than it’ll be nice to no longer see the damn poster.

This is my honest opinion of: THE LOST CITY OF Z

(SUMMARY)

Based on a true story, set in the early 1900’s. Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) was originally a loyal soldier in the British army, but now his government is calling upon him to turn his talents of exploration and geography to the Amazon to map a certain area. Reluctantly he agrees and he and his partner Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) are off. While there, they discover ancient relics that leads Percy and Henry to believe that there was an ancient civilization there that might be older than the British Empire itself and soon comes a passion to uncover the truth behind his own claims and prove the existence of his lost city of Z.

(REVIEW)

It’s alright. About half an hour too long for my taste, but I guess all things considered, it’s not a terrible watch.

I think the one thing I appreciate most about this movie is this: the modern relevance… kinda. I don’t know if anyone remembers an old late 90’s TV show called Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD, but if you’re familiar with it or the original book it’s based on, there’s a character named Professor Challenger who’s creation was inspired by Percy Fawcett. But more famously, it has been stated that Fawcett also inspired Indiana Jones. After watching this movie and really giving that tid-bit of information some thought, that sounds about right. This movie does have an Indiana Jones vibe to it and does make sense that this man would inspire such a renowned fictional character. It’s slower paced, dives into politics and the method of survival in the Amazon, it all makes a special kind of sense and I do appreciate the movie for having that kind of atmosphere to it.

But of course, the big selling point is Hunnam as Percy. This is a very compelling character and Hunnam’s performance keeps your eyes glued on him the whole time. He’s this soldier who prefers to be on the battlefield, but rekindles his love of exploration when he finds evidence of a lost civilization. He ventures away from his family multiple times as his family grows. The character is very wisely written to be passionate, not obsessed. Oh, there are certainly moments of obsession. There’s a scene before Fawcett’s third venture into the Amazon where he’s just been pulled out of a battlefield after inhaling gas which nearly blinds him. In the hospital bed, his family is by his side and he starts spouting how he dreamt of Z. I can see someone arguing that this is somewhat out of place because he’s never shown another moment of obsession, but I argue that this could be taken that he’s drugged and the trauma of being temporarily blind caused him to just blurt out the first thing that came to his mind. If I remember correctly, he barely even wanted to return to active duty as a soldier, but circumstances kept choice out of his hands. We know Z is constantly on his mind and you know he has ideas of how to approach the as-of-yet unexplored places where this lost city might be, but you see a grounded man who loves his family and wants to be with them as evidenced when his sight returns and he feels he’s getting too old to explore more. Actually, if there’s any angle that felt out of place, it’s that because we never get the sense of that he feels old. He just says this one line and is later easily convinced by Jack (Tom Holland) to go one last time into the Amazon to search for Z. A small problem that barely matters as a whole.

Another big thing I appreciated with this movie, it steered clear of any easy clichés. In a lesser movie, I feel like the wife character would be too disheveled to want to be in a relationship with a man who is constantly away from his family for years at a time. That would segue into affairs that he wouldn’t know about, catching them in the act, some soap opera melodrama that would make a Hallmark Channel movie proud, the man defends against the pain by going back to what took him away from his family, all that bullshit. But no, it’s actually very easy to like Nina Fawcett (Sienna Miller) because she’s very supportive of Percy’s endeavors, but you know this comes at a great cost to a woman who has to take care of the family while her husband is away and clearly takes a toll on her. But she never goes into that bit where they have to yell and scream, “Why can’t you just stay home with your family?!” Granted, that’s saved for scenes with Jack, which is admittedly annoying, especially for his age at the time of that these scenes take place. Nina doesn’t necessarily disagree with her son, but she knows that Percy does everything that he does for the family, which elevates their social standing, brings honor to their name, and a bunch of other stuff. This is quite possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen out of Miller. Of course, having a movie like G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA on your résumé doesn’t set the hardest bar to overcome, but then again, having a movie like STARDUST (2007) elevates her big time, so it leans in her favor still.

Beyond the core actors, the locations are beautiful and breath-taking, there is a real sense of high stakes, you feel the wonder of discovery with the characters, the bitter hatred of those that impede their progress, it more than makes up for any problems. Oh, and McDiarmid with a curly mustache… a cinematic gift from Mount Olympus.

Now for the negatives, as there are only two real problems I had with the film.

This is a long movie and it drags out a lot. There is a ton of political talks that would have put me to sleep like a toddler in the back seat of a moving car were it not for the filthy chai latte I had a half hour earlier. I swear, half an hour could have been shaved off and the point would still come across clearly. That initial courtroom scene with Percy trying to get finance for his second expedition probably didn’t need to be there that long, the trench warfare scene was probably unnecessary, among others.

My second problem was with Jack toward the end. In our first scene with him, right before Percy has to go to war, he’s that missing cliché that this movie had almost avoided, angry with his father for constantly being away. After that fateful battle that temporarily blinds him, Percy deliriously talks about Z and Jack gets offended and walks away in anger. The scene ends with Jack coming up to him and letting his blinded father touch his face. A couple scenes later, Jack starts telling his father that the two of them should return to the Amazon together to find Z. Did you notice the problem? His emotional arch is completely rushed. There is no moment where Jack finally understands his father’s desires to see Z. There’s no scene where he understands the thrill of adventure and discovery. In fact, his opening scene as Holland completely points to the opposite; that it was his father’s thirst for adventure that took him away from his family. We never get a scene with them reconciling or even of him looking through maps, or studying his father’s findings, there’s nothing like that to explain his sudden passion to aide his father in the search. And since this is such a huge moment in the Fawcett legacy, their eventual disappearance, it should have been much more emotionally impacting, but it isn’t by the time the credits start rolling. It’s just an event that happens and that’s not how you’d want that moment to be conveyed on screen. Cut down some of the boring scenes and replace them with a scene with Jack realizing his own desires to see his father’s work done would have been far more beneficial to the story.

A smaller problem includes Pattinson being pretty forgettable, there to simply round out the cast. This isn’t to say he’s bad, he’s just written bland. For a character that was so involved with Percy and his journeying, he surprisingly fades into the background, even if he’s in the foreground.

Overall, I liked this movie just fine. I definitely don’t see myself seeing it again, but I’m glad I saw it and to learn what an impact this man had on modern pop culture, and it is a really fascinating story that’s worth checking out. Can I see people getting bored with it? Oh yeah, and that’s definitely a recurring problem with the movie that ultimately hurts it. But if you’re a patient movie-goer who has an interest in slowly paced stories about exploration and lost civilizations, then I could recommend this. A matinee viewing would be the most advisable considering its lengthy run-time and certainly recommended as a rental. A solid flick worth seeing.

My honest rating for THE LOST CITY OF Z: a strong 3/5

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