THE SNOWMAN review

Boy, Young Magneto can’t escape masked adversaries can he?

Usually, I’m a pretty big fan of Michael Fassbender, but outside of his X-Men ventures, he doesn’t seem to find a good footing. I mean, seriously, has he done anything good outside of his superhero genre? Hmm, okay, I really liked THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016). And now that I’m thinking about it, wasn’t he nominated for his performance in STEVE JOBS (2015)? Oh alright, so it’s not so gloomy, but there’s so many bad or unsuccessful films under his belt. Well, here’s yet another venture of his and it’s not shaping up to be a good turn. And what the hell is Rebecca Ferguson doing in this picture? Damn it, she was supposed to have a spotless record! THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (2016) was supposed to be the worst that she had. Or… maybe LIFE (2017). At least, that’s how my delusions were supposed to work.

The story looks like it’s about a detective looking into a series of murders where the killer chops the heads off of his victims and places them on snowman bodies, hence his alias: the snowman killer. He also seems to spend his time mocking Fassbender’s character, claiming that he could have saved the victims, and gave him all the clues. Doesn’t look… awful, but we’ll see.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Michael Fassbender (ALIEN: COVENANT [2017], HAYWIRE [2011], INGLORIOUS BASTERDS [2009], and the upcoming X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX [2018]), Rebecca Ferguson (FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS [2016], MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION [2015], HERCULES [2014], and upcoming films THE GREATEST SHOWMAN [2017] and M:I 6 – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE [2018]), Charlotte Gainsbourgh (NORMAN [2017], INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE [2016], and NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 1 [2013]), and Jonas Karlsson (foreign projects). In support, we have J.K. Simmons (PATRIOTS DAY [2016], JUNO [2007], THE JACKAL [1997], and upcoming films JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017] and THE BATMAN, no release date announced), Val Kilmer (SONG TO SONG [2017], DEJA VU [2006], and THE SAINT [1997]), Toby Jones (ATOMIC BLONDE [2017], THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY [2016], THE HUNGER GAMES [2012], and the upcoming JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM [2018]), Chloë Sevigny (BEATRIZ AT DINNER [2017], LOVE & FRIENDSHIP [2016], and ZODIAC [2007]), and Jaime Clayton (THE NEON DEMON [2016], video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA [2017], and TV show SENSE8 [2015 – 2018]).

Now for the crew.

Overall, this movie is getting a critical thrashing, so I’m hoping for a spectacle.

This is my honest opinion of: THE SNOWMAN

(SUMMARY)

Officer Harry (Michael Fassbender) is a drunken and miserable cop, but a good man and good at his job. He is partnered up with the young and eager Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson) on a case involving a missing mother, leading them to a killer that they call “The Snowman Killer,” and how this case spans longer than either of them realize.

(REVIEW)

And Fassbender’s crappy streak continues. This movie is so bad! But you know what? It’s the kind of bad that you’re not having a fun time with it, but it also doesn’t piss you off either. It’s just… a compelling bad.

First off, the movie is drenched in clichés. A cop who smokes and gets drunk while depressed and obsesses with finding the killer. He pops pills so he can sleep. He was in a failed relationship and forgets his commitments to his rebellious son-figure. He gives such little shit that his superiors keep covering for his bad habits, even though he’s the best on the force. Oh yeah, it’s that character, y’all. Never seen him in a movie before, have you?

But you wanna know the saddest part? If you’re wearing glasses, you might want to take them off. These clichés? They’re the least of this film’s problems. Oh yeah, if this movie’s problems ended with just Fassbender’s character, it might have been alright. But nope!

The first major problem is that this was meant to be a foreign film. This movie is based on a Nordic novel. Hence, the characters in that book probably have Nordic names. However, what I find incredibly bizarre, some of the actors are from Nordic countries, like Ferguson and Karlsson whom are both Swedish, all speak with British accents, and I’m pretty sure the setting of this movie is in Norway. It’s beyond puzzling why the movie didn’t simply take place in London, or some British city. And because of this disconnection, it’s a little distracting when you hear some of the other names in this movie. Like, Harry’s ex-girlfriend Rakel (Gainsbourgh) has a son named Oleg (Michael Yates). Look, I know this movie is supposed to take place in Norway, and Oleg is probably a common name over there, but because the actors mostly speak in British accents, I mostly think this movie takes place in an English-speaking country. So when I hear a teen kid is named “Oleg,” it sounds pretty silly. I can’t name one American or English-born child with the name Oleg. It’s too… European, you know what I mean? But it takes place in Norway, so I shouldn’t be too critical, but the movie has to literally remind me of its setting, which isn’t very often. In fact, I think the setting it only referenced twice in the entire film. If I don’t hear Norwegian accents, or not obvious English accents, I’m not going to remember that it takes place in Norway, or I have to take efforts in actively reminding myself that it does in fact take place in Norway, which sounds exhausting.

Also… Harry Hole? Is this name pronounced differently in Norway? Because in America… that’s an easy name to make fun of. I don’t need to know about Fassbender’s hairy hole! I know this is a considered a great character and part of a long running series of crime novels- in fact, this movie is based on the seventh installment – but that’s a really silly name. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal if the great character that was in the books had translated onto the big screen, but sadly, Harry is written horrendously bland. He has no real personality outside of the clichés that I mentioned earlier. I imagine any fan of the novels is royally pissed off with this flick.

Honestly, all of the problems with this movie can be summed up in the opening scene. You have this kid and his single mother living in a small house in the middle of a snowy nowhere and then a single cop shows up, causing a stir in the two of them. The cop starts quizzing the boy on certain things and every question he gets wrong, he slaps his mother. Then, the boy is sent away as the cop has sex with the mom. The boy peers into the room, the mom sees her son, and then threatens the cop that she’ll tell his wife that the boy is really his son. Then… the cop says, “Fine, then you won’t see me again.” The cop gets up and leaves in a huff with the boy begging him not to leave. You following this, reader? Because if not, you’re not the only one. As the cop drives away, even the mother starts begging him not to leave and they drive after him. She somehow ends up off the road and onto a frozen lake, which obviously ends up breaking. The boy is out of the car, of course, but the mom literally does nothing as she drowns herself. The scene ends and we cut right to Fassbender and his story. Yeah, nothing made even the slightest amount of sense, did it? And you know what’s amazing? I’m not exaggerating. The movie makes zero effort in explaining any of it’s baffling choices like this.

There’s also some incredibly awkward editing. The movie constantly cuts to these scenes that take place nine years prior to the current events. While in the end, you know what those scenes signify and their connection to the present events, it’s way too clunky in its transitions and timing that it just seems like a random deviations with no rhyme or reason. The script is beyond basic. I remember a quick scene with Harry and Oleg in a train and every single line was a cliché. “It’s not your fault.” “You deserved better.” “Listen to your mother.” You know, lines like that. And… as much as I really want to know what’s going on with Val Kilmer’s health, as he did not look healthy in this movie, so I’ll leave this subject alone to be looked up online later, but most of his dialog was dubbed, and horribly so. Like, even people who don’t know what dubbing is will notice an obvious lack of syncing between the lines being said and the movement of his lips.

***SPOILERS***


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I’ve seen more than a few reviews stating that they figured out the ending pretty quickly, that the killer was Mathias. I can’t claim that. I didn’t see him coming. Having said that, that doesn’t mean I think this twist is good. The foundation of a good twist is that the story dropped subtle clues, easily missed, but were still right in front of the audience’s eyes the whole time. Unless I am insanely oblivious to the obvious, which is a possibility, the twist is just stupid. Mathias has been one of the few fairly likable characters in the film, being civil and polite with Harry, helping the guy with prescription drugs to help him sleep, covering for him when he forgets his camping trip with Oleg, he’s a really decent guy. But then when the twist is revealed, that’s when he starts acting like a creepy serial killer, and somehow, no one around him questions his sudden change in behavior. What a freakin’ load!

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***END SPOILERS***

There’s a ton of awkward things in this movie, but I wouldn’t know what to say about half of them. Is there anything good about the movie? Um… some of the cinematography is pretty. But then again, I recently saw WIND RIVER (2017), which had better cinematography, so… not all that impressed. I give credit that most of the actors aren’t… awful. Fassbender apparently started filming this movie two days after wrapping up from ASSASSIN’S CREED (2016), so he just looks tired and doesn’t give a shit. Ferguson is fine-ish. She doesn’t look bored, or anything. It’s too bad that she isn’t given a role that does her any favors. Beyond that, not really. Like I said, this movie wasn’t insulting, and I don’t hate it, but it’s a really bad film and I don’t recommend it in any way. Hard pass, folks. Let this snowman melt into nothingness.

My honest rating for THE SNOWMAN: 2/5

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THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US quick review

Should Kate Winslet just stop traveling in the company of men? She always finds herself royally screwed in some way. Luxury cruise ships, airplanes… or maybe… she’s the problem? *pondering* Maybe men should stop traveling with her… hmm…

Boy howdy have I been seeing this trailer and a certain level of anticipation always bites at me when I see it. I love Winslet and I… well, I never watched any of Idris Elba’s most celebrated TV shows (IE: LUTHER [2010 – 2018]), but I have seen the Thor movies and I rather enjoy him in those, so I’m down to see these two work off of each other.

Here’s the cast. As previously mentioned, starring, we have Kate Winslet (COLLATERAL BEAUTY [2016], REVOLUTIONARY ROAD [2008], TITANIC [1997], and the upcoming AVATAR 2 [2020]) and Idris Elba (THE DARK TOWER [2017], PROMETHEUS [2012], 28 WEEKS LATER [2007], and upcoming films MOLLY’S GAME [2017] and THOR: RAGNAROK [2017]). In support, we have Beau Bridges (THE DESCENDANTS [2011], MAX PAYNE [2008], and TV show BLOODLINE [2015 – 2017]) and Dermot Mulroney (SLEEPLESS [2017], GEORGIA RULE [2007], and MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING [1997]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Hany Abu-Assad, known for foreign projects that I’ve never seen or heard of. Co-writing the screenplay are J. Mills Goodloe (EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING [2017], THE AGE OF ADALINE [2015], and THE BEST OF ME [2014]) and Chris Weitz (STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE [2016], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], and ANTZ [1998]). Composing the score is Ramin Djawadi, known for THE GREAT WALL (2017), CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010), and BLADE: TRINITY (2004). Finally, the cinematographer is Mandy Walker, known for HIDDEN FIGURES (2016), RED RIDING HOOD (2011), AUSTRALIA (2008), and the upcoming MULAN (2019).

Overall, I know early ratings aren’t being too kind to this film, but… I can’t help it, I like the core stars, it looks like it’s got some chilling moments, and I ain’t just talking about that snow, I don’t know, I think I might like it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

(SUMMARY)

Alex (Kate Winslet) and Ben (Idris Elba) are two strangers who meet at an airport. A storm is approaching and their respective flight was cancelled. Alex knows how to get in touch with a pilot, Walter (Beau Bridges), who is willing to fly her to her destination and upon overhearing that they have the same destination, she offers him a ride. However, en route, Walter suffers a stroke and their plane crashes. Stranded with limited food and supplies, they venture out into vast, punishingly cold and unforgiving wilderness to find help and their way back home.

(QUICK REVIEW)

Mmph… while I won’t necessarily argue the negative reviews, I don’t think I agree.

Let’s tackle the problems first. For one thing, the set-up is pretty forced. Basically, what you saw in the trailer, two strangers meeting and she offers to help him along since they share a common destination, that moment in the trailer isn’t any different than in the movie. Look, even the best of samaritans have a knack for walking past people with problems, even if they have problems that they could technically help with. But things like hitching a ride with you on an airplane, that’s pretty out there. There’s no real reason for them to meet like they do. It’s just… he’s on the phone, she overhears, she offers that ride, and he accepts. Cue the plot. That simple.

I also knew the problem would be the romance in the film, and it gets pretty painful, especially in the last fifteen minutes. For one thing, I’m not sure how realistic I would find it. Alex is married, to a wonderful man according to her later in the film, and just because Ben, who is beyond emotionally unavailable, is a fellow survivor of a plane crash, they have a romantic connection? Especially with Alex. She’s got all this optimism about making it off the mountain alive, so why would she even have urges like that? Ben, I could understand, possibly, but not Alex. The romance is pretty forced.

***SPOILERS***

 

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In retrospect, a forced romance can still be good if the chemistry is enough to hold the relationship together. However, nothing excuses the completely different movie that takes over. Now we have this horrible melodrama involving the two characters now separated into their respective lives, but can’t stop thinking about each other. He’s been a dick and not calling her back because he thinks she’s a married woman. She doesn’t get married to Mark (Dermot Mulroney), visits Ben in London, and after a heart-to-heart in a restaurant, they decide to part ways. But in about the cheesiest crap that this movie could have possibly inserted, as the characters walk away, they start crying, and then AT THE SAME TIME, turn back around and run toward each other and leap into their arms. Oh… my god, I think movies from the 1950’s would have called this moment trite!

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***END SPOILERS***

But it’s not all bad.

Elba and Winslet are both pretty solid. When their scenes require them to be at odds with each other, you feel that tension. When he gets upset with her decisions, you believe he’s an asshole. And when she believes that she’s not dying on this mountain, you legitimately want her to get out of this alive. So while their romantic chemistry isn’t believable, their chemistry as a pair of survivors is solid. The cinematography is gorgeous to look at, the death-defying scenes are tense, and certain resolutions by the end feel natural enough.

What would I have changed? Well, I would probably have Alex and Ben have some sort of chemistry before she offers that plane ride with her. Like, they both stood in line at the airport front desk, or at the bar and had a basic, nothing conversation. Just something to establish some kind of relationship, weak as it ultimately is anyway. Get rid of the obvious romance and make it a little bit more subtle, more like a “will they or won’t they” scenario and leave the emotions ambiguous to interpretation. Oh, and get rid of that last ten fifteen minutes when they’re at home, or make it incredibly brief.

Overall, the movie’s okay, leaning more toward the bad side. It’s not devoid of good things in it, but it’s not enough to elevate it very high. It’s not a good movie. I may not agree with current ratings, scores, and reviews that trash it, but I don’t plan on defending the film either. The set-up is contrived, the ending is a mountain of cheese, and the romance in the middle isn’t compelling. But the acting is good, the scenery is gorgeous, and it’s got its visceral moments. It could have been worse, but it could have been a lot better. Not the worst watch, but I’m not recommending it. At best, a rental.

My honest rating for THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US: a weak 3/5

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LOGAN LUCKY (quick) review

Easy jokes! Easy jokes! James Bond retired, got in-car-sir-ray-ted, then decided to help Kylo Ren and Jenko rob NASCAR. Okay, so that’s not quite as funny as it was in my head. Cut me some slack, I’m not as clever as I’d like to be.

Anyway, that does seem like what the movie is about. Some down on their luck boys in the south who hire a professional to help them steal from NASCAR. I haven’t looked up the details of the plot because I’m just so tickled by this cast.

Speaking of which. Starring, we have Channing Tatum (HAIL, CAESAR! [2016], THE VOW [2012], STEP UP [2006], and the upcoming KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [2017]), Adam Driver (SILENCE [2016], STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], J. EDGAR [2011], and the upcoming STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI [2017]), Daniel Craig (SPECTRE [2015], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], A KID IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT [1995], and the upcoming Bond 25 [2019]), and Riley Keough (IT COMES AT NIGHT [2017], AMERICAN HONEY [2016], and MAGIC MIKE [2012]). In support, we have Katie Holmes (WOMAN IN GOLD [2015], BATMAN BEGINS [2005], TV show DAWSON’S CREEK [1998 – 2003], and the upcoming OCEAN’S EIGHT [2018]), Hilary Swank (THE HOMESMAN [2014], MILLION DOLLAR BABY [2004], and THE NEXT KARATE KID [1994]), Seth MacFarlane (SING [2016], TED [2012], and TV show THE ORVILLE [2017]), Jack Quaid (THE HUNGER GAMES [2012], TV show VINYL [2016], and the upcoming RAMPAGE [2018]), and Dwight Yoakam (CRANK [2006], PANIC ROOM [2002], and TV show UNDER THE DOME [2013 – 2015]).

Now for the crew. Director and, weirdly enough, cinematographer, we have Steven Soderbergh, known for MAGIC MIKE (2012), THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (2009), and ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000). Penning the screenplay, we have Rebecca Blunt, making her feature film debut. Congrats, miss. Finally, the composer for the score is David Holmes, known for HAYWIRE (2011), ANALYZE THAT (2002), and OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001).

Overall, I’m pretty excited to see this. Everyone looks like a hoot to watch and a little bit of fun sounds pretty good about now.

This is my honest opinion of: LUCKY LOGAN

(SUMMARY)

Set in North Carolina. Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) just got let go from his construction job. To make matters worse, his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) is moving their daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) with her new husband. After a brawl with a snobby British businessman (Seth Macfarlane) in Clyde’s (Adam Driver) bar, Jimmy’s brother, they decide to rob the Charlotte Movie Speedway with the help of the incarcerated Joe Bang (Daniel Craig).

(QUICK REVIEW)

I liked it. I don’t love it, or anything, and it’s not always laugh out loud funny, but it’s an enjoyable flick with some fun and likable characters and performances.

Speaking of performances, I can’t let this slide, I absolutely love seeing Holmes again. I know, she’s been in plenty of films and TV shows recently, but I don’t watch much TV anymore and I so rarely see her in movies. It’s just… nice. And she’s really good too, playing the ex-wife who’s fed up with Jimmy’s crap, constantly forgetting things involving their daughter. But more than just her, Craig steals the show just as well. Being so closely associate with the recent Bond films, it’s quite hilarious to see him take a role so polar opposite and succeed with such flying colors. I will never stop laughing at the whole, “Oh, now I see the problem. I twisted the bag too many times.” After such a huge build-up of explaining the science of his makeshift explosive, because Joe doesn’t like calling them bombs, and how powerful it will be, to see him make such a tiny mistake is so hilarious. That’s this film’s greatest strength. There’s some amazing performances, making this movie undeniably entertaining and funny.

My only real issue is that the tone seems to be a little… off and on in the first half. What I mean is, I know it’s supposed to be a comedy, but there are some serious stretches of runtime that feel like this movie is trying to be dramatic. Nothing overly dark, of course, I don’t want it to sound like that, but the comedy seems to take a sudden backseat and the drama is surprisingly boring. Thankfully, that fizzles out in the second half and it’s all systems go, so it’s not a crippling problem.

***SPOILERS***

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Another problem I had was the complete lack of resolution to the story. This might take some explaining. So, what’s the whole point of this heist? Jimmy has very little money and he wants to get a lawyer to fight against Bobbie Jo and her decision to move on the other side of the city where it would be harder for him to see his daughter. If there’s any other motivation, then I either missed that, or it’s left completely unexplored. But by the time the movie wraps up, his threats of getting a lawyer against Bobbie Jo is completely pushed aside. Why? What happened to make him be so understanding in the end? This is totally ignored.

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, this is a really fun film. Lots of comedy, solid performances, it’s a good time to be had. If you’re a fan of the cast and comedy heist films, like Soderbergh is known for, then this one is recommended.

My honest rating for LOGAN LUCKY: 4/5

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KIDNAP (quick) review

Finally! I can stop seeing this damned trailer.

If anyone frequents the cinemas even half as much as I do, then you’re probably somewhat passably familiar with this film’s existence, but no matter how much time went by, it was never released. As I understand it, KIDNAP has a bit of a shaky history, financially speaking. According to shadowandact.com, the film has been in the works since 2014 and was supposed to be released in 2015. But the distribution company Relativity Media filed for bankruptcy that year, meaning that the film couldn’t be released. Relativity has since reemerged, but still not quite out of the sticks. This movie was pushed back to a February 2016 release, but that got pushed to May… then that got pushed to December… only to be pushed back again to March 10 of 2017. Jesus, I’m frustrated just from writing this out. I can’t imagine how the cast and crew must be feeling. But GUESS FREAKIN’ WHAT?! When March 10 came around, guess whose alarm didn’t go off that day? You guessed it, KIDNAP wasn’t released as planned! What the actual story is behind that latest push, I have no idea, but my excuse of “oversleeping” is much more humorous.

Well, assuming that this movie is going to be released… which, if you’re reading this review, then it must have, what are my thoughts? Aside from “finally, I can stop seeing this trailer?” It… could be alright. On the one hand, if it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is just an action movie for suburban housewives to see a garden-variety middle-class mother go mama-bear on a bunch of assholes who kidnap her son, then this could at the very least be entertaining. On the other hand, if it takes itself a little too seriously, then it probably won’t be very good. Halle Berry hasn’t had the best track record in recent years. Sure, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014) is arguably the best X-Men movie, but not really because of her. In fact, her role was pretty small. Her last good movie was arguably X2: X-MEN UNITED (2003). Was her TV show EXTANT good? I never saw it. CLOUD ATLAS (2012)? Was she the reason it was well-received? THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE (2007)? Never heard of it. My point is, she’s more associated with MOVIE 43 (2013), NEW YEARS EVE (2011), and X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006), none of which were considered good. Though, I’m sure by comparison, LAST STAND is Shakespeare when stacked next to MOVIE 43. Who knows where KIDNAP is going to rank.

Well, let’s take a gander at the cast. I’ve already prattled on about Berry enough, who also produced the film, so… let’s go to support. We have Sage Correa (1 episode stints on TV shows UNCLE BUCK and LIFE IN PIECES), Lew Temple (DESIERTO [2016], THE LONE RANGER [2013], and TV show THE WALKING DEAD), and Chris McGinn (a bit role in TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Luis Prieto, known for unknown projects. Writing the script, we have Knate Lee, who will be writing the upcoming film X-MEN: THE NEW MUTANTS (2018). Composing the score is Federico Jusid, known for EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS (2009 – translated: THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES). Finally, the cinematographer is Flavio Martínez Labiano, known for THE SHALLOWS (2016), NON-STOP (2014), and UNKNOWN (2011).

Overall, not excited for it, but… yeah, thank God I don’t have to see the trailer anymore.

This is my honest opinion of: KIDNAP

(SUMMARY)

Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) is a single mother trying to make ends meet and take care of her young son Frankie (Sage Correa). After work one day, she takes him to the local fair and have fun. However, things take a turn for the worst as she takes a phone call and finds that her son has been abducted. Seeing the kidnappers take him away, she begins to chase after them in her own car, refusing to give up on saving her son.

(QUICK REVIEW)

It’s not good. Four-ish years of trying to get it released and this is the result. By no means awful, but it’s not as good as it could have been.

The set-up is pretty obvious, leave your kid alone for a few minutes and he gets kidnapped. Go figure. I suppose the only refreshing thing is that this movie’s main selling point is that she’s constantly following the kidnappers. Still, a better movie about kidnapped kids would be PRISONERS (2013).

I think it’s nice to see that Karla doesn’t ever really give up, even when it’s obvious it’d be at a point where in any other movie she would. Instead, she’ll drive across a field and luckily end up on the right highway to continue her chase. So the movie is definitely loaded with conveniences. I do enjoy watching how the movie is smart enough to keep throwing obstacles in Karla’s way, like finding a cop who gets axed off, or increasingly low fuel, it’s not horribly structured. And Berry is trying her best to make this performance work and it works sometimes.

Sadly, there aren’t a ton of good things to talk about. Because there’s far too many over-the-top moments; driving in reverse on the freeway without even so much as a scratched up paint job, it’s a wonder why this movie didn’t go for a more fun route. With a structure similar to SPEED (1994), all that was missing was a charismatic actor to go with it. Don’t get me wrong, Berry is a great actress when given the right material, but I feel like her character would have worked better if she was a little more bad-ass. Instead, Karla is a little annoying because too much of her dialog is, “Oh god!” or “I’m coming, baby! I’ll never lose you, baby!” Hell, even the everywoman angle could have passably worked if the script was smart enough to take a page out of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) and just have her act with her expressions. We know she’s a woman who will not give up getting her son, so constantly talking to herself out loud isn’t going to make her character seem more determined.

I also find the police terribly incapable at their jobs here. There is a series of intense car collisions happening and the cops keep either being stupid and put themselves in a situation to get killed, pull over the wrong cars over the radio, it’s shocking to see this shit play out the way it does.

Dialog that’s cringeworthy, stupid character decisions, and even subplots that go nowhere, it won’t be a shock if this movie isn’t received well or do well at the box office. It’s a shame because Berry’s had a rough few years cinematically. Here’s hoping that Kingsman 2 will give her more opportunities in the future. Not recommended. A rental at best.

My honest rating for KIDNAP: a weak 3/5

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GOOD TIME (quick) review

Before seeing this movie, I didn’t think that much of it. Nothing really captivated me and I figured I’d be bored by it. Only saw its trailer once, but that was enough for me to say that this wouldn’t interest me much. But, me willing to give things a shot, I went in anyway. It’s so hard to say “no” sometimes.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Robert Pattinson, known for THE LOST CITY OF Z (2017), WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (2011), and HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005). In support, we have co-director Benny Safdie (PERSON TO PERSON [2017]), Buddy Duress (PERSON TO PERSON), Taliah Webster (feature film debut; congrats, miss), Jennifer Jason Leigh (MORGAN [2016], ANOMALISA [2015], and THE MACHINIST [2004]), and Barkhad Abdi (THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY [2016], EYE IN THE SKY [2016], CAPTAIN PHILLIPS [2013], and the upcoming BLADE RUNNER 2049 [2017]).

Now for the crew. We have the Safdie brothers Benny and Josh, both have directed projects I’ve never heard of. Co-writing the script is Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, both have written projects I’ve never heard of. Composer of the score is Daniel Lopatin, known for THE BLING RING (2013). Finally, the cinematographer is Sean Price Williams, known for a ton of stuff I’ve never heard of.

I wasn’t especially looking forward to this flick. It looked boring as hell. How did it hold up?

This is my honest opinion of: GOOD TIME

(SUMMARY)

Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) has an undying loyalty to his mentally handicapped brother, Nick (Benny Safdie). Connie is also a bank robber and ropes Nick into a heist. They leave with the money, but the bills get doused in paint and the two are on the run as the cops are hot on their trail. Though Connie gets away, Nick is taken to jail and Connie has to work up enough money to bail him out, or get him himself.

(QUICK REVIEW)

It’s not good. Not the worst, but I didn’t like it that much.

It opens fine enough, with a seemingly accurate portrayal of a mentally handicapped man, performed by Benny Safdie, as well as a good performance from Pattinson too as a misguided, but caring brother. In fact, I’ll just say this now, Pattinson is fantastic throughout the film. But it doesn’t take long for the movie to lose me. The first red flag was when the two of them rob a bank wearing black men masks (which looked damn convincing at first glance) and rob the teller with only notes telling her that they’re armed and not trigger any silent alarms. It’s all done quietly, but the entire time I’m wondering why she takes them at their word. I would have triggered that alarm on the down-low anyway. And finally, when they stupidly get the money they might as well have politely asked for, they soon find out that their bag of money had a hidden ink bomb. Why the piss fuck wouldn’t they suspect that?! Of course the bank would do that!

The rest of the film is an unfocused mess that I quickly found myself not caring about. Supposedly, Connie’s goals are to work enough cash to break his brother out. He knows he can’t get it because his girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has all of her credit cards frozen by her mom. He tries to break his brother out of the hospital after getting hurt getting caught, and brings him to another person’s house to call for help from his mom. There’s a scene of near-statutory rape (I don’t know how old Taliah Webster is, but Crystal says she’s sixteen), so a million kinds of ewwy, he finds out that he broke out the wrong guy and his name is Ray (Buddy Duress), who becomes the absolute most annoying character that I’ve ever had the misfortune of following in a movie. Worse than Jar Jar Binks. Yeah, I think he’s that bad. His dialog consists of nothing but, “I’m so fucked up, bro,” or “Come on, bro,” and it grated my mind like a mother fucker. To make matters worse, he’s a central character. That’s what ultimately lost me. Jesus, I’m getting a headache just thinking about it. I had hoped the annoying characters would end with Corey, Leigh’s character, but nope, we traded her for someone worse. We get a soul-crushingly long backstory about Ray, which concludes with a bag of stolen money that Connie wants to get from him, which ultimately goes nowhere and… I’m getting so angry just thinking about it.

What movie was everyone seeing?! Why is this getting critical praise from everyone?! 7.9/10 on IMDb (as of 8/15/2017)?! 91% on RottenTomatoes (as of 8/15/2017)?! What the hell did I miss?! This movie was a fucking load of shit! Like I said, Pattinson does somewhat save it, but with a majority of the characters being beyond irritating and a plot that gets unbelievably unfocused, I just wanted the movie to end. Not recommended. If you’re a fan of Pattinson, watch it as a rental, but it’s not really worth it even then.

My honest rating for GOOD TIME: 2/5

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WIND RIVER review

So… the dark and gritty adventures of Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch? Shut up and take my money! What is it about a snow setting that makes a movie look so damn appealing? Maybe it’s because I’m from suburban Los Angeles and snow is akin to the Loch Ness monster, or Atlantis… or the impeachment of an asshole President. I gotta say that this movie looks really good. The movie is toting around how it’s the same writer of SICARIO (2015) and HELL OR HIGH WATER (2016). I can’t claim to be in the same band wagon as everyone else who loved SICARIO, but I did really like HELL OR HIGH WATER. Whatever I feel for those movies, you can almost guarantee that this film is going to be incredibly well-written, slower-paced, but atmospheric as hell.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jeremy Renner (THE HOUSE [2017], ARRIVAL [2016], MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION [2015], and upcoming Marvel’s AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018], and the as-of-yet titled or planned release-date sequel to his Jason Bourne film) and Elizabeth Olsen (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR [2016], GODZILLA [2014], MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE [2011], and upcoming films INGRID GOES WEST [2017] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR). In support, we have Graham Greene (THE SHACK [2017], Twilight Saga NEW MOON [2009], and DANCES WITH WOLVES [1990]), and possibly in a bit role, Jon Bernthal (BABY DRIVER [2017], THE ACCOUNTANT [2016], TV show THE WALKING DEAD, and upcoming Netflix TV show Marvel’s THE PUNISHER).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Taylor Sheridan. He’s only directed one poorly received horror film called VILE (2011), but he penned HELL OR HIGH WATER and SICARIO, and will be writing SICARIO sequel, SOLDADO (2017). Co-composing the score… and performing it?… are Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, both known for Netflix’s WAR MACHINE (2017), HELL OR HIGH WATER, and THE ROAD (2009). Finally, the cinematographer is Ben Richardson, known for TABLE 19 (2017), THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (2014), and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012).

Overall, I’m curious. I won’t say it’s the movie of the week that I have to see, but it’s on the list of films that I will see.

This is my honest opinion of: WIND RIVER

(SUMMARY)

Set in Wyoming. Cory (Jeremy Renner) is a game hunter tasked with hunting a den of lions killing live-stock when he comes across the body of eighteen year old Natalie (Kelsey Asbille). The local police, headed by Sheriff Ben (Graham Greene), calls the FBI, who sends rookie agent Jane (Elizabeth Olsen). Cut off from any reinforcement and only a handful of officers to help with her investigation, she enlists Cory’s help to solve the case.

(REVIEW)

I think it’s best to point out a quick tidbit of information. In the beginning of the film, it’s stated that this is based on a true story. Don’t take it literal. Cory Lambert and Jane Banner are, in the context of this story, completely fictional, as is the victim, Natalie.

But make no mistake, while the movie is fictional, the events that it’s representing are absolutely not. While it’s not hard to look up this information online, I’ll save some clicking for you and give you a rundown. The Wind River reservation is real and it’s really in Wyoming. It’s also Wyoming’s only American Indian reservation. In this place, life expectancy is 49 years. Jesus Christ, humans are capable of living up to 120 years and in this place, they can’t even make it half way. This isn’t a sick accusation of weakness of course, but rather an acknowledgement of what life in this place is like. Drug addiction, poverty, an astoundingly broken justice system that makes you want to scream, blood pressure will only rise when you realize the Department of Justice determined that 84% of Native American women – and by extension Alaskan native women – experience violence and 56% experience sexual violence. Hell, the movie itself ends with a quote that will leave you sick to your stomach, “While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic, none exist for Native American women.”

Here’s a couple of links that really go into everything that I just said. Check them out if you’re interested.

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/08/166625/wind-river-review-indian-reservation-sex-crime-drugs

https://www.bustle.com/p/the-true-story-behind-wind-river-is-this-hidden-injustice-against-native-american-women-75304

This movie’s importance is more subtle than you might think. Leaving the theater, yeah, I thought it was a really good movie, but something about saying “it’s a really good movie” didn’t feel right. Usually, I attribute that to me lying to myself and as I write these reviews, I usually discover something about the movie that makes me go, “oh that’s what was bugging me,” or some such crap like that. It’s pretty rare to get a situation where I start to realize it’s actually better than I thought.

But as important as it is to talk about these things, let’s talk about the actual movie itself.

Once again, I usually don’t have an ear to spot this sort of thing, but I think I’m getting better at: sound design. Here’s what I mean. The intro to Cory is basically him sniping some wolves threatening the local farmers’ live-stock. It’s pretty atmospheric in the beginning, just the wolves looking at the sheep, or goats, or whatever they were, but then out of nowhere, you just hear this thunderous BOOM. Of course, there’s a blood splatter and then a camouflaged Renner appears, making me think if this was the Hawkeye performance that he thought he was signing up for in THE AVENGERS (2012). But it’s not just this scene. The brilliance of Sheridan, and by extension, the sound effects department, guns in this movie are scary. When they’re drawn, you know shit’s gonna get real, a very similar feel that SICARIO did extremely well. When a shootout begins, you feel that immediate adrenaline rush the characters must be feeling. Your blood pressure rises, your stress level goes haywire, and every bullet leaving the chamber is like an invisible force playing baseball with your chest. They’re all completely visceral moments loaded with tension and even fear. Especially in the end, you won’t know whether to cheer or scream for your own life.

The performances are fantastic. Renner delivers arguably his best performance since THE HURT LOCKER (2008). As Cory, you see this man’s determination to make sure that justice is served the best way that can be dished out in a desolate place like Wind River and wants to prevent a family from living with the exact same pain as he does. He’s a professional, deadly, the very definition of a man you don’t fuck with. This is definitely the best performance that I’ve seen out of Olsen, which is saying something because I think she’s great as Scarlet Witch in the Marvel films. Jane is clearly a rookie FBI agent who’s only in this situation because there was no one else closer to send in and she was in Vegas. Her intro scene is showing up in a standard thin-ass jacket, freezing her tits off, but what I love most about her character is how well-handled she is as a character. I can see a character like this, rookie agent who’s fighting everyone for control and doesn’t know the first thing about fuck all. They’ve existed before and they’re frustrating and hamper a movie like no one’s business. But that’s not Jane. She quickly learns to adapt and isn’t afraid to ask for help. She won’t hesitate to show force and isn’t incompetent in a fight, but also isn’t some trigger-happy nutcase. She’ll try to diffuse a situation, proving that she can be in control when it needs her to be.

Overall, this is a film dripping with chilling atmosphere, and I’m not just talking about the snowy weather. It’s a captivating movie that will make you dread what these characters will face next, but you can’t help keeping your eyes glued to see how they’ll get out of it. As amazingly executed as the film is, it’s even better knowing that it’s shining a light on an issue that Americans probably overlook too much, or not even know is a thing at all, making it a must-watch. If it isn’t obvious, I highly recommend this film.

My honest rating for WIND RIVER: 5/5

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DETROIT review

Man, I really should have paid attention in history class. I assume it’s a racially charged film. No duh, 1967 white cops in a black neighborhood, that goes without saying. But I suppose what sets this film apart is the star-studded and fairly interesting cast. I’m mostly referring to Will Poulter, who seems like he’s playing a cop who is in charge, even though he looks like he’s in high school. No offense to the man of course, he’s twenty-four years old, but just the way his face is structured, I almost don’t buy him as someone giving orders. But it’s not like I’ve seen the film and for all I know, his performance overshadows his baby face. To be fair, he is a great actor, so I’m sure that’ll be the case.

Well, here’s the cast. Starring, we have John Boyega (THE CIRCLE [2017], STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], ATTACK THE BLOCK [2011], and upcoming films STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI [2017] and PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]), Will Poulter (THE REVENANT [2015], THE MAZE RUNNER [2014], and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER [2010]), and Anthony Mackie (TRIPLE 9 [2016], CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER [2014], PAIN & GAIN [2013], and Marvel’s upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]). In support, we have Algee Smith (EARTH TO ECHO [2014]), Jacob Latimore (SLEIGHT [2017], COLLATERAL BEAUTY [2016], and THE MAZE RUNNER [2014]), Jack Reynor (FREE FIRE [2017], SING STREET [2016], TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION [2014], and the upcoming JUNGLE BOOK [2018]), John Krasinski (THE HOLLARS [2016], 13 HOURS [2016], TV show THE OFFICE, and upcoming TV show JACK RYAN), and Kaitlyn Dever (video game UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END [2016], and TV shows LAST MAN STANDING and JUSTIFIED).

Now for the crew. Directing is Kathryn Bigelow, known for ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012), THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and POINT BREAK (1991). Penning the screenplay is Mark Boal, known for ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE HURT LOCKER, and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH (2007). Composing the score is the always amazing James Newton Howard, known for FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016), THE HUNGER GAMES (2012), M. Night Shyamalan’s LADY IN THE WATER (2006), and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Barry Ackroyd, known for JASON BOURNE (2016), THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and UNITED 93 (2006).

Overall, yeah, this looks like it’s going to be good. Some great talent in front of and behind the camera, so I’m thinking we can expect a quality film here. Let me at it.

This is my honest opinion of: DETROIT

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1967 Detroit, Michigan. Racial tension between the black community and law-enforcement is at an all-time high and the city has become a war-zone, with officers gunning down black people in the streets for little to no cause and covering their tracks with lies and false evidence. Within the local Algiers Motel, a black teenager, fed up with the police and the mistreatment of black, fires a few blank rounds at the police to scare them, but the result is the police thinking it’s a sniper attack and the motel is raided and so ensues a night of humiliation, beatings, and murder.

(REVIEW)

I feel a little conflicted. It’s good, but I’m not sure just how good I feel about it. Definitely, the one thing I will say is don’t see it if you’re expecting a story with a happy ending. It’s not sad, or anything, but my buddy whom I saw it with said it best, “It’s depressing.”

I can’t say how long this review will be, but let’s see how I do.

First and foremost, the acting is spectacular. On the villainous side, Poulter threw me to the ground, shoved a pole in my back, and wiped the floor with me because he was so despicable, so fucking monstrous that he quite possibly stole the show. Not that I have a mind to catch on to “themes” of movies all the time, but one of them was just how low and depraved these men could get in this time period and what they managed to get away with. They will even take an act like praying, a symbolic gesture of peace, clarity, and hope, and use it to traumatize and horrify, forcing them to recite a prayer at the threat of death. And their behavior and attitude isn’t just reserved for the people of color. No, they’ll mistreat the white women too. It’s incredibly hard to watch. But the act of threatening alone isn’t enough if the victims aren’t scared out of their minds and boy howdy did I believe they were. Man, I hope shooting on that set that things were chill between everyone because even though it’s acting, I can see things getting out of hand and someone decking each other simply out of reaction, but I highly doubt that ever happened. Stories like Shia Lebeouf knocking out Tom Hardy are pretty isolated incidents. Either way, everyone did amazing and you could cut the fear in their eyes with a chainsaw and not make a scratch. If you wanted a real horror film to watch that features no monsters, this is well worth that experience.

I suppose another aspect that I can appreciate is the restraint that this movie had to not have Julie (Hannah Murray) or Karen (Dever) raped by the cops. While I’m sure that didn’t happen in the incident anyway, I can definitely see some studio big-wig trying to throw that “creative liberty” in there all in the name of “added dramatic effect.” You can’t convince me it hasn’t happened before. It sure looked like it was going to go that route what with the constant close-ups of the two women’s backsides and the animalistic men ogling over them. Hell, I was ready to rip my hair out after Julie’s clothes were ripped off. I was calling it, that’s where it was going to happen. But nope, the humiliation and the implication in the men’s eyes was more than enough, and honestly, a lot more effective.

Other than there being a great deal intensity and visceral stress and fear that you feel alongside the victims, there’s not a whole lot of praise to be spoken. It’s just holding a magnifying glass on an incident which perfectly captured the tension between two sides of a conflict and what the law was clearly there to protect at the time, and it wasn’t always its citizens.

Although, having done no real research, and certainly not having the resources that the crew had while putting this movie together, one element did bother the crap out of me. Carl (Jason Mitchell) used a pistol with blanks when he wanted to scare the cops. When the cops raid the place looking for the gun, they keep shouting for it, but… why don’t they explain that it’s not real, or didn’t have real bullets? They spent hours getting questioned and it’s like they honest to God didn’t know anything about a real gun. Is a real gun so indistinguishable from a fake one, or a real one with no real ammo? I don’t know, I grew up with paintball, airsoft, and cap guns, as well as watching a whole ton of action movies. I think I could tell the difference. These people, scared or not, really didn’t say anything?! Maybe this is a weird detail overlooked by the movie, but… yeah, that seemed off to me.

Overall, this movie isn’t for the feint of heart and it certainly shouldn’t be seen if you’re looking for a crowd pleaser. But it’s the 1960’s in one of the most crime-ridden cities in America, even to this day. This movie’s setting alone was an indication that a happy ending was never going to be in the cards. But it’s worth watching. It’s a powerful piece that will stay with you. I think a detail or two can be questioned, but it’s a good film. It’s no “must see” of the year, but if you have even a passing interest, I do recommend it.

My honest rating for DETROIT: 4/5

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