Review: ‘Deliver Us From Evil’

deliver_us_from_evil_poster

               Scott Derrickson is one of the few directors in Hollywood who is a Christian and you can see what effect that has on his films.  Hellraiser: Inferno, one of my favorite horror films, which he wrote and directed, gave one of the most straight forward message of the Gospel I have ever seen in a movie.  The Exorcism of Emily Rose was profoundly pro-Christian and what the fight against evil means.  Even Sinister tried to take a hard look at what evil is and questioned if it could be stopped.  So it was no wonder that his next film would be about faith vs. skepticism and good vs. evil.

                Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is a NYPD officer who works in one of the toughest burrows in New York.  He is haunted by many of his past and current cases of violence and horror.  His latest case seems to be one he has never dealt with before because it of its odd nature of having men who returned from Iraq going crazy and hurting people.  He soon meets a priest (Edgar Ramirez) who tells him that he believes this case to be one of true evil that needs to be dealt with by faith and exorcism.  While his family (Olivia Munn as his wife) increasingly feels the danger around them, Sarchie tries to find the last man (Sean Harris) possessed by a demon, which he doesn’t believe is possible.

                The look of the film is great as it feels as dark and cold as the story that it tells.  The acting is good to decent and the always welcome Joel McHale does a good job as the tough partner with an adrenaline addiction.  I like Eric Bana as an actor, but he seems like he held a little too much back with this role.  Most times he feels distant and uninterested with his part.  Edgar Ramirez on the other hand, plays his character confidently and with some zeal and is the better part of the film.  Secondary characters like Olivia Munn and Sean Harris feel underdeveloped, but still do a good job with their roles.

deliver us from evil still

                A very interesting and great debate is brought up during the film, it just isn’t long enough to satisfy the viewer.  When the problem of evil is brought up as a problem for belief in God, the priest asks about the problem of good.  Why is there any good?  Great theological/philosophical question that had a great set up but no pay off.  The whole movie, unfortunately, seems like this great set up with no real pay off.  What we are shown is evil throughout the film but then the ending shows good triumphing, yet it feels like a footnote to the rest of the story.  Even with this, it must be appreciated, especially by Christians, which the Christian faith (even if it is from a Catholic viewpoint) is shown positively and respectfully.  Men of faith are shown as they truly are, fallible and still struggling with the sins of the flesh.  Rare but always welcome depiction.

                Also, finally we see a movie that depicts every song the Doors created the way I always thought of them when I hear them, creepy.  It’s a good time waster that had some strong potential that was regrettably wasted

2 stars out of 4

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Reviews

                Here’s a list of a few recent viewings I have gone through lately that I didn’t or didn’t want to review for whatever reason.  Hopefully I can give a short review that may peak your interests to either watch or pass on a film you might have been considering.  There can be a mix of newer/older movies with a few insights.

John Wick

john-wick-poster

                Nothing new in this revenge story at all, but dang if it isn’t one of the best shoot ‘em up action films in awhile.  Keanu Reeves actually does really good here.  The look and feel of the film is all great to set up a revenge movie that seems like an old school grindhouse flick with better production value.  I haven’t seen crazy action like this since Shoot ‘em Up and I like it.  Action lovers, this one is for you.  Reminds me of John Woo films with Chow Yun-fat and 80’s action films.  3 and ½ stars out of 4

The Purge: Anarchy

thepurgeanarchyposter

                Never saw the first but heard good ones about this movie.  I know that the creators mostly thought that they were making fun of Tea Partiers, but right here we have one of the better pictures of what liberals would do, happily, if they had total control with no one to stop them.  Get rid of the lower classes that are not needed because they are nothing more than a nuisance.  Getting rid of those working class rubes is a dream come true.  Unhinged and unaccountable relativist ideals helps to okay it and wow, does this film show that so well that it’s scary.  Frank Grillo is awesome as the main character out to purge but is caught up in helping others.  Also has a great ending preaching of forgiveness and redemption.  Not movie of the year and has some problems, but still fun.  2 stars out of 4

A Walk Among the Tombstones

a-walk-among-the-tombstones-poster

                Newly out of the closet anti-gun nut Liam Neeson uses guns freely and properly in a movie to help line his pockets and it’s just an okay film.  Nothing to see here really.  2 stars out of 4

Taken 3

Taken-3-Poster

                An unfortunate way to end a surprisingly fun trilogy.  Why it didn’t continue with the same set of bad guys that have been through to two films and were promised in the second one, we are given generic Russian bad guys.  The bad guy is easy to pick out in the first few minutes of the film and that is always just bad set up.  The action promised in the trailer is much tamer this time around and it really kind of feels like they were just trying to get a trilogy here and make some money without really fully entertaining its audience.  Everyone looks bored with the movie and at some points, so are the audience.  1 and 1/2 stars out of 4

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-poster

                I realize that it’s popular to hate anything Michael Bay touches right now, but dang it he doesn’t make films to please critics.  He is a proven money maker and for the most part, makes some fun films or helps to make them like he did here.  Yes, the turtles look odd and the thought of Megan Fox playing April O’Neil isn’t pleasant but it all still works.  She actually does her best work here.  Not Oscar material but it looks like she tried.  Comedy is good, action is fun and so is the overall movie.  It sucks that it looks like William Fichtner, said to have been the original Shredder, is replaced by a shadowy stupid actor because he’s Japanese.  I watched this with my son and he loved it.  Worth the watch as a good time waster.  2 and ½ stars out of 4

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Worst Films of 2014

                For the first time since starting this site, I have not been able to come up with a “worst’s” list that equals 10 movies.  Surprisingly I only watched good movies way more often than I saw bad ones.  Now I know there are many out there that came out in 2014, but I didn’t see any of them and most likely never will.  So, I got that going for me.  Here we go:

7.            Tusk

Tusk poster

                I just know Kevin Smith has a really good film in him somewhere.  We just haven’t seen it yet and probably never will.  Both of his last films looked great and gave Michael Parks some great lines and room to steal the show in every scene.  But dang it, this movie is just boring.  We already know it’s going to be weird when we hear it is about a man who turns another man into a walrus, but didn’t think it would be this boring.  Then throw in Johnny Depp in an incoherent role and this is just awful.  That’s my review, nothing else needed.

6.            The Sacrament

the-sacrament-movie-poster

                This is a horrible film whose trailer was the best part of it.  How do you make a story based on what happened at Jim Jones “utopia” in the late seventies boring and not at all scary?  Throw in the fact that they obviously made the characters in the cult Christians when even Jones himself hated is just the usual Hollywood bigotry.  It’s such a wasted effort on something that could have really been good.  Review here.

5.            The Muppets Most Wanted

muppets most wanted poster

                Hopefully this will be the nail in the coffin of this once beloved franchise.  While still better than the last one, it still misses what made the Muppets great in the first place, great family fair to be enjoyed by young and old.  Give a great (yet very hatful atheist) Ricky Gervais nothing to do was a waste and someone please stop hiring Tina Fey.  She’s not funny and it’s not because she is a horrible person in real life.  So is Gervais but I still he has tremendous talent.  Just watch the original trilogy and the first Christmas movie with the Muppet Show and forget everything that comes after.  Review here.

4.            Dumb and Dumber To

dumb-and-dumber-2-poster

                Did it have funny parts?  Yes.  Did it bring back memories of the glorious first film?  Yes and that’s the problem.  This movie should not have been made at all.  It sullies the original by its very existence.  It tries way too hard to be like the first film and it shows big time.  Huge disappointment.  That’s the review.

3.            Haunted House 2

A-Haunted-House-2-poster

                Tricked again by the trailer that this one could be funny.  Wrong, so very very wrong.

2.            Horrible Bosses 2

Horrible-Bosses-2-Poster

                Another film that had a trailer that tricked me into thinking this would be funny.  Few laughs and the ending is rage inducing.  After two movies, a main character that resists cheating on his wife then has his wife cheat on him.  Horrible movie.

1.            Gone Girl

gone-girl-poster

                Good looking film with a great cast.  That’s all this film has going for it.  The fact that the ending is seen as anything but impossible and having cops act like complete and utter morons is, well, moronic.  If this was meant to be a rebuke for the rape culture going on right now where women are trumpeted by the media as brave victims and anyone who asks a follow up question to said victim is a misogynist, but then turns out the victim is a evil liar, then yes better movie.  But that is not the case here.  Such a bad movie because of its third act.  Review here.

Posted in Lists | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little Buddy Review: ‘Big Hero 6′

Big-Hero-6-poster

                When I first saw the trailer for this film I never knew of this Marvel property.  If you thought Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man were out there, this one is further out.  The film looked interesting if not only for the way in which the robot character acted.  His walk, silent comedy scenes and other comedic moments looked like this one could be a good kids movie with humor for both them and the adults.  Outside of what looked like some pretty hilarious moments, would the movie turn out to offer something other than that?

                In San Fransokyo, Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a young man who very smart but uses those smarts to con people out of money.  His older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) wants his brother to use his brains for something important.  He introduces Hiro to his university, where he and his friends are constantly working on projects to better humanity.  Tadashi has created a healthcare robot called Baymax (Scott Adsit).  Hiro is interested in joining the school and to do so he invents thousands of microbots that can be controlled to do anything by his mind.  The invention is stolen when a fire is started and his brother Tadashi dies.  Hiro wants to find the one who killed his brother and will use the help of Tadashi’s university friends and Baymax.

                The look of the film is interesting, infusing Japanese architecture with American.  The computer animation is top notch and with Disney, it only keeps getting better.  All of the voice acting is well done as well, especially from Adsit and Damon Wayans Jr. who provides some of the bigger laughs outside of Adsit’s Baymax.  The problem with the film is that it can be very boring at places.  The beginning drags on before we are introduced to Baymax together with Hiro.  While there are plenty of laughs there are also many that fall flat, much like the character voiced by T.J. Miller who seemed like he was trying too hard to be funny.

Big-Hero-6-still

                Big Hero 6 has all the themes that I always enjoy.  Explore and enhance your gifts, family is important as are close supporting friends and good must overcome evil.  This film has all that but it still felt hollow.  You are in no way pulled into the story or even care about the characters, which is odd for a Disney film.  The film fails in resonating with its audience and instead seems to be a film that had people working on it that didn’t have their hearts in it.  Kids will have a good time no doubt, mostly because of Baymax and the secondary characters.

                Nothing overly offensive here for parents to look at before they let their kids watch it.  But, maybe just pop in the Incredibles instead.

2 stars out of 4

Posted in Little Buddy Review, Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Movies to Look Forward to in 2015

              Right here is the list of films this site is looking forward to this year.  Here we go:

10.          Ant Man (July 17th)

ant-man-poster

                As a story, this could really not work well and from the first trailer it could look like Marvels first misstep.  Yet I want to see it for two reasons.  First and foremost I was very excited about the casting of Paul Rudd as the title character.  It will be interesting to see what he does with it.  It also has Michael Douglas, which is always a plus.  Second, well, it’s a comic book movie that looks like, to me at least, it could go either way.  Hey, Marvel made a great movie with little know comic characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, why not do it again here?

9.            The Hateful Eight (November 15th)

Hateful-Eight-poster

                I have only ever really disliked one Tarantino film and that was the horribly slow and boring Jackie Brown.  I have always liked his quirky dialogue as well as his direction and camera set ups which all have not yet gotten old for me.  Then you add Kurt Russel, Bruce Dern and Walton Goggins and you have my interest.  Django Unchained was a really good western film that looked phenomenal, let’s hope that’s the case here.

8.            Kingsman: The Secret Service (February 13th)

Kingsman-poster

                Almost anything from Matthew Vaughn is interesting to me and this new film looks really fun.  Add Colin Firth. Michael Cane and Mark Strong and you have my full attention.  An obvious franchise builder it still has the charm and dry wit of those across the pond.  Even looks a little bit imaginative, which is not always the case for Hollywood.

7.            Jurassic World (June 12th)

Jurassic-World-Poster

                I hated Jurassic Park 2 because of the stupid environmentalist characters and the moronic choices the lead actress does to put everyone in peril.  It was actually rage inducing.  Jurassic Park 3 was a bit more fun but still did not meet the standards of the first incredible film.  This one looks like it could actually match the firsts wonder and fun.  Chris Pratt is the “it” man now and I am really looking forward to him playing a more serious role.  Trailer may not have squashed all the nervousness out there, but I still hold out hope that this will be good.

6.            The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay Part 2 (November 20th)

mockingjay poster

                Honestly, this one should need no explanation on why it is on this list.  The franchise has only gotten better and I am looking forward to the end.

5.            Mission: Impossible 5 (July 31st)

mission_impossible_5_poster

                As with The Hunger Games, these films have only gotten better.  Part three was great and part 4 was greater.  I am looking forward to see what this next installment will bring.  Hopefully it is not a franchise killer, but I doubt it, these movies are good.

4.            Spectre (November 6th)

spectre poster

                Casino Royale and Skyfall were movies that made me interested in James Bond when I had never been before.  The unfortunate Quantum of Solace was an incredibly horrible film and I am hoping that this film will not have the same curse that Quantum had.  Same director as the last one and possibly more Ralph Fiennes and the addition of Christoph Waltz is very welcome.

3.            Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (December 18th)

Star-Wars-Episode-VII-cast

                While the second trilogy was a huge black eye to the original trilogy I had held out little hope that there would ever be a Star Wars movie that will give the same excitement the original movies gave everyone.  This one though looks like it could possibly bring back that magic.  A good and inventive director, practical and CGI effects and having most of the original cast come aboard and this could work.  Also, Andy Serkis.

2.            Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1st)

avengers-age-ultron-poster

                The first one was so much fun to watch and brought all the characters in this universe together with ease.  This one looks to be upping the ante and also looks incredible.  James Spader voicing the title villain was an awesome choice.  Is there a creepier voice out there today than Spader’s?  I’m looking forward to the new additions, epic storyline, comedic moments and the battle between Hulk and Hulk Buster Iron Man.

1.            Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15th)

mad max fury road poster

                I will be completely honest on this one, I am extremely excited about this film and it has everything to do with the first teaser.  The film looks absolutely amazing and a feast for the eyes.  Tom Hardy as the title character and Charlize Theron and I am sold.  As it stands now, for me, this is the film to beat this year as far as a great time at the movies.

Honorable Mentions: 

Pixels (July 24th), Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15th),  Inside Out (June 19th), Hotel Transylvania 2 (September 25th)

Posted in Lists | Leave a comment

Review: ‘The Guest’

the guest poster

                Over the last few years my wife has liked me to watch a show that seems really popular across the globe called Downton Abbey, which affectionately call Downtown Abbey.  Clever right?  To me the show is fine, especially when they get rid of the horrible characters, practically all satisfactorily.  Other than that, I find myself yelling at the television about how horrible most of the characters are.  One of the good characters is no longer on the show and was played by Dan Stevens and very well I might add.  To date, his was the only character outside of Maggie Smith’s wonderful character; I would have preferred stuck around.  But no, we are stuck with the super skinny hag of a woman who still hasn’t learned to treat people right yet.  Stevens left the show to pursue a movie career, and one of his first performances that he headlines is The Guest.  Does this movie tell us he made a good choice to leave or that maybe he should have stuck around for a sure paycheck?

                A small town family is still grieving over the death of a son and brother who died overseas when serving for the Army.  One day a stranger named David (Dan Stevens) comes to their door saying that he was a friend of their son and told him as he died he would check in on them.  He quickly becomes a house guest because of his seemingly innocent charm and each member of the family builds a relationship with him.  When the daughter (Maika Monroe) becomes suspicious of him, she calls the Army base he said he was from and finds out that maybe he isn’t the man he said he was.

                Simple plot that also sounds familiar in a been there done that sort of way.  Not this one.  Stevens does a great job at being creepy charming in this role and you are transfixed by it.  You are also seemingly anxious throughout the movie because of the great score and song selection that makes even the most innocuous scene tense.  Monroe and the rest of the family cast are all pitch perfect casting.  The mom and dad, played by Sheila Kelley and Leland Orser are fantastic as a sweet mom and a kind of a bummer dad going through marriage issues and it’s believable.  Brendan Meyer does a great job as the young son being bullied and does a great job of showing how his character slowly becomes close to the main character.  The film itself also looks incredible, with some stand out cinematography and interesting lighting choices.

the guest still

                The entire film plays out like a seventies grind house thriller, minus all the cheesy acting.  This was a really fun film to watch, mostly because of the acting, music and a continual sense of not sure what’s going to happen next.  It seemed like what was going to be a clichéd and already seen it a hundred times ending, instead gives us a satisfying ending at the very last moments.  There is violence in the film, some language and a scene of sexuality without nudity that is on screen for a few seconds.  If you are a fan of interesting movies and their even more interesting cinematography as well as a enjoyable movie, this one is for you.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

Posted in Review | Tagged | 1 Comment

Review: ‘Whiplash’

whiplash poster

                I have two brothers, both younger than me who both have tremendous talents.  One is a great comedic storyteller who once let me be in one of his shows called Skeleton Crew which I still believe is on YouTube.  The other brother joined him in this talent and had yet another one.  He is a gifted musician who always impressed.  From reorganizing the worship music at church to the Ska band he was once in called “the Skashank Redemption”.  I remember going to his concerts during his time at high school and sometimes getting chills (as I would during his performances at church with other brass players).  He may not have gone through what the main character goes through in this film, but I could not stop thinking about him and hard he would work at whatever instrument he planned on playing.  Whiplash gave me those memories, but outside of that, was it a good movie

                Andrew (Miles Teller) is a young college student who has picked a prestigious college that has the best music program in the country to play the drums.  He is seen practicing by the unconventional teacher of the jazz band, Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) and is soon thereafter asked to join the jazz band.  Andrew learns very quickly that Fletcher is one of the toughest and meanest teachers anyone could have.  Foul mouthed and condescending he pushes Andrew and his students to their limits and even breaks some.  Andrew dreams to be one of the greatest jazz drummers in history, but will he be finally discouraged and fall flat?

                For a film that was shot in just 19 days, it is a very well done and tight film.  The editing is sound, the passing great and the acting is its best asset.  Simmons and Teller are incredible in this film.  Simmons gives not only his best performance but one of the best of the year.  He is mean, in your face and unpredictable.  Teller, who amazingly does all his drum scenes himself, is determined, vulnerable and confident as the young dreamer.  The rest of the cast, including an always underused Paul Reiser are all great.  The music is pulsating through the speakers and you feel the rush of energy through the screen.

whiplash still

                “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’”.  One of the more brilliant lines in cinematic history that is so poignant for today’s world.  Granted maybe don’t push as hard as this character did, but his motivation for doing it was sound.  In the trophy generation and a world of young people growing up to be mediocre and yet still feel entitled, this movie is the answer to that.  The answer is, push yourself and see what you can do.  Don’t stand around waiting for the congratulations, earn it.  Great message and yet it is seen as the end all of one’s meaning in life.  The main character does this for his own glory instead of something more than himself.  In a movie full of good messages it ends on a note of selfishness which in a movie that should have a triumphal ending kind of brings it to a sadder end.

                This was a fun movie to watch and be impressed by.  There is lots of language in this film, which makes sense considering the story and characters.  Still, highly recommended.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

Posted in Review | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Best Films of 2014

Best of 2014

                That time of year again and once again I am late on this.  There were still some films I had opportunity to see that I thought looked like a possibility to making this list.  So, after the final film in the list of contenders was watched, I have now come up with your list for the best films of 2014:

10.          Chef

chef poster                             It didn’t take long for Favreau to make up for his directorial misstep with Cowboys vs. AliensChef is an incredibly personal movie for Favreau and it comes across with the love that he puts in the story.  It’s a very good movie that shows a very touching story surrounding a father becoming closer to his son through an adventure on the road selling food out of a truck.  With a greatly cast and a nearly pitch perfect script, this film is a huge amount of fun with some very tasty looking food.  Review here.

9.            Birdman

birdman-poster

                This movie is one of the best acted movies in 2014.  Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone give some truly great performances.  It’s one of those great philosophical movies that make you think well after the credits role.  It is also a great film about the business of the theater and the behind the scenes goings on.  It is not just well acted but very well directed and looks gorgeous on the screen through the cinematography chosen.  Definitely a must see for those who love acting movies and movies about the theater.  Review here.

8.            Captain America: Winter Soldier

captain-america-winter-soldier-retro-poster

                Less of a comic book movie and more of an espionage thriller.  The Russo brothers brought together one of the better comic book films in the Marvel universe using one of the less popular characters in that universe.  Acting is great all around, especially from veteran actor Robert Redford.  The action and editing are tight and the sense of dread and anything is possible to our characters is there right in front of you.  Smart and fun.  Review here.

7.            American Sniper

American-Sniper-Movie-Poster

                Extremely unapologetic about its patriotism and its depiction of the evils of islam.  American Sniper is a love letter of respect and admiration for not only Chris Kyle, but for all who serve and are sheepdogs for this country.  This was a deeply moving film about the sacrifice others do to make sure that even more people may be safe.  It is an inspiring film and one that will make your heart glad that men like Chris Kyle exist in this world to make sure the evil savages of this world are taken care of.  Review here.

6.            The Lego Movie

lego movie poster

                This is one of the funnier movies of 2014 and it had heart.  Lots and lots of heart.  The voice acting is top notch, especially from Chris Pratt who gives the main character the innocence it needed to make the film.  With a surprising and extremely heartfelt third act, the Lego Movie quitted all the people out there, me included; who thought this was just a cash grab.  It gives lots of laughs and brings forth a powerful message of family.  Review here.

5.            Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians poster

                Not since the first Iron Man have I been this excited about a Marvel movie.  GOTG is probably the best Marvel movie to date or at least can go head to head with Captain America: Winter Soldier or The Avengers.  The casting of Christ Pratt as the lovable films lead was downright genius and the rest of the supporting cast are great as well (though anyone could have done Groot).  Simple good versus evil story in space with a great balance of action, comedy and touching scenes that made for one of the best movie going experiences in 2014.  Review here.

4.            Edge of Tomorrow

Edge-Of-Tomorrow-poster

                I was hugely surprised how much fun I had with this movie.  Tom Cruise continues to show that he may be a kook, but he is still a good movie star.  Maybe it was the bad advertising for the movie, but it should have been one of the bigger box office success’ in 2014.  It was a smarter, funnier and thought provoking science fiction movie for awhile.  Emily Blunt was great as was a very funny performance from Bill Paxton.  Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers and it works really well.  Review here.

3.            The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand budapest hotel poster

                Wes Anderson is one of the most original directors out there whose quirky visions are always a welcome addition to any year in film.  It is a great film to look at and actually a really fun film to watch.  Ralph Fiennes gives one of his best performances to date and the supporting cast is all around charming and funny.  I cannot wait for Anderson next one.  Review here.

2.            Nightcrawler

nightcrawler poster

                Probably one of the creepier, nervous movies I have seen in a long time and it was such a good ride because of it.  If Jake Gyllenhal doesn’t get huge recognition for this in the future it will be a huge shame.  His portrayal of the main character is one of the better acting jobs in years and no one could have done a better job.  It is a very uncomfortable movie to sit through, but that’s the point and the director and cinematographer do a phenomenal job here.  This is one highly recommended for those who enjoy a good thriller.  Review here.

1.            Fury

fury poster

                Not only the best film of 2014, but the best movie I’ve seen in this genre.  The story alone is worth the watch, but yet it is given even more because of the actors and director who tell it.  Shia Labeouf gives the best performance of his career and Brad Pitt brings depth to a possibly clichéd character.  The group as a whole brings realism and chemistry that is needed in this movie and may even out shine the same good aspects of Saving Private Ryan.  Add another film to the too short list these days that honors courageous men who sacrifice much for the freedoms of others.  Review here.

Honorable Mentions: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, St. Vincent, The Guest, Locke, Whiplash

                There you go.  What did I get right?  What did I get wrong?

Posted in Lists | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: ‘American Sniper’

American-Sniper-Movie-Poster

                My first introduction of Chris Kyle was when I read a report on a news site about him punching, and rightly so, Jesse Ventura.  I think I may have even linked the article to my Facebook page.  I read that Kyle was one of the deadliest snipers in American history and him standing up for those who serve, especially when being in town for a wake for a fallen comrade, by punching a loudmouthed liberal, made my day.  Unfortunately I had forgotten about him and the desire to buy and read his book soon after and only remembered his story when the first trailer for American Sniper was released.  Would it live up to the legend that was Chris Kyle?

                Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) just isn’t cutting it as a rodeo cowboy.  He soon decides to start a new career, that of a Navy SEAL.  Shortly after passing the grueling trials that are required for the SEAL, Chris meets his future wife (Sienna Miller) at a bar where they quickly hit it off.  Over 4 tours in Iraq, Chris has to fight with his desire to be with both his family and the men he wants to protect in battle.  Dealing with the pressure of a growing family he is not there for and the want to protect his comrades with the gift he has for sniping is a big struggle for Chris.  As his legend grows among enemies and friend alike, Chris continues to tally a big number of confirmed kills, but must soon make the decision to stay in the fight for freedom or the fight for his family.

                Right off the bat the film sets a great tone with how it introduces its character.  That tone continues throughout the film, a tone of confidence and steadiness.  Cooper is perfect as Chris Kyle and plays him with buoyancy, charm and determination.  Sienna Miller does so great as the loving and supportive wife who struggles with not having her husband around to help with the family.  She plays the role vulnerably but there is a hidden strength that shows through the screen especially when she interacts with Cooper.  Eastwood has made a very good biographical movie of a man’s life that seems larger than life.  The action is tightly edited, well choreographed and intense.

                As well as the movie looks and how great the acting is, the heart of the film is set at the opening of the movie.  At a dinner table the father of Chris tells Chris and his little brother who there is in the world.  There are sheep (need protection), wolves (evil people) and sheepdogs (the protectors).  The father instills in his sons a great outlook on life that doesn’t get told enough in films.  There is evil in the world and that evil needs to be stopped by the protectors, the men and women who have that drive and desire.  American Sniper is not shy in showing the evils of the muslim world and the heroes who seek to stop it and sometimes at great sacrifice.  It’s a story that needs to be told and told again, especially in today’s world.

americansniper-still

                 “They are savages.” Kyle correctly states throughout the film of the enemy he is sent to kill.  He is correct yet he forgot that that title covers more broadly than Iraq insurgents.  Cowards like Jesse Ventura who is currently suing the Kyle family because Kyle punched him in the face publically after Ventura bad mouthed America.  Would have paid money to see that!  Cowards, like the liberal news organizations who threw soldier after soldier under the buss.  For their continued badmouthing of the war effort during their incessant and disgusting behavior because they didn’t like President Bush.  Cowards like Michael Moore and his ilk who continue to get fat, quite literally, off their hatred of soldiers.  Cowards like Obama and his worshipers when it comes to calling muslim violence what it is, terrorism.  These people can be added to the list of savages that were like those who took drills to children’s heads for talking to Americans.

                   American Sniper is an inspiring film.  Cooper and Miller give some of the year’s best performances because of how hard they worked to honor the memory of Chris Kyle, which they did.  The violence is vivid and there is language throughout, but that’s the way this world is and if you can deal with it, I could not recommend this film more.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: ‘Fury’

fury poster

                There hasn’t been a really good WWII movie since Saving Private Ryan, although Defiance and Inglorious Basterds both came really close.  There have just been too many WWII movies out there that don’t really capture the bravery and true evil which those brave fought against.  Some of these films even tried to make the evil the Germans and Japanese soldiers did sympathetic characters to an unbelievable extent.  What I have wanted for awhile, seeing how my lovely bride has been inundating herself with military history over the last year, is something akin to the stories she has told me.  Or at the very least something that made you feel what you felt the first time you saw the Band of Brothers miniseries.  Unbroken had promises that it would deliver that, but it didn’t.  Could Fury be the movie I’m looking for or just another weak disappointment that gave it its best shot?

                During the end of WWII the 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division has a Sherman tank crew that is one of the last tanks in the area.  There mission is to ward of the SS in their desire to continue fighting.  Leading it is battle hardened Sergeant Don (Brad Pitt), who leads a group of soldiers that control the tank called “Fury”.  The crew consists of Boyd (Shia LaBeouf), Grady (Jon Bernthal) and Trini (Michael Pena).  They return to base camp after a horrible battle, one crew member down and are quickly given orders to go out to recue some trapped soldiers with a handful of other tanks.  Joining them as a replacement for their fallen comrade is Norman (Logan Lerman) who is just eight weeks old in the Army.  The crew quickly find that Norman has a strong hesitance to kill the enemy regardless of the danger that puts him and anyone else near him in.  From one mission to another, the crew and Norman begin to trust each other as they are in the hell that is Germany at this time.  On their last mission the tank breaks down and hundreds of Germans behind them.  Can they make it out or do they fight their way through?

                Wow, Saving Private Ryan and The Great Escape may have just been kicked off the top of the list with this movie.  It has everything that you want in a film with this subject matter.  Heartbreak, courage, sacrifice, strong character, phenomenal and tense action sequences and a sense of tension as the film moves forward.  I cannot think of a better cast of actors to bring together in this film.  The two highlights, who give probably some of their best performances here, are Pitt and LaBeouf.  They are pitch perfect in their roles and bring great levity and realism to their characters.  Bernthal and Pena are quick seconds as both of their performances are funny, sad and powerful.  Jason Isaacs is unrecognizable in this film, yet unforgettable.  There are many great scenes that pull the viewer in with an uncomfortable easiness that keeps you on the edge. The look of the film uses the same color tone and cold feeling from other films about this subject lately.  It adds to the story in that you feel the dreariness through the screen.  There is some incredible cinematography and the score works on all levels.

Shia LaBeouf;Logan Lerman;Michael Pena;Jon Bernthal

                For me, one of the best parts of the movie is not just the courage of the men through the enemies attempts to kill them, but it portrays one of the more realistic depictions Christian that I have ever seen.  It feels like an honest portrayal of a Christian.  He is uncompromising, willing to engage on his faith, even to those who disagree and he is shown struggling with sin.  He cusses when he gets frustrated, is shown disagreeing and even fighting with the men around him when tensions are high.  It’s honest, its unarming and it seems true to life.  Finding out that the writer and director, David Ayer, is a practicing Christian and creates this believable character is incredible.  There is Scripture quoted throughout the film and unlike many other movies that comes out of Hollywood, they are not the typical ones and neither are they unimportant to what’s going on.  They fit each scene and each issue with the characters greatly.  One great scene is when this character is seen comforting a dying soldier and he asks him if he knows Christ.  The solider says yes and the Christian responds by saying, “then you’ll be okay.”  Then prays over him.  Touching scene.

                Fury is brutal in its showing of war violence and has many uncomfortable scenes to sit through.  Not in a bad way, but the tension in those scenes and the “what’s going to happen next” thoughts are worth it.  Lots of cussing, of course for a film like this, but no nudity or sex scenes even though they are implied.  This is my favorite WWII film to date.  Highly recommended.

4 stars out of 4

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment