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  • allied-movie-poster-417x650

    Allied (2016)

    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    His Review: In 1942, Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) are tasked at going undercover in Casablanca to kill a…

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    Moana (2016)

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    His Review: A long time ago, a demi-god by the name of Maui (Dwayne Johnson) stole the heart of Te Fiti, a small green stone, for his own…

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    Trolls (2016)

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016

    His Review: The trolls are a loving and kind race of creature that wants to dance, hug and sing all day.  The Bergens, however, are a group of ogre-like…

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    Dr. Strange (2016)

    Monday, November 21, 2016

    His Review: Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a talented neurosurgeon who might be a tad cocky and arrogant for his own good.  When he is badly injured in a…

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    The Accountant (2016)

    Monday, November 21, 2016

    His Review: Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a gifted math genius who grew up with special needs.  With a strong need to be alone and let his numbers…

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Loving (2016)

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His Review:

In 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled that anyone, regardless of color, should be allowed to marry.  This ruling came about because of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga).  They were an interracial couple who lived in Virginia but married in Washington D.C. to avoid the “red tape” but ultimately were told to leave the state or end the marriage.  After a 9 year battle with the state of Virginia, the couple finally obtained the ability to live in their hometown once again.  This is their story as it paved the way for interracial couple all over the country.

Directed by Mike Nichols (Take Shelter, Midnight Special, Mud), Loving is quite a different movie than he is use to directing.  Mike Nichols usually tells stories that have a sci-fi theme or a character who goes insane.  Loving is almost a documentary in the way it is presented because it highlights the major true facts of the battle with the courts.  For a movie about race and racial issues, Loving is one of the safest and non-enraging of a movie about discrimination I’ve ever seen.  There is no violence, hardly any use of racial slurs, and some of the time I even felt like the Loving family was in the wrong for breaking laws they agreed to follow.  Whether it is morally wrong or right, when 2 people stand in front of a judge and agree to leave the state or be put in jail, I don’t feel so bad when they break the law and get arrested.

Going back to what I said about the “safe” nature of the film, I was shocked that there wasn’t more “edge” to this film.  Even the arrest scenes are non-eventful as the arrested party would simply get in the patrol car as directed.  There were no fights or struggles.  No one gets hit or maimed or beaten near death.  These actions are typical with the behavior back in those times and I was surprised that nothing of the sort was in the film.  Because of the fact that everything was bland and uneventful, the movie is pretty boring.  The 2 hour run time should have been more like 1.5 hours and I would have liked to see a background of the 2 main characters so I could invest more emotion into them.  The movie practically opens with the proposal so I never felt like I know the whole journey with these two people.

The highlight of Loving is the acting.  Joel Edgerton has been talked about for acting awards, and I can see the argument for him, but the rest of the case is solid.  This is definitely a role he isn’t use to playing and he plays the “simple country boy” pretty well.  I would compare Loving to movies like The Iron Lady and Philomena where the story is based on a true story, but the movie will be remembered for the acting over the boring and lackluster story telling.

At the end of the day, Loving is a glorified documentary that highlights all the basic facts to the story of Loving vs. Virginia.  Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga are the major focal points as their acting will keep this film relevant, but because of the safe nature of the story, this movie will put many people to sleep before they get to the end.  I don’t see anyone wanting to see this a 2nd time, let alone make it to the end of their first viewing.  Co-starring Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, and Jon Bass.

5/10 Stars – This movie means well and tells a story worth telling, but it is too long, boring and “safe” for a movie about interracial marriage back in the 1960s.

Allied (2016)

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His Review:

In 1942, Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) are tasked at going undercover in Casablanca to kill a German officer.  Having never met before, their operation must be flawless and trust must be high, but when Max is told that Marianne might be a German spy, his is tasked with planting evidence to see if Marianne, now his wife, is against him.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Cast Away, Forrest Gump, Flight), Allied is a tale of 2 halves.  With great acting and wonderful chemistry by the 2 leads, the first hour of the film is watching the 2 main characters meet, learn each other and fall in love.  Their time in Casablanca is just about the 2 of them and how they click together and trust one another.  This part of the movie is the romance and at times felt too long and drawn out.  I understand that the character development is critical for the rest of the film, but when only a couple of interesting plot points occur, it can make you want to fall asleep.

The dividing point of the movie is after the 2 pull off the task in Casablanca.  After the assassination of their target, the 2 regroup in London, get married and have a daughter.  At this point the movie turns from a romance between partners into a mystery/suspense film about betrayal and loyalty.  Max is told his wife might be a spy and that he needs to plant something to expose her.  He is distraught, unsure and dumbfounded by this news and desperately wants to confront his wife, but he can’t or he will be convicted of treason.  However, he takes matters into his own hands by investigating his wife’s background and to find out just who she really is.  This part of the movie is just as it sounds – tense and gripping!  The cat and mouse between the 2 is nerve-racking and the tone is completely different from the first act.  I never felt bored and actually wanted the resolution to come as fast as possible so we could find out the truth!

This paragraph might contain minor spoilers so you might want to skip if you haven’t seen the movie………………………………………………………………….. the ending is the downfall of this movie.  Sure the first hour moves along at a slow pace and is kinda boring, but the ending to this movie drops the ball big time!  After spending 2 hours invested in this story, the ending just leaves you wishing that you hadn’t started it at all.  Now, I want to be clear here, the movie is well made and well acted, but the writers made a horrible decision in the resolution of this film.  I don’t see how anyone can see this film and think to themselves when it is over, “hey this ending was pretty good and I’m glad it turned out this way!”  No one in their right mind will like this as they will feel cheated out of 2 hours from a movie that could have been great!  At the time of me writing this, Rotten Tomatoes has this movie at 62% and for a movie of this caliber with the actors and director it has, this rating is LOW!  This movie could have taken a different tone and direction to earn it a 90% or higher, but it didn’t and it shows.

At the end of the day, for 80% of Allied, I was engaged and interested.  I cared about the characters and what happened to them, but when it is all said and done, the writing/story is this movies biggest downfall and it could have been so much better.  For this kind of movie, the 62% on Rotten Tomatoes should be a red flag and I am not recommending this movie.  Co-starring Lizzy Caplin, Jared Harris, August Diehl, and Simon McBurney.

5/10 Stars – This movie has everything right going for it (acting, directing, production) except for the questionable writing that will make everyone who watches it question their investment into the story.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

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His Review:

Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a young boy who lost his eye when he was a baby and lives with his mother by the sea, high above the village.  He never met his father but has heard many stories of the mighty Hanzo and tells stories to the villagers using his shemisen (guitar-like instrument) about his battles with the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes).  Kubo is always warned not to stay out after dark, but one night he is late getting home and his aunts (Rooney Mara) attack him, but his mother saves him by sending him far far away with the magic of the shemisen.  When Kubo awakes, he is met by a monkey (Charlize Theron) who tells him that they must find the three legendary pieces of Hanzo suit in order to defeat the evil spirit of the moon king.

The story of Kubo and the Two Strings is quite extraordinary and unique, but a little hard to follow at the same time.  The story has many metaphors, dreams, and events that are exaggerated based on the mind of a young boy, but it’s hard to tell sometimes what is real and what is imaginary.  The fact that the movie is beautifully animated with stop-motion capture from the same people who did The Box Trolls, ParaNorman, and Coraline makes up for the strangeness of the story.  I know I keep mentioning the story, however, the fact that it is a little hard to follow doesn’t make it a bad story.  I believe that a second view will make the story pop and allow everything to make sense, as it did for me the 2nd time I saw it.

The characters are also a strong aspect of this film.  Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) is dumb but very funny.  He reminds me of Krunk from The Emperor’s New Groove.  Monkey is also quite a treat because she is both sarcastic and caring all at the same time.  The bad guys in the movie are something you would find straight out of a video game and fit the story perfectly, and Kubo himself is a flawed child with a horrible past and a huge heart.  Kubo is the “little engine that could” and he won’t stop until he is able to connect with his father.

I don’t want to say that Kubo is an acquired taste because it won’t take long before you will know if you are enjoying the film, however, it will take a 2nd or 3rd view to fully understand what you are watching and that I believe is the sign of something deep and multilayered.  Kubo and the Two Strings is something special and tragic, and will have something to offer everyone who watches it.  It has drama, comedy, action and adventure.  It has fantasy, vibrant colors and multi-dimensional characters.  I believe that the style of animation chosen for this movie will help it stand out for many years to come.  Big thumbs up from me!  Co-starring the voices of Brenda Vaccaro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, George Takei, Meyrick Murphy, and Minae Noji.

8/10 Stars – Even though the story might need several viewings to fully grasp, Kubo and the Two Strings has great stop-motion animation and is full of characters with plenty of depth.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

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His Review:

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) was an American soldier during World War II.  He believed that the war was right, but that killing a living soul was wrong.  He never carried a gun and never fired a bullet, but what he did for his country was more than anyone could have imagined.  He saved 75 men at the battle of Okinawa and was praised for his bravery.  Doss was the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Hacksaw Ridge is his story…

Directed by Mel Gibson (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto), Hacksaw Ridge fits in well with Gibson’s other war films such as The Patriot and We Were Soldiers.  This movie is told in 2 halves – the first half is about Doss’s background and how he managed to make it into the army with his non-violent beliefs, and the 2nd half of the movie is the war itself.  Both halves compliment each other well and both paint a picture of who Desmond Doss was.  Andrew Garfield does a fine job in the lead role and the supporting cast backed him up well.  I think Vince Vaughn as the Drill Sargent was brilliant and he performs very well in a different role then we are use to.  Sam Worthington and Hugo Weaving are other big names we see along the way who turn Hacksaw Ridge into a well-rounded film.

As far as a movie goes, the first half of the film can drag a bit, but the fine acting keeps you interested well enough.  The movie could have been a tad bit shorter to give it a better pace, but the action at the end perks the audience back up.  I wasn’t expecting this movie to be a violent and gory as it was, so be prepared for that, but it isn’t excessive and reminded me of Saving Private Ryan’s blood and guts level.

At the end of the day, Mel Gibson made a fine film in tribute to a true national hero and after the movie is over, some of the people who are still living add their memories to the credits.  If you like true stories set during war, then this is not one to miss.  Co-starring Hugo Weaving , Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington Rachel Griffiths, Nathaniel Buzolic, Richard Roxburgh, Matt Nable, and Furass Dirani.

7/10 Stars – It might be a little long and stale in parts, but this tribute to Desmond Doss is a well-made and acted film.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

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His Review:

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a 17 year old girl growing up in a world that can be difficult for the average teen.  She has always been a recluse and introvert, but when her father died several years ago, she lost the one person in her life she could trust.  Since a young age, Nadine has had 1 best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), who she does almost everything with, but when Nadine catches Krista in bed with her brother Darian (Blake Jenner), Nadine wants to die.

The Edge of Seventeen is a coming of age story that shines due to its lead, Hailee Steinfeld.  Woody Harrelson does a great job as the sarcastic teacher that Nadine runs to for advice from time to time, and the rest of the supporting cast does a great job as well.  The reason that this movie works so well is that it seems realistic.  From drama with friends to feeling suicidal to rebellion, all of the normal teen feelings are expressed.

My only complaint with this movie is that it feels too plain.  There is nothing memorable that sets this movie apart from that other teen drams of the world.  The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles are other coming-of-age movies that have moments that will keep them in our hearts and minds forever, but the Edge of Seventeen I feel will only be talked about as “one of the early films of Haliee Steinfeld.”  This movie will be forgotten in a year or 2 and nothing will keep it afloat.  There are no shocking moments.  No one dies.  No one gets a terminal illness. Nothing.  It will be a movie that teens and females will relate with and then move on… just like the movie does.

At the end of the day, The Edge of Seventeen is more a showcase for Hailee Steinfeld’s acting than anything else.  It might have a few moments that are special or interesting, but for the most part, this movie will not have a long life span.  Co-starring Alexander Calvert, Eric Keenleyside, Hayden Szeto, Katie Stuart, Kyra Sedgwick, and Nesta Cooper.

6/10 Stars – Even though Haliee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson showcase their talents, The Edge of Seventeen is a coming of age movie that offers nothing new or memorable.

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Loving (2016)

Friday, December 2, 2016

His Review: In 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled that anyone, regardless of color, should be allowed to marry.  This ruling came about because of Richard (Joel…

allied-movie-poster-417x650

Allied (2016)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

His Review: In 1942, Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) are tasked at going undercover in Casablanca to kill a…

mt6wyh2

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Monday, November 28, 2016

His Review: Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a young boy who lost his eye when he was a baby and lives with his mother by the sea, high above…

hacksaw

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

His Review: Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) was an American soldier during World War II.  He believed that the war was right, but that killing a living soul was wrong. …

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