Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Lone Survivor (2013)

The first great Afghan war movie.  It is based upon the book by Marcus Luttrell who was the Lone Survivor.  In the movie he is played by Mark Whalberg. While he is credible the movie would have been better with a better choice. The supporting actors including Taylor Kitsch were great. Up to the 100 min mark its a fantastic movie. It had total realism almost documentary feel even better than Zero Dark Thirty. Past 100 min the movie falls into saccharine territory which costs this movie one of my stars. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 68% which is in my ballpark. A really good pro war movie that gets a little carried away punching your buttons.

Four Stars

Gravity (2013)

If you do not know who Director Alfonso Cuaron is now,  after watching this movie you will be looking for his name when picking movies to watch. Previous credits were also terrific movies like Children of Men. This movie should be seen on the big screen but I found it fantastic as a DVD. Its a very simple story and barely Sci Fi. Sandra Bullock should hands down win best actress for her portrayal of astronaut Ryan Stone. This role had a whose who of Hollywood brush with the part before Bullock locked it up. It was a critical and box office smash. A very special must see movie.

Five Stars could not be more perfect

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Still some life in the Die Hard Franchise. Jia Courtney a complete unknown plays McLean's son who is all tangled up in Russian Politics. I really liked Die Hard 4 this one was a little tired by comparison. Still an average Die Hard is not to be missed. Rotten Tomatoes was only 14%. Domestic Box also well under a hundred million. I agree with the critics it was the worst of the Die Hards but still well worth watching.

Three Stars

Shooter (2007)

Despite some casting weakness this movie should have been a mega hit.  Its a conspiracy theory story which is a proxy for Blackwater and Dick Cheney. The problem is the real Dick Cheney and Erik Prince are better villains than Ned Beatty and Danny Glover. Marky Mark would not be my first choice to play the lead but he does a credible job. Kate Mara the female lead I liked better now having seen her in House of Cards.  Also Micheal Pena is great as the sidekick. Antonie Fuqua justifiably lauded for Training Day directs this action flick well. The story is great compelling and was ahead of its time. In 2007 we did not have Wikileaks, Edward Snowdon and the collapse of Blackwater and the Bush presidency. Had this movie come out now it would be a much bigger hit.  The screenplay by Jonathan Lemkin was good but naming the lead Bob Lee Swagger did not add gravitas. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 48% with lots of Dixie Chick bashers weighing in. Domestic box was $47 mill with an equal amount overseas. Since the movie had a $61 mil budget, not a huge hit. It also topped the DVD sales charts. I really liked it much better the second time around. If you like conspiracy theories you will love this movie filmed mostly in BC.

Three point nine stars

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Elysium (2013)

The highly anticipated sophomore effort of Neil Bloomkamp. His directorial debut District 9 was water in the desert of contemporary Sci Fi. Elysium looks fantastic, and is more accessible to the mainstream. District 9 made the audience feel racial discrimination. Elysium serves as a proxy for Obamacare. The message is so heavy it distracts slightly from a superior movie in most respects.

The cast and the characters they play are fantastic.  Sharlto Copley a South African treasure who was the protagonist in District 9 plays the central Villain here. Jodi Foster is the power mad big cheese.  Alice Braga who was fantastic in Predators and Repo Men captures your heart in this flick as well. Matt Damon is well Matt Damon. The plot is not original but its a great story.

One of the most satisfying Sci Fi movies in recent memory. Rotten Tomatoes was Meh with a 68%. Box office was in low blockbuster territory about half of what District 9 did. See this one, it will be good for your health.

Three point 9 stars

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Bang Bang Club (2010)

The Bang Bang Club was a 2010 joint Canadian South African production. If you never heard of it join the club, it was released in the US (2011) and made a staggering $124,000 before the plug was pulled.  Perhaps the key reason it was not a big success is that was extremely politically incorrect. Is there a more saintly figure in the world than Nelson Mandela? Well Bang Bang pukes all over his carefully constructed story. It was an excellent movie more documentary than drama. Two of the real life photographers upon whom the movie is based won Pulitzer prizes, and two of them died. If you like political intrigue movies you will like this. It is far better than Welcome to Sarajevo or The hunting party.
According to this movie the apartheid regime in South Africa and the ANC were on pretty good terms near the end.

Three Point Five Stars