In trying to determine what you get when you combine a matured Sam Witwicky with a fighter and nemesis to Batman and the screen play it could hold, the movie 'Lawless' played out before my eyes like a siren luring her prey to their watery deaths--only in this case it would be under the moonshine.
~This review will contain plot spoilers albeit nothing major.~
It's been a while since I've done a review, and I am pleased to come back to a movie as good as this one. Everyone talks about pre-ordering video-games, getting the LP on a new album, or even buying tickets in advance for a concert--but how about pre-ordering a movie before it comes out on DVD/Blu Ray? I heard mixed things from people about 'Lawless' ranging from the impressed to the disappointed to the astonished to the disgusted. Reviews are great for gearing you up for the excitement or the letdown a movie will have. But enough of the rambling.
Set in the backwoods of Virginia 'Lawless' comes out of the woodwork (no pun intended) with a wide display of drama, thrill, emotion, and money ultimately swinging for the fences and exceeding those mere goals. When looking at the movie in retrospect, there was a pretty simple philosophy to answer; tell the true story of a family of moonshiners who turned around a county and became heroes. With John Hillcoat at the helm, this rather inexperienced director in terms of big named hits, turns this simple concept into a household name. When you watch 'Lawless' it's not a quick one time viewing. You'll see the movie, watch the plot unfold, become entwined with the characters and will relive their story as if it was your own. You'll want to live out the lives of the Bondurant brothers, and live to the extremes.
Backing Hillcoat up is the most powerful aspect of the movie in the cast. Instead of going with the two big guns which I could talk on and on about for hours ad nauseum, I want to refer to the character that Gary Oldman plays. Without spoiling much, Gary Oldman is one of those actors you expect to see playing a big time role in some big time movies, i.e. one of my favorites 'Book of Eli' but in this case you have a superstar playing an absolutely vital role as a minor supporting actor. There is something to be said about the casting and the acting crew when you can not only place a big name actor in a small role, but excel in it at the same time.
The more I think about it, there was truly little going against the movie itself. My biggest gripe, which by the way is completely personal, is the way the movie ended. I simply wasn't satisfied with the amount of movie that came before it when compared to the way we said good-bye. But when you look at a lengthy movie like this, and the only thing you can say bad about it was that you wish it would have ended slightly differently, that's a win in the book.
Check it out, you shouldn't be disappointed, and heck you may even find yourself having the urge to make some moonshine and become an outlaw turned hero.
What can you say when a movie flows so masterfully, plays off of real-world fears and beliefs, and does it all in a gritty, absolutely post-apocalyptical world? 'Doomsday' is just that movie boating a wide array of talent in the character field, an interesting plot line and an ultimately tantalizing sci-fi thriller backdrop.
~This review will contain minor spoilers.~
I'm going to take this review back to a form that I haven't used in a while: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.
The Ugly: For me The Ugly will mostly be confined to scenes and choices made that I wasn't a large fan of. As a general theme some of the scenes used were very graphic, extremely violent, and in one case downright grotesque. The scene I am referring to is the roasting and subsequent eating of the Dr. As far as ugly goes this tops the cake and is one of my most skipped scenes in this film. From the point of view when looking at helping to create a certain aura for the movie I don't quite understand the direction of the scene but again that's just me. Also in the field of ugly goes the general consensus that too many crucial/emotional scenes were rushed through. Now I do understand the movie wasn't going for 'Notebook' status, but being able to fill the character's shoes you are watching helps create connections and develop a fondness for the whole movie. Onto The Bad.
The Bad: I feel like I could nitpick all day, but I will stick with three areas that let me down. 1) Dialog. There were countless times throughout the movie that I would consider them losses for improvement and the ability to load the dialog. Although I would consider the movie generally void of intense, intelligent dialog it did leave a few scenes that made me think they could have done better. 2) Character development was another area I felt like I was left missing a bit and wanting much more. If 'Doomsday' spent a quarter as much time as they did on the action scenes we would have a larger cast of characters to bond and ally with. 3) I am nit picking here but the way the ending left us, I truly think they would have been better off just ending the movie without the last five minutes. Onto The Good.
The Good: For a sci-fi thriller I really like 'Doomsday.' Many sci-fi movies put a lot of their money into the CGI and forget about everything else. 'Doomsday' sure puts a high amount of time and effort into the look of the movie, but what stands out to me as the best quality is the plot. I've been pretty tough on the dialog and the character development but for a movie of this class it was really enjoyable. To be able to get sucked into a plot that really made you feel connected, 'Doomsday' did its part. I found myself up for the happy moments, nearing heart break on the sad spells and angry when things weren't going the right way. I was truly impressed that 'Doomsday' was able to really bring me into the world of the Reaper virus and make me feel as though I was on the team fighting for a cure.
Bottom-line is that the movie can upset and frustrate with the lost opportunities but overall you may fall in love with this contagious sci-fi thriller.
There aren't many times I finish a movie, sit back and wonder whether or not the movie I just watched was Top 5 material or a low-blow to a series I love. 'The Hunger Games' is just that movie, soaring far beyond my expectations.
~This review will contain spoilers and comparisons between the book and the movie.~
Books turned movie many times are the biggest and best forms of hit or miss entertainment out there Lucky for us this one does a great job of being a spot on hit. I'll admit, I was skeptical because of my love for the book series, but this movie did in fact nail it. When you read a book you are forced to make images in your mind of what characters, places, events and objects look like. Many times when translated into movie form they are not as described in the book, or are "Hollywood-ized" for the sell factor. What I found most impressive about the switch over was the massive amount of continuity I saw and how intoned with the book I felt. From what I"ve seen Suzanne Collins was an important part in the movie itself and the directors, writers ,and set teams did go to her often for approval or direction and it shows.
As far as the movie itself goes, the scenes are intense, the landscapes are incredible and the look of the movie is mind numbing. Gary Ross gives us an experience that can only be out done by taking every line of the book and turning it into a film (In our wildest dreams I know). The landscapes are so vast, so detailed, so down-right-good that you literally get lost in the world that is Panem. But the "amazingness" doesn't stop with the look of the world, it transfers incredibly to those acting in it.
You know when you have an idea in your head for a particular character? Well think of that image being transferred in the flesh to the big screen. Jeniffer Lawrence does a beyond amazing job in portraying "Katnip" (Ha a little inside joke for our Gale lovers) Everdeen. But not only is Katniss portrayed to perfection on the opposite side of the coin is President Snow who Donald Sutherland absolutely nails without a doubt. So we have scene/setting, characters, but what about the plot itself you may wonder.
In my own head I always wondered what the Games themselves would look like. The dome, the scenery, the wasps, Rue, the beasts, Peeta's leg (Alas this was the one big discontent I had with the film adaptation), Haymitch, the fighting itself, the game makers, sheesh every single detail. To Peeta's leg before we continue; NOT having him lose it, or at least not showing the loss is huge when we look at the remainder of the series. I hope they are just hiding the details to keep us on our toes! But back on topic I was blown away by just how similar everything looked and how effortlessly the movie flowed from one part to another.
If I wasn't already a huge fan of 'The Hunger Games' this movie would have easily got me hooked.
It's been a while since a "sci-fi" movie has come along and really pushed me back in my seat for the entirety of the film. 'Lockout' to me was just that movie.
~Minor spoilers included in this review.~
'Lockout' takes the perspective of a futuristic United States, along with a futuristic world and adds some of our biggest fears and biggest ambitions into the mix. Very rarely with movies these days, let alone sci-fi movies, do we see a deep character progression, stable dialog, trance-like plot progression and deep set action sequences 'Lockout' has them all.
The few characters that we are presented with and given an opportunity to bond with take tremendous steps toward progression whether it be negative or positive (in the eyes of the beholder of course). To choose just one of the handful of major line characters with whom we see growth I will go to the head of them all in Snow. Early on we are presented with this hard-skinned, bad boy soldier, mercenary, or whatever else he may claim/be proclaimed as. But throughout the course of the movie, Snow is able to adapt, able to change and able to shed new light onto emotions, actions, and a whole new dynamic which may not have seemed possible just thirty minutes earlier.
I am a huge critic on dialog. I believe any movie, cheap or not can and will win a majority of battles (and in our case reviews) based solely on the quality of the dialog and the script. 'Lockout' seems to take quite a few hefty hits in this department for not going far enough with these two key components but I believe they did a fairly solid job. Many of the sequences and events used in the movie do not provide the time or the ability for the dialog to reach something of a notable nature, and instead of forcing it in there the directors and writers carefully initiated a technique of hit-and-run tactics for when and where the dialog should be good, and where a well placed corny joke should make the audience laugh.
Trance-like plot progression is a new term for me and I really like looking for it in films now. When you are going through a movie and you cant seem to reach over the 2" to pick up your phone and check your text message, that's considered trance-like. For the entirety of the movie I was isolated from the rest of the world. The events conspiring on the TV before me kept me glued to what was going on, and oblivious to the rest of the acting world. For any movie to be able to do that, *hats-off* and a job well done.
I save the best for last because sometimes there are things in movies, especially this genre that are just simply too hard to mess up and action with sci-fi is just one of those babies. There was so much good quality action in this movie I think it probably could have survived a defeat in the plot, the character and the dialog departments and still have been a solid B class film. The action sequences are well choreographed, they are intense and staggered, and they are never over-whelming to the point where you wish they would just break down and do a calm scene so you can calm down yourself. It was truly well done.
Whether you are looking for a nice Friday night retreat or are looking for something a little more along the lines of futuristic prison ass-kicking this is your movie hands down.