Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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The moral cost of collateral damage.
Eye in the sky is not a war film. The scenes that take place have a military context, but this movie is not about terrorism, catching the bad guy, or even preventing further acts of violence from men and women who hate the western world. This film is about the consequences of our actions as a nation, and our willingness to let good people die in the name of freedom and security.
What this film brings to the viewer is a rather realistic view of the quagmire of legal and moral responsibilities shared by various government and military bodies. There are so many moments in this film, that make the viewer question what is right and what is wrong. Many of the decisions of military action is done by people in offices, crewmen stationed halfway around the world, and politicians with their own agendas. Here we witness the intricacies of this process and the impact these groups of people have on the third world, where most of the foreign enemy lives. But so do a many people and families, whom lives are forever altered by the actions of just a few men and women in who consider it their job to protect the people and interests of their own nations.
Helen Mirren portrays Colonel Katherine Powell of U.K. Special Forces. Her mission is to discover the location, and carry out the possible termination of 3 terrorists at the top of various global watch lists, currently spotted in Kenya. To do so, she will be leading a joint operation between several offices. A team of U.S air-force drone pilots providing over-watch (Phoebe Fox and Aaron Paul), Kenyan Special Forces on the ground (Barkhad Abdi), while relaying details to U.K Head of Command based in London (with Alan Rickman). It's a well blended cast, and each person brings something unique to the table. I personally enjoyed seeing Mirren's determination in her role, one originally meant for a male lead, but her cocksure attitude and resolve to complete her mission resounds in her performance. Barkhad Abdi was a very nice addition, he shows a lot of heart in his actions, and as a Somali national he uses his language skills to bring authenticity to the screen. Alan Rickman, of course, should be mentioned not because of his untimely passing, but because of the broad spectrum he brings to the screen. His voice resounds authority in his role, and in his final scene he delivers a fantastic line about the lives of soldiers I don't think anyone should miss.
For those of us who have served in the military, have family members who do, or support our seemingly endless and idyllic war on terrorism abroad, I recommend you watch this moral tale. Director Gavin Hood designed it to make you think about the consequences of our actions abroad, and the absurd hypocrisy of ending innocent lives abroad in our pursuit of freedom and security at home.
After a string of action films of debatable success, Michael Bay brings
us yet another fast paced action film full of the usual U.S propaganda
and militaristic rhetoric.
Theme-wise, and just as an action film, sure this movie has your
typical action packed sequence of events. Explosions, violence, blood,
and death by the dozens from beginning to end. Maybe that's enough for
the majority of viewers to feel like they're watching something
worthwhile, and if that's all you want, then by all means enjoy this
Ramboesque montage of death and destruction. It certainly gets you
pumped up, and dramatizes the camaraderie between the soldiers that
form the core group in this movie. Their military hardware, wide array
of weaponry, and well honed physiques certainly intensifies that
feeling of power and superiority, making the life of a mercenary seem
like a glorious way to make a living and friendship. It is certainly
full of great action, with a cast that plays well off each other (3 of
the actors were all in 'The Office '2005-2013' so they had plenty of
experience). There is a nice consistent tension throughout the film,
and the film focuses on the danger that the U.S citizens are in by
keeping a fast pace with loads of violence.
Once you get past all that superficial nonsense, the movie is pretty
god-awful at times. It's tries to portray itself as a hero film,
similar to that of "Black Hawk Down" (2001), and even goes so far as to
mention that film as the current situation that they are in. But this
movie is certainly is doing its best to copy the situation. American
personal, trapped behind enemy lines, with overwhelming numbers against
them... it's a huge carbon copy, just without the helicopters, and a
smaller central cast. I mean, kudos to the screenwriter who points out
the similarity between the film, and was cheeky enough to put that in
the dialogue, but if you're going to copy a film, perhaps is best not
to mention it (only because Black Hawk was a much better film in so
Likewise, the movie is heralded as a true story from the beginning.
However, several eye-witness accounts have mentioned that this movie is
far off the mark from what really happened in the course of the 13 hour
siege on the CIA base in Libya. So much so that the CIA operative who
was in charge of the base at the time, issued a press release shortly
after the film's premiere, criticizing the film as a "distortion of
events." The situation stems from the military contractors adamantly
saying they received stand down orders, when no such orders were given.
The dramatization of events isn't anything new in film, but if you're
going to take a whole lot of leeway with true events, then you can't
really call it a 'true story' anymore. Of course, it all depends on who
you believe, but if the movie and book aren't based on the facts, they
are therefore, untrue. However the movie isn't a lesson on failed
policies, or truth. It's an action flick, so it's up to the viewer to
make up their own mind about what happened that day. If you want to
create a pumped up action film, then stick to that and don't call it a
true story. I don't feel that this distortion of events pays tribute to the life of
U.S senator John Christopher Stevens in a way that honors his sacrifice
for his country.
Overall, it's a solid action film, and Michael Bay does his thing well.
He really drives home the fact that, despite what happened that day,
America still kicks ass.
I've watched most of Greg Araki's films, whether online, at school, or by accident. In university I was directed to several of his movies, for his wild and outrageous plot-lines, and desolate themes of helplessness. I wouldn't call myself a fan, but I did enjoy the 90's drug escapade "Nowhere"(1997), which was a precursor to many well known stars of the early 2000 era. Araki leads viewers on a non-oriented vision of college life, complete with all the oddball events of his previous films, but ends up as a rather dull entry.
For most of the movie the viewer is listening to our main character (known only as Smith), discuss the trials and tribulations of his young adult life. Bi-sexual, awkward, unfocused, and generally ignorant of other people around him, we are forced into his fantasies, absurd lifestyle, and unrealistic grip on reality. Sounds like fun right? Well, unfortunately you'd be wrong. The events that we witness unbearably forced, despite its unnatural and science-fiction theme. I felt most of the actors were just terribly strained and the unnatural dialogue between characters only draws attention to the situation. I think the actors were just terribly tedious in their delivery, and before long, I found there wasn't as single one that was believable.
As with most drug riddled, and absurdist films, this movie has some interesting happenings. There is everything from serial killers to witchcraft here, and they certainly match Araki's usual plot-lines. Some are pretty amusing, and somewhat surreal, while others simply fall flat and actually take away from the enjoyment of the film. Several of them (if not most) have no significance to anything at all, and they leave you with the feeling that Araki is trying his hardest to stay relevant in his own way. I didn't mind the craziness, in fact, I was expecting it. However, by the end of the film, you find yourself more than confused (which is probably his goal in the first place).
If you're a fan of Araki, you'll probably like this film very much. I didn't really think it had anything to offer besides that "WTF is happening" feeling he brings to movies. An irrelevant event with an abrupt ending.
Action packed from beginning to end, Marvel Studios expands its cinematic universe yet again in Captain America: Civil War.
As the Avengers have stepped up to the plate, toe to toe against the forces that threaten our humble blue planet, public opinion of our heroes have been heavily tainted due to the high body count, and absolute destruction left in the wake of events that occurred in New York, Washington D.C, and the fictional country of Sokovia. Some hail the Avengers as the only group able to battle such enemies, but others believe that these events occurred because the Avengers allowed them to happen. Think about it for a second, if Thor never came to Earth, then neither would Loki. If Stark never invented the A.I Jarvis, then Ultron would never have been born. Captain America has been left in charge of the team for now, but the U.S government would like them to register their identities, and put themselves under their command. Although this entry lightly samples the massive 2006/07 Civil War crossover events, it does well on its own as the Marvel universe expands.
The plot is everything an action movie should be, with a few twists and turns in the road. It is of course as linear an event as you would expect, you know 'catch the bad guy,' as every superhero film goes, and it rehashes a few topics already touched on in the first Avengers film where you have the typical 'Hero Vs. Hero' situation that everyone seems to love. Yet the film does well in its intensity, and is never cartoonish or convoluted within the borders of the story-line. I didn't expect too much after seeing 'The Winter Soldier (2014), which I felt was probably one of the more boring entries from Marvel, but this film makes up for that slow movie, expands on it, and drives home quite a punch. This is the film that I felt closes the second phase of Marvel, and leaves it open for new additions for the next.
I found it difficult to put the focus on any one character, because of the sheer volume of characters who star and interact with each other. It is a 'Captain America' branded film, but arguably he shares the screen with several heroes throughout the film, and this movie doesn't necessarily feel too focused on him. The major players all happen to pop in at some time (barring Thor and Hulk), but a few new faces have joined in the fray. Chris Evans does well reprising his role as the titular character. Robert Downey Jr, and Scarlett Johansson easily have as much screen time with the Captain (arguably more). Sebastian Stan returns as Bucky Barnes, and has certainly beefed up since his last incarnation as the Winter Soldier. A few new faces enter the fray as well. Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther gets a poignant origin story here. Tom Holland, as the teenage Spiderman, is a welcome addition if you can ignore all other incarnations of the Webslinger (it fits better with the overall story if you do, and you don't won't have to shake your head at the gaping plot hole he provides). Finally, I was quite surprised at Daniel Bruhl's portrayal as the manipulative and intelligent Baron Zemo, and he was definitely the most human role in this entire film.
However, one small issue I had was with the motivations behind the main characters. I did have a hard time trying to figure out what the divide was between these friends, outside of Tony Stark's and the Captain's motivations to keep the planet safe at all costs. I didn't really get why Stark would feel the need to register all superheroes if the government ALREADY knows who each super-individual is, and where they are at all times. Wouldn't registration be irrelevant? Tony Stark is one person who should be AGAINST this idea. After all, he's seen the Chitauri army gifted to Loki via Thanos during the Battle of New York, and he's one of the few people who comprehend the magnitude of this threat that faces mankind from a galaxy away.
On the flipside; Why does Captain America, who's been a government agent from the very start of his adventure, oppose such a move from the U.S ? He's been a soldier in the American Army since World War II. If anything, he should be the one supporting registration, because he is already registered as a U.S infantryman. What's the difference if they are or not? It poses no threat to the Avengers, nor their members, nor the Winter Soldier. If he signed it, he could still go on after Bucky, and keep his allegiance in tact. An avid fan could easily argue these two roles should have been reversed from the comic book approach (where it made a lot more sense due to the sheer number of mutants and super-powered individuals, many of whom live in secret and have lives or families to protect. Cap goes against the government's plans for registration because he sees the act somewhat akin to what the Nazi's did to the Jewish people in WW2), but I'm certain they wanted to adhere to the original comic event somewhat without too many alterations.
The movie could have easily been called Captain America Vs Iron Man, and still have done well as a set up to future Civil War events. I suppose, Marvel Studios wants to plow ahead with its endgame before people lose interest by 2018. All in all, Civil War is an absolute smash from beginning to end, and I think this will be noted as one of the more important entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A Heartfelt Drama
The Cobbler is a modern day fantasy about a middle aged shoe repairman, who stumbles into a world of magic, that changes his life forever. It is certainly a great mix of drama and comedy, and designed to pull at your heartstrings from Oscar winning Writer / Director (and actor) Tom McCarthy.
Adam Sandler portrays Max Simkin, a simple man with a simple job that he inherited from his father. He runs his father's shop and lives his life taking care of his ailing mother, and wondering why his father disappeared so many years ago. He keeps to himself, is good at what he does, and is an unassuming man who doesn't worry much about the outside world. One day in his shop, working on a rather aggressive customer's high end leather bound wingtips, his machinery breaks down and he has to dig out his father's old sewing machine for shoe-making. It's an old manually operated contraption used for stripping and attaching the sole of your shoe. After completing his task, while he is waiting for his customer's return, he tests them out himself, and finds a shocking and magical discovery. This leads Max on an adventure of discovery, not only through the lives of his customers, but of his own life as well.
The film itself is very well acted, with several notable names throughout. Steve Buscemi joins Sandler on screen for several scenes, and as always, the two play well off each other. The intimidating Cliff 'Method Man' Smith (of Wu Tang Clan infamy) is fantastic as the drug dealing, neighbourhood gangster that sets some major events in Max's life off to begin with. Every character has a real purpose in this film, as you find out that each of their lives drive the plot through the events of this film, but it is a very well acted script and each actor lends their talent well to their roles
The movie revolves around several dramatic themes, abandonment, inadequacy, and maturity, yet maintains a light-hearted airiness about it despite some rather dark moments. It certainly is a fantasy, but never goes overboard with it, and you can easily imagine what it must feel like to walk around in another man's shoes, and what it must take to live their life, with a few jokes tossed in for good measure. You can whittle out what's going to happen before hand, for the most part, but the film does very well to keep the fantasy going. The only time I thought it lost the point of the movie was near the last 15 minutes or so, when it takes a left turn and leads to a kind of 'superhero' cliff hanger which was totally unlike the feel of anything else in this movie. But it's a sweet little film, with some very interesting side stories into the lives of New Yorkers, whom make it such an interesting city to live in. The Cobbler is certainly has a lot of heart.