REVIEW “HACKSAW RIDGE” (2016) Lionsgate

Standard

Let’s start off by acknowleding that “HACKSAW RIDGE” is not for the faint of heart. It’s incredibly violent in its war scenes as it tells the story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an Army medic that refused to carry a weapon as not a ‘conscientious objector’ but as a ‘conscientious participator.’ This, until now, untold story of Doss, is one that will stick with you long after the film is over.
hacksaw-ridge-1
Of course you wonder going in can Mel Gibson redeem himself after so much has been made of his lack of judgment, drunken rants, and his anti-semitic rhetoric and in essence, being blackballed these last 10 yrs. as yes, though he is perfectly capable of doing so, it’s a long climb up.

Turns out it would be hard not to do with this story. The film starts in the sober times of WWII around 1944, Desmond Doss, the son of Tom Doss (Hugo Weaving), an alcoholic Army man who served in World War I and is suffering from what we now know is PTSD. Doss & his family, while patriots, are also devout Seventh-Day Adventist’s. His brother, Harold Doss (Nathaniel Buzolic) joins the Army leading Desmond to join also, against their father’s wishes, in the fight against Japanese in some of the final battles of WWII.
Doss is in love with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer, a nurse’s aide who is scared that she’ll never see him again, especially after the persecution he is sure to face when he refuses to touch a gun in training camp and is facing being court marshaled for this refusal by his commanding officers, Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) & Captain Glover (Sam Worthington).
hacksaw-ridge-2
From there we move onto who Doss actually becomes as he proceeds during the stand-off at ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ to show his true being and save as many lives as he possibly can while dodging bullets and hand grenades, all without a gun. There are moments you want to scream at him “Just pick the damn thing up” whereas at other you are with him 100% for not doing so. Not being religious myself, it would be hard not to realize both sides have their points which anyone, whether religious or not, can understand and decide on their own.

My only and very few beefs were: The beginning had a lot of fluff & cheesy-ness to it. Second: While I realize Mel is an Aussie, but to put so many Aussie & Brits as leads in a southern film trying to do southern accents, just doesn’t always quite go up to par and here was the same. As decent as most of the acting is, it’s still very detectable that they don’t have the accents down pat. We also at one point, lose the brother. He literally get’s up from dinner, and we never see him again, nor do we know what happened. Lastly, the supporting cast is truly amazing here and bring so much to this film, although the age-range of the actors might have been off some. They were starting off at playing young 19-22 yr. old’s and frankly almost all look quite a bit off that range including Garfield himself.
hacksaw-ridge-jpg-3
As for the rest, truly I must say I don’t think anyone does battle scenes as well as Mel Gibson does. Again, It’s extremely violent and graphic as well, real war actually can be. I had to turn away a few times, but the story Gibson puts up there of all of the terribleness of war is just so well done. I was brought to tears when they quoted “During peacetime, sons bury their fathers, during war, fathers bury their sons.” It got me.

Conclusion: Many will walk into this film wanting to dislike just because of Gibson, most of them will walk out knowing they just saw a really good film.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Meetup Group
Nationwide Release: Friday, November 4, 2016

Advertisements

REVIEW: “POINT BREAK” (2015) Warner Bros.

Standard

PB
I am not inherently opposed to remakes and reboots, and I don’t think I could call myself a ‘purist’ as I’ve liked some re-makes and I am perfectly fine with rebooting material and even straying from original material is fine if it serves the story well. What has happened here is that the studio has produced a garden variety action movie and slapped a name on it purely for the sake of brand recognition. But let us remember that when the original Point Break was released in 1991 it was universally panned and garnered quite terrible reviews. It’s only in the years since that we’ve come to be able to recognize it for the sheer fun it was, hence becoming a cult classic.
pb 5
This film exceeds expectations in the sense that this a slickly produced action film with a truly amazing soundtrack. The camera work, framing of the scenes and editing give everything you could desire of a decent action flick. There isn’t anything new going on here, but it’s produced in a professional manner and the action scenes are handled well and while it seems like X-Games on steroids at times, some of it’s truly breathtaking. This is where the second coming of Point Break truly excels. When it hits just the right velocity, it’s truly worth the watch. Also a bit of kudos as the helmets used for a robbery here, they stuck on caricatures of the Presidents, clearly in tribute to the original version.
PB 3
And then along comes the story. Luke Bracey takes on the role of Johnny Utah and this time our group of baddies, Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez), Grommet (Matias Varela), Roach (Clemons Shick),and Chowder (Tobias Santelmann) are all European and instead of pulling bank jobs to fund adrenaline junkie lifestyles, the action men of 2015 are self aware crusaders, too cool for school, hipsters on a self-imposed mission to nirvana. And where Lori Petty actually did something in the original, here we just sort of add in a Samsara (Teresa Russell) for only one reason. Honestly, you will find almost every character in this film to be quite annoying with the problem lying in the fact that not one of the main characters are in possession of a redeemable quality and their motivations are completely nonsensical. With that, clearly you know there will be no acting kudos coming from this crowd where everyone seemingly NEEDS loads of tattoos to be cool & belong. They do throw in Ray Winston as Pappas & Delroy Lindo as Instructor Hall for good measure, but not even these two can save the day of acting props here.
PB 2
The original Point Break was mostly known for its memorable bromance between Johnny Utah and Bodhi and some of its greatest action scenes ever put to film. Either way, this remake doesn’t bring enough justice to the cult classic.

Grade: D+
@pegsatthemovies
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!

Review Screening: AMC Century City ~ Wednesday, December 16, 2015 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Meetup Group & Warner Bros. Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, December 25, 2015

REVIEW – “THE NOVEMBER MAN” (2014)

Standard

november man

Let me just preface this whole review by from the beginning.. I love Pierce Brosnan..yep..there I said.  I don’t give a shit what people say..I loved him as James Bond, clearly a role he was meant to play.. And in so many more movies like ‘Evelyn’, ‘The Tailor of Panama’, ‘The Matador’ just to list a few.  So you can clearly imagine how much I was looking forward to this movie ESPECIALLY after seeing him play the James Bond video game on Jimmy Fallon last week & seeing him pitch it.. My hope of all hope was to just see Brosnan back in some sort of spy, actiony-type thriller delivering the one-liners as only he could, with a dose of good action.

novmeber man p l

So a quick brief over of the plot – “Peter Devereaux” (Pierce Brosnan), a now-retired CIA agent is brought back into service by one of his closest friends “Hanley” (Bill Smitrovich) to help out with one last mission helping to protect someone they both know “Natalia Ulanova” (Mediha Musliovic) who happens to be Devereaux’s old flame and claims to have a information & a name that once given to them, will turn the pending Russian election for President upside down.  Turns out, much to his surprise, he is going up against his old, younger protege’ “David Mason” (Luke Bracey) whom he considered a ‘drop’ after a mission gone very bad involving the death of innocent bystanders including a child.  They are both looking for “Alice Fournier” (Olga Kurylenko) who unbeknownst to us is really a refugee named Mira from the Chechen War who has enough information to take down the man who is in line to be the next President (aka Dictator) of Russia “Arkady Federov” (Lazar Ristovski).  In between all this is a Russian hitwoman “Alexa” (Amila Terzimehic) who as far as I could tell, is trying to basically kill everyone.

november man p

As with many others at this screening, I wanted to love this movie..I wanted it to be a great action flick with Pierce Brosnan just giving it all his witty, charming debonairness that he has.. sadly, this is not the return to super spy-ness I had hoped for. It’s more like a mediocre spin at a storyline we’ve seen way to many times done way better say 10 years ago with the Bourne series or Mission Impossible. It all seemed very dated with plot holes GALORE.  Brosnan tries, and sometimes succeeds in making the best of this character with maybe a bit of a meaner edge that say James Bond would never be allowed to have  While it has a few good moments when Devereaux is outwitting his protege’ Mason ~ for the most part it’s dull, uneven and lackluster…oh and did I mention the plot holes.. At one point, Devereaux threatens to harm Mason’s next door neighbor “Sarah” (Eliza Taylor) whom he has of course, just slept with..by cutting one of her arteries & making him choose to save her or go after him.. yet we never know what happens to her.  The ending is one you can see coming at you a mile away and just as sappy as you know it’s going to be once you see, again a mile away, whom has backstabbed who.

november man l

I wish Brosnan’s performance here was something to write home about, and it’s okay..but not enough to make the movie pop.  Luke Bracey is no where near suave enough to up against Brosnan as a spy and does his best just to keep up here. He doesn’t carry himself of have the oompha Brosnan has, which let’s face it, is what makes him so like-able in most of his roles.  Adding even more James Bond-ness wanna be to this movie is well.. a former Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko who while she has some decent chemistry with Brosnan, you feel as though she might be suited a bit better to Bracey’s character considering you realize Brosnan’s character has a 12 yr old daughter whom she doesn’t look much older than.  But while she has a few interesting moments she really just doesn’t cut it here as in one scene especially you just want to scream out “REALLY” as while being hunted by literally EVERYONE and they all want to kill her, she stops at the public airport internet service to write up her newspaper story like it’s all the norm.  Now I know that’s the writing also, but at least try to make it seem believable..that’s what acting is after all.

Last request.. remember when Sean Connery came back for one last Bond after he’d been retired all those year..yeah..THAT is all I’m asking for.. give Pierce a chance!! #neversayneveragainpartdeux

Grade: C-  (below average)

#peggyatthemovies

Grading scale:  A = exceptional ~ Oscar worthy  B = above average – must see  C = Average  D = don’t see  F: just don’t  (+ or – gives it an edge up or down)