REVIEW “HACKSAW RIDGE” (2016) Lionsgate

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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.
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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).
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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.
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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

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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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+
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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