Film Review : Fury (2014)

IMDB Score(Presently) – 8.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 79%

Directed By – David Ayer
Starring – Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michale Pena, Jon Bernthal, Anamaria Marinca, Anamaria Marinca, and Jason Isaacs

April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Writer/Director David Ayer has had an interesting career so far. We have seen his brilliant times with the writing of Training Day and shit, even U-571. We’ve also seen his horrible times with Sabotage, Harsh Times, and the absolutely atrocious SWAT. I’ll never forget a character in SWAT, before blowing his brains out, looking toward Samuel L. Jackson and delivering this gem of a one liner…”Goddammit Sarge!” If you’ve seen the film you know what I mean. I can’t look at Josh Charles the same anymore. Ayer is obviously talented but I feel like he slips into a bad crime novelist whose books frequent airports from time to time. Training Day was obviously amazing, but besides End of Watch, his work has been mediocre at best recently. Fury, was ultimately a frustrating film with some moments of brilliance. The likes of a full length film with no glaring problems might be behind Ayer for now.

There hasn’t been a film dedicated to tank crews that I can remember. You see the air force, ground troops, hell, even fighter pilots highlighted in films, yet until now nobody has highlighted the work that tank crews did during WW2. For the most part, it was almost a death sentence. Like flamethrowers in Japan, a tank is like a huge target for enemy fire. You’re not going to last long unless you take the tank out FIRST. US tanks were also poorly made compared to superior German Tiger tanks. US tanks were slower and would routinely be taken out by enemy artillery. In short, tankers didn’t live long. This crew has though. Brad Pitt and company have been together for years and when a newcomer (Lerman) comes along, he needs to be broken in fast or else he’ll risk the lives of the entire crew. We’ve seen this before with Ayer. A newbie comes into the world of hardened veterans and has to see the horrors of the job before he can become one of them. Honestly, my interest in this film wasn’t the story. I’m a big WW2 fan and the concept of a film dedicated to tank crews scratched my history itch.

I had problems with the film. For one, the music in the film was just overbearing. The film was intense enough. I didn’t need a blaring orchestra to remind me that I should be in suspense. Somehow, the death and firebombs going off on the screen did it for me. It was distracting. I also had a problem with a few scenes that not only took the pace of the film and brought it to a grounding halt, but it also didn’t make a lick of sense. The biggest offender of this was the breakfast scene with the German girls. The only thing I liked about this was the performance of Shia LaBeouf but we’ll get to more of that soon. Jon Bernthal tries WAY too hard to be a crazy person and the film decided that rape didn’t exist in War and that every German girl who was being FORCED to cook and serve these troops would also sleep with them. It was insulting. The film had some of the most violent scenes in a war movie since Saving Private Ryan but they had to sprinkle glitter over these men when they interacted with women. It was just odd. The whole scene with the younger girl and Lerman was just a set up to what happened after they exited the house. It was cheap and amateur. The final scene was also completely nonsensical and dragged out. A particular scene, after the battle, after literally hundreds of people died, was laugh out loud bad. Those of you who have seen it will know what I’m talking about.

So, what was good? Well, the sound design was top notch. I expect nominations for that team because each round and explosion sounded like the real thing. There were two tank battle scenes that REALLY stood out thanks to amazing sound design and very intense interior shots of the tank crew in action from inside the tank. I was on the edge of my seat for these. The camerawork was also overall pretty great. The opening scene looked like a leftover scene from War Horse. Yes David Ayer, I just compared you to Spielberg. You can relish in that. The acting was also top notch from Pitt and LaBeouf, specifically Shit (I’m leaving this typo in because Shia would find it funny). These are the roles that the kid needs to be doing. He needs to take this crazy persona of his and stick it into his acting. He was a marvel in this film, showing an unbelievable amount of range. His character, Bible, was a God loving Christian outside of the tank, and a ruthless gunner inside. LaBeouf handled it wonderfully. I was very impressed. Pitt was also very solid as the leader although he really shined when interacting with LaBouf and Lerman. The rest held their own with Lerman giving a good performance and Pena and Bernthal just kid of slogging through.

The film was worth a ticket. It was a bleak look into war that didn’t stop when things got too hectic, unless German lasses were involved. There were some intense scenes and a whole storyline that was devoted to tank crews but there were some serious flaws in the logic behind some of the scenes in the film. It also serves as proof that Shia LaBeouf is still a talented actor when given the right role.


Film Review : The Counselor (2013)

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IMDB Score – 5.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 34%

Starring – Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Bruno Ganz, Rosie Perez, and Edgar Martinez
Directed By – Ridley Scott

A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

Earlier last year I wrote about how excited I was that this film was even happening. The cast, aside from Cameron Diaz, was fantastic. I am a Ridley Scott apologist. I thought “Prometheus” was a gorgeous film and although it was written by a man who should have no business in science fiction, I thought the film did space horror justice. The film boasted one of my favorite authors at the helm of the screenplay. I have enjoyed everything Cormac McCarthy has ever written and was excited for his first work written directly for the screen. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG GUYS?

Everything. Everything went wrong.

This was one of the most pretentious pieces of hot garbage I have ever seen. It was like Ridley Scott found a pile of shit in the middle of the room, found out who made it, denied it was a pile of shit, and threw glitter on it. How is that image doing for you? I’m actually proud of that analogy. It is fitting to what this film ended up being. So we have a lawyer played by Michael fucking Fassbender. This lawyer decides to get into the drug trade and then I honestly don’t understand what the hell happens next. Actually, if I had not read the synopsis before watching the film I would have had no idea what was happening during the entire two hour run length. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy films that make no sense. Those films however know what they’re aiming for and try to present it in a unique and experimental fashion. This films plays like McCarthy watched a Tarantino film and decided he was going to write one and use much bigger words. I love the mans writing but this was just a huge failure in trying to be profound and philosophical. NOBODY TALKS THE WAY ANYBODY IN THIS FILM TALKS. The last line was spoken by Cameron Diaz and she used the word “famished”. She wasn’t even being ironic. It was like a high school drama student was trying to sound cool on facebook. I’m just completely surprised by how bad the entire film was.

That isn’t to say there weren’t a few stylish elements I enjoyed. For one, Ridley Scott is just a natural behind teh camera and I enjoyed the colors portrayed in the film. There are also two very entertaining scenes that involve wire and Cameron Diaz fucking a car.

Yes. I just said that. I’m sorry if I ruined it for you but there is no way in hell I’m not talking about this. Cameron Diaz fucked an automobile. The term “catfish” was used in the film to describe what such an experience would be like. I vomited in my bed. Cameron Diaz owes me new sheets.

Let’s elaborate on Cameron Diaz for a moment. Why was she cast in this film. Her character is supposed to be ARGENTINIAN. Does she look Argentinian? Does she sound even remotely Argentinian? That must have been one hell of a blow job she gave to the casting director because that’s the only way that untalented woman got this job. Actually, that could probably be said for most of her career. I’m so glad that she didn’t end up doing what she always ends up doing, ruining good films. Her involvement in this was just an extra piece of lunacy added on to a debacle of a movie. Penelope Cruz was underused and had horrible lines given to her which she delivered with a subtle hint of “am I really saying this?” Javier Bardem decided to do this just so he could have his hair styled like that. I have know idea what he said in the film because of his outrageous blow out haircut. Brad Pitt played the same character he always plays, in the same voice, with the same everything.

Why did this have to happen. It was like the entire production company set us up for something brilliant and then delivered us a failure pile with a party hat on it and a note saying “Suck it population!”. I feel bad for people who paid to see this.

Let me summarize this who thing before I write Netflix a letter asking them why they didn’t email saying “NO PLEASE DON’T” when they saw I had this movie in my queue. The film was a mechanical pretentious slob of pseudo philosophical drivel. That sentence was brought to you by the Thesaurus. The same thesaurus that Cormac McCarthy used to construct 90% of the dialogue in this film. It had a few entertaining scenes. I believe a mentioned a car being slobbered on by an old untalented vagina. It was not entertaining enough though to hold even the slightest of my attention and I would like my two hours back. Oh, an there were Cheetahs in this films that were treated like both horses and house cats. I feel violated.


Recommended ViewingBaby Geniuses

Film Review : Killing Them Softly (2012)

IMDB Score – 6.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 75%

Directed By – Andrew Dominik
Starring – Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, and Sam Shepard

Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.

For the record, I did not come up with the synopsis. Three dumb guys? Yes, well they’re dumb, but come on IMDB you can do better than that.

I’m a huge, HUGE fan of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The film was just a perfectly paced, photographed, and told story and was a perfect piece to complete the trifecta to No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. If you ever have eight hours to kill, a marathon of those three films is really cool. I’m also a fan of his first film which is the vastly underseen Chopper with Eric Bana. Dominik wrote the screenplay for his newest film based off a novel by George V. Higgins called “Cogan’s Trade”. It ended up being a very conflicted watch for me.

What I liked…

First of all this is a wonderfully cast film. Every single dude in this movie is awesome and it was great seeing them all work together. Mendelsohn ended up stealing every scene but I’m a huge fan of his ever since I saw him in Animal Kingdom. We get a very small but great dose of the late Gandolfini and Pitt was fun as his smart albeit very cynical gangster. I also thought it was a very well shot film with a CRAZY ASS death scene in the middle of the film utilizing slow-mo and CGI that looked great when usually it looks like a bag of crap. The film, which is mostly a dialogue driven film kept my attention the entire time but I may have to admit it was mostly due to the fact that I loved seeing all these actors on screen with each other.

What I didn’t like…

I don’t know what the message was supposed to be. Capitalism is bad? No seriously, that’s the message. I know this because it was SCREAMED at my face for the entire time. It was not subtle in any way. For a film called Killing Them Softly, there was nothing soft or subtle about the way they got their point across. It was also a highly cynical and dark film which is fine when it fits the character but Brad Pitt’s Jackie just seemed to be preaching from the mouth or Dominik most of the time. It got old. I’ve always been a fan of a slow burn so that aspect didn’t bother me at all. It also ended VERY abruptly without tying anything together. It’s almost like they ran out of money. It just didn’t sit well.

Overall I enjoyed the film and it looked great, especially that scene I mentioned earlier. It’s a short 90 minute film so I’d say take a chance on it. The cast is amazing and the directer is promising.


Film Review : 12 Years a Slave (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 96%

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Directed by Steve McQueen
Starring : Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Giamatti, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Adepero Oduye

“…and they STILL won’t let us shop at Barney’s!”

This was the exclamation of an elderly gentleman to the theater as the credits began to roll and he started his way out of the theater. It’s been a 150 years but the sting of slavery still has a lasting effect on our society no matter how hard we try to douse it in petrol fuel and light it on fire. There isn’t any forgetting what heinous and unspeakable things human beings did to one another back then. All we can do is try to understand what happened and how it can never happen again. 12 Years a Slave for me was a window into what happened all those years ago. It was a raw viewing experience as there ever was and completely unapologetic to people it may offend. The offenses on the screen are what should be apologized for and it is an important film to see.

Steve McQueen burst onto the scene with Hunger, a film about Bobby Sands and his hunger strike in a Northern Irish prison. The film dealt with standing up for what you believe in even when facing a slow and painful death. McQueen utilized some of the best uses of unbroken camera work I’ve ever seen which includes a twenty plus minute take with star Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham. His next film Shame, also starring Fassbender, dealt with the subject of addiction and how it can infest a person to the point of near madness. The film also showcased McQueen’s natural talent behind the camera as we were taken through the streets of New York City in an un-blinking fashion. 12 Years a Slave is McQueen’s tour de force film. Even with a minimal budget, the film feels like culmination of years behind the camera. There are many scenes in this film that show the brutality of slave owners. They are hard to watch and continue longer than they should but this is not a negative. McQueen is forcing us to watch what happened back then. There was no cut scene when somebody is getting lashed within one inch of their life and there is no cut scene here. 12 Years a Slave is a force that will open your eyes whether you like it or not. It really is important cinema.

The acting is also something to be grateful for. In my mind there are definitely two, possibly three performances that will be recognized come awards season. Chiwetel Ejiofor leads this film. He is in nearly every scene and the emotion on his face never leaves or lets us catch our breath. Michael Fassbender is an animal. There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to be one of the best actors of our time. He unleashes such hate and evil from his character that even though I wanted to smash in his face the entire time, I still couldn’t take my eyes off him. Lupita Nyong’o is the darkhorse. She didn’t didn’t do it quietly but she gave one of the more emotionally powerful performances from a small but important character. All three were fantastic and real.

I guess the only negative thing I could really say about this film is that the story was a bit lacking. It didn’t carry the film like the performances or theme did. I understand it was a true story but I was more horrified and enthralled by what I was seeing then wondering where it was going to all end up. It was a small negative from and overall excellent film that is going to be required viewing for years to come as we advance as a society.


Film Review : World War Z (2013)

IMDB Score : 7.3
RT Score : 68%

This movie was ass.

I realized in the opening credits that I wasn’t going to like this movie. Why?

Screenplay by Damon Lindelof.

Mr. Lindelof, I applaud you for trying. I really do. You have a great job where you get to write about whatever pops into you head in order to bring it to million for enjoyment. Now I need you to stop. Please stop. I understand that you didn’t write this alone but you had part in it and that’s why I’m mad at you.

Cowboys and Aliens. Shit
Prometheus. Shit, albeit visually stunning and acted wonderfully by Michael Fassbender and Naomi Rapace.
Star Trek : Into Darkness. Shit
World War Z. Shit

Stop it.

Now that I’m done sounding like a jerk, let me explain a few things. Zombie movies have been being made for over forty years. In that span we have seen some brilliant ones (Dawn of the Dead, Return of the Dead) and some not so brilliant (Anything Romero has done since and this film). It confuses me so much that after forty years and a flat out amazing book by Max Brooks that a zombie movie with such a huge budget could turn out so flat and empty. By the way, I went into this film completely erasing my memory of the book. The two are two different mediums and entities. I am in no way pissed off that the movie was nothing like the book. I expected it. I did not however expect a script that seemed like it was written by a fourteen year old who just saw the remake of Dawn of the Dead for the first time. The film had no drive, no character development, and no point. They were here and a bad thing happened so now we’re here. Why? I don’t have any clue. There was no actual explanation for many of the actions, just simple statements of intent. This is a problem that Mr. Lindelof has. He has an idea and wants so bad to get to the finish line that he forgets to give the script any meat in the middle. I could have walked out and came back in an hour and not have missed much. They didn’t go into how zombies work. They didn’t explain it really at all. Zombies are intricate beings that can be explained in a few simple statements and none of them were made in this film. I could have been told they all had a bad case of strep throat and it would have been just as believable. I was just very disappointed.


There is a scene on an airplane. A zombie comes and decides to ruin shit in the coach area. Nobody in first class seems to be aware that just behind them is a screaming pack of animals trying to fend off a screaming pack of animals. It’s chaos. Brad Pitt wakes up from a stupid nightmare he’s having and thinks something is wrong. It is not until he reaches the THIN PAPER OF A DIVIDER between first class and coach that it’s apparent that there is savage murder happening. I want to know where to get that curtain because apparently it blacks out sound better than an airlock at NASA.


Now for the zombies. I hate fast zombies. They’re completely ass backwards to what zombies are supposed to be. Even in their own right they just look stupid. The fact that this movie is PG-13 and that a heavy dose of CGI was used 100% of the time didn’t help matters. They were laughable at times. The theater laughed at them. This is not the desired effect that zombies should have on the viewer. It’s a shame. I actually feel sad because I don’t know if I’m going to see a true to science zombie for quite some time.

I hope I don’t sound like an ass because I really wanted to like this movie. The first twenty minutes were actually pretty enjoyable but the whole thing just took a nosedive and ended up being a bore and a chore to get through. The end of the film was just so weak and anticlimactic. Hell, it didn’t even make much sense but I won’t spoil the fun. There’s no reason to pay twelve dollars to see this film. Wait until it comes out on DVD and only watch it when you have nothing else better to watch or you’re doing your taxes. This is the only way your time will not be wasted.