Taking A Shot At Play To Streaming, Hamilton’s Fervor Will Get You Going This Weekend

Hamilton Poster

            The world of the playwright is a fascinating one, where the dark aspects of the classical theater are still able to take stage without so much as batting an eye.  It’s created stories that have been unique, often making staple works of art that not only show for months to years, but often remain in the memories of many.  So given the state of COVID, as well as the limited runs with original cast and locations you can view it, I’ll admit I’ve not been much into this venue.  Disney + is trying to fix this by putting out the legendary Hamilton this weekend to let me check out.  So I have, and thus I’m getting another practice review out to determine if this craze is worth the hype, or just another entry into the continued world of entertainment.  Let’s get started

Movie/Play:  Hamilton (originally 2016 but 2020 release)

Cast:  

Director:

 Thomas Kail

Writers:

 Lin-Manuel Miranda (book), Ron Chernow (inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by) 

Stars:

 Lin-Manuel MirandaPhillipa SooLeslie Odom Jr. 

LIKES:

Makes History Entertaining

Clever

Powerful Messages

Some Extraordinarily Good Numbers

Fantastic Costumes

Talented Cast

A dynamic Stage for numbers 

The First Act Over The Second 

The ending Monologue Powerful 

DISLIKES: 

Underutilized characters for me

Constant Singing vs. Breaks with Dialog

Sound quality for Disney Plus not as Good 

I Felt Could use More Stage Changes

Dropped Story Elements

The Ending number

If You know History, You know The end

Does it Capture the Spirit Of The Theater?

SUMMARY:

            As I said above, the theater world allows so many stories to be told and in Hamilton, the lesser known founding father gets a nice entertaining twist and is certainly the fun experience you would think.  Miranda’s play has poise, charm, edge, and so many other factors that make the history of the revolution fun to watch/live in once again.  Much of it has to do with clever writing, jabbing at the faults of the traditional life of history, but managing to not rub its name in the mud.  The asides and breaking the fourth wall made me laugh the most, especially at how well most of it flows into the lyrics of the strong music that is heavy in this film.  Miranda shows how you can be political without getting too far away from the point, writing power messages into the dialogue naturally and having the performance speak as opposed to making everything about the message (see modern Hollywood/life today).  Hamilton takes all this cleverness and works it into its own style of poetry using the music style to emphasize so much I think he wanted and keeping the story moving through the decade or so of major historical moments and trying to develop the title character considerably.  And all of this power is brought about talented production values that help pull you back in time to the founding of our country.  A talented cast with names too extensive to include, brings up the various historical legends to new heights, attitudes and the spirit of revolution oozing out of their deliveries in the first act to inspire your own movement for change.  While a second act opens up more of the devious side in a spoof/magnification of the temptation political power brings.  All the costumes that reflect historical Colonial upbringing are there ready to help your eyes further accept the spectacle on stage so that you again put interest into the film.  

Let’s face it though it’s going to be the numbers that will show up on the walls of social media soon enough.  Hamilton’s numbers are all about that attitude and inspiration that the modern times love, and it’s those empowering performances that make up the meat of this play.  The emotional fervor of both acts is in almost every word of the dialogue and it does not hesitate to show the attitude that the cast wanted to bring in this time period.  Using the stage’s confinement to the advantage, alongside the costumes, the dance numbers have a choreographed splendor that feels organic as movements turn back into characters just going back to normal movements.  It works so well in seeing the fluid transitions from duels to dance and back again, and seeing a unique approach to the performance execution.  The first act in particular does this well for me, and was the better act because of the energy, fervor, and coordination the revolutionary war got in the confined 1-hour time limit.  Though the second act does accomplish a similar feel and certainly has less dancing, more coordination and the likes, I particularly think the first act is Miranda’s shining achievement.  However, that ending monologue is powerful, with words that struck home and broke the mold of the rest of the play’s fervor, a nice sendoff that leave one thinking. 

Now here is the tricky part of talking about the dislikes, partly because I don’t see many plays, part because of the hybrid movie/play, and partly due to the limitations of stage shows being streamed.  Doing my best to be fair though, I can say that one of the big disappointments were some of the underutilized characters for me.  Hamilton does a nice job working so many pieces through the set up, but there are several characters that held potential and showed promise that got dropped into the winds of a few songs before being lost to book footnotes.  I had hoped for a little more integration and references, but understanding time constraints it’s only a marginal dislike for me.  What hit harder for me was more so dropping some of the plots they were working on, or perhaps rushing through them and keeping them merely one to two lines in the story.  The development of Hamilton’s child, the third sister, heck even some of the soldiers are all lost in quick tidbits through this rush through history.  While it works in the rhyme scheme, I’m about stating if you are going to build up deliver on the end and I felt some of this was lost to the political prowess of the play.  I guess if you know history well enough, you know the ending, and Miranda might have taken that into consideration when he wrote the book, focusing again on a Spark Notes version of Hamilton’s life and accomplishments.  This is why Hamilton has the focus, so you can try to get into his mind, while also driving the audience to do the changes that our forefathers did long ago before technology took over.  

In regards to execution of the numbers well you’ve read I enjoyed much of the numbers.  However, something this play failed to do for me was take breaks from the music and go back into dialogue to sort of give the actors time to flesh out the characters more.  While good, I got tired of everything in a musical/poetry lyric, again missing key moments of tension and character building so that we can get more emotional music instead.  Again, I’m unsure how other musicals work, something I have to study, but the plays I have seen have far more breaks between their performances instead of nearly just one giant musical delivery.  Throw that in with if you are watching it on Disney+, the sound quality is kind of lacking thanks to the compressed file format the server uses.  I found myself having to turn my speakers up more for the quiet phrases than I wanted to, only for having to turn it down again when the more energetic numbers came.  Convenient as it is, I have to say that other streaming sites have got it down a little better in terms of sound balance, so I’ll mention in hopes that Disney will improve upon their sound quality.  Something else I as well would have liked, as I see in many musical numbers, is a more diverse soundtrack.  Wicked, Avenue Q, Book Of Mormons are great examples where a genre can be seen in the musical styles, but there are slight changes and performance tweaks to make the numbers stand out.  Not the case for on Hamilton.  Outside of when Eliza’s numbers came on, and a few moments where Hamilton’s darker thoughts hit the scene, much of the numbers is the same sort of rap beat with a slight change in tempo to boot.  Again, I get this was the focus of the play to have a rap play presentation, but doing it that way takes away from the originality of each track.  Fortunately, King George’s interventions stood out to me as comedic, a change in style to the show tune that stands aside from the rap.  If your style of music choice is the rap, then this will not be an issue, because it’s the perfect genre to get the emotions out and thanks to its ability to take poetry and spin it in new pieces.  For me though, many of the numbers feel every much the same, and without bigger dance numbers or the usual grandiose manner I’ve seen in the few shows I’ve watched.  In addition not changing up the backdrops, and relying on the one stage prop alone was again a dynamic I did not intend to watch.  Lighting guys get the props for making the stage versatile, but again, Hamilton’s journey through colonial times should have had more settings, but the reliance on a tiered stage means you use your imagination more than I had hoped.  Finally, the ending number may have an amazing message to convey and does so well for mopping up the remains of the story, but it pales in comparison to the final numbers you usually see.  Blasphemy I know, but after all the poetic majesty, after all the dynamic interactions, the last number I felt should have had pulled all the stops out to finish it strong.  

The VERDICT: 

            I’ve rambled long enough so let’s wrap this up for those looking for a quick summary.  Hamilton is certainly an impressive display of creativity, wit, and entertainment that proves that you can find some great balance if you do your research and work.  All the numbers hold such heart and fire, that the rap genre is perfect for helping maximize the wonderful messages I think Hamilton’s life makes for.  Amazing displays of acting, dancing, and singing blend beautifully to make engaging characters, that though are not fully developed have the engaging qualities you will certainly enjoy.  The wit and use of the limited stage fully is enjoyable, and rest of the play magic is super to bring out the masterpiece that Hamilton is known to be.  However, despite the epic, politically charged, poetry it is, I won’t lie that I wanted more variety for the masterpiece it was.  Some breaks from the music, a little change in the tone, some focus and inclusion of other characters, and set changes could have gone a long way.  It’s not perfect, but Disney+ has helped bridge the gap in play at home experience, but I don’t think it captures the full spectacle of the theater that streaming claims it can.  Still, I’d give it a shot if you like plays, more important like political jabbing rap, where the talent shines.  However, if you need a little more magic, a little more entertainment, and some less dense material, you need to hold out on this and pick another play to enjoy given the nearly 3 hour run time.  Overall, my scores are still going to be from a movie aspect, so here we go.  

Scores:  

Musical/Drama/Historical/Comedy:   8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

What Lies In These Dark Waters? Tune In To Find Out

Dark Waters Poster

 

What does it take to take on the mega corporations of the world?  The answer can vary in many ways, but often it takes a will power for some unknown to try and change the system.  Tonight’s movie is a shining example of that character, one that to this continues to fight against the travesties of the big corporations that seem to run our country.  Such a movie may be cliché by now, but as always I’m here to go over the usual factors and give my opinion on yet another movie.  So with that, let’s get cracking as we review:

 

Dark Waters (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Haynes

Writers:

Matthew Michael CarnahanMario Correa  |1 more credit »

Stars:

Anne HathawayMark RuffaloWilliam Jackson Harper

 

 

Likes:

  • Pacing
  • Travel Through Timeline
  • Good Details Of the Case
  • The portrayal of the Mind
  • Focus On Other members Of The case
  • The Drama On One Level
  • The Acting

 

Dislikes:

  • Animal Killing
  • The Dramatization On Other Point
  • More Behind the scenes of Dupont for completion sakes
  • Elements introduced that were Not Utilized
  • More Anne Hathaway

 

SUMMARY:

 

A biographical drama always faces the challenge with me of being complete and staying entertaining and Dark Waters delivers this for me.  The pacing for the movie works at just the right speed to hit the details without making me feel bored.  Much of this has to do with the presentation of the movie, a nice travel through the 15 years of case busting that Robert Bilott partook in the late 90s to early 2010s.  One will be subjected to multiple facets of the case, getting to see his discovery of each level of corruption in his pursuit of justice against the companies they once represented.  While this may not be the Law and Order intensity television has established, the case has enough believable details with a balance to the drama to help make this important case as thrilling as possible.  That movie magic spices up the fact-finding mission, making sure to integrate other parts of the case such as the farmer who started the investigation, neighbors who started gaining confidence to stand up, and even the law firms that Robert worked for.  Such layered approaches help immerse you into the whole event, rather than selected facets that sometime these movies take in their telling.  An even deeper level though, is seeing the effects of the mind such a stressful case brings with it.  Roberts descent into bringing justice was certainly admirable, but the impact on his personal life, career, and mental health were well-integrated into the mix, helping amplify the internal mind of the worker, and adding to the obstacles of the case.  Yet, most of these aspects are brought to the forefront thanks to the acting of the cast.  Much of this weighs on the producer and lead actor Mark Ruffalo who gets most of the screen time, has to handle the multitude of emotions and physical acting required of this franchise, and finding a way to really keep it believable.  Hathaway as well gets her role down pat as the supporting character who has to make sacrifices of her own, keeping the family running while Robert becomes engrossed in all the literature.  Her skills as the stressed character being pulled to the brim between justice and survival is again super balanced, and again adds extra impact to fulfill the story.  Others get their roles down, but I need to move on to the next part of the review so we’ll do just that.

 

Despite as much of the movie I liked, there were still some things that were not quite my cup of tea.  For one thing, animal killing is one of my weakness when it comes to movie.  While not the worst or saddest thing I’ve seen, there was a scene trying to emphasize the problems with the water that hit me a little more than I wanted.  I would have liked this scene filtered a little more, but hey you got to have a dramatic flair to liven things up.  That brings me to the next limitation for me, the potential overdramatization to which Hollywood can sometimes inject.  To help add splendor you’ve got to put some extra emotion to the mix, but there are times where the dramatic moments are a little too obvious or forced for me.  These cheesy moments sort of took away from the splendor of the moment, but it could also just be my tolerance level is low for these things.  Anyway, the other thing for me is the movie’s incomplete focus of all aspects of the cases as my main limitation.  For one thing, the ruthless Dupont organization gets a good intro to the madness, but much of their interference is behind the scenes through dialogue instead of on camera where one could get the ugly side to come out in full force.  Perhaps it’s because their part can only be speculated, but this might have been the better place to introduce the drama feature of Hollywood.  Other areas that seemed a little lacking were other people being introduced, but then sort of dropped into the wings of obscurity.  A random colleague striving for partnership, another about being pregnant, the grandmother and this supposed tension of his mom with his wife, were some elements alliterated in the dialogue, only to die off like the cattle in the trailers.  It’s a shame, because this could have further enhanced the development, but I guess books will provide those details.  Finally, more of Hathaway’s character was needed for me, especially given the integral cog she played in him getting the case taken care of, while also keeping the home life in order.  I’d have liked to get more of her perspective and allow Hathaway’s talents to shine even more so even if it cost another ten minutes of viewing.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Dark Waters delivered the story I had been wanting to see in the form of a biographical drama.  A thrilling case that took years to build is given great detail to help explain everything happening, while also moving to keep you engaged.  The acting and multiple aspects really do the film justice and give everyone the chance to act to their top game.  It’s true it still is subjected to overdramatization at times, but it’s kept in check to keep things spicy and appeal to the drama seeking nature that is humanity.  I’d have liked a few more elements added to give a better visualization of the corrupt companies, while also giving Anne Hathaway more time to shine, but overall I’m very happy with this.  I feel this film will go under the radar, and to be honest, only the engaging story and acting will attract a theater watch for most.  However, if you are able to catch this at home or Redbox take the 2 hours to uncover the revolutionizing story that is still going on today. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/History:  8.0 – 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Managed To Make It Midway To A Quality War Film

Midway Poster

 

War is hell a wise person once said, and in many ways we the general public have no idea what it was like on those battlegrounds where so many sacrificed so much.  Fortunately for many of us, the movies have offered a glimpse into the world, opening our eyes to the world that cares little of its soldiers in regards to decency and humane treatment.  Many of these films are often about the action, and while not as prominent as they once were back in the day, they still offer some intense views of history.  Past this introduction, this weekend, yet another historical remake is flying in to make a landing, in hopes of wowing the group once more with its depiction of the great war.  Robbie K here with yet another review as we look into:

 

Movie: Midway (2019)

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Modern Technology Prowess

Multiple Aspect providing different viewpoints

The Intensity Of Some War Scenes

The Decent Acting

The Intelligence Aspect

 

DISLIKES:

 

Disjointed Plot

Too many Perspectives

The Semi Forced Love Story

The Choppiness of the scenes

Semi-sloppy use of big names

The Action Scenes

 

SUMMARY:

 

Modern technology allows us to make things more realistic and engaging, and should in theory lead to better fights.  In a way Midway accomplishes this by bringing the chaos with speaker booming effects, special effects that light up the screen, and dances with planes that once relied on plywood models.  It is certainly the selling points of the trailers and should appeal to the modern audiences expectations as realism and style come together.  This film though took a different approach compared to the previous theaters of war, not focusing so much on the action from America by itself, but instead dividing the focus between both parties involved.  This dynamic is impressive to see because it helps show the strategy involved in something you have only read about in a history textbook, allowing for a different appreciation of the tactics in war.  In fact, my favorite aspect, as well as my good buddy, both agreed that seeing the intelligence component involved with determining how to fight the Pacific campaign.  Much of the film is dedicated to showing how codes were cracked, departments coordinated, and risks were taken to determine the best places to strike and this new perspective was very strongly placed.  When the battles did finally occur, there are several moments where you get pulled into the intensity, feeling like you are part of the squad and in the cockpit during this operation.  Nice editing on these parts, and quite an adrenaline rush at the times it works.  Finally, the acting is not an issues in this film, as all personalities of war are brought in and everyone executes there roles quite well when they are on stage.  I’m not saying Academy Award Level, but it’s believable and appropriate for this film’s approach.

 

For all its worth though, there are several limitations for this reviewer that make the film a little less impressive compared to its predecessors.  For one thing, the film feels disjointed, as our time hops and evolution of war occur a little too frequently to necessarily keep track of everything.  All the pesrpectives, while again interesting, also have too much going on, leading to breaking up a lot of scenes just as they start cooking with gas.  The result is a rather contained movie that struggles to find the approach it wants, with choppy scenes that sort of scatter the coordination rather than unite it.  This is especially true for the romance story they try to put in here, which was unnecessary giving the presentation and could have been left out.  Throw in several attempts at character development, the potential bonds that can form between a number of characters, and even the squad mates themselves and you again get sort of piece meal presentations that did not achieve what Pearl Harbor did long ago.  Once more, this reviewer feels part of this is due to how many big names they have, trying to get the most out of the big price tags that come with them.  Midway’s crew acts just fine, but there were so many missed elements and character interactions that I feel many of these people were unnecessary.  Certainly they were able to point out all the contributions they did, but to deny the full fledged chemistry and quality, well that was the disappointment for me.  Finally, the action scenes.  An action junky like me always crave for cohesive battle scenes that utilize their groups well, something that the early war movies, and even some films like Saving Private Ryan knew how to do.  In this one, all the perspectives and heroes were scattered that the action scenes felt again very sloppy and short, chopped up moments that ended too fast or how long it took to start.  Again realistically it accomplishes the portrayal, but at this point and with what the trailers built up… I wanted more out of a modern day, technological behemoth like this one looked to be.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Let’s wrap it up then shall we?  Midway accomplishes the idea of putting modern faces in traditional stories, and this theater of wars proves that trying new things does not always come together for this reviewer.  Sure, the technological advantages are good and all the actors recruited do their parts to bring the group of heroes to life and retell the legacies of men who faced the demons of war.  I’ll also again give them props for focusing a lot on the strategy and intelligence required to pull off the miracle that we did.  However, all of these perspectives and approaches to the story made for what looked like a difficulty to focus on the story they wanted to tell.  The result is again a disjointed movie that struggles to bring A games to any perspective, and relies on B and C graded stories.  Your truly would have loved a little more action to come together, as the trailers promised, but at least the intelligence parts work together to make for an engaging plot.  For special effects it qualifies for a theater visit, but outside of that, hold this one for home viewing instead.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/War/History/Action:   6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Attempting To Send Us To The Moon. A Review Of First Man

First Man Poster

 

Reaching to the stars, traveling through the final frontier, and making contact with the unknown is what the science fiction authors are all about.  To think that the dream was realized years ago is a feat many still to this day question. Tonight, my review is about the adventure to the stars and the men who led the way.  Wrapping up my revies this week, tonight yours truly analyzes the largely advertised, potentially award winning, biography about Neal Armstrong entitled:

 

Movie:  First Man (2018)

 

Director:

Damien Chazelle

Writers:

Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by)

Stars:

Ryan GoslingClaire FoyJason Clarke

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  A big role like this requires big talent and Gosling has stepped up to the new psychologically heavy, portrayal of the man who journeyed to the stars.  His depth portrayal of the role is top notch, a balance of a dramatized role that feels realistic and very reflective of the psyche of space travel.  Claire Foy on the other hand drops into a very regal and strong role, expressing the other side of the coin as the wife of an astronaut. Their chemistry works together, and the focus on each one leads to amazing performances that makes for endearing characters.

 

The Immersive Experience: You want to feel like you are blasting off into space?  You’ve got it!  You want to feel like you are being strained by an overwhelming array of G Force?  You’ve got it.  You want? Okay I think you get it.  First Man’s team did their best to get you strapped into the space exploration experience and did a fine job in my opinion.  One will feel like they are experiencing this first hand, with a screen that rattles, sound effects that dropped you into the heart of the mission, and a number of technical terms to further enroll you in the experience.

 

The Setting:  I’m a sucker for movies successfully taking you back in time. First Man takes us back into the time period of the 60s, bringing the cars, looks, houses, and hairstyles to really bring you into the decade of exploration.  First Man keeps all the themes rolling and adds that extra bit of magic by introducing a gritty filter to help you achieve the effects of watching the events through the new reels of yore.  This may not seem super cool or necessary, but that extra nostalgia helps pull the experience to new heights so nice work there.

 

Unique Approach: First Man decides to go a little more abstract in its presentation than the normal historical documentary.  A realistic portrayal with minimal magic, First Man is always about taking an event and then having you reflect on it.  The result is a psychological trial of experiencing the stress of this field of research, that helps with experiencing the historical prowess of this space travel.  While this approach will not be for everyone, it gets points for making an effort to be unique and artistic while also to the point.

 

The Portrayal of Struggle: I agree with my fellow audience members that First Man did a fantastic job expressing the difficulties of getting this mission off the ground.  From the failures of the testing modules, the setbacks of equipment burning out, and to the very stresses of the rocket itself, all of it is nicely detailed in this movie.  You’ll not be subjected to montages or magical findings, but instead get the bare facts to provide the full on knowledge of the issues this program faced.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Other characters:  It’s not that the other characters are bad, it’s the fact that they aren’t utilized as well as I wanted.  Much of Armstrong’s group, with the exception of the wife, are only fragments of the story overall.  I wanted to see more interactions with them, get their input and contributions to the story, instead of the dram filled moping they chose to focus on.  Why they did this I don’t know, but I believe the abstract approach has much to do with this.

 

The Heavy Jargon:  I mentioned earlier how the movie immerses you and sadly it does this a little too well.  The special effects drown out a lot of meaningful conversation in this movie, reducing the lines to mumbling, incoherent rants that aren’t easy to follow. Even for what you can hear, the movie relies very heavily on jargon and technical lingo, which if you don’t subscribe to physics or rocket science may not be the most interesting thing to listen to.

 

Mindset vs Program: The abstract direction taken in this movie works for getting into the head of the characters, and you’ll get plenty of shots of Gosling trapped in his mind, moping in a teary-eyed mess as he relives his experiences.  It’s beautiful artistically, but it’s not the most entertaining as I came to see more of the design to get to the moon.  Like Hidden Figures I wanted character development and integration than psychological reflection that a book is better at hitting. Regardless, this approach didn’t quite work in terms of my expectations or entertainment value

 

Dragging Pace:  The biggest thing for me… is this movie is slow at times.  It has to do with how long it takes for us to get into the meat of the program, only to be then be dogged down by more personal life components than the exciting tests you want to see.  As such, this constant up and down presentation that didn’t quite work for me and had me fighting sleep at times.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            First Man is different from what I expected.  It’s unique presentation is going to be the make or break for modern audiences and whether or not they will enjoy this movie. Those looking for a realistic, well-acted, artistic, immersive approach will enjoy the historical representation of this movie.  However, if you wanted that Hollywood magic, entertainment, and more like a story presentation, than this film is not going to be your cup of tea.  First Man is certainly a piece of work, but it all depends on the type of experience you want.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I think so for the effects and the food for thought, but otherwise hold out until next week when blockbusters return. k

 

My Scores: 

Biography/Drama/History:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

It’s the Finale Countdown

Operation Finale Poster

            History teaches us many lessons, but sadly we sometimes are still too stubborn to learn when it things come wrapped in a convenient, shiny package.  Still, there are movies still trying to use their bucks to teach lessons in the tales they have to share. Tonight, yours truly attended the showing of the latest historical, biography, drama that hopes to make a mark.  What is in store?  As always please read to find out as I review:

 

Movie:  Operation Finale (2018)

 

Director:

Chris Weitz

Writer:

Matthew Orton

Stars:

Oscar IsaacBen KingsleyMélanie Laurent

 

LIKES:

 

Pacing:  For the most part, a drama like this is often slower than the movies I prefer, yet Operation Finale managed to meet this expectation. A brisk pace that allowed for detail, the audience was more than capable of finding that balance to tell it’s tale and not leave me falling asleep. 

 

The Class:  A Holocaust movie always runs the risk of diving into the dark, deep end of the horror pool, which can be hard to watch.  Again, Weltz and his team found the balance of making references to the horrible event, but adding a filter that alludes to the event without showing too much.  The result is crafting a piece of work that respectfully shows the events, but not in the distasteful display that many movies relish in.  As such, it doesn’t downplay the significance it, but rather integrates into the story.

 

The Relevance of Characters: A stuffed group into 2 hours is not easy to do, but Operation Finale made sure to integrate as many of the characters as possible and give a point to their inclusion.  No matter how small the role, each character has contributed to the operation in some manner to warrant their time on the silver screen. 

 

The History/Moral Lesson: The movie set out to teach lessons, and it certainly did.  History comes in a variety of forms, but this movie certainly felt like a visual book (yes I get the irony), still it’s an integrated piece of work that achieves the story telling history strives to obtain.  And like history, the moral lessons involves are poetically delivered without all the preachy planned speeches Hollywood writers love.  It’s the realism and musical score that drive all these lessons home, and a fantastic future for using this movie for teaching classes.

 

The Acting:  The movie’s bread and butter though is the acting. Character integration required a lot of dynamic play off of each other, and our cast was up to the challenge of bringing it to life.  At this point, all the secondary/supporting characters get a nod for their work, each member feeling like a part of the team that held their own emotional charge towards the common goal.  However, the key pillars of the movie are Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac the leads of the film. Isaac trades his X-Wing uniform for a more modest suit, and adapts the strong emotional power of an Israeli Jewish man forced to confront a lot of baggage.  It’s realistic, powerful, and the anchor to which much of the movie relies on and he rocks it.  As for Kingsley, the man is a legend for a reason and he beautifully opens the door of the antagonist role and the complexity that can come with it. Another balance of emotional prowess, the man will keep you guessing at what lies within the dark mind of the German War Elite.  The two together play a game of cat and mouse, and while not filled with gun play, or car chases, it’s this emotional tug of war that is immersive and kept me into the drama at hand.  Bravo to the casting director for bringing these powerhouses together.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace at times: Pacing is mostly good, but there are some slower moments that didn’t have quite the oomph that the rest of the movie did.  These parts bloated the movie more and didn’t quite deliver the punch for me.  Small dislike, but it leads me to the next limitation for me.

 

The Length:  The movie worked to portray a lot of angles on this historical event.  Operation Finale didn’t quite need to be over 2 hours for me, with probably at least 20 minutes being edited out with ease.  I see where it is going with the length to try and pay homage to those who lost their lives to the greatest tragedy, but in regards to the story it didn’t quite need the extra time.  Especially, when it comes to my next dislike.

 

The Other Character Stories: A lot of characters were introduced at the beginning, each played up for their emotional struggles to bring the former Nazi to justice.  And after a prolonged intro, many of the characters kind of stopped there. Operation Finale showed potential for very deep characters, and while the leads got the most dive into the psyche, the rest of the cast kind of got a fly over.  More integration and struggle would have been much appreciated for me to help further bring the group to life.  It’s not that the others were bad, but by explaining them a little more, the movie might have better utilized the 2 hours it had to have.  While the secondary crew accomplished their mission, some more tweaking could have strengthened things.

 

THE VERDICT: 

 

            For a historical drama. Operation Finale was one of the better ones to grace the silver screen in recent years.  While nothing like the legendary historical dramas that came before it, this film struck a balance I appreciated between historical presentation and dramatizing moments.  The two lead actors soared with their chemistry and by working around this entropy favored performance, brought the heart and soul of the cinematic work to life.  Still, the movie needs a little tweaking in investing in other characters to justify being greater than 2 hours as well as editing a few things out.  Still, this movie is probably a great example of classic story telling, and that element justifies the theater visit despite a lack of Big Screen effects.  Still, give this one a try when you can, I think you will enjoy it.

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/History: 8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

 

 

The 15:17 to Realism

15-17 to paris.jpg

 

Biography movies, another genre victim to dramatization, editing cuts, and wild cards in terms of quality to tell the story.  Yet the great Clint Eastwood has proven to be quite the artist to bring these movies to life in that dark, emotional, presentation we all love.  So, with another biography being released this weekend, yours truly is back to the trenches to give you some insight into the latest movies to sweep the nation.  What is in store for you?  Please read on to find out as I cover: The 15:17 to Paris.

 

LIKES:

Realistic: The movie’s highlight for me is how realistic the journey is, at least in terms of how their life progresses.  That Hollywood magic of instant success, of things falling into the right place at the right time, are essentially absent in this film.  You’ll get to see the struggles of the character’s lives, feel the stinging defeat at the limitations that were in their way, and experience the frustration at the ambiguity life holds. If realism and facts are your preference in these movies, then this film delivers on this premise and probably as close to the truth as you’ll get outside of talking to them.

 

A Fun Vacation:  The chronicle of the heroes’ journey has some pretty fabulous settings that they transverse too.  As the trio begin to tour Europe, you really get to see some fabulous sights of the culture held on that continent.  The way the film is presented, this component of the movie is a fun breakup of the drama, and if you’re like me and haven’t traveled internationally, a nice way to drink in the settings.  In addition, this was probably the most entertaining component of the film.

 

Cinematography:  The movie also gets massive props for the utilization of camera work to sell the emotion of the moment.  Eastwood’s latest film doesn’t have the most memorable moments in acting, but the camera picks up the slack.  Key close ups, dynamic angles, and a constantly evolving structure are the components that help bring this tale to life for me.  Once the sound editing and musical scores come in, that is when the scenes come together and paint the emotional tension of the film.

 

Quick Pace:  Can’t lie, biographies sometimes knock my energy out depending on how long and slow they go.  Like the train though, this movie moves at a very brisk pace, unyielding to the distracting tangents and keeping the film on pace.  As such, this film didn’t lose me and I got to appreciate the tale from start to finish.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Overdramatic opening:  The film starts with a glimpse back into the hero’s childhood days, which can be a tough time.  For me though, these opening moments were where the acting suffered the most.  Many of the teachers seemed to be overly grandiose in their negativity, their attitudes, and prejudice towards the kids.  During parent-teacher conferences, these discussions turned into absurd arguments that seemed more extreme than necessary and to the point of eye-rolling for me.  It’s all based on perspective, but the monstrous portrayal of these teachers either indicates action for their termination, or another example of movie magic gone wrong.

 

Piecemeal Presentation:  I liked the presentation at the start, the integration of the actual event, intertwined with their history.  So, I’m unsure why this concept was dropped a third of the way into the film and ditched for a different presentation. Even weirder, is that the movie felt very piecemeal to me, starting down one angle only to again drop it without any major resolution.  Eastwood’s team kept taking leaps and bounds across the story including: hastily finishing the kid story, dropping the challenges in training, and in many cases forgetting the other major characters.  Speaking of which…

 

One character vs. Three:  The trailers say the film is about the three heroes of the movie, and it starts out that way.  Then once again the other characters get pushed to the back burner, pretty much forgotten until halfway through the final act.  Were the other’s tales just that lacking?  Was it because only one of them did a lot of the physical work in the actual event the reason he was awarded most of the screen time?  Honorable as this may be, the false advertising didn’t impress me so much in the film on something that based its promotion on three characters.  Sorry guys, but the occasional shot of the friends doesn’t count as major storytelling.

 

Overhyped End:  Don’t get me wrong, hostile attacks in any form are intense, scary, and traumatic.  Yet, the hype the trailers placed on this movie was not fulfilled for me.  The tension was low, the theatrics were gone, and in truth it was over in the blink of the eye.  Again, I appreciate the realism, but a little magic at this point could have amped up the suspense and pulled me more into the story. I guess when you expect all three to have majorly stopped the incident, you expect bigger bang, so shame on me for that.  Still, not the most climactic thrills to grace the screen. 

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Eastwood is famous for biographies, but this one didn’t have quite the investment, heart, and dynamic his other works have had.  The 15:17 to Paris is certainly a more realistic movie, that keeps a quick pace and nice cinematography to tell pieces of a tale.  While I enjoyed the vacation, aspects presented in the film, the movie failed to unite the fragments together, leading to a very haphazard and unfinished tale for me to enjoy.  With all the hype, I expected more of Eastwood’s dramatic flair to take hold, but this film didn’t quite live up to what the trailers presented.  So, if you’re looking for a realistic, big budget documentary hit the theaters, but my opinion is to save this one for a legal home viewing. 

 

My scores:

Drama/History/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

A Little More Development Would Have Made This 12 Stronger

12 strong.jpg

            The World Trade Center attack, a day that will forever live on in the history of the American society.  From this event, our military launched a new war that targeted terrorism, and the escalating threats that hid in the shadows.  We’ve had plenty of tales about the heroes who acted on that day, uncovered the leads to locating the leaders of the attack, and potential occupations of territories of those who might continue their work.  This weekend, yet another campaign heavy feature comes to theaters entitled 12 strong, the declassified story of the Horsemen who fought back.  What lies in this political drama?  Robbie K here to answer that question in hopes of guiding your viewing pleasures.  Let’s’ move out!

 

LIKES:

 

The Pace:  Some military dramas get lost in all the political jargon and build up, but this movie manages to dive through that medium quickly to get to what you want to see. While the opening hour is on the slower side and dialogue heavy, it eventually takes off when the first battles begin to rock out.  From there, the rest of the movie is tense ride, moving at a consistent speed to bring suspense and intensity at what lies in the Middle Eastern range.

 

The Dialogue:  The story of the horsemen may be action heavy focused, but my buddy and I agreed that the dialogue was well done in this movie.  One component is between the soldiers, a realistic, almost natural, exchange of insults, jabs, and venting that represents the bond the soldiers have.  Well-timed jokes relieve some of the tension, and the comedic punch is subtle but perfect to get a good laugh out of you.  When the action starts up, you’ll get your feel of military jargon, as the soldiers call out strategic maneuvers and call in air strikes utilizing the coordinates.  While not the most creative writing here, it’s a component that helps pull you into the heat of the moment.  The strongest writing though, comes in the philosophical debates between Captain Mitch (Chris Hemsworth) and General Dostum  (Navid Negahban). A contest of wills takes place numerous time between the two leaders, and in it contains Hollywood inspired lines designed to open your minds to bravery, empathy, and what it means to fight.  These moments are the most moving, and in it a great study on the hell war truly is.

 

The Messages:  The dialogue does much of the lifting in this category, but 12 Strong also has enough visual representation on the culture of the battlefield that was the war on terror.  Perhaps there is some studio magic to gloss up things, the movie did a solid job portraying the Arabic cultures and approaches to war on all sides.  Honor and dignity are heavy in the population, and not all factions are as heated as the terrorism associated with it.  Seeing this duality not only supports the dramatic storytelling, but does a solid job at educating the audience that not everyone out there is an enemy.

 

Action: Okay now the part you really want to know about.  The action of 12 Strong delivers what the trailer promised.  Special effects heavy sequences erupt to life as Hemsworth and company unleash their disciplined fury onto the poor extras that are heavy in this film.  Exciting gunplay is the main theme of the mix, all sharing a similar foundation, but with some tweaks to help each battle stand out.  As many of my fellow reviewers agree, the movie’s final battle is the best of the bunch, packed with emotion, tension, and all out courage and glory that America loves to see as they ride their horses into the fray.  A powerful cinematic score will assist in bringing the whole shebang to life.  Not the strongest of all the movies I’ve seen, but dang strong in its own right.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Too Long:  For a movie that is action packed, you would think that the story could be told in under 2 hours.  Yet, this movie was a little too long at points for me.  It starts with the delayed opening, taking nearly an hour to get to the first battle the movie promised.  Sure, the information is presented in a concise manner, but how much of it was really needed is the question that remains.  In addition, the movie took some tangents to give you the whole journey, admirable in terms of capturing every detail, but not done well enough to be fully pertinent to the movie.  This story takes some unnecessary tangents that didn’t get the time it needed, acting as quick acknowledgements to the soldier’s lives and nothing more.

 

Hard To Differentiate Soldiers:  Another problem with this movie is how much the soldiers seem to blend together in this movie.  You’ve got Hemsworth who sticks out like a sore thumb, and a couple of other members that have a unique quality to them to help differentiate them.  Much of the cast though are just bearded big men who all have a vendetta to settle with the terrorists.  Sacrificing logical combat gear choices, like helmets and armor, they try to give some visual cues to help each member stand out, but their identities still aren’t really prominent for the audience to grab onto.  They relied on Hemsworth too much to do the lifting, letting his good looks do most of the eye grabbing.  In addition, none of the other soldiers had strong background development, with only the ones with family getting any glimpse of a life.  They try to give a few of them some screen time at parts of the movie by splitting the team, but most of the supporting antics fall to quick sequences that could have been left out.

 

Army Of One: Exciting as the battles are, 12 strong is more like 1-5 strong in the grand scheme of things.  Hemsworth is the soldier whose perspective you’ll get the most of, despite being the member who has had the least combat experience.  Where other movies do a nice job of integrating all members of the team in some way, but this film sort of glazed over the contributions of the others.  Don’t get me wrong, the other troops have some displays of their skills, but they just don’t have that unique component other military films do.  Even the main villain sometimes get lost to the sea of extras, with only some close ups of sneers to shine the spotlight on.  Again, the movie relies of Hemsworth to do most of the lifting, and it really could have achieved more had the others been more involved.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            When it comes to action films, 12 strong is the leader for the new year at the moment.  While the movie starts out slow, the second act gets things going, primarily thanks to the action sequences that are loaded in this movie. Still, the movie manages to get some good dialogue into the mix that, in tandem with the visual effects, does a nice job delivering the emotional messages about the culture of war.  However, the movie was a little too long, going down too many paths that, while entertaining, did not provide much to the story.  Such a shame, as the other members of the platoon could have used some development to not only add more to the battles, but also help the other cast stand out a little more.  Given all these things though, the movie is the pick of the weekend to go see in theaters, due to the special effects and storytelling at hand.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Drama/History:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

Extra, Extra, See All About It!

Post

 

Hollywood, the new political battleground that continues to take public issues and launch a campaign for their favorite charity.  Assuming you weren’t under a rock over the last few years, you know things have heated up in glamour land, igniting another battle between the government and fine dressed actors/actresses.  One bullet to be fired this weekend is the Post, a tale describing the newspaper’s attempt to fight censorship by the government. With legendary actress Meryl Streep and actor Tom Hanks leading the way under Steven Spielberg’s direction there is much promise held in this film.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K here to share some opinions and guide your movie going expertise.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Realistic: You want a movie that feels like a capture of real life?  Look no further, because the Post has many components to please the realism fans that flood the theaters these days.  The magical finesse is more of a glaze in this film: a small sound editing here, some dramatic music there, all to help maximize the emotion of the scene. Outside of that though, The Post is more of a recreation of the events of that time period and the life of the press in their pursuit of the truth.  Therefore, you history buffs are really going to fall for this film.

 

Acting:  The highest component of this film is the acting, which is to be expected given the headliners of the film.  Streep continues shine, her talents and skills coming to full front as she plays Kay Graham.  A recent widower, concerned mother, and recent business owner who not only had to balance all these roles, but face the challenges set before by the government.  Streep manages to dive into each of these positions and really portray the struggles Graham felt.  No overacting here, Streep continues to show why she is a champion at the Academy Awards and her ability to blend acting with realism with no divisible lines.

Hanks as her opposite is yet another great move, diving into the stubborn, career driven paper chief of Ben Bradlee.  Where Streep’s character is all about trying to stand up for her paper without compromising her morals, Hank is all about the rough-edged road of getting the story, sometimes ignoring the other things around him to get it.  This performance is powerful again, delivering the lines with that drive and passionate spectrum Hanks is famous for.  Together these two make the world come to life, both able to hold their own, but truly greatest when together on the battlefield of morale grounds. 

 

The Writing: The Post has great writing, no surprise given Spielberg’s ability to make history come to life.  Gone are cheesy one-liners and over the top monologues, and in their place a script that is loaded with a natural dialogue exchange, clever wit, and realistic reactions to these problems.  Strong writing like this makes for a smooth ride for the actors bringing the words to life and developing their characters with little to no fear.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace:  A movie like this has to deliver the morals in a manner that is both motivational and entertaining.  It accomplished the motivational component, but sadly lost on the entertainment component for me.  Part of this was due to the pace. The opening scenes tickled my fancy, but that intrigue was lost to a very monotonous speed of slow as dirt.  While the freedom of the press issue is the main topic of discussion, all the other life components were included in great details, which led to tangents not necessarily needed and longer run times.  Seeing the persona life was important, but not worth the dragging velocity this movie hit at various points of the movie, especially at later showings.  Even worse, these tangents led to a delay in getting to the heart of the issue, which is what this movie is all about.

 

The Climax:  While I appreciate the lack of movie magic, this movie needed a little enchantment to pump the tension up and make those lessons come alive even more.  The Post does a nice job of setting up the problem and explaining the information at hand. Yet the buildup would hopefully lead to an emotion/tension packed debate between the two parties to really get the crowd fired up.  Not the case in this film my friends, as much of this part is reduced to a short montage of brilliant sets and well adorned extras.  Spielberg could have had another gold mine of approval by the critics if he had added that little extra oomph to give our characters the satisfying dramatic action they deserved.  I won’t tell you how it goes, but I can say the suspension was practically extinct at the end for this reviewer.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Post is an important movie for many, primarily those who pursue the truth and are hindered by the oppressiveness of power.  Spielberg certainly crafted a winner in regards to realism, writing, and direction in guiding the actors.  With Streep and Hanks really bringing the players to life, this movie is a total Oscar nomination eater in regards to the artistic component.  However, the pace really suffers from the realism and dilutes the climax into an under impressive finale that does not scream of Spielberg’s prime work.  This glorified documentary would have held better premise on Netflix, because this movie was overhyped for me, with the acting being the exception to the rule.  So, save your cash and wait for a RedBox rent in my honest opinion. 

 

Biography/Drama/History:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Nolan, Dun Got It Right

Dunkirk

 

War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?  Entertaining movies, that is what it is good for.  Hollywood has numerous examples of wars from the various historical times in our human legacy. Many of these installments focus on a hero who saved the war, or a band of brothers that bravely faced the odds to hold the line.  In most cases though, you can bet there will be violence, explosions, and often graphic portrayals of the hell contained in our squabbles.  I finish my weekend reviews with Dunkirk, which is the latest installment in the Christopher Nolan library.  Can the Dark Knight director work his magic in war?  Or does it fizzle out like a dud bomb.  Robbie K here to give his opinions.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Layered Story:  Many war movies are the linear tales of the hero who will win the battle.  Dunkirk diverts from this main path and instead presents its plot from three viewpoints that overlap at various times.  A cryptic opening doesn’t do much to explain this, but eventually the plots coincide and your mind is blown by the presentation.  This element, though confusing at times, adds that unique flare to the movie that keeps your interest piqued as you connect the journeys of those involved.  In addition, the multiple viewpoints give you a more complete picture of the war, further bringing the history to life in a manner Hollywood special effects is famous for.

 

Realism:  We know the doctoring editing and story writers can make to score big bucks in the box office.  These moments often lead to overdramatic, eye-rolling moments that war dramas can be.  Dunkirk again shines in the unique department in terms of crafting the story to be realistic in many details.  You’ll be pulled into the war in this film, grounded in the nightmares that plague the battlefields and the internal struggle that all involved face.  I felt plagued with the emotional guilt in the choices made in this film, while also concerned with the consequences that could follow those choices. The film’s focus on the people and not the battle works on so many levels, and makes you interested in the characters more so than the special effects.  Nice choice again Noland!

 

The Cinematography:  Dunkirk doesn’t have a lot of lines, award winning dialogue, or even one-liners that we as humans like.  Instead it is the cinematography and editing that bring Dunkirk to life and make it shine in the theater’s dark halls.   While the special effects are certainly impressive (though not that showy), it’s really the camera work that brings the mood out in the form of hope seeking faces that are suffering through the onslaught dealt to them.  Throw in the powerful musical score and mix in the little line delivery and you get that recipe for emotional bombardment that brings respect, empathy, and pride of the sacrifices made by troops long ago.

 

Short run time:  Such a dynamic, sounds like it would take forever…fortunately Nolan’s direction kept the movie under 2 hours and brought quality out in that short time.  This is an example of good directing and editing, and proof that you can have a quality film in a short time limit.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Missing that Hollywood Story:  Realism is good, but I certainly missed having a flared-up story to grip onto.  Dunkirk is a quality movie, but it isn’t as much fun as I have had with other war movies.  It lacks some of the big, bang excitement made famous in other war movies, and the realistic psychological approach can drag at times.  The result is not the action-packed survival I had hoped for, but I can always rewatch Hacksaw Ridge for that. And while I enjoyed the layered story approach, I again think it was confusing at times to piece things together without a central story, plot, or goal (outside of survival/rescue) to hook onto.

 

The placement of certain scenes: My buddy and I agreed that there were points to this movie that were difficult to follow.  Much of this came from the odd placement of clips in the movie and the rapid transitions between these various stories with little guidance.  Things do get better when the lines start to come together, but there are still scenes that still stay confusing at points until the end of the movie.  In addition, the pacing of the stories was uneven at times, with a couple of stories rapidly concluding (so you think), only to reappear after a prolonged gap.  Not the biggest weakness, but things could have been a little better oriented for me.

 

Depressing:  We know war sucks, and this movie’s portrayal of the loss of hope amplifies those feelings. There are so many elements of depression in this movie that you may feel a little down following the opening.  I felt a little tired during this movie, especially during the drawn-out moments that were more depressing and less stressing.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Dunkirk is certainly one of the more artistic and clever portrayals of war, dropping Hollywood flare for realism.  Nolan’s impressive directing opens up new worlds of war theater and keeps things fresh with the impressive displays of heroism.  Yet all the good the cinematography and directing is… I missed the Hollywood flare that cinemas bring.  Without that story/entertainment value to it… Dunkirk has some confusing presentations and dragged out moments that can weigh heavy on you.  Still, this movie has plenty to qualify a visit to the theater, and one of the better movies of the summer.  Not the epic wartime thriller, but certainly one of the more realistic, war dramas I have ever seen. 

 

My scores:

 

Action/Drama/History:  9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

 

Let Patriotic Pride Ring

patriots-day

 

Mark Wahlberg and disaster movies seem to go hand and hand these days and this weekend brings the latest installment in his library.  Today I got to see Patriots Day, a movie that dramatizes the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013.  Like all disaster movies, it holds the promise for inspiring the audience or stirring up emotion.  But has Hollywood hit its saturation point?  Hi Robbie K here, with a new abbreviated review of Patriots Day.  Let’s get started

 

LIKES:

  • Very Detailed
  • Good visual/audio techniques
  • Emotionally strong movie

 

Summary:  When it comes to historical movies we like details and Patriots Day does not fall short in portraying this tragic event.  From the bombings to the manhunt, you get to see the thrilling, and sometimes chilling, journey to bring the case to a close. The movie shows the events from the perspectives of many involved including victims, cops, and the terrorists themselves.  An even more impressive twist is the smooth integration of real life security clips that helps keep the facts in check, while also showing the inspiration of the movie.  When you take these clips, and mix them with the movie magic of scene and music editing, you get incredibly powerful scenes that are certain to inspire you.  I agree with the trailers that Patriots Day is one of the most emotional stirring pieces to grace the silver screen this year.  So many sequences promote the concepts of uniting in the face of danger, perseverance of spirit, and American pride.  It had many in my viewing sniffling and certainly got some goosebumps going in this reviewer.  Therefore, Patriots Day editing is certainly the selling point of this movie.

 

DISLIKES  

  • Movie magic overdramatizes
  • Some editing issues
  • May poke some snakes

 

Summary: As seen many times in Hollywood, the magic of the cinema sometimes steps into overdramatic role.  Patriots Day, despite how emotionally stirring it is, does cross into preachy side at times. While it certainly is inspiring, much of the ending moments (primarily the dialogue) is geared towards American pride that may be seen as boastful.  In addition, some people may not appreciate the portrayal of the various characters, perhaps thinking they were too extreme in their renditions.  Yes, some of the audience said this during the movie.  But outside of overdramatic moments and extreme portrayals, the only other component for me was some of the editing lapses in the movie.  There are certain scenes that attempt to show some of the background info on the characters (e.g. dating, guys getting high on weed, etc) which were certainly entertaining or aggravating.  However, these moments were either not timed right, or more often not needed for me to get the emotional kick of the movie.  And to be honest, most of these clips do extend the cast’s screen time.

 

The Verdict:

Patriots Day is a movie that will bring some sort of emotion to most audience members.  The detail is fantastic and makes you feel a part of the team in this epic manhunt, establishing that rage to capture the bad guys.  The special effects and audio score will only deepen your immersion into the story.  However, be ready for some political discussions and potential airing of grievances when you see the very extreme portrayals in this movie. Overall though, this movie is a solid opening to the year and a welcome break up from the mundane.

 

My scores:

 

Drama/History/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0