Category Archives: Action & Adventure

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ReviewThe tumultuous production was even the subject of a feature-length documentary…in 2002.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni
Starring Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Joana Ribeiro, Olga Kurylenjo, Stellan Skarsgard, Jordi Molia, Oscar Jaenada

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was finally released in 2018, a minor miracle unto itself. Director Terry Gilliam had been trying to get the damn thing made for 25 years, only to be continually thwarted by development hell, false starts, budget problems, legal issues, natural disasters, cast changes and no-small-amount of his own obsessiveness. The tumultuous production was even the subject of a feature-length documentary…in 2002.

Though he kept busy making many films in the interim, Gilliam is probably glad to finally scratch this particular itch…if nothing else, just to spite everyone who turned his labor of love into a decades-long debacle. Some of you reading this might be asking if it was worth the all the trouble, which isn’t really a fair question. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will probably never fully escape the shadow of its production history, and that’s a shame because – baggage notwithstanding – this is ultimately a very good film. Even great in parts.

It helps, of course, if the viewer is already in tune with Gilliam’s quirkier tendencies, since this modern day variation of Cervantes’ novel is a strange, surreal and often funny journey. Anyone familiar with the director is also aware he can be pretty self-indulgent, unconcerned whether or not others are on-board. Because of their unique aesthetic, narrative approach and abundance of dark humor, Terry Gilliam films could be considered their own little genre. Viewed in that context, this is his best work since 12 Monkeys.

That’s not to say The Man Who Killed Don Quixote isn’t without its issues, the main one being that it’s overlong. The story also gets off to a shaky start, with commercial director Tobi Grisoni (Adam Driver) embodying just about every burned-out-genius cliché we’ve ever seen. In fact, these early scenes don’t even feel like they belong in a Gilliam film. However, once Tobi visits the village where he once made a student film about Don Quixote, the film really takes off, both visually and narratively. He’s reacquainted with the elderly cobbler he cast in the lead (Jonathan Price), who has since become convinced he is Quixote and thinks Tobi is Sancho Panza. Several amusing circumstances have the two of them ending up on an episodic series of bizarre adventures, which eventually includes trying to rescue the young girl he once cast in the same film, Angelica (Joana Jaenada), now working as an escort working for a vicious Russian magnate.

That’s the nuts & bolts plot, but what makes it memorable is Gilliam’s penchant for blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Lavishly-produced, the film is alternately dark and whimsical, bolstered by interesting characters and some wonderful moments that unexpectedly transition into the surreal. Most importantly, the journey ends up being lot of fun, something this writer hasn’t been able to say about a Terry Gilliam film in a long time.

Ironically, for a movie with such a torrid past, this Blu-ray features no substantial bonus features covering its history. Perhaps that’s intentional, since enough has already been written and said about it. Besides, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote deserves to be enjoyed on its own merits. It may not rank among Terry Gilliam’s best work, but it’s a fine reminder that he’s got some juice left in the tank.

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Rim of the World (2019) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

 

Rim of the World Review

Director: McG
Writer: Zack Stentz
Stars: Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr, Alessio Scalzotto

Surprisingly delightful is the best way to sum up this adventure film. Opening up in space an astronaut is scrambling for her life to get back to Earth with sensitive information after having been attacked by an alien craft (yup, there’s aliens).

With focus set on Alex (Gore), we find him being sent off to Summer Camp to better interact with kids his age opposed to staring at screens all day.  In time upon arrival we’re quickly introduced to Zhenzhen, Darriush and Gabriel whom all cross paths during a singular event when they stray away from a group outing.

As said before, aliens are involved and have attacked Earth. While fleeing for their lives the children encounter the lost astronaut who tasks Alex and the others with delivering a key to help stop the invasion and so the most thrilling summer of their lives kick off.

From the time the invasion begins its pretty much a non-stop ride of survival. Few gripes come up as Benjamin’s character is a bit over the top with the cliché bullhead role and some lines from the start of the film seem…off. Overall, Rim of the World is a lot of fun and a great family film well worth killing some time over. Enjoy.

Grade: A-

T-34 (2018) Blu Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

T-34 Review

Tanks for the Memories

Director: Aleksey Sidorov
Writer: Aleksey Sidorov
Starring Alexander Petrov, Vinzenz Kiefer, Irina Starshenbaun, Viktor Dobronrnov, Yuriy Borisov, Anton Bogdanov.

The Russian film, T-34, is sort-of a throwback to the old war epics I grew up on. No anti-war agenda, cynicism or commentary on how combat changes a soldier. It doesn’t drop the viewer into the unflinching chaos of battle with hyper-realistic depictions of human carnage. With an emphasis on plot and action, it’s more Great Escape than Saving Private Ryan, something of a rarity in modern war films. As such, the movie is a lot of fun.

During World War II, Nikolay Ivushkin (Alexander Petrov) is a Russian tank commandeer who manages to destroy an entire squad of German tanks during a skirmish. Unfortunately, he is shot by SS officer Klaus Jager (Vinzenz Kiefer). Four years later, Ivushkin is a POW scheduled to be executed for refusing to give his name and rank. However, Jager remembers him. Still impressed by what Ivushkin was able to do with a single tank during their previous encounter, Jager makes him an offer he really can’t refuse: Assemble a crew to restore a stolen Russian tank (the T-34 of the title) and serve as an unarmed practice target for young cadets. If they survive, Ivushkin will be required to train new German tank crews.

Ivushkin reluctantly agrees, but while he and his crew are prepping the tank, they discover a some live shells hidden beneath the bodies of the dead crew the Nazi’s left inside. It’s at this point Ivushkin comes up with an escape plan, using the tank to blast their way out and head for the Czech border. He gets some assistance from Anya (Irina Starshenbaum), another POW who serves as an interpreter between Ivushkin and Jager. She offers to steal a much-needed map if they take her with him. The second half of the film is a thrilling chase across the countryside, with Ivushkin trying to outwit Jager, who unleashes troops, tanks and planes to track him down.

I don’t know how plausible T-34 is, but it’s fast-paced, exciting and often suspenseful, aided considerably by impressive action and special effects (particularly the slow-motion scenes of shells striking their targets). Though fairly light on characterisation, Ivushkin and his crew certainly grow on us and Jager is an effective villain (his grudging respect for Ivushkin renders him not-entirely hateful). However, the pointless romantic subplot between Ivushkin and Anya feels shoehorned in for the sake of a love scene. One minute they’re allies, the next they’re practically star-crossed lovers.

Other than that, T-34 is a welcome throwback to the World War II movies Hollywood used to crank out before getting all serious and self-important on us. There isn’t a lot of depth, but with a simple story, likeable characters and some big, loud action, it’s well-crafted and very entertaining.

Galveston (2018) Movie Review By Justin Aylward

Galveston Review

Director: Mélanie Laurent
Writers: Nic Pizzolatto (as Jim Hammett), Nic Pizzolatto (based upon the novel by)
Stars: Ben Foster, Jeffrey Grover, Christopher Amitrano

Ben Foster has become a silent man in the movies. In films such as Leave No Trace and now Galveston, a new film, he has disguised pain and grief under a veneer of stoicism. He is proving to be a terrific actor whose gifts of understatement are worth more than a million smiles offered by other actors of his generation.

Galveston, directed by Melanie Laurent, her first English language feature, is a perfect dramatic vehicle for Foster. He plays a gruff hitman called Roy whose quest for revenge is blighted after he inadvertently rescues a young teen-tearaway during a botched hit-job, orchestrated by his boss, Beau Bridges. Roy flees to his hometown of Galveston to tie up the loose ends of his life. Elle Fanning plays the teen, a girl who has learned to live a lie but soon loses the will to maintain the deception that has helped her through a difficult life.

The trouble for Roy is that he appears to be dying of a respiratory illness. All his actions seem to be in service of leaving behind a good legacy, or at least some decency to his name. But all the while his crime connections drag him down and tie him to his past deeds. Along the way he meets up with an old lover, one who he was less than kind to. There is a cloud of death and despair that hangs over the character’s lives, but the film is not totally morbid. I enjoyed the scenes of respite between Foster and Fanning. They dance aimlessly at a club and drive with the wind through their hair. These small moments seem to buoy their spirits before the hoodlums draw closer.

Laurent directs the film in a robust fashion intercut with scenes of shouty melodrama that offset the rhythm and tone of the film. But I do admire much of the work. The film is a mood piece and the moods go a long way to delineating the character’s personalities and shortcomings. It’s clear that Laurent found a lot of empathetic material in the script and it’s a story she obviously cares about. There is one lengthy sequence where a battered and bruised Foster escapes capture in a car. There is blood, sweat and plenty of skidmarks. It’s a brilliantly conceived set-piece. Later, a secret is revealed by Fanning that threatens to capsize the dramatic weightiness of the film but it is a twist that worked for me and felt real in the context of the story.

Galveston is an uneven film with moments of intensity and desperation sandwiched between slower passages prone to ponderousness and the odd gesture overdone in nature. I enjoyed and admire the film for its strengths, so much to the point that I can forgive its faults. I expect Laurent to improve in her next features, movies that are worth waiting for.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

Godzilla King of the Monsters Review

Director: Michael Dougherty
Writers: Michael Dougherty (screenplay by), Zach Shields (screenplay by)
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see Godzilla: King Of The Monsters this weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Godzilla: King of The Monsters is the direct sequel to the 2014 Godzilla film.  It builds on that tale, where we are reintroduced to the Big Guy and he saves us all from the threat of the MUTOs!  That film plus Kong: Skull Island from 2017 officially connects to create the “Monsterverse” films and GKOTM (I can’t keep typing that title so I’ll abbreviate) grows that film universe even further!  Mr & Mrs Moviie Couple keep things spoiler free, so I’ll recap without giving anything away.  The mysterious organization, Monarch (established in the Godzilla and Kong films previous) continue to study and track these creatures known now as Titans.  Only now a new secret organization branches off from them with a new agenda.  Due to some shenanigans and a couple of twists along the way, the Titans are released upon the Earth and only Big G can save us all!   Maybe. We get Big Budget versions of Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah and more!  If you recognize those names, this movie may just be for you!  If not, Oh well too bad, sit back, enjoy some popcorn and watch! You get Monster fights!  Unnecessary exposition!  Humans running and screaming!   What else did you expect? Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown all star as the Russells, a family of scientists with a lot of knowledge about Titans.  Ken Wantanabe and Sally Hawkins return to the franchise as the Monarch experts, Bradley Whitfield and Thomas Middleditch are along for the ride as comic relief and Aisha Hinds and O’Shea Jackson play military for us!  It is directed by Michael Dougherty of Trick ‘R Treat and Krampus fame.  But lets be honest, the true stars people will be coming to see are Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and “He that is Many” himself…..Ghidorah!  So is a movie starring Coach from Friday Night Lights, Mommy Bates from Bates Motel and Eleven from Stranger Things a hit?!!!!  Is this film more Minilla or Destroyah?  If you understand that joke, you’re in for a Treat.  If not it maybe more of a Trick, see what I did there Mr. Dougherty?  Without further delay, let’s get ready to crumble!!!!  Grab your Oxygen Destroyers, put on our best Harajuku cosplay, lets review this baby and may the best Monster win!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  I am a very old school Godzilla fan!  Complete transparency. I watched many a Saturday afternoon Godzilla film as a child and am well versed in Kaiju (Giant Monsters for you uninitiated) history. So this film was right up my alley.  Godzilla vs Ghidorah?  I’m there, never mind if you throw in Rodan and Mothra! Take my money!  So for the inner little Mr. Moviie Couple this movie did a lot right. The creatures looked new, but with a lot of honor given to the original design. In my opinion, they even improved on Mothra visually!  There were a lot of easter eggs or tips of the hat for the eagle eyed fan.  Keep your eyes peeled, I will not spoil. The best fan service may just be the return of the “Godzilla March” or Godzilla theme!  Man, they update and bring back the score of a surging Godzilla at all the right moments! But, the film’s plot was weak at best.  I found the attempts at comic relief forced and not as funny as it may have seemed on the written paper.  The family story and the military drama seemed mandatory at best and poorly written at worst.  I understand most are not coming to this film for Oscar winning performances and they are here for the monster battles, but lets just say 2014 and Kong handled the human element better in my opinion.  Speaking of the 2014 movie and Kong fights, this will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I felt those kaiju battles were handled better in those film as well. GKOTM has more monsters and more action, but a lot of it seems to be filmed too darkly and too fast.  Many scenes felt like a ride at Universal Studios where you only catch glimpses of the threats as the ride shakes you to and fro.  For me that was a bit disappointing considering the importance these battles have to these types of films. That being said, I had a good time, but it was not a slam dunk for me. A lot of plot was left laying there with no payoff, for example everyone acts like Mothra is important throughout this film and it really never really pays off.  No spoiler, just an observation. The Titans look great, but I wanted better fights (visually) and the plot was just basic as heck.  I have GKOTM as 3-4 Bills, maybe leaning more toward 3 despite a lot of fun Kaiju action.  Closer to Pretty Good (4) for lifelong fans.

Mrs. Moviie Couple: She was very glad it wasn’t a superhero movie. After that she was not very amused.  She felt it was a typical Godzilla film, by the numbers…Wake up Monster from deep sleep (check), Bring Monster to face worse Monster (check), watch good monster fight bad monster (check), Run and /or hide while avoiding fallen debris (check), Tell family member you are estranged from how much you love them (check), Good Monster is hero (double check,   is that a spoiler?). A film only a Godzilla fan would love.  She thought the environmental theme, common in most Godzilla films was updated nicely in this one. She didn’t care for the family portrayal.  Usually a fan of Mr Chandler, Mrs. Moviie Couple felt he was just playing himself and packing it in. She couldn’t stand Vera Farmiga and didn’t believe her in the role for a second, her exact words!  She did however love Millie Bobby Brown! My bride may be the only person on the planet to have not seen Stranger Things, so she had no idea who Ms. Brown was, but loved her in this film.  She thought she an amazing young actress!  Overall, the Mrs. felt the film failed on almost every level.  Even the marquee fight scenes left her wanting, she complained about the Monsters not really changing on the design level and the fights themselves were filmed in the dark and within so much smoke and clouds that she couldn’t even appreciate them for what they were meant to be. This film wasn’t all smoke and mirrors, it was all smoke and clouds! She was not having it!   The Mrs. gave GKOTM 2 Bills!  She didn’t want to walk out, but she wouldn’t waste her money again!

On the way home, I continued to talk about the Mothra design and the many plot flaws, while pointing out the fun of the battles and the nostalgia shout outs for true green Godzilla fans! Mrs. Moviie Couple didn’t talk much, she only kept repeating how great Millie Bobby Brown was and how she would have to watch a few episodes of Friday Night Lights to cleanse her Kyle Chandler palate and redeem himself in her eyes. WOW.  Just WOW. The drive home always clarifies how we felt about a movie. Silence is not golden, silence is bad. I was not silent, The Mrs. kept to the golden rule we all learned from the Disney classic Bambi. If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.  At least young Ms. Brown has a new fan. I give it 3.5 Bills, a true G-Fan film, with a lot of flaws.  The Mrs. gives it 2 Bills!  A true don’t waste your money! So we give Godzilla: King of the Monster 3 solid Bills! I say Meh to Pretty Good. She says, not a walk out, but a waste of money. Stay in and wait to stream it. So we’ll go with an average of Meh!  Not the worst, but not the best!

So until the next date night, which if you go to our Facebook page you’ll see a clue to!  We will see you next time!  Moviie Coupe out!

Big Brother (2018) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Big Brother Review

Director: Ka-Wai Kam
Writer: Tai-lee Chan
Stars: Donnie Yen, Joe Chen, Kang Yu

When it comes to reality, Big Brother is to education what Star Wars is to space travel. But let’s not hold that against it.

As a longtime teacher in the real world, I speak from experience. In 20+ years, I’ve never said or done anything that makes an entire class of delinquents suddenly think I’m cool. I don’t visit them at home, become their buddy or fix their broken homes. I’m not idolised by the entire student body, nor do they line up to take selfies with me. And I sure as hell haven’t used my considerable martial arts skills to save the entire school from the local mob (this movie’s goofiest subplot).

But who the hell wants a movie showing a dedicated teacher in the act of actual teaching? Or grading papers on weekends? Or attending weekly staff meetings? If said-teacher is played by Donnie Yen, we want him to kick some serious ass in the name of education.

Big Brother is sort-of like Stand and Deliver…with fists. As such, the movie is a lot of fun, even as we’re rolling our eyes over the absurdity of it all. Though he has zero experience, Henry Chen (Yen) manages to land a job as casually as applying at 7-Eleven. In quick order, he manages to whip his kids into academic shape, five of them, in particular (because screw everyone else). No student has an extracurricular problem that can’t be immediately solved by Chen’s wisdom, encouragement and a few roundhouse kicks to the right faces. He even becomes a local celebrity by pummelling a crooked MMA fighter.

You won’t believe – or be surprised by – a single minute of it. But when you’ve got Donnie Yen at the head of the class, who cares? In addition to his considerable physical skills, he’s always been a charismatic actor and is certainly likeable here. So even though most of his actions would have a real educator hauled before a review board, Henry Chen is the guy real teachers dream they could be.

Alas, it’ll have to remain a dream for now. But until that fine day when teachers are unleashed to take education by the balls and beat it into submission, we can experience it vicariously through movies like Big Brother. Though outlandish and completely predictable, it’s the lighter side of Donnie Yen and one of his more entertaining recent films.