Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

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“I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.”
– Desmond Doss

SYNOPSIS: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8Man oh man, I have been looking forward to this one for a variety of reasons, the two biggest being Andrew Garfield and Mel Gibson. Yeah sure, Gibson has done some cuckoo things, but he makes really good movies, and I enjoyed him a hell of a lot as an actor. As for Garfield? I just adore the guy. He is a talented actor and cute as a button. So how did the pairing come

Hacksaw Ridge impressed me. It really did. It isn’t so much a war movie as a drama – but do not take that to mean that you will not get a super vivid, clear depiction of the war, because you will. More than an hour is spent setting up Doss’s character and experiences, and driving home what his morals are, and how he sticks by them. The second half shows what happened on Hacksaw Ridge, but never really more of the war. It is the story of one man, and it is an amazing story. I was truly awestruck by how insane the story was, but also how inspiring. I liked, too, that the movie was very detailed about Desmond Doss’s faith. It handled this in depth, but it never felt preachy. It never felt like the viewer was being lectured on faith. It simply told his story, and I really appreciated that. Nobody wants some holier than thou message being shoved down their throats.

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I thought that Garfield was absolutely fantastic here. Really. He owned that role and I totally believed in his plight, and I was beyond impressed here. Garfield and Palmer also shared some great chemistry, and I must admit that I really liked watching them together. The score worked wonders, never overpowering, never being absent. The cast did a pretty good job, and visually the film was really nice to look at, and the camera was never overly shaky cam or too steady, making it impossible to watch, or too structured, and I think that worked in favour here.

Hacksaw Ridge managed to balance the nastiness and brutality of war, while still give us an inspiring story of a man, his faith, and what he wanted to do. Gibson did another good job here, proving to us once again that he is not afraid of getting to the nitty gritty of a film. I would say this movie is well worth a watch.

My recommendation? Skip the trailer and go straight into the movie.

Sporadic Scene: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) – The Commercial

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The Commercial… there is not much else to say about this except that it was classic. Martin Riggs informs half the precinct that Murtaugh’s daughter Rianne is making her television debut in a commercial, and when Murtaugh arrives home, the family is just too excited to check out the commercial. However, the commercial that Rianne stars in shocks the hell out of Murtaugh and provides extreme laughs all round.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a link to the scene and an explanation as to why.

Rapid Review: Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

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“Since I met Riggs, I’ve had my house destroyed, my car wrecked, and now my boat sunk. What’s left?”
– Roger Murtaugh

SYNOPSIS: With personal crises and age weighing in on them, LAPD officers Riggs and Murtaugh must contend with a deadly Chinese crimelord trying to get his brother out of prison. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7I had a good time with this one. I thought it was a really cool way to bring them all together, to let us know that they are, indeed, getting too old for this shit, while never actually having any of this be annoying as hell. The fact that they addressed these things was awesome, and I am a huge fan of the way that the cast was kept consistent from the first movie all the way through to the end. That is something rare for ongoing film franchises. It’s the little things like that that can really make some things fantastic. Anyway, Murtaugh and Riggs are back in action, and naturally, wrong place, wrong time gives them their latest case, what with a lot of people being smuggled into the country. Riggs is adjusting to life with a pregnant Lorna, and Murtaugh needs to deal with the fact that Rianne is pregnant and unmarried. Chris Rock is brought in in this movie, and I was not his greatest fan, though him and Leo together did give me quite the giggle. Jet Li performed some pretty awesome martial arts, so it was something to see someone stand up against Riggs, who has never really had competition in that field, except maybe from Lorna. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson share more of that awesome chemistry, and you can really buy into them being these really tight cops with family-like bonds. Plus, Murtaugh and all his money was something that really had me giggling when the truth finally came out. Really, well done. This movie had more plot than the last one, though not an awful lot more. Whatever the case, it is far more memorable. I had a really great time watching these movies again – pure, simple entertainment. Overall, flaws and all, Lethal Weapon 4 was fun, more of the same formula that works, and quite a nice way to close off the franchise, despite what many have to say about it.

Rapid Review: Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

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“When you retire, you’re not just retiring you, you’re retiring us.”
– Martin Riggs

SYNOPSIS: Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh pursue an arms dealer who is a former LAPD officer. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5Yep, the boys are back. That is what I can say, and that I had a lot of fun here, too. Murtaugh is damn near about to retire, and his retirement will not only affect himself, but Riggs, too, which he didn’t take into consideration. They are still out there, causing trouble, pissing off the world, causing immense amounts of destruction while chasing down their leads, but it works. Again, Riggs meets a woman, but unlike Rika, who I felt was placed in the film purely for sexual reasons as well as to tie in the murder of Riggs’s wife, I think that Lorna is equal to Riggs and the one woman who can take his crap and give him hell. Leo Getz makes his return again, and at times his inclusion is good, other times he is simply annoying, once again. There is much enjoyment while watching the movie, but I must say that a week after the fact it just doesn’t stick with you quite the same way the previous two do. Not because it isn’t good, because it is entertaining, it just doesn’t come together as smoothly as the others – and the plot? Pretty much non-existent. The jokes came thick and fast though, so there was plenty to laugh at, and Murtaugh and Riggs show us, once again, why they are super tight. Gibson and Glover manage to work wonders with each other, and keep it fresh, convincing, and entertaining every step of the way, and they just click. I suppose that also helps to make this such an enjoyable watch. Rene Russo contributed to the story and wasn’t just some bimbo hanging around and I liked her. Trouble seems to follow Riggs and Murtaugh around constantly, but I am not complaining. Without them being so tight with Murphy, we wouldn’t have these movies then 🙂 Murtaugh’s retirement was something I was worried about. No ways, the dream team needed to work together still! Maybe later it could all stop! Thank goodness it was addressed though. Plus the Murtaugh family’s “retirement” board and countdown was classic. Overall, a fun, silly watch with a flimsy plot, but still does the job.

Rapid Review: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

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“You are not dead until I tell you!” 
– Roger Murtaugh

SYNOPSIS: Riggs and Murtaugh are on the trail of South African diplomats who are using their immunity to engage in criminal activities. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8I must say that I enjoyed this one, though I was shocked, too. Now that I am older and I understand the nature of my country, to see a film focused so heavily on South African baddies pre the fall of Apartheid was heavy. Now, if you’re from South Africa, just about any movies that refer back to our country way back in the day are bound to peeve you. They are usually stacked full of white guilt and terribly done, too, or done by people that don’t get the history so it becomes a hollow experience. Well, Lethal Weapon 2  didn’t try to be a very serious drama or anything. In fact, it took South African dudes as the bad guys and their awful racial biases and gave us a comedy. There are ridiculous accents (yes, Luke, it is an age old problem) to boot, though they did get some of the pronunctiation down, and I laughed at the Afrikaans tossed in there. I was shocked at the rate the k-word was dropped because here, by us? Say it in the streets. I dare you. Either you are going to get your ass handed to you or you are going to land up fighting a massive legal battle. True story. The plot was alright here, and I liked the small little things that they did to make it authentic for the South African bad guy – how dangerous the country was then (when Murtaugh went with Leo to “move” to SA) and the shipping containers being “Transvaal Lines” and the Afrikaans cussing… very cool. I actually laughed with Murtaugh at his final joke for the movie – racial punning but it was funny. I am probably going to be shot. I liked the reveal of more of Riggs’s past and the death of his wife, that was a little heavy. I was a huge fan of the partnership between Riggs and Murtaugh, obviously, and there were so many things that made me laugh (that commercial!), which is something I really value in a movie. Joe Pesci is introduced here, and while his character irritated me at times, I think he worked really well overall. It is such a cool thing for me to see how tight Riggs and Murtaugh are, and how Murtaugh’s family has taken Riggs in. He really is a part of them. The humour was good, the action was well worth it, there was some cheese, pretty fucking thin ideas and crazy shootouts and investigation techniques. The plot wasn’t bad either, and there were some pretty intense South African throwbacks. Overall, I think that this holds up really well after all the years, so definitely an action film to check out and enjoy!

Rapid Review: Lethal Weapon (1987)

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“I don’t make things complicated. That’s the way they get, all by themselves.”
– Martin Riggs

SYNOPSIS: Roger Murtaugh is an aging family man and sensible veteran police officer just trying to make it through the day unscathed. Martin Riggs is a suicidal loose cannon cop who doesn’t care if he even lives to see the end of the day. Reluctantly thrown together to solve the mysterious murder of a banker’s daughter, the unlikely duo uncovers a dangerous ring of drug smugglers employing ex-military mercenaries. After a tragic turn of events, the mission becomes personal and the mismatched investigators must learn to trust one another as they wage a two-man war against a deadly criminal organization. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5I know, it looks like I am having this massive Mel Gibson run on my blog at the moment, but that really isn’t what this is all about! I just so happened to buy the Lethal Weapon collection box set on special recently, and my Fridays needed filling. What better, honestly, than these? Well, off we go. Lethal Weapon is a real eighties action, buddy cop movie, and it is awesome. Watching it you can understand why it is so popular. The dialogue is sharp and witty, the action is over the top at times but always entertaining, the bad guys are crazy, the cop shop is something else, we have two partners who don’t want each other, a plot involving drugs and murder, and it all comes together quite well. I was entertained from the off, and Mel Gibson was perfectly cast here. His Martin Riggs really is just a little too crazy, never really conforming to the mould, completely bonkers, but he works it. But dear lord, a mullet is never going to look good. I will never, ever understand it. Then there is Danny Glover, and he is the perfect counterpart of Mel Gibson. He is the right age for his role, he is hilarious and works wonders as Murtaugh – he genuinely had me laughing. The humour is awesome, and the partnership between Riggs and Murtaugh is wonderful. Their “pretty fucking thin” investigation style provides endless entertainment, and the development between the two cops is well worth the watch. They aren’t immediately friends, but they warm up quite quickly, though they are worlds apart. Something I noticed in this movie that really drove the age of it home for me was a magnet/sticker on the Murtaugh family fridge: FREE SOUTH AFRICA. END APARTHEID NOW. Wow. That was before I was even born! Anyway, Lethal Weapon has held up incredibly well after 28 years (OMG) and is well worth the watch, whether for the first time or for a rewatch, you just can’t go wrong here!

Oh, and for the laughs, this is seriously one of my favourite scenes:

Rapid Review: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

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“I’m the guy who carries Mr. Dead in his pocket.”
– Max Rockatansky

SYNOPSIS: Robbed of his possessions whilst travelling through the Australian outback, Max manages to stumble upon Bartertown, a trading post for all manner of criminals and governed by Aunt Entity and Master Blaster. He is forced to fight on behalf of Aunt Entity in order that she gain complete control of the town, but he is thrown back out into the desert when the fight is over. He then stumbles upon a group of orphans, the only survivors of a plane crash during the nuclear war and with their help he returns to Bartertown. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5So after the highly entertaining Road Warrior, there is Beyond Thunderdome. I know this one also has a lot of love, and it was a good watch but the movie itself is truly uneven. The pacing is all over the show, the plot is flimsy and confusing, and so much is happening but doesn’t really flow as nicely as you would hope for it. However, Mel Gibson is back with some truly awful hair (crushes me, you all know how I love long hair) – at least they rectify that later – and he steps back into the boots of Max Rockatansky and he is good. Anyway, having the word “Thunderdome” in the title would naturally have you think that it was more important than it actually was in the movie at the end of the day. There was some weird bungee cord fight cage that Max and some big bloke called Blaster attacked each other in, and Tina Turner belting it from a small opening in the cage about making the law and all. Then somehow it jumps from there to a bunch of feral looking people out in the apocalyptic desert, waiting for a pilot to fly them away. I know, right, it all flows wonderfully. It’s as if it is two different films that have been meshed together. I really liked the first half, and I liked the end of it again, Max doing his thing and slipping away quietly, but the middle section was a bit sketch. Anyhow, the effects were alright, there was some cool car chasing going down again and some cheesy dialogue, and then there was the awful scene with Gibson hitting this one woman who wanted to leave (people, this should have been a warning of the upcoming crazy that was to be unleashed) and it was still a fun watch. This movie is nothing like the two before it, yet still holds its own as an entry to the Mad Max canon, messy as it may be.

Rapid Review: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

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“I’m just here for the gasoline.”
– Max Rockatansky

SYNOPSIS: A former police officer is now a lone wanderer, traveling through a devastated Australia after a nuclear war looking for now-priceless petrol. He lives to survive and is none too pleased when he finds himself the only hope of a small group of honest people running a remote oil refinery. He must protect them from the bike gang that is terrorizing them whilst transporting their entire fuel supply to safety.   – via IMDB

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GRADE 7.5Alrighty, on to the second installment of the Mad Max franchise after the none-too-fantastic first outing. The Road Warrior is definitely more Mad Max as I remember from a kid. Probably because this one is more memorable and stands out more, and really is put together quite well, with insane characters and excellent action. Plus Mel Gibson was looking pretty darn fine here, if I do say so (imagine that). There was more plot to this one than the last, which I enjoyed, though it is still nothing incredibly deep or super awesome or anything like that, it is enough to keep you engaged and entertained. What I am incredibly confused about is the S&M bondage gear that seemed so popular, especially with bad dude leader Humungus (plus his Jason-style hockey mask?). Uhm, alrighty then… if they do so insist. Besides that he looked absolutely ridiculous (truly), he was not a particularly grand villain, either, which was a pity. I always love a grand villain. I think more could have been done with him here. There are still some issues with this one, but overall The Road Warrior gives us Max as expected – disenchanted with the world, wandering, looking out purely for himself, smart and wily, a survivor, and bitter. He is one that will fight and come out tops, who slips in and out of the lives of others, but will ultimately always be the wanderer. The movie was shot well and the score worked for it, and Mel Gibson was fantastic here, so much more confident and comfortable in his role. This movie was also pretty rough in places, not really holding back on some pretty gruesome scenes (at least not seen completely, but there was a rape scene which was more than just alluded to), and I was rather surprised about that. I liked the uneasy “friendship” that developed between Max and The Gyro Captain, it added funny moments to the movie, and the post apocalyptic future they are living in looked quite good – barren, dry, dusty wastelands. It is not difficult to understand why this is the most popular of the original movie trilogy, as it is definitely a solid film on its own, well constructed, entertaining, a decent story and some pretty awesome action sequences and has that element of crazy (though presented and structured far better than the first film). I would highly recommend this one, and you can definitely skip out on the first one and just watch this, they don’t really follow too much anyway.

Rapid Review: Max Mad (1979)

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“Any longer out on that road and I’m one of them, you know? A terminal crazy… only I got a bronze badge to say I’m one of the good guys.”
– Max Rockatansky

SYNOPSIS: In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang. – via IMDB

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GRADE 5Well, gotta say that this is certainly not as good as I would have hoped. I have not seen the original Mad Max trilogy in years, and I thought it was time to check it out (obviously with the new release and all that). Hmmmmm. Not so good. It hasn’t aged well, has pretty much no story, and some of the worst parenting I have seen in a really long time. Max and his lady run off with their kid, yet when shit hits the fan, not a single person wondered about the child until too late. Now, the thing about this movie is that it starts slow and goes nowhere for an hour and ten minutes. The whole thing that you remember about this movie is crammed into the last fifteen to twenty minutes – what makes Max mad, what sets him off and gets him on this whole revenge mission, everything. Meanwhile, before we get there, we are in some form of dystopian future where we have no idea what the rules are or how the world has changed. We just need to sort of accept that it is filled with crazies. I suppose we should try buy into that, it just didn’t really work so well for me, but that is likely because the movie hasn’t aged as well as you would hope. If the story was just fleshed out more, it would not feel like you are going around in circles, waiting for something to happen, then have Max go on his revenge spree, but not actually do anything. The movie wasn’t shot terribly at all, all things considered, but I do feel that time could have been used to flesh out the characters more before the tragedy, making us feel something for Max’s plight. I remember Mad Max being so much more. This one didn’t tick that box as to why this was so popular. The score was alright, the dialogue was alright for the most part, it was shot quite well, it is just that I wanted more action, more revenge. It is marketed as a bloody revenge type dystopian action, but that isn’t really what it is all about. The movie itself isn’t quite sure what it wants to be, and this makes the pacing very uneven. I did like checking some old school Mel Gibson running around in leather, though all he is to me nowadays is some abusive cuckoo that lost the plot. Pity, too. The logic in the movie didn’t follow so well, like how that biker gang just so happened to constantly be wherever Max was, but other things it got right (like how run down and sad everything looked in the future). I think that Mad Max is riding on the cult classic status it has achieved, which is beyond me. It certainly can’t be this . Overall it is a hollow experience, and is just pretty much there to introduce us to Max as a character as well as the dystopian world, and how he became Mad Max, preparing us for the movies to come, seeing as this didn’t really bring too much to the table.