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.

August Blind Spot Review: Into the Wild (2007)

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“The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences.”
– Chris McCandless

SYNOPSIS: After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7Alright, now I can finally cross this off my massive watch list, too. I must say that while I enjoyed the movie, I did not absolutely love and adore it, and think it is a little hyped up. Maybe a tad too much. Anyway, that being said, there was a lot to like about this. There was the huge, sprawling backdrop of America that Chris traverses on his journey to Alaska, and all the people he meets along the way and the influence that he has on them and, inversely, them on him is fascinating and worth checking out. Hirsch, of course, shines here, and I think he is quite a talented actor. Chris and his motivations to up and leave his family one day are very complex, and can be seen as both understandable as well as completely cooked, depending which side of the spectrum you fall on and how you look at it. I think the whole cast did quite well with what they brought to the table, and made the tale real. I did enjoy the concept of finding yourself, becoming your own person, and how society influences all of these things on one hand, but at times the movie was a little heavy handed with sharing these concepts with the viewer. I also took issue with how long the movie is, and I am not one to quickly point something like that, especially not in a drama film, but this movie took forever. I was interested, not riveted, and I enjoyed it, but I do think that it could have done with some tightening. There were also parts where the movie felt hollow – like it set out to be something else, but didn’t quite hit the heights that it had wanted. For me personally, that is. Anyway, I think it is worth a watch, but I was not as taken with it as I had expected. The film is shot well, looks good, has a strong cast carrying it, and is interesting, but ultimately it falls a little short of the ambitious mark that it set for itself.

January Blind Spot Review: Swingers (1996)

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“Everybody steals from everybody, that’s Hollywood.”
– Trent

SYNOPSIS: Wannabe actors become regulars in the stylish neo-lounge scene; Trent teaches his friend Mike the unwritten rules of the scene. – via IMDB

swingers so money

GRADE 7Alrighty, so I can finally cross this off of my to watch list, and goodness knows it has been on there forever because I like both Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. I found this to be entertaining but not great, though it did have places where it slumped a bit, which was disappointing. I found the antics of these guys to be so crazy, but on the other hand, I could understand it. These guys have uprooted their lives to make it big in show business, but it is not as easy as it would seem. They have settled into a rhythm of “fake it until you make it” and have built up night life and partying for themselves to sort of live their dream. These guys are at that age where pretty  much every human being finds themselves in life – wondering what you are doing and where you are going, both in life as well as your career. The performances were good, and watching these guys trying to figure things out with each other was pretty good. Just the way some things were said made me laugh quite a bit, and money has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Mike annoyed me somewhat by being so exceptionally hung up on his ex – he was so whiny. I sort of got what his friends were going through, being irritated and exasperated about that situation constantly coming up. It made him someone I just wanted to slap, and watching him grow and change was not always a gratifying experience. Until the last third, that is. Then it was great to see the changes in him, and how the relationships shift between him, his ex, his friends. The humour, while good, it a little stiff in places, but that might have to do with how the times have changed. Overall, I found the film to be decent, and I am happy to say that I have watched it now when I get asked (trust Murphy, it won’t be frequently anymore now that I can say I have).

Rapid Review: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

jurassic park the lost world poster“Okay, so there is another island of dinosaurs, no fences this time and you wanna send people in, very few people, on the ground? Right?”
– Dr Ian Malcolm

SYNOPSIS: With the apparent public discovery of the ‘Site B’ production island full of dinosaurs, John Hammond assembles a team to visit and document the area before it is exploited by others. Included in the four man team are Dr. Ian Malcolm and his girlfriend, Dr. Sarah Harding. When the team reaches the island, they soon discover the presence of another group of people. This new group however are not there for biological data but instead have something more sinister in mind. After a series of events, both groups become stranded when all their communication equipment is lost. It is then that the terror really begins as both groups scramble for their lives. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5Yes, I am aware I might catch some flak for this (but maybe not too much). Now, naturally when Jurassic Park is your predecessor, you have quite the big achievement to top. It is little wonder that, no matter how fun The Lost World is, it never hits the heights of the last one. Not that it is bad, it just cannot rival it. Anyway, to visit a new concept of an island with dinosaurs roaming freely was, of course, going to be a lot of fun. Pair that with the fact that you are bringing back the snarky Ian Malcolm, and you should have a winning recipe. You should, except that you threw in Julianne Moore’s Sarah Harding. A lot went downhill from there. What a bloody nuisance. There is no other way to look at her character at all. I mean, this is saying something because I really, really like Julianne Moore, but she worked on my nerves here. Goodness, she was silly and daft and just… no. Why?! Just, why?! A young Vince Vaughn was also entertaining, but despite all these things and a decent cast, things did not come together as well as one would hope. The movie feels like it never found its footing. Naturally a kid had to be dragged in here somewhere so that every kid in the world watching this had someone to identify with, which was great back in the day. However, now I am older and more grown up, and want to know exactly how the T-Rexes were convinced that they should just be patient, get baby, then strike back and toss them off the cliff? Not to mention (and I really, really need to know about this one) you have dinosaurs on Isla Sorna. They live there. They stay there. They won’t move. But you have flying species there, too, and no way to contain them on the island? How does this even make sense? It got a little out of  hand in places. Also, that ending felt very Man of Steel – it felt like it was over, setup for a new movie, but wait! There’s more! The T-Rex is taking the city! Oh well. Not the worst movie in the world but definitely not a highlight of Spielberg’s.