‘Dunkirk’ Review

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy, James D’Arcy, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh

Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Based on the real event during World War II, and one of the most disastrous military missions in British history, Dunkirk is told through the perspective of three different viewpoints with imagined characters director Christopher Nolan made up, and a few characters that were based off real people. However, that doesn’t make Dunkirk any less of an important history film. I personally didn’t know anything about the real event at Dunkirk, and held off reading anything about the event until after the movie. This isn’t also your typical Nolan movie either, which makes the experience so much better. So let’s not waste any more space and get to what makes Dunkirk so damn good.

Nolan does do some experimenting with this film as it jumps across three different timelines that weave together in a slow fashion – all of them dealing with the British evacuation of Dunkirk. There’s the shoreline nicknamed The Mole, which takes place over the course of a week and follows British soldier Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and a fellow soldier he comes across played by Damien Bonnard, as they try to get out of Dunkirk. There’s “The Sea” that takes place over a day and follows Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney), and George (Barry Keoghan) who sail to Dunkirk as a rescue party and pick up a soldier (Cillian Murphy) along the way. Finally, “The Air” which takes place over the course of an hour and follows British pilots Collins (Jack Lowden) and Farrier (Tom Hardy) who provide air support for the ships.

One of the things you obviously notice right away about the film, despite big names like Hardy, Murphy, Rylance, James D’Arcy and Kenneth Branagh appearing, they are nothing more than supporting roles. Although, I’d make the argument that Rylance is one of the leads of the film, but I’ll leave that up to you. Also, considering this is a war film, you’re probably expecting buckets of blood and a hardcore brutal look at war like Saving Pirate Ryan right? Well, you don’t get that. However, you did get something better, for the lack of a better word – a cold, relentless and unforgiving look at war.

There never is a real safe place in their film, which adds to the tension every time we get what could be a moment of peace. Combine that with Hans Zimmer’s amazing score with a ticking clock that is both unnerving, but blends right into the scenes perfectly. Considering that, I was surprised like most people were that Dunkirk’s runtime is only an hour and forty-six minutes. Not that war films have to be long, but even with that “short” runtime, Dunkirk tells the story it is trying to tell.

I don’t know if people will see this as a negative, but Nolan doesn’t really get into any back stories of the characters. Everything is very in the moment, despite the non-linear narrative Nolan is putting on. You get a sense on who the characters might be by their actions, but Nolan doesn’t really give anyone an exposition dump to tell their story. The only real person that gets a ton of dialogue is Branagh’s Commander Bolton who is trying to get everyone out of Dunkirk. The other characters like Whitehead’s Tommy, who opens the film, can be seen as the lead of the film, but since the film jumps around I was okay that he wasn’t the central focus – but again that could be me

That said, the cast is great with everyone holding their own and not stealing the spotlight from anyone. Whitehead spends the majority of the film with Harry Styles, who surprisingly is not that bad. This could easily be seen as stunt casting, but the singer isn’t bad in his acting debut. Cillian Murphy is terrific as the soldier pleading with Mark Rylance’s character to turn back and go home. Speaking of Rylance, he does fine job as Mr. Dawson and his two main co-stars Barry Keoghan as George and Tom Glynn-Carney’s Peter. Jack Lowden and Tom Hardy as the pilots are only involved in the dogfights, which are great and enthralling to watch.

Even with the great cast, this movie belongs to Nolan and the crew. Specifically, the already mentioned Hans Zimmer and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, who gives us the massive scope, but captures the intense dread and desperation of the characters, especially the ones on The Mole as they hear the German planes fly over them dropping bombs on them.

All in all, Dunkirk is an intense film that doesn’t let you go until the very end. Christopher Nolan was able to do something different in the war genre that I hope people appreciate and find the nuances with the great cinematography and score.

Dunkirk

4.5 out of 5

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Mini-Reviews: Allied & Manchester by the Sea

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. This time, it’s more of a mixed than it was last time. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Allied

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Steven Knight

Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Daniel Betts, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode and Simon McBurney.

Synopsis: In 1942, an intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fight on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressure of war.

 

Robert Zemeckis is back with a World War II drama that sees two great actors come together to give the genre a little twist. So it’s a little hard to fathom how Zemeckis was able make a bit of a water-downed film with great performances, but overall the structure of the film really hurts the film.

Allied follows spy Max Vatan (Pitt) who goes undercover in French Morocco in 1942 where he meets with French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) to pull off a mission to kill the German ambassador. The two eventually fall in love with each other and move to London where they get married and have a child. However, Max suddenly gets called in by British intelligence and is told that his wife could be a German spy. Not only that, if it is true, Max has to kill her himself. What follows is Max’s quest for answers to something he doesn’t believe.

Allied works on some levels. Pitt and Cotillard are great together and hold their own when need be. However, the first half of the film is much better than the second half. Also, Cotillard has much more to do and is fleshed out a lot more in the first half than the second. Seeing her work her charm against high ranking German officials so they can get close to the ambassador they need to kill was fun to watch, but afterwards it becomes Max’s story on whether or not his wife is a spy and what is he willing to do to prove it’s not true. There’s nothing wrong with it becoming Max’s story, but when it does turn all its attention to him, Cotillard doesn’t really do anything until the final twenty minutes of the film.

The film also loses some of its intensity after the first half of the film. Some of the big tension moments don’t have the sense of level of urgency or intense moment of fear or not knowing, so it doesn’t really help considering this is a spy drama thriller. There are great moments, I don’t want to take away anything from the film on that front, but overall the film lacked a certain push the film needed to push it over the top.

All in all, Allied is a fine film with good performances, but the sudden change of perspective and it lack of focus and intensity like the first half hinders the film from being great.

Allied

3 out of 5

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Manchester by the Sea

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Writers: Kenneth Lonergan

Cast: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, C.J. Wilson, Kyle Chandler and Matthew Broderick

Synopsis: An uncle is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

 

Manchester by the Sea’s synopsis sounds rather simple, add in the fact that it’s getting a limited release at first will add to people’s decision to maybe pass this up. However, the film has been making a ton of waves on the film festival circuit, and is already getting people predicting this is a huge front runner come Oscar season. Finally watching the film, I can see why. Manchester by the Sea is truly one of the best films of the year, and one that is very human when it comes to dealing with loss and grief.

The film follows Lee Chandler (Affleck), a loner janitor/handyman in Boston who is a bit rude and doesn’t seem interested in anything going on around him. That changes a bit when he gets a phone call saying his brother Joe (coincidently played by Kyle Chandler) has passed away. Lee makes the journey back to the small town of Manchester to settle his brother’s affairs, which also includes dealing with Joe’s teenage son Patrick (Hedges), and Joe’s wish of Lee watching over him. What follows is Lee and Patrick’s story of the both of them dealing with the loss of Joe, and how the deal with their situation as well as Lee dealing with linger thoughts of his own traumatic event.

Like I mentioned before, the synopsis sounds rather simple but there is a lot to unpack in the film, and all of it is worthwhile. The film doesn’t rely on usual character yelling at each other before reaching that peak moment of emotions that they forgive each other and are finally happy. The film feels real, and lets every character go through their own emotions like everyone does. Everyone grieves differently, and the film shows that in its way.

The great thing is that we spend enough time with Lee and Patrick, and get to know them. Casey Affleck continues to show that he can handle great material and isn’t just Ben Affleck’s brother. Affleck as Lee is rather intriguing to watch. A good chunk of Lee’s backstory is told through flashbacks that not only make us understand a bit of where Lee is coming from, but is tremendous effective and dramatic. I’d be surprised if Affleck isn’t at least nominated for Best Actor come Oscar season. However, it’s Affleck’s rapport with young actor Lucas Hedges that carries the middle of the film. Hedges has done some projects like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, and even a small role in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but this really allowed him to break loose and show his range. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing Hedges in a lot more things soon. The rest of the cast fairs well too with Michelle Williams making the most of her small screen time with a powerful performance near the end of the film.

All in all, Manchester by the Sea is one of those films you should experience for yourself. It’s a very real emotional film that is lead by Casey Affleck in one of the best films of the year. All the buzz surrounding the film is completely worth it, and while at times the film may feel aimless, it’s done in a way that actually works.

Manchester by the Sea

4.5 out of 5

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‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Review

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Director: Mel Gibson

Writers: Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffths, and Vince Vaughn

Synopsis: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Directed by Mel Gibson, his first since Apocalypto in 2006, Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of a real-life hero during World War II in Desmond Doss, whose story I’ve personally never heard of, and it’s unbelievable that his story isn’t told more. The film isn’t a full look into Doss’ life, nor is it his full time in the war, but only a small part during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge. Gibson himself said that he took some liberties with some parts of the battle and didn’t including everything because he thought some audiences wouldn’t believe it, which if and when you watch the film, it hard to believe that Doss did even more than what was shown.

Hacksaw Ridge follows Desmond Doss (Garfield), a religious man who is the son of a World War I vet, Tom (Weaving), who decides to enlist into the army to be a medic and help save his fellow soldiers. However, his beliefs of not picking up a gun puts him into a headstrong battle with his military superiors and fellow soldiers, who see him as a coward, and after getting through a Court Marshall hearing, is sent into war without a weapon to defend himself with, becoming a Conscientious Objector. What follows is an incredible heroic story of what Doss was able to do and how many lives he saved during that horrific battle.

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Doss’ life is certainly one that will make you question his beliefs, which is reasonable and it’s something that Gibson doesn’t shy too much away from, especially at the time this film takes place. However, Gibson and Andrew Garfield’s performance do bring humanity and reason to Doss’ beliefs, and his convictions keeps us invest throughout the film. We almost have no choice but to root for him, especially when the army tries to punish him.

His heroism is put on full display during the war scenes. Of course, we know that Gibson can direct war battles, and this was a real event were many men lost their lives, so walking in we already knew that this was going to be brutal to watch – and it was. The constant bombs going off with bullets whizzing by makes you feel that sometimes you’re running with the men on Hacksaw Ridge. The battle sequences are brutal, but not as brutal as Gibson’s other films, especially since the film relies a bit of CGI for some scenes – you can’t go blowing people’s face off now can you?

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Despite this being a war film, the film is carried and driven by the performances. Garfield is terrific as Doss, playing him at first as the off-beat character from Virginia, so harrowing hero in the midst of death surrounding him. Teresa Palmer plays his future wife, Dorothy, who brings levity to the film, but once Doss goes to the war, she is never seen again, which is kind of a shame but makes sense. Luke Bracey’s Smitty Ryker is one of the antagonistic soldiers to Doss, but has a great scene with Doss near the middle of the film that makes you forget he was in the Point Break remake.

Vince Vaughn pops in as Sgt. Howell, and while it is a little hard to believe him as an army sergeant at first, but Vaughn plays the role well enough. Sam Worthington play Captain Glover, who leads the charge to get Doss to quit the army. Worthington has been great since taking a break from mainstream big studio films, and he continues the trend here. Hugo Weaving as Doss’ father, Tom, has a great arc in the film and even with minimal screen-time he does what he has to do. The rest of the cast do well too, but most of them have only small amounts of screen time and once we get to the battle scenes it’s a bit hard to really recognize them.

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The most important thing about this film is that it doesn’t go straight into the war battles. We really get to know Doss before and after he registers, and see who he is before he’s thrown into war. The film does introduce someone close to Doss’ life that suddenly disappears without reason, and while you can say “that’s a little thing,” when you look at the film with a wider lens, it would have been nice to see that character mentioned or seen again.

All in all, Hacksaw Ridge is a great look into a hero that I don’t think many people knew about. Andrew Garfield brings Desmond Doss to life and shows us the hardship he went through to save others during World War II. Filled with some great action, and some surprising humor, Hacksaw Ridge has me waiting to see what Mel Gibson does next.

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Hacksaw Ridge

4.5 out of 5

November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

 

4th

Limited Release: Loving

Loving has been getting some great reviews on the film festival circuit, and it helps that the film is based on a true story. Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple, are sentenced to a prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. The film also stars Will Dalton, Alano Miller, Chris Greene, Sharon Blackwood, Nick Kroll, Bill Camp, Marton Csokas, and Michael Shannon.

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Trolls (Animation – 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation)

Yes, a movie about those lovable toys from the 80s is getting a feature-length filmed. Does it really matter what it’s about? You’re taking your kids to go see whether you like it or not! The voice cast includes Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Gwen Stefani, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhane Wallis, Russell Brand, Ron Funches, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor and John Cleese.

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Hacksaw Ridge (Biography War Drama – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Vendian Entertainment/Demarest Media/Icon Productions)  

Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair with this film that follows WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the Battle of Okinawa, who refused to pick up a gun and kill, and became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, the man knows how to direct and the film looks great. Hacksaw Ridge also stars Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Rachel Griffiths, Matt Nable, Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving.

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Doctor Strange (Fantasy Action Adventure – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures)

Marvel is once again being ambitious by bring the magic side of the comics to life. After his career is destroyed, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon gets a new lease on life when a sorcerer takes him under his wing and trains him to defend the world against evil. Scott Derrickson directs Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange aka Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Scott Adkins. The film looks pretty trippy and, yes, does have an Inception-vibe, but with a cast like this, and director Scott Derrickson onboard, we’re looking at another big hit for Marvel.

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11th

Limited Release: Elle

Based on the novel by Phillppe Djian, and directed by Paul Verhoeven, the film follows a successful businesswoman (Isabelle Huppert), who gets caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.

 

Limited Release in 3D: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Comedy Drama – Sony Pictures/TriStar Productions/Marc Platt Productions/Dune Films)

Directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel by Ben Fountain, 19-year-old Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks the film shows what really happened to his squad – contrasting the realities of war with America’s perceptions. The film doesn’t look that bad, and Ang Lee is doing the interesting move on filming the movie in a high-frame rate. The film will star Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Makenzie Leigh, Tim Blake Nelson, and Steve Martin.

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Shut In (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/Lava Bear Films)

A widowed child psychologist (Naomi Watts), who lives in an isolated existence in rural New England with her comatose son (Charlie Heaton), gets caught in a deadly winter storm. However, that’s not her only problem as she starts to question her reality and tries to find a boy (Jacob Tremblay) she recently lost under her care. The film looks pretty creepy, and the isolation aspect could lead to some great moments. The film also stars Crystal Balint, Tim Post, Clementine Poidatz and Oliver Platt.

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Almost Christmas (Comedy – Universal Pictures)

A dysfunctional family gathers together for their first Thanksgiving since their mom died. The cast includes Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher, Omar Epps, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, and Kimberly Elise.

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Arrival (Sci-Fi Drama – Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario), the film takes place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. Arrival has some good things going for it. Villeneuve is a great director and has a cast of Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma. It also helps that early reviews have been nothing but positive, even saying Arrival could be a surprise Oscar contender.

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18th

Limited Release: The Take (Action Drama)

A young con artist (Richard Madden) and former CIA agent (Idris Elba) embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France. The film was originally titled Bastille Day, a special holiday in France, the film was pushed back and delayed after the attacks in France, and is now getting a release date. The film also stars Kelly Reilly, Charlotte Le Bon, and Anatol Yusef.

 

Limited Release: The Eyes of My Mother (Horror Drama)

A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life. The film looks rather creepy to be honest, and the fact that the film is shot in black and white makes it all the more.

 

Limited Release: Manchester by the Sea (Drama)

An uncle (Casey Affleck) is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies, but is also dealing with his own personal troubles. Manchester by the Sea looks absolutely fantastic, and I’ve hear NOTHING but good things about this. The film also stars Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Matthew Broderick, Josh Hamilton and Tate Donovan.

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Limited Release: Nocturnal Animals (Drama Thriller)

Based on Austin Wright’s novel “Tony and Susan,” an art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale. Again, another film with a great cast that I’m surprised is getting a limited release. Nocturnal Animals stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney and Michael Shannon.

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Expanded Release: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

 

Bleed for This (Biography Drama – Open Road Films/Verdi Productions/Magna Entertainment/Bruce Cohen Productions/Younger Than You)

Based on the story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), who after a near fatal car crash which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks. The film doesn’t look to bad really, and I’m a bit surprised it’s only getting a limited release. Bleed for This also stars Katey Sagal, Aaron Eckhart, Ted Levine, and Ciaran Hinds.

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The Edge of Seventeen (Comedy – Sony Pictures/STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) when her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), starts dating her older brother (Blake Jenner). I didn’t really think anything about this, I thought it would be just another teeny bopper movie, but I saw the trailer and it does looks pretty damn funny. The film also stars Woody Harrelson, Alexander Calvert, and Kyra Sedgwick.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros.)

Set 70-years before the events of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling brings us back to the Wizarding World by following writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who ends up in New York with a secret community of witches and wizards, and has to track down fantastic beasts that have gotten out of his magical briefcase. Harry Potter series director David Yates comes back to direct and also stars Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler, Colin Farell, Ron Pearlman, and Jon Voight.

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23rd

Expanded Release: Nocturnal Animals 

 

Rules Don’t Apply (Comedy Romance Drama – 20th Century Fox/RatPace Entertainment/New Regency Pictures/Shangri-La Entertainment/Demarest Films)

Warren Beatty returns behind the camera after twenty plus years, and follows an unconventional love story of an aspiring actress (Lily Collins), her determined driver (Alden Ehrenreich), and the eccentric billionaire (Beatty) who they work for. There was something about the trailer that doesn’t grab me, and if the trailer has trouble define what tone it’s going to take, that is a bit of a problem. The rest of the cast is also great with Haley Bennett, Alec Baldwin, Taissa Farmiga, Matthew Broderick, Steve Coogan, Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Candice Bergen and Martin Sheen.

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Allied (Thriller – Paramount Pictures)

Robert Zemeckis directs and Steven Knight (Locke, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Peaky Blinders) writes Allied. Set in 1942, Max (Brad Pitt), a French-Canadian spy, falls in love and marries French agent Marianne (Marion Cotillard), after a mission in Casablanca. Max is notified that Marianne is likely a Nazi spy and begins to investigate her. Allied also stars Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Raffey Cassidy, Charlotte Hope and Jared Harris.

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Bad Santa 2 (Comedy – Miramax/Broad Green Pictures)

The long awaited sequel to Bad Santa will finally arrive, and fans look to be excited. The film will bring back Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) as he’s roped into another heist by his fresh-out-of-jail -sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox) to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve, the problem is that Willie’s mother, played by Kathy Bates, finds out and joins in. The film will also stars Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly, and Ryan Hansen.

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Moana (Animation – Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

A young woman, Moana (Auli’I Cravalho) uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The film is being directed by longtime Disney animated film directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who have directed films like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog. The rest of the voice cast includes Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk.

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25th

Lion (The Weinstein Company/See-Saw Films/Aquarius Films/Screen Australia)

Based on the novel by Saroo Brierley, a five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Caluctta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he set out to find his lost family. The film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham

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Miss Sloane (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/FilmNation Entertainment)

An ambitious lobbyist, played by Jessica Chastain, faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass control legislation. The film also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Allison Pill, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Dylan Baker, Douglas Smith, John Lithgow and Sam Waterston.

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What are you looking forward to?

‘Fury’ Review

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Dir: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jim Parrack, Brad William Henke, Kevin Vance, Xavier Samuel and Jason Isaacs

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

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

Unlike most wars movies, David Ayer’s Fury sets the action near the end of World War II. The Allied forces are moving into Germany, troops are starting to break down, and the tank forces are down to only a few. The film follows one particular tank, “Fury” which is lead by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt) and his crew Boyd “Bible” Swan (LaBeouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Pena), and Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Bernthal). We find out that they have just lost someone in the crew and has been replaced with new recruit and typist Norman Ellison (Lerman), who is completely out of his element. The crew is then sent out and have survive not just the war but each other, which is easier said than done.

 

We quickly learn who our main characters are. Pitt’s “Wardaddy” is the tough no nonsense sergeant, Pena’s “Gordo” is a hard drinking wise-ass driver, Bernthal’s Grady is the loader and is more “beast than man” as someone points out to him and “Bible” is religious – hence the name – and is the tank’s gunner. The group isn’t perfect. They have their little arguments and fight here and there, but the next minute they would be willing to die for each other. However, the group dynamics really show you how war can break a man and what happens when you do it for a long time.

 

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While we get to know the crew of “Fury,” the story could really be about Wardaddy and Norman. Both men are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to war. One being a seasoned fighter and the other is desperately trying to survive after being thrown in hell. One understands that you need to let the urge to kill off and it’s a kill or be killed world – which he shows him the hard way. The other is still trying to keep his innocence and acts as a surrogate for the audience to show us that these men might be far too gone.

 

This is driven more home by a scene that involves the whole group in a home with two German women (played by Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg). The difference is light and day. Although I will admit the scene is a bit long but it does serve its purpose and builds up a lot of tension.

 

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The movie is brutal. Pitt’s Wardaddy even makes a statement that sums it up pretty nicely, “ideals are peaceful, history is violent.” Fury doesn’t hold back on the violence, at all. The first death comes within the first two minutes of the film and it gives you an idea on how violent and brutal the movie is going to be – also the fact that it’s a war movie should give you a good impression too.

 

Of course the movie is about a tank crew, so you can guess there is some a pretty good amount of tank action. The action is pretty great and you get a good feel that these characters have been doing this for a while. They all have their part of play and play it well. They can’t afford to not by in sync because everything needs to be lined up just right. One standout tank sequence comes near the end of the film where it’s a three-on-one tank battle. It’s got great tension, cinematography, and well action.

 

As you can probably assume, the cast is great here. Pitt is obviously good at barking orders, and does have moments where he cuts loose on the action. But it’s also his performance when he’s not being a leader, those moments when it looks like he’s trying to keep a grasp of some humanity. Lerman holds his own against the rest of the seasoned cast and shares most of his scenes with Pitt, and it shows that he stepped up his game to be on that same level of talent.

 

Bernthal is basically the bully and most unhinged of the group, but has his reasons. LaBeouf has his moments and one standout moment near the end but along with Pena doesn’t get much to do and get thrown a bit in the backburner. Jason Isaacs also shows up as a commander that gives “Fury” its order but is nothing more than just a very small role.

 

All in all, Fury is a brutal, action drama that shows us that sometimes heroes are not always perfect and have to cross into the grey area to survive. There are some problems here and there, but the great performances and tank action make the film easy to seat through.

 

Brad Pitt in Fury

 

Fury

4 out of 5