Movie Review: 13 HOURS, The Secret Soliders of Benghazi


Given that this incident in Libya happened on September 11, 2012 I am rather surprised that it took this long to make a movie about what happened that day.

Micheal Bay has a very unique way of making movies and I for one mostly find his constant flashing to different scenes method quite annoying, but for this movie; which was a lot like “Black Hawk Down” his style of direction mostly worked, much to my surprise. At times the movie dragged on too long and it took almost full hour before anything really happened.  In the end, soldiers with families were killed and many civilians were in harms way during the raid which started at the Ambassador’s compound and then moved to the CIA location in the city. Given the size of the attack and the weapons used, its rather extraordinary that more people were not killed. The war scenes were very well done and realistic for the most part during this over 2 hour movie.

Chris Stevens US Ambassador to Benghazi Libya was killed in the raid on his compound on September 11, 2012 and as a result major political problems and blame towards Hilary Clinton, who was the Secretary of State at the time, began. The bottom line is that Libya is now a stronghold for ISIS and for the most part there is nothing anyone can do to avoid future attacks like this, including terrorist attacks.  As far as the blame anyone should take for this raid, including Hillary Clinton ; that is ultimately up to each individual to decide on their own. The problem with Congress and investigations like this one is they are always looking for someone to blame for anything that goes wrong, but the real blame for an attack like this is years of mistakes that were made that has enabled terrorism and countries like Libya to exist in the first place.

Despite the slow parts in this movie, and there were several, the tension level was at a high level most of the time and I do recommend this movie which reminded me of the movie “Black Hawk Down”.

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13 Hours – IMDB

Movie Review: Dirty Grandpa


The logic that people will use when they go see this bad movie is, “Well, Robert De Niro is in it and he would never make a garbage movie, so it just has to be good”. Unfortunately this is also the logic that I used when I decided to see this horrible movie. I could not be more surprised that an actor of the caliber of Robert De Niro could read a script like this, think it was funny or something, and then decide to make it. I often wonder when I see a very bad movie that there must be some kind of favor queue that producers, actors and directors have to endure just to stay in the field and keep making movies. They have to promise to give back a favor to someone who did them a favor in the past and to repay that favor they have to make a horrible movie. Not only is this movie never funny, its actually disgusting in a number of areas. There is one scene in particular at the beginning of this movie that you cannot believe De Niro agreed to play to perhaps even risk losing some of his hard earned respect in the field and some fans along the way.

You have to also wonder what is the count of bad movies an actor can make before his career is over. Zac Efron has made several extremely bad movies lately and you have to figure that he is close to ruining his career very soon after this latest disaster. He also seems to like being naked in many of his movies and for the 2nd time (the last time in the very bad movie Neighbors) he wears a puppet over his genital area as well as being unnecessarily naked in a good deal of this movie. Perhaps the reason for this is that the producers realize that this movie is so bad that the only way to get people to see it would be to have this actor naked so that at least young women might go see it. How about Efron having some kind of integrity or pride in himself as an actor and not make horrible movies like this where he is naked and in humiliating situations so many times. How bad do you want to be an actor? How bad do you need to make the big money? Is it worth humiliating yourself in front of millions of movie goers?

I was also surprised at the amazing overuse of the “F” word in this movie.
De niro and Efron use this word probably 300 times, perhaps even coming close to breaking the over 500 “F” word Tally of the “Wolf of Wall Street”, which came out in 2013. The fundamental issue I bring up again in this blog as I have mentioned before in this blog, “Is being raunchy always funny”. The answer to this question of course is no and this movie proves this point as well as any movie ever has.

Aubrey Plaza is a very funny actress but in this movie even she fails to get ever one laugh. There is a scene at a wedding reception where the actress Julianne Hough is on stage singing a song horrible (on purpose in a failed attempt to be funny) and Zac Efron’s character is trying to tell her that the wedding is off through people in the audience. What followed was a horribly unfunny and lame attempt to communicate what Efron’s character was telling his fiance through some handicapped and old people in the audience. This joke was milked far longer than it should have and from this very first attempt at stupid humor; it failed miserably.

This movie was supposed to be a comedy and nobody laughed in the audience, not even once.

Do yourself a favor and miss this horrible mess, one of the worst movies I have seen in a while.

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Dirty Grandpa IMDB

Movie Preview: London has Fallen


One of the best action movies in recent years was 2013’s “Olympus has Fallen”. This action movie was very well done and in that same year the movie “White House Down” came out and had the exact same idea about terrorists taking over the White House. “White House Down” was good but was not nearly as good as “Olympus has Fallen”.

I am happy to report the release of the sequel to “Olympus has Fallen”, “London Has Fallen” which comes out in March 2016. Below is the movie trailer.

Movie Review: The 5th Wave


This movie had the promise of great special effects and a world-wide alien invasion. The trailers for this movie looked impressive but unfortunately the only good special effects are in the beginning and few and far between the rest of the way.  The middle of this movie is more like a soap opera with some attempted twists and turns along the way, but for the most part this is a pretty boring 2 hours.  I originally wondered why this was not a summer movie release and some kind of a block buster. Very soon in this movie you realize why its a January release movie and more like a B movie than something that could be considered impressive.

The idea behind the 5th wave is that the first wave is that the aliens cut off all power, then they create massive earthquakes and tsunami’s, then they modify a bird virus to wipe out most of the human race, the 4th wave is the arrival of the aliens who can take over the body of a human and then pitting humanity against itself to wipe out the world. The concept of all of this is believeable but the movie comes off as stupid and boring overall because the story is just not compelling enough to hold your attention for the whole two hours. There is a love story that is somewhat interesting and the actress Chloe Grace Moretz   is very believable in her role, but she is not enough to save this movie.

I cannot recommend the 5th Wave.

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Chloë Grace Moretz

Oscar Boycott Controversy


A few years ago, the Oscar’s decided to have as many as 10 movies that could be nominated for best picture. This year for some reason, only 8 movies were nominated which eliminated great movies like Concussion and Joy from the list of this years best pictures. Considering the decision to have 10 movies in the list some years ago, why wasn’t a similar decision made for all the acting categories, allowing for as many as 10 actors per category to be potentially nominated?

Very simply, if the major categories in the Oscar’s did not have a limit of 5 then this years Boycott of the Oscar’s because no black actors or movies directed by black directors were nominated this year. Clearly, its wrong that Will Smith in Concussion was not nominated for Best Actor along with Michael B. Jordan in Creed and several other omissions even within the limit of 5 nominees. Many errors were made with this years Oscar nominations and many errors have been made in the past, but by just expanding the number of people just like w

Movie Review: Ride Along 2


The easiest movies to any movie reviewer to review are comedies.  The reason why its so easy to review movies like this is because you have the sound of audience feedback, the laughter you hear in the audience to reinforce your opinion that the movie is either funny or not funny. If the movie is funny then people will laugh, if the movie is not funny then there is silence. Unfortunately, for Ride Along 2, like Ride Along there just were not enough funny scenes or dialog to agree that the movie is funny.  After almost 2 hours there was only one scene in a car where Kevin Hart’s character and Jen Jeong’s character are talking about Star Wars and other issues and Ice Cube and Olivia Munn are in the front seat making faces because the conversation is so annoying.  This scene works for the most part because of the relentless ranting from 2 nerds talking about nerdy things and you know the “shut up” is coming at the end.  Unfortunately for this movie, this is the only time I noticed some laughing in the audience.

As I have said about other movies that Kevin Hart has been involved with, he is a very good stand up comedian, but much too often his movies are not funny or too plain average and because he is in so many movies this may catch up with him soon because he is in way too many movies. In my opinion, Kevin should take some time off for a while and concentrate on his stand up act because this is another pretty boring and average movie.

Ice Cube’s character in this movie, as he was in the last movie and most of his other movies is always in a bad mood and the question is, how long can we have Ice Cube getting annoyed at Kevin Hart before it gets old. Odds are high that there will be a “Ride Along 3” but you just have to figure that after the 3rd movie in this series comes out that people will finally get tired of the moody angry Ice Cube character and the relentlessly annoying Kevin Hart character and this will finally be put to bed.

Mainly because this movie is not funny enough, I cannot recommend it.

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Ride Along 2 IMDB

Oscar Nominations for 2015


The obvious snub in this list is of course the movie Joy not being nominated for best picture. This is a big mistake along with not nominating Concussion or Will Smith for best actor. I also thought that 10 pictures were normally nominated each year. If that were the case then Concussion and Joy would be nominated. Also, why is Mad Max nominated?  This nomination makes no sense when you consider the omissions Concussion and Joy.

Best Picture

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett – Carol

Brie Larson – Room

Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Saorise Ronan – Brooklyn

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo

Matt Damon – The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

Directing

Adam McKay – The Big Short

George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant

Lenny Abrahamson – Room

Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara – Carol

Rachel McAdams – Spotlight

Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale – The Big Short

Tom Hardy – The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight

Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

Cinematography

Carol
The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario

Original Song

“Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction

Simple Song #3″ – Youth

“Til It Happens To You” – The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall” – Spectre

Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent – Colombia

Mustang – France

Son of Saul – Hungary

Theeh – Jordan

A War – Denmark

Documentary Feature

Amy
Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Movie Review: The Revenant


The definition of a Revenant is “a person who leaves and then returns again as a ghost”. This definition does describe the entire plot of “The Revenant” which is a simple story about fur traders living in the woods in the 1820’s, being attacked by Indians and living in a very dangerous and cold environment in Alberta Canada. This movie reminds all of us, just like many other movies about the 1800’s about what a difficult time it was to live in those times where none of the advancements in medical technology or life comforts that we take for granted now were available.

Every critic is raving about the performance of Leonardo Dicaprio in this movie. I agree that his performance should be recognized for its grit and hardship but you also have to also recognize that he had very small number of lines in this movie until maybe the last 10% of the almost 3 hours. So when his performance is analyzed against other actors this year, specifically the front runner for the best picture Oscar; Eddie Redmayne in the “Danish Girl”, Dicaprio might still not receive a best actor Oscar because this movie had much more physical hardship and endurance than actual acting.

One of the reasons why many of us go to the movies is so we can be in awe at amazing special effects or wonder “how did they do that”. In all my years of going to the movies I have never seen anything even close to the realism and danger of the scene where a large black bear attacks and kills Dicaprio’s Hugh Glass character. In the middle of a forest, suddenly surrounded by 2 bear cubs Hugh Glass is attacked and almost killed in 3 separate attacks that are so realistic its actually very painful to watch. According to Dicaprio, very little CGI computer graphics were used in this movie and he did most if not all of his own stunts. This means that a trained 600 pound black bear was used to film this incredible scene and one has to wonder how or if this huge level of risk was taken with Dicaprio as the actor or if there was a stunt man involved. Even with a stuntman, this level of danger, considering the violence in this scene seems way to0 risky to even attempt. Hopefully when the DVD for this movie comes out there will be a documentary showing how all of this was filmed. Its also hard to believe that Dicaprio would have taken this role in the first place, considering the dangers, the cold and the hardship that come with living in that kind of an environment for 9 months.

One of the problems with this movie are that it is way too long. Also, for a high percentage of the time during this 3 hour movie it became boring to watch scenes of constant hardship, cold and walking through wilderness. For these main reasons, despite the good parts and the effort put into this movie, I cannot recommend it.

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The Revenant IMDB

Past Movie Review: Air Force One 1997


This movie came out in 1997, a full four years before the terrorist attacks in 2001. I remember thinking at the time, “lets not give the enemy, namely terrorists in the world any ideas.” I also remember thinking at the time I saw this very good movie that Harrison Ford was never more believable in his part as the President or better in his acting, most especially in a scene where the lead terrorist had a gun to his daughters head. The emotions of that scene alone and the acting ability to pull that off in my opinion should have at least given Ford the nomination for best actor that year. This one scene is the best and most believable in Ford’s entire 40 year career.

Most people who make decisions in the Hollywood community would probably say that Ford’s performance in Air Force One was not worth of an Oscar and of course Air Force One was a big budget blockbuster type movie which for some reason Hollywood normally hates, but I totally disagree with the fact that Harrison Ford was not even nominated for best actor for Air Force One.

The action in this movie and the acting, including the entire cast, and especially Gary Oldman who played the lead terrorist as well as anyone could have, were all first rate. If you have not seen this movie, it should be a priority and it is frequently on many cable TV channels.

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Air Force One IMDB