Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old

To take the horrors of Word War I from film that is over 100 years old and then fix the wear and tear, age, speed and color – and then make a 2 hour documentary called “They Shall Not Grow Old” is an incredible scientific and movie making achievement. Most people would probably think that film this old, regardless of how many times it has been copied would not even exist, much less to be able to correct the many problems to make a new documentary about World War I.

There are many circumstances out of our control in life that can make you a successful human being and just as many that can make you a failure or a young person who horribly dies in war. Being a young man born in the early 1890’s or the early 1920’s virtually guaranteed that your life would probably include being drafted into 2 of the most horrible wars in human history and not only dying young, but horribly. Even if you survived, the odds were even higher that you would be badly wounded or have psychological scars that will never heal for the rest of your life.

Director Peter Jackson spent years creating a 2 hour documentary and story about the horrendous hardship’s of World War I that was fought during 1914-1918. The restored film footage covered the constant shelling from both the British and the Germans, the commonplace reality of death and dismemberment, the days and weeks of sitting around waiting for another battle to start, lack of food and suffering, the use of chemical weapons, the disgusting bathroom realities and even some pictures of trench foot, where the only solution was amputation. There is no way any human being can tell someone outside of a war like this what it was like, even with a high quality produced documentary like this one. Surprisingly, after the war the returning veterans were not treated well, and most could not find any work, even encountering indifference to what they have been through. This documentary also has narration throughout from many of the soldiers who lived through this horrible war, and if there is one flaw in this movie it is that many of the accents are so thick that very often you cannot understand what they are saying.

At the beginning of this documentary, Peter Jackson tells the audience that at the end of the credits he will address the audience after the closing credits to summarize much of the film restoration science was accomplished. Unfortunately the ending credits were way too long and annoying to sit through to wait for Peter Jackson. A better idea would have been to show Peter Jackson’s technical explanation right after the movie and then end the movie with the credits.

For anyone interested in world history and the history of World War I, this is a must see documentary, but prepare yourself for some very disturbing pictures and video. All wars are horrendous and should never exist in life but they will probably always exist. Humanity, even 100 years ago, is extremely accomplished at the cruel art of killing people.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for They Shall Not Grow Old are 99% and I agree with this rating and highly recommend this very impressive documentary.

Movie Review: What Men Want

As most people would probably agree, the title of this movie, “What Men Want” as well as the original from 2000 “What Women Want”, should be “What Men Think” and “What Women Think”, due to the fact that the entire premise is the main character suddenly having the ability to hear what the opposite sex is thinking. Aside from the impossible idea behind this film, the situations and dialogue that can spring from an idea like this are endless and potentially very entertaining. Unfortunately, this movie does not take anywhere near advantage of some very good scene and dialogue ideas, and in too many cases, takes the easy raunchy route. The original “What Women Want” released in 2000 was at best a below average movie and considering Mel Gibson was the star, reminds us that the year 2000 was 19 long years ago. Releasing a remake of an average movie does not make much sense, unless the remake has a significantly better twist and plot idea than the original. Unfortunately this remake fails on too many levels and is not nearly as good as the original.

What Men Want stars Taraji P. Henson as an employee of a sports agency and of all people Brian Bosworth, the former football and action star from the early 90’s who I have not seen in any movie in many years. You have to admire Bosworth for not giving up on acting given his very few acting parts in the last 10 years, acting is a very tough profession. Tracy Morgan is also in this movie playing the father of a high school basketball star about to go to the pros. I thought Morgan’s use of language and his funny way of talking was not enough to fix the dialogue in this script. This movie once again fails the audience movie rule for any comedy – nobody laughed in the theater I was in, an obvious must for any good comedy movie. “When Harry Met Sally” released 30 years ago, still stands out as a standard for all comedy films, as well as Annie Hall in 1977. There has never been a comedy movie released since 1989 that I have seen that comes close to these two all time classics in my opinion.

A good number of of the scenes involving back stabbing and office politics were realistic, very well done, and just about the only good thing in this entire story. There was one line at the end that I thought was very profound and basically stated: “nobody should ever derive their sense of self worth from the opinions of others”. An idea we should all live by.

The ratings for this movie on IMDB are a very low 3.2 and 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, I agree with both scores. What Men Want should be skipped.

Movie Review: Cold Pursuit

The new Liam Neeson movie “Cold Pursuit” achieved some new ideas I have never seen before in any film. First of all, Nels Coxman, played by Neeson has the most unusual job I have ever seen – he clears snow in mountain roads in the surrounding mountains of Denver Colorado. There is a long list of people who die in this movie, all followed by listing their name and religious denomination right after their death. The entire story is played very low key in a way that I found extremely unusual. Neeson’s co-star Laura Dern, who plays Coxman’s wife has an extremely small part in the beginning of the movie and then disappears, never to be seen again. The ending was also very strange with a shocking unexpected death that might have been an attempt at humor or insanity given the large number of people who die in this story.

Cold Pursuit is an effective revenge drama with Neeson, in a role similar to the excellent Taken from 2008 role as a father who would do anything for his child. The story involves a local drug cartel and once again we are reminded of ruthlessness of people like this, who kill like most of us brush our teeth. For most people like this they meet their own end as violently as they killed others.

The story of Cold Pursuit also involves a custody battle between the head of the drug cartel and his wife, and they have a young son who has a likability and niceness that bears no resemblance to his parents. I found this an unlikely reality given the child’s parents and circumstances.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for Cold Pursuit is a very solid 80% and my score would be more in the 70% range due to some of the slow points in the story and an ending involving the young boy in the aftermath of a shootout that made no sense. I give a mild recommendation to Cold Pursuit.