Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2017 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. I know it’s been over a week since the death of Bill Paxton, who passed away on February 25 at the age of 61 from surgery complications. As this and many other tweets pointed out… Paxton was the only man to face off against a Terminator, Alien, and a Predator. He’s certainly famous for his sci-fi genre roles, but boy he’s done SO many memorable roles in his illustrious career. He’s such a consummate character actor who’s convincing playing anything… the ultimate ‘everyman’ in most of his movies as he’s so darn likable.

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I pretty much grew up with Paxton in the 90s too, with movies like True Lies, Apollo 13, A Simple Plan, Titanic and of course Twister, where he got the lead role. It’s hard to pick which is my fave role of his, but certainly Twister is in my top 3.

What’s your fave Bill Paxton movie(s)?

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2. I got a chance to see an adaptation of Shakespeare’s epic tragedy King Lear at the Guthrie Theatre. One of the main reasons for me to see it is because Blood Stripe‘s lead actress Kate Nowlin plays Goneril, one of Lear’s three daughters.

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It was a brilliant stage performance, with great lighting effects and sound design. I actually hadn’t seen any film version of the movie, not the 1971 movie nor the 2009 PBS’ Great Performances version with Ian McKellen. So I saw it fresh for the first time and was quite riveted by it.

What’s your favorite film based on a play… and which play would you like to see made into films?

3. Ok switching gears drastically… I hadn’t even been paying much attention to this sequel but when I saw the teaser last night I knew I had to include it here. Behold the Deadpool 2 teaser …

Ryan Reynolds and his Deadpool team has done it again! They’ve been very savvy w/ their promotional efforts for the first one and looks like their crazy, unhinged brand of humor is in full display! I wonder how much they had to pay DC to get the rights to use John Williams’ Superman music but man was it awesome!! It’s the kind of teaser I could watch over and over, let’s hope the sequel is as funny as this teaser!

Thoughts on the teaser? Are you excited to watch the Deadpool sequel?

4. Well, some of you might’ve read that LOGAN is my pick of February Movie of the Month. I hadn’t been anticipating it much, my hubby was more psyched about it than I did, but I was blown away by the film.

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It’s incredible that the 48-year-old Aussie actor has played the role for 17 years in various X-Men films and their spin offs. It’s rare for any actor to have played the same role that long, so it’s no surprise that Logan marks he last time he’ll reprise the role.

Let’s walk down memory lane and watch this audition tape from back in 1999 when he first audition to the role that made him famous…

It proves that scheduling conflict can be a good thing for some actors… most of you know that Dougray Scott was originally cast as Wolverine, but he had to bail as Mission: Impossible II (2000) required more filming time. Well I can’t imagine anyone else but Hugh as Wolverine now.

What are your thoughts on Hugh Jackman retiring as Wolverine… and who do you think should play the role next?

5. Ok, since this might be my last Five for the Fifth post in a while (given I’ll be filming my short film in mid April and the following months I might be tied up with post-productions), so I decided to come up with all five questions 🙂

I got a press release email in early February about The Ottoman Lieutenant I hadn’t even heard before. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard of it too? I also got another email from the press rep that there’s a possible phone interview with the lead actor Michiel Huisman, who I loved in Age of Adaline. We’ll see if that pans out. In any case, check out the trailer:

The Ottoman Lieutenant is a love story between an idealistic American nurse and a Turkish officer in World War I.

Well, I might check it out when it opens later this month, interesting to see Minneapolis native Josh Hartnett in it as well. It’s a pretty crowded Spring though with a bunch of big-budget releases like Kong: Skull Island, Beauty & The Beast, as well as smaller fares like Wilson,Kristen Stewart’s Personal Shopper and T2 Trainspotting.

So what’s the one movie you can’t wait to see this Spring?


Well, that’s it for the MARCH edition of Five for the Fifth. Hope you’ll take part!

FlixChatter Review: Nightcrawler (2014)

NightcrawlerPosterSeems that I might be the last person who hasn’t seen Nightcrawler and I’m even gutted I didn’t see this on the big screen. There is something so mesmerizing and disturbing about this film which is in keeping with the theme of the gawker mentality that the small-screen media capitalize on.

Set in the nocturnal underbelly of the City of Angels, the film begins with a desperate but resourceful thief Lou Bloom who can’t seem to catch a break. That is until he witnessed an accident on a highway and came across a freelance camera crew (Bill Paxton) who film crashes, fires and any kind of mayhem, that a lightbulb went off in his head. Lou says several times in the film that he’s a fast learner and he’s not exaggerating. Within days of acquiring some camera equipment and a police scanner, Lou went to work and quickly sneaked his way into the dangerous and competitive world of night-crawling – these are the people who take pictures and film horrifying events to deliver them in time for the morning news.

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“If it bleeds, it leads!”

That’s the mantra Lou lives by and he approaches his newfound profession in a mechanical precision, almost robotic way. He’s always been a methodical guy, he waters his plants, iron his shirt as he watches TV, there’s almost a certain regime if you will, in how he conducts his life. His work ethic doesn’t resemble as a human being, the way he approaches victims as if they’re nothing but soul-less objects for him to profit from. When he actually talks to a living-breathing fellow human, he also has this robotic quality in that he doesn’t see the person across from him as having any kind of emotion. His salesman-like delivery is both creepy and hilarious, in fact, Jake Gyllenhaal‘s gaunt, bug-eyed face still gives me the creeps days after I saw this film. I’m still astonished that Gyllenhaal wasn’t nominated, as it’s truly a tour de force performance. I read that the 35-year-old actor literally starved himself to play the role, losing 30 pounds as he visualized himself as a hungry coyote. His look definitely gave a certain realism to his character, but there’s more to it than that. His speech delivery and the precise mannerism of how Lou behaves, such as not blinking for a long period of time, really gets under your skin.

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As Lou continues to rise to the top, he took deliberate measures to get what he wants. Along the way he recruits a down-on-his-luck young man, Rick (Riz Ahmed), as his assistant. It’s appalling how Lou treats the hapless and homeless guy like dirt, but we shouldn’t be surprised that he does so, given what we know about him thus far. Lou seems to have met his match in Nina (Rene Russo), the beautiful older news director who buys Lou’s footage. But before she even realizes what happens, Lou backs her into a corner, figuratively and literally, as he feeds off her vulnerability and fear of working in such a notoriously competitive field. That entire scene at the Mexican restaurant gives me the heebie jeebies and the script is so taut that even without Lou so much as touching Nina, the whole scene still makes your skin crawl.

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This is another astounding directorial debut in recent memory and would perhaps rate as one of the best debut by a screenwriter. Dan Gilroy co-wrote The Fall and The Bourne Legacy, which strangely enough wasn’t that great in terms of script, but here he shows not only his screenwriting chops, but also his talents behind the camera. The way he filmed mostly at night, there’s an eerie, haunting quality that adds to the suspense. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time even though there’s not that much action going on throughout.

The chase towards the end is utterly exhilarating not only because of the car chase itself, but the manic energy that Lou displays throughout. He proceeds to drive like a maniac despite Rick’s protest to slow down, and in a way we live vicariously through him in the way he views Lou. Unlike the preposterous car chases in movies like say, Fast & Furious, the scene is tinged with realism because even amidst all that action, Nightcrawler is still very much a character-driven film. When we think that the movie’s gone off the rails, Gilroy reminds us that Lou is still in control, for the detriment of those around him.

“What if my problem wasn’t that I don’t understand people but that I don’t like them?”

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In this Indiewire article, Dan Gilroy joked following a screening that this is “…about the triumph of the human spirit…it’s a feel good film.” Very funny Dan, as nothing could be further from the truth. I was screaming at my TV during the finale and I think the director deliberately wants us to feel disturbed by the unsettling story. But with any kind of industry fueled by consumer demand, this film is as much a commentary on the TV news business as those who choose to watch these kinds of graphic coverage.

The night cinematography by Robert Elswit is excellent in its use of ambient lighting, it adds so much to the tone of the film. It’s definitely one of the best-looking films shot in L.A., right up there with Michael Mann’s Heat and Collateral. I have to mention again the superb acting by Gyllenhaal who hopefully will score an Oscar one day, but props also to Russo and Ahmed in memorable supporting roles. Nice to see Russo in top form and actually gets a role worthy of her talent. I was impressed by Ahmed in The Reluctant Fundamentalist and the British actor shows his amazing versatility playing an entirely different persona.

If only I had seen this film sooner, it’d definitely have a place in my Top 10 list. Nightcrawler is a brilliantly-crafted Neo-noir that has a lingering effect long after the end credits. The film was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, written also by Gilroy. I think it merits at least a few more nominations in the acting category AND a Best Picture nod. It’s THAT good.

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What do you think of Nightcrawler?

Character Actor Spotlight: Powers Boothe Part II – Meeting and Exceeding Expectations

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Greetings and all sundry!

Having covered the early career (read Part I on Mr. Boothe) of this exceptional character actor. Allow me to proffer a bit more than a glimpse at this tradesman’s ascent from better than standard fare. To the comfortable position of being a rising “Go To Guy” when a solid character. Either charmingly charismatic and varying shades of evil demanded exposition.

To that end. I ask a few moments of your time for elucidation and exploration of.

Powers Boothe: Meeting and Exceeding Expectations

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I’ll begin this segment with a film that reintroduced to the spotlight. After a surprising Emmy nomination for his giving creepy life to charlatan turned Reverend and New Age Messiah, Jim Jones in the CBS mini-series, Guyana Tragedy: The Jim Jones Story.

Returning once again to safe harbor and rising master’s talents of Walter Hill. And his little known, though richly rewarding drugs across the border, “Guy Flick.

PowersBootheExtremePrejudiceExtreme Prejudice (1987)

Having reviewed and critiqued this character and Testosterone driven middle budget masterpiece earlier.

And predominantly from Nick Nolte‘s second generation Texas Ranger, Jack Benteen’s perspective. It’s time to give equal, if not greater credit to the film’s white suited and Stetsoned nemesis, Cash Bailey.

Mr. Boothe has the presence. The voice and connections and wherewithal to send large amounts of cocaine and even larger amounts of money to be laundered in the small bank of Benteen’s one streetlight town and those beyond in major cities.

Which raises Benteen’s eyebrow. And those of a team if infinitely “deniable” and “deceased” Special Operators led by Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown. Who may want Bailey either arrested and brought back across the border from Mexico. Dead. Or waylaid enough for Ironside to possibly take over.

That’s the cool thing about this gem. Far more questions are proffered than answered.
Is Mr. Boothe’s Cash Bailey a real, honest to God, bad guy. Or is he an undercover operator? Not enough information or actions are presented to give credence to either. Though, no matter the answer. Mr. Boothe’s Cash Bailey is in way over his head. And in this finite, claustrophobic arena. The actor excels!

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Feeling the walls closing in and options evaporating under a sheen of anxious sweat.Drinking too much and talking too loud before a showdown. Or possible “Suicide By Cop” with Nolte’s Benteen before an epic “Shoot ’em Up!” that would do Sam Peckinpah proud!

Overall Consensus:

Mr. Boothe opens his tool box and adds silk and honey to his voice early on when trying to find out how much Nick Nolte’s Benteen knows and how far he will go. Slowly letting that fall apart while adding facial expression and harsh bravura as his empire begins to crumble and fall apart towards the film’s violent finale. Creating an enigmatic heavy who is afraid to say too much and accidentally speed his demise by the law. Or though under his command.

Creating a breather for some stage work before signing on as Navy Chief Petty Officer, John A. Walker. Who had been selling high grade military secrets regarding electronic communication, cryptology and high precision screw designs for various types of submarines to the Russians for more than a decade. In the Stephen Gyllenhaal directed, two part television movie for CBS:


Family of Spies (1990)

FamilyOfSpiesCBSPosterIn this offering, Mr. Boothe plays a rather complicated, turmoiled and kind of unlikeable John Walker. Career NCO and communications and cryptology specialist assigned to the Pacific Fleet’s “Boomers” (Mobile, Submerged Missile Silos”). Married, lecherous, with young son and daughter. Unable to hold onto a dollar while constantly looking for a “Get Rich Quick” scheme.

The failure of his recently purchased bar in Charleston, NC sends Walker to the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC for an obliging ear for his proposition. Selling the Navy’s most coveted secrets for “A thousand dollars a week”. Seriously major money in the mid 1960s.

Emboldened by the Navy’s lax security, Boothe’s Walker delivers code making and breaking documents. That pay off nicely. Though hit a snag moths later when North Korea captures the intelligence gathering ship, USS Pueblo. An internal FBI and NIS investigation starts moving towards Walker, who is unaware. Teaching Crypto and Comm classes at San Diego. And recruits a bright student, Jerry Withworth (Graham Beckel) to pick up slack and widen horizons. Telling the new addition that all that he finds, acquires or steals will be going to the Israelis. Not Moscow.

PowersBoothe_FamilyOfSpiesWalker starts to stray, maritally. As his handlers apply pressure to find newer, better and more Classified material. Walker’s wife, Barbara (Leslie Ann Warren) finds out. Hires a private investigator and lawyer. And extorts the highest amounts in payment. Lest she call the Navy NIS. Or FBI. Things start falling apart even more as Mr. Boothe’s Walker tries to get his son, Michael, a Navy technician (Andrew Lowery). His daughter, Cynthia, an Army Specialist (Elena Stiteler) and brother, Arthur (Michael J. Jackson) to join his motley crew.

So, no one is really surprised, except Mr. Boothe; when his John Walker is caught in a Bethesda, MD. motel in a classic “Sting”. While awaiting the arrival of “the other woman”.

Overall Consensus:

Mr. Boothe seems to have dipped back into the well of psychopathy and slow destruction that earned his Emmy Award years earlier as Jim Jones. All the signs are there. Though, a bit less pronounced. Arrogance at pulling the wool over the eyes of his superiors and security personnel. Tinged with annoyance that he is being underpaid by his Russian handlers. The slow creep of paranoia post Pueblo. As his actions start being questioned. Innocently at first. Then more directly after Walker’s retirement and loss of Security Clearance.

Debt is added as a factor. Increasing as Walker spends beyond his means. Bringing in the trembles of desperation as creditors start calling. Then knocking. Whatever family life there had been has long since gone, As Mr. Boothe’s Walker employs decades of tried and true Russian trade craft. While blaming everyone other than himself.

Which creates time for a rather unique, low budget palate cleanser. In the form of an early, not so cleverly disguised attempt to thrust Brandon Lee into the high pantheon of his of his deceased father, Bruce.

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With all the attendant low budget bells and cinematic whistles one would expect with a Bruce Lee martial arts film. Good looking, though breakaway balsa wood sets dressed as expensive restaurants. Rather spartan marble, leather and stainless steel lairs for international and domestic crime lords.Quickly glimpsed stock footage of Thailand city scape, both day and night. Sweetened with some great looking on location, urban cinematography under the elevated trains, alley ways and grimy city streets of Chicago later in this forgotten gem.

The film begins in Thailand. Where veteran of Tiananmen Square, Jake Lo (Brandon Lee) witnesses the murder of a lower tier enforcer, Carl Chung (Michael Paul Chan) for local Thai crime lord, Kinman Tau (Tzi Me) by Chicago thug, Antionio Serrano (Nick Mancuso) in an elegant restaurant.

Jake is noticed, of course. Fights his out and away. And into the arms of the local police. Take his eyewitness statement and whisk Jack into Protective Custody. Courtesy of the Chicago PD.

Once safely ensconced in The Windy City. Jake is visited by grizzled, Detective Lieutenant Mace Ryan. Given wondrous “Been there. Done that” rumpled life by Mr. Powers Boothe. Who has a ten year old hard for the elusive crime lord, Kinman Tau. And is amenable to any way to get at him.

If that way is through Lo and hanging a murder rap on Serrano. So much the better! As Lo is released to Ryan’s care and protection. And young martial arts assassins, amongst them, Dustin Nguyen (“21 Jump Street”). To fight Serrano’s local talent. Kill Lo. Or preferably, both.

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Add an aspiring female Detective, Karla Withers (Kate Hodge) to offer a romantic interest. As Jake and Ryan start finding some of Serrano’s thugs to question and acquire leads. In regards to the arrival of a shipment of heroin to a local laundry. That will draw out the Big Man, tau, himself. Of course, an ambush and fight ensues to a near standstill as Tau and Serrano escapes. A new location is deduced as an expansive mansion among rolling hills. A new strategy is devised. As the film closes. Set up perfectly for a sequel.

Overall Consensus:

It’s nice to see Mr. Booth exercise his ensemble chops. Bringing a weary with The System, stubbled, “Getting Too Old For This Stuff”. Kind of Philip Marlowe on the skids attitude. That lifts the film from the typical “Chop Socky” genre. Mixing action, gunfire and fisticuffs with well choreographed and good looking fights by Brandon Lee.

Is it a perfect film?.. No. But is is a lot of fun!

Which opens up the film that put Mr. Boothe back to the spolight for the fifth or sixth time. As “Curly Bill” Brocius. One of the founding fathers of the red sashed “Cowboys” in a not quite historically correct, but near iconic film of the Old West.


Tombstone (1993)

TombstonePosterArguably, one of the best, if not the best big budgeted ensemble westerns of the 1990s.

Centered around the Earps. Retired lawmen, Wyatt (Kurt Russell), Virgil (Sam Eliott) and homesteader, Morgan (Bill Paxton). Their arrival in next to nowhere, Tombstone, Arizona, And the infiltration of across the border, wedding crashing, pillaging and village burning, Cowboys. Curly Bill Brocius (Mr. Powers), Johnny Ringo (Mostly quiet, near psychotic, Michael Biehn), many lower tier followers. And the land owning through illegal means, Clantons.Ike (Rarely creepier or scuzzier, Stephen Lange) and son, Bill (Thomas Hayden Church).The Earps see opportunities in the small, slowly burgeoning community. Taking and buying an interest in less than prosperous saloon. After an annoying, obnoxious Billy Bob Thorton is marched out through its swinging door.

Life improves with imported fashions and talents. And “Doc” Holliday reintroduces himself to Wyatt before the Cowboys make their presence known. Applying presurre here and there with covert aid from the Clantons. While trying to stake out their claim of the town. An attempt that embarrassingly fails when Ringo disrupts an evening’s entertainment and gambling an exemplar show of quick drawn and trick pistol twirling. That a smiling, drunken and unimpressed Doc Holliday lampoons with a silver cup.

Upping the ante as the Cowboys later “shoot up the town”. And citizens start screaming about the first insidious, incremental steps of Gun Control. Wanting to tamp down, if not defuse an escalating situation. The Earps and Doc respond to the armed and quietly threatening Clantons, assorted Cowboys and Ringo and Bill Brocius at the O.K. Corral.

The volatile situation quickly goes beyond words and lead flies. In a noisy stalemate that sends Ike Clanton cowardly skittering away as the tide and citizens turn against the Earps.Leaving Morgan open for ambush by the later that night. And Virgil luring Ike Clanton and others out for a final tete a tete just outside an outbound train.

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The gauntlet has been thrown down. And Wyatt, Doc and others turn a stream side ambush against Curly Bill. And Doc takes it upon himself to finally remove Johnny Ringo from his mortal coils. Wyatt arrives late and the two decide to clean up the last of the Cowboys.

Overall Consensus:

In a film that sweats and is perfumed with dust and Testosterone. With a raw, talented cast that most directors today would sell their wife and kids for. Mr. Boothe is content to take a back seat. A step or two away from the limelight. Confident and relaxed.in time on screen. Finding the mystique of being an utterly ruthless bad guy refreshing. Yet always ready to grab and reel in a not afraid to go over the top Michael Biehn to maintain order within the ranks.


Stay tuned for the final entry on Powers Boothe!
Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews


What do you think of these films and Powers Boothe’s performances?

FlixChatter Double Review: Edge of Tomorrow

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This weekend I finally saw my first movie on the big-screen after my holiday. Ted has seen it earlier in the week, here’s what we think on Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster.

Ted’s Review

For the last 10 years or so, Tom Cruise has starred in so many big-budgeted action pictures that I lost count. I think he’s decided not to pursue the golden statue anymore and why not keep making big movies while studios are still willing to foot the bills right? His latest is another spectacle and I was surprised that I enjoyed as much as I did, after seeing the trailers and heard about the concept, I wasn’t that interest in it at all.

Set in the not too distant future, the world has been invaded by an alien race called “Mimics” and most of the western Europe has been overtaken by these aliens. After several defeats, humankind have developed new battle suits called “Jackets” and were able to fight back. As the film opens, the military are planning a surprise attack on the beaches of France and we were introduced to General Brigham (the always great Brendan Gleeson). He orders Major William Cage (Cruise) to be sent to the battlefield with a camera crew, the military is expecting a victory and want to show the world that we’re winning the war against the aliens. Since Cage’s background is in advertising, he’s never been to battle and sort of a coward. He tried to weasel his way out by trying to blackmail the General. Brigham responds by put him under arrest and knock him out. Cage was then dumped at a Heathrow base and here he meets Master Sergeant Farrell (Bill Paxton), again he tries to weasel his way out of a combat. 

Unfortunately for him, Farrell was told that Cage is deserter and a con man, so he’s forced to join J-Squad. The next day the soldiers arrived at the beach and were ambushed by the “Mimics”. Apparently they knew about the surprise attack and were waiting for the humans to arrive. Cage was able to escape unscathed when the helicopter clashed. Since he’s never been in a battle, he had no clue what he was doing. While running around in the battlefield, he saw another soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). He witness her being killed right in front of him. Then later he was killed by a Mimic but somehow he inherits the alien’s power and woke up a day earlier back at the Heathrow base. If you seen the trailers, then you pretty much know how the story will unfold, Cage will have live the same day over and over again and learn how to defeat the alien.

Three screenwriters (Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth) were credited for this film, it’s based on a Japanese graphic novel called “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Considering that the concept has been done several times before, I thought they did a good job of coming up something “new” to keep audiences interested. Personally, I don’t like this kind of concept, the idea of a character relieving the same event over and over again just doesn’t excites me. But here the writers kept me interested and threw in a couple of surprises here and there.

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I’ve always been a fan of Doug Liman, I mean here’s a man who pretty much introduced Jason Bourne to the world, well to those who’ve never read the books anyway. Sure his last couple of films weren’t that great but I still think he’s a good director. Here he crafted a good thriller that didn’t take itself too seriously, I’m getting tire of big movies the last few years trying to be too serious (I’m looking at you Godzilla and Man of Steel). In a way this film reminds me of some of the good 90s summer flicks, it’s fun and didn’t try to insult the audiences’ intelligence. With a budget of around $180mil, you can expect to see some great visual effects and action set pieces; I was particularly impressed with climatic shootout/chase.

The performances by the two leads were pretty good, Cruise was quite amusing the cowardly character at the beginning of the film. Of course as the film progresses, he becomes the tough action hero like his other roles. Blunt was quite effective as the love interest/mentor to Cruise’s character. I’m just glad they didn’t make her out to be another damsel in distress like most big action pictures of the summer.

What’s holding this film down from being great, for me at least, is that it just reminded me too much of Groundhog Day. Yes it’s not the same genre but everything that happened in this film, we’ve seen them before. Also, I was a bit disappointed with the design of the “Mimics”, they’re sort of cross between the bugs from Starship Troopers and aliens from all those Alien films.

But I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed this film and I think if you’re in the mood for a good sci-fi/action, this one is recommended. Heck if you hate Tom Cruise, you might enjoy seeing him die over and over again.

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Ruth’s Review

I have to admit that when I first saw this trailer, I thought ‘meh, this is just another Tom Cruise action flick.’ In fact, until reviews started popping up, I was set on just renting this one on a slow night. Well, I’m glad I gave it a shot.

I’m not going to rehash the plot again as Ted’s done that in his review. What I did like about this movie is the amount of humor, which I didn’t expect. I’m glad they did though, I mean this movie worked as it didn’t take itself so darn seriously (*cough* Godzilla *cough*). Also, we see a slightly different version of Tom Cruise than what I’m used to seeing in his action flicks, at least in the beginning of the film. His character looks bewildered pretty much the entire first act as he’s a self-described wimp who’s never been on any combat “I can’t stand the sight of blood. Not even a paper cut.” Ha! The always-fun-to-watch Brendan Gleeson‘s expression in this scene is such a hoot. Nice to see Cruise play a character who’s not always in control all the time, though of course by the end, he’s back to ‘savior of the world’ mode.

I really enjoyed the first act, which could be described as action comedy at times. The comparison to Groundhog Day is inevitable and actually quite fitting, as the main character had to relive the same day over and over. The sci-fi element isn’t introduced until midway through the film, which I thought is a pretty interesting, albeit not entirely original, concept. Yet the writers manage to surprise me in that the story kept me engaged throughout. I did get a bit battle fatigue after a while, especially in the third act.

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Fortunately Cruise and Emily Blunt were fun to watch. I’ve always been a fan of miss Blunt and she shines once again here. I don’t normally associate her with bad-ass heroine roles, but I guess she did show her action chops in Looper in 2012. She looked extremely fit as the super soldier, surely guys don’t mind the repeated scenes of her doing her mighty push-ups. Yet there’s still a vulnerability about her that makes her human. She’s not a Lara Croft type character who’s practically indestructible. She has a pretty decent chemistry with Cruise, at least better than in the last few female pairings he’s had lately. Speaking of Lara Croft, interesting to see Noah Taylor who was Lara’s equivalent of Bond’s Q made an appearance here playing Rita’s scientist friend.

Edge of Tomorrow is definitely a great sci-fi action, it’s funny, entertaining and definitely offers you a couple of hours of fun escapism. I wouldn’t say it’s the best movie of the year as some are saying on Twitter though. For me, a movie would have to hit the emotional high points and be really invested in the characters in order to be truly leave a mark. I would say that this one is much better than Elysium and something I’d actually recommend, but that’s it. I have to give props to Doug Liman for pulling off the ‘repetitive’ aspect of the story that is far from boring, and to Cruise for still being capable enough to carry a tentpole Summer movie with the same intensity he’s shown in nearly 40 films. Whether or not he’s still as bankable is a different story though.

In terms of special effects, I personally don’t see anything ground breaking. It serves the story but it’s not so visually-arresting that made me go ‘wow.’ I’m glad we saw the movie in 2D with Dolby Atmos sound though, that is the perfect combo as the Atmos sound definitely enhances the experience whilst most 3D offerings are so unnecessary. If you’re looking for something fun to do at the movies, you could do a lot worse than seeing this one.

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What do you think of Edge of Tomorrow? 

FlixChatter Review: Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’

The one thing I found appealing right away is of course the cast: Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton… and the femme fatale, a real mixed-martial arts fighter Gina Carano. Steven Soderbergh confessed to the Hall H panel at Comic-con that he ‘discovered’ Carano fighting in a cage whilst watching TV on a Saturday night. According to this NY Post article, after he’d been fired from directing the Brad Pitt starrer Moneyball, he said he decided to make ‘an action flick that looked beautiful.’ Upon seeing Carano, he ended up building an entire script based on her.

Soderbergh with his muse

So was this a good move on Soderbergh part?

After seeing this, my answer is a resounding YES. I like the director’s style in filming this, consistently keeping Mallory Kane, the black ops super soldier [ex-Marine, natch!] as the main focus from start to finish. Right away we find out she’s betrayed by the people who hired her on a mission in Barcelona and the rest of the film follows her hot on the trail to exact her vengeance. Yes, it’s a simple story, this is no twisty espionage thriller so there’s no convoluted plot to deal with. Soderbergh simply creates a vehicle for Carano to be her bad-ass self and it works!

I’ve heard people comparing this to Angelina Jolie’s SALT. Now I haven’t seen that movie and there probably is some similarities, but if these two were to be in a fight together, no doubt Carano would take Jolie’s bony frame down in a matter of seconds. Y’know she made me think that she could practically take down the rest of the Expendables cast, ahah.

Don’t I look like James Bond? Complete with my kick-ass Bond girl!

The action sequences are the reason to watch this film. It’s done without the overblown fast cuts, or slo-mo or nauseating hand-held style employed by many action directors [just as Ted has pointed out here]. Those are done supposedly to make the sequences look cool but it’s hard to see just what the heck is going on. No, Soderbergh filmed the fight scenes realistically, you could see every punch/blow/kick the characters endure. The most intense one is in the clip shown at Comic-con, involving the Bond-like Michael Fassbender [as an MI-6 agent no less!]. So going in I already knew his fate, ahah. But still that is one kick-ass fight scene, woof!

This is not an *acting* film for everyone involved, especially for Carano who never acted before. That said, Carano acquits herself well as Soderbergh is smart enough not to give her long monologues or complicated emotion to convey. Now of course I wish there’s more character development in play, I wish there was a bit more background on Mallory, but y’know what, there’s a certain appeal to its minimalism. In fact, my hubby said it reminds me of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï in its stark simplicity and pacing. We didn’t really know much about Alain Delon’s Jef Costello either, but it’s still interesting to watch him in his journey.

Run Mallory Run!

The star-studded male cast don’t exactly show their range but they’re still fun to watch. They all seem well aware when they signed on that they won’t be given much to do than being the next target of Carano’s vendetta. In the case of Bill Paxton as her author dad, his character is given a bit more emotional weight, but not by much. The ending does seem abrupt but also brilliant at the same time. It ends with an expletive uttered by a character who realizes that his blissful island life with his model girlfriend is about to go um, haywire.

I feel like giving Soderbergh’s other works a watch now. I haven’t seen too many of them, but Out of Sight and Traffic are some of his best films I’ve seen so far. I appreciate his unorthodox style and his effort in experimenting with different genres.

Final Thoughts: Gina Carano certainly makes for a convincing action star whilst still retains her feminine aura. This dynamic action thriller will please any action fans with its high adrenaline-stunts and gritty fight sequences. If you’re a fan of Soderbergh’s other works, this one is definitely worth a watch.

4 out of 5 reels

Have you seen this movie? Well, what do you think?

Everyone’s a Critic: Reviews from FlixChatter Readers

Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic series. Today we’ve got an Oscar nominated flick and two sports movies from a golf and soccer enthusiast. Special thanks to Becky, Scot and Alan for taking the time to contribute to FlixChatter!

Crazy Heart (2009)
by Becky Kurk

My sister from California was visiting a few weeks ago, and we both wanted to see the The Blind Side, but it vanished from the theater one day before we planned to see it. Crazy Heart was her second choice, and since she was from the “away” team, I let her win the coin toss.

Turns out Jeff Bridges (Bad Blake) performance is certainly Oscar-worthy. He plays drunk and down-and-out so well it hurts to keep watching him. In fact, I think his role was over-written. I mean how many times do you need to see him vomit or pass out before you get the hint that he’s got a problem? Not as much as we have to watch. So that leaves little left for the rest of the characters. I have no idea why his love interest (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the least bit interested in him, and there’s nothing in the story that even hints at it. I really think Maggie is a good actor, but her performance here is not Oscar-worthy. That’s not her fault, it’s because of the weakly-written character she has to play. And I don’t know why one minute Colin Farrell (Tommy Sweet) is his musical rival, and then suddenly Bad is his opening act. Sweet then strongly encourages him to write original songs for his band to finally start making some money again. Strangely, Bad turns him down, and again, we have no way of knowing why. Colin, however, gave a subtle but surprisingly good performance.

There’s very little in this film to get you to care about any of the other characters. On the plus side, however, even though I’m not a country music fan, I was surprised I didn’t totally hate the music. And the beautiful panoramas of the Southwest are worth seeing. The story line has been compared to Tender Mercies, The Wrestler and Walk the Line – I haven’t seen the first two, but Walk the Line hits it out of the park compared to Crazy Heart, which barely gets to second base.

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The Damned United (2009)
by Scot Mattison

Michael Sheen takes on the role of one of England’s all-time great and controversial football managers, Brian Clough. The movie looks at Clough’s 44-day reign as the coach of Leeds United and the events that lead up to the doomed Leeds side.

Colm Meaney plays Don Revie, Clough’s nemesis and predecessor at Leeds. Clough’s sets out to change the playing style of the existing Leeds team, players loyal to Don Revie, and a team Clough has openly criticized for playing dirty. Clough attempts to endear the team to him by telling them “You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly”… surprisingly, this doesn’t produce the desired endearing effect.

An ok script filled with very rich characters. I can’t say the movie captured the whole that was Brian Clough though. Lacking is a charming, working-class, boozer quality…  which leads to a “campy” feel to some of the scenes. The movie does do a good job of creating many uneasy moments, and Sheen does a great job of portraying the over-confident and egocentric manager, delivering his lines with a “nasally-condescending-Cloughie” quality. A good watch for football lovers and anyone that enjoys seeing off-center historical characters.

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The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)
by Alan Markham

The Greatest Game Ever Played
is not the “greatest movie ever made,” but it is pretty decent as far as golf flicks go. The movie is based on a book written by Mark Frost (well known golf writer), and even if you’re not a huge golf fan, I think those who like sports movies would appreciate this story.

The basic premise of the movie is the story of Francis Ouimet’s (played by Shia LaBeouf) rise to golfing fame in the early 1900’s. The movie begins with Ouimet’s life as a caddy, and as a relative unknown in the golfing world, and follows along with his growth and ultimate success when he wins the 1913 U.S. Open at age 20. The key moment is when Ouimet takes on Harry Vardon (Tiger Woods of the day) in a head to head match. The outcome seems predictable, but the fact that it actually did happen makes it more entertaining. No fire hydrants or smashed Escalades here, just good clean fun.

As I mentioned, the storyline is expected, but I feel it still has enough interest to hold your attention throughout the entire movie. The acting is decent, cinematography is great (from a golfers’ perspective), and the story is entertaining. If the movie were a golf score, I’d give it a par.

Edit: This movie was Bill Paxton’s directing debut. As a teen, Bill caddied for golf great Ben Hogan in Fort Worth, which might’ve explained his enthusiasm for the sport.