Daily Archives: August 20, 2013

Killing Season (2013)


Killing Season Poster

Killing Season (2013)

 

John Travolta has not been making as many films as he used to.  Ever since his son died in 2009, he has made noticeably fewer movies.

It seems like Travolta has maybe gone off the deep end because his characters have gotten angrier and more intense.  His role in Killing Season appeared like it was going to continue this trend.  The pairing of Robert De Niro opposite Travolta as another darker character was enough to make me want to see the film.  Travolta out for revenge on De Niro on screen is bound to be entertaining.

Killing Season is about a retired war-hardened veteran (Robert De Niro) who is trying to live a quiet life in a remote cabin in the wilderness when a man from his past (John Travolta) comes back to hunt him.

Killing Season Travolta Hunting

The film was directed by Mark Steven Johnson and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Milo Ventimiglia and Elizabeth Olin.

The movie touches briefly on the Bosnian war, which I found interesting because I knew nothing about it.

I thought that Travolta pulled off a Serbian accent quite well.  Along with his short, dark hair, facial hair, and eyebrows, he was believable as a Serbian.  He certainly continued his recent trend of grittier characters and he was a likable bad guy.

De Niro has showed no sign of slowing down even at the age of 70.  He ran around in the woods and held his own against the younger Travolta.

Killing Season De Niro

The film was a drawn out battle between two aging veterans in the style of The Most Dangerous Game (1932).  One man hunted the other while the other man fought to survive.

The movie was a little too predictable at times.  However, the quality acting, moderately intense action, and the built up tension throughout the film was enough to make up for where it was lacking, and ultimately made the movie worth watching.

Without spoiling the film, I think that the movie would have benefited from having more time spent hunting.  If the chase was a little more spread out, the film might have been less predictable.

Killing Season De Niro Travolta Cheers

The movie is a 2 man show.  The bottom line is if you are a fan of De Niro or Travolta, then you will probably enjoy Killing Season.

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)


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Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

The movie should have just been called The Butler, but director Lee Daniels somehow felt that he had to put his name in the title.  I’m not sure if there is a real reason for his name being in the title, but to me, it just seems a little narcissistic.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is very, very lightly based on the life of Eugene Allen.  The film changed Allen’s name to Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker).  The film paints a pretty disturbing picture of the struggles and pain that Gaines and his family faced during his childhood and throughout his life as a butler at the White House for 34 years.  The movie showed how the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement had a major impact on his life.

Lee Daniels' The Butler Whitaker serving Williams

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr., David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, John Cusack, James Marsden, Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Clarence Williams III, John P. Fertitta, Colman Domingo, Yaya Alafia, Minka Kelly, and Nelsan Ellis.

The movie modifies many of the facts about Allen’s life in order to make it more entertaining and therefore less true.

I left the film wondering just how much of it was true.  After doing a little bit of research, I found out a number of things about the movie that are completely fiction.  It’s a little upsetting to me how this film tries to pass itself off as based on a true story.  I don’t want to spoil anything about the movie for anybody, but let me just say that a lot of it is pure fiction.

Lee Daniels' The Butler Whitaker Gooding Jr.

I really felt for the main characters after seeing what they went through, and thinking how terrible things were for them.  After finding out that a lot of the details in the movie are made up, I question just how honest the rest of the movie is.  I feel like I was a little duped.  I felt bad for Cecil Gaines, but that was not even his real name.  I felt bad for some of the things that Gaines went through, but found out that some of those things didn’t even happen.  Because the writers and director played so fast and loose with the facts and tried to pass it all off as truth, they succeeded in ruining the movie for me.

The film was very slow and dragged on at times.

There were so many big names in this movie that a few of them were underused.  A lot of the supporting characters do not get fully developed.  They are in the film in almost cameo-like roles, and then they are gone.

Forest Whitaker is superb in the lead role.  His performance alone is enough to make the film worth watching.  Even at the film’s slowest and almost boring parts when the movie seems like it is unraveling, Whitaker is enough to bring everything back together again.

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Oprah Winfrey was miscast.  Her character hardly seemed believable and this took away from my enjoyment of the film.  The rest of the supporting cast all did a fine job.

Overall, I felt like the movie was too slow at times.  If they had trimmed some of the fat and gotten rid of a few scenes, the film could have been better.  I am a little annoyed at how many facts were changed as they are trying to pass this movie off as inspired by a true story.  Most people read “true story” and think that it is true.  If they dressed this movie up to make it more entertaining, I cannot imagine how slow it would have been if they had stuck more to the facts.

The Butler (2013) Forest Whitaker (Screengrab)

Setting all of the things about this film that I did not like aside, Whitaker and most of the rest of the cast all do a great job.  It’s fun to see all of these big names in the same movie even if some of them are not in it long enough.  The film does an excellent job of showing people overcome hatred and violence and that is always a good shot to the arm for the human spirit.

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.