Category Archives: Western Movie Reviews
I’m a big fan of the Western genre if it’s done right. Christian Bale does not often disappoint. So, naturally I was pretty excited to see this movie.
The film takes place in 1892. It is about an army captain (Christian Bale) who is ordered to gather his men and transport a notorious Cheyenne Chief and his family back to their home land. Along the way, they clash with a group of Apaches.
The film was written and directed by Scott Cooper. The noteworthy cast includes Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Adam Beach, Jesse Plemons, Ben Foster, Stephen Lang, Scott Wilson, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tanaya Beatty, David Midthunder, Rory Cochrane, and Peter Mullan.
This is the second time that Cooper has directed Bale. The first time being in the film Out of the Furnace (2013). Cooper also previously directed Jesse Plemons and Rory Cochrane in Black Mass (2015). This is the second western that Christian Bale and Ben Foster have been in together. The first one was 3:10 to Yuma (2007). Ben Foster and Jesse Plemons were also in the movie The Program (2015) together.
Hostiles does an excellent job recreating the late 1800s in the “Old West.” The set and costume design are spot on.
The film swiftly grasps your focus like a gut-wrenching kick to the stomach. It knocks the wind out of you before slowing down to allow the story to unfold. Like most Westerns, Hostiles runs at a slower pace. The movie pauses to allow you to take in its surroundings. The soundtrack and scenery contribute nicely to the overall dark tone of the film. The characters are permitted to develop naturally as the actors are able to take their time to actually act. Nothing is rushed. The precision in the details makes the movie feel convincingly more real.
It’s a breath of fresh air to watch a movie, in this day and age, that doesn’t solely rely on special effects and action to tell the story while leaving acting and writing in the back seat. Occasionally, Hostiles does feel a little slow, but I think that is just because of all the fast paced action that we are used to Hollywood throwing at us. In this case, the longer the film goes on, the more you appreciate it for what it is.
Bale imposed his will upon this film with an eerie presence. The presence of a war-torn honorable man who had been dragged through hell and forced to do terrible things to survive. His acting is impeccable and he is allowed to shine in Hostiles.
Rosamund Pike gave a good performance. She was not treated like a set decoration like so many actresses are, these days.
This film is unique because the characters seem to be put in situations where they react more to their environment. The rough road that they are on can be seen in the actors’ eyes and felt on screen.
I do feel like some of the actors in this film were not used enough. However, at the pace that the film travels, it could’ve been a much longer road had they not cut their time short. I can see how this might have taken away from the story. So, I like the direction that it ultimately went.
Overall, Hostiles is a darker, worthwhile Western with substance. Christian Bale carries the film, but it’s obvious that Scott Cooper wanted it that way.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
If you enjoyed Hostiles, you might also like:
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
The Revenant (2015)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
The Lone Ranger (2013)
I went into The Lone Ranger without the greatest of expectations. The film’s trailers made it appear like it was going to be outrageously exaggerated and therefore hard to enjoy. But, at the same time, I knew that the film was created by the team that made the first 3 Pirates of the Caribbean movies, so it had to be good for something. Also, it’s a Johnny Depp movie. When was the last time that Depp disappointed?
The film is about a very old Native American named Tonto (Johnny Depp) who tells the story of his encounter with a man named John Reid (Armie Hammer) and how that man eventually became The Lone Ranger.
The film was not as exaggerated as I anticipated. The parts in the movie that were unrealistic were done tastefully and intentionally. Instead of those scenes being hard to enjoy, they usually were pretty comical. That was a welcomed surprise.
Depp was delightful, as per usual. His character had more hysterical one-liners than all of Bruce Willis’ action movies combined. Depp stole the show, as he normally does. The film almost should have been called Tonto instead of The Lone Ranger. Tonto is just another piece to the puzzle of insanely awesome characters that Depp has portrayed.
Hammer was okay, but at times his character felt more like the sidekick. He did what he could for his role, but he was no match to Depp’s Tonto.
Wilson was nothing special at all. She was a poor choice for a female lead. She seemed like a cheap version of Michelle Monaghan without the talent.
The rest of the cast had cameo-like appearances with the exception of Fichtner and Wilkinson, who were both excellent.
Overall, The Lone Ranger was a little long and drawn-out at times, but also fun to watch. Depp made the film worthwhile. If you enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), then you will likely get a kick out of The Lone Ranger.
I rate this movie a 7.5 on scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
Django Unchained (2012)
Django Unchained was a bloody masterpiece in film making. Quentin Tarantino did a fantastic job writing and directing the film. He even gave himself a fun cameo appearance in the film as he often likes to do in his movies. He has a tendency to choose the perfect actor for each role in his films. Somehow Tarantino seems to have the power to obtain the best possible performances out of each and every actor in all of the movies that he makes and Django Unchained was no exception.
As with most of Tarantino’s films, Django Unchained was a carefully executed and well scripted exercise in goriness and vulgarity. I think that this excitement and intensity that is shown in previews often will actually turn a person off from seeing the film. They may think that the film looks too violent or too R-rated.
These days there are so many straight-up violent movies filled with so much unnecessary blood, torture, cussing, and pure evil such as Hostel (2005) and its sequels, or Saw (2004) and its almost yearly sequels. It seems like the main intention of those films is to see how far they can push the envelope in gruesomeness. They always have to one-up the previous film of its kind.
When Quentin Tarantino first started making movies it seemed like they were almost strictly for shock value i.e. Reservoir Dogs (1992) or Pulp Fiction (1994). Don’t get me wrong, both of those films were solid movies in their own right, but they lacked meaning and story. They did however, have great characters portrayed by superb actors spouting very colorful dialogue.
In recent years Tarantino has perfected his craft. He has successfully penned films with true meaning and spectacular stories. His best example of this is Inglourious Basterds (2009) and I believe Django Unchained to be his second best film. Although his films continue to be extreme, they are no longer strictly for shock value. They are very edgy, but they will entertain you if you give them a chance.
Christoph Waltz delivers an unquestionable Oscar worthy performance in Django Unchained. The funny thing about that is that I thought his performance in Inglourious Basterds was also without a doubt, valuable enough to receive an Oscar. Waltz did in fact; win back to back Best Supporting Actor Oscars for both Tarantino films. At the rate that he is going, I would not be surprised if Christoph Waltz wins another Oscar in a Tarantino movie in the future.
In Django Unchained Waltz stole the show. Jamie Foxx did a wonderful job as Django, but his performance was overshadowed by Waltz. Leonardo DiCaprio would have won a Best Supporting Oscar for his role in the film if Christoph Waltz wasn’t in it. If Dicaprio had given the same supporting performance in a different movie in any other year besides 2009 or 2012 he would have won the Oscar. Arguably the only performance better than that of Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained was that of Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.
There were so many excellent actors in this film, that if I tried to list them all, I would certainly miss a few. A few more certainly worth mentioning were Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson and James Remar. James Remar (probably most known as Dexter’s adopted father in the television series Dexter.) actually played two different characters in the movie, but nobody seemed to notice. I caught it right away though and I thought that it was a little weird.
Django Unchained is a new-age Spaghetti Western of epic proportions with heart and soul, splattered with lots of blood and violence throughout. It definitely deserves an R-rating, but it also definitely deserves a watch. I have wanted to see the movie for a long time and I almost went to it about a dozen times in the last couple of months. I’m glad that I finally saw the film.
I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.