Out of the Furnace (2013)
There are certain movies that appear to be destined for greatness and Out of the Furnace looked like one of them.
Christian Bale is one of the most versatile actors of our time. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I watched Newsies (1992) for the first when I was a little kid. Bale has become such a great actor that I eagerly await all of his new movies. Out of the Furnace especially sparked my interest after I learned how many other big names are in the cast.
Russell Baze (Christian Bale) goes looking for his younger brother, Rodney, (Casey Affleck) after he goes missing. Russell will stop at nothing to get his brother back and release his own form of justice on whoever is responsible for taking him.
As the title suggests, the movie is rough and only gets more severe. It’s out of the furnace and into the fire. The title did, in fact, suit the film quite well. The movie was injected with pain and anger. Eventually the intensity boiled over and the film sizzled. Out of the Furnace stirs up the emotions and lights them on fire. It’s easily the most powerful movie of the year.
Christian Bale does not cease to impress. Nobody could have done a better job in his role, and the only thing better than Bale’s performance was the fact that the rest of the film was filled to the brim with extraordinary talent working alongside him. The entire cast was firing on all cylinders.
This movie is not for anyone with a weak stomach. The violence is brutal and the language is harsh. The filmmakers’ gloves came off in order to make a film so sharp that the jagged edges will cut into your mind and all sorts of emotions will come leaking out. Out of the Furnace will stick with you long after it ends.
The movie deserves to be nominated for an Academy Award in just about every category available. It gets my vote for Best Picture of the Year and Bale deserves the Best Actor award, hands down.
I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked Out of the Furnace, then you will probably enjoy the following films:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Last Stand (2013)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, again. He must have gone a little heavy on the spray tan and make-up because his face looks like a tanned piece of aged leather, but he’s back. I held off seeing this movie in the theatre because I was not sure if Ahnuld could pull this one off.
The Last Stand is about a drug lord that escapes from protective custody and heads for the Mexican border. The only thing standing in his way of freedom is small town Sheriff Ray Owen (Schwarzenegger) and his band of misfit deputies.
The film is directed by Kim Jee-Woon and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, Peter Stormare, Eduardo Noriega, Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford, and Harry Dean Stanton, and Genesis Rodriguez.
The film does not have a lot of character development, but there is a bit of stupid comedy and tons of action. The special effects are actually quite good and they help to make the film enjoyable. There are endless car chases, bullets are flying, people and things are exploding, blood is spattering, and fans of 90s action movies are applauding.
Schwarzenegger, Knoxville, Guzman, and Stormare all make this action movie more of a comedy not to take too seriously.
Whitaker seems to be the only person in the film taking his part seriously and it fits his character like a glove.
Overall, the film was better than I expected it to be. It’s a bit predictable at times, but for the type of movie that it is, that is to be expected. It certainly seemed like they had fun making it. Even though Schwarzenegger looked a little goofy, he pulled his character off quite well and it was fun to see him acting again.
I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
If you liked The Last Stand, then you will probably enjoy:
Out of the Furnace (2013) (Click on the title for my full review.)
A Man (Christian Bale) goes looking for his younger brother (Casey Affleck) after he goes missing. He will stop at nothing to get his brother back and release his own form of justice on whoever is responsible for taking him.
The film is directed by Scott Cooper. Who is Scott Cooper? I had to look him up too. The only other movie that Cooper directed is Crazy Heart (2009). Jeff Bridges won an Academy Award for Best Actor for Crazy Heart. Cooper has received a lot of critical acclaim for that film. It appears like Cooper just might have another Oscar contender on his hands with this new film Out of the Furnace.
If you get a group of actors like that together to make a movie, it’s hard to expect anything less than excellence.
The film is set to release on 12/06/13.
I’ll be in the theatre in December to let you know if this film meets my expectations.