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12 Strong (2018)


12 Strong (2018)

Besides what I saw in the trailer, I was not aware of the true story that this film depicts.  How was this not more widely publicized?

12 Strong is a true story about 12 Special Forces soldiers sent on a covert operation in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  They are the first boots on the ground.  The group teams up with an Afghan leader, and together on horseback, they try to take down the Taliban.

The movie is based on the book “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton.  It is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.

The noteworthy cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Austin Stowell, Rob Riggle, William Fichter, Fahim Fazli, Numan Acar, and Taylor Sheridan.

12 Strong is the best war movie that I have seen since American Sniper (2014).  It is done in a similar style as Lone Survivor (2013).  It is an amazing untold story that everyone should know about.  It tells the story about America’s immediate response after the 9/11 attacks.

This is easily Chris Hemsworth’s best film.  His role as a soldier was quite believable.

Michael Shannon and Michael Pena also give very likable performances.

The flow to the story was very fluid.  I credit the film quality to the unknown director Nicolai Fuglsig.  A film with such epic proportions cannot be easy to direct.  Especially one this good.

The convincing sets and realistic battle scenes make you feel like you are watching on the battlefield.  It is a war movie, so there is a lot of quality brutal violence.  The special effects are good, but not overdone.

The story itself, was what was most surprising to me.  The U.S. sends twelve men into Afghanistan to respond to the 19 terrorists that took out the World Trade Center.  The covert operation sees those twelve men joining forces with Afghan soldiers on horseback to try to systematically takedown the Taliban.  Horses against tanks, rockets, and other heavy artillery.  Who would’ve thought?

That is fascinating to me.  It’s the 21st century.  The greatest country in the world is attacked with their own planes.  And, their response is on horses in the desert.  Reading that out loud sounds pretty harsh.  But, that is why this is such an interesting and incredible story.  This is not me talking down about the story it all.  That is me praising it.  If you have not seen it and it sounds interesting to you, go see it now!

I rate this movie a on a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Lone Survivor (2013)

American Sniper (2014)

Fury (2014)

Unbroken (2014)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

The Pianist (2002)

We Were Soldiers (2002)

The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

Man of Steel (2013)


Man of Steel Poster 2

Man of Steel (2013)

With the countless number of sequels, remakes, and superhero movies that are being spewed out these days, I have become very skeptical and picky when it comes to deciding which of these movies I will see and which I will avoid like the plague.

Honestly, Man of Steel was a difficult choice at first.  My initial reaction was derision.  I rolled my eyes and scoffed.  How many Superman movies does this world really need?

Man of Steel Cavill Adams

Superman and Batman are probably my favorite superheroes.  What I always enjoyed about those characters was the fact that they both had alter egos and they both were always trying to do good by helping people.

The thing is I like Batman better than Superman.  Batman is more real.  He puts on a costume and goes out, mostly at night, to right wrongs in his city.  Batman is fed up with the scum in his city and he tries to clean up the streets.  Superman on the other hand, is an alien from another planet who ends up on earth.  Superman looks human, but has a number of superpowers that make him almost godlike.  He disguises himself as a human, but puts on a costume when its time to fight the bad guys.  He is faster than a speeding bullet, can fly, has x-ray vision, and is virtually invincible except around kryptonite, etc. etc.  Superman is a godlike alien from another planet.  Batman is a human vigilante.  Which is more believable to you?

Man of Steel Crowe

Following my initial reaction about the new Superman, I learned who all was cast in the movie.  I raised one eyebrow as I contemplated the film’s potential.  The cast includes Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Antje Traue, and Ayelet Zurer.  Great cast right?  Except Henry Cavill is a dud and he was cast as Superman.

Man of Steel Cuffs

In my opinion, they needed a far superior actor to play the lead role.  Sort of like Christian Bale played Batman.  Instead they surrounded an almost nobody with an awesome cast.  The part will boost Henry Cavill’s career, but that doesn’t make him a better actor.  They needed someone like Mark Wahlberg, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jake Gyllenhaal, or even Matt Damon.

Still, the strong cast was enough to make me want to see Man of Steel.  It also helped that Christopher Nolan produced the film and both he and David S. Goyer wrote the screenplay and story.  Of course, Nolan and Goyer also both wrote The Dark Knight Trilogy, which Nolan also directed.  However, Nolan did not direct Man of Steel, Zach Snyder did instead.  Snyder is a capable director, but Nolan is far superior.

Man of Steel

Man of Steel is about a boy who finds out that his parents on earth are not his real parents.  It is believed that he was sent to earth from a different planet.  These details are revealed to him by his earth parents after he figures out that he has super powers.  Now he must learn what he was sent to earth to do and what type of man he will become.

Man of Steel on fire

The film was bursting at the seams with special effects.  The aspects of Superman that I do not enjoy were highly prevalent in the movie.  I don’t like the overuse of super powers and Michael Bay-esque explosions, along with multiple superhuman aliens in an endless battle of invulnerability.  Everything in their path becomes obliterated and it all seems so unrealistic.  With that being said, I expected the film to be that way.  But, I also hoped that the film would concentrate more on the humans on earth than the aliens on Superman’s home planet.  That hope was shattered.  It became more about Superman stopping an alien invasion on earth than Superman just stopping bad guys on earth.

MAN OF STEEL

Although there were a few things about the movie that I did not like, I will admit that those things were done tastefully.  The special effects were amazing.  They were too much at times, but they were also insanely awesome at times.  The cast was great, but Henry Cavill could have been replaced with someone better.  Everybody else’s performance made up for his.  It’s not that he was bad, but he just could have been much better.  The supporting cast should not be better than the main character.  That is not a solid foundation for a film.

Crowe, Costner, Shannon, Adams, and Lane all made the movie worth watching.  They used their acting super powers to totally make the film.

Man of Steel Shannon

Man of Steel is a worthy update to previous Superman movies.  Even a superhero skeptic like myself, enjoyed the movie.  With the obscene amount of action in the film, it will certainly be better on the big screen.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

The Iceman (2012)


The Iceman Poster

The Iceman (2012)

The Iceman is the chilling true story of one of the most famous contract killers named Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon).  He was known as “The Iceman.”  Kuklinski was believed to have killed at least over 100 people.  He had ties to the mob and he had his family convinced that he was a businessman.

The Iceman Shannon Gun

The movie is directed by Ariel Vromen.

This is another limited release movie with a huge cast that also includes Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, Robert Davi, David Schwimmer, John Ventimiglia, Danny A. Abeckaser, James Franco, and Stephen Dorff.

The Iceman Winona Ryder

Why does a movie like this have such limited release?  The only answer that I can think of is that a film about a real-life serial killer is not a topic that would be popular to the general public.  We all know that is not true with all of the hardcore violence in movies and television these days.  So, the question still remains and I don’t have a real answer for it.

I knew absolutely nothing at all about “The Iceman” before watching The Iceman with the exception that he was a real hit-man at one point in time, and I had seen the trailer for the movie.  What I learned about the guy from the movie was creepy and insane.  It kind of makes me want to read the book that the movie was based off of written by Anthony Bruno called “The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer.”

Michael Shannon has been a wonderful character actor ever since his first film appearance in Groundhog Day (1993).  In more recent years he has successfully made the transition to making movies as an awesome main character.  This trend started when he made Take Shelter (2011).  In The Iceman Shannon is electrifying.  His performance is nothing short of deserving Oscar gold.  He was extremely convincing as a stone-cold murdering lunatic with a love for his family.

The Iceman Evans

Chris Evans was unrecognizable at first, but very entertaining.

Winona Ryder made a big comeback in Black Swan (2010).  In The Iceman, I think that she successfully clinched her comeback into the spotlight.  She brought talent to the movie not seen out of her since the 90s.  Dare I say another person from this film deserves an Oscar?  She should at least be nominated.

The Iceman Liotta Shannon

I would say that 2012 is the year that Ray Liotta died as an actor and then was resurrected.  He looked and acted like death in the unwatchable Killing Them Softly (2012).  He was resurrected in The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) and he became his old bad-tempered self again in The Iceman.

The rest of the cast was there to put all of the pieces of this true serial killer story together.

The Iceman Ryder Shannon

As expected, the movie was brutally violent and loaded with f-bombs.  What I did not expect was the strong presence that each of the main characters had on screen.  They each did an outstanding job in becoming the real people that they were playing and telling their terrible story on film.  Their performances made the movie powerful and worth watching.

Michael Shannon in The Iceman

I think that it is worth tracking down a theatre that is actually playing this movie and checking it out for yourself, that is, if you are a fan of true crime films.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Mud (2012)


Mud Poster

Mud (2012)

There has been some Oscar buzz around the grapevine involving Matthew McConaughey‘s performance in Mud.  I think that he did a superb job in his role, but I don’t think that the role itself is Oscar worthy.  They might just nominate him to give him a little bit of well-deserved recognition, but he won’t win.

Mud (2013) Matthew McConaughey

McConaughey has always been a very likable actor.  He carries himself well and always brings a lot of energy to his characters.  He is usually in excellent shape and the ladies love him.  I think that is why he has made so many “chick flicks.”  Because of his many romantic movies, I think that a lot of people, including the Academy don’t take him seriously as an actor.  I believe that is why he gets overlooked when it comes time to give out awards.  It’s a shame because the guy certainly is capable of an Oscar worthy performance, just look at The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), Two for the Money (2005), and Frailty (2001), to name a few.

In Mud, Matthew McConaughey plays a man named Mud.  He is an outlaw living like a bum on an island in Arkansas.  Two teenage boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) get more than they bargained for when they meet Mud after they find a boat high up in the trees on the same island.

Mud Boat tree

The film was written and directed by Jeff Nichols.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, and Joe Don Baker.

Mud was not exactly what I expected.  I guess I didn’t know quite what to expect.  The film was unique.  The story was original which these days is a little rare.  It was a nice change of pace to see a one-of-a-kind movie instead of a sequel or a remake of another movie.

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Being basically unknown actors, I thought that Sheridan and Lofland both did an exceptional job of carrying their part of the movie.

Shepard and Shannon were both fun additions to the film.

Film Review Mud

I’m not a huge fan of Witherspoon, but I felt that she did an okay job in the film.  However, I think that her character needed more screen time.  That isn’t her fault.  The movie could have been improved upon if her part of the story was better told.  It just felt like her part was lacking something.  I left the theatre thinking that the movie was really good, but something was missing.  Her character could have provided that something.

The film did a fine job of developing most of its characters and building suspense.  It was intriguing.  It kept you wanting to know what was going to happen next and was not very predictable.

Unfortunately the movie is in limited release.  It is a little bit surprising to me that the film is not in wide release.  It is the first movie that I have seen in a long time that I could not sit in the part of the theatre that I wanted.  I had my choice between the second or first rows.  That is how packed the theatre was.

Mud is worth checking out if you are sick of the same old sequels or remakes that Hollywood keeps regurgitating for your enjoyment week after week.  It’s a nice change of pace to be able to watch a movie that allows the actors to act and counts on their ability and the storyline alone to be entertaining and successful.

Mud Matthew wave

I rate this movie a 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.

Note: After watching this movie a second time, I had to raise my initial rating from a 7.5 to an 8.  The film is better than I originally gave it credit for.

Trailer for Man of Steel (2013)


Man of Steel Poster

Man of Steel (2013) (click on the title for my full review)

I know I’m a little late on this one, but yet another Superman movie is coming.  This one does have a great cast though.  Henry Cavill plays superman and the rest of the cast includes Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Ayelet Zurer, Michael Kelly, and Richard Schiff.

Henry Cavill was an interesting choice for the role of Superman.  He is nothing special, but the rest of the cast is awesome.  I’m not a huge superhero movie fan, but the cast for this one is what will get me to see the movie.

The film is directed by Zach Snyder.

Who do you think should have played Superman with such a huge supporting cast like this one?

The film is set to release on 6/14/13.