Here are the latest reviews of my most recent theatrical viewings. Fury, John Wick and Dracula Untold. Enjoy and share your thoughts in the comment section.
- Director: David Ayer (End of Watch, Street Kings)
- Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña and more.
- Synopsis: “April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.”
Review: Fury is a WWII war drama featuring a hardened group of brothers in arms battling against Nazis in a formidable tank that has become their home. The film, much like its characters, is both gritty and gruff. While it is not quite Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers it is definitely worth watching and utilizes the similar themes and plots. With some of the best tank fighting in a film since Battle of the Bulge, Pitt’s film here has tanks that become characters (to a degree) on their own. (Including a German Tiger tank…of which there is only one left in the world that is in running condition…)
I am reminded of one of the major criticisms of the film Red Tails in that critics were seemingly appalled at the “simplicity” of the characters and that they all had identifiers that were used to create and keep their character rather than their story. I disagreed with that criticism, personally and saw the same thing in Fury. While the characters are staple and a bit cliche, they carry the story and that’s okay with me. The film attends to the coldness of war both on and off the battlefield and makes a point to focus on the affects of war on the locals as well as the soldiers and the changes it brings to all. Some will like the slower parts while others will want more action…of which there is no shortage. Blending drama and daring fights, Fury focuses on showing that war is not all bombs and bullets. It is a very well done WWII movie that had me on the edge of my seat throughout and is a must watch for the war-film and WWII-film fan. Might I recommend going to see it on the upcoming holiday, Veteran’s Day.
Score: 4 out of 5
- Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
- Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, Alfie Allen and more.
- Synopsis: “An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.”
Review: Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch worked together on this as their joint directorial debut but they are no strangers to the action drama as their prior experience is FULL of stunt work on movies such as 300, The Expendables, Serenity, Bourne Ultimatum, Man of Tai Chi and more. First off, let me tell you that I watched this twice in 24 hours because (1) I enjoyed it and (2) I wanted to pay attention and track the body count that John Wick himself deals to the bad guys. (For those interested, highlight the blank section here: My body count of John Wick’s destruction was an impressive 72+ in 101 minutes!)
When I first read the initial released synopsis for the film that simply read something along the lines of “A hitman seeks revenge on a group of gangsters that killed his dog.” I scratched my head hoping there was more to it because the trailer was pretty great with all the promised action. It definitely exceeded my expectations and was enjoyable for me. Action action action mixed with more action and all the while still entertaining with a world of assassins and hitmen with a set of rules and respect for one another. The wit and humor that accompany them is both fun and oddly accepted as the story continues.
It misses the mark a bit in building up the hate for the villainous characters and in the end they only end up as numbers in the body count and don’t create a great sense of accomplishment or want to cheer when villains are killed. However, you might cheer for the way in which some or eliminated. Reeves is definitely believable as an accomplished and to-be-feared master of his trade. A great cast that is not overpowered by any one member (Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, Adrienne Palicki all add to the supporting cast). Little dialogue and tons of destruction and death dealed, this is the movie that action-junkies want…nay…NEED to see.
Its ending leaves a bit to be desired but the journey all the way through is full of wide-eyed anticipation for the action and the fast-paced choreographed fighting. It’s a good action flick that delivered exactly what I wanted and so I’m glad to recommend another Keanu movie finally. With a post-Matrix career that hasn’t really taken off, Keanu Reeves has a major successful hit here. I’m thinking he’s back!
Score: 4 out of 5
- Director: Gary Shore
- Starring: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon and more.
- Synopsis: “As his kingdom is being threatened by the Turks, young prince Vlad Tepes must become a monster feared by his own kingdom in order to obtain the power needed to protect his own family, and the families of his kingdom.”
Review: I’ll tell you, I enjoy a good vampire movie..and, not the sparkling type either. I’m talking Underworld, Byzantium, Let Me In, Let the Right One In, even Van Helsing every 3 or 4 years if I feel up to it. I like them to be vibrant, visual, vicious and villainous. I also like the movies themselves to NOT be what vampires do…and that’s suck.
I’m sad to tell you that Dracula Untold does indeed suck the life out of you while watching. (Granted, if you want bubblegum for the brain then you may still enjoy it.) This origin tale of the monster known as Dracula blends folklore and history while making its own and presents an appealing tale that ultimately falls flat and may leave you wondering things such as: “If he had all this power for so many days then why didn’t he destroy them all on day 2?” or something like that. (For sake of spoilers, I won’t say any of the other things that bothered me in the film along those lines, but it does have unnecessary characters, underdeveloped/ignored storylines and disappointing under-usage of powers.)
I liked the look and feel of the film. It tried a few new things in vampiric lore which I also liked. I very much enjoyed the beginning (setting the stage for the film) and the end…well the 2nd ending if you will (setting the stage for future possible films). This film’s entire middle has some cool fight scenes but no substance. It’s as if the lifeblood of the story was sucked out of the pens they wrote the story with. The acting is decent enough and the idea had promise but the execution was nowhere near what Dracula deserved or what I wanted. This is supposed to be the beginning of the relaunch of the Universal Monster Movie franchise (The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman, etc) and I hope that the rest of the ones on the way are much better.
Score: 2 out of 5
(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 300 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer