“Alien: Covenant” – The path to paradise begins in hell.

This may be more of a rant against what Hollywood seems to be becoming rather than a review, but I think it will still cover the important aspects of what I was expecting and what I wanted from “Alien: Covenant”. Basically, it was a letdown for me. I walked away from it telling myself, “No no, it was good…right? It had some cool parts…” but I just can’t seem to forgive a lot of the issues it was filled with. Seems to me that Ridley Scott is trying to remake the saga he created by making us forget how great the originals were. I don’t think he’s succeeding.IMG_20170323_0950491

When “Prometheus” came out in 2012 a lot of audiences were pissed at the plot holes, scientist stupidity, and altogether “…what??” that it instilled in viewers. I’ve seen it enough times at this point to actually enjoy it as a film in the Alien franchise. Yes, it has plot holes. Yes, it has characters doing incredibly stupid things. But the whole idea of that movie was to watch a bunch of scientists investigate something they had no clue about and gradually get torn to pieces due to their lack of intelligence. If that’s how you go into the film, it’s actually a great piece of Alien lore that could’ve set up Ridley’s sequels leading up to “Alien”. Sadly, I think he missed the mark with “Covenant”.

Before getting into the actual plot of the film, I want to point out something that the film business has started doing lately that has upset me deeply. Months before “Covenant” came out, marketing materials were being released in the form of vignettes that were supposed to give us an early look into the film. For instance James Franco was cast in the film as the captain and has a very, VERY brief cameo in some of these “films”, so I was expecting to see more of him in the actual movie. NOPE. You can count the seconds he’s on camera. So imagine how upsetting it is for fans of the franchise to see these early release stories only to not include them in the film itself, making for a somewhat confusing storyline we’re forced to piece together. Sadly I see this as becoming a Hollywood trend now just to generate more dollars for studios, along with “trailer teases” which is just the stupidest thing I’ve seen. Let’s get you excited about getting excited about the movie! No.

Anywho, the film. “Covenant” takes place 10 years after the events in “Prometheus” with yet another ship of people headed somewhere to setup a colony. In typical “Alien” fashion they receive some sort of distress beacon, are woken up from cryosleep early, and go to checkout what ends up being a really bad idea. Now something that “Covenant” seemed to get right that “Prometheus” didn’t, is that this time around these are just colonists looking to start a new life on some planet. Therefore when danger starts creeping up on them they really don’t have a clue what to do. “Prometheus” kind of failed at this because the point of that film was to discover an alien race, so they planned accordingly by bringing weapons and military personnel, but everyone just ran around like chickens with their heads cut off once things took a downward turn. But I digress. In “Covenant” the action

In “Covenant” the action actually starts pretty quickly with some rather gruesome deaths. Normally the “Alien” franchise has hinted at gore here and there but the main focus was sheer terror. That is not the case here as anytime someone dies, it’s pretty brutal and sometimes over the top. But even that’s not the biggest issue. My problem with the whole film came into play once David (Michael Fassbender) was re-introduced. Seen as the sole-survivor from “Prometheus”, he shows up in a cloak as some ominous figure who’s been living alone for these past 10 years. The audience actually laughed when he appeared in the movie, which is never a good sign. From there it just gets really convoluted. Whereas in “Alien”, “Aliens”, and even “Alien 3” the story builds along with the fear, “Covenant” doesn’t really know what to do. None of the characters are super memorable besides Tennessee (Danny McBride). I think people were expecting him to be some sort of comic relief but besides a few comedic lines here and there, he was great and dramatic and definitely the best part of the film for me. Anyway, as people started to get offed I found myself trying to figure out where the film was going. The death scenes were just too…creative? Probably not the right word but I feel like the studio heads said something along the lines of, “Let’s kill everyone in a different, unique way and really focus on the gore rather than the creeping fear the other films have.” This sucks. What made “Alien” great back in 1979 was that you barely saw the creature. It was all noises and shadows that made you scared to walk down a dark hallway. “Covenant” has no problem showing you the creature from the get-go and letting you bask in the CGI for the whole film, which is another drawback for me since I appreciate practical effects and costumes more.

xalien-covenant1.png.pagespeed.ic.wYPhwsFyFIThis was really just one long ad for grand pianos.

The film also didn’t have much suspense in the way of “I wonder what’s going to happen next” or “How in the hell are they going to survive this?” Almost everything was telegraphed and there were even moments where people laughed or sighed out loud once a scene unfolded. Overall it just felt like Ridley Scott was rushing a film to theaters just to get it out there. For the die-hard fans, Neill Blomkamp’s proposed “Alien 5” sounded so much cooler and it was going to bring back Ripley and Hicks, something longtime fans just couldn’t argue with. Personally I think that once his leaked concept art hit the web, Ridley rushed to get his vision made instead and therefore created a less-than-perfect follow up to “Prometheus”. Now I’ve read a lot of comments and reviews, some saying it answered “Prometheus’s” questions, others saying it made the prequel look like the greatest entry in the franchise, so it’s pretty clear there’s a divided audience. I mean even Rotten Tomatoes lists “Covenant” as Certified Fresh with a 73%. While not the upper echelon of reviews, that’s pretty good for RT standards. Sadly I have to disagree.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: If you’re a fan of the franchise then it’s definitely worth seeing. Go into it removing any ideas of a strong, coherent story and just view it as an entry into Alien canon knowing there are better entries out there. And hopefully you’ll love Danny McBride.

SCENE COLLECTED: Several people have brought this scene up on Reddit as being a favorite and I’d have to agree, mainly because I was somewhat disappointed with how the rest of it played out. But there’s a scene on the planet where Daniels (Katherine Waterston) is flipping through some drawings that are all H.R. Giger’s original concepts for the Xenomorph look. So that was a pretty cool nod to longtime fans of the series.

FLICKCHART RATING: 834/2409

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“Suicide Squad” – Worst. Heroes. Ever.

The first trailer for this movie came out what, a year ago? I’ve never been a comic book reader but I’ve always been a huge fan of Batman movies, so why wouldn’t I be all jazzed about a film revolving around the villains of the DC universe? After more trailers started to come out, I had my reservations about certain things I thought I’d be seeing. The Joker’s appearance was the biggest point of contention but also how well a movie where Batman takes a backseat could perform under the stress of a super “hero” movie. Lucky me, I snagged a seat last Thursday night for a late night screening.
Here are some words about it.12489243_1674589672821667_4430624289856009994_o

Talk about a stacked cast. With heavy hitters like Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, and Jai Courtney this seemed destined to be excellent. Despite receiving a pretty low rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I was not displeased by any means. And the film is clearly doing alright. I had a few issues with the outcome, but I don’t know if a lot of these can be attributed to the fact that I’m not a comic book lover so take all of this with a grain of salt. I saw it with my roommate and he thought it was amazing, so clearly some opinions differ here.

First, the pros. So many superhero films have started with some sort of origin story taking up a good quarter or more of the film. Thankfully with “Batman v. Superman” that wasn’t the case and it seems that DC is taking the hint. While “Suicide Squad” does have an “origin” story as to the first team being formed, the members of the team are all introduced with backstory less than five minutes long. Thank you. Within minutes we’re off the ground running, getting to know and love these quirky misfits without drudging through long minutes of who they are. Speaking of, here’s a little breakdown in case you have no idea what this movie’s about and are confused about me mixing the word “Suicide” with Batman.

  • So, we’ve got Deadshot (Will Smith). He’s a trained assassin with any kind of firearm, and his claim to fame is that he’s never missed a mark (except Batman, but that’s more from the comics/series). He just wants to get custody of his daughter back.
  • Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Created specifically for the animated series, this is her feature debut as the Joker’s lover. Psychiatrist turned loon, she’s basically a watered down, female version of the Joker. Don’t get me wrong though, Margot Robbie KILLED it as Harley and with talks of a spinoff in the works, I’d gladly sign up to see that. Plus she’s easy on the eyes.
  • What Batman film is complete without the Joker (Jared Leto)? Filling those shoes was a big task, especially following the likes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger (and even Mark Hamill). Leto’s take on the character was a new one, instead choosing to rock body tattoos and a silver grill in lieu of the purple coat and wide grin. He seemed to be more of a cracked out gangster than the “Clown Prince of Crime” we’re so used to having. More on this later.
  • Someone obviously has to be in charge of these guys, so enter Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Again, having not read any comics, I’m sure she has a much larger role in the DC Universe that I’m just unaware of. But Davis did a great job being overbearing, strict, and no-monkey-business while retaining the professional air of a government official. Solid casting choice.
  • Every squad needs a leader and that fell to Captain Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman). The only non-“villain” character from the squad starts off butting heads with the other members but winds up being a guy we can feel for, and more importantly the squad can listen to.
  • Lastly I want to talk about Boomerang (Jai Courtney). This is another villain I never knew of until seeing the animated “Assault on Arkham”, which is another Suicide Squad film from a few years ago. Boomerang is an Aussie thief who’s calling card is hucking a boomerang at his enemies. Sounds lame except these things wind up being somewhat lethal, but he’s added more for comic relief.

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If you had no preconceived notion of who these guys were, this might seem cool enough to go see anyway.

So there you have it, a decent line up of actors in what turned out to be a pretty entertaining film. It wasn’t exactly what the trailers sold to us but I would definitely see it again and hope for a sequel, or at least cameos in future DC films.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Supervillains seen as Superheroes. A new take on the Joker that didn’t quite sit right. A film that winds up playing like a comic book. If you’re a fan of the comic books or the actors, see it. There isn’t a whole lot you need to know going into the theater and it’s already on track to have a huge 2016 run.

SCENE COLLECTED: It’s actually a really subtle scene but the way it was shot was pretty cool to me. When Dr. June Moon summons Enchantress during a meeting, her hand is lightly touching a table when all of a sudden it looks like someone is grabbing hold of it from below, then the hands spin over and Enchantress is now in the room. This probably doesn’t make any sense to anyone reading this now, but once you see the film you’ll understand what I’m referring to.

FLICKCHART RATING: 451/2376

“In the Heart of the Sea” – The tragedy of the Essex is the story of men. And a Demon.

These days seeing a movie based on a book is pretty much the norm. In fact, books are being written almost solely to get a movie made about them. So it’s a little refreshing when a film comes out based on a novel written way before film was even a twinkle in Edison’s eye. “In the Heart of the Sea” isn’t exactly based on a novel, however, but rather the story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick in 1850. Having just finished it I am happy to report that it was quite the tale, and more than I had expected to get.heart_of_sea_1200_1779_81_s

There are a lot of classic novels out there that every grandparent will tell their grandchildren they should read. I was given Moby Dick at a young age but never actually read it, seeing how I didn’t know what at least half of the words were. I’ve seen a few film representations of the story and they’ve definitely been entertaining, but Ron Howard really latched onto something with “In the Heart of the Sea”. Not just the story of the great white whale, but of whaling men, their camaraderie during tested times, and of the courage they had. The story is obviously similar to that of Melville’s great American novel, but it was acted and directed with precision.

Chris Hemsworth leads the cast as First Mate Owen Chase, of the Essex out of Nantucket in 1820. Rounding out the cast is also Cillian Murphy – a personal favorite of mine, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw, and Tom Holland. Unless you’re me none of these names probably mean anything to you, but I guarantee you’ve seen these faces before. In fact, Tom Holland is the new Spiderman in the MCU, and he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Many of these actors are already listed as all-around types and can give amazing performances in just about any role, but Hemsworth really pushed some boundaries here to let people see him as someone other than Thor, and he succeeded. I imagine it’s hard, at least nowadays, to get people to care about a movie taking place in the 1800’s that’s about whaling. Today’s crowd wants explosions, slow motion, fast cuts, and spin around hero shots, none of which are present in “In the Heart of the Sea”. But that’s where it’s great; this film is all story and acting.

I found it very difficult to notice any weak points but then again that’s not something Ron Howard is accustomed to. In case the name isn’t familiar he’s the director behind films such as “Apollo 13”, “Cinderella Man”, and “A Beautiful Mind”. All of that amazing filmmaking is present here as well, making us a part of this voyage and putting us to work alongside these seafarers, something very difficult to do. As the story unfolds we see the strife these characters go through and are reminded that this is the actual story of the men of the Essex, not a fabricated tale by some scribe in Hollywood. The effects bring to life the rush of hunting a whale, as well as the fear of being hunted by one. Watching the men cut, clean, and boil the whale blubber was both gruesome and intriguing to watch, especially when young Tom Holland was shoved into the head of a whale to retrieve the spermaceti oil (oil used to lubricate machinery and create candles). Even though I highly doubt a lot of the film was shot on actual open water, the scenes of them flying over the waves and hurling their harpoons at pods of whales really brings the viewer into the experience. Which makes it all the more exciting when the white monstrosity attacks.Screen-Shot-2015-02-04-at-5.34.39-PM-572x271

Terror for scale.

One last thing I’d like to add to this review is the score. Roque Baños (how cool is the name Roque?) really brought this film to life. There were definite moments that edged on tearful thanks to the score, and of course stood out to me as a big proponent of why the film worked.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Great film retelling what you know of Moby Dick in an entirely new light. Excellent acting and a heart-wrenching score make this THE film on whaling to watch. That’s also a sentence I never expected to write.

SCENE COLLECTED: [SPOILER ALERT] There’s a great yet sad moment after the survivors land upon a deserted island. Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) says his goodbye’s to Matthew Joy (Cillian Murphy), a childhood friend and frequent sailing companion. Joy decides to stay behind on the island while Chase leaves with the others in search of rescue. The music and the chemistry is so palpable that it creates this amazing sadness on the screen.

FLICKCHART RATING: 324/2361

“Entourage” – The ride ain’t over.

I can probably count the number of shows I’ve watched from start to finish on one hand, but then again I don’t watch a lot of TV. “Entourage”, however was one of the first I ever completed and just recently watched all the way through a second time. There are a lot of opinions out there about these five guys running around Hollywood but I have to say, it’s probably my favorite show I’ve ever watched. Entourage-5

When “Entourage” ended four years ago it was on a bit of a cliffhanger. Without giving too much away, the characters were headed in different directions (physically and emotionally) and the last scene could’ve served as the actual finale. So when I heard that Doug Ellin (the creator) was going ahead with the movie I was eager to see what else he could cook up. After seeing it this past Friday I have to say, I was quite pleased with the result. The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes aren’t the greatest but that’s because critics went in expecting to see a movie, not an extended episode. I never saw the “Sex in the City” movies, nor the show, but I imagine they were roughly the same thing; extended episodes of the show. This doesn’t mean that if you’ve never seen an episode of “Entourage” that you won’t enjoy the film, but you’ll definitely connect with the characters more if you have. But don’t worry, the first few minutes serve as a “In case you’ve never seen the show” by way of Piers Morgan describing the lives of Vince, Turtle, E, Drama, and Ari.

The film picks up right where the show left off. Vince and the gang are “celebrating” Vince’s recent divorce after a marriage that lasted three days. While partying on a yacht Vince takes a call from now studio head Ari telling him that he wants to direct his next feature. Flash forward eight months and the movie is almost complete, however Vince is reluctant to show anyone his cut because he needs more money to finish it the way he wants it. This means Ari needs to get more from the financiers, played by Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment. With that being the underlying plot of the film, there are also plenty of celebrity and athlete cameos with one of them (Ronda Rousey) becoming a love interest for Turtle. Characters from the show come and go throughout and a few are referred to but not actually shown, which makes it difficult for the crowd that hasn’t seen the show.

If you’ve ever seen a movie with me before then you know that I love a packed theater. To me that’s the best way to experience the emotions of the film, whether you’re laughing or on the verge of tears. Lucky for me I got to see “Entourage” opening night to a sold out room and there were very few moments when the entire place wasn’t erupting in laughter. Near the end of the show some of the characters had begun to get a little too serious and it was turning into more of a drama than a comedy/drama mix. The movie took the writing back to the show’s roots and I felt like we had all our old favorites back. So say what you will, Rotten Tomatoes, but this was made for the fans and at the very least, this one loved it.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Excellent follow up to a show that spanned eight seasons. Familiar faces are back and issues that were unresolved on the show finally get some resolution. Doug Ellin has said that if this film does well enough he hopes to make it a trilogy. I’m for it.

SCENE COLLECTED: Last few minutes of the film there’s a shot of all five guys slowly walking across the red carpet waving to cameras. THIS is what the show was about, and it’s amazing to see it on the big screen.

FLICKCHART RATING: 354/2306

“Black Sea” – Brave the deep. Find the gold. Trust no one.

I was doing a little “boredom reading” at work the other day and naturally one article led to another and so on. All of a sudden I wound up at some webpage offering up the “20 Most Underrated Films of 2014”. Enter “Black Sea”. For a movie about a submarine looking for gold starring Jude Law with a thick Scottish accent, it was pretty good.Black Sea

Jude Law has never been a favorite actor of mine, nor has he been one I don’t like, he’s just…there I guess. But lately (as in for several years now) he’s been gaining my attention with his acting chops. The two Sherlock Holmes movies were pretty awesome, I’ve seen about half of “Dom Hemingway” and so far so good, and then this commercial just hammered home the point that he’s great…and that I want some scotch. But I digress!

So this website listed “Black Sea” as one of the movies that was underrated, which I had to agree with as I hadn’t heard of it. I read the short synopsis it gave, checked it out on IMDB and decided that this was something I wanted to watch. The story is actually pretty simple. Robinson (Law) is laid off from a deep sea salvage company after 30 some years and wants to stick it to the man. Thanks to an old friend he is able to get the backing from a rich dude to rent a submarine, crew it with half British and half Russian men (not a weird half Brit, half Ruskie hybrid, that’d be an entirely different movie) and search for an old WWII sub that sunk in the Black Sea supposedly carrying a large sum of gold. The Russian navy along with the Georgian navy have been fighting over who the sub (and the assumed gold) actually belong to so the whole sub operation has to be done discreetly. After the men get on board, Robinson makes one mistake in telling the crew that they will all have an even share of the gold if they find it…which means that the less men there are, the greater the shares for everyone else. Oops.

Obviously this seems like a film that’s been done before, and naturally as I wrote that none came to mind, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this plot device in other films. But “Black Sea” really nails it, and I found myself often holding my own breath as if I was actually outside the sub. The tensions between the two crews really rides high and keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next, and to whom. But the greatest part is that a lot of the chaos arrives without warning, or at least very quickly. The movie doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to think about what “could happen”, more of a “Well that idea isn’t goi-OH MY GOD WHY?!” Plus it’s all underwater, and that’s just one giant nope.

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Why…do you have a gun on a submarine?

Jude Law kicks off this cast as the big name but there are several recognizable faces too, and I imagine that the UK audience probably knows who they all are. We’ve got Scoot McNairy (Argo, 12 Years a Slave), Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, The Place Beyond the Pines), and Michael Smiley (The World’s End, Black Mirror) to name a few. These guys all did a great job with their roles, starting off hungry for the riches that await them and slowly wanting nothing more than to survive. Really, I can’t stress it enough that this was a great movie. If anything it made me decide that if there’s ever a gold cache at the bottom of the ocean that can be reached only via submarine, I’ll stick to my paycheck.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: If you’re into suspenseful thrillers, check this out. You’ll feel as claustrophobic as the crew. Underrated for sure.

SCENE COLLECTED: This doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the overall plot, but near the beginning of the film Robinson and his Russian friend are about to meet their potential benefactor, and they are told by the man’s assistant, “And whatever you do, don’t ask him his name or how much he’s willing to invest.” Robinson walks into the room and immediately does both. I chuckled.

FLICKCHART RATING: 575/2291

“The Hard Way” – There’s only one way these two are going to get along…

There are tons of buddy cop films, and series for that matter, out there. The “Lethal Weapon” and “Rush Hour” franchises, “Showtime”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, the list goes on. Now I’m not saying “The Hard Way” is the best of them, not by far, but it was surprisingly entertaining for a movie I heard of based on reading “Back to the Future” trivia.The Hard Way

There are some actors out there that when you think of them, the only roles you can picture them in are whatever made them famous. For instance up until “Avatar” it was hard to think of Sigourney Weaver as anyone but Ellen Ripley from the “Alien” series, or Keanu Reeves as someone besides Neo (see “John Wick” review below to understand that he’s actually a pretty solid actor). So after recently watching all three “Back to the Future” movies (it is 2015 after all, I want my hoverboard) I thought I’d expand on my Michael J. Fox repertoire. From reading the trivia for each of the BTTF movies I discovered that in ’91 he played actor Nick Lang in “The Hard Way”, essentially the original version of “Showtime”. And as far as buddy cop movies go, this one was actually pretty good because it didn’t really go the same route all the others do; a fact that they keep mentioning throughout the film (“This isn’t the movies!”).

James Woods is Detective John Moss, NYPD. He’s a badass cop with a quick temper but he gets the job done. His immediate squad includes partner Luis Guzman and LL Cool J, whose contracts for films must include a clause that his songs are played throughout. These guys are tearing up NYC looking for “the Partycrasher”, a metrosexual Stephen Lang killing people at clubs and bars for what looks like no particular reason. After an attempt to catch Partycrasher goes wrong, Moss is made a public spectacle thanks to the news. Enter Nick Lang (Fox). About to release his newest action film, “Smoking Gunn II” he’s looking for something grittier, something he has to audition for that will actually require acting chops. Having seen the news segment on Moss in New York, he decides he’s going to shadow him for a few weeks and learn just how to be an actual cop. I’m pretty sure you can figure out how it goes from there. If you need a reference, just think about any other buddy cop film you’ve ever seen.

Now the reason this one was enjoyable and kind of stood out above the rest is because of its formula. Just about every other buddy cop film I’ve seen has the two cops/partners hating each other from the get-go and becoming besties by the time the credits roll. This is not the case here. Woods’ character Moss HATES the fact that he has to babysit an actor while trying to work an important case, and he never really wavers from that mindset. Even during the climax he’s still calling Lang (Fox) an idiot. As I mentioned before, this idea is constantly represented throughout the movie when characters keep saying, “This isn’t a movie!”, whether it’s in regards to how a bust goes down, the state of Detective Moss’s apartment (pretty nice), or hitting someone over the head with a piece of wood. So utilizing that idea made it pretty funny because the two are continuously at each other’s throats, making it enjoyable to watch. Plus James Woods is just an epic actor and it’s crazy to see Michael J. Fox in a non-McFly role, especially one where he drops a few F-bombs.

MJF-in-The-Hard-Way-michael-j-fox-23266467-1024-768“Great f*#$@ng Scott, this is heavy!”

DIRECTOR’S CUT: My roommate told me that I’d “enjoy the ride” but once would be enough, but I’m willing to keep this in my collection to watch every couple of years. I definitely think it deserves a spot on the shelf with the rest.

SCENE COLLECTED: Right after they get partnered up, James Woods gives a quick monologue to Fox about why following a cop around isn’t the same as being one, and that an actor might “get 17 takes to get it right, but we only get one.” For a comedy it’s a pretty dark moment…and then Fox turns it around by pulling out a tape recorder and asking him to repeat it.

FLICKCHART RATING: 1139/2276

“John Wick” – Don’t set him off!

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately mentioning how “John Wick” was a solid Keanu Reeves sleeper hit, and after seeing it I definitely understand why. I feel as if Reeves has gotten a lot of bad press from moviegoers, always linking his acting to either “Point Break” or “The Matrix”, when in fact he’s a great actor and he’s got a long resume to prove it. After a series of samurai-esque films he’s returned to a definite popcorn action flick with “John Wick”, and he definitely delivered. I’m not at all surprised that one of the lines of the film is, “Yeah, I’m thinkin’ I’m back.”John Wick

I was telling a buddy of mine about the movie because I read here about how he’s been added to Nicolas Winding-Refn’s new film “The Neon Demon”, a director we both loved due to the awesomeness that is “Drive”. He (my friend) seemed interested enough to see it after I told him the plot, so why not tell all of you as well? That is the purpose of this blog, right? Otherwise I’m spending $18 a year for a fancy domain name. Anyway, this movie rocked. It’s exactly what you’d think it is; Keanu Reeves keeping his cool and kicking ass. Oh, and it was directed by two fight choreographers, so the whole movie is a bunch of bullet fodder jumping around like freakin’ ninjas and pulling off epic neck-breaking moves. Honestly if there were an Oscar category for “Best Badassery”, this would absolutely be nominated.

So the film starts out with Keanu Reeves bleeding out next to his car, and his last minutes of consciousness he decides to watch old videos of his wife on his phone. WEIRDO. Then we flashback to “several days earlier” and start figuring out what got him to hemorrhage so much blood. Turns out he was in love with some chick who passed away and mailed him (posthumously) a puppy for him to take care of. While getting used to the cutest, most cuddleriffic pup in the cinema world he’s approached by Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), who is essentially Allen’s Russian portrayal of Theon Greyjoy. Wick ticks off Tarasov by not naming a price for his car when Tarasov rudely asks, and this essentially becomes the catalyst for the rest of the film. Tarasov and some other Russian idiots break into Wick’s house and steal the car, among other things. Without going into details here, the first 20 minutes of this film hit me in the feels harder than “Up” did.

From there on the film is just 100 or so minutes of Keanu Reeves tearing things up. It’s done very well and honestly, the character of John Wick could easily go toe-to-toe with Ryan Gosling’s character from “Drive”, mainly because of how calm they are most of the time. The story is almost a perfect mashup of “Road to Perdition” and “Smokin’ Aces”, and here’s why. Iosef Tarasov is the son of the head of the Russian mob, so when John Wick essentially says, “Hey man, I know I used to work for you and all, but your son was a dick to me and stole my car, so…I’m coming for him”, the mobster sends everyone he has after Wick. Cute. What was really cool to watch as the amount of respect John Wick carries in the film. Clearly he’s been around the block a few times as one of the best assassin’s in the game, so his “return” is not taken lightly at all. Everyone is very respectable towards him, not so much because he’s a badass killer, but because while in the game he always stayed within the rules and was courteous to his fellow “players”. I want to command this kind of respect someday, though I’m not sure being a hitman is the route to go.

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Bill and Ted’s Radical Revenge

I don’t want to sound morbid but the blood spatters are great. These are small details that can really take you out of a movie watching experience, but these looked practical which is all the better. When you have amazing choreography and shootouts, only makes sense to have the special effects well past par. Movies these days tend to be reboots, remakes, sequels, or super hero films so I’m glad to see that something like “John Wick” really hit the mark. RottenTomatoes gave it a solid 83% and I sincerely hope will launch Keanu Reeves back into some hits, because he deserves the hitman respect. Though there’s blood and fighting and “intense language” it definitely keeps you interested and entertained. Oh, and it’s got Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki, Dean Winters, and that guy from “Fringe”.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Excellent. I’d say “popcorn flick” but I’m pretty sure I was eating something much heartier while watching this, and I kept pausing my chewing so I wouldn’t miss the action.

SCENE COLLECTED: The morning after John gets the puppy he doesn’t have any puppy chow for him, so he pours the dog a bowl of cereal and they eat together in silence. Perfect.

FLICKCHART RATING: 604/2272