Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – Separating The Final Book Was A Bad Move

hunger-games-mockingjay-part-two-the-2015-001-katniss-at-head-of-rebel-crowd-ORIGINAL 28NOV2015

Before I get started on this review, let me say that I knew this was coming. In the last Hunger Games movie I reviewed, I said that I thought separating the final book into two movies was a mistake.

And I was proven right.

Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen to live out the second part of the Mockingjay novel, which if you’ve read it, you know it’s incredibly dark and depressing. The story finishes up the war between the district and the capital, as Katniss struggles with Peeta’s brainwashing and choosing between him and Gale. All the same characters are back, but more than a few don’t make it to the end.

hunger-games-mockingjay-part-two-the-2015-002-katniss-gale-and-two-more-rebels-crouched-in-dust-of-capitol-ORIGINAL 28NOV2015

The problem with this film is that there is literally no comic relief. Woody Haralson’s Haymitch is sadly absent, leading us to nothing more than a story of teen angst and overwhelming odds. It’s also a lot of repeat from the first two movies. And I mean a lot. The entire climax is yet another repeat of the premise that’s been repeated over, and over, and over again.

Also, the self-importance of this film is a bit much for me. It’s a bit like watching a college play about racism, where a bunch of idiotic newly political kids talk about race inequality like they discovered it. This is a film that thinks it’s more important than it is, rather than yet another movie about a dystopia that has heavy inequality between the upper and lower classes. The heavy handed sermonizing makes it sound like they’re the ones that discovered the fact that there was inequality between the classes to begin with.

The big problem here again, was the separation of the final book into two parts. As a result, the filmmakers were forced to stretch out the last half of a book into a full movie and the struggle to get it done shows.

the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-review-Mjg3OTMwMjQ3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODMyMzkxNjE@._V1__SX1396_SY732_ 28NOV2015

I will say I was always dissatisfied with the ending in the novel series. I felt as though it started out strong and lost steam as the books progressed. I also found it annoying that whenever the author didn’t know how to transition a scene, she just has her heroine pass out.

I started to become concerned that Katniss was hypoglycemic.

The filmmakers did nothing to fix this. Instead, they followed the novel format, starting strong and then slowly running out of steam until the series close is decidedly anti-climactic.

It’s a disappointing finish for a story that should have been the ending of the last movie. And the studio is laughing all the way to the bank. Mockingjay Part Two came out on top at the box office, raking in an impressive $102 million. I can understand why they did it. I just wish they hadn’t.

In the end, I found this finale entirely disappointing and depressing. The Hunger Games started out strongly enough, but then failed to deliver in this final installment.

On the upside, at least it’s finally over.

WE GAVE IT : 3 STARS! Watch the Official Trailer and See the Official Movie Poster below


[youtube id=”KmYNkasYthg” width=”633″ height=”356″]

h-HO00000004 28NOV2015

Movie Review: My All American – Painfully Slow and Aimless with No Real Character Development

My All American Screen Grab Movie Review

I don’t like sports, so I frequently see sports movies go terribly wrong. However, that doesn’t mean I hate all sports movies. I dug Any Given Sunday. I loved Rudy. There were a lot of sports movies that I enjoyed very much.

This was not one of them.

My All American is based on a true story and is written by the same person who wrote “Rudy”. In this one Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) is a dude who’s just a bit too little for football, but his love of the game leads him to getting a spot on the Longhorns at the University of Texas in the late 1960s. The film goes with the cliché of having Coach Darrel Royal (Aaron Eckhart, in some embarrassingly bad old person makeup) telling the tale of Freddie to a reporter who apparently didn’t realize this movie had already been written and done better in Rudy.

This is a movie that panders to the conservatives, and even they will take it with a grain of salt. Freddie is just a little too perfect to be human, the scenes of family are just a bit too idyllic to be real. When someone mentions New York and the Coach says “Aw hell, I’ve never liked those big cities,” I half expected him to jam a corncob pipe into his mouth, it was so fake and hokey.

My All American Screen Grab 2 Movie Review

There’s just irritating, over the top scene after irritating over the top scene of Freddie skipping around farting rainbows and sprinkling sunshine wherever he goes. At least Rudy had some edge.

Freddie is a total square. He’s too damn intense about everything. Everything is just friggen great! Whether he’s talking to his best girl or tying his shoes, he always gives 110%!

He was nauseating.

I feel bad saying this because the movie is supposedly based on a real guy, but honestly, the Freddie in this movie isn’t real. He was Dudley Friggen Do-Right with and extra dose of Christian Conservatism.

My All American Screen Grab 3 Movie Review

It’s amazing to me, and a credit to Eckhart as an actor, that he was able to keep a straight face as the coach spewed out countrified statement after countrified statement. Here’s some of my favas.

“You run like you got minnows in your pants!” What does that even friggen mean? Was he scratching his butt? Did he pee himself? It doesn’t make a lick of sense and no one in the history of time has used that phrase in any seriousness, because whoever heard it would just turn around and ask the same question.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Next “I fell in love with her faster than a hiccup.” Yeah, because that’s what a girl wants to hear from the man who says he’s in love with her. She wants to hear she reminds him of an involuntary spasm in his diaphragm.

It was painfully slow, aimless and no character development in a movie I couldn’t care less about. It was pretty darn bad. No joke. I hated it like I hate hiccups.

WE GAVE IT: 2 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

2 Stars

[youtube id=”udOir1ucj38″ width=”740″ height=”416″]

My All American Official Moive Poster

Movie Review: By the Sea (2015) – It Might Have Made a Better Photo Than a Movie.

by-the-sea2  21NOV2015

By the Sea is a retro-style film that seems to be mirrored after arthouse films, in some kind of boring parody. Even the presence of Hollywood’s most beautiful couple can’t make it interesting.

Anyway, this is a story of an uber-rich couple that needs to get away from a mysterious family tragedy (though honestly, I pegged it in the first ten minutes) and decides to go on a beach vacation to the South of France. There, they meet a younger, happier couple and you wait for the swinger’s party to start.

This is like an overdone porno that’s all lead and no payoff. I’ll say that Jolie and Pitt play a good rich married couple…because duh. I just wasn’t that invested in them and didn’t particularly care about them. You spend half the movie waiting for them to talk, and then when they do, you just want them to shut up.

by-the-sea  21NOV2015

I will say it’s a beautiful movie. That seems to be Jolie’s go to. Lots of beauty without much interest behind it. There’s gorgeous panning shots, pretty poses and elegant despair. It’s all incredibly beautiful. There’s a ton of nudity and sexual tension. I think it might have been a better photo than a movie. As a movie, it just doesn’t work for me. It’s an incredibly boring effort.

I think someone needs to tell Jolie that pretty isn’t everything. You need a story. There’s not one here. The tension doesn’t build and the dialog is awful. Heck, the reason the couple is so rich is because Pitt’s supposed to be this world famous writer.

But he talks like a world weary tax accountant. The dialog just doesn’t carry the movie. As a result, it feels like nothing more than a 90 minute photo session of Jolie, while she’s suffering from a serious case of depression.

Literally, like 80 minutes of the run time is watching Jolie move from one chaise lounge to another, draping her arm over her forehead and wondering about the emptiness of it all.

224 - 21NOV2015

Also, it’s a bit weird that these two are married. How can a married couple have this little on-screen chemistry? I mean, it wasn’t just bad in this particular film. It was bad all the way back in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I really think they should stop making movies together. There’s just something about having the two of them together in a movie that doesn’t work. It doesn’t make sense. They’re both beautiful, reasonably adept actors. It’s just something about the chemical reaction of them together that doesn’t carry over to film.

This movie is fun to look at, but not much fun to watch. The best I can suggest is to play it in the background when you want something to look at. The story is tedious, the dialog clumsy and sluggish and the characters poorly formed. Sometimes, even the best director and the best stars in a movie can’t fix an awful screenplay.

This is one of those times.
WE GAVE IT: 2.5 Stars

2.5 Stars


[youtube id=”j8lMbJTsUGU” width=”680″ height=”383″]


Movie Review: The 33 – A Grueling Watch, But In a Good Way

hero_The-33-2015-200 - 19NOV2015

Ok, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Antonio Banderas in a serious movie, not one that immediately comes to mind. But here’s something amazing.

Dude can act.

The 33 is the story of the 33 mine workers trapped 200 stories below the surface in a Chilean mine cave in during 2010. The men were down there for 69 torturous days. While an exciting premise, this is more of a movie about relationships than it is about the rescue effort.

I will admit it’s a grueling watch, but in a good way. Banderas brought a level this character that I didn’t even know he was capable of. I think the acting was quite well done in this movie, and Banderas really led the way with a strong performance.

One major problem I have with this is the score. While written by the late, great James Horner who performed amazing scores like the one for Titanic, this one was just too doggone overpowering for the movie. This isn’t a beautiful movie. It’s not about the visual effects of the scenery and I felt the score came on too strongly and really didn’t match the story.

33-large - 19NOV2015

Also, despite the fact that the story is about the Chilean mine workers, it also brings in their families, showing their wives praying and fighting with politicians for their freedom. While the women in this film put forth a good effort, I feel as though they cut back to them a bit too much, when they really could have just gone with the stronger story going on underground.

Another thing that threw me…this was supposed to happen in Chile, right? Then why are there so many white people there? While again. the acting was good, I really felt they went a bit to heavy handed on the white actors getting crammed into the script.

While this is a strong effort, I felt like three narrative lines were two too many. I think the film should have centrally focused on the miners and allowed those additional stories to take more of a back seat. The three different narratives become unwieldy and make a relatively simple, clean plot, seem messy.

The-33-Featured-Image - 19NOV2015

Despite that, this movie does deliver on its message of hope. I feel that it really did capture the essence of the original mine collapse story and did credit to their source material.

It’s a very good effort and worth the watch for the acting alone, though I strongly recommend bringing some ear plugs to the over the top score. I’m pretty sure not every spot in Chile has someone playing the Spanish guitar, especially not 200 feet below the surface. In that, this was a case where silence would have spoken louder and been far more dramatic.

This is a more cerebral movie than you’d expect. Despite the fact that the actions were dramatic, the movie isn’t so much about the drama as it is the relationships forged through the drama. It’s a strong effort and one of Antonio Banderas’ best performance.
WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

[youtube id=”U7PX3E9M-1w” width=”680″ height=”383″]

 the33_1sht_main_dom_2764x4096 - 19NOV2015

Movie Review: The Last Witch Hunter – Far Too Much For What Should Have Been a Simple Film

new-trailer-vin-diesel-is-the-last-witch-hunter-381970 - 03NOV2015

Every now and then, I see a movie that I feel like would have been done better as a TV show. It’s usually a movie with a decent plot and a decent lead, but not really enough power to play well on the big screen. I feel like if The Last Witch Hunter has been a TV pilot, instead of a movie, I’d probably be adding it to my already overfilled schedule of television shows to watch.

Before you find that too impressive, it should be noted that the vast majority of my shows that I watch now include screaming housewives, food trucks, or housewives screaming at food trucks. I don’t really have high TV standards.

But I will say it’s good, and it’s a good choice for Vin Diesel. He plays Kaulder, an 800+ year old warrior whose job is hunting down and killing witches who want to unleash all kind of nastiness on humanity. The movie starts off well enough, right around the time Kaulder kills the evil witch queen and gets cursed with immortality. The next time we see him, he’s wandering around a modern world with his sidekick Dolan the 36th (Michael Caine) who is almost immediately replaced with Dolan the 37th, (Elisha Wood) as the new sidekick. Then, they get word that the evil witches are planning on resurrecting the witch queen, Kaulder deals with some kind of witch hunter Alzheimer’s and Dolan the 37th tries to prove he’s just as awesome as Dolan the 36th.

the-last-witch-hunter-pic01 - 03NOV2015

This is a safe role for Vin Diesel. It doesn’t require him in any way to step of his Stalone-esque comfort zone. He stomps around, kicking butt and looking broody. It’s a good role for him. Wood is equally wide eyed and eager. There’s nothing wrong with their performances, but they hardly qualify as hard roles to fill, being written a bit one dimensionally.

The reason I say this would make a better series is because they tried to cram way too much into this movie. Witches, curses, memory problems, allies, foes, world building, everything is far too much for one simple film and an as a result, becomes really hard to follow. They throw in a “twist” at the end that doesn’t really inspire shock, because most aren’t going to be sure what’s going on anyway.

The storyline could have used a bit more simplicity. It feels like they’re setting the scene for a series, and it’s a safe franchise for Diesel. The problem is they could have afforded to leave a bit out. It got to be too much.

the-last-witch-hunter-img07 - 03NOV2015

It also seemed like a strange timing for the release. October is traditionally Oscar Bait season, summer’s for blockbusters and January/February is for middle of the road series starters. This would have worked better as a January/February release.

It’s not terrible, but it’s not that memorable either. It’s clear that this was a project of passion for Diesel, the problem is it’s being met with a lukewarm reception. I think a bit more time spent on the screenplay could have really done something for this film. I will say it’s worth the watch, but I don’t think I’d watch the sequel.

WE GAVE IT : 3 STARS! Watch the Official Trailer and See the Official Movie Poster below


[youtube id=”xsuG2JUgs_8″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

fin07_lwh_1sht_throne_modern_trim - 03NOV2015

Movie Review: Crimson Peak – Not Heart Pounding, But Unsettling And Darkly Beautiful


Let’s start off by saying that while Crimson Peak has been advertised as a ghost story, it’s not so much that as it is a story with a ghost in it.

We start out by meeting the lead Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), a woman who had unusual desires for a woman in the late 1800s. She wants to be a famous writer, rather than a wife. Her dad has other idea, wanting her to marry the local Dr. McMichael (Charlie Hunnam). However, Edith instead focuses on a poor, but aristocratic Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). She’s seduced by his dream of restarting the red clay mine of his family home. After her father’s mysterious death, Edith marries Thomas, only to start receiving mysterious warnings from her dead mother, about the place she’s gone to live, referred to as Crimson Peak.


There’s quite a bit to say about the acting in this film, as there’s not much action. The characters must be carried by nothing more than dialog or the occasionally nefarious look. In that Mia Wasikowska is great as a wide eyed girl. growing increasingly suspicious of her husband’s family. Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston, is equally good, playing the loving husband with a nefarious side as well. And Jessica Chastain, who got the rare opportunity to spread her wings as the nefarious sister, might have found her best role yet.

However, even the excellent acting fades away among the amazing visuals that are this film. It’s a gothic story, with an excellent, complex gothic atmosphere. Everything from the scenery and the small details of the gothic home, all the way to the score that plays in the background competes for your attention. It’s a thrilling, gorgeous film that is carried based on excellent direction and beautiful visuals.


Their story is a simple one. Girl looking to solve mystery. However, it’s simple because it needs to be. The characters themselves are so multifaceted, the background so rich, that if we were dealing with a complex story, it would feel like a messy mishmash. Instead, the balance is perfectly formed, ensuring that you can understand the plot while you enjoy the characters.

I do have to point out that this is not a scary horror flick. It’s less about monsters and spirits than it is the atmosphere. If you were a fan of The Others, then it’s likely you’d enjoy this. However, if you’re looking for something like Hellboy, this is not the flick for you. The conflict here is internally driven and much of the horror is purely cerebral.

Towards the end of the movie, the momentum slows a bit and some might find that it drags. In addition, the CGI effects for the ghosts were a bit underwhelming. However, the atmosphere and the characters carry this well enough. While it might not be heart pounding, it’s certainly an unsettling, darkly beautiful movie that viewers with tamer horror tastes will likely enjoy.

If that’s your kind of style, and The Others is among your favorites, than Crimson Peak is absolutely worth the watch.

WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

[youtube id=”oquZifON8Eg” width=”680″ height=”383″]


Movie Review: Legend (2015) – A Stylish Gangster Movie with Tom Hardy Doing Some Great Acting

Legend-Movie_HD_Wallpapers004-1024x423 12OCT2015

In Legend, Tom Hardy gets a second chance to make a first impression on audiences. While he was the title character in the recent blockbuster Mad Max, Charlize Theron kind of stole the show. This time around, he’s back with a vengeance, playing not one, but two main characters.

Legend is based on Ronnie and Reggie Kray, twin crime lords running London’s underworld in the early 60s. Ronnie is glasses wearing, paunchy and flamboyantly gay, along with being mentally unstable. On the flip, Reggie is the level headed, business minded twin in a troubled marriage. The movie starts off with them getting a blank check to indulge in criminal enterprises, after they blackmail a high powered member of parliament, who gets busted in a gay orgy. Sounds cool, right?

trailer-for-tom-hardys-1960s-gangster-film-legend 12OCT2015


Yeah, it all kind of falls apart after that. The rest of the movie unfolds pretty much the way you’d expect from your standard gangster flick.

Tom Hardy was amazing in this, playing twin brothers in a way that makes them characters in and of themselves. You genuinely do forget these twins are being played by the same person, which is an extraordinary feat both from Hardy, and from the people in makeup and wardrobe.

The problems here come from the actual storytelling itself, which is a bit thin. Aside from the unique premise of twin brothers, it’s a bit paint by numbers as fast as crime movies go, with two brothers doing horrible things, while a frustrated police department fights to stop them.

Off screen narration from Emily Browning seems to be done with shades of Goodfella’s, but instead, turns into cringe worthy clichés that are used to plug up holes in the screenplay. The storyline itself is really nothing special, with the twins going through the standard clichés of being hometown heroes and criminal celebrities, while at the same time, being monsters behind closed doors.

legend-teaser 12OCT2015

It’s a shame, because the real life story of the Kray twins left a lot of room to have fun. It was a clever movie that could have taken a more humorous twist in order to differentiate itself from the masses of other gangster movies out there. Instead, it takes a unique plot and twists it right into the mundane.

All in all, it’s a decent watch. The acting is fantastic, as are the costumes for the ‘duo’. It’s a stylish gangster movie that is plenty satisfying. The problem is, it’s satisfying in a way that fast food is satisfying. Sure, it’s enjoyable, sometimes you even crave it, but it’s nothing special.

This is a standard gangster movie that could have been more. Instead, they stuck with the formulaic plotline, despite having lots of real life material to choose from. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m just saying it could have been better.

I will say it’s worth the watch, if you get a chance to see it. It’s not one of those British based movies where the accents are indecipherable, so if that usually distracts you, it won’t here. Instead, it’s a reliably exciting gangster flick, with some incredible acting by Tom Hardy. Watching him seamlessly play both characters easily makes this movie worth seeing.

WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

[youtube id=”yI3v6KfR9Mw” width=”680″ height=”383″]

legend1 12OCT2015

Movie Review: No Escape (2015) – A Political Thriller That Delivers on Thrills But Can’t Make Sense of The Politics

no-escape-owen-wilson 05SEP2015

No Escape is Owen Wilson’s latest effort to try out his more serious side. While the movie has an intriguing premise, it suffers from an uneven plot, with the first half being excellent, while the second is less so.

Owen Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, an American businessman living abroad with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters. Jack is relocating to an unnamed Southeast Asian country, but he never gets a chance to start his new job. Instead, the day they arrive the country is taken over in a violent coup. Initially, it appears that the revolution is directed against the very company Jack works for, a corporation that’s planning to privatize the country’s water supply. Then, they lose that thread of cause and just decide to go with the revolutionaries being anti-American.

The major problem I saw with this film was failing to continue on with the anti-privatizing natural resources angle. It would have given the movie a bit of conflict that might have allowed people to look at both sides of the issue, and possibly even empathize with the revolutionaries there. After all, the privatization of a necessary natural resource, in a country with an extremely poor population, is something to get upset over.

But then, they dropped that thread and instead just turned the revolutionaries into a bunch of anti-American clichés who just want to murder anything remotely western. The movie turns into extended action scenes of Jack trying to get his family to safety, across the river and to Vietnam.

The street action is gritty, upsetting and very realistic. Owen does a good job of portraying the terror of Jack as he’s being pursued by a mob that’s intent on killing every foreigner they can find. As he survives one hellacious trial after another, you feel for him, and you do get involved in the suspense.

no-escape-owen-wilson-pierce-brosnan-image-6 05SEP2015

No-Escape-2015-6 05SEP2015

But the choice to not give the mob a real direction makes it feel one dimensional. Even when you’re watching a movie where you couldn’t possibly agree with the terrorists, you still want to know there’s some driving point behind their actions, some kind of turbulent political atmosphere that makes ordinary people do horrible things.

But by pulling back on the motive, and instead turning it into a ‘look how much these people hate America” outlook, it becomes so one dimensional and nonsensical that it gets a bit ridiculous. This is supposed to be a political thriller. While this movie certainly delivered on thriller, it failed to deliver on political.

It’s still watchable, but maybe instead, watch it as an action flick and don’t expect a certain amount of reason from the subjects. Don’t expect a two sided story. Instead, the movie focuses on Jack’s desperate race to freedom. While good, it’s not as understandable because it’s impossible to get why these people are chasing after a harmless family.

I think it would have been better served to at least give an opposite outlook. To give an idea of why this revolution happened. In that, the filmmakers failed. However, it’s still a watchable effort, as long as you don’t expect a lot of reason with your carnage.

WE GAVE IT : 3 STARS! Watch the Official Trailer and See the Official Movie Poster below


[youtube id=”VFpK71yBv1s” width=”633″ height=”356″]


Movie Review: The Man from Uncle – A Fun Exciting Romp That Redefines The Espionage Movie

hero_TheManFromUNCLE_2015_1  - 25AUG2015

I have to admit I was a bit worried when I saw the Man from U.N.C.L.E. coming so soon on the heels of a Mission Impossible release. Much like Mission Impossible. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a spy movie adapted from a popular TV show. Unlike Mission Impossible, I never saw the show. If I had, I probably would have noticed how truly different the two films are.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is centered around the CIA in the early 60s. It has the bright, playful technicolor feel that was so popular in the 60s, setting it off as different from the beginning. Henry Cavill plays Napoleon Solo, a former master-thief blackmailed by the CIA (represented by a nasty-raspy Jared Harris) into becoming a secret agent. Cavill is a debonair womanizer who wears thousand dollar suits and delivers smart aleck lines with perfect timing. He’s a play on old school James Bond, but with a bit less tension. He’s partnered up with Illya Kuryakin, a former KGB agent who has flipped sides in order to fight a nuclear armed organization.

The characters were caricatures but in this movie, that’s a good thing. The whole thing has a bit of a cartoony feel and it’s pretty clear that Guy Richie was having a lot of fun playing with the clichés. It’s a movie that celebrates the cliché to the highest order, making it clear that’s it’s laughing at itself.

the-man-from-uncle-670 - 25AUG2015

12-the-man-from-u-n-c-l-e-armie-hammer-henry-cavill - 25AUG2015

This is a hard thing to pull off, but they managed to do so pretty cleanly. The movie hits just about every major cliché an action franchise can, from love interest in trouble, to mismatched buddy comedy, to evil genius bent on world domination. This is all done in a tongue in cheek style that tells you the makers knew exactly what they were doing and still managed to give it a newer twist.

Much of that had to do with the talent of the leads, both of which were played true to character. While I think the female lead could have been done better, the two males pretty much define the word “mismatched”. It’s like the odd couple joined the CIA.

I do have to say this is a clear attempt to create a new franchise, and I really don’t think that’s necessary. While a good movie, the gimmick will feel tired a second time around. It’s a joke that’s hilarious the first time you heard it, but not so great the second.

That’s not to say that this movie isn’t worth the watch. It’s a fun exciting romp that redefines the espionage movie and makes fun of the genre at the same time. The retro 60s feel added something special to the movie and the clever use of color gave this movie a vibrant, stylish feel.

It’s a fun movie, with great characters and an easy to follow premise. While it’s clearly been done and timed in order to capitalize on the success of the Mission Impossible franchise, it doesn’t feel like the same thing. It’s a new twist on an old genre.

WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

3.5 stars

[youtube id=”4K4Iv_N9Nno” width=”633″ height=”356″]

image004  - 25AUG2015

Movie Review: Straight Outta Compton – Easy to See Why This Movie Reached Both Critical and Commercial Success

SOC - 22AUG2015

One thing that’s rare in the movie world is seeing a film that is both a critical success and a commercial success. While I expected Straight Outta Compton to be a critical success, I hardly expected it to do as well as it did commercially, considering the subject matter. It seemed like a movie with a single demographic. But honestly, once you see it, you realize it’s one of those movies that transcends demographics and makes it so everyone can find a parallel in their own lives to the problems of someone who isn’t like them at all. Yes, even a middle aged white girl, who spent the 80s in the mountains of New Hampshire, can identify with the main characters in this storyline.

But it’s not just a story. It’s a film based on the events that led to led to one of the most potent rags to riches stories in history. It’s the making of the group NWA, produced by the now billionaire group themselves. We see the stories of Andre Young (a.k.a. Dr. Dre), O’Shea Jackson (a.k.a. Ice Cube), and Eazy-E (Eric Wright) through their eyes. It’s an unflinching and often introspective look at a generation that authority tried to silence, but couldn’t.

One thing I have to say when it comes to movies that are centered around inner city main characters, is that they have a tendency to go for the cliché. We see heartless thugs played as new school cowboys and white cops that feel like they’re hiding KKK robes under their uniforms. These films tend to be black and white, but the world isn’t black and white.

Straight-Outta-Compton-Movie-Still-2 - 22AUG2015

And neither is this film. They portrayed themselves honestly, as men who had to fight for respect in one of California’s most dangerous neighborhoods. From the beginning, it’s easy to see how every day is a struggle to maintain power and dignity. Eazy-E appears on the scene during a drug deal gone bad, moments before a LAPD tank rolls into a drug den. Dre gets pistol whipped in the face after getting into a tussle with a Crenshaw Mafia soldier on the bus and Ice Cube is a man ready to fight in the blink of an eye, even over something as small as getting shortchanged. They don’t play themselves off as martyrs. Instead, they make you understand why they made the decisions they did, even if you don’t agree with them.

Jerry Heller (Paul Giammatti), who is often seen as responsible for the dissolution of NWA, is played not as a character, but as a person. He’s one part villain, and one part guardian angel, both standing up for the group he represents and trying to drive them apart at the same time. They didn’t make Heller the easy villain. Instead, they gave him true motivation and a true duplicitous nature without making him a one dimensional villain who only wanted to break up the group.

SOC II - 22AUG2015

This is an extremely well done film that uses gritty realism to get its point across and gives us a deeper, more dimensional look at NWA’s rise to fame and subsequent breakup. Even if you’re not a fan of the music genre, Straight Outta Compton is straight up worth the watch.

WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

[youtube id=”l5r5cZk0EfY” width=”680″ height=”383″]