The film Outlaw King was released on November 9, 2018. It is an historical film dealing with the history of Scotland under the role of Robert the Bruce (1275-1329). It starts with the submission of the Scottish lords to King Edward I of England in 1304. Chris Pine plays Robert the Bruce and Stephen Dillane is King Edward I. The film is a bit slow in the beginning due to the presentation of other historical persons, such as Queen Margaret of Scotland and Prince Edward of England and various influential lords.
This was a very bloody time in the history of Scotland but this was not shown until halfway through the film. The death of William Wallace was skimmed over. Another thing that is a problem with biopics is that historical facts are sometimes presented out of sequence. I understand the reasoning behind this, which is due to time limitations, but it presents a prejudicial viewpoint of history. Putting this aside, Outlaw King was a well written story. For the most part it keeps the viewer’s interest. The acting was sufficient and believable. The direction was excellent. I admit that if every battle ever fought by the English and the Scots, the back door politics, and other factors were shown in this film, it would probably last about 6-7 hours.
I like historical films for the most part if the subject is of interest. I knew a bit about Robert the Bruce and King Edward I, but this film gives an interesting perspective on the interaction between these two countries. I would watch it again and I would recommend it others. I give this 4 stars out of 5.
This film, Small Town Crime was released on January 19, 2018, and it was produced by Olivia Spencer. It deals with alcoholic ex-cop Mike Kendall (John Hawkes) who discovers a battered girl’s body. When he is told that she has died, he decides to discover her murderer. His brother-in-law Teddy Banks (Anthony Anderson) tries to discourage him but he refuses to give up. Through his investigation, he puts himself and his friends in danger.
The storyline was good and it flowed well. The problem that was a disruption of the story was that too much focus was put on Kendall’s alcoholism. This tended to make the story a bit preachy. There are better and shorter ways of getting this point across. The acting was believable and the two leads did a good job. Olivia Spencer also was in the film as Teddy’s wife. For a crime movie, there were plenty of gun battles and blood, but these scenes were toned down by the fact that a lot of these were shot during the night. It lessened the impact for those who like their crime dramas with blood and guts (as usually seen in Tarantino films).
I, for one, like to see some humorous scenes when I watch these sort of movies, but there was none except maybe for the final scene that was interspersed with the end credits. I did like the opening/closing song for the film which was “Good Times” by Eric Burdon and The Animals. I would watch it again but not soon. As for a recommendation for others to watch, I don’t see why not. It is rated R for violence and mature content. If they had put less emphasis on the main character’s alcoholism, I might have given this 4 stars out of five. However, because of this, I will only give it 3 1/2 stars.
A Christmas Star is an Irish film which was released on December 29, 2017 in the US. Noelle is a village girl who was born in a shed on Christmas night and throughout her life manages to stop people’s fighting just with a thought. When a former industrialist’s son returns to the village, he promises the village that the local industry, snow globe making, will remain. Noelle discovers that his actual plan it to tear down the village and put in an amusement park.
Erin Galway-Kendrick plays 11 year old Noelle who believes she can perform small miracles. Pierce Brosnan plays Mr. Shepherd, a land developer who sends the industrialist’s son and grandson to close the deal. I would like to say that I really enjoyed this movie, but there were some flaws that ruined it for me. The relationship between the industrialist and his teenage son was confusing and bordered on child abuse. The location and cinematography for the movie was excellent. The directing wasn’t horrible, just a bit uneven.
This was a decent enough Christmas film which I would recommend for viewing. I wouldn’t buy it for my collection due to the story line between the father and son. The concept of faith and love in order to stop hate is expressed well enough without sounding preachy or sickening. I give this 3 1/2 stars out of five.
Pottersville was released on November 10, 2017. Maynard Greiger (Michael Shannon) owns a grocery store in a town which is on its last legs. When a friend tells him he has to enjoy life more, he takes the advice and goes home early only to find his wife and the sheriff dressed as furries. He ends up getting drunk, decides to put on a costume and runs around town only to wake the next day and find out that he is mistaken for Bigfoot.
Michael Shannon’s character was played very low key which I think gave his character a sense of humility. Ron Perlman played the sheriff and he had some very funny scenes. Thomas Lennon played Blake Masterson, a phony Australian monster hunter. His portrayal of an Australian was about as authentic as Shannon’s Bigfoot character. For the most part, I thought the movie was funny with an underlining of Americana. The director did a very good job and the actors were believable. This could be classified, I suppose, as A Wonderful Life meets Ghost Hunters. There were a couple scenes that were, how should I put this? Cringy, specifically when Lennon sings a song about hunting yetis.
I liked the movie over all. It wasn’t specifically a Christmas movie but it was a good holiday movie. I would watch it again and I would recommend it to others. I give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
The Hallmark movie 48 Christmas Wishes was released on November 2, 2017. When one of Santa’s elves accidentally burns a sack of Christmas wishes, she and a helper go to the town to recover the wishes. The main focus is on the Williams family, which consists of a widow, her 13-year old daughter and 9-year old son. Since it was shown on TV and is classified as a family movie there is no foul language used.
The story line was good if a bit too sugary. The child actors, for the most part, were decent. There were a couple of characters that could have used better actors or have been eliminated altogether. The directing was good as well as the cinematography. I was happy to see that child actors played the elves instead of the film makers using animated elves. There were a couple scenes that tugged on my heart strings, as these sort of movies tend to do. The elves ear makeup was done well and the children made their characters believable. At the end of the movie there are scenes from a blooper reel which almost always brings a smile to my face.
For the most part, I found this to be a very nice addition to seasonal films. Some of the story line could have been strengthened, but I would not say that its a horrible film. Some of the child actors may have been acting in their first film. I know that is true for the boy who played Blake, however he has been in commercials and plays since he was 6 years old. I would watch this again, I would recommend it, BUT I would not buy it. In spite of some of the film’s flaws, I give it 4 stars out of 5.
Bitch was released on November 10, 2017 as a made-for-TV movie. It is a dark comedy about a woman whose life comes crumbling down due to her philandering husband and four demanding children. Due to all of the pressures of her family, she has a nervous breakdown and takes on the personality of a vicious dog. The rest of the film shows how this effects her husband and children.
This has a few physical humorous scenes, but for the most part it falls flat. Jason Ritter (son of late actor John Ritter) plays Bill Hart, a man who thinks that the women in his life are there for his own selfish needs. Marianna Palka (she also wrote and produced the film) plays Jill, a woman who is slowly sinking into mental oblivion. Since this is an usual story line, its difficult for me to say how believable the characters are. The child actors were good as well as the actress who played the sister-in-law. I wasn’t too crazy about the sound track which seemed to consists of experimental jazz.
I did watch this movie all the way through although at the point where the husband is left with the kids, I lost interest. The ending was, like the movie, up in the air. I don’t really plan to watch this again. Its like seeing something at a bakery that looks appetizing, but when you try it, you are sorely disappointed. Since there was some foul language, an irritating sound track and a disappointing story line, I can only give this 2 stars out of 5.
The film Kong: Skull Island was released on March 10, 2017. It stars Tom Hiddleston as a tracker, John Goodman as a scientist who investigates a mysterious island, Brie Larson as a photographer, and Samuel L. Jackson as a hard-core military officer. The year is 1973 when Goodman talks a senator into allowing an expedition to a strange island in pursuit of a giant gorilla. The expedition is joined by Jackson’s helicopter unit who are to be their transport to the island.
The special effects were done by Spielberg’s Industrial Light and Magic. They did an excellent job as far as I’m concerned. Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, and Samuel L. Jackson were all great portraying their characters. My only complaint is that Jackson seems lately to be always cast as a half-sane authority figure. The story line was excellent in that it did not seem to have any glaring inconsistencies. There were one or two minor technical inaccuracies, but unless you were knowledgeable about WWII airplanes, it wouldn’t affect the believability of the story. There was enough action in the film to keep the viewer’s interest and the fight scenes between the creatures (no spoilers) was exciting.
I was impressed with this version of a story that has been filmed at least three different times since 1931. I have only seen the original King Kong (1931), so I was a bit leery about whether I would care for this version. I was pleasantly surprised. It was far and away better than I had thought, and it didn’t hurt that Goodman, Hiddleston, and Jackson were in the movie. I did buy the movie and I recommend it to everyone who likes a good adventure story. I give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
Movies made for the holidays tend to be either cartoons or faith-based, not that there is anything wrong with that but they don’t interest me. Get Santa (released December 12, 2014) does not fall under either of these categories. It is a fun movie about an ex-convict father and his son who help Santa save Christmas. Why Santa needs their help is the crux of the movie. It is a British film, so if you find reindeer farts and reindeer pellets funny, you’ll be sure to like this film.
The acting was very good. Santa is played by Jim Broadbent, a famous British actor whose films I enjoy. Kit Connor (Tom) is a decent child actor and plays well with Rafe Spall as his father. Some people may feel that the story isn’t very logical, but it is only a Christmas story that doesn’t necessarily require logic, just entertainment value. Get Santa, as far as I am concerned, appeals to children and adults. The one thing that is a bit unnecessary is the British obsession with farts. Its funny the first time, but it has limited appeal. At least the elves weren’t animated as they were in another Christmas movie which was reviewed earlier this week.
This may not be a perfect Christmas movie, but it is one of the better ones I have seen. Most of the actors did a good job and the story line was well-paced. This definitely has my recommendation as worth watching with the whole family. I give this 4 stars out of 5 and may consider buying it for my collection.
In Order of Disappearance is a Norwegian film which was released on February 21, 2014. Stellan Skarsgard plays Nils Dickman, a village snowplow driver whose son is murdered by gangsters. He decides to get revenge when the police refuse to do anything. As he makes his way up the ladder of the crime syndicate, things take an unusual turn when a Serbian mob gives involved.
There was plenty of action and gore in this film. The photography was excellent and with all those snow scenes, I almost felt like I would get frostbite. I can’t fault any of the acting because they were all believable. There was one character who I laughed at. He played “The Count”, the cocaine kingpin. I found it hard to take seriously a gangster with a ponytail. The story line was very good and I was captivated by the action.
With so many positive things, you probably think that I would give it five stars. Well, you would be right. I did see some minor faults either with the story line or a character, but they were so minor and not repeated that I can’t go down to a four or four and a half. I can recommend this movie. It has been dubbed so you don’t have to deal with subtitles. I would consider getting it for my collection.