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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Overpowering music and fragmented direction
This movie could have been better. An American agent and a Russian agent tie up in the 60s to save the world from a former Nazi's scientist's new bomb. They use the scientist's daughter from East Germany to get it.
The bad points: The direction and music are bad. Guy Ritchie's style isn't suited to this kind of movie. His fragmented way of showing something breaks up the excitement and makes the action sequences fizzle. The music is too loud and distracts from the scenes. More of than than not the music did not suit what was going on. It's a shame with all the great music of the era. Alicia Vikander isn't special enough for this role, a bit ordinary and forgettable and a bit laid back.
The good points: The 60s mood is captured looks wise with the cars and fashion. The European scenery, Berlin and Rome mainly, is attractive. The 2 photogenic leads Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill perform well enough. Armie Hammer does a good for Hollywood Russian accent distinct yet understandable. Watching Henry Cavill the next James Bond comes to mind.
Worth one watch but it could have been better. If there is a sequel it would be better if Guy Ritchie isn't involved.
Stylish but the ending is weak
Will Smith as a master con man and the alluring Margot Robbie as his protégée have chemistry and it's quite fun to watch them. It's initially fun to see them pull of their scams and petty thefts. There are cute little surprises along the way. The filming is stylish and the locations are nicely used from NYC to New Orleans to Buenos Aires. The leads have chemistry together, but who wouldn't have chemistry with Margot Robbie? The supporting cast is good too with Gerald McRaney and Rodrigo Santoro. BD Wong is quite different from usual as a big time gambler.
Unfortunately the ending is just too fantastic to fit into the story and is a let down. If things had been more believable it would have been worth a watch.
Miss Meadows (2014)
Delightful combination of dark comedy and vigilantism
The combination of delightful dark comedy and female vigilante is a success. The tone is quite consistent throughout and it's enjoyable because the humor lightens the dark situations. The story is quite well written with a good explanation of her character and a satisfying feel good conclusion that makes sense. This movie avoids the pitfalls of other vigilante movies that are Tarantino violent or take themselves too seriously. It's almost laugh out loud funny as she encounters the gamut of predators including the neighborhood drive by child abductor, the mass shooter, the predatory priest, the sex offender released into the community.
Katie Holmes plays the title role with charm and makes her quaint manners and outfits work. This character could have been annoying but she isn't. She looks just a bit wrinkly sometimes.
Deadly Daycare (2014)
Entertaining Lifetime thriller
This Lifetime thriller is quite good. The story is plausible and avoids irritating things that quite often plague made for TV thrillers.
A courtroom artist (Kayla Ewell of Vampire Diaries) going through a divorce from her husband (Bryce Johnson) puts her little girl in day care when she returns to work. By coincidence the teacher (Christy Carlson Romano) there was involved in a horrific car accident with the woman and her husband years ago and lost her own child. So she decides she wants the little girl for herself. The story doesn't get unbelievable and that makes it watchable.
Christy's performance is above the usual Lifetime thriller standard as she starts getting more and more unhinged, and her pain of losing her child is convincing. The car accident scenes are well done. The acting is good throughout. The little girl has a strange smile on her face.
Overall entertaining and worth a watch.
Waste of good actors
Such a waste! There are some good actors in this tale of a 13 year old girl running away from home and meeting all sorts of scum of the earth. Chloe Grace Moretz delivers a master class of acting for young actors. No actress of her generation has such range.
But the story is just so feel bad. Blake Lively tries to act the hooker thing. She isn't that convincing in the skank roles like 'The Town'. Eddie Redmayne is incomprehensible. Couldn't understand most of what he said. He's was totally miscast. What on earth was Alec doing in this movie?
Is is a warning to teens not to run away from home? Maybe then there is some message.
Overall don't bother even if you like the stars.
Lila & Eve (2015)
Fine acting by Viola Davis
This Lifetime movie is watchable if imperfect.
There are some things going for this mother's revenge thriller. Of course there are some unrealistic fantasy elements in the revenge sequences. It's not meant to be 100% realistic. It's laughable the way all the drug dealing baddies are dispatched. If you remember the Charles Bronson movies they all had this amusing ludicrous moments.
Viola Davis is a most effective actress and you feel her emotions of grief and depression. Jennifer Lopez in a non glam get up is competent - this is no JLo vehicle.
Overall worth one watch.
No Escape (2015)
Exciting and scary - go see it
This thriller about an American family caught up in a bloody coup in an unnamed South East Asian country is exciting from start to finish. It's a fictional thriller with elements of some real terror we have seen in true stories like 'Hotel Rwanda' and 'The Killing Fields'. The on location (Thailand) filming is atmospheric.
The action from the street fighting to the hotel rooftop to the office building and embassy is nail bitingly tense.
Owen Wilson shows he is convincing and believable in dramatic roles. He was great in 'Behind Enemy Lines' and it's good to see him back in a non comedic role again. Lake Bell plays his supportive wife and it's good they make her character quite likable and non irritating. The kids on the other hand have just a couple of annoying scenes as expected.
Pierce Brosnan acts as a British agent of some sort who provides the political correctness by explaining that exploitation by Western governments and companies caused the coup.
Some criticisms of this movie aren't fair. It's not fair to say it's unrealistic or ridiculous, it is a thriller so that's like saying 'Mission Impossible' is unrealistic. Another is that portraying a South East Asian country with such brutal savagery is 30 or 40 years out of date. Actually it had to be a relatively stable place or he wouldn't have taken his family there. Things explode suddenly. If you think about it, it's not really that far fetched. Ironically to show how things have changed Vietnam is the safe haven here.
Overall the most exciting thriller in a long time.
This indie is a winner - great cast and good story
This indie comedy is a winner because there are enough laughs to carry you through, the characters are sympathetic and funny and the story ties up neatly.
It's quite enjoyable to see the lead actors in these roles. Sam Rockwell is a versatile actor and he acts well as the down trodden pharmacist. You feel for his character and relish the change. Olivia Wilde is well cast and looks very attractive as the bored married woman he has an affair with. Michelle Monaghan performs well as the wife who takes him for granted.
Overall worth a watch. One of the better indie comedies.
Good for a TV movie - different perspective than Zero Dark Thirty
If you are interested in the subject, for a TV movie this isn't bad at all. It is quite a comprehensive look at the hunt and capture of Osama.
Compared to Zero Dark Thirty, it shows things from more points of view, namely from the seals training and the ground work of the agents on the ground in Abbottobad. Also the picture of the gun confirming identity is interesting. The post scripts at the end are interesting too.
There are a couple of faults: some of the diversions about the seal's personal lives seem unnecessary. Also the blurry cam view of the attack on the compound are irritatingly unclear.
Don't understand the very negative reviews of this movie. It can't fail to be interesting given the subject matter and good production values. Even in Zero Dark Thirty things were a bit slow till the raid started so it's not fair to fault this one for being boring.
Overall well done.
Deliverance Creek (2014)
Not a boring moment
This TV pilot/ TV movie is jam packed with lots of exciting things going on from the Underground Railroad to the Civil War to a Hatfields vs McCoys like feud and romance.
Lauren Ambrose is a believable Civil War wife fending for her kids and ranch against an evil neighbor, enemy soldiers etc, bank heist etc Production is quite good with better than average photography and sets and costumes.
It's jam packed with maybe too much but it keeps you interested and it would be a good miniseries even if it doesn't get picked up for a full time TV series.