Young Guns (1988)


I Sure Would Like to Touch the Gun That’s Gonna Kill Billy the Kid.

Apparently I had been neglecting a request made by Chris from a while back that he recently reminded me of on my fan page.  I get a pretty good amount of requests recently and sometimes they just slip my mind.  If I don’t write them down, I’ll probably never remember them.  So when he reminded me, I felt like I should get to it pretty quickly lest the poor fellow feel forgotten and take his life.  I can’t have that blood on my hands.  The movie he requested was fairly easy to grant too, because I already owned it.  The problem is that I had no recollection of the movie whatsoever.  It’s generally regarded as a classic movie, and always regarded as a Western.  I like classics just fine, but I’m a big fan of Westerns, so it seemed like a good idea anyway.  But how could I not remember anything about a movie that is so popular?  Maybe I can find out as I review Young Guns, written by John Fusco, directed by Christopher Cain, and starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Terence Stamp, Jack Palance, Terry O’Quinn, Alice Carter, Patrick Wayne, Brian Keith, Sharon Thomas, and Geoffrey Blake.

An Englishman in Lincoln County, New Mexico by the name of John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) rescues a young man named William H. Bonney (Emilio Estevez) who was being chased by some men in the employ of Tunstall’s competitor, Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance).  Tunstall takes him back to work on his ranch alongside other such lawless young men like Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland), Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), Richard M. “Dick” Brewer (Charlie Sheen), “Dirty” Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney), and Charlie Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko).  After a while, the conflict between Tunstall and Murphy comes to a head when Murphy sends his men to gun down Tunstall in cold blood.  Billy and the Regulators, as they start to call themselves, get themselves deputized to get warrants against the men who shot Tunstall, but Billy decides he’d rather just kill them instead of arresting them.  This practice soon makes them outlaws, and their exploits as outlaws soon earns Bonney the moniker of “Billy the Kid”.

I imagine this is going to hurt the feelings of some of the dedicated fans of this movie, but I have no idea what anyone likes about this thing.  I felt the need to double check with Rotten Tomatoes just to find out if I was crazy or not.  The critics agree with me, the fans agree with themselves.  I can’t say that there was anything in this movie that interested me in the slightest.  The story is a typical western, as best I can tell.  Someone shoots someone, other people don’t like it, and they go on a rampage for revenge.  But there was nothing in that rampage that was remotely interesting to me.  The story was scattered as they often seemed to lose focus on their goal in the movie.  One could assume that their goal was to kill Murphy, but they spent the bulk of the movie doing everything in their power to avoid actually taking care of that issue until it was forced on them in the last scenes of the movie.  That’s when it seemed Billy remembered what he was trying to do.  It wasn’t even an exciting climax to the movie.  They tried to infuse it with some emotional impact by having some of the main characters die, but poor writing and worse direction removed all impact from their deaths.  Being so distracted from their goals wouldn’t be an issue if what they did in the meantime was interesting, but it wasn’t.  It was usually just hiding from or killing random dudes associated with Murphy, or wasting time hanging out in a random town or doing peyote.  The peyote scene was a vaguely amusing bit of distraction, but I was probably more amused by the stupidity of leaving your weapons loaded when you decide to trip on balls on peyote.  But the real stupidity can be found in some of the dialogue.  The best example is something that the Asian girl (who was the star of another long bit of distraction from anything interesting) said to Doc.  In reference to him bringing her flowers that she turned down, she later says, “I keep the flowers in a little room inside my heart, and you visit me frequently there.”  Fer reals, bitch?  I know English is supposed to be your second language, but I think you just uttered the dumbest sentence I’ve ever watched come out of someone’s mouth.

The performances in the movie were not to blame for its boringness.  They all did admirable jobs, but had no control over the story or the direction.  Emilio Estevez usually came off as not taking any situation seriously, and that worked on my nerves on occasion, but as best I can tell that’s what Billy the Kid was like.  Kiefer Sutherland was usually a good character, but any time that he was interacting with Alice Carter was not.  He would recite poetry and usually seemed desperate.  I think I’d say I liked Lou Diamond Phillips’ character the best.  He was not usually the forefront of the characters, but was usually pretty badass when he was up front.

It’s probably not a popular sentiment about a pretty popular movie, but I have no idea why anyone remembers this movie.  It might have been a little bit cooler at the time, but watching it for the first time today I found it terribly boring, poorly written, and directed even worse.  The performances were all fine, but they couldn’t save the movie for me.  I was just bored all the way through.  Apparently, many others see something that I don’t, so I don’t know that I’d say you shouldn’t watch this movie, but I certainly don’t recommend it.  We’ll see if Young Guns 2 does anything for me tomorrow.  For today, Young Guns gets “Charley, if you don’t stand up and start whooping ass, you ain’t never gonna see her again” out of “It ain’t easy having pals.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Grey (2012)


Once More Into the Fray.

I’ve known about this movie’s existence for a while now, but I never had any interest in seeing it.  It certainly wasn’t the fault of the main actor in the movie, ‘cause that guy is this shit.  I really can’t say what kept me from having any interest in seeing it, but it just kind of looked boring to me.  I had seen it in RedBox for a while, but never felt like I was in the mood to see it.  It might be because it looked like a drama and I tend to not like those, but it also looked like it might have some action in it.  When I was looking through the RedBox this last time, I picked Chronicle because that seemed like a cool movie, and I finally submitted to the wiles of this movie and picked it out as well.  I might as well give it a chance.  So let’s see what happened as I review The Grey, written and directed by Joe Carnahan, and starring Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale, Jacob Blair, Ben Bray, and Anne Openshaw.

John Ottway (Liam Neeson) is a total fucking bummer.  He works in Alaska, killing wolves that try to attack an oil drilling team, and has had some issues with his wife Ana (Anne Openshaw) that we don’t fully understand just yet.  Whatever these issues are that keep him separated from his wife, we know they’re affecting him to the point where he tries to commit suicide, but his gun doesn’t fire.  Giving up really quickly, he goes on about his life, boarding a plane with other employees of the drilling team.  He goes to sleep on the flight, but wakes to find the plane plummeting out of the sky.  He manages to survive, along with Hernandez (Ben Bray), Diaz (Frank Grillo), Hendrick (Dallas Roberts), Flannery (Joe Anderson), Talget (Dermot Mulroney), and Burke (Nonso Anozie).  They make a fire to stay alive in the freezing cold, but soon find out that they’ve got other problems as a pack of wolves is hunting them.

I’m as torn about my feelings about this movie as I was about watching it in the first place.  I didn’t like the movie, but I respect it.  It was kind of slow moving and boring, but they did try to fix that by occasionally having someone get eaten by a wolf, or die in some other horrible way.  It builds some solid tension and is an interesting study of the personalities of these people in a similar way to Alive, without them getting hungry enough to eat each other.  At least I assume all that stuff I just said was true, having never seen the movie Alive, but I’m pretty sure that’s what happens in it.  But this movie also seems to fall into a pretty set pattern.  It deals with some interpersonal problems within the group that’s typically pretty slow and uneventful for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then they deal with some situations that will probably lead to one of the survivors losing their “survivor” title, and then back into the character study.  Some people might be able to find the personal side of it interesting, but the movie’s pattern translated to me as, “Boring part, death part, boring part.  Repeat.”  You can practically set your watch by the times when people in this movie die too.  I’m sure that was a conscious decision, realizing that the interpersonal stuff would be interesting to a certain audience, and the rest of them would just be waiting for a wolf to drag off another survivor, but it still just resonated as boring to me by the time it was over.  I already found myself bored by the end of the movie, and I was not a fan of how the movie ended.  But, since I stuck it out through the credits, it showed something afterwards that would’ve made me feel a little better if it was part of the movie proper, but I didn’t really count it since it was an after-credit sequence.

I took a good degree of issue with the look of the movie.  Part of me wants to say that the way they filmed it made it more immersive to the audience, helping us feel as if we were trapped in a blizzard as the snow was falling in our face and having us question what we couldn’t see when it was too dark.  The other part of me realizes that I was watching a movie and this stuff made it difficult to see what was going on sometimes.  If you put a thicket of trees or a flurry of snow in front of us, or just make the bulk of the scene occurring in shadow, then I just can’t see what’s happening, and that makes for an annoying movie.  The settings were all very nice to look at, but they got in the way of the scene on more than one occasion.  I found the wolves in the movie occasionally less than convincing, and they seemed to realize that their wolves sometimes looked straight out of Twilight so they would do as much as possible to not have to show them.  There was one cool and stylized scene where the wolves were in the shadows and all you could see of all but one of them were their eyes glowing in the shadow that was pretty nice, but other times weren’t.  Sometimes a wolf attack just looked like someone had a fake wolf head on a stick and they were jamming it into an actor’s leg or something, and other parts they just showed some bushes shaking to show us that we just missed the wolves running through there.  If only we had looked a second sooner!

It’s really no surprise that Liam Neeson is awesome.  He keeps that up in this movie with his quiet badass performance, reminiscent of his character from Taken, but more depressed so I guess it’s that guy if his daughter decided that she wanted to stay with that Sheikh at the end of the movie.  The other characters in the movie were all good as well.  Frank Grillo played a good asshole who I hated for the bulk of the movie, but he was going for that.

I’m fully aware of the fact that the majority of the reason I didn’t like The Grey was because of my desire to be constantly entertained.  The great performances aided in a good story that studied the tension building between the group of survivors while they periodically got picked off by their surroundings, but the picking off was too short and too spread out by uneventful boring bits that left me bored with the movie in general.  There were problems with the look that I would say were not entirely my fault, but I would say that, though I didn’t like the movie, it is worth a watch.  There are definitely people in the world that would enjoy this movie; I’m just not one of them.  The Grey gets “It’s good that it hurts” out of “Maybe I’ll turn into a wolfman now.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.