0085 – Winchester Review


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White House Down (2013)


Special Agent Todd Keeps Making Those Sounds, I’m Gonna Start Looking at Him.

White House Down (2013)I decided that I needed something to watch, and my response to that whimsy is ever to check with my old friend RedBox.  The movie I was most excited about is one we’ll get to later, but I also saw today’s movie and decided it needed to be done as well.  Some people might argue that I’ve already reviewed this movie when I reviewed a movie called Olympus Has Fallen.  Many have argued that this is the exact same movie.  And I’m always excited by the proposition of reusing old reviews.  It makes my life so much easier.  Well we’ll find out if that’s a possibility as I review White House Down, written by James Vanderbilt, directed by Roland Emmerich, and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Joey King, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Jimmi Simpson, Michael Murphy, Nicolas Wright, and Rachelle Lefevre.

John Cale (Channing Tatum) tries to repair his damaged relationship with his daughter Emily (Joey King) by getting the job that she would think is the coolest job in the world: Secret Service to the President of the United States, James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx).  He interviews with a former college acquaintance who heads the Secret Service, Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and even gets a pass for Emily to come with him into the White House, but Carol decides that he’s unqualified for the job because of his tendency to show a lack of respect for authority and lack of follow-through as mentioned in his military record.  While on the tour, John and Emily get separated when the Head of the Presidential Martin Walker (James Woods) leads a raid on the White House with ex-Delta Force operative Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) and hacker Skip Tyler (Jimmi Simpson).  John must try to save Emily AND the President before all Hell breaks loose.

Sure, this wasn’t that great of a movie, but I would say I found it preferable to Olympus Has Fallen.  They are basically the same movie, but this is the more fun version of that movie.  Sure, it was dumb, but Rolland Emmerich has a great gift for winning me over with plenty enough fun to overcome the potentially crippling stupidity in the scripts that he chooses.  I’m even able to ignore the super-obvious moments in the scripts.  Like this whole played out “Daughter calling her father by his first name until the time is right for an emotional moment to call you Dad” thing.  That’s been done to death, and the second I heard her call him John I started a mental stopwatch for my smug satisfaction at being right yet again.  The same could have been said about the part where the President is talking about the pocket watch he carries next to his heart that was a gift from his wife.  The only reason I didn’t realize how that would turn out at the end of the movie is because it had been so long since they initially introduced the watch that I had forgotten that I had already predicted the result of it.

Most of the performances in this movie were decent.  They got some great actors to be in the movie, and most of them seemed like they were giving at least 50%.  Good enough!  Channing Tatum manages to be funny and charming enough.  I don’t get some of his character’s choices though.  What does John have against picking up guns from the people he’s killed?  He’s always running out of ammo.  Those guns probably have bullets.  Those dead bodies probably have extra ammo on them as well.  Is it a moral thing?  I think most people would be okay with this particular form of theft.  Jamie Foxx is usually entertaining, but I felt he was a little tuned down for this.  Also, he got bitch-smacked unconscious by an old ass James Woods.  When Jamie had the drop on him!  Thug shit, homie!  I found myself entirely unconvinced by Joey King as Tatum’s daughter.  She just didn’t do a good job, and I tried to give her a pass.  But every time she tried to emotionally yell, “DAD!” I just wasn’t buying it.  It’s never good to be able to see someone trying to act when they just should be acting.  Also there was that flag-waving thing she did at the end of the movie.  That shit was cheesier than Mac and Cheese commercials act like their product is.  And that is the cheesiest.  I did like that girl Jackie Geary, who played the assistant to the VP, but her negotiation skills need work.  She said her payment for getting Tatum an interview for the Secret Service was a date where Tatum had to at least attempt to get to second base.  When he upped that favor, it is only fair that you up your compensation to at least a finger blasting.

White House Down (much as almost everything Rolland Emmerich does) was stupid, but it was enjoyable in how aware of its stupidity it was.  Emmerich is gifted at overcoming stupid with fun, which sets this movie above Olympus Has Fallen, where the director did not possess such gifts.  The story is predictable, but most of the performances are decent, and I had enough fun watching it.  I could at least recommend this movie for a RedBoxing, but just barely that.  White House Down gets “I lost the rocket launcher” out of “As the President of the United States, this comes with the full weight, power and authority of my office.  Fuck you.”

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)


I’m the Mother Fucker that Found this Place

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)I tried to get to the theaters to see today’s movie numerous times, but it never worked out.  I think I must not have wanted to see it that badly.  It looked interesting enough, it was talked up a great deal, and it was subject matter that should be of interest to any American, but something about the movie didn’t seem like it would suit me that much.  I put the movie off so much that it eventually came out on DVD.  At this point, the movie had already been nominated for five Academy Awards, so it was pretty much cemented; I didn’t want to watch this movie.  I generally don’t watch anything that gets nominated.  They’re usually depressing dramas and are no fun to watch.  But I saw the movie in a RedBox and decided it must be done.  This movie is Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Édgar Ramirez, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Mark Duplass, and John Barrowman.

In the fiction of this movie, something really bad went down in 2001.  I’m sure I’d have heard about it if it was real.  Because of this event, the American government is looking for some dude named Osama bin Laden.  Maya (Jessica Chastain) and Dan (Jason Clarke) are interrogating a guy named Ammar about his involvement, and they use this information to find the personal courier of Osama bin Laden.  …That’s pretty much it…

This is probably going to be a really short review, because I just don’t have anything to say about this movie.  I don’t get it.  I really don’t know what everyone was talking about with this movie.  I didn’t hate the movie, but I was really bored through the greater majority of the movie and just could not fathom its popularity.  I was just pretty bored by most of the movie.  The first three quarters of the movie is all the investigation to find bin Laden, which had a few interesting scenes of torture, but was mostly Maya watching movies.  I do that all day, and I don’t think anyone is that interested in a streaming feed of my day.  They tried to keep it interesting with a couple of sparse, action moments throughout, but there were not enough and most of them ended with a whimper.  Like when the guys were trying to locate the courier with his cell phone signal.  They basically just drove around in circles until they found him, and then they took a picture and he drove off.  And there was one part where a car blew up that was kind of tense, but I was too busy laughing because a black cat ran in front of the car as it approached, in some of the bluntest symbolism I have ever seen in movies.  I suppose you could make the argument that the point of the movie was to almost be a documentary about the death of bin Laden, and that’s fine and everything.  But I think most Americans had already read about how that went down.  I never read the news, but I was already aware of that.  So that means that the movie is just wasting time up until the point where they invade bin Laden’s compound.  That scene was an exciting recreation that I enjoyed thoroughly.  And it’s probably an argument that movies can do much better when they end really strong, but I had not forgotten what I went through to get to that point.  If I were to watch this again, I’d skip to the invasion.

I think the one thing about this movie that I can get behind are the performances.  Everyone did a great job, so the movie deserves some eyes getting on it just for that.  Jessica Chastain was great.  She was a strong character for the bulk of the movie, but I never really saw her embody what everyone kept saying about her being “a killer” or anything.  She was tough when it came to getting in the faces of her superiors, but she also couldn’t stomach the torture early on in the movie.  After that, I was impressed with how many people were in this movie that I didn’t know about.  Going in, I only knew Chastain and Chris Pratt were in this movie.  And he was a really small part in the movie.  But I recognized Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong from Sherlock Holmes, Édgar Ramirez, Mark Duplass, James Gandolfini, and John Barrowman.  I shouldn’t even really recognize Barrowman since I’ve never seen Doctor Who or its spinoff show Torchwood, but Chris Hardwick has given me so much more Doctor Who knowledge than most people with no firsthand knowledge of the show.

Zero Dark Thirty is a movie I respect, but not a movie that I like.  Personally, I felt very bored watching the live action remake of stories I had read a year ago that never really felt like much more than a lady watching movies and looking at pictures.  But the scene of the invasion of bin Laden’s compound, as well as some great performances, does stand as a reason to watch this movie.  Plus, lots of other people love this movie, so it’s more than likely just not a movie that does anything for me.  Zero Dark Thirty gets “This is what defeat looks like” out of “You can help yourself by being truthful.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!