Fury (2014): April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.
I really don't know how to start this review. So we are just going to go with it! My name is Joe, and I'm going to talk about Fury. This movie.....this movie goes for it all. I mean talk about a movie reaching for the stars. This movie is without a doubt the most brutally realistic war movie I have ever seen. Through two acts of its 134 minute runtime, Fury does an incredibly powerful and effective job showcasing the horrors of war. It's gripping, suspenseful, and had me on the edge of my seat and ready for the climatic final battle between the Allies and the Nazis. But then the third act happens. The third act not only derails this movie, it almost ruins it completely. However the key word there is almost. Fury is an effective movie ultimately, but it was attempting to achieve legendary status. It does not reach this title because of its final 30 minutes. Damnit.
So, here's what the movie gets right. The movie is well acted, with everyone completely immersing themselves in their roles. Brad Pitt, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman (yes, from Perks of Being a Wallflower) and the one and only Shia LeBeouf all do a fantastic job as the members of the tank known as Fury. And laugh all you want at the notion that LeBouf is in this, but he was actually outstanding here, putting in the most down-to-earth and well-acted performance of his career. Sure his character was essentially Private Jackson from Saving Private Ryan minus the sniper, but that's ok because that was my favorite character in that movie too. The effects are phenomenal, and the sound design is even better. The score is fantastic though a bit over-dominating at times, but the crescendos for the Germans are some of the best I've heard all year. Additionally the overarching theme of despair among the Allies despite being only a hundred or so miles from Berlin really sets the tone for the entire movie. Many war movies will show scenes of the final days of the European campaign and show everyone in high spirits as the war is about to come to end, but I think it's safe to say that that was not the case. After all, Hitler had declared total war in Germany in the final months, and the SS was doing some pretty terrifying things. And having this theme of despair and the horrors of war makes many scenes in this movie very brutal. This movie is brutally gruesome, but not just for the sake of being gruesome. The movie is showcasing the horrors of war. Because of this, many scenes in this movie can be pretty hard to watch, even to a guy such as myself who is pretty desensitized to violence at this point. So I will warn you: this movie is absolutely not for the feint of heart. Finally, the movie is initially well written. There is an incredibly tense meal scene in the second act that throws off the initial and pace of the movie and just keeps going and going. It was like something out of a Tarantino movie because it was so tense because you know at any moment sh*t could hit the fan, and ultimately it led to the most emotional scene of the movie for me. But then the third act happened.
I don't know why all these directors feel they have to have a Saving Private Ryan-style last stand at the end of their war movie, because they are in seemingly every war movie I have ever seen post-SPR. And I don't mind it in SPR, because it was powerful and tied down in realism with many characters you care about dying throughout and not covered in Hollywood BS. But the same cannot be said for director/writer David Ayer's swing at it in Fury. Let me set this up for you, and it's not a spoiler because it's in the trailers: 300 Nazis with anti-tank weapons and vehicles versus 5 Allies in a tank out in the open that cannot move. Should be a battle that lasts about 3 seconds right? Nah. Let's make the Germans have the intelligence of Napoleon at Waterloo and make it last 30 minutes because how else are we going to put in a big budget action sequence? All the tension and realism is completely removed in the third act as the Germans literally stand out in the open and shoot at the tank with their little machine guns so they can get mowed down by the tank. I mean it was ridiculous. The Germans couldn't hit the tank at point blank range with their anti-tank guns and even with the element of surprise. I mean I've long accepted that the bad guys in action movies are going to have stormtrooper accuracy but I think that even a stormtrooper could hit a stationary target the size of a small semi truck from 5 feet away with the element of surprise. At one point during this "battle" the German captain delivers a pump-up speech to his men as they get ready to attack the tank head on again, and I legitimately lost it in the theater. I mean, let's take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of one of those soldiers. Ok captain! I appreciate the speech, but why don't we just hit the tank with explosives? NO WE CAN'T DO THAT! THAT WOULD MAKE SENSE! ATTACK THE TANK HEAD-ON AGAIN WITH YOUR MACHINE GUNS IT SHOULD WORK EVENTUALLY! Now I'm not spoiling the ending because yes things eventually happen and they lead to other things with more things on top of it, and I'm not going to tell you what these things are. Those moments are just in the scenes leading up to some of those other things. But by the time the other things started happening, I no longer really cared. David Ayers had successfully taken me from the edge of my seat to checking my watch waiting for the movie to end all in about 15 minutes. That is truly an accomplishment, so kudos to Mr. Ayers.
Oh ya and the one other major complaint I had was with Logan Lerman's character. His story initially was very interesting, as I definitely connected with him as he is horrified by all the different sights of war. However, I don't think a typist would ever be assigned to a tank squad, so the fact that there isn't even a sentence explaining why this happened bothered me.This was a little gimmicky, and then his character transforms throughout the movie just a little too rapidly for me to fully buy it. However were it not for the final act of the movie, this would be my only complaint about Fury. Which is such a shame because in the first two acts this movie reaches the stars. It is powerful, emotional, and gripping for 100 minutes. But why, David Ayer, WHY? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE YOUR BIG BUDGET ACTION SEQUENCE BE COVERED IN HOLLYWOOD BS? We will never know. All I know is if the third act was better we would have a movie that flirts with perfection. Instead, we are left with a movie that is above average in my book. And now I'm sad. And going to go watch Saving Private Ryan again.
The Critique: Two acts of nitty gritty realism that would have made this the most brutally realistic army movie to date. And one act that shreds it all apart.
The Recommendation: Not for the feint of heart, only watch this if you want to watch an incredibly realistic war picture. And even still, temper your expectations because you will be disappointed by this infamous third act.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
Oscar Talk: I do see some nominations in store for Fury. Probably nods to Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing. But that's about it.
By: Peter Kosanovich
The Wind Rises (2013): A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II.
Okay, so let's start from the beginning. If you don't know who Hayao Miyazaki is, then you're just WRONG! He makes some of the most visually gorgeous movies ever conceived! That being said, The Wind Rises is no exception.
While most of his movies are highly fantastical in nature, delving into wild adventures on flying magical castles or perhaps trying to save your parents from a witch, The Wind Rises is a much more subdued film that he normally makes. Focusing on a Japanese engineer during WWII, the story chronicles his life from an ordinary student, to the man who eventually went on to design some of the best fighter jets in the world. More importantly it focuses on his relationship with the woman he loves, pulling ever so carefully at those heartstrings. Seriously though,TEARS, TEARS EVERYWHERE!
Things to notice, everything flies! Miyazaki has a few themes that he throws into just about every movie: strong female characters, spirits, saving the environment, and without fail flight. This movie is essentially an ode to his obsession with flight...and I'm not complaining. He uses flight to expand our imaginations and reach for the stars!
The film is amazing! While it does move a little too slowly for the younger children, and having just a couple ideas they wouldn't understand, it is a brilliant story. The slow pace is balanced out by some dream sequences that keep the attention of the younger audience. Not only is the story amazing, but, like any Miyazaki film, the animation is stunning! Absolutely gorgeous!
I would say the film is one of the most subtly beautiful films I have ever seen!
The Critique: Miyazaki is just about the most talented animator of all time, and this movie hangs in there with the rest of his films!
The Recommendation: While it does move at the slower pace, you catch yourself occasionally wishing everything would go on a bit faster. Aside from the early pacing of the story, the film is amazing and any fan of animation would love it!
Rewatchability: Moderately High, but only if you are prepared to cry
The Verdict: 8/10
Gone Girl (2014): With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.
Wow. Just.....wow. We need to take a moment and talk about this movie. This movie is incredible. It is unpredictable, filled with twists and turns from start to finish. Easily the best movie of the year thus far, I can only hope that this movie is remembered when the Oscars come round. There's always a risk with being the opening movie of the Oscar season, but unlike The Butler of 2013, I fully believe that this movie will be remembered in a few months because it is breathtakingly good. Miles ahead of The Butler. That said, let's dive into this shall we?
So. Rosamund Pike. I've loved this actress ever since her breakout performance as the Bond girl of Die Another Day way back in 2002. However this movie is the performance that will finally make her name a household name. Easily the best part of the movie, Rosamund Pike is unbelievable as the amazing Amy Dunne. She embodies so many difficult traits and deserves to win some trophy shaped like a human being next year for this role. Amy Dunne is one of the hardest to portray characters in a movie of recent memory and Pike makes it look easy. While Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris (I know right? I actually forgot it was NPH after a while because he is a great actor too) and Carrie Coon are also all great, it's Pike who shines in this movie. She absolutely steals the show. I can't wait to see what she has in store next!
Now this movie is based off of a novel by Gillian Flynn and I think fans of the novel of the same name will enjoy the fact that he authors the screenplay too. The story is amazing, (obviously) filled with gripping scenes (including one of the most tense interviews I've ever seen in a movie) and countless twists and turns throughout the 149 minute runtime. Oh ya, 149 minutes. That is a long time, but this movie made me completely lose track of it and it didn't feel anywhere near that time. So please don't let that distract you. Additionally the portrayal of the media here is spectacular and the depth and exposure of it is on the level of an Aaron Sorkin West Wing episode. Additionally the cinematography is great and the directing is great. David Fincher's style is very prevalent and the movie is all the better because of it. Honestly the only aspect of this movie that was lacking was the music. Sadly the reason this aspect of the movie failed in my opinion was because I was expecting greatness out of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The main members of one of my favorite bands, Nine Inch Nails, Reznor and Ross have been making the music to the last three big David Fincher movies, winning an Oscar for their work in The Social Network, and then following it up with a great soundtrack in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. However unfortunately here the music is nothing more than background noise. But that's only a minor complaint. The other complaint I have with this movie is its ending. The ending is very sudden and, similar to the ending of The Social Network, just sort of happens. For such an intense story, I really wish the ending wasn't as sudden. Other than those two complaints, this movie is perfect. One that I have every desire to watch again and again. Go see it. Please.
The Critique: Rosamund Pike shines, and Fincher shows off his directing prowess in the best movie thus far of 2014.
The Recommendation: This movie absolutely gets a badass seal of approval. A must-watch for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the movies.
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect
Oscar Talk: Regardless of what happens, if Rosamund Pike does not even get nominated for Best Actress I will personally take the time to write a letter to the academy voicing my complaints. Ya. Sh*t just got real.
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