Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Logan is set in post apocalyptic (for the mutants) 2029 with Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) both in ill health and in hiding.  While there’s tons of good action this is also a more thoughtful and somber super hero movie than most dealing with  issues relevant in today’s society.

Patrick and Jackman give excellent performances with the Professor having seizure/mental issues and Jackman  shows different emotions  and he still wrestles with his issues of how to handle  the destruction he causes and hurting those he cares about.   Dafne King also does a great jobs as a young mutant on the run.  This probably could have been tightened up a bit to be closer than two hours and while I liked the plot at times it was predictable.

As with Deadpool last year, this is not for kids – tons of bloody violence.  But for those who like a good action movie this is worth seeing.


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John Wick: Chapter 2

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

If you are just looking for totally escapist, ridiculous action movie with a very high body count to kill  two hours this is the movie for you!

Keanu Reeves reprises his role as John Wick, hired assassin extraordinaire!  Keanu is perfect for this role as he doesn’t really need to act, talks very little but does a great job with fighting, loading his gun and just killing an incredible number of people (since most of these people he kills are fellow assassinsI didn’t feel too bad rooting for him).  Until this comes out in DVD and someone can continually pause the movie I don’t think there will be an accurate count. Keanu is sort of the baby Liam Neeson in terms of being able to star in an action movie well into his 50s (although I think Keanu does more of his own stunts).

The set pieces are never boring (although of course they are ridiculous) and if you like this type of movie definitely check it out.


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Hacksaw Ridge

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of Desmond Doss. During WWII, serving in the Pacific, he became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor while serving as a medic.

I almost felt I was getting two movies for the price of one.  The first hour is Doss growing up, family turmoil, falling in love, enlisting and standing up for his desire to serve in a capacity that does not  require him to kill.  The second half is the story of his participation in the battle for Okinawa, his incredible bravery while sticking to his principles.  The war scenes are extremely well made but also incredibly violent (so if you don’t like disturbing war images skip this film).

This is Mel Gibson’s first directorial effort in 10 years (time flies),  It’s a well made film and it does it good job in telling the story of Desmond Doss (stay for the closing credits to see pictures/interviews with Doss and others).  My biggest knock was there are parts (in both halfs) that felt formulaic and all the expected caricatures of characters in an army barracks were provided.


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Captain America: Civil War

Bill I’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Why are Iron Man and Captain America fighting each other when there is a real bad guy out loose? I can’t tell you but it strained my suspension of disbelief. You have to sit back and enjoy the action, including a slew of other action heroes, the most fun being a young Spider “Man” and Ant Man. The plot is mega stupid, but the actors are terrific as is the action. A lot of fun, and will be a super huge blockbuster.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Bill I’s Rating: 4 out of 5

I had a ticket to a different film at the Montclair Film Festival, but went to the wrong theater and ended up seeing this which totally delighted me. Aspects of Home Alone: boy left alone (this boy actually runs away from his foster home), pursued by some mean people (meanest being the Child Welfare lady), and finding an adventure in the local wilderness (instead of Central Park this kid ends up in the New Zealand bush). With some great characters, and spectacular scenery, and what I consider an Oscar worthy performance by the kid, I loved this. Great for kids of all ages, with only a little wild boar violent episode, and some close call rifle shots.

Eye in the Sky

Bill I’s Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Very good thriller, which is conducted in real time, of a British coordinated drone surveillance of a couple of highly wanted British ex-pats turned terrorists arming themselves in a house in the middle of a village, preparing  for a suicide attack in Kenya. Helen Mirren is the Colonel running the operation, which turns urgent into a kill mission once they realize that they can prevent a massacre in a populated area. Her General, played by Alan Rickman in his last role, is risk averse, for both political reasons as well as humanitarian reasons to avoid collateral damage to innocent villagers. The Americans are consulted, because there’s an American citizen/terrorist also in the house, and because the actual drone is piloted remotely by US forces in Nevada. Tense throughout, with realistic portrayals of advanced surveillance technology and techniques and very topical decisions that have to be made and the protocol that has to be followed where the wrong decision could result in massive negative PR repercussions. I would rate this movie higher except when comparing it to Zero Dark Thirty it falls a little short.

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

I liked this a lot as well.  There’s good tension throughout. The movie does a good job of showing the military options and perspectives as well as the political considerations from a lot of different sides and levels.  Not only does  this show the tough moral choices from the higher up military leaders but also  the lower level operatives as all want to do the right thing under tough circumstances.  This applies not just to those on the ground potentially risking their lives but also from those thousands of miles away.  The director also did a good job of getting us to know the potential collateral damage as the decision makers debated the legality/urgency/morality of trading a high probability of small collateral damage caused by their actions vs high casualties that could be attributed to the terrorists.

This is definitely worth seeing.


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Eye in the Sky Poster

Hardcore Henry

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Think of Hardcore Henry as a first person point of view shooter video game made into a movie.   The film makers used Go Pro cameras to achieve the first person effect.   Until the very end (due to a reflective shot) you never even see Henry  – just what he is looking at.  He doesn’t speak either!

When deciding whether  to see this movie, forget my rating and just consider the following:

  • If you think you’ll get nauseous due to the herky jerky action due to filming from cameras attached to peoples heads then skip this movie.
  • If you don’t like tons of violence skip this movie.
  • If you care about a plot or interesting characters skip this movie.
  • If you want 90 minutes of non-stop action with an incredibly high body count then go!
  • If you want some laughs (I’m not sure they were all intended) then go.
  • If you want a very unique movie that you’ll probably remember for a while then go.

For me, this turned out to be a good movie for a snowy afternoon in April while visiting relatives in Pennsylvania.


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Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

I went into this film with almost zero awareness of the character Deadpool, who is from an adult X-rated comic book. Interesting note: the first X-rated movie I ever attended (back when you actually went into a theatre to see an X-rated movie), was Fritz the Cat, based on the X-rated comic book. My mother brought me!!! So I am open to the genre, and wow, Deadpool blew me away with its comic book violence enhanced by slow-motion, freeze-action, special effects, combined with Ryan Reynolds’ sarcastic, funny, dialogue and audience asides. This is an origin story, where you see his character earning money as an intimidator for hire, who then meets his soul mate (played by Morena Baccarin, who plays the beautiful, somewhat boring wife on Homeland, and is perfect here), then gets some bad luck and turns into the mutant super hero (anti-hero?) that he ends up calling Deadpool. Fun surprises abound, including martial arts star/actor Gena Carano  as a kick-ass villain (called Angel Dust I found out, which I don’t think was verbalized during the movie). It’s a combination of spoof of typical Marvel super hero films, but also a model for how to make the genre more exciting and more fun. I recommend this to the guys, but women may not love it. Kids, wait a few years, not for you just yet!

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

While the movies I tended to go to with my mother were the likes  of Mary Poppins and Elf I am in total agreement with Bill on Deadpool.  It was a unique and funny super hero movie (although Deadpool would not call himself a super hero).  As Bill said, the action was  really good with it’s use of slow motion and use of shifting angles (like NFL coverage where they start a play from one perspective and shift to a different one mid replay).  Unlike many movies you could tell what was happening.

I don’t have much to add to Bill’s review.  If you want to see Gina Carano in full kick ass mode check out Haywire.  Dead pool is definitely worth checking out (if you don’t mind violence, etc.).


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Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Jake Gyllenhaal is tremendous as the boxer who becomes champion, (spoiler alert) loses his title, then (not much of a spoiler) tries to regain it. His body and fighting are super realistic, in fact, he’s probably in better shape than most professional fighters. The story is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s executed very well. I enjoyed seeing 50 cent as a dapper fight promoter; pay attention to his fake smile. Wonder who he is channeling, maybe every boxing promoter ever? Rachel McAdams is terrific as well as the girl playing their daughter.  And Forest Whitaker, while playing a cliche, is excellent. I can’t help but compare this to The Fighter, where Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams hit it out of the park (or should I say hit a knockout punch), and this film clearly falls short in every aspect. But enjoyable and I recommend it. Just a little warning: this is not a fun film, it’s intense, touching, and quite a downer in places.

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Yikes—what a transformation for Jake Gyllenhaal from Night Crawler to Southpaw.  It makes me want to hit the weight room (but I think I’d need to give up M&Ms and more, and even then, let’s face it, there’s no hope for a six pack for me).  But, in both films he gives great performances as do the rest of the supporting cast.

The fight sequences are great, too, if you like that sort of thing.   Although whenever I watch these (think Rocky films), I always think that in real life they would have stopped the fight about 10 times.  For another great boxing scene, see the youtube clip with Charlie Chaplin from City Lights below, even if you don’t like boxing.

While I liked the film overall, as Bill points out, they do squeeze about every boxing film cliche into this film as possible. (I’ve also included a link to a list of over 200 boxing films below, so there are quite a few that have developed over the years). Per the required boxing cliche,  Gyllenhaal has to hit rock bottom before his quest for redemption can begin. Just when you think he’s as low as he can go,  the film reaches new heights of lowness (is that possible?), hence Bill’s downer statement.

But if you like boxing films or want to see Jake Gyllenhaal’s six pack, see this movie.  And, then in the fall, we get to see an appearance by Rocky again (as a trainer) in Creed .

Charlie Chaplin Boxing Scene From City Lights

List of Boxing Films In Wikipedia


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The Connection

Bill C’s review – 3 out of 5

The Connection is a french thriller set in the 1970s.  A magistrate (Jean Dujardin from The Artist) devotes his life to bringing down a finch drug syndicate.  It’s a companion piece to the French Connection, only made 40+ years later and from the perspective of the  French justice system.

While not  as gritty (or as good) as the French Connection this also  has a gritty view as a cop gets totally caught up in his job and puts everything at risk.

If you don’t mind french subtitles this is an above average film.


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Jean Dujardin stars as Pierre Michel in Drafthouse Films' The Connection (2015).
Jean Dujardin stars as Pierre Michel in Drafthouse Films’ The Connection (2015).