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Birdman movie review

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was the 2015 winner for Best Picture at the Oscars and I’m sure few are surprised.  The movie has excellent performances, directing, cinematography, lighting, screenplay, the editing is flawless, the score is amazing, sound design and mixing…  It’s a really f@cking good movie.  Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry

6 points on Escape Plan (movie reviews)

Escape Plan is exactly what it promises: Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger breaking out of prison. It’s at 49% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means about half the critics gave it a negative review while the other segment of critics were more positive on the film. I fall into the latter half, but that doesn’t mean I think Escape Plan is a masterpiece. If you like your action movies to have an 80s vibe to them, I think you’ll find this flick acceptable, but it’s not without problems. Here are 6 points on why Escape Plan is what it is, for better or worse. Read the rest of this entry

Green Zone movie review

In an effort to give you a quick, clear view of Green Zone before I go too deep and bring out the spoilers, here are the tools you need to decide if you want to watch this movie:  it’s a fast paced action movie based on reality, but its not a documentary; they weren’t trying to win any awards when they made this movie.  But the point i valid, never the less.  The editing is flawless, the action is well done and frequent, and the cast does a great job.

Entering the spoiler zone…

Matt Damon portrays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, who commands a squad of a dozen or so guys who are assigned to secure weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, circa 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government.  As we recall, they find nothing, which leads Damon’s character to question the intelligence he’s receiving as he combines hostile environments while risking the lives of his men.  When the officers higher up the chain don’t want to hear what Miller has to say, he finds himself stuck between Poundstone, a non military government official and the official prick of the movie (play by Greg Kinnear) and Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), a CIA agent who knows the truth: the intelligence is garbage and Poundstone knows it.  Miller and Brown forge an alliance, but when Poundstone finds out, he has Miller reassigned.  Miller also meets Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), a journalist who published an article based off information from a source known as Magellan she received from Poundstone, which we ultimately learn was modified by Poundstone or whoever he answers to.  There’s also this Baathist general named Al Rawi (Igal Naor – his character is on those famous playing cards our armed forces were issued to help them learn who their targets were) who Poundstone wants to eliminate and Brown wants to enlist.  In the middle of all this is Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), an Iraqi who serves Miller as both an informant (he approaches them on the street while they’re digging for WMDs) and a translator.  Freddy just wants his country back (or to haunt your childrens’ dreams, where you can’t protect them!  Wait, sorry, wrong Freddy), and as a veteran himself, wants to see an end to the violence, although his allegiance lies neither to Rawi, Brown or Poundstone, never mind Miller.

I know the plot seems complicated, but its not.  The movie’s pace and editing are awesome, especially the hard cutting action sequences.  Like “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”, director Paul Greengrass doesn’t skimp on the coverage, editing or action.  Again, can’t say enough about the editing.  One of the things I had a hard time getting a handle on was Miller’s ability to execute his orders and modify his missions as he saw fit; Miller is a Chief; my understanding is that is a non-commissioned officer’s rank, so I would think it’s unusual for him to, without contacting any higher ranking office, take a tip from a guy he met on the street and load up his boys into a civilian’s car along with their vehicles and raid a private home.  But then, that’s how Miller’s character operates throughout the entire movie – I assume that were the story to continue, he’d get Court Marshalled at some point.  Anyway, he refers to himself as a chief warrant office; maybe this is a job, not a rank.  Too lazy to look it up.

Why is the movie called  “Green Zone”?  Uhm, a substantial portion of the movie takes place in this area of Iraq…  people making big decisions were in this area, too…  Eh.  I’m not sure.  Maybe other folks weren’t to sure, either; Green Zone made $35 million in the US and another $59 million on the international market, for a total of $94 million on a $100 million dollar budget, making the movie a bit of a box office bust for Damon.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Americans will go to the movies for a history lesson, but not for the news; I think audiences felt that movies like Green Zone, World Trade Center and United 93 were dramatized too soon.  As for me, the movie’s message is that we always need to question why we’re going to war, and you can’t say that often enough or loud enough.

If you’re in the mood for an action movie with a current events twist and the power of Matt Damon, give Green Zone a look.  We rented the Blu Ray version from Blockbuster, and it looked pretty nice.  The filmed at night (a lot) and the digital transfer is pretty good, but not perfect.

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