REVIEW: MONEYBALL

Starring

Brad Pitt (Ad Astra)
Jonah Hill (Wolf of Wall Street)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (God’s Pocket)
Robin Wright (Wonder Woman)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Reed Diamond (Bones)
Brent Jennings (Witness)
Tammy Blanchard (Tallulah)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Vyto Ruginis (The Insider)
Nick Searcy (Gone)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers)

Jonah Hill in Moneyball (2011)Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane is hurt by his team’s loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 American League Division Series. With the impending departure of star players Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen to free agency, Beane needs to assemble a competitive team for 2002 with Oakland’s limited budget.Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball (2011)During a scouting visit to the Cleveland Indians, Beane meets Peter Brand, a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess player value. Beane tests Brand’s theory by asking whether he would have drafted Beane out of high school; though scouts considered Beane hugely promising, his career in the major leagues was disappointing. Brand admits that, based on his method of assessing player value, he would not have drafted him until the ninth round. Impressed, Beane hires Brand as his assistant GM.Brad Pitt in Moneyball (2011)Rather than relying on scouts’ experience and intuition, Brand uses sabermetrics, selecting players based on their on-base percentage (OBP) while ignoring their perceived weaknesses. Brand and Beane use this methodology to hire undervalued players such as unorthodox submarine pitcher Chad Bradford, aging outfielder David Justice, and injured catcher Scott Hatteberg. Oakland scouts are hostile toward the strategy, and Beane fires head scout Grady Fuson after he accuses Beane of destroying the team. Beane also faces opposition from Art Howe, the Athletics’ manager. With tensions already high between them due to a contract dispute, Howe disregards Beane’s and Brand’s strategy and plays a more traditional lineup that he prefers.Brad Pitt in Moneyball (2011)Early in the season, the Athletics are already 10 games behind first, leading critics to dismiss the new method as a failure. Brand argues their sample size is too small to conclude the method does not work, and Beane convinces team owner Stephen Schott to stay the course. He trades away the lone traditional first baseman, Carlos Peña, to force Howe to use Hatteberg, making similar deals so Howe has no choice but to play the team Beane and Brand have designed. Three weeks later, the Athletics are only 4 games behind first.Brad Pitt and Kerris Dorsey in Moneyball (2011)Two months later, the team starts an amazing winning streak. Beane famously does not watch games, but when they tie the American League record of 19 consecutive wins, his daughter persuades him to attend the next game, against the Kansas City Royals. Oakland is leading 11–0 when Beane arrives in the fourth inning, only to watch the Royals even the score. Thanks to a walk-off home run by Hatteberg, the Athletics achieve a record-breaking 20th consecutive win. Beane tells Brand he will not be satisfied until they have “changed the game” by winning the World Series using their system.Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball (2011)The Athletics eventually clinch the 2002 American League West title, but lose to the Minnesota Twins in the 2002 American League Division Series. Beane is contacted by the owner of the Boston Red Sox, who realizes that sabermetrics is the future of baseball. Beane declines an offer to become the Red Sox general manager, despite the $12.5 million salary, which would have made him the highest-paid general manager in history. He returns to Oakland, and two years later the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series using the model the Athletics pioneered.Brad Pitt in Moneyball (2011)Overall, Moneyball is your typical crowd pleaser, but it is incredibly high quality. It is so well directed, so superbly acted, and Sorkin and Zaillian’s script is practically flawless. Personally this isn’t the film I will go crazy about. Rather, it is a film that I will enjoy so sincerely and with all my heart. I really did love this film and my respect for it is eternal. It may be typical and straightforward in its overall themes, but the quality of the film outshines this. Moneyball is just an excellent film.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: WORLD WAR Z

CAST

Brad Pitt (Fight Club)
Mirelle Enos (The Killing)
Daniella Kertesz (AfterDeath)
James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3)
Ludi Boeken (Train of Life)
Matthew Fox (Lost)
David Morse (Contact)
Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who)
Ruth Negga (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
David Andrews (Terminator 3)
Ann Ogbomo (Krypton)
Elyes Gabel (Game of Thrones)
Michiel Huisman (Treme)

 

Former UN employee Gerry Lane, his wife Karin and their two daughters are in heavy Philadelphia traffic when the city is attacked by zombies. As chaos spreads, the Lanes escape to Newark, New Jersey and take refuge in an apartment, home to a couple with a young son, Tommy. UN Deputy Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni—an old friend of Gerry’s—sends a helicopter that extracts the Lanes and Tommy to a U.S. Navy vessel in the Atlantic where scientists and military personnel are analyzing the worldwide outbreaks. Dr. Andrew Fassbach posits that the plague is a virus, and that development of a vaccine depends on finding the origin. Gerry reluctantly agrees to help Fassbach find the outbreak’s source after it is made clear that he and his family will be removed from the ship if he does not.Gerry and Fassbach fly to Camp Humphreys, a military base in South Korea, where they are attacked on arrival by zombies. Turning to re-enter the aircraft, Fassbach slips, falls and accidentally discharges his gun, killing himself. After being rescued by the base’s surviving personnel, led by Captain Speke, Gerry learns that the infection was introduced to the base by its doctor, who was ultimately incinerated by a soldier with a lame leg who the infected ignored. A former CIA operative, imprisoned at the base, tells Gerry to go to Jerusalem, where he says a safe zone has been maintained by the Israeli Mossad since before the outbreak’s official acknowledgement. As Gerry and his team bike back to their aircraft, zombies attack, kill several soldiers and infect Captain Speke, who commits suicide to prevent himself from turning. Gerry and his pilot escape.In Jerusalem, Gerry meets Mossad chief Jurgen Warmbrunn, who explains that months earlier, the Mossad had intercepted an Indian military message claiming that Indian troops were fighting the rakshasa, or “dead spirits”. Israel had thereupon quarantined Jerusalem, erecting huge walls around it. Just as Jurgen shows Gerry that Israel is allowing survivors to take refuge in the city, loud celebratory singing from refugees prompts zombies to scale the walls and attack. Jurgen orders some Israeli soldiers to escort Gerry back to his plane. On the way, Gerry notices zombies ignoring an emaciated boy. Soon after, one of Gerry’s escorts, a soldier who identifies herself only as “Segen”, is bitten in the hand, which Gerry quickly amputates to stop her turning. Gerry and Segen escape on a commercial airliner as Jerusalem is overrun, and Israel seeks to protect its remaining borders.Gerry contacts Thierry, and the airliner is diverted to a World Health Organization (WHO) facility outside Cardiff, Wales. When a stowaway zombie attacks in mid-air, Gerry uses a grenade to blow the infected out of the aircraft, but this also causes them to crash. Gerry is injured, but both he and Segen survive. They proceed to the WHO facility, where Gerry loses consciousness. He awakens three days later and explains to the remaining WHO staff a theory he has, based on the people he has seen the zombies ignore: the infected do not bite the seriously injured or terminally ill, since they would be unsuitable hosts for viral reproduction. He suggests that they test this by deliberately infecting somebody with a pathogen from the facility, but the pathogens are stored in a wing already overrun by zombies. Gerry, Segen and the lead WHO doctor go to get a pathogen. As they fight their way through, they are separated; Gerry continues to the pathogen vault while Segen and the doctor return to the main building. A zombie corners Gerry inside the vault, prompting him to inject himself with an unknown bacteria and open the vault, thereby testing his theory. The zombie ignores him, as do those he encounters while returning to the main building. Everybody rejoices at Gerry’s success.Gerry and his family are reunited in a safe zone at Freeport, Nova Scotia. A “vaccine”, derived from deadly pathogens, is developed and issued to troops battling the infected, acting as a kind of camouflage. The vaccine also helps survivors to reach quarantine zones. Human offensives begin against the zombies, and hope is restored. “This isn’t the end,” Gerry comments, “Not even close. Our war has just begun.” This is one of those films that gets better the more you watch it.  Brad Pitt was good as always and with a possible sequel in the making this may not be the last we see of this War.

REVIEW: DEADPOOL 2: THE SUPER DUPER CUT

CAST

Ryan Reynolds (The Hitman’s Bodyguard)
Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Julian Dennison (Godzilla vs. Kong)
Zazie Beetz (Geostorm)
T.J. Miller (Cloverfield)
Brianna Hildebrand (The Exorcist TV)
Jack Kesy (12 Strong)
Stefan Kapicic (Big Miracle)
Leslie Uggams (Empire)
Karan Soni (Office Christmas Party)
Shioli Kutsuna (The Outsider)
Eddie Marsan (21 Grams)
Lewis Tan (Iron Fist)
Bill Skarsgård (IT)
Terry Crews (The Expendables)
Brad Pitt (Ocean’s Eleven)
Alan Tudyk (Rogue One)
Matt Damon (Dogma)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road)
James McAvoy (Split)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One)
Alexander Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In)

The “Super Duper” cut of Deadpool 2 probably isn’t going to drastically change anybody’s mind on the movie: if you liked it, there’s more stuff to like; if you didn’t, and unless your chief complaint was “the tonal balance didn’t get it quite right,” it’s not like Ryan Reynolds suddenly decides not to be the same kind of character he always likes to play. It’s still a bit of a superhero tonal clash, as the satirical vibe of the first Deadpool collides with what feels more like the X-Men cinematic universe proper. But where the theatrical cut went for a fairly even balance, the Super Duper version falls (I don’t want to say “errs,” because it’s not really an error) on the side of Deadpool. The fact that a two-part post-credits scene featuring Wade “Deadpool” Wilson (Reynolds) encountering baby Hitler has been reinstated really says it all in that regard.This is a lot more thoughtful than a standard “unrated” cut, however. Yes, you’ll see more violence, more graphic stabbings, more blood, more nudity (including an oddly digitally pixellated male private area), and more shots of characters flipping each other off. Jokes are allowed to run longer, which may be a matter of taste–I’m a fan of jokes that go on and on to the point of absurdity, and by giving Josh Brolin’s time-traveling cyborg Cable more “grimdark” speechifying, this version actually turns him from a Frank Miller-type character to more of an Alan Moore parody of same.But then there are actual cinematic changes, too. Music cues in some cases are completely different, substituting hard-charging action score for lower-key or counter-intuitive tunes that make for a more comedic tone and render some of the extreme violence more slapstick (Boo to replacing the acoustic “Take on Me” with a replay of Celine Dion’s “Ashes,” though). We now meet Russell/Firefist (Julian Dennison) before Deadpool does, as their stories are shown on parallel tracks: as a broken Deadpool goes to the X-Mansion to be fixed, a not-broken Russell goes to the “Reeducation Center” to be tortured by Eddie Marsan’s headmaster, whose evil is more telegraphed in advance. When Russell later laments how he keeps waiting for someone to save him but nobody ever does, it carries that much more weight.Some choices feel like freedom from studio mandates: there are more digs at Fox and competing superhero movies, and a running gag about Deadpool accusing Cable of being racist that was probably too iffy for the suits. Other added running gags make existing ones more funny with callbacks: “Donde esta la biblioteca,” is the most notable, but Deadpool also snickers like Beavis and Butt-head in a few scenes now; for example, whenever Cable says something like “You always make it hard.” Speaking of butts, the whole “prison wallet” sequence involving Russell’s hidden pen has some enhanced gross-out sound effects, which actually make Deadpool’s revulsion to it throughout the movie a bit more understandable. And Colossus gets propositioned a lot more, with Deadpool at one point getting close to undoing his pants…and we won’t speak of what he does to the soap dispenser (what was only hinted at before is spelled out in full now).None of this takes away from the movie’s central theme, however, that Wade Wilson is presented with two possible alternate versions of himself: in Russell, a funny kid consumed with pain; and in Cable, a guy who’s gone past pain to being dead inside and stone-cold ruthless outside. Forced to find a way to somehow make peace between the two, Wade’s going to need a lot of luck and compassion, which he finds literally embodied in Domino (Zazie Beetz) and Colossus (Stefan Kapicic). It becomes, as promised early on, a (dysfunctional) family movie about pushing yourself and others out of emotional ruts, and not making friendship conditional. In that spirit, the scene that calls back to X-Men Origins: Wolverine now basically has Reynolds pleading for a Wolverine and Deadpool movie. It’s unlikely he’s hinting at something actually in the works, rather than just trying to get an idea out there, but it’s a significant change.Is it an entirely different experience, as Ryan Reynolds suggested at the Comic-Con panel earlier in the day? Not really. But it does feel a touch more comic-booky, and if you’re a Deadpool fan, that’s pretty much a plus.

 

REVIEW: DEADPOOL 2

CAST

Ryan Reynolds (The Hitman’s Bodyguard)
Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Julian Dennison (Godzilla vs. Kong)
Zazie Beetz (Geostorm)
T.J. Miller (Cloverfield)
Brianna Hildebrand (The Exorcist TV)
Jack Kesy (12 Strong)
Stefan Kapicic (Big Miracle)
Leslie Uggams (Empire)
Karan Soni (Office Christmas Party)
Shioli Kutsuna (The Outsider)
Eddie Marsan (21 Grams)
Lewis Tan (Iron Fist)
Bill Skarsgård (IT)
Terry Crews (The Expendables)
Brad Pitt (Ocean’s Eleven)
Alan Tudyk (Rogue One)
Matt Damon (Dogma)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road)
James McAvoy (Split)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One)
Alexander Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In)

Ryan Reynolds and Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2 (2018)After successfully working as the mercenary Deadpool for two years, Wade Wilson fails to kill one of his targets on his anniversary with his girlfriend Vanessa. That night, after the pair decides to start a family together, the target tracks Wilson down and kills Vanessa. Wilson kills the man in revenge. He blames himself for her death and attempts to commit suicide six weeks later by blowing himself up. Wilson has a vision of Vanessa in the afterlife, but the pieces of his body remain alive and are put back together by Colossus. Wilson is left with only a Skee-Ball token, an anniversary gift, as a final memento of Vanessa.Josh Brolin in Deadpool 2 (2018)Recovering at the X-Mansion, Wilson reluctantly agrees to join the X-Men as a form of healing. He, Colossus, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead respond to a standoff between authorities and the unstable young mutant Russell Collins / Firefist at an orphanage, labeled a “Mutant Reeducation Center”. Wilson realizes that Collins has been abused by the orphanage staff, and kills one of the staff members. Colossus stops him from killing anyone else, and both Wilson and Collins are arrested. Restrained with collars that suppress their powers, they are taken to the Ice Box, an isolated prison for mutant criminals. Meanwhile, a cybernetic soldier from the future, Cable, whose family is murdered by an older Collins, travels back in time to kill the boy before Collins ever becomes a killer.Cable breaks into the Ice Box and attacks Collins. Wilson, whose collar has broken in the melee, attempts to defend Collins. After Cable takes Vanessa’s token, Wilson forces himself and Cable out of the prison, but not before Collins overhears Wilson deny that he cares for the young mutant. Near death again, Wilson has another vision of Vanessa in which she convinces him to help Collins. Wilson organizes a team called X-Force to break Collins out of a prison-transfer convoy and defend him from Cable. The team launches its assault on the convoy by parachute, but all of the members die during the landing except for Wilson and the lucky Domino. While they fight Cable, Collins frees fellow inmate Juggernaut, who agrees to help Collins kill the abusive orphanage headmaster. Juggernaut destroys the convoy, allowing himself and Collins to escape.Cable offers to work with Wilson and Domino to stop Collins’ first murder, and agrees to give Wilson a chance to talk Collins down. At the orphanage, they are overpowered by Juggernaut while Collins attacks the headmaster, until Colossus—who had at first refused to help Wilson due to Wilson’s murderous ways—arrives to distract Juggernaut. When Wilson fails to talk down Collins, Cable shoots at the young mutant. Wilson leaps in front of the bullet while wearing the Ice Box collar and dies, reuniting with Vanessa in the afterlife. Seeing this sacrifice, Collins does not kill the headmaster; this changes the future so that Cable’s family now survives. Cable uses the last charge on his time-traveling device, which he needed for returning to his family, to go back several minutes and strap Vanessa’s token in front of Wilson’s heart. Now when Wilson takes the bullet for Collins, it is stopped by the token and both survive. Collins still has his change of heart, and afterwards, the headmaster is run over by Wilson’s taxi-driver friend Dopinder.Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2 (2018)In a mid-credits sequence, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and her girlfriend Yukio repair Cable’s time-traveling device for Wilson. He uses it to save the lives of Vanessa and X-Force member Peter, and kills both X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s version of Deadpool and actor Ryan Reynolds while he is considering starring in the film Green Lantern.The first Deadpool is one of my favorite films of all time, and I figured no way even DP2 could beat it, but it did. This film is sheer perfection in every aspect. We need more of these type of films that make you forget all the garbage going on in today’s society… a film that has every positive element including top-notch non-stop comedy . Props to  Ryan Reynolds for topping what I thought could not be topped! This franchise needs to continue and I can’t wait for DP3! I will see this film again and again and I can’t wait to add the bluray to my collection next to DP1. A perfect and well deserved 10/10 from me!

REVIEW: MR. AND MRS. SMITH

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Vince Vaughn (Weddign Crashers)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Chris Weitz (American Pie)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss bang bang)
Stephanie March (The Invention of Lying)
Jennifer Morrison (Amityville: The Awakening)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

 

MV5BMTI5MDg3NDQ1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTAxNjUyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while not flawless, is a feature that works well despite the realization as the credits roll that there’s not a great deal to it. Of course, everyone knows by now that stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a couple, the mere fact of which has somehow managed to be covered in every single edition of every single tabloid in every single country. The film, from “Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, stars Pitt and Jolie as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a suburban couple who lives in a large, beautiful and ultra-modern house on a quiet street. The two met cute and got married, despite keeping a rather large secret from one another – that both are actually assassins who are working for rival organizations.a0acad5c7a89d5b7f3182585aad6c19dThe marriage has obviously cooled over the years, and now discussions over decorations and minor dinner changes are the only thing keeping things from falling into uncomfortable silences. Things get nasty, however, when the two are sent in on the same job – an operative (Adam Brody, from “The O.C.”) and find that their cover has been blown by the person they’d have least expected. From there, Smith turns into a more violent War of the Roses as the two, despite still being together, wage war on each other in their suburban estate.MV5BMTUyNzA3MzMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTk5NTUyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_However, when it becomes clear that their bosses want them eliminated, they realize they have to turn to each other. Liman, who brought urgency and tension to even the quietest moments of “The Bourne Identity” manages to handle both the action and dark comedy of “Smith” wonderfully. Pitt, who proved he was a surprisingly sharp comedic talent in “Ocean’s 11” has the same off-beat delivery here, and it works well. More surprising is Jolie, who successfully gives the performance a bit more warmth and dark glee than she has in her roles in the past. Vince Vaughn also steals a few scenes as a co-worker who lives with his mother.Director Liman and writer Simon Kinsberg wisely keep things light for the most part,  and yet don’t go so breezy that the film loses urgency and we lose interest. The two stars also manage to portray their subtle inner feelings for each other well during the film’s few quiet moments. Technically, the film is superb, with well-choreographed action sequences, excellent production design, slick cinematography and a superb sound mix.Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s mixture of very dark comedy and action certainly walks a fine line, and yet Liman and the two leads have managed to work it out very well.