Tag Archives: jeremy renner movies

Movie Review: Wind River

Image result for wind river movie poster free useAfter writing Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan was reportedly the latest prodigy in the streets of theater. My film compadres were saying it, the critics were parading it and I decided to pull this one out and see if the tales were true. I plan to see the two previously mentioned works as well so I can make an educated opinion.

Boy, has the Sheridan experiment not gotten off to a good start. Wind River is a stalling truck caught in a snow drift. It surveys its landscape and the harsh life all who remain suffer but also can’t help being a funeral that’s surprisingly hard to empathize with. You almost feel bad being so disconnected from it but the project is so barren that you feel like you’re mourning the life of emptiness itself.

A murder on an Indian Reservation in the void of Wyoming should carry a tempo that mimics a trudge through the storm but the pacing is so stagnant that one can’t help but continue to flick their head around to see if they’ve moved at all in the last 20 minutes. The phrase is “the tortoise wins the race” but this reptile is dead on arrival. I was very patient with this film, and as someone who’s already very patient, that meant giving this picture a lot of leeway. My brethren gave this film high praise and so I waited for it to move. I poked it a few times before flipping a table and pronouncing, “This thing’s dead, goddammit!”

Wind River doesn’t make a sound. It is eerily quiet, but after days of inaction, leads to a walk through a morgue rather than an intense murder mystery suffocating in a tundra. Jeremy Renner can work on his cowboy look all night long but it’s still not gonna make Wind River a natural disaster even remotely interesting. Imagine wandering through a hurricane and giving zero cares in the world, thoroughly disinterested by the day’s proceedings like a preoccupied millenial, except in this case you’re grazing through the least exciting storm known to man that still somehow earns the title “hurricane.” That’s Wind River.

That was overdramatic even for me. Wind River is not the least exciting storm ever. That would garner it an accolade.

Renner and Elizabeth Olsen struggle to do much with a story that is starved of dialogue and greatly lacking in the “stuff to do” department. The account of a pillage is dragged across a cheese grater for nearly two hours. It’s a story that has been stretched too far. I’m not sure if Sheridan had a cramp in his pen hand or struggles with thoughts that exist outside a movie’s borders. I’ve watched more entertaining episodes of Law and Order: SVU.

It’s not complex enough to warrant a feature-length work and it shows in the final cut. The flatness of this movie cannot be overstated. It is exceptionally dull.

A knife without edge offers little tenacity and Wind River doesn’t dazzle your eye either. As much as I enjoy watching Jeremy Renner’s stunt double bounce on a snowmobile, the organic wilderness around you is begging for a pedestal. The visual department fails to capture the aged relic of the past, one of the pieces that has gone mostly untouched by the modern world. A blistering behemoth with a personality disorder, regularly fluctuating between storm and calm, is underappreciated here. There are a few select shots which grant us a brief showcase, but we should be engulfed in the black hole, disturbed by the unknown and carry a caged paranoia.

Wind River is frustrating because it has an avenue for success. Similar to The Road, it has ample opportunity to display color palette and lighting as well as sound design. It forgoes audible creation, deciding on unnerving silence that doesn’t harness fear as much as it thinks it does and displays inexperience in its visual carving, leaving the film neither smooth nor fine-tuned with sharp edges. It looks like a log that was hacked by a teenager with a chainsaw. It wasn’t done out of rage. It was performed by an unguided hand.

Renner’s lead lacks the composite of originality and fronts a frontiersman with little bite and less bark. With an inability to stir intrigue and Olsen being almost entirely useless as a rookie on the scene, Wind River‘s character output is anemic. It will lose its grip on viewers early. The public is far more impatient than I am.

With little chill, Wind River is fully reliant on Renner, who in my experience doesn’t possess that level of talent. The only development of note is the hunter being the victim of a hunt himself. There’s not enough character molding going on here.

You can tell Sheridan was pulling for a winter western but Wind River has neither the cold nor the grit. It’s rather mellow for a western, solemn to the point of feeling sorry for itself. Sheridan manages to drizzle a few lines of concrete here and there to keep myself interested but I’m being left on a thread waiting for the beauty I was told appeared.

Drowned in a grief with surprisingly little punch, Wind River doesn’t emote much feeling in me. I’m left distant from a work where the goal should be to bring me closer, not only to adjust to the environment but to understand the gravity of the situation and bear the weight of loss this tale is buried in. The film never bothered to knock on my door and see if I was home.

If you enjoy plot pushers, Wind River might meet that criteria. It’s not a film that carries off-screen presence. It leaves me starved for content.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the Woods)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The RoadDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Tommy BoyDeath NoteTrue Memoirs of an International AssassinThe Great WallRobin Hood)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Most Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the Apes)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Wind River: 57.

If the phrase, “well, it’s either half empty or half empty” was a thing, I’d use it here. I’ve now watched Wind River two times more than I would have liked and I promise there will not be a third. There wasn’t much reason to watch it the first time and there certainly wasn’t to go looking for a second viewing. Skip this one.

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Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is a gargantuan, a film hardly marketed that has cemented the legacy of Marvel if it hasn’t been chiseled into a Mount Rushmore of its own already. I saw this beauty with friends yesterday and what a euphoria I exhibited afterward.

As expected, Civil War makes Dawn of Justice look like the chump that it is, the guy with a big mouth but no product or skill set to back up what he’s selling. Meanwhile, Civil War carries a soft stick, at least to this most recent outing and craters the ground that lies beneath it, sending shock waves along the terrain and bringing the fruits of Marvel from coast to coast.

My friends and I were static, fixated on the pure amazement of this gem. One questioned how long Marvel could do this, an appropriate response to a rapid succession of homers for Marvel while DC struggles to hit singles. I’ll be honest when I say I don’t want to answer that question. I have not seen a film company hit the nail so soundly in Hollywood. Marvel has become, to quote Chic Anderson’s call in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, a “tremendous machine.” Its cogs are firing like the fists of Rocky, repeatedly charged with the same amount of effort, endorsement and impact as the one thrown before it. They’re all planned under the vision of a strategist who has the mind of a chess protegé, someone who has both the patience and the prescience to outlast any competitor. Every sequence of dialogue is laid over a firm plot and sociological landscape. Every stunt has a punch behind the punch. Every character has a stairway to ascend, a fall to take and/or a redemption to pursue. To compare Marvel and DC is to compare an experienced elevator of talent and technique to youthful arrogance and ignorance. There is no comparison. DC has no firing gun or secret serum it is waiting to unleash. It is outmatched in every way, from the people behind the camera to the people in front of it. After Civil War, I see no possible outcome in which DC comes out on top. Marvel is the king and with Civil War, it squashes all competition. These are the halcyon days and I plan to do nothing but bask in the aurora modeled in front of me. There will come a time when we will miss when Hollywood was this good, to the point of effortlessness and when that time comes, it will be too late to join them in the sun filled with heavenly elixirs.

This is not to say that DC films are wiped off the face of the Earth. They will make climbing profits and please DC fanboys and children who continue to turn a blind eye to what is becoming borderline incompetence. Even I will appease DC and pay to see a faltering main event if only to see Batman and Superman again and be reminded they still exist but if DC ever becomes cavalier enough to premiere one of its products alongside a Marvel feature, rest assured a majority of the world, in a resounding decision, will give their money to Marvel.

Civil War is great for the story line it churns out. After another incident in which the Avengers must come to save the day, some civilian lives are lost, causing the United Nations to devise a contract for the Avengers to abide by. Tony Stark, who’s slowly become unraveled after each progression in the MCU, continues to fall into fear of what could be. In his quest to conquer said fear and find inner peace, Stark signs. Captain America, on the other side of the coin, refuses to do so. No doubt pushed to this side by the integration of Hydra into Shield in the Winter Soldier, in addition to the corruption and expediency in government, Cap is reluctant to shed his freedom and allow himself to become a pawn for the world’s leaders.

This discussion on modern politics and technological advances is ingenious as it is one of the main controversies in today’s society. Captain America can see that America, a place that was once free across the board, has been saddled by the incessant need for security while Iron Man believes all that can be done to protect people should be done. Both sides have chips on their side, both in this film and in our culture presently.

The idea of world leaders blaming the Avengers for the damage that’s been done seems erratic and illogical. If it wasn’t for the Avengers, the world would have been taken over by Loki’s army. If it wasn’t for the Avengers, Ultron would have destroyed the world and I haven’t even mentioned all of the other catastrophes that have been avoided in the individual Marvel films. The world would have ended more than five times over if not for the Avengers.

While it seems absurd to me, the world has shown, time and time again, that they must be in control to feel comfortable. What people cannot control they fear. Some people are just as afraid of the Avengers as they are of the interdimensional villainy that keeps taking disaster-filled vacations to Earth. Like we see in Dawn of Justice, Batman fears Superman because of what he could do, not necessarily what he will do. One would argue, “Well, just because they can do it doesn’t mean they will. I mean, with that mindset, you’ll walk around thinking everyone is a psychopathic serial killer.” Those who side with Batman in Dawn of Justice and with Iron Man here do so out of fear or because they really like the character of Iron Man. I love Iron Man, too, but the premise served to us is not, “Who do you like more, Cap or Iron Man?” The question is, “Do you think superheroes should be controlled by the world’s elected officials? Should the world, not superheroes, be the ones in control?” There will always be loss, but would the constraint and restriction of superheroes benefit us? And if so, do you believe that politicians will hold their side of the bargain? Do you think the world’s leaders will treat superheroes like the people that they are and not cage them like freaks?

This film has a discussion on the anti-LGBT legislation here in America if you look close enough. It has a commentary about the cultures that are pervading this country. There are a lot of questions posed in the Russo brothers’ two-and-a-half hour blockbuster and this is a great thing.

This parlance and the way that Marvel interweaves current events and sociological discussions within its narrative is one of many things that makes this film and studio so powerful. It is a perfect mesh of applicable material, character embodiment and the dreams of our younger selves. It is a film that everyone should see. Knowledge of superheroes is superfluous. This is what an empire like Marvel can do, mesmerize all audiences if they give them a chance to do so.

It’s not just the subject matter, but the deliverance of its execution. Every step is taken with humble confidence like a man who has built his reputation on aplomb and equanimity. It is not stoicism but a confidence that is unwavering, a Curryesque humility that excites rather than bores. We know the visual drum roll when we see it. We spot the tempo changes and we can feel the flaring of the tide. The Russo brothers make this conflict of the world’s heroes seem less like the crashing of mighty waves in the middle of a storm and more like the apotheosis of an emotion-laden and articulate dance, finely crafted and executed by the pioneers of its creation.

It’s patient with its cast of characters and its agenda. While Dawn of Justice displays a rushed, last-second effort to catch up to the MCU’s gradual progression, Civil War is a grandioso concerto that serves as a prelude (yes, a prelude) to the pieces that have yet to be flaunted. That might be the best takeaway from the Russos’ masterpiece here: there’s still more. After all the time we have spent with these characters and all of the highlight reels Marvel has given us, this is not the end.

We will still spend time with Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man, who is easily the most changed character since this galaxy was painted. There will be more time for Chris Evans, one of the best redemption stories I’ve seen from Hollywood in my lifetime. I still can’t believe the man who made a fool of himself in Fantastic Four all those years ago has not only redefined himself to such grand proportions but has become synonymous with Captain America. What a turnaround. There’s Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, who after numerous failed attempts by others has defined the green monstrosity. Sebastian Stan’s Bucky continues to battle his inner demons while asking us, “Is it too late for redemption?” Every player accentuates a role and has a story to tell. No one is a sideshow. Some are just more prominent than others. These characters have plenty of tarmac left on the runway before they launch for their trip into the stars of Hollywood fame. Whatever’s in store for them, they’ve all joined forces to make a hell of a franchise, a dichotomy to DC that does not countervail but brazenly excels past it. If you’re not on the train yet, get on it because Marvel doesn’t break for nobody.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (DeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellar)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Running Man10 Cloverfield LaneCreedScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson Peak)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The CrowHardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (D-Tox/Eye See YouConstantineRaceEverestHercules)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (BloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6The Lost BoysZombeavers)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Captain America: Civil War: 98.

With a cast that flourishes in their own personas, stunt choreography and action design that manages to outdo itself time and again, a writing crew that refuses to regress and direction that sculpts it to the point of transcendence, Captain America: Civil War is the best product that Marvel has ever put out. Blockbuster season might have just started, but Civil War has already reached the finish line.

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