Review:The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

Not the best movie of the year. Probably not the best western you have ever seen. But still, it somehow manages to finds it’s way into becoming fairly entertaining for well over two full hours. That in itself is pretty amazing, or magnificent, if you prefer.

     Seven mismatched misanthrope’s meet up to save a town. Each one comes with his own baggage and his own specific s(kill) set. The main cowboy gunslinger dude is played by none other than Denzel Washington, and he is as smooth a sharpshooter as you have never seen. He naturally has his own reasons for taking on this impossible job, but we don’t find that out until after the conflict plays itself out. He just didn’t seem like the kind of cowboy that would take on a suicide mission just for the sake of gold. Yes, he has his reasons, and he also is a damn good recruiter, because he manages to pull together a nice little party of murderous misfits to help him tackle the task. The task at hand, is to take back a small mining town from a sociopathic land baron with gold nuggets for eyes and the blackest of coal for a soul. Naturally our bad guy isn’t giving up without a fight; he hires an army. This is the story in a nutshell. It is mostly a bit predictable, with the possible exception of the audience (us) not knowing which one of the magnificent seven is going to make to the sequel. They all can’t, where’s the suspense in that?

     Lot’s of killing. Quite a variety of manners of killing, but lot’s and lot’s of killing nonetheless. It almost reminds you of the evening news, with a different setting, time zone, and instead of Lester Holt we get Denzel and the boys. One of the seven is an Indian, who looks about as Indian as my hairy Italian grandfather, but who am I to fact check. The whole thing quickly turns into one big chaotic murderous brouhaha. The entire massacre and back story take place in what appears to be your typical hollywood simulated western mining town. I suppose that’s one way to keep the budget in check; when you gotta pay the big bucks to Denzel, you have to skimp somewhere. Occasionally, we do get the grand vision of big sky country, thus justifying the I-MAX designation, but this is no “Dancing With Wolves”.

     I don’t know, go see the damn thing if you like cheesy westerns, if you’re really bored, or if you want to impress your date with how much money you are willing to waste on movies that are mediocre. Nothing impresses an insignificant other more than a movie with a predictable plot, and a box of overpriced popcorn with simulated butter particles. Throw in some gummie clusters…and you’re getting to second base faster than a washed up rodeo clown on crystal meth. It ain’t bad… it just ain’t really great…one thing it definitely ain’t….is magnificent.

This is the Wisdom of the Smyth.

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Edward Snowden has to be one of the most polarizing people to come along in the last century. Is he a hero whistleblower patriot, or an evil brilliant hacker from hell? Your call. The problem I have with most people’s assessment of things like this, is their willingness to give a  strong opinion, is directly proportional to their unwillingness to investigate both sides thoroughly. The more adamant, the less educated; kind of scary really. This movie doesn’t actually give both sides either.

      Considering the sensitive nature of the information, that would be impossible. In all fairness, the narrative does include certain representations of the government’s position, just probably through a more Snowden friendly lens.

     So, in case you are wondering…yes, this is an Oliver Stone movie, and yes, it is very pro-Snowden, the troubled patriot, not the traitor hacker spy version. He is  portrayed as a man who just could not take what he saw and knew to be true, that is, the NSA’s systematic illegal monitoring of every bit of information in the entire country without the public’s knowledge. He saw a beast he helped create, turn into something nobody ever imagined, or seemed capable of stopping. A man who eventually sacrificed everything he knew and loved, for the sake of letting the world know just how completely out of control this system had become.

     The other thing this movie does is present an Edward Snowden to the world, who is absolutely brilliant. I figure I got has to be damn crafty just to elude the grips of the U.S. government, let alone all the computer geek stuff he taught himself. Pretty amazing character. The timing of the movies release and the new push to pardon Snowden, may not be an accident.

    One thing you may find discomforting, as I did, was the extent of what our government can do to infiltrate your private circle. It can’t even be called a private circle, if you have any form of communication device…it aint private Sonny! This truth is enough to make you want to drown your laptop and burn your smartphone. It is literally that disturbing. I think everyone should see the movie, it might be your patriotic duty to keep up with what your very own government is doing to keep tabs on you. If you ignore it, that is your choice, but at least by making yourself aware of it, you have some clue to the realities of the modern hardwired world, and how scary this shit really is.

    The acting was excellent by main characters and secondary characters alike. The progress of the story moves along at a steady pace, not leaving any moments of sudden boredom, or disjointed narrative. Nobody does political enigma or conspiracy like Oliver Stone. This flick proves he continues to be at the top of his game, and I think is much better than a few of his previous offerings. Well worth your time and a perhaps even a smidgen of your gold. Do your country a solid….go see this and support the pardon of Edward Snowden. It’s time to let him come home.  This is the opinion of The Smyth and may, or may not, represent the opinion of the entire staff at ….The Smyth has spoken…

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Review: Sully


This movie is a must see for a whole lot of truly great reasons. One reason is the man playing Sully, the pilot who landed a large passenger aircraft loaded with people on the Hudsen river, saving them all from certain catastrophy, is none other than Tom Hanks–arguably one of the best in the business. Once again he is brilliant. So much so, that if you never met or saw the genuine Sully, you know a whole lot about his character and personality just from watching this rendition. Extremely convincing. He may actually have made a better Sully than the real one.

     Clint Eastwood directed this film, when you add this to some of his other gem’s, it becomes easy to see his second career as a director is as impressive as his acting resume. Since Sully is an obvious protaganist, and the whole world knows he is a genuine hero, they needed to build into the story some type of antagonist in order to create a struggle. I believe some critics thought the stories treatment of the NTSB was slightly unfair and unrealistic. This may be true, but in order to tell a story and keep it interesting somebody has to play the bad guy, somebody has to create a problem in need of a solution. After all, if you just want to watch a tale of how great Sully is, then revisit CNN tape in your spare time.

   One thing that resonated with me was the fact that they replayed the scene of the crash enough times to give the audience a real vision of what these 155 individuals went through on that fateful day. It is powerful. Emotional. Epic.This story is profoundly uplifting, and it came at a time shortly after 9/11, when, as one character says “New York could use some good news.” The different angles of the crash itself are brilliantly done. You are left so much detailed visual input, it is like getting a boatload of answers in need of some questions. The way the story travels back and forth in time with smooth transitions, makes it very easy to follow and compelling for the entire journey. You won’t be running for the restroom in the middle of this little ditty. At only an hour and thirty-six minutes, your crusty old bladder should hold, even after all those years of hard drinking and that nasty little meth lab incident you managed to keep under wraps…until now. Oops.

    The real Sully is an amazing pilot and incredibly humble human being. The way Tom Hanks portrays him, not only does justice to this unbelievable true story, but also to the essence of the genuine hero that he was. The only special effects are the recreation of the crash, and a simulation of what could have happened had Sully not followed his instincts. The back story does include some explanation of how he got to be such a skilled pilot, by briefly exploring his flying history.

     Easily one of the best, if not the best picture of the year. I highly recommend it. Sure, you can wait for the DVD or just steal a bootleg copy off some sketchy web sight, but good movies deserve support, because it was starting to seem like  complete garbage movies are ubiquitous, at least this year. That’s it..great flick…..the Smyth has spoken.

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Review: Don’t Breathe

Don’t Breathe

Suspense, suspense, suspense–this movie does it well. A new twist on creepy. Three teenage burglars, who have been fairly successful running around Detroit knocking off houses, find out about a large stash of money hidden in the house of an old blind veteran. Sounds like a good plan, break in, steal his stash, and bounce before he knows what happened. Well, things just are not going to be that easy. First they have the vicious dog to contend with, then they soon find out this is not the ordinary handicapped veteran, and he is not going to just sit quietly while these three teens rob him blind. Pun intended.

    Of course there are some pretty devious plot twist, and of course there are moments where you want to scream instructions at the one dimensional characters on the big flat screen. Your best bet is to just go into this expecting the unexpected. If you have a weak heart, or loose bowels, might want to skip this particular ride. The creep who owns the house is a real badass, not at all the pushover the three little gangsta’s were anticipating.

    Overall, the whole thing is very well done. The acting was decent for the three mostly unknowns. The crusty old blind veteran dude had very little dialogue, and really didn’t require a whole lot. The bulk of the movie takes place inside this older style row house in one of Detroit’s troubled and emptied neighborhoods. The house itself has enough dilapidated character to stage its own zombie apocalypse. This is a very large and very run down chamber of horrors; once the ball starts rolling all bets are off. Don’t get confused, this is not one of those “gross me out” slasher flicks. This is a well made suspenseful thriller that could easily have you grabbing the person sitting next to you, knocking their forty dollar popcorn into their twelve dollar small soda, and leaving them with a large butter stain on their three dollar T-shirt. Very intense my friends.

    Every Time you think the party is over, it just keeps on going. More violence, more death, and more “run…get the hell out of there…what is wrong with you..” type of stuff. The ending looks very much like a setup for part two. Judging by this freaks amplified sense of smell, the next one probably won’t be “Don’t Breathe part two.” It might be more appropriately titled “Don’t Fart part one.” So watch out folks, this tortured old bastard is so twisted he can inadvertently turn your “sneaky Pete” or your “Stealthy stinker” into a full fledged skid mark. This flick is rated R, but it should come with an additional warning: Caution–cinematic soiling may occur, please bring backup skivvies…                                                               The Smyth has Spoken.

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Review: Hands of Stone

Hands of Stone

Coming from a man who always loved boxing, and actually wanted to be a boxer, my opinion might not be exactly–what you call–unbiased. Having said all that, let me say this: this movie would still have to stand up on it’s own two feet to be worthy of praise. This movie easily succeeds in that mission…in triplicate. Like most of you, I often wonder how many boxing stories are there to tell. The truth is there is always another one. Boxers, like most sports figures, come from many different places, different ways of life, the one thing that makes boxing especially unique is it’s ability to pull people, especially kids, from the most difficult upbringings and provide them a shot at the big time. Boxing, despite the obvious brutality, more than any other sport is an escape for lost and troubled children. A way out. Roberto Duran was one of those children. Coming straight from the slums of Panama, he literally fought his way into the title, one tough fight at a time. I remember watching those actual fights. The controversial (No Mas) one with Sugar Ray Leonard, and all the others; he was one hell of a tough dude, no bones about it.

    His trainer, in this movie, is played by Robert De niro, and we all know how great he is. In this case the role was virtually made for him. I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better. Usher played Sugar Ray leonard, and did so in very convincing manner. As a dancer in real life, his ability to move with grace and speed made him a natural for this part. The actor who played Duran, Edgar Ramirez, was truly excellent in the role of the troubled fighter. His wife was crazy hot. The sex scenes were smoking throughout, with her amazing body rolling around in all it’s bare chested, super plump erect nipple, glory. Better than most porno’s, and way more sensual. Don’t worry ladies, this isn’t a one way street. Usher and Ramirez, both have a bare ass moment you might consider worthy of your attention. The best part, is it is all done with the utmost class. These are love making scenes that express love and passion in it’s rawest form–quite beautiful actually.

   Every character has a clear struggle. Nothing ambiguous about it. You feel like you are really getting to know exactly what they stand for and who they really are. The fight scenes are all balanced and choreographed down to the finest details. The one thing that I noticed, was in real life Roberto Duran was the guy who would be losing the entire fight, then BOOM! Out of nowhere would come one punch, and that was it–goodnight Irene! In this movie he is much more well rounded than I actually remember seeing him in the ring. The movie explores the life of his trainer just as much a Duran’s rise to the top, and fall, only to rise once again. This is also a movie with many layers of meaning and has within it, individual, as well as group, interwoven threads of conflict and resolution. In the end it is still another fight movie, but let me tell you…it’s one you should go see. Great true story brought to the big screen with the utmost integrity. Four out of four stars. Terrific flick.

A small spoiler: At the end the give you the real life narrative of most of the main characters. I like this. Not only does it lend moo-choo credibility to the story, but it brings home that feeling that any really good movie should do–make you feel like you have known these people for ten or more years.

The Smyth has Spoken.              

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Mechanic Resurrection: Review

Mechanic: Resurrection

My bad movie has a first name it’s M-E-C-H-A, my bad movie has a second name it’s N-I-C.. see….I told it would suck. I like Jason Statham when he does all that crazy stuff, but when he tries to speak real words, not grunting words, but real words, that’s when you know, this guy can’t act. And don’t even get me started on Jessica Alba. I mean come on already, just smile and show your nipples through your bathing suit, and everything will be just peachy. As soon as she pretends she is an actress, things go horribly wrong. This would be a better investment if she just strutted around half naked and never said a word. Tommy Lee Jones had a new bad guy look. We know he can act, it’s just in this case, he didn’t need to. I mean nobody else on set was….so why bother. The Mechanic may have been resurrected, but from the looks of it, he should have stayed dead. The only saving grace was a few cool stunts. The swimming pool scene that is shown in the preview, is by far the coolest thing in the entire movie. Save some money and spare yourself the shit show and just play that over a few times. This is a just another bad James Bond wanna be like that Jason Bourne douche. Tough guy get’s girl, old business associate kidnaps girl, tough guy makes ridiculous plan to get girl back, tough guy dies (but wait..not really) and kills bad guy and get’s girl. Sound familiar. The only thing they resurrected was an old Bond script and from the looks of it, they just tortured it into submission. Can you believe they actually tried to stick a love scene in this festering dung heap. It didn’t help. In fact it felt oddly out of place, like hanging the Mona Lisa on the wall of a CVS. I mean this is still just my opinion. Maybe you have an I.Q. of less than 75 and in between drooling on your popcorn, you find this kind of recycled gibberish worthy of your attention. If so, bless your simpleton heart, and please remember: the licorice sticks are for eating, not for inserting into random orifices. The same goes for gummy whatcha-mick-doodles. Got it–in the mouth, not the orifice. Great. A mechanic, for those of you who don’t know, is another way of saying–a hit man. In this case “The mechanic” was a tool. And the movie was a fully stocked tool shed. Whoever produced this rancid heap of monkey snot, should be forced to watch it non-stop until they gouge out their own eyes with an icey straw. This insult to movie watching audiences, is not only a waste of money, it’s a waste of time. I’m not giving it any stars, or any of anything else, because it doesn’t deserve anything except–if we are lucky–to stay dead next time.          This is the Wisdom of the Smyth.

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Review: War Dogs

War Dogs

A fun little ride. Bong hits, lines of coke, and firearms, what could possibly go wrong? This story follows the improbable journey of two stoners from Miami who go from small time gun hustlers to big time scammers virtually overnight. When they start bidding on government weapons supply contracts during the Bush-Cheney years, they soon stumble on the motherload–a big ass contract to supply the Afghan army with 300,000,000+ rounds of AK cartridges. It is a little like “The Big Short” except instead of the big banks hustling bad mortgages and ripping off consumers, it’s two young potheads ripping off Uncle Sam with shawdy Chinese made bullets from Albania. The whole thing would be completely ridiculous if it didn’t actually happen in real time. It’s based on a true story. So it did happen, just  not precisely the way it’s portrayed. Word is the driving to Iraq scene was a total fabrication, but that is to be expected…it ain’t no documentary son.

    The comedy element works quite well, and I did find myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Jonah Hill’s characters laugh was priceless.The background music was well chosen and included some rock n roll classics interjected at just the right time. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller were spot on as the gunrunning duo. Miles Tellers character has a girlfriend in the movie, she is absolutely stunning, drop dead gorgeous, totally without a doubt 100% do-able, even on a bad day. No real graphic sex scenes in this one folks, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for junior to watch. Plenty of drug use, foul language, and images of people getting high. I think I mentally relapsed at least a dozen times, and that was only the first half hour.

  On top of all that great stuff there was a history lesson, a philosophical piece about how the business of war really works, and whole nother set of reasons to hate Dick Cheney–just in case you didn’t have enough reasons already. It is hard to comment on some of this stuff without giving too much away. Spoiler alert: It is difficult to believe how little time these two war dogs ended up getting when they finally do get hemmed up. Apparently the fed’s felt so stupid that this case was used as an example of everything that was wrong with the procurement system for the military at that time. One can only imagine how parents of a fallen soldier must feel, when war is viewed through the lense of individuals and corporations who make huge profits from instruments of death, as is portrayed here. This flick only touches on that briefly, the main focus is this unreal story of the two potheads who rip off the military–big time. I found it interesting, humorous, educational, outrageous, and totally worth seeing.

The Smyth has Spoken.
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Hell or High Water–Review

Hell or High Water

Finally. Finally a movie I can get happy about. This is not a good film, it is an excellent film. If you’re too young to remember when good movies required good stories, deep characters, and great acting, then you may not understand what I am referring to. If that is the case than I recommend you check out some of the old great ones, like Macon County Line, or Walking Tall, or my personal favorite Billy Jack, just to name a few. Those movies told stories with honesty. You knew what the characters individual struggles were, and you knew where each character stood. This is the case with “Hell or High Water”. No special effects needed. Not even close.

    This is hands down the best movie I have seen since I started writing reviews for the loop-hole. A truly fantastic work of film production. And I must say it’s about time. Let us start with the basics. This is a story about two brothers who drive across Texas robbing banks. I don’t want to give too much away, so let me just say they have a good reason for doing what they do. And they are good at it. The old marshall, a few short months away from retirement, who takes up the task of tracking them down, is played brilliantly by Jeff Bridges. His partner is part Indian and part Mexican, and takes a whole lot of ribbing from his boss. The dialog throughout is exceptional and very funny. Smart funny, not silly or stupid funny.

    These are two bank robbing brothers with a plan. Like most plans, everything doesn’t go perfectly, but it goes pretty well for a while, and the tension ratchets up at just the right pace. If there is one thing this movie excels at, it is striking a balance. A balance between dialog and silence, a balance between music and scenery, a balance between right and wrong, everything about this flick seems harmonious and perfect exactly how it is. It was a true pleasure to watch. Each brother is clearly in this for very different and distinct reasons. Sometimes they clash, creating more funny exchanges between them, sometimes they are on the same page, either way it just works brilliantly. Chris Pine and Ben Foster both are entirely convincing as the two bad boy sibling thieves. Even the secondary parts throughout the story felt like real people that you might meet in the course of an ordinary day.

    Texas is a big place. A big place with a lot of small towns. Small towns have small town banks ripe for the picking. This large vs. small theme is played out on several different levels and you may find yourself rooting for the bad guys in the end. If I tell you much more it might take away from the dynamic experience that is this modern masterpiece of film storytelling. I really think you need to see this one for yourself. It is just such a refreshing break from this year’s compilation of dumpster sauce flicks. I give “Hell or High Water” a shitload of stars, stripes, corn dogs, whatever…you pick it, it is deserving of every single one, even if it’s regurgitated gummy clusters from mars.

Once again…The Smyth has Spoken.

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Sausage Party Review

Sausage Party
Wow! What a trip.This movie is nuts. If you are like me and you prefer rude humor over slapstick, if you prefer political and religious satire over predictable punch lines, then this could be a movie for you. Even if you don’t laugh at everything, you won’t get through it without laughing at something. The lives of inanimate objects is cagey at best, and downright obnoxious at worst, but in a hilarious way. The food, in this case, takes on characters based on ethnicity and other qualities opening the door to all sorts of inappropriate jokes about politics and religion. I don’t know about you but I love to laugh at the ridiculous nature of closed minded zealots of any kind. An Agnostic once told me “more wars are started in the name of religion than any other reason” when I look around at the world we live in–I can’t say he was wrong. This movie reminds me a little of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” in the way it pokes fun at the things many people hold sacred. This is more of my opinion, but I think the entire race as a whole needs to lighten up a little, and stop running around acting like we are in control of everything. I digress. Back to the flick. These fruity, vegetable, type creatures drop more F-bombs than a cell block on Rikers Island. They are ruthless. It is rated R for a reason. That’s not your grandmother’s fruit salad talking mad trash, that’s probably Seth Rogan and company letting it rip. It would be difficult to write a long review without giving too much away, and I don’t want to ruin some of the best parts for you. These creatures do cover a lot of material. Sex, religion, politics, and a bunch of other things you would probably not even consider when thinking about talking food. Here’s a hint: other things can talk also, things like condoms, toilet paper, douches..yeah…now you’re getting the idea. It’s rude, it’s raunchy, it’s obnoxious, and it’s original, creative, and pretty darn funny. The caricatures of the humans in the movie are imaginative and interesting as well. No holds barred, this movie is a gas. It does move fast with a lot of action, so it is easy to miss some things, but even so, it still has a lot going for it. Compared to the garbage super heros and the recycled wanna-be James Bond–Jason Bourne–I’ll take the talking, cursing, food, any day of the week. I’m still waiting for the movie that just blows me away because it is so well done, this isn’t it, but at least it’s original. Not just original but damn funny. A fun distraction while I wait… The Smyth Has Spoken.
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Review: Nerve

Are you a player or a watcher? I would have to say, I was more of a watcher than a player when I saw this movie, because trying to be a player during a movie would probably end with a blue icey intentionally being dumped down the back of my shirt. Sticky business. Of course the type of player the movie refers to, is a player in a digital game of truth or dare, where the risk and the reward increase incrementally as the game and the story move forward. I have to admit several scenes had me holding my breath and sitting on the edge of my seat. The game can get a little intense, so hang on to your gummy muffins grandma. Julia Roberts niece does a pretty decent job of portraying the girl who never does anything exciting in her life, until she gets all wrapped up in the game. Then she has to figure out how to get out. Not Oscar material, but not bad. I also liked how the game had the ability to pull information off the web. and use it to determine what your next dare will be. The technical side of the movie was convincing and realistic, in the sense that we are all vulnerable simply because we choose to share so much of ourselves on our devices. I will have to admit, however, my expectations were not very high on this one, so in a sense I was actually pleasantly surprised. The story line was kind of cool, at least until the ending, where like most movies of this type, it loses all hopes of remaining in the realm of the possible, and quickly deteriorates into the world of the blatantly ridiculous. These things never end well. They don’t know how. Most writers will tell you starting a story is a lot easier than trying to figure out how to end one gracefully. One thing I always appreciate about a movie is–it knows what it is. What that truly means for this movie, is this: no stupid attempts at comedy that don’t work, no attempts at being super profound and thought provoking, no reliance on special effects to carry a poorly written script. These things can make or break a flick like this one; In this case they were it’s saving grace. So, should you drop some hard earned ching to check this little ditty out? Kind of hard to say. Would it make a great video rental for you and the kids? That is an absolute yes. No doubt about it. It’s got teen written all over it. Most of the characters are in fact teenagers in real life, or playing them convincingly enough. It was unfortunately lacking in gratuitous teenage hooters, the closest thing being that Roberts girl running around in her panties and bra. A scene obviously designed more towards comedy than titillation, because the titillation, like the script, was slightly underdeveloped. Overall, a pretty decent concept, just not perfectly executed. Like the wise man once said–It’s all nipple, no tit. The Smyth has Spoken.

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