Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Movie Review……………………………………………………

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Movie Review

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is a 1957 western film directed by John Sturges and starring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. It is a solid western flick.

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All gunfighters are lonely.

They live in fear.

They die without a dime, a woman or a friend

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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Movie Review…………………………………………………….

The film follows a famous shootout in history which lasted only for 30 seconds but here it lasted for five minutes which was definitely needed. And of course the film features big build-up and it follows both of its protagonists and their stories leading up to the shootout. The action itself is very well executed, exciting and memorable. The entire third act and especially the ending are worth this long build-up and they certainly delivered.

However, this is an obvious example of an overlong execution of a pretty short premise. I realize that they definitely needed to exaggerate a bit, but they certainly did not need to have a running time of full two hears as an hour and a half would have sufficed. But this way, the entire first act was pretty slow, uninvolving and thoroughly uneventful.

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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Let’s talk about its characters. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday are very interesting and memorable as these famous historical figures and they are brought to life really well here thanks to two stellar performances from Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. They not only delivered strong performances but the casting of them was top-notch too as they fit their characters like a glove.

The others are less memorable, but Laura is pretty good as is Kate Fisher. They surprisingly got a lot to do for female characters in a western film which was refreshing. Ringo should have been more memorable, but Billy Clanton is very well utilized and I liked all of his scenes.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is technically superb. Not only does it feature solid direction from John Sturges per usual, but it is visually dazzling owing to excellent Technicolor and some great, memorable imagery here and there. To me the highlights were the scenes outdoors and I wished there were more of those though the interiors were pretty detailed and realistic as well.

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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Movie Review…………………………………………………….

The action is solid and the score is particularly strong except for the overly playful score in the last battle. The titular theme repeated throughout is wonderful and the heart and soul of the movie thanks to excellent, fitting lyrics and a memorable tone. This is a pretty solid western film, but the one that is only very competently made and never rising above that level. It needed more emotion in it and the character development is solid, but not the greatest. I also found its dialogue and subplots lacking and the film seemed too much like a book with too many unnecessary details and plot developments in my opinion. But it is still a solid introductory lesson to this famous historical event.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is overly extended and rarely truly great with too many details and a weaker first act, but it is still a pretty solid, competently made western flick featuring very good performances from both Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, a memorable final scene, good visuals and truly excellent score.

My Rating – 3.5

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Westworld (1973)

Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Westworld Movie Review

Westworld is a 1973 science fiction western thriller film directed by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner. It is one of the best sci-fi films of the seventies.

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No matter what you do, he’ll always be one step ahead of you!

You haven’t got a chance!

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

I absolutely adored this movie. It is the best film I’ve seen in a while and it just might actually be one of the best ten or twenty sci-fi films of all time. Yes, it is that good! And I did not expect that at all and now I am so intrigued that I would like to see a TV show that they have just made, but because it is a typical sensationalist, overly violent show like every other today, I unfortunately cannot and won’t watch it which is beyond frustrating.

This story is amazing. It is about an amusement park which consists of Roman World, Medieval World and the titular Westworld. In all three of these areas, visitors get the full treatment which is super realistic and detailed. Androids that look extremely like humans serve them and visitors can have sex with them, fight them etc. But when a sort of computer virus spreads, all androids start acting strangely, they rebel and eventually attack and kill humans. Such wonderful mayhem ensues.

Westworld is one of those movies where I instantly realized that a book author directed it and surely enough Michael Crichton, an author, is the director. And although some may find that problematic, I loved his direction here as he brings such high level of detail that regular movie directors could just never do. That is why the world building here is absolutely spectacular. You have all three of these areas utilized properly and I was fascinated by all of them and it was great that I got to witness each three. That I did not expect.

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

And it is all so well thought out, not to mention extremely well executed visually. The special effects are so great and advanced for its time. I loved that Gunslinger’s viewpoint which, when broken, went pixelized and there we witness the first ever use of CGI. That is simply groundbreaking. And the androids themselves look phenomenal.

I know this is nitpicking, but I disliked the blood in this movie which was so obviously fake and with such a ridiculous light colour that was honestly quite funny. And as for the story, the only problem I’ve had is the fact that the androids can be distinguished from humans by looking at their hands as that is the only body part that the scientists did not fully perfect yet. Are you kidding me?! You make a perfect android that looks entirely like a human and has face and hair that are totally realistic and yet somehow the hands are the only parts that you cannot make properly. That was really ridiculous and just a plot contrivance as it was obviously convenient for the characters to know who is and who isn’t human by looking at their hands.

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

But other than that and the fact that the second act definitely has a couple of slower and even repetitive scenes (there are too many scenes with the scientists for sure), I absolutely loved Westworld and I wanted a longer running time and more exploration of this enormous and beautifully conceived world. It is definitely one of the rare movies that entirely deserve sequels and TV shows as it is that big and rich with ideas.

It was an interesting turn of events that the more bravado character died and the goofier one survived and turned out to be a protagonist. That was unexpected. I still didn’t love both of them, but they were quite good nonetheless. But the Gunslinger steals the show and seeing Yul Brynner in this fun role just brought a smile on my face as I am a big fan of his and he was perfect for this role and he delivered in spades.

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Westworld is a science fiction film at its core, but most certainly a western too and a thriller with some strong horror elements as well. There are many great scenes here, but my favourite one has to be the entire chase sequence near the end as it was thrilling to behold and I loved especially the moment when Peter hid from the Gunslinger by standing beneath the flaming torch and thus fooling the villain’s infra-red scanners. Such a clever and thrilling scene. And the score was tremendous here, quite effective and spooky.

Westworld is one of the most original sci-fi moves that I have ever seen. It is such a unique mix of sci-fi, western and thriller with a story that is just fascinating to behold, rich in detail and propelled with amazing world building. It truly is one of the rare movies that entirely deserve many sequels and TV shows. I loved the score and special effects, Yul Brynner is superb, the chase scenes are filled with thrills and the film is consistently entertaining, clever and absolutely phenomenal.

My Rating – 4.5

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Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water is a 2016 western crime film directed by David Mackenzie and starring Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. It is an okay movie, nothing more than that.

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You fellas robbin’ the bank? What’s it look like, old man? But you ain’t Mexicans

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Hell or High Water Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The film follows two brothers who carry out a series of bank robberies to save their family farm. Needless to say, this movie is incredibly derivative. It is basically a rip-off of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, very unoriginal and immensely uninspired. This plot works and it always will, but it is still nothing new and that needs to be taken into account when reviewing this movie, something most reviewers unfortunately did not do.

Hell or High Water is really well directed and of course well acted by its talented cast with all three of these actors doing a very good job. It is also solidly edited and sometimes even pleasantly emotional. But it hit all the obvious and expected plot points for me to enjoy it more. The family drama is fine, but nothing exceptionally remarkable and that is this movie in a nutshell – okay, but never more than that.

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Hell or High Water Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

What Hell or High Water excels at is its humor which is surprisingly even present and so well done with a couple of really funny moments. It is traditional in the best way possible and it helped this movie a lot and made it much more entertaining than it would have been without it. What I also admired about it is that it stayed away from violence and it gave us more of a crime drama than a crime thriller which is great. But what is not great is that during those crime/action sequences the tone was comedic and lightweight and that was just tonally odd and not fitting in with the plot and totally unrealistic. It is fun, but that is not how these robberies play out in real life at all.

Hell or High Water is definitely an okay movie with its fine moments, good performances, a great approach with less violence and more drama and a surprisingly solid humor, but the overall story is so uninspired and unoriginal as we’ve seen movies like this countless times before and that is why it never reached greatness despite its many positive aspects.

My Rating – 3

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Red River (1948)

Red River Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

Red River Movie Review

Red River is a 1948 western film directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. It is a standard western, solid, but typical.

It follows the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail and the growing feud over the management of the drive between a father and his adopted son. Yes, everything about this movie is very clichéd and what you would expect from this genre. That doesn’t mean it is bad because it is a solid movie, but it still means that it is far from great and certainly overrated as there isn’t anything new or different introduced here.

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Well, I don’t like to see things goin’ good or bad.

I like ’em in between

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Red River Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

John Wayne is excellent in this more mature role for him. Montgomery Clift is an unusual choice for this genre, but he did give a reliably good performance. Walter Brennan is another highlight as he is always great in these supporting roles. The acting is excellent, but the roles themselves aren’t. None of the characters were even remotely interesting to me and they were all pretty standard western archetypes.

Red River’s standout aspect has to be the cinematography which is gorgeous. The film is so well shot that it must be great watching it on the big screen. Some of the scenery is beautiful and the film definitely had a big budget which is evident in every frame. Not only did they obviously employ a lot of extras, but the film also looks and sounds realistic and it is very sumptuous.

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Red River Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

The score is good, but the sound effects and sometimes the score itself bothered me as they were overloud and too bombastic which was typical for the films of the period. The film is solidly edited, but it is still a bit slow and sometimes very dull mostly because the running time is most certainly overblown and there isn’t much of a plot to be had here and the character interactions, though definitely well executed, are again expected. In the end, Red River is a solid western, but one that doesn’t have anything truly great in it, save for the technical aspects.

Red River is a pretty solid western with truly excellent cinematography, quite good score and superb performances, but the plot is lacking as it is too simple, the characters are also pretty typical and the entire film is very standard for the genre with nothing differentiating it from other westerns.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

The Outlaw Josey Wales Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

The Outlaw Josey Wales Movie Review

The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 western film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. It’s a very overrated movie.

I just found this movie way too overrated and way too clichéd and that is why I am going to be very brief in my review. The plot itself is the biggest problem. It is a basic revenge story that never rose above that level. This is such an archetypal western feature that I don’t get the praise that it receives as it is so usual.

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Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy

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The Outlaw Josey Wales Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

The characters are mostly forgettable and the protagonist is a typical Eastwood western hero, not bad, by far from great. The female characters could have been better, but thankfully weren’t awfully depicted. The same goes for Native Americans as Lone Watie is such a different than usual Indian character and he’s one of the highlights here. Chief Dan George was so memorable and so good here that he was even more effective in his role than Eastwood himself.

The one thing that The Outlaw Josey Wales has going for it is its sometimes evident heart and wonderful moments here and there, but most importantly the technical aspects, all of which great. The cinematography is phenomenal, the scenery is gorgeous, the direction is expectedly good and the entire film is so well crafted and mostly well edited that it somewhat compensates for its lack of originality and strength in the storytelling department.

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The Outlaw Josey Wales Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

But it still remains just an okay movie. Not bad, but far from good and definitely far from great. It is one of the most overrated films of that very strong year, a film that is so uninspired and so typical that I just couldn’t enjoy it more. In fact, I couldn’t even follow it through properly as it was, to be honest, very boring  at times. The violence is also overwhelming and the action should have been reduced significantly. It is capable as I said and you can’t really pinpoint an awful thing about it, but that still doesn’t mean it’s particularly good.

The Outlaw Josey Wales is very well acted, directed and competently made and the film looks really good, but it is such an uninspired and typical western feature with not a single original or memorable thing in it. The characters are forgettable, the action is overwhelming and the film is too boring at times despite having some genuinely great moments. It is in the end a very dull, overrated movie that favors style over substance.

My Rating – 3

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Hell’s Hinges (1916)

Hell's Hinges Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Hell’s Hinges Movie Review

Hell’s Hinges is a 1916 silent western film directed by and starring William S. Hart. It is a solid, at times respectable western, but the one with some very troublesome parts.

Yes, the entire plot here is so problematic. It is about a gunman who tries to expel the rowdies from the newly built church. It all ends with the destruction of the whole town. Yep, needless to say, the message is so problematic. It basically says that if you don’t believe in God, you’ll die and that is what happens here. The non-believers are punished. I get that in that time faith was important and especially in the time period of the movie, but this was still frustrating.

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Neither law nor religion shall ever come to Hell’s Hinges

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Hell's Hinges Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The minister is a solid character and Blaze Tracy is a typical western protagonist, but a memorable one nonetheless. The others are all forgettable and the film doesn’t have the best character development to be honest. But the acting is really good for sure. I thought William S. Hart was a great lead, so charismatic and talented and he just demands the screen. He is perfect for westerns and I even saw the resemblance to John Wayne.

Let’s now talk about the technical aspects. Hell’s Hinges is a well directed and, as I said, very well acted movie. But the cinematography is its finest feat as it is so well shot and some parts look phenomenal. The ending in particular is quite memorable. The pacing is okay, but the running time could have been longer and the script should have been much more sophisticated and complex.

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Hell's Hinges Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The beginning and the ending are good, but all of the middle parts are forgettable and the message at the end is troublesome. But the plot is the biggest problem as I just never found it to be particularly involving and it rarely had momentum. There is a great movie here, but it didn’t come through as the focus is wrong and the execution is sometimes poor. In the end, Hell’s Hinges is solid, but frankly too problematic.

Hell’s Hinges is a solid early western with such a good cinematography, a memorable lead in William S. Hart and some great parts, but it is too problematic in its script and especially in its message which is so troublesome and just wrong. It is well made and especially well shot, but too simplistic and way too infuriating at times.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant

The Revenant Review

The Revenant is a 2015 western film directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. It is an awful movie and one of the worst that I have ever seen.

I hated this movie so much. Everything about it is awful to me. The characters are mediocre, the plot is so bad and the violence is horrendous and the film is filled with so many stupidities. First of all, the story. This is a basic and typical western which is just brutal and tries to be more realistic. Tries is the key word here. The two characters are basically a hero and a villain, there is no gray areas here, everything is so simplistic and childish to the point of being head-scratching. Another bad aspect here are some of its plot points which are just ridiculously bad and even unintentionally hilarious. The bear sequence immediately comes to mind as it’s so funny. But the whole sadistic approach to is storytelling is just unforgivable and also silly. There isn’t a person that survived that many misfortunes as the protagonist here, that is just so unrealistic for a movie that wants to be realistic. It is silly, ridiculous and definitely produces some unintentionally amusing moments.

Hugh Glass is a boring character and he is basically a martyr here. But John Fitzgerald is even worse as he is basically a cartoony villain that is just evil for the sake of being evil. That is why this film is so immature and ridiculous. As for its acting, I honestly think that the film fails even in that regard. Tom Hardy gave a mediocre performance and Leonardo DiCaprio is just so-so. This film is an evident Oscar-bait which is one of the endless reasons why it frustrated and annoyed me so much as it is so evident with every frame, but mostly in his performance. I just saw an actor who wants a medal and nothing else, but in reality, he gave a so-so performance – sometimes okay, but mostly mediocre and there were instances where I could see that he was an actor and that is never a good sign. This is one of his worst roles also because he just does not fit in it. I could never picture him in this role because he isn’t a strong person physically and just doesn’t strike me like that. The acting is so-so and the casting director did a bad job here.

Of course, I have to talk about the violence. The Revenant is just a sickening experience, there is no other way to describe it. And because the running time is naturally bloated, I felt as if I was on a similarly cruel journey as DiCaprio’s character. The film is so disgusting with some scenes just being horrible to witness. I couldn’t even watch half of it. That’s how sick it is. There is rape here, there are some unfortunate offensive aspects to it and there is a bear attack, a bloody fight and endless misfortunes of the main characters are just a torture to sit through. Only a sadist could make and love this piece of shit.

There isn’t anything good that I can say about The Revenant, honestly there isn’t. Everything here is terrible. The imagery can be beautiful at times, but it doesn’t work as we don’t see it that well because the cinematography is naturally bad as is usual for Inarritu’s films. Speaking of him, the directing is so bad and the movie never has a point or a message or anything even remotely deep or interesting to say. It doesn’t know what it wants to be except a sadistic torture excursion. The score is also bad as some of those overly repeated sounds really annoyed me. The dialogue is also very poor as it isn’t even present here that much, but when it’s there, it’s simplistic and childish. There isn’t anything original about it and the film is emotionally cold. It is also stupid and ridiculous in its nature. The humor is great, but it is unintentional. And the film is overly long and so badly edited and paced. It received 12 Academy Award nominations and a solid critical praise which is baffling to me as this is the only awful movie that is not just bad to me, but I also cannot understand how anyone can like it and still call him/herself a film critic. This is just an indescribably terrible movie that is one of the worst films I have seen in my entire life!

The Shitenant has a bad and pointless plot, horrible direction, mediocre black-and-white characters, so-so acting, poor cinematography, an endless amount of stupidity in it and a sickening amount of violence that makes it unbearable to watch. The only good thing in this movie is its unintentional humor which is so good. This is a painful experience that is basically a sadistic torture excursion plus the sheer amount of stupidity present here is just astonishing. It is a terrible, ridiculous, sickening garbage movie that is one of the worst I have ever seen.

My Rating – 1

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The Wild Bunch (1969)

The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch Review

The Wild Bunch is a 1969 western film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine. It is a critically acclaimed, yet to me an overrated film.

The plot is the reason why the movie is so weak. It takes a backseat to all of the action and shootouts and that was frustrating to witness for a supposedly classic movie. It has some interesting scenes, but for the most part the plot is either boring or non-existent. I am talking about the Mexican scenes. Yes, it is very admirable that they represented them and their culture here and that choice was very refreshing and unique. However, it lead to many detour-like scenes where literally nothing happens and you just watch how they live and witness their culture. I wouldn’t mind that look into their lifestyle if it were shown in one smaller scene, but here it just goes on forever and frankly becomes boring and pointless and at times crossing the line to being a documentary.

The characters are also very boring. Not one of them was at least mildly interesting to me, not one. That is really saying something. I did not expect the greatest character development, but I still expected some likable or at least interesting characters and I never got that. They are all typical and forgettable. The acting is pretty good admittedly and it is always nice to see Ernest Borgnine in a motion picture as he is such a good actor. William Holden is also fine, but unfortunately neither of the actors got much to do here.

The Wild Bunch looks really good with some excellent cinematography and some wonderful imagery. It is of  course influential for its violence and its flashback structure. And yes, it is violent, but thankfully not too much as it is definitely groundbreaking and gruesome for that time, but is now even mild which is a good thing as I hate violence in movies. As for those flashbacks, they are really well done and I really liked the opening sequence of the movie with the stylized credits being so interesting and authentic. The whole movie is very well directed and is certainly well made with a particularly good cinematography, solid direction and score and some very well executed scenes. The shootouts last for too long, but are very well filmed nonetheless. And the whole picture is very realistic. The pacing is, on the other hand, problematic and the film is overlong. And the dialogue is uninspired, the script is so mediocre and the characters are just boring which are the reasons why The Wild Bunch disappointed me immensely. I expected a lot from this movie and it just never delivered.

The Wild Bunch admittedly looks good with great cinematography, solid acting and directing and it has some very interesting scenes, but it is still such a disappointing movie due to a boring plot, overblown running time and forgettable and rather dull characters. It is such an overrated film.

My Rating – 3

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight is a 2015 western mystery film directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins. It isn’t one of the director’s best works, but it definitely is a very good movie.

It follows eight strangers who seek refuge in a stagecoach lodge. This film has a very interesting structure. First of all, it is very episodic and is divided by chapters, but that works wonderfully. It also has an intermission and is overall filmed in an old-fashioned way which I appreciated a lot and was such a great nod to the classics. The running time is around three hours and it is never at all boring which is an incredible achievement having in mind its length.

But I loved how in the first half not much happens and it is all just a build-up to the action-filled second half. But it works as it is never tedious, but strengthens the character development and relationships between the characters and it has such a great attention to detail which is one of the film’s strongest points. I loved the beginning and I loved how it ended, but that whole first half to me was the finest as it is so incredible and so involving whereas the second half has its many problems, but more on that later.

I loved the characters in The Hateful Eight as all of them have their moments and all are very well realized. Major Warren has to be the highlight as he is such a fun, likable character. He’s a great Tarantino protagonist – heroic, but also realistic. Chris Mannix is also superb and is one of the funniest of the bunch. The relationship between the two is absolutely fantastic with the film’s last moments being really good. John Ruth is also excellent and the most realistic character here. Daisy is such a crazy woman and a very unique and interesting character, especially for a western. Bob is somewhat underused as this mysterious Mexican man, but he’s still pretty good and at times quite creepy. Oswaldo Mobray is too theatrical, but still fun and at times funny. Joe Gage is the weakest link whereas General Sanford is quite good and the scenes between him and Warren are so good. And others are not that important for the story.

The acting is magnificent and one of the movie’s biggest selling points. Kurt Russell is very good, but it is Walton Goggins who is the most underappreciated actor here as he gave such a stupendous performance and was always believable. Jennifer Jason Leigh is of course fantastic as she steals every scene she is in and is believable in this difficult role of a crazy and wild murderous woman. And her facial expressions are excellent. But to me, she isn’t the highlight. Samuel L. Jackson is the best one here and is so underrated as an actor and especially in this role which just might be his best yet. He is the protagonist here and has the most screen time and delivers with a fantastic, all-around satisfying performance with a contagious laughter and many great moments.

Now for the flaws. Unfortunately, the second half ruined this movie for me. Quentin Tarantino is a fantastic director and here he shows his great style and superb storytelling, but he needs some restraint as his annoying tendency to go into overly disgusting territory hurts his movies a lot. The action here is very entertaining and satisfying, but there was no need for that much blood and gore. It was excessive, inappropriate and just weird and tonally different from the rest of the movie. This is quite possibly his darkest and most brutal film to date and I appreciate that when characters are concerned, but the imagery was too gruesome and just unnecessary and way over-the-top. The whole movie felt like a beautiful mix of western and mystery until it just went into this stupid horror territory which greatly diminished its impact.

The Hateful Eight is absolutely gorgeous to watch. The cinematography is superb and the scenery is so good. I wish that more westerns were set in winter as that period is just phenomenal for the genre. The attention to detail here is overwhelming which greatly helps its mystery which is really well crafted. And although I predicted a lot of the twists and turns here, they were still so well realized and the build-up is terrific. The set design is also splendid and Minnie’s Haberdashery just might be one of the best interior in a film ever as it is so incredible, very realistically depicted and with great detail and style. The whole flick is very polished and stylish with a superb direction and acting and excellent screenplay. It is also very well edited with the chapter times and flashbacks being extremely well handled.

Of course, the dialogue is absolutely fantastic as is always the case with Tarantino’s films. It is so grounded in reality and meticulous in its delivery and accents while also being very playful and humorous. The humor is expectedly terrific and I laughed out loud a lot during the movie as most of the characters have their funny lines and the racist remarks in particular are so funny. The score disappointed me a lot. It is definitely good and even great at times, but it is incorporated poorly into the picture with often ridiculously accompanied and jarring in tone sequences. The tone is well handled and professional, the film is visually stunning and it is memorable and always entertaining with never a dull moment. It is inferior to the director’s previous works as both ‘Django Unchained‘ and ‘Inglourious Basterds’ are better, but it is still very good and despite having some big issues, it is mostly great to watch. Quentin Tarantino knows how to make a western and I hope he will continue to do so.

The Hateful Eight is such an entertaining and visually pleasing film. The characters are so well developed and they have great interactions, the performances are superb with Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh being the highlights and it is such a great mix of western and mystery with a great attention to detail, scenery and editing. The second half ruined it for me as it was too gory and over-the-top plus the score is poorly incorporated into the film, but this is still such a funny, playful and always involving film and a great showcase for Quentin Tarantino’s talents as a director.

My Rating – 4

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Puss in Boots (2011)

Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots Review

Puss in Boots is a 2011 animated adventure comedy film directed by Chris Miller and starring Antonio Banderas, Zach Galifianakis and Selma Hayek. It is a spin-off of the Shrek franchise and it is one of DreamWorks best and most underrated films.

It follows Puss who, along with his friends, goes in search of the legendary magical beans that are worth a great fortune. But it mostly focuses on his tumultuous relationship with his childhood best friend Humpty Dumpty. That is the film’s biggest strength that sets it apart from other films of the company. By focusing on that relationship, the film becomes much more mature and more heartwarming than I expected from a spinoff of a pretty emotionally detached franchise. That relationship is the heart of the movie and the reason why I love it so much.

Puss is so well realized here and this is a great example of how to properly do a spin-off of a franchise and how to properly treat its hero. He is so well developed and well fleshed out and feels like a genuine person and never just a funny, lovable cartoon cat. But the newly introduced characters are all so great with Kitty Softpaws being well realized and the relationship that develops between the two is expected, but still nice. And of course Humpty Dumpty is the most intriguing character of the bunch with such a great backstory, excellent interactions with other characters and fascinating, unique personality. Jack and Jill are pretty good themselves and whenever they appear, they are frequently hilarious. This movie has no other major characters and while it does feel a bit empty at times, that choice was still excellent as it lead to a better rounded storyline and better development of the existing characters.

Puss in Boots has a story that is never particularly original, but what is new is the approach with some nice music and western themes. I loved how the film is a mix of adventure and western with humor thrown in for good measure. What is also very commendable is its origin story which is, unlike most, actually emotional and well executed for once. Yes, it is typical, but it is still such a stupendous use of this tired plot device that introduces you to the characters and makes you care for them. I also loved the ending here which is so bold and it is so great that DreamWorks went into that darker territory once again after magnificent ‘How To Train Your Dragon‘. That is one of the highlights here along with the opening and the sky scenes which are visually stunning to behold. The movie has such a great adventurous tone to it that is so rarely found in today’s animated blockbusters which is all the more reason why I loved it immensely.

The animation is one of the highlights. This isn’t on the level of ‘How To Train Your Dragon‘ or ‘Kung Fu Panda‘, but it is still one of the best animations ever from the studio as it is so pleasant to watch. It is colorful, but pleasantly so and the look is polished with amazing aerial shots and desert sequences. The character design also looks absolutely amazing with the design of Humpty Dumpty being the highlight. And the attention to detail is evident along with excellent world-building.

Puss in Boots is technically a deft feature with good directing and superb voice work. Antonio Banderas is so incredibly good as he was born to play this role and Selma Hayek isn’t on his level, but still did a solid job. Zach Galifianakis is terrific as well. Everyone is good here. The imagery is amazing and sometimes breathtaking to behold. I just loved this world throughout the whole running time which is reasonably short and never too prolonged or rushed. The action is solid, but overwhelming and I wished that the pace wasn’t as fast as it was. There are some scenes that are too action-oriented and I wanted to just stare at the scenery more, but there wasn’t the time for the most part and that was definitely the problem.

But the emotional engagement is evident as the movie has a lot of heart and it is also inherently charming with just lovable characters that you root for from start to finish. The score is also one of the best from the studio as it is for once devoid of any usual modern trappings, but rather relies on exotic Latino music that fits into this universe like a glove. The movie may seem predictable at times, but the ending is not like that and that I appreciated a lot. And I found the that it hit the right mix of childlike wonder and adult jokes as it has those, but is mostly wonderfully adventurous and charming which are the qualities that DreamWorks needs to possess more.

The dialogue in Puss in Boots is solid and the tone is well handled, but the humor could have been better. Yes, it has some funny lines that are both mature and charming, but the film isn’t nearly as funny as it could have been and that is a flaw that I found here as the franchise that it spins is definitely funnier. Speaking of the Shrek franchise, I really found this movie to be the best entry and I know that I am in a minority, but I enjoyed it much better than even ‘Shrek‘ or ‘Shrek 2‘ and it trumps both of them by a large degree. It is rare that a spin-off gets to be better than the original films, but Puss in Boots manages to be just that and that is such an incredible achievement. It is on my list of the top ten movies from DreamWorks Animation and it is naturally one of the most underappreciated flicks from the studio in my opinion.

Puss in Boots isn’t particularly original and is not nearly as funny as it should have been, but this is still a very good film that benefits from excellent characterization with every character being well fleshed out and likable, it has a great origin story, stunning animation, fun soundtrack, excellent voice work, great adventurous tone to it and it is undoubtedly one of DreamWorks’ best and most underrated films.

My Rating – 4.5

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