The Revenant/Joy/Krampus/The Hateful Eight

On this day of chilly wind and pointy nipples, I debut not one, not two, NOT THREE (Nope), but four movie reviews of supreme justice. I know, I know…this is the greatest news since boobs. As the year closes, I feel it is necessary to view as many of the last-minute cinematic masterpieces as possible before we head into award season. I will probably toss a couple more reviews your way fairly quickly, but this is a good start.

The Revenant-

Rating: 5 out of 5

The first movie I would like to discuss is The Revenant, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the baddest man in American history Hugh Glass on his journey for vengeance. This may be Leo’s most ambitious role to date (which says a lot considering some of his recent projects), and he plays a truly convincing warrior of the frontier. He is gruff, strong, and altogether tough as a Denny’s steak. I do not know if The Academy will be interested in this type of film (they do not seem to care very much for gritty tales of survivalists and ultra-violent scenes of hand-to-hand combat), and that’s okay. However, we all know that Leo has been grasping for a statue for years, and he really deserves it for this role. He did a great job.

Tom Hardy (my dude crush) plays Hugh Glass’ adversary John Fitzgerald, and it is another strong performance for him. He has a real knack for playing diverse, strong characters, and I have enjoyed him in everything he has done. I am not sure when he is going to get that Oscar-worthy role, but his acting is deserving of it every time. It was a treat to see Leo and Tom performing together.

The story is one I have heard before (thank you The Dollop podcast), and Alejandro Gonzalez did a fantastic job doing it justice. The film was beautiful and Mother Nature was a badass. Like…Mother Nature made even Hugh Glass look like a whiny little bitch. “Oh, a bear ripped you to shreds? Have some snow, pussy!” There were many intense moments that had nothing to do with the interaction of characters, but showed the intensity of weather and its destructive powers. The legend of Hugh Glass as told by Alejandro Gonzalez had some key deviations from the story I have heard, but those changes made the film more complete and more rewarding for the viewer. I think they made the film brilliant. Also, it featured one of the most intense combat scenes I have ever seen (think the knife scene from Saving Private Ryan, but bigger).

If I can sum this movie up, it is that the acting is tremendous, the story is brilliantly told in a way that shows the perseverance and strength that many Americans hold dear, and the film is shot beautifully. It helps that I love the shit out of survival stuff and take every opportunity to relive my childhood of battling Indians (isn’t it funny what was taught to the youth of America even a short time ago…not that I’m complaining), but I think the film is wonderfully done even without my personal tastes. In short, go see The Revenant and hope with me that Leo gets his Oscar nod. I give it a five out of five.

Joy-

Rating: 3 out of 5

The next movie I am going to discuss is the new Jennifer Lawrence film Joy, which tells the tale of a single mother who creates a family business empire by inventing products for home. Right away, this movie does not seem to appeal to people like me. It certainly is not a stereotypical film for men. However, do not let the description sway your opinion. Its faults are not in the story, but in its execution.

It is hard to deny the power of this cast. With Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro headlining, you already have the makings of a tremendous movie. As you would expect, they are all fantastic in their roles. I thought Bradley Cooper in particular was great as the enthusiastic home shopping executive Neil Walker. There was something about his energy that was really fun to watch. Although De Niro has been choosing some odd roles lately, I appreciated his character in this movie. It was different without being kooky, which is something I feel he has fallen into lately. Jennifer Lawrence was Jennifer Lawrence. She has a great personality and always showcases an ability to portray herself as smart, confident, sexy, and strong.

So far you are thinking this movie must be great. Well…it really is not. It is fine, but I could have better spent my time eating ice cream or watching my dog lick his own ass hole. About halfway through the film, I realized that I did not give a shit about the story or what was going on. I was bored. At first, I figured it was just me acting like a typical dude, but my wife felt the same way. While the acting was great, the story was slowly executed. I wanted to watch Ninja Turtles instead. I just did not care at all, and I think it was a fault in the writing and flow of the script, because the acting really was top-notch.
Joy was not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. It just was not a good movie either. I give it a three out of five.

Krampus-

Rating: 4 out of 5

Horror movies are (to me) the most difficult types of movies to review. It seems like most people either love them all or are very particular about them. Krampus is that even stranger sub-genre of horror comedy that is sometimes considered brilliant and most times considered horrendous. So, was Krampus worth watching? To me, it definitely was. Krampus is a Christmas demon who is accidentally summoned by a young boy whose faith in Christmas has been broken.

The film stars a great cast of funny actors including Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, and Conchata Ferrell. I enjoyed the way they interacted and I thought there were a bunch of great one-liners in the movie. The story was quite fun, but the real highlights of Krampus were the evil minions. Killer gingerbread men, a murderous teddy bear, and a monstrous jack-in-the-box made for a fun (but frightening) journey. They really were fun, and the gingerbread men in particular were adorable in all of their violent tendencies.

I was a little bummed that there was no real visible violence, but that is simply because I am a mild psychopath. I do not feel that the visual violence was necessary for this film. In fact, certain scenes were more humorous because the full scope of violence was not seen.

It was a dark story. Really dark. And the ending was a welcome surprise that made me happy because it does not happen enough. I loved the mixture of darkness and humor, and it was a welcome change to see this sort of horror-comedy out there with a decent budget.
Krampus was fun. It may not have gotten great reviews, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that people have such skewed views of horror in general. I thought Krampus was funny, cute (at times), and entertaining, and I recommend it for yearly holiday viewing. I give it a four out of five.

The Hateful Eight-

Rating: 4 out of 5

Yes, I think Quentin Tarantino is a dick head for what he said about cops. No, I do not care what your opinion is. Regardless, I love his work as a writer and director. I think he is one of the most brilliant storytellers in film history (or any history for that matter), and I always look forward to his work. I also love that he uses the same basic cast for almost all of his work. It makes it feel almost like a theater group; almost Shakespearean.

The Hateful Eight is the latest Tarantino masterpiece that tells the story of a bounty hunter who tries to protect his bounty while being stuck in a cabin with several odd characters. That bounty hunter is played by Kurt Russell, and it was great to see him in that role. He was violent, funny, and he had great facial hair. It was another trophy for his career.

I do not wish to spend time on each acting performance, because they were all great. However, I do want to mention Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins. Jennifer was perfect as Kurt Russell’s bounty. I am not sure I know much about her, but this performance alone will make me check out anything she does. Walton was tremendous as always. I was so glad he got a big role in this film, because he is a spectacular character actor that needs to be featured more often. His acting is like chocolate on boobs…or something like that.

The film features, as always, lengthy portions of dialogue that are often a treat to listen to. There is always an undertone of surrealism no matter what topic Tarantino takes on, and the humor is always a welcome addition. He is one of the only writers and directors out there that can feature mostly dialogue and still present an interesting product. The Hateful Eight is no exception.

My one criticism would be that this film was not as interesting as some of his other films. I enjoyed it, but there were moments when I was feeling a little bored with the dialogue. I started longing for more action, which is not something I usually find with Tarantino’s movies (not since Jacky Brown). It almost felt like too much dialogue (weird, I know). Still, I enjoyed the flow overall and it felt very typical of his movies.

I liked The Hateful Eight a lot. I did not quite love it, but I liked it very much. It is not the perfect Tarantino film, but it is better than most films being made these days. I give it a four out of five.

That is it, kids! A slew of movies to check out this holiday season. Enjoy!