Mad House Zoo

I use to review films and things but due to some personal issues I have been unable to devote that much time to movies. This blog has morphed into a personal blog where I will share my nerd-love. I'm sorry things aren't the way they were. - Amy Augusta

Monsters (2010) Movie Review

Six years after NASA discovers alien life form in the universe a large portion of Mexico has been quarantined as an infected zone. While this film is set against a large scale invasion the story really surrounds a romantic pairing between Samantha and Andrew. Samantha is the daughter of an extremely wealthy man and Andrew, a struggling photographer, has been hired to retrieve her from Mexico. Our heroine reluctantly agrees to be escorted back to America and soon discovers that the only possible way to get home is to travel directly through the infected area. In the course of the trip the two strangers learn to depend on each other during their brief encounters with the colossal creatures that have taken over the country side.

There is some political observations happening in this film surrounding the US and Mexican boarder. Since these hellishly large creatures are wandering around the boarder a massive wall has been constructed to keep them out of America. At one point, during a camp fire conversation, Samantha refers to the wall as a way for America to imprision itself with no way out. Without being too forceful on the subject it does lend itself to a topic that a Sci-Fi fan may not really be interested in discussing.

What I enjoyed about the pairing of these two characters is their laid back approach at being absolutely terrified. In nearly every movie when a woman becomes more distressed and the situation calls to be diligently silent the woman will up the ante on the screaming. Samantha is a break from that monotony and is able to make rational decisions when things become a bit tense. You will find yourself caring about both of these characters and their outcome.

What I disliked about this movie is the deliberately slow place. There really isn’t a lot of screen time for the creatures so you’re stuck with just the two main characters and their often diatribe conversations which really wander aimlessly. Once you’ve gotten to the end it can only be described as the most bizarrely anticlimactic pay off I have ever encountered. There was no release for the tension that the movie had been able to build up to that point. 

Monsters is an excellent show piece as to how a low budget movie can and should be done. When the creatures are on camera they are absolutely remarkable and with a show string allowance of only $500,000 it is esthetically flawless. As a story that spans over 94 minutes, though, this independent release truly drops the ball. 

3 out of 5 stars.

Repo! The Genetic Opera Movie Review

Repo! The Genetic Opera begins with a comic book panel animation detailing the rise of GeneCo; a for profit synthetic organ manufacturer. As the health of the worlds population declines due to organ failure GeneCo comes to the rescue. The corporation quickly discovers that there is a profit to be made in elective surgeries such as face transplants. The message here is that you can change everything you hate about yourself even if you’re on a budget.  

Shilo, a seventeen year old girl who has been locked away due to a rare blood disease, is found in a grave yard where she first encounters a singing grave robber. Shilo passes out after entering a mass grave and awakens with her overbearing father, Nathan, by her side. Nathan makes a huge stink about her being far too ill to go outside then scolds her for not taking her medication.

Nathan leaves while crooning about the fact that he is the dreaded repo man who will sneak up behind you, wherever you may be, and take back the unpaid goods inside your body. Yes, it is now legal to kill, maim, and disfigure poor people for not staying current on their heart transplant. Boy, does Nathan love his job!

This is about the point I had to stop the movie. I made it a bit further however the synopsis really isn’t worth the read. These are my guesses as to how it ends:

1.) Shilo isn’t really ill and will soon discover that Pops murders for hire.
2.) Soon either Shilo, Nathan, or the pair will bring down the evil Gene Corporation during which guts will be spilled and poorly written songs will be performed.

The singing. Dear God, the singing. It’s bad but adding to it are the impossible lyrics / dialog. It’s crawling with so much teenage angst I truly wonder the age and maturity level of those who wrote it. The acting is so much worse and the costume design? Well, the costume design is so trite it appears that the entire cast was fitted in a hot topic outlet store.

It’s not often that I will review a movie that I haven’t completed, however, Repo! The Genetic Opera is a very special case. Everything involving this movie was done so poorly that I owe a warning to the movie watching community. Stay away from this dull clunker of a film. Sure, it’s dressed up as a darker, bloodier, version of your favorite horror movie but it’s a lie. If you need a fix of oddly clothed men who like to sing and dance I’d suggest Rocky Horror Picture Show. It may not be exactly what you’re looking for but at least you get to see some hot Tim Curry leg.

0.5 out of 5 stars.

The Signal Movie Review

The Signal is a 2008 independent release made with only $50,000. Promoted as a psychological horror it is told in three chapter by three separate directors; David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry.

The story begins with two lovers in bed, Mya and Ben, who are woken from their slumber after a television in the room begins transmitting a strange moving picture and odd frequency. As Mya asks Ben what the time is she panics revealing that she is late in getting home to her husband. Upon her attempt to call her husband, Lewis, she finds that her cell phone is also making an odd noise. Despite Bens effort in keeping Mya at the apartment she must leave and they make a light hearted plan to meet at Terminal 13 the next day to leave Terminus forever.

On the way home Mya first runs into an irrational man who is in the parking garage. Mya successfully dodges the man and makes it home to find neighbors within her apartment building arguing with one another in the hallways. No one tries to stop her and once she’s safely inside her own home she locks the door. Mya finds Lewis and two other friends inside trying to fix the television on the basis that they’re missing a sports game. Lewis cross examines Mya solidifying the premise that the marriage is strained and he’s extremely suspicious of her whereabouts. While beginning to take a shower Mya peeks out of the bathroom door just in time to watch Lewis, enraged by a minor argument, beat his friend to death. Obviously panicked, Mya flees and seeks refuge in the apartment next door.

Once morning reaches Terminus Mya forces herself out of hiding and back into her own apartment. Lewis is found strapped to a chair and Mya silently makes the decision to leave him alone without help. While wearing headphone and listening to a mixed CD that Ben had given her the night before Mya leaves the apartment. Still in peril, and finally making it to her vehicle, the audience discovers that Ben has missed her by mere seconds.

With each director comes a unique style for every transmission of this film. The second chapter, Jealousy Monster, is starkly different in comparison to the other two and introduces black humor which fits perfectly for the newly acquainted character Clark. Clark quickly became my favorite personality in this film while he rationalizes why the signal is making people go mad and simultaneously tries to deal with Lewis who has now become a homicidal maniac.

With only $50,000 to complete this movie there are some obvious flaws, especially with physical continuity errors. With that said, though, I would like to say that The Signal is one of my top ten films of all time. I’m not sure if it’s the simple love story that runs throughout, the insecurity of what’s real and what’s being hallucinated, or if it’s just the bloody violence. It could possibly be the combination of all three but something about this movie has spoken to me. After watching it no less than a dozen times in a period of two weeks on Netflix Streaming I had to purchase it via Amazon Dot Com. I just had to own this gory fun treat.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wet Hot American Summer Movie Review

Wet Hot American Summer is a 2001 all star comedy directed by David Wain of The State alumni. It contains a cast molded from the wet dreams of nerds across the land including;

Janeane Garofalo
David Hyde Pierce
Michael Showalter
Michael Ian Black
A.D. Miles
Paul Rudd
Molly Shannon
Ken Marino
Joe Lo Truglio
Amy Poehler
Elizabeth Banks

and even Bradley Cooper as a young camp counselor with dreams of stardom.

The movie begins fairly unassuming in the female bunk of a Jewish summer camp set in 1981. As the male campers flee from the females cabin in search of their own Beth (Janeane Garofalo) watches quietly then weakly issues the warning that they’re not to be outside. Being that it is the last day at Camp Firewood Beth wants nothing more than to make it to the end of the day with everyone intact. Beth doesn’t realize that she is soon to fall in love with a neighboring astrophysics associate professor (David Hyde Pierce) with whom she must partner up with in order to save the camp from falling pieces of space debris.

Coop, played by Michael Showalter, wakes up and quickly discovers that on the last day of camp he is utterly devoted to Katie (Marguerite Moreau) a fellow counselor. Coop faces a rough 24 hours ahead of him as he must try to pry Katie away from her obnoxiously rebellious and painfully obtuse boyfriend Andy (Paul Rudd). He will learn to play it cool with Katie once he receives guidance from the shell shocked Vietnam War veteran and camp chef Gene (Christopher Meloni). Gene has his own problems as he can’t figure out why odd statements such as “I’m going to fondle my sweaters” keep slipping out.

During all of the shenanigans Gary (A.D. Miles) and J.J. (Zak Orth) try to figure out why their buddy McKinley (Michael Ian Black) isn’t having any luck with the ladies. Victor (Ken Marino) tries to hurry a camping trip so he can get back to his lady love. Susie and Ben (Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper) put on the best talent show the camp has ever seen and last but not least Gail Von Kleinenstein (Molly Shannon) confides in her arts and crafts students as to why her marriage went bust.

There is a lot going on in this film but every segment is brilliant and the characters are cause for the funniest laugh out loud moments I have ever seen. Even the child actors that were hired were hilarious and great within their roles. There is a fine line that the movie walks between nonsensical gags and being a parody of horrible teen comedies which is a perfect example of the genius pairing between Wain and Showalter. I find their off beat comedic style to be highly enjoyable while accepting its bizarre context.

Should you purchase this DVD there is also a pretty nice selection of special features. I believe there are two commentaries, behind the scenes footage, and deleted scenes in which you’ll catch a glimps of Kerri Kenney and David Wain arguing over a motor bike. Watching this flick will makes sense for any David Wain / The State / Stella fan or for anyone who just enjoys a great amount of silliness. It has already been said before but this is an awesome cult classic. It contains a huge amount of quotable lines and any friend who it is recommended to will surely thank you for the delight.

4 out of 5 stars.
5 out of 5 barbecue sauce all over your face.

Super 8 Movie Review

Super 8 is the new bullet in JJ Abrams revolver of hits. It rotates around a group of preteen boys and one pretty little girl that must band together to figure out what creature has been unleashed upon their sleepy little town. With a feel for adventure and a bit of magic this flick borrows heavily from the growing of age movies found in the 80’s like E.T., Goonies, Stand By Me, and hell even The Sandlot.

The main character, Joe, is a lonely boy who lives in an altered home after his Mother suddenly passes away. His father, Deputy Lamb, has trouble connecting to the boy and begins to feud with a neighbor who just happens to be the father of Joe’s love interest. Joe is able to escape some of the tension in his home with a great group of friends which lend their talents for comic relief and emotional support. My favorite character happens to be Cary, played by Ryan Lee, who has a predisposition for flame and fireworks.

The story, friendships, and adventure make this flick an over all great experience. JJ hits a sweet spot for a generation yearning for their movies past. It’s been a long time since a coming of age movie with imagination has hit the big screen. This flick is also open for a new generation to enjoy what they may have been missing. I truly enjoyed the build up to the beast as well. Simple tricks were used instead of relying heavily on computer generated material. For me it felt refreshingly free.

With all of that said I do feel, however, that Abrams is now taunting his audience with the excessive use of lens flare. Without exaggeration the man found a lens flare in an underground tunnel with the use of only one lonely sparkler. I’m fairly certain the JJ has a problem and really needs some kind of help. Also, while the relationships between the child characters were strong (Well, the ones that were useful to the plot. A few of them got lost in the mix.) the strained relationship between father and son seemed to lack. When the reasoning behind the feud is finally revealed between both adults it too felt a bit stale. There has been some discussion online about whether or not it’s even a plausible argument but really that doesn’t matter here. What matters is how the adults handled it and by the end it was brushed off as a second thought. With some of the strong scenes it was a bit jarring to be thrown into a mediocre performance.

There is no way around it, Super 8 is a hell of a time. Fun, a few laughs, and an alien thrown in for good measure by legendary JJ Abrams? I really couldn’t have asked for much more.

4.5 out of 5 stars
100,000,000 found lens flares
1 great George Romero reference
1 special thanks to Judd Apatow

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball. While I’m not usually a fan of sport movies (unless we’re talking about The Sandlot) I wouldn’t mind giving this movie a spin. As far as I’m concerned you can’t go wrong with a Pitt - Hill combination.

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World Movie Review

If you’re unfamiliar with the graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley with the same name or you’ve never seen the film then you’re in for a treat. Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera, is a 20-something band member (Sex Bobomb) who is dating a 17 year old high school student. Pilgrim is surrounded by a bizarre mix of friends; the scene stealer being Kieran Culkin as Wallace the gay roommate. All of Scotts friends warn him away from Knives Chau, his simple yet still underage girlfriend, but it’s not until he meets Ramona Flowers does he finally listen. Well, kind of.

Ramona is a hair changing vixen with just enough sarcasm and opened eyed cynicism to keep her interestingly lovable. Pilgrim quickly becomes intrigued but learns that he must soon do battle with seven evil ex’s in video game fashion. There is nothing odd or disturbing about the onslaught of attempted murder or hellacious body beatings that strikes Pilgrim as odd and it seamlessly integrates with the almost normal reality of the movie.

Scott Pilgrim VS The World is loud, fast, and fun. There is not one point of the movie that drags and the sense of humor that runs throughout the dialog made me snort out loud with laughter. The final and obviously most evil ex, Jason Schwartzman, plays well against Scotts whiny almost nonchalant way of dealing with the situation. The battles themselves are of epic Wright proportion and the music within the film is Beck-tastic. 

Of course Ramona isn’t the only one with a broken past as Pilgrims wrongs do come back to haunt them as well. Spilling a bit of teenage anxiety over growing up into this pot of delicious Edgar Wright stew I must say this is hands down my favorite Cera comedy and is on par with Shaun of the Dead or even Hot Fuzz. People give this flick a hard time but I certainly suggest picking it up on DVD. Special features include deleted scenes, bloopers, and commentaries. I believe the Blu-Ray is packed with a lot more extras but since I’m not there yet you can look those up on your own.

4 out of 5 stars
3 Star Card Power Up

Serenity Movie Review

Serenity is the 2005 follow up film to the doomed Fox television show, Firefly, by Joss Whedon. The year the movie came out I had not even heard of the show and watched it without any prior knowledge of plot or characters. That’s a hell of a way to start the series but I have absolutely no complaints. I wouldn’t trade a thing for my first, larger than life, introduction to the gun toting bandit that is Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

Captain of the spaceship, Serenity, Mal leads a group of capable crew members on a journey to find the secrets locked within the mind of a telepathic girl named River whose brother has bought her passage aboard the ship. The Captain, embodied by Nathan Fillion, is a gun slinging, no nonsense, realist who understands the dangers of the Universe and the outer planet civilizations. He makes little to no apologizes for the brutal decisions he is sometimes forced to make and when it comes to his crew, deemed as family, he will not stop to keep them safe.

Reavers, a topic only lightly touched upon in the show, is brought to full light in the film. A mystery that only rumors surround they seem to be flesh hungry beasts in the shape of men who have not just mutilated their own face but commit unspeakable harm to their victims. They travel in packed spaceships which are covered in human remains and seem to show up on a planets as quickly and quietly as only a boogeyman could.

The characters, dialog, and weapons borrow heavily from American westerns but never cross the line into cheese. Personalities are well formed and never act outside of their nature just to fulfill a plot device. You can only imagine my delight in the movie theater as I watched a space cowboy deliver justice to zombie like creatures. Joss Whedon, in that moment, became my hero.

As I re-watched this treasure on Blu-Ray for the first time I was impressed all over again. It is a beautiful movie and the clarity is brilliant. Of course, in my humble opinion, it is never a poor decision to watch Nathan Fillion (sans shirt) in the most pristine viewing option possible. All in all; if you haven’t seen the show but are interested in this flick it never assumes. There is a fine line to walk when telling a story to those who are already familiar and those who aren’t. Joss does this masterfully with Serenity while never leaving anyone behind but never badgering a follower with old plot points.

4 out of 5 stars
1 leaf on the wind


Indie Game: The Movie Official Trailer (by IndieGame: The Movie)

Help finish the movie. Check out and consider supporting the Kickstarter campaign:​projects/​blinkworks/​indie-game-the-movie-the-final-push

Indie Game: The Movie is a feature documentary about video games, their creators and the craft. The film follows the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create their games, and as they release those works, and themselves, to the world.

Indie Game: The Movie is about making video games, but at its core, it’s about the creative process and exposing yourself through your work.

I will definitely be checking this out as soon as possible. Hopefully they’ll get a fan base.


Emma Stone offered Pride And Prejudice And Zombies
Zombieland and Amazing Spider-Man actress Emma Stone has been offered the lead role in troubled book adaptation Pride And Prejudice And Zombies.The film has long been struggling in pre-production, with numerous directors considering then dumping the project.Stone has now been officially offered the role of zombie-butchering heroine Elizabeth Bennet in the adap of Seth Grahame-Smith’s book, which puts a spin on Jane Austen’s classic text.Previously, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson and Mia Wasikowska were all being considered as replacements for Natalie Portman, who left the role last year.


Emma Stone offered Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Zombieland and Amazing Spider-Man actress Emma Stone has been offered the lead role in troubled book adaptation Pride And Prejudice And Zombies.

The film has long been struggling in pre-production, with numerous directors considering then dumping the project.

Stone has now been officially offered the role of zombie-butchering heroine Elizabeth Bennet in the adap of Seth Grahame-Smith’s book, which puts a spin on Jane Austen’s classic text.

Previously, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson and Mia Wasikowska were all being considered as replacements for Natalie Portman, who left the role last year.

Let Me In Movie Review

Let Me In serves as an English answer to the brilliant 2007 Swedish film Let The Right One In. In the same fashion as REC, a 2007 Spanish film, and its English companion Quarantine there was no need for a remake other than the simple fact that people don’t enjoy reading subtitles.

Let Me In can be described as a horror romance between 12 year old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee of The Road) and Abby (Chloe Moretz of Kickass). Set during the 1980’s in a New Mexico town Owen is brutally bullied at school. So bullied by an older boy, in fact, that Owen purchases a small knife in a desperate attempt at possibly defending himself. While outside practicing with the knife Owen is approached by a new neighbor within his apartment complex. Abby, also 12 years old, is barefoot in the newly fallen snow when Owen gets his first look at her. The budding friendship between the oddly placed girl who is only seen at night and the insecure boy flourishes despite odd murders that are taking place close to home. It’s not until a blood pact is formed does Owen realize that his very first love is extremely blood thirsty.

The atmosphere that is created for this movie is tense. It’s rare that I feel full anxiety as a scene unfolds, hardly able to wait for the next scene just to find out what happens next. The amount of concern that is set up for Owen as the main character makes him personal for the audience. You’ll feel his humiliation and pain with every heart beat. The shame and secrecy is a living and breathing character within this movie. I don’t believe that direction alone could have provided the performance that Smit-McPhee was able to give. His meek but determined portrayal of Owen shined brilliantly throughout the movie without fault. He truly has mastered the art of opening himself up for the camera.

Chloe also gives a great performance in this vampire genre film. She completed the task of balancing the innocence of a child while also carrying the anger of a hungry beast. Chloe did a nearly perfect job embodying her character who is torn between her hunger and sentiment for the boy.

While a remake wasn’t required this is one of the few times that insult has not been added to injury. Director Matt Reeves understood what made the original so eerily frightful and used that to his advantage. There are some key scenes and plot points from Let The Right One In that did not translate to this version but I wont bore you with the details. I do highly suggest the Swedish original however if subtitles aren’t your cup of tea then you can’t go wrong with Let Me In.

4 out of 5 stars.

Film with Bad Taste

Growing up with my father leading the way in movie taste there were two things to know in my house; you could get anything you’d like from the video rental store, Rack of Videos, no matter what the rating and Jean-Luc Picard was the fucking man. Rack of Videos was the place to be for my little brother and I. Nearly every Friday night we were allowed to roam the isles looking for VHS tapes and Super Nintendo cartridges.

The things we were able to rent were really rather shocking yet beautiful. Had my Father ever questioned our rentals I’d like to think he’d still let them slide. Should anyone ever have the power to look at a list of how many times my brother and I rented the same movies I’d put good money on IT the television mini series. The 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead directed by the legendary Tom Savini could also be a top contender. To this day Night of the Living Dead will make me laugh out loud, without the fright of being 8 years old, when Zombie In Overalls (full and professional name) gets bonked on the head and the rubber mold folds inward ever so nicely. Before my understanding / love for bad movies in the vein of Mystery Science Theater 3000 I could never justify the warmth I felt in my heart for this movie. Now I love it unabashedly and recommend it to any zombie lover around.

By the age of 10 there was a new understanding within our family unit. Skynet would take over the world and Braveheart was the movie of (not just a life time) ever. Yeah, ever. No man, in my Fathers eyes, will ever outshine Mel Gibson’s performance as a Scotsman. The only close second would be Kevin Costner in Water World. My Dad is truly a piece of work.

Then there was the Cronenberg remake of The Fly. I foolishly picked this title up after my Brother announced that it could be cool to see a dude turn into a fly. My Father was excited about this choice and had the entire family gather around the glowing light of the television just to watch that bad boy. We were all in for a surprise. Well, at least I was. Broken arms, rotting flesh, exploding monkeys, and a tearful ending. That’s right, a tearful ending. While high on raging puberty hormones I wept when the monster that Goldblum had become silently begged for death. The Old Man laughed. Yup, out loud. A true LOL moment. That’s the very same day I figured out just how alike my Brother and Father really are.

While there wasn’t much prohibited from our house there were two movies I remember being denied. The first was Pulp Fiction. I have a clear memory of asking my Mother what the movie was about and her response being a disgusted look on her face, turning the box around, and stating “You wouldn’t like that.” Good parenting skill, Mom, but awful advise! The second movie was Schindler’s List. At the time I was perplexed as to what could possibly be in a movie that my Mother would give a clear and concise NO to? Fast forward to my fourth viewing of the movie in high school and you might see me sleeping through it.

What I loved about that time is the amount of freedom we had. Not just in selection but in the ability to love what we watched with a deep innocence and naivety. We were able to be completely enraptured by a film, believing every scene, and being absolutely swallowed up with awe. It was nearly magical to never worry about poor acting, over stylization, or what lines should be memorized for social gatherings. I haven’t even mentioned the anxiety of what your friends might think of your “fandom.” Dear God, I hope no one ever finds out about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle obsession.  

Although I may, every so often, wish for some of that grandeur back I’m grateful I no longer have that level of bewilderment. What a terrible reviewer I might be should everything involving a murderess talking doll get two BIG thumbs up! Oh stop it; you were scared too when Andy went to military school and Chucky cleverly gained access.

Gamer Movie Review

Gamer is a 2009 science fiction thriller starring Gerard Butler as Kable who is just a convict looking for a way back home. I know, it sounds very Running Man (the written word, not the film) doesn’t it? Kable is given the opportunity to find freedom by becoming a playable character in a real life first person shooter titled Slayer. After 30 battles are successfully completed the living avatar is given the ability to go home as a free man. The problem here is that no one has actually achieved that winning status yet.

Michael C. Hall, who I was completely unaware was even in the movie, plays Castle the evil master mind behind the game as well as a second project named Society. Society is a large scale Second Life or The Sims giving those with enough money complete control of a beautifully living specimen and have them bend to their very will. Unsurprisingly Society contains a lot of sexually explicit game play by morbidly obese syrup drinkers. No; I’m not kidding. That’s an actual scene of the movie - just one large dude controlling a super hot female while swallowing fists full of syrup.

Chris “Ludacris” Bridges also makes an appearance in the movie as the underground resistance leader who aids Kable in his escape from the gaming world. From that point on Kable takes everything he has learned from Slayer and applies it to the futuristic world that has left him behind. Nothing will stop this silent, brooding, hunk from finding his wife (who is now an actress for Society) and his missing daughter.

The film borrows heavily from movies past and is an obvious rebirth of the classic short story The Most Dangerous Game. What I thoroughly enjoyed about this flick was the quick pace and high-end explosions. I have no trouble admitting that I can enjoy Michael Bay-esque fire and boom. While it’s obvious that our protagonist is much different than the rest of the convicts, who seem to be exploding like sun ripened tomatoes, the movie does a fair job at keeping the story moving. If you’re a fan of any first person shooter franchise or action films in general you should enjoy this movie.

What I disliked about this particular film was the commentary on socially accepted violence and sexually explicit material while simultaneously exploiting said graphic imagery. I find it hard to swallow when your possible rape scene is being lighted in trendy rave advertisement while saying “This is why you’re bad but look how nice we’ve made it. It’s for your viewing pleasure!” Also, this is just a small thing, but Michael C. Hall is set up to have an unidentified southern accent (possibly Texan) however randomly loses it throughout the movie. It’s a bit jarring to be engrossed by his performance, because I think he’s just keen, and then be slapped with an "Oh-Kay Ya’ll!?"

Nearly all of the key plot points here are predictable but if you don’t mind a little brainless entertainment it’s really not a bad watch. With pretty explosions, a 95 minute run time, and John Leguizamo thrown in for good measure I certainly had fun. You can check it out on Netflix Streaming if you’d like.

2.5 out of 5 stars

True Grit Movie Review

True Grit is the 2010 remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic by the same name. Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Hailee Steinfeld this movie is so full of such powerful performances it knocked me square on my ass. Directed by the Coen Brothers I should have never expected anything less.

Mattie Ross (Steinfeld), a 14 year old girl, travels far from her farm life to seek out the man who murdered her father over a petty argument. Being stubborn and having a sharp tongue dripping with wit Mattie is able to finagle her way into an amount of money that aids her in the purchase of the questionable help of US Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Bridges). Cogburn is a hard drinking, one eyed, bounty hunter who is said to be the best at his profession. Once Mattie has successfully reached an agreement with the harsh Marshal she finds that a Texas Ranger, Mr. LaBoeuf (Damon), is also searching for the same man. Apparently Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) is a wanted man across several state lines and Mr. LaBoeuf means to drag him back to Texas to watch him hang.

The three characters initially set out together but quickly have a falling out and LaBoeuf strikes out on his own. While the man hunt becomes far too much for a young girl to handle Mattie sticks it out with a fierce hunger to see Chaney brought to justice. There are scenes within the movie when Steinfelds performance is so determined, so strong, and yet so naive that it brought tears to my eyes as I watched Mattie’s struggle.

Of course this movie isn’t all battle - there is a fine line that the Coens walk between a serious scene and the brilliance that is Mattie’s linguistic wit. She has the air of a no nonsense woman while falling back on what a 14 year old may hold dear. The bond between Cogburn and Mattie is unique and delightful to watch play out on screen while they cross boundaries and test the limits of the other. Damon plays a perfect LaBoeuf; a Ranger who is rigidly fanatic about his Ranger training. Should his profession become a religion I believe he would join instantly in Sunday sermon.

I thought Brolin’s character would be a throw away bad guy but he also adds comedic value to his performance as well as unapologetic ruthlessness. The entire movie is spent looking for the dreaded Chaney and to find that he’s no more than a lackey with a quick temper and no riding horse is well done. Mattie does not see the humor in later being paired up with the man she’d spent so much energy in pursuit but that’s for you to find out as you watch the film.

I am not normally a fan of Westerns but this movie crosses the line from a genre flick to superb story telling. I could not be any happier to have watched a movie that I was nearly dragged into. Thank you to the person who made me give it a go and thank you to the Coen Brothers for making this film truly come to life.

5 out of 5 stars.