Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Review

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Directed & Written by James Gunn

Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

My Opinion:

I was so unbelievably excited for this sequel. I absolutely loved the first Guardians Of The Galaxy (review HERE). I think, having become pretty sick of superhero movies doing the SAME DAMN THINGS OVER & OVER AGAIN these past several years, I really bought into these characters & this universe as it finally felt like we were getting a slightly different sort of superhero movie. I prefer lighthearted humor in my superhero movies to the dreariness of things like Nolan’s Batman trilogy (those films, other than Ledger’s performance, have really started to go down in my estimation). I guess I’ve just never taken these sort of movies seriously so, for me, one with a sense of humor works better. Plus, of course, the soundtrack was indeed awesome! An awesome soundtrack will always make me like a movie even more. And… Groot. GROOT! I love Groot. Who doesn’t love Groot?

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is, exactly as I was hoping & expecting, loads of fun but not as good as the first film. Which is fine as it’s hard to top that first film. I always enjoy the introduction of new characters and seeing them get to know each other, which was especially great in the first film and obviously missing from this one. We get to see our main characters’ relationships with each other develop a little more but not quite as much as I’d hoped. But, hey – you know there’ll be another one of these films (and I’ll happily be watching it) so hopefully we’ll get even more character development in the next film. I can’t really say we learned much more about these characters than we did the first time around.

I’ll say that, for this sequel, they’ve upped the humor even more. Maybe they felt the need to after Deadpool? I’m certainly not complaining – I’m loving this “funny superhero movie” thing. Between this and The LEGO Batman Movie and that great trailer for the next Thor film, I’m starting to actually enjoy these superhero movies again instead of almost finding them a chore to sit through. For example: I didn’t even bother with Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad but hubby probably wants to see Wonder Woman and I suppose that means I should catch up on those I’ve missed, but…. Meh! Sounds like way too much work. If that’s the way I feel about having to watch a movie, being a movie-obsessed blogger, they’re clearly doing something wrong with those films. Right? The Guardians films aren’t a chore. They’re fun and I actually enjoy them. That’s the way it should be.

If you loved the first film, you’ll definitely like this one too. If you don’t love the sense of humor thing but want to watch a superhero movie, I’d say there’s still plenty here that you’ll like. The story is… Okay. As far as superhero stories go, it’s pretty standard stuff (to be honest, I hardly ever fully remember the stories in superhero films). But it’s the main characters who really make these two films and they again don’t disappoint. People my age are also gonna love the involvement of a couple of big actors in this one (I actually have no clue if this has been kept under wraps so I’ll say no more other than that I felt a little funny seeing someone again at first. In a good way… 😉 ). There’s also enough serious stuff going on to balance out the humor so that this feels like a Marvel film and doesn’t go full-on silly like some cheesy Eighties flick. It’s probably quite a hard balance to achieve and I think these films stay on the right side of the line. I love these characters and I don’t think we’d care about them as much as we do if the movies were too silly.


Yes, I really enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. As expected, it’s not as good as the first but it’s still a worthy sequel that will keep fans happy and wanting more. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun than most superhero films these days. Give me Groot over moody Batman! Speaking of Groot, I’ll finish with him and with the soundtrack as these are the two things that really make me adore these movies.

If you don’t like Baby Groot, you aren’t going to like this movie (or me, since we can’t be friends if you don’t like Baby Groot). 😉 They clearly knew they were on to a winner with this character and his adorable cuteness is used to full effect. As my hubby asked afterwards, did they rely on him a little too much in this film? Hmm. Probably. But I loved each & every Baby Groot scene. You can’t have too much of a good thing! But if you prefer moody Batman, you probably don’t love these films or Baby Groot anyway. I’m sure Guardians fans will love the excessive Groot cuteness as much as I did. As for the soundtrack: Once again, it was pretty awesome. But definitely not as awesome as the first one. Damn! I avoided looking at the tracklisting beforehand as I wanted all the songs to be a surprise. Maybe it was less impressive since it wasn’t as unexpected the second time around? Still, though, there are some great songs and it’s a lot better than 99% of movie soundtracks these days so I’m just being overly picky because I love the first film. But I’m happy with this sequel and am already looking forward to seeing these characters in more films.

My Rating: 8/10

Is there a scene after the credits?: Hahaha! It’s a Marvel film! Do I really need to answer this? 😉 Okay… No. There isn’t one. There’s… Four? I think it was four. I lost count. And, yes, they are SO worth staying for. Especially two of them. There are scenes throughout the credits plus one after the credits. So hold your pee as one of the two best is that very final one.

Stan Lee cameo: Hubby loved it and said it was probably the best one yet. He knows a lot more about this Marvel stuff than I do but I’m pretty sure you can read about it if you want to as I’ve already seen lots of people talking about this one. 🙂

Limitless (2011) Review

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Limitless (2011)

Directed by Neil Burger

Based on The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Abbie Cornish
Robert De Niro
Anna Friel

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.

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My Opinion:

This movie sounds really exciting from that plot synopsis! Well, I was bored. I fell asleep a few times, I think I missed some stuff & couldn’t be bothered to rewind, and I had to force myself to finish it just to say that I had so I could write this fabulous, in-depth review months after watching the movie. 😉

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Let’s see… What’s good about it? Well, the concept. A pill “that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities”? Sounds intriguing! So, although this sort of “thriller” genre isn’t usually my type of thing, I’d still been wanting to check it out at some point. This movie reminds me a lot of Man On A Ledge. I sort of felt the same way about that one before seeing it. I was like “Hmm. Not usually my type of movie but it’s a great idea & the trailer looks pretty exciting & I’d like to see where they go with the story”. Then the movie totally sucked. Limitless was probably the better film of the two but Man On A Ledge almost became so ridiculous it was fun whereas Limitless stayed serious (and boring). Also, Bradley Cooper kind of annoys me & Robert De Niro’s character felt pointless & he totally phoned in the performance so I’d have to say I preferred that silly Man On A Ledge movie. Plus, I like Elizabeth Banks.

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I’m not going to win my argument here but, honestly, if you want to watch a movie where someone uses “100% of their brain abilities”, watch Luc Besson’s Lucy instead. Yeah, a lot of people hated that movie. It’s an odd one. But at least I can say it was not boring. God I hate boring movies! I want to be entertained. Why would I want to waste two hours of my time on a dull movie I won’t remember in a year’s time? (Like how I remember so little about Limitless that I’m successfully avoiding talking about it at all in this “review”! Ha! I need one of Bradley Cooper’s magic pills). 😉

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Summary:

I watched Limitless a few months ago. I barely remember it. It clearly didn’t make much of an impression. I reviewed it anyway. This was my review. Go watch Lucy – it’s weird but more fun & you’ll at least remember it a few months later. I squeezed this brilliant “review” out during my 30 minute lunch break. Time management!

My Rating: 5/10

*I dunno – I gave Into The Woods a 4.5/10 and I HATED that so I figure Limitless deserves a higher score than that one even if I don’t remember it. 😉

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Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) Review

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Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

Directed by James Gunn


Starring:
Chris Pratt
Zoe Saldana
Dave Bautista
Vin Diesel
Bradley Cooper
Lee Pace
Michael Rooker
Karen Gillan
Djimon Hounsou
John C Reilly
Glenn Close
Benicio del Toro

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill forms an uneasy alliance with a group of extraterrestrial misfits who are on the run after stealing a coveted orb. (Thank you, Wikipedia – that was very brief!)

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My Opinion:

If I don’t keep this short like I did with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, I’ll never get around to writing it. I thoroughly enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy. A lot. Like with all comic book movies, I have zero knowledge of any of these characters beyond what I’ve seen of them in all these films. As far as “superhero” characters go, I totally bought into these – raccoon & walking tree & all. That’s always what’s most important to me in any film. If I don’t buy into at least one character, it feels like a complete waste of my time. I loved these misfits. Who DOESN’T like a group of loveable misfits? That’s why this movie is such a huge success already.

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Hmm. What else? Groot. I loved Groot! I want my own Groot!!! Chris Pratt & Zoe Saldana were both great. Chris Pratt means nothing to me – No, I’ve not seen this Parks And Recreation thingamabob and I prefer it that way as Peter Quill is all he’ll be to me. Even Bradley Cooper was perfect & he gets on my nerves sometimes. I loved the relationship that formed between these characters.

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Summary:

Guardians Of The Galaxy is just a really really “fun” movie. Yes, I love all the Marvel movies but I really appreciated this slight departure from the seriousness of recent Marvel films. These are comic books! Have some fun! I loved the humor in Guardians Of The Galaxy and think it all worked perfectly. The story was still good, too, and I cared about what would happen to everyone. Maybe it was all a little predictable overall but what movie like this isn’t? This movie made me happy and kept me entertained but also managed to have fantastic characters and genuinely funny moments. Oh – and an awesome soundtrack! This old lady was loving THAT. Bowie! Moonage Daydream, baby! Oh, and of course the scene after the credits… Lol. Stay for that if you want but only those of a certain age will truly appreciate it. I’m of a certain age. 😉

So, basically, I pretty much loved this movie. Yep.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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** There are some fantastic alternate posters out there for this movie! The one I used above is by Matt Ferguson. Also love the two below by Matt Needle & Doaly. See links to these posters & more here: io9.

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American Hustle (2013) Review

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American Hustle (2013)

Directed by David O Russell

Starring:
Christian Bale
Bradley Cooper
Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Jennifer Lawrence
Louis C.K.

Running time: 138 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Hustle is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early ’80s. It stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams as two con artists who are forced by an FBI agent (played by Bradley Cooper) to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (played by Jeremy Renner). Jennifer Lawrence supports the cast as the unpredictable wife of Bale’s character.

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My Opinion:

Be brief… Be brief… (Trying to make myself keep this short – I ramble on too much!)

This movie was good. Not great. A little overrated. (Sorry). I came away from it with the same sort of feeling I had after finally watching Silver Linings Playbook recently. Some very good performances in both films but, overall, something is missing. They both feel a little hollow. And come to think of it, I felt sort of the same way about The Fighter (I reviewed that in my early days HERE. Ugh – I should re-read that before linking to it. My old reviews were even worse than my current ones).

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Like with the other David O Russell films I’ve seen, it’s more about the performances in this one than the story itself. Don’t get me wrong – the story is okay but didn’t exactly blow me away. I was more excited to see the female actresses in this than the actors as I don’t really like Bradley Cooper or, especially, Christian Bale. However, Bale ended up being the best thing about the film – I really warmed to his character by the end of the movie. I love Amy Adams and think she also did a good job in this (and I loved all her 70’s outfits even though seeing so much of her boobs got a little disturbing after a while when I just watched her as a Disney Princess in Enchanted the other day). Lawrence & Cooper were good but I felt a bit like I’d just watched them doing somewhat similar characters in Silver Linings Playbook.

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Summary:

American Hustle has a lot of the elements I like: Great actors & performances, decent script, good music (ELO!), and the 70s (I love that ugly-ass decade). But something about it didn’t QUITE work (for me) overall. It was good. I enjoyed it. Bale & Adams were great. It’s the first film I’ve gone to in 2014 but I already know where it’ll rank in my end of year list: somewhere in the middle. I’m looking forward to The Wolf Of Wall Street more, which comes out here on Friday. Will be interesting to see which one I prefer.

My Rating: 7/10

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012) Review

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Directed by David O Russell

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence
Robert De Niro
Jacki Weaver
Anupam Kher
Chris Tucker

Music by Danny Elfman

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Cooper plays Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, a man with bipolar disorder who is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves back in with his parents (De Niro and Weaver). Determined to win back his estranged wife, Pat meets recently widowed Tiffany Maxwell (Lawrence). She tells Pat that she will help him get his wife back if he enters a dance competition with her. The two become closer as they train and Pat, his father, and Tiffany examine their relationships with each other as they cope with their issues.

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My Quickie Opinion:

I’m determined to finish reviewing every single movie that I watched this year before the 1st of January. After this one, I have only 11 left to do. More about that later… But that means I’m going to make these reviews “quickies”.

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I was a tiny bit disappointed with Silver Linings Playbook. It’s one of those where it got a lot of hype when it was out & I was eager to see it but just didn’t manage to while it was in the cinema. I finally saw it a few months ago and… Unfortunately, I just didn’t think it quite lived up to the hype & the Oscar nominations/win.

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I think Jennifer Lawrence is a great young actress & I can’t wait to see her in more & more movies. But an Oscar WIN for this? I don’t know… She’s great in it & I liked her character & her character’s relationship with Bradley Cooper but I think this was a case of rewarding someone that Hollywood wants to see become a bigger & bigger star. Of course, I still haven’t seen any of the other nominees that were up against her (other than Naomi Watts in The Impossible) so I suppose I have no right to an opinion – Lawrence’s performance really may have been the very best one. Don’t freak out, people! Jennifer Lawrence is currently one of my favorite actresses – I’m only saying that I doubt this will be her best role in her whole career. I mean, she was even better in Winter’s Bone. Chill, people! Lawrence IS great in Silver Linings Playbook.

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The best performance, however, was Bradley Cooper’s so it’s unfortunate that he wasn’t the Oscar winner in this film. I know he was up against very stiff competition, though, so he didn’t really have a chance. I’m not a Bradley Cooper fan. I don’t hate him – I just hadn’t really noticed him in anything he’d been in before this. I’m not a fan of movies like The Hangover so it was good seeing him in a very different sort of “actor-y” role. Yes, I said actor-y. God this review sucks. I’m tired. I really liked Cooper in this. Let’s move on.

20131221-120543 pm.jpgThe story itself was decent. Who doesn’t love a movie full of dysfunctional people? Although I just praised Cooper & Lawrence, a lot of the credit also goes to the script (or book, I guess) for creating these memorable characters. Robert De Niro was also very good as Cooper’s equally messed-up father. I prefer De Niro in these sort of roles.

Lawrence, Cooper & De Niro and their relationships with each other were definitely the highlights of the film.The rest of the film, sadly, has already started to fade from my mind three months later. So, yeah – Sorry this isn’t a very in depth review! The main other thing I remember, other than the dance competition which was indeed fun, was lots of football talk. Football football football. Ugh – I hate football! And I didn’t really connect much with any other characters in this beyond the three I’ve mentioned.

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Summary:

Silver Linings Playbook is a decent film with some memorable characters, a good mix of drama & laughs, and very good performances from the lead actors. However, I don’t exactly think it’s an all-time classic that’s up there with some of the other Best Picture nominees in Oscar’s history.

My Rating: 7/10

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A Note From Me:

I hope you enjoyed that sucky quickie review. 🙂 These are the 11 movies I have left to write about – Feel free to put in the comments which movie you’d like to see a sucky quickie review for next. I’ll try to get to all of them!

Shame
Pitch Perfect
Nowhere Boy
Vanishing Point
The Pink Panther (1964)
Fun Size
All Good Things
Sound Of My Voice
Man On A Ledge
The Iron Giant
Big

I’d also like to say I’m sorry for not visiting many blogs in the past month or so. Things have been very hectic & I’m just not finding the time to keep up with reading everyone’s blogs. I’m curious – How do the rest of you keep up? I don’t find the Reader all that easy plus, when you’re a good week or two behind, it’s too much to go through that way. I also don’t want e-mails – they would pile up and it would take me weeks to read them all. I feel like I need to quit my job so I can blog full-time! 😉

The Place Beyond The Pines (2012) Review

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Seriously – this is a 2012 movie??

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring:
Ryan Gosling
Bradley Cooper
Eva Mendes
Dane DeHaan
Emory Cohen
Ray Liotta
Ben Mendelsohn
Rose Byrne
Mahershala Ali
Bruce Greenwood
Harris Yulin

Music By: Mike Patton. That’s right – of Faith No More! Cool. Noticed his name in the credits and wanted to make sure to mention him – love Faith No More. And… Anyone remember Mr Bungle?? Ha!

Plot:

I’m not sure if I should go into the plot much. The way they are marketing this film, by only really focusing on Ryan Gosling, is a bit misleading. Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stuntman. While in town with a travelling fair he works for, he sees an ex-lover of his (Romina, played by Eva Mendes). Luke learns that Romina’s one-year-old son is his. Luke decides to stay in town and help to raise his son even though Romina has moved on & is with another man. He gets a job at an auto repair shop but, when that doesn’t earn him enough money to help his son, he turns to robbing banks. Luke soon becomes addicted to this “easy” way of getting money.

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This is all pretty much everything I read about before seeing the film. But there’s MUCH more to the movie than just this one story about Luke. So don’t go to it expecting the entire movie to just be about Ryan Gosling going on a bank-robbing spree. The movie is better than just that.

I really enjoyed this movie. My hubby didn’t so much. He thinks it’s because I have the hots for Gosling but I don’t think that has anything to do with it. He’s still hot, even with some really ugly tattoos and a Metallica t-shirt, but he certainly doesn’t do it for me as much in this film as in others. And he’s good in this, as always, but he doesn’t steal the whole show. His character isn’t quite as strong as in other films – he was much deeper in things like Lars And The Real Girl & Half Nelson and he was “cooler” and more mysterious in Drive. The director, Derek Cianfrance, also did Blue Valentine. I still haven’t fully decided if I prefer that or Pines but I do think Gosling’s character was more well-developed in Valentine & he delivered a better performance. But, overall, Pines is probably a more “entertaining” film with a better story as opposed to Valentine which is more about the performances than the story.

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If you love Drive, you MIGHT like Pines but don’t go to it expecting it to be anything like it. It’s very different. There was a bit of a hoodie at our screening – he did stay for the whole thing but he & his woman kept talking to each other about being bored. This is where I always get a bit snobby and say things like “people need to find a little something out about a movie before going to it!” but to be fair, although I knew what kind of movie it was as I’m a movie lover & do my research, I do think they’re making this movie look a little too much like another Drive. As to be expected as it’s the same director, it’s much more like Blue Valentine. It’s a drama. It has a slow pace. It IS a little overlong (as much as I enjoyed it I did feel it could have been cut down by half an hour). It’s my kind of thing, though. It’s not going to be for everyone.

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As for the stories (as I said, there’s more to it than just the story of Luke and this has been hinted at in enough reviews that I don’t think I’m spoiling anything), they were all good but I especially liked the first one & the final one. The final one was a complete surprise as I knew nothing at all about that one before seeing the film. I think I felt the most for the characters in the final bit & found my heart pounding a little when there were a couple of times where you really didn’t know what was going to happen to them. I thought all the characters in the whole film felt realistic as well – these seemed like real people because I thought they acted in ways that real-life people in the same situations may behave (not as common in movies as it should be!). As it’s marketed in that Drive kind of way, I thought it would be really violent. It’s not. There were a few times where I thought it might suddenly get crazy-Drive-level-violent but it thankfully didn’t. Not saying I don’t like Drive – I love it. But this film didn’t feel the need to up the violence or the action or to start acting all “cool”. It kept things slow & steady but it still had me on the edge of my seat at the end in a similar way to how I felt while watching American History X. Not sure why this comparison popped into my head while watching Pines – I think the tension I felt toward the end was quite similar (although American History X is definitely a better film).

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A quick mention of the performances: As I said, Gosling is good as always but it’s not his strongest role. Eva Mendes is good as is Mahershala Ali, who plays her boyfriend. I liked the character Ben Mendelsohn plays – the owner of the body shop where Gosling works. Ray Liotta is… sooooo Ray Liotta! So, you’ll be happy if you like Ray Liotta but I found it quite disappointing that he’s playing the same role here that he ALWAYS plays. In fact, that’s probably the thing I liked least about this film. Dane DeHaan also plays a very similar character to one he’s played before but he’s very good at that sort of role and I thought he was very good in this – he’s possibly one of the best things about this movie, actually. For me the most pleasant surprise was probably Bradley Cooper, though. He plays a rookie cop. This is also widely known about the plot (if there’s a bank robber there has to be a cop!) but they REALLY don’t focus much on him in the trailers & things I’d seen beforehand. It’s a big role! Honestly, the only thing I’d really seen him in was The Hangover so, naturally, I wasn’t overly impressed with him. (The Hangover isn’t really my type of thing). But then he was suddenly up for an Oscar! (I really do want to see Silver Linings Playbook). So, yeah – turns out he can act. I thought he was good as the rookie cop who’s a bit unsure of himself.

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Summary: I liked this a lot but it’s not for everyone. It’s a slow-paced drama with some very good performances but not any really amazing ones. It’s a little overlong but has a good sense of growing tension, especially at the end, which kept me very gripped. And I really cared about most of the characters. Good drama. I recommend it. But remember it is NOTHING like Drive. Overall, though, something holds this movie back from being excellent instead of just very good. No, I don’t know what that something is. If I knew, I’d be the one making the movies! 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

Mike Patton – The Snow Angel

The Ryan Gosling Project

My Top Five Metallica Songs