Monthly Archives: May 2016

“The Nice Guys” Movie Review

Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling are the two coolest actors in Hollywood at the moment. That’s what we take away from this movie. This neo-noir mystery buddy comedy by director Shane Black released on May 20th, 2016, having yet to exceed it’s budget of $50 million at the box office. Harkening back to buddy comedies from the 1970’s, the story follows Holland March, a down-on-his-luck private investigator, and enforcer-for-hire Jack Healy, as their paths cross wires over a case regarding a missing girl named Amelia. Their road begins at the apparent suicide of fading pornography star, Misty Mountains, and escalates into a conspiracy involving the higher powers of the government. It serves as an interesting commentary on the growth of the porn industry during the 70’s, and makes notion of the country’s increasing apathy for the polluted environment. At one point, “Healy says “Maybe the birds aren’t able to breathe. And we’re left here to choke.” Front and center of this film are Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, whose chemistry is almost unbelievable. They work very well together, constantly bouncing off one another with ease. It may be too early to tell, but I’ll wager that at least one of them is going to get a nomination come award season. But the surprising standout has to go to Angourie Rice, who plays Ryan Gosling’s daughter. She wasn’t annoying, she was useful, she was funny, and managed to steal the show from two veteran Hollywood actors. That says something. The movie doesn’t rely on action scenes, but when there are, they’re done very well. The well-paced editing and superb sound design make it feel like the audience is actually there in the firefight. It’s made all the more enjoyable by the banter between Healy and March, and one particular, Boba Fett-like character that was both awesome and creepy at the same time. He’s not in the movie for long, but Matt Bomer did a tremendous job as this assassin. The whole supporting cast, including Kim Basinger, Keith David, Margaret Qualley, and Beau Knapp, are terrific in their respective roles for that matter. And the cinematography by Philippe Rousselot is great as well. It makes The Nice Guys look more colorful, and allows for the scope of the city of Los Angeles to spread its wings. Long tracking shots, natural lighting, and zooming close-ups establish the atmosphere and tone of the 1970’s, best exemplified through the soundtrack by David Buckley and John Ottman. I really liked how the dialogue was well-written, providing contrast for Healy and March. While Healy is the calmer one with good insight, March is vulgar and is the source of much physical comedy. There weren’t any scenes that had my stomach hurting from uncontrollable laughter, but I consistently chuckled throughout. With that, I can confidently say that The Nice Guys is one of the better movies I’ve seen in 2016 thus far. I loved the main characters, I loved the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, and how well-written and believable the dialogue seemed. I hope this does for budddy comedies of a bygone era what the Hateful Eight has done for westerns.

“Civil War” Spoilers Discussion

Yep. There was enough happening in the story of Captain America: Civil War for me to get on my computer and ramble on my thoughts. Fair warning, if you haven’t seen Civil War yet, for all intents and purposes, go watch it so I don’t have to be the asshole who ruined it for you. Now what I like about the Russo brothers is how they’re able to make their action sequences really gritty and intense. This is exemplified in the second scene when the Avengers go to Lagos to stop Crossbones and his team of terrorists from acquiring a chemical sample. When Scarlet Witch tries to prevent his suicidal explosion, she lifts him up in the air, accidentally blowing up a building and some of its inhabitants. This reaches word to Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, U.S. Secretary of State, and he demands that the Avengers sign what’s known as the Sokovia Accords. We already know why Iron Man is pro-registration, but Captain America makes the argument, “Governments are by agendas, agendas that change. What if there’s a place they send us that we don’t want to go? What if there’s a place we should go they don’t send us?” Then all of a sudden, Agent Peggy Carter, Steve Roger’s love interest from World War II, passes away in her sleep. At her funeral, her niece Sharon Carter talks about how her aunt moved through a not-so-progressive world. She says, “Compromise what you can and what you will, if you can’t, don’t. At that point, it’s your responsibility to tell the other person ‘no; you move.'” It really hits Rogers, because he realizes that he can’t budge or move in this situation. As I said in my spoiler-free review, the relationship between Captain America and Bucky Barnes is at the forefront. You feel for Barnes, as he was brainwashed by H.Y.D.R.A. and is now still messed up in the head, similar to the tragic Jessica Jones. Black Panther is given essentially an origin story, as his father, King T’Chaka of Wakanda, is murdered, and the Winter Soldier is framed for it. He’s not messing around, as he professes that he’ll kill Barnes himself. And then the greatest superhero throwdown in movie history happens at the airport in Germany. This is the time when both Ant Man and Spider Man are given a chance to shine. And I can’t stress enough how great Tom Holland is, almost as if he was born for the role. I would also call Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Heath Ledger as the Joker, Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. I still love Tobey Maguire and the cartoons, but this version embodied everything that I love about the character of Peter Parker. Ant Man also was able to transform into Giant Man, which was so funny to watch. He would pick up other heroes and throw them around like little toys. I will say Scarlet Witch was O.P. as FUUUCCKKKK!!!!!! At what point in the movie did she show off her immense power, even toppling the Vision. Needless to say, I was thoroughly entertained by this airport battle. And The Vision, while cradling Scarlet Witch (because he wants to hit that), he accidentally hits War Machine and paralyzes him. But no moment made me go “HOLY SHIT” more than when Winter Soldier and Captain America arrived at the Siberian H.Y.D.R.A. facility. Though the other Super Soldiers are quite irrelevant and useless, Iron Man arrives and says that he knows the truth and goes with them to meet Helmut Zemo. I would like to take this moment to refrain what I said in my review because I appreciate the tragedy of his character more than I gave credit. He kept listening to a voicemail message left by his wife, as it’s the only source of her memory he has left. Anyway, he turns on a computer, showing the car crash we saw at the beginning. Tony Stark says “I know that road. What is this?” Turns out Winter Soldier killed his parents, Cap knew  and kept it from him. You see, Tony Stark has never reconciled with his father, and thought his death was just a random happening. But now that he has someone to finally blame, he’s going to kill them. Eventually, Bucky’s robotic arm gets blasted off, Iron Man’s suit is jammed, and Cap leaves behind his shield as Tony’s father was the one who forged it. In the post-credit scene, Captain America and his supporters have taken asylum in Wakanda with Black Panther, and Winter Soldier decides to go into cryogenic sleep because he can’t trust his own brain. It’s also implied that Cap and Iron Man still have tension, but will respect each other from a safe distance. In the end, I believe Captain America: Civil War is one of the best films to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. It was funny, intriguing, and bittersweet all at the same time, with the greatest Spider Man ever seen on the big screen. Hat’s off to you, Russo brothers. Good luck on Infinity War these next few years.

“Captain America: Civil War” Movie Review

I know what you’re thinking:”Cade, I’m growing tired of superhero movies. They’re all the same thing, just repackaged.” That’s what I thought before Civil War. This politically-charged superhero action-adventure released nationwide on May 6th, 2016, having released in other countries over a week beforehand. It has nearly tripled its $275 million budget in the first opening weekend alone. Relax, this review is completely spoiler-free. Will I do spoiler-filled post? You bet. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, who were also at the helm of 2014’s The Winter Soldier, this film is inspired in part by the limited comic book crossover series of the same name by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, and is set one year after the events of Age of Ultron. Bucky Barnes, A.K.A. the Winter Soldier, is wanted by the U.N. for a variety of terrorist acts. His actions along with all the collateral damage the Avengers have caused in the past few years prompt the government to create the Sokovia Accords, a document that, if signed, would require all superhumans in the world to either register their identity to the government or just retire from being a superhero. Iron Man/Tony Stark is pro-registration, stating that the Avengers need to be put check, otherwise there’s no difference between them and the villains that they fight. On the opposite side, Captain America/Steven Rogers says they shouldn’t become the government’s personal play toys, and a few other points not to be spoiled here. These are two completely ideologies clashing, and several superheroes and agents have to choose sides. But I feel obligated to let you know that, first and foremost, this a personal sequel to The Winter Soldier, because it focuses a lot on the relationship between Captain America and the Winter Soldier. Ultimately, the Civil War storyline is interesting, but it’s a byproduct of that relationship. Black Panther is really given a chance to shine in this movie. Chadwick Boseman portrays him so well, displaying a balance between being regal, ferocious, intelligent, and rash. He did a great job crafting a Wakandan accent, sounding like a mixture of African and French. But folks, let’s get right into it; the airport battle. The single greatest all-star royal throwdown I have ever seen in any film. It’s so much bigger than we have seen in any of the trailers. The special effects were impressive, the dialogue was funny, the sound design was superb, and each hero was given a chance to show off their talent. Ant-Man, played again hilariously by Paul Rudd, shows us how powerful he’s capable of being. And then there’s Spider Man. Oh my God, guys. That has got to be the greatest incarnation I’ve seen of Spider Man and Peter Parker I have seen on-screen to date. Tom Holland did a terrific job as him, even if he was in the movie for only 15 minutes tops. He alone makes the movie worth seeing. And now for the one thing that brings the film down: the villain. He’s a completely useless and irrelevant weasel that is only in it for the sake of their being a bad guy. It would have been great to just see either Cap or Iron Man as villains, but nope; the writers had to shoehorn in Helmut Zemo. His plot did make sense, but ultimately irrelevant, and honestly opens a few plot holes that screw up continuity. Even with that rather large setback, Captain America: Civil War is still one of the best superhero movies ever put to film, with great characters, excellent writing, and a stunning cast. It surprisingly maintains equal balance between both Iron Man and Captain America’s points of view, so there are no obvious politics. I cannot wait to see what happens next with Tom Holland’s Spider Man.

“Keanu” Movie Review

That was, hands down, the cutest kitten EVER! Released worldwide on April 29th, this zany action comedy starring comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele has broke even in the box office compared to its $15 million budget. Following the success of their titular sketch comedy show on Comedy Central, Key and Peele prove themselves to essentially be the modern-day incarnations of Abbot and Costello. In this film, Rell, a down-on-his-luck man who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, adopts a stray tabby cat and names him Keanu. I would also name my cat the exact same thing. His cousin Clarence agrees to go out on a fun weekend while the his wife and daughter are out of town with a family friend. One night, they come home from a Liam Neeson action movie to find Rell’s house has been ransacked and Keanu is gone. After aqquiring information from Rell’s drug dealer Hulka, Rell and Clarence decide to infiltrate a street gang known as the 17th Street Blips, led by a ruthless man named Cheddar, in order to steal their cat back. Sounds a little formulaic, but we’ll see what happens. For example, Sisters is not a great movie, but there were many moments in there when I was laughing really hard. It was dumb and predictable, but still made me laugh. Same with Keanu; you can see where it’s going, but is plotted out by a consistently hilarious screenplay. To start off, Key and Peele have great, practically seamless chemistry, despite their contrasts. Key brings such a great amount of energy to his role, at some points feeling like he eclipses his partner-in-crime. But Peele, despite his rather quiet demeanor, gets his own stand out moments of glory. Seeing the two of them bicker back and forth is entertaining enough, yet it’s also their interactions with the other members of the Blips that had me nearly falling off of my seat. In one particular instance, Clarence, Bud, Trunk, and Stitches are waiting in a car during a drug deal. When they start playing George Michael songs, Clarence overcomes their skepticism by stating “This my shit right here!” And before long, they all start singing together and sharing each other’s personal stories. Method Man from the Wu Tang Clan plays the gang leader Cheddar, who really doesn’t like his business or life getting messed with. He plays the role up, you can tell he has fun with it, and gave a great performance. As I said in the intro, Keanu is the cutest onscreen kitten I have seen to date. Even when some of the jokes don’t quite land as well as they should, he steals all of the attention. Perhaps the funniest part of the movie for me was when Clarence was in a drug-induced episode, and the titular kitten was voiced by Keanu Reeves himself, parodying the Matrix trilogy. One of the most unique aspects of Key Peele is that their comedy manages to highlight many of the facets of race in America. The two of them impersonating black street thugs was hilarious because you get the idea that they’d never pass as thugs at all, ever. But it also shows the disturbing side to it as these are “White-sounding Black Guys” trying to impersonate what they see as African-American stereotypes, going so far as to change their own vernacular of speaking. It’snot like they go whiteface, but it was still interesting to see both sides of the argument. Bud, in particular, had a multi-faceted personality, making you feel like the Blips are his family and their is no other life for him. Played by Jason Mitchell, who also portrayed Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, this young actor deserves more name recognition and acting work. In the end, Keanu may be predictable in its story, but is one of the most consistently funny action-comedies I’ve seen in a while. It takes its absurd premise and plays it up so much, knowing exactly what it was the entire time. Now who else wants to see Key and Peele make a Substitute Teacher movie? I know I do.

Most Anticipated Movies Summer 2016

According to social media, you wanted to hear what I’m most excited about this summer. Also according to social media, no one gives a crap about Ratchet and Clank: The Movie. 2016 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years in cinema history. Over 30 long-awaited movies are releasing during the 3 month-long period, but only 10 are appearing. At the end, I’ll add a list of Honorable Mentions that are still on my radar. But the following are the 10 movies receiving a theatrical release between May and Early August.

10. Warcraft: The Beginning (June 10th) 

It has been rare, I’m talking trinkets in the desert, that a video game adaptation has been good. Best ones  have been Mortal Kombat and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. This one looks like it can save video game movies and prove that they can tell compelling stories. Co-written and directed by Duncan Jones, the film stars an ensemble cast as humans and orcs. Both races hate each other with flaming passions, but the key to survival is ultimately working together, creating tensions. From what the trailers have shown, it looks like it’ll to focus on both sides of the conflict, equally showing their views and struggles like  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I’m crossing my fingers for both this and the Michael Fassbender-led Assassin’s Creed movie, but if both fail to resonate, then Hollywood should just stop trying with video game to film adaptations.

9. Ghostbusters (July 15th)

What? How could this be up on your list, Cade? Simple, because I love the original movie from 1984 and no matter what, I’m going to see this movie. I didn’t like the trailer that much, but I wasn’t up in arms over the fact that there are women taking over the franchise for geeks. From what I understand, Bill Murray, who will be making a cameo, has handpicked many of the cast members such as Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones. I’ve seen some skits of theirs on Saturday Night Live, and I think that there will be better comedy than screaming that “the power of Patty compels you!” It also has Chris Hemsworth as the team’s secretary and Charles Dance cast in an undisclosed role. I hope it can get me to laugh hard at least once.

8. The Legend of Tarzan (July 1st)

After the massive success of the Jungle Book, this feels like more of a victory lap. Directed by David Yates, maker of the last three Harry Potter films, this reboot-sequel hybrid focuses on John Clayton III after he had left the jungle and become a successful Lord and husband in England. Don’t worry though, as he’s soon drawn into a deadly plot that forces him to embrace his past and become one with the jungle once more. Alexander Skarsgard leads the pack as the titular hero, along with a star-studded cast that includes Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, and even Samuel L “The Mofo” Jackson. Top that off with a musical score by Hans Zimmer, and this has the potential to be an epic and emotional tribute to an iconic character.

7. Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24th)

To be honest, I’m not as pumped for this movie as other people I know that are. But that doesn’t change the fact that it still looks pretty cool. Taking place 20 years after the original movie, this sequel sees the return of Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Vivica A. Fox reprising their roles in a future where mankind has adapted the technology of their former alien invaders and set defense systems on the Moon. Sadly, Will Smith will not be returning as Capt. Steven Hiller, as he was committed to another role to appear later on this list. But it does show off some cool CGI action scenes and may finally explain why the aliens invaded us in the first place. That is all assuming they’ve updated their technology to withstand being infiltrated by something as meager as Windows 95.

6. Finding Dory (June 17th) 

As if Disney couldn’t leave us this year with just one great animated picture. Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks return as Dory and Marlin in a new adventure of when Dory suddenly remembers a part of her past and sets out to find her family. In this reviewer’s personal opinion, Finding Nemo was one of the most definitive computer-animated films of the past decade. Based solely on the trailers and marketing, this sequel looks like it can recapture all the lightning-in-a-bottle its predecessor once had. The animation effects look gorgeous, some of the jokes have me laughing, and there is bound to be some sort of unifying theme somewhere in the story. That’s how it will be.

5. Xmen: Apocalypse (May 27th)

3 whole months after Deadpool left me laughing my ass off, 20th Century Fox provides us with another film in their ever-growing franchise. Concluding the trilogy arc set up by First Class and Days of Future Past, audiences will be introduced to the new villain Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant in existence. Pretty much everything mankind has learned about gods and deities up to this point, including the Holy Bible, came from this being. He even has the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding along, which are essentially mutants who have been enhanced with special powers to fight with and defend the titular villain. With Oscar Isaac tapped to take on the role, it appears that he is starting to take over Hollywood.

4. Suicide Squad (August 5th) 

Following the mixed/poor reception of DC’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. is looking to close out the summer in style. Featuring a range of iconic Batman villains, the story follows a group of super-criminals who are temporarily busted out of jail by Amanda Waller, played Viola Davis. She offers amnesty if they can pull off a dirty assignment for the government, and if anything goes wrong, Waller has plausible deniability to blame them. Unlike the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, which show likable, straight-arrow superheroes willing to save the day, this movie makes the bold move of focusing on an ensemble of quirky, unpredictable psychopaths whose motivations can change on a dime, and can die at any moment. Think of a DC version of Game of Thrones, but instead with a large cast consisting of Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, and Jared Leto as The Joker.

3. Jason Bourne (July 29th) 

This feels like a long time coming, as it has been almost 9 years since the last installment. Yes, 9 years; Legacy with Jeremy Renner doesn’t count, damn it. Director Paul Greengrass and lead actor Matt Damon reunite for the 4th time in a co-written script about the titular spy, who has seemingly regained all of his memory and manuevers through a world that is particularly unstable. When I first heard about this sequel I was skeptical, but after the trailer, I may have changed my mind. Tommy Lee Jones, Riz Ahmed, and Alicia Vikander have joined the cast as the new CIA operatives attempting to track down the rogue special agent. Better get ready for another round of super shaky, handheld camera angles and intense fighting sequences.

2. The Nice Guys (May 20th)

After a wave of sequels, spinoffs, and reboots galore, here we come to an original movie, and just misses out on the top spot. Starring Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe, the story is set in 1970’s Los Angeles and follows a down-on-his-luck private eye and a lethal hired enforcer who work together on a case revolving around a young missing girl. Their investigation supposedly leads into a larger criminal conspiracy. Director Shane Black is delivering us a buddy-cop dark comedy that can hopefully pay homage to classic buddy-cop movies, including Crowe’s own L.A. Confidential. In a world full of high-octane blockbusters and CGI showcases, it’s nice to see someone going back to a movie genre that has been all but forgotten.

1. Captain America: Civil War (May 6th)

Honestly, anything with the word “Marvel” slapped in front of it, we nerds are bound to get pumped about it. But there is a particularly high amount of anticipation for the first movie in Phase Three of the M.C.U. Based in part on the commercially successful yet controversial comic book of the same name, Iron Man and Captain America go to war with each other when the government issues an accord that all super-humans register their true identities in case of collateral damage. Similar to Warcraft, it appears that this movie is going to attempt to examine both sides of the argument. It also marks the cinematic debut of the Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, as well as Tom Holland as Spider Man crossing over into the M.C.U. Pick what team you’re on, because we the audience are in for the biggest all-star rumble in history.

So what movies are you most excited for? Which ones are you concerned or don’t care about? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to Like and Follow my Blog for more awesome content like you see here.

“Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” Movie Review

I figured my reviews of the older movies are long overdue, so if I’m going to do it, I’ll have to include spoilers and all. This epic space opera debuted on May 25th, 1977, quickly becoming the highest grossing film of that time against an $11 million budget. Influencing countless generations in the years that followed, the film spawned two sequels, three prequels, numerous spin-offs, and a recent sequel trilogy. I have to assume there are some who have never seen or even heard of Star Wars before; for all three of you, here we go. A cinematic watershed, the first film opens up with a space ship of the Rebel Alliance being chased by an Imperial Star Destroyer. After getting boarded, the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO escape the madness with the hidden plans for the Death Star, a super-weapon with enough fire power to decimate entire planets. They land on the desert planet of Tattooine where, after a little squabble with slavery, get sold to Luke Skywalker, arguably the most relatable protagonist in movie history. We’ll touch on that later, but he takes these two droids in and eventually meets up with Obi-Wan Kenobi, an old hermit who turns out to be one of the last Jedi Knights remaining from the Clone Wars. After seeing his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen murdered on their family ranch, he agrees to accompany Kenobi on his mission to the planet Alderaan to deliver the Death Star Plans to the Rebel Leaders, and consequentially learn the ways of The Force. All the while, they’re being escorted by smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca and chased by Darth Vader. As I said, Luke is a super relatable character, and that’s because he is. He starts out as this average, kind of whiny guy on a desert moisture farm and evolves into a selfless hero who hatches elaborate escape plans for galactic Princesses. Darth Vader is perhaps the greatest villain in cinematic history, featuring a strong introduction and a menacing presence. But what many often forget is that he’s actually under control from the Imperial officer, Grand Moff Tarkin. When he was choking a man because of his lack of apparent belief in the Force, Tarkin ordered “Enough of this! Vader Release him!” So Vader is more like the worst case scenario you never want to meet in space. Which brings up The Force, which is essentially a ubiquitous magical power that brings the entire galaxy together. The idea of it is kind of beautiful (unless you believe in the elitist midi-chlorians). It also makes a commentary on philosophy and religion. Han Solo is the best character in the movie, yet even he states, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Admittedly, some of the dialogue feels corny and outdated. And there feels like more than just one convenience in certain situations. But that’s nothing compared to the CGI changes in the Special Editions. Apparently, the original theatrical versions of the movies no longer exists in the world. But easily the most insulting change made was that during their confrontation in Mos Eisley Cantina, Greedo is now the one who shoots first, not Han Solo. George Lucas’s excuse was that he wanted to model Han after John Wayne, and no one would really sympathize with someone who shot first. Whatever. You also get the impression that this Death Star means serious business. The first planet it ever destroys is Alderaan, which forces our heroes to hide out in the iconic Millennium Falcon space ship until they can save Princess Leia. Then there happens a lightsaber battle between Kenobi and Vader on the Death Star, which was one of the best parts of the whole Saga. It was intense and entertaining, and killed off a great character of Kenobi in a satisfying way. It’s the best case scenario and he has to make sure his death is worth it because hey, the term Boba-Fetted hasn’t been invented yet. In the end, the original Star Wars movie was science fiction game-changer unlike anything anyone had ever seen or experienced before. It had a great villain, it had a timeless story, and it had one of the greatest musical scores ever put to film. John Williams made so many iconic tracks, it’s impossible to name them all. May The Fourth Be With You, my fellow geeks and nerds!

“Beasts of No Nation” Movie Review

*Please note when a movie airs on Netflix, it may slip under my radar. And if it’s in select theaters it can only be within 50 miles of my home. So thank you for withholding comments that I’m an ignorant racist. I appreciate it.*

Not going to lie. That was rough, and I’m speechless. The first theatrical movie ever produced by Netflix, this chilling war drama premiered on the aforementioned streaming service on October 16, 2015, as well as select theaters. Writer-director Cary Fukunaga faithfully adapts the novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala, in what would have easily made my best of the year list. We follow the dark and intense story of Agu, a young boy from Western Africa that first-hand experiences the horrors of civil war. Eventually, he himself gets pulled into the conflict as a soldier. And while he is a gentle boy at heart, he found that was capable of truly terrible acts. Agu is played by newcomer Abraham Attah, and as I was watching this movie I thought to myself, “Why don’t I or anyone else know anything about this kid?” That’s the beauty of these gems, that they might reveal someone with absurdly great acting abilities. You understand the struggles that this child is going through, physically, mentally, and emotionally. At a certain point in the narrative, there is an absolute moment where he believes that this war is his way of life now. You see it on his face. Throughout the 137 minute-long picture, he is narrating as a way of “talking to God,” or anyone who will listen to his prayers. It straight up reminded me of Mad Max: Fury Road, when the concubines were praying to anyone who would listen. He starts taking various drugs and alcohol as a form of coping with his manic-depressive side and to illustrate his gradual loss of innocence. Obviously, this film has many social undertones and implications. For example, one of the only friends that Agu makes during the civil war is Strika, a mute boy no older than Agu himself. He cares for him in bad situations, teaches basic methods of survival and warfare, and plays games with him to cheer Agu up. It opens up the argument that as far as child soldiers go, he wasn’t that bad of a person. But then there’s the flip-side of it where as far as child soldiers go, he was still a child soldier. That is probably the most accurate depiction of the mental situation many of these people have to go through in real life. Other characters in this film, however, are just completely apathetic psychopaths, such as Idris Elba as the Commandant, leader of the rebel forces. The man keeps impressing me with each performance he gives, killing it in every role he demonstrates. There will be at least a few actors who get more work; Idris Elba is definitely going to be one of them. The Commandant is violent, he’s sadistic, he’s unpredictable; he just loves causing fear and pain to others. There a few scenes he shares with Agu where you are just baffled at the things he says and does, like when he invites Agu into his bedroom for a secret encounter. Again, the movie is so realistic and brutal and never apologizes for demonstrating it. And the film looks great as well. The cinematography captures both the gorgeous and horrific aspects of the African jungles, where a large portion of the story takes place. During some intense moments or drug-induced episodes, the film tint is altered to feel more thematic. If I haven’t professed it already, Beasts of No Nation is a very emotional, sometimes sad movie. I don’t think I have cried so openly during a movie in quite a long time, yet another attribute to it’s power and delivery. If I were to compare films together, then Beasts of No Nation is like the Schindler’s List of genocide in Africa. Now if I told you that this movie was an easy experience, that would a be bold-faced, B.S. lie. It is hard and painful to watch. But I will profess that Beasts of No Nation is absolutely worth watching, dare I say necessary. Exploring potent themes of cruelty, innocence, faith, hope, and the line between Good and Evil, this is one film that I and many other people will be thinking about for a very long time. Although way too upsetting to watch more than once the type of film where after you finish watching it, you just sit on your couch or chair or any comfortable spot in dead silence for several minutes.