Monthly Archives: November 2016

“Allied” Movie Review

After saving the world from a zombie outbreak, Lt. Aldo Raine is back to kill some Nazis… well not quite. Visionary Robert Zemeckis’ World War II romantic spy thriller opened on Black Friday of 2016, which may or may not compromise its potential commercial success in the long run. Set on the backdrop of the 1940’s, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play two spies at the height of tensions in the Second World War. At first, Max and Marise pretend to be married, but after falling in love, they actually become husband and wife. Max is then informed by his superiors that  his wife might be a German spy. If she’s innocent, they will forget it ever happened. But if their suspicions are true, then Max has to kill her to prove his loyalty to the Allies. But that doesn’t happen until at least halfway through the movie. The first half of Allied focuses on their romance and falling in love. That’s all fine and dandy, I don’t have a problem with that. But the fact that the film was primarily marketed as an intense spy thriller in World War II made the romantic aspect of the plot somewhat jarring at first. Thankfully, the two leads share great chemistry throughout the entirety of the film. Marion Cotillard, in particular, shines as the mysterious wife. She has the build and look of a woman who belongs in a period piece, and the French actress has yet to give a dull performance in her career. Costar Brad Pitt is fine as the conflicted main protagonist. Though if we’re being honest, it felt as if he was phoning it in for a majority of the time. They could have cast a myriad of other actors for the role, and I don’t think it would have been worse for the wear. And of course, this being a Robert Zemeckis production, the film looks gorgeous for all of its 124 minute-long runtime. Whether it’s an action set piece or a quieter dramatic moment, the visuals are a joy to look at. The cinematography by Don Burgess brings out vibrant colors that delightfully contrast the bleak reality of World War II. The story also reminded me of the Humphrey Bogart classic, Casablanca. A North American man falls for a young woman who he probably shouldn’t care about, and originates from the opposite side of the world in the middle of a bloody World War. But unlike that 1940’s masterpiece, Allied suffers from very uneven pacing. The script penned by Steve Knight makes various jumps forward in time to signify the relationship between Max and Marise. But in the latter half of the movie, when Max is investigating his wife, it suddenly begins grinding over a single weekend. This slower burn feels appropriate for the thriller aspect of the story, but didn’t flow well with the previous hour. But I will say that the thriller/action sequences are quite exciting when they happen. The film utilizes its R-rating to showcase gushes of blood from gunfights and intense close quarters combat. One of the first scenes involves Max ambushing a Nazi officer by choking him to death. The shock and sudden nature caused me to jump from my seat in the movie theatre, a litmus test to see if a thriller is effective on me. The supporting cast includes character actors like Jared Harris, Lizz Caplan, August Diehl, Anton Lesser, and Mathew Goode as players in this figurative game of chess between an American soldier and his wife who could possibly be a traitor. It’s a simple and interesting premise, just slightly mis-marketed for the actual content. Allied is an enjoyable, yet uneven spy thriller to wedge out in the crowded and overly popular canvas of World War II. Robert Zemeckis’ trademark visual style and the performances help to  elevate the film, but not enough to its potential as a wartime epic. It is a fun date movie to see with your boyfriend or girlfriend over the weekend matinee. That is, of course, assuming that neither of you are sent to the hospital thanks to the hell that is Black Friday.

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“Doctor Strange” Movie Review

It’s official. After a few years of hiatus, Gregory House has become a sorcerer. Kind of. Well, actually… not at all. This fantasy comic book superhero movie from director Scott Derrickson released on November 4th, 2016, conjuring up nearly $580 million by its third weekend. The second installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three and the fourteenth outing overall, Doctor Strange has had a grueling pre-production beginning as far back as 1986, before producer Kevin Feige formally announced in October of 2014. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange, an acclaimed but arrogant and pragmatic neurosurgeon who gets into a car wreck one rainy night. The wreck renders his hands almost useless, and in a desperate quest for help, he joins a group of monks in the mountains of Nepal. Their leader, The Ancient One, chooses instead to widen his keyhole of life and teach him in the Mystic Arts. And now they must stop a former acolyte named Kaecilius from collapsing the multiverse in on itself. The result is one hell of an enjoyable movie. Soon after the film was announced a couple years ago, everyone on the Internet, myself included, speculated that Benedict Cumberbatch would get the part. And he’s fantastic in the role, and as said my intro, the Batch of Cumber’s American accent makes him sound like the titular character from the Fox television series, House M.D. You can tell he had a fun time filming his role, especially since this origin story shows that Stephen Strange initially does not want to become a defender of the dimensions. He can choose to use his learnings for a higher cause than himself and really break his inflated ego, or take the magic to simply heal his hands forever. The rest of the supporting cast was great. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton are two actors who should just be cast into any script that comes their way, and their performances as Mordo and The Ancient One, respectively, felt right. Mads Mikkelsen, formerly known as Hannibal Lecter on the canceled NBC drama, proved yet again his ability to play great villains. At this point, he’s kind of like Christopher Walken from the 90’s; you want him to play a kickass antagonist no matter how ridiculous the role. Kaecilius isn’t in the movie so much, but he’s not totally useless like other Marvel villains, such as Zemo from Civil War or Whiplash from Iron Man 2. You get the idea that he was actually important to get the ball rolling. I also like how the magic in the movie worked. The characters explain each of the abilities on a molecular-based level,  bolstered by the film’s dazzling visual effects. When Strange remarks how none of this makes any sense, The Ancient One simply replies, “Not everything does. Not everything has to.” I’m not going to say that Doctor Strange will get nominated for Best Special Effects, but it’s definitely… strange. I know, it was too easy, but I really couldn’t help myself. After proving his worth on big-budget projects such as Mission Impossible, Star Trek, and various Pixar movies, composer Michael Giacchino comes to score the soundtrack, and boy does it sound different than what I expected. Heavily influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan in the 1970’s, the musical score largely consists of twangy electric guitars and extensive percussion sets. This by far the only Marvel movie where I have driven home and was constantly humming the main theme song. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t count because it’s soundtrack is made up of classic pop songs. However, in moving on, as one would probably expect from a Marvel entry at this point, there is a need to stick around after the credits have rolled to get clues about the next movie lined up for next year. And like many of the recent entries, there are actually two post-credits-scenes to look out for. Without spoiling anything, I personally enjoyed the second one better because it was just far more surprising and foreshadowing for a certain character’s future. I will say that Doctor Strange is one of the best introductions to new Marvel characters we’ve had in a while. Best of the tear? That’s still debatable. But if you’re a fan of Marvel Studios, Benedict Cumberbatch, or just weird movies in general, it’s a solid film to see with your kids this holiday break.

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“Logan” Trailer Analysis and Speculation

Does it seem a bit late and irrelevant? Absolutely not. Even though it was released 3 weeks ago, the first official trailer for Logan is still getting people excited, and for good reason. After watching the 107 second-long trailer for 20th Century Fox’s Logan nearly a hundred times, I’m ready to give my opinion. It begins with Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine conversing about how the world is not the same as it was, and most of the mutants, including the Xmen, are gone now. This makes me question what exactly made that happen. Most likely, it could be a deadly pathogen that the Essex Corporation released. But it also appears that the film will at least be partially based on Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan. And in it, Wolverine is manipulated by a supervillain to kill the entire team, which causes him to goes into self-imposed exile. Exactly how close the movie will stay to the comics is still a mystery, but given the fact that it’s rated R, that would be a bold move on the part of the filmmakers. But you can tell that both Xavier and Wolverine are the people that they once were. They both look old, scarred, (both literally and mentally) and haunted by years of withering and loneliness. But there’s this little girl that they find and you hear Charles Xavier say, “She’s like you, Logan. Very much like you.” That more or less confirms that Dafne Keen is playing X-23. I had read somewhere that no matter who they would recast as younger Wolverine, the one character that can truly replace him would be his cloned daughter, X-23. Other than that, this trailer… it doesn’t make Logan feel or look like a comic book superhero movie. There are no CGI explosions, no bits of random humor, no over-the-top villains who look like a physical version of God. With its desolate setting and harsh, bleak tone, Logan seems to have the makings of a neo-western tragedy. All of this is amplified by the choice of the trailer song. Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt,” perfectly establishes the mood of the film. The director James Mangold also helmed the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line, and spoke that the origins of this cover are similar to the story of Wolverine. It was so popular that many YouTubers began a succession of cutting together different blockbuster movies, including Mad Max: Fury Road and Lord of the Rings, in the same style as this trailer. Granted, you could take the worst movie ever made, cut it together with a good song, and it can still look good. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The international trailer is slightly more graphic in violence with one money shot. I’m just saying; one scene makes all the difference. And can we just address the fact that this feels like a movie adaptation for The Last of Us? Seriously, that last shot of Laura and Wolverine holding hands and standing over what appears to be a grave reminded so much of Joel and Ellie. In that, this could be the best movie version of The Last of Us that we’re probably ever going to get. In short, the first official trailer for Logan is one of the best movie trailers I have seen in a long time. If the movie delivers on the tone and quality that it shows us in the trailer, Hugh Jackman will get the sendoff he deserves, and I will cry when I leave the theatre because his time as the Wolverine will be over. Let me know what you think of the trailer in the comments, or what other crazy theories you may have about Logan. Be sure Like this post and if you want to see more, Follow my blog for more awesome content.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Movie Review

Now with the start of this new spin-off series, are we still supposed to call it the Harry Potter universe or The Wizarding World? I’d like someone to clarify that for me. This British-American fantasy movie was released on November 18th, 2016,  pulling in box office receipts of $218 million in its opening weekend alone. For those of you who know me and those who don’t, I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter franchise, both the books and movies. Watching this movie, it’s really hard not to compare this new film to them, but I will strive to review with objective eyes. Instead of being based on any written book or text from author J.K. Rowling, this film opts for an original story from a screenplay written by Rowling herself. Taking things in the past way back to the mid-1920’s, we follow a British magi-zoologist named Newt Scamander who comes to New York City for research on certain magical beasts. But through situational circumstances, No-Maj (Americanised term for Muggle, non-magic folk) Jacob Kowalski takes them home to his apartment, where they are accidentally let loose into the streets. Now Newt and Jacob have to recapture all of these creatures while the M.A.C.U.S.A., or the Magical Congress of the United States of America, attempt to keep the No-Maj world separated from theirs. Namely, the Second Salemers, a group of narrow-minded extremists led by Mary-Lou Barebone whose primary goal is hunting down and killing witches and wizards. There’s a lot more going on in the background and a couple other subplots, but that is the gist of it. And for what it’s worth, the movie was really enjoyable. Eddie Redmayne has proven himself to be one of the better actors of his generation with The Theory of Everything and Les Miserables. His performance here gives Newt a likability and compassion that you would expect from this kind of role, as you can tell he really cares for these beasts. I also really liked Jacob. Dan Fogler has great comedic timing and his relationship with Newt Scamander is the type that reminds of Harry and Ron’s friendship. The visual effects look incredible as well. There is a considerable amount of CGI, but all of it looks clean and smooth. The creatures look incredible, and the spells are… magical. I know it was too easy, but I couldn’t help myself.Fantastic Beasts also spends some good time exploring the politics of magic in North America. We saw in the old movies that J.K. Rowling’s penchant for including social issues of prejudice and  authoritarianism. She continues with those themes in this film, but they feel like a much more timely and relevant manner in which they’re presented, especially with what’s going on in America right now. You get the idea that the M.A.C.U.S.A. is super-controlling over the boundaries between the No-Maj and the Wizarding community, something that the Second Salemers attempt to turn against. But it, unfortunately, hampers the overall pacing of the story, given the relatively short runtime of 133 minutes. Some scenes dragged on a little bit, others felt too short. And it often walks the line between touching and sappy. Other than that, it manages to stay aware of what is. And among all that, Collin Farrell was great in the movie as Percival Graves, an Auror tasked with tracking down Newt. Farrell hasn’t been in many movies as of late, but when he is, he’s always great. There also some hints that Graves has his own agenda to carry out in the shadows. No spoilers or anything, but you can tell that he’s a shady Wizard that probably shouldn’t be trusted. And ultimately, the main goal of this movie is to set up a new franchise. I believe that director David Yates mentioned that they’ve planned a five-movie series. And Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them accomplishes that goal pretty well, with the main conflict and the future films firmly established by the end. It did feel a bit forced to include the uprising of Gellert Grindewald in a story like Newt Scamander’s, but I’m interested to see what Johnny Depp does with the character. In the end, Fantastic Beasts and to Find Them is solid franchise starter that manages to honor the legacy of the previous Harry Potter Films. The acting was great, the direction was crisp, it was visually appealing. I love the soundtrack too. I went onto YouTube that night to listen to it and felt like I was in the Wizarding World once more. It’s perhaps composer James Newton Howard’s most imaginative film score yet, rivaling that of his work on the Huner Games series. It’s a great adventure for the whole family to see during Thanksgiving Break. (At least until Moana comes out)

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“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Movie Review

The end of the Harry Potter saga is here. It’s actually sad. This British fantasy movie released on July 15th, 2011, where it broke records for the highest grossing opening weekend up to that point and some of the best reviews of that year. Warning: like my review for the previous Deathly Hallows, this review is filled with massive spoilers. Read at your discretion. Adapting the second half of J.K. Rowling’s final novel in the Harry Potter series, we see Harry, Ron, and Hermione continuing searching for the Seven Horcruxes that keep Lord Voldemort alive. And right after the first scene with Dobby’s funeral on the beach it already establishes the dark, mournful tone, which is perfect for the story. Then Griphook the Goblin takes them to Gringotts Bank to acquire one of the Horcruxes, a little goblet locked inside of Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault. They break in, get abandoned by Griphook, and escape on the back of a dragon, which was apparently used as protection. That was one of the best scenes from the entire franchise, filled with intensity. Anyway, they then move on to Hogwarts, but after nearly getting caught by Death Eaters they’re rescued by Aberforth, Albus Dumbledore’s lesser known brother. He berates the trio on how any sense of resistance to the Dark Lord is pointless and mentions how his brother was not the saint many make him out to be. But he relents and has a painting of his sister Arianna bring Neville Longbottom to guide them into the castle. Once in, the entire Order of the Phoenix is brought in, and Harry Potter confronts Severus Snape. He angrily tells everyone that he was the one who killed Dumbledore in the tower that night. (More on that later) After freeing Hogwarts, Voldemort contacts them through creepy inner thoughts telling all the students and staff that if Harry is turned over within the hour, Hogwarts will be left alone. Obviously, Professor MacGonagall refuses, sends the entirety of House Slytherin down to the dungeons, and prepares the castle defenses with the other students and teachers. They all realize that they probably don’t stand a chance against Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters. They’re just trying to buy Harry as much time to find and destroy the next Horcrux, the long-lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw, which is hidden somewhere in the castle. And there was a nice throwback to the second movie when Ron and Hermione go down to the Chamber of Secrets to destroy the goblet with a Basilisk Fang. This was the exact moment where they finally hook up. After seven movies and 10 years of watching these two being hostile and bickering back and forth, they finally share a passionate kiss. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson’s fantastic chemistry made it just a little more awkward and awesome, even if it did let Hogwarts open. Then the Dark Lord sends his forces down the mountain. It was just Death Eaters. There were also ravenous giants and Arachnids who fought on his side. Anyway, Harry, Ron, and Hermione find the diadem in the Room of Requirement but are intercepted by Draco Malfoy. His friends accidentally set the Room on fire and he’s trapped at the top of a large bookcase. Reluctantly, Harry saves Draco’s life. He then flashes and realizes that Nagini, Voldemort’s pet snake is the final Horcrux, and they’re meeting with Snape at the docks. But before that, they have to pass through a literal war zone. This scene is called Courtyard Apocalypse for a reason: people are getting killed, foundations are getting destroyed. It went down almost exactly how I pictured it in the books. With the cinematography and the musical score by Alexandre Desplat, there was nothing more I could have asked for. When the trio gets to the docks, they witness Voldemort killing Snape because since he was the one who killed Dumbledore, he must be the one who controls the Elder Wand. In his final moments, Severus gives a couple tears, instructing Harry to take them to the Pensieve. When he does use it, it unravels the biggest, most revealing plot twist of the series. Turns out that Severus Snape genuinely loved Harry’s mother, Lily Potter, and secretly conspired with Dumbledore to protect Harry from dark forces. Dumbledore also instructs Snape to kill him to gain Voldemort’s trust as an engineer to get to the true Horcrux: Harry himself. Surprisingly, this reveal has been met with some hate from fans wanting to see Harry finally face against the hidden villain. But personally, I never thought that Snape was a villain. I always knew that he had some grudge against his father, but to see his memories come to light showed off his tragic qualities. Topped off with Alan Rickman’s beautifully subtle performance, and we have perhaps the best character to come out of J.K. Rowling’s saga. Now that he knows the truth, Harry Potter accepts Voldemort’s offer to go into the Forbidden Forest, where he’s killed. But then he appears in Limbo with Albus Dumbledore. Albus tells him that he can return now that the Horcrux in him is dead, but leaves it open to interpretation. And in the final battle, Neville Longbottom shines. He takes the Sword of Gryffindor and slices Nagini in half. But in the duel, Harry is the victor and Voldemort is defeated, his remains floating in the air. His Death Eaters are defeated, Bellatrix is killed, there’s nothing evil left. It ends on such a bittersweet note. People have lied to loved ones, people have lost loved ones. Some characters just don’t stop. But now they have, and we won’t. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a satisfying sendoff to one of the most beloved fantasy stories in cinematic or literary history. A couple book changes don’t detract from the enjoyment and magical appeal of this series.

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“Lost” T.V. Show Review

*Mild spoilers spread throughout. Certain plot points are hard to discuss without getting in-depth.*

What’s the point of a slow movie week if you can’t use this time to review an epic series like Lost? I know going into this that I’m going to say everything I have to say. I have a LOT to say about this show. If I forgot, feel free to mention it in the Comments. On that note, here we go. This supernatural fantasy mystery drama series ran for six seasons on ABC between 2004 and 2010, gaining wide critical acclaim and high Nielsen ratings. A heavily serialized show, it begins as a commercial airplane, Oceanic Airline Flight 815, crashes on a mysterious deserted island in the South Pacific during a trip from Sydney to Los Angeles. 48 people survived the crash, and now have to figure out their next move, while discovering the mysteries of The Island. Created by Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof, and J.J. Abrams, each episode also features a flashback sequence that reveals more about a specific survivor’s life before the crash. In all honesty, Lost was a very important and groundbreaking T.V. show. It was one of the first times that an episodic medium could tell an overarching story over the course of several seasons. It also managed to keep audiences emotionally invested in the fates of the individual characters, despite its large ensemble cast. Each member of the group was almost always likable, but they all had an episode or two where it was just them. Unfortunately for  Ken Leung, Miles’ episodes were in the last couple of seasons, when things got REALLY confusing. I’ll talk more about that later. I still remember the first time watching this series. For many shows afterward, it was clearly evident that they had borrowed some elements from Lost. But Lost, at the time, was one of the most mind-blowing things I had ever seen on either television or film. A dark, gritty tone set against the beautiful backdrop of the Hawaiian Islands, where it was filmed, was unheard of for me. And just when you think you can pinpoint certain characters, a curve-ball is thrown to sway your opinion. John Locke and Sawyer were arguably the most complex among the ensemble. Both appear one-dimensional at first but their backstories unveil two men’s pasts full of tragedy and conflict that makes you root for them so hard. The worst character, for me, was Michael. He just came off as annoying, self-interested and disregarding to the rest of the group, not just in season 1 but throughout most of the run. But the show wasn’t perfect and began making mistakes as early as season 3. They introduced the couple Nikki and Paulo, who were almost completely useless to the plot. The fact that they had their own central episode just frustrated me. Thankfully, they’re written out of the show rather quickly, and aside from a few mentions, you don’t have to worry about them anymore. Every character introduced to the cast afterward is handled in a much smarter way. They work because they’re actually relevant to the overall story and character development. And it’s not as intrusive or forced. I’ll tell what exactly made Lost hard to follow in the later seasons. The thing that keeps this show so intriguing is that you don’t know all of The Island’s secrets, and it’s arguable that the writers had similar corners to get themselves out of. Not only in season 3 do they rearrange the flashback formula, but they also shoehorn a love triangle between Kate, Jack, and Sawyer. The chemistry between the three actors is fine, but the way it was written made their arc feel cheesy and sappy. And with every big revelation on or off The Island, it was difficult to keep track of everything that ties together. The final three seasons have a complete change in tone and setting, and the fact that they are shorter than previously doesn’t quite give us enough time to understand. The writers then introduce elements as absurd as time travel, CGI monsters, resurrections, and then boom that’s the end. You may think that I just spoiled everything in the show; trust me when I say that I REALLY did not. Speaking of the end… we have to touch on the finale. Never in my entire existence have I seen a series finale that was so polarizing that it somewhat overshadows the quality of the rest of the show. I’m trying to keep it vague, but at the beginning of the final season a storytelling format is changed. It sparked many fan theories about the true nature of The Island and how the series would come to a close. They kind of played on the biggest theory but also attempted to umbrella the whole story under this revelation. You see how hard it is for me to talk about the ending without actually spoiling anything? Ultimately, you’ll walk away from Lost with more questions than answers. We still don’t know why there were polar bears in the first episodes, we still don’t know how old The Island truly is, The Numbers are completely ambiguous and the origins of the Dharma Initiative are still very vague. Though honestly, it’s a bit more fun to interpret these mysteries at your own discretion, and maybe it was intended that way. I know it may sound like I hate this show; quite the opposite. I love Lost from the bottom of my heart. I just had to get out my gripes about the series’ ending. Spanning 6 seasons, 121 episodes, a myriad of diverse characters, and an intriguing overarching story, Lost will go down in history as one of the best T.V. shows of the Second Golden Age.

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“The Accountant” Movie Review

A movie about a man who use mathematics to be a badass? I’m in. This action thriller from Warrior director Gavin O’Connor opened on October 14th, 2016, grossing about $58 million in the first two weeks of its theatrical run. We follow an autistic man named Christian Wolff, who is a socially awkward but genius C.P.A. accountant. He moonlights by cooking the books for some dangerous criminal organizations and even has a few skills at killing people. His actions attract the attention of many interested parties, including the U.S. Treasury who are investigating his shady activities. Getting it right out of the way, Ben Affleck completely steals it as The Accountant. We’ve seen him as a great actor before, but this year, in particular, shows just how badass he has become at this point in his career, with his turn as Batman being the best part of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. For a character who is so soft-spoken and doesn’t have many lines of dialogue, it’s so compelling to see what he’ll do next. Also, the supporting cast, which includes Anna Kendrick as a nosy in-house accountant, J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Treasury director and agent, Jon Bernthal as an elusive hitman, and John Lithgow as a shrewd robotic company CEO, was really good as well. Growing up, I didn’t really like math because only a small percentage of it seemed like it would remain relevant in my life as a grown up. But since then, I’ve come to appreciate it in situation where it seems necessary. One of the most fun aspects of this film, for me anyway, was that I understood most of the lingo Affleck and Kendrick use to track the financial discrepancies of the company. But because the cast is relatively big, it’s often hard to determine just what the movie is really about. Is it about Christian Wolff trying to find out who embezzled all the money from this huge robotics corporation? Is it about the U.S. Treasury investigating the identity of the titular protagonist? Is it about Anna Kendrick’s Dana Cummings figuring out her feelings for this accountant? That’s not to say any of these storylines are irrelevant overall. It’s just saying that the movie can be described in one word as tangled, given the condensed running time of 2 hours and 8 minutes. If they could have found a way to rework everything to flow nicely and seamlessly, I don’t think that the quality of the movie would have been hurt. And when the plot slows down, I really mean it slows down to a near-halt. J.K. Simmons, who is still right for the role of Director Raymond King, spends a good chunk of his screen-time explaining to Addai-Johnson’s character exactly what The Accountant has done that makes him so dangerous. I would have preferred to see the cliff notes of these actions in brief snippets of flashbacks or simple context rather than them sitting down to explain it all in great detail. However, in moving on, it’s in the latter half of the movie when you really see what Christian Wolff is capable of. We are talking when the shit goes down, it GOES down. Watching him square off against Jon Bernthal in the final fight was especially intense, matched by the pitch-perfect sound design and editing by Richard Pearson. You can hear everything from the bullets whizzing by the mercenaries’ heads to the crunching of shattered glass beneath their feet. But it’s not just military-grade sharpshooting Wolff is good at; he’s perfectly adept at hand-to-hand combat. The filmmakers utilized a distinct Indonesian martial arts fighting style called Pencak Silat. The incredible cinematography by Seamus McGarvey, previously nominated for Oscars in the films Atonement and Anna Karenina, features up-close and claustrophobic shots contrasted by long range shoots, allowing for the fights to feel more contemplative. And as much as I could go on about the technicality and impressive gun battles that occur, I absolutely love the way this movie portrayed autism. It manages to show the setbacks of such a neuro-developmental disorder while still remaining respectful to audience members who have been actually diagnosed with it. Earlier in the year, Ben Affleck gave us a memorable spin on the iconic superhero Batman, who is appealing to almost anyone. Yet here, he gives autistic kids their own custom superhero to look up to. Painful social interaction? Check. Reciting the nursery rhyme of Solomon Grundy? Check. Complex math problems solved within minutes of screen-time? Double Check. Christian Wolff is such an interesting new character, with the most memorable line of dialogue in the movie when he says, “I have difficulty socializing with people, even though I want to.” Even if you don’t have autism, you will at least find that piece of written dialogue relatable if you’ve ever had a tough time being social. In the end, The Accountant is a solidly entertaining thriller in the midst of Oscar season. It makes up a somewhat messy plot with intense action sequences, intelligently written character interactions, and by far the most realistic on-screen portrayal of autism to ever be put into silver screen form. There’s also some potential to pimp a new cinematic franchise. (If done correctly) It makes math cool to watch. What more could you ask for?

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