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The Monuments Men

THE MONUMENTS MEN
 
The Monuments Men is the true story about a team of artists who were commission by the U.S. Government during World War II to find and return the world's most important and historical works of art that were stolen by the Nazis.
 

 
The one thing I loved above and beyond all else in this movie was the story.  The story is completely unique to any other war films that I've seen.  I can't imagine how devastating it would have been to the art community and the world culture had these men not put their lives on the line to recover the stolen masterpieces.
 
This film also features an amazing cast with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman. You would think this film would be a guaranteed home run with such a power house cast, but unfortunately the characters weren't developed enough and it was difficult to empathize with them during scenes that should have been more powerful. The characters were introduced in an Ocean's 11 style with a very quick montage of each person being recruited by George Clooney to report for duty.  The style clashed with the content and it felt like the movie was going to be a comedy, but turned out to be a melodrama.
 
If you're planning on seeing this film and you're expecting action, take note --- this movie is slow... very slow.  It was hardly compelling in any way other than the art that was at stake. Which in an among itself was enough to drive the story. There were scenes where I wanted to jump out of my chair and scream as the Nazi's burned famous paintings with flamethrowers.  So the subject matter was powerful enough for me to be glad that I saw the movie just to know the story. On the other hand, the emotion didn't quite reach the intended mark and I think this story could have sufficed for a special on the History Channel. Regardless, if you have a good appreciation for art and history, you'll be glad you saw this film.
 
My Grade: B
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
 
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is the story of the life of Nelson Mandela and how he came to be the president of South Africa after he was imprisoned for 27 years.
 

 
This is an amazingly powerful movie. It's easily one of the best films of the year. It's one of the most important stories to be brought to the big screen ever, really.  In light of his recent death, I feel like this film deserves a lot of support. It's such an unbelievable story. It's really tough to imagine how hard it would be to endure the things Mandela and the people of South Africa had to endure.
 
This film reminded me a lot of Ghandi, which is one of my favorite movies. It's sobering to see how evil man can be and how history seems to provide someone in these types of circumstances to take a stand and reveal the solution to a problem that may have continued to go unsolved for who knows how long? Needless to say, go see this movie. It's perfect.
 
The storytelling was brilliant. The story moved along and never dragged. The shocking history cuts to the core and this movie will have you crying, laughing, and wanting to jump out of your seat in outrage.
 
The acting in this film was superb across the board. Idris Elba (Pacific Rim) as Mandela was wonderful. He encapsulated the man perfectly.  I'll be very upset if he's not given an Oscar nomination. He's a great actor and proves that he is among the best in the business.
 
Naomi Harris, who plays Winnie Madikizela, Nelson Mandela's second wife, was also noteworthy. Winnie's character was highly fascinating and Naomi Harris did an outstanding job.
 
This film is one of the best movies of the year and I highly recommend it.  Don't be surprised to be hearing a lot about this film when awards season arrives.  It's the newest addition to my Top 10 Best Movies of the Year.
 
My Grade: A+
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
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AMERICAN HUSTLE

AMERICAN HUSTLE
 
American Hustle is the partially true story about a con-man and woman who, after getting caught conning people for thousands of dollars, make a deal with an overly ambitious FBI Agent to bring down some very high profile members of the society in order to avoid prosecution.
 

 
This movie has the best ensemble cast of any other movie this year.  The acting was outstanding across the board and rightly so, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence all have received Golden Globe nominations for their performances in this film.  Out of the bunch, Amy Adams stuck out the most. Not just anyone could have pulled off her role the way she did.  There is a scene where she seems to develop a split personality and they way she performed it was unbelievable. I don't know if anyone will beat her out for the Oscar this year.
 
This is one of the best dark comedies that I've seen in a very long time.  The story was highly intriguing and I was laughing within the first 30 seconds when I saw the opening title read, "Some of this actually happened..."  They did a great job of keeping it interesting with minimal action by focusing in depth on each character.  When done right, it's one of the things that makes a great film and this one is easily one of the 10 best films of the year.
 
I'm very impressed with the Writer/ Director, David O. Russell, who is on a hot streak of amazing movies with his last two films being The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook.  He's extremely talented and I'm officially a big fan.  The style he brings to the screen is awesome. He seems to be character focused but very good at capturing the subtle moments that can point out the humor of a situation in surprising ways.
 
Another thing that stuck out to me was how well they captured the style of the 70's with the awesome costumes and the best soundtrack of any movie I've seen this year.
 
This is the stuff good films are made of. With award worthy writing, directing, and acting, this is definitely one of the best movies of the year.
 
 
My Grade: A+
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
 
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is the much anticipated sequel to Anchorman. The movie that instantly made Ron Burgundy a legend.  In this one, the story follows the News Team when they are asked to head up a new 24 hours global news network.  
 

 
I probably don't have to say this, but if you're not a fan of the first Anchorman, you most definitely should not see this movie. Now if you are a fan of the first one, then you will not be disappointed. While this one isn't quite as good as the first one, it's a great continuation. All of the characters are back along with some new characters and some great cameos.  
 
What can I really say about a movie like this? Obviously it's stupid, ridiculous and silly, but that's what I love about it.  I had a hard time catching my breath from laughing at almost every single scene. It was absolutely shocking and hilarious throughout the entire movie.
 
Will Ferrell is iconic as Ron Burgundy and Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig were fantastic opposite of each other. I can't write this review without mentioning Kansas City's Paul Rudd. He's hilarious as Brian Fantana, who is still by far my favorite role for Rudd.


So while Anchorman 2 isn't a good movie by your average critic's standards, it's right up there with the first and one and if you are a fan of Ron Burgundy, get out there and see this one as soon as you can! It's hilarious.  We were quoting lines the whole way home from the theater.   I can't wait to see this one again!
 
My Grade: B+
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
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NEBRASKA

NEBRASKA
 
Nebraska is the story of an old man who convinces his son to journey from Montana to Nebraska to claim a Million Dollar Sweepstakes Marketing prize.
 

 
This film is one of my top 3 favorite films of the year.  The story was brilliantly simple and felt real. The acting was amazing. Bruce Dern gave an award worthy performance.  I haven't seen any male roles this year that can compare. Keep in mind I have not seen Dallas Buyers Club or Mud. Both movies have Matthew McConaughey drumming up Oscar buzz.  Either way, if you like movies or if you like people or life or if you have love in your heart or a soul, you HAVE to see this movie!
 
The film was shot in black and white and I felt it added a gloom to the story that was well deserved. The story was heartbreaking and inspiring. I can't remember the last time I felt such deep emotion while watching a film. The screenwriting was perfect.  The story never dragged and had some great comedy along the way.
 
This film was directed by Alexander Payne. Payne who directed other films such as The Descendents, Sideways, and About Schmidt has proven to be brilliant in the sense of telling small stories will characters that nearly anyone can identify with.  I believe we'll see him receiving his third nomination for Directing for this film.  
 
There were a few other performances I need to mention in this review. First, Will Forte, who is best known for Saturday NIght Live and unfortunately MaGruber.  This was easily the performance of his life. I thought he was perfect casting to play the old man's compassionate son, who wanted nothing more than to get some time with his aging father.  His performance was wonderful and he showed that he has a much larger range than I ever expected.
 
Secondly, Bob Odenkirk, who is mostly known for How I Met Your Mother and his role as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad. He plays the older brother and does a fantastic job. I think he's a great actor and even when he's serious he can draw a laugh.
 
The other performance in this film that will most definitely earn a nomination was given by June Squibb. She was hilarious as the loud-mouthed and nagging old lady. She was brilliant and I'll be mad if she doesn't earn a supporting actress nomination.
 
NEBRASKA is the most touching movie I've seen this year and I promise if you watch this movie, you'll love it!
 
My Grade: A+
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
I'd love to hear your thoughts:

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Frozen

FROZEN
 
Frozen is Disney's latest animated feature.  When princess Elsa becomes queen, her secret icy powers are revealed after she accidently brings an eternal winter upon the kingdom. It's up to her sister, Anna, Kristoff, a rugged outdoorsman,  his reindeer Sven, and a magical snowman named Olaf to save the kingdom.
 

 
I was surprised to find this movie to be a musical... and a good one at that. It was a pleasant surprise. I felt like I was watching one of the classic Disney musicals from my childhood. The only difference being the excellent computer animation and 3D.  The world the makers created was fantastic and beautiful.  The story was original and the voice acting was top notch.  I haven't seen all of the animated films to come out this year, but this is the best one I've seen so far. I'm confident it will be nominated for awards for best song and best animated feature.
 
There is some mild rude humor and therefore this film received a 'PG' rating.  I think it was likely for using the word 'butt' a few times. So if you might be offended by that, you may want to skip this movie.  Otherwise, this is a really fun holiday movie and great fun for the whole family.  I really believe this film has the potential to become an instant classic.
 
My grade for this film: A
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
 
The Hunger Games Catching Fire is the second offering from the popular Hunger Games trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. In this film, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in the crosshairs of the Capital when her winning of the last Hunger Games appears to be setting a revolution in motion.
 

 
I really enjoyed this movie from start to finish. I brushed up on the first Hunger Games prior to seeing Catching Fire and while I thought the first one was a pretty good movie, this one was much better. Not having read the books, I felt a little lost on how things got so horrible in their futuristic world in the first one. With Catching Fire, the story gets deeper into how society became such a horrible place to be and in turn I felt more connected to the characters. I really didn't want the movie to end and now I can't wait for the next one.
 
The acting in Catching Fire was very good across the board, but Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia) and Elizabeth Banks (The 40 Year Old Virgin) were remarkable. I've always been a fan of Stanley Tucci, he's a great character actor and never fails to deliver a great performance.  On the other hand, I wasn't a big fan of Elizabeth Banks until this movie.  I've always thought she was an okay actress, but this movie shows off how talented she really is and I'm convinced.
 
If you're a  fan of the books or the movies, I predict you'll enjoy this film quite a bit.  In comparison to the first Hunger Games, I say this one has a better story and better acting and along with good cinematography, very good special effects, great costumes, plenty of action, good comic relief and scenes that will nearly bring you to tears, Catching Fire is a must see.  
 
Make sure you see the first Hunger Games before you see this one or you will be lost. The screening I attended was not in 3D and I enjoyed it fine. Although, if I do see this one again, I'll probably check it out in 3D.
 
My grade for this film: A
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
I'd love to hear your thoughts:

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Ender's Game

ENDER'S GAME
 
Ender's Game is the highly anticipated sci-fi thriller based on the popular novel with the same title written by Orson Scott Card. It stars Asa Butterfield (Hugo) and Harrison Ford (42).  It takes place in a future where the world has survived a massive and devastating alien attack.  The story focuses on a young boy who has been recruited by the International Military in hopes he will be the one that can lead them to victory against another attack.
 

 
This movie has a very interesting story and having not read the novel or known anything at all about it before I saw it, I was pretty happy overall.  The story dragged a little at the beginning, but as things progressed I got more and more into it.  It did feel rushed with how much content was in the movie and I didn't feel like things had enough time to develop as much as they could have.
 
The special effects were very good throughout the movie. Once the story got going, there were some really fun action sequences and the visuals and costumes were great.  It was easy to sit back and enjoy the ride.
 
The acting in the film was also really good. Asa Butterfield who played the title character in Hugo, was great. He did a fantastic job with his character's development and really portrayed his emotions perfectly. He most definitely has a bright future ahead of himself.
 
Harrison Ford was good as the veteran colonel who wants nothing more for the boy to succeed. I liked his character quite a bit .
 
This film is really geared towards kids and I think the teenagers in particular will really enjoy this movie. If this had come out when I was in Junior High or High School, I would have loved it.  It's not dirty, the language is pretty tame, and it's not too violent. I would definitely recommend it as a family outing. It's good fun for everyone.
 
My grade for this film: B+
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
I'd love to hear your thoughts:

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The Counselor

THE COUNSELOR
               
The Counselor is Ridley Scott's latest film starring Michael Fassbender (Promethius), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher), and Brad Pitt (World War Z).  It's about a lawyer who finds himself in over his head when he decides to involve himself in the drug trade.
 

 
This is a twisted and intense melodrama that is not for the faint of heart. It is very violent and disturbing.  The story is interesting and will keep you guessing for a majority of the time, but by the end is somewhat predictable and confusing. 
 
The story was well written with good dialogue. It was shocking and funny but at the same time, offensive and upsetting.  Michael Fassbender did a great job in this film. He's a very talented actor and this role is sure to get him a step closer to becoming a leading man on a more full time basis.  Brad Pitt was his usual self and a big part of why I wanted to see this movie.  Even though he's not the best actor in the world, I really like him and this was a good role for him.Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz aslo did a great job but Javier Bardem was outstanding.  His character was very odd and he easily stole every scene he was in. 
 
All in all, if you are not offended by anything and if you enjoy being disturbed, this is the movie for you.  It's strange and disturbing, very violent, and oddly funny.  If you like any of Quentin Tarantino's movies and don't mind less action and more melodrama, you're sure to enjoy this film.
 
My grade for this film: B
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
I'd love to hear your thoughts:

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CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
 
Captain Phillips is the amazing true story about an American cargo ship taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009.
 

 
This story is truly remarkable and if you don't know how it ends, you've got to see it.  The film makers did a good job of taking the audience through the harrowing ordeal of the first  US cargo ship to be hijacked since the 19th century. It was fascinating to see this story unfold from both sides of the story. It's not a fast paced film, but there's a lot of tension throughout the story and the conclusion is unforgettable.
 
Tom Hanks captured the essence of a cargo ship captain from the get go and was great throughout the entire movie. That is, until the end, when suddenly he works his magic and captures the moment in such a real way that it's tough to believe he's acting.  That scene alone makes the movie worth a watch and if you see this film, you'll know exactly what I'm referring to. He'll probably get some attention come Oscar time, big surprise.
 
The supporting cast did a very good job as well.  Michael Chermus (The Bourne Legacy) plays Captain Phillips' chief mate.  I loved how he seemed so natural and low key, I had to check to see if he was an actor or if they used real crew members.
 
The most notable supporting role goes to Barkhad Abdi, who made his debut as the lead pirate.  He did a great job of emitting the right emotions for every scene. He commanded the screen with his genuinely perfect look for the role. He was terrific in the purest sense of the word.
 
With great performances and an unbelievable true story with an unforgettable conclusion, I definitely recommend this film.  It's pretty long with a 134 min run time and it dragged a little, but it's a very good drama and for nothing more than another masterful performance by Tom Hanks,  it's worth a watch. 
 
My grade for this film: A-
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Mr. Movies - Wes Horner
 
I'd love to hear your thoughts:

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