Tag Archives: Tim Roth

Hardcore Henry or Best Video Game Film EVER

Hardcore Henry Poster

Going into this film, I knew that it was going to be insane.  The previews had me giddy with anticipation and Sharlto Copley has easily become one of my favorite actors since he stared in District 9.  And that’s not even mentioning the fact it was produced by Timur “The Action GENIUS” Bekmambetov.  You may not know the name, but you likely have seen his work.  He did a little film called Wanted a few years back.

When he said "Mutha****er" at the end of this movie, it was like seeing a Priest ACTUALLY invite the alter boy into his office
When he said “Mutha****er” at the end of this movie, was like seeing a Priest ACTUALLY invite the alter boy into his office

If you have never seen Wanted, then just imagine the dorkiest guy getting trained to become an elite assassin by Morgan Freeman with the most amazing fight choreography seen to that date.  Not to mention it was funny as hell.  Anyway, Timur took what he learned from all of his films (including some incredible Russian Horror/Action films: Night Watch & Day Watch) and shoved it into the relative fledgling director: Ilya Naishuller‘s brain and let him loose with a GoPro and some cocaine. And when I say “relative fledgling” I mean this was his first film outside of some music videos he did with his band.

"Post Production" crew
“Post Production” crew

Well, being jazzed up, afraid a little bit that I might get motion sickness and make a mess at my local AMC, but thankfully that never became a problem.  Probably the easiest way for me to describe my feelings for this movie is this: From the moment the film began to its perfect, yet simple, ending, I have not had that much FUN in a movie since I can remember.

Not this kind of fun...and oh, make sure you have safe search on when you Google "Adult Theater Images"
Not this kind of fun…and oh, make sure you have safe search on when you Google “Adult Theater Images”

I knew what to expect from the action and choreography, but had no idea what the full content would look like.  First of all, I think the amount of gore and violence would make the Deadpool film blush.  I’m not kidding, from the beginning credits on, it was pretty much the most mature and bloodiest film I’ve seen since Deadpool, and considering nothing had been on that level for years, that says a lot about what I was watching.  I’d love to say that it was all completely necessary, but I just can’t quite get there.  I will say that using the first person perspective did lend a little more credence to the gratuitous amount of gore, but not by much.

Some of my favorite moments of the film were the multi-character fight scenes.  There are two reasons for this: first, everyone attacked at once. There was none of this “one guy at a time” fight choreography. Sometimes that did get a little overwhelming, especially since the point of view, but honestly, when you have a full on gang rush you, they’re not going to take turns getting the crap beat out of them.

"No sir, I insist that you take your turn. I will follow afterwards."
“No sir, I insist that you take your turn. I will follow afterwards.”

And secondly, the music was just pitch perfect.  The trailer set it up, but delivering Queens “Can’t Stop Me Now” during the pentacle fight scene was just brilliant.  If you felt that the movie was moving fast before, and believe me the non-stop action kept the pace lightning quick, then you have no idea what speed can be.

I could dote on the action and the innovation for a long time, but sadly a film can’t be judged on that alone.  For all intents and purposes, Henry (or you) are the main character of this film, at least that’s what they’re going for.  But  Sharlto Copley is the one who steals the show.  Using a clever method (which would spoil the film, so I won’t give it away), they’re able to shove as much Copley in this film as they can.  And not just the first one you see on screen.  Copley plays at least over ten characters throughout the movie that assist Henry.  I loved that at first there was absolutely no explanation and once they did explain it, the explanation was one of the best bits of the film.

Honestly, who can't get enough of this face?
Honestly, who can’t get enough of this face?

Aside from Copley, there really isn’t another presence that gives this film a fully fleshed out performance.  Actor Danila Kozlovsky, gets the opportunity to play “Generic Russian Villain #420” and the writers don’t give him much to do.  I will give the make-up and effects team some serious props for making him pretty damn creepy looking and seemingly untouchable.  For those of you looking for the video game parallels, he’s the endgame boss you meet multiple times who kicks your ass due to a power you seemingly can’t get past (in this case, it’s telekinesis).

Honestly the plot, story, and dialogue will seem immediately familiar to any video gamer.  Much like the multiple Copleys, this film is broken into multiple “missions” which just break down to changes of the location and level of insanity.  One particular scene shows Copley as a coked out hippie who fights alongside Henry with a frantic pace and screaming non-sense.  All of this takes place in a bordello and in the first person point-of-view, the entire experience is, how do I say…quite realistic.

Duke Nukem: Closest facsimile I could show without giving you a few grand and sending you to Nevada...
Duke Nukem: Closest facsimile I could show without giving you a few grand and sending you to Nevada…

Clearly the writers (ones that actually wrote for the game “Payday 2”) and director were not looking for Best Picture in 2017 here, but I would be highly surprised if they didn’t get nominated for visual effects.  All in all, they knew what they were creating.  A fast paced, action packed, tiny plotted and limply acted video game film.    I just can’t endorse it other than a frantic action film.  Now it’s extremely innovative with both their filming method and a few good surprises along the way, but the longest lasting legacy of Hardcore Henry will be using crowdfunding to complete it (make sure to go there, it showcases some behind-the-scenes stuff as well as the team doing the film), and likely spawning a whole host of copycat films.  Yeah, I’m guessing Hardcore Henry will come in the top five films at the box office this week, even opening in a relatively weak 2700 screens nationwide.

Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:

I pretty much did this part the paragraph above, but it’s pretty simple: if you enjoyed Deadpool or play first person style shooters and are desensitized extreme gore and violence, you’ll really enjoy Hardcore Henry.  I mean, it has a really low threshold in terms of enjoyment, but I guarantee if you’re this film’s target audience, you will have an absolute blast watching it.


The Hateful Eight or Samuel L. Jackson steals the show…again


Warning, the following review will indeed be a review of a Quentin Tarantino movie, we cannot do our job without being slightly profane.  Rest assured that no racial slurs will be used, but if you’re offended by gratuitous violence and language, you wouldn’t see this movie anyway, let alone read a review.  Now, on with the show, er, review:

Now I will get into detail about the film and showcase some of its best features as well as a few failings, but first I want to give you a little bit of history regarding the “70MM” presentation you might have heard about for this film.  If you’re not interested, just skip to the picture of the film strips.

Yes, I said history, I promise you'll survive.
Yes, I said history, I promise you’ll survive.

As you’ve likely seen, The Hateful Eight is being shown in this fancy “70MM Ultra Panavision” at select locations.  Most of you will likely not get this opportunity as it requires a theater to rent, borrow, sell their souls for a projector that can handle it, and it’s being shown as a  special “Roadshow Event”.

I threw a lot at you there.  Let me break it down just a little bit in more detail.  I’ll get to the film comparisons soon, and I won’t get too technical here, just take my word for it, it’s an extremely panoramic film that  not only gives excellent detail, but can make landscapes absolutely breathtaking (there were quite a few examples in The Hateful Eight). What really makes this exciting is that this is the first movie filmed in 70MM and shown since 1966.

Yes, it WAS the same year that Adam West's Batman did "The Batusi"
Yes, it WAS the same year that Adam West’s Batman did “The Batusi”.  It’s not like China first synthesized Insulin to save diabetic peoples’ lives, the Batusi had way more of a cultural impact.

I also mentioned the special “Roadshow Event” earlier.  Basically, when TV was first invented, everyone went nuts for this home entertainment miracle and thus stopped spending money at the theaters.

I have a 1080p 55" Sony with great audio and as you can see, I buck the trend.
I have a 1080p 55″ Sony with great audio and as you can see, I clearly buck the trend.

So, what was poor disenfranchised Hollywood to do when their adoring (paying) customers stayed home and watched Batman, the first episode of Star Trek, and The Andy Griffith Show instead of dressing up all fancy like, shelling out the nickles and dimes (or *gasp* a dollar) on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,  El Dorado, or even Batman: The Movie.

As much as I love Batman, I just can't blame everyone for skipping this one...
As much as I love Batman, I just can’t blame everyone for skipping this one…

Anyway, the answer from Hollywood was to make going to theaters an “experience” again.  This came in the format of an old tactic called a “Roadshow Event”.  The premise was simple, limit the supply (the movie release) and people would rush to see a “Special Screening” of Ben-Hur (1959) or It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)- and oh, I made sure that I had the correct amount of “Mads” in the title there.  Genius idea, but without the best distribution methods, no Drones for Lyndon B. Johnson to deliver things…that we know about.

This is where the “Roadshow” portion came about.  They would bring the projector, a full panoramic (and sometimes curved screen, which you might say they were ahead of the…oh forget it, you would probably lynch me for making that joke about modern Curved TVs), and the film from area to area to show the film.  It made for those “Special Events” and got the attention of people again.  While 1966 was the final year a 70MM film was made, Hollywood did okay by reviving an old gimmick with new technology that would last well into the 1980’s:

Oh, and then Avatar (2009) came out and the theater chains found out they could charge a premium...
Oh, and then Avatar (2009) came out and the theater chains found out they could charge a premium for the same gimmick with just fancy new tech…and glasses

Bit of history on the “Roadshow Events” and now just a quick showcase of 70MM film in general.  I’ll do it quick and I won’t have you all do any math.  The 70MM film format had a ratio of 2.76:1 (that means the screen is 2.76 times as wide as it is tall). Compared, most movies today are projected in either 1.85:1 (35MM) or 2.35:1 “anamorphic widescreen” format. High-Def screens feature a 16:9 ratio, which is close enough to 1.85:1, and besides, only nerds like me appreciate.  As I said earlier, this is done to give amazing landscapes, epic scale of set pieces, and almost turning the film into a “play-like quality”.  Just take a quick look below to see comparisons of the different types of film.  I tossed in a true IMAX comparison just for fun.

70MM Comparison
Visual aids, the best thing since sliced bacon
IMAX Comparison
It looks like IMAX is compensating for something…

History lesson is over, let’s talk about all the filthy, gory, disturbing, racist and other offensive non-sense Tarantino loves to showcase in all of his films.

As I said in the title, Samuel L. Jackson really steals the show here.  His character not only progresses much of the story forward, and is the most clever.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Samuel L. Jackson and every Tarantino film, but I think it’s time they take a break from each other.  If you were to look at Tarantino’s IMDB page, you would see seventeen director credits.  All but eight of them, are TV shows, guest directing gigs, etc.  The meat of his directing career, the eight true films, starting with Reservoir Dogs (1992) and leading up to The Hateful Eight, Samuel L. Jackson appears in six of those eight films.

I mean, there is no cardinal sin here since both Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino are both insanely talented, and they haven’t gotten to the level of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.  The latter two’s collaborations are getting worse and worse as the years go by.  I don’t want the same phenomenon to happen to Jackson and Tarantino.  And like I said, Jackson steals the show.  He’s the one the audience is rooting for and he can do no wrong.  In fact, in this performance, I believe he leaves a little on the table even though his dialogue is crisp and well delivered, it just feels that he’s playing “Samuel L. Jackson” and not the character in the film.

Everyone else has their assigned duties.  Kurt Russel pokes his head out from whatever hole he was in and punches a woman in the face so many times that I wanted to call the cops for assault and battery.  You’ve got other normal Tarantino actors: Michael Madsen and Tim Roth who put on great performances.  I really appreciate Roth who has one of the most prolonged but easily hilarious scenes I’ve seen.  You have to pay attention, but it’s there and it is glorious.  The others involved deliver the script to mount as much tension as possible before we have the “Tarantino Battle Minute”.

I name this particular sequence the “Tarantino Battle Minute” because it happens in every one of his films.  First, there is a seriously long discussion/dialogue featuring one person to a medium sized group.  This is Tarantino’s specialty.  No other writer/director ever produces such authentic dialogue.  It’s natural and in some situations, like half the scenes in Inglorious Basterds, it builds the tension to a serious boiling point.  That’s the second part, the “Tarantino Battle Minute”.  After all the conversations, there is a lightning quick amount of carnage.

Heads are blown off, people disemboweled, simultaneous murders, limbs ripped apart or off, testicles shredded, eyes stepped on, and in one case, the top of someone’s head is cleanly sliced off.  All this will occur in a matter of moments. The longest example is from Kill Bill: Vol. 1 when The Bride destroys the gang known as “The Crazy 88”.  But suffice it to say, the “Tarantino Battle Minute” usually ends up looking like this afterwards:

Actual dialogue: “YOU DIDN’T MENTION KNEECAPPING.” – Django Unchained (2012).  I suppose I didn’t mention “kneecapping” up there…

You know these are in the movie.  They’re bloody fantastic (I mean that in the most serious and every way possible).  But, that brings me to a moment of hesitation in The Hateful Eight, I essentially knew what was going to happen the entire time and that’s kind of a bummer.  I know a lot of other films follow a director’s style and exact same formula, but that doesn’t make it any better.  What I can, and will say, is that even though I knew it was coming, it still showcased some of the most ridiculous and gratuitous violence with guns I’ve ever seen.  I say guns because The Bride murders with a blade.

Now some things I can dote on are the cinematography and set design.  I saw the film in its 70MM format, so your experience may vary, but what I felt was true immersion with the landscape and the characters.  It’s something that 3D tries to do all the time, but can’t quite get it right. You immediately see why Tarantino resurrected a decades old film format: not only “just because he could”, but he wanted the audience in that cabin and wanted us to be able to see every detail around us.

That’s really the last thing I can say about the film: the set was perfect. You have eight people in a one-room shack with no where to hide.  The outhouse is indeed outside, along with the stables.  The door has to be nailed shut due to it being broken.  And with all the decorations, tables, bed, bar, fireplace, and eight strangers, it gets extremely claustrophobic and paranoia, even in the audience, looms everywhere.  Tarantino could not have constructed a more perfectly tense location for the characters to interact.

I said "Characters" not Deadpool
I said “Characters” not just Deadpool

I wouldn’t be doing my job very well if I didn’t warn against the coarse language throughout the entire film.  I cannot imagine any of our readers offended by the slurs and curses, but I have to at least say something.  And it really does add to the dialogue.  The film takes place in the Post Civil War time and listening to the transition and moderate to no acceptance of anything or anyone was fascinating.

Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:

The Hateful Eight is a Quentin Tarantino film.  Everything he does in every other movie he has done is present in this feature.  I can’t imagine this would be your first Tarantino film, so if you like what he’s done before, you’re going to like this movie.  I will say I’m getting tired of Samuel L. Jackson stealing every scene he’s in, but that’s a minor complaint.  Still it kept a little enjoyment from me, not much, but I wasn’t as invested in the character as I usually would have been.  Finally, if you live somewhere that has the 70MM Roadshow, see that version, you’ll be treating yourself.