Hostiles (2017)

Director: Scott Cooper

Writer: Scott Cooper (Screenplay) Donald E Stewart (Manuscript)

Starring: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Land, Rory Cochrane

 

Plot: In 1892, a legendary Army Captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.


Tagline – We are all… Hostiles.

Runtime: 2 Hour 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tension Riddled Western

 

Story: Hostiles starts in 1892 when Army Captain Joseph J Block (Bale) is assigned to escort Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi) and his family back to their land so he can die in his home territory, he is reluctantly to do this mission because of his battles with the Cheyenne, but threaten with court martial, he puts a unit together including Master Sgt Thomas Metz (Cochrane), Corp Henry Woodson (Majors), Lt Rudy Kidder (Plemons) and others.

Along the way the party stumbles upon Rosalee Quaid (Pike) whose family was butchered by a tribe leaving her three children including a baby dead, Joseph offers to take her on the journey as she has nothing left. The journey will take them through dangerous territories where Joseph must learn that the battle between man isn’t as simple as he once thought it was.

 

Thoughts on Hostiles

 

Characters – Captain Joseph J Blocker is a legendary soldier that’s reputation is respected, he is assigned a mission he has no interest in, being forced to escort a Cheyenne Chief home or face consequences including losing his pension. He is the best translator and knows the best paths, making him the best man for the job which will see him face his toughest mission yet. Rosalee Quaid saw her whole family butchered by a tribe invading her home, broken she is alone until the party discover her and take her on the journey. She learns that not both sides of the party are evil, just the human kind. Chief Yellow Hawk is one of the leaders of the Native American people, he is known for his blood lust, but near his death bed he shows Joseph are not as evil as the people believe showing he is against some of the natives and their actions too. We do get to meet plenty of different soldiers with different opinions on the mission which only make things more difficult along the way.

PerformancesChristian Bale in the leading role is brilliant showing he can take on nearly any role, he has the permanent look of reluctance on his face while showing us he can make his character do the right thing. Rosamund Pike is wonderful too as the grief-stricken mother and widow that gets to learn to live again on the journey. Wes Studi continues to show us just how us just he is the go-to guy for any Native American character. The whole cast is great through the film without putting a place a foot wrong.

StoryThe story shows us how the two rivals through a war that must put their difference aside to go through dangerous territory where people from both sides can come to kill them. This story shows how the battles through America built divides that caused extreme behaviour and just how being more restrictive could be a smarter answer. The journey shows how the two sides learns to work together and that they do want the same thing in life and the blood shed isn’t the best answer. The pace is surprisingly great because it will never go too slow for the 2 and half hour runtime. We learn a lot about how to treat people here as we are nearly the same.

Adventure/WesternThe adventure takes the party across America which shows the different style of mindset across the country. The western themes are heavy through the film which brings back the old way of life in America.

SettingsThe settings look beautiful which show us how the countryside in America was one of the most amazingly visual location in the time.


Scene of the Movie –
Final Showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not fully understand the distance needed to be travelled.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good modern era western that shows the final few moments on the old west where differences needed to a side their problems to make the future.

 

Overall: Enjoyable western.

Rating

 

 

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Viggo Mortensen Weekend – Appaloosa (2008)

Director: Ed Harris

Writer: Robert Knott, Ed Harris (Screenplay) Robert B Parker (Novel)

Starring: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons, Renee Zellweger, Lance Henriksen

 

Plot: Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher find their job complicated by the arrival of a young widow.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid but Slow Western

 

Story: Appaloosa starts as we see just how much control Randall Bragg (Irons) has over this small western town, he murders the current Marshall which brings a new Marshall to town. Virgil Cole (Harris) and his partner Deputy Everett Hitch (Mortensen) come to town with their own laws to clean up the Bragg gang.

When Cole & Hitch do find a way to arrest Randall the courts find him guilty of murdering the former Marshall but on route to the prison the rest of the gang force Cole’s hand by using Mrs French (Zellweger) to force Randall’s release, this leads to them needing to find a new way to eliminate Bragg’s gang.

 

Thoughts on Appaloosa

 

Characters/PerformanceVirgil Cole is the freelance Marshall, fast with a rifle and only killing the men who break the law. His reputation follows him as one of the scrictiest law men out there with a lot of his trust in Everett. Everett is the longtime partner of Virgil that always stands tall next him in battle, completes the long words and is the calm influence between the two. Randall Bragg is the rancher who has control over the town of Appaloosa him and his gang take what they want, kill who they want and reign terror over the town. Mrs French comes to town a widow becoming the love interest for Virgil and we learn what type of woman she is.

Performance wise, Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen both work well together showing good chemistry throughout the film and both play the lawman well through the film. Jeremy Irons always makes for a good villain through the any film and this is no exception. Renee is here but you do feel like her character is almost pointless to the main part of the film.

StoryThe story fills in just what you want from a western story, we have an enemy of the town that out numbers them all but two lawmen come into town to help clean it up in their own way, be it through legal or other means. This was meant to be a start of a series of films which is why you feel the threat wasn’t as big as it could have been but still enjoyable enough to watch.

Crime/Western/RomanceThis is a nice western film with perfect use of the setting for the crimes to take place, the romance side of film does feel tagged on in places though.

SettingsEach setting looks great for the film never taking us out of the time in question for the movie.

Final ThoughtsThis is a western film which is fine, it isn’t bad but isn’t up there with the greatest.

 

Overall: Western fans will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Any Bullet Will Do (2018)

Director: Justin Lee

Writer: Justin Lee (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Makely, Bruce Davison, Jenny Curtis, Meg Foster, Todd A Robinson, Mark Ryan

 

Plot: Taking place during 1876 in Montana, a ruthless headhunter tracks his own Brother through Big Sky country with the help of a young fur trapper.


Tagline – Mercy is something you beg for.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Western

 

Story: Any Bullet Will Do starts when headhunter Hollis Ransom (Makely) arrives in the small town to collect his bounty from Jonathan Carrington (Davison) before stopping off at Ma Whitman’s (Foster) bar. Everett Ransom (Robinson) the brother of Hollis who is a murderous man, that Hollis is hired to eliminate them.

In need of a guide, Hollis reluctantly agrees to take the services of Rose Gage (Curtis) who knows how to deal with the snow-covered mountain ranges of Montana, can Hollis get his revenge.

 

Thoughts on Any Bullet Will Do

 

Characters – Hollis Ransom is lone headhunter that isn’t afraid to collect any bounties, he has a tortured past with his wife murdered by his own brother during the war, now he hunts his brother and must learn to trust Rose who can guide him to the end of his revenge mission. Jonathan Carrington pays the bounty hunters, he is ruthless when it comes to business though not always keeping his word. Rose Gage is the young woman that is the only one that will help Hollis in his journey across the mountains, she knows how to survive the terrain proving to be an excellent partner in his journey. Ma Whitman runs the local tavern, she will look after the loyal customers including Hollis.

PerformancesKevin Makely in the leading role as the headhunter is good, he makes us feel like he would be an outsider too which is what we need from this performance. Bruce Davison is solid enough in his supporting role, he doesn’t get that much screen time though. Jenny Curtis is strong in her role and works wonderfully well with Kevin. The rest of the cast do fit the roles they are given.

StoryThe story here is a old school western revenge one, with one man hunting down the person that killed his wife, this person just so happens to be his brother though, giving us a sibling rivalry in the fallout of the civil war. When it comes to the lone man on a revenge journey we see how reluctant they are to let others in, this is Hollis, we see how the one person he does let in, is only there dreaming of a better life for themselves. My only issue with the story is not getting to see just how twisted Everett is, sure we see what he did to Hollis’s wife, but on the journey he seems to pick up a reputation which makes him a terrible man, seeing a couple of action would only make us hate him more.

WesternThe western theme is one I have spoken about as one that we don’t see too often now, this shows we can do them and we can step away from the heated environment.

SettingsThe setting for this film is snow-covered mountain ranges which look as beautiful as they do seem deadly, showing us the man might not be the only danger for the men.


Scene of the Movie –
Final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not using Bruce Davison enough.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the surprise westerns of the year, we get to see just how strong characters can come together in a battle even if it is between a family, we have two strong performances and a shoot-out worth waiting for.

 

Overall: Western full of gritty and determination.

Rating

 

 

Five Fingers for Marseilles (2018)

Director: Michael Matthews

Writer: Sean Drummond (Screenplay)

Starring: Zethu Dlomo, Garth Breytenbach, Anthony Oseyemi, Kenneth Fok, Vuyo Dabbula, Warren Masemola

 

Plot: Lives change forever when Tau, the young lion, kills two corrupt policemen in a South African shanty town.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Western of the Year

 

Story: Five Fingers for Marseilles starts as we meet the group of friends who decide to create a group known as the Five Friends and the girls that loves them, Zulu the leader, Lerato (Dlomo) the heart and soul, Unathi (Poolo) the pastor and storyteller, Luyanda (Mabaso) the broken one, Bongani (Nkosi) the richest one, Tau (Dabula) the fastest most ruthless one. together they plan to former a group to protect their rural town or Marseilles as children.

Tau must flee the village after killing two corrupt police officers, now 20-years later he is still fighting the law. Returning home Tau seems Marseilles has changed with Bongani running the town and Sepoko (Dhlamini) looking to eliminate the town, Tau must step up to defend his childhood home and with the remaining members of the gang.

 

Thoughts on Five Fingers for Marseilles

 

Characters – Tau was a member of the Five Fingers gang as a boy, he killed two police officers forcing him into hiding, 20-years later he returns to see the town still being controlled by criminals. He must use the fight he always showed to lead the remaining members of his gang to freedom. Sepoko is the ruthless man that wants to kill anyone that gets in his way to control the area, he is filled with stories that can only show us what he is capable of and doesn’t give second chances. Lerato is the girl from the gang, she has been raised to take over the tavern with her father and her own son, she is surprised with Tau’s return after he saved her in the incident, she knows how to handle the drunks and trouble makers. Strong is the best word to describe this character. Luyanda is known as the cockroach by the gang, he has always had to fight to survive turning himself into one of the cops in the village, waiting for his chance to return the village to the right way.

PerformancesVuyo Dabula could easily be a break out star this year, he gives us a performance that could be put in any western conversation as one of the best especially in the modern era of cinema. Hamilton Dhlamini does fit the villainous role wonderfully too, we completely believe he delivery of his twisted words towards anyone who gets in his way. The whole cast are great through this film because one performer makes us believe their characters are real.

StoryThe story here follows a once tight knit teenage gang that get separated fighting for their village, 20-years-later one member of the gang returns to the village to learn the fates of the rest and learns the fight is still going on. In this story we get characters that feel like we could see them living the 20-years between the start and present part of the story. we get the returning member of the gang that we have seen facing his past and how the rest of the gang has adapted to survive while staying in the same village. This follows the known traits for any western and only adds to the story interest and suspense.

WesternWhen it comes to westerns, we just don’t seem to get that many anymore, this brings us one that uses all of the typical western themes to make us care about the reluctant hero, the outcast and one that makes us want to see the villain get what they deserve.

SettingsThe film is set in a small South African village, one that has been put under pressure by a police presence, each location truly feels lived in and helps us enjoy what we are seeing as money talks when it comes to holding back potential.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown, which shows us just how real these people feel.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This almost feels like it should be even longer to help us learn about the rest of the gang.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful western that could easily be the best of the year, this is a film people should be watching and most importantly, be one people are talking about.

 

Overall: Western done to perfection.

Rating

 

 

Oklahoma! (1999)

Director: Trevor Nunn

Writer: Oscar Hammerstein II (Book) Lynn Riggs (Play)

Starring: Maureen Lipman, Hugh Jackman, Josefina Gabrielle, David Shelmerdine, Jimmy Johnston, Shuler Hensley

 

Plot: Cowboy Curly McClain tries to win the heart of a girl in a singing and dancing extravaganza.

 

Runtime: 3 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Theatre Experience

 

Story: Oklahoma! Starts as cowboy Curly (Jackman) is trying to get farm girl Laurey Williams (Gabrielle) to be his date for dance, her heart is torn between what she wants in him and what would be right, going with the farm hand Jud (Hensley).  Playing matchmaker is Aunt Eller (Lipman) who wants best for her niece.

The battle between the men is on leaving Laurey to make the difficult decision herself, while on route to the party just where will everything go.

 

Thoughts on Oklahoma!

 

Characters – Aunt Eller is the lady pulling the strings between her niece and the other single women in the west, she can keep peace between the different backgrounds. Curly is a cowboy that is full of confidence that wants to be with Laurey, he is honourable and desirable for the women in the town and sets his sights on Laurey only. Laurey is the farm girl in search of a husband and is torn over two men, one she loves and one that has helped her family the most. Jud is the rival that wants Laurey’s hand in marriage, she is rougher around the edges making him feel like he would be a bad husband.

PerformancesWhen going into the performance we must understand this is the stage recording of the story, the whole cast show their talents off here to make this feel truly believable like you are one of the audience, and Jackman doesn’t even stand out over the rest of the performers.

StoryThe story here is a theatre classic, it focuses mostly on a young farm woman that is searching for a husband and being torn between her feelings and marrying for supporting in the wild west era. This is a slow story and you can understand why it is a stage musical, making it 3 hours is strange because there isn’t too much going on for the most part though.

Musical/Romance/WesternThe musical numbers are big and magical, easily the most important part of the film. the romance side of the film follows Laurey as she must make her choice about how to treat love. The western side of the film comes from the setting and time which shows us just where we are meant to be watching.

SettingsThis is a recording of the theatre production, we know the settings are only going to be the stage and what can be placed on it, this does work for this very well.


Scene of the Movie –
Dream sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is way too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is a musical production that gets to highlight Hugh Jackman when he first broke into Hollywood, it is known as the classic show and has nothing wrong with the performance, but it is overly long.

 

Overall: Easy access to Musical world.

Rating