By Shane Sellar
By not arming your troops you cut your military budget, like, in half.
In fact, the unarmed soldier in this drama supports that economical theory.
Following Pearl Harbor, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is determined to join the war effort, but his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs preclude him from carrying a firearm or from fighting on Saturdays.
Scorned by both his superiors (Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington) and platoon over his convictions, Desmond’s medical training later mends those who ridiculed him during the Battle of Okinawa, where he singlehandedly transports the injured back to base.
Based on real events, but more importantly a real pacifist, this unconventional Mel Gibson helmed war story is steeped in heroism and Catholicism. While it is an unflinching depiction of battlefield horrors, Gibson’s overly graphic skirmishes seem to indulge in the violence, especially when directed at the Imperialists.
Moreover, being unarmed indicates to your enemy that you’re an omnipotent being.
Manchester by the Sea
The best thing about getting guardianship of a child is that the moms at the park won’t stare at you any more.
Unfortunately, the kid in this drama is a teenager, so it’s still gonna be weird.
When his brother (Kyle Chandler) dies, Lee (Casey Affleck) returns to his hometown to arrange the funeral. Already uneasy with dealing with the ghosts of his troubled past, including his ex-wife (Michelle Williams), Lee’s problems are compounded by being left in charge of his 16-year-old nephew (Lucas Hedges).
Unwilling to move back home, Lee must now decide what is best for his new ward.
While it’s dreary in some parts and uplifting in others, this heady production boasts a nuanced performance from Affleck that makes up for any lulls in the script. Relevant, with fully formed characters, Manchester is worth the visit.
Plus, being back home means you can revive your old lemonade stand.
The hardest part of writing a best selling novel is finding a talented enough ghostwriter.
Fortuitously, the author in this thriller has found his own voice.
Successful art curator Susan (Amy Adams) is shocked to receive a manuscript from her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). It tells of a family man whose family (Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber) is murdered, and his work with an ailing detective (Michael Shannon) to bring their killer (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to justice.
Filled with allusions to the affair she had with her current husband (Armie Hammer), Susan can’t help but be moved by this gesture, especially since her present marriage is deteriorating.
With its superb cast and ethereal direction from Tom Ford, this absorbing, multilayered and multi-narrative psychological love story beautifully blurs the lines between fact and fiction, inspiration and revenge.
Nevertheless, literary retaliation is the exact reason why you shouldn’t marry a writer. Well, that and alcoholism.
Oddly enough, alien abductions decreased around the same time human waistlines increased.
So our girth could be the reason the UFOs in this sci-fi film decided to land instead.
When alien spacecraft strategically position themselves around the globe, a senior military official (Forest Whitaker) recruits a linguist professor, Louisa (Amy Adams), to commune with the visitors.
Partnered with a theoretical physicist (Jeremy Renner), Louisa begins to decrypt the cephalopod’s pictorial form of communication, all the while suffering from vivid dreams of a dying daughter she has never met.
Meanwhile, the world’s superpowers prepare to annihilate them if their purpose is not uncovered.
With its cerebral stance on an alien incursion, Arrival challenges the status quo sci-fi shoot ’em ups. Its violence simmers in the background, while its foreground dazzles with an astounding time-travel tale concerning the human condition.
Incidentally, the sooner we decode their language the sooner we’ll understand their Tweets.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Under Trump’s administration troops can look forward to fighting a lot closer to home.
However, the GIs in this drama are just visiting Texas, not invading it.
Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) and the rest of Bravo Squad will be honored during the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving halftime show for an act of bravery that went viral.
Meanwhile, backstage, their sergeant (Garrett Hedlund) works with a producer (Chris Tucker) to get the rescue of officer Shroom (Vin Diesel) made, and his men paid.
When the halftime spectacle starts, however, Billy’s PTSD flashbacks of Iraq and his sister (Kristen Stewart) cause him to question the war.
The troops hustling for funding is the most intriguing segment of Ang Lee’s eye-catching critique of modern hero worshipping, while Vin Diesel’s turn as the philosophical sergeant is the most insufferable.
Incidentally, with their stanch allegiances, violent tendencies and love of face-paint, sports fans would make ideal soldiers.
Bleed for This
Boxing isn’t that dangerous; it’s the only sport you don’t need a jockstrap to play.
In fact, the pugilist in this sports-drama wasn’t paralyzed anywhere near a ring.
Vinny Paz (Miles Teller) is a junior welterweight who can’t make his division so his father (Ciarán Hinds) hires Tyson’s old trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) to assist.
While his father doesn’t approve of pushing his son into a new weight class, Vinny’s junior middleweight world championship changes all that.
So too does the car accident that leaves him with a medical halo screwed into his skull. But even that isn’t enough to keep Vinny from the ring.
The mediocre retelling of the amazing recovery that took the boxing community by surprise in the early nineties, this true story’s charm lies in its dedicated performances, not in its timeworn underdog prizefighter narrative.
Anecdotally, the next weight class in boxing after heavyweight is sumo.
The Edge of Seventeen
You know you’re turning seventeen when your parents get you luggage for your birthday.
However, the senior in this dramedy is apt to get nothing from her widowed mom.
Falling out of favour with her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and brother (Blake Jenner) after her father died while in her company, the only people cynical Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) has left is her best friend (Haley Lu Richardson) and her high school teacher (Woody Harrelson).
But when her BFF hooks up with her bro, it sends Nadine into a tailspin that causes her to stalk her crush and crush the nerd who has feelings for her.
With all of the heartbreak, humour and humiliation of the high school experience as well as a career defining performance from Steinfeld and a sardonic script, this comical coming-of-age tale encapsulates adolescents in all its awkwardness.
Unfortunately, all those people you hate in school end up becoming your co-workers.
Troll dolls were only fun to play with as a kid when you had a bag of firecrackers.
And while none of the imps in this animated-musical explode, they do sparkle.
When the troll princess (Anna Kendrick) celebrates her tiny touchy feely tribes’ (Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani) liberation from the unemotional Bergen’s twenty years ago, their singing and dancing attracts their former captors.
Now, her eternally optimistic highness must work alongside naysayer troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) in order to save her subjects from becoming dinner.
Glamming up an ugly chambermaid (Zooey Deschanel), the trolls set out to seduce the Bergen king (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
Butchering an array of classic songs that kids will no doubt accredit to this saccharine adaptation of the wild haired figurines, Trolls’ boilerplate storyline and Smurf-like characterization is the opposite of its somewhat inventive animation.
Incidentally, trolls actually live under bridges and eat suicide jumpers.
Queen of Katwe
The reason women don’t play chess is because all of the pieces resemble penises.
Fortunately, the female in this drama is unafraid of the phallic-looking bits.
Raised by her single mother (Lupita Nyong’o) in the abject poverty of Katwe, Uganda alongside her brothers and sisters, 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) doesn’t have much of a future beyond selling her body.
That is until she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a soccer coach who teaches chess to his players on the side. Intrigued, Phiona joins his club where she proves to be a phenom and fierce competitor.
As her matches take her further from the slums, she finds more to life than Katwe.
The powerful and inspiring depiction of the real-life chess champion, this Disney adaption of an ESPN magazine article on Phiona is a true underdog movie with vibrant performances from its leads that help transcend the film’s more formulaic moments.
Moreover, it’s good for the male chess players to meet a real-life female.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
The biggest difference between municipal police and military police is that the latter shoots unarmed Muslim men.
Surprisingly, all ammunition in this action-thriller is aimed solely at a middle-aged Caucasian.
While helping out an old army buddy (Cobie Smulders) suspected of killing two officers in Afghanistan, former major-cum-transient Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) ends up accused of murder himself.
Now the pair must elude an assassin who doesn’t want their employer’s secret arms ring exposed. But Reacher’s search for an eyewitness is cut short when his estranged daughter is used as bait.
Lacking the shrewd acting, gritty action and whip-smart dialogue that made the original adaptation of Lee Child’s literary bruiser so enjoyable, this second-rate sequel suffers from a laughable villain, an awkward romance and a paternal sub-plot that serves little purpose.
Moreover, if you are ever accused of a crime by the army, remember to blame everything on the drone.
The easiest way to steal millions is to swipe a lotto winner’s oversized novelty cheque.
However, the morons in this comedy opted for robbing their workplace.
Security guard David Scott Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) is cajoled into pilfering his armored vehicle by a co-worker, Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig), and her boyfriend, Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson).
While David hits Mexico after the heist with minimal cash, Steve squanders millions on a mansion back in America. When the FBI (Leslie Jones) starts sniffing around, Steve sends a hitman down south to silence David. But fate has other plans.
An absurd satire that uses zany Internet humour and ridiculous dialogue to retell the true tale of the ill-fated 1997 Loomis-Fargo robbery, Masterminds makes it difficult to discern fact from wacky fiction. Nonetheless, its abstruse jokes do deliver some unexpected chortles.
Moreover, you also get a free getaway vehicle when you holdup an armored car.
He’s a Gummy Worm Hole. He’s the…
The Edge of Seventeen, Arrival, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Bleed for This, Blue-ray, DVD, Hacksaw Ridge, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Manchester by the Sea, Masterminds, Nocturnal Animals, Queen of Katwe, trolls