Monthly Archives: August 2020

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Movie Review – The Jungle Book

Category : Movie Review

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

Starring: Bruce Reitherman, Sebastian Cabot, Phil Harris

Year: 1967

I don’t know how this movie has slipped my review, I’ve seen it a million times, and it’s among my absolute favorite Disney classics.  So let’s remedy that mistake and make an official critique, which will probably amount to “this movie is lovely and if you don’t think so I mourn for your childhood.”  You know what haven’t been lovely; all the Jungle Book remakes, even when they were kinda good they were kinda bad, because we never really needed them, since the original is so great.  We could say that about all the Disney remakes, probably, and we should, because they need to just stop already, but that’s neither here nor there.  Let’s just enjoy this magical musical; its like will most likely never come again.

Mowgli is a boy raised by the jungle, since he was found alone by a panther named Bagheera, who gave him to the wolves for safe keeping, not being able to bring himself to abandon this tiny little Man Cub.  Humans mean danger, but Mowgli was just a baby, and he grew to be a friend to all creatures, learning the ways of the jungle just like any other animal.  But he’s not any other animal, he will some day be a Man, and the fierce tiger Shere Khan wants him dead before he can come of age and enter a life of violence.  So Bagheera begins a journey to take Mowgli to a nearby Man village, whereupon he meets the irascible Baloo, the always-hungry Kaa, and the frivolous King Louie, showing that, while the jungle can be treacherous, it can also be a place of laughter and of friendship.

The Jungle Book is so spectacular you’ll need to watch it a dozen times just to get enough of into your veins that you feel satisfied.  I guess that’s why it’s been remade so often, mimicry is a form of flattery after all, but no one has been able to capture the magic quite as wonderfully as the original did with seeming ease.  It’s just so smooth and relaxing, a classic that doesn’t need to dumb down to entertain, but at the same time is filled with fun and frolic, with joyous scenes that have become the stuff of legends.  And, of course, the music: the jungle theme, Trust in Me, The Bare Necessities, I Wanna Be Like You, That’s What Friends Are For, the beautiful My Own Home.  It’s a great soundtrack, has great characters, such colorful animation, and real heart, that stands out clearly against a backdrop of pure beauty and timeless enjoyment.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Vivarium

Category : Movie Review

Director: Lorcan Finnegan

Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Senan Jennings

Year: 2019

I was expecting great things from Vivarium, and I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get them.  If you’ve seen The Art of Self-Defense, you know how Poots & Eisenberg can pair in an alternate reality story, how she can be strong and he a weirdo, how they both have talent to spare, and can pull off these wacky sorts of roles.  That film is bonkers, so is this one, but I expected there to be similarities in style; what I got was something completely different and much, much weaker.  Finnegan goes down a path I wouldn’t have advised, leaving the absurd behind for the conventional, and that’s simply a mistake.

Gemma is a teacher, Tom is a gardener, they are a young couple in love, and are looking for their first house together.  Nothing seems to be the right fit, especially not the cookie-cutter development they stumble upon, but the salesman at the office is very convincing, and all three drive out to the new plot of suburbia to check out a model home.  It’s literally perfect, as is the neighborhood and the clouds, but Gemma and Tom are creeped out nonetheless, so decide to boogie.  But when they attempt to find their way out of the labyrinth of cul-de-sacs, they can’t seem to find the exit; every house looks just the same, and somehow they keep coming back to #9, the home that the salesman said he could imagine them living in forever.

This is Finnegan’s second film, his first with real names attached, and it’s obvious that he’s not quite where he needs to be yet to make the big splash that he has the potential for.  Because the story is solid from the beginning; the couple, the weird houses, how they become trapped there, how their lives become meaningless, the deeper meanings behind the facades.  There’s a lot being said about modern existence, families, marriage, having kids, making sacrifices, settling down & settling for less.  But that doesn’t last until the end, I’m sad to say, the cool, bizarre, whack-a-doo plot becomes a complete cop out toward the finale, and I was shocked with the way they decided to, in my mind at least, ruin what they had built so well.  I won’t give the reveal away, but it’s normal, it’s uninspired, it’s not left up to us to interpret, and that bothered me.  Poots is still great, Eisenberg is an undervalued talent, there’s nothing wrong with the acting, and there’s nothing wrong with a film that keeps to genre standards.  It simply wasn’t the film it seemed to be, instead turning into something like Under the Skin instead of Art of Self-Defense, which are both better movies any way.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Sports – 2020 Fantasy Football: RBs & WRs

Category : Sports

With the season beginning soon and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2020 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to running backs and wide receivers:

RBs

  • CMC – Christian McCaffrey fell to me somehow last season, and that was a huge mistake on the part of everyone who, for some reason, didn’t take him.  He is a spectacular running back, almost as good a wide receiver, and can take your fantasy team to the playoffs almost single-handedly.  There is no better option this year for the first pick; not just first RB picked but also the first pick over all.  This is it, this is as easy as it gets, just draft CMac, don’t over-think it.
  • Second Tier – If CMC is on a level all his own, then the group right behind him aren’t that far behind.  If you can’t get the best in the game, grab a guy from the next best bunch as soon as you possibly can.  Barkley, Henry, Kamara, Cook, Elliott; you’d be lucky to have any from this group on your team, and I think they’re capable of leading your club, assuming you can give them some support.  If you miss out, grab Chubb, Jones, Jacobs, or Drake, and you’ll still have a solid back to build a team on the back of.
  • Middle of the Pack – There is a great group of young RBs right in the middle of the pack that could be incredible assets this year, so grab one or two and thank me later.  Especially for the value, because they aren’t super high up the list, these guys will be killer picks if they work out the way they’re capable of.  Miles Sanders, Chris Carson, Austin Akeler, Jonathan Taylor, Raheem Mostert; this is a value group, because they all have great potential and they won’t cost you an arm & a leg.  Last but not least, try out Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the rookie back for KC; who knows how well he’ll actually do, but the ceiling is extremely high.
  • New Teams – Then there’s a group that have new teams to play for, whether by free agency or the draft, so their value is questionable, and I wouldn’t pick them as more than backups.  Melvin Gordon (Den), David Johnson (Hou), Cam Akers (LAR), D’Andre Swift (Det); it’s anyone’s guess how these dudes will do, but they have potential to be impact players on their teams, as well as part of your fantasy squad.  If Lindsay ever gets hurt, Gordon could be a steal, and if Akers can win the Rams job, he could get tons of points.
  • Deep Dives – If you want to take a bigger chance, go down the list and nab some backs who won’t be on many radars and just might prove to be diamonds in the rough.  JK Dobbins as a handcuff for Mark Ingram in Baltimore, Jordan Howard if Miami’s offense can wake up under Fitz or Tua, Kareem Hunt if Chubb ever gets hurt in Cleveland; if you’re willing to roll the dice in a later round one of these guys might just come up a winner, just don’t reach too early because there will be safer bets available.

WRs

  • Nuk – If you’re lucky enough to get DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray on your team, I think you’ve got a winning pair that might take you all the way to the championship.  Hopkins is by far the best receiver in the league, and he could be the top fantasy wideout as well.  He is incredible, off the charts, so good, and could catapult you toward a trophy.  I also think he works even better as a companion piece to Murray in Arizona, so try to get ’em both if you can; you won’t regret it.
  • The Chefs – Two years ago it was a surprise, but this year don’t be caught without players from Kansas City, because that team scores.  Mahomes & Kelce & whatever running back they throw in there (Clyde E-H) we know about, but don’t forget about Tyreek Hill, as much as his off-the-field problems might turn you away.  This is fantasy football, I try to keep that stuff separate, I’m just picking statistics, and if other owners are willing to let Hill slide that’s just a bonus for you, because he’s the KC WR that you should have.
  • Pair Up – I’m a big believer in pairing a QB with the WR; I understand that having too many players from one team on your fantasy team can lead to let downs if that one team has a bad day, but I don’t think one QB/WR combo is too much; if your QB has a bad day you’re in for trouble anyway.  So pick one of these top duos: Mahomes/Hill, Murray/Hopkins, Rodgers/Adams, Brady/Godwin, Ryan/Jones, Ben/JuJu, Brees/Thomas, Mayfield/Beckham, Dak/Cooper, maybe even Stafford/Golladay.
  • Unpaired – The good thing about getting a top wideout is that, when you play a team with your WR’s QB, you have them blocked, like playing a team with Brees you know he’s gonna throw to your Thomas, so you don’t have as much to worry about.  The opposite is true about the Ravens, the Seahawks, the Eagles, the Giants, the Rams; they have two or three receivers who all rank the same, and not extremely high, so you have no idea which one will score and block a team who trots out their QB.  That’s a good reason to get a passer who you can’t predict, but it’s a bad reason to get one of a group of receivers who might score or get blanked on any given day.
  • Avoidance – And now for some team’s receivers to avoid, for various reasons.  Courtland Sutton has emerged for Denver, but it’s hard to trust the two rookies the Broncos drafted, at least not yet.  Bengals WRs are just too inconsistent because so is the team, and I don’t trust AJ anymore, but I wouldn’t trust Boyd either.  Same for the Pats, who will run more than they ever have before, with Gronk gone and Brady gone.  Ten, Min, Jax, SF, NYJ; just not enough passing offense to warrant high WR picks, so steer clear until later rounds.


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Movie Review – A Knight’s Tale

Category : Movie Review

Director: Brian Helgeland

Starring: Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Rufus Sewell

Year: 2001

People don’t like when you combine past events with modern music, but in 2001 directors did it any way, and somehow Moulin Rouge and A Knight’s Tale were still big hits.  I think that’s, in part, because people understand that they’re being ridiculous when they complain about Nirvana being in a film set a hundred years ago.  They understand that it simply doesn’t matter, that art can be expressed through music you didn’t expect, that it really takes away from the quality not at all to surprise you with a juxtaposed moment.  Moulin Rogue is great, and so is Knight’s Tale, two movies that chose to use a gimmick; judge them for that if you must, but not for the results, which are better than you’re willing to admit.

William Thatcher is a young, penniless squire who works alongside Roland and Wat in aid to the knight Sir Ector, an aged jousting participant who roams the countryside making a living on tournaments.  When Ector dies suddenly, it leaves his crew with nothing to work for and no way to make money; that is, unless one of them were to don his armor, pretend to be noble, and win some tilting matches.  William is very skilled for his low birth and tender age, but with a visor down and a fake document that says he’s royalty, Will gets along just fine.  Soon, his name is known all over Europe, or at least his false name, Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein, and the challenges he’ll face grow larger as well, especially when he attempts to win the hand of the fair Jocelyn, who is also the target of the evil Count Adhemar, who will stop at nothing to see Will unhorsed, uncovered, and destroyed.

The modern music is just a small part of this presentation; it’s fun, but it’s in no way the main reason to watch, as it is also no reason to turn up your nose.  It’s cool to hear new tunes in these ancient times, it works perfectly well, and it only sends the entertainment value shooting skyward, you boring old farts.  Aside from that, there’s a main plot about jousting and fighting just waiting to be unearthed and appreciated, because wow is it fun.  The matches are shot excellently, you feel every blow, and it really turns into a rousing sports movie like any other, just with the added elements of beating the bad guy and wooing the lovely maiden.  Ledger was a superstar like none other, it’s so sad that he’s not with us, and the rest of the cast was also shockingly good: Sossamon, Sewell, Paul Bettany, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Berenice Nejo, James Purefoy.  Knight’s Tale has all you need, wrapped up with a nice bow, and we should be more appreciative that it was made at all.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Book Review – Christine

Category : Book Review

Author: Stephen King

Year: 1983

As I continue my quarantine quest to read through the entire King bibliography, I come to one of his sillier ideas; a killer car that’s cursed to have a murderous life all its own.  It’s not the coolest plot, much like the aliens in Tommyknockers or the grim reapers in Insomnia, but, you know, maybe he just runs out of ideas sometimes, and, to his credit, he usually finds a way to make them work anyway.  That’s the way it is with Christine; it really shouldn’t work, it kinda doesn’t for a while, but King saves his own bacon by wrapping it up quite nicely.  This book slides into the category of ‘quite good’ without making a very large splash, and probably without my remembering it too fondly a few years hence.

Four main characters are central to this story: Dennis, Arnie, Leigh, and Christine.  Dennis and Arnie are best friends, have been for years, and even the politics of high school won’t keep them apart.  Dennis has always stood up for Arnie, who is nerdy, pimply, a little odd, but a good friend, and Dennis has never wanted to be “popular”, although his looks and his place on the football team could take him there.  Leigh is the girl Arnie falls hard for when his confidence starts coming in and his acne starts clearing, a process of growing up that comes on quickly, mysteriously, right after Arnie buys his first car.  Which brings us to Christine, a she not an it, a car with a life of her own.  She has the ability to fix herself and to fix her owner, but at what cost, and who will be run over along the way?

King imbues this tale with teenage angst, car talk, rock music, awkward juvenility; some of the things some of us experienced, but perhaps not widely enough to warrant an entire story about growing up in way that can seem universal but at times comes across as too specific and too fictional.  The horror part aside, this is simply a hard plot to get into, it’s broken up strangely between characters, and then the “scary” element does start feeling a little forced when you meet the darker pieces.  It’s the end that gets you and makes you enjoy the entire package, but even a good wrap up can’t save the day completely.  Arnie is a hard role to really appreciate, Dennis is not around enough, Leigh is obviously a fantasy, and Christine just isn’t that terrifying.  That sounds like a lot of problems for a 4/5 star rating, but the end really did tip the scales, the end third maybe, and when you look back you think to yourself “OK that was kinda neat.”  Christine won’t go down as a King classic in my book, but that’s OK, they can’t all be home runs, sometimes you just get a base hit and call it a day.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Emperor’s New Groove

Category : Movie Review

Director: Mark Dindal

Starring: David Spade, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton

Year: 2000

A lesser-known Disney Animation Studios film, The Emperor’s New Groove might help mark the beginning of Disney’s post-Renaissance slump, but it’s also the best among that ill-fated group, and should be considered a comedy classic that gets almost none of the respect it rightfully deserves.  That might all sound a little dramatic for a review of a silly kids’ movie about a talking llama, but I assure you this is a film to be a taken seriously.  Well, no, strike that, it’s goofy as all get out, but, in this case, that’s a good thing, a great thing, and should only help to convince you that TENG is an under-valued gem that only the deepest divers know about and know to love.

Kuzco is the selfish, young emperor of an Incan-like civilization in the mountains, where llamas are tame, jungles are wild, and no one dares throw off their touchy leader’s delicate “groove”.  You make Kuzco mad one time and you’re out on the seat of your pants looking for somewhere else to live, which is the exact situation Yzma finds herself in; the emperor’s chief advisor one day, homeless the next.  But she’s not leaving without a fight, or at least without revenge, and she attempts to poison Kuzco on the eve of her departure.  But instead of dead, he turns into a llama, which is weird, and Yzma becomes empress, which is weirder.  Now the unbearable Kuzco will have to enlist the aid of a commoner named Pacha, who he has already treated poorly, if he ever wants to be ruler, and human, again.  He has a lot to learn about fairness and friendship, but maybe llamas are better at picking up those lessons than people.

That you can buy this DVD for $4 is both a steal and a travesty; some times you see those prices and think “yeah that makes sense”, but I swear to you, in this instance, even Disney doesn’t know what value it has on its hands with this movie.  It’s worth so much more than a few bucks, because it has so much more to give than a few chuckles; there’s real humor here and real heart, if anyone would take the time to notice it.  I first watched this movie with a group of friends when I was a teen, kind of as a joke, but we all just adored it so much, for some inexplicable reason, and now, more recently, I’ve shared it with my kids, who had the same opinion of it as I did.  It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s smart and at the same time ridiculous, it’s a ‘wow’ of a good time, and the fact that no one seems to know about it only fuels my desire to tell people that it exists.  The voices are great: Spade, Goodman, Warburton (who really steals the show), the multi-talented Eartha Kitt, Wendie Malick.  All combined, TENG is a fun-sized bit of charming entertainment that will surprise with quality; how’s that for a ringing endorsement?

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – An Easy Girl

Category : Movie Review

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski

Starring: Mina Farid, Zahia Dehar

Year: 2019

Neither Mina Farid or Zahia Dehar are film actresses; if you’re wondering what they’re doing in a movie then, all I can add is that’s a good question.  It’s bad enough making a coming-of-age flick that’s somehow simultaneously melodramatic and insanely boring, but then to cast the only two roles that matter with people who aren’t actors; that’s just wrong.  An Easy Girl is nothing more than a forced French flick that’s supposed to be saying so much while saying absolutely nothing at all, an “artistic” sexual awakening piece that only serves to put us to sleep.

Naima lives in Cannes, France, and has always lived through the summer holidays alongside the wealthy who are only there to vacation on their yachts.  Her mother works in a fancy hotel/restaurant in town, Naima just turned 16, she wants to be an actress some day, but for now she’ll just enjoy her time away from school as the tourists cruise in.  One thing will change the routine, though; her cousin Sofia has come to stay for awhile, and Sofia’s views on sexual freedom might change the way Naima has always seen her safe little world.

Bleck, what a waste.  It’s French, it’s artsy, it’s classical music, it’s champagne, it’s philosophy, it’s sexuality on the loose; all the ingredients people hate and use as a dirty word when they refer to something as “film”.  I don’t want to be on that side, I love deep meaning in my movies, but this one just gives in to all the frivolous stereotypes until your head is spinning with reasons not to watch.  And these people aren’t even actors, they’re just people, and if someone thought that would make everything more authentic boy were they wrong.  It’s dull and over-worked at the same time, a complete disaster of opulence and false messaging that never rings true because, believe it or not, audiences aren’t quite that dumb.

My rating: ☆

 


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Sports – 2020 Fantasy Football: QBs

Category : Sports

With the season beginning soon, and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2020 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to quarterbacks:

  • Numero Uno – There is no better QB prospect this season than Patrick Mahomes, the stud who lit up the league the last couple years.  His numbers were incredible in 2018, and while there was no way he could repeat them last season, even a step down still landed him near the top of the list.  Pick Patty and a slew of other Chiefs to start for your team; you’ll be thanking them during your playoffs.  The only other real #1 option is Lamar Jackson, so pick your favorite and roll the dice.
  • Teamwork – While you don’t want to get too many players from one team in case they have a bad game, a lot of top tier QBs have a top tier wideout to go with them, and picking the pair might not be a bad idea.  Mahomes-Hill, Murray-Hopkins, Rodgers-Adams, Ryan-Jones, Mayfield-Beckham, Roethlisberger-Juju, Brady-Godwin, Brees-Thomas; you could do much worse than to have these duos on your team.
  • Red Zone – And speaking of Murray, there’s reason to believe that Kyler could have a killer year.  The first reason is obviously the addition of DeAndre Hopkins, but there’s also the fact that Murray is simply growing into his talent and into his coach’s system.  With Drake & Kirk on the team as well, the sky’s the limit for this mobile quarterback.  He could reach 30 total TDs, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
  • Father Time – But now for the bad news; not every famous QB deserves a spot on top of your fantasy depth chart.  The older they get the more their skill falls off, that’s just proven fact, so be mindful of the senior class.  Brady is going to take another step back this year, despite his move, I think that’s inevitable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rivers with a new team and maybe even Drew Brees step back with him.  Guys like Carr, Rodgers, Big Ben, and Stafford are already falling off the radar and they aren’t even that old; father time is undefeated.
  • Bounce Back – There are a few signal callers who aren’t as coveted as perhaps they once were, but there’s a chance they bounce back up to the top, so be there to nab them if you think they might trend upward.  Dak had a resurgent year last season, but he’s not a surprise any longer, so someone will take him too high; get one of the guys who might come a little cheaper.  Newton, Wentz, Garappolo, Goff, Mayfield; you could do worse than someone from this group, just be willing to wait a while before making the move.
  • The Untouchables – Unfortunately, every year there is a group of guys who you just simply can’t draft, at least not until they’ve proven themselves surprisingly worthy, and in that case you just pick them up from the waiver wire.  Burrow, Cousins, Darnold, Minshew, Haskins, Fitzpatrick; they don’t have enough talent around them to score enough points for you to consider.

 


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Movie Review – Red Tails

Category : Movie Review

Director: Anthony Hemingway

Starring: Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Mack Wilds

Year: 2012

To be worse than Pearl Harbor you’d have to almost be trying to be bad, right?  And yet, Red Tails‘ only saving grace is its fervor to do the right thing, to tell the true story, to speak on the bravery of these fine men.  The story is beyond critique; the Tuskegee Airmen, the 332nd, the heroism they brought to the War, the ground they paved for future generations.  All that is above reproach, but the quality of this film, sadly, is not.  It really is like they were trying to make the worst war movie with the most terrible lines you’ve ever heard coming out of otherwise-capable actor’s mouths.  I can only assume mistakes were make, and if this was longer ago than 2012 maybe I could cut them some slack, but by now enough people should have figured out enough ways to make this movie right, instead of as wrong as wrong can get.

Italy, WWII, and the Allied advance uses its foothold in Italy to fly over Axis territory, bombing cities, destroying supply lines, and harrying the enemy.  The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American pilots who were segregated into a squadron of their own, though they weren’t given many active missions, only clean-up jobs that didn’t earn them any honor in the air.  The prevailing white thought at the time was that blacks simply couldn’t do the job right, they were too stupid and undependable, and so the Tuskegee men were kept out of the real war.  Finally, given a fair chance, and painting their plane tails red to make them easily distinguishable, they accounted themselves among the best pilots in the Air Force, flying combat missions bravely and with outstanding skill, showing the entire country back home what being a hero really means.

One problem might be that Hemingway is a TV director, I don’t think he’s done any other feature, so it might simply be an issue of his not being right for the role.  Maybe he could have created a miniseries, or today it would be a Netflix limited series, something like that, because ‘feature film’ was apparently something he simply wasn’t ready for yet.  I’ve heard that The Tuskegee Airmen is a better film, I’ll have to check that out, and there’s really no way it could be any more awful than Red Tails, so there’s that.  This movie was poorly-acted, poorly-balanced, amateurish, messy, cheesy, and just plain crappy, like no one was trying very hard to do anything more than present the passion of the facts.  Those were cool; this lesson is fascinating, what an emotional piece of history to learn about, what a difference these men made.  And the cast is full of stars: Parker, Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr, Leslie Odom Jr, Michael B. Jordan, Bryan Cranston, Gerald McRaney.  They just didn’t have enough to work with to make this story sing; the script was horrendous and the action was oddly skit-ish.  Red Tails is so very disappointing, I wanted it to be so much better than it was, and I’m not sure I’ll be moving on from my frustration any time soon.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Munich

Category : Movie Review

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush, Ciaran Hinds

Year: 2005

Is there such thing as “lesser Spielburg”?  If so, Munich is definitely in that category, but only when compared to some of the very best films ever made, since Steve is such a genius, so perhaps I’ve answered my own question.  There have been missteps in his filmography, that’s for sure: Lost World, AI, The Terminal, Crystal Skull, Ready Player One.  But Munich isn’t even that bad, it’s only not quite as great as Jaws, and nothing is, so there’s the conundrum again.  I guess the best thing to do is to judge the movie on its own merits, and that’s where it falls a bit short of spectacular, landing somewhere near ‘fine docu-pic’ instead, and that’s not really where we expect or want to be with a director of this caliber.

In Munich, Germany, during the Summer Olympics of 1972, a Palestinian terrorist organization called Black September takes 11 Israeli Olympians hostage, eventually killing every single one.  In retaliation, the government of Israel wants 11 men involved in the massacre to be hunted down and executed, to show the world the Jews are not afraid and that they are not weak.  However, this act can’t be carried out publicly, it will be a dangerous assassination mission, with no ties to Israel whatsoever.  Avner Kaufman, a German-Jew whose father is a war hero, heads a team of men to murder this list of names one by one, attempting to come to terms with the damning of their own souls in the process.

Remember when people thought that Eric Bana was a superstar?  I relate him to Brad Pitt, maybe because they were both in Troy, but they have other similarities: both extremely handsome, both big & strong, great hair, unique voices, a commanding presence.  It’s just that Pitt turned out to be a incredible actor and Bana didn’t, it’s that simple, and that tells the story of this film, too.  It’s fine, it’s good, but Bana, looking back, isn’t the leading man we thought he was.  And the movie is just more Bridge of Spies than Schindler’s List; it has common elements with both but definitely leans the way it ought not to.  It’s a little plain and a little under-developed, which is surprising, almost as if Spielberg didn’t quite know how to communicate  what he wanted to say.  The cast is great though: Bana, Rush, Hinds, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Nino from Amelie.  The film does a great job portraying both tremendous sadness and unbelievable violence, but it simply can’t reach greatness despite how much audiences automatically get behind this story.  If not exactly a lesser version of what we’re used to seeing from Spielberg, Munich is definitely not his best.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆