The Accountant (Review)

The Accountant (Review)

The Accountant is an action-thriller that is honestly hard to describe.  It’s not a movie that’s about a plot or story but is more about introducing this character of Christian Wolff, an autistic accountant who was trained by his military father to defend himself with any and all means necessary.  That means martial arts and gunplay, making him one of the deadliest people on the planet.

One thing that surprised me about the movie was how much time they spent explaining what autism is.  The movie also seems to serve as a way to explain autism to the masses and then hiding the public service under an action-thriller movie starring Ben Affleck in a rare role where he proves that he does have the ability to act.  Up until this point I had assumed that he was a better director than he was an actor but he actually does a pretty good job in this movie.  As to whether or not his portrayal is an accurate representation of autism, I’m not the person to ask.

One interesting side story is JK Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who are members of the Financial Crimes for the Treasury.  They are the ones who are trying to discover Wolff but they’re not really the main threat that Wolff has to deal with.  In fact, they never really interact with each other throughout the movie.

The one way that I would describe this movie is that a lot of the plot lines are scattered around.  It’s trying to be several things at once and it almost suffers.  Even JK Simmons’ story towards the end of the movie is all over the place.  Anna Kendrick is there in the movie but she’s barely a footnote, simply being the token damsel in distress.

That said, the action is solid and fun and the story has twists and turns that kept me invested throughout.  I’m simply not surprised that the movie felt a little longer than it probably should have been.


Doctor Strange (Review)

Doctor Strange (Review)

Doctor Strange tells the origin story of the titular Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a famous neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident.  In his desperation, he seeks the help of a group of mystics and sorcerers led by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).  As he learns the mystic arts, he must battle with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a rogue sorcerer who is trying to find a way to bring eternal life to the people.

There was a lot of controversy around the film regarding the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and the stereotypical tropes that Doctor Strange relies on (the exotic East as a source of mysterious power).  People who know me know that I was pretty upset by these things but what they probably don’t know is the reason why I was upset.  It wasn’t because I thought the movie would be terrible before I’ve even seen it and that nobody should enjoy this movie because of these reasons.  Its because it’s a problem that somehow still continues to exist in the movie industry today.  Hollywood would always rather hire a white actor over an asian actor because they sell.  The common audience don’t often go to Asian countries to see what it’s actually like there, so they don’t ask questions when these stereotypes crop up again and again.  If it seems like I’m targeting this film in particular, it’s simply because it’s the most recent example of these problems.

Did any of these problems stop me from enjoying this movie?  Hell no.

The movie reminds me a lot of the original Iron Man movie with it’s smaller, simpler narrative.  Dr. Strange also reminds me a lot of Tony Stark, though, regrettably, Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t quite have the same charisma that Robert Downey Jr. does.  Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor, though, and he does his job as Dr. Strange incredibly well.  In fact, this entire cast of characters was surprisingly well put together.  Tilda Swinton plays the part of the Ancient One with grace and poise but also with ferocity, making her one of my favorite characters in the movie.  Chiwetel Ejiofor is both charismatic and harsh as Mordo, Strange’s ally in arms.  Even Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius garners some sympathy, but only in the one scene he gets to be sympathetic, which continues the trend of Marvel villains being boring.

The only actress to really get the short end of the stick is Rachel McAdams, who is relegated to being the token girlfriend.  Even though she has her own life and is an accomplished nurse, her whole role in the movie is to be the representation of Strange’s former life.  Maybe I’m being too harsh because, to be fair, they used to be lovers but they broke up after the accident, which makes her more of the token friend.  Still, I hope that if they plan to use her again in the future, that they actually give her more to do than patch up Strange.

The main issue with the film is that it relies on so many tropes that this movie feels more like a paint by numbers Marvel movie.  The only part that was different is in how Strange deals with the issues.  He might very well be the only one in the entire MCU whose first instinct isn’t to fight or kill anyone.  As a doctor, he’s tasked with saving lives, not taking them and it was nice to see him solve problems through bargaining rather than killing.

I’ve listed numerous problems the film has but I still enjoyed the movie.  People seem to forget that you can both enjoy a movie immensely and still be aware of the problematic things that exist within it and by contrast to other movies, the problems in this movie are small in comparison.  Tilda Swinton is fantastic and ended up being my favorite character.  All in all, it’s a fun movie with some of the trippiest visuals I’ve ever seen.

Kubo and the Two Strings (Review)

Kubo and the Two Strings (Review)

If you must blink, do it now.

These are the words that started the movie and I have to say, I honestly cannot remember if I blinked.  I do remember doing my best to keep my eyes open so I didn’t miss a thing.  From the first frame, I was instantly engrossed in this epic of a story, unlike anything I had ever seen.  And yet today, I can say that thinking back, I still missed some key details that almost certainly require a second viewing.

Set in Ancient Japan, the film tells the tale of Kubo (Art Parkinson), a one-eyed boy who makes a living as a storyteller, bringing origami figures to life to enact the tales and exploits of his samurai father, Hanzo.  Every night, he must return home to his mentally handicapped mother before the moon rises or else his mother and grandfather will find him and take his other eye.  One night, however, he stays out too late and is forced to run away and find his father’s old armor, as it is the only thing that will protect him.  He is accompanied on his quest by Monkey (Charlize Theron), a stoic and harsh wooden charm brought to life by his mother and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), an amnesiac samurai cursed to take the form of a beetle.

Right from the beginning the movie is not about a quest to find a father’s old armor.  It’s about a young boy’s quest to discover who his parents are and about family and that is evident from the very first scene.  A mother caught in a storm at sea, capsized and cracking her skull on a rock and crawling desperately to protect her crying baby is an image that I was not prepared to witness at the beginning of a kids movie.  There are some very intense moments in this film that made me wonder if this movie should really be rated PG.

Then again, I’m not a kid anymore and I should remember that kids can handle quite a bit.  I remember as a kid watching a chinese cartoon where a child slits his own throat in order to save his father’s kingdom from 4 dragons.  As a kid, I didn’t understand that he was committing suicide.  I understood that he was sacrificing himself to save the kingdom (by the way, the movie in question is called Prince Nezha’s Triumph Against Dragon King).

Movies have a unique way of transporting us to another world and Kubo and the Two Strings is no exception.  It is a world steeped in Japanese fairy tale, mythology and folklore.  It is rare to find an American movie that is based in a different country’s culture and it is also refreshing to find a movie that is so unique.  The only complaint I have about the film would be the ending which seems more like the ending to an American fairy tale over an ending an Asian fairy tale would have.

Ultimately, the movie is about the journey and probably more about beginnings.  It’s touching, its intense, its funny and its everything I ever wanted from a movie.