Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Midnight In Paris (9.5/10)

If I saw this movie a month ago it would have undoubtably been in my top 10 movies of the year. In fact, I could make a strong case for it being in my top 3. Midnight in Paris was that good. The film revolves around a character named Gil (played by Owen Wilson) who is on vacation with his fiance in Paris. While walking the streets at midnight, Gil finds a portal (for lack of a better word) to the 1920's and is transported to a golden age of artists and parties. Gil has always been fascinated with 1920's Paris, and his dream of being a part of the city in its heyday becomes a reality when he encounters Hemingway, Picasso, and F. Scott Fitgerald among others. The film wrestles with the notion that the past is always more appealing than the present. Gil is fixated with the idea that the 20's is the ideal decade to live in, but when he gets there he finds that people from that era have a similar fixation with the generations that preceded them. Ultimately the film's director, Woody Allen, conveys the idea that it is not the present that makes life difficult; it is simply the condition of being human. Gil learns that he needs to be satisfied with his present situation in order to truly find contentment. I won't give away the ending but I will say that I loved how Woody Allen wrapped up his story. I reviewed my top 10 movies of the year and I think some adjustments now need to be made. Hugo, The Artist, and this film now fill out my top 3 (sorry Super 8). I have now seen 8 of the 9 Academy Award nominees for Best Picture and I would not be disappointed in the slightest if this film won. You should watch it tonight. Or now. Like right now.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (5.5/10)

In honor of the most meaningless sporting event in North America (and possibly the world), the Pro Bowl, Kevin thought we should review some football movies this weekend. I've had this film on my Netflix instant queue for the past couple of years and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to finally watch it. It is also available to watch in its entirety with limited commercial interruption on IMDB or Hulu.

The game took place in 1968, and marked the first time since 1909 that both Harvard and Yale had entered their rivalry game undefeated. Yale was a huge favorite heading into the game and dominated the game for the first 55 minutes or so. I don't want to spoil the ending for you but since the title already does, Harvard rallies back from 16 down with 3 minutes to play and ties the game up, converting a touchdown and two point conversion with no time left on the clock.

The movie is essentially an extended commentary of the game. It cuts back and forth from game footage and interviews of the different players involved prominently in the game. Tommy Lee Jones was a Harvard tackle at the time and he gets a good amount of face time relative to his role in the game itself. There is a significant amount of political discussion interspersed with the football due to the time period of the game itself, and it was hilarious to realize that Tommy Lee's personal politics were pretty much aligned with his character's from Under Siege.

While there are a lot of interesting moments in the interviews that keep the viewer somewhat engaged, ultimately it is a 100 minute breakdown of a pretty much meaningless college football game from almost 50 years ago.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Academy Award Predictions
The 84th Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 24, 2012. I thought it would be fitting to post my predictions for the Oscars this year as we all appreicate and enjoy movies and the Academy Awards are the most prestigious movie awards each year (and really the only awards show that matters for movies). I have only chosen to make predictions for the major categories because let's be honest, no one wants to argue about who will make the cut for best costume design or best animated short. The categories I deem major are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay.
One quick caveat before I make my predictions: the new voting rules only allow a movie to be nominated for Best Picture if it gets a certain percentage of first place votes. This rule change makes it much more difficult to predict the exact amount of movies that will be nominated since there is no set number. The last two years, the Academy reverted back to 10 nominees, a method that had not been employed since 1943. From 1944 to 2008, the Academy restricted nominations to five Best Picture nominees per year.
Now, instead of staying with the 10 nominees, "the new rule for Best Picture dictates that in order to get a nomination, a film must be listed in top position on at least 5 percent of the ballots." Here's the bottom line: "We could still see as many as 10 nominees for Best Picture, but we know there will be at least five. And the likelihood is the number will probably settle somewhere in the middle with seven or eight."
That being said, I have ranked the nominees by their odds of winning the award. The number one spot means that I believe that nominee will win and the number five spot indicates that nominee has the poorest chance of winning. Given the new Best Picture rules, the top seven are the ones I think will definitely get in. I have also included an "Other Contenders" section since some of the races are very close and I want to be sure to include the others who I think could still sneak in. The "Other Contenders" are also listed in order of their odds of being nominated.
One of the shames of the Academy Awards is that they do not allow an actor/actress to be nominated for multiple films. While I like this rule overall, it often leaves out deserving actors/actresses who gave several great performances in a year because their peformances end up splitting votes. Academy Award voters are forced to choose only one performance for a given actor/actress. Thus, their chances of being nominated for one performance are reduced.
For instance, Jessica Chastain has had one of the best years for an actress in recent memory. Not only did she appear in five films this year (The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Take Shelter, and Coriolanus), she was great in all of them. The two movies she is most likely to get nominated for are The Help or The Tree of Life. Unfortunately, she was so good in both those films that I fear she ultimately will not get nominated for either. Some voters will select her for The Help, while others will nominate her for The Tree of Life (or even Take Shelter). Thus, the voting restriction can end up failing to honor some of the best performers (not performances) of the year, which also results in some of the best performances not being nominated.
Without further ado, here goes my picks for the 2012 Academy Awards in all the major categories:
Best Picture
1. The Artist
2. The Descendants
3. Hugo
4. The Help
5. Midnight in Paris
6. War Horse
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
8. Moneyball
9. The Tree of Life
10. Drive
Other Contenders:
Bridesmaids, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Ides of March, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Best Director
1. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2. Martin Scorsese, Hugo
3. Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
4. Alexander Payne, The Descendants
5. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Other Contenders:
David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Steven Spielberg, War Horse
Tate Taylor, The Help
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Bennett Miller, Moneyball
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Best Actor
1. George Clooney, The Descendants
2. Jean Dujardin, The Artist
3. Brad Pitt, Moneyball
4. Michael Fassbender, Shame
5. Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Other Contenders:
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Best Actress
1. Viola Davis, The Help
2. Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
3. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
4. Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
5. Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Other Contenders:
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Elizabeth Olson, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
Best Supporting Actor
1. Christopher Plummer, Beginners
2. Albert Brooks, Drive
3. Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
4. Jonah Hill, Moneyball
5. Nick Nolte, Warrior
Other Contenders:
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Ides of March
Ben Kingsley, Hugo
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
Best Supporting Actress
1. Berenice Bejo, The Artist
2. Octavia Spencer, The Help
3. Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
4. Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
5. Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Other Contenders:
Jessica Chastain, The Help or The Tree of Life
Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
Sandra Bullock, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Carey Mulligan, Shame or Drive
Judi Dench, My Week with Marilyn
Best Original Screenplay
1. Midnight in Paris
2. The Artist
3. 50/50
4. Bridesmaids
5. Young Adult
Other Contenders:
The Tree of Life
Win Win
A Separation
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. The Descendants
2. Moneyball
3. Hugo
4. The Help
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Other Contenders:
War Horse
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Ides of March
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

War Horse (6.8/10)

I saw War Horse last night and it wasn't what I was expecting. It has received a lot of critical accolades, is a Spielberg film, is based off a famous play, and could end up being a Best Picture nominee. Needless to say, I was expecting something epic. What I ended up with was the film equivalent of a shiny pop song. Each shot was perfect, the lighting was spot on, the acting was flawless in a theatrical sense, and the scope of the film was grandiose. However, like an over-produced pop song, it was missing soul. It almost felt too perfect. There were no rough edges and like Warrior, everything seemed a bit too serendipitous. It did help knowing that the film was based off a Broadway play (and children's book), because the film felt like something that was taken straight from the stage. The melodramatic shots, extended soliloquies, and complete lack of internal monologue, was reminiscent of an epic stage production. It wasn't that the film was bad; it was just that it was a little too perfect. I think a flaw or two (a shaky shot, a stumbled line, etc.) might have made the movie seem more real. In the end, for me human stories are more powerful and I went in to this film hoping it was less about horses and more about people. Silly me, it had horse in the title.

WRITER'S NOTE: If you want to see a shiny film on a similar scale, see Hugo. It had the same sheen as War Horse, but Hugo had the heart that the Spielberg film lacked.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo-Opening Credit Sequence

I haven't seen the movie yet but this definitely makes me want to. Crazy, creepy, love the Led Zeppelin cover. The first 2.5 minutes of the movie score a solid 10/10 for me!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Tree of Life

So movies are (or at least used to be) a bunch of photographs shown in rapid succession. No movie has reminded more of this fact, than The Tree of Life. Half the movie is basically the story of creation/evolution... and the other half is the story of a boy growing up in the 50's. If that seems pretty random to you, it was to me as well. If you go a bit deeper there is definitely an overarching theme of God and his role in the world and people's lives. However, I'm still trying to figure it all out. As you might be able to tell, I'm not sure what to think of this movie.

I made it about 2 hours through this movie before I fell asleep (gives you an idea of how much it kept my attention). It was directed by Terrence Malick and stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. And while Brad Pitt was great as the strict father, Sean Penn was barely in the film (at least the portion I saw). The real star of this film was Malick's direction of the creation/evolution portion. Truly a work of art.

As I write this I'm still trying to decide if it was fantastic or a dis-jointed, pretentious mess. In looking at IMDB.com, it seems that people either loved it or hated it (a lot of 1 or 2 stare reviews and just as many reviews awarding 9 or 10 stars). What (I think) it comes down to for me is that the movie made me think; think about life, think about God and my relationship with him. That, paired with the beauty of the film, definitely brings up the score a little bit. I give it a 6.5/10.

Definitely watch this film and let me know what you think... because I'm still trying to figure it out.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dan's Top Films from 2011

Here is my (Dan) top 10 list of movies that came out in 2011. Let me know what you think in the replies.

10 . I saw Drive shortly after it came out. I am a big fan of Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl is in my top 5 all-time films) and will pretty much see whatever he is in. Drive is an odd cross between an 80’s John Hughes film and a slasher movie. Ok, slasher may be a bit hyperbolic but there is a ton of blood. The movie makes my list do to its unique character development (or lack there of) and the overall tone of the film. Also, Bryan Cranston (the brilliant actor from Breaking Bad-my favorite show on TV right now) is in it. That helped too.

9. This spot was a toss up for me. I really liked 50-50 and Win Win, but I felt like I could only put 1 of them on the list since they had a similar feel (in my opinion). I opted to go with 50-50. Joseph Gordon-Levitt played the leading role rather well and Seth Rogen was a nice addition to the cast as well. The film was written by Rogen as sort of an auto-biographical take on a similar situation he had been in with a friend in Canada. The authenticity of their friendship and the bittersweet take on an emotional topic (cancer) impacted me. I liked this movie a lot.

8. I recently watched The Help and I loved it. Emma Stone, whom I have only seen in a couple films, was a very strong lead actress and played off her co-stars very well. Stone’s co-star, Viola Davis, was even more impressive as she handled the emotional nature of her role impeccably. The film’s subject matter (Southern racism in the 60’s) was portrayed honestly (and uncomfortably). This is the type of film that makes you angry, but leaves you hopeful. My wife read the book and the said it was even better.

7. I talked about this film before so I won’t go in to it too much. I’ll just say that in an era of reboots, remakes and sequels, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol felt fresh and original. I look forward to the next film especially if Brad Bird and Jeremy Renner are back.

6. This spot was another tough one for me as there are 2 films that I felt similarly about (Source Code and Limitless) and rented around the same time. However, Source Code gets the distinction of being my #6 pick. The movie was like Groundhog Day mixed with Minority Report. There was a certain level of suspension of disbelief required of the viewer, but it was well worth it. I am even ok with the open-ended conclusion to the film. You should see it.

5. Being the huge A’s fan that I am, you would think that Moneyball would have been my #1 film of the year by default. Although I did enjoy it quite a bit, it sits comfortable at #5. For me this film had a documentary feel to it, as I worked for the A’s during the time period that the film depicts and was rather close to some of the people portrayed in the film. This was sort of the gift and the curse of the film. I was unable to fully engross myself in the film since I was constantly cross-referencing it with my perception of what happened during that era. It was a great movie, don’t get me wrong. It just was a little too close to home.
4. The Descendants’ placement on this likely can likely be attributed to the fact that Mel and I went to The Vine to see it. That’s right-a real date. I ordered beer and pizza (from my seat mind you) and watched Alexander Payne’s take on family, love and Hawaii. The film had a great feel to it and is the closest thing to an indie film as there is on this list.

3. When I initially saw the trailer for Hugo I didn’t necessarily want to see the film. It looked like a kid’s movie that I would eventually see at home when Tate and Lyla (my offspring) got around to seeing it. However, after talking to some people who saw it and reading the countless positive reviews, I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed. The film is referred to as Martin Scorcese’s love letter to film itself and it definitely felt that way. The film is based off a children’s book and even references historical figures. Much of the film is non-fiction. If you get a chance to see it in 3D, you should. It was well worth the extra money.

2. I posted my review for The Artist so I won’t write about it too much. In short, I loved its throwback Hollywood feel, the acting, and the whole aesthetic.
1. I had a tough time picking my favorite movie of the year. I still am not sure that I even agree with this pick, but I will do my best to justify it. I chose Super 8 because, among other things, I could really identify with aspects of the film (aside from the deadbeat dad and aliens). As a middle schooler, I constantly borrowed my dad’s video camera to make videos with friends. This trend continued in to high school and let’s be honest, today as well. The film was well acted and fairly original, but it was the fact that I saw glimpses of my childhood in it that made me love it all the more. The film felt like something from the 80’s and it depicted kids that were a lot like me. I loved it.

Honorable Mention
I enjoyed these films as well but they didn’t make the cut:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Crazy, Stupid, Love
The Adjustment Bureau
Tree of Life
Win Win

Films I didn’t see and therefore cannot rate...
War Horse
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Midnight in Paris

Least favorite movie of the year...
Country Strong (words cannot describe the awful, putrid, absurdity of this film. Knowing that most of their songs are likely about Gwyneth Paltrow kills Coldplay for me).

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Artist (9/10)

Each year I try to see most of the films that will potentially get nominated for Best Picture. Last year I saw 8 out of 10 before the Academy Awards aired and this year I plan to see all of them prior to the awards show. Having said that, there are already predictions as to which movies may be nominated for Best Picture in 2012 and among them is The Artist.  My wife and I saw The Artist just before Christmas. I had read a lot of buzz about the film since Jean Dujardin's (lead actor) won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and the film itself had since received many awards and nominations. Much of the attention the film is receiving is due to the fact that it is silent (except for music). The movie reminded me a lot of Singin' in the Rain  as it dealt with the advent of talkies (movies with dialogue and sound) and the twilight of the silent film star. Dujardin's character, George Valentin, is a famous silent film actor who falls on hard times as talkies become increasingly popular. The film is incredibly funny and well executed. I felt like I was transported back in time. The movie was even shot in a 4:3 ratio (the image was square and had black bars on the sides of the screen as oppose to rectangular). The film is easily one of my favorites of 2011 (my top 10 list should be on here soon) and it will likely be one I show in my Lit through Film class in the future. I recommend this film to anyone who appreciates the history of film and the "innocence" of old time Hollywood. My rating is 9/10.

Getting to Know Matt, Getting to Know All About Matt!

Matt - Looking as pretentious as possible

I'm (one of) the other contributor(s) D-Bo mentioned in the initial post. Let me join Kevin in cheering him on for taking the initiative with a common movie device we all know and love, the slow clap. Mentally anyway, it's hard to type a slow clap without completely losing your audience.

I'd list my top 5s here as well but I have two of the same movies as Kevin, The Godfather & Usual Suspects, and probably three of the same TV shows, at least those (somewhat) currently airing, Justified, Community and Boardwalk Empire.

One of the reasons I was interested in joining Dan and Kevin on this blog was my wife Alyssa and I started to make our way through AFI's 2007 list of the best 100 American movies of the previous 100 years and I thought this would be a great place to share my thoughts on the movies as we go through the list. Expect a review of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? coming just as soon as I get around to it. You can see my reviews for most of the movies 100-68 over on my old blog - Pending Sobriety which I last posted to in June of 2011.

Hopefully, this blog will afford me the opportunity to really start blowing through that initial list as well as post my thoughts on all the other movies we see. Happy New Year!

Hi. I'm Kevin.

Hey. How's it going? So I am one of the friends that D-Bo mentioned in the first post on this new amazing blog. Let's give Dan a round of applause, for coming up with such a great name after much deliberation. I actually really like the name, its quick, simple and to the point. Great job Dan.

So about me - I am a big movie fan and probably an even bigger TV fan, so don't be shocked to see a few small screen reviews pop up on here from time to time. I also enjoy drinking whiskey, cooking, playing poker and stand up comedy (listening not performing). I have another blog called Eat. Drink. Smoke. Where I occasionally (and by occasionally I mean once, in the past year) blog about food, beverage and cigars.

Here is a few top 5's (at this moment) so you get to know my tastes:

Top 5 Movies: Hot Rod, Seven, Usual Suspects, The Hangover, The Godfather

Top 5 TV Shows: Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Arrested Development, Community, Boardwalk Empire

Top 5 Whiskeys: Pappy Van Winkle 15yr, Van Winkle Family Reserve 12yr, William LaRue Weller, Thomas H. Handy, Stranahan's Paladise Cask

Top 5 weird/delicious things I've eaten: Bone Marrow, Beef Cheeks, Rabbit, Pork trotters/terrine, raw octopus.

Feel free to comment on my reviews, especially if you disagree with me because I like to debate...

Ok. Bye now.

It's the RDJ Double Feature: Part 2 - Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Being a fan of Sherlock Holmes (the character) I've enjoyed most of the movies and TV shows featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation. That said, Guy Ritchie (the director of the latest films) and I have had an up and down relationship. I loved Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch - and then he decided to marry the wicked witch Madonna and made Swept Away, which I refused to watch based on every review on the planet (it has a whopping 3.4 rating on IMDB). As of late he's redeemed himself with the Sherlock Holmes movies. Hopefully he keeps it up, but enough about him...

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows pits Sherlock (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) against Professor Moriarty played by the brilliant Jared Harris, most recently of Mad Men fame. Coming along for the ride is Rachel McAdams (resuming her role), Noomi Rapace (from the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Stephen Fry playing Sherlock's brother Mycroft. While all the performances are solid, I wish the story would have allowed more character development, particularly for Moriarty. As one of the greatest characters from the Holmes mythos, the character comes across as one dimensional, though Mr. Harris does the best with what he was given, and comes across very believable.

The Good
  • It's a really fun movie - very fast paced and you don't have a chance to get bored
  • The interaction between Holmes and Watson - its very entertaining

The Bad
  • The fast paced nature of the movie makes it hard to follow at points
  • The cockiness of Holmes gets old after a while
Don't look for it to win any awards - but if you are looking to spend a couple hours being entertained definitely check it out. I give the movie a 6.5/10

Also if you are looking for more Sherlock Holmes greatness, I highly suggest checking out the BBC's adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. There are three 90 minute episodes out now, with three more coming this year. See the second trailer below.

It's the RDJ Double Feature: Part 1 - Due Date

Yesterday, after nursing my New Year's Eve hangover all day, the wife and I watched Due Date before falling asleep. The 2010 release features Robert Downey Jr. as Peter, an uptight father-to-be racing across country to witness the birth of his child. The problem is he's stuck with The Hangover's Zach Galifianakis playing pretty much the exact same character that made him famous, however this time he's named Ethan instead of Allen... big stretch, I know. I suppose if something isn't broken, why fix it.

The straight-man/funny-man interactions between them go from hilarious to infuriating (I can completely relate with RDJ's character and his sheer rage throughout the movie). With the theme of the movie being about fatherhood, you can see the roles being played out by the two main characters. Ethan as the son, ranges from being a loveable child who can't care for himself to an absolute irresponsible terror. Peter, doing his best to be a father, displays the joy and unconditional love of being a "new father" to the struggle of dealing with a an unruly child.

While both lead actors do well, I really enjoyed the cameos in the movie. Appearances by Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx, and the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA are all fantastic.

Despite the great performances by all, the annoyance of Galifianakis' character brings the movie down a bit for me (I'm sure that was the point of his character, but goshdarnit, I don't like being annoyed). Also, while I don't mind the story being far-fetched, there are some scenes that are so unbelievable (the car crash) that it takes me out of the movie experience so I give the movie a 7.5/10

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mission:Impossible Ghost Protocol (8.5/10)

The wife and I went to the theater Thursday night for the first time since we saw "Midnight in Paris" back in June (it's been a busy year). Anyhow, after seeing all of the critical acclaim for M:I 4 I figured we'd give it a shot on the IMAX. We loved it.

I'm a huge fan of "The Incredibles", the animated Pixar film in which the Fantastic Four type family of superheroes join together to fight crime, and became excited to see M:I 4 when I heard Brad Bird was directing it as well. It was his first theatrical release as a live-action director and I was "incredibly" impressed. There were some beautiful city scapes that took full advantage of the IMAX cameras as well as a plot that moved along nicely. Tom Cruise was great as Ethan Hunt, which he typically is, but I was very impressed with the rest of his team as well.

Jeremy Renner is going to be the next big action star, while "The Hurt Locker" wasn't quite capable of making him an A-List guy, this movie, combined with his turn as a Jason Bourne type badass in the new Bourne movie should establish him as the action star of the 2010s. Simon Pegg is great in his return as the M:I team funny guy and the chick was sufficiently attractive for an action movie.

So far as plot, there are spies, a possible end of the world type scenario that may or may not be averted at the last possible moment, great action sequences, beautiful girls, fast cars, masks, you get the idea.

If you're looking for some fun holiday fare that takes you to beautiful places and keeps you invested the whole time this is definitely the way to go. 8.5/10 (I like throwing an arbitrary 0.5 point in to our new scoring system just because I can)

Also, there's no way this was only 1 point better than "Warrior" so 8.5 was the lowest I could go. Just kidding Dan, I've never seen Warrior, though from reading your review I'd bet it goes for the cheap tug on the heartstrings looking for a reaction a little too much for my tastes.

Warrior (7/10)

Last night I watched Warrior with my wife. I am a big fan of renting movies on the iPad and watching on my TV with the HDMI connection. That Steve Jobs was a clever man. Anyway, the movie follows the story of 2 estranged brothers who return to fighting (MMA style) after a long hiatus. They enter a big MMA tournament called Sparta (unbeknownst to each other) and lo a behold, they end up fighting each other in the climactic finale. My spoiler is given away in the trailer below. Anyway, the 2 brothers have serious issues with each other and life, which is understandable since Nick Nolte is their father. The events leading up to the film's climactic conclusion would seem unlikely if it was not a true story. It is true right? That's what I heard prior to viewing the film. I mean it has to be true. Who would make something so farfetched up? Gavin O'Connor would, apparently. The same guy who brought Miracle (a true story) to the big screen decided the USA's unlikely victory against Mother Russia on ice wasn't outstanding enough so he decided to pit a high school physics teacher (Joel Edgerton) against an undefeated Russian UFC fighter. I actually did like the movie. Tom Hardy was incredible and Nolte, shockingly, pulled off the dead beat dad role with flying colors. However, when I found out the film was fictional, it took off some of its mystique. I wanted to believe it was true because it seemed so outlandish. My wife felt the same way. The AWOL Iraq war hero fighting against the high school teacher brother he hasn't seen in 14 years. That's the stuff dreams are made of. I would have given it a 8/10 if it were true, but since it was fictional and a bit too unlikely it gets an 7/10 from me.