K-19: The Widowmaker

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It’s time to look at a historical film that adapts an event from a while back. Naturally with any adaption you look at it and absorb the story while picking and choosing which specifics make sense as some of it will naturally be dramatized for added effect. By and large this film seemed to play it straight though at least in the sense that nothing too fantastic happened.

So, the Widowmaker is a large submarine that the Russians want to bring to the Americas in case a cold war starts. They’re treated like the villains from start to finish which is interesting, but at the same time one of the big themes in the film is that the actual men on the ship are just your average 9-5 guys. They didn’t ask for this, but it’s their task so they’ll see it through to the end. Unfortunately, the ship isn’t ready for the sea yet as the captain Misha tries to tell the higher ups. They don’t listen and send in Alexei to spearhead the operation. Can the crew survive?

One of the interesting parts here is that the ship was seemingly very capable. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s something that the film altered a bit since based on the reputation you’d expect it to be less impressive. It would have easily made it all the way to the destination, but Alexei wanted to show off and kept making the mission more and more dangerous. Going lower than they were supposed to go, running drills nonstop, etc. Even then the ship did well enough, but it’s fair to say that at least in the film’s portrayal, Alexei is largely responsible for how the ship began to melt down and almost started the war on his own.

I liked how America was portrayed here. They were ready to forego country politics and save the crew from their sub. Sure, we would take control of the sub of course, but it is in our waters anyway and that’s a fair price for saving lives. If they had only listened to us, then maybe things would have been very different. At least their reasons for refusing aid were fairly decent as we wouldn’t take kindly to seeing a nuke on their sub. Especially since it was primed to detonate and nothing would have stopped it at that point. I’m sure we would have had some decent radioactive suits to try something, but there wasn’t much time either.

The film can be a little grotesque though like when the characters walk into the radiation chamber and try to turn the valve. We get that the radiation is super serious so we don’t need to see them puking all over the sub that I’m sure had just been polished. It adds that extra dimension of realism that nobody wants to see and that’s how you differentiate a movie from a great one. The greats know how to be realistic without going too far while the others go all the way. Other scenarios of lesser gravity in a film would be simple things like brushing your teeth or going to the bathroom. We know that the characters have to do that anyway so there’s no need to show it right? It’s just understood.

The characters suffer the same fate of being very realistic at times with painful dialogue and chatter amongst themselves. You just want them to stop talking and start working already. Of course, considering one of them is a drunk, another one is too nervous to tell his boss when the ship is sinking, and the rest of are being fed red wine every day, I suppose there isn’t much they can really do about that now is there? I would have liked to have had a comparison shot where we see a US sub where everyone is playing cards and the place looks nice and shiny.

There is one unfortunate scene that didn’t help this film’s plight and it also came out of left field. An animal dies. The instant it appears and got on the ship I knew this movie was going to go the dark route. Not taking shots at the film…but you could just tell. It simply is that kind of film and the fact that I was right just makes it all the sadder. If that really was in the true event then it should have been cut out and if it was made up for the movie for extra emotion then that’s even worse.

Overall, I’m sure this film will be a lot more powerful for people who are in the army or grew up during the tense cold war period. I find those topics decently interesting myself, but typically as a purely fictional movie or one that stays in the court room. I don’t need the gritty details, just the story. I also wonder how the Russian viewers would take this interpretation since I personally thought they were depicted as being quite cruel and unreasonable. Of course, that may be the facts, but the upper crust seems to just want a scapegoat whenever they are on screen. The jury didn’t seem very passionate and in general the air was always very dead. I know in general their culture isn’t quite as loud or in your face as America’s, but I still expected a little more than that. Even their style of humor like flashing the American choppers who were just doing their job was a little murky. Of course, I can easily see something like that happening with America too depending on the circumstances so I can’t speak for that much. So, if you’re interested in a sort of documentary film like this one then check it out, but I can’t say it was my cup of tea. Films based on a true story rarely work out for me.

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How the West Was Won Review

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It’s time for a perfect example of why only some films deserve to be 3 hours. Granted, you can chop off around 30 minutes or maybe even more if you take out the credits and the intermission, but it’s still way too long. This has got to be one of the most boring, uneventful films I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s right up there with The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. If you are even a little sleepy when you start this film, you’ll be knocked out in minutes. When you mix all of the sad elements this film has: Wild West setting, Boring Main Characters, Old Gender roles, Slow Pacing, Long Filler scenes, it results in a plain bad film all around. It’s just not my cup of tea and while the film could have probably earned an extra star or 2 if it was an hour shorter…it wasn’t so it’s a moot point.

The film tries to play itself out as a really low budget documentary for the most part. It starts off with some early settlers who head to the Wild West. It isn’t really developed yet so they have to plot their own land and such. Lets ignore the fact that there already are a bunch of people here though like the guys who sucker the heroes and steal their stuff, but fortunately the villains are shot before this can end badly. Did you understand that really convoluted sentence? Okay, lets start again. A longer walks into a village and the country girl tells him that she wants to show him someone they captured. He agrees because he’s hoping to score, but she throws him into a pit and runs off. The guy…gets out of the pit and shoots them all dead. During this part, the people who suckered him were trying to sucker the main settlers next and then the shooting battle starts. It’s one of the only action scenes you’ll see until the very, very end so savor it now.

We get a pretty big jump later on as someone’s Dad dies and two sons get back to the farm. One wants to work the land and the other doesn’t. I was wondering what the point of this all was, but apparently the characters were the grown up forms of two characters from near the beginning of the film. Well, good to see everyone returning with all of the time jumps happening, but this is exactly why 99% of the film felt like filler. The problem is that you can only talk about building America before it turns into memes and repetition. Honestly, you’ll be thinking of memes constantly during the film.

The only semi exciting part would be the final act. A retired sheriff is enjoying life with his family, but then notices that some fierce outlaws are back in town. The current cops claim that they have gone over a new leaf and aren’t planning to steal the large gold train that’s about to leave town. The ex-Sheriff doesn’t believe this hogwash for a second and goes after them. Not to mention that the outlaws were basically harassing him earlier and threatened his family. He can’t let them walk away after that. A shootout happens and the Sheriff is victorious. He was right about those rascals and showed them what’s up. Hopefully the cops will remember to actually carry guns next time they protect a train and to hire better security. They must not care about their gold if it’s so loosely protected eh?

The film also had one of the worst romances. So, one of the girls became a successful singer, but then gets a message that someone died and she can inherit a gold mill. She drops everything (big mistake) to go there. Since these were the olden days, it takes a long time to get there. Along the way she meets an old lady who flirts with everyone and a guy who just wants her for her money. (And she knows it) She still falls for the guy and then they get to the mill. The problem is that the gold ran out and the workers paid themselves first so there was no money left. The girl heads back to her dancing career while the guy continues his successful gambling. It all works out and they get together…booooooo. It’s pretty cheesy and just not all that interesting. It was something to see the girl get old and sell all of her stuff though. Just goes to show that nothing goes with you to the grave. From there is transformed into the ex-sheriff story. It’s pretty surreal to have the characters start the film off as little kids and then be quite old by the time the film ends. It could have been great if it was handled delicately like DBZ with big fights happening constantly to keep you engaged. Wrong kind of film though.

There’s not much of a soundtrack here although I trust that you wouldn’t expect one. Also, the visuals are never any fun. The characters head to a civilized kind of city once which is where all the singing/dancing is, but for the most part they’re in the wild west. That doesn’t make for a fun backdrop. The film also feels really ancient. I get that this film is from the 60s, but it plays out more like a film from the 50s with how poor the sound quality can be at times and how old everything looks. The oldness is probably just the Wild West effect I suppose though.

Overall, How The West Was Won is not a story that we ever needed to know. It’s rather obvious and self explanatory after all as everyone knows the story. The Americans rode in, murdered everybody, and then “Discovered” the land and made it our own. We then used good ole American muscle power to build all of the buildings and establishments that we have today. It’s a story of determination and good work ethic, but one that doesn’t make for an entertaining film in the slightest. There’s nothing to smile about or anything to keep your interest in the film. Now imagine that going on for almost 3 hours. I dare say that the first act was the worst as well so it started the film out on a less than optimal note. I can’t decide on what the worst part there was. The father insisting that the daughter sing to entertain some random blokes, or another daughter wanting to run away with a random guy who flirts with everyone and then saying no once he finally says yes because she likes the country life. We definitely got a lot of drama here….just not the good kind. Wait…there’s a good kind? It’s in your best interest to avoid this film.

Overall 2/10

Bonnie and Clyde

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It’s time for another film based on true events. For once, it’s not about a moment of great importance in history or even about a heroic protagonist who helped reshape the rules and standards of life as we know it. Instead, this film is about two outlaws who were not heroic in any sense of the words and got their thrills out of robbing and committing other crimes. As such, you can imagine that it was not really my kind of film as I never care for villains as the protagonists.

Bonnie was originally a waitress who wasn’t involved in a life of crime. That changed when she met Clyde who tried to rob her mother. Bonnie was intrigued and decided to join in. While the pair initially committed small crimes that didn’t involve murder, they eventually grew bolder and bolder. Once they crossed the final line for the first time, it was relatively easy to keep going as they grew worse and worse. Ultimately this would be their undoing as they made too many enemies and got caught in a trap. You couldn’t feel any sympathy for them at this point since they were completely evil and it was a good way to remind the audience that crime never pays. You end up paying for the crimes..with your life!

I’m sure that the film is fairly faithful to how the pair acted back in the old days. Neither character is likable in the slightest. You just feel bad for their victims like the guy who was shot in the face. It’s why working in a bank isn’t exactly my favorite job in the world. It’s tough to deal with robbers and you never know how it’ll turn out. The film puts a lot of emphasis on how sketchy the two main characters are. Aside from breaking the law and all, they also smoke, drink, and do everything you’d expect two villains to do. The “romance” if you can call it that is fairly prevalent as well. The leads have all the wrong priorities the whole time.

The film certainly was on the gritty side. It had that old grainy look to it that most early color films had. It automatically helps a film appear to be more gritty and especially if that’s how the film is trying to be. You can especially see this in horror films and it’s why the modern ones are usually more chuckle worthy than anything. It’s the one time Indie can try to shine as their films are usually low budget and can still attain that grainy feeling. It’s not as if I’ll like a horror film anyway, whether it be grainy or clear, but definitely something to think about. Of course, an old grainy wild west film with two villains as leads…that was never going to end well.

I mostly don’t take too many shots at historical/documentary films like this one since they’re usually uplifting stories with good morals. As long as the adaption is on point, it’s all good. This one’s a bit of an exception since their are no good morals or stories to take from this one and I don’t even see why this story had to be adapted. Why should we honor criminals with their own film? I definitely don’t understand it and so even if this film is fairly accurate to how they would have acted, I can’t say that I’m a fan. This just wasn’t my kind of film.

As a side note, it’s always interesting to see the old style of cars that everyone uses here. I sort of like the design, but at the same time the colors always seemed faded. It’s like colors just didn’t stand out back in the day, but I don’t see why that would be. Had we not developed shiny colors at this point in history? It seems like something that would be fairly easy to do. I can see not having bullet proof windows and all of that fancy stuff, but shiny colors had to have been one of those easy inventions that just hit someone like a bolt of lightning someday. It just seems like walking around in those days with faded out colors made everything else seem fake as well. In theory all of the colors should still be sharp so maybe we had sharp colors and films just couldn’t properly see them? Like I said..it’s something to think about and you should think about it during the film since it’s more interesting than the actual movie.

Overall, You should avoid this Bonnie and Clyde film. I don’t see how any film could manage to make them likable anyway since the story is just about how they’re evil and kept on shooting people and stealing money. Switch out the names and you just have two very generic criminals in the olden times. There were many criminals in the Wild West as you can see from any old film. True, this might not be quite the same Wild West as it wasn’t that old and uncivilized compared to other eras, but it’s old enough where I just generalize and call it that. If you really want to learn more about Bonnie and Clyde, then this is probably a decent way to do so. At the same time, you could probably just watch a documentary instead and in this case it may work better. We don’t need to learn all that much about their friends and personal life. A documentary will just stick to the facts and probably be more concise about the whole thing.

The Ten Commandments

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I don’t watch 3 hour+ films often, but when I do I usually watch quality ones. The Ten Commandments is a legendary film and the poster is quite iconic at this point. The Bible is huge and as a result, most of it has not yet been adapted to the big screen. This film did a great job of essentially adapting the full story of Moses and adding in as many details as it can. Throwing in extra backstory is always a tricky process since you want to be careful not to deviate from what happened, but the film does a good job of it. It certainly is very long, but it’s an informative movie and a must watch for all viewers.

In case you aren’t familiar with this part of the Bible, here’s the situation. The Pharaoh decreed that all male Hebrew babies were to be slaughtered in an effort to prevent the deliverer from arising and freeing them from slavery. Fortunately for Moses, his mother sent him away in a basket to the Egyptians where he was raised up as a prince. Nobody knew about his true origin and he slowly grew to power. However, before he could become King, Moses found out the truth and decided he’d rather live as a slave with his people then rule under a false pretense. As a result, he lost everything and nearly died, but God was not finished with him. Moses was going to be the deliverer of the Hebrews after all.

Since the film is so long, it’s able to give a lot of time to each act. The first act is naturally about Moses growing up and then learning the truth. On one hand, you may think Moses could have helped the Hebrews right away if he had become King and then done away with slavery. On the other hand, living with the deception may not feel just. It’s one of those tough calls where it’s hard to know what you’d do. You have to have a lot of will power to trade fame, power, and a comfortable lifestyle over being a slave to do the right thing. Moses also lose his future wife and made an enemy out of everyone in power. It was certainly not an easy choice to make.

The second act covers when Moses returns to Egypt and God delivers many plagues as the Pharaoh continues to deny his people freedom. Once the final plague occurs and his son is killed, the Moses is finally able to lead his people out. Even then the Pharaoh decided to try one last attempt to slay them, which leads to the famous moment of the river parting and all of the soldiers being annihilated. The scene was handled very well and the film spared no expense on the effects. It would certainly be pretty amazing to see such a sight in person.

Finally, the last segment is about Moses obtaining the Ten Commandments from God. While he is on the mountain the Hebrews begin to worship fallen idols and regress almost entirely to how the Egyptians acted. Moses breaks the Commandments and has to get them a second time as a result. The film ends on a rather sad note though as Moses is not allowed to go on to the Promised Land because of how he hit the rock for water when he wasn’t supposed too. The scene is not in the movie though so if you only know this story through the film you may not understand why he wasn’t allowed inside. The film doesn’t really explain it and part of why the scene is so tragic is because it was such a small mistake. I think scholars have theorized that he struck the rock to show off his own power and had developed hubris over the years or something. There are quite a few theories out there, but sometimes there is no deep reason. Perhaps he just had a bad day and his patience was thin which led to him striking the rock. Whatever the reason, while the ending was tragic, Moses accomplished great things. Through God, Moses saved thousands of lives and brought everyone out of slavery.

The Ten Commandments is certainly an uplifting movie. It’s great to see the story of Moses in movie format and also great to see how well known and legendary it became. It goes to show that if the quality of the story is good then you can certainly have a film over 3 hours. The intermission was appreciated as well since it gave me time to grab a snack and then continue on. The visuals and soundtrack were on point throughout as well.

Overall, The Ten Commandments is a movie that you do not want to miss out on. It’s not everyday that we get a Christian film which gets this mainstream and is handled well. If I had anything I’d change with the film, I’d reduce a large part of the first section where we get a subplot of the carpenter and the servant who can’t be together because of a rich slave owner. That plot was extremely dark and I don’t see how it really contributed. Beyond that, the rest of the adaption was completely on point. While the film can be dark and somewhat brutal at times, it’s still something that you really should see. I avoid sad/tragic tales myself, but since this is real life and stuff that you can’t avoid, it’s worth checking out. The Bible can be rather violent as well, but it’s still something that you’ve got to read at some point. You can appreciate the sacrifices that our predecessors made even more when you understand their tribulations. As the saying goes, Light is always brightest after the darkness. Don’t think that the film is constantly dark either though, there’s a good balance throughout.