Hyena Road – liberal Afghanistan

It was an epic Rambo film.  He single handedly beat the Russians and helped the heroic Afghan people get their liberation.` He stood there with RPGs, AK47s and anything else he could strap on his oiled half naked body and beat an entire army, helicopters and all.

By now, we have seen pretty much everything there is to see about “that war”.    There have been documentaries, heroic ones, bleak ones, “what is the point?” ones, hand held camera affairs.   Some of 94227a5760b2a257ce89d3cb53d077d1them were actually impressive, breaking new ground thanks both to the new technology and this unusual situation the armies have found themselves in.  To their credit, almost all the films make good points about the futility of war, the pride of the Afghan people and the dirty job the soldiers on all sides are called to do at enormous personal cost.

Hyena road is something in between all the previous stuff.  It is a proper feature film, no grainy handheld video cameras or amateur footage included.  It has proper actors and builds proper characters, mostly likeable ones.  None of them get shot in the opening sequences, in fact, there isn’t much killing involved in general.

1716e677311022ce660c6a4ebd8daa26The film is very Canadian.  No American style chest thumping.  If it goes near a cliche, it does its best to avoid it.  Both in terms of content and in terms of style.  For a relatively low budget film it is remarkably accurate, precise and well made.  I have seen many films about Afghanistan which obviously makes me an expert.  This feels authentic, it flows easily.

The more I write about it, the more there is to praise.  Many nice little touches in the characters and their side stories.  Canadian dry humour in what they say.  If this is Canada at war then all Canadians should be proud of them.

PS the ending is terrible.  5.5/10

Stealth – when Top Gun met A.I.

There have been many movies about Artificial Intelligence lately.  Most of them pretty good actually, generally quite thought provoking.  Especially for those of us who regularly talk to our phones and rely on cloud services for daily stuff.  Close to home as they say.  But none of them were fun.

P-40:

In the good old days, if you wanted character in a plane, you painted a mouth on it!

So here are three hitech warplanes who get a new team-mate.  An all singing, all dancing, all watching and listening plane that learns on its own.  If you know very little about drones, you might think it is somehow close to reality.  If you know anything about military protocol you will not.  But that isn’t the point.

The First World War was the first time air warfare had played a role in combat and this picture of French warplane, Caudron G3, was captured by a photographer in 1914: Everyone says “Top Gun” when you speak about plane movies, but by the end, this is more like “ET” meeting the “Iron Eagle” trilogy.    Epic stuff.   People smile at the right time, salute, explode and laugh just when they should be.  Well made movie.  For its kind.  As long as you don’t try and relate anything you see to anything in the real world, geography, politics or technology.   They even threw some romance in for good measure.

This is not for everyone.  If I wasn’t in the right mood, it wouldn’t even be for me.

Bulletproof monk – great job of a mediocre idea

It is pretty hard to take a film seriously when it starts with two monks sparing on a bridge and flying around.  That whole karate/flying/Chinese wire trick…really…why?  But “Bulletproof monk” pulls it off well.  For starters, it is the first movie with an explanation of how to walk on air.  But mainly the two lead roles are likeable and drive the story forward all the time.

What’s the Meaning of Karate’s Different Belt Colors? (The Answer Will Blow Your Mind) | KARATEbyJesse: The old guy from Tibet is neither Jackie Chan, nor some martial arts guru.  More like a regular guy you might want as a neighbour.  The young guy is a New York pick pocket, smart kid but not falling into any easy pidgeon holes either.  None of those overdone slow motion stylistic shows action movies on a budget often fall for.  If our hero needs to take out ten bad guys, OK, he does some fancy stuff, but he gets on with it.

Can I get this? Thanks.: Plot is the normal thing.  We all have to protect some ancient scroll with the secret to ultimate power.  Twist is that some Nazi has been chasing it since the second World War.  Yeah, we have heard that before too.  But it really doesn’t matter, the take is fresh.  My kids watched it straight after the Spiderwick Chronicles, same story, protecting a book from evil, but they didn’t mind at all.

The girl in the film is interesting too.  While Star Wars fans pine and groan about Rey not getting her own doll, the female lead in this film is cool, sexy, sweet, tough, able and with a nice twist at the end does real equality sort of stuff.   In all, a great cast guided by an obviously good team, makes a great job of a mediocre idea.

 

Family entertainment value, 5 or 6 out of 10