Ep. 109 – The Cloverfield Paradox

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week, Jerrod and Cody tackled the surprise Netflix release of “The Cloverfield Paradox,” plus a quick rundown of the trailers that aired during The Big Game.

(There are some audio issues with Cody’s track that we can’t overcome, sorry he sounds like a robot.)

Click here to download the episode!

The Fifth Estate

October 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl, Anthony Mackie
Directed by: Bill Condon (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2”)
Written by: Josh Singer (debut)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been no stranger to the spotlight in recent years. Seizing seemingly every opportunity he has to strip away the layers of secrecy from some of the world’s most powerful institutions, Assange has, for better or worse, personally embodied WikiLeaks’ truth-telling mission. Though the saga is still very much ongoing, Hollywood has churned out a dramatization of the birth, growth, and prominence of Wikileaks and its eccentric founder in “The Fifth Estate.”

With an agenda of releasing the world’s most tightly guarded secrets, computer hacker Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) forms WikiLeaks, a website which anonymous whistleblowers can upload information and reveal dark truths about governments and corporations to anyone who desires them. In an effort to grow, Assange teams up with Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl) who shares his values in the freedom of information. After years of substantial leaks, the two find themselves sitting on one of the biggest information leaks in history. From there, it’s a battle of opposing views on whether releasing sensitive information is worth the potential endangerment of the lives of thousands of people.

The character of Assange proves to be fertile ground for Cumberbatch. He absorbs the role and is by far the strongest element of the film. He commands the screen every second he appears and effectively conveys the larger-than-life persona that Assange has cultivated, all while getting details such as his voice down to perfection. Bruhl is also strong as Daniel Berg, serving as somewhat of a moral compass to the WikiLeaks mission. Unfortunately, his character is bogged down by an unsatisfying romantic plot.

“The Fifth Estate” features a rather kinetic storytelling device that is scatterbrained and unnecessarily confusing. Besides globe jumping, the narrative of Assange is regularly interrupted by the introduction of smaller storylines and characters. Further complicating things is a subpar script that most frequently finds the Assange character speaking in maxims without providing any true substance behind his insistence on the freedom of information. There is also a visual device in the film that fails in its execution where this fantastical idea of Assange running the organization by himself materializes into scenes where Assange is found behind various nameplates in a warehouse of desks.

There will undoubtedly be a lot of comparisons to another WikiLeaks film that has been released this year, Alex Gibney’s documentary “We Steal Secrets.” As another exhaustive look at Assange through the years, Gibney’s film hit its most interesting points when touching on the topics of the leaks of the U.S. military bombing of civilians by Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea) and the subsequent Afghan War Logs, the name given to the biggest U.S. military intelligence leak to date. “The Fifth Estate” barely touches on the fascinating look at Manning and his motives, and also ignores Assange’s accusations of sexual assault, the main reason that he currently remains sequestered in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. It is no surprise that the most engaging and riveting sections of “The Fifth Estate” come in the wake of the release of the Afghan War Logs, which makes the decision to devote such a small section of the film to it even more puzzling.

The debate on the morality and stance on WikiLeaks and the war on information is a divisive one, and one that continues to this day. Regardless of your stance, the details of the sources of the leaks are fascinating topics that this film merely glosses over. “The Fifth Estate” strives to get into the motives, ego, and eccentricities of Assange but never does. Cumberbatch is fantastic here, but those looking for true insight and the full story of Assange and WikiLeaks are better off searching out the documentary instead.

Rush

September 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Ashley, Reviews

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Ron Howard (“Frost/Nixon”)
Written by: Peter Morgan (“The Queen”)

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”), redeems himself after his last few downfalls (“The Dilemma,” “Angels & Demons”) with “Rush,” a perfectly-paced and exciting action-drama starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl. The film follows two racecar drivers who create a rivalry with each other in the 1976 Formula One racing circuit.

In “Rush,” Howard introduces his audience to racers James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Bruhl) and the competitive and money-driven racing world they both want to control. With stellar cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours”) and the strong script by screenwriter Peter Morgan (“Frost/ Nixon,” “The Queen”), the intricately developed relationship between James and Niki pushes “Rush” across the finish line and crowns it a champion of good cinema.

The conflict begins when James finds himself trailing behind Niki, Formula One’s world champion, during the 1976 racing season. When they arrive to a race in Germany, aptly nicknamed “The Graveyard” for its treacherous track, it is pouring rain. Niki calls for a drivers’ meeting with the intention to cancel the race. However, when he is outvoted by his fellow racers, he is forced to race on the dangerous track. In a horrific accident later that day, Niki almost loses his life when he hits a wall and his car bursts into flames, thus putting James in the perfect position to catch up and clench his title. Although Niki is confined to the hospital undergoing treatments and surgeries, he allows his competitive spirit to get the best of him as he watches James chip away at the leaderboard.

Delving deep into each character, Hemsworth and Bruhl bring to life this amazing historic rivalry. On the surface, they are polar opposites – Niki, a stark and meticulous German racer, and James, a sex-crazed British party boy. As their backstories and common underlying desire to be the best racer emerge on screen though, so does their respect for one another. Bruhl draws you close with his first-rate performance while Hemsworth’s physical stature reinforces his “ladies man” persona.

As a high-risk sport, moviegoers experience the thrill of Formula One racing during the most climactic parts of the film, all of which feel like you’re right there on the track. Close up shots of speeding tires and turning engines leave you at the edge of your seat, and intensifies the movie’s pace and audience’s adrenaline.

Movies like “Rush” remind us that topical cinema, relevant or irrelevant to our interests, can be inspiring and sometimes great if given the chance. Race fan or not, “Rush” is a must-see, even if only for its character-driven plot line and almost flawless lead performances.