365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Triple 9 (2016)

If you watched season 1 of HBO's True Detective and you were as much of a fan of the six-minute single-shot shootout scene that ended episode four's (titled Who Goes There) as I was, you might just very well like John Hillcoat's (The Road, Lawless) underappreciated Triple 9. If you watch Game of Thrones and found the intense battle between the Jon Snow led wildlings and the white walkers at the end of season five episode eight (titled Hardhome) as the best single scene in the history of the show, you might just very well like the star-studded Triple 9. If I had trusted my instincts and not those of the critics, I would have been able to appreciate this gem of a popcorn flick on the on the big screen. Instead, I let the movie pass through the theaters, knowing I would see it eventually at home, but convincing myself that, despite the awesome previous, I would be disappointed by this movie. Recently, one of my colleagues at work asked why I hadn't told her to see Triple 9, knowing that it was a movie right up my wheelhouse. She was really the first person I actually knew who had seen the movie. So I feel obligated early on this review to try to match this movie with an audience that can best appreciate it. If you like the intensity that comes with a bank robbery movie (my two favorite bank robbery movies are The Town, which is my second favorite movie ever, and the original Point Break), I can't think of a reason that you wouldn't like Triple 9. There are plenty of underlying storylines, but just like those two movies, Triple 9 refuses to take its foot off the accelerator and doesn't confuse its audiences by undervaluing the ferocity of its story by wasting even a single scene that isn't relevant to its story. In 2016, you almost need a caveat when talking about movies. So while Captain America: Civil War is the best movie to be released in the first five months of the year, the best non-superhero movie is Triple 9


Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Captain America: Civil War is perhaps the greatest superhero movie that has not been directed by Christopher Nolan. My two favorite superhero movies (The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) both belong to him. At of this post, my third favorite would probably be a toss up between Batman Begins, Iron Man, and Captain America: Civil War. There are others (such as The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, etc.) that are up there, but there is clearly a distinction between the top 3 or 4 and all of the others. It is my hope that superhero movies continue to get better, but unfortunately, it feels like for every good one we get, we get 3-4 bad ones. So when we get a movie like Captain America: Civil War, it's important to take pause, see it, praise it, and encourage more movies like it because we know that poor movies will continue to be made because all of them seem to easily gross over $100 million. And the reason they day is our fault. We continue to see these terrible movies. But that is a different story for a different day.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

In a day and age where it seems like a new superhero movie is getting released every other week, it is hard for an average mainstream moviegoer to know which ones are worth watching, which ones should be skipped, and what order should you watch these movies in. This seems to be of particular importance with the Marvel movies and of even more importance with The Avenger movies. I have done my best to see The Avenger movies as they've been released, but there have been some that I have found to be absolutely terribly along the way including Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron. It certainly has not helped that Marvel characters who aren't Avengers (like Spider-Man) are starting to show up in movies featuring The Avengers. It's only a matter of time before all of these other Marvel characters (Ant-Man, Deadpool, etc.) start appearing in each newly released movie. At that time, it just might be time to give up. Don't even get me started about the future when either Marvel or DC buys the other out and we get characters like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Thor, Captain America, Flash, Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, Hulk, etc. all end up in the same movie. It won't occur for awhile, but when this market becomes stale many, many years from now, there will be too much money sitting on the table to not do it. The purists will be upset as well those who write the comics (though they most likely already are), but, if I've learned anything, it's that money speaks.


Ant-Man (2015)

I'll preface this review by saying that I enjoyed Ant-Man, but that I know that, if I do end up seeing it, I will not enjoy Ant-Man 2. I say that because traditionally I like superhero origin stories (except for when that same character gets retold over and over and over again like Superman which...on a side note, I have yet to see a Superman movie that I've even remotely enjoyed, but that I am expecting HUGE things from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). However, as is the case with over 90% of movies that have sequels, superhero movies generally get worse (usually much worse) with each subsequent release. Of course, there are exceptions. Batman Begins was fantastic, but The Dark Knight is quite possibly the greatest superhero movie ever made. Iron Man and Spider-Man are both absolutely fantastic movies, but there wasn't much drop off to Iron Man 2 or Spider-Man 2. Now Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man 3 were both much worse. But when you think about it, when is the 5th, 4th, or 3rd movie of a franchise ever really the best one? Hardly ever. 90% of the time, it's the first movie of the franchise that is the best. I wish viewer franchises would make movies. I wish even fewer movies would be remade. But that is a different topic for a different day. In regards to Ant-Man, the best thing that it had going for it was its originality. I cannot really think of a scenario where Ant-Man 2 would have any of the originality that this first movie had. But, of course, we know Ant-Man 2 is coming. And then Ant-Man will probably end up The Avengers movies and I'll end up looking back on this first movie less positively. 


Half Nelson (2006)

Ryan Gosling is quickly earning a reputation for playing characters with seemingly good hearts, but with deep flaws that prohibit his characters from achieving greatness. Whether it be his quick temper, drinking problem, or lack of ambition in Blue Valentine or his unbelievably extreme case of social anxiety in Lars and the Real Girl or his much too overly confident posture in Fracture, Gosling plays characters that you root for at one moment and sympathize with the next, while at the same time trying to figure how he gets so entrenched in each of his roles. If you haven't seen any of the above mentioned movies, do so. You'll be in for a treat. If you want to see, perhaps, his greatest performance to date, check out Ryan Fleck's (Sugar, It's Kind of a Funny Story) highly under-appreciated Half Nelson. Now I say highly under-appreciated loosely. Half Nelson has earned a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but to only $2.6 million at the box office is rather disappointing.