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


Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge > Saving Private Ryan. That was what I claimed immediately after my theater viewing of Mel Gibson's (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ) newest film. I've since slept on this, but haven't entirely backed down from this statement. However, it has been awhile since I've seen Steven Spielberg's 1998 Best Picture and I really should have watched it again before making this bold claim. Nonetheless, it doesn't take away from Gibson's film. Hacksaw Ridge was based on a true story whereas Saving Private Ryan was not. For me, when all else is equal, gives the nod to the one that is more factual based. Don't get my wrong, Saving Private Ryan was an amazing movie. The Invasion of Normandy Omaha Beach to open the movie was one of the most captivating and memorable action sequences in the history of film. When I made the claim that Hacksaw Ridge was a better movie, I almost inserted the caveat that "outside of the opening 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge is a better movie." But that seemed like a copout. If I was this passionate about Hacksaw Ridge, I couldn't spoil it with some kind of condition that limited my case.


99 Homes (2015)

99 Homes was a movie I was certain I was going to love. I was wrong. It was good, but not great. It had unavoidable flaws. Even with the most accomplished of a director, I don't think it could have avoided some of its pitfalls and still fit in a two hour time frame. Like an unusually high number of films that I've seen this year, I knew very little about this movie going in. My knowledge of the film was reduced to knowing that it starred Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Social Network) and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, The Harvest), that it was a heavy R-rated drama based on home foreclosures, and that it was scoring a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes at its time of release. I hadn't seen a single preview of the movie, but what I did know about it was enough for me to see this movie. There was a 100% chance I was going to see this movie in the theater. While I do think this is a pretty good movie, it is not one that needs to be seen in the theater. It's not going to win any awards. If you get a chance to see it on Netflix or on cable, give a shot. You may not love it, but I think it'll grab your attention. While it is predictable and sort of gets in its own way, it is a tense and engrossing film. Furthermore, it continues to showcase Shannon's dominating screen presence. Love him or hate him, he creates memorable characters.


Lions for Lambs (2007)

I think when I first saw the trailers for director Robert Redford's (Quiz Show, A River Runs Through It) Lions for Lambs, I thought it was a movie I had to see. The previews made the movie look exciting and it was absolutely loaded with A-list actors. Well when the commercials for the movie became 15-second clips after the first week and the movie scored a whopping 27% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the need to see it quickly waned. The movie earned just $15 million at the box office. Box office earnings don't necessarily represent the quality of a film, but this movie hoped to earn lots of money. While the production costs of this movie were definitely low (I'll explain below), stars like Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise definitely commanded high dollar figures for their appearances. This wasn't a little indie movie. This movie was produced by MGM. On top of a movie that was received so poorly by critics was a plot (stories about the war in the Middle East, especially political driven ones) that had consistently been keeping moviegoers away back in the early 2000's. Lions for Lambs was a decent movie, but certainly not a great one. And it was by no means as exciting and as drama filled as the trailers portrayed it to be. This is a dialogue driven movie and one that succeeds because it was chalked full of such great actors.


The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Most critics and audiences will agree that the Andrew Garfield's (The Social Network, Never Let Me Go) reboot of Spider-Man occurred too soon after the completion of the Toby Maguire trilogy. Because it was a given that the reboot would generate hundreds of millions of dollars on name alone, many wondered how strong of an effort there would be to tell a great story. An uninteresting story and poor reviews from the critics that still resulted in $200 million would have been devastating to super hero movies. Heck, the Ryan Reynolds's disaster The Green Lantern earned a measly 27% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and still earned $116 million at the box office. Fortunately, while their were many, MANY parallels to the Tobey franchise, this movie was much darker. This was really my number one criteria going in. I just wanted it to be more adult-oriented. I know some thought it was too dark, saying things like Spider-Man isn't Batman, but as a guy in his mid 30's, I'd pretty much rather see any PG-13/R type superhero movie over a PG/PG-13 type one.