Things That Were Good: Augeptober Edition

Things That Were Good: Augeptober Edition

Recently, I had been on vacation in Miami trying to break the world record for "Most Months Spent Sleeping On A Beach." I figured it'd be a fun way to try and get my name into the history books. When I woke up, I found out that the people from the world record book had already left, with a note saying that since I can choose how long to sleep it didn't count, which I suppose is fair. When I came back to the office, however, I found 06 dead! He must've slipped and fell or something. His body was covered with reports on Things That Were Good from the mail slot, and I realized that for months you readers must not have known what things were good! Fear not, for I have fixed 06 and your good things are here now. Have a great, non-lethal month!

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Brandon

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is an adaptation directed by Guy Ritchie of the 1960s spy television series created by Sam Rolfe. The film stars Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as KGB agent Illya Kuryakin, who are forced to ignore their nations' rivalry and team up during the height of the Cold War in order to stop a much greater threat to both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The chemistry between Cavill and Hammer's characters is a major focus of this movie and definitely the most entertaining part of watching it. The film opens with an intense chase scene, where Solo has to bring an East German informant over the Berlin Wall while Kuryakin chases them. The contrasting personalities and methodologies of the two spies lead to some pretty damn funny banter between the two. Solo is a suave, Bond-esque master of sleight of hand while Kuryakin is more partial to beating an answer out of someone. While it would be easy to pigeonhole them as a simple brain vs. brawn duo, the two are very competent spies in their own right, keeping the movie out of cliche territory (at least for its leads).

It's well and good that the two main characters are so enjoyable, because the plot is really nothing special. It's your typical spy fare; some shady rich person has a nuke and wants to blow stuff up with it, captures a scientist and makes them do it at gunpoint, you know. The film also has trouble deciding what kind of spy movie it is. It goes from being a modern rendition of classic spy fiction to a serious modern spy movie to a parody of 60s camp seemingly at random, making it sometimes hard to take the serious parts seriously and to know if the comedy was meant to be comedic.

Regardless, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a very fun movie to watch, and definitely the best reboot starring Armie Hammer of a classic television show to come out in the last few years.

Straight Outta Compton Brandon

Straight Outta Compton is a biopic about the 1980s gangsta rap group NWA, and follows their members as they revolutionized west coast hip-hop and made major impacts on the music industry. This is not director F. Gary Gray's first film collaboration with Ice Cube, having worked with him on his debut film Friday in 1995. The movie stars O'Shea Jackson Jr. as O'Shea Jackson/Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Andre Young/Dr. Dre, and Jason Mitchell as Eric Wright/Eazy-E, the three biggest names to come from NWA.

The first thing that struck me about this movie was its casting, specifically how well the actors resemble the real people they portray. To my surprise, only one actor is a relative of any of the real group's members, that being Ice Cube's son. The main cast are rather unknown actors, and their performances are just as good as their resemblances. They sell their roles so well it's hard to believe this isn't a documentary at times.

The film has been the subject of controversy due to its exclusion of the group's history of misogyny, especially Dr. Dre's history of beating women. Dre and Ice Cube were both producers of the film, so it's very likely their financial influence was the reason for its exclusion. Dre has since publicly apologized for what he had done, but it really seems like too little, too late, especially given how dismissive he was of the subject in years past.

On a more minor, somewhat petty note, there are some historical inconsistencies regarding Snoop Dogg's and Tupac's careers, but that really didn't affect the film's quality at all. The only other thing I could fault this film for is that it's a very long one, running 147 minutes. Some argue that this comes from poor pacing, but the film was able to hold my attention the whole way. Plus, it covers everything that happened to each member between 1986 to 1996; a lot of shit went down between then. Regardless, this film is one of the best I've seen and definitely the best release of September.

The Martian Andrew

Chances are, if you spend any time absorbing pop culture, you've already heard of The Martian. It's the internet blog post turned ebook turned real book turned movie that everyone's talking about these days. Book-movies have never had a good track record, so I didn't go in to this one expecting great things. Maybe it was because I never read the book or maybe it's actually a faithful adaptation, but I really liked the movie. It does a pretty good job of actually making you care about the people involved, in the kind of way where you'd be shouting "USA! USA! USA!" in the theater if you didn't know it wasn't a true story. There's a few nitpicks I have about the film (especially involving the surgery scene at the beginning), but none of them are important enough to make me not like the film.

Bridge of Spies Conro

Bridge of Spies is a movie that advertises itself poorly. I figured it'd be an action movie from the trailers, but when I started watching, I figured it'd be a courtroom drama. Instead, it's a good ol' Cold War negotiation movie. The film stars Tom Hanks as an American lawyer tasked with defending a USSR spy as a show of American justice. If you want to see a man take on an impossible case and win, this is... not your movie. He obviously loses. However, an American spy plane pilot is downed and captured, while an American student in East Germany is arrested for false charges. Tom Hanks flies to Berlin to try to negotiate with both East Germany and the USSR to trade his spy for the two captured Americans. It's a very well written movie, with Tom Hanks giving a great performance. It does a good job to put you in the mindset of the time, as well as shed some light on the East German government, which is often overlooked as just being a pawn for the Russians. If Toy Story 4 isn't coming out soon enough for your Tom Hanks Quota, take a look at Bridge of Spies. I promise there's actually a bridge in it.

Ash vs. Evil Dead Jonathan

Ash Vs. Evil Dead is the long awaited followup to the cult classic Evil Dead movie series. Taking place 30 or so years after Evil Dead 2, It follows Ash Williams, played once again by Bruce Campbell, as he realises he's unwittingly brought back the evil demonic force from his past back to the world. Along his journey to stop it he'll learn about friendship, loyalty, owning up to mistakes, and not doing drugs if you have own a book that summon demons if you read from it.

While there's only one episode, it's a great watch so far. It has everything a fan of the old movies would probably wants: Blood, demonic possession, the thing where the camera flies in at someone, Ash saying one-liners, and blood. Sam Raimi returns to direct, bringing with him a good mix of lighthearted jokes, some action, and tense moments that reminds you that this series had horror in it. There's also a side plot with a policewoman that's supposed to be ongoing, though it doesn't really go anywhere except for a good scene that shows off both one of the best things and one of the worst things about the production.

The visual effects come in 2 different styles, both practical and digital, and while I'm not a hardcore old film fan that thinks CG ruined movies, it's worth mentioning that whenever a digital effect is on screen, it looks bad. I don't watch a lot of TV so I don't know if that's par for the course for TV CG, but thankfully it doesn't get in the way of the show's overall enjoyment.

Even though it's too early to tell if Ash Vs. Evil Dead will be a great show, and considering that the rest of the series is directed by another person so quality predictions would be hard, I can safely say that this first episode is well worth a recommendation. It was a lot of fun and I'll certainly be checking out future episodes as they come out. And hey, if the rest of the show sucks I guess we can always remember this as a short film or something.

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