The Valero Verdict: The Highwaymen

Welcome to another edition of the “The Valero Verdict” movie review. In this I will give you a quick movie review with a couple of bullet points of which I either liked or disliked. I will end the review with rating of the movie and a short overall thoughts.

On the docket today, the 100th movie about Bonnie & Clyde. I kid, the Netflix movie starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson about the two Texas Rangers who helped take down Bonnie & Clyde.

This movie poster looks dumb.
  • Let me start with the positive. Costner and Harrelson have fantastic chemistry together. These two were a great pairing.
  • But the duo could not overcome the lackluster script. It felt like throughout the film they were going through the motions and I don’t blame the acting as it wasn’t bad, they just didn’t have much to work with.
  • The movie was so boring and dull, you were anticipating at some point the film would pick up and get moving and it never did.
  • The whole build is for the end (we all know what happens) and it came off as “just another scene”. I hated it so much because the whole movie led up to this moment and it fell flat on its face.

The Verdict:

* out of ***** stars

Netflix has been really good with a lot of the movies they have been making but this one misses the mark. Great casting in the two leads, Harrelson and Costner do their best to overcome a rough script but can’t even make the movie watchable.

Should You See It?: If you are bored and can’t find something to watch on Netflix, pick a random episode of The Office to watch and skip this garbage.

Tell me what you thought of the movie, hit me up on here or talk to me on Twitter @RickyValero_

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Edge of Tomorrow Review

So I took the time to go see Edge of Tomorrow last night. I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy when I saw the trailer; I just was really intrigued in seeing it and thought it had some real potential. Tom Cruise has been solid in his last few films Oblivion, Jack Reacher (fantastic movie) and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. After seeing it, I will give you the Good and the Bad of the movie.

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An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a ware with an alien race. His skills increase as he face the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.

Spoilers may follow, so be cautious.

The Good –

Tom Cruise – Cruise plays Bill Cage a PR executive with a witty tongue and kind of arrogant guy. He stays in the spotlight but far away from the front line as possible. I enjoyed how the introduction of Cruise’s character transformed throughout the film. Starting as a scared and clueless guy on the front line, which after time he learned progressed and just started kicking some serious ass.

The movie started off with some classic things with Cage (Cruise) as he was slowly trying to figure out what the hell was going on, he of course would “die” and come back to life. One of my favorites was near the beginning he would roll out of PT and goes under a Jeep, well in his first attempt at said venture he rolled under and got run over by the car. I literally couldn’t stop laughing, it was just hilarious.

Another thing I enjoyed is the repetitive (on purpose of course) banter between Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) and Cage (Cruise). As each time would go back and have to replay the scene, Cage would increasingly become a little more obnoxious and just pick at Farell (Paxton). It really made for some great humor, which was never over the top like it can be in films these days. It didn’t “try” too hard to shove the comedy down your throat, they just let it play its course and it happened when it did.

Emily Blunt – She plays Special Forces legend Rita Vratski, a just kick ass chick in a robot suit. First I want to throw it out there, I never realized how hot she was until I saw this film. Perfect fit for this role, believable bad ass with some sure-fire good looks. But off that and onto her character, only one thing I didn’t like about her character early on and I’ll hit on that in the Bad section but Blunt was fantastic and the chemistry between her and Cruise was there.

Supporting Cast – Paxton obviously brought some funny scenes to the movie, Brendan Gleeson is still killing on the screen so many years later. The group of people who played the characters that help lead to the final take down were well casted and all provided a good little punch to the film.

Doug Liman – Has an impressive list of movies he has directed, From Swingers to Bourne Identity to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which I enjoyed all 3 movies. So knowing he has done such a great job, I knew we could be in for a real treat here and he did not disappoint. Very well-directed film from start to finish, taking two characters and with this script having to watch them be repetitive and keep the interest of a movie goer was a hard task and I feel he did a great job of pulling it off. While Cage (Cruise) kept going back and repeating after every death, he made sure to keep it interesting every time he went back, whether it was with some great witty humor or when it came down to Cages character getting pissed off and acting like a man on a mission, it worked for me.

The Cinematography in the film was fantastic, some great visuals throughout the film and another thing that really stood out to me was the films Score. That was absolutely fantastic and to me a very important key to an action flick. I have to feel the Score to really dig into a good action flick and they did a great job of incorporating it in this movie.

The Bad –

While I understood when they introduced Rita Vratski they made her look somewhat like a bad ass and then they killed her. Obviously done for perfect reasoning, but you kind of built her character as the bad ass super robot Legend and her first appearance she was only a little impressive and died. I wish she would’ve kicked a little more ass at the beginning before we had to kill her off would’ve made a little more sense to me.

Not nitpicking the film at all but I would say around the 45-50 minute part of the film it was a little slow, while only for about 10 minutes, it was kind of on cruise control.

The Final Verdict

*** ½ out of 5 stars

Look I really don’t care what anyone says about Tom Cruise; dude is a star and shows it in this film. People knock this guy down so many times and he fires back with good film after good film. He and Blunt made the perfect pair in this film and did a great job in both their roles. Doug Liman brought us a fun action packed film that I think is going to get lost in the summer shuffle and that’s quite disappointing as this film is fantastic.

Edge of Tomorrow is in theaters now

Lone Survivor Review

I saw a special screening of the movie Lone Survivor last Thursday. I was really looking forward to seeing this as the trailer really caught my eye and I had some high hopes with Peter Berg directing and an awesome cast to go along with it. After taking a few days to think about it and get the right words together and are some of the things I liked and didn’t like about the film.

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Based on the failed June 28, 2005 mission “Operation Red Wings“. Four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd.

1. Peter Berg – Peter Berg wrote and directed this movie based off a true story of “Operation Red Wings”. Berg is an unbelievable director and his work on FNL (Friday Night Lights) hasn’t been matched. Berg brought his A game to this film and from start to finish he paints an amazing picture of this brotherhood that is known as our military.

The movie starts off with some great banter among the soldiers and just goes off from there.

He made it believable, these soldiers were shot and broken down by calling down flights of mountains but still fought with the big picture in mind. The detailing of the gun battle is some of the best you will ever see in a movie.

In one scene he built you up and all hope was found for the two soldiers that were left and bam, Berg took it away and made you realize that it’s not as easy as a chopper coming to save the day. It was a gut-wrenching scene that left you on the edge of your seat.

He made you understand the battles of not only what the soldiers go through but what Afganhistan and the Taliban have done as well.

2. The Action The 40+ minute gun battle was just perfect. It also painted this picture of how inexperienced the younger Taliban soldiers were and not being accurate with their shots and showed the soldiers plucking them off with accuracy and precision.

I also enjoyed how the soldiers fought. They got shot but still kept fighting, took the hits and kept reeling. You don’t always get that with movies and how chilling it is that this being a true story hits even harder knowing that there are man and woman going through this on a daily basis.

Berg never let it get to personable, you knew only bits and pieces about each character and he let the acting and action do the talking throughout the film.

Berg belongs in the Best screenplay/Best director/Best picture for what he brought to the table in this film.

3. Mark WahlbergHe was unbelievable in this film. Easily one of his best acting jobs he has done in any film. He was smart, funny, witty and when it came time to get down he did. Just the way he clicked with the other guys and how he portrayed such an important and pivotal role in this film was amazing. I would have no problem with him being nominated for Best Actor for this.

4. The Supporting Cast – The rest of this cast was out of this world. It was nice to see Berg use Tyler Klitsch (FNL fame) who has been in a bit of a rut as of late (Battleship, John Carter). Berg brought out the best in him in this film. He has great chemistry with Wahlberg/Foster/Hirsch.

I won’t lie I didn’t know much about Ben Foster prior to this film but I will be looking up some earlier films and checking them out. He played a true bad ass. He took the biggest beating of the four and the way it came off was awesome. Just the way he handled how his character took the gun shots and still kept fighting for his life and fighting for his fellow soldiers was great.

Emile Hirsch I have seen play in multiple films in the past (boy he’s come a long way from when he was in “Girl Next Door”). He was the 4th and last piece of this awesome casting.

Eric Bana (Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen) and Alexander Ludwig (Shane Patton) both had small but meaningful roles that also added to the film.

5. The Score – Berg reunited with Explosion in the sky who he used a bunch in Friday Night Lights. EITS were amazing in this and the score for this film was brilliantly put together.

6. The Credits – After a little over hour and half gut wrenching film, they did an amazing montage of the actual soldiers that were involved “Operation Red Wings”. You just watched a movie surrounding the story of what happened and how these guys fought for their lives and seeing the photos of them with their families was surreal.

The Verdict

5 out of 5 stars

Just a chilling and mind-blowing look into what happened “Operation Red Wings”. The acting from the entire cast (Wahlberg Oscar Worthy performance included) combined with Berg’s writing and directing makes this one of the best films of 2013 and quite possibly one of the best films I have ever seen.

Special Thanks goes out to all the men and woman that sacrifice theirs lives to protect me and my family every single day. Thank you for what you do.

Lone Survivor hits theaters limited on December 25th and worldwide January 10th, 2014.

Gravity Review

After hearing all the hoopla surrounding the movie Gravity, I decided to go out to the movies and see it for myself. It is the #1 movie two weeks in a row and breaking box office records. I also decided if I was going to see it, I was going to see it in 3D/IMAX. So after seeing the movie, I give you my 7 things I did and didn’t like about the movie.

Plot: A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leave them adrift in space.

Gravity Review

1. The Acting: You don’t get bigger than Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, so I wasn’t surprised that the acting would be good in this. It takes a lot of talent to basically film the movie in a few shots in one spot. Bullock brought her A game to the role and the role of the “upset, lost and hurt person” is perfect for her. Though I couldn’t really “care” about her character (I’ll get into that more later) but I don’t blame her for that. She was good and it showed every time she was on the screen. Clooney was also casted perfect for this role, fun-loving guy on his last go around. He brought much-needed laughs to the movie. It was an effortless role for Clooney, nothing overly impressive but was good in the role.

2. Visually Perfect: The film was beautiful. From shot to shot in space was put together well and made up for a lack of a good story. The way he was able to make the movie seem so realistic with certain movements was really cool to see on-screen.

3. The story was good but not great: Some of the stuff that Alfonso Cuaron brought onto the screen was great but it lacked and felt “over the top”. The first half of the movie he really brought an interesting story with a nice build, but the second half just fell apart and lacked a great finish.

4. The movie was just boring: It was boring. The movie came in at 1 h 31 min, surprisingly not overdone and thankfully it wasn’t. But at times you just could wonder off in space (pun not intended). It was just tough to care or pay attention to the movie.

5. Director Alfonso Cuaron couldn’t make me care for the characters: As I stated earlier the movie had some great acting by Bullock but even with the sob story that they give you for her character, I just couldn’t find myself caring whether she lived or died.

6. 3D/IMAX: So I took the time to see the movie in 3D/IMAX because there was a lot of solid feedback on that’s how I should see it. It was my 1st experience with such format, I have seen an IMAX movie before as well as a 3D but never together at once.

1st I didn’t like that the IMAX was only part of the screen. 2nd the 3D was just terrible, outside the remastered version of Jurassic Park I have yet to see movie that made the 3D worthwhile. I want things popping out at me, for the extra 5-10$ they are making you pay at least make the movie worth it.  The movie was only around 10 minutes worth of any 3D worthy parts.

7. Final Verdict:

Vegetables out of a Full Dinner

While Cuaron brought us a visually spectacular movie, it really lacked a good story and he failed to make me care about the characters in the movie. I was bored at times and it was a wasted movie that had a great performance by Bullock. Even though it’s the #1 movie in the world, I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone.

My Movie Ratings Scale

Vegetable – the movie was about as boring as eating vegetable with no meat.
Vegetable and Starch – wasn’t a bad movie but it really lacked the meat.
Meat Vegetable & Starch – Enjoyable and fun but missing something
Meat Vegetable Starch & Roll – So good I came back for seconds.
Full Dinner w/Desert – The Perfect movie, where I had my cake and ate it too.

The Family Review

So after seeing the initial trailer for the Family I really wanted to check this out. Robert De Niro & Tommy Lee Jones together had to be something worth seeing, right? So I took the venture out to see it yesterday and I will go through the 10 things I did and didn’t like about the film.

Plot

The Manzoni Family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to the city of Normandy France under witness protection. Where fitting in for the family becomes a bit of a challenge and they realize old habits die-hard.

8 Things I Did/Didn’t like about the Family

1. Robert De Niro is still fun to watch in the movies.

You know I really don’t want this guy to ever die. He is such a good actor and in this movie he is such a bad ass. A Mob boss played by De Niro in a movie, that’s a new concept. But I think he did a great job in this movie, it’s just too bad the story wasn’t as good as it good have been.

2. The Supporting cast

Michelle Pfeiffer (Maggie Blake), Dianna Agron (Belle Blake) & John D’Leo (Warren Blake). They all played their roles well and were great assets to the movie. Pfeiffer (who plastic surgery has killed her face) was a lot better than I expected from her in this film to be honest. Agron killed it in this role, a long way from Glee for sure. She was funny, kick ass and as always nice on the eyes. D’Leo who I actually had to IMDB to figure out what the heck he has ever been in, was really good as well.

3. Tommy Lee Jones

Yes I know he was a part of the Supporting Cast but he deserves his own section. He was funny, witty and just a nice addition to this film. The banter between him and De Niro was a pleasure to watch. It really made parts of the movie that shouldn’t have been enjoyable, enjoyable. I feel like if those two would’ve had more on-screen time it could’ve been a much better film.

4. The Movie

Luc Besson had a really good idea going for this movie and at some parts he did a good job, others not so much. It was funny at times, serious at times (maybe too serious) and just boring at times. A near 2 hours film that could’ve been better off at the hour and a half mark, just seemed to go on forever. The middle of this movie was really dull and boring. I think he took an interesting concept and really blew it.

5. The Ending

The Ending took this movie from being a terrible movie to a not that bad of a movie. They did a terrible job at building the movie up and they gave you a really good pay off. It was bad to think afterwards if they would’ve built up the movie good enough to match the good finish you really could have a solid film.

6. The Action

Some really fun action in this film. All 4 members of “the Family” had a fun turn at how they were either going to kill or injury a person in this movie. It was great to watch and very funny as well.

7. Domenick Lombardozzi

He gets his own section because he is from the Wire. Nothing spectacular from him in this but it was nice to see him in the movie.

8. My Favorite Scene

My favorite scene (outside the ending) was “The BBQ party” where they invited the neighborhood over for a special BBQ. Without giving up the spoilers this was a fun part of the movie.

The Verdict

** ½ out 5

The movie really had its ups and downs for me. The story itself was pretty solid and the acting was A+ but they middle of the movie seemed to drag on forever. De Niro still is money and makes the movie watchable for sure. I wouldn’t recommend a theater visit for this move, it felt more like a movie you could catch on RedBox.

You’re Next Review

I had the opportunity to see an advance screener of You’re Next thanks to Cinemit & GoFobo. When I first saw the trailer I knew this would be a movie that I would have to see in theaters. I am not a huge horror movie fan, especially the direction they have pulled with so many found footage films over the last few years. So as I was excited to see what this movie could bring to the table I was equally optimistic. So after seeing the movie I am going to give you the 10 things I did and didn’t like about the movie.

Story: When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

1. This was the 1st film I have ever seen of Adam Wingard’s and I won’t lie it was a pretty impressive 1st impression. From start to finish he built a solid story that kept you guessing. It had a very nice slow build when they were introducing the characters and BAM right into some serious bloodshed. It was everything that I enjoy about a good horror movie.

He really put together some awesome action/kill scenes in the film. Whether it was a dumb move from the “bad guy” or it was a smartly place board with nails in it, he really went out of his way to make some really cool killings.

2. There were some nice twist and turns. You could see some coming and then you had a few that were a nice surprise as well.

3. The score/music. Every great horror movie has some great music/score. This had it in here and I loved every minute of it. When killing someone in a movie it can really be ruined by either a crappy set up or a poor score.

4. I really liked the dysfunctional family idea they had for this. It wasn’t a perfect family that was unexpectedly attacked.

5. Sharni Vinson (Erin) was nice on the eyes and was the star of the show.

6. They made the vocal point of the movie the killings. That isn’t done in many horror movies anymore.

7. The Ending was awesome. That’s all I will say about that.

8. I guess you could complain about the acting, but with a low budget horror movie you get a bunch of C and D list acting.

9. They had some poor attempts at some comedy that came off pretty rough.

10. Lastly, I would have liked to see a bit more gore and blood. It wasn’t over the top like “Evil Dead” was this year but they could’ve made it a little bit more gory.

Final Verdict

4 out of 5 stars

Overall this is the best horror movie I have seen in a long time. Wingard brought a lot of key components to this movie that I really enjoy. I enjoyed the smart killings, the various ways of how he killed some people and they provided an awesome score to go with the flow of the movie. I would recommend any horror fans to see this movie this weekend when it comes out.

You’re Next comes out in theaters this Friday.

The Great Gatsby Review

On Monday, I was able to see movie “The Great Gatsby”. I was looking forward to it when it had its original fall release last year. So I was happy to see it this week. I had never read the book or seen the original movie. So I present the Good, the Bad & the Ugly of “The Great Gatsby”.

The Good

The revealing of Mr. Gatsby, they built it up so good with the story telling of Nick Carraway(Maguire). After just showing the back of his head here or a side view there, you were finally presented Mr. Gatsby.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby – Leo is easily one of the best actors in this generation. The way he brings it to the table every time he is on-screen is unreal. I believed he was Gatsby; I enjoyed the portrayal of him as Gatsby. He makes it so believable and unreal, that I buy into his character every time.

The Story – I know it was a movie once but as a person that never seen it or read the book. I think the story behind the movie is brilliant. It is a very original idea of a guy with a heart of gold with big picture thinking. Piece by Piece I like how the story slowly brought it all together. Whether it was the ups of the happiness between Daisy & Jay or the downs of watching her & Tom crumble.

The Supporting Cast – I have been a huge fan of Carey Mulligan since the movie Wall Street. I thought she was fantastic in this film, kind of stole the show for me honestly. With every step of Daisy you could see her developing the character.

Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway – I for one am not the biggest Maguire fan but he was excellent in this role.

Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan – He played a big league character and acted it very big league as well. He’s a lying, cheating snob that you just loved to hate.

The score on this was fabulous, with every intense moment the right sound was playing.

The scenery, it was a beautiful film to see. Just the sights from scene to scene were beyond amazing. It was a well put together picture overall visually.

The Bad –

I wasn’t that fond of the music though. For a movie based in the 20’s it was kind of weird hearing Jay-Z playing. I think they could’ve used a Jazz vibe to it instead of that.

The Ugly –

None, the movie was darn near perfect.

The Verdict –

4.5 out of 5 stars

Easily the best film I have seen this year, DiCaprio strikes again with an amazing performance. Baz Luhrmann directs a beautiful film with an amazing story from start to finish. The cast in this film was brilliant, the 2nd must see movie of the year (Iron Man 3 the other). Go see this in the theaters, I promise you won’t regret it.