Movie Reviews

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

the-ballad-buster-scruggs-netflix-posterDirector: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Western

Runtime: 132 Minutes

Main Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Brendan Gleeson, Jonjo O’Neill, Willie Watson, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz

Plot: An anthology movie comprised of six different stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.

My Thoughts: Despite it being a Netflix release, I was so excited to see The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I’ve never hated a Coen brothers movie (although I’ve enjoyed some more than others) and the trailer was hilarious. It’s a long-ass movie but knowing it was split into six stories eased my mind a little. I’ve always been a fidget!

The first segment with Buster Scruggs is nothing short of a masterpiece. I was laughing from start to finish. My husband was trying to play World of Warcraft and cursed me as he shut his game down thinking he had found his new all-time-favourite movie. The comedic timing, the crazy action, the musical numbers, ugh! Just perfect. And then it ended, and it dawned on me that Buster Scruggs was only a very minor part of this movie.

Maybe that revelation tainted it for me, but from there I just grew more and more bored with each of the other stories. They still had some great moments, but it felt like I was watching a whole lot of nothing before being rewarded with those short glimpses of brilliance. Each story also felt longer than the one before it, making the whole thing feel about 3 hours long.

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I think I’m probably in the minority here though, and I can absolutely see why most people loved it. I guess I was expecting the whole thing to be as crazy and funny as the first segment, and I set myself up for disappointment. One thing I will say though, the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. I paid more attention to the landscape than what the characters were doing half the time.

Best Bit: The way Buster Scruggs killed the guy at the cards table was just epic. It was that perfect mix of shock and humour that makes you jump and laugh at the same time. Then the musical number that followed. Heck, I need to watch that segment again…and again!

Worst Bit: There’s no moment in particular, but I can’t comment on the sixth and final story at all because my brain had completely switched off by that point, and I was playing the Disney Emoji game on my phone instead, trying to unlock Darth Vader. (I got him)

Fun Trivia: The poker hand that Buster Scruggs refuses to play, two pair aces and eights, is infamously known as the “dead man’s hand” as it was reportedly the hand-drawn to Wild Bill Hickok before he was shot and killed.

My Rating: 2 and a half clever chickens who can answer simple math questions.

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Movie Reviews

Review: Assassin’s Creed (2017)

assassins-creed-movie-review-2017It took me far too long to see Assassin’s Creed in the cinema, mainly because I was being a good human being for a change and staying at home rather than inflicting my stinky cold on the unsuspecting public. I was so excited to see it though, I’ve been a fan of the games for years. Deep down, I knew t wouldn’t be a ‘great’ movie, because video game moves never are (can the movie gods sort this out, please?) but as long as the action scenes were reminiscent of the game, I would be happy.

Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is a criminal on death row, until he is saved(?) by the scientists at Abstergo and forced to relive the memories of his ancestor, Aguilar, in order to help the scientists, who are actually Templars, to locate the fabled Apple of Eden. Fans of the game know this story inside out, and for newcomers it’s all nicely explained, so I’ll leave it at that, but I guess all you need to know is the Assassins are the good guys!

Let me start with the positives. The action scenes truly are a sight to behold, and they stay so close to the game. Nothing is more satisfying than nailing a jump directly onto your target and taking them out with your hidden blade, and it translates perfectly onto the screen. We got to see the ‘leap of faith’, accompanied with the cry of an eagle which made me a little giddy, and the costumes are beautiful.

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As Aguilar runs through the streets you can hear guards shouting ‘Assassino!’ which will put that twinge of anxiety into any game players, as you thought you’d escaped the last of them. What would have been better? Some kind of inside joke for us – perhaps not missing faces like the buggy game in the series we won’t mention, but some failed parkour would have been brilliant.

Sadly, the strengths are also the movie’s weaknesses. I might be alone in this, but I was never a fan of the parts in the game outside the animus, I was much happier back in time being an assassin. The movie spends WAY too much time outside, and that’s a shame. Also, there is such a strong cast (Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling to name a few) that just feel pretty wasted here.

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One more point from me, and I guess it could be a positive or a negative depending on how you feel. There’s a point in the movie where Michael Fassbender literally tears his shirt off for no reason, it wasn’t stained or damaged from what I could tell, and doesn’t find himself a new one. I certainly wasn’t complaining, but I did hear my husband sigh quite loudly. Maybe it was a swoon?

I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed, for the same reason I enjoyed Warcraft last year, but I can understand the negative reviews it’s been getting. 3 and a half Apples of Eden from me!

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