Race (2016)

Released: February 19, 2016. Directed by Stephen Hopkins. Starring Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree. Runtime: 2 hr 14 min.

Taking on a dual meaning title, Race follows the awe-inspiring story of Jesse Owens gearing up towards his stint at the 1936 Olympics in a Germany under the start of the Hitler regime.

Stephan James (Selma) stars as the pride and joy of Ohio State, Jesse Owens, bringing charm to a legendary figure who wasn’t given enough credit for his achievements at the Olympics because of the time it happened.

Heck, it took him long enough to get the first theatrical film about Owens – about 80 years. Owens did have his own film back in 1984, however, in the form of a made-for-television production called The Jesse Owens Story. But are TV productions real movies? That’s debatable.

Anyway, James captures emotion of the time for a person of colour not having the rights of any white people. He’s great depicting the athleticism and astounding agility of the character. I enjoyed seeing the chemistry between him and Shanice Banton’s Ruth Solomon, as well.

He can take a stand by going to the Olympics in Germany and making a stand for the African American folks, as well as the severely repressed Jewish people, during a time that was just the start of Hitler’s regime.

Race1

Stephan James as Jesse Owens doing the long jump. (Source

With all of its other focuses, this is still very much a sports film, as we’re brought through Owens’ training by star Larry Snyder, portrayed with utmost kindness by Jason Sudeikis.

The feature is also at its best when we go with Owens to the Olympics. This isn’t a spoiler if you know of Owens’ prestige. It’s rousing and inspiring cheering him on.

But the line between sport and politics blur so much that it takes away from Owens’ story at times. It’s like Owens’ story is just used as a frame for a story that is largely about the United States Olympic Committee and how they were able to convince the Germans to allow African Americans and Jews to compete.

Jeremy Irons’ Avery Brundage represents the interest to have Americans compete at the Olympic Games. William Hurt’s Jeremiah Mahoney represented the opposing opinion of boycotting the Olympics for the year – because of the intense segregation.

Joseph Goebbels is portrayed by Barnaby Metschurat. The character is just rather mean, but that’s expected for Goebbels. He’s the political heart on the side of the Germans, as the Minister of Propaganda at the time.

While promoting the Aryan race, he also suppresses documentary filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (portrayed by Carice van Houten). He wishes her to make a film which reflects the views of the German government – while she has to stick it to the man and wants to focus on the success of Owens.

It’s frustrating, but that’s what the filmmakers go for – to frustrate the audience. And later in the film show that, even through so much glory, there will always be discrimination.

The story is almost drowned completely by the politics, and is often in danger of being a political drama.

But the scenes at the Olympics and the inspiring road there make up for it and while the film isn’t as great as Owens’ achievements, it would still deserve a bronze medal. That’s still a winner, right?

Stephen Hopkins (Lost in Space, A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warrior) directs the races with precision and it makes the film entertaining in that respect. The cinematography is stellar in these scenes, the director of photography is Peter Levy who often works with Hopkins, and is still interesting during the more chatty sequences.

The best part of the film is especially James’ performance. He’s inspiring how he captures optimism through a dark time. Hopefully this kick-starts James’ career the same way 42, a sports biography about fellow race pioneer Jackie Robinson, did for Chadwick Boseman.

James depicts the athlete’s dedication to his coach realistically. The chemistry there really works – and captures how lovely the relationship between a coach and a mentor can be.

Score: 65/100

 

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Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Freddy vs. JasonRelease Date: August 15, 2003

Director: Ronny Yu

Stars: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter

Runtime: 97 min

Mostly everyone loves a good slasher with a great villain. There’s that great Michael Myers in his HALLOWEEN franchise, and my personal favourite, Ghostface, of SCREAM fame. I haven’t seen any of the FRIDAY THE 13th movies (except for the remake), and I’ve only seen the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The thought of putting Freddy Krueger, the Christmas sweater wearin’ killer who kills people in their dreams (when you die in your dreams, you die for real…), and Jason Voorhees, the hulking, machete-wielding killer, in the same movie is thoroughly awesome.

Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees set out to terrorize the teenage population. Freddy needs Jason to remind the teenagers (who are really in their early 20s) that Freddy still exists, in order to fuel his power once again. But when Jason Voorhees starts having too much fun killing off teens – Freddy needs to stop him. A true battle royale ensues.

None of the writers are A-listers, so there’s really not a great story at hand; and it’s hard to find good writing for a horror slasher movie. They’re essentially all the same, and this one really isn’t so different, once one dissects it. It is a clever premise, mashing up these two successful franchises. Even if you don’t like either of the franchises, this is still an incredibly fun movie. The body count is high, so that’ll keep the target audience happy. The first pair of tits is also three minutes in, so that is sure to keep male audiences hooked.

The movie is simply 97 minutes of pure horror fun, and that’s really all anyone can ask for. Now, the movie isn’t as amazing as the extraordinary premise might suggest it would be – it’s good for what it is: A fun horror movie. The acting is admittedly horrible (save perhaps Christopher Marquette and the always extraordinary and witty Robert Englund), but what do you expect from a horror movie? Jason Ritter is often good, but not this time around. Monica Keena has huge boobs, but her acting is some of the worst you’ll ever see. But the teenage target audiences won’t be focusing on her acting.

The movie is kind-of an insanely fun and it features a Destiny’s Child member being thrown into a tree, so, suffice to say, the kills are thoroughly awesome. There’s also some great fight choreography. I’d love to see another one of these movies done slightly better. It’s not particularly scary, so it’s mostly just an effectively fun actioner with already-dead horror icons fighting to a further death, I guess one could say. The acting is poor and the story needs work, but horror fans aren’t there to see a great story or good acting (even though that would help my enjoyment), they’re there to see a battle royale between Freddy and Jason, and the battle is well worth the wait.

63/100

New film poster for the movie ‘Lincoln’.

 

I like the look of this poster. Simple, but effective. The ‘A STEVEN SPIELBERG Film’ (which is barely eligible here), and the credit for Daniel Day-Lewis should bring in quite the crowd.

I’ve read about the film before, but was just reminded of it now. It’s a film that I’ll wait to get when it gets released as home media, but it does seem like an interesting flick.

It’s about how Abraham Lincoln (evidently), the sixteenth President of the United States, guided the North to victory during the Civil War. It gets released on November 16, 2012. It seems like a really interesting biopic, and Day-Lewis seems like he’d be great in this role.

The film also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jackie Earle Haley (who played Freddy Krueger in that awful Nightmare remake), David Strathairn, Sally Field and James Spader, to name a few. Pretty stellar cast I’d say.

I’m also quite excited to see what Spielberg will bring to the project; he’s such a great director.