12 Years A Slave (2013)

 

There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones – there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one. Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as it is, or as it is not – may expatiate with owlish gravity upon the bliss of ignorance – discourse flippantly from arm chairs of the pleasures of slave life; but let them toil with him in the field – sleep with him in the cabin – feed with him on husks; let them behold him scourged, hunted, trampled on, and they will come back with another story in their mouths. Let them know the heart of the poor slave – learn his secret thoughts – thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of the white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night – converse with him in trustful confidence, of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and they will find that ninety-nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to understand their situation, and to cherish in their bosoms the love of freedom, as passionately as themselves.
― Solomon NorthupTwelve Years a Slave

 

 

Solomon Northup was the son of a freed coloured man and a white woman. He lived in Saratoga, New York and had become a respected member of his community.  He was well known for his violin playing. 

Solomon was approached by two individuals that offered for him to come and play his fiddle (violin) for them at a benefit in Washington at which he could keep whatever earnings he was given.  The two men had an event planned and needed musicians to entertain.  Shortly after the benefit that went off without a hitch the two men and Solomon feast together and splurge on many glasses of wine. When Solomon wakes, he is in shackles and stripped of his fine suit down to his shirt.  He starts to remember pieces of the night before but cannot place a memory of how he was to become in these shackles.  

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Solomon, along with other kidnapped coloured men, women and children are all transported for auction to the highest bidder.  Mothers being separated from their children, people being told that they have a new identity.  Unspeakable acts carried out for any man, woman or child that argued the point.  A horrible time in America’s history.  Solomon was quick to understand how to play the game to be given reprieve and to just go with what he was told after he was whipped to the point his back was lashed open, the flesh cut deeper with every single strike of the whip. This was the start of a change for him.  

Soon after, Solomon was sold to a wealthy property owner known as Master Ford.  Ford was a lenient man that believed that although he was in his rights to own slaves, he still believed that they deserved a certain decency of treatment.  Unfortunately for Solomon, due to added pressure from one of the farm managers he snaps and beats the manager only to find himself in a noose about to hang.  Ford eventually releases Solomon and sells him to another rich although more ruthless property owner.  

It is here that Solomon becomes the master of the game until he trusts again and again is betrayed.  

The story is an amazing tale of one man’s fight to not only stay alive in a ruthless and in humane slave world but his fight to one day take the right opportunity to find his freedom again.  A true story that can draw anyone in to watching it.  Some of the moments seem to have a lengthened pause that just seems to go for too long.  It is hard to follow at times as it crosses from past to present which in my eyes are the only two downsides to this movie.  Maybe some parts are also difficult to understand why things happened and why people had shown certain things then almost mirror imaged.  But overall I really enjoyed the film.  It could be one of those films you need to watch a couple of times to follow the whole story but I do recommend it as a good drama to watch.  

Duff points 8/10

 

 

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21 Jump Street (2012)

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How about a pound of coke? – Jenko

We want them to have a good time not ruin their lives! – Schmidt

Channing Tatum (Jenko/Brad) – Fighting, White House Down & Step Up

Jonah Hill (Schmidt/Doug) – Superbad, Knocked Up & The Wolf of Wall St

Dave Franco (Eric) – Superbad, Scrubs (TV Series) & voiced Wally in the Lego movie

Ice Cube (Captain Dickson) – Boys In The Hood, Friday & Are We There Yet

And a cameo from two of the original TV series stars

Johnny Depp (Tom Hanson)

Peter DeLouise (Officer Doug Penhall)

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21 Jump St starts off with Schmidt and Jenko being in high school with Jenko being the jock and popular guy and Schmidt being the nerd that has limited friends.  Schmidt goes to ask his long time Associate (not friend as he believes) out to prom.  She guesses before he can finish and that’s enough for Jenko who has to shoot him down.  

Next time has passed and both are trying out for the police force and are in training at the academy.  Noticing each other they decide to become friends to help each other out with each other’s weakness. After graduation Scmidt and Jenko hope to be in car chases with smashes and things blowing up like in the movies.  Much to their disgust they are on bicycle patrol.  Riding round the park hassling people for tiny misdemeanours for their own amusement and like most police in real life and abuse of power.  While carrying on with their antics they notice some bikers that appear to be smoking a joint.  Both get excited thinking that they may be able to make their first arrest.  And after approaching the bikers and searching them and their bikes it’s very soon before they actually have the evidence for an arrest.  The arrest happens and it’s probably the funniest arrest scene I’ve ever seen, but much to the Captains disgust they forgot to read the perp their rights.  (Not that they knew them)

The captain thinks that they would be perfect for a revised undercover operation known as Jump St and they would have to report to 21 Jump St in future.  

It’s here where the movie really starts to take off when Schmidt and Jenko are placed undercover in a high school to take down a drug ring.  

Two misfit rookie cops who can’t help but mess things up.  How can this go wrong at all?

So many things happen in the movie and there are some really funny moments.  Not that you would expect anything less from Jonah Hill.  Even some funny moments from Channing Tatum.  It’s not his usual style of film but he definitely pulled off the character well. It’s great to see a cameo from Peter DeLouise and Johhny Depp playing their original characters all grown up and working for the DEA.  

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It’s an Action/Comedy that has you having a laugh.  Not a full belly laugh but a chuckle here and a giggle there. Casting is great, direction is good and a film I’d recommend to anyone pre-teen or older.  I will admit that I watched again and probably will watch again before I go to see the sequel 22 Jump St.  See what antics can happen there.

Duff points 7.5/10

 

Battleship (2012)

 

          Mahalo motherfucker

Alex Hopper, played by Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, Snakes on a plane and The Covenant) is a larrikin who is in and out of work.  His brother Stone Hopper is a Commander in the Navy.  

After a night out where Alex Hopper ends up being arrested and tasered while trying to win the affection of Sam. Stone tells Alex that he has to join the Navy and make something of himself.  Alex won over Sam’s heart that night and once in the Navy Alex finds out that Sam is Admiral Shane’s daughter.  Admiral Shane is played by Liam Neeson (Taken, The A-Team & Shindler’s List) Admiral Shane is never impressed with Alex’s antics and likes to make example of how much Stone is better. 

It’s about now in the film that we find out that NASA and other scientists are planning to send a message out into space.  They believe that they have found a habitable planet and can bounce a signal from satellite dishes on earth to satellites orbiting earth and further on from there.  It’s not long before we find out that the message sent to space reaches someone but they aren’t friendly.

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With the invasion clear the Navy instantly attacks.  This is quickly shown to be the wrong move with the alien space ship showing some of its firepower, destroying a Navy battleship in seconds.  The ship destroyed was commanded by Stone Hopper.  Alex was on a runabout that was sent out to get a closer inspection and once he returns to his ship he finds out that his brother is dead and that his higher ranking officers were also dead, leaving him command.  Lt Alex Hopper takes charge and with a faithful crew start planning their assault.  The rest of the Navy fleet are blocked off by some sort of force field so it’s up to Alex and his crew. The action in the film is great but there is something about the film that just feels like a mash up of all different films.  The space ships appear like a transformer sort of thing, it feels like Transformers meets Independence Day with Battle Los Angeles thrown in for good measure.  The aliens make me think of aliens from the Doom games and movie.  Overall it’s not a bad movie but I just couldn’t help but feel like it had all been done before.  Even Alex Hopper and Sam not getting approval from Admiral Shane has been done to death in movies and sitcoms.  Battleship is a Sci-fi/Action/Drama that, yes I would watch again but only if there was no other options.

Duff points 6/10

Maleficent

Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)

Maleficent 2014

Maleficent

Directed by Robert Stromberg

Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

Review by Jordan

Sleeping Beauty gets the revamp treatment in visual effects whiz Robert Stromberg’s fantasy heavy CGI extravaganza Maleficent, where the classic tale featuring “The Mistress of all Evil” who curses the young princess Aurora after not being invited to her christening is remolded with a now strong, vengeful fairy (the new Maleficent) as the lead squaring off against the deceitful King Stefan.

She curses his daughter, through use of a spinning wheel as per the story, but unfortunately that’s about where the similarities end…

What we have here is a movie without a discernible hero or villain, focusing mainly on a brooding anti-heroine whose character arc is so poorly conceived she’s nigh impossible to care for either as a young, pure-hearted protector of the magical moors or betrayed and powerful enchanter fostering a unexpected…

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Wolf Creek 2

G’day. Mick Taylor. Pleased to meet ya.

 

 

Mick Taylor played by John Jarrat (Playschool, Django and Australia) is back after the success of the first Wolf Creek.  This time he is out and about not at home.


The opening scene starts out with Mick driving along an outback rd when he passes a police car.  The two police officers, Senior Sergeant Gary Bulmer and his rookie decide out of boredom that they should give Mick a ticket.  Wrong move.  Mick even says to the rookie “You sure you wanna give me that.”  Driving off in arrogance, the rookie behind the wheel, they don’t even get a half a mile down the rd when ‘BANG’ the top of the rookies head comes off and spreads on the windshield.  With the car now out of control it veers off the rd and flips down an embankment.  Mick arrives on the scene shortly after and tells the Senior Sergeant that he is a fool and now look at the mess he has left Mick to clean up. 

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Next the movie starts to focus on some backpackers who are on their way to Wolf Creek to see the meteorite site.  Hitch hiking their way up North.  As they get closer they see a pickup coming down a main rd so they run towards it.  It’s Mick.  As they are just about at Mick’s pickup a gravel truck pulls up to the intersection.  Mick puts the pickup in gear and drives off in a hurry.  Is this the last they see of Mick or does he find them somewhere in the middle of nowhere?  Are they the only people that come in contact with Mick?


I can’t give you any more details without going into spoiler alert but all I can say is that Mick Taylor is one determined man.  A good tracker, a man who keeps his word but a man that you definitely don’t want to upset.  As far as gore goes, I don’t really consider the film to have much gore in it at all.  It’s all about the expression.  The direction is second to none as is the acting.  A female backpacker in particular when she see’s Mick Taylor again, her face as she screams and tries to move away from where she is sitting.  Its fantastic acting.  Casting agents really need to be commended.  Everything is so believable and to say what John Jarrat is like as Mick Taylor, well he is just a brilliant actor and reports say that he found it hard to stay in character of someone so evil when in fact he is the opposite personality so between scenes he would just stay in character. 

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The crater at Wolf Creek – where the first movie is set


The idea of a backpacker killing maniac as most people would know has come from The Backpacker Murderer Ivan Milat who is currently still in jail and will never be released.  Without going into spoiler alert once again, one of the survivors who was actually accused as a suspect but charges dropped actually still resides in a mental institute in England and still to this day states that he escaped a crazed gunman in the Australian Bush.  To me, along with the fantastic direction and brilliant acting makes the whole movie that much more real. 


If you like edge of the seat stuff that has little to medium gore with a bit of funny thrown in to ease your mind (only for a few seconds though) then Wolf Creek 2 is definitely for you.  You should get them both and do the double if you are really keen. 


Happy with this movie for sure and I give it 8.5 Duff points.

 

Machine Gun Preacher

Do you think those kids ever give up? Get off your butt, stop crying and build it again!

 

 

 

Starring Gerard Butler who is known mainly for his role in the epic movie 300 (also The Bounty Hunter alongside Jennifer Anniston, Olympus has Fallen and voiced Stoick in How to train your dragon.)

Machine Gun Preacher is based on the story of Sam Childers who Butler plays.  Sam Childers is an ex Outlaw Motorcycle Club member who is leading the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which is lead by the Human Rights criminal Kony.

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(the real Sam Childers)

Early in the movie, Sam’s wife Lyn and young daughter Paige start attending church and after an incident where Sam kills a man and his best friend nearly overdoses on drugs he himself decides to give church a go.  This is a life changing move for Sam as during the sermon, Sam hears of troubled youths in Northern Uganda that are in desperate need of volunteers for building projects and other related aid projects.  Sam decides that it is something he wants to see firsthand.  It is here that Sam meets and befriends Deng who is a freedom fighter against the Kony armies.  Sam request that Deng show him some of these atrocities and after seeing devastation and at one camp that has just been attacked by the LRA he sees the grief of entire families killed.  Just as he is taking it all in a young boy chases after his dog (who is probably the only family member he has left.) Seconds later a land mine goes off.  Sam runs to the location to find the young boy dead, cradling the young boy in his arms Sam can’t help but cry from the pain he has seen.  

Shortly after Sam returns home and stays up all night after believing the Lord had spoken to him and told him to build a church for local people.  A church where you would not be judged for your background.  Be a criminal, a prostitute or a homeless.  The plan after the church is built is to return to Northern Uganda and build an orphanage.  

SamChilders1

(the real Sam Childers on a mission)

Keeping to his word Sam returns to build the orphanage only to have the LRA launch an attack on it and destroy the majority of it.  Sam is in disarray and calls Lyn back home and expresses concern and thoughts of giving up.  It is then that Lyn gives him the strength and motivation to continue by saying “Do you think those kids ever give up?  You stay there and rebuild” Sam then continues and starts to make it his life goal to rescue stolen children from the war torn region of Northern Uganda and Sudan. Children that are stolen and trafficked for soldiers, prostitutes and general slaves.  It totally consumes Sam as he forgets information about his family because he only has thoughts for the children in need.  Half the time he is a caring preacher and the other half a ruthless mercenary that will do anything to achieve his goal. 
Does Sam cross the line and become just as bad as the LRA?

Machine Gun Preacher is raw.  It’s powerful.  It draws emotion out of you be it sadness, sorrow, rage, compassion. The list goes on.

It’s a drama but has so much action.  You feel like you are on the journey the whole time. It is a movie that I think anyone can watch.  It is now in my top 10 movies that I like.  A must watch movie.  Travel along with Sam and watch how it changes him.  The ending is something to look forward to.   

9/10 Duff points

 

Basic

 

Three things, first you don’t have a choice, second I’ve never taken a bribe in my life, and third… I’m still a little drunk from earlier so if I skip over the witty banter and move straight on to coming on to you… I hope you don’t take offense. 

Basic is a military movie but based around the investigation side of the military.  The opening scene has a group of Marines in a helicopter with the voice of West in the background.  West is played by Samuel L Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Star Wars Episode 1-3, A Time to Kill) and his voice is heard to be giving orders of what appears to be a mission.  

The second scene starts again with a helicopter, only this time it’s here to pick up the Marines from a training exercise.  The pilot and the spotter both hear distant gunfire and fly over to the area where the spotter identifies a Marine carrying another who is obviously wounded over his shoulder when he is seen to turn and open fire on another Marine.  The spotter in the helicopter states that they are open firing on each other and they have to get down as soon as they can.  The seen again changes and flips between Kendall who we now know was the wounded and Dunbar who was carrying him and has now been arrested and is being questioned about the death of one Marine and the disappearance of another three and their commander, West!


It is now that we meet Hardy, an ex Marine who now works for the DEA.  Hardy is played by John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Taking of Pelham 123 & Ladder 49) and is living it up in a festival filled town drinking his cares away. 


Styles is the commander of the base and has contacted Hardy to come and investigate the case much to the disgust of Osborne who was the officer in charge of the investigation.
It is now that the questioning starts and the scenarios are painted out by Dunbar and Kendall.  Flashback scenes of their encounters help you to visualise it and it all fits in so perfectly.  The plot really starts to thicken here as the blame game starts and it’s up to Hardy and Osborne to figure it out.  We also find out that West is a link to everyone involved, including Hardy.  So the plot thickens again.  It’s almost at a thick soup consistency.  As the investigation continues the mention of performance enhancing drugs known as Combat Cocktails.  They help the Marines push passed pain, to help with strength and energy.

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During the course of the movie you try to start to put the pieces together and see who was in the right and who was lying.  I had a suspicion but actually had no clue about the whole thing.  It’s definitely a film that has you guessing while enjoying the action flashback scenes.  It’s a movie that I gladly watched a second time to make sure that I missed nothing.  A movie that has a great ending that I will honestly say very few would guess.


Basic is a movie that is definitely not basic, it has more twists and turns than an amusement park full of roller coasters.  Intrigue is the thing that has you hooked and watching every second.
A movie that has been directed well and overall cast well.  Not to say that the actors involved didn’t do a good job but with Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta starring as two of the main characters the budget for casting would have been thin.  It 
is the only fault I can find with Basic if you can even call it a fault.

So overall I give Basic, 8.75/10 Duff points.