Sunday, February 26, 2012


Two men are at crossroads in their respective lives. One, Brendan, is a schoolteacher and family man whose bills are starting to swell up so high they may well sink his ship. The other, Tommy, is a recently returned war veteran who’s gone AWOL with nowhere to turn. Simultaneously a very wealthy industrialist has decided to stage an ‘all comers’ ‘winner takes all’ MMA tournament in Vegas with a $5million purse. Both men have a history of fighting and decide, if they work hard enough at it, they just might make it deep enough into the competition to come away with enough prize money to help keep them afloat. They also happen to be estranged brothers.

Brendan’s father and brother left he and his mother some years ago. The mother has since died and neither came to the funeral, which led Brendan to cut his father and brother out of his life completely. Tommy has always regretted his older brother for throwing him out with the bathwater and uses his dad, a retired fight trainer, to train for the bout. The big event is not just an opportunity for the brothers to finally have it out, but also a chance for the family troubles to finally crescendo.

This movie is one cliché after another. Everything about it is formulaic and predictable. That said, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Imagine a musician you really like, a really talented musician covering a song you’ve heard a thousand times. It’s like a really great cover of Mary Had a Little Lamb. You know exactly what is going to happen and the plot has clearly been copied and pasted from a billion other movies, but it’s shot well, scored well and acted very, very well. In the end, it lacks real substance and isn’t going to be earth shaking, but if you like a good, inspiring sport flick, you will dig this. Watch the arch of these sport characters unfold and while you know where it’s all going to end, you’ll enjoy the ride.


Dolphin's Tale

An inquisitive dolphin learns the hard way what happened to the curious cat, when she gets caught up in a crabber’s line. She washes up on shore in bad shape. A fisher and a young boy happen upon her. The boy seems somehow to soothe her and the dolphin is soon whisked off by a nearby animal hospital. There, the doctor realizes he must remove the dolphin’s tail. Realizing that hope is her only hope, the doctor enlists his daughter and the boy from the beach to help lift the dolphin’s spirit. Through that spirit, the dolphin begins adapting and swimming without a tail. The doctor realizes, however, the dolphin is doing damage to her spine by swimming this way and, if she does not stop doing so soon, she may damage her spine to the point of paralysis. So, do they give up, say their goodbyes and let it go, or do they put their heads together and find a solution?

Well, if you’ve seen the trailer and know what sort of movie this is, you will not need to guess very hard to hit on the right answer. It’s a story of friendship, perseverance and hope against all odds. It’s also a true story. Just like in the movie, the real dolphin, Winter, moved many in the small Florida town to use her as inspiration to keep hope alive in their own lives, whether they are injured vets, little boys whose fathers are missing, disabled children or veterinarians who recently lost their wives. Winter seems to lift the spirits of anyone she meets.

Like Winter, it’s hard for this movie to not lift your spirit, no matter who you may be either. It’s not the best movie in the world, not by a long shot. It drags at times, plays too much on easy sentimentality at times and occasionally seems way too much like a Hallmark movie. But that said, I’ve yet to meet someone who has seen this movie who didn’t have at least something fond to say about it. In short, it’s a sweet, uplifting flick that is almost certain to pick up your mood. It’s certainly not groundbreaking, but it’s not a bad watch either.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Secret in Their Eyes

The Secret in Their Eyes catches up with Buenos Aires police detective Benjamin Esposito as he is a bit into his retirement. He’s writing a novel based around one of his more memorable, and unsolved, murder cases, from 25 years ago. He starts by looking up Judge Irene Menéndez-Hastings, who was a clerk on the case and was mad for Benjamin at the time. His showing up and poking around into this closed case opens up more than a can or two of worms. The film goes back and forth between the then and now in an attempt to fill out the cracks in the stories of the victim, the perpetrators and those involved in the investigation. Will they find the killer? Will Judge Menéndez-Hastings and Benjamin ever unite?

This film won the best foreign language Oscar, has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won a Goya. I say that to fully admit that I’m going to be in the minority in not digging on this flick. So, note that this is how it struck me, but keep in mind that most of the world loved this movie. To me, it was just too melodramatic. There were holes in the character development that the filmmaker clearly thought would go unnoticed because of a hope that people would just get swept up in the emotion of it all. It’s a love story and a crime drama done in a very, very Spanish fashion. If your heart goes all aflutter for the passion of a good Spanish melodrama, then this movie is squarely in your wheelhouse. However, if, like me, you’re a more practical bloke, then this movie is bound to do little more than serve as cause for a good eye rolling. There are undeniable holes to the story that require a bit too much stretching for me. But if you’re the type who can get lost in a good romantic crime story, knock your socks off.