Movie Review: Open Range (2003)

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If you’ve followed my blog for some time then you are probably aware that I love westerns. It’s probably my favorite movie genre. So whenever I get the chance to watch a western, I get excited. I get even more excited when I get to talk about said westerns here on the blog.

Ladies and gents… “Open Range”.

Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) are two men who run a crew that makes sure their cattle gets to graze in the nice, open fields. But at one point they happen to get into trouble with a corrupt Sheriff (James Russo) and the local rancher (Michael Gambon) who happens to be a bit of a kingpin. So to keep this shit short and sweet, they get into trouble with these guys and have to try to stop them/take them out. Pretty standard western stuff, but I have to say that I was surprised at the depth that the plot had. It’s not just some cattle men who also happen to be gunslingers who have to take out some corrupt people, but there are so many more layers to it that I can’t get into because this review is supposed to be spoiler free. There are tons of little elements to the plot of “Open Range” that make it such an engaging watch. Yeah, it’s really good.

The characters in this movie are layered, interesting, and simply entertaining. Robert Duvall is (as we all know) a great actor, and it shows here too. He gives a terrific performance in this movie while also being pretty badass. Kevin Costner also gives a really good performance in this movie. And these two central actors have really good chemistry too, perfectly building off of each other. I’m not saying that you should expect there to be a whole bunch of really funny banter like Riggs and Murtaugh from “Lethal Weapon” or Harry and Gay Perry from “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”. I’m simply saying that they work very well together. We also get some really good performances from people like Annette Bening, Diego Luna, Abraham Benrubi, Michael Gambon, and Michael Jeter (R.I.P).

The film’s original score was composed by Michael Kamen (R.I.P) who of course made the music to movies like “Die Hard” and the previously mentioned “Lethal Weapon”. And the music he did for this movie is pretty damn good. Sure, a lot of it sounds like typical western stuff… but that isn’t a bad thing. It sounds great and it really makes the movie feel a lot bigger while also sounding great overall. Also, the song that plays during the end credits, “Holding All My Love For You” by Julianna Raye, is pretty damn good too.

This movie was directed by none other than… *drumroll* Kevin Costner! Yup, one of the stars of this movie also directed it. Not that it’s the first time that it has been done (not even the first for Costner), and it sure as hell isn’t the last either. But to call this movie well directed would be an understatement. Yes, I am saying that this movie looks fucking phenomenal and I was in awe at several shots in the movie. And while there aren’t that many shootouts in this movie, in fact there’s actually only one, really… near the end. And I honestly think that it is absolutely awesome. It goes on for some time too, which is great for me, because western shootouts are fun to witness. And since this goes on for a while and also features a good amount of dudes being gunned down, it will please those who love a good ol’ fashioned shooty-bang-bang session.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Open Range” is a movie that surprised me a pretty good amount. It has a great plot, great characters, great acting, great music, great directing, and an awesome shootout. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “Open Range” is a 9,87/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Open Range” is now done.

Duvall shotgun

Movie Review: The Green Mile (1999)

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Stephen King is one of those authors that writes stuff the majority of people who read it like. Personally I am a big fan of his “Dark Tower” series. Most people know King for his horror novels like “The Shining”, “It” and “The Monkey”. What some people maybe didn’t know is the fact that he also writes drama…yeah. Does “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” sound familiar? Well if it doesn’t, then you have missed out on the thick words there and with that, something great. But today we are taking a look at another one of his dramas, in movie format.

Ladies and gentlemen, the most voted movie in my poll…”The Green Mile”!

Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is a guard on death row. More specifically he is a guard at the death row called “The Green Mile” (Roll credits). He works there with his colleagues Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison). They have a bunch of different criminals in there. But one day they get a special new addition to the group of criminals in there…a huge black man named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan, R.I.P) who was arrested for the (this is not fun to say) rape and murder of two young girls. Sounds like a scary guy huh? But when he walks in he acts like the biggest softy ever (Scared of the dark, very polite and doesn’t seem like a troublemaker at all). Soon after, Paul and crew will find out that this man has a mysterious “gift”. Now that is all I can say about the plot without going into too many spoilers. Now, like most Stephen King stories, this is incredibly complex. And for you people out there who think complex only means “Mindfuck”…you’re wrong. For a story to be, all it needs are several layers…not necessarily mindfucking. And with that I have to say that “The Green Mile” succeeds with it’s multi-layered story and general well done execution. Not only is it a good story on paper, it is also really well done. But that is something director Frank Darabont is really good at (See “Shawshank Redemption”). With an original plot by Stephen King, an adapted screenplay and direction by Frank Darabont, the story comes together nicely.

The characters in this movie have more layers to them than a wedding cake. Not only are they incredibly well-written, but the actors are fantastic! I was especially impressed by Michael Clarke Duncan…that dude did a fantastic job in this movie. I was also happily surprised to see Barry Pepper in a really good role (considering he would do the worst movie I’ve ever seen one year later). One thing when it comes to the actors really surprised me. One of the inmates at the place was played by Sam Fucking Rockwell…wow. I am a big fan of his, so seeing him in this movie (pulling off a fantastic performance). You really thought he was this psycho hillbilly. So in general, characters have many layers and the actors are fantastic.

The music…oh my fucking god, the music. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman is fantastic. I am really surprised it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. It is your typical oschestral/beautiful drama soundtrack…but that is why it is as fantastic as it is. It is your typical thing…but it is so well done that I don’t mind. It is as I always say…the idea can be as generic as it can get, as long as it is executed in a really good way.

The camera work…nothing special there. It is good, nothing more. I can also mention that this movie left me crying. If a movie can make me cry…good job you bastards (who worked on the movie), you won! Also, did I mention Sam Rockwell was in this movie? What? I did? Oh well, rather one time too much than one time too few. I was also very surprised how funny it got at a few point in the movie…good job Frank Darabont, your comedy in your drama doesn’t feel forced. Might also be good to mention that it is three hours long…so prepare.

Time for the reception of this little movie. Let’s see here…we have an 80% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a “Fresh” certification. Metacritic is by far the lowest with a score of 61/100 (damn). Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars, and I quote

The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years.

This movie has a score of 8,5 on imdb.com and is ranked #46 on the Top 250 list (as of this review). The movie was also nominated for 4 Oscars. Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Clarke Duncan), Best adapted screenplay, Best sound.

This movie has a lot of depth in it’s story, the actors are fantastic, the music in fantastic, the camera work is good and it has Sam Rockwell (Okay, I’m done with that now). The only thing dragging the score down a bit is the knowledge of this movie being three hours long…even though it only feels like two and a half. But it also gets a pat on the back for making me leave it with tears in my eyes. And now I am ready to give this movie my final score. “The Green Mile” gets a score of 9,72/10 which not only requires you to add it to your collection, but also gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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Review of “The Green Mile” is completed.

I should probably go find the book somewhere. Also, R.I.P Michael Clarke Duncan.