The Grey was much more than I expected! WOW!

Okay. I will admit that I went into The Grey with only one expectation…to be entertained.  Liam Neeson and wolves?  I am in.  That is all I needed to know.  Yet surprisingly, there was way more to this film than even the trailer reveals (I love when that happens!).  I had heard some positive buzz, but was thinking it was due to pure badassness, not because of its depth and intensity.  How awesome!

You know by now, that I do not like to summarize a film and tell you details because I want you to discover all the wonderful things on your own–but I will tell you this–writer/director Joe Carnahan weaves an exciting, tense, thought provoking and personal story.  This film covers a lot of ground–survival, fear, life and death. It is truly an existential experience!  Really? Yes, I am not joking.  There are strong themes.  From animal instincts to faith in a higher power.  (I love the parallels drawn between the wolves and this group of roughnecks–and by the way, I do not agree that the Gray wolves were being shown in a negative light–if anything, you will respect them more after this.) 

Liam Neeson is perfect.  He was meant to play this part.  I can only imagine what he drew upon to reach the soul of this man who is clinging to his life. If Neeson doesn’t receive award attention it would be a shame!  The supporting cast is dead on!  But, a stand out is Frank Grillo‘s Diaz.  I loved him in Warrior and now this only solidifies my interest in career.  Another important character is the isolated landscape of Alaska.  It is both beautiful and haunting–(there were points that I could FEEL the cold). 

That is all I will say.  The Grey is a smart, intense thriller that is also a psychological study of human survival. I was at points–impressed, exhausted and emotional–wow!  To live and die on this day…To live and die on this day!  Indeed. Now that is what I call a cinematic experience!!

Red Tails tells a good story–but it could’ve been a better movie…

I really appreciate the story that Red Tails is telling and I wanted to know about this part of our history.  It is fascinating and inspiring to know how much these men went through to serve their country and earn respect. Unfortunately the film was disjointed and scattered, so I never really got as invested as I should have be.  The aerial scenes are cool and well done, but that is not enough to make up for the weak script and mediocre acting.

The fresh, young actors portraying the group of Tuskegee pilots all have potential (especially David Oyelowo and Nate Parker)–but most are still a bit green.  It felt a bit like a community theater production.  Of course, Cuba Gooding, Jr and Terrence Howard are good–but are only on-screen for a few minutes. 

The story tries to tell different aspects of the men’s lives in World War II, but it jumps around and no one has a smooth arch.  It all feels like tiny parts of a bigger story–but never fully realized.  I also never felt time passing–so when they would jump ahead I would be wondering “when did that happen?”.  We all make fun on montages–because most are trite and forced–but a montage can be effective when done properly–well, Red Tails was in desperate need of a montage! It would have helped register the passing of time and given us more fight scenes.

Bottom line? It is not a waste of time–George Lucas struggled to get this picture done (interesting story on its own)–director Anthony Hemingway has a good eye–and the cast is promising–and it’s an important part of our history, but I would be surprised if you come out completely satisfied.  

Side note: If you want to see a more dramatic retelling (better acted) try to find the 1995 TV movie The Tuskegee Airmen with Laurence Fishburne and a young Cuba Gooding, Jr.