In-House Review: Fury (2014)

fury-reviewFury:

“War never ends quietly.”
Now, like most *ahem* young men like myself, I love a good war movie. Stuff exploding, people shouting obscene language, large guns, and the fight over good and evil taking centre stage once again. What’s not to like?! So when I heard two years ago that Brad Pitt was doing a realistic WWII film I was quite excited, naturally. But sadly, like opening a market-bought Christmas cracker and finding the feeble attempt at a gift inside, I was a little disappointed.
Set in 1945 during the last months of WWII, the films follows a US tank crew lead by grizzly
voiced, scarred, battered and weathered Don Collier also known as “Wardaddy” (Pitt).  His five-man crew, partly consisting of Shia LeBoef, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal, have been together through almost the entire war campaign, namely from Africa to Europe, and have taken part in some of the most ferocious engagements of the war. Sadly for them, their long-standing machine-gunner is killed whilst fighting in Germany and their new gunner, fresh-faced typist Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), is an unexpected and, to some extent, unwanted replacement.
Unsurprisingly, the crew’s initial time together is not harmonious and with a reluctant soldier at the trigger of the secondary weapon in the tank it is only a matter of time before something goes wrong and lives are lost. (I’ll say no more on that as it’ll be a bit of spoiler).
Brad Pitt;Logan LermanAs the war rages on, Wardaddy and his crew find themselves further into Germany where the fighting intensifies, especially against the die-hard elite SS units and German Panzer tanks. The realisation of what they are up against starts to become an ever pressing thought and with death all around them, the crew stand to wonder how long it’ll be before their luck runs out.
Now, for me, the film is well shot and produced. It’s gritty and violent in all the right places with the violence never seeming to be out-of-place or even gratuitous. But there’s just something missing. There is one segment in particular where Wardaddy (Pitt) and new boy Ellison (Lermen) enter a house and have a slightly uncomfortable engagement with two women which includes an awkward breakfast and adult interaction for Ellison in particular. Now while I’m not against a nice breakfast and a bit of adult interaction, the scene for me was unnecessary. It doesn’t add anything to the characters or the story. I get that the film writers wanted to add a scene where there was no fighting and death, which I appreciate, but this scene was not the answer. I’m not by any means saying I know what the right scene should be, but it isn’t that.
BradPIttCloseFuryNow, as I said, the film lacks a little something. Something that I still can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe its the fact that none of the characters really draw you in, or, to be honest, are even that original. The five man crew seem to be a mix of characters written for Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers which were all good for their respective film/tv series, but not original for Fury. Or maybe its some of the accents that are used, which for me made some of the lines inaudible.
 It could be that the story line itself is in fact not that original either. Namely: ‘Tightly nit crew has horrible moment, new person turns up, causes friction and risks people’s lives, then builds to crescendo where lots of death occurs and only a few survive”. Yup, sound familiar…? Its Saving Private Ryan! Sorry, I mean Fury…
Fury Tank in the Hayfield Battle in Columbia Pictures' FURY.My final note is once again about the BBFC rating of being suitable for 15 year olds. I am truly astounded that it’s not an 18. Seeing someone explode and limbs go everywhere or another guy’s head explode as it gets crushed by a tank is not in my mind suitable for a 15-year-old. Let me put it this way, Top Gun upon its release was a 15… See what I mean…?
Anyway, overall, as I started out by saying, I was disappointed. I’m a big Brad Pitt fan and I’ve even come round to like Shia LeBoef, but this film just doesn’t hit the heights it should do with a cast and budget like it had. Maybe the fact that they were filming in England on remembrance Sunday should have been the first give away that they weren’t really paying attention to detail about WWII and what should have been expected of them.
brad-pitt-in-furyFury…? More like mildly irritated.
posted by Ben

New Releases: 23rd February

FURY:

Brad Pitt, a tank, Shia LaBeouf, Nazis and a title that accurately suggests the gritty, mud-drenched male-bonding war drama to follow – these are the principal ingredients of David Ayer’s latest, the follow-up to his brilliant but underseen 2012 cop-drama End of Watch. Brad Pitt leads an excellent cast as the wonderfully named “Wardaddy”, once again proving the closest thing we have to the sort of classic Hollywood icons of yesteryear. The story sees Logan Lerman’s fresh-faced rookie thrust deep into battle at the back-end of WWII as this rugged group of manly so-and-so’s attempts to land a decisive blow at Nazi Germany. Fury is shot in gorgeous, washed-out 35mm and is ultimately a sensitive, muscular entry into the war film canon that is definitely recommended.

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SERENA:

Re-uniting the two stars of 2012’s Silver Lining PlaybookSerena chronicles the difficulties of timber magnate George Pemberton and his wife, Serena, who is unable to provide him with an heir. Jennifer Lawrence is as reliable as ever and puts in a strong, layered performance as the titular character. The problem with this fine performance is perhaps that it exposes the deficiencies in other areas here, including her outmatched co-star Cooper and the film’s occasionally messy direction. Susanne Bier (After the Wedding, In a Better World) directs, and does her best with a weak script in this Depression-era tale of domestic romance and woe that is perhaps worth a watch just for the lead performance and the chemistry of the two leads.

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FELONY:

Don’t let any generic descriptions of police intrigue and brooding male angst fool you – Felony is a surprisingly stylish, excellently acted (yes, even by Jai Courtney) Aussie thriller-drama. After a child is left in a coma following a tragic accident, three detectives will all find themselves caught up in the struggle for the truth. One of them is guilty of the crime, one will try to help cover it up and one can simply not let it go without finding out what really happened. While the film might prove to be a little too cynical for some, it does present an interesting set of characters and moral dilemmas for the audience to ponder as it sinks deeper into guilt, desperation and intensity. Yet another taut, tense entry in the recent wave of Aussie crime such as Animal Kingdom and Mystery Road.

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ANNABELLE:

It’s safe to say that the major target market for Annabelle would be those who really enjoyed 2013’s The Conjuring, of which it is a spin-off/prequel (it was only a matter of time). While The Conjuring was a pretty damn frightening movie that managed to linger in the mind for some time after, Annabelle concerns itself more with cheaper scares and, no doubt, the building of a franchise. Once again, the eponymous haunted doll causes some seriously scary things to happen in the house of an unlucky couple (who obviously had not seen any of the Chucky films). If you were a fan of the first film, then give this a go and you might find enough references to other great horror films and maybe even enough scares to get into this one.   

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LIFE ITSELF:

There’s something beautiful in the fact that Steve James, whose tremendous Hoop Dreams was one of the films most-championed by Roger Ebert, directs this incredibly moving portrait of the beloved critic. Spanning his life and career in film and featuring not only interviews with many of those filmmakers and colleagues whose paths crossed Ebert’s over the years but also stirring footage of the last months of his life, Life Itself is a rich, intimate and deeply poignant chronicle. Rather than simply a movie about movies, this is a movie about life and the things we come to love most about it. It does not paint Ebert as a saint, but rather a flawed, strong-willed man who never stopped learning, loving or growing and this is, in the end, what makes this so essential a watch for anyone who has ever truly loved a film or who has been affected, as so many were, by the writing of the man many called the last great film critic.

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TOMMY:

Dark, atmospheric, slow-building thriller in classic Scandi style. That’d be the quick description of Tommy, a tough depiction of a woman’s return to the city she had fled a year before with her husband and daughter following her husband’s role in a massive robbery. She returns without said husband, the titular Tommy, and proclaims that he is soon to arrive in Stockholm with a view to claiming his share of the take. This causes a stir in the city’s seedy underbelly that will, of course, have repercussions for all involved. The film’s focus on female characters is refreshing for those of us more used to the Hollywood formula and a nice surprise is the deft performance put in by Swedish indie-pop sensation Lykke Li.

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SCHOOL OF BABEL:

Touted as a documentary cousin to 2008’s outstanding and criminally underseen Palme D’Or winner The ClassSchool of Babel takes a look at a class of young French emigres and inspects how they might integrate with each other and into French society. The film is rigorous in its approach to documenting the classroom space and one is able to get to know a bit about these characters and the challenges they, and the school system, face. Although one can’t help but feel this story would be better served being told fictionally, where there might be more freedom to explore the issues at play and more scope to create drama, the reality of these children’s lives is what gives the film its power. School of Babel is absorbing throughout and brings up a conversation as relevant across Europe now as it has ever been.

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SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN:

This gem of Chinese cinema, now regarded as one of the greatest films ever produced in that country, is finally seeing a release thanks to its inclusion in the BFI’s recent season on Chinese cinema. Made in 1948, but rejected by the Communist government for its apolitical content, Spring in a Small Town is a powerful and emotional but also incredibly subtle drama about a love triangle that forms between a woman and two childhood friends. Set in a provincial Chinese town still devastated by wartime damage, the film unfolds with exquisite delicacy and control and builds into a weighty, haunting masterpiece characterized by an erotic tension and complex beauty that have perhaps never been matched in Chinese cinema.

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posted by David