Review: Fury

Fury Written and directed by David Ayer, Fury, tells the brutal story of a five American soldiers in the 2nd Armored Tank Division during the last month of the European Theater during World War II. Lead by their battle harden sergeant, Don "Wardaddy" Collier, the men fight against all odds while creating an unbreakable bond. Fury seems like just a standard World War II movie, but I assure you it's much more. Like Ayer’s previous work, End of Watch, its less about the action (which is there in a big way) but rather more about the effects of war. “Wait until you see it...what one man can do to another man.” A chilling quote indeed, but that is what Fury is, an intelligent look at brutality and brotherhood. Not since Saving Private Ryan have we seen a WW2 movie so unabashedly violent. Arguably the European Theater was the most brutal part of WW2, and Fury holds nothing back. The film opens with letting the audience know that at this point Adolf Hitler has called for total war, otherwise known as the demand that all able bodied Germans fight, including children. That is an important thing to remember in the final scenes of the film.

We begin our journey with Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) and his tank crew. Each member of the team has a distinctive personality and sense of self. No one character fades into the background or outshines any other. The man who managed the tank’s main cannon was Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf). The driver was Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña). The on board engineer was Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal). Four men who come from seeming diametrically opposed viewpoints work as a cohesive team when the time comes. They have been fighting together since early battles in Africa against the Germans. They live and breathe warfare inside their home away from home, the tank called Fury.

When they have to make a stop at a U.S. base they are forced to take on an additional member to their little dysfunctional family. A young army private by the name of Norman "Cobb" Ellison (Logan Lerman) is dumped into the laps of 4 men who would rather step over him then let him into their “home.” Norman is an 18 year journalist who is forced into this tank division due to the army's heavy losses. Sergeant Collier is none too pleased by this revelation, but reluctantly concedes. The film does a great job in showing the juxtaposition of the 4 battle hardened men and the fresh face kid out of journalism school. Collier’s countenance is riddled with scars that show a hard life. Brad Pitt’s natural charm is brushed aside here for a by any means necessary mentality. “You see a German with a gun, you kill em...even if its a kid,” says Collier after Norman’s first incursion in the field.

The movie goes back and forth between building real connective tissue between the team members and stellar action sequences that will likely stand the test of time. Neither element drags the movie too far in one direction. When the action sequences do come, they are fast, loud, brutal, and jarring. Norman plays as the eyes and ears of the audience. We know about as much as he does when he sits in that tank for the first time. During Norman’s first battle things are happening so fast. Its confusing and unsettling at first, but its such a powerful way to do it. You don’t get the rhythm of warfare at that point. Rhythm seems like an odd phrase choice but its accurate. During the second big action beat you get a sense of how fighting in a tank with a team works. With each passing engagement Norman’s sees clearer and hears nuance and the audience right along with him; a tremendous stylistic choice from the director.

The five men gain an all around brotherly respect for one another and become a true team in the end. Pitt’s Collier is the perfect father figure. He sits atop the tank surveying the landscape and the powerful team he has modeled. Peña’s Gordo takes Norman under his wing initially and is a gentle introduction to the team. His gentle demeanor is consistent and makes him a lovable character from the onset. I will admit I am not a fan of Shia LaBeouf, but he does an amazing job here. Playing the role of the Bible quoting Boyd Swan I am often reminded of Barry Pepper’s character from Saving Private Ryan. Then there is Jon Bernthal’s Grady Travis. Seemingly an ignorant hick who just has no sense of dignity about him. Grady is a layered character, and director David Ayer and Jon Bernthal do a wonderful job of slowly unraveling him to both Norman and the audience. Last but certainly not least, Logan Lerman's performance as Norman was thread that made the film truly work. As the inexperienced kid Lerman was perfect. From not knowing what to do next and fearful of making mistakes to a full fledge member of Fury, Norman allowed us to grow with him making his journey our own; thus creating more audience engagement.

All and all, Fury is a shock to the system that only a WW2 movie can be in this age of film and television brutality. Director David Ayer works to create not only big Hollywood action, but also a film with true heart. You get to know these guys in the 134 minutes you spend in their world. They are flushed out and real. While not to the sheer scope and scale of a Saving Private Ryan, the film packs 5 personalities into a tiny space and never lets up. While stacking up bodies and tap dancing on the edge of their own mortality, the crew is heard saying more than once, “best job I ever had,” and you will believe them.

[easyreview title= "Review of Fury" cat1title="Nerdpocalypse Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2 Kick-Ass 2: Kick Ass Harder? No, not really. It’s pretty much more of the same which is pretty great in my eyes. Let me say up front that I haven’t read the sequel comic… yet. Kick-Ass is a superhero in case you haven’t heard. He was the first real life superhero to go public and he inspired many more to don costumes and prowl the streets in search of criminals to pummel. That’s where we are when this movie opens only Kick-Ass himself put up the tights… but he still hears the calling and soon enough he’s back out in the wild and soon enough he’s getting the crap kicked out of him all over again.

This would be the one glaring negative point I have with this film. This guy seems to have learned nothing after the events of the first film. He’s still as ineffectual as ever and it feels really wrong. To fix this he pretty much begs Hit-Girl, the prepubescent sidekick of the late Big Daddy from the first film, to train him. Through these two interaction we hit the theme, which is about people coming into their own and becoming the person they are meant to be. Kick-Ass learns to become a better hero, Hit-Girl learns that there is a bit more to life than beating up criminals and… well the villain learns that he is indeed a villain. He learns to be… the MotherFucker.

That theme helps keep the film from going down the super dark road I’ve heard the comic goes down. Kick-Ass 2 never takes itself too seriously and makes sure you have fun watching the madness play out no matter how violent. And yes, this film is SUPER violent and in some cases goes further than the comics and in other cases thankfully pulls back. There is a famous scene from the comic even I’ve heard about, a rape scene. I will tell you upfront there is no rape in this film. It would have severely shifted the tone and the scene is artfully written out in a very clever way that allows the villains to remain who they are without getting too depraved. I won’t spoil the scene but I will say it should put a smile on your face.

The star of this show isn’t Kick-Ass. Fan favorite Hit-Girl comes to the forefront of this cast with the stellar Chloe Moretz. She was a scene stealer in the first film and she is the star here with a large portion of the movie delving into how Hit-Girl slowly finds that there is indeed more to being a young girl, whether she wants to or not. I have yet to be disappointed in a performance by Moretz as she has some very matured acting chops and it’s a joy to watch her just be awesome with every line she delivers. Of course it helps that she utterly destroys everyone in her path.

The rest of the cast delivers as well. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is a very tongue in cheek villain as the Mother Fucker, John Leguizamo pops up as his assistant and is just as great as ever, Donald Faison, a favorite of mine, is hilarious as always and a huge cast full of costumed nuts that never ceases to understand.

This movie kept me smiling from start to finish. Smart humor as well as crude humor, extreme action, a small girl kick the shit out of everyone in her way and a scene stealing Jim Carrey with a dog that likes to… “fetch” balls. If you liked the first you’ll love the second. Don’t hesitate, get out there and kick ass with Kick-Ass 2.

[easyreview title= "Review of Kick-Ass 2" cat1title="Cheetimus's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]