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3 Days of the Costner!

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3 Days to Kill (2014)

Director: McG

Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard

Plot: Aging CIA agent with serious health problems tries to get some family time in but is forced to do one last job because the CIA hates families!

Rating: PG-13 for gunplay, explosions, and close quarter punchin’ and kickin’.

Hey kids. Let me tel you all about this movie I just watched! It stars an aging movie star who plays a badass assassin…

No, its not Taken.

Anyway, he has a young daughter he’s trying to shield from his dangerous career but…

No, it’s not Taken 2.

It’s written by Luc Besson and it has some car chases and gunfights and..

No! Its not Taken 3, which is coming to a theater near you on January 9, 2015!

Why do we always have to argue when I’m doing the blog?

 3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner, the untouchable man who danced with wolves and fielded dreams in Waterworld.  He plays Ethan Renner, a veteran CIA spy on a mission with his team to capture a pale bad guy known as The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) who is trying to sell a dirty bomb to some dirty people. Unfortunately, things turn south as the often do in these movies and bullets start flying and stuff gets blown up and lots of European guys get dead.  Oh, and the Albino escapes.

Feeling a bit under the weather after the disasterous mission, Ethan gets a checkup from his CIA doctor and finds out he’s got a brain tumor that will kill him faster than Message in a Bottle killed his comeback in 1999.

Hoping to make the most of the last few months he has, Ethan heads back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) who he abandoned long ago for the demands of his job. Christine barely tolerates his return and Zooey knows very little about her Dad, and wonders if he is in fact a travelling salesman as he claims to be. Maybe it’s because he always smells like gunpowder and is covered in fresh bruises whenever he visits.

But before Ethan can book is first daddy/daughter day, he is approached by another CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) who makes him an offer the former Prince of Thieves cannot refuse: find and kill The Albino’s boss, a man known only as The Wolf, and Ethan will receive an experimental drug that will cure him.

Ethan is not so sure if he can trust Vivi, but since she gives him a sample of the treatment for free, and since he has to do something during the day when Zooey is at school, he takes the job.

Before we continue with the review, I’d like to go of on a slight tangent.

Look, I know we as movie viewers are expected to suspend disbelief a bit when we watch these CIA spy type films, but Vivi is without a doubt the worst secret agent in the history of movies.

First, she maintains a “low profile” by wearing a Lady Gaga wig and dressing like a European dominatrix:

A spy blending in with the citizens of Paris.

Second, in keeping  with the “I’m a spy so I must maintain a low profile” thing, she tools around Paris at breakneck speed in a sports car:

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!! No one will pay any attention to us!

Screeeeech! No one will pay any attention to us!

And finally, Viv the super covert /don’t attract any attention/ leave no traces/ top secret spy racks up a body count  that rivals the opening 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan:

They were dead when I got here!

 Just so we are clear, WORST. SPY. EVER.

Okay, tangent over. I won’t pick on Vivi any more. I’m sure leather corsets are in the CIA budget somewhere.

Anyhoo, the rest of 3 Days to Kill jumps back and forth between Ethan trying to win back his estranged daughter and Ethan trying to hunt down and kill The Wolf. There’s also subplots involving the African family squatting in Ethan’s old apartment, and a henchman for The Albino who Ethan kidnaps for information then kidnaps a few more times to ask him for parental advice when he learns the guy has teenage daughters of his own.

See? A top secret CIA spy has regular problems just like the rest of us regular Joes!

3 Days to Kill draws to a rousing and bullet riddled climax when Ethan’s two worlds collide during a huge party at the penthouse apartment owned by the family of Zooey’s boyfriend. You thought your Mom and Dad meeting your sweetheart’s Mom and Dad for the first time was awkward, you should try it with gunplay! Hoo boy! I hope the caterers brought some extra bandages!

Despite having the writer from Taken, the father/daughter dynamic of Taken, and the European setting of Taken, I have to admit I was not taken at all by 3 Days to Kill. Costner took the director’s note to look tired and sickly and ran with it, because he looks like he’d rather be someplace else the entire movie, and Amber Heard’s character is from a completely different movie altogether.

That movie is about the WORST. SPY. EVER.

Sorry.

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Kids In Spaaaaaaaaaaace!!!

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ENDER’S GAME (2013)

Director: Gavin Hood

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Ben Kingsley

Plot: In the future, a super smart kid named Ender Wiggam is shot into space and trained to fight a war against a race of alien bugs who tried to take over Earth decades earlier. Will Ender save humanity, or is he just another no good lazy slacker with his iPonepads and instavine video things…

Rating: PG-13 for some violence and sci-fi explosions with space fighters flying around going pew! pew! at one another.

Ender’s Game is based on a huge series of science fiction books written by Orson Scott Card. How huge? Currently, there are 14 in the series, with two more on the way. Also, there is a series of Ender’s Game short stories, and a comic book series based on the books.

That is a heck of a lot of reading. I have to take a nap after I proofread my shopping list.

Luckily Hollywood (that’s where the movie making folks live!) wanted to help all of us avoid such a lengthy reading list so they adapted the fourth book of the Ender series into a big screen sci-fi adventure.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, those Hollywood folks are really watching out for us!

In the near future, an alien bug-like species called the Formics invade Earth hoping to turn our lovely little planet into an alien bug vacation destination. The Earth’s military forces fight back and drive the Formics away, but millions of lives are lost in the process. Determined not to be caught with their pants down again, the International Force is formed to train the best and brightest young people how to fight the aliens should they ever return.

Fifty-something years later, a brilliant young cadet named Ender Wiggan (Asa Butterfield) is acing the training programs and defeating everyone in battle simulation games. Naturally the other cadets dislike being beaten regularly by a tiny kid with a weird first name, so they hate him and want to punch him repeatedly. It’s nice to now that even in the future, your classmates will still be homicidal dicks.

International Force Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) sees potential in young Ender, and sends him off to Battle School, which is an orbiting space station conveniently located in outer space. Ender and his fellow newbies start their training to be space soldiers or something by playing a game that involves shooting lasers at each other while floating around in a huge zero-gravity dome. I’m not sure how this trains cadets to be better soldiers, but flying around and shooting stuff sounds like a hoot to me, so sign me up baby!

As Ender learns the ins an outs of space cadet life, he makes some friends like Petra Arkanian (Hailee Steinfield) who helps him catch up on training when he’s promoted to another unit, and makes some enemies like Commander Bonzo Madrid (Moises Arias) who helps no one because he’s a homicidal dick.

But Ender presses on undaunted and his skills as a space soldier/alien killer impresses Graff so much he is given command of his own squad who show Bonzo and the other haters how Ender gets his game on!

See what I did there?

Ender’s Game isn’t all fun and…well, you know. There are a lot of serious issues Ender tries to come to terms with throughout the movie: like death, sacrifice, honor, and whether or not kids should be emotionless machines trained to kill a species who may not be looking for a fight this time around.

That’s some pretty heavy stuff for a sci-fi adventure film, but nobody ever said a sci-fi movie had to be non stop laughs and amusement. Ever see The Adventures of Pluto Nash? I rest my case.

The movie concludes with Ender and his Battle School crew prepping for a huge battle just outside the Formic’s home planet. With some sage advice from former war hero Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley sporting some sick facial ink), Ender prepares for war.  Can Ender and his army of drone fighters defeat an alien race that lives in dirt tunnels and yet were somehow able to master intergalactic space travel?

Seriously, how do giant bugs with no visible grasp of technology build spaceships with laser weapons?

Maybe we’ll find out in the next movie – Ender’s Game 2: Catching Bugs!