Valdosta Daily Times

October 19, 2013

Saluting ‘Captain Phillips’

Adann-Kennn Aleoxxandar
The Valdosta Daily Times


“Captain Phillips” (Drama/ Biography: 2 hours, 14 minutes)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, and Faysal Ahmed
Director: Paul Greengrass
Rated: PG-13 (Sustained intense sequences, violence with bloody images, and substance use)
Movie Review: “Captain Phillips” is a straight-forward, but rewarding, story about the courageous acts and rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips, played by two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks. Somali pirates, led by Muse (Abdi), seize Phillips’ vessel, the Maersk Alabama. Phillips quickly becomes a reluctant negotiator, as he must protect his crew while keeping himself safe.
Based upon the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea” by Phillips and Stephan Talty, this true story is of the 2009 hijacking of Maersk Alabama. The last time the United States had to worry about pirates of this caliber, President Thomas Jefferson was in office. Two-hundred years later, the Maersk Alabama is boarded by pirates and Phillips must become an unlikely survivor of Somali brutality. 
This is straight-forward plot written by scripter Billy Ray and directed by Greengrass. It merely tells a story as a good biographical motion picture should. It leads to an ending that is just as intense, despite one’s knowledge of how it will end. 
 The film works thanks to the good performances of three cast members. Hanks, Abdi and Abdirahman are superb. The latter men are actually Somali living in Minnesota. They along with Hanks, make this film a gratifying drama. Hanks deserves another Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Phillips during the last 10 minutes alone. The performance is topnotch. Hanks proves he is one of moviedom’s best continuously.
Solid material presented in this script proves the best stories are those based on life. “Captain Phillips” is an intense film that is worthy of audience’s attention.
Grade: B+ (Phillips’ ordeal makes a great screenplay.)
“Machete Kills” (Action/Science-Fiction: 1 hour, 47 minutes)
Starring: Danny Trejo, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez and Mel Gibson
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Rated: R (Profanity, extreme violence and sexual content)
Movie Review: A machete is a very large knife. Too bad someone did not use one to cut away this film’s trivial parts. Of course, the removal of those bad scenes would leave only approximately 25 minutes of good material.
Danny Trejo is the legendary ex-Federale agent Machete Cortez. The President of the United States (Charlie Sheen as Carlos Estevez) recruits him for a mission to stop a wealthy American industrialist, Voz (Gibson), who has plans of world domination. The task will not be easy. Several malevolent forces pursue Cortez. All want him dead.
Unlike its prequel, “Machete” (Directors Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez, 2010), “Machete Kills” is a wacky style that lacks originality and comical flair. It is just gratuitous violence in a silly plot.
A very large and well-known cast comprises this wayward comical action film. The problem is the characters are goofily unbelievable to the point the plot becomes an asinine one not worthy of one’s time. “Machete Kills” is a B-movie. It has the nature of a low-budget film. It is a bad film, and it appears to have been made that way purposely. Its style is similar to a spaghetti western mixed with a science-fiction flick.
Few of these characters are appealing, while others are over the top. This array of eccentric characters is played by very well-known talents, such as Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr. and William Sadler. A multitude of celebrities is fun to observe. However, these cameos do not make this film any better.
To make matters worse, “Machete Kills” has an open ending. Based on previews for the next Machete film, the third installment appears as goofy as this one. 
Grade: D (If you are in its audience, it kills.)