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Man Down

Is there an issue with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Of course there is, and it needs to be addressed. Is there a potential for family issues when a solider comes back to his family from the war front? Yes, and it can be quite severe. Is the best way to present these problems wrapped up in a movie that cannot decide if it is a serious look at the situation, or an overly dramatized version of the warrior’s mental disconnect?

That is “Man Down”, which follows the solider named Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) who is married to Natalie (Kate Mara) and has a young son named Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell). He joins the Marines with his best friend Devin (Jai Courtney). Gabe gets sent to Afghanistan, while Devin recovers from an injury back in the States. Devin soon joins him over there in the thick of the nasty action.

 

Later, Gabe has a sit-down session with Captain Peyton (Gary Oldman) about ‘the incident’. It is finally revealed that a mistake by Gabe led to an ambush attack that had killed Devin. But then, later on when Gabe is back with his family, Gabe shuns his wife and his son to hang around with Devin. Eventually Gabe and Devin prowl about the bleak apocalyptic landscape for his son. But Devin did not make it back…

The late Devin is Gabe’s closest friend and Gabe’s metal state is in question. Captain Peyton talked with Gabe about his reaction to ‘the incident’, and Gabe is still in denial. So now Gabe and Devin are searching a destroyed cityscape searching for his son. They meet a guy named Charlie (Clifton Collins Jr.) who says he knows nothing. But there are many clues that he knows Gabe’s son, and where he might be hiding.

But how much of Gabe’s post-war travels with Devin are real? Exactly what happened in ‘the incident’? And what happened back on the home front between Devin and Kate, when Gabe was deployed overseas? Does Captain Peyton know how broken Gabe is on the inside?

Any of these questions could be enough to construct a deep and meaningful movie. But the way that the various incidents and episodes are put together on the screen make a little too jumbled. The connection between the bleak deserted place and the happy home front does get revealed, and it is done in a very subtle way. But the various sequences do not seem to tie up as neatly as they should.

 

Shia LaBeouf does a workable job as Gabe. He is mostly very understated, but then at some points he is a little bit overemotional and melodramatic. Kate Mara and Jai Courtney have very cookie-cutter roles, and they do the best that they can.  Gary Oldman puts some empathy into his character and makes a very good impression. Clifton Collins Jr. has a brief role, but is creepy and odd-ball as that character.

A movie a few years back about the mental tribulations of John Nash was called ‘A Beautiful Mind’. This movie might be called ‘A FUBAR Mind’. That would describe the nightmare of delusions that Gabe finds himself in during the movie. It is truly scary place to be. But is might not be the best way to bring attention to the real problems of soldiers.

doctor strange

Doctor Strange

“Doctor Strange” is filled with fantastic characters that are so magnificently played it’ll be difficult to say this isn’t one of, if not the, best Marvel has conjured up in the casting department.  You are immediately drawn to Cumberbatch and his arrogant and cocksure attitude as neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange.  Dr. Strange is very skilled with his hands and he has become self-centered and shallow, even enough to lose someone who he feels may be beneath him as he gets better and better in the operating room.  Dr. Strange could never admit to needing anyone; they need him.  His ego extends to the love department, as well, and his on-again, off-again relationship with Christine Palmer (McAdams) is strained at best.

Speeding on a winding road during a storm (where he’s on a phone call you need to pay attention to), leads to an unfortunate accident where his hands become one with the dash and are severely injured.  He is rushed to the hospital where the surgeons can save his life but his hands will never be the same.  Of course had he been the surgeon, they would be perfect.  Now in constant pain and unable to be a surgeon, he is lost.  Christine has done all she can to help and comfort him but she realizes ultimately that he must find his own way.  On this journey, he is lead to Karma-Taj where he meets Mordo (Ejiofor) who introduces him to the Ancient One (Swinton).  He begins to train his body by learning to understand that the physical is merely one part of a person.  He is shown that he can heal his physical body through reprogramming his cells and connecting to his spirit.  It is an honor to watch Ejiofor and Swinton work alongside one another.  They’re transformative and their commitment to the roles plays well in this newest Marvel film and as much as they are, the film is visually beautiful.  Streets fold in on themselves as characters move through different dimensions and doorways which conjure feelings of the very optical film “Inception”.

“Doctor Strange” is filled with fantastic characters that are so magnificently played…this Marvel movie will not disappoint.
Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

As well as being a visual masterpiece, the fight sequences are brilliant.  Dr. Strange is brought into the fold and taught magic to help fight off dark forces and a rogue student named Kaecilius (Mikkelsen).  Strange isn’t interested at first because he became a doctor to save lives, not take them but is forced into helping when it’s obvious that he was born for the part, much like Cumberbatch was born to play this role in the Marvel Comics Universe.

Stan Lee pops up in a fun scene on a bus while they’re in the mirror dimension so look for that.   I promise, this Marvel movie will not disappoint.  There is a strong theme, you’ll love the comedic elements, the performances are perfect and the script is strong.  There is a good set up for the next movie and, as always, stay through the very, very end credits.  There will be two post credit clips.  Enjoy! 

Assassin’s Creed Official Trailer #2

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

ASSASSIN’S CREED stars Academy Award® nominee Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 12 Years a Slave) and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises, La Vie en Rose). The film is directed by Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth); produced by New Regency, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, DMC Films and Kennedy/Marshall; co-financed by RatPac Entertainment and Alpha Pictures; and distributed by 20th Century Fox.