Friday, July 22, 2011

Reel Rhino Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA; Review of BUCK

I stand here tonight for three reasons:

1) To share with you my take on an amazing documentary that I had the chance to see this week, and,

2) To introduce you to Billy Gator and Catfish, two guests making their first appearances on the Reel Rhino site.

3) To tell you to go to the bottom of the page and check out the trailers for Myth of the American Sleepover and Another Earth…both opening in limited release this weekend and both worth your movie dollars.

As for my guests, Billy Gator is weighing-in with his two cents on BUCK, the documentary I referenced in point #1. Catfish is currently the object of my utmost jealousy…he is here is give us his take on CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Yep, he caught the KC Star Wednesday night sneak preview. Catfish, you rascal, you had the chance to take Reel Rhino, but nooooooo…you had to take your wife! Thanks for nothin’, punk! Kidding of course, at least you were gracious enough to give me some content.

BUCK – 5 of 5 Horns
A short, but very sweet, documentary by Cindy Meehl, introduces us to Buck Brannaman. Who, you may ask, is Buck Brannaman? He is the real life Horse Whisperer and every minute of this film is compelling.

In 1998, Robert Redford called on Buck as a technical advisor on his film, The Horse Whisperer. Redford, who appears throughout the current doc at hand, talks endearingly on the effect Buck had on the ultimate tone of his film. Buck became more of an inspiration, than an advisor.

Buck’s involvement in The Horse Whisperer is only a fraction of this film, and the majority looks at Buck’s life on the road, holding training sessions for those interested in becoming “horsemen,” or as we know them, cowboys and cowgirls.

The film looks at Buck’s early years, which were clearly formative on his philosophies on life. He spent his early years as a trick roper in a show overseen by his father and performed with his brother.

Buck is a master at a technique known as “natural horsemanship,” and to see him in action is nothing short of breathtaking. Buck is funny, sweet, and when necessary, firm, in his demeanor and teaching methods. He always sets out to teach folks about their lives with their horses…he normally ends up teaching them about themselves.

See this movie…it is short and every minute leaves a mark. Buck is touching, sweet, entertaining, and for a layperson like me in a field like cowboying, educational.

Buck’s lessons are as much about learning about yourself, as they are about learning your horse. This is a must see and I give it a 5 horn, Reel Rhino salute.

I am not a horseman, not by a long shot…but given the chance, I will go see Buck in action. This film is 100% an example of the power of film.
So the real question is: What did Billy Gator have to say? This is BG’s first appearance on the Reel Rhino site, but as I recently came to learn, he is very much a fellow filmic traveler. I don’t have his official count, but I believe he is approaching 100 movies for this year alone…pretty impressive!! As for his take on BUCK – 4 out of 5 Gator Tails:

A gentle documentary about a gentle man who knows a thing or two about horses (and humans). Buck Brannaman is full of universal truths and homespun wisdom. I didn't want the film to end. TLC or the Discovery Channel should hire the director, Cindy Meehl, to keep following him around, as I would definitely spend an hour a week watching Buck practice his art of "horse whispering".

And now for his moment in the sun, I give you CATFISH. Presented here, formatted to fit your screen, with limited commercial interruptions. Catfish, you better not let me down!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER – 4 of 5 Horns (so says the Catfish)
I recently discovered the wonderful world of the pre-release movie screening lottery, so to speak. It only took me 40 years to find this unburied treasure, but at least I didn’t go to my grave without experiencing early arrivals, long lines, rabid fans, and uncomfortable heat (and odors) given off by all the bodies stuffed in narrow lines hoping for a seat in the theater (first come first serve as overbooking ensures a full house…right) just for a free sneak peak at a major motion picture.

Now each time I see a chance to win advanced screening passes I enter my name, cross my fingers, and pray much like I did when I unsuccessfully tried to win the full size Pac Man video game from MTV, circa 1983. I’m pretty sure it was rigged because I even put my own money in the church donation basket (ah, the naivety of a 12 year old). To date, I’m batting .500 with screening passes with my only true disappointment being a Thor swing and a miss.

I was on vacation and had since accepted that I whiffed on another chance to see a movie I had been looking forward to when the e-mail arrived with the magic message that I had been selected to attend the advanced screening of Captain America: The First Avenger. Superheroes have a special place in my heart. I loved reading comic books when I was a kid. I looked forward to our trips to Wal-Mart so I could pick out a fresh new comic book that can only be described as my childhood eye candy. Comic books were an integral part of my childhood, which I can equate with happiness and contentment (all that changes when we grow up; that’s why most of us men never want to grow up and therefore never do).

Movie night, July 20th, finally arrived. The line at the theater was long even though my wife and I showed up an hour early. I did hope and trust there would be room for us. We did indeed get seats, and I wasn’t about to move because seats were more valuable than gold to this crowd. Both of us were stuffed from our four course meal that we ate just prior to arriving at the theater. I was satisfied on two counts. First, my wife was quite pleased with her dinner (the cliché holds true: happy wife, happy life). Secondly, having full bellies meant she wouldn’t be asking for overpriced garbage food at the concession stand, which would require me to leave my coveted seat. We were seated for about five minutes when my wife expressed her growing itch for popcorn and a Diet Coke. I suppose you know that I (not she) ended up waiting in line and purchasing popcorn and a Diet Coke (happy wife, happy life).

After all the hoopla in the theatre ended and my wife’s request fulfilled, I was ready for this baby to start. A bonus in this whole affair was the fact the screening was in 3D. As the initial Paramount credit screen flashed I knew something was awry. I rhetorically asked my wife if the theater knew this was supposed to be 3D. The movie began and the green and pink muddled picture elicited a head shake from me and my wife’s inquisitions as to why she couldn’t see anything. The yells from the theater grew to a near chant of “fix the movie”. The best line I heard was, “So this is the free version?” Like clockwork I began questioning why God hated me so much. Thankfully on this night He granted me mercy. They fixed the movie within a few minutes and we were off and running.

First, I would not spend extra money to watch it in 3D. There simply was very little in the movie that was enhanced by 3D technology. I was concerned if Captain America could be translated from comics to the big screen and not come off as absolutely ridiculous. Well, they did a great job with this movie. I do, however, find it ironic that Captain America, who was created during wartime as an iconic patriotic hero who inspired national pride, was finally brought to the big screen in 2011 while we’re at the height of political correctness. This is the same 2011 where the title of this very movie had to be modified for overseas release to “The First Avenger”, dropping “Captain America” from the title. No more preaching.

Captain America was entertaining. The casting was excellent (men who admire beautiful women will not be let down by Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter…smoking hot). Tommy Lee Jones nearly stole the show with his performance. The well placed humor worked amazingly well. Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo was spot on with his one liner straight out of Roadhouse. They even poked fun at the comic book-esque Captain America costume. He got a bit of a makeover to make his character a bit more believable.

The movie was very much story driven as opposed to mindless action. It was about hope, honor, integrity, heart, loyalty, persistence, perseverance, love, patriotism, leadership, and the eventual triumph of good over evil. Bringing you back to WWII and watching the story unfold reminds us of the historical significance of that wartime era. I’m not even going to mention that taboo concept of American exceptionalism. Watch this movie and ask yourself if Steve Rogers resides in you. Don’t be like one moviegoer who said it was the stupidest effing movie she’d ever seen. For the love of God, let yourself be inspired.

When this movie ended my wife said this was her favorite superhero movie of the season. She said, “The message was so good” (happy wife, happy life). I hit a gold mine. Dinner was good, movie was good, and that always bodes well for me at home.

4 out of 5 Fish Whiskers


(Reel Rhino note…first off, great review Catfish. Secondly, there are only three countries dropping the title Captain America…Russia, Ukraine, and South Korea. No surprise there, and I do give Marvel studios credit, from a business perspective. Their goal is to sell tickets. Giving countries the option, will help them put more foreign butts in the seats. Also, China only shows 20 non-Chinese films a year…Cap didn’t make the cut, and I don’t think we can hold that against them. It is regardless in China, anyone will likely be able to pick up the bootleg on the streets for a few bucks, in a few days.)

I’ll be back soon with my own two cents on the film, and perhaps Friends with Benefits as well, aka NO STRINGS ATTACHED 2. And I am thinking double feature Sunday: Conan O’Brian Can’t Stop and Trollhunter, if I’m lucky.

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

1 comment:

  1. the catfish guy hit Captain America on target. I too though that it might be difficult to bring Captain America to the big screen, but the film was great.

    friends with benefits was entertaining as well. i am a fan of mila kunis dating back to That 70's Show. though it may be thought that the movie is a spin off to No Strings Attached, thought is was actually better than that movie. found friends with benefits to be lighter(not so serious) than no strings attached and more laughs.

    Ryan, are you or did you stay for the avengers preview, it looks pretty cool. Saw previews for the rise of the dark knight and cant wait, batman is the greatest superhero ever.