Wind River – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

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Wind River was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water and was a very enjoyable movie.  I was about to say it was a good mystery thriller, but it really isn’t a mystery.  True, we don’t know “whodunit” but we’re led there through the course of the investigation step by step.  It was a good crime thriller.  I liked the cast, and I liked the story behind it all.  It had the “fish out of water” idea, the rookie cop, the guy who helps the cops who can act outside the law.  Lots of tropes, but still everything clicked.

I really liked the cast, and that was what initially drew me to Wind River.  I’ve been an Elizabeth Olsen fan for some time now and again was quite impressed.  The story was excellent hitting emotional and suspenseful notes equally well.  Jeremy Renner was also good, and it was interesting to see the two interact with each other while not playing their MCU characters (Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye if you will).

When a young woman is found dead (and probably murdered) on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, young FBI Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) from the Las Vegas field office is sent to investigate.  Not familiar with the territory or the people she asks Fish and Wildlife Service agent and game tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), who is accepted by the locals, to help her navigate the snowy terrain and the distrust of the locals.  Banner also works closely with the local sheriff Ben (Graham Greene).  The plot unfolds and we learn how the girl met her fate, and that she was best friends with Lambert’s own daughter who also died.  The film shines a light on many of the darker aspects of reservation life, such as rampant violence, drug use, depression and of course the many, many unsolved cases of missing women.  It is a sobering look, and one that draws you into the film at every turn.

I enjoyed the way the film played out, how the case was solved, who did it, and how they paid for their crime.  At first I thought they were going to go a much different way with that payment…. I really thought Lambert was going to leave him to the mountain lion, but the way they did it was definitely satisfying. …A very good film all around, and even though it is full of tragedy it has a satisfying payoff.

Bottom Line: Graham Greene is a great actor, he’s been in such works as Green Mile, Dances With Wolves, and he played Mr. Crabby Tree on The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon


Dark Tower – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

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It’s January, and I’m behind in my reviews again!  Alright, the next few days I’m going to try and catch up, but they’re going to be short, probably not sweet.

The Dark Tower is based on the series of books by Stephen King, which I have never read.  After seeing the movie however, I’m interested now.  When the film originally went to theatres, I had heard comments that people who had read the books wouldn’t (or didn’t) like the movie, but that people who hadn’t read them would probably like the movie. I fall into that segment. I enjoyed The Dark Tower. I watched the film at home, on Blu Ray which benefits me the bonus features.  In one interview segment, King says that this movie starts the story essentially in the middle of the book series. It was done so intentionally because the filmmakers didn’t want to have it so the audience who hadn’t read the books would feel as though they were “behind” the audiences who had read the books.  They say that they started in middle of series and let things grow from there.  It worked for me, but as I said I haven’t read the books.

Idris Elba plays Roland, the last Gunslinger, who has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter aka the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey).  The Mna in Black is trying to destroy the Dark Tower, which holds the universe (and I guess some sort of multiverse) together.  Walter has agents working on earth (and presumably other dimensions or planets) to find people who show signs of powers and to kidnap them, and use their abilities to destroy the tower.  Most of the people are children, and it does kill them… (I think, I can’t remember, it’s been a few months since I watched it, but it seems to make sense.)  Roland meets Jake (Tom Taylor), an earth boy who Walter was trying to capture because he has an exceptionally strong set of psychic powers (or “shine”), and the two set off to stop Walter, jumping back and forth from Earth to the Dark Tower dimension…

Okay, it was a pretty decent action film with some sci-fi thrown on top.  I liked the performances of both Elba and McConaughey and thought the story flowed pretty well.  There was humour, great stunts and effects, and the underlying story of good versus evil worked well within this framework.  I’d say it’s worth watching if you’re a fan of either of the leads, or an open minded fan of the source material.

Bottom Line: There were lots of references to other Stephen King works, including It, with a rusting carnival ride labelled Pennywise.

Unlocked – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review


Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) is a former CIA interrogator who now works in a London community monitoring potential threats liaisoning between the CIA and MI6.  When a potential terrorist cell and plot are uncovered, she is brought in to interrogate a suspect when the original interrogator dies of a heart attack. Something doesn’t seem right though as she and the suspect are attacked by the agents who brought them both in.  Double crossed by her own people, she contacts her former CIA handler (Michael Douglas) and her MI6 contact (Toni Collette) to sort out the situation.  She escapes and goes off on her own, making it to a safe house where she encounters a former SAS operative (Orlando Bloom) who has turned to burglary.  On the run, Alice reluctantly teams up with him to try and find out who set her up and why before a deadly bio-attack is unleashed.

Unlocked was a rather clever thriller, and even though a few things about it were easy (for me) to guess, it did surprise me with other plot points and did keep me guessing at things. I didn’t really know who was good and who was a traitor, well I knew who one traitor and one good guy were.  I really didn’t know anything about this film going in, which is sometimes for the best as you have no expectations to either fail to meet or surpass.  I was sold basically by the cast.  While it has big names like Douglas, Malkovich, Collette and Bloom, they don’t really have large roles, the film really is all Rapace.  As I really enjoy her, that’s why I decided to watch it.  Her Alice was a very well defined, well developed character and Noomi Rapace delivered a very good performance. The fights, the chases, and the action scenes were all well done, and made for a very enjoyable, very watchable spy/action/thriller with multiple twists.

Bottom Line: There was a scene in an elevator that was very good, and something I hadn’t seen before or expected!

Killing Hasselhoff – ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Killing Hasselhoff

If you’re a long time reader, you’ll know I run a video store.  How else do you think I get to see all these great (and sometimes not so great) movies?  Over the years we’ve noticed a few things.  First, celebrities die all the time, and second when they die, their movies or albums instantly becomes popular.  We are usually flooded with calls from customers asking if we have anything and everything by the late celeb.  It’s funny because often these customers claim to be the biggest fans but don’t actually own anything by the artist in question…  A number of years ago we realized we had to immediately dedicate display space when an actor died so that customers could find what they were looking for.  One year, we were sitting down, doing a “year in review” meeting and the topic of dead celebrities came up, and that’s when our own Dead Pool began.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, here it is: before a given deadline you make up a list of celebrities you think will die in the coming year.  Each one you guess correctly gets you points.  Yes it is rather morbid, but we do mean it in good fun.  We have rules, and one of them is that you cannot murder any of your chosen celebrities, because that’s cheating, and cheating is wrong.  Murdering a celebrity you’ve chosen in a Dead Pool though is exactly what Killing Hasselhoff is all about.

Chris is the owner of a nightclub but when his club burns down, his fiancé leaves him, his life falls further into shambles when a loan shark he owes money to calls in the debt.  The only way Chris can raise the money is to win the Celebrity Dead Pool that he’s in.  And the only way he can win it is if David Hasselhoff dies. So he sets out to murder the Hoff.

The movie wasn’t quite as bad as my rating, or as you would think it would be.  For a comedy it wasn’t very funny, at least not until the last fifteen minutes.  From there, it was very funny, and I laughed quite a bit, but until the, I might have only chuckled once or twice.  Hasselhoff was pretty good, playing just a giant caricature of himself and his celebrity status, and Ken Jeong (who I think is rather underrated as an actor) was good in the lead.  The supporting cast seemed to be a lot of Comedy Central talents, and their roles and lines seemed to be tailor made for them, which may not have been a good thing.  Don’t write a line (or a role, or a script) for a comedian, write a funny line for any actor.  If they happen to be a comedian, your joke should go over even better.  Just my opinion.

Most of the script was vulgar and childish, but if you’re willing to wait for the laughs, or if you’re a big fan of The Hoff, you should be able to find some mild entertainment with it.

Bottom Line:  Fortunately it was only 80 minutes long, because that first hour was really kind of painful.  Also, I’m leading the Dead Pool at work again.  RIP Hugh Hefner.

Mune: Guardian of the Moon – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

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Mune, was a French cartoon that I had never heard of, but took a chance on and really enjoyed.  It was a wonderful story that was steeped in mythology, beautifully rendered and humourous.  What more could I ask for in an animated feature?

It’s time for the old guardians of the Sun and Moon to retire and have their proteges replace them. Sohone (Rob Lowe) is good looking, strong, cocky and celebrity-esque, he will replace Xolal (Michael Dobson), the ancient Guardian of the Sun. Leeyoon (Christian Slater) is the prim and proper apprentice to Yule (Paul Dobson) the wizened Guardian of the Moon. During the ceremony to formally select and announce the new guardians Sohone is chosen by a ray of sunlight as expected, but the lunar ewe responsible for selecting the Guardian of the Moon instead bypasses Leeyoon and chooses Mune (Joshua J. Ballard) a young faun. Irate over the disrespect, Leeyoon storms off in anger, and is visited by pale snakes who corrupt him and stir up his jealousy and hubris, getting him to pit Sohone against Mune. The snakes were sent by Necross (Davey Grant) the lord of evil in the world who wants chaos so he can steal and destroy the Sun. With Sohone distracted by the actions of an unprepared Mune, Necross sends his imps Mox (Patton Oswalt) and Spleen (Ed Helms) to steal the Sun, plunging the planet into eternal night. With Mune banished by his own people, Leeyoon takes his place as Moon Guardian and causes the Moon to crumble and break.  Now it’s up to Mune and Sohone to try and work together and recover the sun and find a way to restore the Moon. Naturally they don’t get along but when Glim (Nicole Provost) a young candle girl, joins them and sets them on the right path the trio set out to save the world. Eventually they enter the underground and meet Phospho (Jeff Dunham), a former Moon Guardian himself, who has been living on the outskirts of the underworld hiding from his own past cowardice and failure. Phosphoro helps them on their way, leading them to Necross where they realize he was under the influence of the pale snakes too and had been corrupted by envy. Glim manages to find the rapidly diminishing Sun, but when she reignites it, she melts. The sun and moon are returned to the sky by their Guardians and the world returns to normal, and Mune revives and re-sculpts Glim, and the pair set out on the temple of the Moon to travel around the world, as Sohone travels on his temple ahead of them.

As I said, the film was beautifully animated.  The CGI was great, but they switched gears when they entered the dream world section of the film and reverted to a hand drawn, flowing, watercolour style of animation.  I loved the concepts and the originality, the candle people like Glim were incredible!  Being made of wax, if she got too cold she would stiffen up, when it was too hot she could melt, leaving her really only able to move freely in the evening or dawn times, only carefully in the shadows during the daytime and virtually not at all in the night.  Ironic that she and the Moon Guardian fall in love…  The idea that the Sun and Moon are tethered to these gigantic beasts, who slowly march around the world acting as the temples was fantastic and in all likelihood pulled from some mythology was also incredible.  I loved the world this film created.

Bottom Line: Mune may be well under the radar, but is definitely worth checking out especially if you are a fan of animation.

Big Sick – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Big Sick

Real life is funnier than anything we can make-up, funnier than anything we can write or imagine.  Real life is also more touching.  The Big Sick is the real life story of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.  Kumail is a Pakistani comic who starts dating an American girl named Emily who he met after one of his shows.  Their relationship goes smoothly enough at first, but Kumail’s parents are very traditional, especially his mother, who insists on arranging a marriage for him with a suitable Pakistani woman.  When Emily discovers this the two fight and break up.  Suddenly Emily falls very ill and her roommate calls Kumail to taker her to the hospital, not really realizing they had broken up.  Emily ends up in a medically induced coma and Kumail has to call and inform her parents.  Parents who he has never met.  Kumail keeps visiting the hospital, even though he is Emily’s ex-boyfriend, and keeps meeting with her parents who eventually warm up to him.  When Emily comes out of the coma, will she take him back based on his faithful visits, his genuine concern for her and the bond he formed with her parents?

Okay, since this is based on a true story, I’ll tell you: she doesn’t… well not at first.  The two do reconcile and eventually marry.

The Big Sick was a love story, but not just between Kumail and Emily, but between both their sets of parents, and was the story of all their relationship; Kumail and his parents, Kumail and Emily’s parents, and of course Kumail and Emily.

I loved the film, I loved the story and I especially loved the casting. Kumail Nanjiani did a pretty good job playing himself.  I can’t think of a better actor to play the role….seriously though, he did a very good job.  I am a fan of Zoe Kazan, she often gets involved in odd, quirky films and roles and delivers great performances.  I really enjoyed her as Emily, unfortunately she spends most of the movie in a coma.  I would have liked to have seen more of her, but that’s not how the story played out.  Holly Hunter is always good, and was fantastic as Emily’s mom, but what really surprised me was Ray Romano.  I never really payed any attention to Romano, in my mind he was just a stand up comic turned actor who played himself and probably couldn’t handle a role much more complex than “sitcom dad”.  Ray Romano was fantastic in this movie.  He was real, he was funny, he was perfect.

The story was good, and was a lot funnier than I thought it would be.  Even though I knew Nanijiani was a comic, I wasn’t sure what direction this rather serious story would take.  Human, subtle, real, and of course very funny.  I am so glad that I got to see this film.

Bottom Line: I can’t wait to watch this one again.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle – ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

Kingsman: Golden Circle

Is there a difference between an action-comedy and a comedy-action movie?  Last night I watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and while I really enjoyed it, it did not live up to the first film.  The first Kingsman movie was more action with comedy mixed in, the second one was a lot heavier on the comedy.  What was formerly tongue in cheek nods became over the top, bordering on silly and juvenile.  Kingsman: The Golden Circle had quite a different tone than Kingsman: The Secret Service.  I previously compared Kingsman to the different eras of the James Bond films and I know the Kingsman films were created initially because the writers and director noticed how serious films in the spy genre had become, so maybe this tonal shift was intentionally done to mimic how the Bond films changed as they transitioned from Connery to the later Moore films.  Octopussy could have been a really good film, but Roger Moore’s Bond ends up running around foiling the bad guys dressed as a clown…

The film starts off pretty much at top speed, with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) involved in a car chase and fight pitting the new Galahad against failed recruit Charlie (Edward Holcroft) from the last film.  Yes, Charlie miraculously survived the mountaintop battle where Merlin activated the chips in all of Valentine’s cronies to save the world, but now he has a cybernetic arm and is working for The Golden Circle, the largest drug cartel in the world.  The Golden Circle is run by Poppy (Julianne Moore) who is tired of living in seclusion away from the prying eyes of the law.  She wants to legalize the drug trade around the world so she can be recognized as the successful, legitimate businesswoman she is. They’ve poisoned their own drug supply creating a plague known as “Blue Rash” and will release the antidote worldwide when the president of the United States legalizes drugs.  The Golden Circle need to eliminate Kingsman (or should that be Kingsmen?) so the plan will succeed.  Unfortunately the president wants all the drug users in the world to die, so he can win the war on drugs, and is just stringing Poppy (and the world along).  With the Kingsman’s headquarters destroyed, and all agents except Galahad and Merlin (Mark Strong) killed, they have to follow their doomsday protocol which leads them to Kentucky, home of Statesman (or is that Statesmen?).  Statesman is the American version of Kingsman, and instead of their codenames being knights, they’re drinks.  Eggsy and Merlin arrive at Statesman and are attacked by “Tequila” (Channing Tatum) who thinks they’re there to rescue the lepidopterist, a man who was clearly an agent for some organization, but has lost his memory after they rescued him from a church riot where he had suffered a gunshot to the head…

I was really glad to see that Colin Firth was back as Harry Hart, and not just in a cameo or flashback, but I really wish they hadn’t shown him in the trailers at all.  It could have been a great surprise, and a great reveal, but apparently someone in marketing doesn’t like giving surprises to the audience.  The two organizations team up and after Harry is found and his memory is restored, they battle Poppy’s bad guys across the globe in search of her headquarters and the antidote.  The action comes fast and furious and the stunts, gun-play and fight sequences seek to top those in the previous film (which were pretty high to begin with).

I will admit that The Golden Circle wasn’t as good as The Secret Service.  The story was strong enough and the action was impressive, and overall the film was very entertaining, but it was not on the same level as the first one.  It had very big shoes to fill and expectations to meet, and it came close, but was not without its flaws.  It seemed like there were a few too many “big names” getting in on the action given the success of the first film.  Jeff Bridges played Champagne, or “Champ”, the “Arthur” of Statesman, Halle Berry as Ginger Ale was their “Merlin” and you had Channing Tatum dropping in to be affected quickly by Poppy’s virus.  Of the big name actors, Halle Berry had the most significant amount of screen time, and her character wasn’t involved in any of the action scenes.  There clearly will be a third Kingsman movie, I just hope they don’t water it down like other franchises have by filling it with cameos and stars in small, filler roles.  All that aside, I did love how they worked Elton John into the story.  Poppy had kidnapped Elton John while Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine had been kidnapping and recruiting celebrities during the events of the first film.  She figured his kidnappings were the perfect cover for one of her own, and she now had Sir Elton prisoner to perform for her whenever she wanted.  Elton John was hilarious in the film; getting some fight scenes some comedy scenes, the obligatory musical number, and he delivered what is probably one of the best jokes of the entire film.

Because of how much I enjoyed the first film, I wanted to see the sequel as soon as possible and that means a trip to the theatre, and I’m glad that I did.  I went with a friend and it was nice to have someone to discuss it with afterwards and to share the laughs and the whole experience with.  We’re not prudes by any stretch of the imagination, but we did both notice how the language was amped up compared to the first film.  We also noticed that we were the only ones laughing at a lot of things too.  Perhaps our humour is heightened compared to the rest of the audience, or perhaps our senses of humours are just a lot more twisted than the audience.  My friend said she overheard someone muttering something about not getting two and a half hours of their life back as they were leaving, which kind of made us laugh.  The comment seemed to come from a very laugh free area of the theatre.  You know, regardless of what they did, they’d never get those two and a half hours back anyway.  They could have taken a nap, went for dinner, killed a dragon, at the end of it those two and a half hours would still be gone.  I enjoyed the night out, and wouldn’t have wanted to spend those two and a half hours any other way….

Bottom Line: I was a little surprised at how the film wrapped up, I really expected it to end with Harry becoming the new Arthur.

Captain Underpants: First Epic Movie – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

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Even though I haven’t read any of the books, I decided to give Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie a spin, and I’m glad that I did.  It was funny, well animated, well voiced and a good, silly little movie.

Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch voice George and Harold, two young friends who like to hang out together and draw and write their own comic books.  They have also been a thorn in the side of their principal Mr. Krupp (voiced by Ed Helms) for years, constantly pulling pranks and upsetting the order he demands in his school.  One day, when they’re caught and Krupp has absolute proof of their guilt, threatening to place them in separate classrooms, thus destroying their friendship the pair have to act fast.  With a cereal box prize hypno-ring, they hypnotize their principal into thinking he is the greatest superhero ever: Captain Underpants (a hero of the boys’ own creation).  Of course this new hero has no powers, he’s just a bald, overweight middle-aged man stripped down to his tighty-whities…and wearing his office curtain as a cape.  Tra-la-laaa!  Through a fluke of circumstance, mean Mr. Krupp fired a teacher and Captain Underpants’ secret identity or Mr. Krupp hires a crazed evil scientist (that wants to eradicate laughter worldwide) to replace him.  It’s up to Captain Underpants and his sidekicks George and Harold to save the day from Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll).

Okay, the humour was pretty juvenile, but so is the target audience.  There were a lot of good laughs, and a lot of potty humour laughs, but there was also a lot of intelligent humour hidden amongst the other jokes too, making Captain Underpants a lot of fun.  Kevin Hart really has a great voice for animation, and the rest of the casting was equally impressive. Given the title, I assume they’re setting up for more films in the series which wouldn’t be a bad thing, and the way the film ended certainly invites a sequel.  The whole creation of Krupp/Captain Underpants is pretty clever, (and the movie addresses this) for Mr. Krupp to become Captain Underpants under hypnosis, he must know who Captain Underpants is, so that means he’s read the comic books the boys had written.  There are billion dollar super hero franchise films that don’t catch little plot points like that. 

I have no idea how faithful to the books the film was, but from what I gathered it was a combination of aspects from several stories, still I think that Captain Underpants fans would be happy with the film.

Bottom Line: They’re kids books, but I’ll probably read the first one….

Guardians – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review


At the height of the Cold War the Soviet Union developed a top secret program to give them an edge in what they thought would be the future of war; they were tasked with creating superhumans in Project Patriot.  A scientist involved in the project goes rogue and creates a clone army and tries to take over the world, so it’s up to these superhuman operatives to come together and stop him; they are the Guardians.

The bonus features on the DVD told a lot about this movie.  First, comic books (and comic book superheroes) aren’t big in Russia, so this movie was not trying to compete with the Marvels or the DCs of the world, and they weren’t trying to compete with a $300 million movie, they were just trying to make the best movie they could with the budget they had.  As a superhero movie, it was definitely a B, maybe even a C, but justified by those previous statements, they get an A for effort.  The special effects were quite good, there was a lot of CGI in the film for obvious reasons.  The characters were not fleshed out very well, but the powers they gave them and way they used them were quite interesting.  You had Arsus (Anton Pampushnyy), the were-bear with a mini-gun; Khan (Sanjar Madi) with razor sharp sickles, and he was either really fast or could teleport, it was a bit confusing at times… Kseniya (Alina Lanina) has no memory of how she got her powers of invisibility; and Ler (Sebastien Sisak Grigoryan) who seems to be the elder statesman and leader of the team can control rocks.  The whole project is overseen by Mayor Elena Larina (Valeriya Shkirando).  Quite a few of the command staff of Project Patriot seemed to be sexy Russian women….not necessarily a bad thing.

Arsus looked really cool, and would evolve into different degrees of were-bear-ness….  The mini-gun was a fun touch.  I really liked how they used Ler’s powers over rocks (I suppose that would be geokinesis).  At first he just threw them at people and levitated them, but then he started to attract them to his body, making rock armour, giant rock fists like the Thing from the Fantastic Four.  Loved it, that was super original!  Things like that made up for a few of the flubs they made on the script.  At one point the team is walking across a bridge structure and are being shot at by snipers, why not have your girl turn the team invisible before walking out in the open like that?  They already explained that was in Kseniya’s power-set… I think this is where the lack of exposure to these types of stories hurt their film.

I could see this becoming a minor cult classic because it’s quirky, fun, decently made, and they tried.  I can’t stand it when someone tries to force their film into cult-classic status by purposely making a bad movie.  A great number of cult classics may be bad, but they truly intended to make a good movie.  Guardians was a good movie and a fun watch; not the best, but it wasn’t trying to match up to the best.

Bottom Line:  It may not have been a big time super hero movie, but it did adopt the tradition of an after the credits scene.  I’d certainly watch a sequel if they made one.

Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

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Oh how I’ve missed this team!  The Halifax Highlanders are back on the ice, and I can’t believe it has been five years since Goon!  The whole gang was back, with a few new faces as a labour dispute in the big leagues has sent a lot of talent to the Eastern Maritime Hockey League.  Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) has been made captain of the team, but the team isn’t doing that well.  When they play the first place team from Reading, Doug gets his clock cleaned by an up and coming star who delivers a beating unlike any Doug has ever suffered.  With an injured shoulder, Doug retires from the game he grew to love and the team he loved.  Though the injury is unfortunate, it may not be all bad though, as Doug and Eva (Alison Pill) are now married and expecting a baby.  Of course, even without Doug, the team must go on, and team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) makes some trades and acquires his son and star player from the Reading Wolfdogs, Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the one who made Glatt retire.  Cain is talented but reckless and dangerous, both on and off the ice.  With he hears how the Highlanders’ locker room is falling apart, Doug looks up his old friend/nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) to teach him how to fight left handed so he can get back in the game…. of course he does all this without telling his wife, so you can guess how that will play out…  Cain is eventually traded back to his old team and a collision course with Doug and the Highlanders with the final playoff spot on the line.

Jay Baruchel co-wrote both this film and the original Goon, but he makes his directorial debut with Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers, which turned out to be another really good hockey movie. It’s clear he’s a fan, and wants to do right by the game and the fans.  My only complaint about the first film was Baruchel’s Pat Houlihan character.  I thought he was over the top and needlessly crude.  This time around he’s still crude and over the top, but he was actually funnier, also there’s far less of him on screen, likely because Baruchel had to dedicate his time to the directing.  Sadly though there was a character that seemed to fill the role in Pat Houlihan’s stead, and that was Elisha Cuthbert as Mary, a character thrust into the film for seemingly no reason except to be the crude friend (this time being a friend of Eva’s).  Her casting may have been a favour from Baruchel, they did work together on Popular Mechanics For Kids in 1997 and she is married to Dion Phaneuf (former Toronto Maple Leafs captain?  Currently playing defence for the Ottawa Senators…. a hockey player).  In fact, I’d have to say that I really didn’t enjoy the cameos that were scattered throughout the film.  T.J. Miller seemed thrust into an improv role as a sports reporter which kind of gave us some exposition into what was going on with the team, but seemed to be trying to hard to be funny.  Jason Jones felt much the same as Doug’s boss at the insurance company he works at before getting back into the game.  I did like James Duthie and Tessa Bonhomme in their roles, which they fit perfectly.  Duthie plays the lead sportscaster opposite Miller and Bonhomme plays a sports reporter.  In real life, Duthie is a sportscaster and host of a variety of hockey shows on TSN, Bonhomme is a Canadian Olympic gold medal winning hockey player and is also a sportscaster for TSN.

Once again I was very impressed by Seann William Scott, I loved the heart he brought to the character and the film overall.  Goon 2 to me was a “returning hero” story, as Doug is first broken and then has to rediscover himself, rebuild himself and come back to save the day.  I’m a sucker for those stories (as bad as Highlander 2: The Quickening is, I still love the bit at the beginning where weak old man Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) gets his powers back).  I was very happy to see Marc-André Grondin back as Xavier LaFlamme too, I hadn’t heard that he was in the film.  Kim Coates was just as phenomenal as he was in the first film as Coach Ronnie Hortense and of course Liev Schreiber is always a nice addition to any cast.

For a first time director, Baruchel did a very good job, obviously he’s intimate with the script and the characters, but I really liked some of his camera work.  He had an excellent eye for the on ice shots, and seeing how they did some of them in the bonus features of the Blu Ray was really cool.  One camera rig was setup on a base, with hockey pucks attached to each corner and pushed along the ice with a snow shovel-like handle.  I love that kind of innovation!  More than just a simple hockey movie, more than just a sequel, Goon 2 is another great comedy with light drama and a lot of heart.  It also takes a very real look at the game, and the role of the “goon” in the current day.  Is there still a place for them, or do they end up forgotten and suffering from post-concussion symptoms?  Will they become a circus act, fighting for the enjoyment of “fans” in an event like the film’s “Bruised and Battered” competition?  I don’t know, but I did enjoy how Doug Glatt approached the role and his own future in the game.  The scene where Doug sets his stick against the wall in the hallway was beautiful, and reminded me of the scene in the first film where he wipes off the team logo on the floor of the locker room.  Those are the scenes that made me love these films.

Bottom Line: After watching Goon 2, I played several games of PS3 hockey.  When does the season start again?
Also, I love that they had an “after the credits” scene.

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