Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

I usually don't do anything on here if it's related to a "new" film, as I like to keep this strictly to older and cult films in general. But after heading out to the theater last night to see Luc Besson's latest film, I felt the need to give you some insight into what to expect from the man who gave us classics like La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element. And I don't want to make this long or thorough, because I don't want to bore you. But I feel the need to because unfortunately this film is tanking big time at the box office, and I fear it will disappear before you've had a chance to see this for yourself on the big screen. And let me tell you, if you ever see this film, it needs to be seen on a big screen. So let's begin.

Valerian is quite possibly one of the most fascinating films I've had the pleasure of seeing this year. Is it great? No. But it's entertaining science fiction done in a way that is rarely ever done, by a gifted filmmaker who's hit-or-miss decades-long career has been largely miss for most of us. Valerian is a slight exception though, as it falls right in the middle of being either bad or great. It's good, with enough going for it that you should absolutely go see this in the theater before it's too late, as a home viewing, no matter if it's in HD, 4K or how big your television screen is, just will not do it justice. This is the kind of film that needs to be experienced, not just seen.

Valerian is a visual feast for the eyes. There's so much magic happening visually that it's hard to take it all in at once, even in the moments where the film slows down (and there are many), the insane amount of detail and kaleidoscope of colors will keep your eyes glued to the screen as your brain tries to process it all. And if there's anything that Valerian will be known for, it's for it's eye candy, courtesy of writer/producer/director Luc Besson. There are moments where Valerian feels comfortably familiar, where Besson gives a sort of faint hint at the magic he created in The Fifth Element, and for brief periods of time you get excited. But these moments are few and far between, because like most filmmakers who have been continuously working for the last 30-40 years, their styles and techniques tend to change, and Besson is no different. Thankfully, he still shoots it fun and it's a beauty to see. It's just Besson working on a whole new level (almost entirely CGI and motion-capture), and it doesn't always deliver. And it's because of this that there always seems to be something lacking, like every action sequence and any bit of excitement just does not pack the kind of visceral punch you would expect, always leaving you a bit underwhelmed. While all the CCI allows Besson to explore things he couldn't before using traditional methods, it also takes away what made his classics so special in the first place, when he had to shoot on film, using practical effects, makeup and sets. But you know, it's a fun movie regardless, despite the fact that critics and reviews are trying to convince you that it's dull and boring, because it absolutely is NOT. There's just too much eye candy happening for that to happen.

For all it's visual beauty, Valerian suffers from a number of problems that keep it from being awesome. For starters, it's terribly miscast. I for one can't stand the lead actress Cara Delevingne. I don't know what it is, but I just don't like her. She comes across as a completely unlikable person in real life, and it's hard to get past that when I see her on screen. And while I think Dane DeHaan is a fine actor, he's just completely wrong as the lead, who's supposed to be a handsome, confident, conceded ladies man. And it hurts the entire feel of the film when these 2 leads, who spend nearly every scene together, just have no chemistry. Not that casting actors bigger, more recognizable and more attractive would have made the film any better, because it wouldn't have. But it would have made their characters more believable as they were written.

Secondly, the film is too confusing and epic for it's own good, starting with the title. After having finally watched it, the title Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets doesn't accurately fit the film. And there's so much information being thrown at you at lightning fast speed that it's impossible to understand just what the hell is going on for large periods of time, on top of the fact that important details are kept hidden until the end, but by that point so much has already happened that it's hard to keep track of every single plot point, so you've already forgotten about things that happened earlier in the film. It almost seems as if this easily could have been divided into 2 or 3 different films, which would have allowed them to flesh out storylines and character development, which might have helped it's overall flow.

If there is anything Valerian will be compared to it will be Avatar, and honestly, that's not a bad thing at all. It won't go down as one of Luc Besson's best, but it's definitely not one of his worst either. While I personally prefer Besson's older style, a la everything he did in the 80's and 90's, it also demonstrates his gift of working with CGI, and I'll admit, he handled it better than most directors today who have been dealing with it for years. He knows the importance of perspective (in regards to distance between the camera and something far away in the background), and does his best at making things look natural in the far background, which most filmmakers forget to do and it drive's me nuts.

I will mention though that this film did contain one really solid surprise, and that's Rhianna's performance. Sure she ends up being a minor character in the film overall, but believe it or not, she did an outstanding job and surprised the hell out of me in her limited screen time. Of all the actors, even the surprise cameo's, she's the one that left the biggest impression, and that's coming from someone who doesn't really care for her. She kind of blew me away in this.

I would highly recommend seeing this on the big screen as soon as you can. It doesn't matter if it's in normal digital, XD or 3D, but trust me, you just won't get the same experience watching it at home, no matter how impressive your setup is. But you better do it soon, because it's not making any money here in the states and will likely disappear within a week or two.


Documentary Dynamite!: S is for Stanley

If I ever come across anything that has anything to do with Stanley Kubrick, it will always be on my radar, which was the case with this excellent documentary. Currently on Netflix, I threw it into my list where it stayed for a good month until I finally decided to watch it one Sunday afternoon.

S is for Stanley tells the story of Emilio D'Alessandro, who was Stanley Kubrick's right hand man and personal driver for nearly 30 years. When I say right hand man, I mean this guy literally did everything for Stanley Kubrick, and if you know "anything" about Kubrick, you know how meticulous and detail-oriented he was with "everything", and this charming and highly entertaining documentary will give you deep insight into the daily life of one of the most important filmmakers of our time.

This intimate portrait focuses on the lives of both Kubrick and Emilio, who met while Kubrick was working on A Clockwork Orange in 1970, and remained life-long friends in both their personal lives as well as their professional all the way to Kubrick's last film Eyes Wide Shut. It's an incredibly fascinating journey as we hear from Emilio himself as he tells about how he met the eccentric director, and Kubrick's immediate connection to him and their decades plus relationship where Emilio's responsibilities ranged from driving Kubrick to and from everywhere, handling and transporting some of his famous actors, movie props, scripts, to rescuing animals and getting them their medications.

A touching and charming documentary about one of cinema's most gifted filmmakers, writer/director Alex Infascelli keeps things movie along at a brisk pace, giving great insight to productions of Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, all while Emilio tells these incredible stories through his eyes. I think one of the best aspects of this documentary is the fact that Emilio saved nearly every single little handwritten note Kubrick would leave him on an obsessive basis throughout the years with tasks that he wanted Emilio to accomplish for the day. It's a great view into how Kubrick's mind works on any given day, and how his brain was always focused on minute little details regarding everything, not just his films. S is for Stanley is a must-watch for any Kubrick fan.

How to watch it:
Currently, I think the only way to find it is on Netflix. I can't seem to find it available in DVD form anywhere in the U.S., though there is one in Italy. Amazon doesn't even have it available to rent digitally either. So Netflix will be your only legit option at this time.


Quick Shot Review: Death Race 2000

I hate to admit it, but I've actually seen Paul W.S. Anderson's remake before I actually got around to this original version. And what a shame that was, because while I did actually enjoy Anderson's remake (gasp!), this one is far superior in every way. Let's begin.

Directed by bit-part actor Paul Bartel, this film gives you pretty much everything you'd want in a film like this, and it does not disappoint. It's fast, funny in a very tongue-in-cheek sorta way with it's social satire, with tons of action, explosions, car chases, enough fake pink blood and unnecessary nudity to satisfy your craving. It's campy, but in a violent, nasty and gritty way. What's more, the cast is pretty phenomenal. For starters, the legendary David Carradine stars as the main attraction, Frankenstein. And he carries the entire film squarely on his shoulders, and does a magnificent job of it. He's cruel and sadistic, but you can't help but like him because he's so damn charismatic. But I think the highlight for us was hands-down Sly Stallone as Machine Gun Joe. He was such a sight to behold. Angry, violent, misogynistic and so full of over the top rage, I don't think there was a single moment when he wasn't yelling and it was hilarious. He was so fantastic that we kept saying how they should have made a film entirely on his character. Stallone definitely steals the show in every scene he's in.

I think the glue that holds it all together so well is Paul Bartel's slick direction. Campy, yet somehow sure-handed and beautiful. It's hard to explain, but even with such a low budget and minimal location changes, the production design department really went above and beyond in giving the film a retro futuristic look and vibe in every single scene. It's ultra-stylish when you don't expect it to be, and combined with Bartel's direction, Death Race 2000 looks amazing. It's a helluva rip-roaring good time to boot.


80's Thriller Throwback: Black Moon Rising

Here's a funny story. I revisited this one this past week and as I nearly finished my review, it dawned on me that I might have already done that a few years ago and I just don't remember. I guess that tells you what to expect with Black Moon Rising in general. Anyway, I put in the time to do this, so here it is anyway. LOL

If I remember correctly, Black Moon Rising is the sort of film that kind of came and went with little notice. In fact, it's a film that I'd all but forgotten about for many, many years, until I would randomly come across that sweet cover art. Still, that never made me want to actually seek it out and revisit it. But since I'm knee-deep into the 80's thriller genre, I thought now would be as good a time as any. So let's dig in.

A thief hides important documents in a new experimental car while he's being chased. When the car gets stolen by a career car thief, he must find a way to steal the car so he can steal back his documents, with his life hanging in the balance. 

If you go in with little expectations, you'll thoroughly enjoy this somewhat tame effort. Honestly, it could easily pass for a Made-for-TV movie, but that doesn't mean that it's bad. A bit slow, but still enjoyable for brief images of that sweet car and to actually see Tommy Lee Jones look like he gives a shit and not just phoning it in, which is pretty much all he's done in what seems like forever now, but literally decades in the least. While not terribly exciting, it offers up enough entertainment value to keep you invested through a slick 80's thriller sheen. Casting, score, visuals and tone are all very much 80's, and a product of their time. And that's what makes this particular film so interesting. Had it been made today, it'd be boring as fuck. No lie. Yet it's the very specific time period in which it was made that holds your interest on a visual level. And let's face it, the star of the film is the car, the Black Moon, which just rules on so many levels. Yet for a film called Black Moon Rising, it's shockingly absent for a large majority of the run-time. Still, when it does show up, it's pretty fucking awesome.

In case you weren't aware, this is co-written by John Carpenter, also taking a "story by" credit here the same year he directed Big Trouble in Little China. And honestly, you'd never guess that just by watching it. It doesn't really carry a Carpenter vibe or flavor, but I will admit that had he directed this himself, it would have turned out much better, and certainly more stylish and interesting. Not that director Harley Cokliss is bad, because he's not. In fact, I love his work in Malone, his next film the following year with Burt Reynolds. But while there are certainly moments of pizzazz, there are just as many that are plain uninspiring. And unfortunately the trailer really sells you on the flashy scenes, which makes the film look awesome, but as a whole, it drags quite a bit and never really packs any sort of punch either on an emotional or visceral level. Too bad too, because it has a lot of the right ingredients, just not enough action or excitement to keep it all together. Still, had Carpenter directed it, just his visual eye candy alone would have made this a better movie by leaps and bounds.


Glow: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Going into the new Netflix show Glow, I had no idea that it was based on an actual all-women's wrestling team from the 80's. I just thought it was some really creative entertainment. In fact, I knew nothing about it going in, other than it was a new Netflix production about women's wrestling set in the 80's. So we went in fairly cold, and ended up loving the shit out of it. In fact, Glow was so damn good that it was hard not to binge-watch the entire season. It's an interesting idea for sure, and the team behind this show effectively manage to mix just the right amount of laughs and drama with brilliant casting and story.

Not knowing anything about this, imagine my surprise to see the impossibly cute Alison Brie "and" Marc Maron, who I just love in his IFC show Maron, which is also on Netflix. The supporting cast of mostly new actors and actresses also impress. I'm not going to get into the whole storyline and possibly ruin any surprises in store, so I'll just leave saying that it's a well scripted show, with just the right balance of humor and drama, full of strong performances and being set in the 80's, it's like nostalgia on crack!

When we finished the show, we were so bummed that it was over and that we have to wait until next season for more episodes, so we decided to keep the Glow vibe going by following up the finale with this excellent doc, which happened to premiere on Netflix before the show did. But again, I didn't know anything about it until I saw the show.

This fascinating doc is just as fun and engrossing as the show, if not more. Here we get to meet the actual real Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling in new interviews as well as vintage footage. They tell their stories about how they even got to be on that crazy show in the first place, what they're doing now and Glow's long lasting legacy and cult status. It truly is one of the most fun documentaries on Netflix right now, even if you're not a fan of wrestling. You don't have to be to enjoy this flashback to the 80's. It's a lot of fun. Check out the trailers for both the show and the documentary below.


Cutthroat Island Film Review: A Swashbuckling Great Time

Directed by: Renny Harlin
Category: Action/Adventure

I hate to admit it, but the only reason I stayed away from this film was all the bad word of mouth and negative press upon it's original release. It didn't help either that it would ultimately go on to become one of the biggest box office disasters of the century, resulting in the downfall of Carolco Studio's. Nevermind the fact that I actually really loved Renny Harlin's work as a director back then. No sir, I jumped on the bandwagon and as a result, I never saw this film until now. After finally having seen it, one thought keeps running through my mind. "What an idiot I've been".

Despite all my dumb unfounded reservations going in, Cutthroat Island manages to be hands-down one of the most fun experiences watching a film I've had in a long while. Sure I see great films all the time, but it's rare when one can match the sheer budget, spectacle and talent that easily makes this one of the best pirate movies ever made. And I'll be honest, I'm not much of a fan of pirate films. I have seen the first Pirates of the Caribbean, but I quickly learned these types of films are just not for me. So I suppose that could be another reason I stayed clear of this one for so many years. So imagine my surprise to discover that I really, really loved this one.

While it's easy to point figures and nitpick why this film did so terribly at the box office, none of them can excuse it's poor performance, when the reality is that it's quite an entertaining big budget spectacle if there ever was one. And it's all put together like a pro by director/producer Renny Harlin, here doing far more than he's ever proven behind the camera up until this point and since. If there was ever a film that could define just what a director could do with a massive budget, practical effects and stunts and a whole lot of talent, it's this film. Though most would probably consider Die Hard 2 (my personal favorite in the series) his highlight in terms of production, I have to give it to Cutthroat Island just in terms of it's sheer massive audacity. It's truly a sight to behold and when you watch films like any of the PotC for example, this film proves how much harder and just flat out better it was over 20 years ago, when CGI wasn't readily available and they had to do everything practically.

Again, this is all coming from someone who generally doesn't like pirate films, but you just can't deny the excitement, fun, thrills and insane stuntwork provided by Harlin and company with this one. And while there are a scene or two where it's obvious Geena Davis' face has been superimposed on a stunt actress, there are other moments where she's obviously doing the stunts herself and it's mindblowing. Same with Mathew Modine, who also jumps smack into the action himself flying by rope from one ship to another and it's damn impressive. Again, these swashbuckling films aren't for me, but I just couldn't help but have an absolute blast with this.

Is it perfect? No, but it doesn't have to be. Honestly, I only have one single complaint, and it's with the casting of Davis and Modine. Geena Davis is a fine actress, but she seems ill-fitted for the role and just doesn't sell it that well. Yes she handles the physicality of it and never phones it in, but she just doesn't come across as a natural badass. I don't know, there's just something missing and she never quite hits those beats. Mathew Modine comes off much better. While it does take a little bit to get used to seeing him in this kind of film, it's soon apparent that the guy can deliver, and you know, he's likable and charming and it works. And then there's the legendary Frank Langella, who steals the show as the villain, channeling some serious Skeletor vibes a la his turn in Masters of the Universe. So good.

I don't think all the negativity against this film from the onset is fair at all, or even justified. I think you'll find that this is in fact a very fun and well-made film. It's exhilarating, exciting, beautiful and most importantly....fun. Just the visuals alone, courtesy of director Renny Harlin and Cinematographer Peter Levy (Predator 2, Ricochet) will floor you. Though he had already changed his visual style with his previous film Cliffhanger, he would go back to his more signature style that he delivered with Cinematographer Oliver Wood on his classics The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Die Hard 2 for this film, and the results are incredible! Despite the fact that this was a blast from start to finish, my eyes were glued to the screen and my mind blown by what I was seeing, things achieved practically, on such a grande scale, and somehow, people lost sight of this fact and for reasons I don't understand, this film tanked. Instead of being heralded for it's competently brilliant film work, it was crucified both critically and by it's box office. Too bad, because it was quite an excellent film full of surprises.

The action needs to be seen to be believed. The action sequences presented in here are nothing short of spectacular, with each new one blowing the previous sequence out of the water....literally. The pyrotechnics are insane, with explosions galore left and right, bodies flying, cannon's bursting, ships exploding and guns blazing. But while they're all pretty great, none of them beat the last act, where 2 ships pull along side each other and proceed to blow the shit out of each other, all while hundreds of extras battle to the death using swords, guns, knives and their fists. It's some of the most impressive technical achievements ever put to film, and I just can't stress enough how much of this goes to Renny Harlin's eye. He was on fire here, and though his next film, The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) would mark the end of his winning streak just a year later, we at least have a handful of classics that have endured the test of time, and that we can learn to rediscover and appreciate all over again.

If there was ever a film that taught me never to judge a book by it's cover, or to heed negative word-of-mouth, it's this one. Despite all the chips stacked against it, Cutthroat Island manages to be quite frankly one of the best action adventure films ever made, and one that needs to be experienced if you've never had the pleasure.

How to see it:
Currently on Hulu Plus in HD, and available from a variety of releases on both DVD and Blu Ray for very cheap.


90's Thriller Throwback: Flatliners

There are only 3 things I remember about Flatliners. 1, that it was a slick looking thriller, 2, that the cast was pretty great, and 3, that it was one of Schumacher's better films out of his vast and diverse filmography. Outside of that, I remember virtually nothing about this (or so I thought), even though I have seen it before, but it's literally been decades. Thankfully, it's currently available through a number of online streaming services and readily available, so let's dig in.

When a group of medical students, led by Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland), experiment with near death experiments to see what happens once you're clinically dead, their competitiveness drives them to push the boundaries by staying under longer. They soon realize that there comes a price, and dark secrets of their pasts come back to haunt them. But are they real? Or or they hallucinating? 

The first thing I'll say is that Flatliners is undoubtedly Joel Schumacher's most stylish film to date. And this is coming from someone who loves his work with Lost Boys and Falling Down, but here, he's on a completely different level of slick and I can only assume a large portion of this is due to cinematographer legend Jan de Bont's (Die Hard, Basic Instinct, Black Rain and director of Speed) involvement. There was so much style in this that it acts as another character of the film. You're constantly immersed in the vivid colors that bathe each and every frame, and it's these bright colors that gives Flatliners a surreal quality. There are sequences that are awash in a single color, like for example, a sequence of Julia Roberts walking through her house while investigating a strange sound. The entire sequence is bathed in red, and there's no rhyme or reason for it, but it looks amazing. And that's what this film offers, a sort of kaleidoscope of colors and deeply rich in style, giving you a visual experience that will blow you away while simultaneously stimulate your senses.

As a thriller, Flatliners delivers the goods. It's visual eye candy certainly stimulates the senses, but the story keeps things moving at a solid pace courtesy of The Craft screenwriter Peter Filardi. It also helps that the cast is damn near impressive. This is like a dream-team of hot talented young actors in their prime, and if it wasn't for their specific involvement, I doubt the film would carry on all these years as well as it has. Flatliners is successful because of their talents. You imagine a film like this being made today with the actors we have and I can guarantee you that it won't hit the mark nearly as well as this one does, because the 90's were a different time, and an ensemble cast of talented young actors today just wouldn't or couldn't deliver as well.

This film works so well because it was made at just the right time. Schumacher smack in the middle of his creative streak, and the high point of his career, a knockout ensemble cast at the peak of their star-power, and some of the most alluring and impressive camera work to ever grace the genre, courtesy of 2 legends in the field. It really delivers on all fronts, and one of the best things about it is that it doesn't take it's time getting things started. Flatliners kicks into gear from it's very first frame and never lets up, resulting in a wholly satisfying thriller experience via the 90's. It's a surreal visual spectacle ripe with strong performances, style and most of all, substance. So strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

How to see it:
Currently as of this posting it's available for FREE on the Crackle app, and also on Hulu Plus. You can rent it in HD on Amazon for $3.99 as well. If you need a physical copy, there's no shortage of avenues or formats to choose from. The Laserdisc, VHS, DVD and Blu Ray all come rather cheaply, and it's even included in a number of DVD collections.


RoboDoc Trailer is Here!!

As you may or may not know, the magnificent documentary team behind the excellent docs "Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser 1 & 2" and "You're So Cool Brewster!: The Story of Fright Night 1 & 2" have done it again with their new retrospective doc on Robocop called "RoboDoc: The Creation of Robocop"! I've been following the progress of this journey since it's beginning, and though there's still no firm date set for it's release, they decided to release this amazing trailer in honor of Robocop's 30th Anniversary, having been released on this day in 1987. Watch this amazingly kickass trailer and be sure to read some important info below regarding it's release. Enjoy!

TODAY (JULY 17TH) MARKS 30 YEARS of the RoboCop franchise and 1987’s original seminal sci-fi classic movie.
We’re celebrating the anniversary in style!
Here’s the OFFICIAL TRAILER for our upcoming retrospective documentary ROBODOC: THE CREATION OF ROBOCOP. Crafted by our Creative Producer and Editor Eastwood Allen.
This comprehensive documentary promises to explore all things RoboCop and provides an extensive look at every aspect of the original trilogy, plus its ongoing legacy.
We wish to thank our backers, the docs contributors and everyone who has supported us along the way.
Props to our friend BLOOD + CHROME for his sleek end 'RoboDoc' animation.
We want to give a special mention to our recent musical collaborators (featured in the trailer) who are contributing original material to the soundtrack of the doc to coincide with our composed score from Sean Schafer Hennessy.
These guys provide the soundtrack..
Lost YearsSayak StrikerBLOOD + CHROMEProtector 101KalaxArcade High and Timecop1983.
Here's a dose of Robo-nostalgia.


Silverado Film Review

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Category: Western

I've always been a casual fan of westerns. Meaning, I enjoy them when I come across a good one, but I don't go out of my way to find them. Of course this also means I've missed out on a whole lot of good ones, which I'm only now discovering, because for every Tombstone I've seen, I'm now learning I've missed out on others like Silverado.

Silverado has been on my radar for literally decades. I've always been aware of it, and have always known it was written and directed by Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, in a time when westerns were slowly fading away from popularity, but I just never seemed to get around to it as the old saying goes. The 80's weren't totally devoid of the genre though, there were a few exceptions like Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider for example, but westerns were few and far between during this decade. When I recently stumbled upon a fun article about this film and it's lasting impact on the genre and it's insatiably fun vibe that still delivers the goods, I felt it was time to finally get off my ass and check it out. And as luck would have it, Hulu Plus just recently added it to their lineup. So let's dig in.

A diverse group of men cross paths in the most unlikely of ways, and head to the small town of Silverado. When injustice is handed down by a brutal sheriff, they band together to put a stop to it.

After finally having seen it, I finally understand it's appeal and almost cult-ish status. Silverado is hands-down one of the best westerns I've ever seen. Ripe with rich character development, an outstanding cast, and a fun vibe that never ceases to please and entertain, Silverado defied the odds and became one of the best, most entertaining westerns ever made.

Kasdan doesn't try to modernize this in any way. It's an old-school western through and through. Nothing is added to give the film any sort of punch. It's the razor-sharp script, courtesy of Kasdan and his brother Mark, and the films insanely talented cast that gives the film every breath of life it needs. And it's flawless, resulting in one of the most enjoyable western experiences ever produced.

The cast is simply fantastic in this, led by the wonderful Kevin Kline and Scott Glen in understated performances. They're soon joined by drifter Danny Glover, who would also co-star in the excellent Harrison Ford thriller Witness and Spielberg's The Color Purple the same year. His character adds much of the glue needed to hold the group together, and to help propel the story along in all the right directions. Kevin Costner joins the fun as a young, childish and naive gunslinger who can't help but act like a rambunctious kid most of the time, but can use a six-shooter like nobody else when the time calls for it. And it's really Costner who steals the show here. I have never seen him act so "lively" before in a film and his exuberance and excitement in nearly every scene shines through, leaving a lasting impression. And it's because of his role here that he would become a breakout leading man the following year with The Untouchables and No Way Out. These are the main players, but it's also the supporting cast that shines so bright, and as much as I want to talk about them, I think I'll just leave it be for you to discover on your own when or if you sit down to watch this for the first time. Let me just say, the constant "holy shit he's in this too?!" I kept yelling throughout the film was just a constant reminder of all the pleasant surprises this film continued to give me.

As great as the script and acting are in this film, attention must also be paid to Kasdan's solid direction behind the camera. The film opens with one of the best openings I've seen in any film from any genre, and it's a very fast indicator of what you have in store for the remainder of the film. Kasdan shoots with restrained precision, but it's also bold and exciting when it needs to be. For all the moments that are beautiful and subtle, there are just as many that are gritty and brutal, but never in an over-indulgent way, striking just the right balance of both. What makes it all the more impressive is that Kasdan had only directed 2 films prior to this, and what he was able to pull off in a genre he hadn't yet tackled before is so damn impressive. Not only did he deliver one of the best westerns ever made, he did so having never tackled that genre before and did a far better job than most who had been stuck in that specific genre for years, knocking it out of the park.

Hands down one of the best film experiences I've ever had, and absolutely one of the best westerns. Every minute was a welcome and pleasant surprise. An outstanding cast, strong script, solid direction and a no-frills approach that lends to an exhilarating experience that builds and builds to a highly satisfying climax.