Darke Reviews | Fury (2014)

Ok, I did want to see Book of Life again, but was at least curious on this one. It was also a friends going away party and he wanted to see this, so my responsibilities as a reviewer and a friend aligned for a change of pace. This one almost – almost – got the tag trailer fail on it. The trailer promised me Band of Brothers in a Tank with a semi decent amount of action and what looked to be a potential romantic subplot somewhere. It was close enough in many respects that it doesn’t fail as hard as others have in the past.

Yes, but if the trailer sold it, should I still see it.

 (TRIGGER WARNING there is some content discussed that could be sensitive to some readers)

Well that’s a good question to ask. The film was written,produced, and directed by David Ayer. Ayer directed the gritty cop drama with Michael Peña End of Watch and the recent Governator bomb Sabotage. His writing includes, U-571, Fast and the Furious (the first one), Training Day, and Dark Blue The man knows gritty. DC should hire him if they want to keep their track record of gritty, visceral, humourless films. He seems to be particularly good at them, point in fact, he seems to have refined it to an art form by now.  He is unforgiving in his story and characterizations, to the point I was ready to walk out twice during the film. Thats right walk out. Two scenes were so uncomfortable to watch I debated leaving. They weren’t particularly graphic in any way but the psychological violence in them was just over the edge for me. They were flat out disturbing and in many respects somewhat depressing.

Now as much as I hated seeing those screens, they represent a keen awareness of history and behavior during the invasion of Germany towards the end of World War II. I have seen Kelly’s Heroes and the Battle of the Bulge. They were products of their times and had rose coloured glasses on when it came to the Americans liberating and winning during their involvement in the war. Both were excellent and entertaining films, don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t quite capture the horror of war. It’s not what was wanted or needed then. Modern audiences want that realism. They want that dark edge. Congratulations you have it. You have two scenes of strongly implied, but not shown, rape. You have psychological torture and the breaking down of a very green soldier. You have any number of major extremities being removed by large calibre fire. You have the horror of war for just over two hours. Nothing in this film makes it seem glorious or glamourous. It is an unforgiving hell. One specifically designed to strip you of any ideals or humanity. Few punches are pulled.

The acting, I have to give a wow here. Brad Pitt shows how solid an actor he is and that he can control himself and bottle it all in, with most of the strongest elements of his performance from body language.  Jon Bernthal (Walking Dead) takes a huge departure from his previous work and gives an equally visceral performance. Michael Peña continues to impress and I hope continues to do a wide range of films. Logan “Percy Jackson” Lerman showed an improved range over his previous works. The most standout performance goes to the much maligned Shia Lebeouf. I don’t like him on personal and professional grounds. He was nearly unrecognizable in this role due to good acting.

Honestly this film screams Oscar Bait. The acting was excellent, the sets, the production design, all of it was designed to be Oscar worthy.


It sounds like I really liked the film with all the praise above. This is the difference between professional and emotional attachment to a work. Artistically the movie is a well made war movie in nearly every aspect, but from an an entertainment value – It kinda failed. I really did not enjoy my time watching it

It wan’t that it was boring, but because it verged on too uncomfortable.

So the final verdict:

If you love war movies. Go see this

If you are a completist for any actor mentioned- go see this.

If you don’t like war films at all – avoid it at all costs.

Otherwise – give this one a pass. It’s so good. So real , it stopped being entertaining and was just …off.

Darke Reviews | The Monuments Men (2014)

Been a few weeks since something came out I got to see, so thats the real reason for the delay here. This week is one of two movies for review, the other has more bite to it I hope. The Monuments Men tells a story I’ve not seen in film and certainly wasn’t told about in history class. It has quite a few things going for it in that regard. Telling a story from World War II that hasn’t before is actually quite hard these days. Let’s get into it shall we?

The story is adapted from a book by Robert Edsel titled “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History”. It tells the story of the MFAA, Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program, a sadly little known unit established in 1943 to protect the cultural property in war areas during World War II. The screen play was adapted by Clooney himself with character actor and sometimes collaborator Grant Heslov (True Lies, Good Night and Good Luck, Ides of March). The movie focuses on one small group of the department and their attempt to rescue some priceless and personal artifacts from the Nazi’s as the war comes to an end. They face resistance from Nazi’s, Russians, and even their own people as they try to protect something the military itself cared little about during the war. Is a piece of art worth a mans life?

Clooney also directs this film, which combined with the script leaves most of the blame on him where the film goes wrong. Which, sadly, is quite a few places. One of the key functions of story is a narrative arc, with a a rise and fall in events that drives the characters forward through some form of conflict. The movie fails in that basic element of story. Yes, events happen. Yes, there are beats of cliche with moments of sadness or levity, but there is really no dramatic tension.

I wish I could say that there was, but the film just delivers a series of moments losely connected to each other by the plot of trying to find pieces of lot art. Few of the moments have any real weight to them and the moments that do are glossed over in such a hollow way that it loses the intensity it should have. Some are told out a strong dramatic order so that when you should be going “Oh damn…” you are simply shaking your head sadly. Even the few deaths that occur among the members of the cast come across as cliche and something you’ve seen a dozen times before and because of that become little more than a beat that has no meaning.

It’s unfortunate that as the movie pulls together an amazing cast of comedic talent that could have delivered some of the most dramatic performances of their careers. John Goodman, Bill Murray are wasted. Clooney’s own sense of timing seems off as he was focused three ways on script, acting and directing. The only high point is the interactions between Blanchett and Damon. Blanchetts character actually has the most depth of any of them, with the only arc worth a damn.

All of that said, the movie has some very pretty moments and some beautiful art. Art that would have been lost if not for the real men and women of the MFAA. The statues, the paintings, the lives displayed and lost. For all its flaws, of which there are many, the movie does remind us of a dark time in history that is quickly losing its weight in our modern world.


The Monuments Men is an ok film that tells a story that needed to be told; but as a film it nearly fails. It wants to tell a story bigger than its capable and in that the weaknesses become apparent.

If you were interested in seeing it, its worth a matinee pass at best. The art alone and the history is worth it.

Otherwise, give this one a pass this weekend and save your money for Valentines day, or some other day where you might need money.

This should be a busy week for reviews, so sit tight folks!!