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Hatfields & McCoys

Hatfields & McCoys is a 2012 History Channel three-episode miniseries about the legendary feud between the two families. It has a pretty solid cast, starring Kevin Costner as “Devil Anse” Hatfield and Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy, and featuring Tom Berenger, Powers Boothe, Jena Malone, and many other recognizable faces. It was directed by Kevin Reynolds, who is perhaps best known for directing the Kevin Costner classics Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Waterworld.

The Hatfield-McCoy feud was a nasty and ongoing rivalry between two families that raged for years. It started over the murder of a McCoy, it escalated with accusations of pig stealing, and it resulted in a number of fights, battles, legal trials, and deaths over the course of a few years. These were the days of pride and honor, and you were expected to fight if someone insulted your good name. This miniseries goes over most of the events that escalated the feud. You see why they started fighting and why they never stopped. It’s a story that can’t be confined to a two-hour running time.

It’s pretty solid for the most part. It has a tendency to slow down and lose momentum from time to time, but there is enough action and snappy dialog to keep things flowing. I think they spent a bit too much time on the love triangle between Johnse Hatfield, Roseanna McCoy, and Nancy McCoy. It seemed like they threw it in there to pad out the running time. Surprisingly, Kevin Costner doesn’t have the worst accent in the production. Bill Paxton’s Southern drawl is terrible, but it becomes a lot more bearable if you put it on mute.

I didn’t watch it when it first came aired on the History Channel. I only saw it for the first time a week ago on Netflix. It was good. I liked it enough to write about it. Check it out if you like Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, docudramas, or lengthy feuds between families that aren’t yours.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Twister (film, not the awesome game)

Twister was the first Hollywood movie released on DVD. That alone is reason enough to watch this movie. Jan de Bont (Speed) directs Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister. They play a couple of storm chasers who track down tornadoes. For science.

Helen Hunt plays Jo, a meteorologist with a traumatic tornado-ridden past. Bill Paxton plays Bill Harding, her husband who shows up seeking her signature to finalize their divorce so he can marry his bitch girlfriend Melissa (Jami Gertz). Bill and Jo used to partners, both on the field and in the sack, but now Bill is out of the tornado chasing game. Jo has developed a tornado researching device based on Bill’s designs that they codenamed DOROTHY. Bill and Melissa tag along with Jo and her team of storm chasers as they attempt to launch DOROTHY before a rival team of storm chasers launch their own rip-off version of DOROTHY and steal all the credit.

Cary Elwes plays the rival storm chaser, Jonas Miller. He has a corporate sponsorship. He is like Team X-Bladz and Jo’s side is like Team Pup ‘N Suds. And if you don’t get that reference I feel sorry for you. Jonas swoops in and tries to take all the good twisters, but he doesn’t understand them like Jo or Bill. Cary Elwes has a ridiculous accent in this movie. I can’t tell if he’s trying to be Southern or Midwestern, but c’mon, you’re Cary Elwes and we know you are English and we want to hear your English accent. You don’t see Hugh Grant trying to talk like an American.

Bill is trying to move on with his life with Melissa, but he can’t escape the fact that storm chasing is in his blood. And so he returns to his old ways, and starts to go on the hunt for the chance to release DOROTHY into a tornado so that they can use science to develop an early warning system. With each new and more powerful tornado he experiences, he becomes closer to Jo and more distant to Melissa.

By the time the final and most powerful tornado shows up, a motherfucking F5, Bill and Jo are fully reconciled and Melissa can fuck off. Bill and Jo manage to deploy DOROTHY and tornadoes will never again plagued mankind. Happy endings rule.

This is a weird blockbuster. It has a bunch of actors that you recognize, but none of them are really movie stars. Bill Paxton is famous, but he’s not Brad Pitt. Helen Hunt was really big for a while but she faded away. You recognize Cary Elwes from the Princess Bride, Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. You might even recognize Jeremy Davies (Daniel Faraday from Lost). But most of the actors aren’t that big. The special effects were cutting edge at the time, but they look dated now. Flying cows just aren’t that impressive anymore.

Twister is an action film, but sometimes it seems like a horror movie. Especially how the tornadoes seem to stalk Jo. She can’t escape them. They killed her father and they keep coming after her. It’s pretty suspicious how each one of the twisters becomes more violent. First it’s a weak F1 which escalates into an F2, and then there’s and F2, and later an F3. Then an F4 almost wipes out Jo and her group and tries to kill her aunt. And then an F5 forms and heads straight for her and almost kills her, mirroring the F5 that killed her dad. Nature is a bitch and it hates Helen Hunt.

Watching this movie now is a trip. This movie came out in 1996 and you forget about how there was no technology back then. They storm chasers communicate by radio, not by iPhone or Droids. They have archaic computers and software to simulate weather patterns, not with iPads or knockoff tablets. Alan Ruck’s whole character could be replaced by Tom Tom or any standard GPS.

I feel like everyone has seen this movie. You almost had to. But it’s not that good. It’s really dated, it doesn’t hold up. It’s a decent story of man versus nature, but I always thought that man versus bad man with a gun is a better story.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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True Lies

True Lies. What a great title. That might be the best part of the movie. James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar, Terminator… seriously, how do you not know James Cameron?) directs Arnold Shwarzengger in another blockbuster event. This time Arnie plays Harry Tasker, a family man with a wife and daughter who think he’s just a computer salesman… but he’s really a government super agent.

This is an over-the-top action film that doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a celebration of action films, complete with elaborate deaths and comical one-liners.

Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger) is a premier agent on the Omega Sector counter-terrorist task force. He hangs out with Tom Arnold riding horses through downtown buildings stopping terrorists from terrorizing. His latest foe is the Crimson Jihad, lead by a guy named Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik). His wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter Dana (a young Eliza Dushku) don’t know that he’s a spy, they think he’s just a regular guy.

His wife Helen thinks that he’s so boring and predictable that she decides to cheat on him. She is interested in a sleaze ball named Simon (Bill Paxton) and Harry gets jealous. He decides to spice things up a bit, but his plan backfires when members of the Crimson Jihad kidnap him and Helen.

Helen learns about Harry’s secret life as a spy and is hurt and betrayed, but gets over it pretty quickly when he starts killing terrorists and kicking ass. They learn about the Crimson Jihad’s master plan, which involves a nuke and a US city. Helen and Harry get separated, and Helen and Tia Carrere have a limo catfight. Harry saves Helen, and just when things look like they will be ok, they find out that the terrorists kidnapped their daughter.

Harry jumps into a Harrier jet and goes to rescue his darling daughter Dana. There’s some explosions and close calls and ultimately the main terrorist Aziz ends up walking around on the Harrier with an AK-47 before Schwarzenegger makes him fall off the jet, he gets stuck on one of the missiles, and Arnie fires the missile and blows up a helicopter full of terrorists with their fearless leader. That’s symbolism. He was mad.

Arnold Schwarzenegger does it all in this movie. He rides horses and Harrier jets. He tells terrorists how he’s going to kill them, and kills them that way. This movie is almost a spoof of action films. Jamie Lee Curtis drops an Uzi down the stairs and somehow kills ten terrorists. Everyone is so witty right before they murder somebody.

James Cameron knows how to direct. The story and premise aren’t believable. Arnold Shwarzengger is not a good actor. But that doesn’t matter. Every scene is entertaining. The movie flows, it gets you hooked, it rarely drags or gets boring. If you accept the world that he’s established within the first ten minutes, you will appreciate the rollercoaster ride that he takes you on. It might not be a good movie, but it’s a fun movie, and having fun is good.

Critically Rated at 12/17

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