JayDee's Movie Musings

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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
2012

Directed by
Joss Whedon

Written by
Joss Whedon

Starring
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Evans
Mark Ruffalo
Chris Hemsworth
Scarlett Johansson
Tom Hiddleston
Samuel L. Jackson


The Avengers


Plot – The Cosmic Cube. A device of immense power. And it's just been stolen by the God of Mischief, Loki. In conjunction with the alien race, the Chitauri, he plans to pulverise and enslave the Earth. No one man can stop them. And on that day The Avengers were born – to fight foes no single hero could withstand.

First off let me say that score will in all likeliehood drop. While I'll still probably keep it around the 4.5/4.5+ level I don't think this is one of my fabled 5 out of 5 films. So why that score just now? Well because it's still fresh in my mind and I'm still in the middle of geeking out: having a nerdgasm I believe the kids are calling it these days! If I was on twitter and was tweeting my thoughts during the film it would just have been a constant fanboy stream of “OMG!”, “Awesome Hulk moment!”, “Awesome Iron Man moment!”, “Robert Downey Jr. rules!”, “Did you see that?!!!”, “Iron Man v Thor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, “Holy **** the SHIELD Helicarrier!” and on and on. However I shall attempt to be a touch more eloquent and loquacious here.

If like me you were left with a longing to slit your wrists following Nolan's bleak, nihilistic Dark Knight then this is the prefect antithesis. It's bright, bold, colourful, funny. What a 'comic book movie' should be in my eyes. As with the best superhero movies to date (Iron Man, Spider-Man 2, X-Men First Class, Batman Begins etc) the reason this is such a roaring success is that it really does feel like a comic book brought to life. There are so many moments that if you just froze them you'd swear you were looking at a panel in a comic book

I'll be up front and admit to being a massive worshipper of the superhero, both in comic book and movie form. And as far as comic book movies go this is just about the holy grail; getting Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk etc all in one movie? Didn't think I would ever really see that. So this will be more the thoughts of a comic loving geek, than the review of a respected critic (me respected? Yeah right! ) Perhaps it won't do much to get the respect of the high brow posters on here that I strive for at times, but I always aim to be honest about my likes and dislikes.

When it comes to selecting directors and actors Marvel Studios have made some interesting and inspired choices (Downey, Favreau, Branagh, Shane Black etc) and they have made another in Joss Whedon. While it may have seemed the perfect choice to comic book geeks like myself it was still a bit of a risk. After all his top TV shows Buffy and Angel; while landmark, touchstone shows were not exactly world beaters in terms of ratings. His last two shows lasted for just 14 (Firefly) and 26 (Dollhouse) episodes respectively before being axed. And his other foray onto the big screen, Serenity, grossed just $38.9 million worldwide; coming up just short of its $39 million budget. So handing him the reigns of a $200m budgeted film still must have been a big call, and one that other studios may have balked at.

And Whedon has more than repaid their faith in him. An incredible amount of credit is due to the script he has penned. While it's never going to go down as one of the all-time classics, or be nominated for any awards, when you take into account the potential obstacles and pitfalls for me it will most likely be one of the most impressive accomplishments of the year. As well as being full of witty dialogue it performs a terrific juggling act that not only gives every character their moments to shine, but does so in a way that doesn't feel forced or shoe-horned in. It feels like they all belong and that they are all a vital element of the Avengers, they aren't just pointless additions to stoke up the fires of fanboy excitement. Whedon is able to find time to give just about every character their own arc and story; whether it be trying to find their way in a modern world (Cap), trying to prove they truly are a selfless hero (Iron Man) or trying to control the beast within (Hulk).They entertain individually but also have a number of entertaining conflicts/relationships between themselves. Captain America and Iron Man have a bit of a bickering, odd couple relationship; Tony Stark and Bruce Banner connect over their intellect and the darkness within that they are striving to control; Agent Coulson (played winningly and with great comic timing once again by Clark Gregg) has a connection to just about everyone and is instrumental in bringing them together.

Perhaps predictably the character who benefits most from Whedon's involvement is Scarlet Johansson's Black Widow. Whedon's penchant for a strong heroine allows her to shine. While the character brings over the kick-ass element she showed in Iron Man 2, there is a lot more to her this time out. She is smart, cunning and more than feels like a worthy addition to the team. So much so that she's gone from a character I wasn't all that bothered about to someone I'd really like to see get her own film. Marvel have strayed from the safe superhero ground recently with epic fantasy (Thor) and period adventure (Captain America), and I would be really intrigued to see an espionage thriller from them. Oh and as someone who's never really been overly fond of Scarlett Johansson I found her extremely sexy with her red hair and kick-ass attitude.

The acting throughout is a big success. It's quite clear that these guys feel comfortable in the characters, and have benefited greatly from already playing and learning their character in their individual movies. Downey is still excellent, pretty much a perfect fit for Stark as he throws out one caustic line after another, frequently at the expense of either Captain America or Thor. And he would arguably be the runaway star of the piece if it wasn't for the surprise of The Hulk. Of all Marvel's A-list characters he has had the toughest ride on the bigscreen, with two entries which didn't exactly set the world alight. And they are now onto their third actor in less than 10 years. And this time they seem to have struck gold. Mark Ruffalo uses his immensely affable charms to bring heart to the character of Bruce Banner, meaning that when he transforms into the rampaging green monster we still care about him. While Stark still has the wittiest lines, Hulk is able to deliver some of the film's biggest laughs. And as with Black Widow my interest is now piqued to see another Hulk film

The opening stretch of the film actually takes a little bit of time to really get going as all the individual parts of the team are assembled. I was beginning to get a little apprehensive that it just wasn't going to live up to my high expectations, but those fears were soon allayed as soon as the team starts to come together and the film moves up a few gears. From then on Whedon just delivers one thrill after another, one great moment after another. And I'm just glad cinemas are in darkness, otherwise people would likely just have seen me with a silly grin on my face for most of the film

These days it takes a lot to really stand out in the action stakes. Thanks to the incredible special effects available to seemingly anyone and their mother we've grown accustomed to cities being destroyed, whole new worlds presented to us and battles of epic scope. That's why it's such a treat to have some incredible moments of action here which still wow and astonish. It's achieved through some creative set-pieces and the fact that we care for the characters. Highlights include the early Captain America v Thor v Iron Man battle and some of the scenes aboard the Heli-carrier. However everything is overshadowed by the jaw-dropping finale set in New York as the Avengers finally unite as one to take on Loki and the alien menace, complete with some freaky metal, serpent-like monstrosities. Oh and another occasion were the special effects shine is in Iron Man's donning of his suits, just so cool.

There are some flaws of course, though they were of the expected kind really. Flaws that just come with the territory of doing an Avengers film, at least unless you go for three and a half/four hours. Trying to rope in so many characters there are always going to be those that are sacrificed, and in this case Hawkeye is arguably that sacrifice. Under Loki's spell he is sidelined for a large portion of the film, though even he is able to recover towards the film's climax and ooze a bad ass charisma. Another complaint you could level at the film is the actual plot which is amongst the most basic you are likely to see and could have come from any 12 year old comic book fan. Loki teams up with some aliens to conquer Earth and the Avengers try to stop them. That's pretty much it. And yet it doesn't really matter. It's enough to get the team together and from then on it's just a marvellous display of energy, imagination and invention; all delivered by some excellent direction from Whedon. Oh and the aliens themselves don't exactly have any depth, feeling like little more than cannon fodder for our heroes. So thankfully Tom Hiddleston continues his fine form from Thor as the villainous Loki.

Earlier on this year I remarked how the little underdog Chronicle had laid down an admirable gauntlet to the big superhero names to come. Well The Avengers has risen to that challenge and then some, and now it's over to Spidey and The Bat. After this however to those two I wish them luck, they're gonna need it.

Think I'll leave it there. I could just keep going for another while yet but I think that's more than enough, and I'm not sure how many people will even have made it this far!

Conclusion – Whedon has delivered an incredible and rousing success of a superhero flick, full of energy, colour and a clear fondness for the characters. Is it the pinnacle of comic book movies? I'm not going to say that this early on. But it is certainly up there at the peak along with the likes of Iron Man, Batman Begins and Spider-Man 2. As well as being one of the best pure summer blockbusters of the century alonngside the likes of the first Pirates of the Caribbean, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Star Trek



Avengers? 5/5?



I may never understand superhero fandom.



All good people are asleep and dreaming.
First off let me say that score will in all likeliehood drop. While I'll still probably keep it around the 4.5/4.5+ level I don't think this is one of my fabled 5 out of 5 films. So why that score just now? Well because it's still fresh in my mind and I'm still in the middle of geeking out: having a nerdgasm
Double positive rep for admitting it.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Dammit! Saw a new post here and thought it'd be your review for The Warriors. Bloody Avengers!?!? It doesn't even have Steed in it.
Sorry about that HK. Working on my Warriors review just now, will be up over the next day or two hopefully.

I may never understand superhero fandom.
Then you have my sympathy.

Double positive rep for admitting it.
Thank you good sir.



We've gone on holiday by mistake
Damn, you gave out a 5 star review.

I insta skipped the review though because I ain't seen it yet. Most likely going on Thursday.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Damn, you gave out a 5 star review.

I insta skipped the review though because I ain't seen it yet. Most likely going on Thursday.
Indeed I did. Although when you read the review you'll see that it's highly likely to only be temporary, just born out of my massive level of geeking out at the time.

Hope you enjoy it when you go



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
2008

Directed by
Louis Letterier

Written by
Zak Penn

Starring
Edward Norton
Liv Tyler
William Hurt
Tim Roth


The Incredible Hulk

++

(5.7/10)

Plot - Following a failed gamma ray experiment, Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) transforms into the Incredible Hulk anytime his pulse rate get too high. Trying to protect himself and others he goes into hiding in Brazil, but the army, led by General Ross (William Hurt) are out to capture him, seeing him as a weapon with huge potential.

After my viewing of The Avengers I thought I'd give this another go. I have watched it once before but it was more in the background, not paying complete attention to it. And although my attention wasn't 100% on it, my thoughts that I did conclude at the time proved to be correct; a decent but forgettable flick, Marvel's weakest effort to date for me. Even my rampant fanboy-ism can only lift the film so far.

The film actually opens well, its opening stretch probably the strongest portion of the film. We get a real idea of Bruce's isolation and loneliness, which he has created out of necessity. And the location of Tavares Bastos in Rio de Janeiro is a very strong, evocative setting. With its claustrophobic layout and exotic flavours it gives a real character to the slum. And even though Banner is in puny human form for it, the chase that ensues there is arguably more exciting and engaging than much of the later special-effects laden action.

The action is solid and at intervals entertaining but is also rather predictable. Though I did smile at the moment where Hulk uses a police car as a pair of boxing gloves. It's the kind of over-the-top, gloriously ridiculous moment that the film is crying out for more of. Other than that though the action unfortunately tends towards the noisy and mindless variety, testing my patience rather than boosting my adrenaline. Of the action featuring the Hulk I'd say the fight against the army on the college campus is probably the best, peppered with some moments of invention and excitement that are sadly missing elsewhere.

I'm not sure if it's the fault of the character or his performance but Edward Norton comes across as exceptionally bland as Bruce Banner. The same could be said for Liv Tyler and sadly together they share very little chemistry. The villains of the piece fare better. William Hurt brings a weighty gravitas to the one-dimensional character of the gruff General Ross. And despite some weak characterisation, and dialogue that leaves something to be desired Tim Roth is able to rise above it with some edge and intensity and deliver a fun performance as the soldier whose mental state begins to deteriorate as the film goes along.

While the film is decently paced at some times I'd say it is too long, resulting in some sections were the film drags. Considering that it basically has a fairly simple chase plot at its core, and the origin story is glossed over in a brief montage it really doesn't feel like it needs to be almost two hours long. And even with that two hours they couldn't find time to give any sort of exit to Ty Burrell's character?!! It really is one of the most blatant vanishings from a film I can remember, with no scene or even a line referencing him. And the fact that I really like him from Modern Family just made it more annoying.

The special effects act as a perfect way of reflecting the film as a whole; solid and at times effective but overall underwhelming. I just think the film as a whole lacks the fun and humour required; the laughs that were to be found in The Avengers. Without it you just have a relatively silly story which plays very serious, making it tough to buy into at times. It says a lot for the film that perhaps my favourite little moments occurred as the result of two cameos; Robert Downey Jr in the guise of Tony Stark and Lou Ferrigno, the original Hulk.

Conclusion – A decent if unremarkable film, which also happens to be incredibly forgettable. While certainly not a disaster it's also very far from a roaring success.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1979

Directed by
Walter Hill

Written by
Walter Hill (script)
David Shaber (script)
Sol Yurick (novel)

Starring
Michael Beck
James Remar
David Harris
Deborah Van Valkenburgh


The Warriors

+

(9.3/10)

Plot – All of the gangs of New York have been called to a summit meeting by the enigmatic Cyrus. Assassinated by the unhinged Luther of The Rogues gang, the blame for Cyrus' death falls onto The Warriors. The Warriors' turf is Coney Island, a long way off. And in between them and their home lies numerous gangs, all of whom are out for their blood. An epic journey is undertaken. It will take all night, and not everyone will make it back.

This film is quite dated. This film is really rather camp. This film is pretty daft. Oh and this film is also frickin fantastic!!! At the film's opening we are provided with glimpses of several of the gangs that are going to feature; my personal favourites being the mimes (The Hi-Hats) and the demented looking baseball players (The Baseball Furies). Right then I thought to myself “oh yeah, I think I'm going to like this.” And that early inkling proved well founded.

The story is elegantly simple, it's basically a chase movie just without the cars. The Warriors have to make it from A to B, avoiding or defeating the myriad of gangs that lie in between. It actually feels quite like a video game plot, in a real Streets of Rage kind of way. I can just picture going into an arcade and playing this. However while it is a simple story, there is also something rather epic about it. It feels like a piece of classic Greek mythology, an epic journey with dangers to battle at every turn. As a result our heroes end up resembling somewhat romanticised, mythological legends. And if you wanted to take that further its extremely easy to see the female gang, The Lizzies, as sirens, luring The Warriors to their doom.

While it's perhaps not an accurate portrayal of New York I still think it's a great city movie. This New York is a violent, sprawling, almost apocalyptic playground were just about everyone you meet is wearing gang colours. The location shooting on the rain-slicked streets with a multitude of bridges, tunnels and subway stations helps to give the film a real flavour. Especially with the use of some vivid colours, atmospheric lighting and nocturnal appearance to really bring the film's comic book stylings to life.

At the time of its release the film proved controversial as it was accused of glorifying gangs and inciting gang violence. However I think its too over the top and hyper-stylized to really be taken all that seriously. The violence on show is not particularly graphic, and for the most part is unrealistic, cartoonish and fairly absurd, especially when they are launching members of a rival gang around a bathroom like WWE wrestlers. And on the whole it's just all so theatrical, what with the outlandish gang uniforms and rich, pulpy dialogue that I half expected the gangs to break into song and dance on occasion a la West Side Story.

To be honest characterisation is almost non-existent, with the gang members feeling reminiscent of the clichéd cliques found in high school films; jock, nerd, goth, cheerleader etc. They really are painted with just the most basic traits to slightly differentiate between them. So amongst others you have the smart, cool headed leader (Swan), the rash and impulsive confrontationist (Ajax), the tough, valiant fighter (Cochise) and the young tagger who they seem to treat like a young brother (Rembrandt). However what the gang members lack in depth, they more than make up for in colour and vibrancy. Though the film does take a brief respite for a small, quite poignant little scene were The Warriors find themselves sitting on the subway across from some kids their own age dressed up for a prom, just looking at what they have turned their backs on with their choices. And while none of the characters are particularly likeable (they are gang members after all) the nightmarish situation they find themselves in and their reactions to it give them a humanity and sympathetic manner, meaning that we root for them.

I actually felt like the film shared a lot of similarities with another film that I watched and loved recently - Assault on Precinct 13. Both films take relatively simple stories and deliver them on a small budget, but do them in such a way that they rise above their humble B-movie roots to something special. Both share colourful characters, rich and memorable dialogue and an awesome synth-rock score. And thanks to Walter Hill's direction The Warriors is able to match Precinct 13 in terms of raw power and intensity. Both are highly deserving of their cult followings. Along with this there is also a reminiscent touch of Escape from New York. Both films are set in a stylized, fantasy tinged New York and details a city overrun by criminals and gangs, with a hero or heroes on a perilous journey.

Also similar to Assault... is the fact that some of the acting is not exactly of the highest order and yet remains quite charming and accessible throughout, with a few of the cast; most notably Michael Beck as Swan and James Remar as Ajax, displaying a good deal of charisma. Oh and even though he doesn't have a great deal of screentime, in a weird way David Patrick Kelly creates a truly memorable villain in the twitchy, constantly on the edge Luther. Another element that I highly enjoyed was the all-seeing, all knowing oracle/radio DJ who tracks and reports on the Warriors' progress as they attempt to make it back to Coney Island. It's very effective and is presented in an extremely sultry voice.

With so much action and frequent running the film just explodes with terrific bursts of kinetic energy throughout, aided by Hill's direction. The set-pieces are frequently inventive and highly entertaining. For example the initial rally that opens the film with hundreds/thousands of gang members running around is quite a visual treat. And the chase and battle sequence with The Furies through Riverside Park is just a terrific, pulse-pounding piece of action.

The film's ending almost feels like something out of a Western as we are presented with a Mexican stand-off on a beach between The Warriors, The Rogues and The Riffs. Although I did find it a little anti-climactic as I was expecting one final epic throwdown between The Warriors and The Rogues. But outside of that I just loved this.

Conclusion – A hugely satisfying slice of counter culture cinema, this is just great balls to the wall stuff! With bombastic action and magnificent dialogue this is insanely good fun. If it holds up on a repeat viewing even half as good then I'd say it has a more than decent chance of making my favourite 100 list.



^ I've been meaning to see that for a long long long time. Just moved it to the top of my Netflik queue
__________________
Yeah, there's no body mutilation in it



Do that, DD, you won't be disappointed... Unless you are.

Glad you loved it, JD. Y'see, just stick to the HK 100 and you'll be fine.
__________________
5-time MoFo Award winner.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
^ I've been meaning to see that for a long long long time. Just moved it to the top of my Netflik queue
I assume you mean The Warriors, as I certainly wouldn't recommend moving The Incredible Hulk to the top of the queue!

Anyway I hope you enjoy it, even more so now that you're using my review for inspiration, I'm feeling the pressure. Don't know your tastes yet so no idea if you will like it or not.

Glad you loved it, JD. Y'see, just stick to the HK 100 and you'll be fine.
You could just be right. Looking back at your list and I don't think there's a film I actually dislike.



We've gone on holiday by mistake
ZOMG You simlpy must watch "The Warriors" at the nearest possible opportunity.



Yeah donnie, The Warriors is a must see. My mum kept going on about it for years until I finally watched it back in 2009. Has an absolute ball of a time. Such a great entertaining film.

I wouldn't call it dated though, JD. The film felt very timeless for me, even if the hairstyles and soundtrack are of the 70's era. I'd argue that most of the characters are likeable too, regardless of being gang members or not. They are never portrayed as thugs. Just a group of youths who share the same social status, really.

Incredible Hulk is ****, save for the scene you mentioned where he uses the police cars as weapons. But otherwise, it's the same out cliched rubbish without any charm and no hint of an attempt to not be completely empty.

I'm curious as to what you thought of Ang Lee's Hulk, JD?

Appreciating the time and effort you put into these reviews, kid.



Good whiskey make jackrabbit slap de bear.
Yeah, The Warriors is a wonderful film. Even my brother, who likes Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, loves The Warriors. I'm happy you thought highly of it, Jaydee.
__________________
"George, this is a little too much for me. Escaped convicts, fugitive sex... I've got a cockfight to focus on."



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
That's good to hear. I wonder if you'll feel the same way when I (eventually) get around to listing the 'also rans'?
Oh you're still planning on listing more films? Glad to hear it. Think I've seen about half your list now, and while there are some I'm not overly fond of (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Chinatown - most of the 'best' ones in other words! ) they certainly aren't films I think are poor or that I really dislike, and most of them I really like/love.

Yeah donnie, The Warriors is a must see. My mum kept going on about it for years until I finally watched it back in 2009. Has an absolute ball of a time. Such a great entertaining film.
Wow that's a cool mum!

I wouldn't call it dated though, JD. The film felt very timeless for me, even if the hairstyles and soundtrack are of the 70's era. I'd argue that most of the characters are likeable too, regardless of being gang members or not. They are never portrayed as thugs. Just a group of youths who share the same social status, really.
Yeah to be fair calling the film as whole dated was probably unfair, more just elements such as the hairstyles, fashion, soundtrack and the idea of that New York before Giulliani cleaned it up. And again I probably wasn't fair/clear, meaning that to begin with you don't really identify with or root for the, because they seem like thugs and gangsters, but as you learn about them you grow to like them.

Incredible Hulk is ****, save for the scene you mentioned where he uses the police cars as weapons. But otherwise, it's the same out cliched rubbish without any charm and no hint of an attempt to not be completely empty.

I'm curious as to what you thought of Ang Lee's Hulk, JD?
Yeah thinking back I may have been even a bit generous with my score.

I've got to admit that I've not actually seen that one yet. It's one of the very few superhero flicks I've yet to see, along with Elektra and the two Ghost Rider efforts. Will give Hulk a shot sometime soon perhaps.

Appreciating the time and effort you put into these reviews, kid.
Thank you very much Prestige. I needed that, was feeling very unappreciated! Well not really but I have been wondering the last few days whether to keep up these long reviews for every film I see, or going back to doing it just for selected films. Outside of The Avengers the last four reviews have only got 2 or 3 rep points. Now while that's not the sole reason I post these reviews its nice to know they are being read and appreciated, and the rep points are the clearest way to judge that. And it's quite a lot of time and effort to go through if there are only a few people, especially when some of the one paragraph reviews I'd post on the movie tab would get showered with rep.

^ Really hope that doesn't come off as whiny or seeking sympathy, certainly not my intention. I've not been sleeping well recently, my mind is a bit cloudy and I'm just kind of waffling! You should probably just ignore me just now



I've got to admit that I've not actually seen that one yet. It's one of the very few superhero flicks I've yet to see, along with Elektra and the two Ghost Rider efforts. Will give Hulk a shot sometime soon perhaps.
Best thing with Lee's Hulk is to not think about it as a 'superhero flick'. I'd say that it is best described as a psycho-drama with comic book elements. Pretty much like a lot of 'superhero' films then , except Hulk Lee is more obvious than most director's in his desire to psycho analyse and explore latent trauma in the characters.


Thank you very much Prestige. I needed that, was feeling very unappreciated! Well not really but I have been wondering the last few days whether to keep up these long reviews for every film I see, or going back to doing it just for selected films. Outside of The Avengers the last four reviews have only got 2 or 3 rep points. Now while that's not the sole reason I post these reviews its nice to know they are being read and appreciated, and the rep points are the clearest way to judge that. And it's quite a lot of time and effort to go through if there are only a few people, especially when some of the one paragraph reviews I'd post on the movie tab would get showered with rep.

I get you, don't worry. I think it's very fair to expect a certain amount of rep for these reviews, specially considering the length of them.
Obviously you're doing them because you like to go to lengths convey your thoughts about stuff you like and don't like, but yeah, I agree that you should receive more rep than you already do, and i'm glad you are being very transparent about that. Wish more people on here would do the same.

I say keep up your reviews, mate. I know that I look forward to them and there are at least a few more members who feel the same.



We've gone on holiday by mistake
Indeed I did. Although when you read the review you'll see that it's highly likely to only be temporary, just born out of my massive level of geeking out at the time.

Hope you enjoy it when you go
Read the whole review now that I ve seen Avengers.

I would give it a solid 8/10. For what it is (big fun summer blockbuster not to be taken too seriously) it really delivers.

Just want to say that Whedon made a fantastic movie in "Serenity". Can't believe a film that good only made $39 million. I have probably seen it 5-6 times and will do so again. It's better than the entire Star Wars Prequels put together.

btw "the Warriors" should have been your 5/5 review.