Fighting with My Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Stephen Merchant
There really should be more wrestling movies! Not movies starring wrestlers because… well after forty years we’ve managed about three good actors out of it, but movies ABOUT wrestling! Beyond the Mat? Good documentary! The Wrestler? Great movie! With those two examples, I rest my case! In the hopes of rectifying this situation, we’ve got WWE Studios along with Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson producing a biopic of sorts that tells the life story of one of its more recent superstars Saraya-Jade Bevis, known by her ring name Paige! Can the combined efforts of The WWE, Dwayneson The Rockson Johnson, and even the talents of Stephen Merchant who they roped in to write and direct this thing, bring us an entertaining and heartfelt movie about one of the world’s most popular sports, or are we in for another low rent outing from the studio known for mediocre horror movies, straight to DVD action flicks, and Hannah-Barbara crossovers? Let’s find out!!
Saraya (Florence Pugh) is your typical teenager girl in your typical wrestling family. Her parents (Nick Frost and Lena Headey) have trained her to be an in-ring superstar and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) is training to be a superstar in his own right. The family owns a rather notable indie wrestling promotion in England known as the World Association of Wrestling, but even with their comparatively high profile as a company they’re still struggling in a country that doesn’t seem to care much for independent wrestling promotions. That’s why Saraya and Zak have been training in the hopes of getting the attention of the WWE which will not only propel them to the levels of fame and adulation that they’ve always wanted but will also give them a few bucks to send back home whenever WAW ticket sales fall short. Their chance does eventually come when the WWE and NXT (the training program for potential wrestlers) visit England to put on a show and field some new talent; all of whom will be tested by one of their most seasoned trainers (Vince Vaughn) to see if they have what it takes. The good news is that Saraya does indeed have what it takes! The bad news is that Zak does not and so she has to leave her family behind to pursue her dreams while has to stay behind and fail to live out his. Can Saraya survive the harsh challenges of the NXT boot camp and keep her head on straight despite being so far from home? What will Zak do now that he’s failed at the one thing he’s been training his whole life for? How intense do family dinners get when you know everyone there can power bomb you into the mashed potatoes?
Hacksaw Ridge and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Mel Gibson
So The Birth of a Nation, while still being directed by terrible person with seemingly no interest in doing the hard work to change that, at least had the benefit of its filmmaker being a new voice with a desperately needed perspective in an industry that had grown pretty monolithic despite the way the world (and their audience) was changing around them. Mel Gibson on the other hand has been around for decades and is already part of that overly white-cis-het culture that needs to be changed (both in Hollywood and everywhere else) which is only compounded by him being a shit bag for WAY longer. Now I’m sure that he struggles with his demons constantly and that those kinds of fights are never easy to win, but no one owes this guy sympathy for those plights considering the harm he’s caused or their money to see his films even if it’s good in its own right. I’m a film critic, so I critique films and all I can do is try to relay what this movie is trying to do, if it succeeds in doing so, and how I reacted to it given the full scope of how and why it was created instead of just on how well they made it. Is this a masterpiece from a deeply disturbed filmmaker, or has the director’s own personal hang-ups dragged down a biopic about a much great man than him? Let’s find out!!
The movie is essentially a biopic of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) whose religious beliefs meant he would not carry weapons or cause direct harm to others, but he still wanted to serve his country and do what he can to help his fellow Americans fighting in the Pacific Rim, so he enlists anyway with the hope of being a medic. Now apparently medics STILL have to carry weapons and get weapons training, but he refuses to do even that much and becomes a target by his commanding officers (Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington) and fellow recruits who consider this an act of cowardice rather than religious conviction, and the movie takes great pains to explore the suffering he went through to earn the right not to carry a weapon as well as how he got these convictions (his alcoholic father Tom played by Hugo Weaving was a big influence), how this act of rebellion can ruin his life as well as the life of his wife Dorothy (Teresa palmer) and what he does once he’s in the field of battle with no way to protect himself. Does Desmond manage to keep his convictions even when faced with the horrors of battle? Will the rest of his unit learn to respect his convictions once he proves himself out in the field? Is the film drenched in religious symbolism and Jesus allegories? Does a bear shit in the woods? And is Mel Gibson a serial abuser?