Men In Black: International

Men in Black: International is chock-full of star power:  Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, and a special guest appearance of Kumail Nanjiani.   It is also chock-full of special effects and weird aliens and the like.  What it is not chock-full of is a decent story, suspense, a good villain, or consistent laughs.  It is mostly harmless summer fun, like a snow cone.   Or diet lemonade.

L&D were split on this one, with L seeming to enjoy himself, while D was mostly bored and annoyed.  Nanjiani is certainly mostly solid and often very funny, and is what I would rate as the best part of the movie had it not been for Chris Hemsworth strutting around in pink chinos.

But, ultimately, we have a dull movie.

I will chalk this up to (at least) two major shortcomings.   First, there is no straight man.   MiB worked so spectacularly because Tommy Lee Jones and the staid MiB organization served as a foil to Will Smith’s overall freshness. Ironically, the film took some pains to make Tessa Thompson into the straight man, even though the entire ad campaign around the movie suggested otherwise.   What a mess.   I walked out of International recanting some of the funnier MiB scenes to L that I still remember all these years later; a day out, I’m not sure I remember what was funny about this recent offering.

Second, who is the villain here, anyway?  There are a number of candidates, one becomes obvious, the audience isn’t surprised and doesn’t care.   It concludes with some  Drama-Free Action.

At one point, I was really reminded of the soft spots in the Star Wars movies — lots of aliens and crazy background serving as stand-ins for interesting characters and a compelling plot.   Given the amount of money thrown at this movie, the payoff is abysmal.

We should have seen this coming.   We did see this coming.    The Taco Bell is closed until further notice.

Taco Bell locations were mentioned several times by readers as having long waits in the drive-thrus at various times, and their inside dining rooms were occasionally closed while the drive-thrus were open. 

A call to Pacific Bells, the Taco Bell franchise owner in this area, was not returned.  

A check on the Taco Bell on Appleton’s east side, which was identified by readers as having sporadic issues, showed it was currently open and staffed. But it had reduced hours, now closing at 8 p.m. instead of the advertised 2 a.m.

TBI don’t lie.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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“Wait, that’s not the ending?”

Something unusual is going on at our local Taco Bell restaurants.   As L&D reported last week, from all outward appearances the store was closed as we drove past — the interior lights and the giant outdoor Taco Bell signage were dark, yet the driveup line was sprawling into the street.   Turning the lights off in Paree still won’t keep them on the farm, evidently.

As it happens, I was at a different Taco Bell on the other side of town earlier in the week, featuring both an extended drive up line and a massive back up in the interior of the store.  Indeed, the customers and workers alike shared the sour countenance that you might find at the DMV.  At one point, the manager locked the door to prevent further entry and proceeded to hand out coupons to placate those of us who had been patiently waiting for semi-warm tacoesque offerings.  You read that correctly: the manager locked the door to keep customers out.  This is around 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday. Peak taco?

And it came to pass that L&D headed out to see Godzilla: King of the Monsters Thursday night, once again the lights were out and we were having trouble locating the building (even the outside sign was dark), but we evidently were the only ones who couldn’t find the building because once again the line was epic, and only the illumination of the drive up window gave any indication that the restaurant was open for business.  I was driving and L shifted excitedly in his seat to survey the situation.  This was easily the highlight of the evening.

Okay, so I was just going to leave the review at that, but Godzilla: King of the Monsters, while terrible, is not entirely bereft of merit.   The sound is incredible and the credits are astounding — the army of animators (?) and sheer number of FX companies that worked on this defies credulity.  How do they put all of this together so seamlessly?

Well, how did they put all of the effects together so seamlessly?, that is.  The plot, the dialog, and the pacing of the movie started poorly and didn’t get much better.  The script is weak and the timing seems off by a beat through much of the film, despite boasting a number of A-list actors in the cast (Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance).

In fairness, there are a number of potentially interesting aspects of the movie, including:

  • the overt religiosity;
  • the few attempts at humor;
  • whatever the Monarch agency is and its role in tracking and monitoring the beasts;
  • the various’ beasts effects on the global ecosystem (making the news clips in the end credits a semi-highlight for me).

But even with good potential, some good action, and some amusement, the movie is almost completely inane.  On the way to the parking lot, L lamented the fact that there were actually other movie patrons, as this was the best candidate for “L&D Mystery Science Theater” since Kong.

And, speaking of the big guy, evidently he is on a collision course with the big lizard in Godzilla vs. Kong, set for 2020.   I have a feeling we will be seeing that one, though I kind of wish we wouldn’t.

Rocketman (D)

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L and D received mixed signals from the Taco Bell Index as we headed out for the opening night of the Elton John biopic / musical, Rocketman.   It appeared that the power was completely out in the building, including the usually illuminated signage, yet the driveup line was at least 10 strong, backed up out into the street.   What could this possibly mean?

Judging by the sub-tepid crowd in a virtually empty theater, I take it to mean that Rocketman won’t be a hit.  If you like Elton John songs (and who doesn’t?), you will probably enjoy the music, but I was personally restless throughout as I waited for the movie to settle into its rhythm.  I don’t think it did.

L has already weighed in here and I think he’s right that you will probably find something to like — the sartorial splendor, the dance numbers, the set depictions, the concert scenes.  And I have seen some reviews that congratulate Mr. John, who was executive producer on the piece, for not portraying himself in the most flattering light. Sure.

But, I just can’t get past how boilerplate the plot was, and how the character development was basically non-existent.  Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll just *had* to be more fun than this, or why bother at all?   Bohemian Rhapsody suffered the same Lifetime Movie Network storyline fate, but the film makers in that case seemed to realize that showing Queen in outlandish costumes bolstered with 15-minute long concert clips was a winning strategy. I think Rocketman followed suit with the suits, but came up short on most other fronts.  It’s a better movie, and yet the payoff isn’t as great.

Over the $6.30 bar (the state of Wisconsin added tax to movie tickets!), but you can probably wait to see this on your home screen.

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

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Let’s just start by saying that when John Wick: Chapter 4 — Tempus Bellum  hits the theaters, we doubt you will need too much background from the first three chapters to follow along with the plot.  And just hazarding a guess here, that plot will involve John Wick (Keanu Reeves) plodding along at a syncopated cadence in a dark suit engaging in hand-to-hand combat and shooting lots of people point blank in the face.

But enough about the future of the series and let’s focus on Chapter 3, which involves John Wick (Keanu Reeves) plodding along at a syncopated cadence in a dark suit engaging in hand-to-hand combat and shooting lots of people point blank in the face. We have seen this all before, of course, but the movie is surprisingly innovative in its delivery of gratuitous comic-book violence.  The first major encounter, for example, takes place in the New York Public Library, where knowledge may be power, but a good sturdy book comes in handy if you want to beat someone’s face in.   The action proceeds to an antique weapon shop (which I believe is right next to the NYPL) with extraordinary results.  After a few more stops, including John Wick galloping on horseback through Manhattan, the movie finally slows down to catch its breath, at which point I think I fell asleep for a little bit.  But when I woke up, they were back at it, moving from location to location, piling up the bodies all along the way.

The verdict?  If you have been desensitized to this type of first-person gamer violence, this movie is a clear winner.  L&D laughed out loud throughout — probably for a good two or three minutes straight in the antique shop scene — as a number of scenes were so patently absurd that the filmmakers must have intended them as comedy.  Though I believe we were in the minority of the audience that viewed this as such, I’d like to think our laughter was infectious, and I heard some guffawing across the theater as the film proceeded.

But, wow, this is a violent film.  I would wager that at least 100 people get shot point-blank in the face, many of them wearing some sort of head gear so the damage was not always immediately apparent, and that’s just the people who got shot.  The movie also features more than its fair share of people getting shot in places other than the head, stabbed in and through the head, stabbed elsewhere, hit with a thrown knife, thrown off a building, etc, etc…   Indeed, the variety in which people get killed will certainly overwhelm the uninitiated.  The movie also features extremely innovative canine violence, including multiple dog-on-unit chomping incidents.  Although the body count is probably in the high three digits, the movie also delivers on its fair share of maiming, branding, and cauterizing of the villains and principals alike as part of the parabellum.  Some of it is camp, some of it for shock value, but you are bound to find something unsettling herein.

If you can handle the violence, you will probably like the visual aesthetic.  The rainy city at night is fabulous, we head to the desert at one point, and finish off in some sort of glass museum where the violence takes place with the backdrop of some groovy, flowy lights and what appears to be a psychedelic Rolex commercial looping in the back.  Although some of the big budget was spent on the talent (Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston, Ian MacShane, as well as the knavish Mark Dacascos), most of it seems to have been spent making this the ultraviolent spectacle that it is.

I certainly won’t recommend this movie to everyone, but if this is your type of thing, this is your type of thing.  You’ll laugh, you’ll wince, you’ll jump from your seat, and you’ll probably get a little sick to your stomach.

And, if not, well, here’s L’s takeaway:

Not for the faint of heart, weak of heart or even those having a heart…please set your pace makers to silent mode.

Bingo.

The Hustle

downloadThe Hustle is odd.   L&D tend not to do too much pre-scouting of these movies, so we just knew it fell in the grifter-comedy genre.  But within a few minutes of sitting down it became apparent that this is a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which itself I believe was a remake)with female leads Anne Hathaway and  Rebel Wilson replacing Michael  Caine and Steve Martin (mostly respectively).  Among one of the many reasons it is odd is that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, while funny in spots, just wasn’t that strong of a story, relying on Caine and Martin’s gravitas to carry enough laughs to make it worth your while.  

And that’s my review of this one:  Wilson and Hathaway are pretty funny and we both laughed out loud here and there, but the story was quaggy and we left the theater thinking maybe we should have seen Tolkien instead.  The big downside is that attempts to remake some of the stronger scenes from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — Caine unwittingly racking up winnings at the tables and Martin’s portrayal of Ruprecht — just didn’t stack up.  Hathaway and Wilson have their moments, sure, just not enough of them.  But we did laugh.  Comedy is still hard.

Another potential plus for our readers in the tundra, the movie is set along the French Riviera, wherever that is, and it is gorgeously shot.  As we labor through the 32nd week of winter here in east central Wisconsin, even movie screen sunshine is welcome at this point.  But our guess is that you will get a much bigger payoff from Long Shot.

Long Shot

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Long Shot is the triple-entendre title of the new comedy featuring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogan.   In short, some of the parts are greater than the whole, with laugh-out-loud material throughout. The movie itself is somewhat unpredictable and yet still I felt underwhelmed.  Perhaps that is because the would-be protagonist is so unlikable?  I’ll have to think about that one.

The title of the film has two immediate and obvious possibilities.   Rogan stars as a bigoted ideologue / idealistic journalist, who quits his job when a Rupert Murdock-esque character buys the newspaper where he is a star investigative reporter.   Following his sacking, he runs into Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Theron), who grew up next door to Rogan and babysat him through his pubescent years.   She’s clearly out of his league, so that’s the first long shot.   The Secretary learns that the incumbent President (Bob Odenkirk) is not planning to run for reelection, setting her off on a world tour brokering an environmental deal that will launch her own presidential campaign.  And a woman angling for a presidential bid provides the second long shot.   This sets up nicely as a boy-girl buddy roadtrip platform for the Rogan-Theron romance to blossom (or not).

The movie has more than its fair share of political humor and it is less skewed than you might expect.  Rogan is an off-the-shelf knee-jerk liberal who comes to realize that maybe the world is not as black-hat, white-hat as he thinks it is.  Of course, as Secretary of State the Theron character is used to realpolitik, and it is the clash of their two worlds that the movie will eventually resolve.  It is more nuanced than an SNL sketch, but doesn’t take itself anywhere near as seriously as Vice.  Comedy is hard.  And we recommend this movie for the laughs alone.

Subject to caveats, of course.  The movie earns its R rating with more than its fair share of blue humor, including a third possibility for the film’s title that further pushes the boundaries for Hollywood comedy reasonableness.  If sex and drugs jokes aren’t your thing, you should sit this one out.   Otherwise, give it a shot.   Theron is great.  Rogan isn’t too bad.  And there is enough other stuff along the way that will keep you laughing and keep this off TNT.

Avengers: Endgame

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You know it is the movie event of the year when the Thursday night parking is overflowing out of the lot and into the street,  when the theater is filled to capacity, when a group of students mobs us before the event, and when L is so startled by a remark from one of the Marcus concessions employees that he staggers backwards and dumps his complementary popcorn.   This is the Endgame, baby.

At three hours, there is certainly a lot going on in this movie, and L&D walked away less disgruntled than how we felt following Infinity War.  Yet, our verdict is still lukewarm — not enough violence for the kids, not enough sex for the adults.  I was somewhat apologetic after the show because I nodded off for a couple of brief stints, to which L provided a comforting word: “Of course you fell asleep: it was boring.”

So, there it is.

It’s possible that this was a little better than my first impressions, and snooze-it-and-lose it was the cause of my confusion as the film’s final 310 minutes ticked away — I often wasn’t sure whether some unusual plot reveal had been set up while I was napping.  I think in most cases it was just a garbling of the narrative, which naturally stems from trying to fit together plots from 20+ movies all over the Marvel Universe (all of which I have seen, I think).  But it’s also possible that I missed something.  My son also saw this last night, and I was reassured because he didn’t know the answers to the questions I had, either (!).

The principal innovation in this movie is the introduction of blood relatives and the tension between duty to community and duty to immediate family.  This is foreshadowed immediately, as the opening scene shows Hawkeye working with his daughter on junior hawking techniques, just as the great villain Thanos executes his purge from the climax of Infinity War.  Ouch.  The movie then somewhat ironically revisits the Tony Stark – Captain America spat from Civil War before exploring the aftermath of a worldwide genocide (irony might not be the best word choice here, but I’m happy to discuss the choice after you see the film).  These two topics are potentially interesting, but are ultimately glossed over and underdone (I have since learned that they are chocked-full of insider jokes, so maybe the film makers were simply being cute).  Whatever the reason, the movie had a lot of ground to cover, so the real movie begins when the gang hops into its Audi and heads out to what appears to be northern Wisconsin, where evidently Tony and Pepper are living dream.  And away we go.

This is an epic undertaking and I think Marvel did a reasonable job getting all of the monkeys back in the barrel by the end.   There is some very good humor in spots — look for Thor teaming up with the Guardians in a future blockbuster — and some surprises as we move through the plot, but ultimately we’ve seen this Thanos show before and so the whole villain element is just not that engaging.  I found the action mostly dramaless and often tedious, in accordance with L’s adage, “If anything can happen, there is no suspense.”  This doesn’t quite hold in an endgame situation, because some of these story arcs wrap up in their entirety, so there’s that.  Endgame or no endgame, we counted at least three obvious next steps for this story arc, including some involving some of the loose ends they just didn’t get around to tying off.

L&D saw this in 3-D and I was very happy that it looked good and was not distracting.   I forget how much of a premium we paid for the privilege.

Overall, this is the movie event of the year, so we’re happy we saw it.  If you follow the MCU, I’m sure you don’t need our recommendation to see this.  If you don’t follow the MCU, you might need to read one of those online “How to enjoy Endgame if you are otherwise oblivious to the Marvel Universe” primers. Those guides are also available for those who want to jump into the Game of Thrones final season, as well.  I’m sure there is something to be said about that, though I’m not sure quite what.  Perhaps you will be treated to one of L’s essays on the matter.

UPDATE:  And, congrats to L on his good news.  If you see him, give him a punch in the arm and a hug.

 

Cold Pursuit

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We ventured off to the eastern Appletonion tundra for an exclusive viewing of Cold Pursuit, one of the whitest movies you are ever likely to see.  L&D had our usual spectacular reserved seats, but being the sole souls in one of the Marcus spacious megaplexes, we were free to throw our hands up in the air and wave ’em like we just didn’t care and we said “oh, yeah!”  Not too shabby for $5.

The verdict for this one:  Revenge is a dish best served cold.  Really cold.  By Liam Neeson.  And for the most part, we really enjoyed what director Hans Petter Moland served up, and you will probably find plenty to enjoy here, too.  There are great visuals, some compelling characters, high comedy, and some thrilling, efficient violence.  But while the movie has many good pieces, these pieces just don’t add up to a great movie.

The biggest piece, as you know, is Neeson himself.  He plays Nels Coxman (giving us a second reason to break out the “cock” tag), a snowplow driver tasked with keeping the road clear from Denver to the skiing community of Kehoe.   He is a great guy, he’s the winner of the coveted Kehonian-of-the-Year Award, though we aren’t really sure why, which is one of the many added elements here that never quite adds up.

Mrs. Coxman is played by Laura Dern, or perhaps a mannequin that looks like Laura Dern — given a long blonde wig and a handful of quaaludes I could have probably played this part as well.  Her best line in the movie is her farewell card, which in retrospect was pretty funny, though at that point in the movie it wasn’t clear that this was a black comedy, so it wasn’t that funny.  And she wasn’t around to deliver the card anyway, so that was too bad. But, hey, Laura Dern!

The spawn of the Coxman union doesn’t hang around for long, either.   He works at the local airport and gets Taken™ under highly suspicious circumstances, sending the movie on its bloody white trajectory.

As in other Neeson projects, he has a particular set of skills — learned from listening to true-crime novels while he drives, perhaps? — that allow him to rub out bad guys and get to the bottom of things.  Clearly, the hook here is that he is a man of all seasons.

The rest of the plot is just all over the place.  The Denver drug kingpin, “Viking” (Tom Bateman), is like a gluten-free Quentin Tarantino, in looks and in propensities for clever wordplay and idiosyncratic ultra-violence.  Viking is a pretty high-quality villain.  He is in the process of divorcing his wife, and the two battle over appropriate dietary choices of their son, who is sort of like a Lisa Simpson character, listening to Bach and picking football games.  There are also a couple of points of intrigue amongst the Viking henchmen that are essential to the plot but that probably warranted either a little more or a little less attention.

As Neeson works his way up the Viking food chain, he enlists the help of his mustachioed brother, a reformed gangster gone straight thanks to an assertive and colorful Vietnamese woman.  His brother seems affable enough, so it’s not clear why the two were estranged?  Hard to say.   His brother’s wife (Elizabeth Thai) is one of the reasons you might want to buy a ticket to this movie.  She is a woman to be reckoned with and it’s a shame we didn’t get more of a reckoning with her.

Viking initially attributes the damage to his gang to a Native American gang that runs things in Kehoe, putting Neeson in the middle of a gang spat.  This is being monitored by the Kehoe P.D., featuring the set-in-his-ways veteran and the savvy young partner.

That is a lot of characters competing for attention, not to mention the supporting and incidentals cast.  We are also hit with a shotgun blast of literary referencing, with the movie kicking off with a direct quote from Oscar Wilde, then an allusion to a Robert Frost poem within the first few minutes, and then the dropping William Golding shortly thereafter.  L started taking notes on the back of his ticket stub just to try to keep us up to speed. It’s also probably notable that pretty much every named character has a nickname, The Eskimo, Santa, Speedo, Limbo, Santa, Smoke, Windex, and on it goes. I bet that fits together in a clever way, but I don’t think the payoff is big enough for me to actually dump the pieces on the table and figure it out.

I learned that this film is actually a remake of his 2014 film In Order of Disappearance, which Morland directed for the more exclusive Norwegian audience (I just put it on hold at APL!).  I suppose the reason you make a remake is to take advantage of Hollywood money and Hollywood stars, such as Neeson and Dern.   Yet the film, despite its outrageous outdoor visuals, isn’t shot on widescreen.  Why is that?

Overall, this is an ambitious project, but Moland unfortunately never quite got a handle on his narrative.  He genuflects to the Coen brothers (especially and obviously Fargo, but also No Country for Old Men for its meditations on uncertainty) and Tarantino (see above), while also exploiting Neeson’s particular set of tools for the everyman vigilante angle.  This is probably closer to Fargo the television serial than Fargo the Coen brothers classic, but two hours isn’t enough time to flesh out the likes of ten or so principal characters. And so Moland ultimately failed to make the hard choices about choosing a theme and tightening the narrative.  Coupled with the onset of Neeson’s own foot-in-mouth disease, this film seems to be queued up for its own disappearance from the public’s consciousness.

 

 

 

 

Serenity

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Rather than review Serenity, I would prefer to reflect briefly on a few questions that we were able to discuss during the last four-and-a-half hours of the resolution (where L rocked back and forth in his stadium barcalounger mumbling “serenity now, serenity now” to himself).  First, why wasn’t this done as a straight film noir?  It seems like there was plenty going for it without the idiotic turn (see L’s review).  The second question is one L posed just last week (maybe it’s something about January movies):  what makes a film interminable?  Serenity offers one possible answer, which is that making an idiotic turn prematurely can be the difference between excusable (see A Quiet Place)  and the never-ending story — this movie just would not end.  Third, what would compel Matthew McConnaughey to take this role?  Was it the awesome location in paradise and all of the flexing and fishing and, um…. yeah, the steamy and extensive interludes with Diane Lane and Anne Hathaway?  Was it the chance to smoke indoors (with some of loudest-burning cigarettes since Nick Cage in Wild at Heart)? The fresh fish?  The chunky paycheck? Is this really the best script he’s seen since Gold?

Anyway, try not to think too hard about any of this, because the more you reflect, the less you will like this movie.  Indeed, you may downright start to hate the movie and hate yourself for sort of enjoying it and wanting to talk about it.   If you just can’t help yourself along these fronts, stay home.

But if you a movie junkie and you do break down and go, L&D recommend that you channel your best Frank Costanza and just let it pass over you, like a warm tropical breeze tainted with a hint of cigarette smoke.

Mmmmm, I feel better already.

Vice

L&D took advantage of some Marcus Rewards to see Vice on bargain Tuesday,  and after some minor hiccups with the cashier, we made it in to see an alarming trailer of an upcoming Topher Grace film, Breakthrough.   In good trailer tradition, we now know the plot pretty much exactly, and L&D will likely be able to skip that one altogether.

Of course, we were there to see Vice, writer-director Adam McKay’s portrait of former Secretary of Defense and Vice President, Dick Cheney, and we thought we pretty much knew what was going to happen in this movie, too.  So, really, we were there to see if Christian Bale’s portrayal is all that it’s cracked up to be — it is, he’s brilliant and gets it right, the pause, the sneer.  Bale is not the only big, big star here, with Amy Adams playing Lynne Cheney, Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, and Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld.   Adams is very good and Carrell starts out really strong and fades a bit, while Rockwell doesn’t really get much to work with beyond something just above an SNL-type portrayal.  Good work if you can get it.

The movie is fine, really, funny in parts — the first end-credits bit was pretty clever — but ultimately it turns into a polemical hit piece on Cheney.  This is somewhat amusing because the film makers were obstinate that this was based on the facts.  Even if that were true, which it probably isn’t, there are many facts that are omitted, on the one hand, and many connections that are somewhere between tenuous and ridiculous.

On the first part, consider the complete omission of the Iraq war under President George H.W. Bush.  It was during that war that Cheney and General Colin Powell emerged as a tandem with real star power.  Here’s the take of Slate’s, Fred Kaplan, who certainly knows plenty about Cheney’s career:

The film …barely mentions the first Gulf War, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, when Cheney was secretary of defense. This is no small matter: The fact that the elder Bush won that war but left Saddam Hussein in power had an influence on how the younger Bush and Cheney viewed the second Iraq war a decade later.

Another reason for McKay’s brush-off of the first Gulf War may be that dealing it would have forced him to confront the fact that, even by the estimate of his critics (including me), Cheney oversaw that war—and handled his duties as defense secretary broadly—with open-minded professionalism. McKay begins the film by having his narrator say that when Cheney became vice president, nobody knew much about him. In reality, he’d emerged from the Gulf War an admired celebrity. In his many press interviews at the time, he came off as an emblem of cool competence…

This is why so many people who observed Cheney under Bush Sr. (including me) were so stunned and puzzled by his fanatical turn under Bush Jr.  What changed? Had the three heart attacks blocked some of the oxygen to his brain? Was it the sheer scare of Sept. 11? Was it his belief that, in the wake of its Cold War victory and the Soviet Union’s implosion (an important contextual event the film ignores), the United States could get away with a more aggressive foreign policy and, therefore, should? In the film, from the time of his ascent to high power on, he undergoes no change and thus there’s no need to explain it.

That is my emphasis in spots, because I really couldn’t agree more with those quotations.  I lived in DC during the bulk of the first Gulf War, and remember watching the Cheney-Powell show with some legitimate DC insiders.  He was masterful and definitely admired from both sides of the aisle, regardless of what your thoughts on that war were.  That entire Kaplan piece is a pretty good summation of my view on the “facts” in this one.

As far as the second point goes — some of the conclusions the film makers seem to draw about Cheney’s influence — it seems unlikely that Cheney is responsible for political polarization, ISIS, global climate change, the California wildfires, and the rise of Fox News, but I suppose it’s possible.  The expansiveness of the indictments and the black-hat, white-hat nature of the narrative is degrading to those in the audience with cerebral capabilities.

In the end, you might enjoy it no matter your politics.  I talked to someone today who said that their conservative father thought the movie was “satire,” rather than a biopic.  It has its moments.  It certainly has more than it’s share of star firepower.