The film Rampage, directed by Brad Peyton, based on the Midway video game franchise of the same name and starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, follows a group of scientists who must stop genetically mutated creatures from destroying the world.

The film opens on a space station that has been the scene of a disaster caused by experiments on animals using a serum that gives them superpowers.  When a superpowered rat breaks loose, astronaut Kerry Atkins, the lone survivor, must release capsules of the serum back to earth so the parent company, Energyne, can obtain them and continue to create living weapons of mass destruction.  After the destruction of the space station, the capsules fall to the earth, effectively being consumed by animals around the United States.

Johnson stars as Davis Okoye, a primatologist who studies gorillas at a zoo.  He prides himself on being able to communicate and train the animals, and has a particular connection with George, an albino gorilla whom Okoye has taught to use sign language and other communication skills.  When George stumbles upon one of the cannisters of the serum, he grows to enormous size with heightened aggression, and Okoye must stop the government and Energyne from getting their hands on him.

Meanwhile, an alligator from the Everglades and a wolf in Wyoming also consume the substance, creating two other gargantuan monsters.  With the animals seemingly converging in Chicago, Okoye, along with former Energyne employee Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), must get George on their side and stop the other creatures from destroying the city.  Enlisting the help from self-proclaimed cowboy and F.B.I. agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the three must find a way to thwart the evil company and save the city.

The main antagonists and heads of Energyne are Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy), a brother and sister who are hell-bent on keeping the company running and perfecting the serum to create even more dangerous, killer creatures.  Akerman plays Claire as the conniving villainous that is customary of most B-action movies, and her brother Brett is the prototypical bumbling sidekick who is just along for the ride.

The action in the film is well done, but also very predictable.  Johnson plays Okoye as a virtually invulnerable hero who cracks wise and constantly saves the day.  Although utilizing his charisma and obvious physical characteristics in the movie, it still never feels like it tries to develop the character more than just being more of the same from his previous films.  The creatures, which are the basis of the video game franchise, are fun to watch as they destroy buildings and vehicles, but there is never any real story that has not been done before.

The movie is fun to watch as strictly an action film, but fails to do what films like Pacific Rim and Kong: Skull Island are able to do from a viewer’s standpoint.  There are definitely some laughs and big explosions, but Rampage will likely remain a run-of-the-mill monster movie that falls a little short.

The film A Quiet Place, the directorial debut of John Krasinski, is a peek into the life of a family who must remain silent in order to avoid being discovered by a species of creature who can react to the slightest sound, killing anything making a noise.  The film also stars Krasinski, along with his real-life wife Emily Blunt, as the protagonists Lee and Evelyn Abbott. The couple are raising a family including two young sons and a deaf daughter.

The film opens after the majority of humanity has been obliterated, and the Abbotts have resigned to using sign language and nonverbal cues to communicate with one another.  This strategy, although effective, immediately shows the audience how the inability to talk, laugh, or make any human noise makes life extremely difficult for the survivors. After a tragic accident involving one of the sons, the audience is thrust into a non-stop suspenseful thriller that showcases Krasinski’s knack for visual and emotional elements that drive the story along.  

Although A Quiet Place never directly explains what happened to the human race, but newspaper clippings and shots of ghost towns that the family must visit for supplies deliver enough evidence of what happened previous to the movie to make the viewer realize that the origin does not really matter, and only being able to survive going forward is what is important.  

The film brings many elements of suspense that are reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock film mixed with classic episodes of The Twilight Zone.  The music throughout the film effectively drives the plot along while simultaneously keeping the audience on the edge of its seat.  With virtually no dialogue throughout the film, the viewer still feels a connection to the Abbotts that keeps everyone rooting for them throughout the film.  

The creatures in the film are menacing, and mix shots that feel like some of the more intense scenes from the Jurassic Park films crossed with the demogorgon from Stranger Things.  They move in unison and are constantly right outside of the shot waiting to attack the Abbott family. The breakout performance of the film is Regan Abbott (Millicent Simmonds), the deaf daughter of Lee and Evelyn, who struggles to realize her purpose and duty to the family throughout the movie.  

A Quiet Place, at only 90 minutes in length, delivers an extremely suspenseful and powerful story about a family trying to survive and take care of each other against all odds.  Krasinski shows his acting chops as well as his direction and writing as the somber Lee Abbott, and his brooding yet resourceful character is very relatable to the audience throughout the film.  Blunt’s Evelyn as a mother who will do anything to protect her family is a very good partner to Lee.

Although the viewer may want to jump or gasp through many parts of the film, much of the fun comes from the suspense that is built up by the silence throughout the duration of the movie.  This sci-fi family film is definitely worth seeing in a quiet theater, and will not disappoint.

The film Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, is a sci-fi dystopian fantasy set in the year 2045.  At the beginning of the film, the audience is introduced to Wade Watts, a young man who, much like the rest of humanity, lives his life in a virtual world known as the OASIS. In this endless world, every person can look, act, and accomplish virtually anything that they desire.  When OASIS creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, he leaves behind a video will that announces that any person who can figure out the Easter eggs that he has hidden in his game would be the heir to his fortune, as well as control over the OASIS as a whole.

Wade, whose avatar is called Perzival, after the Knight of the Roundtable who found the Holy Grail, sets out on a mission to accomplish this goal.  Joined by his friends AECHE and Art3mis (Olivia Cook), Wade attempts to win the game and relishes the moment. When he discovers that there a major corporation called IOI will stop at nothing to get the Easter eggs and control the program, Wade knows that he must win the game to save the lives of his friends.

Halliday’s creation is rife with references from his childhood, a nostalgic nod to many of the biggest movies and pop culture references from the 80s and 90s.  With appearances from characters and vehicles from films like Back to the Future, The Shining, Child’s Play, Voltron, and Godzilla to name a few, the film is a fun callback to the childhoods of many of the people in the audience.

The soundtrack to the movie also brings a very 80s feel to it, and as soon as Van Halen’s “Jump” starts playing over the opening credits, the action does not stop.  The battle scenes are very well done and feel like a first person shooter game, and the action is fun. Spielberg’s direction is on point, with relatable characters who are well-developed throughout.

It is interesting to see how the story develops through Halliday’s mind, and seeing Perzival/Wade navigate through the OASIS to figure out what is behind his biggest accomplishment.  As the friends grow closer and the story unravels, that is when the fun begins.

The supporting characters are great, and Ben Mendelsohn plays a very hateable villain as Surrento, the head of the IOI.  Simon Pegg plays Ogden Morrow, Ogden’s former partner, as a harbinger and a mysterious character. Supporting characters Philip Zhou as Sho and  Win Moraskai has Daito are also great. The always funny T.J. Miller voices the virtual hitman IR0c is great as a bumbling villain hellbent on victory.

The movie is timely, as so many people today find an escape in a virtual reality world.  People could say it is a commentary on the reliance of technology that numbs people to the real world, or the power it has to enable people to be themselves and interact with others.

The real world actors who play voice the avatars bring a lot of depth to the characters.  Spielberg has mastered this art so many times that it seems seamless. Once the virtual reality cross into the real world, the games change and the action gets better, and the audience can empathize with all of the characters.

The film seems like one that should be a summer blockbuster, but somehow got pushed into a March release.  Seeing it in theaters will bring those of us who are 90’s kids a flashback to our childhood and anyone younger an idea of the iconic movies that changed the game.  I would definitely recommend seeing this one in theaters before it leaves the big screen.

Tomb Raider, directed by Roar Uthaug, is an action-adventure film based on the popular video game series of the same name.  Starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, the main protagonist of both mediums, the film traces the search for Lara’s father on a remote island in the Devil’s Sea, a treacherous place for any sailor who dares attempt to travel there.

The film begins with Lara Croft, a boxing, defiant bicycle delivery girl who is seemingly short on money.  After accepting a challenge to be the “fox” in a bicycle chase game, Lara is apprehended and subsequently bailed out by Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas), a business partner of her presumed-dead father.  When it is implied that Lara is the heir to her father Lord Richard Croft’s (Dominic West) fortune, she seems torn between holding out hope that he has survived an exotic adventure and signing the papers to accept her inheritance.  Upon meeting with lawyers, Lara is given a Japanese puzzle that she recognizes as the kind her father used to do with her when she was young. Within the puzzle lies a key revealing the life’s work of her lost father, an avid adventurer and archaeologist.

After reading her father’s work regarding a mysterious Japanese queen who may hold the key to an unknown magical plague that has the ability to wipe out humanity as a whole, she learns that Richard Croft’s mission when he went missing was to make sure this power would not fall into the wrong hands.  This leads Lara to hire a drunken sailor out of Hong Kong named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) who will lead her to the Devil’s Sea and attempt to find the island where the fabled queen, Himiko, is said to be resting in a tomb.

The film has a lot of action, and Vikander’s Lara is a likeable protagonist and is a strong, legitimate female action hero.  Many times, the movie feels like it is just a run of the mill action-adventure that audiences have seen countless times since the gold standard, Raiders of the Lost Ark, came out in 1980.  The formulaic search for ancient relics and supernatural powers rooted in vague historical references is something that has been played out for a long time.

The supporting characters are not very well-developed and do not leave the audience with any lasting impression of them.  Lord Richard Croft is a prototypical doting father who is separated from his daughter on his mission to meet his goal. Walton Goggins plays Mathias Vogel, who is the deranged leader of the group Trinity, who is also focused on finding Himiko to unleash her power.  He is a less effective version of Belloch from the Indiana Jones franchise. Lu Ren brings some heroism to the movie, but the relationship between himself and Lara seems somewhat forced.

The most interesting part of the film are the visuals.  Lara’s high-flying moves through the obstacles presented on the remote island are exactly what are expected in a franchise based on a video game.  From the initial decision for her to go to find her father until the last scene, the action rarely stops.

In reality, though, for an action movie that is based on an adventure game, it seems to take itself a little too seriously.  Another exotic adventure film released this year, Jumanji, has all of the characteristics of Tomb Raider, but much of it is tongue in cheek and relishes the fun of the adventure.  

Tomb Raider is a movie that would be perfect for the background while getting work done, but is not going to hold up against the classic adventure movies.

The film Gringo, directed by Nash Edgarton and starring David Oyelowo, Josh Edgarton, and Charlize Theron, is an action-comedy that examines the question of what the American Dream is and what it represents for each individual person.

The film begins with Richard Rusk (Joel Edgarton), the boss at a major pharmaceutical company, fielding a call from Harold Soyenka (Oyelowo), who is desperately asking for help because he is stranded in Mexico.  Rusk is reluctant to help, although it is obvious that he is part of the reason for his capture.

The movie flashes back a few days, highlighting the fact that Harold is a by the book “yes man” who asks few questions and goes by the books on virtually everything, who poses little threat to anyone he comes across in his daily routine.  Harold, a Nigerian immigrant, is in serious debt, mostly because his wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) has expended their bank accounts and put them into the negative. When Rusk and fellow corporate bigwig Elaine Muskinson (Theron) have to go to Mexico to stop selling surplus drugs to a cartel and start pushing a marijuana pill for the company, they need Harold for access and credibility.

The trip becomes chaos when Harold goes missing and Rusk and Elaine must head back to Chicago without their employee.  When this happens, Harold must try to figure out who is going to help him and who is going to sell him out or kill him, and that’s when the action picks up.  While stranded in Mexico, his path continuously crosses with a young man named Miles (Harry Treadaway), who is tasked with trying to extract the formula for the pill from the company, and his girlfriend Sunny (Amanda Seifreid), who thinks that they are just on a romantic vacation.  

The movie starts out with the feeling of a nice guys finish last comedy straight out of the 1980s, but eventually builds into an action movie that has Harold controlling (purposely or not) the fate of his employers and many of the people around him.  Finding out that many of the people whom he had considered close to him had betrayed him, he gets intertwined in international business, racketeering, and kidnapping without having much of an idea of what to do as each step happens.

Oyelowo gives a great performance as Harold, who unwittingly becomes the pawn in a war between Big Pharm and a Mexican drug cartel led by a man named the Black Panther (Carlos Corona) who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.  Oyewolo’s Harold brings comedy, charm, and the feeling of the consummate underdog to the role.

Edgarton’s Rusk and Theron’s Elaine epitomize the greed and arrogance of a prototypical one percenter villain.  Only caring about the bottom line and winning, the characters provide a good foil to the character of Harold.

Other supporting characters drive the story along as well, including Rusk’s brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley), an ex-mercenary-turned-humanitarian who Rusk asks to obtain Harold.  Mitch brings much comic relief and over the top bravado to the movie. Newton’s Bonnie becomes a major plot point through the movie, and the young couple of Miles and Sunny are also very good.  With small but important roles as easily persuaded business men working with Rusk and Theron, seasoned comedic actors Alan Ruck and Kenneth Choi portray good caricatures of how people can be lured into terrible decisions.

Overall, the film is entertaining and well-made.  The characters, although over the top, are relatable and funny.  With Oyelowo driving the movie, the other characters follow in his wake.  It is definitely worth watching, and could take some of the levity of the high concept films that have dominated the Oscar season.

The film Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland and based on the book of the same name by Jeff Vandermeer, is a science fiction film that follows the discovery and journey into an alien-like biosphere that is referred to as “the Shimmer,” an area around a lighthouse that an extraterrestrial entity crashed into and continues to spread.

The film begins with Lena (Natalie Portman) being interrogated about what had happened previously in the Shimmer, and she seems to be the sole survivor of a mission to research it. The film then flashes back to her old life, where she is a brilliant biology professor at Johns Hopkins University. It is revealed that she had been married, but her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is believed to be killed at war, and Lena has not been able to let go of the loss.

Kane returns unexpectedly, but is noticeably different from the husband that she knew, and unable to give any information about his whereabouts for the previous year. Almost immediately, he suffers from a brain hemorrhage, and is rushed to the hospital. As the ambulance is en route, the vehicle is stopped by a convoy of police cars to transport the patient to Area X, a research facility that is based near the Shimmer attempting to research it. While there, Lena, with her background in biology, is tasked with joining a crew of fellow well-educated and capable women, led by psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to enter the area and study it.

Once they embark on their journey, they discover that the Shimmer is full of creatures that have been changed from their previous iterations, including oversized vicious alligators, mutated wolf-bear hybrids, and all kinds of different vegetation that is different from the outside world. While inside, the group discovers that the biosphere has an effect on the people inside it, both mental and physical. While exploring, they find clues about what happened to the people who preceded them in the area, with some shocking and intriguing results. With the obvious physical changes, and the growing distrust between the people of the expedition, the group begins to fear the ever-changing ecosystem as well as the people who are there to protect them.

The film is entertaining from beginning to end, and keeps the suspense building throughout. It does get a little convoluted with some plot lines that are not really tied up, but it does not bog down the movie. The flashback scenes give the characters some depth and background, but some of them feel a little forced. The film makes the science understandable to the layman, and Portman plays her role in a very believable way.

The strong supporting cast, made up almost entirely of females, do a great job of showing how different personalities can positively and negatively affect a group of people with a common goal. Leigh’s Ventress is a strong character who seems to have an almost Ahab-like obsession with finding the answers that she wants from the Shimmer. Gina Rodriguez as Anya Thorensen, Tuva Novotny as Cass Sheppard, and Tessa Thompson as Josie Radek, bring much energy and thought to the movie as specialists in fields to study the entity. Oscar Isaac’s Kane is an interesting character, and the audience is left guessing how much of him was left in the Shimmer.

Annihilation has many elements of science fiction that are common, but it never feels like a recycling of a concept. Asking the question “If extraterrestrial life exists, what are their goals and how would it affect us?” is the general theme through the movie, and the search for the answer is a cool ride. It elicits the feelings of films like Prometheus, Sphere, The Thing, and E.T, but never really lives up to the staying power of those movies. Overall, Annihilation is an interesting watch, and is worth sitting through until the end, but it will not be one that will be talked about for years to come.

The film Black Panther, a Marvel movie directed by Ryan Coogler, is a different brand of superhero movie that destroys many of the tropes that are expected from the genre.  The film outlines the rise of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to the throne of Wakanda, a Central African country that has hidden itself from the rest of the world, despite the fact that it houses vibranium, the most powerful substance in the universe.

The beginning of the film brings T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka (John Kani) to Oakland to bring his brother N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) back to Wakanda.  After a dispute that transpires in Captain America: Civil War, T’Chaka loses his life and T’Challa must become the Black Panther.  After a customary passage to the throne, Erik Killmonger (Michael B.Jordan), the forgotten son of N’Jobu, comes to challenge.

Jordan’s villain might be the best of any one of the Marvel villains.  With a right to the throne and a firm belief that moving away from isolationism is the right move makes him a sympathetic character along with being the most powerful foe whom we have seen so far.

The supporting cast is also great. Andy Serkis, as the arms dealer Klaue, does an awesome job of driving the plot along.  As a crazy vibranium dealer who relishes the thrill of the chase, Serkis shows his action chops outside of his usual motion-capture performances for which he is known.  Angela Bassett as the Queen Ramonda also gives a powerful performance.  She is regal and wise, and brings much energy to the film.  

The breakout performance of the film is from Letitia Wright, who plays T’Challa’s sister.  Being the equivalent of Q from the James Bond franchise, she adapts Black Panther’s costume and gadgets to maximize his abilities.  She brings a lot of humor and fun to the film and Wright is definitely a rising star.

Marvel films of late have tried to interweave the other heroes of the franchise into the film to bring all of the stories together for the upcoming Avengers:Infinity War.  Black Panther breaks this mold by creating a standalone superhero movie that goes away from the standard origin story that has been the formula for the introduction of most of the franchise’s films.

The movie brings a lot of traditional African elements to the characters without being over the top or kitschy.  The tribes of the region are united in a mutual respect for one another, and it is interesting to watch when they gather to name a new king.  There are many elements of the film that feel almost Lion King-esque (in a good way) with T’Challa communicating with leaders of the past in order to make the right decisions.

Black Panther begs many questions that are pertinent to society today.  Boseman as T’Challa is a formidable leader and always stands up for what is right, but is forced to question his own morals in order to do what is best for Wakanda.  Jordan’s Killmonger brings much of a gray area to the quintessential villain and leaves the audience wondering if his aggressive stance may be the correct one.  The high-flying action mixed with the social overtones make for an extremely entertaining and interesting movie.

The film, along with breaking many barriers, is an extremely action-packed romp for all comic book fans (and even non-comic book fans) to enjoy.  As is customary of each of the Marvel movies, there are a couple of post credit scenes, so don’t leave until the lights come on.

The 15:17 to Paris, directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the memoir The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Soldiers by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos, is a film that brings three lifelong friends through trials and tribulations that culminate in a situation of chaos in which they must thwart a terrorist attack aboard a cross-country train through Europe.  Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos all portray themselves in the ordeal, and bring a sense of realism to the movie.
The film begins chronicling the relationship between the three main characters, all outcasts in a Catholic middle school who find solace with each other playing Airsoft in the woods of California and recreating battle strategy from major skirmishes during Word War 2.  After being forced to separate because of school choice and a change of parental custody, the three keep a bond through high school.  After Stone and Sadler join the military, the three decide to take a backpacking trip through Europe and hit as many sites as possible.  Splicing their pasts with their present, the film comes to a climax when they leave Amsterdam to get to Paris, France, their last stop on the route.
While aboard the train, the group happens to be in the midst of an attempted attack by an ISIS insurgent.  After the terrorist shoots a passenger who tries to stop him, the group begins to rally against him, using their own skills to prevent further injury.
The film is very well directed, and is intense throughout.  The main characters are likable and believable, and the viewer is rooting for them whether they are in a dance club in Amsterdam, a hostel in Italy, or especially protecting the people around them against a person who only wants to destroy any sense of security around people trying to enjoy a sightseeing trip.
Spencer Stone is the most prominently featured member of the group, and the film chronicles his transformation from a chubby adolescent war buff to a seasoned Air Force man.  Alek Skarlatos is the quiet muscle, nicknamed “The Robot,” who never falters and does not back down from any sort of altercation.  Anthony Sadler, who on a whim goes to visit his friends, becomes an irreplaceable part of the team.
The supporting cast of the film is also great.  Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer, who play Stone’s and Skarlatos’ mothers respectively, although known for their comedy chops deliver great performances. Thomas Lennon as Principal Akers and Tony Hale as physical education teacher Coach Murray, also deliver in comedic yet defining roles in the main characters’ adolescence.  The children who portray the main characters at a young age, William Jennings as Spencer Stone, Bryce Gheisar as Alek Skarlatos, and Paul-Mikel Williams as Anthony Sadler, also deliver great performances. The fact that the protagonists portray themselves is something that is not often seen, and it is obvious that the three are not seasoned actors, which is understandable.  That vulnerability brings some uncomfortable scenes to the film, but it also makes for an interesting dynamic to a very recent historic event.
The film’s theme is that every person’s destiny is molded by the obstacles that they face.  It is an uplifting film that shows that it doesn’t matter what country a person is from or what they believe, if people band together, any hurdle can be overcome.  Although the film seems predictable throughout, it is factually accurate for the most part, and definitely worth the watch.

The film Winchester, directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, is a haunted house movie that is inspired by the true story of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), who is the heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which was left to her by her late husband, William Winchester.  After the death of her husband and child, Sarah believes that her house is haunted by the ghosts of the people who have been killed by her husband’s creation.

Set in 1906 San Diego, Sarah has built a house that she continues to build upon with no real rhyme or reason, except for appeasing spirits.  When the trustees of her late husband’s company question the validity of her claims, they attempt to have her sanity evaluated by a psychologist.  The psychologist that is chosen is a Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke), who at first is hesitant, but after being made an offer that was impossible to decline, he reluctantly accepts.  Clark is a person who has been battling his own demons, including addiction to opiates that he uses to deal with the death of his wife.

At the Winchester Mansion, the audience is introduced to Sarah’s family member Marian Mariott (Sarah Snook), who lives with her elderly matriarch with her son, Henry (Finn Scicluna-O’Prey).  It is found that Henry has been acting strangely, and seems to be possessed by some sort of otherworldly entity.  While attempting to psychoanalyze Sarah, he begins to realize that she is also sizing him up.  As Dr. Price begins to see the ghosts, his assessment predispositions of Sarah begin to change.  As he finds out that Sarah has been adding the rooms due to a desire to give the ghosts closure after their brutal deaths from her namesake’s company, he begins to investigate the creepy goings on in the mansion.

The movie is a lazy attempt to capitalize on some of the recent ghost movies (which also claim to be based on true events) that have gotten relatively good reviews and have done well at the box office, including The Conjuring movies and Annabelle.  The film relies on jump scares through the beginning scenes, but then fails to really bring any sort of fear that the concept definitely could have used.  The acting is subpar, and none of the characters have any real likeability.  The true story of the Winchester Mystery House is fascinating, and many people believe that there is definitely supernatural activity in the house, but the film fails to capture any of the imagination that definitely could have improved the story.

All in all, this film is not worth the time of watching.  The scariest part of the movie if the fact that after a little more than an hour and half, there is no desire to watch another minute.

The film Hostiles, directed by Scott Cooper, is a grizzly, throwback Western that brings some of the elements of early cowboy movies to the contemporary big screen.  The film centers around the transportation of an imprisoned, dying chief, Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), along with his family,  by Union Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), who is accompanied by a handpicked battalion of soldiers, from Fort Berringer, New Mexico to Yellow Hawk’s homeland of Montana.  

The film captures many of the elements that make the cowboy movies of the past great, but also is an allegory that represents many issues that are at the forefront today.  

The film opens in a grisly way, setting the stage for external and internal struggles for both the Native Americans and the people who have settled on and continue to take their land.  When Blocker, who nearing retirement, is tasked with transporting the convoy of Cheyennes, whom he despises, on the long journey, he is extremely displeased.  As a soldier who has given everything for his country, he feels as though this is a backwards, if not futile, task that he should not have to endure.  When he is backed into a wall by his superior officer, he insists that he must take his most trusted men, including his friend Thomas Metz (Roy Cochrane), with whom he often reminisces about their time together in their early days of service, Rudy Kiddor (Jesse Plemons), a recruit fresh out of West Point who always plays by the rules but has limited military service, and Corporal Henry Woodson (Jonathan Majors), a former Buffalo Soldier and a trusted flank for Blocker who is reliable and extremely adept.  

While moving Yellow Hawk and his family, the group encounters Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike), who is hiding from Comanche soldiers who have taken everything that she has.  When Blocker sees her situation, he brings her along in hopes of getting her to safety when arriving at another fort along the way.  

During the journey, Blocker begins to realize that his predispositions and experiences are not unlike those faced by many of the natives who have battled his people since the Europeans came to the continent.  With much mistrust and apprehension, the group must band together to achieve a common goal of reaching Montana, thus allowing Blocker to finally get to his retirement and for Yellow Hawk and his family to get back to their homeland to have the chief live the rest of his life.  

The journey is full of obstacles and skirmishes, with each character faced with their own strengths and weaknesses.  The slow burn intensity keeps the movie suspenseful throughout.  The characters have to look inside themselves and abandon preconceptions and realize that there are redeeming qualities to people whom they have hated for years before.  

The film tackles some issues that have been in the forefront of the news in recent years.  Post traumatic stress syndrome is something that plagues many characters throughout. Predispositions and prejudices about what is right and wrong are burdens on the majority of the characters for the duration.  

The acting in the movie is great.  Christian Bale, as always, does a masterful job of portraying Blocker.  Adam Beach as Black Hawk, Yellow Hawk’s son, is very good as a fearless warrior in the movie.  Majors, Plemons, and Cochrane also are very good characters.  Q’orianka Kilcher as Elk Woman, Black Hawk’s wife, and Xavier Horsechief as Little Bear, their son, also are very good, believable characters.  Each character brings their own element of importance to the film, and drives the plot along that never leaves the audience bored.  

Hostiles is a very good western movie, but it does have its flaws.  The film can be predictable at times, and the internal struggles of the characters never really drive any of the major plot points.  The movement of a group of people through the Wild West will always be something that is intriguing and exciting, but the film falls short in really making the audience empathize with any of the characters.  Hostiles is definitely worth seeing, but it doesn’t hold up with most of the best films of the genre.