13 Hours: Weekly Standard Review

Stephen F. Hayes at the Weekly Standard calls 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi “powerful” and a film “well worth seeing” in it’s film review titled 13 Hours: Stranger than Fiction. First, they talk about the movie and the impact it has on the viewer:

The movie is based on the book of the same name, written by Boston University journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff with five CIA contractors who participated in the many battles in Benghazi that night. The authors announced in the book’s introduction that they had sought to avoid the politics of Benghazi in favor of a fact-based account of what happened during the 13 hours of fighting there. And while the film tracks the book’s narrative closely, Bay’s depiction of the sense of abandonment felt by those men, as they wait for help that never arrives, heightens the outrage.

Stephen also talks about the political ramifications (read the whole thing!) and the impact on the GOP primary but the money quote:

Whatever its impact, 13 Hours is a powerful film that is well worth seeing. From beginning to end, it forcefully rejects the sanitized, no-fault version of Benghazi. In scene after powerful scene, it assigns blame: to policymakers in Washington who naïvely overestimated our ability to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys in post-Qaddafi Libya; to Washington bureaucrats who paid little attention to repeated warnings about the security of U.S. facilities in Benghazi; to CIA officials more concerned with career advancement and positive performance reviews than saving lives.

But perhaps the strongest indictment made by 13 Hours is an unspoken one. The film itself is an implicit but devastating critique of the American media that refused to report this story in this way, an establishment media that left to Hollywood the responsibility of telling these important truths.

It’s refreshing to see anything come out of Hollywood that attempts to tell the unvarnished truth about anything. To see a movie that addresses an issue that has current political ramifications spin is almost astounding. I urge you to support these rare events to deliver the message to the west coast that Americans want to see the truth without liberal spin. Read the book and see movie. Maybe even see another of Michael Bay’s movies; voting with your dollar is the most effective vote you can cast.


King Wrong

Against my better judgement, I got talked into going to see King Kong.

But after only ten minutes I thought that maybe I had been wrong. The cinematography was brilliant and Aussie actress Naomi Watts was sweet and compelling.

After twenty minutes I settled in for an enjoyable experience. The character development was entertaining and it looked like Jack Black was finally being given a role that would cement his reputation as a serious actor.

Bottom line:

  • Over three hours of magnificent cinematography.
  • Over two hours of special effects so lifelike and natural that it bordered on being indistinguishable from reality. With the next leap of digital animation the viewer will no longer be able to tell what is film and what is fake.
  • Perhaps 30 minutes of interesting dialogue.
  • About 40 minutes of celluloid entertainment.

Yes, in the end director Peter Jackson succeeded in ruining the movie as no one else except Peter Jackson can do.

Remember Lord of the Rings? Remember the agonizingly long scenes that consisted of little more than Samwise gazing sympathetically and lovingly into Frodo’s eyes? Again and again? Now replace Samwise and Frodo with a blonde and an oversized silverback gorilla and remove the “little more”.

And yes, Peter, special effects are great. But two hours of special effects with no breaks for things like meaningful character interaction is mind numbing. How many things can attack a small band of men in two hours? Hundreds apparently. Leaving no time for story development.

After two and a half hours I was thinking to myself that at least Jackson had cut the New York scene. The way things were going, there was no way they had time to get off the island by the end of the movie. Ah well, at least it was a break from the island special effects.

The main thing that this movie lacked was humor. You have Jack freakin’ Black as your lead male character! But by the end of the movie he was reduced to a two-dimensional caricature of the stereotypical movie producer. There were glimpses of humor — the seeds were planted but never nurtured. There were opportunities for one-liners all through this film on the part of all of the main characters, but almost none were taken. Instead, Black was given the corniest final line in the history of film.

The most developed character in the entire movie was the first mate of the tramp steamer — who evidently has a Ph.D. in literature and philosophy and yet is serving as second on a disreputable cargo ship. This was, no doubt, an attempt to pacify the PC crowd as he is black and perhaps offsets the primitive and unbelievably scary natives on the island (why were their eyes rolling back into their heads all the time?).

And there was no suspense. One thing after another happened to these people but there was no let up. No time to emotionally engage the viewer. It was two hours and forty minutes of non-stop special effects action.

Non-stop, except for those scenes of Naomi staring into the eyes of King Kong, of course. During which time I was able to notice that the lights in the ceiling are spaced seven ceiling tiles apart across the width of the theatre and nine down the length. Somehow, I don’t believe that an entertained viewer would come away with that bit of knowledge.

Peter, do yourself a favor and rent (and study!) an Alfred Hitchcock film. As for you, dear reader, my advice is to wait for this to come out on video so you can stop it every once in a while and do something more interesting. Like look for interestingly-shaped bits of lint in your couch.

AlphaPatriot score: 2 out of 5 — but only because of the stunning special effects.

Other bloggers on Kong:

Finally, La Shawn Barber points out some fairly ridiculous reviews — a must read.

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Posted December 27th, 2005 Filed in Movie Reviews


I was a fan of the television series Firefly and so I had high expectations for the movie Serenity. Too high, no doubt, as no one could live up to what I expected. After all, I’m the guy who absolutely hated Starship Troopers, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Gladiator and just about everything Spielberg in the last seven years (except for Shrek).

But Joss Whedon excelled, successfully transforming his television vision to the big screen and delivering two hours of action-packed, humor-packed, feel-good entertainment.

There were spontaneous bursts of applause during the show. There were frequent outbreaks of laughter.


Fans of the TV series will be pleased to see all of the original characters with all of their original characteristics. Mal is still the tough freedom-fighting leader who is all-too-human when you scratch the surface, and still has a rather unique way of putting things. Kaylee is still carrying a torch for Simon. River is still nuts which still drives Jayne nuts. And so on.

She’s disturbing my calm.
       — Jayne

Newcomers won’t feel lost as there is enough backstory to bring them along, told with enough barbs to entertain everyone.

It is rarely predictable: most of the time I figured things out just before they happened (I hate sitting through ten minutes of dialogue leading up to something I already know is going to take place).

And it explains so much that the TV series had in place for mystery.

But mostly, it’s fun (my cheeks still ache a little from smiling for almost the entire two hours). And the fight scenes were great (no wires like Kill Bill). The cinematography didn’t get in the way of the film (as in Gladiator) and the special effects were never thrown in just to show what great computers the CGI nerds in Hollywood have (ala Starship Troopers).

Bottom line: Serenity Rocked.

I aim to misbehave.
       — Malcolm Reynolds

Go see it. I think you’ll be glad you did.


As for me, I’m ready for a new bumper sticker:

Posted September 28th, 2005 Filed in Movie Reviews