All gun guys and most Americans, except perhaps for a few off-the-grid survivalists shivering in a dugout somewhere west of Des Moines, already know that the American Sniper is based on the exploits of Chris Kyle, the “most deadly sniper in American military history.” The same people also know how Chris Kyle’s story ended prematurely and violently at a Chalk Mountain shooting range, where he was gunned down by a man he was trying to help even though they hardly knew each other. American Sniper focuses on the rest of Chris Kyle’s story, taking 132 minutes to demonstrate, very graphically at times, that Gen. Sherman had a knack for understatement . . .
Smith & Wesson’s 460XVR (X-treme Velocity Revolver) is a Performance Center hand cannon aimed squarely at the handgun hunting market. As if to evince the seriousness of its purpose, the snub-nosed 460XVR comes packaged in a plain white corrugated box, not the usual cardboard container gaily decorated with the vivid blue and white S&W colors. The box is highly utilitarian and can be used for many other purposes, such as shipping heavy machine parts or an improvised midnight burial of the neighbor’s Labrador . . .
Fury is both the name of the movie and an M4 Sherman tank that’s home to a dysfunctional family of US Army soldiers. To set the stage, it’s April of 1945 – the last month of the War in Europe — and Hitler’s armies have been shattered on the Western front. The Nazis have been reduced to using children and women to defend their murderous regime. The Third Reich is being (literally) crushed under the treads of American tanks. Resistance, especially from the SS and the Hitler Youth, is fanatical as the Nazis defend their own land. And here’s the first of several spoilers: the Allies win! . . .
Viewers and readers who can’t remember the Cold War will find it difficult to identify with that troubled yet exciting time. Without getting all misty-eyed with nostalgia, it must be admitted that the lingering USA-UK-USSR contretemps was the cauldron that produced some exceptionally exciting books and fantastically entertaining movies. Alas, by the time of glasnost and perestroika, the espionage novels and movies based upon them were deemed to be as stale as month-old piroshki. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed of its own weight, the international espionage writers had moved on, leaving those damn commies behind and focusing on new villains who speak Arabic or Farsi . . .
Sometimes the wheels of justice grind slowly and sometimes they race around in circles like they’re competing for the Porsche Cup. In the Ferguson case, the latter seems to be the way it’s going. “Big Mike” Brown was shot and killed on August 9th. Jury selection started on the same day in every kitchen in America. The guy’s not even in the ground yet but the race to official judgment goes on, making haste rapidly . . .
No matter how it sounds, the new Purge movie is not an infomercial for a high-fiber cleansing diet – although you may feel an urgent need to detoxify after you’ve seen it. The Purge: Anarchy, or Purge 2 if you will, is the second movie in this “franchise.” Both are based on a motif lifted directly from a Star Trek episode called Return of the Archons, which made its TV debut in 1967. Hollywood is sooo creative, dontcha think? In the dystopian near future (2023) of Purge 2, the US is controlled by rich white people. See, I told you that Hollywood is creative. Anyway, here’s what passes for a plot . . .
Call it Gorillas in the Mist – With Machine Guns! Yes, from the giant Xerox copier known as Hollywood comes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the latest installment in the interminable Planet of the Apes franchise. Franchise. That’s a strange term for a line of movies, but it actually makes sense when analogizing movies to fast food. Fast food franchisees keep churning out those thin, greasy, gray, mystery meat patties with the wilted lettuce, skinny slices of tomato and pickle and that savory “special sauce” made of plastic. Hollywood keeps churning out its cinematic equivalent. Except this cheesy quarter pounder of a movie cost $170 million bananas and not a dime of it went into the script . . .
It takes time to get the bugs out of a new product. This is true in the world of guns, cars, computer software, and any complicated consumer or industrial product. Hop into the TARDIS with me and I’ll illustrate my point. In 1983, I bought a BMW 318i. It was a brand new model in its first production year (nominally 1984, but they released the cars early). Mine was number 54 in the production run and probably arrived on the first boat from Bremen, which should have been enough of a warning . . .
The .50 Beowulf is a proprietary cartridge designed by Bill Alexander, the chef de la maison of the eponymous Alexander Arms. As a big, powerful but slow, short- to medium-distance round that’s about the size of a cocktail weenie, the .50 Beowulf is reputedly versatile enough to do the business on elk, grizzly, bison, hogzillas and your brother-in-law’s big block Chevy . . .
Hoplophobes are afraid of guns as if firearms had a mind of their own. Hoplophobes are ignorant and we’d like to teach them, but they (mostly) do not want to learn. They are happy in their ignorance. They are only dangerous because they vote . . .
The Zimmerman trial wasn’t a game or a sporting event, but there were definite winners and losers nonetheless. As JFK said after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, “Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.” Well, maybe not this time . . .
Schlockmeister extraordinaire Roland Emmerich has gone and done it again. In White House Down, Emmerich blows up Washington, D.C., for the second time in his directing career. This time, though, he uses an explosive device that’s considerably less of a bomb than this clichéd muddle of a movie . . .