‘Dog’ Review: Channing Tatum and His Four-Legged Friend Find Their Way Back

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Dog (CREDIT: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/SMPSP/© 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bill Burr, Nicole LaLiberte, Luke Forbes, Ronnie Gene Blevins

Directors: Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Veterans Struggling with Civilian Life

Release Date: February 18, 2022 (Theaters)

Dog is basically The Odyssey, but as if Odysseus’ crew were replaced by a military-trained Belgian Malinois named Lulu. She absolutely has to get to the funeral of the soldier who handled her, and Army Ranger Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum) takes on the assignment to convince his superiors that he’s fit enough to head out on another tour of duty. So they trek down the Pacific Coast, and along the way they endure several tests of character and meet a fascinating array of folks. It’s a typical road trip buddy comedy of opposites who of course eventually realize that they’ve got more in common than they thought. They’re both experiencing PTSD after all, and they can be each other’s emotional support if they can just manage to open up.

At only an hour and a half long, you might expect Dog to have a fairly straightforward plot, but it’s actually a series of non-stop detours. As Jackson makes his first stop at a hipster bar in Portland and then finds himself in the throes of a tantric threesome, I found myself wondering what the heck was going on. That thought remained top of mind throughout, as the randomness of Jackson and Lulu’s excursions just kept pulling up. One day, they’re being held captive by a pot farmer who suspects espionage, and then soon after, Jackson’s impersonating a blind man to score a luxury hotel suite. When they end up at an encampment for unhoused people, I’m still wondering how they suddenly got to this point, but at least in this case the thematic resonance is immediately clear, considering the fate of too many veterans who are unable to find the support they need. Ultimately, much like the epics of yore, these vignettes do their best to paint a mythic panorama of the society we’re living in today.

Considering its subject matter and its pedigree, Dog has an appropriately shaggy disposition. It’s the directorial debut for both Tatum and Reid, who previously worked together on White House Down, 22 Jump Street, Logan Lucky, and both Magic Mike chapters. With this collaboration, they display plenty of empathy and patience, and in that spirit, Dog is worth warming up to. It’s not the most enthralling or life-changing experience at the multiplex today, but it’s got some tricks up its collar that can make you reconsider what it’s up to. Its happy ending is as formulaic as any platonic (pet-tonic?) rom-com in which it’s no surprise that Man and Mutt are going to fall for each other, but it’s endearing enough that you’re pleased when they do.

Dog is Recommended If You Like: Early 2010s Hipster-based comedy, A Carousel of Character Actor Cameos, Chew Toys

Grade: 3 out of 5 Dog

‘Color Out of Space’ is Here to Blow Your Mind Just as You Asked

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CREDIT: RLJE Films

Color Out of Space is basically the inverse of Cats. While the nonsense with the Jellicles was disturbing in just the ways one would expect, this blast of no-holds-barred horror sci-fi is satisfying in the ways that you would expect a movie based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Richard Stanley after a long stint in director jail to be. In many ways, it’s like Annihilation but if instead of starring a quintet of women, it starred Cage with his typical five-times-bigger-than-the-average-person personality. After a couple hours’ journey through an unremitting vision, it concludes on a note (for the survivors) of “Well, that was weird. At least now we can move on with our lives.” And you can, too!

I give Color Out of Space A Million Colors Into My Face.

This Is a Movie Review: Christian Bale Gives It His Grimmest in the Dour, Distressing ‘Hostiles’

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CREDIT: Lorey Sebastian/Yellow Hawk, Inc.

This review was originally posted on News Cult in December 2017.

Starring: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ben Foster, Bill Camp, Stephen Lang

Director: Scott Cooper

Running Time: 127 Minutes

Rating: R for Western Hostility

Release Date: December 22, 2017 (Limited)

Christian Bale excels at playing men who are forced into carrying the weight of a profoundly demanding mission, whether by their own volition or due to leverage someone else holds over them. The Dark Knight’s “the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now” is basically that status as personal credo. In the 1892-set Western Hostiles (Bale’s second collab with his Out of the Furnace director Scott Cooper), he plays a much more reluctant protagonist, an Army captain forced to deliver a Cheyenne chief and his family back to tribal lands, under threat of losing his pension if he refuses. He looks like he hasn’t bathed in years; that stink and his impressive mustache tangibly represent the brunt he is under.

Ergo, Captain Bale (Captain Joseph Blocker is his character name) is filled with a lot of hostility, and he is surrounded by a lot of low-grade or full-blown hostility, whether it be from his fellow soldiers, the suicidal widow (Rosamund Pike) whose family was recently slaughtered, his Cheyenne transports, or the natives that ambush them. We might have our winner for Most Accurate Title of the Year right here.

While nobody in this film is particularly heroic, I do worry that its portrayal of Native Americans hearkens back to a more racist tradition of Westerns. The opening scene presents a group of Comanches at their most savage. For no clear reason, they burn down a family’s home, skinning the father’s scalp and mercilessly killing him and his two young daughters. I am sure that some natives were actually this brutal in late-19th century frontier America, and I do not mean to say that I think that Hostiles is implying that all of them (or all of this particular tribe) were this awful. But the fact that this worst version is all we see of them and that this portrayal is presented so bluntly is concerning.

At least we can appreciate at the aesthetic pleasures (or anti-pleasures, really) with fewer moral qualms. If you ever wanted to see Ben Foster tied up in the cold, muddy rain at night, Hostiles is the film for you. Cooper’s designs for how icky and uninviting nature gets without modern amenities is thoroughly harsh. Lovingly so, even (at least the crafty attention to detail is loving). You’ll probably want to shower afterwards, in a cathartic sort of way, or if you’re a 19th century fetishist, you’ll run right out and find the closest available barren lands.

Hostiles is Recommended If You Like: John Wayne and Clint Eastwood at their most rugged

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Hostiles