Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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Molly's Game


Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :halfstar:
Final Score: :3.5stars:


The name Aaron Sorkin is one that has been well known in Hollywood for quite some time, but never before as the name of a director. Sorkin is most well known for his writing skills, where he penned such films as The Social Network, Moneyball, Steve Jobs and countless others (his name was plastered all over The Social Network for all the home video releases, which is where I first REMEMBER seeing his name). The man has been happy to to write screenplays, adaptations and Broadway stage scripts for years and years, but finally the man has decided to come out of the background and take an active role at directing his fist feature length film about real life poker queen, Molly Bloom (based off of her autobiography about her experience). The movie is witty, smartly paced, and features VERY few flaws, making it a surprise hit for Sorkin and one the most enjoyable 2 hour and 20+ minute films of the year for this reviewer.

Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) is a brilliant woman who has grown up with adversity. Parented by a domineering dad (played by Kevin Costner) and overcoming scoliosis to ski in the Olympic trials, she was rejected after suffering a serious accident that pretty much destroyed her skiing career. From there she skipped out on law school and moved to L.A. where she took up cocktail waitressing and working for a real estate investor. However, the woman’s skills are put to the test when her real estate investor boss decides to have her run his weekly big wig poker night for him. There she learned the skills and knowledge necessary to make over $3,000 a WEEK just running a few numbers and winking at a few guys. But like you may have guessed, Molly isn’t going to be satisfied by being the cute girl behind the counter. Outclassing everyone around her, she steals the game for herself and soon runs one of the most well known poker games on the west side of the nation.

Unfortunately good things come to an end and her BARELY legal (only because she’s not taking a portion of the pot) game is gone belly up. Moving to New York to start over, Molly becomes bigger and better than she ever was, but also sets herself up for the ultimate destruction. Getting too big for ones britches is always a problem for big shooters in the underbelly of society, and Molly fell prey to that vice. Going for more and more players, she inadvertently brings in a few New York Russian mobsters, and stretches herself just a little too thin. Pumping drugs down her veins to keep running, she begins to lose a grasp on the situation and soon an FBI informant brings down her whole operation.
Everything in the movie is told in a dual timeline fashion. In typical Sorkin fashion, the film uses Jessica Chastain to narrate the entire film from the top (a kind of necessity due to the complexity of the film’s inner workings), and that is usually used to push the narrative along. Especially in the sections dealing with Molly’s past. The first portion (with the most narration) deals with Molly’s past life. Here we watch as Young Molly grows up, deals with her father, and subsequently deals with her gambling empire. The second timeline is in the present (or at least in the present of the film), wherein Molly is now being federally indicted for an illegal gambling operation, AND rolled into a RICO investigation with the rest of Russian mobsters she was wrapped up in (unwittingly)

The film moves along at a fairly brisk pace, and while it really is rather bland story in a logical sense, you just can’t help but get enthralled in the thrill of the empire creation that Molly goes through. This is due mostly to Jessica Chastain playing such a confident, but empathetic, person in the form of Molly Bloom. Molly is both powerful and vulnerable at the same time, and Chastain’s charisma is so palpable and intoxicating that you just love watching the simple action of her narrating a poker game. Idris Elba (who is pretty much in every movie these days) does well as her lawyer, but this is really sold through Jessica herself for 99% of the film. The only PROBLEM I have with the film is that the narration from Chastain is a bit too much at times, as it pulls the audience out of the center of the action and can feel just a bit patronizing. It’s not a big deal, especially with all of the story that has to be plowed through, but it IS noticeable.


Rated R for language, drug content and some violence

Video: :4stars:
Like most modern releases,
Molly’s Game is a well done digitally shot film that is revealing enough to be pleasing to just about everyone, but showing off a few flaws as well. The film opens up with some crushed blacks and banding in the dim lighting, but promptly clears up to give us a well detailed image with a fairly natural looking color grading. There’s still the low light level banding that comes and goes throughout the movie, but you can see every crease and line in Jessica Chastain’s face, even though much of the film is spent in the dark, under ground rooms that house the poker games. Blacks are good, but I did notice that they looked a bit gray tinged and some of the well lit shots are a bit over exposed. Otherwise, this is a very technically well done film that gives a very nice viewing experience.

Audio: :4stars:
Much like the video,
Molly’s Game offers a very technically impressive sounding DTS-HD MA 7.1 track. At first glance it might seem that a 7.1 track is a bit overkill for a character drama like Molly’s Game, but the opening first few minutes with Molly on the ski slope really do demonstrate the wide sound stage that the 7.1 experience can provide. However, there is a modicum of truth to that musing. The 7.1 track tightens down a bit when the titular poker queen gets her game going, and much of the sound comes from the front of the room. However, those surrounds are given ample room to utilize their presence, with the rumbling and muffled grumbling of men in a confined room arguing, as well as the soft sounds of the ever present score winding it’s way through the rooms. Bass is punchy and responsive, but never overly aggressive or omnipresent. Basically, a very nice sounding track that doesn’t excel, but does everything asked of it without hesitation or lack of effort.

Extras: :halfstar:
Building an Empire – Writer/Director Aaron Sorkin and star Jessica Chastain comment on Molly Bloom and her remarkable story

Final Score: :3.5stars:

Molly’s Game is an intriguing film that manages to be something more than a mobster movie about a woman building a poker game. Instead it’s a character study about what makes one woman tick, and how her own personal morals and code of honor got her through this entire experiment. The performances are strong (especially Chastain), but there are a few minor quibbles in the script and directing that keep it from being a totally amazing movie. Still, I had a great time with the film, and 2 hours and 21 minutes flew by in no time flat. Universal’s Blu-ray is a solid looking disc with excellent technical specs (and the seemingly more and more common lack of extras), allowing me to give the package a solid thumbs up to watch.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
Directed by: Aaron Sorkin
Written by: Aaron Sorkin, Molly Bloom (Book)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 141 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 10th, 2018

Recommendation: Good Watch



AV Addict
Jul 13, 2017
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Thanks for the review. I will look out for this one on amazon prime/netflix.
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