Texas Rangers go west

Growin’ up in the northwest, I’ve always been a fan of westerns. I cut my teeth on John Wayne and Clint Eastwood — “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,” “For a Few Dollars More” and “Rooster Cogburn,” to name a few of my favorites. So when Wisenheimer (the Netflix recommendation computer) suggested “Texas Rangers,” I responded with a hardy hi-ho mouse click.

“Texas Rangers” introduced me to Leander McNelly (James Van Der Beek), a true-to-life legendary Texas Ranger who, after the Civil War, was called back to duty to defend Texas border communities against a marauding Mexican gang of banditos.

He is forced to resurrect the Rangers from scratch using men who were just kids the last time the Rangers rode. The story follows their development into a powerful force that protected border towns.

I’m not a big Ashton Kutcher fan. He seems to add levity to stories even when he doesn’t mean to, making intense gun battles less dramatic. An enjoyable watch all around, but I’m still rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Ironclad” tells the story of King John, King Richard The Lionheart’s brother. Not as beloved as his brother, King John ruled the people of England with iron-fist force. This treatment led to a revolt by the barons, which in turn led to the creation of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is considered an early step in the evolution of the constitution of the United Kingdom and a precursor to our own Constitution.

Needless to say, King John was reluctant to obey the Magna Carta. After creating a mercenary army, he started a war with the barons.  A Knight Templar joins a handful of revolutionaries to hold off King John at Rochester Castle until support from the French arrives. The battle scenes are graphic and intense, and the Knight Templar is very cool. I think I found my Halloween costume idea.

“Insomnia” takes us to Alaska during the summer. The premise of the story is an L.A. cop comes to assist in a murder investigation, but he finds himself unable to sleep. Some of it has to do with the midnight sun Alaskans have to deal with in the summertime and some of it has to do with bad-cop guilt.

I, like our sports editor Tyson Alger, can attest to the sleepless Alaskan summer nights. I spent a summer during college working at a grocery store (the storied cannery job avoided me). I would walk home after my swing shift in relative daytime-like brightness. Very surreal to say the least.

Robin Williams is the film’s highlight as the small town author turned teenage-girl murderer. It’s a far cry from the funny, feel-good characters of Williams’ past. Unlike Kutcher, Willams can create a believable dramatic character without resorting to levity.

Al Pacino, as good an actor as he is, tends to play the same cop. The stories are different, but it’s Pacino and he’s a cop and he’s tormented. Yawn … makes me sleepy.

‘Texas Rangers’

Cast: James Van Der Beek, Rachael Leigh Cook, Ashton Kutcher, Dylan McDermott, Usher

This show is: Violent, Gritty, Suspenseful

Rated: PG-13

Common Sense rating: Violence, adult situations and Ashton Kutcher

The legendary Texas Ranger, Leander McNelly, leads a band of young, unlikely heros against an army of Mexican renegades tormenting the Texas frontier. The poster says it all … “Before There Was Law, There Were The Rangers.” 3 of 5 Netflix stars.

‘Ironclad’

Cast:  James Purefoy, Paul Giamatti

This show is: Violent, Exciting, Gritty

Rated: R

Common Sense rating: Strong graphics, brutal battle sequences, brief nudity and the breaking of sacramental vows, not for kids.

With Magna Carta in hand, a principled Knight Templar, and the Magnificent Seven sent forth to defend Rochester Castle from the ruthless King John, who looks to rule England by force. 4 of 5 Netflix stars.

‘Insomnia’

Cast: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

This show is: Dark, Suspenseful, Understated

Rated: R

Common Sense rating: Language, some violence, brief nudity and really long, sleepless, Alaskan summer days, not for kids

Detective Will Dormer is sent to Alaska to assist in the investigation of a teen age girl’s murder. Despite the guilt of killing his partner and an extremely bad case of insomnia, Dormer is determined to solve the case. 3 of 5 Netflix stars.

5 Halloween movies in the queue

1. Halloween: Resurrection

2. Halloween: H2O

3. Jason Goes to Hell

4. Scream

5. Barney: Halloween Party

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