RSS

Archive | Film RSS feed for this section

Movie Breakdown: The Magnificent Seven

September 23, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

I don’t believe anyone asked for a remake of The Magnificent Seven, but one has arrived.  It’s directed by the solid Antoine Fuqua, and it has a high quality cast that consists of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Pete Sarsgaard and more.  My guess is that it’s going to be fun but forgettable.

Post-Screening Ramble:

2016′s The Magnificent Seven is a big dumb pile of rocks, but it’s a good time.  Denzel Washington (pretty much all of the actors in the film essentially just “play” themselves, so character names are not necessary) meets a pretty lady who needs an impossible amount of help, and since her plight appeals to him, he signs on.  From there he gets very lucky and is able to quickly and effortlessly assemble a team of fellas who are good at telling jokes and killing people. – not all people though, the right people (i.e. bad guys).  Then shots get fired, knives get thrown, quips get tossed about, villainous statements get made and countered by heroic declarations, and so on and so forth.  It’s all rather predictable stuff, but thankfully it’s wrapped in just the right amount of style.  I especially appreciated director Antoine Fuqua’s commitment to the close up shot in the film.  Everyone gets a chance to show off what they can do with their eyes, and I felt like this provided some weight and tension to what’s an overall silly experience.  I also liked the way Fuqua unabashedly makes everyone look as badass as possible at every turn.  Because why not.  Additionally, someone should be given a high five for not just casting a bunch of white dudes.

If you’re looking for something fun, you could do a lot worse than the latest take on The Magnificent Seven.

One Last Thought:

Is it unfair that I’m already wondering what else Chris Pratt has to offer as an actor?   I feel like I’m ready to see him switch things up, but then again I guess he hasn’t really been Mr. Charming Funny Guy for all that long.  I don’t know.  Maybe I should let him roll with it a while longer (at least through Passengers).

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Blair Witch (Noah)

September 16, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

Say what you will about remakes and sequels and prequels and all the other shit Hollywood is heaving on to the screens these day, but I’m excited for a new journey into the Black Hills of Burkittville, Maryland. It’s a great, unexplored world to toy with and director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) has yet to fail us. Please sir, don’t fail us now.

Post-Screening Ramble:

At this point, with every film gracing the silver screen a spin-off or sequel or remake or whatever else they’re calling unoriginal properties these days, it doesn’t seem completely crazy that Lionsgate is releasing a sequel to the inventor of the shaky-cam, found footage film, The Blair Witch Project. Or even that they wrangled hot-as-hot-hot fire horror director Adam Wingard to take the property on. These are the times we live in. So, before you stumble into Blair Witch, ask yourself, “How much does it bother me that this is a sequel of a beloved (abhorred) modern horror classic?” or even, “What am I expecting from a step back into the world of the Blair Witch?” Because either question is going to decide for you, savvy film watcher, if you should be even considering purchasing a ticket and schlupping your way into the theater for two hours of found-footage, shaky-cam madness. Because, Blair Witch is certainly a sequel (new characters, new creepy crawlies, new, horrible ways to bite the dust) but it could be a remake. Wingard, and his writing partner Simon Barrett, have applied a touch of gloss to the original film’s nausea inducing panic, but for the most part, in spirit and in composition, this is The Blair Witch Project for a new generation. A fledgling documentarian (Callie Hernandez) wants to make a film about Heather’s (the snot-soaked girl from the first film) brother James (James Allen McCune) and his extended search for his Blair Witched sister. With two friends, and a pair of stoner, urban legend seekers in tow, they venture into the woods, and well, shit goes down. Wingard and Barrett aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel with this one, both the spirit and the execution of Blair Witch hew almost exactly to the film that came before. And in doing so, they manage to make a film suffused with the same sort of creeping dread of the first film. The first thirty minutes of Blair Witch are a master class in making boredom feel ominous. We watch the intrepid quartet of bumbling filmmakers set up their film work, drive places, and then, slowly enter the woods, learning just enough about each of them to feel slightly attached. But as an audience, we know that shit is going to hit the fan, and because Wingard drags out the set-up (almost too long to be honest) the weight of their entry into the woods is brutal. Sure, once they get into the woods, the filmmakers use their entire bag of jump-scare tricks to get your heart racing and your pulse pounding, but it’s the quiet moments, between a tree falling or the discovery of a creepy wood figure that allow the ominous tone the directors have adeptly fostered to really breath. This is classic jump-scare horror almost to a tee – big noises, characters shrieking on to the screen, lightning and noise – it’s all here, and for the most part it works. And for the most part this is a solid follow-up to the landmark original. But that’s the thing, the original Blair Witch Project redefined what you could do with horror, and trying to base this, a lovely homage (but nothing more), to that, well, it’s impossible. This film isn’t going to change the way you look at horror filmmaking, but it’s a well-crafted, low-budget shocker that does just what it sets out to do.

One Last Thought:

This film terrified me. Seriously. I covered my eyes through much of the end of the film and screamed, out loud, more than once. Afterwards I slunk to my empty home and jumped at every noise, every flicker of the lights, every voice that drifted in through my window.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Sully (Noah)

September 9, 2016

1 Comment

Pre-Screening Stance:

Let me be frank: I don’t love Clint Eastwood. Outside of his political stances, I feel like Eastwood has been resting on his laurels for much of my adult life. The man hasn’t produced a film in years that isn’t marred by a bad script and lazy directing. Though the trailers for Sully have been better than average, I’m having a hard time getting past Eastwood’s “recent” track record.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I walked out of Sully with a bad taste in my mouth. It isn’t a good film, instead it’s a plodding, snooze-inducing two hour slog buoyed only by an all-time great actor, Tom Hanks, doing what he can with a script that never figures out what it is. Clint Eastwood, I think, wanted to make a film that dissected the idea of being a hero in an era dominated by 24-hour news and the media trolls who cling to it. And for a moment, in the beginning, after Captain Sully has impressively landed a plane on the Hudson River, saving 155 people in the process, it is. For a moment, with Tom Hank’s reserved, very interior performance leading the way, you could almost think that Eastwood is back in the game, showing us, in today’s modern world, a true hero slowly brought to his knees by our society’s unyielding need to find the cracks in every glowing shield. It’s a great idea for a film, but, clearly, it isn’t the film that Eastwood wanted to make. Instead, Sully is a film that seems intent only to show how The Man (here played by the National Transportation Safety Board – NTSB) tried to bring a real American hero to his knees. You can almost feel Eastwood’s weathered visage, and his own aversion to government, looming in the background, possibly smiling, possibly whispering, “Oh, you government bastards, you’ll never take my sweet American hero away from me.” Sully, in a sort of low-tempo, low-energy airplane detective tale (with actual interesting characters replaced by speech after speech of incomprehensible plane lingo) has to weather the storm of the opening stages of PTSD, while trying to prove his, I guess you’d call it, uh, innocence. Eastwood’s palette stopped having shades of grey a long time ago though, so instead of it being a careful discussion about what bureaucracy can do to our image of a hero, we get a film about a good guy fighting a bad organization – in this case a group of bland white people just, well, doing what they’re supposed to do in the wake of a miraculous, unprecedented, plane-related event. And hell, in the hands of a director who actually gives a shit, that could’ve been a nuanced piece of filmmaking. But Eastwood gave up long ago, and this film, outside of the tepid script, is, well, truly boring. The audience keeps finding itself in cardboard box conference rooms and hotel rooms and courtrooms, just listening to people argue about the minutia of plane flight. It’s like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but if his speech at the end was just ten paragraphs from a law textbook. What really brought me, the hero of this review, to my knees, a fifteen minute scene at the end where, for what reason, no one will know, Eastwood shows the audience the human-simulation of the flight, intended to disprove Sully’s claim that landing on the water was the only possible option. It’s literally a single shot of two amateurs actors, sitting in a fake plane that’s flying into the worst of early 90s computer graphics. The first time he does it, I thought, “What a strange choice,” but when Eastwood repeats the same thing three more times, back-to-back, well, that’s when the bad taste started forming in my mouth. Because Sully really isn’t even a movie, it’s a lengthy, vitriolic diatribe against government, technology, and progress stuffed through the lens of a director who clearly thinks all of this is, well, pretty shit. Captain Sully, hands down, is the definition of an American hero, a man who went against his training to do what he thought would save the people he was responsible for, and he did. Framing this as battle between hero and evil government, turns the focus away from the most interesting part of the story, the namesake of the film, and what doing what he did, well, did to him. When the film ended with, spoiler alert, Captain Sully foiling the baddies and turning to his co-captain (Aaron Eckhart with a huge mustache) and laughing at a dad joke, I made the “pfff” sound. This is when I really noticed the bad taste in my mouth.

One Last Thought:

Can we call for a moratorium on Clint Eastwood? Just in general. No more public appearances, no more films for five years or at least until he stops supporting Donald Trump.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: The Light Between Oceans

September 2, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

I’m in love with Alicia Viklander (those eyes, that smile), so even though The Light Between Oceans looks like a big ball of sadness, I’m down to watch it.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Light Between Oceans is as I expected it to be – sad.  Tom (played by a steely-eyed Michael Fassbender) decides to take a job at a lighthouse because he wants to be alone so that he can try to get over all of the terrible things he saw during his time as a soldier.  Sad!  His intention is to keep things solo, but he gets wooed by a young lady named Isabel (played by the lovely Alicia Viklander) and they get married.  Not sad!  Then they discover they can’t physically start a family.  Sad!  Then they find a baby with a dead man.  Not sad but kind of sad!  Then their family is complete but the guilt from their actions never stops hanging over them.  Sad!  Then they find out that their finders-keepers baby has a mother (played by a tragedy-riddled Rachel Weisz) that’s still alive.  Sad!  Then lots of other things happen that are just terrible.  SAD.

Seriously, The Light Between Oceans is not interested in making you smile.  In fact, when people in the film smile, it feels weird and borderline uncomfortable.  Regardless of the whopping amount of bummery feelings it tosses out though, it is a beautifully shot film with quality performances, and I have no issues with recommending it.  Just be sure to note that it’s a heavy affair and you probably won’t have a “good” time.

One Last Thought:

It’s surprising to me that The Light Between Oceans didn’t get released later in the year.  Everything about the film feels like something that would do well when all the Oscar-seekers are flooding theaters.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Morgan

September 1, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

Kate Mara, Michelle Yeoh, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti.  That’s a hell of a cast!  The trailers have left a lot to be desired though, and I’m assuming that there’s a reason why the film is getting dumped here at the tail-end of August.  So, let’s just say my expectations are firmly in check.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Morgan is essentially a poor man’s Ex Machina, but not in a good way.  Here’s the story – Lee Weathers (a crabby, stone-faced, business haircut-sporting Kate Mara) is sent to a secret research facility to check-in on a still-in-development synthetic being.  For the first chunk of the movie she doesn’t do much but talk with the scientists and their creation, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy, the girl from The Witch), and this is largely where the film is similar to Ex Machina.  However, in place of that film’s clever dialogue, there’s just a whole slew of forgettable bits that are meant to give the film’s paper-thin plot and characters some weight.  It doesn’t work.  This doesn’t really matter anyhow, I suppose, as once a few pieces are set, all that pesky talking gets jettisoned in favor of good ole shaky cam-riddled violence.  Only the fighting/shooting/whatever doesn’t feel particularly gritty or real, and instead the scenes kind of come off like those old Star Trek episodes where the crew is obviously pretending to flail around inside of a “rocking” Enterprise.  No thanks.

Skip Morgan.  It’s nothing more than a big slab of mediocrity.

One Last Thought:

I think it’s silly when people claim to know a film’s twist right from the beginning.  I mean, come on!  That’s just a ridiculous claim like 95% of the time!  With that being said, I totally knew what was going to happen about 30 seconds into Morgan.  It was that obvious.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: War Dogs (Noah)

August 19, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

Todd Phillips is one of the defining comedic directors of our time. You might not love everything he’s done – I sure don’t – but his broad-faced dissections of male relationships in times of trouble and tragedy are, well, deeply ingrained into the pop culture consciousness. So, what happens when he turns the corner and strides down the garbage-strewn alley of dark comedy? I don’t know.

Post-Screening Ramble:

From the outside, War Dogs looks like any other Todd Phillips film – there’s a couple of man-children, a road trip of sorts, a lot of bad behavior that ends in some sort of emotional, though zany, resolution. And, to be honest, it is, but War Dogs, to its credit, pushes Phillip’s almost two-decade long “analysis” of man’s never-ending attempt to, well, grow up into the darkest corner of his directing career. The film follows the true story of Efram Divoroli (Jonah Hill) and David Packouz (Miles Teller), a duo of Miami-twenty-somethings who get in too deep in the, uh, international arms game. It has all the touchstones of a Phillip’s film (That Hangover Trilogy Phillips that’s full of flash and wealth, not his more humble, more abstract Old School self) – slow-mo driving, slo-mo shooting, a male relationship that develops and changes and breaks and breaks again over the course of the film. Phillips’ films are ostensibly about growing up in the most minute of shades, and Teller’s character Packouz, does just that, creeping his way upwards from a newly-married massage therapist, unhappy with his life of day-to-day drudgery, into a multi-million dollar arms dealer with the law on his tail. Both the actors stand out here, Teller continues to impress at playing a certain type of every-bro, the cool guy you always knew might have a little more under the surface. But truly it’s Jonah Hill’s film, as Phillips let his character run wild, a sort of overweight cartoon in action, his dialogue peppered with a helium-induced titter. He’s the Devil to Packouz’s “angel” and it’s a strong performance that picks up the film when it starts to drag. Phillips does good work here, and if this is his transition into darker territory it bodes well for what comes next. Though this can be said, wrapping your film about the production and illegal sales of guns into a comedy, no matter how dark it is, is a tricky prospect. The comedy allows the average viewer, regardless of their gun politics, into the ring, but also weakens the statement – guns are bad – that the director is trying to make. At times, though again to Phillip’s credit not often, the film wants to go for an easy joke over a more difficult moment, and you can feel the pressure of the film deflate slightly. Phillips has grounded his shift in style in the works of the masters – Scorcese especially – so the film feels authentic and gritty but somehow still a part of the moneyed Miami scene. And though it never sticks out as anything particularly original – in the greater context of films or Phillip’s own oeuvre – it’s a solid flick about friendship, growing up, and a couple of bros learning to shoot guns.

One Last Thought:

I gwt Adam McKay and Todd Phillips confused easily. Their films touch, from very different angles on similar themes (man-children) and their rise to the top of comedy’s pile of butter happened almost concurrently. And then, at just the same moment, both pivot to this more political type film, as if in backrooms over expensive bourbon the two challenged each other to push the next boundary. It’s probably not true, but hey, take a look, their films weirdly mirror each other.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Kubo And The Two Strings

August 16, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

I hadn’t even heard of Kubo or his two strings until I started getting slammed with TV spots for the film while watching the Olympics.  It looks good though.  Or maybe I’ve just been so inundated with “IT’S GREAT!” quotes that I feel the need to agree?  Guess we’ll see.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Kubo And The Two Strings is a nice late-summer gift.  The film, which is a beautiful mix of CG and stop motion, is about Kubo, a one-eyed boy who supports himself (and his despondent mother) by telling stories with origami figures that come to life whenever he strums his shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed lute).  It’s not a great life, but Kubo makes the best of it and all is well … until he accidentally reveals his location to some wicked family members who want to do him harm.  This is when Kubo’s quest to save himself begins.  I know that sounds way serious – and it is in some parts, as the boy and his unlikely crew (a monkey, a beetle and a miniature origami samurai) are regularly put in scary/dangerous situations – but from the get-go director Travis Knight mixes in the right amount of humor and heart, and that steadily provides the adventure film with an overall endearing tone.

There are a couple of things – mainly some wonky voice work and a rushed-feeling third act – in Kubo And The Two Strings that have me unwillingly to declare it as good as Pete’s Dragon or Finding Dory, but it’s got such a neat story and an even neater look that I legit think it would be silly for you to not scoop up the kids and head to the theater this weekend.

One Last Thought:

I’m split on whether or not Matthew McConaughey should be doing voice work.  He’s got such a unique drawl that it’s actually kind of distracting whenever his character speaks.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Sausage Party

August 11, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

This is one of those rares times where I’m rolling into a movie that I’ve already seen.  Well, sort of.  What I saw at SXSW earlier this year was a really rough cut and, while I did like it, I’m hoping that the finished version delivers an overall … um … tighter experience.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Oh boy.  When I put that in my Pete’s Dragon breakdown earlier this week, I meant it like oh-boy-this-film-so-magical-and-wholesome.  For Sausage Party, I mean it like oh-boy-this-film-is-wildly-ridiculous-so-beware.  Surely you’re expecting that though, yeah?  If you’ve watched even the shortest clip from Sausage Party, then you probably noticed the way it’s a raunchy, over the top film that shouldn’t exist.  But it does, and it’s hilarious.  It is, however, not for everyone.  The film steadily hops between being immensely offensive (so much racism), super clever (its take on religion is on point), completely stupid (the villain is an actual douche) and really gross (at one point there’s a talking used condom), and it does so in such a manic, sloppy way that it can be overwhelming.  Because of such craziness I fully expect people to either love it or hate it, with everyone forever arguing over whether or not it’s genius or just total drivel.  For now (at least until I catch it one more time), I’m down to tag it as the former.

Have a few beers (or bowls, whichever) and get yourself some Sausage Party.  You’ll laugh your head off.  Or you’ll be really annoyed by the whole damn thing.  Hard to say, really.

One Last Thought:

It humors me to no end that there’s a wide-release animated film that features both a massacre and an orgy.  Bets on when some oblivious parent will take their kid(s) to see Sausage Party thinking it’s a cute movie about food?  I say it’ll happen the second weekend of its theatrical run.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Florence Foster Jenkins

August 10, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

It’s been a while since I’ve cared about Hugh Grant, but Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep and the actual story of Florence Foster Jenkins is one that’s fairly interesting.  Also, Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) is a more than capable director.  Could be good.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Florence Foster Jenkins is based on the true story of … Florence Foster Jenkins (played wonderfully, of course, by Meryl Streep), a music-loving socialite who garnered New York City’s attention in the 40s with a record that was truly awful.  That’s right, awful, because she couldn’t sing at all.  Making things even more interesting is that she didn’t know she couldn’t sing.  Apparently that’s what happens when you have a lot of money and happen to be surrounded by people who respect your bankroll and shelter you from the truth.  What a life!  Anyhow, it’s a legit neat story, but I have to say that the film itself is alright at best.  Not only is its run time too long, but it feels too long.  The film also has a wonky tone.  It largely plays like a big joke, as though director Stephen Frears’ main goal was to deliver a sort of “can you believe this happened?” experience and then have the world cackle, but he greets every laugh with a you-shouldn’t-be-laughing-at-this hammer to the face, and it’s so jarring that about midway through the movie I gave up on trying to figure out whether I should feel amused by and/or sorry for Jenkins.  That’s no good.

My advice to you is to skip Florence Foster Jenkins.  If you really want to see it though, at least wait until its available to watch from the comfort of your couch.

One Last Thought:

Meryl Streep should pull a Helen Mirren (RED, RED 2, Fast And Furious 8) and star in an action flick or raunchy rom-com or something.  It would be really fun to see her let loose and just have a blast with a role that’s totally out of her wheelhouse.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

August 9, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

The marketing for Pete’s Dragon has been super low key (I’m not sure I ever actually saw a trailer) and all I remember about the 1977 version is that there’s a real kid named Pete and an animated dragon named Elliot.  Guess this means I’m heading into Disney’s remake with a rather open mind about it.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Oh boy.  Pete’s Dragon is a real winner, a triumphant time at theater that will delight you … as long as you can make it through the first act, which is all kinds of clunky.  Pete gets introduced, there’s a tragedy, Elliot gets introduced, some time passes, 100 other characters get introduced, and THEN the actually story gets rolling.  It’s admittedly kind of a boring stretch, one that feels like you’re watching someone meticulously line up all of their toys before they’ll let you touch anything.  Thankfully though, once director David Lowery has his pieces all painstakingly set, he delivers the kind of magical ride that will leave you teary-eyed and feeling like you should immediately run out and take your family/friends/whoever on an adventure.  If you ask me, that more than makes up for the slow start.

You should definitely go see Pete’s Dragon this weekend.  And do yourself a favor, don’t re-watch the original, don’t compare it to the original, don’t read any other reviews (it’s really easy to spoil), just go and soak up all of the magic that the film has to offer.  Also, be sure to take your kids.

One Last Thought:

This summer has been so weird.  Who would have guessed that the most magical, heartwarming film to be released would be David Lowery’s remake of Pete’s Dragon and not Steven Spielberg’s The BFG?  I mean, Lowery’s last film was 2013′s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints!  Maybe the world really is about to end.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Suicide Squad (Noah)

August 4, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

After Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I have a bone-deep weariness about anything DC tries to bring the big screen. Clearly they’re trying to get as many properties on screen as possible to see what works and what doesn’t and that, yee Distinguished Competition yee, is a terrible idea. But hey, David Ayers has made a few decent films and they’ve got a cast that if used properly might just be able to turn this into something that doesn’t resemble Juggalo Avengers.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Suicide Squad is a step forward for DC, just not a very good step forward. When the film was announced a few years back – amongst thirty other films DC was hoping to produce in the next decade – it was supposed to be the segue film that would sate DC-hungry fans while the next piece of their Justice League opus was being produced. But, BvS was a, frankly, terrible film forcing DC to reconfigure the whole future of its franchise and thrusting Suicide Squad into the “I’m going to fix your entire shared universe” spotlight. It isn’t a good place for any film to be in, and it bodes especially poorly for the very messy, very scattered Suicide Squad. This is basically the anti-Avengers: shadowy government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis in a chilling performance) knows that in the wake of Superman’s life and death, that a new wave of meta-human threats are going to start popping up more, so she knows that she’s going to need a Black Ops team of her own “meta-humans” to push back. Thus, she gathers a team of the worst supervillains around – the “Suicide Squad” of the title – to do the bad things that need to be done to keep the world spinning. It’s pretty much The Dirty Dozen with supervillains. Well, The Dirty Dozen with supervillains and a confusing muddled plot that leaves a selection of good performances adrift in a movie that happily slips into the worst tropes of a superhero film. There’s good to be had here: Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is off-kilter in a truly endearing way and Will Smith’s Deadshot is a legitimate character with a solid narrative on which to build a film on. There’s bad too: Jared Leto’s Joker is a non-entity, a sort of 80s crimelord with shitty tats and a cackling laugh. As John Laird told me, you could remove this character from the film and nothing would come of it. Mostly though, the film is just mediocre, a melange of overly-familiar scenes broken up by nonsensical action, who-gives-a-fuck story developments, and a pair of bad guys who look pulled from a PS1 Conan the Barbarian game. There are storylines and reveals in this film that clearly had different endings in some other cut, but because this film needed to be exactly what it is, all of it just feels mashed together into a bizarre mix that almost works if you look at it very broadly. However, as soon as you start digging past the visuals and the snappy dialogue and the weirdness, the whole thing just collapses. Somehow though, and I think DC should thank BvS for being so pointedly awful, you don’t walk away from this film hating it, you walk away feeling like hey, DC seems to be making some steps in the right direction. Which, in a summer season that has produced next to nothing good, is almost a positive review.

One Last Thing:

David Ayers needs to get someone to edit his soundtracks. This is a relentlessly loud and obnoxious film. Just one song after another song slammed onto the screen, always in service of announcing some crazy new thing. It made me feel like an old man.

One Other Last Thing:

This movie is going to kill with a certain crowd. The audience I saw this film with ate it up from start to finish, cheering at every moment of, well, anything. Lord help us.

And One Other Last Thing:

I really think that at this point in time we can start making comparisons between Trump and Hillary and DC and Marvel. DC wants to lay its underformed wang on the table and just shock people into giving a shit about its films. While Marvel, though still occasionally dropping the ball, is like Hillary, forged in the fires of birthing a new world of shared universes, a big, slick machine everyone’s always waiting on to fail. Am I right?

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Suicide Squad

August 3, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

The R-rated (it’s actually PG-13, oops) Suicide Squad is the newest entry into the DC Extended Universe.  It’s being sold as Guardians of the Galaxy meets Deadpool, which sounds like a blast, but I’m hesitant about buying into the marketing hype.  Will Smith hasn’t had a good blockbuster in a very long while, and I’m not much of a fan of director David Ayers (Fury, Sabotage).

Post-Screening Ramble:

Suicide Squad is a big mess.  It’s poorly paced, not well made (some of the CG looks lifted out of the 90s), the overall plot is weak and doesn’t make a lot of sense, the casting is hit or miss (go away, Will Smith), and – here’s the most damning part – the whole film is over-stylized and reeks of TRYING TOO HARD.  Suicide Squad so badly wants to be what its marketing has been selling it as – Guardians of the Galaxy meets Deadpool – but director David Ayers clearly had no idea how to pull that off.  So, along with his own sloppily injected ideas, he delivered the easiest parts to lift from each of the aforementioned hits – classic rock tunes and curse words.  Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to implement those bits any better than he did his own.

With all of that being said, I – somehow – didn’t actually hate Suicide Squad.  The first act is brisk and fun, and there are some good performances – Jared Leto’s Joker is solid, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is fun, Jay Hernandez’s Diablo is on point and Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller is adequately frigid.  It’s just too bad that once the fighting begins, the film completely crumbles and loses any discernible reason for the characters or the “story” to even exist.

If I were you, I’d save the cash and wait to see the movie via Redbox (or whatever you prefer) later this year.

One Last Thought:

Oddly enough, I wish that Will Smith had starred in Independence Day: Resurgence instead of Suicide Squad.  At least there his Will Smith as Will Smith shtick would have been easier to swallow.

One More Thought:

To be honest, I won’t be surprised if I liked Suicide Squad more on a second viewing.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up liking it less.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Don’t Think Twice

August 2, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

Judging by the charming trailers and the praise I’ve seen floating around in my feeds, it seems as though Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice is a worthy follow-up to 2012′s Sleepwalk With Me.  I’m excited.

Post-Screening Ramble:

While I wish this wasn’t the case, I didn’t much care for Don’t Think Twice.  I found it to be an uncomfortable film that’s mostly full of unlikable people, and there were numerous times throughout it where I was tempted to turn it off so that I could get out from under its umbrella of sadness.  Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not that Mike Birbiglia does a lackluster job of directing the film or that any of the performances are bad, I just simply couldn’t relate to any of it.  I’m not really a big fan of improv (the story is essentially centered around it), and all of its characters are so self-tortured that I spent the majority of the film wishing that I could step into the screen and violently shake them.  Hell, even as I write this review I’m getting pissed off just remembering even the smallest details about that obtuse lot.

Anyhow, I get what Birbiglia was aiming for – to show that being funny isn’t easy – and I think he adequately gets his point across, but the folks on display in his film are so morose that it squashed any measure of sympathy I may have been willing to conjure up for them.  Surely that wasn’t an intended side effect, yeah?

Don’t Think Twice didn’t work for me, but you may love it.

One Last Thought:

I liked seeing Keegan-Michael Key in a film where he plays a normal dude who doesn’t yell all of the time.  Granted, in Don’t Think Twice his “normal” guy is someone who routinely makes up characters who yell a lot, but I’m down to toss aside that little detail and focus on his more quiet moments in the film.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Jason Bourne

July 27, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

The Bourne Trilogy is pretty damn great.  The Bourne Legacy isn’t terrible, but I can’t say I’ve ever really wanted to revisit it.  As for Jason Bourne, I want it to be good, but if it isn’t, I’ll just treat it like I do its aforementioned semi-sequel and pretend it doesn’t exist.  Easy come, easy go!

Post-Screening Ramble:

Like pretty much every other major film that’s rolled out this summer (it hasn’t really been a great one, has it?), your approval or disapproval of Jason Bourne is going to be dependent on what sort of film you’re expecting.  If you’re simply down to see some familiar characters doing some espionage-type things, then you’ll probably be into it.  If you’re wanting a worthy entry into the Bourne series that expands the original story or at least starts an interesting new thread for the character, then the film may disappoint you.

To me, The Bourne Trilogy’s greatness stems from 1) Bourne being a great character and 2) The way each entry in it is essentially a chase film with spy elements.  The poor, goodhearted Bourne is on the run and he’s trying to figure out his past.  And there’s satellites and laptops!  Ah!  Jason Bourne, for whatever reason, alters this formula.  There’s definitely some chasing (the scene in Las Vegas is particularly exciting) and a mystery (albeit a lazy one) for Bourne to solve, but overall the film puts Bourne, his plight and his muscles in a corner while it focuses more on its various CIA characters.  Each of the shady figures have their own sneaky agendas (career advancement, internet policing, etc), and Bourne simply serves as a device that moves their plots along.  Yes, that’s right, the movie may be called Jason Bourne, but its titular character is practically a sub plot.  Go figure.

As I said up above, if you just want a spy flick with some action here and there, then see Jason Bourne.  Those of you hoping for more though should just wait and catch it on the small screen.

One Last Thought:

Alicia Viklander is the best part of of Jason Bourne.  She’s such an alluring presence on the screen.  On another note, I hope her Tomb Raider movie doesn’t suck.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Nerve

July 27, 2016

0 Comments

Pre-Screening Stance:

I like Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, but Nerve looks pretty silly.  Also, my lack of excitement for the film isn’t helped much by the fact that the duo behind the internet-kitschy Catfish directed it.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Nerve has a fun concept, but it’s not particularly well executed.  The film starts by introducing the photography-loving, non-risk-taking Vee (Emma Roberts) and her two best friends – a nerdy fella who is obviously in love with her, and a girl who is a bit of a daredevil.  It’s the latter who introduces Vee to Nerve, an underground game that’s quickly becoming a hit.  Via the app you can either watch people take on dares, or you can actually accept some of your own.  Naturally, Vee should be a watcher, but in an attempt to prove that she’s not who people think she is, she starts accepting dares.  This is when she meets Ian (Dave Franco), and the two pair up and have a glorious night!  Or not.

For the first solid chunk of Nerve, I was into it.  Sure, the film takes a little bit to get going and it’s shot in a unfortunate OMG-tech-is-so-kewl kind of way, but Roberts and Franco have solid chemistry, the “dares” properly ascend from cute to exciting/dangerous, and I found it easy to buy into the idea of everyone loving a game where you wander around obsessed with either garnering attention or watching others live.  Somewhere near the third act though the film just totally falls apart.  Weird motives and masked characters pop up without any explanation, things go from exciting to silly, and the movie just loses all momentum.  Talk about limping across the finish line.

If you decide to catch Nerve, keep your expectations in check.

One Last Thought:

If those vids of kids climbing skyscrapers and cranes make you grab onto your chair because somehow you’re afraid you’re going to fall to your death, then Nerve may not be for you.

Continue reading...