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Movie Breakdown: Unforgettable

April 21, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I’m 100% certain that Unforgettable is going to be terrible, but I’m really hoping that it’ll be fun-terrible.  I’m also very down to watch Katherine Marie Heigl play herself.  Zing!

Post-Screening Ramble:

I thought for sure that Unforgettable was going to be trashy and hilarious, and that didn’t quite turn out to be accurate.  This isn’t to say the movie is good, because it isn’t, but it’s not near as terrible as I was expecting it to be.  Here’s what you need to know about its story – Tessa (Katherine Heigl) is not yet ready to let her ex-husband go, so she sets out to ruin his new girlfriend, Julia (Rosario Dawson).  She does some catty things at first, and then that escalates into some wild, dangerous shit.  Oh my!  Honestly, if you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ve seen the movie.  It does everything by the numbers and in general feels like a Lifetime movie with an actual budget.  There is one bright spot though, and it’s Heigl.  She is absolutely perfect as Tessa, and it’s her intense performance that makes the movie worth anything.  Now, I wouldn’t recommend running out and seeing it just to witness Heigl at peak bitchiness, but in a few years when the movie is on TBS at 1am, maybe give it a bit of your attention.

One Last Thought:

If you’re planning on seeing this movie and don’t want it spoiled, then stop reading right now!

For those of you that stayed, here’s my idea for a different ending.  In the film it’s just simply confirmed that Katherine Heigl’s character has mental issues, and then there’s a big fight that she loses.  How boring!  I think that instead it should have been revealed that Heigl’s young daughter had been her puppet master the whole time, and then Rosario has to defeat them both.  But they’re too much, and she loses.  Then the movie ends with Rosario locked up and the little manipulator on the loose with Heigl as her brainwashed pawn.  Can you imagine?!  That would have been … unforgettable.

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Movie Breakdown: The Lost City Of Z

April 20, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Theaters are currently loaded with The Fate Of The Furious, Ghost In The Shell, Power Rangers and the like, so I have no idea who Bleecker Street is expecting to run and out see The Lost City Of Z, a heavy-looking two and a half hour film about a fella stumbling around in the jungle.  With that being said, I’m excited for it.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Lost City Of Z takes place in the early 1900s, and it tells the tale of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a real life British explorer who made various trips to South America in search of a lost civilization.  Well, he eventually gets to looking for ancient stuff, but first he just goes to help draw borders for a couple of countries on the verge of war.  It’s then that he discovers some busted pottery and decides that there’s no way such things could randomly be way out in the jungle on their own.  This leads Fawcett to forever trying to convince his countrymen and others that there are great discoveries to be had in the Amazon.

I enjoyed this film.  It’s patient, wonderfully shot, interesting and well acted.  However, The Lost City Of Z is definitely one of those efforts that teeters on the edge of pretentiousness, so someone could easily flip that and say that the movie is a slow, thick affair that’s not particularly accessible.  In other words, only head to the theater for this one if you feel as though your patience won’t bow out on you halfway through its heftiness.

One Last Thing:

Remember way back when Charlie Hunnam was all set to star in those 50 Shades Of Grey flicks?  What a bullet he dodged there.  On the flip side of that, I actually feel as though he would have elevated those films.  Probably not to a point where they would have been “good” or whatever, but he definitely would have made them more entertaining.  The guy is a legit talent.

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Movie Breakdown: Free Fire

April 18, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, A Field In England) is a buzzy director and the list of actors he’s assembled for Free Fire includes Brie Larson, Arnie Hammer, Sam Riley, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley and Michael Smiley.  Seems like a winning combo to me.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Ostensibly, Free Fire isn’t a movie with a whole lot going on.  Some shady folks meet up in an abandoned industrial spot to swap some cash for some guns, things go awry, and then they start shooting the shit out of each other.  That’s it.  Thankfully though, writer/director Ben Wheatley’s latest effort features what can be tagged as nuanced violence, and that makes it a lot more than just a film with a bunch of smart-ass goons in a blood bath.  There’s actually something to be learned with each shot – from either a mouth or a gun – that gets fired!  How neat.  And let’s face it, Wheatley could have easily delivered a longer, more elaborate film that takes an in-depth look at who is doing what and why, but instead he allows the characters to quickly show their true selves via how they act in a spontaneous gunfight  – sort of like providing a backstory without providing an actual backstory – and in the end it’s a decision that really pays off.  Expect to have a really fun time picking out little things about each character and then using that to determine who might actually make it out alive.

Definitely go see Free Fire.  It’s violent, really funny and surprisingly crafty.

One Last Thing:

Hollywood really needs to start casting Sharlto Copley in more comedies.  He’d be great as the kooky sidekick for someone, or as an eccentric lead … or really, just whatever in anything that will allow him to ramble about.  He’s so hilarious that I’m sure he could take any comedic role and make it work in wondrous ways.

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Movie Breakdown: Their Finest

April 14, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Once upon a time Lone Scherfig directed An Education, a movie that I still really love.  That’s enough for me to be at least a little excited about her new flick.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Their Finest is a bit scatterbrained, but I liked it nonetheless.  The film takes place in Britain during WWII and it’s centered around a pair of screenwriters, the sweet but determined Catrin (Gemma Arterton) and the dickish but fair Buckley (Sam Clafin), and their efforts to put together a propaganda film to help the country’s morale.  Their mission is aided (or hampered, depending on the person) by Catrin’s out of work husband Ellis (Jack Huston), the pompous actor Ambrose (Bill Nighy), and a whole host of other minor characters.

I’d love to give this film two thumbs up based solely on the its old school vibe, but then I’d be ducking its plot issues.  Unfortunately, director Lone Scherfig never seems too sure about what story she wants to tell.  Is the film about women’s amazing efforts during the war?  Or how crazy it was to try and live during the Blitzkrieg?  Or film-making during the war?  Or is it a love story?  Well, it’s pretty much all of those things, and while some of it works just fine with limited limelight, overall the film feels like butter scraped over too much bread.

Cluttered story issues aside, I actually think you should see Their Finest.  Maybe don’t run off to the theater, but once it hits VOD, cue it up.  It features some nice performances and it has a genuine feel to it that’s hard to not like.

One Last Thing:

I know it’s really early in the year to say something like this, but I totally think that Bill Nighy should get a best supporting actor nod for his role in Their Finest.  He’s so wonderfully ridiculous and charming in it.

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Movie Breakdown: The Fate Of The Furious

April 13, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I just made my girlfriend watch all seven previous Fast And Furious entries (practically in a row) because I wanted her to be fully caught up before we saw The Fate Of The Furious.  That’s how much I love this big, dumb and ridiculously fun series.  Bring on #8.

Post-Screening Stance:

Just as I hoped, the newest Fast And Furious flick is more of the same.  The cars are incredible and fast, the scope is massive, there are overly dramatic soap opera-like moments, a variety of predictable-but-fun twists and – of course – a lot of talk about the important of family.  For all intents and purposes, you’ve already seen this movie.  You won’t care though because the film is so goddamn cheer-worthy that – just like every other entry in the series – it just sweeps you right up and takes you to your happy place.  If you ask me, there’s no better film to kick off the summer blockbuster season with than The Fate Of The Furious.  You should see it immediately.

One Fast Thought:

Charlize Theron’s Cipher is the best villain that Dom’s crew have had the pleasure of going up against.  Also, it’s so super obvious that Theron had a blast portraying the cunning hacker.  Great casting here.

One Furious Thought:

There’s only one thing in The Fate Of The Furious that I didn’t like, and it’s Scott Eastwood.  Even in a movie that doesn’t exactly feature the best actors in the world, he still manages to totally and completely suck.  I hope he doesn’t return for any further Fast And Furious films.  Not only can he not act, but he plays his character like a discount Brian O’Connor and it’s annoying.

One Fast And Furious Thought:

Sorry if you were hoping for more plot details in this breakdown.  Mentioning anything other than the “Dom has gone rogue” bit from the trailers would be pretty spoilery, and I didn’t want to do that to you.

OK, This Is It:

I was pleasantly surprised with how Brian and Mia’s retired status is handled in the film.

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Movie Breakdown: Queen Of The Desert (Noah)

April 7, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Werner Herzog doesn’t always hit his non-documentary films out of the park. This time he’s teaming with the ageless Nicole Kidman for a bio-pic about British explorer Gertrude Bell. It could be terrible.

Post-Screening Ramble:

There are many sides to Werner Herzog, not all of them good. The Herzog we’ve all come to love, appreciate, and weirdly idolize in the modern era, is the man behind heartfelt documentaries like Grizzly Man or Into The Abyss, films that stoke the flames of their subjects with Herzog’s very specific personality. The other Herzog, the less known Herzog, is the director of Queen of the Desert – a Nicole Kidman starring bio-pic about Gertrude Bell, a British explorer who stepped over gender lines to pursue her research of the tribal people of the Middle East. You would think that in Herzog’s gifted hands that a film about stark landscapes, brassy explorers, and dangerous situations would rocket off the page, but here’s the conundrum Herzog fans face – his non-documentary output is muddled, often times bad. Queen of the Desert isn’t terrible, but it isn’t good – it rides that debilitating line of mediocrity where it doesn’t push any boundaries, but it isn’t bad enough for us to mock mercilessly. It is, just a film, one that skirts the tropes of “explorer” films, while trying to make a statement about the treatment of women in the British Empire. It bounces from one event to the next – and one man to the next (Gertrude Bell was quite the 19th century player) – each adding a bit to the lore of Gertrude Bell, and then, when her story ends, so does the movie. Nicole Kidman plays, well, what I believe to be Nicole Kidman – a strong, though icy woman, who perseveres no matter how many Scientologists she marries. There’s appearances by James Franco (whose acting merits get more and more questionable), Robert Pattinson and Damien Lewis – but none make a dent in the flowing sands of boredom that blow across every minute of this film. Herzog is prolific, but prolific means more chances to strikeout. This one goes in the strikeout column.

One Last Thing:

Herzog, you salty old director you, stick with the documentaries. That is all.

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Movie Breakdown: Going In Style

April 7, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Going In Style does not look like a good movie, but I’m signed up because it features Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.  Also, I’m curious as hell as to why Zach Braff (Garden State) directed it.  Is he super broke?  Did he owe someone a favor?  Is he going to deliver some sort of important social and /or political message via this old guy movie?  I need to know!

Post-Screening Stance:

If you asked me to pick one word to describe Going In Style, I’d go with harmless.  Three retired fellas get their pension unceremoniously taken from them, so they decide to rob their lousy bank in an effort to get every buck that is owed to them.  There’s nothing offensive or edgy that takes place.  Hell, there isn’t even an overabundance of “old people” jokes.  The film begins, some mildly entertaining things happen, then it ends.  I don’t know why any of the actors signed on for it, as none of the roles are interesting or challenging.  There’s not even really a message or moral to be pulled from the film.  It just exists, with its talented cast and director, for no discernible reason.  It’s mind-boggling.  People gotta get paid, though, I guess?

You should skip Going In Style and catch something else this weekend.  It’s not a movie worth paying to see in the theater.  It’s barely a movie that you should watch from the comfort of your couch.  Sure, it’s a harmless little flick, but it’s just filler and you could totally be reading a book or staring at a wall.

One Last Thought:

Going In Style probably would have been pretty good had it been two hours of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin just sitting around and talking.  They each have such great voices.

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Movie Breakdown: Power Rangers (Noah)

March 24, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I grew up watching the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I sat my 8-year old ass down on my bright red beanbag chair with a soda and a stack of cookies and watched 5 color-coded ninjas fight grown humans in rubber suits. Do I think it needs an edgy remake? No. But it’s 2017 and Hollywood’s grinding teeth need more unoriginal material to feed them.

Post-Screening Stance:

For those who didn’t grow up anytime between the early 90s and now, here’s a description of the (Mighty Morphin) Power Rangers: a group of 5 high-schoolers find magic stones that give them access to a rainbow’s worth of ninja outfits, as well as giant animal-themed robots which they use to fight Rita Repulsa and her army of rock monsters. If you are deciding whether you want to see this film or not based on a lingering worry that it might be “dumb”, then I have your answer: it is, by definition alone, dumb. That said, those keen minds in the bowels of Hollywood are trying to reintroduce these plucky Power Rangers (Red, Blue, Yellow, Black and Pink) to a new audience in a new era where kiddie ninjas and their lovable robot friends can’t be targeted at only 9-year olds. Thus, Power Rangers – by Dean Israelite – is the same general premise, shot through with a thick serum of contrast-y grit. A bunch of teenagers live in the small town of Angel Grove; they’ve all been in various kinds of trouble, all are burdened with the particular brand of malaise only a teenager can feel. Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is the star quarterback of the football team struggling with his celebrity. He ends up in detention (there are strong shades of The Breakfast Club in this film) where he meets Billy (RJ Cyler), Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Zack (Ludi Lin). Through a series of circumstances, all four, plus Trini (Becky G.) end up discovering the gemstones that make them Power Rangers under the guidance of Zordon (Bryan Cranston reprising his role) and Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader). Training occurs, a bad guy (Rita Repulsa – Elizabeth Banks) is revealed, and the team must overcome their own weaknesses to learn how to be Power Rangers and kick some monster ass. If we’re rating this film on how well it has managed to do what it set out – to reintroduce the Rangers to a new generation, while staying true to the nostalgic yearning of the prior audience – Israelite’s film succeeds in spades. The director front ends the film with enough character development, lightly revealed exposition, and darkly tinged cinematography, that when someone inevitably yells, “It’s Morphin Time!” and turns into a spandex-clad warrior, it actually, kind of works. It isn’t easy to thread that needle, and applause should be had for the crew (actors included) on this, who are able to craft a movie that feels modern, edgy at times even, but doesn’t run away from the sillier aspects of the source material. There’s issues to be found – all the front-loading makes the CGI-clogged end battle feel rushed and Israelite has a tendency to just omit scenes instead of find a way to incorporate them – but hey, Israelite does the property right and in doing so, he cobbles together a flick that you don’t have to be embarrassed to tell anyone you’ve watched. And with so many shitty adaptations of, well, everything clogging the box offices, I’d call that a success.

One Last Thought:

The swollen river of superhero films have done some serious damage to non-superhero properties. By this I mean, now any film with anything slightly related to a superhero (color-coded ninjas fit the bill) just gets stuffed into the superhero sandbox. Power Rangers has the potential of being a truly weird, truly out there sort of property (and I do believe that Dean Israelite had hopes to make it even weirder), but instead the film ends up like a more colorful X-Men flick, the odd edges of it filed down so it fits in the proper, money making box.

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Movie Breakdown: Personal Shopper (Noah)

March 23, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I’ve never seen an Olivier Assayas film, but the guy is a real art-house rock star in France and abroad and his first hangout sesh with K-Stew, Clouds of Sils-Maria was well received. This might be a film I can get into.

Post-Screening Stance:

I’m going to be very honest: I didn’t get Personal Shopper. You know, it just didn’t make sense to me. I understood what was going on in the movie, but I didn’t know why Olivier Assayas chose to have these things going on. Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, a personal shopper for a very famous, supposedly awful person named Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten). She is also a medium, and a twin who has recently lost her twin brother. There’s two main story-lines: one, Maureen buys Kyra clothing and secretly, shamefully, tries that clothing on. And two, Maureen goes to a house that her dead twin brother Lewis once lived in and tries to find out if there’s still a ghost there. Eventually some form of stalker starts, well, stalking Maureen, and she kind of likes it and loathes it at the same time. All of this stuff comes together eventually, or all of it ends up in the same scenes and there’s some swelling music that I believe implied importance, but seriously, when the credits rolled, I had to go back and watch the ending over and over again, just to try and figure out what had happened, to see if I’d missed the telling moment that would wrap everything up in a nice subtextual ball. This movie wasn’t difficult to watch, but neither is staring at a comic book in a different language – it looks nice, but you don’t understand a damn thing.

One Last Thought:

Kristen Stewart has been riding this mumble train for a long time now. I wonder if she’ll ever move into an area of acting where’s she extremely excited all the time.

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Movie Breakdown: Life

March 23, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I didn’t much like director Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House, but that’s not stopping me from looking forward to Life.  The film has a nice Alien vibe, and it stars the talented trio of Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson.  Cue it up!

Post-Screening Ramble:

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Life was made long before Jake Gyllenhaal or Ryan Reynolds became household names.  It has a distinct low-rent feel, like the sort of film you’d stumble across late at night and then watch just because of the familiar faces on the cover.  The movie isn’t outright terrible – it hums along and is occasionally entertaining (and gross), but there’s absolutely nothing about it that’s memorable.  In fact, even I sit here now – less than 24 hours after having seen it – I’m having a difficult time recalling what happened in the damn thing.  Further complicating the matter is Gyllenhaal and Reynolds, who are definitely in Life but their roles don’t feel even remotely important, which is rather weird.  They’re so famous and all over the marketing for the film, but I couldn’t tell you the names of their characters even if tried.  Those two must have really owed someone a big favor.  Or it was just an easy payday.  Or both?  Who knows.  Regardless, they’re pretty useless in the film.

Unless you’re just really starved for some sci-fi, I’d wait a good long while to watch Life.  It doesn’t do anything fancy enough visually to warrant a trip to the theater, and it’s so forgettable that you’re better off watching it from the comfort of your couch so that you can occasionally nod off and dream about better movies.

One Last Thought:

Oddly enough, this movie didn’t actually do anything interesting enough to warrant another thought.  Drool, maybe, but definitely not another coherent thought.

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Movie Breakdown: Beauty And The Beast

March 15, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Like most, I adore the animated Beauty And The Beast film from 1991.  Also like most, I’m not entirely sure it needs a live action version.  Still, I love what Disney did last year with The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon, so I might as well be all in on Bill Condon’s adaptation of BATB.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I want to tell you that Beauty And The Beast is a grand retelling that you’re going to love.  But it isn’t.  Unfortunately, the film, though magical at moments, is a fairly ho-hum affair.  The story is basically the same, your favorite songs are there, the cast is great and the film itself looks nice, but it has quite a few issues that steadily trip it up as it moves along.  Personally, I found the biggest problem to be the extra items that were tacked on to get the film to a totally not-needed two-hour run time.  This isn’t to say I don’t like that Bill Condon changed anything – because I do (after all, it is his adaptation) – but what’s been added is not good.  There’s a handful of new songs that in no way match up with the old songs (neither in quality or sound), so they feel like they’re from a different movie.  There’s a segment on what happened to Belle’s mother that’s entirely useless.  There’s more at play with the Enchantress, but none of it makes any sense.  Plus more fat.  A lot of it, actually, and all of it together make for a film that simply just drags when it’s not giving you a highlight from the animated version.

Here’s what you should do, see at the theater because you know you want to.  That’s fine.  Just promise you’ll greatly temper your expectations.  Also, DO NOT see it in 3D.

One Last Thought:

There’s a moment near the end of this film that involves a particular someone growling (you’ll know it when you see it) and it made me cringe so hard that it took two hours for my face to feel normal again.

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Movie Breakdown: Raw

March 10, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Apparently, Raw is so gruesome that it’s made people pass out.  Then again, I know lots of folks who saw it at Fantastic Fest last year and no one fainted, so maybe that’s just an overblown thing?  Either way, the film has been getting good reviews and I’m anxious to check it out.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Raw is a rather unsettling film.  Partly because it has plenty of moments that will make you scrunch up your face in disgust, but mostly because it’s a well made horror film that has a lot more to offer than just gore.  It begins with a 16-year old whiz kid named Justine (Garance Marillier) being dropped off at veterinarian school by her parents.  She hopes that her sister (Ella Rumpf), who attends the same school, will be there to receive her, but she’s nowhere to be found and the vegetarian virgin has to get settled on her own.  Before she can though, a week-long hazing ritual begins, and Justine is introduced to a mix of things (boys, meat, booze, etc.) that she is no way ready to handle.

As much as Raw leans on its cannibalism hook to keep your attention and gross you out, it’s the film’s less bloody elements that really make it into something memorable.  The vet school campus is creepy and rundown-looking, the various party scenes feel sweaty and overwhelming and anything with an animal is wholly uncomfortable.  Also, Raw is a coming of age film, so for every moment that Justine finds herself hungry for flesh, there’s one where she’s exploring her sexuality or the like.  It’s all very well done (ha), and I can’t wait to see what writer/director Julia Ducournau does next.

You should see Raw, but be warned that it’s definitely gory.  Smart and interesting, yes, but also definitely gory.

One Last Thought:

I know a girl here in Austin who looks so much like Garance Marillier that my brain kept trying to tell me it was on her on the screen.  This made a weird movie even weirder.

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Movie Breakdown: Kong: Skull Island (Noah)

March 10, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Hey, as good as the promotional stuff has been for this movie, and as much as I love John Goodman and Brie Larsen, this is probably going to be an enormous CGI-filled creature feature bereft of character but ripe with a giant ape punching things.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I think Kong: Skull Island would be a better movie if you removed every human character, aside from John C. Reilly, and just left Kong, big ass ape that he is, punching shit for two hours. Jordan Vogt-Roberts has, basically, made a filler film, the movie that expands the new American Godzilla world, the film that lays the groundwork so Godzilla and King Kong can punch the hell out of each other in a future slew of films. Set in 1973 as the Vietnam War is coming to an end, Kong: Skull Island finds a group of soldiers – led by Samuel L. Jackson’s Colonel Kurtz-like Packard – joining with a team of crack-pot government scientists – lead by John Goodman’s Bill Randa – a photographer (Brie Larsen) and a military tracker (Tom Hiddleston) to explore an island that, no surprise here, has a 300 gazillion foot ape smashing around on it. There’s literally ten minutes of exposition and character development before the whole lot, and their helicopters, are knocked to the ground by Kong, and then almost a full movie’s worth of half of them trying to escape the island and the other half trying to revenge-kill Kong. To say the least, the story is simple and the characters are nothing more than names, professions and guns. These are the types of characters that halfway through, you’ll ask yourself, “Do I know any of these people’s names?” No, no you won’t. You will know that John C. Reilly somehow manages a career performance as Hank Marlow, a WWII fighter pilot stranded on the island for three decades. His soft, wrinkled face and greying clump of curls fills every frame he’s in with a sad humor and a purpose not afforded to any other character in the film. Vogt-Robert’s interpretation of King Kong is a beautifully deadly creation, all shaggy fur and doleful eyes. Every moment with him on screen – punching snakes, punching octopuses, punching “skullcrawlers” – is a joy. And sure, yes, sometimes a human character pops into the frame, kills some rabid death birds with a sword, before sliding out the other side to make room for more of Kong punching shit. You could say there’s some sort of allegory about Packard’s character clinging to war in peacetime, but if you’re actually thinking that when the credits roll you’re far better at deciphering subtext than this viewer. Instead, this is a Friday night creature-feature dolled up with 200 million dollars worth of very nice makeup. Draw a fingernail through the foundation though, and all you’ve got is thin air. See it on a huge screen, cheer when Kong punches shit, and try as hard as you can to remember anyone’s name. Then, stand up, throw away your popcorn bag, and leave the theater unburdened by a single lingering memory of this movie.

One Last Thing:

Kong: Skull Island doesn’t offer any exposition because it knows you don’t need it. You’ve seen the trailers, you know what you’re getting into, and if character backstories and a plot with any teeth is what you’re looking for, well, you’ve been watching the wrong promotional material.

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Movie Breakdown: Kong: Skull Island

March 9, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

The marketing for Kong: Skull Island has been super on point and I’m actually feeling pretty hyped about the film.  Also, I kind of like that the movie exists mostly as a way to eventually put Kong and Godzilla on the same screen together.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The setup for Kong: Skull Island is quick.  There’s an organization called Monarch, and they want to explore a newly discovered island that was previously thought to be a myth.  So, they assemble a talented team (of famous faces) and set out.  Once on the island, where the rest of the film takes place, things go poorly and a lot of people die.  Bet you didn’t see that coming!

Kong: Skull Island is a mix of three films – Jurassic Park, 2014′s Godzilla and Peter Jackson’s King Kong,  And by mix, I really mean mish mash.  So, some of it works, some of it doesn’t.  Kong is great, and he does exactly what everyone wants him to do – gloriously smash everything.  I also found John C. Reilly’s Hank, an almost-crazy pilot that’s been stranded on Skull Island for a very long time, to be fantastic.  Unfortunately, the rest of characters are very cookie cutter, the plot is as weak as can be, and the CG is inconsistent.  Again though, Kong gloriously smashes everything, so most probably won’t pay any attention to the film’s cobbled together core.  And you know what?  That’s OK.  If you just want to zone out and have some fun, you could do a lot worse than Kong: Skull Island.  Just don’t expect to dip into a second screening and have an equally good time.  This one definitely has “law of diminishing returns” written all over it.

One Last Thought:

Are you guys tired of post-credit scenes?  I knew there would be one at the end of Kong: Skull Island and what’s there is fine overall, but I still found myself annoyed by it.  Do they all have to “setup” the next movie?  Why not show something fun/interesting about the movie that just ended?  Make post-credit scenes great again!

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Movie Breakdown: Logan

March 2, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

It’s pretty crazy that Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine since 2000.  That’s a nearly 20 year run!  I’m honestly sad to see him call it quits, but at least it seems as though he’ll be going out with a bang via the gnarly looking Logan.

Post-Screening Ramble:

In general, you’re going to find Logan to be the Wolverine movie that you’ve always wanted.  Logan is pissy, worn out (as are his healing powers) and he just can’t seem to get the world to leave him (or his few remaining friends) alone, so he begrudgingly-but-angrily pops his claws and goes to work.  And boy does he really go to work in this film.  Heads fly, limbs fall, gashes are made, bits are kabobbed and more.  It’s graphic, but after waiting so long to watch the guy actually go berserk, it feels more like “FINALLY!” than it does unnecessary.  In fact, don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to cheer and/or gasp with glee every time Logan goes on a rampage.

On the flip side of all that is triumphant about Logan, there’s plenty that’s bittersweet.  It actually for once feels like a legit Wolverine movie and Hugh Jackman turns in his best performance as the character, but knowing that another story is not on the way sure does gives the film a heavy, goodbye forever-feel that steadily lingers.  Also, it’s just a damn struggle watching Professor X (Patrick Stewart in fine, super grumpy form) as an old man with a nearly broken mind.

Logan, without a doubt, is a brutal film, but you’re going to love it.  Think John Wick, but raw with a lot less fucks to give.

One Last Thought:

If some sort of companion comic for Logan were to come out, I’d snatch it up immediately.  There’s a lot in the movie that’s mentioned but not detailed, and some extra backstory would be pretty neat to read through.

One More Last Thought:

I didn’t really note anything about the plot or its side-characters (like Dafne Keen’s ever-compelling and wild Laura, or Boyd Holbrook’s oddly charming but menacing Pierce), and that’s because those elements need to hit you at the actual theater.  Logan isn’t a movie that should be spoiled, just hyped.  See it fresh!

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