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Movie Breakdown: Baby Driver (Noah)

June 27, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Even if The World’s End was (at the time) the Edgar Wright movie that I connected with the very least, he is still one of the great directors working today. And if he wants to make a movie about an iPod listening getaway driver trying to escape the crime game, well, then I’m there in a Santa Suit on opening day.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I think there’s a lot to be said about Edgar Wright’s first movie post his beloved Cornetto Trilogy. Where Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End were strictly British films (in style, content and cast), Baby Driver is Wright’s most American feeling film. There’s a sense of apple pie, American nostalgia that permeates the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort) – a tinnitus-affected music lover with some serious skill behind the wheel – and his want to quit the “crime team” and go live a life with Debora (Lily James), his diner-server lady friend. He’s pursued by baddies – some with hearts of gold, others with hearts of coal – and to save the damsel in distress he’s got to drive some cars and kick some ass. Wright does well to keep the film from feeling stale though, as he’s clearly seen every driving movie ever and with the use of Baby’s tinnitus as a plot device he has some room to zig and zag. But, if traditionalism bums you out, Baby Driver might not be your bag. This is a film about love and about good and evil and the grey murk that lies between (but only briefly before the cheer of this flick blasts that shit out of the water) and it’s about a kid with a hearing problem saving the day. It walks a line between corniness and homage that Wright maintains, but chunks of the film still come off as saccharine. Is it ever unenjoyable or lacking in intelligence or wit? Of course not, but this still feels like a palate cleanser – a quick, fun production that lets Wright play in the meta-action sandbox (though only a little) he loves so much, toy around with some new acting pals and get a movie into the theater. It lacks the emotional heft of Shaun of the Dead or The World’s End and the bizarreness of a Hot Fuzz or Scott Pilgrim. Instead it coasts along flatter, less interesting middle bits that lie between both. I’m hoping it’s the smoothing of the foundational cement so Wright can leap up and out into the weirdness. As of now though, it’s a nice stop-gap.

One Last Thought:

I watched The World’s End right after seeing this and what really stands out is the visual nature of it compared to Baby Driver. This film is sort of bland in terms of cinematography gusto and in the context of Wright’s other movies, well, it’s glaring. This could be because the film takes place in Atlanta, which seems to be a very large, very spread out REI superstore where people also live.

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Movie Breakdown: Transformers: The Last Knight

June 21, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

There’s not a single part of me that believes Transformers: The Last Knight is going to be worth my time.  With that being said, I really feel like Michael Bay and Co. have to eventually get one of these right.  They just have to!

Post-Screening Ramble:

I try to avoid labeling things as awful or amazing (because most of the time they’re not either), but Transformers: The Last Knight is a truly awful movie.  It’s not fun, and it’s confusing as hell.  From what I could gather, here’s the story.  Back in the Dark Ages, Merlin (Stanley Tucci, for some reason) was a drunk who stumbled upon a derelict spaceship.  In it was a transformer who gave him an all powerful staff and the ability to control a three-headed robo-dragon.  Sloshed Merlin then used both to save all of England.  Afterwards his actions became myth and the super staff (and accompanying dragon) went missing.  Flash forward to now-ish, and Optimus Prime is floating in space and transformers have been outlawed on Earth.  There’s a unit called the Transformers Resistance Force (TRF) who hunt down robo-kind and destroy them because people are tired of having their homes and stuff blown up.  Inside of the TRF are double agents (namely a spikey-haired Josh Duhamel) who also work for the Army (but in a different branch?) and they’re kind of OK with transformers, but they also want to see them gone.  In addition to these guys, there’s Cade Yeager (a bewildered Mark Wahlberg), and he spends his time saving transformers because he believes they should be allowed to live on Earth.  There’s also a young girl, Izabella (a spunky but annoying Isabela Moner), who Cade saves near the beginning of the movie.  She happens to be good at fixing transformers, but she and her rickety robo-pal never really do anything but get in the way.  Then there’s a lot of Autobots (like Bumblebee) and Decepticons (like Barricade) in play.  Unsurprisingly, Megatron is around, too, and he wants to find the legendary staff (why didn’t he know about it in previous movies?) and destroy Earth.  On top of all these regular and metal characters is Sir Edumnd Burton (a bizarre Anthony Hopkins) and his trusty robo-sidekick, Cogman.  They’re a part of some secret organization that protects transformers.  PLUS, there’s Vivian Wembley (a Megan Fox-looking Laura Haddock), a lady who can’t seem to land herself a man, but she knows a lot about King Arthur, Merlin and the like.  That’s everyone/thing, I think.  In any case, they all end up jammed together because Optimus Prime meets his maker, the all CG and very video gamey Quintessa, and she goes about convincing him to transport Cybertron to Earth so that they can restore it and have a new place to live.  This could mean the end of Earth (just like in all the movies before this one).

Whew.  As you may have noticed, that’s a fuck ton of plot … and it’s just the setup for acts two and three of The Last Knight.  So much more follows!  This damn film just never shuts up.  It spews out plot like few things I’ve ever seen before, and after a while it becomes impossible to figure out what’s going on.  Also, this movie is obnoxiously loud.  I – and I’m not kidding here – sat next to a couple with two crying children, and it didn’t even bother me all that much because they were constantly drowned out by yelling and explosions.

Don’t see this movie.  It’s terrible.

One Last Thought:

I find it bizarre that I can’t at all tell whether or not Michel Bay enjoys making these movies.  I know it’s possible he only does it for the big payday, but surely some part of it is fun for him?  Why doesn’t it ever show up on the screen?

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Movie Breakdown: Rough Night

June 16, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

There hasn’t been a single Rough Night trailer that’s made me blow air out of my nose, but I also haven’t seen anything that’s made me roll my eyes and sigh.  I guess this means I’m feeling like there’s a chance it’ll be good.  If it isn’t, something something about getting to look at Scarlett Johansson.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I was pleasantly surprised by Rough Night.  It’s essentially your standard party gone wrong type of R-rated comedy that has plenty of dick jokes, drugs, sex and all the other usual things, but what’s there is dialed just right.  This is especially the case with the cast, which is principally made up of Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon.  They not only have great chemistry and co-exist on the screen in a way that doesn’t just feel like a bunch of famous people constantly yelling, but each of them inject real personalities into their characters.  This means there’s not just one person who is funny or straight-laced or whatever, they’re all a little bit of everything, and this keeps the film (and its paint-by-numbers plot) feeling fresh since you’re never fully sure how any of them are going to react to something.

Look, I’m not going to tell you that Rough Night is one of the greatest comedies ever or anything like that.  It’s a solid movie that’s got plenty of laughs and some nice performances, and you could certainly do a lot worse at the theater this weekend.  I say give it a go.

One Last Thought:

It’s interesting to think about Scarlett Johansson’s career.  Way back in 2005 when she did Michael Bay’s The Island, everyone cried out in horror, and now people high five when she stars in stuff like Ghost In The Shell, Rough Night and all those Marvel movies.  Good for her.  I wonder where she goes from here, though?

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Movie Breakdown: Cars 3

June 15, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I mostly like the first Cars movie, which is essentially just a re-imagining of Doc HollywoodCars 2 is truly terrible.  Cars 3 seems like it may get the franchise back on … track.  I’m down, if only to further support Pixar.

Post-Screening Ramble:

For a moment there I thought that Cars 3 was going to be like Rocky 3.  Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is a champion, he’s shiny and happy, he’s got loads of friends and fans, and his lady has the body of a Porsche.  Everything is wonderful!  Until, out of nowhere, a new challenger with a cool name – Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) – comes along and takes it all away.  Doesn’t that sound like what Clubber Lang did to Rocky?  Yes, yes it does.

Unfortunately, nothing after this setup is even half as fun or interesting as Rocky 3.  The story is very hollow, and I often found myself side-eying its variety of lazily constructed and halfhearted messages.  The main issue though is McQueen, who swerves about and spends his time either whining or being a dick to the film’s other main character, a race car trainer named Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).  He’s very unlikable, which is bizarre considering that he’s the face of this animated franchise for children.  Talk about getting something way wrong.

I can’t recommend Cars 3, as it just isn’t any good – for you or your kids.  Spend your money and time elsewhere.

One Last Thought:

Nothing about the Cars “world” makes any sense.  Everything in it seems crafted for humans, but there aren’t any around.  I know this is silly (it’s just an animated movie meant to sell toys, man), but for some reason I found it wildly distracting in the third go-round.  I just kept thinking “what is this place and how did it get this way?” over and over.

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Movie Breakdown: The Mummy

June 7, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Tom Cruise is great, but I’m not at all excited about The Mummy.  Nothing about it looks good or even interesting.  Also, I have questions.  Why is Tom in this movie?  Why does this movie even exist?  Where the hell is Brendan Frasier?

Post-Screening Ramble:

There’s this part of me that wants to rip The Mummy apart.  The 3D version I saw was far too dark and I could barely see anything for much of the film.  The story is flimsy at best.  The characters are super shallow.  It didn’t even manage to leave me wanting more of Universal’s Dark Universe.

With that being said, it’s such a harmless movie that it’s difficult for me to just destroy.  Sure, it may not have much weight to its story or characters, but there are handful of fun plot points and everyone in it feels like they’re doing their best to make it a legit blockbuster.  This is doubly true for Tom Cruise, who is charismatic (as usual) and pulls off some pretty stellar stunts in the movie (full whoa on the zero gravity plane scene).  The film also has a sort of c’est la vie vibe, in that it lightheartedly and excitedly bounds along and forsakes any quiet moments in order to get you to the next action scene.  This means you won’t remember anything or have your mind blown, but you’ll at least have an OK time.

If you’re bent on seeing this one, keep it to matinee prices.

One Last Thought:

I don’t do spoilers but I have to roll one out here.  DO NOT highlight my inviso-text unless you want to know the end of the movie!

The film concludes with Tom Cruise becoming cursed (and all powerful or whatever).  They don’t really show his face, but later you see his hands and they’re all wrapped up like a mummy.  To be honest, I ‘m not fully sold on the Dark Universe, but you better believe I’m down to see Cruise all dressed up like a mummy and acting evil and stuff.  That sounds like comedy gold.

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Movie Breakdown: It Comes At Night

June 6, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

It’s pretty hard to not be all aboard the It Comes At Night hype train.  That poster up above is just about perfect and the teasers/trailers have been great.  Oh, and early word has been really positive.  I’m ready.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Writer/director Trey Edward Shults really hit it out of the park with It Comes At Night, but I don’t believe it’s the film that most are expecting.  There’s been some trickery at play in the marketing, and if you’ve managed to stay away from lengthy plot descriptions and/or spoilers, then you’re probably heading into it under the impression that you’ll be receiving a nice slice of horror.  Well, there is some of that present, but for the most part It Comes At Night is a slow-paced psychological thriller.  The only monsters in it are the families trying to survive some type of world-ending disease (it’s never fully explained), and the movie details how their dire situation seeds paranoia and fear.  These feelings aren’t just for the characters though, they’re for you, too, and that’s where this film really shines.  There are a lot of quiet moments, and every single one of them will also leave you feeling unsure about what’s true and whose side you’re on.  Personally, I flip flopped the whole damn time, and by the end of it I couldn’t definitively say I wouldn’t have acted the same way each party does in the film.  Now that’s good stuff.

Do yourself a favor and run out and see It Comes At Night.  Just don’t go in expecting some kind of big scary movie.  It’s not that.  At all.

One Last Thought:

The more movies I watch that involve people trying to survive in a world without order (or whatever we have now), the more sure I become that I’ll never make it in such a scenario.  I just like talking and typing and stuff, not setting up bunkers or scavenging or shooting people. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Movie Breakdown: Wonder Woman (Noah)

May 31, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

This is the studio that made Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, not only one of the worst superhero films of all time, but two of the rare hours of my life I’d like back.

Post-Screening Stance:

Huzzah huzzah, a miracle hath occurred: DC, in its newest incarnation, has made a pretty good film. Sure, you and I both believed that the one-two shit punch of Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman implied that every film the studio would now release would be the cinematic equivalent of dragging your face on asphalt. Dark, moody, overly stuffed with characters and character introductions, these two films, and the directing of Zack Snyder set the tone for a possible future of the DC. Call Wonder Woman the course-correction. Patty Jenkins – the first female director of a major superhero film – has made a film that seems to align with the current values of DC comics – upbeat, fun, an adventure more than a deep dive into the darkness of being a superhero. And, for the most part, it works. Gal Gadot is physically a perfect choice for Diana, able to capture the godlike beauty of the character and handle the more action-oriented moments. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the sidekick in the film, has all the reserves of comedy and pathos a great sidekick is supposed to have, and he nearly steals the movie. Beyond all this, this is a female superhero finally getting her film and it’s well made and well acted and it has a narrative arc that goes from start to finish and for the most part makes sense. The action scenes are strong – lots of whip camera slo-mo as pioneered by DC uber-father Zack Snyder – and the film feels complete, its own story outside of the expanded universe. It is, to be brief, a good film. Is it the next coming of superhero films? No. It still spins its wheels in the mud of superhero burnout with a weak villain and some over-processed cheese. But, details aside, this is a cheer-worthy film (seriously the audience clapped more than any movie I’ve ever seen) and as silly as it’ll be in ten years that a female superhero was a big deal – it is. I sat next to two young women during the film and their genuine excitement when the credits rolled was kind of heartwarming. It’s not perfect, don’t think it is, but Wonder Woman, hell, it’s good and for DC, that’s saying a lot.

One Last Thing:

I don’t know if this implies that all DC films going forward are going to be good. This one was though, so take it while you can get it.

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Movie Breakdown: Wonder Woman

May 31, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I was slightly skeptical when Gal Gadot got cast as WW, but she was a real highlight in the murky Batman v Superman and everything in the lead up to the release of her debut solo film has been totally on point.  Hard to not be at least a little excited about this one.

Post-Screening Ramble:

While I dig that superheroes everywhere are getting their shot on the big screen, that whole game has grown old for me.  It’s all generic origin stories and drawn out setup films, and I’m just ready for the genre to disappear for a while.  And yet, Wonder Woman delighted me.  Now, this isn’t to say it does anything different.  It’s booked-ended with an unnecessary connection to the DC films that have come before it, and the middle is one big by-the-numbers origin story, but the movie works and it works well.  I give all of the credit to Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, who are both absolutely fantastic in the movie.  Seriously, without them, Wonder Woman just wouldn’t work.

I should probably say more here, but I don’t really want to tell you anything about the story.  It’s not particularly complicated or difficult to predict (again, it’s the two main performances that make it function), so you might as well let it unfold at the theater.  Just go, watch Gadot and Pine dazzle, and then feel good about DC finally getting something legit right.

One Last Thought:

I wonder if all of the DC flicks are going to look like Zack Snyder movies?  I suppose it helps thematically (and Snyder’s style is definitely cool), but I wouldn’t mind seeing some different takes.  Otherwise all of these films will start to look the same, which is a problem in the MCU (with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy and, hopefully, Thor: Ragnarok).

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Movie Breakdown: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

May 24, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Pirates Of The Caribbean 1 is a great movie.  Pirates 2 & 3 are OK movies.  I didn’t even bother with Pirates 4, but I heard it wasn’t good.  Frankly, I’m surprised (or disappointed, I don’t know) that there’s a Pirates 5, but people gotta eat and get their swashbuckling fix in, I suppose.

Post-Screening Ramble:

To be honest, I don’t even know what Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was about.  Franchise face Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is around but he’s got half a crew, no ship and is surprisingly sidelined for most scenes.  Series regular Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) is present as well, but mostly just because he has a shoehorned connection to one of the main characters, a discount Keira Knightley (Kaya Scodelario).  There’s a budget Orlando Bloom (Brenton Thwaites) involved, too, but he doesn’t seem to have any particularly useful skills.  He just wants to bumble about until he finds some magical trident that will free the actual Orlando Bloom from a life of servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman.  Javier Bardem plays a cursed pirate killer who wants to take down Sparrow.  Or all pirates.  I’m not really sure.  There’s a somewhat perplexing Paul McCartney cameo, but it at least made me smile since everything up until then was confusing and one shade above awful.  On the action front, it’s all rather boring.  There are some neat designs, but none of them go anywhere and once the eye candy simmers, you realize you’re watching a bunch of bored actors in a tired franchise.  Seriously, there’s nothing here worth cheering for or remembering (obviously).  Hell, I can’t even call this film a misfire because all parties involved didn’t even bother loading the canon.  I think in most years this is the kind of movie that would kill a bunch of careers, but I guess in sequel happy Hollywood this will pass as solid filler.  What a shipwreck.  Skip it.

One Last Thought:

I’m willing to bet $20 that Johnny Depp was actually drunk during the making of this movie.  I couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying due to all of the slurring.

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Movie Breakdown: Baywatch

May 24, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Baywatch looks like it was modeled after the very successful (and funny) 21/22 Jump Street flicks.  That’s exciting.  Hopefully it cracks me up.  If it doesn’t, I guess I can just stare at the very pretty trio of Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario.

Post-Screening Ramble:

There’s not much to like about Baywatch.  Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is a detective/good samaritan/water lover in charge of Baywatch, a group of … lifeguards who watch over a … bay.  Annually, because previous employees get new jobs (or drown, maybe), his team holds a competition to accept a new member.  The tryout is meant to find ONE new co-worker, but because this movie is cluttered and generally doesn’t make a lot of sense, three are selected to join the crew.  These chosen ones include a bad boy former Olympian named Matt Brody (Zac Efron), the Baywatch-ready Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and the all-heart but out of shape and very dorky Ronnie (Jon Bass).  If you haven’t already guessed, Ronnie is the lovable goof, Summer is the moral compass and Matt is the guy who has to get yelled at and shamed a lot by Mitch so that he can learn to appreciate being a part of Baywatch.  They’re all shallow characters who never have a memorable moment on the screen.  Thankfully (but not really), the film has more at play than inter-team dealings, and it’s a whole other muddled plot about a lady (Priyanka Chopra) trying to force-ably attain real estate to build a shopping mall or something.  And she sells drugs, too!  Because why not!  Like I mentioned, this thing is a real jammed up mess.  My guess is that someone made the decision to just throw everything at the viewer to hide the movie’s extreme lack of laugh-worthy bits, but who knows for sure.

Don’t watch this sloppy, hollow, unfunny and eternally long film.  Find anything else to do.  Unless you just really like bad dick jokes, I guess.

One Last Thought:

At some point The Rock is going to have to dial back and go for more of a quality over quantity approach with his roles.  The guy is seemingly in everything, and most of it is forgettable garbage.

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Movie Breakdown: Chuck

May 18, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Since the Rocky flicks seem to have run their course, someone decided to make a movie about the real life guy/boxer who inspired Sylvester Stallone to create the Italian Stallion.  Is this a story that’s worth telling?  Maybe.

Post-Screening Ramble:

It’s 1975, and there’s a top 10 fighter by the name of Chuck “The Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner (Liev Schreiber) who has been given the chance to take on the Rumble In The Jungle winner himself, Muhammad Ali.  Naturally, no one thinks he has a shot at anything but getting KO’d, but through sheer determination (and with the help of a thick skull), he lasts 15 rounds and becomes a hero to everyone in his hometown.  Then, of course, he goes about ruining his life because he’s an impulsive, selfish fool.

Chuck is a fairly brief hour and a half.  You see some lead up to the fight, the fight itself and then the downfall.  I’m sure there’s more story that could have been told, but the film works as is because what’s there is grounded and relatable.  It’s full of real people doing real things, and there’s something oddly charming and warm about the way its generally unfortunate plot unfolds.  I give all the credit to Schreiber, who turns in a great performance on the screen and as the film’s narrator.  He really does well to make you feel like Chuck’s collapse isn’t because he’s a bad person, it’s because he’s an idiot.  And let’s face it, we’ve all been there.

If you want a nice matinee (that doesn’t feature superheros and explosions and whatnot) this weekend, Chuck is a solid option.

One Last Thought:

I’ve always found Naomi Watts to be an alluring presence, but something about her in this film is just intoxicating.  Maybe it’s the red hair.  Or the don’t give a fuck attitude.  Or both.

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Movie Breakdown: King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

May 12, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

The trailers for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword haven’t been all that entertaining, but I like Guy Ritchie and the cast he assembled, so I’m at least mildly interested in the film.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Here’s the setup for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.  Uther (Eric Bana) gets betrayed by his brother, Vortigern (Jude Law), and this leaves a very young Arthur floating in a boat all on his own.  Eventually he’s found by some ladies of the night and they take him in and raise him.  Whilst Arthur is coming of age, his evil uncle begins building a tower that’s supposed to help him rule the world or something, and – of course – he can only be stopped by the Born King and Excalibur.

I will say this for Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur, it’s different.  Usually, the tale is told in a … well, knightly way, but Ritchie flips that on its head by turning Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) into a sort of back alley street brawler with a fast mouth.  This gives the film a nice edge, that’s for sure, but it makes it difficult to root for Arthur.  He’s essentially a thug and he doesn’t ever come off as anyone that should even be a knight, much less a King.  I assume this wasn’t Richie’s intention and that he actually was just trying to make Arthur cool, but it’s one of two fairly large flaws that keeps the film from being good.  The other issue is its breakneck pace.  This thing barrels along as though it’s a race to the finish, and you’re never really given any time to get to know anyone (outside of the generally unlikable Arthur) or to fully understand what the hell is going on.  Maybe a longer, more patient cut will emerge one day and fix everything, but as things stand now, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a very mediocre definition of all style and no substance.  You should wait and watch this one on your couch.

One Last Thought:

There are enormous war elephants in this film, and they made me roll my eyes.  That’s already been done and done well.  It’s time for another large creature to shine.  Maybe a rhino?  Or a hippo?

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Movie Breakdown: Snatched (Noah)

May 12, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I like Amy Schumer, I really do. And Goldie Hawn? C’mon, is there anyone more likable? That said, this looks/feels a little bit like when Seth Rogan made Guilt Trip with Barbara Streisand after he blew up the world with Knocked Up. And by that, I mean forgettable.

Post-Screening Ramble:

So, even if Snatched was a fantastic movie, I think audiences are going to struggle with the fact that this is a straight comedy about women being kidnapped by grotesque stereotypes of Hispanic kidnappers. Let’s be frank: kidnapping, especially of women in foreign countries is a brutal act that usually involves physical, sexual and emotional violence that often times ends in death. There is, quite literally, nothing funny about it. That said, comedy is supposed to push boundaries to the very edge and if Schumer, director Jonathan Levine and Goldie Hawn had managed to make a film that somehow used this miserable set-up as a vehicle for solid gold laughs, that’d be one thing. They don’t though. Snatched is at worst, a pretty out-of-touch comedy about a mother and daughter (Hawn and Schumer respectably) who get kidnapped while on vacation. At best it’s a mediocre comedy with a few solid lines/scenes from Schumer surrounded by a jungle-like morass of a comedic black hole. The film seems to know it’s not very good, because it flies along with nary a stumble to develop any character outside the most rote of comedic stereotypes (Goldie Hawn is scared of doing stuff, Schumer is, well, Schumer, Ike Barinholtz is an agoraphobic nerd, etc.). It gets where it’s going with the most predictable of moves and then ends neatly wrapped in a boring little bow. And of course, on top of all this, any audience member with even a lick of empathy will have to struggle to watch the film without thinking of the hundreds and hundreds of women who are kidnapped, subjected to torture and then killed each and every year. This is a big misstep for all involved.

One Last Thought:

It sort of feels like Schumer’s on the downward trend right now. I think if she doesn’t develop/star in something great soon, we could see her career come to a short-lived end.

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Movie Breakdown: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (Noah)

May 4, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Well, I’ve sat through every other Marvel movie up to this point and for the most part (Thor, I’m looking at you) I’ve enjoyed them. And from that pile of spandex and superstars, Guardians of the Galaxy rises to very near the top. So, yes, I’d say I’m pretty excited.

Post-Screening Stance:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 might be, in terms of using the palette of the comic book medium, my very, very favorite Marvel movie. James Gunn has taken his team of lovable losers – Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) – and thrust them into yet another eye-popping adventure with a surprisingly sentimental, if at times overly gooey, core. This time around after a mission gone horribly wrong, and in true sequel fashion, the group splits into teams, each pushed into a side adventure before slamming back together for an action-packed ending. You’ll hear a lot of critics (the magnificent John Laird himself, amongst them) saying this film is exactly the same as the first just with a bigger budget. To some degree, I’m with them. This is, again, the story of a bunch of jerks starting to realize that in the greater context of things, they’re actually pretty good people. Yeah sure, Gunn retreads some of the plot points from the first, and yeah, there hasn’t been a large amount of character growth between films, but, truth be told, I didn’t even notice. Instead, I was drawn into the visually spectacular world Gunn managed to sneak past Marvel studios. This isn’t a film constrained by focus groups, it’s a film that takes the world of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and Jim Starlin and just blasts it on to the screen. Every scene, every prop, every character is something to goggle at. This, unlike a lot of Marvel’s work, is a rich tapestry of ideas and because of the work done in the first film, Gunn doesn’t have to jam a lot of character development down your throat. Instead, we just get to spend two hours with a crew of rogues in a world pulled from one of the strangest minds in Hollywood. Beyond that, this film is rife with humor and genuine sadness. This is what crowd-pleasers used to look like: spectacles with heart. We’ve lost our way, but hey, maybe Guardians 2 is what will bring us back.

One More Thing:

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has done a lot of good things, but it’s also created the concept that a film isn’t a film, it’s a vehicle for story/character development. I mean, yeah sure, every good film should have story and character development, but because of the multi-tiered nature of expanded universing, every movie has to move the characters into place for whatever comes next. Sometimes I just want to watch a good movie and not think how Peter Quill is going to fit into Infinity War.

One Other Thing:

You should watch FF8 before every movie. It’s so singularly disappointing in terms of movies and that franchise in general, that you’ll like Sandy Wexler if you pair it with FF8.

And Another Thing:

Drax steals the show in this film. Whomever thought Dave Bautista was funny enough to be in a movie, you deserve a pool shaped like James Gunn’s face.

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Movie Breakdown: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

May 4, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Come on!  If you’re not hyped for Baby Groot The Movie Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, then you’re probably dead.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The nerd in me really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  The film has a bright, colorful, creative design, and it’s very energetic and loaded with great music.  All of the principal characters are back and in fine form – Chris Pratt is super charismatic as Peter Quill, Bradley Cooper’s sarcastic voice drives Rocket, Zoe Saldana is stoic as ever as Gamora and Dave Bautista is wonderful as the thick-headed Drax.  And then there’s Vin Diesel as Baby Groot.  Oh my.  Expect your heart to melt.  The lot of them, without a doubt, are a great team, and watching them together on the screen again made for a rather enjoyable time at the theater.

With that being said, the critic in me though isn’t quite as accepting of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and it’s because it’s the same movie as the first Guardians of the Galaxy.  It starts the same, it then hits the same beats, and then it wraps the same.  So much has been made of how Guardians of the Galaxy is the best part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because it isn’t tied to the same plot points as the other films, and yet the second entry in the series does nothing to expand its own story or move its characters forward.  At the beginning of Vol. 2 we find everyone where we left them, and then they’re right back there when it comes to a close.  In fact, there’s only one character that gets any sort of actual development, and it’s not even someone who is a main member of the team – Yondu (the great Michael Rooker).  Otherwise, it’s just more of the same.  Now, as I said up above, I enjoyed the film and didn’t mind the same ol’ same ol’, but I’m not letting writer/director James Gunn slip away without being tagged for essentially making Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.5.  It feels like he wasn’t really sure what to do, so he stayed in his safe zone and did what worked the first time around.  To some degree, that’s fine, but Guardians of the Galaxy is a series that should stay way out in front of everyone else and take some risks, and there’s just none of that happening here.  This makes it difficult for me to not at least somewhat view Vol. 2 as a missed opportunity.

Should you see it?  Yeah of course, don’t be daft.  I just advise you keep your expectations in check a bit and make sure you’re down with a big serving of re-heated Guardians Vol. 1.

One Last Thought:

I just want to confirm that there are indeed five extra scenes that play during the credits.  I was thinking they’d all be silly, but there’s actually a pretty good mix of jokey bits and important things.  Definitely stay in your seat.

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