It is funny when you have next to no reaction to a film, despite easily acknowledging so many great things about it. Foxcatcher is incredibly well acted, effectively directed in a chilling sort of manner as a sort of powder keg of tension, and likely worthy of even more praise, when one considers the level of detail brought to the film’s time period and setting. With that all in mind, while pivotal moments had a desired effect, I walked away only caring so much for the film. It tells the true story of a group of individuals that seemed to be boiled down to some basic elements, which left me feeling like I watched a film that I did not really need to see. Of course, given the built-in praise that came from its reception at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, I certainly wanted to see it, but now having done so, again, the film just didn’t leave me with much.
Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category
Remember Bolt? Disney’s computer animated feature about a dog that believed it had superpowers, given that he was the star of a TV series. I enjoyed that film for what it was, as it had a warm spirit and lots of humor. That in mind, it always felt like Disney taking a film like Toy Story and turning it into something a lot less complex. Big Hero 6 feels like Disney’s attempt to reconstruct Pixar’s The Incredibles into a much more traditional superhero film (with lots of Disney-style emotional content), complete with a young, orphaned hero, the means to put a team of high-tech crime-fighters together, and a masked villain with a dastardly plan in mind. What really makes this film work though is the sense of wonder, fun, and enjoyment to be had in its execution, which is largely embodied by one of Disney’s best new sidekick characters, Baymax. Predictability aside, a large, marshmallow-like robot, and the colorful adventure he is a part of, will easily be plenty of fun for a wide audience.
So today’s history lesson focuses on Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment way back in 2009. Honestly, I can’t believe it has been that long, but I digress because I’m making money off their acquisition regardless in my stock portfolio. However, getting back to our history lesson, back then Disney wanted something new and exciting so CEO Bob Iger encouraged his company to explore all of Marvel’s properties, even the unknown ones, to find the next big thing. The idea was to pick an obscure title out of the bunch so Disney would have the freedom they needed to come up with their own version of the idea. And that ladies and gentlemen is how this next big thing we are gathered here to discuss was discovered. Of course I’m talking about Big Hero 6, which we should just get this over already to clear anyone who had this question about this “Marvel” film being produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, it is not part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is set in its own standalone universe and I am A-OK with that. So let’s stop stalling in order to make this opening paragraph more robust and impressive and let’s get to talking some Big Hero 6! Continue reading ‘‘Feast’ Your Eyes on ‘Big Hero 6’and Their Big Hearts (Movie Review)’
There was never a question as to whether or not I was going to see Interstellar theatrically. On that same topic, there was also never even a question as to whether my first time checking it out would be in IMAX either. The only question I had unanswered throughout this whole year up until a few weeks ago was how early I would be able to screen it. You see, when it comes to the 44-year old director Christopher Nolan, in my opinion he’s earned the right to make a stinker or two and I’ll stand by the man, support him and walk in blindly to whatever his name is attached to no matter what, just like I did for Man of Steel last year. Ever since 2000’s Memento the guy has been on a non-stop roll in the “success” category. Simply put, he makes the movies this reviewer wants to see. I also love the fact that he’s anti-technology when it comes to email and smart phones and is just all business. I applaud that. I wish I could adopt his philosophies and stances in my life, but I digress. So I guess you can say Interstellar really had me at hello all this time before I even stepped one foot into the theater this past Monday evening. It had Christopher Nolan’s name on the bill and in any universe that’s good enough for me. Continue reading ‘Interstellar Never Defies Gravity Because Of Too Much Dead Weight (Movie Review)’
A lot of times there is an urge to compare films to other films. It may not be the best way to go about things, but it happens, regardless if one really wants to or not. I remember seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was very young and being transfixed by it (regardless of if I ‘got it’). Apollo 13 was a film I saw in theaters a few times, as I was at an age where space and astronauts were the coolest things ever. The Right Stuff I caught later, though it has become a favorite film of mine (along with 2001). Having now seen Interstellar, a science fiction film from co-writer/director Christopher Nolan, I cannot help but think of these films that have contributed to my thoughts on the genre and how they served to influence Interstellar in various ways. Still, regardless of how I think Interstellar matches up to those other films, what is important for this review is to communicate why I found it so worthwhile to go on this journey and would hope many others do so as well by way of watching the film on the biggest screen available to them.
This is just great. In a time where we get a lot of action movies designed to build into some sort of franchise, here comes John Wick, a film most likely designed to be a one-off attempt at showing an older Keanu Reeves kick ass in some very brutal ways. The film is bound to become an American cult action favorite, but the unexpected, yet the best thing that could happen is to see this film become a breakout success and lead to at least a reteaming of Reeves, writer Derek Kolstad, and directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. While John Wick is straight to the point with its story, there is enough in the way of character and world building (not to mention terrific action) that would make me happy to see these guys continue to make slick action flicks such as this.
So Ouija is a total bust. Not that I expected much from a horror film based on the spooky toy, once mass-marketed by Parker Brothers, but it amounts to nothing all that special or entertaining, just laughably dull. Something interesting to note is how so many old slasher films and even the recent Saw franchise, among other horror franchises, end up receiving similar bad review scores, but will go on to be remembered by cult audiences. No one will remember Ouija. That is the kind of movie it is. This is a thing that will come and go. It may have allowed work for some young actors and a decent job for the filmmakers involved, but that’s about it. Good on them for getting the film done, but yeah, it’s just a silly horror movie.
I normally don’t do this, nor have I ever done this before, but I can’t help it. I need to start this John Wick movie review off by quickly discussing the plot of the film from a very high level because it’s actually the very reason why I wanted to see this film. Keanu Reeves plays a former hitman that comes out of retirement to avenge the death of his dog. Yes, I said his dog! Now tell me, how awesome is that? I sound like a little girl here, but I dare to utter the words awesome sauce! I love animals so much, much more than most people in life, so when I learned of the premise of this film I just screamed YES! It’s exactly the kind of film I would go pay to see and given the right circumstance I too would totally extract revenge on someone if they purposely harmed one of my dogs. Let that be a warning to everyone. Haha. So what say you? Y’all ready to talk some John Wick? I am! Continue reading ‘‘John Wick’ Serves Revenge With Heated Attachment (Movie Review)’
I don’t think there is any real way around me saying that I am of mixed-race and have certain views towards humor that delves into race. Obviously I could just not mention this at all, but that seems like more of a disservice, when it comes to a review that focuses on a film satirizing racial politics on a college campus. While my experiences do not reflect the events that take place in Dear White People, I did have a level of understanding of the circumstances and walked away both very satisfied and somewhat angered, given how the film works in its provocation. The best way to look at Dear White People though, is as an examination of identity. It leans on certain points for the sake of a particular story, but this is a film about understanding one’s self versus what the masses understand. It also happens to feature some very fine filmmaking on display for a directorial debut.
As if I needed more reasons to want to love Michael Keaton as a performer, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has given the actor a fantastic role that puts him back in the spotlight, in a film that puts heavy emphasis on what it is to mean something to many, only to want to redefine one’s self. That is just one of the many ideas that Birdman tackles, as the film plays as a very entertaining dissection of Hollywood, Broadway, and the notion of fame in our modern culture. Additionally, Inarritu was far from content with treating this project as a simple satirical exercise, so the film is made to show us the weeks that go by in this story within nearly one long take. This shot is of course many shots carefully stitched together, but the screenplay is also a careful assemblage of ideas, themes, and great moments for all the actors to shine. This makes Birdman an ambitious and unpredictable ball of energy that just so happens to be a spectacular film to watch.
The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a widely loved kids film, when it comes to celebrating Halloween. If things go the way they should, The Book of Life is in a nice position to become the film that represents Dia de los Muertos for kids, let alone brings it further into mainstream prominence. Director Jorge Guiterrez and his team, including producer Guillermo del Toro, have created a stylish, animated, adventure-romance, which is full of life. It is a bit odd to point that last part out, given that the film celebrates the Day of the Dead, but then again, there is a lot of odd charm in this film that may be overstuffed with ideas, but is so lighthearted and fun, it is easy to look over some minor flaws, when it comes down to supporting a nice little animated film such as this.
World War II has been the source of a lot of great war movies, let alone movies in general. It seems to have a near endless supply of material, when it comes to developing new ideas for screenplays. Fury may not be the first film about a tank crew, but it does seem like a refreshing approach to this sort of film in modern times. With that in mind, while writer/director David Ayer was able to provide some exciting action sequences, a thrilling final act, and strong enough material for the actors to work with, there is only so much a film like this can accomplish when we end up not learning a whole lot about who this crew is. As a result, Fury is a pretty straight-forward and occasionally intense war film that certainly looks like the effort to keep it authentic was made, but does not have much complexity, beyond visceral thrills.
Dracula Untold is 92 minutes long. There are likely just over 92 films about the character of Dracula, in some form, if we collected all versions (including Nosferatu and the Blacula films, of course), but suffice it to say that I was not expecting this latest concept for how to incorporate the character into a film to be anything special. Sure, I was intrigued by the idea of going way back and seeing what they can do with a story about Vlad the Impaler, but this really is not that film. Dracula Untold is more or less an excuse to provide another brooding period action hero, which has been currently in style since Russell Crowe in Gladiator (see: 300 and Ridley Scott’s other recent period films). This time the gimmick relies on brooding action guy being a vampire with awesome powers. There does not end up being a whole lot of weight or excitement in this film, but it looks visually interesting at times and at least it was only 92 minutes.
When I first saw the poster for Universal’s Dracula Untold I instantly was fooled into thinking this was some kind of fan made poster art for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, at least it looked like it belonged to that particular franchise. My opinion on the matter still holds true even today when I look at the movie’s poster art as shown at the bottom of this review. It has the making of a really good Batman concept poster, at least in my opinion it does. However, I digress. I won’t waste your time by selfishly going off on a tangent bickering as to why I hate the poster art so much for Dracula Untold, but instead I’m going to forget the fact that I even mentioned it (despite it being embedded in print now) and move along because we have much bigger fish or should I say bats to fry here in this movie review. So whether you believe that Universal intends this film to be a reboot of the Universal Monsters franchise or not is your prerogative. Mine is to report on everything that simply goes down in this “first entry.” Shall we get started?
At its best, St. Vincent is a solid comedy-drama that features Bill Murray working at the best of his abilities as an actor to convey the sadness behind the guise of a smartass who has had a rough decline in later life. When the film does not work as well, it is because writer/director Theodore Melfi relies on a proven formula to do the work for him, despite the tonal balance one must carefully work with in order to succeed. Even with the problems in mind though, St. Vincent succeeds overall thanks to the casting of Murray and the nice level of chemistry he has with the cast around him, even if they are all on the path of a paint-by-numbers plot.
Being a great drummer is clearly no easy feat. One would not think a young jazz musician wanting to play drum at a music school would be the source for a gripping thriller, but then again, writer/director Damien Chazelle was responsible for writing the film Grand Piano, which was a thriller about a man forced to play the piano (or else!). That in mind, Whiplash is not a guilty pleasure take on a Hitchcockian thriller; it is an intensely focused drama that matches its ace lead performances with striking cinematic visuals to deliver a pretty fantastic film. This is a film that pushes its characters to their limits, in an effort to show what it means to be talented, passionate, and transfixed by getting something exactly right.
There is a scene in The Judge that features the big city lawyer and his estranged father having a huge argument during a violent wind storm. It is just one of the many scenes that really want to hammer home the emotions on display. Despite featuring a solid cast and moments where they can shine, The Judge is a film that goes way overboard, when it comes to spelling out exactly how an audience should feel. Not helping is the very sentimental screenplay that must have read, “Go big,” at the end of a good majority of the scenes, as a note to both the actors and director. The film is a huge pile of clichés that seem to have been filmed in an effort to rake in awards consideration for the two acting Roberts featured. It is the kind of contrived courtroom drama that is designed to get an obvious audience response, despite a lack of any sort of real weight behind the film.
Initially, I think I was more interested in how I would be writing the title of this film for the review, rather than what I was hoping to get out of actually seeing it. I have settled on ‘Alexander’ or ‘ATHNGVBD,’ but really, I am happy to write about this actual film as well, because it is harmless fun. Adapting a feature length film from a 32-page children’s novel can only lead to so much success, depending on who is involved, but Rob Lieber’s script manages to extend the novel’s idea into a fun family comedy that does not celebrate the misfortune of Alexander and his family, but instead embraces the optimism required to hold a family together, despite the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that happen to them. As a result, the film works both as a broad comedy and as a family comedy with good things to take away from it.