Posts Tagged ‘movies’

h1

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

May 2, 2018


Director: The Russo Brothers (Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: Winter Soldier)
Starring: Half of Hollywood

I’m going to attempt to do something difficult and review a movie that a) I feel like I need to see again before I have a firm grasp on how I feel about it and b) I’m not sure I can say much about without spoiling things. Here goes…

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. If you’re still with Marvel at this point, then Avengers: Infinity War is as big as it gets. My friend I saw this movie with is a comic book fanatic and I’m pretty sure seeing this movie ranked somewhere in the top five most anticipated moments of his entire life. This is where we’ve been headed since Robert Downey Jr. first became Iron Man all the way back in 2008 – when Marvel completely changed the movie-going experience by creating a massive shared universe that has stretched over a decade now. And if you’re still eagerly awaiting Thanos’ arrival on Earth then chances are it’s going to be very hard for Avengers: Infinity War to disappoint you.

But that didn’t stop Age of Ultron from disappointing, did it? Admit it, that was arguably the worst and most forgettable film in the ten years of Marvel’s nearly flawless run of box office dominance. It was also at that point that Joss Whedon passed the directing baton to the Russo brothers, whom have proven to be the most adept filmmakers in the MCU, with both Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War ranking in the top five Marvel movies to date.

I’ve actually read some criticism of Infinity War saying that it lacks character development. Something along the lines of the characters just show up and get involved in the story. What. Yeah, I forgot about the last ten years and previous 18 movies that have led up to this point too. Outside of Thanos, basically everyone else involved has had multiple movies worth of character development. We don’t really need it here. Hush.

So the basic premise here is that Thanos is the biggest and baddest dude from space and he has obtained what I believe is called the Infinity Gauntlet and he is after the six Infinity Stones that can be placed in the Infinity Gauntlet and when that happens, he can unlock unrivaled universe-erasing power. Not that he needs it: in the first sequence of the film, Thanos puts a severe beating on a few heroes and proves that The Avengers are already no match for him, Infinity Gauntlet or not.

It’s pretty easy to see how earth’s mightiest heroes get pulled into the fracas. If you’ve seen all the movies that have led up to this point (and you should have) then the following are not spoilers: Vision has an Infinity Stone in his forehead; Loki likely has an Infinity Stone and he’s currently traveling through space with Thor and the few surviving Asgardians; Doctor Strange has the Time Stone; and two other Stones are in space with people we’ve seen the Guardians of the Galaxy interact with. Needless to say, Thanos will have to go through some Avengers and possibly some Guardians to get all the Stones.

So that’s the gist of the plot and I have to say the execution mostly doesn’t disappoint. Infinity War is wonderful cinematic spectacle. At over 150 minutes and with a massive amount of characters to include, the film manages to be engaging and juggle screen time quite effectively. Sure, some of our heroes get less screen time than others, but when it comes down to it, this is Thanos’ movie anyways. I think I actually may have stepped out of the theater to use the bathroom at an inopportune time – particularly, when Thanos explained his reasoning for wanting to obtain the Stones and erase half of the universe’s population. So I really can’t comment on his motives, but if anyone wants to destroy half the universe, there’s probably a good reason for it, right?

I definitely enjoyed my first viewing of Infinity War. Like most Marvel movies, it blends action and humor to perfection and all the key players have an opportunity for a WOAH moment.

While Infinity War packs all the necessary punches, it also had a number of eyebrow-raising and eye-rolling moments. There are quite a few moments in the movie where a character has to make a tough (yet incredibly easy, all things considered) decision and makes an idiotic choice. What kind of hero would jeopardize the fate of the entire universe for one life? A shitty one. One that will be hard to root for in the future. Also, there’s a point where Doctor Strange looks into the future and says something along the lines of in 14 million possible outcomes, The Avengers only win in one of them. Is that really necessary? 1 in 14 million? When everyone in the theater knows the actual chance of an eventual Avengers victory is 100%? Do we need to be insulted like that? And if Doctor Strange can see into the future, and knows the one path to victory, then what is really at stake here? Nothing.

And that brings me to something I can’t really talk about. What I will say is that the film had no emotional impact on me. There are supposed to be huge moments of shock and sadness and I felt nothing. Because none of it seems real. None of it seems final. Because of the Soul Stone and the Time Stone and the nature of comic books, I just have a hard time believing that anything of massive consequence that happens in this movie can’t just be overturned at the snap of a finger. And because of that, my only emotional response was PFFFFFFT.

Still, I definitely enjoyed the movie. Fans of the genre should love it – and they do: it’s currently sitting in the top ten all time on IMDB’s Top 250 list (and that’s just absurd). If you haven’t been a fan of the MCU, this movie won’t change your mind. I’m looking forward to seeing it again and wonder if my opinion of it will change at all.

Replay Value: I’m ready for my second viewing already!

Sequel Potential: Avengers 4 has already been shot, I believe.

Oscar Potential: None?

Dina Meter: My wife enjoyed it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

h1

Blockers (2018)

April 17, 2018


Director: Kay Cannon
Starring: John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Geraldine Viswanathan, Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon

Wasn’t expecting much out of Blockers other than to laugh a bit and be entertained and it mostly delivered on those fronts. The premise here is three lifelong friends making a pact to all lose their virginity on prom night and their parents discover the pact and set out to stop them – and hopefully hilarity ensues. I laughed pretty consistently, but not uproariously. One of the worst things about comedies is they tend to get really stupid and outrageous but most of the stuff in Blockers was within the boundaries of reasonable, with one exception: the butt chug scene they hint at in the trailers. I mean… really?

John Cena definitely has some comedy acting chops. He’s the best thing about this movie, but the three main adults all have pretty good chemistry together. The kids are way less interesting, but Geraldine Viswanathan, Cena’s daughter in the movie, gives a confident and promising performance. She might be worth keeping an eye on. The other two girls were more or less forgettable in their roles.

I don’t have much else to say about Blockers. It’s a decent and entertaining comedy, with a touch of heart to it, but nothing anyone needs to see.

Replay Value: I can’t imagine wanting to see this again.

Sequel Potential: Blockers has basically doubled its budget, but it’s not exactly a huge hit either. There’s certainly no need for a sequel, but if this crushed at the box office they would obviously make one.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Dina Meter: I’m honestly not sure. I think it was entertaining enough that Dina would enjoy it, but it’s not like she’s missing out if she never watches it.

6/10 (Fun)

h1

A Quiet Place (2018)

April 11, 2018


Director: John Krasinski (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men)
Starring: John Krasinksi, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe

We have a new favorite for best film of 2018 through the first 14 weeks of the year!

I wouldn’t have guessed that Jim from “The Office” would be a good candidate to direct a horror thriller, but much like Jordan Peele and Get Out last year, we have an actor known for comedy directing a horror movie to perfection. Not only does Krasinski craft one of the most tense films I’ve seen in recent memory, but he also gives a solid performance in a lead role that requires very little humor and comes across very heroic.

The premise of A Quiet Place is that the human population of earth has been wiped out by some sort of monster/alien creature that can’t see but hunts by sound only. We are introduced to a family with Krasinski and Emily Blunt as mom and dad, respectively, and their three kids, and follow their story of survival, as they live life within the confines of never being able to make a sound and the film wastes no time in letting the audience know that their lives are genuinely at stake. The opening scene creates an incredibly tense atmosphere that doesn’t let up until the end credits and will keep audiences on their toes for 90 minutes straight.

You have to wonder… at what age does a child fully grasp how vulnerable they really are and what is at stake every waking moment of their lives? And who would bring a newborn into this world? Not just because it seems impossible for a baby to survive in a world where you can’t make a sound, but why would anyone purposely procreate in a world where your lives are at stake every second of every day? I have to admit that I was surprised and perturbed when I saw that Emily Blunt’s character was pregnant, but SPOILER ALERT the scene in which she gives birth is truly incredible. I suppose it’s best not to question the how of her pregnancy, but conceiving in this environment seems like an incredibly risky task! I do think that Krasinksi and his team of writers (and movie mom and dad) handled the complications of having a newborn quite delicately and managed to raise the stakes without raising more questions or getting into unbelievable territory.

I was very impressed with A Quiet Place. It was scary and tense all the way through. The monsters looked amazing! Both Krasinski and Blunt were terrific and the kids also gave strong performances, particularly the daughter. This is probably the most satisfying 2018 film I’ve seen so far this year and I’d consider it a must watch for any fan of the horror or thriller genres, but A Quiet Place is more than a scary movie; it’s also a film about family and survival and forgiveness. Unless you absolutely can’t stand scary movies, I think this is another must see movie for 2018.

Note: First off, anyone that brings a baby to a movie is pretty selfish and kind of an idiot. Find a sitter or stay home. But someone that brings a baby to a movie called A Quiet Place is just a straight up asshole. It’s right in the title and in the trailer that this movie is going to be very quiet and sounds from the audience are going to be very unwanted. I felt guilty eating popcorn! I’m not confrontational at all, but I really had to contain myself from saying something to these morons. Perhaps it’s because the baby wasn’t that bad; for the most part, it was pretty quiet and only had short bouts of crying throughout the film and only one really bad stretch, but it was still very distracting and in a movie that is almost entirely built around suspense and a taut atmosphere, distractions from the audience are unforgivable. What jerks. Thank you, baby, for being mostly tolerable.

Replay Value: This would be fun to watch again.

Sequel Potential: There is definitely potential here, especially since there was zero explanation about the creatures. Where they came from, what they are, etc. On the other hand, this is a movie about the family, not the monsters, so I don’t think it was made with sequels in mind… but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood before.

Oscar Potential: A Quiet Place lacks the social and political commentary that made Get Out an Oscar contender, so I suspect this movie won’t get much attention next awards season, but it’s my top film of the year so far, so maybe? The monsters are definitely worthy of Visual Effects consideration.

Dina Meter: Dina hates scary movies, but sometimes I force her to watch the really good ones and A Quiet Place will be no exception. I suspect she will hate the experience but will appreciate the movie. I’m just going to tell her it stars Jim from “The Office” and looks really funny.

8/10 (Must See)

h1

Ready Player One (2018)

April 3, 2018

Directed by: Steven Spielberg (E.T., Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Jaws)
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg

This movie was a lot of fun.

It takes place in the year 2045, when most of the world spends their free time in a virtual reality world called OASIS, where players can go anywhere they want and do anything they want (i.e. climb Mount Everest with Batman!). Because of the limitless possibilities, filmgoers will be in for loads of nostalgia as popular 80s and 90s pop culture icons are common choices for the gamers’ avatars. In the first 10 minutes or so, I saw Freddy Krueger, Batman, and Jason Vorhees – and the references never stop. This movie is littered with them and there’s no way you’ll be able catch them all on your first viewing. Plus, there’s a sequence in the movie that pays homage to Stanley Kubrick that is utterly fantastic.

The gist of the plot revolves around the creator of OASIS passing away and leaving behind a number of Easter eggs and keys for players to search for with the final prize being complete control of OASIS. There’s definitely a bit of a Willy Wonka thing going on here. We are introduced to a group of ragtag gamers that quickly become the favorites in the contest and they are in a race against the big bad corporation IOI to the finish line for control of OASIS.

Most of Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure film takes place in OASIS and is computer animated and we see the film’s heroes as their avatars much more frequently than we see the human actors. This is probably a good thing. Tye Sheridan plays Wade/Parzival, the film’s main hero, and his time spent as Parzival (his avatar) was much more interesting than when the film focused on his human life. Sheridan doesn’t do a bad job here, but his performance is missing something that I’m having a hard time putting a finger on. Wonder? Life? I dunno, I just thought he was a little on the dull side and kept thinking they should have found someone better. The supporting cast is much better. Olivia Cooke is fun and sexy as both Art3mis and Samantha. T.J. Miller does some funny voicework playing a scary and formidable-looking avatar but giving the character a self-conscious and silly tone. Ben Mendelsohn checks in with his standard slimy bad guy role as the head of IOI and does some of his best work to date.

The animation in this movie is spectacular and I imagine that Spielberg’s crew is in line for some Oscar attention. Ready Player One certainly works best when we are in OASIS and taking in the action from that point of view, which is kind of ironic because there’s definitely a message in this film that we need to be less “plugged in” and more in tune to the real world.

One thing about Ready Player One that I either missed or didn’t fully grasp was the role of IOI. I know the corporation is technically the bad guy, but I didn’t understand what the real world consequences were if they won the contest or how they became a known evil empire that is somehow allowed to operate unchecked by any sort of political authority or law enforcement. I remember there was a scene where actual police officers show up in the real world and I was like “wait… what?” And what exactly does the company do? Help women get pregnant? Maybe a second viewing answers these questions for me, but a movie can’t be truly great if you finish it and you’re not sure why the bad guy was the bad guy.

Still, Steven Spielberg can tally up another successful adventure film full of spectacle. The director has a long history of making these types of films and leaving us with an all-time classic. Ready Player One doesn’t reach those heights, mainly because of an average lead actor and unclear consequences, but it was still very enjoyable – especially considering it clocks in at almost 2.5 hours – and the film is visually great and the nostalgia factor enhances the fun. Hard to imagine anyone being too disappointed with this movie – it checks most of the boxes – and it gets a solid recommendation from me.

Replay Value: I did not watch this in 3D and I wonder if that was a mistake. It seems like the kind of movie you would definitely want to see in 3D. That might make it worth seeing again in theaters. I would watch it again regardless though.

Sequel Potential: This was based on a book and I’m not sure if there are more novels in the same world, but it’s easy to imagine how they could continue this story.

Oscar Potential: Seems like a cinch for a Visual Effects nomination and could get some editing and sound love. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it up for Best Score. I wonder if it will qualify for Best Animated Feature. If so, that could be a nomination, but it wasn’t strong enough to get Best Pic or Best Director nods.

Dina Meter: I think Dina would like the spirit of this movie, but because of the animation and the fast and furious action, she might not be able to handle it. She doesn’t do rollercoasters, 4D rides, or watch movies in 3D because she gets motion sickness, so Ready Player One might be too much for her – even without the 3D.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

h1

Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

February 24, 2018

Starring: Who cares
Director: Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers, Jeepers Creepers 2)

Bottom Line: Man. Sometimes you think something is going to be a good idea and then you wonder what the hell you were thinking. I don’t know why I thought watching Jeepers Creepers 3 would be a fun experience. I am admittedly partial to horror movies and I’ve been known to find joy in watching plenty of mediocre films in the genre. I remember seeing the first Jeepers Creepers all the way back in 2001 and how much the first 20 minutes of that movie blew my mind with how tense it and scary it was and then it blew my mind again (in a bad way) when it’s tone suddenly shifted to full blown unkillable monster movie. I thought I watched the sequel, but after reading the synopsis on Wikipedia the only thing that rang a bell was the school bus and when I watched the last ten minutes of the movie on YouTube, I didn’t remember the ending. So why did I watch Jeepers Creepers 3?

I don’t know. It was a mistake. If you didn’t love the first two movies, you can safely skip this one. It’s really, really bad. And not really, really bad in a good way. It just sucks. I don’t know how many horror monster movies I’ve seen that take place in broad daylight, but talk about a mood killer. The sun is shining radiantly for all but the last 20 minutes of this movie. So the filmmakers could save money on lighting? There is one decent jump scare in this movie and absolutely zero tension. The acting was unsurprisingly shoddy and the score for the film was laughable at times. It seems like the plot wants to tie the film’s characters to The Creeper somehow, but I didn’t really get it. Like, the main girl’s mother has one of The Creeper’s hands buried in the yard, but I don’t get how that makes the girl special? There’s some sort of Creeper bounty team, but I didn’t really understand how or why they existed, or how they were aware of the monster and its hibernation habits. Maybe it’s a call back to the older movies I didn’t see or don’t remember. It’s not much of a spoiler to reveal that good prevails over evil in the end… but I watched it… and I still don’t really know how.

Eh. I decided to type this review tonight because I knew it would be easy to share my sentiment and I’ve already wasted too many words on it. It’s amazing to me that Victor Salva took 13 years to write something this bad. Jeepers Creepers 3 sucks. Stay away. This was the worst movie I’ve seen in a while.

Replay Value: None.
Sequel Potential: Evil never dies. The film ends with a teaser for part 4. Oh joy.
Oscar Potential: Zero.

Grade: 2/10 (Horrible)

h1

I, Tonya (2017)

February 22, 2018

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
Director: Craig Gillespie (Fright Night, Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours)

Bottom Line: Absolutely loved it. This is the story of American Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (Robbie), her brutal upbringing by her abusive and alcoholic mother (Janney), her struggle for acceptance (despite her enormous talent) in the ice skating world because of her trashy background, her tumultuous relationship with boyfriend Jeff Gillooly (Stan), and the controversy that arose from all of these things, including the infamous Nancy Kerrigan Incident. I love the way this movie is delivered via present day interviews and flashbacks and a knowing wink that everyone involved might be twisting the truth about what actually happened. The use of multiple unreliable narrators allows the story to unfold without presenting everything as 100% factual and adds an extra layer of humor to what is easily the funniest 2017 film I’ve seen to date. I, Tonya manages to tell Harding’s story without really taking anyone’s side. Tonya Harding might be at the center of this biopic, but she’s no hero and even though the film might want you to feel pity for Harding at times, I think it clearly understands that she was an incredibly flawed human being and though she was surrounded by horrible people, she wasn’t merely a victim of circumstance – she didn’t exactly shy away from controversy. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are brilliant in this movie, both delivering tour-de-force performances worthy of their Oscar nominations.

I, Tonya is definitely one of my favorite 2017 films. It’s hilarious and entertaining, ever-so-slightly heartbreaking, with some top notch acting from Robbie and Janney – a must see dark comedy about a troubled former celebrity that will make you laugh out loud and almost feel bad for her.

Replay Value: I would eagerly watch this again and I’m sure my wife will love it.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for three Oscars: Robbie for Best Actress, Janney for Best Supporting Actress, and Film Editing. I haven’t seen all the movies nominated for Best Costume Design or Best Makeup, but anyone that can make Margot Robbie look even slightly unattractive probably deserves some acclaim. Also, it seems like adding I, Tonya as a tenth nominee for Best Picture wouldn’t be asking too much.

Grade: 8/10 (Must See)

h1

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

February 15, 2018

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Director: Tom Ford (A Single Man)

Bottom Line: I can see how Nocturnal Animals has divided audiences and I’m actually surprise the audience score is as high as it is on Rotten Tomatoes (72%). This is likely not a movie for the casual filmgoer or really anyone that doesn’t want to think too much while watching films. I loved it though. It’s beautifully shot, extremely well acted, and the multiple narratives seem complex but are actually pretty simple and intertwine extremely well.

Here’s the gist: Amy Adams plays a woman deep into her second marriage and things seem to be falling apart between them. While her husband is away in NYC (cheating on her) she receives a manuscript from her previous husband (Gyllenhaal) that she begins reading. The story is about a man (Gyllenhaal again), and his wife and daughter, driving along a deserted Texas highway and being forced off the road by some hooligans that torment the family and eventually take off with the two women. The man teams up with a local sheriff (Shannon) to locate the two women. While reading the manuscript, Adams’ character finds herself reflecting on her own life and wondering about the choices she’s made.

I tried to type that synopsis up with as few spoilers as possible. I highly recommend watching Nocturnal Animals knowing absolutely nothing about it… like I did.

Michael Shannon gives a terrific (and Oscar nominated) performance as the Texan sheriff and the rest of the cast is great as well. Jake Gyllenhaal always seems to be solid, if not quite amazing, in any role he takes on and this film isn’t any different for him. Amy Adams’ character is quite a bit more interesting. In flashbacks, she seems genuine, somewhat optimistic, and perhaps quite a bit naive and in the present she says very little but exudes sadness and a palpable coldness. It’s a nuanced performance that will probably be appreciated more over multiple viewings. Also, it’s a bit of casting genius to have Isla Fisher in the role of the wife in the manuscript as Fisher and Adams have long been linked as doppelgangers of one another.

Nocturnal Animals is a brilliant film. If you found yourself unsatisfied when the credits started rolling, work a little harder. Do some research and figure it out. If you don’t want to do that, then Nocturnal Animals definitely wasn’t for you. This movie fires on all cylinders, while combining Western thriller with psychological warfare and a classic revenge tale. I still haven’t seen some critically acclaimed films from 2016, but right now I feel comfortable ranking Nocturnal Animals as high as #3 on my list and I won’t be surprised if ten years from now I look back on 2016 and it’s the film I remember most. I highly recommend it, but be warned: you’re going to have to use your brain because it’s not all spelled out for you.

Replay Value: This is the kind of film that if you liked it, you’ll surely want to watch it again. Probably immediately.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: Michael Shannon was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and, in what I felt was a rather weak year for films, was probably robbed of multiple other nominations. Nocturnal Animals stuck with me way more than La La Land and Fences, for instance, and it seems criminal that the film received zero technical nods.

Grade: 8 (Must See)