It (2017) Movie Review

The big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal novel, It, has finally hit cinemas. The novel has already been adapted into a television miniseries in 1990. Hindsight is everything and while nostalgia plays a part, the miniseries is not that good. Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown is really the only thing that goes beyond critique as the great actor delivers a great performance. But that was then and this is now. Andy Muschetti, the director of Mama, has taken the reigns over the film adaptation which only covers one half of the story. How does it fare?

It is one of the best films of 2017. The filmmakers took a wise choice by instead of adapting the entire novel, they instead chose to go chronologically and thus the child half of the story. This helps keeps the film focused on one singular story instead of having to cater to the half where the children are adults. In fact, this makes the film feel more like a coming of age story…that just happens to feature a killer monster.

PennywisePeople were wondering how Bill Skarsgard would fare up as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. His version of the infamous killer clown is far different from what came before. This Pennywise is from the get go, a monster and definitely otherworldly. While the Tim Curry interpretation was much more bombastic and chewing scenery, Skarsgard is vicious. He still cracks (very dark) jokes but is much more silent and more like a predatory waiting to catch its prey. He’s not in the film all that much, Pennywise is a shapeshifter, but he does make the most of his screen time.

The Losers ClubThe true heart of the film lies within the kids aka The Losers Club. Bill, Mike, Stanley, Beverly, Ben, Eddie and Richie make up the group of outcasts who have to come together to stop this evil that lies within their city. The standouts for me are Beverly, Ben, Eddie and Richie. Beverly is the only girl in the group who has to deal with her own monstrous home life. Eddie and Richie provide the comic relief as the former is something of a hypochondriac while the latter is the jokester of the group. Ben is the chubby new kid and that is what I was as a kid. The other three do fine in their roles but these four were my favorites. The best part about all of them is that they behave like children. They swear like children do as in they just swear to swear. If there is one weakness is that some of the kids, Mike and Stan, don’t really get much to do.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was the sound design. In any sort of horror movie or thriller, sound design plays an integral role. Whenever Pennywise enters the scene, he is always accompanied by a haunting tune. Since you have to pay attention to a lot of background material as well, it makes you wanna go back and watch the movie again to hear things you may not have heard the first time. Since the movie is set in the 80’s, it would have been easy to lace the film with an 80’s soundtrack. The filmmakers go a better route and only really include one notable 80’s act and it’s more of a running joke than anything.

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Andy Muschetti was a perfect choice to direct this film. You can tell that he wanted to stay true to the source material but also know that he was adapting it to film and thus had to make changes to better fit a film narrative. For a movie that is two hours and fifteen minutes, I hardly felt it. In fact, as soon as I realized that the third act was starting I was genuinely surprised. Once the movie was done, I wish that we could have spent more time with the cast and got to learn more about the characters. Even though there is an inevitable sequel on the way, this film does work on its own as a complete film while leaving just enough out there to hint towards the future. Not sure if this is the best Stephen King adaptation I have seen but it is certainly one of them.

SCORE: 9/10

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‘The Dark Tower’ Review

Stephen King’s epic series of novels has finally come to the big screen after a long period of stop and go. Idris Elba stars as Roland Deschain aka The Gunslinger, the last in a line of “knights” from Midworld. Matthew McConaughey is his main antagonist: The Man in Black aka Walter Padick, a sorcerer who wishes to destroy The Dark Tower to seemingly unleash Hell upon the universe. The two have been going at one another for years but are finally brought together again by an 11 year old boy, Jake Chambers, whose ability to “shine” is crucial to The Man in Black’s plan.

I’ve only read about three and a half of the books that consist of the eight Dark Tower books. I’m also aware that almost all of Stephen King’s stories (books, novellas, short stories) are all linked and through The Dark Tower itself. I did not expect this movie to go into any of that due to licensing issues. But what did I get? Well it was not bad but it really wasn’t good either. The best way to describe the movie was thin. At a little over 90 minutes, the movie felt like it should have been at least 15 minutes longer.

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First and foremost, the performances are good. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are top notch actors and do the best with what they were given. The only problem is that their characters are two dimensional with hints at something more. Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers is a little hard to gauge but that is always kind of the problem with child actors. He certainly did not give a bad performance and he was never annoying but it always felt like something was off. The rest of the supporting cast with Claudia Kim, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert and others are fine but they are given even less depth than the main characters.

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The biggest problem with the movie seems to be editing. You can tell that the movie has been cut in many different ways. Sometimes characters finish conversations that never even started on screen. The editing is also off when characters just seemingly show up at places with no set up. Even with the editing issues, the movie is not the mess that you might expect when you hear someone say that. It is a fairly linear story that moves at a good pace but as stated previously there should have been more to the movie.

The thinness of the movie hinders it in as much as we do really know who the characters are, why they are doing what they are doing, how they are able to do what they do and so on and so on. There are many opportunities for character developing moments and they probably were there but the film simply breezes over them. I was never expecting this movie to get as lofty and trippy as the source materials do. But I did want something more to get a sense of how this universe or multiverse works.

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Nikolaj Arcel is the director and this is is his big budget film. The film actually has a modest budget for the type of film that it is. But as per usual when these types of movies, you get the sense that either the director did not get a real good grasp or the studio might have interfered. Honestly, I think it was a perfect storm of events. There have been talks about making the series a television series and this movie kind of proves that to be true. It seems really big and unwieldy for a feature film or even a series of feature films.

Ultimately it seems that the film struggled to find its own identity. On one hand, it had to please hardcore fans and before obvious reshoots, it was supposed to be a sequel of sorts to the books. On the other hand, it is supposed to introduce a new audience to the rich mythology. It ultimately succeeds in doing none of those things. But it is not a failure of a movie. Just a mess of one.

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SCORE: 6.5/10

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and was a surprise critical and financial success. It was followed in 2014 with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which was received with even more critical and financial success. The series took a different approach from the previous Planet of the Apes films and instead focused more on the apes side and see how they started to become intelligent to the beginning of their takeover of the planet. This has all been accomplished due to the ground breaking motion capture technology where humans play the apes and are able to bring human characteristics to the apes. So how does the final movie in the trilogy (sort of) hold up?

The movie begins two years after the previous movie where war has taken its toll on both the apes and humans caught in the conflict. Caesar, the ape who started the whole revolution and the leader of the apes, is weary. It’s clear that he is only involved in the war because he has to. Never forgetting that Koba, his best friend that he killed, is the one who started the war in the first place and wondering if he might go down the same path. After an act of mercy leads to dire consequences, the apes must find a new home while Caesar goes on a personal revenge quest against The Colonel.

First and foremost, the title is a bit misleading. This movie basically covers the tail end of the war with the majority of it happening in between movies. Instead, it is basically The Great Escape with apes. It is also not a very action oriented movie. Besides the opening and the ending, the action is very scarce. The movie is much more an introspective tale about Caesar and his struggles with what his life has brought him. Knowing that he is in a war that he never wanted to be in, a father to his sons, a husband and leader to an ape community, it is all taking a toll. It’s noticeable because he has gray hairs on his fur and it’s implied that it came from stress.

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Andy Serkis once again delivers a great performance as Caesar. Caesar has come full circle as he is able to speak in full sentences and is much more human than any other ape. It is a nuanced performance as this is Caesar at his angriest and yet Caesar at his most compassionate. There should definitely be talks about some sort of Academy Award talk about Andy Serkis and what he is able to do. He has delivered one of the best performances in years. Woody Harrelson is The Colonel who is more nuanced than what you would expect from his type of character. Not really having the biggest role despite being the main villain, Harrelson is able to make the most out of his screen time. You understand where he’s coming from but at the same time, you see how far his character has fallen. Steve Zahn plays another ape named Bad Ape, an escaped zoo ape. Other than Caesar, he is the one ape who is able to really communicate with speech. He brings the comedy relief that is needed in this movie but it is never distracting and much more natural. Amiah Miller plays Nova, a mute girl, who Caesar and his group take in. Without getting into too many spoilers, Nova does hint at something that was at the forefront at the 1960’s Planet of the Apes franchise. So if the series continues, and why wouldn’t it, it is easy to see where the films will go.

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Matt Reeves returns to the directing chair after directing the previous film, Dawn. Continuing on the same path with that film, Reeves has helped conclude probably one of the best trilogies in film. It can be considered to make an all out war movie with apes and humans. Instead, Reeves chooses to focus on the personalities at the end of the war. Despite most of the film taking place in the woods and other naturalistic areas, the film is beautiful to look at. There is a shot of Caesar and his fellow apes riding horseback on a beach to the sunset. One of the most beautiful shots in the movies. The apes look fantastic as well. Since Caesar has been the one consistent ape since Rise, he obviously looks the best. There are times when you forget that he is a computer generated character.

War for the Planet of the Apes is a highlight in a pretty dreadful summer 2017. It is not a shove your face in popcorn and turn your brain off type of movie. It is a thoughtful and introspective about war that just happens to involve talking apes and humans. All credit goes to everyone involved in creating this marvelous film. Who would have thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes would lead to this? Certainly not me.

SCORE: 9.5/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Fifteen years ago, we were introduced to Spider-Man on the big screens with the Sam Raimi iteration. Three movies in that franchise was followed up with a reboot in 2012 with the Marc Webb iteration. After a somewhat failed sequel, Sony Pictures did the unthinkable and teamed with Marvel Studios to integrate Spider-Man with the ongoing and vastly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. After a introduction in Captain America: Civil War, we are getting the third Spider-Man franchise and one intertwined with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. What are the results when Spider-Man has finally come back home?

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Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker/Spider-Man is feeling himself a little too much. Tony Stark/Iron Man dragged him into this big mission but effectively kicks him to the curb when he no longer has a use for him. So being restless and aching for some action, Peter is also trying to juggle being Spider-Man with his personal life. The life of a teenager is not easy so add being a superhero onto that is another stress factor. Then there is Adrian Toomes whose life was ruined by inadvertently ruined by Tony Stark. A blue collar worker who has a grudge against the rich and powerful and thus turning to crime and becoming The Vulture to just put food onto the table. Spider-Man is the friendly neighborhood hero with aspirations to be bigger while the Vulture is someone who is comfortable with his slice of the pie and doesn’t want to really rock the boat.

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Tom Holland is great as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. You really understand his teenage angst as wanting to be treated like an adult but not fully grasping the gravity of the situation. Trying to juggle his teenage life with his superhero life is clearly affecting him as sacrifices need to be made. Since he is fifteen, Peter Parker brings a youthful energy to the MCU that is a nice change of pace from what has come before. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is not in the movie all that much. He does have a presence and serve a purpose but despite what advertisements made it seem, he does not overshadow the movie. Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture is great in the role. The biggest downside is that he is not in the movie as you might want him. There are a couple of scenes later on between he and Holland that are great. Marisa Tomei as May Parker is definitely a different kind of Aunt May. In fact, Peter rarely refers to her as his Aunt but simply “May”. She is good but I would have liked to see one or two scenes more with her in it. Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan returns and has more screen time than his boss. I always enjoyed Favreau as an actor so it was nice to see. The rest of the supporting cast is filled with Peter’s classmates. Zendaya is that presence that’s always in scenes but a lot of the time not doing much. It will be interesting to see where they take the character in the future. Jacob Batalon as Ned, Peter’s best friend, is great and they even get to poke fun at the whole superhero has a sidekick who just sits at a computer.

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This film does not rock the Spider-Man boat. Playing it pretty straight in an effect to align this Spider-Man with the rest of the MCU. So while the film takes no real risks, it does a good job of setting up the character and his corner of the universe. There were a lot of screenwriters for this movie including the director, Jon Watts. For someone who has only directed low budget movies beforehand, he did a good job with this major franchise movie. Of course most Marvel movies are effectively cranked out on a machine but still, the movie could have floundered but it doesn’t. At about two hours and fourteen minutes, the movie moves at a good pace. I was never bored or wanted to look at my watch. The only major knock is that while the film was relatively grounded, the ending set piece had to be something in the air and a big explosion. They did reign it in but seemed a little extraneous but that may have been the point. One good job they did was establish The Vulture as a threat. I never really liked The Vulture in the comics but this movie does make him a genuine great villain who could probably make Iron Man struggle if they went toe to toe.

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There are easter eggs galore in this film. Much of The Vulture’s tech is derived from previous battles caused by previous MCU films. In fact the film opens in the immediate aftermath of The Avengers (2012). Not only does it help the film feel natural within the Marvel Cinematic Universe as why wouldn’t criminals start using tech from the super villains? Now that super heroes and villains are the norm, a lot of people aren’t even rattled by the appearance of Spider-Man in their neighborhood. It also helps set up future Spider-Man films as there are tons of Spider-Man villains in this film but it never feels forced. I think almost every character with a speaking line is a character from Spider-Man comics, whether big or small.

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Out of all the six Spider-Man movies, this is probably my favorite. It finds the right balance between the Peter Parker and Spider-Man of it all. It doesn’t go the route of the Sam Raimi movies where the bad guys all had to have some sort of accident or something to be a bad guys. The Vulture is a bad guy. He may be wanting to do right by his family but he is a bad guy. Definitely one of the more memorable bad guys in the MCU lately. Spider-Man: Homecoming achieves what it needed to do. Establish this Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also serving as a good first film in the individual franchise. The future for the web slinger is bright and can’t wait to see where they take the character in his new surroundings.

SCORE: 9/10

 

Transformers: The Last Knight Review

Ooh boy. Well it’s the fifth installment in the Transformers film franchise. Michael Bay is back once again to direct this installment after directing the previous entries. Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel and John Tuturro reprise their roles from previous entries as well. They are joined by Anthony Hopkins, Isabella Moner and Laura Haddock. So how is it? One of the worst movies I’ve seen all year and definitely the worst Transformers movie. 

What’s the plot? It’s the same as every other entry in this franchise. A Cybertronian artifact must be located to stop the latest plot by the Decepticons to restore Cybertron. There is a government sanctioned anti Transformers group as well as the creators of the Transformers playing a part but it’s all a jumbled mess. Oh if you came for Optimus Prime then prepared to be disappointed as he’s barely in the movie.

I think Michael Bay is a good director except when he’s working on Transformers movies. He has complete control over these films and you can tell. You get the sense that he thinks he’s funnier than what he is. The jokes and gags in this rarely work. Characters stop speaking so the audience can get their chuckles in. For a movie about a robot species warring on Earth, there sure are a lot of ass and titty shots for no real reason. 

Once again the Transformers take a back seat in their own movie for the humans. It really is a Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) movie. Except he’s not a likeable character or even a well defined one. Lennox (Duhamel) has an interesting wrinkle considering he’s fought side by side with many Transformers and now has to hunt them but this is never explored in any good detail. Anthony Hopkins is clearly taking a paycheck role and it’s really weird to see him crack wise and say things such as “dude”. The rest of the humans are just there. 

Optimus Prime is really a non entity for most of the movie. Bumblebee is our main Transformer but I could care less. The whole talking through the radio thing has worn out its welcome. Megatron only has a few scenes and while it’s nice to hear Frank Welker voice the character again, he does nothing. The rest of the Transformers are once again just there with the only one notable being the John Goodman voiced one. 

If there’s one thing that never disappoints, it is the action. Michael Bay knows how to direct action. But by the end it becomes old hat. Really it becomes visual noise as things are just happening. Since it involves characters we can care less about and Transformers we’ve barely seen. So it’s a middle area where the action is cool but you’re numb to it. 

If there was ever a film franchise that needs a reboot, it’s this one. All the plots are the same as the previous ones. The jokes are juvenile. The characters are as bland as cardboard. The Transformers is a rich franchise to deserve better film entries than the ones we’ve been given. I do like the first one but it’s all been downhill since then. 

Score: 3.5/10

Resident Evil: Vendetta Review

Not to be confused with the awful live action movies, Resident Evil: Vendetta is the third CG animated movie that ties in with the video game canon. Set after Resident Evil 6, the story follows returning franchise stalwarts Chris Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy and they are joined by the returning Rebecca Chambers. As with most things in a post Resident Evil 4 but pre Resident Evil 7 world, the plot deals with the growing bio organic weapon attacks throughout the world. An arms dealer, Glenn Arias, is looking to pick up where Albert Wesker and Derek Simmons left off with a new virus to unleash upon the world.

If you played the Resident Evil games, this film is in the same vein without the whole playable aspect. The plot’s of the games have never been sophisticated to say the least and this is the same for the film. A madman is out to either make a profit off of bio weapons and/or watch the world burn with his weapons. Glenn Arias is similar in the Albert Wesker vein as he has clearly experimented on himself to make himself stronger but the film never goes into detail about it. He is a serviceable if forgettable big bad which the franchise has struggled with since Wesker’s demise in 5. The dialogue is filled with melodrama and encapsulates the cheese that comes with the games.

When it comes to the characters, Leon takes a backseat as this is much more of a Chris and Rebecca film. We have not seen Rebecca since the very first Resident Evil and she is now a world renowned scientist as she gave up her gun to use a different weapon to fight the bio weapons. The film has a missed opportunity to explore Chris and Rebecca’s relationship since that first game. It is implied that they have been in contact with one another since but not much is really brought up about their relationship. In fact Leon seems to know her as well. I guess we can infer now that all protagonists of the Resident Evil games know each other off screen. The film does delve somewhat into the toll all the violence is taking on the heroes. While Chris has seemingly come to peace that this is his life as he is destined to lose people but keeps on trucking. Leon is in a similar state of mind as Chris in Resident Evil 6, drowning his sorrows in a bottle until spurred into action.

The CG in the movie is really good. The only thing that is a little off is the mouth movements. This may be due to dubbing but every now and then, the characters speaking looked off. Other than that, I found no real issues with the animation in the film. It was especially great during the action scenes.

Now if you’re here for off the wall action then this film is right up your alley. Seeing Chris and Leon tears through the undead never gets boring. The way they move highlights their experience in dealing with these situations while pushing on the wall of absurdity. It is a nice touch to see the focus on reloading and the importance of bullets as bad guys frequently take advantage of these things. But the action is fluid and never gets too chaotic despite the chaotic nature of the action. The final boss is typical Resident Evil with a hint of some Man of Steel type of city destruction.

If you like the Resident Evil franchise, the games and the CG movies, I can’t see why you wouldn’t like this movie. It is par for the course with the rest of the franchise. The film is not too long and is a good way to spend about an hour and a half. If you’re not a Resident Evil fan, then this film is certainly not for you and probably won’t make any new fans. But it is solid and the best of the three CG animated films so far.

SCORE: 7.5/10

The Mummy (2017) Review

On one hand this is another reboot of The Mummy which started in the 1930’s. On the other hand it is the start of Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe. A franchise of interlinked monster characters that Universal has the rights to. It was originally supposed to start with 2014’s Dracula Untold but that movie was dead on arrival. So how does this start of a new franchise hold up? You have Tom Cruise who really doesn’t do franchises unless he has a substantial amount of control over. You have Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll. You have the titular mummy who this time is a woman.

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Well the movie is okay. It suffers from the fact that it has many masters to serve and thus you never really get a complete film. It’s like if they started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man 2.  The movie follows Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) who is some sort of mercenary. He and a team of other military personnel unearth the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) who was entombed because of her ambition for power led her down a path of evil. After an accident leads Nick crossing path with Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe), who is the head of a secret organization who is dedicated to stopping monsters in the world. it is up to Nick and others to stop Ahmanet from beginning another reign of destruction.

As stated earlier, the biggest conflict comes with the movie having to serve too many masters. As a Mummy movie, the film works for me. I like Ahmanet and her power set which helps differentiate her from the versions of Imhotep from previous Mummy movies. If the film had stuck to just that, it would have worked. The problem is when they are trying to really hammer home the shared universe thing. The film comes to something a halt whenever Dr. Jekyll appears and especially when Mr. Hyde finally makes his appearance. The whole product does not gel together to make a complete picture.

Dr-Jekyll-Mummy.jpgTom Cruise is serviceable in the role but the role is thin. The best thing about it is that his character is a complete jerk. There is something refreshing about seeing a movie where the main character is actually scared of the danger around them. Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll is pretty much doing his Jor-El thing. Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet is the standout as the physicality and presence that she carries is great and you never doubt her threat. The other characters played by Jake Johnson and Annabelle Wallis are okay. Wallis is probably the worst though as her character is just the designated love interest but the only problem is that she and Cruise have no chemistry.

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The action and special effects are top notch. The destruction of London while being something of a repeat of the 1999 Mummy is still a sight to behold. The fight scene between Nick and Mr. Hyde is also interesting even if it takes away from the actual Mummy. The airplane crash scene that is featured in the trailer is quick but still stressful. Don’t see this film in 3D though as even though I saw it in 2D, it was still very dark. Couldn’t imagine seeing two particular set pieces with a dark lens over my eyes.

The Mummy isn’t a bad thing. It just crumbles under its own ambitions. The rush to create a franchise ultimately hurt the main starting film. The potential is there and if they had simply taken a few steps back and focus more on The Mummy herself and the plot, it would have been a much better film. It is still enjoyable and it is a movie that you can go into and watch. You probably won’t love the film but there are worse ways to spend your money. Plus the film is only a little over an hour and a half long. It’s an easy watch.

SCORE: 6.5/10

Wonder Woman (2017) Review

The time has come for the premiere woman superhero to finally get a feature film after 75 years. Sure there has been a TV show in the 70’s but after that, it has been little to nothing. There have been numerous attempts at feature films and live action shows that have never materialized. There was a fairly popular animated movie in 2009. But now that the DC Extended Universe is off and running and making a small appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman’s chance has finally come. How does it succeed?

Arguably this is the best movie in the DCEU canon and one of the best superhero movies in years. Origin movies are usually the best way to go especially with heroes whose origins aren’t commonly known. So this was the route chosen for Wonder Woman as well as setting the bulk of the movie in the past during World War I. Wonder Woman is usually tied to World War II but since Captain America: The First Avenger handled that war, you can see why they shifted it. After spy Steve Trevor crashes on Themyscira, Diana (Wonder Woman) agrees to take him back to mainland Earth where he has information on a new weapon to help end the war of wars. People tend to forget how brutal World War I was and this change does not diminish Wonder Woman’s plight against the God of War, Ares.

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Gal Gadot as Diana/Wonder Woman is serviceable as the titular hero. She is not necessarily great in the role. No fault to her as her acting resume is thin with a lot of roles that asked nothing of her. But when she does shine, she does. I can see her growing into the role and becoming a better actor in the process. Chris Pine steals the show for me in the movie. I’ve always been so so on him as an actor until fairly recently. In this movie, he plays a spy who has become world weary due to the war happening. While he is jaded, he always shows that he believes in the good of people. This is a good contrast to Diana’s more naive black and white view of the world. When these two interact, their chemistry is great and help sell the movie. The Amazons played by Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother and Robin Wright as General Antiope, Diana’s aunt are strong presences in the movies despite limited screentime. Diana and Steve’s compatriots played by Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock are solid and help flesh out the war side and also help flesh out the world for Diana. Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, David Thewlis and Lucy Davis are the rest of the supporting cast are solid and help flesh out the movie.

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Patty Jenkins deserves all the credit in the world for this movie. The tone for the movie was perfect. There wasn’t humor just thrown in for the sake of humor. A lot of humor comes from Diana being a fish out of water. The contrast between Themyscira and the actual world is such a beautiful contrast. When Diana enters the modern (circa 1918) and sees London, you can just feel the pollution on the screen. When the war scenes happen, even though it is not an R rated film, you feel the effects of this horrific war. There are no hidden shots of missing limbs or anything like that, you see them. I think it was a tricky balance to not be too heavy but also show the effects of the war and what it is doing to the world. So when Diana finally does step in and become a beacon of hope, you really feel it.

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The action in this movie is top notch as well. Since Diana comes from a warrior group of people, they are much more melee based combat. This reflects in her combat style as she frequently goes for the legs. The opening action scene between the Amazons and German soldiers is unique to see this group of trained warriors go up against modern weapons that they know nothing about, which helps makes things even. Whenever Diana steps into battle, it is memorable since she is no normal person and can do things like no other. A unique battle shows that even though she is all powerful, she can not do everything and it is juxtaposed with her teaming with soldiers and their weapons to help turn the tides of battle.

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This is also a gorgeous movie. As mentioned earlier the contrast the modern world and Themyscira is palpable. Themyscira is a gorgeous place (probably why it’s nickname is Paradise Island) and the hues of greens and blues make you just want to visit the place. Then when entering the modern world and seeing the effects of war and everything is black and gray helping to sell that the world is really at war. Seeing the world in 1918 is also pretty much being like in a different world. Seeing London in this era and war torn Europe is nothing like the world today. The fashion, the vehicles, the lingo, everything about it.

Is it a perfect movie? No. The third act is a little long winded. The whole thing with Ares is a bit on the thin side. He’s a serviceable villain but not much to him. But it is nice to see a movie about a superhero who actually wants to be a hero. Everyone involved in the movie should be proud of themselves for creating one of the best superhero movies in recent years.

 

SCORE: 9/10

 

Baywatch Review

Remember how the movie version of 21 Jump Street was a welcome surprise? It was smart and witty with a real heart to it. Well Baywatch is everything we feared that 21 Jump Street would be. No real need to beat around the bush with this one. This movie is horrible. I grew up when the television show Baywatch was on the air. It was that international phenomenon that has made a legacy, for good and bad. The movie does not take advantage of the obvious parody material from the TV show and just makes something completely senseless and wannabe.

What’s the plot? Something about drugs being run through the beach or something like that. It was so generic and forgettable in that sense. Much humor could have been drawn from the fact that they are not cops and just lifeguards. Other than a few jokes here and there about the fact, they just play it straight. Not really pointing at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. Pretty much it plays like an episode of Baywatch just with a few more dick jokes. How many times does Dwayne Johnson use the word “taint” in this movie? I’ve never really heard anyone use that word in real life.

Dwayne Johnson is an actor who can help save any project. Not this though. He is the highlight though and you can tell that he is trying, which goes a long way. Zac Efron is pretty much just playing his character from the Neighbors movies. The rest of the cast are just there and really add nothing to the movie. The one actor that really does nothing is Jon Bass. He seems to be the new Dan Fogler or Josh Gad as the guy who is only there so that they can make fat jokes and just improv (aka scream) when the scene is going nowhere. This is a trope that is tired and needs to go away.

Just rude and crass for real no reason other than to justify the R rating. Every line is filled with profanity and not in the clever way. It is more like the way that little kids curse when there are no adults around. This movie is really trying to get by on that simple fact and fails on all aspects of it as well. More polish could have been spent towards the script to escape the more juvenile aspects of it. I shouldn’t even say juvenile because I don’t even think they will like this.

Also, this movie has a fairly decent budget. The CGI in the movie is terrible. I guess the budget would have went towards the actors. For a film set at the beach, the blue screen background is so obvious in some parts. I can forgive some of the big action pieces that involve fire and such. But not something that could have simply been filmed or had a better background palette.

Arguably this has been one of the worst movies in 2017. It’s unfortunate considering the talent in the cast and even the director. But it’s a big misfire and all cylinders. It’s hard to recommend this to anyone. I doubt even fans of the original television show would like this.

 

SCORE: 3/10

Alien: Covenant Review

The Alien franchise is back once again. The follow up to 2012’s Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, is more or less a return to form for the Alien franchise. Ridley Scott, who directed the first film and Prometheus is back in the director’s chair. This film aims to combine the best elements from Alien, Aliens and Prometheus. Does it effectively do that? Not really. Does that mean it’s bad? No it does not.

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The film follows the colonist ship, Covenant, as they are woken up from hibernation due to a freak accident. As they are drifting in space and not wishing to go back into cryo sleep, they discover a beacon from a planet that should show no signs of life. Who sent out the signal? None other than David 8, the android from Prometheus and the sole survivor of that crew. But not everything is what it appears to be and with this film being an Alien film, you know that something is just drifting in the background and ready to strike.

First thing, this movie is gorgeous. Who would have known that just a wheat field can look hauntingly beautiful? The cinematography is top notch and you can see every penny being spent on the screen. This does effectively set the mood for the film. That things are beautiful but also the underbelly of dread as things are not really what they should be. Without giving away too much, mummified bodies have never looked hauntingly beautiful.

The plot of the movie is bare bones as it is in the quick synopsis that I gave earlier. You can tell that the criticisms of Prometheus being too heady was probably taken to heart. But this is where the film runs into problems trying to have its cake and eat it too. It kind of wants to continue to delve into the philosophical stuff established in Prometheus but at the same time wants to have the horror from Alien and the action from Aliens. So the movie has key and great moments in those individual moments but it doesn’t really gel all that well. If there is a sequel to this (and thus another prequel to Alien) then they can probably figure out the right balance to everything. In fact, you should watch the prologue videos released online that are probably deleted scenes rejiggered to be prologue shorts to help flesh out the film.

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When it comes to the actor’s, this is Michael Fassbender’s movie. He plays dual roles here as David from Prometheus and a new android Walter. As mentioned earlier, David is the only survivor from Prometheus but if you remember that movie, he was not. So what happened in between? The dichotomy between the two androids gives the movies some of the best scenes in the movie. The only problem is that the movie is supposed to have some mystery concerning these characters but it is obvious from the get go especially if you have seen Prometheus.

Katherine Waterston as Daniels Branson fulfills the Ripley-esque role. She is the voice of reason in the film and one who wisely tells the others to not go to the planet. Billy Crudup is always a solid actor and he is the Captain of this ship but also a man of faith. In this future, being a person of faith is looked down upon as hinted in the previous film. The true standout has to be Danny McBride. Known mostly for his comedic efforts, though he has done dramatic roles, this film gives a good mixture of both. The pilot of the ship who has some comic relief but gets serious when things get serious as well.

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Now since this is an Alien film, how are the aliens? Well the classic Xenomorph and Facehuggers have returned. But in addition there is also something called the Neomorph. The Neomorph brings a new element of horror as we have never seen anything like this in the franchise before. If you played Resident Evil 7, it is reminiscent of the some of the creatures in that video game. But Ridley Scott is also utilizing a good mix of practical and computer graphics to get the best out of his creatures to establish a true horror in them.

This is ultimately a solid film and a solid entry into the franchise. Even in his bad films, there is always a level of polish and professionalism that goes into a Ridley Scott film. From the direction to cinematography to music and acting. There are all solid across the board. But there are still some rough patches that do not put it into the upper echelon of the franchise either. If you enjoyed Prometheus, I think you will enjoy this. If you did not enjoy Prometheus, I think you will definitely enjoy this. I do hope that this movie does well if only to get a conclusion to the story arc started in Prometheus.

 

SCORE: 7.5/10