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

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Review

The summer blockbuster season of 2017 has officially kicked off. The sequel to the surprise hit movie of 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy, has christened a sequel. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The movie brings back James Gunn in the writer/director chair. The cast that includes; Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan reprise their roles from the first movie. The are joined by newcomers; Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff and Elizabeth Debicki. The movie takes place only a few month after the first and thus continues the main plot points set up in that.

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The Guardians of the Galaxy have developed a reputation as basically mercenaries. Working for the golden species, the Sovereign to take out a threat, it should have been simple. After the job goes awry, they are rescued by Ego who just happens to be the father of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. While this is happening, Gamora is reunited with her sister Nebula and Yondu and the Ravagers are hired by the Sovereign to hunt down the Guardians due to Yondu’s connection to Quill.

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If that sounds like a lot, then you’re right. The whole motif around the two Guardians movies have been the mixtape soundtracks. While this works for the soundtrack, it does not really work well for the movie itself. There are a lot of balls in the air and the movie loses focus when doing this. It is easy to see why this was an option as it gave mostly everyone mostly something to do. This is for the most part true as every main character has their own arcs to follow before they all converge at the end.

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This movie is frankly…trippy. Since it is so loosely connected to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the moment, the creative team is free to do what they want. If you have an issue with bright colors and psychedelic imagery, then this is not the movie for you. James Gunn has taken full advantage of having a movie set in outer space as no planet or sky or atmosphere is ever the same and definitely not like anything on Earth. A standout sequence is when some of the characters have to make multiple space jumps and the effects it has on a person’s body.

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One of the big selling points of the first movie was the humor. Personally, I enjoyed it for what it was but I didn’t love it. This movie does the classic thing of “sequel-itis” in the case of amping up what people loved about the first movie and repeating. After awhile, it became a bit much. It bordered on if I was wondering if these characters could have a normal conversation with one another without any sort of zinger attached. It makes sense to want to capitalize on what worked in theory but when executed it becomes quite annoying after a while.

Since little time has passed since the events of the first movie, most of the characters are pretty much the same. The big difference being Drax. While he was fairly serious if something of a blowhard, here he is pure comic relief. In fact he does very little destroying despite it being in his name. Dave Bautista really nails his role. Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan are fine as the daughters of Thanos and they’re complex relationship. Chris Pratt on the other hand despite being the main character has the most cliche arc in the movie. Dramatic moments aren’t really his strong suit either as I rolled my eyes every time he got angry. The biggest highlight would have to be Michael Rooker as Yondu. A supporting character in the first movie, here he is a main character and has the biggest character arc.

The newcomers do well enough. Kurt Russell is well as Ego. The CG technology that Disney has been using to make actors look younger is nailed perfectly in this movie as Kurt Russell looks just like he did during this time. Ego as Peter’s dad always has an air of mystery around him and when the shoe finally drops about his character, it falls into cliche territory. Pom Klementieff as Mantis was my favorite of the newcomers with her empathetic abilities and naivety. She plays well off of Drax and plus it is nice to have someone who isn’t a killer on the team. Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha is not in the movie that much but you do get her character and her presence will continue to threaten the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Overall, the movie does succeed in what it set out to do. I cannot fault a filmmaker for making the film that they want to make. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has James Gunn’s stamp all over the movie. So on that level it succeeds. But when it comes to the humor and some of the character arcs, it does not succeed. This movie still does fall into some of the usual complaints that befall MCU movies such as the issue with the villains but a bit less so. Otherwise it’s another solid entry into the film franchise. James Gunn continues to expand the cosmic side of the Marvel and the future looks bright.

SCORE: 7.5/10

The Fate of the Furious Review

Remember when these guys were just ghetto street racers who could barely rob a semi-truck? When exactly did they become The Avengers?

That being said, this is the eighth installment in The Fast and The Furious franchise. All of the crew who are alive (both in universe and reality) are back for this latest adventure. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has betrayed his family and begun working for the elusive Cipher (Charlize Theron). So now the crew of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Chris Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) must team up with former enemy, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to find and capture Dominic and his new cohort. What does Cipher want? What any generic bad guy from a cliche action movie wants, the nuclear codes. Will the team be able to stop her and her plans? What’s up with Dominic who only cares about family?

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If that sounds like a lot, that’s exactly what it was. The film is seemingly two movies mashed into one and makes something of a mess. It is hard to get into the specifics about Dominic’s half of the plot as it is spoiler heavy. But let’s say that it is dark. It would seemingly be fine in any other movie. But it does not mesh well with the other half of the movie with the exploits of the other characters. That half is what you have come to expect from the more recent Fast and Furious movies. Machismo up to the max, corny jokes, and over the top and nonsensical action.

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Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham save this movie. They seem to be the only ones who know what kind of movie they are in and play it to their strengths. There have always been rumblings about spinning off Hobbs into his own movie separate from the others. If they could add Statham to that mix, then that is a movie I would watch. There is a jailbreak sequence with the two that is one of the strongest set pieces in the film. Jason Statham also has a great action scene on an airplane that is something absurd but fun. Now why is Statham suddenly on the side of good while in the previous movie, he was a cold blooded murderer? That is another one of the film’s convoluted messes.

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The other cast members do not fare so well. Tyrese Gibson as Roman is just buffoonish in this movie. Constantly yelling, making dumb jokes and doing frankly dumb things. Why anyone would take a Lamborghini to a mission in the Arctic other than to look “cool” is beside me. This is an actor that the director really needed to reign in. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel are fine in their roles as the hackers but there is nothing really to them either. Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood as Mr. Nobody and Little Nobody are just fine as the government types. I’m positive that they give Eastwood’s character an actual name but I could have cared less. Charlize Theron as Cipher is serviceable if generic as this terrorist/hacker. She plays the character with icy coolness that sometimes comes across as her just coasting. The biggest problem in the cast is Vin Diesel himself. Despite being the star, his character is just boring. He has not changed since the first movie and the whole grumbling/low talk/constant talk of family thing is running thin. The same goes for Letty and these two seem like relics who don’t really belong anymore.

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F. Gary Gray is the director of this film but there’s really nothing about it that makes you think he left his mark on this franchise. Justin Lin who direct the third through sixth films of this series left a permanent stamp that ultimately can’t really be changed at this point. The action scenes are great but how much of that is up to Gray or just his second unit director. It really does feel like he could have chosen a better project to do instead of this one especially after Straight Outta Compton. But I’m sure the paycheck was nice and I can’t fault someone who wants a nice paycheck.

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If you’re a fan of these movies, I’m sure nothing I’m saying will change your mind. This series is set in stone as to how it’s going to be. Continuity overload to previous films/talk about family/action scenes that make no sense, etc. I really find it increasingly hard to write these films off as “dumb fun” especially when it tries to play it both ways with some of the drama elements. If the series just shifted to Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham then I would be okay with it. But other than that, there are too many nonsensical elements that just take me out of the movie and I’m someone who can buy a super soldier fighting with a big green monster. The movie is fine but nothing to write home about.

SCORE: 6.5/10

 

‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review 

The latest reboot of King Kong flips the tired tale of Kong climbing the Empire State Building and meeting his demise. Instead thus movie is almost exclusively on the titular Skull Island. Set during the closing months of the Vietnam War, a “simple” expedition turns out when the mixture of scientists and military meet the titular Kong. But discovering that there are greater threats on the island than just the still growing 100 foot gorilla.
This really is a different type of King Kong movie. It plays much more like a mixture of Apocalypse Now and Moby Dick. Since this movie is set in 1974 and the waning days of the war, the soundtrack and clothes all evoke the time period. The lighting and cinematography during the jungle scenes also evoke the feeling of a war film instead of a monster movie. This is all to the credit of director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Instead of relying on just the usual trappings of a monster movie, he created a unique vision for the movie.

Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson are the main cast with a great supporting cast of actors such as Corey Hawkins, Shea Wigham, Toby Kebbell and Jason Mitchell. All actors are serviceable in their roles. Jackson particularly plays the Captain Ahab-ish role of a man having a personal grudge against a beast who was just being a beast. John C. Reilly steals the show as a World War II pilot who crashed on the island thirty years ago. He is understandly eccentric and scatter brained but brings levity to the situation.

But this is Kong’s show. Unlike its compatriot, Godzilla (2014), we see Kong fairly early on and throughout the movie. Kong looks amazing. Simple as that. Closeups on the gorilla’s face show little details that you wouldn’t be able to see ten years ago. The Skull Crawlers and other monsters on the island are also wonders to watch. Credit goes to the visual arts team that worked on the film.

Is this a perfect film? No. The humans are a little two dimensional or cannon fodder. Tom Hiddleston while serving thr role well does not look like a man from the 70’s. But we all know the real reason as to why we come to see a film like this. It does not disappoint on that front. 

How does this connect to 2014 Godzilla? It’s more subtle than most film franchises trying to establish a cinematic universe. Stay after the credits. You will be in for a treat.

Score: 8.5/10

Get Out Review 

When you hear that Jordan Peele is going to have a new film, your mind instantly goes to comedy. But when you hear that it is going to be a horror film, your curiosity is piqued. That was certainly the case with Get Out. It deals with a black man, Chris, in an interracial relationship going to visit his girlfriend’s parents. The issue comes with not only the stress of meeting your loved one’s parents for the first time, the extra stress of not knowing how they will perceive the interracial aspect but something is off as soon as they get there. 

Peele crafts the tension perfectly. One can assume that Chris is just being a little paranoid about the situation and letting his imagination get the best of him. His girlfriend, Rose, constantly reassures him that things are okay. But when he gets there the parents are a little too nice while some of the family friends treat Chris like cattle. Then things get even stranger when Chris meets the only other black pepple and they’re all a little off kilter.

For his directorial debut, Jordan Peele, who also wrote the screenplay, has knocked it out of the park. This harkens back to more old school horror as you’re aware that something is off from the beginning but the temsion slowly ramps up before the inevitable turn that puts it into full horror movie territory. Peele also never forgets his comedic roots as humor fomes from those uncomfortable moments that we’ve all experienced in day to day life but the situation at hand. The best comedic moments come from Chris’ best friend, Rod, who frequently points out the absurdity of the situation but may actually be onto something. 

The cast is also top notch. Daniel Kaluuya as Chris is the standout and this performance will put him on many people’s radar. He has to convey a series of different emotions and sometimes within seconds of each other. Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener and Caleb Landry Jones as the Armitages provide a good counter to Kaluuya. If they did not work as well as they did, the film certainly would not. Lil Rey Howery is the real breakout as Rod. The concerned friend who provides the lighthearted moments to balance out the more serious elements. 

Get Out is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in some time. It does not rely on cheap jump scares, though they are in the film. Instead a well thought out story and social commentary help underline the horror elements and create a full picture. This is a must see of the year. Though it is early in the year, my favorite movie of the year.
Score: 10/10