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Category: Movies

[Movie Review] X-Men: Apocalypse

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“Sweet Dreams are made of this.”

X-Men Apocalypse reviews dropped a month ago when Captain America: Civil War was the darling on Rotten Tomatoes and everyone made it out to be a garbage fire.

I have no idea what movie they actually saw.

My X-Men First Class review is here and my X-Men Days of Future Past review is here.

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[Movie Review] Captain America: Civil War

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Welcome to Marvel Phase Three.

Another Free Comic Book Day, another Marvel Movie.

I have to ask: Just what the whiskey tango foxtrot happened to Age of Ultron while Civil War is amaze balls.

Don’t get me wrong, Age of Ultron had it’s moments, like the farmhouse which I personally loved because sometimes you need the heroes to rally and lick their wounds. Less, cave of exposition and more farmhouse.

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[Movie Review] Batman VS. Superman

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Batman VS. Superman (2016)

It’s that time of year folks, the comic book movies have arrived with Batman VS. Superman. A movie some people will tell you had been mentioned in I am Legend back in 2007.

Bennett North and myself went to go see it. Her review can be found here.

Either love’em or hate’em you’ll probably be watching two actors in their underwear beating the crap out of each other or a CGI enemy with a bombastic soundtrack in a darkened theater and wonder: Why is this happening, again?

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[Movie Review] Jurassic Park’s World

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Jurassic Park has a special place in my heart.

It was released on June 11, 1993. I had just graduated from High School and after a dinner at either a TGI Fridays or Applebees to celebrate with the parents myself and several friends went to go see the midnight showing. Having not read the book it was based on it was jaw dropping and fun.

Now, two sequels later, the Jurassic Park franchise has gotten the dust blown off it with a new movie, aptly titled: Jurassic World.

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Shot on the same locations as the first movie and using a heap ton more CGI, John Hammond’s dream has come true. Jurassic World exists, the tourists have been flocking to the island and so far nothing has gone wrong, even if there are several warning signs bubbling under the surface.

The movie, like it’s predecessor brings up chaos theory and how man is now wielding science to make money to pay for all this. Michael Creighton certainly had an ongoing theme of chaos from Westworld to Jurassic Park and Jurassic World doesn’t disappoint when the shit does hit the fan even if the characters aren’t as well written as the originals. Less quotable dialogue too.

The only returning cast member from Jurassic Park is BD Wong who has pushed the limits of cloning and genetic testing to create a new dinosaur from different animals, the Indominus Rex. People wanted more and people who have different plans for dinosaurs have plans for Indominus Rex, the military applications and such. If this sounds like something Weyland Yutani would do, you’re not too far off the mark. Thankfully the brief Aliens homage is brief.

The cast’s varying age allows for the plot to split like the first movie, the adults deal with the behind the scenes while the kids gawk at the park. The kids, Gray and Zach played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson are sent to their park by their parents to be guests of their aunt, Claire played by Bryce Dallas Howard, she is running the park with the funding from Simon Masrani played by Irrfan Khan and his company. Owen Grady played by Chris Pratt is asked to advise on the new attraction. His training for on raptors has made him popular with both Masrani and the head of security, Hoskins played by Vincent D’Onofrio.

Until, as always, something goes wrong when man underestimates nature and it’s tourists on the menu when Hoskins tries to deal with the problem with firepower and just makes it worse. For a PG-13 movie the amount of deaths are implied but nothing is shown except for reaction shots of the humans or crunching noises.

Chris Pratt gave a fine performance, Bryce Dallas Howard was rather iconic in several scenes to almost being on the nose in several poses. She evolved quite well from bureaucrat to almost Ripley. I wouldn’t mind seeing her in the sequel having gone full Ripley. D’Onofrio didn’t chew scenery as much as I expected. Simpkins and Robinson were cute, I’d wished the writers would’ve given them a little more something to do during their pinball ride around the park. If you’re going to show the oldest attempting to flirt with the girls at least follow it up with them saving said girls. Sure it adds more people to remember and to put into danger but something different is nice every so often.

Like the first the movie, everything is introduced in the first act so there’re really no surprises. The CGI Raptors have advanced so much they practically should get billing. The action is top notch and could be followed easily even if the re-introduction to the T-Rex could’ve been tweaked a bit more in my not so humble opinion.

There are many people who will bring up the fact that why are people expecting a different outcome after the last three movies. And I’ll agree with them on that a bit, the whole island attraction going haywire goes back to Westworld in 1979 but people are still flocking to see it no matter how many people get eaten. How many times do we go back to the well before it’s dry?

Overall, it’s a fun movie that lives up to it’s predecessor and it should be seen on the big screen. I can’t comment on the 3-D, I saw in 2D.

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[Book VS. Movie Review] Gone Girl

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Thursday, I spend at my door awaiting for my iPhone 6 to arrive. Physically at my door reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. My printer died and there was no way to print out a signature form.

The movie premiered today directed by David Fincher. David has directed Alien 3, The Game, Se7en, Social Network, the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and others.

He is one of my favorite directors so when the trailer dropped I loved it when they announced Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor were doing the soundtrack like they had done with Social Network and all three hours of Dragon Tattoo, it felt perfect.

I hadn’t read the book so with nothing else to do on Thursday, I read it cover to cover. Suffice to say, I finished before my iPhone 6 arrived.

Gone Girl, the novel, written by Gillian Flynn is thriller about newspaper writer Lance Nicolas Dunn and his soon to be wife, Amy, a writer of personality tests. Her psychologists parents are the geniuses behind Amazing Amy, a series of children’s books that made money and thus she has a trust fund.

They marry and the couple live in New York until the recession hits they lose their jobs just in time for to bring Nicolas home to care after his mother who is going through cancer treatments, his father is in a home due to going through Alzheimer’s. Using up the last of Amy’s trust fund money, Nicolas and his twin sister Margo buy a local bar.

During all this, Nicolas gets a job at the local college while Amy is the stay at home wife with little to do and like every anniversary she leaves clues for Nicholas involving their life. It takes a while for Nicolas to figure out the clues since Amy is in the New England vernacular: wicked smart.

Until on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary Amy disappears.

Now, before you say, I know how this movie ends: You don’t.

And I’m not going to ruin it for you. Go read the book first then watch the movie.

The good news is the trailers reveal nothing of the twists and turns of this movie. Often times the trailers do and I groan but not this time.

This a faithful adaptation and doesn’t adhere to the book as much as it needs to. Which is a good thing because the book only has two point of views: Amy and Nic.

The movie has a third point of view, that of Detective Rhonda Boney played by Kim Dickens which solves a few wandering plot threads from the book.

It should be noted Gillian also wrote the screenplay. So the movie feels like a re-polished final draft, in my opinion. While most of the novel is first person the movie dialogue more than makes up for missing beats from the novel. So much so, sometimes the actors are talking too quick.

The police investigation led by Detective Boney begins looking into Nicolas and Amy’s life and the cracks begin to appear from the debt on the credit cards to Amy’s diary entries going from sunny to darker and darker to Nicolas cheating to Amy’s life insurance policy being upped and more. It’s just heaped on.

The only thing neither the movie or the novel can figure out is how to land the dismount and win the gold.

The suspension of disbelief is stretched thin. I’m not talking about Chief Brody in Jaws the movie, shooting the oxygen tank and blowing up the shark, that ending made perfect sense and I cheer every time it happens.

It’s the suspension of disbelief that Tom Cruise’s son survived and magically re-appears at the end of The War of the Worlds so everyone can have a happy ending.

Or as one of the over fifty crowd behind me in the crowded small movie theater said: That was a stupid way to end the movie to which I replied that’s how the book ended, too. She was surprised there was a book.

The actors in the movie are perfect. The direction is spot on. The music is right. The lighting is all David Fincher.

I’ll probably see it again, when I don’t have to sit in the front row.

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[Movie Review] Guardians of the Galaxy

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Guardians of the Galaxy is almost the perfect summer blockbuster.

It stars a ragtag group of hooligans including a talking tree and raccoon voiced by Vince Diesel and Bradley Cooper respectively.

And it’s from Marvel.

And it’s fun!

Even if the background music by Marvel go-to composer Tyler Bates has gotten too cookie cuter for it’s own good.

It begins on Earth in 1988 with young moppet Jason Quill at the hospital as his mother is dying from cancer. After a tearful goodbye he runs out and in his moment of grief is abducted by aliens.

Flash forward twenty-six years to a dead world where Jason Quill now played by Chris Pratt has grown up and is now a Ravager, essentially Indiana Jones with a mask, guns and jet boots. He even has a cute code name that no one remembers, Star Lord. And Star Lord along with everyone else in the movie is after an orb.

Everyone including Ronan the Accuser played by Lee Pace. The good news is Ronan has a few lackeys that are rememberable and at least gets more backstory than Thor 2’s Dark Elves. He pissed at the fact his planet signed a peace treaty with their sworn enemies and goes on a rampage.

His rent-a-lackeys include Gamora played by Zoe Saldana and Nebula played by Karen Gillian. Gamora makes more of an impression since there are too many villains to focus on including Korath the Pursuer played by Djimon Hounsou.

Gamora volunteers to get the gem back once Quill reaches Xandar, home of the Nova Corps. Unfortunately, Quill’s former Ravagers led by Yondu played by Michael Rooker has found out he stole the orb and issues a bounty on his head.

Once on Xandar, Rocket Raccoon and Groot are introduced when they try and capture Quill. The fight scene between the four of the characters is really fun until they’re arrested and sent to jail mean Drax the destroyer where even more shenanigans happen and they bust themselves out only to find out what the orb does.

Benicio del Toro reprises his role as The Collector, last seen at the end of Thor 2 where he collects all sorts of oddities, both alive and dead. After some backstory on the orbs and an explosive scene everyone finds out what’s inside the orb: It holds an Infinity Stone.

The stones have been littering the Marvel Movies for years and it’s all because of Thanos, introduced at the end of The Avengers, the mad titan, now played by Josh Brolin.

Thanos feels oddly small, mostly because Ronan is so big. Once Ronan figures out how to use the gem just like the Red Skull before him he gets even bigger and decides it’s time to destroy Xandar.

The Nova Corps know full well what’s going on with Roanan. Nova Prime played by Glenn Close is strong enough in her scenes to not be set dressing while John C. Reilly is not exactly the Coulson of Nova Corps but close.

The final battle may occur over Xandar and I swore scenes were inspired by the video game Space Invaders, the disaster porn is thankfully kept to a minimum. After Star Trek Into Darkness, Avengers and especially Man of Steel, seeing ships crash into buildings gets a yawn from me.

I should point out the CGI raccoon and talking tree are 100% real. James Gunn pulled off a talking raccoon with a penchant for explosives and a talking tree that speaks three words.

If that review sounds like a lot is going on is because a lot did go on.

And even with all that, the characters did have their arcs. There’s a scene where Quill has to rally the group and that went a long way to show everyone was thinking for themselves until the threat of Ronan makes them rethink and band together.

Many people have complained about the Marvel movies having a generic feel to them like they’re all the same. Guardians feels different. It feels like a James Gunn directed an Edgar Wright movie.

Quill’s walkman and the mix tapes he has sets the tone and makes it feel less like a Marvel movie and more like a kid plucked away from Earth dropped into Star Wars with a 70’s pop soundtrack.

The music and the fact most of these characters aren’t lily white really helped make an impression.

Saw this in IMAX 3-D and thought it was worth the monies.

And as with any Marvel Movie staying around until the end will only bring you heartache.

There’s only one scene.

So sezs Howard the Duck.

Yer welcome.

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[Movie Review] Lucy

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Luc Besson directing a Rated R movie with Scarlett Johansen playing a reluctant drug mule named Lucy who is accidentally gets infected by a experiment drug that makes her use more of her brain than anyone else managed to make more money than a PG-13 movie about Hercules staring The Rock.

The movie is small from beginning to end.

Lucy is a college student living in Taiwan when her seedy boyfriend gets her to deliver a package of drugs to his drug dealing boss.

This ends just as horribly as one might think with Lucy waking up after being operated on with the drugs in her stomach.

Everything is going perfectly fine until the Lucy’s unnamed middle man captor abuses her before getting on the plane and the bag of drugs get into her system.

Up to this point, Lucy has been unwillingly and at a severe disadvantage. The film emphasizes this by cutting between Lucy and shots of animals either grazing or about to get dead by a more powerful animal.

While that happens to Lucy, we are introduced to Morgan Freeman doing Morgan Freeman scientist and explaining to a group of scientists and students what may happen if someone used more brain capacity. He points out quite easily: it’s all science fiction.

This a subtle nod to the audience saying: we have no idea what’s gonna happen but it’s gonna be fun so stop bitching about the whole %10 of our brain thing.

Lastly, we learn one thing: when you don’t get Weta to do your ape SFX, it hurts.

Getting back to Lucy, her body going through the changes was a nice scene without going overboard.

The drug isn’t the downside to the movie.

In fact, the drug helps ground the movie.

It grounds the movie because once you have super powered character they get really boring until they’re fighting someone else or you give them a handicap for all that power.

It may make you smart but it’s going to eat you up. So no Doctor Who running around solving everything, you’re on a clock.

This little tidbit brings up a great theme of: reproduce or be remembered. Those expecting a steaming sex scene from this Rate R movie is in for disappointment.

The smallness of the movie helps since it’s focused on Lucy, Morgan Freeman playing the scientist, the French Cop responsible for apprehending the other drug mules and the drug lord that Lucy returns to see after she gets her brain bump.

The problem with the brain bump is it eats away at her humanity and she sounds like a dull version of herself with this thousand yard stare and able to do all sorts of things like telekinesis and see wi-fi signals at least until her body starts to burn up from the drug.

Besides a few scenes of action this movie isn’t the slam bang action fest the trailers make it out to be. Which is fine.

The problem with the movie overall is it’s too small for it’s own good.

So, when there’s a car chase directly out The Bourne Identity (complete with the same music score) it feels completely out of place and why is that car doing that flip again?

The fact the drug exists and this is happening to Lucy means it must’ve happened before so there’s no mysterious band of scientists or backers in the shadows waiting to see what happens.

2011’s Limitless with Bradley Cooper handled this smart drug plot line a bit better than Lucy. Both of these movies cover the same topic just differently enough to make them fun without pulled a Deep Impact / Armageddon vide.

The movie doesn’t do the whole lawnmower man thing where the protagonist is going to take over the internet. The ticking clock of her own mortality pushes the film until the final explosive action sequence.

If you’ve seen Transcendence and enjoyed it then you’ll like Lucy since it goes in the opposite direction.

After directing several french films and the occasional animated fair, I’m happy to say Luc Besson directed a great movie. I hope he stops producing and gets back into the directing chair.

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