Film Review: Toy Story 4, the “worst” of the bunch

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Until Friday, I firmly put Toy Story as a top 5 trilogy.  As you sit and stare at that last statement in mild shock while trying to process if this is a valid point, I’ll make it easy for you.  Top 5 trilogies (meaning ALL THREE are nothing below fantastic) are:

  1. Star Wars
  2. Dark Knight.  Yes, some of you may not have liked DKR as much but it’s good enough.
  3. Indiana Jones (no one counts the 4th, just like no one counts Godfather 3 as a film.)
  4. Toy Story
  5. Back to the Future. BTTF3 isn’t as bad as some make it out to be and can we please get over the flying train?  He made a Delorean go back in time as well as fly, why the hell can’t he get a train?  Some of you will want to argue LOTR but that 2nd film was just 3 plus hours of WALKING.

Toy Story 1-3 are so goddamn good, I can’t even pick out an order how good they are.  Gun to my head, I pick 3, 1, 2.  3 is first only because it got such a reaction out of the audience and it has to be one of the best finales to a series.  I teared up like I was 6 years old (or even at my current age) again, watching ET and bawling when the flowers die or when ET goes home.  What about Kevin Costner having a catch with his dad in Field of Dreams?  Or when Arnold drops into the molten steel in Terminator 2.  Don’t you dare posture and say that didn’t get you.  Hell, even Rocky 2 gets me when he yells, “Yo Adrian, I did it.”

Toy Story 3 PERFECTLY wrapped everything up with people saying, “there’s no better way to close this out and I hope they don’t reopen the franchise and taint the series.  So imagine my tepid dismay as well as mild happiness when they announce that Buzz, Woody, Ham, the Potato Heads, and the rest of the gang would be returning this summer.  The preview wasn’t really grabbing me but in Pixar, not God, I trust.

We open with Bonnie playing with most of her toys, except Woody, before her first day in kindergarten.  Woody wants to make sure everything goes right (and also to maybe get some one on one play time) and shanghais a ride in her backpack.  He witnesses Bonnie getting her arts and crafts on where out of a few pipe cleaners and googly eyes, a new friend is born.  Forky is just what he sounds like and Bonnie loves him.  But Forky wants to be in the trash more than Bonnie’s toy and Woody tries to convince him that a toy is the life to lead.

Bonnie’s parents declare that it’s the time for a road trip in an RV, which sounds more like something outlawed in the Geneva convention than a vacation.  Camping, vacation for poor people.  Bonnie grabs all of her toys and away we go.  However, Forky feels there’s no better time to do his best Johnny Knoxville impression and jump out of moving RV.  Woody plays the role of Bam Margera and follows suit because he wants to get him back to Bonnie.  Buzz and the other toys run interference while Woody runs his mission.

Woody and Forky reunite with Bo Peep, who hasn’t lost her sheep but has a few new uninteresting friends tagging along with her.  They run into Gabby Gabby, voiced by Christina Hendricks, who runs the roost at a local antiques store.  GG turns out to be quite the naughty girl, as she wants Woody’s voice box as hers was faulty.  Hence why she’s never been selected by a child.  <insert easy boob joke here> But if Gabby had Christina’s cup size, even I would’ve pocketed my masculinity and bought that doll.

Some of the new characters are fun, especially Bunny and Ducky, voice by Key and Peele.     They TRULY steal the show.  Some of the new characters don’t hit the mark, like Bonnie’s originally owned toys and Giggle McDimples.  I wasn’t as crazy as Duke Kaboom, a Canadian motorcycle stunt rider, voiced by Keanu Reeves.  One of the problems with this is that the new film screwed with the perfect formula by the other films, not enough integration with the original characters.  And the biggest crime is a major lack of Buzz Lightyear.  The dynamic duo of Buzz and Woody is sorely missed and rumor has it that the reason for the reduced role of Buzz is because of Tim Allen’s politics.  IF that is the case, that’s truly sad that people can’t look beyond their opinions.  IF it’s because Tim Allen is a raging asshole, well then shame on him.

But to be perfectly frank with you, I didn’t have the same emotions with this one as I have with the previous 3.  There weren’t as many LOL moments.  I read that while Allen and Hanks broke down reading the last scene.  And I was all prepared to lose my shit again at the end of this film like I did with 3.  The problem of course, is facing a bar that’s set INSANELY high.  But although the ending does make that emotional turn, it didn’t grab me.  I was fine with it but it didn’t hit me near as hard as I expected.  Is this a good film?  Yes.  Do I hope they  they end this series to as not to tarnish its near pristine reputation?  Desperately.  You’ll like this, just not NEAR as much as the others.

I give it a 7 out of 10.  And stay for the credits, there are a few scenes worth checking out.

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Double Dip Film Reviews: Pet Semetary and Shazam!

Yep, been a little while.  But don’t blame me, blame the slop we’ve been forced to sit through since the new year:  

I watched “Aquaman”, meh.  I did see, “Fighting With My Family.”  Enjoyed it and a nice chunk was the few scenes the Rock was in.  Vince Vaughn also solid in this.  Those are words not many people have written in over 10 years.  Also saw “Captain Marvel.”  Look, it wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be but it certainly wasn’t good.  And the only thing missing was Samuel L Jackson wearing a postman’s uniform in that film.  Cause he mailed that shit in, big time.  The jokes failed, big time.  But they had the best Stan Lee cameo, big time.  

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Honestly is the best policy, except when it comes to dealing with your wife.  I had no desire to see the new Pet Semetary film.  Never read the book, never saw the original film.  But the reviews were coming in much more positively than I expected.  I also expect the Stephen King remakes will be held to a higher caliber as It was fantastic.  So here we go:

Louis Creed (Jason Clarke of the unfortunate Terminator: Genisys) is moving his family up to the country.  Wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and kids Ellie and Gage (Jete Laurence and Hugo Lavoie) along with their cat, Church which is short for Churchill.  No reason given for naming the cat after a Gary Oldman character.  The house the family move into happens to be adjacent to a creepy pet cemetery.  Next door lives Jud (John Lithgow from the evergreen Harry and the Hendersons) who just may know what exactly is going on with said cemetery.  

Cue things going bump in the night, premonitions, the usual suspects of horror films.  Poor Church decides to go one on with a tractor trailer and ends up like a Mortal Kombat Fatality victim.  Neighbor Jud (who would ever saddle their kid with that name) suggests that burying the cat beyond the pet cemetery may benefit the Creed family.  Well guess what?  That’s an Indian burial ground past the cemetery and good ol’ Church just happens to cash in on 1 of the 9 lives.  Although he looks like he just spent all night raging at a fraternity party and ripping off 14 straight wins in beer pong.  Oh wait, that was me, 20 years ago.  

I’ll bet you, gentle reader, that you think that even though that Church may not be the same lovable feline he was before the resurrection.  And you’d be right.  He hisses and scratches more people than a 14 year old girl in a lunchroom brawl.  And then this of course, sends everyone into a panic and more bad things start to happen.  Apparently, one of the major events was changed from the book to this film and yes, King gave his blessing for the change.  And now we’ve crossed into spoiler territory so I shall now circle the wagons.

This film is enjoyable, it delivered what it promised.  Gave me a few jumps, not any cheap scares.  Foresaw most of the ending but the very end, didn’t see that angle.  I did wish they better explained the scene with the procession of children wearing pet masks and why they were doing it.  Otherwise, it’s a fine and fun watch.  Must you see it in a theater?  Not a must.  Will you feel disappointed after dropping $15 on it?  I don’t think so.  

6.5 out of 10

 

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DC Films is like the Sword in the Stone.  Many people tried pulling out the sword without success as DC has pumped out poor film after mediocre/decent film.  Man of Steel, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman…all awful.  Wonder Woman was fine, Aquaman was meh.  And now we have, Shazam.  The guy anyone barely remembers from the Justice League cartoon but had one hell of an entrance.  Now DC drops this into our collective laps, hoping this bird flies after being thrown out of the nest instead of crashing to earth. Avengers: Endgame is out in 3 weeks, this is their only chance to get a hold of something until the Joker comes out in fall.  How does it fare?  Let’s go to the videotape!  

Shazam is the story of Billy Batson, a 14 year old foster kid constantly looking for his mother whom he lost at a winter fair when he was 3.  Billy finds himself escaping bullies on a subway in Philadelphia (No, his superpowers aren’t avoiding white trash or mouth breathing Eagles fans) when he’s suddenly transported to a wizard, also a Shazam, seeking a replacement for his powers.  By yelling, “Shazam!”, Billy turns into the bigger and even older superhero.  The lighthearted approach of discovering Shazam’s superpowers as well as coming of life experiences with his fellow foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Glazer) pays off in spades.  The trial and error method while the boys upload their videos to youtube is quite humorous.  It’s kind of Deadpool-ish without the R rated dick jokes.  Not that I’m opposed to them by any stretch though.  What’s the second most important aspect of a superhero film?  Tits.  Just kidding.  Well, they never have those in films unless it’s Barb Wire which was nothing short of a method of torture outlawed by the Geneva Convention.  The villain, you chowderheads!  Mark Strong plays Thaddeus Silvana, one who was also was interviewed by the previous Shazam wizard but had failed the test.  He wants that power and goddamnit, he’s not stopping at nothing to get it.  Silvana enlists the help of the 7 Deadly Sins who are lizard-like that are named after the, ding, 7 deadly sins.  

Well, let’s give credit where credit is due.  This film breaks the streak of shitty/mediocre DC films not named Batman.  Bale, not Affleck.  C’mon, we’re civilized here.  This film is rock solid except for the final battle does lag a bit.  I also observed Batson’s foster family noticeably checks the multicultural boxes: Asian boy, Asian girl, black girl, Hispanic boy, Samoan dad, Hispanic mom, white girl, white guy.  This film hits all marks and finally correctly copies from the Marvel playbook.  Funny how DC has a better film out there now than Marvel does.  I’m MOST shocked that this made ~54 million opening weekend while Aquaman opened to 67 million.  This film is FAR superior to that bread sandwich.

7.5 out of 10 

Film reviews: 3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri and Darkest Hour

End of December means a few things: Christmas, taking back unwanted Christmas presents, and late Oscar entrants.  I saw 2 of them and here’s what I thought. Three_Billboards_Outside_Ebbing,_Missouri

3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri is one of those films that the title does all of the explaining for you.  Frances McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a mother whose daughter was raped while dying and justice has not been served.  So she pays for, you guessed it, 3 billboards calling out the local sheriff’s lack of progress.  It of course, stirs up a shitstorm with the town folk and especially the sheriff, aptly played by Woody Harrelson.  Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge Woody.  He has fun with the role while giving it gravitas, as he’s suffering from cancer.  Woody has had one hell of a resume, he’s run the gamut of roles.  He’s insanely under appreciated but I think he may get an Oscar nod for supporting actor.  

Here’s why this film is deserving the hype it’s received.  This is more than just a mother hellbent on getting revenge.  There are MANY layers to the story like the aforementioned Harrelson as well as Sam Rockwell playing a racist cop who lives with his mother.  The townsfolk bullying Mildred; including Mildred’s ex-husband who comes back to torment her while bringing his much younger but dopey girlfriend.  And of course, Mildred’s son as well as her employer dealing with Mildred’s actions.  Rockwell brings home the goods as the cop who has the quintessential, “seen the light” moment and goes to right his wrongs.

But let’s talk about the real star, McDormand.  She absolutely destroys this role and you not only feel non-stop compassion for her but you’ll enjoy her smart ass quips when the townies attempt to apply pressure to her.  There’s zero doubt that she’s winning the Oscar for best actress.  Is this film solid?  Absolutely.  Do you need to see it in the theater?  No but you definitely won’t walk out questioning your purchase.  This film is solid and I’ll give it an 8.

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The second film I saw was “Darkest Hour” and this is the story of how Churchill comes to power after Chamberlain was asked to step down.  Churchill said he’s been waiting since the nursery to become prime minister of England and you can tell that if this screenplay was true to history, that indeed he was born for the role.  Europe is being dominated by Hitler and Churchill is first to say that attempts with peace is not in the cards for a madman like Hitler.  King George Vi, Chamberlain, and Halifax are all working against Churchill as they want peace, not war.  So you get an idea of how difficult it was for not only Winston to attempt to save Britain from Nazi domination but doing so while being road blocked by his own government and cabinet.  And they do get into the Dunkirk story again in this film.  

Churchill is a larger than life persona and his rookie typist, played by Lily James (Baby Driver), learns quickly how to adapt to his nuances and eventually gains his trust where he takes her to the military intelligence hub to show her what’s REALLY happening.   Kristen Scott Thomas plays Clementine, Churchill’s wife who gives ZERO fucks and does not cow tow to his attempts to bull doze his preferences.  And god, do I love hearing Oldman drop his many memorable quotes throughout the film.  My favorite: “Those who do not change their mind don’t change much at all.”  He’s INSANELY quick with the tongue and Oldman pulls off the role with such ease but then again, when doesn’t he?

When I saw, “Dunkirk,” (overrated) they showed a preview for this film and after 30 seconds, I said that Gary Oldman is winning best actor. Now that I saw the film, I’m looking for a bookie who will take odds so I can bet this.  Oldman is another guy who has been, “under the radar” amazing for so long.  Dracula, the pimp in True Romance, Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, and hell, Commissioner Gordon in Batman.  This film is great and flies through it’s 2:05 running time.  They end it at the exact right time, although I could’ve easily sat through another 30-45 minutes of Churchill history.  

This film gets an 8 out of 10 from me.

Film reviews: It and Kingsmen: Golden Circle. And oh yeah, theater etiquette

 

Finally, 2 films worth seeing in the theater.  And I have to take a brief timeout to make the following declarations/observations.  I don’t remember movie theater behavior as bad as it has been in the last 10 years.  When did we regress as a society?  When in doubt, shut the fuck up.  No one who paid 15 bucks wants to hear you or your friends’ “witty” retorts as the film goes on.  You don’t need to repeat the funny lines either.  Just shut up.  You wanna ask someone what they just said, you get a, “one time” for the entire film.  We don’t need a running play by play.  And when it comes to food, chew with your mouth closed.  No one wants to hear you chomp like a cow chewing cud.  And if you are dumb enough to overpay for movie theater candy, open it before the film starts.  Or just RIP it open, don’t try and jiggle it open.  The crinkle sound it makes everyone in the theater want to follow you to your car and slash 3 of your tires.  Isn’t it hilarious how theaters preach silence but sell the loudest food and boxes with the nosiest packaging?  And people wonder why video piracy is on the rise.  You can put lounge chairs and improve the food but until you start screening out retards from talking in the theaters, you can expect lower profits.  You want people coming back into the theater?  Have someone in the theater who will throw you out after one warning.  And any person who works for a theater who sells tickets to parents bringing in a kid under the age of 10 to an R rated film after 9pm should be fired.  Then whipped.  Then set on fire.  And then have DYFUS called on the parents.

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A Stephen King film makes its way back to the cineplex.  And not soon enough as King’s recent string of films made from his novels have been straight up abortions.  His last good film was, “Misery”, which was 1990.  Yeah, the last time he made a good film, the Dallas Cowboys were good.  THAT long.  If you don’t know the story, a group of misfit kids discover a clown by the name of Pennywise (fantastic band) has been terrorizing Derry, Maine for almost 100 years by killing kids every 27 years.  I didn’t read the book (I will now) but I did see the miniseries on ABC from 20 plus years ago.  Obviously, you can get away with a lot more in the theater with an R rating than on channel 7.

Bill Skarsgaard plays said clown while a bunch of nobody actors play the kids.  My favorite kid of the ragtag bunch is the character, Richie Tozier.  He’s a mini Stiffler from American Pie, whipping out literal LOL moments throughout the film.  And he plays Street Fighter in the movie theater arcade?  My kinda guy, you’ll love him.  Here’s why “It” works.  It doesn’t resort to cheap jump cuts with a sound effect to scare you.  The plot itself is legit scary, even the B and C plot lines.  The drama generically builds and you enjoy the ride and even though you may not jump, the horror in itself is also in what these kids go through in their home lives.  The overbearing mother.  The pedophile dad.  The brother of the deceased kid.

Here’s what else I loved about the film, it takes place in 1989.  And you see TONS of nods to the era.  The local theater is playing Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 and later on, Nightmare on Elm Street 5.  The arcade has Street Fighter.  And a few funny callbacks to New Kids on the Block.  Richie Tozier is wearing an Airwolf t-shirt (love that show.  The nostalgia brought a smile to my face when they weren’t being chased or chasing a demonic clown.

Fair warning: you’re not getting the whole story in this film. You’re only getting the kids experience Pennywise as they’re doing a separate film when the adults fight the clown.

This is a smart and well done horror film.  It flows nicely and being the books is longer than most, it was wise to break this into 2 films as it would’ve been too jammed to do it all in one.  I didn’t read the book but I will.  I’ve been told by those who love the book that aside from a few details that had minor impact, this film is very true to the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and look very forward to the 2nd half.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

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Next up, the only other film I looked forward to seeing in the Sept-November timeframe. I loved the first Kingsman film.  The tongue in cheek factor, smart writing, irreverence, and ORIGINAL spy/action hero themes made for a fantastic film.  So when they announced the sequel, I was enthusiastic.  Everyone is back, even Colin Firth who “died” in the first one.  Without spoiling, I felt his explanation of returning from the dead was a bit lazy.  It wasn’t, “That was my twin brother” lazy but still, unremarkable.  Julianne Moore plays a Pollyanna-esque drug lord who created a small city of 50’s themed diners/theaters.  The Kingsmen are nearly completely destroyed sans Eggsy and Merlin.  They discover they have American cohorts, The Frontsmen, and visit them for help against Moore’s poisoning the world through narcotics.

Here’s what I liked: the way Firth needs to remember how he was a Kingsman was pretty slick.  The action is fine and of course, more dirty humor makes this different than most spy films.  They definitely try to zag with the script when you think a zig is going to happen.  I also appreciated the Frontsmen and Jeff Bridges as their boss works great.  They set it up nicely for future collaborations.

But here’s where the film misses.  The victim stance on drug users is overly propagandistic and at times, a bit much to swallow for a film that you just want to sit back and shut off most of your brain.  And Moore’s villain backstory, I’m not buying it.  I get that it’s hard to be original when it comes to the origin story or reasoning with super villains trying to blackmail the USA.  Which is why I loved the theme in the first film where Samuel L gave away free phone access via a chip implanted into peoples’ heads which in turn made them violent zombies.  That was a more fun take on society, showing how we are almost helpless without our phones.  But in the sequel, poisoning the drug supply felt like an easy way out.  And this film clocks in at just under 2.5 hours but it DRAAAAAGS.  They could’ve whittled 15-20 minutes off of this and not spoiled the end product.  Lastly, the Elton John cameos were a bit much.  They have him fighting off bad guys in the end?  He’s a flamboyant piano player, I just didn’t feel it fit and become a tired act after seeing him in more than 2 scenes.

Did I like it?  It’s fine but definitely not better than the first.  You’ll want to see if you liked the first but you’re not walking out with the same warm feelings that the first one gave you either.  I think if they make a third; it’s going to be REALLY bad, despite the nice setup the Frontsmen gives another film  Cash those chips in and move on, Matthew Vaughn.

I give it a 6.5 out of 10

Film Reviews: Dunkirk, Atomic Blonde, and Spiderman: Homecoming

We’re almost at the end of summer and before you know it, certain things are going to happen.  They’re going to yank my favorite beer, Sam Adams Summer Ale off the shelves by the second week of August and replace it with GARBAGE Octoberfest.  A full month and a half before the actual Octoberfest and no one, repeat NO ONE, likes this beer.  It will also be time for me to take the annual trip for me to go Vegas for week 1 of the NFL.  And of course, it’s going to be soon enough when Hollywood drops a plate of continuous garbage into the theaters until November.  I did catch a few new films and I’m more than happy to tell you about them.

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Let’s be honest, it’s John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws) and then everyone else for film scoring.  But Hans Zimmer (Batman trilogy, Inception, Lion King) is a SOLID number 2.  I went to see Hans Zimmer at Radio City last week.  He played for 3 hours and all of the hits.  If you don’t know him, he’ll be on the Mt Rushmore of cinematic composers.   Being Zimmer is Nolan’s go-to guy for film score, he also does the latest Nolan joint.     As I’ve said before, no one bats 1.000, not even Babe Ruth. But Hans Zimmer is perfect in previous attempts and this is no exception.  Zimmer does such a job that it will be a bigger fix than the 1919 Black Sox if he doesn’t get the Oscar this year.  The score AND sound make will send shivers up your b-hole and if doesn’t, you ain’t alive.  

Now let’s talk about the actual film.  Nolan tells 4 different stories at the same time with some familiar faces from previous Nolan films, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy.   The story of Dunkirk is the Brits and French (further perpetuating stereotypes) have been pushed to the shores by the Nazis (pre-USA intervention) and are looking to retreat via the sea.  But those pesky Krauts drop bombs and send torpedoes (actual torpedoes, not Sofia Vergara’s luscious cans) on the British naval ships that attempt to bring the soldiers back.  Harry Styles (of One Direction fame; note that not one of their songs is on my phone.  Not even as a guilty pleasure) plays the son of a former British soldier that takes his boys toward Dunkirk toward the rescue effort.  

There are problems with this film.  One, with the exception of Styles, his brother, and father off to help the stranded; there aren’t any characters that you feel any relationship with.  Cillian plays a pilot that is shot down and rescued by Styles’s father but you don’t get a feel for his character.  Same goes for fellow flyboy Tom Hardy.  Another group of soldiers that are holed up in a ship are another group you feel nothing for.  Secondly, there is no need for the roundabout fashion in which Nolan tells the story.  Some people complained that it was difficult to follow; I didn’t feel like it was but there were a few moments where you have to mentally jump back and forth.  Lastly, this film is 110 minutes but I felt it DRAGGED at times.  My friend Ryan made a great point about not having any relationship with the characters; being that this films was simply about survival and didn’t need to be a nationalistic film with sentimentality.  Fair points but this film didn’t grab me.

I just didn’t feel that invested in the story nor the characters.  However, it is beautifully shot and as I previously said, the score adds fantastic gravitas to the moments.  The dogfight scenes are amazing.   And this is also EXACTLY what I said about Nolan’s previous film, Interstellar.  Is Dunkirk as bad as I thought Interstellar was?  No, but it’s also not much better.  I think this is the film that may get Oscar noms when virtually every other Nolan film should have been honored.  Why?  Because it deals with history and we all know that as well as social issues are cheese in the mouse trap to get nominations.  Here’s something else about Interstellar that applies here: If you have any desire to see this, make sure you see it in the theater.  Because seeing it at home won’t give you the experience and you’ll dislike it even more if you’re watching on anything less than a big screen and 4dx sound.

I give it a 5.5 out of 10

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Atomic Blonde has been garnering comparisons to John Wick.  Yes, the fight scenes were choreographed by the same guy.  But it’s definitely not 2 hours of ass kicking, gun-fu.     There’s a story line here, much more involved than a guy hunting down the Russian mafia who killed his wife and dog.  And I loved John Wick and liked John Wick 2.  But this is deeper.  

Let’s go back to November 1989, a few days before the Berlin Wall comes down.  Charlize Theron (never on anyone’s top 10 hot list but she should be) is an MI-6 operative who is sent to Berlin to find out why her fellow compatriot was gunned down by a Russian assassin while hiding a list of agent code names as well as their real names.  And the game is afoot the second she touches down in Berlin; as she uses her stiletto shoe to thwart attackers in a moving car.  James McAvoy (Professor X in the recent X-Men films as well as the schizophrenic in that AWFUL film, Split) is a man who can get his hands on anything on the black market and his especially interested in getting that list or the man who memorized that list.  

The action scenes aren’t as many as Wick but they’re really good.  There’s one scene where Theron fights off 4 attackers in a continuous shot.  The camera work is amazing, you get a “Bourne Ultimatum” feel with some of these sequences.  And as an added bonus, you also get some quick shots of Charlize Theron’s boobs when she submerges in ice baths.  There’s even a lesbian sex scene with her and a French spy.  An enthusiastic thumbs up from this reviewer.  Lastly, you’ll totally dig the 80’s soundtrack playing throughout the film as well as footage from news organizations covering the events leading up to and the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

This film was a pleasant surprise on many levels and it’s a little more than just a typical summer action blockbuster.  It didn’t make big money on opening weekend but doesn’t that mean the audiences guessed right by passing on it.  It’s quite enjoyable with a few nice twists and Theron proves that women can kick ass without it being a forced feminism agenda.  You hear me, female Ghostbusters reboot?

I give it a 7/10

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Last and certainly not last, I saw Spiderman: Homecoming a few weeks ago but was lazy and never wrote the review.  This is the best Spiderman film of all time.  Tom Holland crushes it as Peter Parker, he gives the role a lot more fun as well as that nerdy aspect to it. It also doesn’t hurt having Downey Jr in it a few times, reprising his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man who gives Parker an upgraded suit.  And let’s not forget Michael Keaton who is having a resurgence for the ages.  I liked Birdman, LOVED the Founder, and he’s fantastic as the Vulture.  This film doesn’t miss on any aspect and has a fantastic twist in the third act with one of Peter’s classmates.  I eagerly anticipate anything Spiderman in the future as Holland did a great job of erasing any memory of Andrew Garfield and also nicely scrubbed Spiderman 3 from my cerebellum.  

I give this an 8.5/10

Summer 2016 films? No thank you-America

I remember like it was yesterday.  I was 12 year old back in the summer of 1989 and seeing the onslaught of summer previews made me giddy.  When you’re 12 and your social options are highly limited, (playing outside, sports, video games), the cinema is usually hangout number 1.  Being I was (still am) a HUGE film nerd/snob/afficionado, I had no problem spending a ton of time in the multiplexes.  And when we had to write one of our final essays for our 6th grade English class, I chose to write about what summer films I was most excited to see:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Nightmare on Elm Street 5 (I was 12, cut me some slack on some of these), Uncle Buck, Karate Kid 3, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, License to Kill (James Bond), as well as everyone’s crown jewel that summer…BATMAN.  Jesus christ, I counted the days down for that one like kids counted down until Christmas.  It came out on June 23rd (happy birthday to my then 6 year old sister, Jill) and boy, did America go all-in with this film.  24-7 showings in NYC, breaking box office records.  And look what else came out that summer that I learned to appreciate a little bit later in life: Field of Dreams (ok, it came out in late April.  Also, tied with Major League as my favorite baseball movie) Lethal Weapon 2 (Diplomatic Immnity!  Has just been revoked!), Do the Right Thing, Parenthood (still holds up), Road House, Dead Poet’s Society, and the Abyss.  I mean, wow.  I dare say probably the best summer slate I’ve ever or will ever see.

Fast forward to present day.  Every April, I still enjoy looking for that summer release schedule to see what the biggest films of the year are going to be.  And every year, I have about 3-5  I truly am excited for.  This year, Captain America 3 was my biggest anticipation and it didn’t let down.  X-Men: Apocalypse was a CLOSE second but unfortunately, this was a letdown and Singer’s first swing and a miss in this franchise.  The new Star Trek looks ok and Matt Damon is back as Jason Bourne so I was pretty sure I’d be giving my 15 bucks to see Bourne yet again.  But after that, the list went bleak.  Bleaker than Yankees playoff hopes.  Yeah, didn’t think I’d be writing that sentence in awhile but here I am.  I’m a movie reviewer for a radio station in NY but I haven’t been fully doing my job as I refuse to pay money to see crap in the theater.  I’m mainly reviewing new to DVD films, that’s how bad it is.

Here’s a list of the most likely money makers along with their budgets (domestic grosses)

Secret Life of Pets: week 1 take over 100 million, budget 75 million.  Verdict: Winner  Most cartoon films do pretty well in the summer time.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

Legend of Tarzan YTD 81 million, budget 180 million.  Verdict: BOMB  How many times do we have to tell Hollywood that no one cares about Tarzan since 1960?

Finding Dory: YTD over 400 million. Budget N/A Verdict: HUGE winner.  Pixar RARELY misses (The Good Dinosaur is the lone exception)

Independence Day: Resurgence YTD 91 million, budget 165 million Verdict: BOMB (Should’ve paid Will Smith what he wanted, probably could’ve saved this)

Warcraft YTD 46 million, budget 160 million. Verdict: COLOSSAL BOMB.  Even the gamers turned their backs on this one.

Xmen: Apocalypse YTD 158 million, budget 178 million.  Verdict: It will break even, especially with DVD and overseas but this was not supposed to be a break even or slightly profitable, it had higher expectations.  Are poor reviews to blame (yes and it wasn’t that good) or over saturation of superhero films?

BFG YTD 38 million, budget 140.  Verdict: Colossal Bomb.  Spielberg doesn’t eat shit but in this case and Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Crystal Skull, he sure did.  No one gave a shit about the 3rd most popular Roald Dahl story.

Ninja Turtles 2:YTD 80 million, budget 135 million.  Verdict: BOMBS AWAY.  Again, world box office receipts may get it to even but how do you fuck up a Ninja Turtles movie?  Answer: Keep Michael Bay in charge.

Alice Through the Looking Glass: YTD 76 million, budget 170 million.  Verdict: Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined.  No one gives a shit about the Looking Glass story anyway, why make this a live action film?

 

Next week is probably one of the most negatively discussed film that has yet to be released, the Ghostbusters film.  I hate reboots because 9 times out of 10, there’s no need to reboot a solid film.  And there’s no need to reboot a film just to force-feed us political correctness.  I loved Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars.  Why?  It was organic and not contrived about this.  I love Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft for the same reasons.  The new Ghostbusters has the dubious honor of being the most negatively reviewed trailer on youtube.  Even Target put the action figures in the clearance bin (target clearance) before the movie comes out!? Yeesh, not a good sign.

And what else do we have to look forward to?

The new Ice Age film comes out soon and not one has grossed under 160 million yet.  Will America burn out on this franchise?  Maybe but I doubt it

The new Star Trek film.  Justin Lin (Fast and the Furious) takes over JJ Abrams director’s chair so we’ll see.

Jason Bourne.  Should be fine

Suicide Squad-DC’s answer to the Avengers.  Massive reshoots were ordered after the success of Deadpool because they felt more humor needed to be injected.  The real question will be how does Jared Leto handle the Joker after Heath Ledger put that character in the stratosphere with his performance.

Pete’s Dragon (live action) The Jungle Book live action was a smash but I don’t think this will be near as successful.  I never saw the original Pete’s Dragon and don’t recall anyone else looking back fondly on it.  Hell, did or do they even have a ride at Disneyworld for this film?

Ben Hur-historical reboot.  No thank you

Sausage Party-animated Seth Rogen film.  I’ll pass.

Here’s the bottom line: A lot of these tentpole films bit the big one.  Why? America is getting smarter and not dropping $15 a ticket.  And god forbid if you go see a film in 3D or even 4D where you could shell out as much as $30 a ticket for a mediocre film.  Audiences are saying no thanks, I’ll wait for Netflix or illegally stream it.  And can you blame them?  You run the risk of sitting next to assholes who are talking and chewing their food loudly.  The guy 5 rows in front of you is on his cell phone every 2.5 minutes and the light keeps distracting you.

The reason you see so many reboots is because a lot of the good ideas have been done and the knockoffs of those good ideas are mediocre at best.  Long gone are the days where an entire summer offers a variety of quality movies.  I wish they weren’t but it sure does seem that way.  And good for you, America.  Keep your wallet in your pockets and don’t pay top dollar for less than acceptable quality films.  I know I’m not…

Film review: Batman vs Superman

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Here’s the deal on #batmanvsuperman. I really had no desire to see anything by Zack Snyder ever again. The previews looked unremarkable and did I mention I hate Zack Snyder and consider his films to be lower than Police Academy goes to Moscow? The early critics’ reviews were just as I suspected, scathing.

But I didn’t see this film till easter sunday so I had 2.5 days of peoples’ reviews filling my Facebook newsfeed. The über comic book nerds hated it but I think it also might be due to a major bias against DC. And remember Daniel Tosh’s joke about comic book nerds: “they’ll try and tell you how fast Superman can fly but I can tell them what being in a woman’s vagina feels like.”  So don’t ask their opinion, you’ll just get annoyed and maybe start hating them because of their overbearing passion…just like Bernie Sanders supporters.

So I caved in and saw it because of the multitude of, “the critics overreacted, it’s decent/fine”reviews.  And I’m here to say, the general consensus was right. This film is not as bad as some are making it out to be. This film is alright, maybe fine, but this film definitely has its flaws:

Yes, Affleck isn’t inspiring as Batman. Yes, this film at time feels like forced setup for the JLA film instead of simply  just being in the moment. Yes, Wonder Woman kicks ass without explanation of her powers or origin. Yes, Superman continues to be the penultimate uncharismatic superhero of all. And Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? I wasn’t feeling this choice at all.  He’s more neurotic than I remember Luthor; Gene Hackman, he ain’t.

The fight scenes are what you expect; brow beating you with CGI but hey, it’s a superhero film so fine.  One friend commented that one particular scene in the previews where Batman fights a bunch of henchmen that it’s very, “Arkham Knight-ish.” I agree and enjoyed that sequence.

But this film didn’t suck like Batman or Robin like some make it out to be, it was fine. I’m not buying it on blu ray and I’m glad I paid 7 bucks for it because I saw it at 11:30am. Does this make me anticipate JLA with higher hopes? Slightly but since I’m a gambler, I’m betting on Snyder’s past trend of stinkaroo films. But for now, he gets a SLIGHT reprieve.