Star Trek: Beyond

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the theater because this summer has consistently dropped stinkers upon the masses and I’m glad to say that the public isn’t buying into the garbage.  The latest Star Trek film was just released yesterday and this was one I circled as a “must see” but I admit, when I saw the previews, I wasn’t impressed.  First off, I’m not a Trekkie so let’s not get up in arms if I miss a minor detail here.  No JJ Abrams, he was too busy doing a fantastic job with “Star Wars The Force Unleashed.”  In the director’s chair for this installment is Justin Lin who is most noted for the “Fast and the Furious” films.  Also, Simon Pegg (plays Scotty in the recent films) wrote this film.  Gone are Kurtzman and Orci who penned the first 2.  And believe me, you notice.

The film starts out with Kirk pondering his place in Starfleet and in life, same with Spock.  Then, we get right into it as the Enterprise follows up on a distress call and away we go.  Idris Elba plays the villain but you would never know as he’s layered in makeup.  The film cruises till about the 2/3 point when we learn why Krall (Elba) has a bug up his ass with the Federation.  At this point, I was holding in copious amounts of urine and I wasn’t completely focused but I’m a little fuzzy why Krall did what he was doing.  It kind of felt like they forgot late in the film, “oh yeah, we need to hurry up and get a few more plot points in between the final action scenes.”

Speaking of action scenes, that’s what Justin Lin is known for in the FnF franchise.  In this film, we don’t see anything close to Vin Diesel growl out monosyllabic phrases while his car does a 720 in between 2 high rise buildings.  However, there’s a scene where Kirk is on a motorcycle that reminded me, “Yep, this makes sense because Lin is directing.”  And if we can get away from playing, “Sabotage” in future films, I’d be happy with that.  It worked in the first one just fine, no need to keep flogging that horse.
And there was a little buzz about Sulu coming out as gay in this installment.  Calm down homophobes, it isn’t that bad.  Just only when Kirk bends him over the captain’s chair and has his way with him while yelling out in Klingon.  Just kidding.

I thought this film was fine.  Definitely the weakest of the bunch but not bad.  Would I drop 15 bucks on it?  Maybe but don’t think you’re getting as good of a film as the first 2.  I felt there were moments like it was a mad libs where they had “insert character trait/emotion here”to check the boxes.  I didn’t get much of an apathy or any other emotion for Elba’s villain.  The final action sequence felt too much like the ending of the other 2 films.

I give it a 6 out of 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…

Money Monster review (no spoilers)

 

If a better looking Jim Cramer dressed up like the Riddler from Batman and was held hostage…that HAD the be the elevator pitch for this film.  George Clooney plays a used car salesman-esque stock advisor on a financial tv show.  Julia Roberts plays his producer.  BTW, I’m STILL see-sawing on the, “Is Julia Roberts attractive or is she too horselike?” issue.  I’m leaning toward an aged horse but she has a little time left to sway me.  Anyway, a blue collar kind of fella sneaks onto set and takes Clooney hostage on live TV because Clooney gave bad advice on a stock and now this guy is out 60 grand after it tanked.

Jodie Foster directs this script which has a cookie cutter/paint by the numbers feel to it.  Clooney is a thrice divorced, dickish, money consumed, megalomaniac who begins to legitimately take pity on this sad sack.  Roberts plays the producer who feeds Clooney direction and lines to keep him from being blown into salt and pepper smithereens.  Of course, there’s more than meets the eye than just a disgruntled loser who fell victim to bad advice.  A predictable story line of financial corruption that plays into the stock price falling keeps Roberts and her team juggling multiple story arcs.

This film is fine, nothing special.  I’m glad I didn’t pay 15 bucks for it and neither should you.

XMen: Apocalypse (No spoilers)

 

Brian Singer was on a solid streak, ripping out 4 straight fantastic Xmen films. Remember, Rattner directed that flaming elephant turd, Xmen 3, and Matthew Vaughn directed the fantastic Xmen: First Class. But no one bats 1.000, not even Babe Ruth, who’s the greatest baseball player ever. And Singer’s streak is over, as I felt Xmen: Apocalypse was disappointing. Why? Well here we go:

A few new mutants enter the mix: Cyclops, Storm, Angel, Nightcrawler, Jean Grey, Psylocke, and little cared about, Jubilee. They tell the backstory of Jean, and Cyclops just fine. But Storm gets maybe a handful of scenes and how she discovered her powers is barely touched upon. Jubilee gets maybe 3 lines but no one cared about her before so why start now? Angel also got the short shrift as well. Nightcrawler got a little more airtime but they made him look like a boy band member that fell into a cauldron of blue dye. But I thought the biggest character letdown was Psylocke, as there was a ton of hype about her when filming began. Olivia Munn looks great but there is zero back story on her and in the end, you’re left shaking your head, well now what? And she has such little screen time, not what you would think from the commercials.

The biggest flaw I had with the film is Apocalypse. The comic has him at 7 feet but can grow to much larger heights with his ability. 99% of the film has Apocalypse at eye level with most of the actors. There is nothing physically imposing about Oscar Issac’s character and Apocalypse was supposed to be one of the biggest and baddest villains ever. He didn’t show 1/10th of what powers he has and the script didn’t give him the gravitas that I expected.

And let’s also discuss how Mystique gets all Katniss Everdeen on us. She assumes a leadership role with the newer mutants? I know she watched over Rogue in the comics but this felt kind of forced, wasn’t feeling this arc.

Lastly, this film has very little of Wolverine. I just feel it’s not an Xmen film without a healthy dose of everyone’s favorite wise crackin’, cigar smokin’, Canadian bad ass. Wish they had a little more of him but guess they’re saving him for the final Wolverine film.

This film wasn’t bad, just very disappointing how they brought a lot of great characters in but didn’t give them all their fair shake. And especially, the injustice done to Apocalypse. I rank this as the 2nd worst Xmen film, above xmen 3. Like I said, no one bats 1.000 so let’s hope Singer gets back to his stellar track record with the next installment.

I give the film a 6 out of 10.  If you’re a fan of the other films (and why wouldn’t you be, they’re excellent), curiousity will get the best of you and you’ll see it in the theater.  But I wouldn’t drop 15 bucks on it, wait for Netflix.  Don’t bother with the 3D; the only reason I did is the showtime suited me best so I could sneak into my second film of the day.

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.

Star Wars Episode 7

I loved it.  JJ Abrams did a great job with the story.  Yes, there are some shoutouts to the earlier films with characters or props.  SPOILER ALERT: 95% of the audience in the theater didn’t use deodorant; it smelled like a Syrian refugee camp in there.  Nerds, save your money on just 1 action figure and buy a couple Speed Sticks.

I smelled a couple of the angles right out but still found it enjoyable.  I also had a bunch of questions, one of them being how is Carrie Fisher’s voice deeper than mine?  I understand she probably downed a quart of Bombay a day since ’83 but Jesus Christ, she sounds like 85 year old truck driver with emphysema.

Here’s how I rank the 7:

Star Wars, Jedi, Empire, Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones, and the biggest piece of shit to grace the screen, the Phantom Menace.

Here’s my impression if Hayden Christiansen called JJ Abrams, asking him for a part in the new film.

Hayden: JJ, it’s Hayden, what’s up?

JJ: Who?

Hayden: Hayden Christiansen, you know…I played Anakin in the prequel trilogy

JJ: Ummm…Right…what can I do for you?

Hayden: Well, I was wondering if there was any role for me in the new film you’re directing.

JJ: Sure, we can always use an intern or some help on craft services.

Hayden: I was thinking more of an on-camera role, maybe a flashback scene with Vader or earlier memory of Anakin.

JJ: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAH!!

Hayden: You don’t need to be mean.

JJ: Awww, come on, this isn’t Hayden.  Did Harrison put you up to this?  Man, that old goat has a sense of humor; despite being married to that bulimic wife of his.

Hayden: No, Harrison didn’t put me up to this.  I’m serious, would you have a part.

JJ: (Shouting to no one) JJ, Alec Guiness is the other line. Hayden, I gotta take this call from Alec Guiness.

Hayden: JJ, he’s been dead for over 30 years.

JJ: He’s calling collect, gotta go.  Good luck in Jumper 2.

 

My rating, I’d give it a 7.5 out of 10.  I’m dying for the next film and thankfully, it’s only another year and a half to episode 8.