The Hitman’s Bodyguard Review

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Sometimes you leave a comedy having laughed uncontrollably throughout the film. Other times you leave realizing that the funniest parts of the film were already shown to you during the trailer. Sadly, the latter experience is what I had after watching The Hitman’s Bodyguard. That in no way means that I thought this was a terrible film. It hit the marks it needed to, when it needed to, for the most part. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson had fantastic chemistry on-screen as Michael Bryce and Darius Kincaid respectively. The rest of the film however was your typical “paint by numbers” action-comedy. The basic plot of the film is that two enemies are forced to team up to escape a dire situation. For such a basic plot I expected there to be a lot more comedy involved to get us through the rest of the film. Instead we got the same flat jokes over and over again. Most of the film’s comedy actually came from Samuel L. Jackson’s character. I was expecting him to be funny, but I was expecting more from Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds is known for his comedic roles in film and could have elevated this film so much if he was given better material to work with. The writers maybe should have given more of the comedic lines to him and left Jackson’s character a tad more serious. Élodie Yung did an okay job as Amelia Roussel, but her role was not substantial enough for me to buy into her connection to Michael Bryce. Salma Hayek was hilarious as Darius’ wife Sonia, but her role in the film was also limited and left one wanting a little more. Gary Oldman on the other hand should have been in the film even less than he was. His Russian accent was terrible and I felt like he was mailing it in the entire time. On a positive note the film has some great action and chase sequences. The director Patrick Hughes clearly learned a lot from filming The Expendables 3 and transferred it to this film. The fight sequences with Reynolds were very well choreographed. With some better writing this film could have easily been the best comedy of the year. The studio did a great job marketing the film and it has very little competition to go up against for the rest of August. Therefore it should make a decent chunk of change and make back its low budget. I give The Hitman’s Bodyguard a Normal 6.8/10. I’d be willing to see Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson work together on a sequel as long as it has better writing and the box office of this film warrants it. Also not once was “I Will Always Love You” played during the film. That was a big missed opportunity.

The Dark Tower Review

 

The_Dark_Tower_teaser_posterThe Dark Tower is a sci-fi western film based off of Stephen King’s eight book series. The film actually serves as a sequel to the events of the seventh book The Dark Tower series. The story of the film is very straightforward. Basically what you see in the trailers is the plot of the film. The boy, Jake Chambers, has visions of the Man in Black and the Gunslinger. He finds a portal to Mid-World where he luckily runs into the Gunslinger and they team up to stop the Man in Black from destroying all worlds via destroying the Dark Tower. We are given a little exposition on what the purpose of the tower is in a scene that is reminiscent to Thor explaining the nine realms to Jane in the first Thor film. Going into this film I did not read any of the books as I expected that I would be brought up to speed on the details that happened within their pages. However, the film did not go into much detail on any of the characters, let alone provide any backstory for them. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are fantastic actors and they do their best with the roles of Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, and Walter Padick, the Man in Black. Their characters have an interesting dynamic that would have played better if they had more screen time together. Newcomer, Tom Taylor, did a fine job as Jake Chambers. He had great chemistry with Idris Elba and most of the scenes they had together worked well. A few of the jokes the writers tried did not translate well on-screen, but that can happen in any film. The mythology that the film sets up is pretty great and they leave the ending open for more sequels. I did have a good time watching it, but I would not have minded if it were 30 minutes to an hour longer. A film of this nature should be longer, especially if they intend to use it to set up a franchise. I feel some of the issues with this film sit with the director. He is not as seasoned as some other filmmakers and probably was not ready for a film of this caliber. Originally, J. J. Abrams was attached to direct when the film was first being produced back in 2007, but ultimately those plans fell through. I could only imagine how great this film could have turned out in the hands of a director like Nolan or Abrams, because they understand sci-fi so well. I give The Dark Tower a Normal 6.5/10. I’m interested in seeing more from this universe, so hopefully it makes enough money to warrant a sequel, prequel, or even a Netflix continuation.

Detroit Review

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There is certain subject matter that is hard to transfer into film. Police brutality, police misconduct, and racism are a harsh reality that many people still deal with today. Detroit is a film that covers this subject matter during the events of the 1967 Detroit riot. More specifically, the Algiers Motel incident that took place during the night of July 25–26. Going into this film, I did not do any research about the film’s plot. I assumed that it was a purely fictional story set around the police brutality of Black people during the Detroit riots. The director, Kathryn Bigelow, does a great job at making you feel like you were in the situation with the characters. The film’s story was not one sided in showing that all cops are bad. It showed that cops are people just like us. Yes, we saw a lot of bad cops in this film, but we also saw some who just wanted to help, some who did not wanted to be involved, and some who were just confused. We also got to see how the riots made some of the Black characters feel. Some Black people were just angry at the system that they lived in, some wanted to make sure that other Black people survived and did not do anything stupid, and some were just caught in the middle while trying to live their lives. I felt just as scared as the characters while sitting and watching the events unfold on the screen. I believe this was because Kathryn Bigelow knew exactly which camera angles to use to make the space feel tight, bringing on a feeling of claustrophobia for me as a viewer. This was very similar to the direction she used in her previous films, The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. The story of Detroit started out a little slow, but picked up as the film progressed. I had to remind myself that this is a crime drama and not an action film as much of the “action” was driven by the situation and the dialogue. Each of the actors involved did a great job portraying their characters. This film is packed with great actors. There even a few cameos that I was not expecting. The standout of the film for me was Will Poulter. He disappeared into his role of the racist cop, Philip Krauss. He has come a long way from We’re the Millers and should continue to take more roles like this, as it can only benefit his career. John Boyega did great portraying Melvin Dismukes as well. For most of the film I felt his character was unnecessary and shoehorned into the plot for the sake of adding star power. However, as the film progressed, I found out exactly why he was necessary to the plot. This wasn’t the starring role for Boyega that the trailers led me to believe, but he was still good inclusion to the film. Additionally, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, and Jacob Latimore had great performances as Robert Greene, Larry Reed, and Fred Temple. Detroit is a film that can be hard to watch at times, but you have to power through. There were times where I felt sick to my stomach seeing what was being done to the characters while being interrogated by the cops. It wasn’t just the police brutality that made me feel this way. It was also the officer’s lack of compassion and irresponsibility of the justice system during that time period. Not knowing what would happen to characters by the end of the story had me on the edge of my seat with anticipation. I give Detroit a Decent 8.7/10. This film is a must watch as it reminds us that the issues of police brutality and racism we faced in the past are still present today. It is great to remind ourselves of how far we have come as a country and how much more we can do to continue to improve. Only together can we move forward as a nation!

Dunkirk Review

 

dunkirk-poster-600x889I am a big fan of Christopher Nolan. The films that he writes and directs are usually different and amazing. When I found out he wanted to make his passion project, Dunkirk, I was excited. We had never seen him do a war film before and I wanted to know what kind of expertise and gravitas he would bring to a film of this nature. After seeing the first trailer, I was not very impressed, but hoped the film would be more interesting. I have now seen the film, and while it’s not a terrible film, I do not think it is up to par with Christopher Nolan’s previous films. Nor do I think it is the greatest war film of all time. The film is about the evacuation of the Allied soldiers that were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, France during World War II. The film is also told from three perspectives and in a non-linear fashion. From the land we follow a young British private named Tommy as he tries to escape the beaches of Dunkirk. From the air we follow two RAF pilots, Farrier and Collins, as they take down enemy planes. And from the sea we follow Mr. Dawson, his son Peter, and Peter’s friend George as they sail to Dunkirk to ferry soldiers home to safety. The non-linear aspect of this film was a tad confusing as you are not told when you are switching from one perspective to the next. Therefore it is hard to grasp a sense of time. I feel if it were clearer when we were switching perspectives, or if each perspective were told separately, the film would have made more sense throughout. The cinematography and use of practical effects did add a realism to this film that most war films lack. The acting was fine and there were great moments of suspense, however there was little dialogue. I understand that aspect of the film was by design, as Nolan wanted fans to focus on the situations that the characters were in, instead of what they were saying. Yet, I felt that it backfired as I hardly cared about the characters in the film, because I didn’t really get to know any of them. Towards the end some light gets shed on the motivations of a few of the characters, but nothing more. Christopher Nolan cast great actors such as Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and Cillian Murphy to play the roles in this film. Yet, every actor I recognized felt like a glorified cameo. Another setback for me was the film’s score. I was expecting an exciting sound from the composer, Hans Zimmer, but the music was rather dull and bleak. It did appropriately reflect the situation the soldiers were in, but it didn’t really change during the heroic moments. I give Dunkirk a Normal 6/10. I’m happy Christopher Nolan tried something different, but now its time for him to get back into filming something exhilarating and fun. Perhaps something like Bond 25.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

Valerian_and_the_City_of_a_Thousand_PlanetsI am not a fan of 3D films. Whether it’s converted in post production or filmed with 3D cameras, I would rather not see it. For my early screening of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, I was forced to see it in 3D. However, I will not let that hamper my review of the film, for it was not terrible. Now, take that with a grain of salt because this was not a fantastic film either. Based on the very  popular French science fiction comics series, Valérian and Laureline, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets tells the story of Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline as they try to complete a mission for the World State Federation. The opening of the film was great. It showed how Alpha, the titular “City of a Thousand Planets”, came together while the late David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” played in the background. Next, we are treated to the beautiful scene of an alien world before we are introduced to the main characters: Valerian and Laureline. While I think Dane DeHaan is a fantastic actor, I’m not sure that this was the right role for him. I didn’t buy him as the ladies’ man that Valerian is supposed to be, nor did I buy his apparent affection for his partner, Laureline. Their romance seemed to be forced throughout the entire film. It would have been better if they played the characters as platonic partners. Cara Delevingne was fine as Laureline, but she wasn’t given much to do. She is a much more impressive actress than her last few roles have shown. Much of the dialogue in the film was stiff and almost comical. There are even a few lines lifted straight out of Taken, but I’ll let you wait to see when that happens in the film. Other parts of the plot did not make sense and there was almost a rush at the end to explain everything. I do have to admit that Luc Besson knows how to make both a beautiful looking and great sounding film. The creatures and worlds you see on-screen are great, and somewhat believable. With a little better writing this could have been another The Fifth Element. The best way to describe this film is that it is a good “background film.” Those are basically films that you have playing in the background while you are doing other things. It is something that you want to watch, but don’t care if you miss a few seconds here and there. Apparently, Luc is now writing a Valerian trilogy of films, so I would be interested to see where he takes these characters. However, I would not be upset if it never came to fruition. Overall, I give Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets a Normal 6.5/10. I feel Luc Besson works better when given smaller budgets, so studios should remember that when he pitches them his next film.

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

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Let me start by saying no apes were harmed during the making of this film. Remember that when you go see it, because even though the apes in this film look and sound real, they are, in fact, CGI. War for the Planet of the Apes is the culmination of Caesar’s story that began in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. While I enjoyed seeing how this character’s story unfolded in the film, I have to say the film, as a whole, was a bit of a disappointment. I am not saying that it was a bad film. I just feel that I built it up in my head a little too much, and it did not meet all of my expectations. So, let’s start with the positives. The CGI has never been better. Every hair, every wrinkle, and every expression on the apes’ faces looked real. Once again, Andy Serkis did great as Caesar, and for the first time, I could actually see his face in Caesar’s face. This was not as evident with the motion capture in the previous two films. Secondly, I felt that Steve Zahn stole the show as Bad Ape. He was kind, charismatic, and funny without trying too hard. He was a great addition to the cast, and I would love to see how his character interacts with Caesar’s group moving forward, should the series continue. Third, the film’s story paralleled the Hebrews escape from Egypt and journey to the Promised Land in multiple ways. Writers, Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback, without a doubt, intentionally placed this imagery in the script as there are other biblical ideology and motifs scattered throughout the film. Moving on to the negatives: the film was slow, really slow. I felt like I waited forever for the film to pick up and it really didn’t. We didn’t get much action from the apes in comparison to the previous film. Second, I found it weird that few of the apes really spoke. We saw in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that the apes were using sign language in conjunction with human speech. In this film, however, they seem to have reverted back to mostly using sign language and rarely forming words or sentences. Caesar is basically the only ape who speaks in the film. Thirdly, Woody Harrelson played an okay villain as The Colonel. Sadly, he left much to be desired and did not live up to what Gary Oldman brought to the previous film. I am excited about where this franchise could go next because the ending left many possibilities open. Overall, I’m going to give War for the Planet of the Apes a Decent 7/10. Hopefully, next time the director will decide to pick up the pace and will give us the ape action film that was presented in the trailers.

 

Atomic Blonde Review

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I think we can finally say it at this point. Charlize Theron is a bona fide action star! She has proven herself in Mad Max: Fury Road, The Fate of the Furious, and now Atomic Blonde. Now, lets not get ahead of ourselves, because even though she is perfect in it, the film itself is not perfect. The movie takes place in 1989 Berlin and follows Lorraine Broughton (Theron), an MI6 agent as she is sent to work with Berlin station chief David Percival (McAvoy). They are to find and extract some valuable information from Berlin and find out how and why their colleague, who was handling the information before, was made and killed. You would think that this is a simple premise that is easy to follow on-screen, but it’s not. The editing and pacing of this film left me confused at times. The timeline feels slightly jumbled even though you’re led to believe the bulk of the film takes place over ten days. Part of this is to keep the audience guessing, but I feel that it was not executed properly. On to things that the film did execute properly, the action! The action scenes in this film were great. The car chases were shot brilliantly and the fights were well choreographed. There’s even a hallway fight sequence that would give the ones in Marvel’s Daredevil a run for its money. The casting of John Goodman as a CIA Agent and James McAvoy as Percival was great as they had good chemistry with Charlize Theron’s character very well. They don’t get as much screen time as Charlize, but when they are on screen its great. You never know if they are friend or foe until the very end. Also while I agree with the casting of Sofia Boutella as Delphine, I feel her character was mishandled in the script. To me she was nothing more than a sex symbol or damsel in distress. However, Charlize’s power, sexuality, and strength on screen elevates this film. With any other actress the film may not have succeeded in the areas that it did. Overall Atomic Blonde was a fun action romp worthy of its star. The film earns a Decent 7.8/10. Hopefully the studios continue casting Theron in these action roles because she is killing it. I’m looking at you Warner Bros., as she would make a great villain for the DCEU. I’m thinking Barbara Ann Minerva/Cheetah in Wonder Woman 2 maybe!? Here’s to dreaming.

Transformers: The Last Knight Review

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I never thought the day would come where I would say this, but Transformers: The Last Knight is a bad movie. I hurts me to even type the words. The movie isn’t bad because of the action or the visuals. Those are amazing and Michael Bay always delivers in that aspect. This movie is bad because of the plot. Basically there is no plot! I am a stickler for continuity and I expect with each new film in a franchise that continuity errors would be cleaned up nicely. This movie takes that notion and throws it in the trash. Nothing in this movie makes sense. Its like a mixture of three films all of the while rehashing the plot from Transformers: Dark of the Moon. They try to explain why the Transformers keep coming to Earth, but they never actually get around to explaining it. The Autobots and Decepticons in this movie are played for jokes, the latter more so than the former. Honestly, I was happier when Megatron was dead because Lockdown was a way better villain. And don’t get me started on Quintessa. It’s hard to feel bad for any of the robots when they die because we know they’re not actually stuck on Earth. They can easily scan a flying vehicle if they want to leave or just miraculously grow jet boots like Optimus Prime did in the last movie. Isabela Moner is a good little actress, but her character Izabella had no part in this movie. If you cut out all of her scenes it would not affect the plot at all. Mark Wahlberg and Sir Anthony Hopkins are in this movie just to cash a check. Hell everybody is in this movie just to cash a check. Well everybody except for Peter Cullen. I’m pretty sure he refused to come back and they just used recordings they already had him do for previous movies. Every other line he says is “I am Optimus Prime”. His role is no more than a glorified cameo anyways. More so than any other Transformers movie the focus is on the human characters. While Cade (Mark Wahlberg) and Viviane (Laura Haddock) are nice to look at there isn’t much past that. They are sex symbols and this movie is one big advertisement aimed at adults and kids. There are very few pluses in this film. Those being the great action scenes, some, but not all of Cogman’s antics, Viviane’s aunts, and that three-headed dragon transformer that we barely see. It is with great sadness that I give Transformers: The Last Knight a Bad 4/10! More than likely this movie will make a billion dollars and they’ll crank out another one and right the ship. Hopefully it’s the final one and hopefully they cancel that Bumblebee movie!

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

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Hey guys I’m back! I know it’s been a while and I’m sorry. I got caught up in the corporate life and forgot about my true passion, critiquing movies. With that out-of-the-way its time to review Spider-Man: Homecoming. I was so lucky to get into this advanced screening and it was definitely worth it. Sony and Marvel managed to do the unthinkable. Of all six theatrically released Spider-Man movies this is by far the best! Yes, it actually dethroned Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 in my book, but only slightly. I was on the edge of making that decision until the final scene of the movie. Tom Holland returns playing Peter Parker so well. He personifies the teen angst that comes with being a high school superhero. He wants to be an Avenger so bad that he pretty much starts neglecting his obligations at school. Besides detention this neglect barely affects him due to his genius. I mean we never see this guy do homework at all in the movie. The other students in the movie are given the perfect amount of screen time to give us insight into their characters. With the standouts being Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Michelle (Zendaya). I’m sure we’ll see a lot more from these characters moving forward. Speaking of standout characters Michael Keaton more than delivers as Adrian Toomes/Vulture. I enjoy the character as he was in the comics, but the changes made to him so that he fits into the MCU are perfect. His Vulture suit undeniably puts Falcon’s bird costume to shame. From start to finish he hits all the marks as a villain. You understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. He’s not your mustache-twirling villain from days old. He’s smart, funny, hardworking and values family above all. In the category of dethroning this movie puts out a great villain possibly above the caliber of Loki, the Winter Soldier, and the Red Skull. This movie does a great job at building on what the MCU has already established all while keeping it on a small-scale similar to what they are doing on Netflix. There are way to many Easter eggs to count and I probably didn’t even catch them all. The only negatives I can think of is the fact that the keep glossing over how Peter got his powers and what happened to uncle Ben. I’m nitpicking, but they can say what happened so that people who don’t know his origins understand. I’m not saying they have to show us how it all happened, but a decent explanation would help. Also for those who were worried that this is Iron Man 4 don’t, Tony Stark gets about as much screen time as Peter Parker did in Captain America: Civil War. Speaking of Captain America make sure that you stay until the very end of the credits. I give Spider-Man: Homecoming an Excellent 9.5/10 because teamwork makes the dream work!

Transformers: Age of Extinction Review

Going past a trilogy is a big risk in the film industry. The characters get stale and worn out and its hard to come up with new plot lines that will continue to entice viewers. While Transformers: Age of Extinction is not the best movie ever it is still a decent action packed movie. It gives you everything you want from a Transformers movie which is robots destroying other robots. This movie does a good job in continuing the franchise and keeping us somewhat interested. Mark Wahlberg plays the new lead Cade Yeager. He’s an inventor who happens to buy an out of commission Optimus Prime. This, like every film before, leads him on an outlandish adventure where he in the end helps save the day. While Wahlberg is quite comical in his role I do wish he was a little more funny. I understand this film is trying to take a darker tone, but I did miss Shia Labeouf’s goofiness. Nicola Peltz plays Cade’s daughter Tessa. She is mainly in the movie for eye candy in between explosions. While she is a very good looking actress she does not measure up to neither Megan Fox or Rose Huntington-Whiteley. Megan had legs, Rose had lips, and all Nicola has is tears. Hopefully she does a little better in the sequel. Back to the movie; the darker tone was a good idea. Even though the other films had the same amount of massive destruction I never felt like the good guys could lose. Even though they were always totally outnumbered. This one was dark and even personal as a couple of the main characters are killed off early in the film. Speaking of killing people off this films villain was phenomenal! Lockdown is the best out of all four of the movies. He was far scarier and more serious than Megatron, The Fallen, and Sentinel Prime put together. He was ruthless in his hunt for Optimus, killing anyone in his path. Also his vehicle mode was the stylishly sexy Lamborghini Aventador. It’s going to be hard for them to top him in the forthcoming 5th movie. Yes Megatron is now back as Galvatron, but his part in this movie was smaller than it was in the first film. The film does well trying to reinvigorate the franchise by changing the cast of characters, adding the Dinobots, and even showing off a new form of transformation. I thought the latter was cool at first, but felt overwhelmed by the massive transforming army in the end. Also I would have liked for the Dinobots to have been used in more of the film and for an explanation for the prehistoric alternate forms. Love it or hate it Transformers is clearly here to stay. I give Transformers: Age of Extinction a Decent 7.5/10. More Dinobots could have easily landed this movie an 8/10!