Movie Reviews

‘Dunkirk’ Movie Review!!

Dunkirk was one of my most anticipated movies of this summer.  It has the Nolan name behind it, it had pretty good trailers, and on top of that I’m a sucker for World War II films.  Especially when they tell stories that I am, admittedly, not completely familiar with.  After seeing this on an IMAX screen, I’ll say upfront it almost meets my expectations – almost.

The film is written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and in Nolan fashion is shot for IMAX screens. Dunkirk is a historical action/drama that tells of the events that unfolded during World War II at Dunkirk as Allied solders are surrounded by the German army and they must evacuate over 400,000 people within a very short amount of time.

This is a very different kind of Nolan movie.  The directing style was different, the story telling was different, and the characters were different from any other film made by Nolan.  While there are still Nolan staples to be found in Dunkirk, it is obvious that he was going to a different type of film than he usually directs.  Some of these changes worked, some things not so much. (more…)

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A Superior, Amazing, Spectacular ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Review – Non Spoiler

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first full length super-hero movie collaboration between Disney’s Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures.  And, I have to say, they did an outstanding job! In this newest iteration of Spider-Man Peter Parker, who is a 15-year-old kid, is trying to figure out what it means to be a super-hero as well as a normal teenager.  This movie is very much a high school drama/coming of age type of movie.  It shows real struggles that teenagers face as they go through high school, as well as portraying how a teenage superhero may deal with those struggles.

Starting off, I have to say that this movie is a lot of fun.  It has a familiarity that ties it perfectly into the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet still manages to feel different.  The young-adult aspect is something that is central in all the early versions of the Spider-Man comics, yet, until now, has not been accurately portrayed on the big screen.  (more…)

‘Baby Driver’ Review – A stylish and original mob movie

Baby Driver is a stylish and completely original mob movie that is a welcoming breath of fresh air within a summer movie season that has been just okay so far.  The film follows Baby, a get-away driver who has been coerced into working for a crime boss and must pull off daring escapes from impossible heists.  However, he is looking for his chance to leave the life behind and just when he thinks he has a plan, things get really crazy really fast.

Director and writer Edgar Wright brings a specific style of direction that only he can bring to a film, and it works perfectly for Baby Driver.  The movie is full of great car chases, top acting, crazy and colorful characters, and awesome music.  There are very few movies out there where only a specific director could tell a particular story, but in this case Wright is the only director that could have pulled this off.  Only Edgar Wright could have selected the music heard throughout the nearly two-hour long runtime and accompanied it with all the action, character moments, and humor in the movie.  The movie can almost be classified as a musical because of how the music is written into he script, and complements everything the characters are doing.  (more…)

‘Alien: Covenant’ Review!

Alien: Covenant is another film in the Alien franchise that features everyone’s favorite Xenomorph, as well as acting as a sequel to 2012’s Prometheus. Ridley Scott is back in the director’s chair – telling the story of the colony ship Covenant and the unfortunate fate of its crew. On their colony mission, they stop on what they believe to be an uncharted paradise. A planet better suited for their colony than the one they were originally bound for. However, it’s a very dark and dangerous world. After learning the fate of the planet’s previous inhibitors, the remaining crew members attempt a harrowing escape. It’s a fight for survival against the seemingly unstoppable Xenomorphs.

Full disclosure – I was not a fan of Prometheus. It was way too long, had terribly written characters, and nothing happens in it. However, I must admit that I enjoyed Alien: Covenant a lot more than its predecessor. It still feels like a companion-piece with Prometheus, lots of talking and heavy-handed themes of creation, but it also manages to feel like an actual Alien movie at the same time.

I’m not going to say this is perfect Alien movie, in fact it is far from it. What I will say is that Alien: Covenant is an upgrade from Prometheus able to deliver on gory thrills and chills, but unfortunately unable to establish a memorable crew or memorable scares.

The Covenant crew are extremely inter-changeable. At one point in the middle of the movie I was pulled out of the film because I had to count how many crew members had died so far. I had forgot about two of them. It happened again toward the end when down to the final few and I could have sworn there were more people still alive. Not only does show zero character development or attachment, it shows that there was no weight to their deaths. It just happened in a beautifully gory and disturbing fashion, then the plot just moves along.

There are some stand-outs though. Danny McBride‘s Tennessee character was the most human among the crew. Surprisingly, McBride was able to strike the perfect balance of showing a man struggling with the brutal death of his wife, the brutal death of his crewmates, and the tenacity to stay alive. Not an easy feat for an actor to pull off, and yet he does it beautifully. Michael Fassbender also manages to impress with his portrayal of both David and Walter, two synthetic androids built by Weyland Industries to help humans in their colony missions in space.

Overall, Alien: Covenant manages to feel like an Alien movie as well as a sequel to Prometheus, but does not quite meet the expectations set by being a part of the Alien franchise. The scary atmosphere and sense of dread that Alien is well known for is non-excitant I this film. There is also no real attachment to any of the characters. However, despite all these negativities, Alien Covenant manages to entertain with its gory kills and stunning visuals. Ridley Scott is very well known for creating beautiful films and Alien: Covenant is no exception.

I would say that despite not quite holding up to previous films in the Alien franchise, it is does give me enough to want to see the next movie – and I do recommend seeing it in theaters. If you are a fan of the Alien franchise you will like this movie.

Alien: Covenant is getting a score of 3.75/5

What do you think of Alien: Covenant? What is your favorite Alien movie in the franchise? Leave a comment below and let’s make a discussion about it.

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‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ Non-Spoiler Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is the newest, and most unique, telling of the story of King Arthur and his mystical sword Excalibur.  After Arthur is robbed of his birthright, he is raised in a brothel in the back-alley streets of Londinium.  However, after pulling the magical sword, Excalibur, from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his legacy and take is rightful place as the true King of England.

This is by far the most different, and supernatural, telling of the famous story of Arthur’s rise to becoming a King.  Directed by Guy Richie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes), the film feels nearly like a superhero origin story.  Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grows up a nobody, but through unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances gains immeasurable power in wielding the sword, Excalibur.  He must then use this power to overthrow the evil false King, Vortigern (Jude Law).  How does this not sound like a superhero film? (more…)

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Non-Spoiler Review

Everyone’s favorite Guardians of the Galaxy are back in Volume Two – continuing the teams adventures as they travel the cosmos using their newly acquired fame to get lucrative mercenary work. In their travels The Guardians must fight to keep their family together while unraveling the mysteries that surround Peter Quill’s aka Star Lord’s father.  Familiar characters return, old enemies become allies, and friends become foes.

Following 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy certainly applied a lot of pressure to returning director James Gunn as he worked to create a worthy follow-up. Characters that 95% of the movie going audience had never heard of quickly became the most loved within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  While this follow-up just crosses the threshold into entertaining, it is not on the same level as its predecessor.
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‘Free Fire’ Review (non-spoiler)

If you haven’t heard of Free Fire then you are not alone; as the film could’t even cross $1 Million on its opening weekend at the Box Office.  I missed its opening weekend as well and had to catch it in the middle of the week following the film’s initial release.

Free Fire is an adrenaline filled black comedy directed by Ben Wheatley and stars Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, and Sharito Copley.  Set in Boston (1978), Free Fire tells the story of an Irish gang and a group of arms dealers meeting up at an abandoned warehouse to make a trade.  After personal agendas and personalities clash things go south very fast.  Resulting in everyone shooting at each other.  As the night goes on, the odds of making it out of the warehouse alive gradually decrease.

Right off the bat I must say I enjoyed the film very much.  Wheatley is able to turn the premise of a paid-by-the-numbers shootout film on its head by showing this assortment of idiots and weirdoes forced to crawl around on a warehouse floor through dust and broken glass, randomly shooting at whoever they see near them.  And while that seems like a very simple movie, it really is.  But Wheatley is able to keep the film engaging by sprinkling dark humor throughout the entirety of the film.  I almost feel bad about how much fun I had watching these poor thugs and gun runners get shot at for almost 90 minutes straight.

The acting is great in this movie as well.  Every one of the well-known, and most of not so well-known, actors manage to portray characters that are desperate to survive, determined to kill, and yet have their own standout personalities.  Out of all the actors, Armie Hammer is the standout – probably giving his best performance to date; portraying a stone-cold hit man for hire stuck among a bunch of basic idiots with guns and no guts.

While the prospect of following a group of the same characters in the same situation in the same place and having it take only 90 minutes to tell can sound like it would get old, it doesn’t.  Wheatley’s formula of building up a character’s confidence, then cutting them off at the kneecaps (or literally blowing off the kneecaps) manages to draw out the intensity of the shootout for as long as possible, while also showing character development as the situation intensifies.  This formula also makes the film feel random and chaotic – something a film would normally get destroyed for doing.  However, since the film is almost entirely the one shootout, making it chaotic is the best way to build suspense in this situation.

Now, Free Fire is not a perfect movie by any means.  There are two things in particular that stand out.

The first is that not 100% of the characters are likeable, or even necessary.  There are two or three that probably could have not even been in the movie and nothing would have changed.  Most of the time I would forget they were even there until the camera showed them hiding behind small slaps of concrete.  Then Id be pulled out of the movie because I couldn’t remember who’s side they were on.

The second thing is something that a lot of shooting based films suffer from, and that is characters having nearly an unlimited supply of bullets.  Wheatley is not shy about showing the characters as they franticly reload their guns when the clips run out, but it happens over and over and over again.  And at some point, it makes no sense the number of bullets being shot by some of the characters.  At the very beginning of the movie they are seen being frisked for wires by Hammer’s characters, but no mention is made of the fact that each person apparently has enough rounds in their pockets for a 90-minute shootout.  Eventually a few characters do manage run out, but only when it conveniently fits to movie the plot along.  Unlimited ammunition at the end of the day is a very small nitpick but it still manages to take away from the overall very realistic feel the rest of the movie manages to convey

However, like I said before, I enjoyed Free Fire.  Its real world, shoot out scenario is a breath of fresh air among big CGI blockbusters. I highly recommend checking this film out if you are a fan of dark humor, or shootouts.  My score for Free Fire is 3.75/5.

Are you one of the few that have seen Free Fire? If you haven’t seen it, does it seem like something you’d be interested in? Leave a comment below and we can make a discussion about it.

‘The Fate of the Furious’ Review (Non-Spoiler)

By this time if you are not familiar with The Fast and the Furious franchise then you may need to crawl back under that rock you’ve been living under for the past decade before the sun blinds you.  The Fate of the Furious is the eighth film in what seems to be an infinite film series.  A series that started off as a rip-off of Point Break, but with street cars, and has somehow evolved into a bond-esk espionage film still involving cars.  The Fate of the Furious (henceforth abbreviated F8) continues that trend – be it a more Pierce Brosnan type of bond when considering the lunacy in which the street racers continue to save the world. Only this time it needs to be saved from a sexy superhacker/cyber terrorist (Charlize Theron) who has strong-armed Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the family driven leader of the F8 crew, to go rogue and help her steal weapons of mass destruction in order to achieve world domination.

Overall I have enjoyed the franchise thus far – I even finding myself defending the not so beloved The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift from time to time.  So you can imagine my disappointment when I walked out of this film and people felt they needed to defend F8 from me.  The movie is not great – it’s not terrible, there are things to enjoy in it, but I honestly believe it is weakest Fast and the Furious movie to date.

The worst thing about the movie is how forgettable it is.  I had to go back and re-watch trailers just so I could be reminded of some of the events that took place.  You’d think I would remember an army of hundreds of electric cars being hacked and driving around Manhattan like a horde of zombies and falling of rooftops like rain – nope.  I had forgot that ever happened until I re-watched the trailer after seeing the movie.  And that’s just one example of many forgettable moments.  Characters are just as forgettable as well.  I couldn’t tell you the names of anybody who is not part of the already established crew from previous films without going to the F8 IMDB page.

The movie also doesn’t flow at all.  Every scene just happens for the sake of happening and there is nothing that ties the scenes together.  The past films were beloved due to the journey they took the audience on – whether that journey be throughout the underground street racing world of L.A. or internationally to exotic places around the world.   F8’s journey, while still international, feels more like taking a trip through rush hour traffic while riding a city bus.

Now, as stated previously, not all of the movie is terrible.  Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters steal the spotlight with their quips and their action scenes are a lot of fun to watch.  And, somehow, Vin Diesel manages to give a near tear jerking performance in a few scenes.  So hats off to him.

However, it wasn’t enough to save the movie.  Between the lack of storytelling, flat and forgettable characters, and sub-par dialogue (even by Fast and the Furious standards) all due to a very weak script I have to admit it is the weakest in the franchise.  Fate of the Furious gets a rating of 2.75/5.

‘Life’ Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

If you heard me say to you, “Hey, let’s go see this claustrophobic horror/thriller in space,” you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that I was referring to Ridley Scott’s Alien or at least a sequel.  However, in this case, I would be talking about the newly released Life staring Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, and Arlyon Bakare.  Life does use similar plot points to Alien, being that it takes place in a claustrophobic area as a team of astronauts and scientists try to survive as an evolving alien lifeform hunts and kills them off one by one, however it still manages to feel fresh and entertaining despite its similarities to the 1979 classic.

One of the biggest differences from Alien is that Life does not have one protagonist, rather it follows all the astronauts equally without any defining lead.  This allows you to be able to attach to the characters a bit more, as well as add an extra level of unpredictability.  If they had one defining protagonist (like Ripley) then it is a safe bet that that character would be safe, or at least not be the first to bite it.  Throughout the film, I was unable to pinpoint who would be the lifeform’s next victim.  And that really adds to the atmosphere and terror. (more…)

‘Power Rangers’ Review (Spoiler Free)

When I first heard the prospect of making a Power Rangers movie based on the early 90’s TV show I was less than thrilled.  The show is one of the cheesiest things I had ever seen as a kid.  And a movie had already been made back when the show was at the peak of its popularity with 2005’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  The movie was panned by critics, and barely made enough at the box office to earn a profit.  Yes, when I was six the TV show and the movie were entertaining, but watching them now I have to say they are really bad.

However, the first trailers came out for Power Rangers and I have to admit I was intrigued.  And as the movie release date got closer I found myself looking forward to the new Power Rangers movie, however, I was still not expecting much.  After finally seeing the film, I can honestly say I had a lot of fun with the movie.  It surpassed my expectations!  It is nowhere near a perfect film, it absolutely has flaws, however despite those flaws I was very entertained.

The first thing someone should know before going to see Power Rangers is that it is more of a character film, and less of an action movie.  There are absolutely some action scenes in it, but they were just okay.  What really drove the film was watching these five teenagers with different pasts come together and learn to trust each other and work as a team.  Their on-screen chemistry is outstanding! And the acting is really good! I never thought I’d admit that there was good acting in a Power Rangers movie.  The standouts are Dacre Montgomery (plays Jason – Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (plays Kimberly – Pink Ranger), and RJ Cyler (plays Billy (Blue Ranger).  They were able to bring a level of emotion I did not think possible in a Power Rangers movie.  I really cared about their characters, and their team because of their performances.

Power Rangers is surprisingly funny too.  I laughed a lot throughout the movie watching these weird and awkward teenagers figuring out what it means to be a Power Ranger and the shenanigans that can go with giving that kind of power to high school students.  Also, there are some scenes of product placement that I thought pretty funny as well.  Normally in-your-face product placement gets on my nerves (looking at you Transformers: Age of Extinction).  I hate it.  However, for some reason I was not bothered by it in this movie.  I won’t say what it is – you’ll know it when you see it.  Just know it works in the context of the film.

Now, remember when I said there was some great acting in Power Rangers?  While that is true and I stand by that, there is some terrible acting in it as well.  Unfortunately given by Elizabeth Banks, who played the villain Rita Repulsa.  It was like she was in a completely different movie.  While I’m getting drama, and real life situations from these teenagers the movie switches to the villain and I’m reminded that I am watching a movie based off one of the cheesiest TV shows of all time.  Her acting would have fit perfectly in an episode of Power Rangers from the 90’s.  And that is not a good thing.  When we finally get to the showdown between her and the rangers I feel like I’m watching a completely different movie.  An hour and a half of great teenage drama/comedy/sort of action, followed by cheesy action movie with a side of extra cheese due to her performance.

And the action was just okay.  There was not a whole lot of rangers using martial arts, and when it was shown it didn’t blow me away.  When the Rangers used their Zords (giant robots) to fight it was, once again, just okay.  The CGI during these actions scenes was part of the problem.  The visuals would switch back and forth between impressively good to video-gamey bad.  I realize that this being the first movie in a what is sure to be a franchise there was a very limited budget to work with.  But I’ve seen smaller scale movies show better action scenes.  Maybe next time don’t hire a big-time actor like Elizabeth Banks so you can afford good looking action set pieces and CGI.  It’s not like her being in the movie payed off anyway.

Overall there was a lot of good to be had in Power Rangers, but some glaring negatives that need to be fixed if the franchise is to continue and be successful.  Despite by negatives stated already, I did generally like the movie.  It was entertaining and fun – something that a Power Rangers movie should be.   There are going to be some people who hate this movie, and that’s fine.  I have to admit that the movie is not for everyone.  However, if you were or still are a fan of the Power Rangers then I recommend you go see the movie. You will like it.  If you were never a fan then you might like.  I think it is still probably still worth checking out if you are in the mood for some dumb fun at the theater while chowing down on a big tub of buttery popcorn.  Or, if you have a theater that offers it, get some doughnuts – you’ll thank me latter.

I’m giving Power Rangers a score of 3/5.  It’s entertaining, so go see it.

Have you seen Power Rangers yet and what did you think?  Are you going to see Power Rangers?  Leave a comment below, and we can make a discussion out of it!