NOT ARONOFSKY’S BEST WORK BUT IT’S A SICK, TWISTED EXPERIENCE THAT KEEPS YOU GUESSING!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!
After a decently reviewed yet awkward film adaptation of Noah’s Ark, director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, Noah) returns to his roots with the psychological horror film, Mother! Going into this movie I didn’t really have any expectations nor did I know much about the movie though I was intrigued by its trailers and marketing.
So, I gave it a watch and…wow, where do I even start with this one? I wouldn’t say this film stands as tall as some of his other films but nevertheless it was creepy, weird, had a great sense of atmosphere and mystery, well-acted, and it kept me guessing.
The film follows a married couple (Jennifer Lawrence-X-Men franchise, The Hunger Games franchise, Silver Linings Playbook and Javier Bardem-Before Night Falls, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall) living alone together and peacefully in an old house that they are spiffing up in hopes of creating a paradise. But when uninvited guests (Ed Harris-The Truman Show, A Beautiful Mind, A History of Violence and Michelle Pfeiffer-The Witches of Eastwick, Batman Returns, Stardust) arrive at their home their relationship is tested as the strangers disrupt their tranquil existence.
The film also stars Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 and 2, Ex-Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Brian Gleeson (Love/Hate, Snow White & the Huntsman, Logan Lucky), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters (2016), Sausage Party), Jovan Adepo (The Leftovers, NCIS: Los Angeles, Fences), and Stephen McHattie (Seinfeld, A History of Violence, Watchmen).
Overall, Mother! Is another satisfying yet disturbing addition to Darren Aronofsky’s filmography however your enjoyment of this movie all depends on what kind of person you are and/or your taste in movies. It starts off suspenseful and atmospheric but then it goes into sick, disturbing territory which almost felt like an artistic Saw in fact I’m surprised there wasn’t a trailer for Jigsaw shown prior to this film, but I digress.
It goes for a more artistic vision rather than a straight up scary flick which may turn some viewers off which is perfectly understandable. This is not a movie for everyone, it does take its time and slightly passes the 2-hour mark and a lot of scenes, plot elements, and themes can come off as unsettling and confusing.
Despite the movie feeling like a mixed bag in terms of appeal the stuff that’s good in this film is phenomenal. The production design and cinematography are very bleak and are almost reminiscent of those haunted house movies from like the 70s or 80s, the plot is very complex and is worthy of multiple viewings to understand its message, and of course the performances of Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem; specifically, Lawrence’s because she has most of the screen-time in this film.
I’m convinced Jennifer Lawrence can be put in a terrible movie (*ahem* Passengers) and still give it her all and make an impression. This isn’t Mystique or Katniss Everdeen Jennifer Lawrence, no, this is possible Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence I mean it she’s amazing in this movie, she’s not this tough badass character but your average woman taking care of her house and husband who is frightened (and possibly going insane) by these unwanted guests invading her home.
Javier Bardem also delivers a solid performance here as Lawrence’s husband but not quite as amazing as Anton from No Country for Old Men. He looks creepy and threatening but they don’t immediately make him out as the bad guy despite him being so calm about these visitors and unlike Anton he comes off as more mysterious than legitimately terrifying.
I don’t think this movie would go down with Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, or Black Swan as a Darren Aronofsky classic but if you’re interested in seeing this movie at all and you have some idea of what you’re getting into then Mother! Would definitely be worth a watch. It’s well-executed, scary, and throws so many unexpected twists and turns that will make you say “What?”.
THIS HORROR REMAKE CLOWNS AROUND AND DELIVERS CREEPY FUN!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
WARNER BROS. PICTURES AND NEW LINE CINEMA
Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King’s It
If there was any horror movie coming out this year I was more concerned about than Annabelle: Creation it was It, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King and 1990 mini-series starring Tim Curry. When I first heard they were making a film adaptation of It after the campy reputation it got from the mini-series I wasn’t fully convinced and thought it would be terrible.
But as the hype train was getting quite a bit of momentum I gave it a chance and went to one of my local theaters to see it. I was pleasantly surprised, not only does the movie nail the creepy tone of its source material but it’s blended well with a sense of humor and some phenomenal young actors.
This is one of the best Stephen King film adaptations I’ve seen in a long time and it captures the spirit of its source material to a tease. The movie doesn’t fall victim to the generic horror movie trappings and offers a creepy but humorous character study about these kids overcoming their greatest fears, this ain’t your Friday the 13th or Saw scary flick.
Set in the 1980s in the town of Derry, Maine where children have mysteriously disappeared, the film follows a group of outcast kids called the Losers Club uncovering the mystery behind these disappearances. Soon enough these kids are faced with their biggest fears as they confront the murderous clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård-Anna Karenina, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Atomic Blonde) whose history of murder and violence dated back for centuries.
The film stars Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent, Midnight Special, The Book of Henry) as the leader of the Losers Club, Bill Denbrough, newcomers, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Wyatt Oleff as Ben Hanscom, Beverly Marsh, and Stan Uris, Finn Wolfhard (The 100, Supernatural, Stranger Things) as Richie Tozier, Chosen Jacobs (Hawaii Five-0) as Mike Hanlon, Jack Dylan Grazer (Tales of Halloween, Comedy Bang Bang, Me, Myself & I) as Eddie Kaspbrak, newcomer, Nicholas Hamilton as the leader of the school bullies, Henry Bowers, and newcomer, Jackson Robert Scott as Georgie Denbrough.
Overall, It is one of the best Stephen King film adaptations I’ve seen since The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile. It’s debatable whether or not the movie’s actually scary (Guess it really depends on whether or not you’re afraid of clowns) but the cinematography, production design, and story capture the creepy tone of its source material and goes balls to the wall with it.
The film is very self-aware of how ridiculous it is and will at times take jabs at typical horror movie clichés or crack a joke related to the current situation. But they never feel forced and always get a big laugh.
What truly makes the movie shine is the performances by its young cast, and damn do these kids do a phenomenal job with their roles. All the kids speak and act like normal kids and hardly ever do they feel half-ass and they’re so convincing, it’s like if the kids from South Park or The Goonies hunted a homicidal clown.
Despite Tim Curry’s performance from the mini-series being very iconic, Bill Skarsgård nails the Pennywise character. Sure, he doesn’t do the “WA-HA, WA-HA, WA-HA!” laugh like Curry did but his presence manages to be both frightening and funny at the same time and whenever he speaks you’re laughing while getting a slight chill, kind of like Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, not often does a scary movie give me that reaction but Skarsgård won me over with Pennywise.
The story is surprisingly really deep especially for a movie about an evil clown, the entire concept of the film revolves around these kids facing their greatest fears ranging from clowns, germs, creepy characters in paintings, and even family dilemmas. This is where the character development comes from, each child has a different and unique fear that establishes their character and accompanied with the performances you feel like you’re watching real kids trapped in a scary film.
I doubt people would be praising this movie as much as The Shining or The Shawshank Redemption but It manages to capture the spirit of what made Stephen King a great author and what makes a good horror movie in general. None of the characters are there just to die, you grow attached to them, and the film has fun with its concept and results in a hybrid of fear and laughter.
This is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a while and will probably follow in the footsteps of The Cabin in the Woods, The Witch, and The Conjuring as a new horror classic to watch every Halloween. It has camp, strong characters, humor, and one creepy ass clown, what’s not to enjoy?
THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD:
RYAN REYNOLDS AND SAMUEL L. JACKSON SAVE THIS HIT-AND-MISS ACTION COMEDY!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Get comfortable folks, this is the closest we’ll ever get to Deadpool being recruited by Nick Fury for The Avengers. Ryan Reynolds (National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, The Proposal, Deadpool) and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kingsman: The Secret Service) team up to stop a dictator in the latest action comedy, The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
The film is directed by Patrick Hughes (Red Hill, The Expendables 3) and features an all-star cast and for a movie directed by the guy who neutered The Expendables with the dreaded PG-13 rating, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is surprisingly a lot of fun. It isn’t anything great and could have used more gags between Reynolds and Jackson but for my money I had a blast.
At first my only intention of watching this movie was to see Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson being partnered together in an action comedy reminiscent of buddy-cop films like The Heat or 21 Jump Street. And yes, like the rest of the internet I’ve joked about Deadpool and Nick Fury when I saw the ads for this film.
But I was surprised at how over-the-top and hilarious the rest of the movie turned out to be, you got bloody shootouts, wild car chases and stunts, corny one-liners, and the leads are charming and witty. Sure, not every joke works but a majority of them did for me and the appeal of Reynolds and Jackson together is worth the price of admission.
The film follows the world’s top protection agent, Michael Bryce (Reynolds) being called in to guard the life of his mortal enemy, one of the world’s most notorious hitmen, Darius Kincaid (Jackson). Michael and Darius have been at each other’s throats for years but are forced to work together on an outrageous adventure from England to Hague to stop a ruthless Eastern European dictator out for blood known as Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman-Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Dark Knight trilogy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).
The film also stars Élodie Yung (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Daredevil) as Amelia Roussel, Salma Hayek (Desperado, Frida, Sausage Party) as Sonia Kincaid, Joaquim de Almeida (Desperado, Behind Enemy Lines, Fast Five) as Jean Foucher, Kirsty Mitchell (The Acid House, Attila, The Leisure Seeker) as Rebecca Harr, Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park, Corpse Bride, Logan) as Seifert, and Sam Hazeldine (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, The Wolfman, The Monuments Men) as Garrett.
Overall, The Hitman’s Bodyguard may not be a total hit but it succeeds in summer popcorn entertainment. The movie does not take itself seriously except when it needs to and gives a jolting and wild goose chase with a body count and over-the-top cheesy fun.
Most of the appeal of this movie comes from the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, which is near perfection. Obviously the two of them don’t get along all the time and they bash heads with each other, Jackson escapes a few times, and one of them tries to annoy the other and it’s funny, but as the film goes you grow attached to both of them and gives them both as well as the audience a moment to breathe and learn a few things about their past.
However, as great as the team-up of Reynolds and Jackson is there are some problems with the movie. For starters, the plot of is pretty generic action movie fare and at times it can be really predictable and it doesn’t quite give us much new outside of its leads.
I wasn’t a big fan of the film’s pacing; the movie mostly focuses on Reynolds and Jackson which is great but when it segways to Ryan’s ex-wife or this side-plot in a courtroom it’s pretty much filler. It doesn’t ruin the movie but scenes like that just make you wish you were back with Reynolds and Jackson.
Also, some of the side characters are pretty forgettable like Ryan’s ex-wife, it’s not that the actress portraying her was bad or anything but she could have been written better and have better chemistry with Ryan Reynolds, where’s Vanessa when you need her? Gary Oldman as the villain I’m debating whether or not it’s a good or bad performance but every time he’s on-screen it’s a lot of fun to watch him go so over-the-top.
The humor is very hit-or-miss, I was laughing for the most part but there were a few gags in there that either felt awkward or could have used a better payoff. Fortunately, a bad joke is usually followed up with a good joke so the bad humor doesn’t destroy the movie.
Flaws aside, this is dumb fun and the charm of the leads shine through and make it enjoyable. The Hitman’s Bodyguard probably won’t be an action-comedy classic but for my money I’m glad I saw it.
STEVEN SODERBERGH’S COMEBACK FILM IS HIGH-OCTANE FUN AND OUTRAGEOUSLY FUNNY!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
(From left to right) Channing Tatum, Riley Keough, and Adam Driver in Logan Lucky
From director, Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s trilogy, Contagion, Magic Mike) comes Logan Lucky, the first film he’s directed since Behind the Candelabra in 2013. Imagine Ocean’s Eleven but replace all the characters and casino with rednecks and NASCAR, that’s pretty much this movie and it is awesome.
Thanks to some talented lead actors and a smart and witty script the film takes the heist movie genre and makes it feel new and very humorous. I’ve seen a lot of heist and crime movies before but Logan Lucky was unique because it blended the traditional heist movie tropes with a good sense of humor and it didn’t feel forced or overshadow the crime movie portion, pretty much a smarter version of Tower Heist by a better director.
The film follows a blue-collar laborer named Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum-G.I. Joe, 21 Jump Street, Magic Mike) whose once-promising football career was ruined by an injury, being laid off from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway due to liability issues. After a night at a bar run by his brother, Clyde (Adam Driver-Lincoln, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Silence) Jimmy explains a plan to access the Speedway’s pneumatic tube system for transporting money during an upcoming event and steal it in hopes of reversing a family curse.
Jimmy and Clyde recruit convicted safecracker, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig-James Bond franchise, Defiance, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), his dimwitted brothers, Sam (Brian Gleeson-Love/Hate, Snow White & the Huntsman, Assassin’s Creed) and Fish (Jack Quaid-The Hunger Games 1 and 2, Vinyl, Workaholics) and their own sister, Mellie (Riley Keough-Magic Mike, Mad Max: Fury Road, It Comes at Night). They plan to break Joe out of prison and return him as soon as the heist is over without anyone noticing, sounds complicated but with their skills they might be able to pull it off.
The film also stars Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad, Ted) as Max Chilblain, Katie Holmes (Dawson’s Creek, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Batman Begins) as Bobbie Jo Logan-Chapman, Katherine Waterston (Being Flynn, Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs) as Sylvia Harrison, country singer and songwriter, Dwight Yoakam as Burns, Sebastian Stan (Hot Tub Time Machine, Black Swan, Marvel Cinematic Universe) as Dayton White, Hilary Swank (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Insomnia, Million Dollar Baby) as Sarah Grayson, David Denman (ER, The Office, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi) as Moody Chapman, Jim O’Heir (Parks and Recreation, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Life After Beth) as Cal, and Macon Blair (Hellbenders,Green Room, Small Crimes) as Brad Noonan.
Overall, Logan Lucky is a lot of fun and quite possibly one of the best heist movies I’ve seen in a while, it’s easily the funniest. It encompasses everything that made Steven Soderbergh a great filmmaker and even has a few funny references to his other work thrown in here.
What makes most of the humor work in the film is the chemistry between the characters, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are very convincing as the two brothers and neither one of them is made out to be a bad guy despite both of them trying to rob a racetrack, the film gives plenty of reasons to care about them and you want them to succeed in the end.
But who really steals the show is Daniel Craig, Good God this is probably the best I’ve ever seen him in a movie. Whenever I think of him I immediately picture James Bond but his character in Logan Lucky is pretty much the complete opposite and every time he’s on-screen I’m laughing and I’m laughing hard.
I honestly don’t know what else to say about this movie, it’s a crime movie that’s funny and has great characters and smart writing. I haven’t seen The Hitman’s Bodyguard yet but judging by the reviews and that this movie is more of an independent film Logan Lucky is probably more worth your money and something I urge movie-goers to see before it gets overshadowed by more Hollywood stuff.
If you’re a fan of Steven Soderbergh, Channing Tatum, and/or Daniel Craig as well as heist comedies, Logan Lucky would be your “Lucky” pick for a movie night. I can guarantee a lot of laughs on top of clever storytelling and a welcome return for Soderbergh as a director.
BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN:
A WTF TEAM-UP, BUT A WHOLE LOT OF BAT-FUN WITH PLENTY OF ACTION AND A SURPRISINGLY DECENT SENSE OF HUMOR!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
WARNER BROS. ANIMATION
(From left to right) Harley Quinn, Batman, and Nightwing in Batman and Harley Quinn
The Caped Crusader is back in the latest animated feature film based on the beloved DC Comics Batman series, Batman and Harley Quinn. Like last year’s Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, the film was given a one-night theatrical presentation through Fathom Events followed by a digital release the day after and then a Blu-Ray and DVD release.
I wasn’t super hyped about this one to be honest compared to The Killing Joke because when The Killing Joke movie was first announced I was on like an Avengers high and could not wait to see that movie. But still, it’s Batman how could I miss it? So, I went to one of my local theaters showing it and gave it a watch…and it really surpassed my expectations.
It’s an animated movie in the style of Batman: The Animated Series with beloved voice actors, Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester reprising their roles as Batman and Nightwing, I was expecting something really serious but once in a while some moments of comedy added in because of Harley Quinn. To me, this is pretty much the complete opposite of the infamous Batman & Robin and manages to encompass everything that made Batman so great whether comics, TV, or movies, add in some exciting action and a surprisingly decent sense of humor and you get a very fun Batman movie.
From the dark and gritty Tim Burton movie and animated series to the quirky and campy 1960s Adam West TV show, this is pretty much everything Batman & Robin tried to combine together and completely backfired and it shows that sometimes animation succeeds over Bat Credit Cards. I was very impressed at how funny this movie is and they even throw in a reference involving the comic sound effects from the Adam West show, and Joker’s not even in this picture.
The film follows Poison Ivy (voiced by Paget Brewster-Criminal Minds, The Venture Bros., Grandfathered) and Floronic Man (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson-Family Guy, Lilo & Stitch, Rick and Morty) embarking on an ecological quest to save the planet but unfortunately eliminate most of humanity as a result. To stop them Batman and Nightwing must form an unlikely partnership with one of their old foes, the Joker’s former henchwoman, Harley Quinn (voiced by Melissa Rauch-The Big Bang Theory, Scooby-Doo and the Beach Beastie, Ice Age: Collision Course) who happens to be Ivy’s BFF and frequent partner-in-crime.
However, Batman’s patience is put to the ultimate test by the unpredictable and untrustworthy Harley in an onslaught of chaos and anarchy the dynamic duo face during their bumpy road trip. Knowing Harley, she is definitely a trickster, makes sense because her former boss was the Clown Prince of Crime himself, so can she really be trusted?
Overall, Batman and Harley Quinn is a fun movie to watch that satisfies Batman fans of all types. Whether you’re a fan of the darker Tim Burton/Christopher Nolan and animated series tone or the light and silly Adam West tone, this movie has you covered, though the plot itself is pretty generic the contents inside of it is where the film truly shines.
For the most part, the movie retains its dark tone from Batman: The Animated Series but then it goes into silly and humorous territory and it strangely works. From Harley Quinn singing a karaoke song in a bar to Batman and Nightwing fighting a bunch of drunk guys in said bar Adam West style as previously mentioned.
The voice acting is solid, Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester just doing their usual shtick since the early 90s and still amazing and Kevin Michael Richardson’s voice alone is always welcome to hear no matter what he’s in. At first, I was disappointed that Tara Strong who was pretty much iconic because of her voice as Harley Quinn didn’t voice her in this film, but I was quite impressed by Melissa Rauch’s take on this psychotic henchwoman and it’s clear that she researched Strong’s work as the character to bring the same amount of chaos and fun to a great character.
My only real issue with the movie is its film rating which isn’t a bad thing but I feel this movie is a really light PG-13 movie. There’s little to no intense violence and some sexual moments but nothing extreme, I’d say it’s about on par with The Mask which is also PG-13 but not for extreme violence but because of some sex innuendos, definitely a better Batman movie to show your kids instead of The Killing Joke that’s for sure.
Batman and Harley Quinn is a fun DC animated film on its own but an even greater tribute to the Batman character. The film finds the perfect midpoint between Adam West camp and traditional dark and gritty and in both categories, succeed, if you’re a Batman fan this is one not to miss.
THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE:
THIS SEQUEL IS “NUTS” BUT ALSO UNFUNNY AND PREDICTABLE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: * ½ out of 4
OPEN ROAD FILMS
Surly and the gang are back in The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Comedy superstar, Will Arnett (Arrested Development, Blades of Glory, The Lego Movie) is back as the voice of Surly the squirrel in the sequel to the 2014 animated film, The Nut Job…a movie that critics certainly ripped apart but was a modest success with the kids. Apparently, that was enough to warrant a sequel, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, one of the worst sequel titles to a movie I’ve seen in a long time and I’ve seen the ‘Squeakquels”.
Were people asking for this? Was The Nut Job seriously so sacred that the story had to continue? No, I got it, this movie was created by people with the mindset of the evil mayor from this movie and it exists solely for making money with very little effort thrown in, aside from the cartoony animation and voice talent.
After the nut shop from the last movie unexpectedly exploded, Surly and the park animals must relocate their home and regain their instincts to find food. They discover a plot by the evil mayor of Oakton City (voiced by Bobby Moynihan-Saturday Night Live, Monsters University, The Secret Life of Pets) to bulldoze their old home, Liberty Park and replace it with a dangerous and extremely cheap amusement park.
So, it’s up to Surly, Andie (voiced by Katherine Heigl-Roswell, Grey’s Anatomy, State of Affairs), Buddy the rat (voiced by Tom Kenny-SpongeBob Squarepants, The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time), Precious the pug (voiced by Maya Rudolph-Away We Go, Bridesmaids, The Angry Birds Movie), Mole (voiced by Jeff Dunham-The Tonight Show, Comedy Central Presents, The Jeff Dunham Show), Jimmy the groundhog (voiced by Gabriel Iglesias-The Emperor’s New School, Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution, The Fluffy Movie), Johnny the groundhog (voiced by Sebastian Maniscalco-The Jay Leno Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee), Jamie the groundhog (voiced by Keri Wahlgren-Gravity Falls, Planes: Fire & Rescue, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast), and a group of cute but deadly mice led by Mr. Feng (voiced by Jackie Chan-Operation Condor, The Forbidden Kingdom, Kung Fu Pandatrilogy) that the animals befriend to fight for their home and foil the mayor’s plan before the park is demolished.
The film also features the voices of Isabela Moner (100 Things to Do Before High School, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, Transformers: The Last Knight) as the mayor’s spoiled daughter, Heather, Peter Stormare (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Minority Report, John Wick: Chapter 2) as deranged animal control officer, Gunther, Robert Tinkler (Sailor Moon, Bakugan: New Vestroia, Inspector Gadget (2015)) as a mouse named Redline, Laraine Newman (Saturday Night Live, As Told by Ginger, Avatar: The Last Airbender) as Daredevil Chipmunk, the film’s producer, Bob Barlen (Escape from Planet Earth) as Handsome Mouse, and voice actors, Jess Harnell (Animaniacs, Crash Bandicoot, Transformers 1-3 and 5) and Fred Tatasciore (Avatar: The Last Airbender, Wander Over Yonder, Star VS the Forces of Evil) as two of the animal control officers.
Overall, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is a waste of time unless you’re a little kid who will laugh at anything. Which is more than what I could say about The Emoji Movie where I would recommend that movie to no one.
There’s at least an attempt to put effort into this movie even if it backfires severely, the animation is colorful and energetic, the voice acting is decent, and it has a few attempts at comedy and some of them came close to actually working. Specifically, the scenes involving the spoiled daughter, Heather, I don’t know what it is about animated kids’ movies but whenever a child is depicted as this psychotic and aggressive little brat, I always find it amusing and if done well hilarious which is pretty much the highlight of the 1997 animated movie, Cats Don’t Dance for me where the movie overall is decent but the child character is the best thing in the movie, this however is a terrible movie but she was probably the best thing here.
Unfortunately, Heather wasn’t enough to save the movie from its unoriginal and predictable plot, as the movie was playing I was able to predict exactly where it was going and most of the time it did not disappoint in that regard. It’s one of those “Save the Park and Animals” type movies with the big bad government or corporation trying to bulldoze a landmark, park, or wildlife area for corporate greed with a lazy environmental message thrown in…Yeah, it was old when Hey Arnold and The Muppets did it…and the concept killed itself when Norm of the North did it.
I can’t really say there’s anything bad in this movie for kids, to the film’s credit it’ll at least keep them busy and possibly satisfied, and despite having a forced environmental message it might open their eyes about keeping animal habitats safe. It’s strictly a kids only movie and nothing more, drop your children off to see it while you go see something else because there really isn’t anything in here for parents, it’s better than The Emoji Movie but still not worthy of family outing material.
THE OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL OF ANNABELLE/CONJURING MOVIES!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
WARNER BROS. PICTURES AND NEW LINE CINEMA
Annabelle the doll is back to reign more terror in Annabelle: Creation
A prequel to a prequel to The Conjuring…and somehow it worked! If there was one movie I was more concerned about than The Conjuring 2 last year it would be Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the 2014 film, Annabelle which was a prequel to James Wan’s critical and commercial horror hit, The Conjuring.
The first Annabelle while financially successful was a critical disappointment and a lousy way to follow-up The Conjuring. The film had its moments of creative scares but most of them came off as predictable and lacked the suspense and effective sound and production design of the first movie, it was pretty much a horror movie cash-grab and nothing more.
And now we have Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the prequel and after a strike with the first movie this is the unexpected homerun much like what Ouija: Origin of Evil was like for Ouija. The film is directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) who gave us last year’s horror hit, Lights Out, and produced by The Conjuringdirector, James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring 1 and 2, Furious 7) who knock it out of the park with a horror movie prequel that probably shouldn’t have been that good to begin with.
The film follows a couple who are grieving over the death of their daughter after a tragic car accident taking in girls from a local orphanage. But when a disabled girl named Janice (Talitha Bateman-The 5th Wave, So B. It, Geostorm) goes into the room of the couple’s deceased daughter one night, she unintentionally sets free the demented doll named Annabelle and the demon inside the doll possesses her.
And then all the frights you’d expect occur from objects flying around, flickering lights, loud noises, and sudden jump scares. In hopes of getting Janice back her best friend, Linda (Lulu Wilson-The Millers, Inside Amy Schumer, Ouija: Origin of Evil) and a nun and the caretaker for the girls named Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman-The Bridge, Narcos, Spectre) must go through religious practices and disposing of the doll to compel the demon back to where it came from.
The film also stars Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana, Without a Trace, Balibo) as Samuel Mullins, Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings 2 and 3, Flight of the Phoenix, War of the Worlds (2005)) as Esther Mullins, Philippa Coulthard (K-9, After the Dark, Secrets and Lies) as Nancy, Grace Fulton (JAG, Ghost Whisperer, Revenge) as Carol, Adam Bartley (Longmire, NCIS: Los Angeles, This is Us) as Officer Fuller, and Brian Howe (Déjà vu, The Pursuit of Happyness, Gran Torino) as Pete Higgins.
Overall, Annabelle: Creation literally fixes the “Sins” of the past and delivers an effective horror movie about a creepy doll and the terror it brings. A genre of horror that’s been pretty much dead due to the awfulChucky sequels, but thanks to a director and producer that know how to make a scary movie, some impressive production design, and some eerie sound design they made a good prequel to a bad prequel to a great horror movie.
The movie doesn’t rely on gore that much and whenever it’s used they never make it flashy or exploit it like mad. No, every use of gore in this movie feels natural and adds more to the terror and suspense of the current circumstance.
That’s one of the things I applaud about the Conjuring movies as a whole, they stray away from typical slasher/gore-fest material and instead offers a chilling, atmospheric scary flick that in my opinion is far more effective than just watching a bunch of blood and flesh splash on the floor for an hour and a half.
Story wise the movie’s not very original, if you’ve ever seen The Exorcist, The Haunting, or Hell even the first two Conjuring movies then you pretty much already know what you’re getting into. Sure, it leads to scares that are predictable and obvious but they’re in a movie balanced with plenty of new shockers and varieties of old scare tricks that you really don’t care.
Most of the acting is passable but the person who really sells this movie is Talitha Bateman as Janice who follows in the footsteps of the little girls from The Exorcist and The Ring as one of the most terrifying children in a horror movie I’ve seen in a long time. I mean it, she goes from sweet and innocent to shit-your-pants scary in an instance and every time she’s on-screen and possessed it’ll send chills down your spine and hopefully she’ll be cast in more scary flicks in the future.
My only real issue with the movie is the beginning, not because it’s bad but it heavily relies on cheap jump scares and they come off as loud and annoying, not at all scary, it’s a forced cliché that’s really overstaying its welcome. But the second and third acts make up for it and lead to some legit scares.
If you’re a fan of The Conjuring and Annabelle movies, this one’s not to miss, it covers more of the doll’s backstory and ties directly into the first movie at the end. Annabelle: Creation makes up for the sin of the first film and brings the doll back to its Conjuring roots and hopefully The Nun and The Conjuring 3 will continue the frightening success.
AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER:
AL GORE SUCCESSFULLY CONTINUES HIS ENVIRONMENTAL MISSION, EVEN IF IT’S NOT QUITE AS IMPACTFUL THE SECOND TIME AROUND!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Fight like your world depends on it in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
It’s not often a documentary film gets a sequel, only other time I could think of was 2004’s Trekkies 2, well when your movie happens to be one of the most talked about documentaries for many years a follow-up seems inevitable. That’s the case with former vice president, Al Gore’s 2006 film that warned the people of global warming, An Inconvenient Truth which was a huge hit upon its release, won two Academy Awards®, and helped spread the awareness of global warming and what can be done to prevent it.
Eleven years later Al Gore strikes again with the sequel, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power which tackles climate change and his attempts to persuade the government leaders of the world to invest in renewable energy culminating in the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016. Al invites us on a journey across the world to influence international climate policies and train an army of climate champions to fight alongside him in his tireless battle against global warming and his quest to find a new, clean, reusable energy source for the planet.
Al Gore also goes into detail about the impact An Inconvenient Truth had after its release as well as predictions from the first movie that eventually came true, covers various disasters and catastrophic events around the world, and even subtly antagonizes President Trump while still managing to pay tribute to the people involved in the natural disasters and to the survivors and people who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks in Paris a couple years ago.
Overall, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power probably didn’t need to exist but I appreciate the film for not rehashing the exact same global warming theme from the first movie and instead expands on it and takes a few more risks with its content. Nevertheless, the message of the film is just as strong and inspirational as the one in the first movie.
After seeing this movie, I gained more awareness of the effects of climate change on the world and what I could do to support a new energy source that’s more environmentally friendly than what we’re currently stuck with. However, I still think the first film did a better job presenting its information to the viewer, from using a Futurama clip to explain the concept of global warming to a CG frog in boiling water, sadly we don’t get much of that here which left me a little disappointed but it didn’t ruin the movie.
Despite being given a film rating that is usually used for pointless marketing purposes, the footage shown of the heavy floods and storms are pretty intense and frightening. I don’t get scared easily when watching movies but when you see real-life footage of heavy winds and massive flooding in Miami Beach, chances are it’ll be a lot more terrifying than any horror movie and it really leaves an impact on you.
Like its predecessor, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is a documentary that really opens your eyes to the entire world and shows how far we’ve come along since the first movie’s release in 2006. More places are aware of solar energy as well as taking full advantage of the concept, and what a huge benefit it could have on the entire planet.
If you loved the first movie and want to see Al Gore cover more in his never-ending battle against global warming and climate change, then this is one “Truth to Power” not to be missed. I can’t say you’ll enjoy it as much as the first movie but hopefully the moral and impact of the movie will be enough for you to speak out and make our home a better place, because if Trump’s not going to do it then the American people will, the film literally closes with that statement and it couldn’t be any more perfect.
KATHRYN BIGELOW MASTERFULLY CAPTURES ONE OF THE DARKEST MOMENTS IN AMERICAN HISTORY!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
It’s time we knew about Detroit
I’m convinced director, Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) can do absolutely no wrong. Case and point, her latest movie, Detroit based on the real-life events of the Algiers Motel incident during the 12th Street Riot in 1967 Detroit.
Title wise, Detroit isn’t a very accurate name for this movie as it doesn’t really focus on the Detroit riots as a whole but rather a tragic event in American history that’s ironically more horrifying than any horror movie. And they did a damn good job dramatizing the motel incident and life in 1967 Detroit. Bigelow is a master of all the moviemaking tricks, documentary-style filmmaking, harsh intensity, and a powerful story that really makes you think.
The film is centered around the Algiers Motel incident which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967 during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. It involved the death of three black men and the beatings of nine other people, seven black men and two white women by racist police officers...that’s literally the majority of the movie right there.
The film stars John Boyega (Attack the Block, Junkhearts, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Melvin Dismukes, Will Poulter (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner) as Phillip Krauss, Jacob Latimore (Black Nativity, Ride Along, The Maze Runner) as Fred Temple, Jason Mitchell (Contraband, Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Carl Cooper, Hannah Murray (In Bruges, Chatroom, Game of Thrones) as Julie Ann, Kaitlyn Dever (Justified, The Spectacular Now, Short Term 12) as Karen, Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Sing Street, Free Fire) as Demens, John Krasinski (The Office, The Wind Rises, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi) as Attorney Auerbach, Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Night Before) as Greene, Joseph David-Jones (The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Nashville, Legends of Tomorrow) as Morris, Ephraim Sykes (30 Rock, Smash, Crisis in Six Scenes) as Jimmy, Leon Thomas III (August Rush, Bad Asses, Fear the Walking Dead) as Darryl, Peyton Alex Smith (The Quad) as Lee, Malcolm David-Kelly (Lost, Mississippi Damned, Gigantic) as Michael Clarke, Chris Chalk (Rent, 12 Years a Slave, Gotham) as Officer Frank, Jeremy Strong (Lincoln, Selma, Black Mass) as Attorney Lang, Laz Alonso (Jarhead, Stomp the Yard, Straw Dogs) as John Conyers Jr., Miguel (Live by Night) as Malcolm, Samira Wiley (Being Flynn, Orange is the New Black, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Vanessa, Tyler James Williams (Unaccompanied Minors, Peeples, Dear White People) as Leon, and Glenn Fitzgerald (A Price Above Rubies, The Ice Storm, Flirting with Disaster) as Homicide Detective Anderson.
Overall, Detroit is an unpleasant yet unforgettable experience that is definitely worth a watch, it hits you right in the feels hard and brutal and as you’re watching the movie you start to feel sad and mad with the people in the film. Like Dunkirk it doesn’t build-up the events but rather throws the viewer right into the moment, there’s a little bit of backstory told in this weird and in my opinion out of place animation sequence but that’s pretty much all we got because as soon as that segment is over the harsh reality shows its ugly face and the brutality gets going.
And trust me, the violence and intense scenes depicted in the movie are absolutely terrifying, we spend a solid hour focusing on these nine people up against a wall in the motel being harassed, abused, and some even killed by police. It’s both hard to watch and yet you can’t look away at the same time because you’re so entranced in the moment as you’re watching it and you just can’t believe your eyes as what these cops do.
However, what makes the police brutality scarier is the acting behind it, specifically from Will Poulter as the leader of the racist police force who is absolutely amazing in this movie. Every time he’s on-screen sends chills down your spine and he sells every moment, yeah that whiny brat from the third Narnia movie and the dweeb from We’re the Millers delivered a scary performance and could possibly follow in the footsteps of Javier Bardem’s Anton from No Country for Old Men and Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight as one of cinema’s most terrifying performances.
I’d say my only real issue with this movie is that the ending drags a little, it’s not exactly a bad thing but there were a few times where I was like “Yeah, you could have stopped there and rolled the credits”. But that’s mostly a nitpick and it doesn’t stop me from appreciating this movie and what it speaks for.
Detroit is a movie that isn’t afraid to show you the harsh and brutal reality of one of the darkest moments in American history and accompanied with the cinematography, acting, and directing it almost feels like you’re watching a real-life event happen before your eyes. More than enough reasons to declare Detroit as my third favorite Kathryn Bigelow movie after The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty (Yeah, I’m one of the few people who actually thought Zero Dark Thirty was better than The Hurt Locker!), it’s a movie that stunned me, hit my emotions at all the right times, and now I kind of want to go see it again.
THE DARK TOWER:
IDRIS ELBA AND MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY’S PERFORMANCES ARE THE HIGHLIGHT OF THIS SHALLOW WESTERN-THRILLER!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
Idris Elba and Tom Taylor in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower
I’m guessing I won’t be the only person confused after seeing this movie and realizing it’s a continuation of the original series of books by Stephen King…I need to start reading more. From director, Nikolaj Arcel (King’s Game, Truth About Men, A Royal Affair) and produced by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Robert Langdon trilogy) comes The Dark Tower, based on Stephen King’s novel series of the same name.
We all know movies based on Stephen King novels are hit or miss like the universally beloved film adaptations of The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption or more campy territory like the It mini-series and The Langoliers...or the just plain bad like Dreamcatcher, still I had some interest in checking the film out after seeing the trailers despite having no knowledge of the books.
Sadly, the film left me quite disappointed, it isn’t terrible or even 19% Rotten Tomatoes bad (Seriously guys?) but the potential of the plot gets lost in scatterbrained pacing, lack of detail, and things that would confuse people who aren’t familiar with the books. While it has some interesting ideas in the story and some exciting western action, and the performances by Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Interstellar) and Idris Elba (Thor, Prometheus, Star Trek: Beyond) are debatably the best thing in the movie, the plot comes off as generic “Good VS Evil” storytelling and a rehash of much better thriller, sci-fi, and western movies, and when Elba and McConaughey aren’t slinging guns or using satanic powers, the movie’s actually kind of boring and predictable.
The film follows an 11-year-old adventure-seeking boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) who discovers clues about another dimension known as Mid-World. As he gets closer to uncovering the mystery he is spirited away to Mid-World where he meets a Gunslinger named Roland Deschain (Elba) and the two of them set off on a quest to reach the Dark Tower that resides in End-World and holds the entire universe together, and get to the nexus point between time and space to save all existence from extinction by the vicious sorcerer the Man in Black (McConaughey) who will do everything in his power to make the Dark Tower crumble and plunge the universe into the apocalypse.
The film also stars Claudia Kim (Brain, Marco Polo, Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Arra Champignon, Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods, Death of a Salesman, Much Ado About Nothing) as Pimli, Abbey Lee Kershaw (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Neon Demon, Office Christmas Party) as Tirana, Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, Watchmen, The Tick (2016)) as Sayre, Katheryn Winnick (Cloud 9, Cold Souls, Vikings) as Laurie Chambers, Dennis Haysbert, the Allstate guy (24, Far from Heaven, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) as Steven Deschain, Michael Barbieri (Little Men, Spider-Man: Homecoming) José Zúñiga (Ransom, Con Air, Mission: Impossible III) as Dr. Hotchkiss, and De-Wet Nagel (Lost Boys: The Thirst, Safe House) as Taheen Tech.
Overall, The Dark Tower is a pretty underwhelming addition to the Stephen King film library and sadly not in an enjoyably dumb way like some of the other films based on his work. The movie immediately expects you to know what happens in the books and I’m imagining if I did I’d probably be panning this movie like everyone else but what really does piss me off about this movie is that it’s supposed to be a continuation of The Dark Tower books…except there’s a bit of a problem with that, YOU NAMED THE MOVIE THE DARK TOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, if you’re not familiar with the books (like me) you’ll probably be confused by several plot elements that don’t really add up on their own and if you are familiar with them you’ll most likely be pissed off.
The plot has some interesting ideas but they’re stitched together with predictable and unoriginal storytelling. One moment it’s like The Da Vinci Code trilogy, the next it’s Star Trek, then it’s a western movie, and then it becomes Thor or Wonder Woman, seriously most of the film’s plot does a lot more borrowing and rehashing of other movies over creating new or interesting ideas and characters.
But with all that said, the stuff that’s good is pretty damn good, the western-style action is absolutely thrilling and offers plenty of variety ranging from silly to legitimately awesome. The supernatural themes of the movie and it has a unique mix of sci-fi in there that doesn’t feel really forced.
Of course, let’s not forget Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, pretty much both their performances are the main highlight of the entire movie. Idris Elba as a Gunslinger from another dimension (I mean, come on!), sure he’s got a few corny moments of dialogue but he still manages to kick ass and be a decently-developed character that you’ll want to root for in the end and McConaughey dominates as the Man in Black, pretty much a take on the Devil and he is just enjoying every minute of his performance and I’m still debating whether or not he’s intimidating or ridiculous, either way he’s a win.
I just wish the story could make just as much of an impression as its two leads because there is definitely some good things in here except they’re bombarded with a lot of bad stuff. It’s not a very good movie, is it one of the absolute worst I’ve seen all year? Not even close, I sat through crap like Rings, Transformers: The Last Knight, and The Emoji Movie this year and trust me this is Schindler’s List compared to those.
If you’re a fan of Stephen King, Idris Elba, and/or Matthew McConaughey then maybe you’ll find something to enjoy in The Dark Tower. But if you’re looking for something good to see this weekend go see Detroit or An Inconvenient Sequel.
Read the full review here: https://moviewatchinpsychopath.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-emoji-movie-review.html
GENERIC SPY FILM STORYTELLING BUT IS QUICKLY MADE UP FOR WITH SOME THRILLING ACTION SEQUENCES AND A SOLID CHARLIZE THERON PERFORMANCE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Charlize Theron as Lorraine in Atomic Blonde
From director, David Leitch (John Wick, No Good Deed, Deadpool 2) comes Atomic Blonde, a John Wick-esque spy thriller based on the 2012 graphic novel, The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. I’m convinced that Charlize Theron (Monster, Prometheus, Mad Max: Fury Road) and James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men franchise, Split) can do no wrong in their performances even if the movie ends up being standard or bad.
This is not at all a bad film but in terms of story it’s typical spy movie fare, if you’ve ever seen a spy movie before then you’ve pretty much already seen this movie…at least from a narrative perspective. The film immediately makes up for it with some of the best and wildest action sequences I’ve seen all year and I had already seen John Wick: Chapter 2, Baby Driver, and The Fate of the Furious.
Set in 1989 on the eve of the tearing of the Wall that ended the Cold War, the film follows a top-level spy for MI6 named Lorraine Broughton (Theron) who is dispatched to Berlin and ordered to cooperate with station chief, David Percival (McAvoy). The two of them form an uneasy alliance and unleash their full arsenal of skills and weaponry to obtain a device containing the names of every active field agent in the Soviet Union codenamed the List from a ruthless Russian-German billionaire arms dealer and leader of an espionage ring.
The film also stars John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Kong: Skull Island) as CIA agent, Emmett Kurzfeld, Til Schweiger (The Replacement Killers, Driven, Muppets Most Wanted) as The Watchmaker, Eddie Marsan (21 Grams, Mission: Impossible III, V for Vendetta) as Spyglass, Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Trek: Beyond, The Mummy (2017)) as Delphine Lasalle, Toby Jones (Harry Potter franchise, The Hunger Games 1 and 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as Eric Gray, Bill Skarsgård (Kenny Begins, Anna Karenina, The Divergent Series: Allegiant) as Merkel, James Faulkner (Bridget Jones trilogy, Hitman, X-Men: First Class) as Chief C, and Roland Moller (A Hijacking, The Shamer’s Daughter, Land of Mine) as Aleksander Bremovych.
Overall, Atomic Blonde is exciting and fun when it’s needed to be but it doesn’t quite offer a plot worthy of its badass protagonist. I was able to predict exactly what was going to happen, who would be killed, and where certain scenes were going as the film was progressing because…well, I’ve seen these movies many times before.
But with that said when the action gets going it’ll leave you on the edge of your seat, which is understandable because it’s from the same director who gave us John Wick. Bloody fist-fights, gun battles, car chases, and even a brutal stairway brawl (watch Daredevil much?) if the story was as amazing as the action and Theron’s character this could have been on par with both John Wick movies.
Theron and McAvoy pretty much make the movie, however some of the supporting cast members are pretty forgettable. Goodman is fine but he’s really just doing his new threatening persona type character that he’s already used in both 10 Cloverfield Lane and Kong: Skull Island, Boutella’s pretty forgettable here as undercover French agent, Delphine and the chick who played Gazelle in Kingsman shouldn’t be forgotten about, and Roland Moller doesn’t make much of an impression as the film’s villain, nobody in this is bad but the movie could use stronger character development.
Atomic Blonde is worth watching just for the action, Theron, and McAvoy, the story is just a generic spy film but with some badass and imaginative action sequences. It’s no John Wick or Matrix but it’s a serviceable spy action film with one Hell of a lead.
Read the full review here: https://moviewatchinpsychopath.blogspot.com/2017/07/dunkirk-review.html
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS:
DAZZLING AND LEADS TO CAMPY DUMB FUN, BUT MOSTLY FORGETTABLE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** ½ out of 4
Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Lucy) returns to his campy sci-fi roots that helped make The Fifth Element a cult classic with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, based on the Valerian and Laureline comic book series by Pierre Christin. I have never read the comic it was based on but when you really think about it this is a sci-fi movie based on a comic that I’m sure not very many people have heard of and it’s coming out during a summer where Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming are the major releases in the comic book movie genre…doesn’t quite shock me that it’s not performing well.
Not to say it’s horrible but it is undeniably stupid with a really campy tone, visual eye candy everywhere, and corny dialogue and silly moments all throughout the film. Imagine The Fifth Element except even dumber and minus the memorable characters, that’s pretty much this movie and chances are you’ll forget about it a few hours later.
Set in the 28th century the film follows Valerian (Dane DeHaan-Chronicle, Lincoln, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne-Anna Karenina, Paper Towns, Suicide Squad) who are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories of the universe. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense the two of them embark on a mission to Alpha, The City of a Thousand Planets where species from all over the universe live together for centuries to share knowledge.
However, there is a dark force at the center of Alpha which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify a menace responsible for causing an intergalactic war and safeguard not just Alpha but the entire universe.
The film also stars Clive Owen (Sin City, Shoot ‘Em Up, The International) as Arun Filitt, Rihanna (Bring it On: All or Nothing, Battleship, Home) as the voice of Bubble, Ethan Hawke (Before Sunset/Midnight, The Purge, Boyhood) as Jolly the Pimp, Herbie Hancock (Round Midnight, Miles Ahead, River of Gold) as Defence Minister, Kris Wu (Mr. Six, The Mermaid, XXX: Return of Xander Cage) as Captain Neza, John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, Transformers 4 and 5, 10 Cloverfield Lane) as the voice of Igon Siruss, and Sam Spruell (K-19: The Widowmaker, Defiance, The Hurt Locker) as General Okto Bar.
Overall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets delivers exactly what it advertises, a campy, dumb sci-fi adventure that is sure to please sci-fi geeks and people looking for something stupid to make fun of because this movie is filled with weird moments worthy of unintentional laughter. However, the film doesn’t offer much new to the genre aside from some imaginative worlds and alien designs.
I will say the visuals for the most part is spectacular and fueled on imagination, but there are times where the effects are on par with a Star Wars prequel and they come off as looking fake and unconvincing that they’re really there. If this movie came out in the late 90s or early 2000s those dated effects may have looked more impressive at first but after seeing War for the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 this summer they look about as impressive as PlayStation 2 game graphics, not a good sign for a 2010s movie outside of laughing at how bad some of the effects are.
Something I could not get into is the chemistry between the two main characters, specifically DeHaan as Valerian. I’ve seen Dane DeHaan in good movies before and even enjoyed his eerie Harry Osborn portrayal in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but I found his character to be incredibly obnoxious and unlikable and all he does is act like a smart-ass and bicker with Delevingne’s character all throughout the movie, it’s like a sci-fi version of The Legend of Zelda cartoon or Mad About You, not once did I care whether or not they would end up together by the end of the film and your either laughing unintentionally or sitting there bored and waiting for the next action sequence.
Also, the movie really fails at comedy, the unintentional stuff is funny but when it tries to be funny it’s pretty painful. The jokes and humor fall flat and feel very forced in their execution and some of them are bad enough to make you cringe *ahem* Taken reference.
Plot wise Valerian is pretty bad and is pretty much a rehash of much better sci-fi films minus the memorable characters. Films like Star Wars, The Fifth Element, Guardians of the Galaxy, you name it. Even some of the creatures look like they were ripped off from other movies like an obese alien creature who’s always eating and nearly tries to sacrifice Laureline looks like a Jabba the Hutt knockoff and another race of aliens look like bald, albino Avatars.
So yeah, it’s stupid but it does have fun with its stupidity and hopefully it should satisfy you for one viewing. I can’t say it’ll satisfy everyone, it’s not even close to being a good movie but it’s at least a fun dumb movie you can turn your brain off to, get high with your friends, and laugh away…and then forget about it when it’s over, if this is your cup of tea then game on, if not don’t even consider buying a ticket for it, see Dunkirkinstead.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES:
THESE “APES” GO OUT ON A SERIOUS HIGH NOTE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: **** out of 4
20TH CENTURY FOX
Andy Serkis is back as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes
Motion capture wizard, Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong(2005), Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director, Matt Reeves (Felicity, Cloverfield, Let Me In) return in the third installment of the rebooted Planet of the Apes film series, War for the Planet of the Apes. This new series of Ape films have been a thrilling experience from beginning to end, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes breathed new life into a dead franchise after the dreaded Tim Burton remake from 2001, and 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes expanded on the first film’s story and delivered a grittier and darker sequel that managed to surpass its predecessor.
Now I can say with all seriousness that War for the Planet of the Apes is the Return of the King and Bourne Ultimatum of Ape movies. That’s right, it’s the best in the series and quite possibly the best Planet of the Apes movie since the original 1968 Charlton Heston classic.
While the film has its moments of dazzling visuals and thrilling action, it is not the most action-packed installment or even a fun movie. War for the Planet of the Apes is pretty much the equivalent of an Ape-casted Academy Award® nominated drama type of movie that really cranks up the grim tone from the last movie, heavily character focused, and at times it can get pretty intense.
The film follows genetically enhanced ape Caesar (Serkis) and his clan at war with a human military faction called the Alpha-Omega led by a ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson-Zombieland, The Hunger Gamesfranchise, Now You See Me). Caesar offers the human peace if they leave his apes alone, but it turns out the former ape followers of the deceased, Koba have joined the Alpha-Omega after being disillusioned by Caesar’s leadership.
After the apes suffered many losses at the hands of the humans, Caesar battles with his darker instinct and begins his next quest to avenge his kind. Caesar eventually comes face to face with the Colonel and the two of them are pitted against each other in a battle to determine the fate of their species and the future of the entire planet.
The film also stars Steve Zahn (Happy, Texas, Stuart Little 1 and 2, Captain Fantastic) as Bad Ape, Karin Konoval (Supernatural, 2012, Tower Prep) as Maurice, Terry Notary (The Cabin in the Woods, The Hobbit trilogy, Kong: Skull Island) as Rocket, Ty Olsson (X2: X-Men United, 2012, Godzilla (2014)) as Red, Judy Greer (Archer, Jurassic World, Ant-Man) as Cornelia, Devyn Dalton (A Fairly Odd Christmas, Legion) as Cornelius, Sara Canning (Slap Shot 3: The Junior League, The Vampire Diaries, Remedy) as Lake, Michael Adamthwaite (X-Men: Evolution, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) as Luca, Aleks Paunovic (Arctic Air, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, iZombie) as Winter, Alessandro Juliani (X-Men: Evolution, Battlestar Galactica, Death Note) as Spear, and newcomer, Amiah Miller as Nova.
Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is a thrilling yet poignant final installment of a reboot trilogy that was probably a lot better than what it had the right to be. Seriously, I’m still shocked they were able to reboot something as iconic and nostalgic as Planet of the Apes and somehow make it work.
Thanks to some groundbreaking motion capture effects, clever writing, strong characters, and a film crew that understood the source material just enough to make something different out of it without rehashing the same old stuff because people liked it before, these movies completely surpassed my expectations each and every time and with a few callbacks to the original film they made me remember how much I enjoyed the 1968 classic. The effects in the last two films were very impressive but the motion capture in this one is Oscar worthy, not just Serkis’ performance but the animation on Caesar and the apes are so good I almost forgot I was looking at computer animated apes, now that’s how you do CGI correctly.
What I really appreciate about this movie is that despite having impressive visual effects and action scenes, they don’t overshadow the story and characters. The story is definitely darker than its predecessors and at times reflect real-life events such as World War II Nazi concentration camps and slavery and is more character focused than action-packed and honestly, I think that’s for the best.
Don’t get me wrong the action sequences are spectacular but what really makes this movie shine are its characters and themes. Despite the conflict with humans, Caesar isn’t made out to be the bad guy but he doesn’t want anything to happen to the apes even if it involves battling humans to keep his clan safe.
Maurice is a much more developed character in this film and even has a side-plot involving him adopting a young orphan human girl and starting an inseparable bond with her. He might actually be my favorite character in the new movies besides Caesar and Maurice doesn’t even talk much in these films.
War for the Planet of the Apes definitely feels more realistic than any of the other Planet of the Apesmovies and it manages to tackle themes of prejudice and war without making both sides human. It’s a great sci-fi movie but it’s an even better war drama and a satisfying conclusion to the 2011 Planet of the Apes franchise, if you’re a fan of the new series or the Planet of the Apes saga as a whole this is a “War” not to be missed.
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