Category Archives: Movie Review

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Movie Review – Forrest Gump

Category : Movie Review

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise

Year: 1994

Forrest Gump is one of those films that, if you don’t love it, you don’t have a soul.  Winner of six Oscars, nominated for seven more, and currently sitting at #13 on IMDb’s list of the best movies ever released, it’s fair to say that this movie is something more than your standard drama, something beyond the normal critic’s fodder.  To not adore Forrest Gump would be akin to not wanting to pet a Beagle puppy when it looks at you with its big, sad eyes.  This is a special story, I think we can all agree, something that doesn’t come along very often and so should be cherished when it does.  I’m not asking you to put it on your list of all-time favorites, but, come on, let’s just agree that it’s amazing.

Forrest may not be a smart man, but he knows what love is.  Born with a low I.Q. and told all his life that he just isn’t normal, Forrest Gump, a boy raised by a single mother in Greenbow, Alabama, will somehow become a pivotal figure in our country’s history, or at least a witness to a great many enormous changes.  From a young age, Forrest was slow of mind but fast of feet, and he loved a local girl named Jenny, someone who needed to make her own, wild way far from the Southern home that damaged her.  Forrest would travel far as well; attending college, playing football, joining the army, shipping off to Vietnam, meeting a half-dozen Presidents, and experiencing all that multiple decades had to offer.  Along the way, he’d make friends that would last a lifetime; Bubba, Lieutenant Dan.  But he would never forget his Jenny and the love they had always known.

There’s a lot of good advice buried within the text of this film, none more poignant than, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”  Forrest’s life takes us to so maybe historic events, from Nixon to Elvis, and we get to see so much Americana along the way.  It really is a history lesson wrapped around a life lesson, and there’s no way you won’t learn something along the way.  Hanks is phenomenal as Gump, playing the part with a grace that’s unprecedented.  Wright as Jenny is fine, a great vehicle for Forrest’s love.  Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan will blow you away, as will Mykelti Williamson as Bubba, Sally Field as Mrs. Gump, and basically anyone else who pops up in this film.  The music is perfection, the era costumes & sets are great, and if you don’t well up just a little at some point during the story, you need to check your tear ducts.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Fire at Sea

Category : Movie Review

Director: Gianfranco Rosi

Starring: Samuele Pucillo, Pietro Bartolo, Giuseppe Fragapane

Year: 2016

Up for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars is Fire at Sea, a simple and unblinking look at the refugee crisis, specifically as it relates to a small Italian island and the people who live there.  That might sound intriguing, you might be intrigued, you might be saying to yourself, “now that sounds like a documentary I would watch, a relevant topic set against a beautiful locale, a humanitarian piece brought to light in a wonderful way.”  But you’d be dead wrong; this film has got to be the most boring documentary I have ever seen.  I know I’m a film critic, I should be able to find greatness in simplicity, but this is a bad movie from start to finish, something that puts to sleep instead of informs, which can’t help spread the message, I wouldn’t think.

The island of Lampedusa marks the front line in the refugee crisis, boatloads of terrified Africans streaming across in an attempt to leave war and famine behind.  Unsound, not supplied, and carrying too many passengers, these ships often sink, killing the women and children aboard, requiring rescue operations, and exemplifying the desperation of the people who would risk their lives to reach a better place.  Life goes on for those who call the island home, as the arrival of refugees becomes a part of the daily existence, and those who wish to help make these newcomers a part of their world.  This dot on the map serves as a microcosm for the greater problem, drawing our attention to a situation that might happen anywhere.

I’m not alone in this; watch this film before going to bed, that’s about all it’s good for.  I don’t mean to belittle the true story, it’s very important, but Rosi failed to bring it to life, killing any fervor in an attempt to become ultra-realistic.  He pans about with his cameras as if they were all stationary, set up with motion sensors hoping to capture something worthwhile.  This is not a joke, you can literally watch the movie at 3x speed and not miss a single thing.  Actually, you can still read the subtitles and the action seems like it’s finally moving at real speed, so fast forward away, watch it all in 35 minutes, save yourself some time.  Or, instead, read an article, donate to a cause, but skip this film, because it is very poorly-made, extremely boring, never captivating, and I have no idea why it’s up for an award of any kind.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Fifty Shades Darker

Category : Movie Review

Director: James Foley

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan

Year: 2017

How much you will enjoy the second installment of the Fifty Shades franchise comes down to how often you want to see Dakota Johnson’s nipples.  If the answer is “not much”, then you should probably steer clear.  If the answer is “for two hours straight”, then you’re in luck.  Fifty Shades Darker isn’t darker at all really, and it’s barely racy in the bondage/submission ways that caused so much stir when the books and films were released.  Rather, it’s a feature film full of Johnson’s naked body and the same, repetitive sex scene with the same, repetitive pop song turned into Music To Do It By.  I assume that everyone who goes to the theatre to see this film knows exactly what they’re getting; read the book, saw the first movie, aren’t going in with an open mind and a critical eye.  So let’s skip past the mincing of scenes and the study of characters, let’s get right to the meat of the plot, which is Ana & Christian, their kinky sex, their weird relationship, and their ability to make us watch even when we know what we’re watching isn’t that great.

This summary and this review might be laden with spoilers for those who haven’t seen the original film, which probably isn’t you since you’re reading this right now, but fair warning.  Since Anastasia left Christian, life has lost a bit of its sparkle.  She decided she couldn’t be with a man who could enjoy physically punishing others, so after trying to change him into the lover she wanted him to be and failing, Ana gave up on Mr. Grey.  Well, he won’t be gone long.  Immediately Christian attempts to win her back, promising to change forever, swearing that he doesn’t want to be dominant, he just wants to be with the woman he loves.  Ana quickly takes him back, and the two begin again to make this twisted relationship work.  But this time, there are outside forces; a jealous Sub who can’t let Grey go, an old flame who doesn’t think that Ms. Steele is good enough, a sexually aggressive boss who won’t take no for an answer, any of whom might destroy the fragile romance that our heroes have put all of their hope upon.

I actually liked Fifty Shades of Grey, which was a bit of a shocker; I hadn’t read the books, went in with extremely low expectations, knew the content would be borderline, and was completely outside of my usual genre and taste level.  The acting in this series isn’t great, the action is repetitive, the writing isn’t wonderful, but there are still positives to glean if you allow that this trashy style is a business all its own, that it won’t fit into other categories, and that it can be entertaining despite its low ceiling.  One big knock on the original was the abuse prevalent in the relationship, something that I just didn’t agree with; Ana changes Christian, she’s the one who experiments, she’s the one who says no, she’s the one who ultimately leaves.  And that’s not much of an issue here; this couple tries to make it work, they try to find common ground, there’s less ownership and more an attempt to be a regular girlfriend/boyfriend pair.

Fifty Shades Darker is almost a let down in its lack of button-pushing, leaving the Red Room behind and focusing instead on the love between the main characters, how they might make it to a happy ending.  There is still sex, as I noted, but this time it’s a bit more romantic with a kinky edge, not overbearing with an orgasm at the end.  And the plot is muted as well, in that, actually, not that much happens.  There are elements thrown in to build toward a finale, but you might be disappointed if you wait two hours for an action-packed climax.  Basically, the trailer makes the film seem more exciting than it is, and the only climaxes we see are Ana’s.  We see a lot of Dakota Johnson (‘s boobs), we see some attempts at character development from Christian, and the melodrama vamps up with some overacting, resulting in a bit of a soap opera feel, but not one that will shock anybody who sat through the first.  Inexplicably, and judging by my usual harsh critique of acting, these movies just don’t draw my ire, don’t bother me, and can be fun to watch.  Maybe it’s because of the naked people, maybe it’s because I expect zero quality, or maybe they’ve just become a guilty pleasure.  But whatever the reason, and although Fifty 2 is a bit of a step down from Fifty 1, I still find myself unable to warn others away from this smutty series.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Review – V for Vendetta

Category : Movie Review

Director: James McTeigue

Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, John Hurt

Year: 2005

Acting is the most important aspect of a film to me.  It’s the first part of the entire pie that I notice, it has the most effect on my enjoyment of the story, and it can make or break a movie once I put on my critic’s hat.  B-movies sometimes get a pass, other aspects of a film can blow away everything else, there are, of course, exceptions, but acting plays the biggest role when I sit down to review a film, and the acting in V for Vendetta, at least by the lead character, was so distractingly terrible that any strong/impressive/fascinating facets were pushed to the side.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Natalie Portman, I loved her in Black Swan, I think she’s deserving of an Oscar for Jackie, I just also can’t believe how badly she played the protagonist in V and how little she added to what otherwise could have been a fine, dystopic, graphic novel-style flick, that for some reason still gets extremely high overall ratings, despite its one major flaw.

In the near future, Britain will isolate itself off from the rest of the world.  After a war, the collapse of the United States, and a rampant virus, the borders are closed, refugees and those of other religions are sent off, homosexuals are considered abhorrent, differences of every kind are prohibited, and a totalitarian government rises to power in order to “keep England safe.”  It works, the crisis blows by, but at what cost, and will individual rights ever be given back to the people?  One man makes it his life’s work to make sure that they are, and he won’t be promoting peaceful protest.  This masked man calls himself ‘V’, wears a Guy Fawkes mask, and vows to not only blow up Parliament, but to dismantle the entire system.  Working with him, unwillingly at first, is the beautiful young Evey, a rebel at heart but someone who has given up hope of a better world, at least until now.

The message this movie sends is terrifying, made all the more scary by recent events around the world; Brexit, Trump, etc.  Closing the borders, doubling down on white nationalism, driving fear into the hearts of citizens until your protection is the only thing they can count on; it’s a recipe for disaster, or at least the complete annihilation of freedom as we know it.  In a complex world, there is a balance between safety and humanity, one we are constantly trying to find, but we can do it without a dictator.  On that level, with that message, this film has a lot to say and should be heard.  Then there’s the comic book element, the larger-than-life hero, the knife fights, the bombs; all of that is very cool.  But what undermines all the positives is Portman, who I thought couldn’t be worse in this role.  Her accent, her demeanor, her lines; she was as believable as a high schooler pretending to be an English damsel.  Shaving your head doesn’t instantly make you perfect for the part, and her performance really let me down, as I was expecting so much more.  If acting isn’t the end all, be all to you, if you can get past that hiccup, then the rest of the film is strong enough to recommend.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Halloween (2007)

Category : Movie Review

Director: Rob Zombie

Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane

Year: 2007

The Halloween franchise may be an untouchable horror hallmark, but Rob Zombie dared to reboot the series in 2007, then came in again with a sequel in 2009.  The first was fairly well received, for a slasher flick remake anyway, although the second was a bit of an embarrassment.  Zombie stopped there, but perhaps he at least rekindled some love for the 70s/80s icons and got us talking about Michael Myers again, so it wasn’t a complete loss.  For my money, the remake is just slightly better than the original, bringing us much of the same content, but in a revamped style that at least fits the current times.  Diehard fans might not be interested in seeing their cult classic redone, but if someone was going to do it, I think Zombie was the man, and he at least did the film justice.

A very disturbed and ill-treated little boy named Michael is about to make anyone who has ever done him wrong pay with their very lives.  He begins by killing small animals, then a bully from his school, then his family in their home, a massacre that sees him sent to a mental institution for fifteen years.  Now a young man, Michael escapes from lockdown to return to his origins, to find the sister he left behind, to seek revenge, and to kill anyone who gets in his way.  Meanwhile, high schooler Laurie goes along with her Halloween plans, including babysitting and hanging out with friends, never knowing that her insane brother is on the rampage, never suspected what kind of killer is lurking right outside her door.

The plot of the 2007 film stays pretty close to that of the 1978, but it’s hard to predict whether that will make aficionados excited or angry.  As someone who enjoys some horror but doesn’t have a huge place in my heart for this franchise, I thought it was nice to see the same story modernized.  It doesn’t come across as a ripoff, it seems more like homage, including the use of the classic music and key scenes.  We still get death by knife, co-ed sex, hyper psychiatrists, and trick-or-treat terror, so I’d say that’s a win.  McDowell as Dr. Loomis is a welcome sight, and I think that the film as a whole delivers on respecting the original without butchering it, while at the same time adding a little Rob Zombie flare to the mood.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Cold Mountain

Category : Movie Review

Director: Anthony Minghella

Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger

Year: 2003

From 1999 to 2004, Jude Law was an unstoppable force and Hollywood’s leading heartthrob.  The Talented Mr. Ripley, Enemy at the Gates, AI, Road to Perdition, Cold Mountain, I Heart Huckabees, Sky Captain, Alfie, Closer; he just pumped out the hits, and if not every single choice was an incredible success, I remember just how huge a deal Law was, and just how his name connected to a film was enough to make everyone run to the theatre to see it.  Out of those from that era, Enemy at the Gates is my personal favorite, that movie just does something to me, but they were all impactful as 21st century film began.  Come to think of it, Kidman & Zellweger were in their prime as well, creating a trio for this movie that can’t be denied and ought not be forgotten.

As the Civil War descended upon Cold Mountain, North Carolina, not a single life escaped unaffected.  Ada Monroe and her father the reverend had just come from a glamorous life in Charleston to a simple one in the hills, but the people there greeted them with open arms.  Inman, a hard worker if not the most talkative young man, took a shine to Ada at once, and the two seemed on their way to an unlikely romance.  But war broke out, able-bodied men signed up, and Inman was off to fight for rich men he had never met and ideals he didn’t share.  Although they didn’t know each other well, those fleeting moments on Cold Mountain would stay with the couple, and after a wound took him out of action, Inman would vow to return to the woman he loved, no matter what tried to stop him along the way.  Ada had her problems back at home, but she never stopped writing to her man, nor did she ever give up hope that someday he would return to her.

It’s a beautiful romance above all else, with a poetic charm to the story that really brings the book to life.  I’ve read it, it’s quite good, and both the sadness & the hope that was written there truly comes to life in this film.  Ada & Inman are star-crossed lovers in a way, though they’d hardly spoken a dozen words before they were parted.  Their story is the story of a land torn in half, battling against itself for very little reason.  There isn’t much war in the film, actually, though there is plenty of vicious action along Inman’s journey back to Cold Mountain, a trip that introduces us to a hundred loathsome characters.  That’s actually a major highlight of this movie, the amount of impressive cameos packed into an epic timeline: Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone, Kathy Baker, Charlie Hunnam, Jack White, Ethan Suplee, Jena Malone, Taryn Manning.  All these quality actors, some great original music, a landscape to die for, awards galore; Cold Mountain is a pillar of its genre and a film that should be respected.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Revenge of the Nerds

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jeff Kanew

Starring: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Ted McGinley

Year: 1984

There aren’t too many cult classics that reach the same level as Revenge of the Nerds.  Although, really, there aren’t too many movies that compare to Nerds in any way, as it’s a priceless gem of a film on a pedestal all its own.  At least I think so, if most major critics do not.  Its Metascore on IMDb is 4/10, writers from large newspapers like The New York Times finding it devoid of comedy.  But that’s the wonderful thing about Nerds to me; the fact that it can not be funny and still be hilarious, not be PC and still make a poignant point, not be about the beautiful collegiates and still come across of insanely lovable.  Some people like Animal House, some people like Porky’s, but for my money, Revenge of the Nerds is the scrappy school chum classic to watch and to adore.

Best friends and computer nerds Lewis & Gilbert are off to Adams College, home of the Atoms, as they embark upon their journey to manhood.  This pair of awkward intellectuals don’t know how to talk to girls, how to join a fraternity, how to avoid the jocks, but they’ll learn, or else they’ll humiliate themselves trying.  After losing their freshman housing to the Alpha Betas, a brotherhood of football players, the dorks are forced to live in the gym until other lodging can be found.  Well, that’s no good, so they set out to fix the situation themselves, renting a dilapidated house that just might make a good frat headquarters.  First, they’ll need a Greek organization to sponsor them, then they’ll need to win the Homecoming Carnival in order to get their foot in the door of the council.  But jocks hate nerds, they fight back, and Adams College will never be the same.

Carradine & Edwards as Lewis & Gilbert are about the most adorable duo of nerds you’ll ever see.  They like robots, pocket protectors, and dumb jokes, but they both have hearts of gold, something that shouldn’t be dismissed as a reason to dig this movie.  Another reason is the rest of the nerds, a hodge-podge of misfits from a child genius to a clueless violin player.  The Tri-Lams are all of us, in a way, as are their sisters the Mus, giving everyone something to relate to.  Then there’s the Carnival, which is the highlight of the film, how our heroes attempt to win against the unbeatable Alpha Betas.  A classic David v. Goliath story, yes it’s simple but it’s also wonderfully meaningful.  Throw in some co-ed boobs, some douche & jockstrap jokes, and some Asian humor that wouldn’t fly today, and you’ve got yourself a surprising winner, a film that has become a cult hit and actually deserves it.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – John Wick: Chapter 2

Category : Movie Review

Director: Chad Stahelski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane

Year: 2017

John Wick was such a mini-phenomenon simply because it was incredible, and in a very literal sense.  It was hard to credit, this out-of-nowhere action flick that felt a little like a first-person shooter, featured a hundred exploding heads, and starred one of the worst actors in all of Hollywood.  Basically, it shouldn’t have worked on any level, with its lead male sucking, its genre tired, and its body count enormously high.  That it did speaks to the fact that there are still ways to make action movies original and to make them work.  Just ask George Miller I guess, though he went down an extremely divergent path and already had a solid fan base to rely on.  Chad Stahelski didn’t, and he was a first-time director to boot, which makes his successful film all the more impressive.  That it garnered a sequel isn’t a shocker, nor is that Chapter 2 works almost as well, if not quite so bolstered by the element of surprise.

The legendary Boogeyman John Wick tried to retire, but he was pulled back in, the result being a lot of dead people.  Wick is a killer for hire, and doesn’t like to be messed with when he decides to hang up the gloves, or bury the guns, as it were.  Having punished those who riled him up last time, John is ready to re-retire, but once again the assassin’s game won’t let him go so easily.  An old debt is called upon, and Wick must answer, or forfeit his life.  The mission; to kill the sister of a prominent figure in the underground world of power that runs the world, or at least the world’s violence.  Kill her, avoid dying, and return to his vacation; that’s all John has to do.  But there are more players in the game, more at stake than one simple kill, and taking someone’s life is never as easy as it sounds.

I’m sure I’ve talked enough about the original, but it’s worth mentioned how little any of us expected it to be good, and how many of us walked away entirely pleased by what we had just witnessed.  It was surprising, it was fun, it was over-the-top, it was darkly humorous, and it was jam-packed with the kind of action that we don’t like to admit we like, but that we are seriously willing to love if someone can just do it justice.  Almost no one ever does, that’s why the action genre as a whole is ridiculed among critics.  But, in our defense, we are ready to enjoy a good action extravaganza when one is done right, and John Wick was done quite right indeed.  Its sequel need only have followed in its footsteps in order to succeed, something it does very well, to the point of copying perhaps, but as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Chapter 2 starts with a bang and rarely looks back, though a few lagging moments attempt to make the story deeper than it needs to be, to its partial detriment.  Wick is more somber, less driven, and so the pace suffers a smidge, but not so as to drag down the fun.  No, there are still thrills to be had, you only have to sit back and enjoy them.  Awesome firefights, chops to the neck galore, head shots around every corner, pencils used as weapons; if gore and battle are what you want, you will not be disappointed.  Reeves seems tailor-made for this role, a character that doesn’t require a large amount of emotion or, really, talent, which falls right into his wheelhouse.  I wish Ruby Rose and Common hadn’t had major parts though; they’re seriously no good, and cheapened the entire film.  But Reeves held it up, our hero is someone that we’d follow into any desperate situation, and this film franchise isn’t going anywhere.  A third will be rolling our way soon, and even though the second isn’t quite as good as the first, I’m still excited to see what Wick will get up to and who will have their ears blown off next.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie

Category : Movie Review

Director: Chris McKay

Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson

Year: 2017

The Lego Movie was a surprise hit, one of the best animated films of 2014.  Almost exactly three years later, we are treated to a second installment, and although the success of the film won’t be a surprise this time, the enjoyment we receive from watching Lego come to life will be comparable.  Under a different director and not recycling any of the old characters (except, of course, the Dark Knight himself, and a few other DC heroes in short cameo form), The Lego Batman Movie brings audiences want they want in plastic action and prat falls, but delivers some original content as well, crafting a new story around a new set of larger-than-life personalities.  The second never really had a chance to surpass the first, since the element of surprise is gone, but it sure comes close, and should leave audiences thoroughly entertained, at the very least.

Bruce Wayne, the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, the World’s Greatest Detective, Batman; the man is somehow bigger than his legend.  He is loved throughout Gotham City, the crime capital of the world, and never rests when the people he selflessly protects need saving.  But when the job is done, Bruce goes home to his Batcave with only his loyal butler Alfred for company, haunted by both the fear of being alone and the fear of loving something that can be taken away so easily.  Adopting an orphan named Dick is his first step toward having a family again, but the Joker might destroy the world before that happens, so, really, what’s the point.  Batman’s arch nemesis wants to reach the Phantom Zone, where all the villains of history are locked away, so that he can unleash their combined terror on Gotham.  Bruce will have to face his fears and learn some teamwork, because this time, he can’t save the day all by himself.

If you enjoyed the original, you’ll enjoy the “sequel”.  The same style of animation is brought to the screen, the same Master Builder techniques to create Lego creations that you’ve never seen before, the same silly humor that honors the word ‘butt’ like comedic gold.  It’s a little juvenile at times, but then again so is Lego, and so was the first film.  We love it all anyway because we’re kids at heart, or we refuse to grow up, you choose in which way you want to frame it.  Both children and adults can & will enjoy this film, and there’s nothing wrong with laughing a while at jokes that probably really aren’t that funny.  You’ll get a kick out of the voices too, as the whole cast is one giant list of name actors: Arnett, Cera, Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoe Kravitz, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, Mariah Carey, Brent Musberger.  It’s a little ridiculous, but it fits.

And perhaps that brings me to a slight negative, which is difficult to pinpoint, because so much of the enjoyment of the film is derived from how insane the characters, the cast, the lines, and the action all are.  But that insanity can get a little out of control, and that might be the film’s biggest flaw, as it is its biggest asset at the same time.  From the very beginning, black Lego pieces explode in you face and very rarely stop.  It’s one giant action sequence, with Arnett’s bass voice becoming a bit of a drone.  There are also too many villains, including every single evil soul ever written or filmed; Godzilla, King Kong, the Wicked Witch, her flying monkeys, gremlins, Sauron, Voldemort.  It’s hard to keep focused on any individual bad guy, especially when every DC villain ever imagined appears as well, including many that were either made up or are just plain loco.  The film needed reining it just a tad, and for that, and for the fact that it can’t possibly delight us as much as the original did, I’d say it lands just short of the quality of the first one, but will still be loved by many.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Review – Rush

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde

Year: 2013

Could two famous people possibly look more like two other, unrelated famous people?  To me, that’s the highlight of Rush, how much these two lead actors look like their real life counterparts, to the point that it’s unsettling.  Hemsworth plays the gold boy, James Hunt, Bruhl is Niki Lauda, the cold professional, and the two pull off a film almost completely by relying on their unmatched similarities.  Hunt died at a young age of a heart attack, Lauda is still alive today, and I wonder how in depth these two actors studied the true events, the actual people, because they succeeded in nailing the biography aspect of this film.  For the rest, Ron Howard cheese is Ron Howard cheese, and you either love it or you don’t.

This is the real, larger-than-life story of two racing legends and their epic battle with one another in a sport where each lap is a life-or-death affair.  Niki Lauda of Austria and Jame Hunt of Britain were both young drivers starting in the lower levels of Formula 3 but inching their way closer to Formula 1, the races that the whole world watched.  In the 70s, and once they both cemented their places with Ferrari and Marboro, respectively, there was no sports rivalry more compelling than that between Lauda & Hunt, a bitter battle that took place on the track, where each point was vital to a championship that always seemed to come down to these two men.  But when a terrifying accident derailed a career, would the rivalry ever be resurrected, or would the love of racing die?

It really is incredible how much these guys actually look like their characters, especially Bruhl, and they both do a phenomenal job of bringing this historic competition to life.  Bruhl, on top of looking like Lauda, is a great actor; I’ve watched him in a dozen movies and it seems like he gets better with every role.  Hemsworth is the hunk who plays Thor, which is perfect for this part, but he has the talent to pull it off as well, he’s not just a pretty face.  The film itself is a bit sappy and predictable (real events aside), which shouldn’t be surprising given that Howard is the director.  He had his successes in the 80s & 90s, won an Oscar for Beautiful Mind in 2001, but hasn’t done great things since, and has always been a filmmaker who relies on older audiences and those who don’t mind a few obvious constructs.  That said, Rush is still an enjoyable movie, a great time capsule, I just wouldn’t want to stand it all alone and pick it apart; it wouldn’t stay upright for long.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆