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Justice League (2017)
Justice League (2017)
I was of the camp that thought Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, wasn't good but wasn't terrible either. With Wonder Woman coming out earlier this year and being a very fun time, you would have hoped the DC Extended Universe would get on track and continue to impress with Justice League. Warning signs were that the film somehow managed to look worse with every new trailer but I gave the film the benefit of the doubt. Yeah, this thing sucks.
An ancient super being named Steppenwolf is trying to collect mother boxes to destroy the Earth and its up to a group of superheroes to band and unite to contain the threat. Batman and Wonder Woman attempt to recruit a hero of the sea (Aquaman), a cybernetically reconstructed former athlete (Cyborg), and an awkward kid who is very, very fast (Flash). Oh yeah, worst keep secret ever as well they also attempt to revive the recently fallen Superman.
Here are some of the positives. I didn't have any problems with any of the casting choices. I obviously love Gadot as Wonder Woman, as she fully embodies the character. Affleck as Batman is solid. Momoa has a bad ass warrior look that works for Aquaman, and the comedic timing of Ezra Miller as Flash works. Actually Flash's fresh humor in this DCEU effort is actually the other strong point of this film. You would think that this film would be able to do a decent job of uniting DC's most popular characters but it really doesn't do a satisfying job of it.
Justice League is one of the most expensive films ever made. Its hard to believe because the graphics look choppy and messy. Its almost as if parts of the graphics look like they were taken out of a video game. The battles also look fake because they are over done with graphics and it really looks ugly. Steppenwolf is a very generic villain, looks too computerized and isn't built well at all. The dialogue is horrendous sometimes. Some of the humor (mostly from Flash) works but the other moment's fall so flat. In contrast to BVS, Ben Affleck looked like he was just going through the motions.
The film had a shorter running length than expected but it still felt too long. The exposition of some characters feels wasted at times, and other times you feel like they spend the wrong moments trying to just throw the characters in. It could have used much better writing. There were times were I was bored out of my mind. The action scenes are fairly grand but nothing epic (compare that to what we get in Thor: Ragnarok). I really back Snyder leaving the DCEU because this is a straight second misfire for him. It's unfortunate to say I have no interest in any film in this Universe aside from Wonder Woman 2.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
The Lobster definitely took my by surprise in 2015. Everything about that film appealed to me. From Colin Farrell's dead delivery, to the creative and completely absurd nature of storytelling. So when I heard about Yorgos Lanthimos making another film with Farrell involved, I was game. I went in completely blind; not knowing a single thing about the film. While not as strong as the Lobster, the film is unique in its own right and is one that still leaves an imprint.
The film is about Steven Murphy (Farrell) a surgeon who seems to be involved with a boy named Martin. Their relationship is weird and we don't really know what to think until we find out the vengeful reason for their acquaintance. Martin's father died on the operating table due to Murphy's negligence and in return he must kill one member of his family or face the consequence of the death of his wife and two kids all together. His family go through three stages; paralysis in the legs, extreme loss of appetite, and then bleeding from the eyes which results in death.
As you can tell, the plot is fairly absurd, rivaling itself with that of The Lobster. The dialogue delivery has that similar monotone, deadpan nature as that of The Lobster. The score is overbearing and jarring at times. The film is dark and yet gorgeously filmed. The dialogue and a few of the characters are idiosyncratic and thus you can find bits of humor in some of the situations.
Lanthimos brings forth another wild, weird, and creative entity. I don't think its as strong as The Lobster was but its still nice to see how things unfold in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The running time for the film is quite long which stunts some of the plot development and pads but it doesn't detract too much from the film.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
I remember enjoying Sidney Lumet's original adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel. It felt long, but was thoroughly entertaining. The remake had me slightly intrigued. Mostly because it had a really good cast to boot. I'm not the biggest fan of Kenneth Branagh's directional efforts, though I quite liked the live action Cinderella remake. With this film, we have a rather dull and uninspiring effort that does little to warrant its creation. It looks nice but feels like a wasted effort.
The film follows "the greatest detective in the world" Hercule Poirot as he is stranded on a train with other passengers. One night a murder occurs as one of the passengers is stabbed to death. It is up to Poirot to find out who committed the crime, while realizing the passengers on the train may not be as random and innocent as they seem. Branagh both directs and takes the lead role of Poirot in the film.
That's kind of where the problem lies. Branagh as Poirot takes center stage, and its a little too centered. There is a real talented cast here, that is not much more than background characters with limited material. Judi Dench is in the film and is rarely involved with screen time. I think Branagh is good as Poirot but the film kind of plods along and doesn't garner enough interest or shock as it goes along. The film feels like it just states the plot without delivering it for the audience.
The film remains quite faithful to the novel and is closely similar to Lumet's adaptation. I wanted more liberties taken to provide for a worthy and innovative adaptation but I can understand why it isn't that way. The film does not make use of its potential, and is an inferior adaptation of the novel. The visuals and picture is prim and proper but the film derails along the way which is unfortunate.
Daddy's Home 2 (2017)
Daddys Home 2 (2017)
I loved the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg pairing in The Other Guys. It was honestly one of the funniest comedies of this past decade. The actors have good chemistry and can play off each other well. I didn't love the first Daddy's Home, but the film had enough decent comedic moments to keep me interested in a sequel, especially with the addition of MAD Mel Gibson and John Lithgow. Overall, its what you'd expect from the film, not overly memorable and gets lost along the way but it offers comedic moments and a good time.
It's holiday season and both Brad and Dusty are co-parenting their kids and seem to have found a common ground. Enter Both their dads (played by Gibson and Lithgow). This sudden shakeup provides to be a test for them and their families as they explore problems and try to find ways to have an awesome Christmas despite all the trials and shenanigans that now present themselves. Mel Gibson is not in many films these days so this was a pretty rare appearance for him. Also, we have more John Cena.
I feel like the jokes are at times predictable, however some of them are able to land. Its a film that didn't need a sequel especially a predominantly holiday themed film. Lithgow and Gibson and more Cena is nice, but you can't help but feel they needed better material and are wasted a bit in the film. The film can't help but feel formulaic at a time where a creative approach to a holiday comedy would have worked better. Its more or less on the level of the recent A Bad Mom's Christmas.
The film gets distracted with its Christmas theme and holiday shenanigans that at times it is at the expense of comedy. I think the film had the cast and makings of a better comedy but a bit of the potential is wasted. Don't get me wrong, its funny it just could have been much more with the talent at its disposal. Still overall, it makes for a decent viewing experience during this time of year.
A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)
A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)
If you've seen Bad Moms, you'll remember it to be a mediocre effort with a few laughs here and there. Well that film not only gets a sequel, but one that is more festive themed. The film came quick and a little out of nowhere, though I was interested how the film would fare with its holiday theme. I like raunchy holiday films, they can be a lot of fun. Or completely terrible. A Bad Moms Christmas kind of falls in between the two. Its not really an improvement over the first but does enough to be a time killer with a few laughs.
Our three lead moms are back but this time its almost time for Christmas and the moms of the moms all drop by. There are character flaws in all of the mothers. Whether it be abandonment, too much attachment, or a resounding coldness the moms and their daughters do not see eye to eye. A bit of chaos ensues as the character try to find a way to co-exist and come together for the holidays. That plot summary must have sounded confusing as hell. Its a rather simple plot though, not overly original but sufficient for what the film offers.
The film has crude sexual references but fewer than that of its predecessor. For an R-rated holiday film its surprisingly tame. The laughs don't always come but I do remember laughing at loud twice. The introduction of characters played by Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski, and Cheryl Hines is a good touch because they provide the audience engagement and do provide the laughs. The film does not avoid cookie cutter plot resolutions and doesn't really remain creative but its fine.
The film isn't going to rank anywhere on the best holiday movies of all time. You won't remember it in a few days after watching it. It's not really worth a watch, but if you are a movie pass crusader like me who watches everything you'll find that the film is somewhat decent and provides for mild entertainment. I do hope the series rests here because I can see a supposed third film run out of steam fast.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Admittedly, I'm not really a fan of the Thor films. I like Chris Hemsworth as Thor and an Avenger, but the films never drew my interest. Trailers for this looked good as it seemed to be more concerned with an adventurous and humorous time. Which is why Taika Waititi coming on board was a good move. What We Do in the Shadows is absolutely hilarious, and him in the MCU could have provided fun for a franchise that didn't have much of it previously. All in all, I've got to say this film is such a good time.
This film takes place after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and around the same time as Captain America: Civil War. Asgard is under siege by a new threat, a menacing and powerful sibling of Thor named Hela. Along the way Thor is enslaved on a planet where gladiator type battles occur and he tries to get Hulk and a bounty hunter named Valkyrie to band with him to save Asgard. Oh yeah, and we've got more Thor and Loki goodness too.
The film actually looks gorgeous in the theaters. The scenes with Asgard especially. The choreographed fights are all excellent. The soundtrack (with Led Zeppelin's thunderous Immigrant Song) make the action a sonic and visual feat. The film is so much fun. There are jokes everywhere, many at the expense of Thor himself. It all works though. These films are ridiculous, and we should be able to laugh at it more often. Its probably the most light hearted entry in the MCU yet. Its probably the most re-watchable entry in this Universe because of that.
Character development is quite sufficient at all ends. Thor is hammerless without most of the film but taps the inspiration of Odin to enable his true godly power. Loki is still conniving and narcissistic but you can't help but love it. Hulk isn't one of my favorite Avengers but even he is a welcome part of all the screen time he gets. Cate Blanchett is obviously a phenomenal actress but I was quite curious to see her in a superhero film. She's absolutely great. One of the most memorable villains in the MCU.
Let's also not forget Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster. The film fires at all fronts. It's miles and away the best Thor film made, and gives Captain America: Civil War a real run for its money. Ragnarok has vastly now improved the Thor films which is what I was hoping for. Phase 3 is in full swing going into Infinity War. There are so many elements and heroes in this Marvel Universe but I'm excited to see what can be don with it all.
Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird (2017)
This film received very high praise from early screenings and it wasn't hard to see why. Saoirse Ronan is a star, absolutely blowing everyone away in Brooklyn. Then you have Greta Gerwig, a force in a few Noah Baumbach films, with a highly anticipated directional debut. Was incredibly hyped for this one all the way through. It feels short because the film just flies by but its rather excellent. Very satisfied with the turnout for this one.
The film is about Christine McPherson (Ronan) who has given herself the name "Lady Bird". She is a high school senior in a Catholic school who struggles through what a typical girl of that age goes through. She faces the trials and tribulations of dating boys, losing her virginity, trying to be popular, feuding with her best friend and mother, and ultimately trying to figure out what to do with her life. Things are tough for her and she examines her relationships with friends and family to ultimately come to the best decision for herself.
The film sounds like a typical film plot. In many ways it is. Yet everything about the film is done so well in the expert hands of novice filmmaker Greta Gerwig. The dialogue is sharp, hilarious, and witty. The character development, interaction, and acting are all strong. Saoirse Ronan is at the very least sealing an Oscar nomination for best actress and might even go on to win it. It seemed like such an effortless performance for a girl who completely disappears into the character idiosyncrasies of Lady Bird. Its a wonderful coming of age film that hits all the check marks and does so very effectively.
I can't think of any complaints. The film feels so real and identifiable. Its exactly what you want and is a very impressive debut from Gerwig. The film has a nice touch at the end and does what it needs to do to remain funny and touching. I don't mind a good coming of age comedy every year (Edge of Seventeen taking the cake last year). I expect this to be an award contender for at the very least Ronan's performance and Gerwigs writing and directing.
This may be a good time to say I'm not really that crazy about George Clooney. Most of his films aren't good, the best being the one where he is in it for five minutes and then floats away and dies (Gravity). He's also a mediocre filmmaker. I sort of kind of enjoyed The Ides of March mostly because of Ryan Gosling. I didn't think Suburbicon looked that great, but being written by the Coen brothers meant it had to be watched. This film is very eh, as expected.
The film is about a suburban couple living in the midst of racial tension in a town that normally doesn't see much violence. A man's wife is killed and he then starts a relationship with her twin sister (played by Julianne Moore in a momentary dual role). The hit men who killed her keep demanding money from the man, and nothing is what it seems in this strange family. The man's son witnesses these atrocities and starts to realize that his dad and aunt may not be who they seem.
The twist in the film is straight up stupid. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense and is very underdeveloped. There are sharp moments in the Coen's writing but it pales in comparison to some of their best. The clever wit and dark humor isn't as present in this. This film also tries to get involved in racial tension which honestly doesn't serve the plot well and everything just seems so distracted. There isn't a whole lot to praise outside of young Noah Jupe and Oscar Isaac in an outlandish cameo.
I don't know where this ranks among Clooney's filmography. I mean, nothing he's done is really outstanding. This might be somewhere near the bottom. Not as bad as Leatherheads though, which is the worst thing ever. The film fails in plot delivery, is socially unaware, and just cannot bring the humorous fun. I'd like to pretend the Coen's weren't involved in this.
Think Nun Story, but without Audrey Hepburn. Not related, but I really liked that film. Anyways, Novitiate intrigued me because I have a knack for checking out independent releases and this seemed like something that could offer a deeply dark film about a religious crisis and the implications presented, in an environment where it is sacrilegious to have those types of feelings. That sentence probably made no sense, but I will say that Novitiate pleasantly meets its expectations and brings forth strong performances all around.
The film is about a group of young girls who pledge themselves to become nuns. The film takes place somewhere in the early 70's, so there were many taboo elements including discovering sexuality that were just frowned upon at the time, especially at a Catholic school. The mother superior in the film is stern and cold but times are changing and the students discover the tolls that their pledged lifestyle takes on them and find out who they really are.
Margaret Qualley and Melissa Leo are just stellar in this film. Leo is always consistently good and she is just born to play the roles such as the Reverend mother in this film. The set and costume design is sleek and seems authentic for the time period and religious backdrop. Its a film that questions religion and how much of ourselves we can give to God. I find it interesting that the filmmaker had such a creative effort and if there were any personal influences in making the picture.
There is a crisis of faith and exploring human sexuality, which directly interferes with the practices of the sisterhood in the film. Its a good watch, although I think the film could have been shorter. It doesn't always work and probably will fizzle out as the year goes on but for real film lovers like myself its something to check out and form an opinion for.
All I See Is You (2016)
All I See is You (2017)
Time to tell you how bad this film is. I didn't know much about it but I really like Blake Lively. Ever since the Gossip Girl days I've been interested in seeing more of her. The Shallows might be ridiculous at times but she's good in it and does show effort to her role. The same can be said for her commitment to this film, however its a shame everything else about this film lets her down. Its definitely a "what the hell did I just watch" film.
The film is about a woman who is blind and has surgery to repair her vision. Once this happens her husband starts realizing that she knows about how attractive and appealing she is and becomes concerned with their marriage falling apart and her being pulled out towards other relationships. That's really whats going on. Along the way she starts losing her sight again along with her relationship. And then there's a what the heck moment with an incredibly stupid ending.
The film does a good job of portraying eye popping visuals for what Lively's character sees when she is blind. The foggy, ever changing, and almost psychedelic visuals of her vision are quite nice to look at. As mentioned earlier Lively is good in this, but everyone in this film is unlikable. Lively's character isn't worth redeeming, Jason Clarke' s character is mysterious, like was he even good or bad? There's a lot of weird awkward moments dialogues about dicks and a very weirdly creepy brother in law. Yikes.
I want to say there was potential here but about twenty minutes in you realize that its just wasted time. I want to see Lively in something better with a good filmmaker to bat. This is just a frustratingly bad experience because we have a frustrating director at the helm. Its quite stupid at times, you may want to check it out to see if you can form a different more positive opinion about it. Honestly though, its better to not "see" this one.