Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

Hotel Artemis

In Los Angeles, in the year 2028, a “nurse” named Jean Thomas (Jodie Foster) runs a members only secret hospital for criminals.  A bank robber named Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) seeks medical attention for his brother, Honolulu. (Bryan Tyree Henry)  Waikiki definitely wants out of Lost Angeles, but has to wait for his brother to heal first. The brothers are joined by Acapulco (Charlie Day) and Nice (Sophia Boutella) a contract killer looking for her mark.  Nurse Thomas is also told that Niagara (Jeff Goldblum) is coming to Hotel Artemis for treatment, he runs Los Angeles in the year 2028, and so he is let in without question.  Then , Nurse Thomas sees a woman  named Morgan (Jenny Slate)  injured in the street, and tells her assistant Everest (Dave Bautista ) to bring her in. Trouble is Morgan is a cop, and there are definitely no police allowed in Hotel Artemis.  Why does the nurse make an exception for Morgan?  Does Waikiki ever get out of L.A.?  Does Nice Find her mark?

This should have been a good story, it was a pretty good premise, but badly executed.  The relationships between the characters is vague, they all seem to know each other, but how is not exactly spelled out, the character development is poor, some character development is non-existent and the story meanders for a long time, the ending is chaotic and violent, maybe that was the intent, but this ending looked like another Hollywood excuse for mayhem, and bloodshed.

The cast is stellar.  Jodie Foster tries to eschew her physical beauty, as a tough-as nails, no-nonsense healthcare professional.  It works at times, and doesn’t work at other times.  Sterling K. Brown is good as Waikiki, the only good guy in a den of thieves, he displays a different character than he plays in This Is Us The other actors play characters familiar to them. Charlie Day plays a fast-talking wise guy, a role that’s oh so familiar to viewers of the first Pacific Rim movie. Sofia Boutella plays a mysterious assassin, which is what she played in Kingsman.  Dave Bautista, plays a big dumb comedy relief role, same as Guardians of the Galaxy.  Jeff Goldblum actually reins in his performance a bit, it’s actually quite a muted performance.  But Jenny Slate as a police officer?  No, just no.

The direction is ok.  Not great, there are some interesting crane shots from above, but the pacing is slow.  Drew Pearce is the director and the writer, something that usually sets off alarm bels for me, and Hotel Artemis is no exception. The elements of the story that he wrote come together very slowly.  An hour and a half long movie seems much longer.

Hotel Artemis:  Where For Art Thou plot?

 

 

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thx1138-tm1

In the 25th century, intercourse and procreation has been outlawed, and hallucinogenic drugs are prescribed to maintain conformity.  THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) is a factory worker who builds android police officer s, when he stops taking his drugs, he realizes that he is in love with his computer chosen roommate, LUH 3427.  (Maggie McOmie)  The two have intercourse and LUH 3417 becomes pregnant.  The lack of drugs also affects THX’s work, and he starts to make mistakes, the state tries THX 1138 and finds him guilty.  He goes to jail, but he escapes with the help of a hologram called SRT (Don Pedro Colley) Do the authorities capture him?

THX 1138 is a combination of Logan’s Run and Blade Runner.  The problem with THX 1138 is that the story is disjointed, the characters aren’t developed and the story, despite an exciting premise, is dull beyond repair.  The story of a dystopian society, where sex is outlawed and mind-altering drugs are prescribed, should be an edge of your seat thriller, but it is not.  George Lucas’ deficiencies as a writer show here, the characters with their shaved heads and white clothes are one dimensional and bland.

The acting is sub-par, Robert Duvall is an excellent actor, but he plays THX 1138 with no emotion, and may have been directed to stay unemotional, but that makes for a dull movie.  Donald Pleasence plays a character that I’m not used to seeing him play, that character and plotline was a distraction from the main plotline, and really wasn’t worth Pleasance’s time or effort. Don Pedro Colley made the role of the hologram somewhat interesting, but at that point in the movie, it was to save the plot.

The direction is below average.  This is George Lucas’ first film, so it’s not going to have the production values of Star Wars or American Graffiti.  But the pacing is really slow, an hour and a half seems a lot longer.  The visuals are neither exciting or aesthetically pleasing, everything is bathed in a nauseating white color, and here’s the sad part, all the sets are white too, so it’s hard to tell THX’s house, from the prison or any other set.  This makes the visual narrative incredibly confusing. THX 1138 is far from the visual masterpiece that most critics say it is.

THX 1138: X-Tremely Boring.

 

Movie Review: Breaking In (2018)

Posted: October 28, 2018 in Action, Drama
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Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) has a strained relationship with her father, Isaac Paulson (Damien Leake) who has done some shady things.  Isaac is killed under suspicious circumstances and Shaun wants to sell her father’s house and get rid of her bad memories of her father once and for all.  Shaun brings her kids to the house, which seems more like a fortress, filled to the hilt with the latest security gadgets.  Despite all the security, four crooks break in.  Eddie (Billy Burke) the brains of the operation, Sam, (Levi Meaden) who’s been pumping Isaac’s assistant for information, Duncan (Richard Cabral) a hardened criminal who will stop at nothing to finish the job, and Peter, (Mark Furze) who has a specialized skill that the others need.  What is it that the criminals want, and can Shaun stop them before they harm her or her kids?

Breaking In actually kept me interested for at least half of the film, which is more than I can say for Kidnap, the Halle Berry movie which made no sense, and was hard to watch, but Breaking In lost some of its intensity when the motive is revealed.  Also, the movie relies on some tired tropes, the villain who never runs out of bullets or needs to reload, the villain who never dies, and do the police ever show up?  The reader can guess the answer to that.  And if the writers are writing this for a minority audience, don’t make the Hispanic guy a psycho, they are pushing a political agenda whether they realize it or not.  It tries really hard to be a women’s empowerment movie, and for that it gets points, but it loses points for clichés and stereotyping.

Gabrielle Union does a great job with a bad script.  She gives the character a good mix of fear and determination.  She’s not a damsel in distress, neither is she Arnold Schwarzenegger, but she looks fit enough to fight these four and does a convincing job in the fight scenes.  Billy Burke plays Eddie with intelligence and ruthlessness, but he does a slow burn with his character, Eddie is cool and calm on the outside, his temper simmering on the inside.  Burke and Union had a good on-screen chemistry and good byplay with each other, if the movie works, that is why it works.  Ajiona Alexus is a good young actress too, and pitches in to make this a women’s empowerment film.

The direction from James McTeague , who did a great job with V for Vendetta, keeps the action going, and directs the younger actors well.  There’s not a lot of visual excitement to this movie, I watched the director’s cut and it was the same length as the regular movie so I don’t know what was added to the director’s cut.

Breaking In:  Mugging for the camera.

 

Venom

An interstellar spaceship carrying parasites, known as Symbiotes , crash lands in Malaysia, and one of the Symbiotes escapes.  The flight is funded by tech billionaire, Carlton Drake. (Riz Ahmed)   Intrepid television reporter, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets an interview with Drake and asks him about some experiments that Drake is doing with the Symbiotes.  Brock gets this information surreptitiously from his girlfriend, Anne Waying (Michelle Williams) who is a lawyer working on a class-action lawsuit against Drake’s company.  For his efforts , Brock gets fired from his job, loses his girlfriend, and ends up washing dishes to earn a living.

Without looking for information, the Drake story follows Brock.  He gets an unsolicited tip from Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate)  a scientist working on Drake’s lab experiments, who tells Brock that people are dying as a result of  Drake’s experiments.  Brock visits the lab, and sees one of his friends, a homeless woman named Maria, (Melora Walters) is dying from the experiments with Symbiotes, Brock tries to save Maura but she dies, and the Symbiote escapes.  Where did it go?  Does Eddie Brock stop Carlton Drake’s experiments on people?

There is one word for this movie and it is disappointing.  I waited 8 months for this movie and the result is an ultra-conventional superhero movie, with lots of chase scenes, and special effects and little in the way of character development or plot development.  The plot is threadbare, and the characters are so thin they are see-through.  The writers don’t have a simple understanding of parasites or symbiosis.  Symbiosis is supposed to create a mutually beneficial relationship for both organisms, and a parasite can’t live without its host.  Do the writers of this movie have even a basic understanding of science?  Science fiction fans will swallow anything if they like this movie.  To top it off the ending is underwhelming.

I love Tom Hardy, he is the reason I went to this movie, he genuinely tries to pump some life into his lonely, sad-sack, wimpy, loser, character, but the awful script ties his hands.  He has more fun with the Venom character and uses his voice to great effect, but this role is largely a wasted opportunity, the writers traded box office cash for real depth of character and plot.  Michelle Williams is also wasted as nothing more than a hollow love interest.  Riz Ahmed’s character is a little more interesting, he plays an evil Elon Musk character, but his execution lacks emotion, he sounds detached and uninterested.  Three really good actors can’t pump life into this movie, what does that say about the writing?  Not much. All the actors deserved better than this pedestrian script.

The director Reuben Fleischer directed Zombieland, which I liked, but this is a very vanilla directing effort.  There are the requisite action scenes, the requisite special effects, the requisite chase scenes, but there’s nothing iconic here.  He keeps things moving along, but doesn’t do anything to make this movie special.

Venom:  Should be box office poison, but won’t be.

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Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is encouraged by the return of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) from the Quantum Realm, wants to try to rescue his wife Janet (Michelle Phiffer) from the Quantum Realm.   Pym wants to build a tunnel, shrink himself down to sub-atomic level,  and rescue Janet.  But the tunnel is missing a part and black marketer Sonny Burch (Walter Goggins) has the part, and all he’s interested in is a relationship with Hope. (Evangeline Lilly)  Ant Man (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest, but escapes to help Hope find the missing part to the tunnel.  Before Hope can negotiate for the tunnel Hope is attacked by the Ghost, (Hannah John Kamen)  who steals Pym’s shrunken lab with all his expensive tech inside.  Ant Man tries to fight Ghost, but fails, and she escapes with the lab. Ghost’s body is phasing in and out of reality because of failed experiments and she ls desperate to find a cure for her physical instability

Pym is forced to go to ex-partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) to help track down the lab, Foster is bitter because Pym helped kick Foster out of the Agents of Shield.  Foster helps Pym, but only slightly.  He has an ulterior motive mot to help Pym.  What is it?  Does Hank Pym fix the Quantum Tunnel?  Does Pym rescue his wife?  Does Ant Man get released from house arrest?

Ant Man and the Wasp is a mediocre sequel to a promising Ant Man film, because it seems like the Ant Man character is a supporting character in his own movie.  Hank Pym is the leading character in this film, he gets the main story arc and all the interesting subplots involve Hank Pym and not Ant Man.  Ant Man gets to play with his daughter, and try to keep his goofy co-workers in line.  He gets to shrink and grow several times, a gimmick which the writers overuse by the way.  Moreover Bill Foster is not enough of a rival, and Ghost was not menacing enough.  The ending was not important, because of the post credits scene, another overused gimmick.

The acting is ok. Paul Rudd is a good actor, he handled both the comedic and serious scenes well, but the writers didn’t make him the lead in his own movies.  He’s more like the comedy relief.  Evangeline Lilly was also very good, in her role, she played the action scenes well, and had good chemistry with Paual Rudd, but again, she was relegated to the background.  Michael Douglas is a stiff as Hank Pym, no expression, no range, just an uptight character, and Douglas doesn’t emote well as an actor.  He found is niche in the Romancing The Stone movies, but his appeal and acting skills have slipped since.  Michelle Pfeiffer still looks young and beautiful at 60; the makeup people try to make her look older, but it doesn’t work too well.  The writers do her no favors, this is a bare bones character,  so she’s essentially wasted.  Laurence Fishburne is also wasted; Bill Foster has powers that the viewers never see. There are too many characters, and not enough lines to go around.

Peyton Reed directed Ant Man and The Wasp, he also directed Ant Man.  What’s most surprising is that Reed doesn’t seem interested in plot development, or character development, Reed seems more interested in setting up the action scenes and executing the action scenes than anything else.  The pacing is poor, all these movies seem to be over 2 hours, and some of them don’t need to be that long.

Ant Man and The Wasp:  The sequel bugs me.

MOVIE REVIEW PROUD MARY

Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is a hitwoman for a Boston crime family, headed by Benny. (Danny Glover)  One day, Marry carries out a hit on a bookie, but not his son.  Danny, (Jahi Di’allo Winston) the bookie’s son, becomes a drug runner for Uncle, (Xander Berkely) Uncle is from a rival gang of Benny.  Uncle doesn’t feed Danny, and one day Marry finds Danny, passed out and broke in an alley.  She takes pity on him and takes him home, Mary also feels guilty for killing Danny’s father.  A short time later, at Benny’s anniversary party, Mary introduces Danny to her crime family, and gives Danny and alias, but Mary’s ex Tom, (Billy Brown) figures out that Danny is the son of the man Mary killed.  Mary wants out of the mob, but her relationship with Tom and Benny complicates her wanting to leave.  Does Mary leave her mob ties behind?  Does Tom tell Benny about Mary killing Danny’s father?

I’ve seen a lot of so-called blackspoitation films, films of the 70’s where a black protagonist goes after corrupt black or white antagonists to get revenge.  Shaft, Superfly, and  Coffy are good films.  Not great, but given the production values, and lack of an African American presence in Hollywood at the time, these movies hold up well. Even though it tries to copy the genre, Proud Mary is not a good movie.  The problems begin with the script, it’s supposed to be a woman’s empowerment film, so why does the movie begin with the premise that Mary should have a maternal instinct?  Is that an inherent part of being a woman?  Or is it a script written by three men?  Why is Tom Mary’s boyfriend?  Why does Mary need a boyfriend?  These are all antiquated ideas of womanhood.  Mary continuously says she is leaving Benny’s gang, but does she actually leave?  The script belabors that point to the point of nausea.  The violence is beyond reason, the amount and regularity of the violence is unacceptable, it seems to be a substitute for plot, and that is a sign of bad writing.  The message seems to be women’s empowerment is easy, with a gun in your hand. That’s a message Hollywood has tried to peddle for years, except now they’re using women to peddle it. The ending is predictable,  but the movie is thankfully short.

The acting is surprisingly bad.  Taraji P Henson is actually pretty convincing as both hitwoman, and compassionate woman, she doesn’t need to prove her street cred, she does that already as Cookie, but she proved her range playing Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures, a character diametrically opposed to Mary or Cookie .But the script doesn’t allow her to play little more than a street tough woman. Jahi Diallo Winston is no that good as Danny, he should be more sympathetic, but doesn’t have the ability to show anything but anger.  Billy Brown is also a one-note actor as Tom, Mary’s ex-boyfriend, he doesn’t exhibit any charm or likeability in the role.  Perhaps most surprisingly, Danny Glover giver an awful performance, dull emotionless, phoned in, like he was looking for a paycheck and nothing more.

The direction is made up of setting up one action sequence to another, no backstory, no visuals, no pacing, in a thankfully short movie, that seemed much longer.

Proud Mary:  Nothing to be proud of.

 

 

deadpool 2

After two years of working as a mercenary, and killing many bad guys, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) decides to start a family with girlfriend Vanessa. (Morena Baccarin)  When those plans are interrupted, Deadpool is convinced by Colossus (Stefan Kapcic) to join the X-men as a trainee.  His first mission is to rescue a teen boy named Russell (Julian Dennison) from a home for orphaned mutants, Russell is causing damage with his powers and the police are called, but Deadpool screws up the mission and both he and Russell  go to the Icebox, a mutant prison where their powers are controlled by collars around their necks.  While in prison, Russell seeks revenge on the headmaster(Edde Marsan)  of the orphanage and enlists the aid of Juggernaut,(himself)  the biggest prisoner in the Icebox.

From out of the blue, a soldier named Cable (Josh Brolin) breaks into the Icebox and attacks Russell, but Russell escapes Cable with his new friend Juggernaut, and heads for the orphanage to get his revenge on the headmaster,  Cable follows Russell, and Deadpool with his new ‘family’ the X-Force, which mainly consists of Domino (Zazie Beetz) and they go to find Russell.  Can Deadpool and Domino stop Russell before he and Juggernaut exact their revenge?  Can Deadpool stop Cable from killing Russell.

Deadpool 2 is a mix of a great deal of violence, scatological teenage anatomy humor, both disturbing and derivative plot elements, and what Hollywood does best, explosions substituting for plot.  There’s a joke in the film that refers to Ryan Reynolds saying. “He doesn’t like sharing the screen with others” which is basically wish fulfillment for the rest of the film.  This is Ryan Reynolds’ film, and he chooses to carry the load mostly on his own.  The mood alternates between frathouse humor and some very disturbing allegations at the orphanage, and the film doesn’t know if it wants to be a serious film about serious issues, or Animal House with mutants, and that is part of the problem .  The mood shifts are so sudden and violent that any viewer would suffer from being whipsawed between laughter and angst  It doesn’t make the X-men look very good either, sending a trainee on a mission they should be handling.  The ending is not surprising, because it’s a Marvel movie, and endings don’t matter in Marvel movies.

The acting s ok, just ok, Ryan Reynolds is not a great actor, he’s as average actor, maybe below average.  So maybe,  sarcastic, snide, comic book superhero Is the best he can do for himself.  His best movies are Van Wilder, and Definitely, Maybe, frathouse comedy romantic comedy.  Deadpool weirdly combines both genres, so no wonder he feels comfortable.   Josh Brolin was a serious actor, he was good in No Country For Old Men, he did a good job as George W Bush in W.  But now he’s not in one but two Marvel movies, playing the heavy, Thanos on The Avengers, but playing a more complex role, as Cable.  Since Brolin is not known for comedy, he plays Cable as a straight man.  Here’s a suggestion, how about Larry the Cable Guy plays Cable?  Need an assassin?  Larry would Get ‘er done!  All kidding aside Brolin is quite good in this role.  Zazie Beetz was a breath of fresh air as Domino, she added snark, and a woman’s perspective to the testosterone dominated cast  She almost steals the movie from the incessantly mugging Reynolds. .  Julian Dennison was a bit too whiny, as Russell, he was boxed in by bad writing.  This was not the comic book Russell’s origin story.

The direction was good, pacing was fast, not an over reliance on special effects,  the pacing is good, a few too many explosions.  He gets mostly good performances from the cast.  And the guy is a stuntman, which makes sense for a movie like this which involves big action scenes and lots of stunts.   He directed  Atomic Blonde too, which I did not like.

Deadpool 2:  Not quite dead in the water.