movie reviews

Life

by Cap'n Carrot on March 24, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

life-posterLife is the exact opposite of Kong: Skull Island. Whereas Kong knew exactly what it was and embraced it, Life is a pretentious wannabe that flails around for far too long before ultimately turning into a cliche and running out of gas long before the credits roll.

Wanting desperately to be a genre-shaking art film which takes the science seriously and has something to say about extraterrestrial life, like the original Alien, instead director Daniel Espinosa‘s (Safe House) movie is a plodding, somber affair with nothing we haven’t seen multiple times before. Very early on, I lost track of number of extended sequences showing off the film’s art design set to ominous classical music. I get it, you guys liked 2001: A Space Odyssey. Unfortunately this isn’t the kind of movie you are making here.

Life is a bottle-show monster flick with a small group of people trapped with a creature they can’t understand let alone defeat. By the time Life gets around to throwing the pretension of actual science out the window and becomes a monster movie there’s little the latest tentacle monster can offer in way of surprise, let alone general horror.

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Kong: Skull Island

by Cap'n Carrot on March 9, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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Far more focused than Peter Jackson’s bloated three-hour mess, Kong: Skull Island is a film with a clear agenda of what it is and what it wants to do. Sadly, King Kong hasn’t had the greatest career in the movies with far more disappointments than successes. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and screenwriters Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly strip away much of the Kong story to focus only on the discovery of the giant ape and the mysterious island which is also home to other monstrous beasts the outside world can only imagine.

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Logan

by Cap'n Carrot on February 28, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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Finally learning that bigger isn’t always better (see X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: The Last Stand), 20th Century Fox has moved away from the super-sized team film. With both Logan and Legion (FX’s new series based around the X-Men character of the same name), the X-Men universe is taking some interesting turns with a darker tone and smaller character-driven stories. Logan may not be as entertaining as Deadpool, but it definitely ranks as one of the better X-Men films (and easily the best of the Wolverine standalone movies).

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John Wick: Chapter 2

by Cap'n Carrot on February 10, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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2014’s John Wick was a thoroughly-enjoyable throwaway action flick. A simplistic revenge story with style and some unforgettable stunts, director Chad Stahelski‘s film knew exactly what it was and just how to deliver. A callback to 80s-style of gun-toting heroes who shot first and asked questions later, the movie ignored modern trends of cutting action scenes into an unrecognizable mess and kept the camera still to allow us to see the awesome unfold on screen. Stunts we could actually watch and enjoy, imagine that.

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The LEGO Batman Movie

by Cap'n Carrot on February 10, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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A sequel of sorts, The LEGO Batman Movie may not be quite as good as The LEGO Movie but it still proves to be a hell of a good time. Centered around Batman‘s (Will Arnett) inability to trust and rely on others, the film’s plot throws the Dark Knight Detective several curveballs including an adopted son in the energetic Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) combined with the retirement of Commissioner James Gordon (Hector Elizondo), who is replaced by his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson), and a new plot by the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) which throws Batman’s life into turmoil.

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Here’s the thing, anybody brave enough to head to the theaters in the dog days of February knows to lower their standards. The perennial post-Oscar dumping ground is the home of clusterfucks and misfit toys which studios either couldn’t or wouldn’t put the money behind. Keeping this very important caveat in mind, The Space Between Us is marginally entertaining as it wraps up your standard romantic dramedy in sci-fi trappings while hoping the strength of its cast will obscure its obvious flaws.

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20th Century Women

by Cap'n Carrot on January 20, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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I was a big enough fan of writer/director Mike Mills‘ 2011 film Beginners to include it on my best of the year list. In his first film since Beginners, Mills reuses themes of nostalgia and the awkwardness of life along with some of the same structure (including inter-cut stills and narration to frame a time and place), but although 20th Century Women features a strong cast it lacks the intimacy and magic of his previous movie.

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Elle

by Cap'n Carrot on January 13, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

elle-movie-reviewIsabelle Huppert is marvelous as the sixty-something head of a successful video game company who is raped in her apartment by a stranger in a ski mask. Refusing to tell the police, Michèle instead continues on as if nothing happened even as she begins to suspect that one of her resentful employees may be her attacker. Filled with mostly depressed and confused characters, somehow the film is never as bleak as its subject matter might lead you to believe.

Despite being raped in the movie’s opening scene, Michèle is anything but a victim; she’s smart, successful, and in complete control of both her company and libido. Elle isn’t a revenge fantasy or a drama focused on our protagonist coming to terms with the attack. Director Paul Verhoeven, no stranger to erotic or psychological thrillers, has something much different in mind in screenwriter David Birke‘s adaptation of Philippe Djian‘s novel. And Michèle is no angel, sleeping with the husband (Christian Berkel) of her best friend (Anne Consigny), and lusting after her neighbor (Laurent Lafitte) despite their age difference and his wife (Virginie Efira).

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A Monster Calls

by Cap'n Carrot on January 6, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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Reminiscent of other movies about a kid losing himself in his imagination rather than deal with the difficulties of his life, A Monster Calls is a visually impressive adaptation of the book of the same name. The story may not offer a darkness as palpable as “The Nothing” (points for all who get that reference), but there’s plenty of real emotion beyond Conor’s (Lewis MacDougall) struggle to hide from both the constant bullying at school and his mother’s (Felicity Jones) deteriorating health.

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13th

by Cap'n Carrot on December 30, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

13th-posterTaking its name from the 13th Amendment, the documentary from writer/director Ava DuVernay examines the role race plays in the criminal justice system of the United States and how it is used to continue the subjugation of African Americans following the end of slavery. DuVernay makes a compelling case with his film, documenting the racial inequality within the United States with statistics and facts while examining the self-enforcing logistics of the problem.

Connecting Jim Crow laws with higher arrests and convictions of African Americans, DuVernay attacks the system which was designed to continue to view those with a darker skin color as worth only three-fifths of a white man. Along the way he also touches on Southern propaganda and political maneuverings which turned racism into a war on crime.

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